The last day of a rare, extended summer break was spent watching cricket at Eden Park. The cricket part of it went better than expected. The rest? Not so well.
Lambasting the lip service paid to the spectator experience by Eden Park resonated. Here's a few of the responses, edited for clarity.
"Couldn't agree more - the prices and selection (beer & healthy food) at Eden Park was disgraceful. You would think the powers that be would realise that it's families who fill their stadiums." - Scott
"I don't go any more for exactly the reasons you highlighted... And they wonder why no one turned up to the Wellington sevens. The fun police and those setting the prices ruined it for everyone." - Roger
"You should start some kind of Facebook page or petition so people can really put across how draconian the rules are and how most people who go there are actually wanting to watch the event, enjoy a beer or two and not get hammered apart from the pricing... Imagine if there was a new stadium and you could get some craft beer which is now in an abundance along with some great street style food. I went to a Seattle Seahawks game a few years ago and was just blown away by the options available." - James
"A photo of an alleged burger that was expensive and inedible. It nearly choked my poor father-in-law. I am a surgeon and my colleagues have suggested we send the offending article for histological analysis! On a more serious note, surely in the 21st century we should be over fried hoki, 'chups' and just awful burgers and pies. The poor Lions supporters are going to have to suffer twice." - Simon
The pitiful state of that burger might be a joking/ choking matter, but the continued toxic treatment of the fan by a combination of police-state licensing rules and poor stadium management is not. Take away All Black tests and the odd blockbuster concert and this country doesn't fill its venues.
Because it is not much fun.
An Anniversary Day Hadlee-Chappell match offered so many opportunities. Eden Park Outer Oval could have been transformed into a mini farmers' market, wine and craft beer festival. A big screen could have been set up so you could sit in bean bags or on the grass and continue watching for 20 minutes while you had some edible food and a wine or beer match.
You'd imagine the prospect of 25-30,000 people in the same place would be quite attractive to stallholders (and to the Eden Park ticket-clippers, but gouging is so much easier to accept when you're enjoying the product).
Instead patrons were held captive in a concrete jungle for eight hours and fed the sort of shite Simon the Surgeon has documented.
If you're a casual fan, why would you go back?
On a more positive note, as long as the cricket doesn't prove to be a Napier drought breaker, the series is set up beautifully following New Zealand's Twilight Zone win.
As the entrails of the first ODI were being dissected you would swear New Zealand had lost. There are some facts and thoughts that have been overlooked. Most notably:
* The aim of short-format cricket, including ODIs, is to score more runs than the opposition. New Zealand did that. How you arrive at that point is obviously the fun bit - and game one was all the fun of the fair and much, much more - but the result is what counts.
* Having watched the final hour again, Trent Boult and the maligned Tim Southee did not bowl that badly. It wasn't great, far from it, but aside from an atrocious Boult bouncer that conceded five wides and a woeful Southee full toss that Marcus Stoinis plopped into the North Stand, it wasn't inexcusable. In fact, Southee's toe-crusher that proved to be the final ball of the match was an overlooked (and probably overdue) gem.
* What Boult and Southee ran into was a man totally in the zone who found himself in the form of his life on a ground with boundaries that couldn't contain him. Stoinis played a worldie. Most at the ground felt privileged to witness it, and thankful it came up one crushing blow short.
* Only he could tell you for sure, but I'm convinced Kane Williamson's funky fielding position that paid dividends when he ran Josh Hazlewood out at the non-striker's end was drawn up primarily to make sure someone was at the bowler's end stumps to gather a return. The fact the ball was hit to him was an unanticipated bonus.
* Eden Park is a difficult ground to defend and Stoinis was bonfire-hot, but the incessant conferences between captain and bowler(s) gave the impression, possibly false, that Williamson was rattled. Never seen that before.
* As surprised as I was that Williamson didn't bowl himself, I'm even more flummoxed that Travis Head (5-0-21-1) didn't bowl more.
* James Neesham is proving an enigma but the talent is undeniable. There's a touch of the Ben Stokes about him and their numbers are comparable. The big difference is that while Stokes plays with a 'big' personality, Neesham appears to shrink. That might be unfair, but only Neesham can change the perception.
A few hours previous to the Eden Park drama, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal engaged in sport from the heavens.
Over the years tennis has slipped further and further off my radar to the point where I'd rather watch the Inuit Ice-Fishing Championships than a claycourt match, but this has revived my interest.
The inevitable Greatest Of All Time conversation is good harmless fun, too, but ultimately pointless.
The number of Grand Slam wins seems to hold the greatest currency but it's a flawed methodology because the four events are held over three wildly contrasting surfaces. The grass of Wimbledon (even if it has been slowed in recent years) and clay of Roland Garros are almost two different sports.
The only fitting comparison is their records on the hard courts of Australian and New York. It is here Federer holds an unassailable 10-3 title advantage over Nadal (trimmed to 18-14 when you include grass and clay).
Much is made of Nadal's 23-12 head-to-head record but this, again, is deeply flawed.
They are not exact contemporaries for a start. Nadal has a five-year advantage in terms of youth.
Also the grass-clay balance is hopelessly skewed. Of their 35 encounters, 15 have been on clay. Nadal is not known as The King of Clay for nothing - he holds a 13-2 advantage on dirt. They have met just three times on what used to be Federer's favourite surface, grass, where the Swiss holds a 2-1 advantage.
By the time they both finish you suspect Federer will be unlikely to have added to his 18 titles and it is just as likely a replenished Nadal will add to his. The GOAT title will then be, as it should be now, simply a matter of personal preference.
THE WEEK IN MEDIA ...
If you read one story this week, apart from this of course, make it this harrowing piece from the Buffalo News.
It is easy to hate Millwall Football Club (they don't care), but easy to enjoy this piece, from the Guardian.