Ten Cent Beer Night

Happy 39th anniversary, Ten Cent Beer Night!

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I memorialize this every year because, man, why wouldn’t you? But today is the 39th anniversary of Ten Cent Beer Night. The Cleveland Indians’ promotion that gave unhappy people unlimited quantities of nearly-free alcohol and, amazingly, turned into utter chaos.

Paul Jackson’s 2008 story remains the gold standard on Ten Cent Beer Night, giving us the background of how it went down and why Cleveland in 1974 was the perfect time and place for that to turn into the mess it became.

I still think the biggest eye-opener of the whole thing was just how different the ballpark environment was in 1974 vs. the environment of today. Ballparks back then had turned into rowdy, drunken places where people simply didn’t want to take their families. While some argue today that it was a better time for baseball, citing national TV ratings and the place baseball still held in the national consciousness, go back and look at the attendance figures of the early-to-mid 70s to see just how marginal live baseball was in most cities.

A reason why? Mike Hargrove was nearly brained by an empty gallon-jug of Thunderbird early in the game. This was BEFORE THE ACTUAL RIOT.  These days no one would be able to get such a thing into a ballpark, let alone drink it undetected. And if it was thrown onto the field there would likely be a stoppage in play and possibly a suspended game. The person who threw it would be pointed out by near-by fans and, at worst, we’d get a YouTube video of his arrest because such a thing would be eye-popping indeed.  In 1974? Well, just something that might happen.

It’s a way better ballpark experience today than it was back in the so-called good old days. And the farther we get from those good old days, the more stark that distinction becomes.

Rick Ankiel drank vodka before a start to deal with the yips

9 Apr 2000: Rick Ankiel #66 of the St. Louis Cardinals winds back to pitch the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Brweers at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Elsa Hasch  /Allsport
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The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.

It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:

On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:

“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”

Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.

 

Justin Turner talks “Easy D”

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up prior to game six of the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:

No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!

Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:

It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:

I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.

And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.