A Fenway business-related matter has been in the news here, causing a minor controversy in some circles. It seems that the Red Sox are planning to take on a practice currently seen at most American professional sports venues: the sale of mixed alcoholic beverages. Now, before I embark on my rant, I’ll preface it by saying that I have no intentions of purchasing mixed drinks at Fenway Park; I prefer instead to have one or two beers while taking in the game.
Boston and Massachusetts are known for their proud embrace of 400-year-old puritanical “blue laws”, most of which do not have any practical application to modern society. Stupid shit, like business owners needing a permit to open shop on Columbus Day (because we all know that Chris Columbus single-handedly discovered America, so it only makes sense that we commemorate his heroics by chipping away at the already-fragile state economy).
Mayor Tom Menino, seeking to continue a Boston tradition of shackling the free market in the name of idiocy, took issue with the Red Sox selling these drinks at Fenway. His argument was something along the lines of, “Err-ehh (I’m doing my Mayor Quimby voice here) err-ehh, these drinks should nawt be sold in the bleachahs, err-ehh“. Somehow, in Menino’s mind and in the minds of a bunch of grandstanding city and police officials, it’s completely fine for people in the bleachers to swill a dozen 5% ABV beers and drive home to Reading or Dedham in their Ford F-150′s, but the appearance of a whiskey sour in Section 35 will cause Armageddon.
Why, you ask, is it acceptable to have a free-flowing torrent of domestic beer at the ballpark, but no mixed drinks with roughly the same alcohol content? It’s simple: certain people have this Norman Rockwell image of what a baseball game should look like. Wooden stadiums, wool uniforms. Beer, peanuts, and hot dogs (but nothing else!). All children should have red hair, freckles, and huge smiles. Umpires should be fat and authoritative. Players should have a gruff blue-collar appearance to them, like coal miners. There should be very few minorities around, and everyone in the crowd should be wearing fedoras. There are no strawberry daiquiris or pomegranate martinis in the Norman Rockwell world of baseball, it’s as simple as that.
The same type of people who are raging against the sale of mixed-drinks at Fenway are generally the same type of people who complained about the kiosks serving sushi or pizza. It’s baseball! There’s no sushi in baseball!
Thankfully, it appears that a compromise has been reached. Fenway can sell their mixed drinks, as long as they err-ehh, keep them away from the bleachahs, err-ehh. Because, you know, God forbid the unwashed masses get their hands on a watered-down Tom Collins. The universe would collapse on itself.