Minor League Monday: Appreciating the Kane County Cougars
I love sushi. I don't eat it often, but every once in a while, I get a hankering for it. It's an excellent change of pace food, loaded with tasty fish, rice, and vegetables. I eat it about once a month. Most of the time, when you picture sushi, you picture getting it from a fancy Japanese restaurant. While I do love top of the line dining, sometimes, I want sushi in a more convenient way. Rather than having to go through the steps of dressing up, making a reservation, and making a plan to east some sushi, I sometimes enjoy an easy way of making it happen.
Enter: Aldi's frozen sushi. Aldi has a package of 18 pieces frozen sushi that sells for about $6. I love keeping one or two of them in my freezer for when the craving hits. Random sushi lunch on some weekday can happen with a package of frozen sushi. Granted, it's not the best quality. It does not compare to the fancy restaurants. But it scratches the itch. And it's also a lot cheaper and more convenient. I love frozen sushi, for the flexibility it offers. (CubsDNA Staff: 🤮)
In the same way, I love my local minor league baseball team, the Kane County Cougars.
As a Chicago suburbanite, going to a Cubs game is a full day affair. You have to allow two hours of commute time to drive downtown, park, and walk to the stadium. Traffic can be a heavy factor. Trains run on uneven schedules, and provides a constant ticking clock to work around. I love going to Wrigley Field, but it's a pain in the butt of a production to make a Cubs game happen. I can't just take in Cubs games any given weekday, and weekends are pricey. Don't get me wrong, it's worth doing several times a year. But I'll never be a regular attender, unless my circumstances drastically change.
Going to a Cougars game is cheap and easy. It's a 45 minute commute, allowing time to park and walk to the seats. It's super affordable, with tickets between $5 for a lawn seat to $20 for something good behind home plate. Food costs are reasonable. Even parking is just $5. There are lots of fun promo dates and giveaways as well. It doesn't compare to the atmosphere of a September game at Wrigley during a playoff race, but it scratches the itch I have for watching an in person baseball game. And for someone as flexible and content as me, that's just fine. I don't need the fancy $40 per plate of sushi to be content. Sometimes, the $5 frozen box will do just fine.
I have a lot of great memories at Northwestern Medicine Field:
Drinking down the melted ice cream finale of a funnel cake was a cool way to beat the summer heat.
$5 helmet nachos always made me happy.
I'd always clean the helmet out and wear it out of the stadium, a trophy to my food victory.
Father's day meant playing catch in the outfield with your dad. We had some fun.
A slice of baseball heaven. For only $20.
The Kane County Cougars is a guaranteed good time. Great park, great food, great price. Every year, I'd find myself there a couple of times. People always compare it to the MLB, and often think of it as expendable. That's just not true. With over 120 teams all over the country, MiLB plants some the seeds for lifelong baseball fans. Rural fans might live hours away from a big league ballpark, but they are always within driving distance of a minor league one. This accessibility isn't something to be ignored. It helps grow the game of baseball, and for that, I am thankful.
I was bummed to hear that the Cougars did not make the cut for minor league baseball. Fortunately, they were picked up by the American Association for 2021. After MLB's continued mistreatment of MiLB franchises and last minute refusal to provide players for 2020, I think that this could be a great long term move for them. As the Commissioner's office haggles over if spring training can commence in a state that's hosting professional football, basketball and hockey games, the American Association will put players on the diamond in 2021. And they'll get my butt in a seat, 100% guaranteed.