Friday, April 13, 2007

The Summer Game

For the first time in a really long while, I'm actually feeling the urge to go to a Braves game. During Spring Training, I had some touches of nostalgia for my early teens, when I'd spend spring and summer devouring every bit of baseball literature I could. I've been thinking of names I haven't thought of in years -- Cesar Cedeno, Andy Van Slyke, John Lowenstein, Al Bumbry. It's kind of a pleasing feeling.

This post isn't about that nostalgia. It's about the most ridiculous baseball game I've ever been to.

Spring of 1999 -- I was doing double duty as Managing Editor and Entertainment Editor of the Boulder Planet, and with staff reduced to almost nothing, I was doing neither job well. I was inundated with press releases, and if I could pass off one of those releases to some other schmuck co-worker, I counted that as an accomplishment. If there was anything remotely sports-related, for instance (and by this point, I was counting "so-and-so likes to golf" as "sports-related") it went to the sports editor, Kynan.

One day, Kynan left me a note about one of those press releases. "Did you notice we've been invited to a bourbon tasting?" Not just a bourbon tasting, but a bourbon tasting in a Coors Field luxury suite, during a Rockies game.

We RSVPed, and began making plans. With a level of journalistic ethics best described as "questionable," we promised all sorts of coverage, and told them that the story would have cartoons -- so that we could get the staff cartoonist, McClown, into the game.

Finally came the big day -- and to add to the festivities, I turned in my resignation (the polite term -- a more accurate description would be "threw a temper tantrum and quit") that week. Being semi-responsible, we took the bus down from Boulder.

When we got down there, it was getting pretty cold and blustery -- one of the hazards of April baseball in Colorado. We fortified ourselves at a Fado's (it was long enough ago that I thought a Fado's was a novelty) for a few hours, then trekked over, still not really believing our good fortune.

We got in with no problem -- the stadium personnel treated us like functioning human beings, rather than the booze-seeking monsters we truly were.

We went up to the luxury box. It was truly luxurious. We noticed that everyone was dressed rather nicely -- we were dressed in bourbon-drinking clothes. Cheap turtlenecks, jeans, ski jackets. No matter. We were welcomed politely, and most importantly, given complete access to the free bourbon and free food.

And we took advantage of it. Bourbon was consumed. Beer was consumed. Mexican food (medium quality, but FREE) was consumed. Occasionally we watched baseball -- I remember nothing of the game, except that they were playing the Padres, and I was vaguely aware that "gee, I get to see Tony Gwynn," and that the snow was coming down harder.

The bourbon in question was Bulleit Bourbon, at that point a brand being launched by Seagram's (I think). The story was (and this is all very blurry by now) that it was an old family bourbon, now being reissued. As such, there was a representative of the Bulleit family there.

We sat through some speeches about the bourbon -- I vividly remember Kynan, already glassy-eyed, pretending to take notes -- and then returned to milling around, occasionally telling the bourbon-family guy that he was a "great human being," etc.

Unfortunately, the game was snowed out -- though that may actually be a good thing, since if we'd continued at the established pace, we'd be dead now. We were given freebies aplenty -- fingerless gloves (?), a bucket (??), and bottles of the bourbon. On the way out, plenty liquored up, we appropriated a few more bottles -- no one seemed to mind.

After a few photos in the bus station (and they're hilarious, but possibly actionable, so I'm not posting any), we rode home through the snowstorm -- passing out bourbon samples to our fellow passengers, Kynan leading everyone in a chorus of Mojo Nixon's "You Can't Kill Me." A grand time was had by all. I don't know if I've ever been that drunk.

Baseball's never been the same since.

(coda: since the game was snowed out, we did use the tickets as rain checks later. But that's a whole other story of irresponsibility. And I probably need legal clearance from Kynan and McClown.)


Nanuk of the North said...

Baseball, bourbon and a reference to Mojo Nixon.

This may be your best post ever. I give it an A plus.

gsdgsd13 said...

If I'd known the best post criteria before, I would have worked baseball, bourbon and Mojo into every post.

You Can't Kill Kynan said...

Wow, thanks for the memories, blurry as they deserve to be. I still have a photo of me posing with "Tom Bulleit" or whoever they trotted out as the purported heir to the Seagram's fortune. He's a furry little guy, maybe 5-3, who looks in the photos to be totally (and ironically) unaccustomed to being bear-hugged by a sweaty drunk in a ski parka. I still have the "bum gloves," and somewhere I still have a press release glossy of a bottle of amber-glorious Bulleit Bourbon, to which I retain a stalwart allegience.

We did end up writing something about our experience for the paper, didn't we?