August 15, 2014

So You Want To Be a Sausage. . .


The poll results are in and we have a tie. Because of this, I am forced to make a decision. Oddly enough, I am both German and Polish, so this makes it even tougher.  However, since this is the first sausage reveal, I figured  I should start from the beginning. So, today's reveal will tell the tale of my inaugural sausage race .

The date was April 7, 2010. The Brewers faced the Colorado Rockies in the rubber game of the opening series in the 2010 season. I was sauntering into the underground abyss known as the Miller Park service level an hour before the gates opened to the public, as was the required starting time for many game day staff. Having this be only my second day as a member of the Brew Crew, I wasn't too surprised when I read sausage race on my schedule. Of course, that was when I thought I would be working the kid's sausage race, an activity in the children's entertainment area where kids pedaled their sausage to victory. Of course, when a fellow racer came over and asked me what sausage I wanted, I was a bit confused. That confusion quickly turned to excitement and shock, which eventually turned into massive anxiety as I realized I was in "the race." I can't remember if I picked a sausage in that moment or let the "leftover" wiener become mine, but I ended up with the Polish. (Being super old compared to my peers and also more laid pack/apathetic to the choice of sausage, I used a munch different strategy in later races, but that's a story for another day.) Knowing my face was probably exhibiting a mixture of fear and or giddiness, I marched up to the second level to avoid embarrassment and get a better cell signal.  Immediately, a text to my lovely wife was made.  It was quickly returned with a response saying a half day of work was requested and she would be there to cheer me on.  If the pressure of being a wiener in front of a jam-packed crowd on only my second day wasn't enough.  Looking back, racing so early in my career was actually akin to pulling off a bandage. Just get it over with, though being a  racing sausage can be painful in a variety of other ways  (again, another story for another day)

The race wasn't until the middle of the fifth inning, meaning I had approximately 2+ hours from the time I realized I was racing until the time I donned the wiener for real. Everything was a blur before the race. I do't remember what position I was working.  I don't remember the game. I just remember the fear. As ridiculous as it sounds, I was both scared and nervous to dress up like a polish sausage and run around the baseball diamond.  As anonymous as the situation would be, I remember being so worried about how others would perceive me. Keep in mind, I would be dressed up as a 9 foot sausage from the land of Poland.  This was not a time to be worried about appearances. I do remember the walk back down through the concrete staircase that connect the field level to the service level.  Not sure if it was the cold hard concrete slapping against my sneakers or the thump of my racing hart, but I remember that sound.  That repeating drumming sound.  In was alone in the world for a few moments.  That solitude quickly vanished as I entered the Brew Crew room to see my competitors changing into running shoes and even track gear. I kid you not. Prepared racers brought racing gear. This was comical to me as the thought of this being a legitimate, all-out race was unthinkable.  We were sausages. not sprinters. Regardless, I clumsily carried my costume out to the left field corner where we would all wait until there were two out in the inning, or one out and one on.  We had to be prepared to jettison onto the dirt track and get ready in our positions as soon as the action was baseball action was over. 

Despite my raging nerves, I do remember seeing that my beloved Brewers were down 4-3 as we prepared to entertain over 40,000 fans, many of which take this race even more serious than some of the racers. I also remember sweating. Now the costume is somewhat heavy and not the best in terms of ventilation, but the roof was closed because of the 40 degree temperatures outside the stadium. This perspiration was not costume-induced. Everything was terrifying until the stadium public address announcer shouted "GO!" Then, the anxiety melted away and I was in my element. Though no one could see, I was sporting quite the smile and slapping high fives to people in the front row.  I even snuck in a friendly slap to a Brewers player, though my very limited peripheral vision keeps me from knowing who that person was.

I crossed the finish line behind three other sausages but without a care in the world. That didn't last.  As soon as I was out of the public's carefully watching eyes, my supervisor let me know that that type of behavior was unacceptable. I was not allowed to high five people during the race. I was to run. Legitimately. The racing is real. Luckily, I was able to plead ignorance and the rest of the racers (all seasoned veterans) felt more of his wrath for not properly training me in the ways of the sausage. Looking back, seeing them change into running shoes and track gear should've been a clue, but my mind was in a different place.

4th place. Could I have gone faster?  Maybe. Would winning the race make it more memorable?  Possibly.  I've run many times since then, even winning a few. However, those races pale in comparison to my sausage debut. 
Rounding the corner.  .slowly but surely.

By the way, The Brewers scored twice to take the lead and eventually won by that 5-4 score.  I'd like to say that whoever drove in that winning run was the same person who happened to slap the hand of a Polish Sausage.  Sausages can be very motivating!

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