Archive for Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Opinion: Next time, I’m running the beer race

June 11, 2003

Although I don't typically cover sports, I jumped at the chance when our lead sports guy Matt Tait asked me to pinch hit in covering the Kansas City T-Bones home opener.

I'd like to say I wanted to go because I'm a sports purist or because the allure of reasonably priced tickets, free parking and the Holy Grail of all reasons, cheap beer, proved too overwhelming to pass up.

I'd like to say that, but I can't.

The real reason I wanted someone to take me out to the ball game was I'd heard independent league games are like the circus coming to town, a lively and rambunctious epicenter of momentum.

Friday night didn't disappoint as I watched CommunityAmerica Ballpark unfold into a cross-pollinated version of "Bull Durham" and "Animal House" -- a welcome sanctuary from the uneven drab of the Major Leagues.

There was never a dull moment in the home opener as I couldn't help but chuckle when I watched Uncle Sam walk by on stilts and I couldn't keep from rooting on a cackling Latin American vendor yell 'lemonade, lemonade, lemonade.' Most of all, I couldn't stop cheering during the beer race.

Ah, the beer race. Exactly the between-innings entertainment Abner Doubleday envisioned when he invented baseball.

First, let me explain the beer race. Take two knuckleheads, give each a pitcher of beer, race them around the edge of the infield and the last man standing wins.

Or so it would seem.

These two particular knuckleheads didn't disappoint, especially Bluto. I don't know Bluto's real name, but this guy looked exactly like John Belushi's whiskey-chugging, guitar-bashing, 'Did we quit when the German's bombed Pearl Harbor'-spouting academically deficient character in "Animal House."

Give Bluto a navy blue sweatshirt with the word COLLEGE emblazoned in white print and you've got yourself a sequel, "Animal House 2: Academic Probation."

Bluto, a scruffy, portly fellow, got out of the gates strong but quickly lagged behind his sleeker opponent (Otter, perhaps?). But our protagonist wouldn't let his opponent win the hearts of the crowd.

Halfway through the jaunt and to the delight of the crowd, Bluto began chugging his pitcher of suds. The President of the United States should hope for an approval rating as high as the one Bluto received from the audience.

But, although nothing touched the popular beer race, the Circus De La T-Bones didn't end there.

Throughout the night, spectators were belted with a dizzying assortment of between- innings spectacles.

Vendors' lungs exploded like a Sammy Sosa corked bat as they hawked goods as if their lives depended on selling them. Uncle Sam made enough trips around the ballpark to make an Olympic miler tired, and fans were even treated to a marriage proposal.

The baseball was pretty good, too.

Although they lost the game, 1-0, the T-Bones were anything but bush league, as they were competitive, showed great pitching, solid defense and good fundamentals. All told, Friday night proved a welcome activity for fans sick of Bud Selig, George Steinbrenner and Barry Bonds.

And I'll add this -- my experience at Friday night's game means my boycott of attending a major league game will continue.

Besides, next time I might be chosen for the beer race.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.