So in a game thread earlier this week against the Milwaukee Brewers I promised I'd write up a little story, it's not great, but, it's the thought that counts...
Take the jump to hear an overwritten account of my chance encounter with the reigning National League MVP, the Hebrew Hammer, the guy who puts the toss in testosterone... Ryan Joseph Braun.
You may or may not know that I'm a Brit and I came to SD for opening week against the Dodgers. It was my third trip to Petco and, despite the losses and the obnoxious Dodger fans, I loved every minute of it.
My girlfriend joined me on the trip for the second time, she really is very understanding. We have a pretty balanced relationship, I get to watch plenty of sports with her blessing, so long as I put up with a seemingly endless array of horrendous reality TV shows and lame dramas. Also, yes, I can attend a couple of Padres games, but you can bet your ass that I'll be carrying her shopping bags around downtown to make up for it.
Another compromise with this trip was that I got to see some Pads games, so long as we stopped off someplace new on the way back to the UK. Understandably, she doesn't want to hit the same places every time during our limited vacation time.
So we flew out of SD and headed to Chicago on the way back home, a place where neither of us had been, but which always looked kinda nice on Prison Break and the Fugitive and stuff.
We have a good time taking the architectural boat tour (not nearly as lame as it sounds), we see some sights, we hit up a blues bar, we do some shopping and a whole lot of walking. All good. But from the moment we'd agreed upon Chicago, I wanted to hit Wrigley.
I love Petco, it's really a gorgeous park, but I wanted to take in an old-style park with character and history where you know if you drop some food on the floor that there's like 100 years of spilled food and drink and spit and vomit on it, so best not try the three second rule.
So, as you can see in the pic, we headed up to the North Side, with me repping the best coast (only two comments, sadly, and they were more hushed surprise than heckles... "Is that a... San Diego.... what???..."). It was Braun's first road game this season and he got booed, I joined in, y'know mob mentality and that. Entirely coincidental that I mention this here, but I don't like cheats or people with enough money to buy their way out of trouble.
I explained the situation and the back-story to my other half and booed a couple more times when he was up and then headed back to the city. (Cubs suck, Brewers not much better, as we found out this week!)
Next day and boy am i paying for it, we're about three hours into a shopping spree on Michigan Avenue. We're in some huge mall called Water Tower Place. I'm super thirsty and a little hungry and suggest we stop at the food court for some sustenance. There appears to be a fast-food burger chain in Chicago called M Burger. It was cheap and cheerful.
So we line up and order food and then head to the front of the restaurant to sit at stools and watch the world go by. There are a young couple sat at a table just behind the stools, at 90 degrees to where we were sat. They were eating food from another place, I am gonna say it was a sandwich from KFC judging by the branding on the drinks cups. I don't get that, who does that? I wouldn't buy a McDonalds and take it into subway to eat. Anyway.,,
They had been in plain view of the walkway outside the restaurant when we got there but then I sit up on the stool with my back to them. I can hear them start to whine about something really nasally. They are clearly annoyed about something. I wondered whether I'd kicked over their bag or something by accident as I walked past so I turned around to check...
I hadn't, it was just Ryan Braun and his partner Larisa Fraser who turned and looked at me and stopped talking immediately. I turned back to my burger without a word. My GF reckoned after further discussion later that day that they were maybe annoyed because they wanted to be seen but I blocked the view of them from the path and I'm like 6'4" 250.
Within two minutes this group of girls gathers about 30 feet from the M Burger entrance and starts whispering and giggling and stuff. Now I get this quite a lot, so I'm think it's a 50-50 shot whether they're there for me or Braun.
The girls march over like a pack of hyenas and I put down my bacon cheeseburger and sierra mist and get ready to talk... well, turns out it's Braun they're after.
"You're amazing..." "Go to all your games..." "Sign this napkin for my auntie..." "Poster on my wall..." it's all pretty simpering and pathetic, and I doubt a 15-year-old chick can make 166 Brewers games a year, but I must say he dealt with it in good grace, signs some stuff, poses for pictures.
They eventually leave and all of a sudden he's there, standing next to me and my gf (who hasn't got a clue what the hell is going on), like two feet away. He's just standing there, looking at us with his big eyes like he's waiting for something...
Nothing happens for what felt like an hour but it was probably more like three seconds, super uncomfortable silence. Imagine it though. three seconds is actually quite long in those circumstances.
Then his model gets up, hands him his 50 cent soda and they stride off together, not holding hands, walking super slow and, it must be said, arrogantly. He is waaaaay smaller than listed. Like I'd be shocked if he was 5'10 or 170lbs.
After he'd gone I told the missus who it was and then confirmed it with her on my phone. She reckons he stood there by us waiting for one of us to ask him for an autograph or a picture.
I probably should have said something withering, but I've had a month to think of something good and still not got one, so can't blame me for not doing it on the spur of the moment.