Playing out of the well-tended and up-to-date Cashman Field, the minor league Las Vegas 51s is a good time for a Ken Watrous family outing. The seating is evenly distributed with only two real ‘sections’ being the dugout areas and the rest of the general seating. No nosebleed seats at this tidy but not tiny field. The average attendance in usually over 4,000 with large dates being in the 5,000 range. This gets a good crowd that can express a lot of excitement, but it is small enough that you never feel crowded and the seating can accommodate good views all the way around the diamond. The restroom facilities are also less crowded than you might find at larger stadiums, which can make for a lot less time out of the game when wrangling children that need to go twice during a game.
I don’t know that I really need to explain why taking the family out to a baseball game is fun, but for the people who might be hesitant to take in a live game, or who dismiss the Minors, I’ll do my best. Baseball is one of those things that isn’t just American. It isn’t just about carrying on a tradition, it is about sharing that tradition. This is one of those games where the whole thing can be seen in one go. The action is built to happen on the stage without constantly looking back and forth, like you do in basketball, there isn’t that need to follow the ball every second like in football, where without the replay cameras you barely can tell what has happened at a live game. No, in baseball you can watch the whole game, the home players, the ball, the opposing team. Everything is working all at the same time to accomplish something.
Now, as for Minor league play, they get it done. One of my major disappointments about the MLB is how much downtime there is in a game. Every at-bat is this 20 minute ordeal of practice swings, swapping bats, stepping back and forth from the plate. In the Minors the players are trying to prove themselves and they play like it. They get out there and play the game fast and furious with an eye towards trying to make solid plays, show they know the mechanics of the game, show that they can perform with a team and stand out at the same time. These are the things that we should be teaching our kids. How to be a proper sport and to play for the love of it, not some paycheck.
Concessions offer the usual fare of hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, soda and the like. It is concession prices, so don’t be surprised there. Like I’ve said before, this isn’t a weekly type outing, but it can certainly be worth it to get outside, watching an event and giving the kids an experience. This is the kind of thing that could be watched from home on the tv, but it misses out on so much of the experience.
That said, the whole event is pretty affordable, the ticket prices aren’t nearly as high as some other events and supporting the local team has a lot of perks in getting gear that opens up conversations with the community and the kids have more chances to meet with the players and form that bond of someone to look up to without it being some rich idiot a thousand miles away.
The community is also one of the best parts of the event. Online groups get together pre-game to do some tailgates and to talk shop. This is a great influence to get the kids out and meet some people that might not go to their school or live in the neighborhood. It is also a great way to meet families to do more group-based activities with. There is something for mom and dad to do and take an interest in, and the area is small enough and open enough that keeping an eye on the kids is possible without being constantly on top of them.
And, of course, there is always the chance of catching a ball in the stands. Few things are more memorable.