Six old friends decided to get together last week and attend a Texas Rangers game. They’d all grown up in Arlington in the 1970s and attended many games back in those early years when the Rangers began the team’s tradition of losing. Fans back then used to get pretty wild – especially since they could bring in their own beer. Raising hell and badgering opposing players were as common as dribbling nacho cheese.
The six guests last week included a Static colleague who loved the Rangers for a quarter-century but has boycotted the team since 2002, after talented, loyal, and all-around nice-guy catcher Pudge Rodriguez was unceremoniously dumped, and yet the team signed the biggest whiner and wuss in team history, Juan Gonzalez. The Weekly writer decided to overlook his boycott for one night in the name of male bonding. The seats were excellent – infield, really close, just a few rows behind former pitching great Nolan Ryan and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.
The old gang was quite thirsty upon arrival and familiarized themselves with the beer vendors. At $7 a pop, the brews added up and the men quickly burned through a couple hundred bucks collectively. It’s doubtful that any of them were legally drunk – $200 buys only about 30 beers; divide by six, and that’s five beers each over a couple hours. Pleasantly buzzed, yes. Snot-slinging drunk, no.
Nonetheless, somewhere around the sixth inning, an usher approached and told the gang they were getting too rowdy. One of the men had used the “mf” word while telling a story. “There are families here,” the usher said. So the men left. Heaven forbid anybody should get raucous at a Rangers game.
Before the season, the Rangers’ new marketing guru, Dale Petrosky, said in a radio interview that the team was trying to attract 25- to 55-year-old businessmen, precisely the type of fan that could give the Rangers a real home-field advantage; the kind that made Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park so daunting to opposing players; the kind of person that has a drink or nine, and actually cheers for the team – or at the very least boos and berates the opposing team.
Drunken, loud sports fans are a time-honored part of baseball. If they don’t want people to get drunk, they should make the game less boring or not sell beer. Or maybe they could put a swear jar at the end of each row of seats. Of course, anyone who can watch the Rangers without dropping a dirty word or two is probably in a coma.