Pass it down
Saturday I attended possibly the most enjoyable baseball game I have ever seen in person. My father-in-law was in town. Our family schedule parted as miraculously as the Red Sea and living within walking distance of the park, I proposed going to see the Cubs versus our crosstown rivals the Sox. Nevermind that we didn’t have tickets. Nevermind that it was the nicest day for a baseball game all season. Never mind that it was the first series with the Sox. We figured we’d get taken by scalpers, but in fact the Cubs have a licensed reseller (read: official scalper) selling gameday tickets on location. We got tix four rows from the field on the Cubs side. Cost: um, more than face.
It was perfection. Suffice to say that the wind was blowing out, no one held a lead for very long, and a certain beloved Lee (not Elia, bless his profane heart) who was on the bench with a neck spasm emerged from the dugout to bewildered but deafening applause, whiffed once, sat on three, and then smacked one into the bleachers. Oh, also the bases were loaded. (A pinch hit grand salami, for goodness sake. Can anyone tell me the last time that happened with the Cubs?) Good times.
But what I really want to talk about here is drinking beer at Wrigley. Admittedly I’ve only been to a few other parks in my life, but I have to think the culture of beer is stronger in The Friendly Confines. Hell, it is the only park to have baseball cards for every single beer vendor.
So there’s a whole set of unwritten rules regarding buying from beer vendors at Wrigley. Here is the obligatory How To (Digg front page, here I come!):
- Yell “Hey Old Style!” like you’re picking a fight or sheepishly flag down the Bud guy.
- As he works his way up or down the rows serving other fans remind him of your order periodically by throwing peanuts his way and waving the number of beers you want his direction. Actually, don’t throw peanuts.
- When he gets to your row he’ll normally hold his index finger and thumb like he’s holding your ID. This means send it down the row.
- Do the math. $6 times the number of beers requested. Pass this and a little more plus your ID to the person next to you for delivery down the row.
- Watch as every person handles your ID, looks at your photo, and basically learns who you are.*
- Wait for the beers to be passed down to you while enduring the obligatory “sip charge!” heckling from those having to pass them.
- Flash the number of dollars you want back, implying the tip, to the vendor. Remember, he has your ID and he hasn’t spit in your beer (yet).
- Enjoy beer.
[*] Does anyone find it odd that the park is now carding people this way? I’m not opposed to enforcing the age limit, but in what other circumstance would I be forced to put one of my most important identification documents in the hands of a row full of total strangers? Privacy nuts are obviously not ballpark beer drinkers.
To make matters worse, my ID is actually cracked at the top from where the top of it pokes out of the sleeve in my wallet. Apparently consistent ass-pressure over the years has made it so. The vendor in the stands told me that he couldn’t sell me another one with an ID like that and, sure enough, when I went to get more after a potty break under the stands I was rejected. (Luckily, a nearby seatmate stranger — part of an earlier pass-the-money pass-the-beer bucket brigade — was in line right next to me. So he bought my beer.) But still, the policy is no altered, broken, or frayed ID’s will be accepted. Altered, ok. But broken or frayed? Do they think we keep our ID’s in some kind of Centers for Disease Control white room? It is under our ass 70% of the day, for god’s sake!
I’ll leave you with the completely unrelated but absolutely hilarious rant by the Sox head coach, Ozzie Guillen, the day the series started. Idiot.