Sunday, April 22, 2012

And now here's something we hope you'll really like. (Baseball)

With 162 games in a season, and only about 81 of them counting, there's really no reason to watch most baseball games, let alone every baseball game, let alone every Milwaukee Brewers game.

(Although, having said that, Ryan Braun fans would be better off watching the Brewers' regular season games, as MLB's collective bargaining prohibits random drug testing during the regular season, so there is a greater chance of Braun-style heroic athletic achievements in the regular season, while in the offseason, as we know, there is, when it comes to Ryan Braun, a greater chance that alchemy will occur and will change the chemical structure of urine into something more... sinister.)

But one man wants to watch all 162 Brewers games, and the Milwaukee Brewers have helped him out by giving him tickets to all their away games and upgrading his season tickets to their home games, and even giving him a per diem for food.

Why would the Brewers do that, besides the obvious fact that paying fans to come to games is the wave of the future for baseball?  Because the man, Ben Rouse, is on a mission from God.

Or from himself.  Or something.  Ben Rouse was diagnosed with leukemia after cutting his leg at a Brewers' game years ago, and although with that leukemia in remission now, he feels the time is right to complete a longstanding goal of his, that goal being (did you already forget?) to watch all 162 Brewers games in a single season.  He figured it would cost about $11,000 and quit his job to take on the challenge, and Brewers management decided to help him out because Ben is doing this to help raise awareness for "The Match Registry."

Here is how Ben discovered he had leukemia, told as a true baseball lover would, by linking it to baseball games:

In February 2007 I attended the Brewers Arctic Tailgate, where fans camp out at Miller Park to purchase single game tickets. Opening week coincided with Spring Break during my sophomore year at UW-Madison, and I was planning on attending the first 6 games of the season, against the Dodgers and Cubs. Brewers on Deck took place on Sunday, April 1st, the day before the season began. I attended the event and spent some time chasing baseballs in the right field loge bleachers, which Prince was littering with home runs. I happened to bump my leg on one of the bleachers in the process, and acquired a small gash on my left inner thigh, just above the knee. I didn’t think anything of it and went about my business.

Opening day came and went (my first Opening Day), and the Brewers easily dispatched the Dodgers 7-1. Ben Sheets pitched a complete game 2-hitter, and retired 22 straight batters at one point; what a way to start a season.That night, after watching Florida beat Ohio State in the NCAA National Championship Game, I became ill. I wasn’t able to even keep water down. My fever swelled to 105.7 degrees, and I just thought it was some sort of nasty stomach virus. After talking with a nurse on Tuesday, I was going to try and attend the Brewers game that was scheduled for that night. I went to my scheduled haircut that day but wised up and didn’t go to the game, even though I desperately wanted to. I was afraid of throwing up at Miller Park and being ridiculed for being drunk, but I obviously had not been drinking.

That led to the discovery of his disease, and ongoing treatments while Ben looked for a bone marrow donor.  But with only 10,000,000 people on the list -- that sounds like a lot but there are more than 300,000,000 people in America -- there were no matches until he found someone on the cord blood registry.

So now Ben wants people to register for The Match Registry to help facilitate life-saving transplants of bone marrow.  And he is willing to sit through 162 baseball games to raise awareness, which is a sacrifice not many of us would make; have you seen a baseball game? They're really slow.

You can follow Ben's travels on his blog at Brewers Mission 162.  And you can get directions on how to join The Match Registry by clicking here.  I ordered my swab kit; you'll have to click that link to find out what that means.

BY THE WAY: So far as anyone knows, only one other fan has ever attended every game in a season, a guy named Steve Melia who did 167 games for the Yankees.  So if the Brewers can go 168 games -- barring any unfortunate completely random chemical occurrences that in no way reflect what anyone did or did not do to improve their performance -- Ben might break the record.

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