True story: Last Brewer game I went to was on the same Sunday that an episode of “Sunday Insight With Charlie Sykes” on which I appeared aired. So before the game, I sat and actually gave some thought about what I would do if someone recognized me. I mean, if there are 45,000 people in the ballpark, at least some of them had to see the show that morning, right? And what if someone sees me and wants to punch me in the nose? Or call me a name?
So I spent a good 15 minutes thinking about whether I should wear sunglasses, or a floppy hat, or a fake mustache. (Which, of course, would just cover my real mustache.) As it turns out, I did none of the the above.
So we got to the stadium, and walked around the whole length of the concourse before we got to our seats. And not a single person recognized me. We sat down, and after a minute, I realized – this sucks. So I got up again and walked the length of the concourse again. Still nothing. I probably would have actually welcomed a punch to the grill, because it would have meant someone watched the show (or wanted my jumbo pretzel really badly.)
The lesson, as always, is this: I am a moron.
No such problems tonight as my buddy Johnny Roast Beef and I went to see the Brew Crew take on the Cardinals. We were way up in the nosebleeds, where I had no allusions of being recognized. It’s actually a scientific formula – the closer the seats get to the top of the stadium, the less likely the inhabitants of those seats are to watch political television. Hell, once you get to the top 4 rows or so, those people are most likely unable to actually turn their televisions on at all.
In fact, the upper deck is always interesting, in that it attracts people who aren’t really there to watch the game at all. They’re cheap tickets, probably given to them, and it gives them the chance to socialize and look at college aged girls who also aren’t there to watch the game. And as is often the case, it gives men the chance to get completely bombed and scream obscenities at the top of their lungs, as was the case tonight.
There really is no way to describe the discomfort one feels in a section where some guy is hammered and yelling profane non-sequiturs for all to hear. It’s like finding a pubic hair in a giant bowl of potato salad – it ruins the whole thing for everyone. There is no saving the game experience at that point.
On the way home, I spent the whole time thinking about what the rationale is for people getting drunk at sporting events. Think about it – alcohol exists to take unbearable situations and make them somewhat more bearable (work picnics, meeting girls, parent-teacher conferences, etc.) Why would you take an already awesome experience, like going to a Brewer or Packer game, and make it somehow less memorable by getting liquored up?
(Full disclosure – I once emptied the contents of my stomach onto the left field bleachers at County Stadium, but I had an excuse – it was after a work party, and someone made me try chewing tobacco for the first time. I was 21, I think.)
Here’s where I get all metaphysical…
When you think about it, our memories are really all we have of sporting events. Days later, you can remember being there to see specific great plays or watching your team win. But if you get hammered, and can’t remember anything that happened during the game, then what’s the point? You (may have) paid for a ticket, and (certainly) paid $6.00 per beer to get sloshed. Since you don’t remember anything that happened, you could have done it at home for a lot cheaper.
So, anyway, back to these morons in our section. From a young age, I have certainly known my way around a well placed expletive. I am no stranger to the art of profanity. But if you try to confront one of these drunks, then suddenly YOU become the bad guy, and a whole host of bad stuff can happen to you. And if you don’t, then your daughter just thinks you’re a giant puss, and will probably need therapy for 15 years to find out why daddy couldn’t protect them from the angry man at the Brewer game.
So are fans getting more obnoxious? I think they are, and I have a theory as to why.
I think it mostly has to do with new stadiums. Let’s be honest – Miller Park exists to attract people who aren’t there to watch baseball. In a perfect world, everyone would go to the park to watch the game, and County Stadium (and Bernie’s Chalet) could have lived on in perpetuity. What’s going on in the concourse is irrelevant. But in order to finance a modern team, you need to draw more than just baseball fans – you need other things (food, attractions, racing sausages) to draw people, and therefore increase revenue.
When you get a lot more people (which Miller Park has been wildly successful in doing), you get a lot more people who are interested in doing other things in the stands than watching the game. This includes drinking, and drinking a lot. Add to that the fact that tickets are more expensive now – so drunks believe they have a constitutional right to be as offensive as they want, considering they’re paying such an exorbitant amount for a seat. They are unaware or disinterested in everyone else’s constitutional right not to be harassed by their drunk ass. (Side note – neither of these are constitutional rights, in the way I believe we have a constitutional right to know what’s in the secret stadium sauce.)
On the other hand, the Two Fisted Slobber has been a source of pride in Milwaukee sports for as long as I’ve been going to sporting events. So I could be full of it.
Other sights and sounds from the game:
At one point, they showed a man and a woman on the jumbotron, and the older man looked as if maybe he shouldn’t have been there with the younger woman. So Roast Beef and I debated “what to do if the jumbotron catches you at the game with your mistress.” I thought you should immediately pull out your cell phone and pretend you’re talking to someone else. Roast Beef thought you should turn and kiss the man next to you, as if you mistakenly thought it was the kissing montage.
There was one guy there wearing a number 45 jersey that clearly had once been a Carlos Lee jersey. But he took a black marker and added a few letters, making it the jersey of current number 45, Mike DifeLEEce. (Although it is actually spelled DiFelice, I thought it was a game effort. Cheap-assed, but game.)
I made the mistake of getting one of those Palermo’s pizzas at the game. It was one of the worst things I have ever eaten. Serves me right for getting pizza at a baseball game. But aren’t ballpark pizzas kind of an advertisement for what a Palermo’s frozen pizza will taste like if you make one at home? Now, I just know I can lick the inside of my toilet at home for free, instead of buying a Palermo’s frozen pizza.
I was really fired up for the game this week, since I watched an hour long special on the 1982 season on MLB Network on Sunday. The look on Bud Selig’s face when the Brewers beat the Orioles on the last day to make the playoffs is priceless. During the entire celebration, he’s holding this incredibly long cigarette with four inches of ash hanging off the end – like he’s auditioning for the role of The Penguin in a hypothetical 1982 Batman movie. It really is priceless.
Also notable from that season is how skinny all the players were. As a kid, I remember Gorman Thomas being this larger than life, Paul Bunyan-type figure. But today’s players make Gorman look like Lance Armstrong. He looks rail thin in the old films. He’d probably be a weak hitting second baseman on most teams today.
I listened to the last two innings in my car on the way home, and heard no update on what happened to Ryan Braun after he got plunked. Almost 45 minutes of radio, with my sanity on the line, and no explanation of why he left the game? Come on, guys.
Also, another radio-related note: Why do labor unions advertise during Brewers games? Are there really a lot of people on the fence about joining carpenters’ unions that will be pushed over the edge by a radio ad? Seems they could reach their intended audience (all 10 of them) in a little more cost-effective way. And if you’re a member of one of these unions who can afford these ads – dude, your dues are way too high.
I was trying to remember whether Frank Catalanotto had ever played for the Brewers before, but I was getting him confused with fellow journeyman Tony Graffanino. At that moment, Roast Beef mentioned that they actually had Graffanino jerseys still for sale in the Brewers gift shop. Seriously – how much would one pay for a Graffanino jersey? I think you could actually pay in dance moves and you’d be overpaying.
Just think – if Ryan Braun is hurt for any period of time, the Brewers could be trotting out a lineup that includes Craig Counsell, Frank Catalanotto, Jason Kendall, and Mike Cameron. I’m starting to have flashbacks to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, as if it’s 1998 all over again. If Bea Arthur hadn’t died a week ago, she’d be a lock to play right field.
Speaking of Monica Lewinsky, I just read the new book “American Icon” about Roger Clemens’ steroid use. As is well known now, Clemens began dating 15 year-old country singer Mindy McCready when he was 28 and had 2 kids. But there’s a story of how Clemens once flew her in on his private jet to go to a swanky New York party with him in 2004, and the party was attended by luminaries such as Monica Lewinsky and Michael Jordan.
Seriously – how bad has it gotten for Michael Jordan that he’s now going to parties that also have Monica Lewinsky on the invite list? Should we start taking up a collection for MJ? Have a telethon for him? This outrages me more than the fact that Clemens was hosing a 15 year old. Outrageous.