Battered Up | Letters | Chicago Reader

Battered Up 

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I have just read Paul Pekin's article "Screwball," about his trip to one of our games [August 2].

As I read the article, I began to wonder exactly what species of insect had crawled up Mr. Pekin's posterior.

It is obvious that spending an afternoon with the Cougars was not what he wanted to do this particular Sunday afternoon. He states so in his opening paragraph. Perhaps if we offered air-conditioning, thousands of books and blueberry scones, then Mr. Pekin would have had a good time.

Maybe placing this article in your Culture section was a mistake. Placing it in a "Biased & Uninformed Opinion" section would have fit.

I'm also sorry that we could not offer Mr. Pekin the exact same experience that he had as a child, going to his first major-league game way back in the 1890s. So few things are the same as when we were children. I'm sorry that Mr. Pekin holds us responsible for tarnishing his distant, and dim, memories.

The impression that Mr. Pekin gives in this look-down-your-nose article is that going to a Kane County Cougars game is unentertaining, low class, country bumpkin, inconvenient, uncomfortable, and generally boring.

I guess that's why we've attracted over two million fans in just under six seasons, a record for a Class A minor-league franchise. I guess that's why we've been recognized with awards from the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (the governing body of the minors) and Baseball America as being the top Class A team in the nation. These awards were not presented to us because our teams won a ton of games. These awards were given to the organization for our high level of fan entertainment, promotions, concessions, and marketing/advertising.

Let me address some specifics in Mr. Pekin's article.

Mr. Pekin's constant complaining about the heat: If Mr. Pekin can find some way for us to have command over the weather, please let us know.

"A parking spot that leaves us only a half-mile away from Elfstrom Stadium": I'm sorry that on a day with a capacity crowd that we could not reserve a parking space right at the front gate. There is handicapped and senior parking located very close to the stadium. Perhaps if he had called first. At least we have (free) parking. Try and get close at Wrigley for less than $15.

"NO BEVERAGES PERMITTED IN THE PARK": Actually, the sign reads "No Outside Food or Beverage Allowed." This is the same sign and policy that you will find at Wrigley Field, Comiskey Park, the Chicago Stadium, Civic Opera House, Auditorium Theatre, and at Barnes & Noble.

"My concern with this program is that it doesn't give us the lineup or batting order, let alone a scorecard--just the rosters, names, numbers, and statistics": Perhaps if Mr. Pekin would have paid attention, scorecards are for sale right next to the souvenir program. I know of no baseball, hockey, football, or basketball program, pro or amateur, that has the lineup printed inside. Programs are printed ahead of games. Lineups are not turned in until two hours prior to games. Perhaps if Mr. Pekin would have asked, he could easily have gotten the lineup from several different sources, including a dry-erase lineup billboard located next to the program stand.

"I take a deep breath and inhale Wendy's. When did they start with Wendy's? Fast-food America is right here in the stands?": We have exactly one (1) item from Wendy's at our concessions stands--Frosties (or as Mr. Pekin states "Mr. Frosties," another item in a list of many that he didn't bother to find out the correct fact). We prepare, cook, and serve our burgers, hot dogs, brats, chicken, fajitas, pork chop sandwiches, and fries here at the stands that we run ourselves. Fast-food in the stands? Yes, it is. Maybe if we had "those delicious blueberry scones" at our stands, then Mr. Pekin would have enjoyed himself.

"No real outfield seats or bleachers": Perhaps Mr. Pekin needs a new pair of glasses. We've had outfield bleacher seating (right-center field) for several years at the park. In addition, we have a right-field deck for group parties. Both can be seen from any seat in the ballpark.

"It's hard to tell what matters most, the between-inning stunts or the game": Are we guilty of trying to entertain the fans with between-inning games and promotions? Yes, and there is no apology. Most of our fans aren't baseball fans, they're looking for fun, family entertainment. That's what we provide. These "stunts" happen to bring in more positive comments and responses from fans than anything else we do.

"Goose races. It might be fun if they used real geese, but they don't." Why do I get the feeling that if we did use real geese, that Mr. Pekin would ream us for abusing animals and call the ASPCA?

"A bat spin (I saw this one again on major-league television)": Another stunt. If all of the between-inning promotions that we do are so detrimental to the game of baseball, why have the major leagues started to copy minor-league teams by doing the same promotions at their games?

"The loudspeaker is blaring, more music. It's the Village People! "Y.M.C.A.!' And the crowd is singing and dancing right along. There's a woman in shorts and a halter in front of me who is neither young nor small. . . . Would we like to leave early?": Mea culpa, mea culpa. Fans actually enjoying themselves!!!! Yes, I agree that "Y.M.C.A.!" is obnoxious and overplayed. It's also what the fans like. If Mr. Pekin was put off about people enjoying themselves, sorry. Also, I'm sorry that our stands aren't full of beautiful people. I think Mr. Pekin will find them hovered in the "Self-Help" books section at Barnes & Noble. (I'm sure the staff at Barnes & Noble had a great Sunday afternoon the day Mr. Pekin came to our park. I'm sure that they were getting tired of dealing with someone constantly complaining of having the air-conditioning on too high or too low and of there not being enough blueberries in the scones.)

Perhaps the one thing that bothers me the most is how you could accept an article from a writer in such a blind manner. This piece (of . . . ) was obviously written by a man who came to the subject with a closed mind on the subject, who obviously had made up his mind before that he was not going to enjoy himself. Also, after working for four years as a writer and editor for a major metropolitan newspaper, I had always thought that journalism rested upon facts and not crotchety, meandering bile.

In the past, the Cougars have received some very nice and complimentary articles about our games and events. For these, we are extremely grateful and appreciate the good (i.e., factual and fair) work.

Mr. Pekin's article gives your readers the impression that it is a mistake to come to a Cougars game. While I will always respect a person's right to an opinion (and I'm sure that there have been other people who have not had a totally positive experience here), I can only say that Mr. Pekin and the Reader have damaged our reputation.

I know that over two million people have come out to make up their own mind about Cougars games. I hope that your readers will have the opportunity to come out and find out how wrong Mr. Pekin is in his opinions.

If you and any member of your staff would like to have the chance to find out for yourself, please call me and be my guest at a game.

Marty Cusack

Director of Media Relations

Kane County Cougars

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