A cool cloudy night in June, school out, CJ itching to get more parentally supervised driving time — he needs 50 hours with me in the car before he can get his license — meant it was time, after a two-year pandemic hiatus, to return to what on our last visit was Miller Park, and is now American Family Field — so many syllables, so awkwardly arranged. It was Brewers-Padres; here’s the box score. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a Padres game, but I was motivated to, because Manny Machado plays there now. Machado is the villain of the National League now, universally-except-in-San-Diego seen as a dirty player and a braggart. He was treated to resounding boos by the Brewers fans every time he came to the plate. But I still like him. One of my very first tweets was directed at him. He’s probably the best Oriole of our era, even though he’s not an Oriole anymore. I got us seats along the third base line, something I never ordinarily do, just so I could be closer to Machado when the Brewers were at bat.
Machado wasn’t the story of the game; that was Joe Musgrove, the Padres starter, who took a no-hitter into the eighth. I’ve never seen a no-hitter in person, and I can’t lie, after Musgove got through six I was starting to root for him. But it turns out watching a no-hitter isn’t that different from watching any other game! At least this one wasn’t. An inning where nobody gets a hit is pretty normal; this was just watching a lot of those in a row. Musgrove wasn’t dominant; he walked some guys, went deep in counts. Saved by his defense on a couple of line drives. It really just felt like a game where nobody on the Brewers happened to get a hit, until finally Kolten Wong did happen to.
On the Padre side, Machado hit a home run, just like he did the last time I saw him play. The boos crested to a new level. What I really wanted, though, was to see him play third. He was one of the greatest defenders at third I ever saw, going deep into the hole to stop a sharp grounder and making impossible turnaround throws. The stats say he’s no longer the third baseman he was in Baltimore, and no matter how much he mashes the ball — and this year he is mashing it to a very fine paste indeed — I think that’s a real loss. He wasn’t really tested in this game. The one play at third he made was completely routine, but, well, he made it pretty somehow.
The boos didn’t seem to faze him. He was a cheerful presence on the field, chatting with the third-base ump, throwing his arm chummily around a Brewer baserunner who made it to third. Real baseball.
Lots of Padre fans at AmFam. I didn’t know the Padres had out-of-town fans! Yelich by far the most popular Brewers jersey nowadays. A lot of Hader, too. Braun almost completely gone. Oldest non-Yount jerseys I saw: Corey Hart and Yovanni Gallardo. American Miller Family FieldPark is, as always, a great place to watch a game, unheraldedly one of the best parks in the league. It was good to be back.