August 13, 2009
The beer had barely dripped off the brim of Shane Victorino's cap and onto the warning track when the tweets and IMs started flying my way on Wednesday.
"Classless and gutless."
"And you call Philly fans bad?"
"This is why you haven't won in 101 years."
Except for the last remark, I agreed with most of it. Being a Cubs fan in the year 2009 means often being lumped in brainless swamp of drunk "fans" that have overrun Wrigley Field in the last 10 years and often made it an annoying and/or unbearable at worst place to watch a baseball game.
It's a stereotype we're always fighting against, which is why I'm going to go ahead and suggest that the Cubs should send a strong message and ban beer from Wrigley Field for an entire upcoming series.
Yes, run that place dry, just as they did in Toronto, because enough is enough.
As I said after the incident, I find myself increasingly getting my live baseball fix down at The Cell while limiting my Cubs watching to television or heading to day games on weekdays and Sundays. It's not that I don't like beer at baseball games — believe it or not, I've been known to knock back a few at Clark and Addison, even wrote a book about it — it's just that I'm growing more intolerant of the large number of people who head to Wrigley simply to drink and don't even bother to classify the game as "incidental" any more.
Fine by me if you want to drink and have a party afterward, but focus on the game when you're in the stands — or at the very least, don't do anything stupid like aim an overpriced Old Style at the melon of an All-Star outfielder.
Given that those Wrigley "fans" have been embarrassing the majority of Cubs fans who just want to support their team, it's time for the Cubs to back up their more loyal supporters and become just as intolerant of their behavior.
Yes, even if it means costing themselves a few games of precious beer revenue or going against a policy that doesn't exactly encourage the drinking culture, but doesn't necessarily discourage it, either.
For his part, Victorino said on Thursday morning that he would be against a beer ban at Wrigley, saying that "you can't take away everyone else's fun for one person's mistake."
However, I need to stress that I'm not calling for a Wrigleyville Prohibition simply based on this one incident. It comes after a series of events including Bobby Howry being challenged to a fight on the mound, Jacque Jones'(notes) head turned into a target for a baseball and more trash showers from the bleachers than I can count. Philly fans wondering why Chicago fans haven't been affixed with a similar troublemaker stereotype have every right to ponder because you can basically fill an entire rap sheet with Wrigley Field transgressions from the past decade.
And the thing is, as any real Cubs fan knows, it shouldn't be like that at all. Like Fenway Park, Wrigley Field is a place to watch and appreciate baseball. It's also a fantastic place to drink a beer if you're responsible about it, but the lovely ritual has often been turned into an ugly one by fans who wouldn't know Ernie Banks from Ernie Harwell. Something has to be done to take back the park from these clowns and for all the supposed fans who say they love the Cubs even without the sunshine and beer, I suppose this would be the ultimate test.
Admittedly, putting a plastic cup over the tappers for a few games isn't going to stop the problem or shut down the pre- and post-game drinking that's done in the various neighborhood bars. This city and world will always have morons that can't handle their booze and do stupid and even criminal things while drinking.
But time and time again, the Cubs have rolled out the "it's just one guy" and "the Chicago police are handling it" lines and the embarrassing situations keep happening anyway.
That's why I think it's time to send a stronger message.
It's time to ban beer for a bit.
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