MILWAUKEE – The first thing one notices about a domed stadium is that the view from the floor is very similar to that of a basketball or hockey arena. The stands feel very close to surface and pushed forward for great sight lines. Yet at the same time the coziness is also offset by wide corridors plenty of elbow room and a ceiling that seems vaster than it actually is.
Perhaps that’s because when a person looks up into an open air arena he is looking into infinity. It’s unknown and never ending so therefore the mere human mind struggles to come to grips with that vastness. He simply ignores it.
But slap a roof up there and there is context. Everyone can figure out how high the ceiling is… why it’s all the way up there, of course. It’s a really long way away.
Yet because it’s a basketball arena with a baseball diamond laid out on it, the dimensions seem tighter than they really are. Actually, the closeness of the stands and the roof up top make the place feel like the quirky wiffle ball stadium you probably built in the backyard when you were a kid.
That’s exactly what Miller Park feels like.
Better yet, it has a feel. It’s unique in a sense because the place is completely fabricated, which is a paradox. That’s it – Miller Park is a paradox. Dropped into a wide parkland section just west of downtown Milwaukee, the stadium looks as if it was dropped down from outer space. From the outside it looks like a futuristic clam with its folding retractable roof, and on the inside it looks like a scene from a snow globe.
So that’s where the Phillies will try to win their first playoff series since beating the Atlanta Braves in the 1993 NLCS. The consensus around the ballpark is that the Phillies will sew it up on Saturday to quickly turn their attention to the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team in a similar position.
It won’t be easy for the Phillies. Oh sure, they seemingly cruised through the first two games of the series, but they did so despite themselves. In the 16 innings in which they came to bat, the Phillies have only scored in two of them. Moreover, they left the bases loaded twice in Game 2, once more in Game 1 and have stranded 17, including 11 runners in scoring position.
Worse, the heart of the order – Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell – is a combined 1-for-17 with eight strikeouts. If Brewers’ centerfielder Mike Cameron had gotten a better bead on a fly ball hit by Utley with two outs in the third inning of Game 1, it would be 0-for-17.
Meanwhile, the Brewers are hoping to repeat the same path from the last time they were in the playoffs back in 1982 when they dropped the first two games of the ALCS only to come back and sweep the last three games from the California Angels.
So here we are in Milwaukee waiting to see where we’ll go next.