NO BEER, NO BALLGAME
Ken Hoffman relives the horror of a beer-free MLB game
This article originally appeared on CultureMap.
I've never missed Minute Maid Park more than last weekend, when I sort of attended an Indians' baseball game at Progressive Field in Cleveland. I was in The Land for my nephew Wilson Young's graduation from St. Ignatius High School, home of the fightin' Wildcats. Oliver Luck, CEO of Vince McMahon's second coming of the XFL football league and father of Houston Texans' nemesis Andrew Luck, went to St. Ignatius.
A few of us decided to sneak in an Indians game during graduation weekend. We arrived at downtown's Progressive Field around 3:30 pm for the scheduled 4 pm start. The big scoreboard had a message: "Today's first pitch is delayed. Stay tuned for more details." Delayed for what? It was cloudy, okay, but no rain was falling. But a few bands of precipitation were in the forecast, so the Indians decided to wait for the rain to pass before starting the game. Making plans based on a weather forecast … gee, you can't go wrong with that.
I grabbed a brisket sandwich on the main concourse — no comparison to the Jackson Street BBQ stand at Minute Maid Park, and prepared to sit out the "rain" delay. Five o'clock, no rain. Six o'clock, still no baseball. At last a message appeared on the scoreboard: "First pitch at 6:55 pm."
Where's the brew?
Around 8 pm, heading into the fourth inning, we had enough. As we left, stadium workers asked if we wanted our hands stamped, so we could re-enter the ball park, like at Chuck E. Cheese's. Wilson's dad explained, that's so people can leave, have a few beers at a neighborhood bar, and return to the stadium for the rest of the game. I asked him, "Why do people have to leave to drink beer?" He said, "they stopped selling beer in the stadium an hour ago." Huh? That would have been the first inning.
Here's a tricky deal about baseball in Cleveland and other cities where the ballpark doesn't have a roof. What happens if a game is delayed for several hours, with fans just sittin' and waitin' and drinkin' beer? They'd be smashed even before the game started, like the two drunks behind us who kept screaming advice at Indians manager Terry Francona. They never stopped. It got old, and very annoying, fast.
Yes, there are beer policies
Here's the beer policy in Cleveland. The stadium will sell beer until the last out of the seventh inning, or three hours after the originally scheduled start time, whichever comes first. Since the game started at 6:55 pm, essentially the game was played without any beer sold.
For some people, baseball ain't baseball without a cold beer. Several years ago, my buddy Reg "Third Degree" Burns and I went to a Yankees game in The Bronx. We bought bleacher tickets from a scalper outside the ball park. When we got to our seats, we discovered that our section of the bleachers was a "family zone" with no alcohol allowed. I didn't see Third Degree again until the subway ride back to Manhattan.
Continue reading on CultureMap to learn about the Astros' policy on beer sales and some tips from Ken Hoffman on how to behave at a graduation.