In 2011, the Boston Red Sox partied like it was 1999. As the team collapsed in September, starting pitchers reportedly were drinking beer in the clubhouse on their days off during games. It was more Club Med than clubhouse in Boston: The bat rack was replaced by a wine rack; the water cooler was replaced by a quarter keg.
No more. In 2012, the Red Sox have gone from Patron to Prohibition — new Manager Bobby Valentine has banned alcohol from the clubhouse.
But, hey, we’re all adults here: Did a few adult drinks really sink the Red Sox? Perhaps. Still, I recall endless stories of my boyhood idol, Washington Redskins quarterback Sonny Jurgensen, showing up to Sunday NFL games with a Saturday night hangover, and passing for 300 yards.
In fact, in surveying my own personal and extensive athletic experiences — trust me, folks, I once had a heavenly mind and body — I have found alcohol accompanying most of my sporting pursuits.
Here’s a breakdown:
Bowling: What, you think the expression “beer frame” comes from architectural design? First of all, the game is wonderful on its own; most of my bowling outings have been free of liquid inducement. But I am proud of the fact that a frame — one-tenth of an entire game — is devoted to the purchase of a beverage for a fellow competitor.
For all the entertainment options in Las Vegas, none pleases me more than going to the 24-hour bowling center at the Gold Coast Casino — after midnight, games are just a buck and, of course, there’s no last call. When you’re rolling spares at 4 a.m. with a PBR within reach, you do feel as if you live in the greatest nation on Earth.
Speaking of which, if every American bowled at least once a month, 35 percent of our problems would disappear. Bowling more would reduce the federal deficit and global warming. And I firmly believe that, in addition to having a valid birth certificate, every U.S. president be required to have a 145 average.
Poker: Like bowling, this great game needs no feverish hype or firewater. Still, one of its joys is that poker and drinking are not mutually exclusive. In golf, you can’t chug some cheap hooch and then blast out of a sand trap — well, unless you’re John Daly. But in poker, it’s common to sip a cocktail and then check-raise.
At my home card room, Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, Calif., when I am sometimes losing — as you might imagine, I am an expert in this area — a fellow loser and I will order drinks “to numb the pain.” And, occasionally, one good glass of Cabernet can spark a rally and allow me to get home to Toni, a.k.a. She Is The One (And Then Some), with milk money in my pocket before 6 a.m.
Fishing: You want glorious? I have had rod-and-reel in hand, sipping a gin-and-tonic, aboard a 37-foot boat in the Pacific Ocean, awash in warm sunshine and soft southern California breezes.
You want inglorious? I used to fish along the sticky banks of the Potomac River outside of Washington with my father, on humid, windless mornings; the only bites we got were from mosquitoes. And we did it all spirits-free, because my pop has never been much of a boozer.
Anyway, my dad’s a great guy, but he would spend most of these outings telling me war stories from his days working in personnel management at the Internal Revenue Service. Have you ever heard war stories from someone working in personnel management at the IRS? Boy, could I use a drink.
Golf: I started and stopped playing the game as a teenager. Thankfully, I was underage at the time and could not drink — it’s possible that the 19th hole might’ve drawn me into the world of golf and I never would’ve been able to escape all those golfers I didn’t want to be around.
Gymnastics: I’ll be perfectly blunt here: I cannot recall or imagine ever setting foot on a balance beam without a shot of whiskey first.
Q. If baseball sabermetrics normalize factors outside of a person’s control, how many marriages could have you saved if that happened to you? (Zachary Loesl; Slinger, Wis.)
A. Trust me, sir — baseball sabermetrics are no match for my marital miscues.
Q. Do you think if President Obama wins his NCAA pool, Republicans will say it was fixed and demand a recount of the final point totals? (Eddie Vidmar; Cleveland)
A. At a minimum, I would check the authenticity of his bracket.
Q. Does the new iPad come with the Clark Kellogg-to-English translation app preloaded? (David Haley; Kansas City, Mo.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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