NO BEER, NO BALLGAME

Ken Hoffman relives the horror of a beer-free MLB game

Photo by Ken Hoffman

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.

Astros secure a series win against the Royals

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 6-1 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Houston was able to erase the sting of the three straight losses to Oakland earlier in the week by taking the first of three games against the Royals in Kansas City on Friday night to get back on track. They had Zack Greinke on the mound Saturday night to try and lock up the series. Here is a recap of the game:

Final Score: Astros 6, Royals 1.

Record: 97-53, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (16-5, 2.95 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Mike Montgomery (3-9, 4.70 ERA).

1) Another tightly contested game early

There was just two runs scored in the first half of the game on Saturday, one for each team. The first was by the Royals off of Zack Greinke; they got a leadoff single in the bottom of the third followed by an RBI-double to take a 1-0 lead. Alex Bregman immediately tied things up in the top of the fourth for Houston, though, hammering a solo home run to make it 1-1.

The Astros took their first lead of the night in the top of the sixth, getting runners on first and third to set up an RBI-single for Kyle Tucker. Houston had a great chance to break the game open after that, loading the bases with no outs, but would leave all three runners stranded in a disappointing end to the inning.

The run that Kansas City scored against Greinke would be his only allowed in his night of work. He had another great start, finishing six innings and leaving in line for the win. His final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 0 HR.

2) Astros extend their lead in the eighth to put things away

With Greinke's night over, Hector Rondon was first out of Houston's bullpen to pitch the bottom of the seventh. He recorded a scoreless inning, retiring Kansas City in order. In the top of the eighth, Kyle Tucker got his fourth hit of the night with a leadoff single, then Robinson Chirinos worked a walk to put two on base for a pinch-hitting Yordan Alvarez. He took advantage of the opportunity, drilling a ball to straight center-field for a three-run homer to extend Houston's lead to 5-1.

Joe Smith took over for Rondon with the four-run lead in the bottom of the eighth, and he too was able to hold the Royals scoreless. In the top of the ninth, the Astros extended their lead after an intentional walk to Kyle Tucker loaded the bases for Robinson Chirinos, who delivered an RBi-single to make it 6-1.

With the lead now at five runs, Houston went to Bryan Abreu to try and finish things off in the bottom of the ninth. He would get two outs, but with a couple of runners on would pass the ball to Will Harris who recorded the final out. The win secured the series win and gave Houston a chance for a sweep on Sunday afternoon.

Up Next: Houston and Kansas City will wrap up this series with the finale on Sunday at 1:15 PM. Wade Miley (13-5, 3.74 ERA) will try to finally rebound from two horrible starts in his last two outings and get back on track to be the Astros' fourth starter in their playoff rotation. He'll go opposite of Jakob Junis (9-13, 5.06 ERA) for the Royals.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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