Saturday, January 01, 2011

Beer And Baseball

Major League Baseball and Budweiser have kissed and made up which means we are primed for another season of the beer maker as the "official beer" of the sport. Frankly, this was a more acceptable when Budweiser was owned by the Busch family than it is now that the "American" beer is owned by some foreign company. But it is what it is. Beer and baseball have always gone together and the sponsorship of baseball by beer has a long history. Why it has currently led to a plethora of "guys are really stupid" types of beer commercials is beyond this Fan.

The Fan has nothing against beer. If people enjoy drinking beer, then live and let live. But the Fan doesn't like beer and has never gotten the determined attachment that leads to the mindset that pulsates in the dumb commercials beer makers make. This devotion is skewed for this author by the fact that beer only starts tasting good after the seventh or eighth bottle/glass/can/mug. And drinking that many is a huge problem. The Fan would prefer a bottle of Coke. But the Fan also gets that for some, beer can be a religious type of thing.

The current crop of beer commercials seem to play on those who view beer that way. In this famous ad that was banned from the Super Bowl, a clothing drive goes far too well once a free beer was given for each article of clothing. The bottom line for these commercials is that beer is more important than clothing, social mores, sex (the number one topic of beer commercials) and family. A guy comes home and his wife/girlfriend has left a trail of clothing hinting blatantly that she would like some romance. But the guy can't get past the fridge and his beloved beer.

The Fan just doesn't get this. A pretty, half-dressed girl would always be preferable to a carton of beer. But one of the Fan's favorite blog buddy peppered his baseball travelogue series with the pursuit of beers as much as baseball, so it must exist. At least in the clothing drive ad, women as well as men gave up their clothes for a beer. Most of these commercials make total morons of the male species. The men of these ads would sell their mothers for a beer.

The Fan isn't exactly comfortable with this partnership of the American Pastime and beer. A lot of time and energy is devoted to keeping kids away from alcohol and every station paid for by SADD and MADD. And yet these commercials are on our favorite baseball telecasts and kids all across the land are seeing beer as something so greatly valued that people (men in particular) would rather have them than act appropriately and decently. That message isn't too far away from Joe Camel on the Fan's morality scale.

But the two have long coexisted and it's not surprising. Beer ads have made the beer companies a lot of money and have made teams a lot of money for the advertising. From this Fan's earliest memories, beer was always a part of baseball. Growing up, Ballantine was the sponsor of the Yankees and Schaefer was the Mets' sponsor. In this one case, the Mets out-classed the Yankees as Schaefer had a much better song. Though that song isn't as politically correct as it was then, "The one beer to have when you're having more than one."

Never has baseball and beer coexisted more than in Milwaukee. The home of Miller High Life and other beer makers was formerly the home of the Braves. When the Braves moved to Atlanta and the city wanted another team, the aborted Seattle Pilots (of Ball Four fame) moved there and naturally were renamed the Brewers. If the Fan is not mistaken, the mascot there slid into a brew of beer whenever the Brewers hit a homer. And of course, their color television commentator, Bob Uecker, became a cult hero largely due to his famous Miller Light commercials.

Well, St. Louis might argue the point of the previous paragraph. After all, the Cardinals were once owned by the Busch family and their stadium still has that name. And since Budweiser and Miller have a century old battle for supremacy, we'll call it a tie...except that the Rockies play at Coors field and...well, you get the point.

Yes, beer and baseball have gone together for a long time. The most popular vendors at ball parks are the beer vendors and their frosty concoctions in those large wire trays is a fixture in this Fan's mind. For some, the experience of going to the ballpark is about drinking beer as much as it is watching a game. Again, the Fan has no problem with that except some fans lose their heads when a few too many foamy liquids pass through their lips. Then it becomes a problem for any family with kids to deal with. But you can't picture a baseball stadium without the beer.

So, yes, Budweiser and baseball have patched things up which means that the St. Louis beer maker can once again call itself the official beer of Major League Baseball. As you can certainly tell from this post, that moniker is an important one because baseball and beer have had a love affair going on ninety years.

No comments: