Monday, April 11, 2011

Dodgers Should Cancel Half-Price Beer at 2011 Day Games

SoSG readers, particularly those who were lucky enough to attend SoSG Fest 2010 last year, can attest that Sax here loves himself a nice cold beer, or five. Watching a baseball game with an ice cold beer in hand is glorious and transcendent; it's like combining peanut butter and chocolate except better (and probably more caloric). It's one of life's simple pleasures, and I intend to enjoy the combination for 15-20 games a year.

SoSG readers also know that I love going to Dodger day games. I usually get to Opening Day, of course. But in recent years, the MLB scheduling gods have usually given the Dodgers only one to three mid-week day games per season, and I try to make at least one of them (the twilight games are also a hit).

There is an art to skipping out for lunch on a Wednesday, running to the car, putting on one's Dodgers cap and feeling the euphoria coursing through one's veins as one abandons the workplace, not looking back and shutting off the blackberry en route, headed toward the promised land. Whether I make it to the Stadium still clad in a button-down shirt and tie, or I've been able to slip into shorts and sandals while hauling ass on the freeway toward Chavez Ravine (Houdini would be proud), it's always so incredible to be there for a day game, sweating and baking in the California sun, looking around at the other ~30K folks and thinking, "what the hell did you have to do / say / promise to get out of work, too? Don't any of you work for a living?"

This year, I was giddy with excitement to hear in December 2010 that the Dodgers were scheduling six mid-week day games in 2011. On top of that, the Dodgers upped the ante by christening them as "Half-Price Food And Drink Days", with all six games offering half-price food, drink, and beer items.

When I checked the Dodgers' website Sunday night, the fine print wasn't exactly clear about whether beer was included in the half-price offering, or not. But make no mistake that the promotion logo has a frosty mug of beer over on the left hand side (strangely, the beer stein also has a handle; I have yet to see a handled beer cup at Dodger Stadium, but maybe I've missed it (not likely, though)). And other ads the Dodgers have run this season definitely tout that alcoholic beverages will be half-price.

This idea simply has to be re-examined, in the aftermath of the unfortunate Bryan Stow incident on Opening Day. So, despite my love of beer, and my love of day games--I feel that the Dodgers should re-consider this promotion, and keep beer at the full price for these games.

I realize that it's unfair that a few idiot "fans" of the Dodgers ruined it for everybody. I've certainly had no problem holding my own alcohol at Dodger games over the years, and it's disappointing that my wallet would have to suffer thanks to a couple of bad apples.

But the other side of the coin is, I don't like having our beloved Dodgers being the flashpoint of national attention for undignified fans and an unsafe ballpark environment. And unfortunately, we've become the whipping boy here. As SoSG Orel already pointed out in his post last week, Frank McCourt's public stance in the immediate aftermath of this tragedy was at best indecisive and at worst contradictory and feeble, that is until the Dodgers opted to contract William Bratton's company in a public relations "Hail Mary".

Saturday's LA Times reported that McCourt was finally putting his money behind increased security at the Stadium, agreeing to fund additional LAPD officers in the ballpark and parking lots, as well as investing in computer-based crime-tracking systems. This is a promising start, and I applaud Frank (or Frank and Jamie?) for the move--but at best this is a sorely overdue reaction to over a week's worth of media floggings, including a prominent article in this Sunday's New York Times ("Dodger Stadium Beating Highlights Fans’ Unease").

In the last week, Los Angeles has been portrayed as a hooligan-run town fit for only a group of savages. And from a civic-pride perspective, it's appalling that it took this long to go on the counter-offensive, and take actions that were not only overdue but probably prudent even if the Stow tragedy had never happened.

But then, the LAPD / Kroll Inc. involvement seems half-hearted, without addressing other contributing factors. On the topic of alcohol itself being a potentially contributing factor to the Stow tragedy, McCourt still seemed oblivious and disconnected, despite being flanked by front office staff as well as LAPD brass who were coherent and logical enough to acknowledge the likely connection:

McCourt deflected a question from a reporter regarding complaints from some fans that the atmosphere at the park has become more hostile in recent years. He also expressed skepticism that curbing alcohol sales would make a significant difference.

"I don't think it's the sale of beer that's a problem, per se. I think it's the abuse of that privilege," he said.

But Beck, in an interview, said he believed beer and alcohol consumption did, in fact, contribute to the problems at the stadium and said police officials were pushing the Dodgers to raise prices and stop sales at an earlier point in the games.

Dodger officials have told the LAPD that they are reconsidering their plan to sell half-price alcohol at six games this season. They also promised to look at prices and serving sizes for alcohol, as well as when to stop serving alcohol, according to Dodger spokesman Josh Rawitch.

And so here we are, ten days away from Half-Price Beer Day #1, and the Dodgers are still getting pummeled in the press for scheduling a series of promotions that will likely further destabilize an already shaky proposition. ("The Dodgers Are Concerned Enough About Fan Violence To Offer Half-Priced Booze At Six Upcoming Games") Even if you're going to staff future home games with increased security, why risk it with these promotions? Why hand out matches and lighter fluid at an arsonists convention?

Come on, Dodgers, show that you are honestly committed to a safe ballpark environment, enforced not only by LAPD security but also by sound operational practices that help ensure a positive experience for all attendees. I'm sure that every ticket "lost" to the joker who wanted that tenth $5 beer would be balanced by a summer-vacationing kid trying to compel his or her parent to spend the afternoon at the ballpark, or convince his or her summer school to take a field trip to the Stadium.

(Unless, of course, you don't want those kids to show up, and you'd prefer the beer-swilling Neanderthal who might not be able to hold his liquor.)

I'm not saying to ban the alcohol sales--just charge full fare for them. It sucks, from the perspective of being a responsible drinker, but honestly, my wallet can handle the "incremental" alcohol spend; and really, $20-25 is a small price to pay to know that I can bring my kids and friends and family to a safer ballpark environment. Not to mention the positive press the Dodgers would finally achieve this season; let's face it: with a 5-4 team tracking toward a .500 record, there may not be much else about which to write for this team.

Do the right thing, Frank. I'm willing to forgo the discount. You should be, too.

Oh, and catch these two idiot guys, too--and put concrete boots on them and dump them in McCovey Cove. That would go a long way towards restoring public trust, as well as national credibility.

36 comments:

Johnny Blanchard said...

Disagree. So Very Tired of this approach to solving problems. I took an alcohol server course for the LB Grand Prix, and I am sure they do the same thing at DS. Enforce existing rules properly and don't over-serve. All that needs to happen is for security to squash the trouble in the stands/parking lot for those that thwart the rules.

Typical American PR overreaction, this is. Why not charge MORE for beer? That'll fix the PR problem.

You know, we've got enough problems with Plaschke's rabblerousing in this town without the Sons joining in.

Josh S. said...

Johnny: I'm not sure how well trained in alcohol serving the DS staff is. Case in point: Two seasons ago, I went to a game using a Miller Lite promo code that included two tickets, two dogs, and two beers. The person I went with doesn't drink, but the Dodgers' own website said the vouchers could be used for soda instead. Well, the guy at the concession stand told me there were no substitutions and he MADE me take two beers. I argued with him, but he brought a manager over who also told me I had to take the beer.

Dusty Baker said...

Saxy, you're killing me! I've already budgeted for lowered beer prices that day.

Have we yet established a concrete connection between the amount of beers consumed (if any) and the violent offenders identified as the Opening Day perpetrators?

karina said...

True, maybe charging more is not really a solution to avoid people getting drunk and making fools out of themselves, but I do agree with Sax.If they want to get drunk, let them to pay more to achieve and maintain that state,it might be the most effective measure.It's hard to control a large group of intoxicated people in a heated environment and I'd pity the sales person who should refuse to sell a beer to an angry,drunk person.

Also, not every drunk is a jerk, there are plenty of jerks around but we can't deny access to jerks, can we?

Mr. Customer said...

Yeah, I gotta disagree, as well.

Drunk assholes are not so much a problem because they're drunk, but because they're assholes.

Spank said...

Goddamm,Alcoholics!

Paul said...

Stop selling beer to Uribe!!

Alex Cora said...

Working in a place where I see a lot of drunks, I have to agree that over indulgence in drinking makes people very very mean. I have been spit on, swung at, and kicked by drunks - all while trying to help them. They maybe assholes to start with, but alcohol makes them do really stupid things. If it means one less person getting hurt out there, then I say raise prices. Hey, whatever happened to the family friendly pavillion of old?

Paul said...

I think the Dodgers need more eyes than less beers. I've been to games where people are loaded and acting like idiots when they arrive late in the second inning.

I think this is a good time to change the culture of security and the fans to report and remove them immediately. I have been guilty of just letting it go cause sadly you just get use to some of it (not the violence for the public intoxication). Now I feel like if I want to restore some pride back to my favorite place to watch a sporting event I have to be more vigilant.

So don't be surprised if I turn myself in. :)

Mr. Customer said...

@AC

It's hard to argue with that, but drunks will find a way to get drunk. I think there is something to be said for zero-tolerance for misbehavior, but there's no escaping the fact that there are a lot more jerks out there looking for trouble than there used to be.

Paul said...

I think William Corgan should write a poignant song about this topic with back up vocals by William Corgan and William Corgan on drums.

Mr. Customer said...

I endorse violence against nobody except William Patrick Corgan, Jr.

Spank said...

*takes a shot of tequila*
*gives Eddie Vedder a flying elbow*

Dusty Baker said...

Completely agree w Mr. C.

I'm reminded of similar conversations relating to fan violence in the futbol world, specifically in Europe. In England, they moved the start time of matches earlier thinking that people wouldn't have as much time beforehand to get hammered. Wrong! They just got drunk earlier. The desire to get hammered was still there. As well, the underlying social reasons for a fan choosing to commit violence were also still there: lack of good job/income; feeling of helplessness in society; racism or nationalism; class jealousy, and so forth. Raising beer prices or starting games at a different time will clearly not address these underlying social constructs.

Also, I'm entirely unconvinced that a violent element are somehow showing up at DS and getting tanked during the game. Rather, I think they are showing up that way. I base this on: already staggeringly high beer prices acting as an economic disincentive to have 12 beers during the game - that would be a really expensive drunk. Also, one would have to spend one's entire time in the beer line as well as in the urinal in this scenario. Plus, beer sales end in the seventh inning. Plus, most people don't get to the actual game on time. So given all these constricting realities, not sure at all that I buy into the guys-come-into-stadium-consume-mass-quantities-turn-deadly-violent-but-we-can-stop-by-raising-beer-prices theory. It's the easiest scenario to finger point without addressing the underlying social realities of an urban population, I suppose.

Alex Cora said...

It is against the law to be publicly intoxicated. Create a jail in the bowels of Dodger Stadium. Arrest them. Throw them in there to sober up. Collect a fine to pay for the jail. Everyone (except those arrested) is happy!

Steve Sax said...

Re: Billy Corgan--can't we just disarm him with a smile?

Spank said...

Well said,DB.

Did MLB step up security for tonights game or are they leaving it up to the Gnats?


I blame Russell Martin

Steve Sax said...

@Spank: Orel links to a post that says security will be tight at the Phone Park today.

Mr. Customer said...

That's not a terrible idea you've hit on there, AC.

Fred's Brim said...

@AC and have the jail in the visitor's clubhouse!

Steve Sax said...

@AC, Mr. C: If they do set up a jail at Dodger Stadium, we'll have to document it just like we did for the secret urinal rooms.

Dusty Baker said...

Philly does this at Eagles games, no? They have booking stations and judges on the spot, if I remember correctly.

Dusty Baker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dusty Baker said...

MLASC is on some sort of hunger fast but asked that his opinion be posted in this space:

"Raising beer prices is definitely not the real solution to preventing fan madness. People who would go overboard on multiple half-priced brews would likely find other ways to inebriate themselves, be it bringing a flask or just simply paying more. And because the games are during the day, security would have the benefit of increased visibility. However, from a strictly PR standpoint, they should abandon this promotion immediately. It reflects poorly on the team, on the fans, and on the city; after such a glaring light has been shown on how out of control some "fans" can become, especially while under the influence, the team still presses on with half-priced beer. It might not save much face, but it needs to be done."

Paul said...

McCourt's PR instincts are about as savy as Pablo Sandoval's at a salad bar.

Paul said...

Cool Dusty is MRLASF's press secretary!!

Are you going to answer some questions by punching a hole in the wall?

Steve Sax said...

@Dusty / MR LA SC 11:01a: yeah, I knew I would be vilified by the SoSG readers on this one, but I'm still holding to the point (which you both articulated better and more succinctly than I). I still think we should put beer at regular price, for the positive PR impact alone. As a franchise, we are appearing oblivious and disconnected by not addressing this issue.

Eric Karros said...

O'Doul's is still at half price though, right?

Steve Sax said...

Actually, O'Doul's is DOUBLE price. And they slap you across the face for ordering it in the first place.

Paul said...

Paying stadium prices for non-alcholic beer is a whole different topic that would take years of research into the psyche of the person who would think that is acceptable.

Dusty Baker said...

At Sax

I completely agree with the point if it's about PR. It's just the scapegoating of the underlying causes on innocent beer drinkers that I disagree with. In fact, one could argue that letter beer sales remain the scapegoat actually gets in the way of addressing the real problem, which is (as I've chronicled in this space for years now) a lack of widespread, forward physical presence by security staff and ushers in-game.

Steve Sax said...

At Dusty: totally agree with you on the ushers, my friend. we need more, stat

Steve Sax said...

cute ones, preferably.

who can hold their own against aggressive drunken idiots.

--> what are the five women from suckerpunch up to these days?

Mr. Customer said...

Not expecting a call from their agents about a sequel, that's for sure.

Dusty Baker said...

Hot usherettes - that's the answer!

Gary said...

Isn,t half price beer at Dodger Staduim double price beer at alot of other places? Giving your average fan a small break for half price for a dog and a beer doesn,t seem like a bad idea to me. Maybe one half price trip to the concession stand per ticket by stamping the hand of the purchaser to id him would be OK.