Sunshine, beer, hotdogs and baseball, what could be better?

By Tim Pattyson

Sunshine, beer, hotdogs and baseball, what could be better?

There’s nothing finer than enjoying a hot dog and beer, catching some rays and watching a baseball game. Unless, of course, you live in Ottawa.

While there’s a great stadium hosting Triple-A baseball (the Ottawa Lynx) in the heart of the city, most fans would rather sit at home and watch the Blue Jays on TV.

On second thought, who could blame them?

Who doesn’t want to watch a $15 million-per-year designated hitter take a casual stroll down to first base after tapping a routine grounder to the left side?

That’s way more exciting than watching someone who’s playing for lunch money dive all over the field hoping to impress someone and get his big break.

And who in their right mind would pay $8.50 to sit behind home plate. From there you can hear a fastball coming in, or smell the sweat from the on-deck batter’s uniform.

For the same amount of money you could get a seat in the upper most level at a major league park where you could probably make out the batter’s facial features — with the Hubble telescope.

And what satisfaction does anybody get from reading tomorrow’s paper and hearing about an outfielder that hit three homers and made two diving catches, who can’t hear the umpire yell “BALL” or “STRIKE.”

That would be Curtis Pride, the one-time .300 hitter for the Detroit Tigers, who is legally deaf.

It’s only minor league ball anyway.

In “The show” role models like Frank Thomas and Gary Sheffield refuse to suit up because their eight-figure salaries aren’t big enough. But they’re in the majors.

And so what if the big league clean-up hitter strikes out four times with a runner on third and one out. He hit a 500-foot-homer yesterday.

It’s not his fault no one was on base. That’s way more exciting than seeing a boring hit and run, a suicide squeeze or a triple down the line.

And isn’t it great to see a belt-high fastball down the pipe called a ball? Or how about 45 seconds between pitches?

Or a guy stepping into the batter’s box, but only after tucking a two inch thick gold chain into his shirt? That’s big league baseball.

The Ottawa Lynx aren’t the Yankees of the International League. They’re not going to win every game.

But they are worth watching. Eight players on their roster have been in the major leagues.

That doesn’t mean you’re going to see major league calibre ball if you go to a game, but you will see great plays, players trying hard and a great ballpark.

Jetform Park is one of the best stadiums in the International League and it holds more than 10,000 people.

Unfortunately, the last time that many people walked through the turnstiles, Pedro Martinez was still just a wild young pitcher with the Expos.

Another reason to catch the Lynx this summer is their special promotion days.

They have events like ZOOperstars! day (where you can see Clammy Sosa, Ken Giraffey Jr. and Shark McGwire mascots) at every home stand.

Last year’s average crowd for the Lynx was just over 2,000. This year, the team’s new owner, Ray Pecor, is hoping to duplicate the success enjoyed by the 67’s once they changed ownership.

Why shouldn’t they? Instead of sitting at home and watching TV in the dark, maybe this year fans will realize that there’s nothing finer than enjoying a hot dog and beer, catching some rays and watching a baseball game.