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The Nats don’t really have baseball’s most expensive beer

Because “most expensive” anything merits a headline, “Nats have baseball’s most expensive beer” merited many headlines this month.

Like this one: “CNN Money: Nationals Have Most Expensive Beer Prices In Baseball.”

And this one: “Taxpayer-Funded Nationals Park Features National League’s Most Expensive Beer.”

And this one: “Most Expensive Beer In Baseball: Bad News For NL East Fans, Especially Those With Natitude.”

And this one: “Nationals Park Beers Some of Baseball’s Most Expensive.”

Now, as I noted when this all came out, beer prices at Nats Park have clearly gone up since the park opened. And no one would say they’re cheap. But there isn’t really a metric under which the Nats have baseball’s most expensive beer. And, as always with such stories, this follow-up explanation will reach many fewer eyeballs than the original headlines.

There are a couple issues here, but the major one is that both CNN Money and Team Marketing Report — which generated the “most expensive beer” headlines” — relied on a particular method of beer accounting. “The cheapest beer available,” as CNN Money put it. “Smallest available size,” as Team Marketing Report explained in small type.

But perhaps because of a mix-up with the Nats, both outlets reported that the team’s cheapest beer cost either $8 or $8.25. As seen above, that’s just not true; there are select Nats Dogs stands that offer “regular” 12-oz pours for $6.50. That would place the Nats tied for 13th in MLB.

Regardless, under the CNN Money and Team Marketing Report standards, beer prices were compared across the majors based on the absolute price of the smallest serving, and not the per-ounce price. Team Marketing Report also listed the $8.25 Nats Park beer as containing 16 ounces; the Nats say — and the bottom of the cups confirm — that this “large”-sized pour is actually 20 ounces.

And if you instead rate the 30 MLB teams by cost-per-ounce for the cheapest option as listed by Team Marketing report, the Nats $8.25-for-20-ounce offering would be tied for 13th, and exactly equal to the Major League average (41 cents per ounce). The most expensive honor would shift to the Red Sox ($7.25 for 12 ounces, or 60 cents an ounce) and the Cardinals ($6.75 for 12 ounces, or 56 cents an ounce).

And it goes without saying that you can also get $5 16-ounce beers before first pitch on the scoreboard walk — I tested this offer on Sunday just to make sure. More than once, actually. Sure, you have to be there a bit early, but a $5 16-ounce ballpark beer is pretty swell, actually.

Of course, had Team Marketing Report used the above-pictured 12-ounce option — which would appear to be the actual cheapest beer at Nats Park — the per-ounce cost would rise to 54 cents, which would rank third in the majors.

Got all that?

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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