I used the self-serve beer machine at Target Field and now I shall tell the tale

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN — I spied it from afar:

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I approached:

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I figured out how much it would cost me:

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I followed the rules:

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I made my choice. You can see how stressed I was by all of this:

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I poured my beer:

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That was $5.50 worth of beer. I still have $4.50 left on my $10 card. I am reserving the right to go back later though, truth be told, there is a ridiculous amount of good beer here in Minneapolis so I’m not sure I want to waste any more of my remaining liver/brain cell capacity on Bud than I have to.

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Also: look how lame that pour is. Not a professional job by any stretch of the imagination. I figure the twin-draw of this technology for the ballparks is that (a) in the long run they will save money on having to pay people to draw beer for customers; and (b) they figure people will buy more beer thanks to the novelty of it. There are probably some line-shortening/capacity efficiencies at play here too and the fact that lots of people will leave money on the card. I like to think, however, that bartending, even when it’s only about slinging American lager to people, is an art form. And part of me doesn’t much care for the mechanization of yet another aspect of life. But such is the nature of progress.

All that aside, I will give the people behind DraftServ credit for running a smooth operation. It is well-attended and administered, with someone checking IDs before handing out the cash-loaded cards and someone else in charge of roping off the area where the taps are so as to keep people from sneaking by. Macrobrews at ballparks is a volume business and this is about as efficient as you can get with that.

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Still: seek out the good beer, folks. And have a pro pour it for you. Life is way better that way.

Braves clinch NL East title

Ender Inciarte
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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.