On the Road with Wisconsin reporter Jeff Harrison

GENEVA, Ill. - The Timber Rattlers are on the first leg of their longest road trip of the season and playing some pretty good baseball. I thought it would be a great time to get out and see the team on road as they battled the Kane County Cougars. I live in Milwaukee, which is about the mid-point between Appleton and Kane County, so the trip south was very doable. The Cougars play in the Geneva, Illinois, which is a suburb about 40 miles west of Chicago.

I ended up hitting the road a little too late and was greeted to rush hour traffic south of the border. To make the drive even worse, the state of Illinois recently raised the tolls for all of us without speed passes. The delay put me in Geneva just in time for the game to start.

I was immediately impressed by the size of Philip F. Elfstrom Stadium, and the layout of the facilities. Parking at the stadium was free and very assessable. The cobblestone parking lot sits across the street from the stadium and was not too far from the ticket office near right field.

When I got inside, the first thing I noticed was the sun beaming into my eyes. The position of the stadium makes it almost impossible for those on the right field side to see until about the fifth inning. I continued my brief tour of the ballpark and regained my vision in front of a concession stand near home plate. The concourse does not offer any relief from the blinding light, because it does not have a roof. Which led me to believe that rain delays are very unpleasant for the Cougar fans.

My next stop in my self-guided stadium tour was the concession stand. Seeing as my patience was already tested by the traffic, I was in no mood to wait in line. But a long wait was just what I received. My hot dog, nachos and Dr. Pepper hardly seemed worth the eternal wait that was required.

Next I proceeded back to the right field side to find my reserved bleacher seat. I was thrilled to find out I was sitting in the Scott Podsednik section. The White Sox outfielder played for the Cougars in 1997.

Aside from the blinding sun, the sightlines were pretty good. I was able to see Marshall Hubbard snag every relay to first base. The stadium also has a very nice video scoreboard and a great sound system. It was so nice it made the scoreboard at Fox Cities Stadium look like a dry erase board. The stadium also featured a nice patio in the outfield section.

The Cougars got a pretty decent turnout for a Tuesday evening game. Like most minor league games, there were a lot of little kids at the game. And while the game failed to hold the kids attention, Jake the Diamond Dog did. He ran around the field retrieving balls and bats. Being the cat person I am, I had no interest in waiting in line to meet Jake or receive a glossy photo of him.

Now back to the game. The Rattlers looked pretty good in the road uniforms, which are pretty similar to the home ones. The road gray threads looked very sharp with the maroon caps. But they lack the nameplates on back.

After getting feel for the bleacher seats and the boring game, I headed over to the Cougars' press box. The extent of my press box knowledge comes from working at Fox Cities Stadium and getting a tour of the press box at Miller Park, so I didn't know what to expect. But the press box seemed pretty decent. It was very spacious and pretty quiet.

The quiet atmosphere in the press box seemed to be spreading to the play on the field. The Cougars were the first to score and that didn't come until the fifth inning. Kane County pitching continued to get the best of the Rattlers hitting for almost the entire game.

That changed at the end of the game, as the Rattlers went on to score seven runs in the ninth inning. They got some help from the Kane County bullpen that fell apart. The Cougars relievers gave up four walks, a wild pitch and a hit batter in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Rattlers capitalized on the mistakes and took the exciting 7-3 victory.

After the impressive finish I headed over to the visiting locker room to chat about the game and about Kane County and Philip F. Elfstrom Stadium.

"The stadium facilities are one of the best we go to," said Rattlers' outfielder Josh Womack. "The field is gorgeous, I love playing here."

Overall, I did have a good time in Kane County and I thought the stadium was nice. But despite my hometown bias, when comparing the two stadiums I would give the edge to Fox Cities Stadium. Kane County has a few nice extras, but the overall feel of Fox Cities Stadium was more pleasant. And I would take Fang over Ozzie T. Cougar any day.

I was very glad I made my journey south to see the Rattlers on the road. It is a very different experience seeing the team away from home, getting to see how things are done at other ballparks. And I would suggest the trip south to any diehard Rattlers' fan. Just don't forget the change for the tolls.

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