Illustration by Bob AulIt's summer, and that means it's pub-crawl time. But regular pub crawls—where you go to a bar, drink a drink, go to another bar and drink another drink—can get boring. Spice it up by making it competitive. Turn it into a game. Turn it into bar baseball.
The game is simple. Each bar is an inning, and each drink puts varying numbers of players on base. For instance, a pint of beer is a single. A cocktail is a triple, a shot of Jäger is a grand slam, and so on. Drinking water is a strikeout. Everybody keeps track of their score. Whoever comes in last pays for the cab ride home.
To show you how fun it can be, I entered a friendly bar baseball game one Saturday. Here's a play-by-play of all the exciting action so you, too, can start your own bar baseball league . . . and may God have mercy on your soul.
Schooner of Sierra Nevada: triple
It's a gorgeous sunny afternoon, and the place is packed. I order my schooner of Sierra and hang out with the rest of the group over by the pool tables. I don't know most of them, so I just listen. They talk about car wax. They mention how they want to see Dave Matthews and the next Jimmy Buffett concert. One woman named Jane talks about how she saw a guy fall off the top tier of Comiskey Park in Chicago.
Some of my friends are saying they're already feeling drunk, but I think these are just early-inning psych-outs. They're drinking schooners just like I am. Then I notice that Ted has finished his schooner and is drinking a pint. Drunk, my ass.
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Shot of Jäger: grand slam
There's just a small crowd here. I despise Jägermeister, but it was either that or Goldschlager, which I've never had and didn't feel like trying.
The group is still pretty much on equal footing. Everyone orders a shot; everyone's score goes up the same. There's no way Ted is drunk. Buzzed, maybe, but he's the one to beat.
I talk to Bill, a guy in the group who wants to join the FBI. He's dating Jane, who saw the guy fall off Comiskey Park. He's from Boston and is still bitter about Bill Buckner in 1986. I tell him we have our own bad baseball memories from that year. He laughs and then tells me about a boat he bought for just $3,000.
Bucket of Great White Shark Margarita: grand slam
Again, everyone orders the same: buckets of booze. It's just a big bucket of margarita with a ton of ice and a whole lime cut up into sections. We put it on a barstool and drink it with really long red straws. I ask my buddy Mark what's in it. "I don't know, but we'll find out," he says enthusiastically. You're supposed to have four people to a bucket, but for some reason, there are only three drinking out of my bucket. You see what's happening here? We're drinking more alcohol than the other bucket teams, but we all get the same number of points. I consider filing a formal protest. It takes us 20 minutes to finish our bucket. Now we die. Group member Kelly pulls me aside and asks what shot I had back at Beach Ball. She then tells me about the medicinal value of Jäger. She seems a little wobbly—I don't like her chances. When she vanishes, I figure she's out of the game. I go to the restroom and gulp down a few handfuls of water from the sink. As I said, one of the game's rules is that drinking water constitutes a strikeout, but it turns out no one really knows what a strikeout means in bar baseball. Still, I'm taking no chances. I drink secretly in the bathroom. 4:55 p.m.
Blue Beet Cafe
Double cocktail: triple
The place is empty when we walk in, save for a young couple sitting at the bar. Some in our group order food, but I ate lunch—rotelle pasta with marinara—before the game, my thinking being that those who ate during the game would be too full to drink in the later innings. Feeling pretty good about that. I'm also starting to feel pretty blasted. On the walk across the parking lot from Sharkeez, I noticed that I needed to watch my feet a lot in order to travel in a more or less straight line. Not good. Sam is behind the bar. She's cool. But I feel sorry for the couple already there because a bunch of drunks—including me—just walked in and spoiled their quiet afternoon. I order a Big Rig—a pint glass mostly filled with Stoli Vanilla and a splash of ginger ale. It tastes like cream soda. I also believe I've found a loophole in the no-water rule: I order a Sprite and down it quickly. It's all based on a new theory I've suddenly developed, which says that whatever non-alcoholic liquid I pour into my stomach will counteract the effects of the booze. I pay for my drinks and sit down. As I do, I suddenly worry whether I remembered to tip Sam. It bothers me immensely. Then I forget about it. We all go upstairs to the patio. I sit in the sun and talk intently about why people become politicians with one guy I don't know but who seems to be in our group. "You really blew my mind," he says, then goes to the restroom. Then I talk intently with another guy about physical therapy. 5:55 p.m.
Big beer: double
Jane and Bill seem soft. I think they're dropping out soon. I'm still drunk, but I think I'll last to the end. "Nobody ever does," Jane tells me. I feel bad because I didn't say goodbye to Sam at the Blue Beet. I also can't remember if I finished the Big Rig. I learn that Ted—who doesn't seem drunk at all—and I are both Yankees fans, but that my friend Mark still roots for the Dodgers. Poor bastard. Kelly's back. Actually, she never left. But now she's with her boyfriend. Interesting. I talk to her, turn away for a moment, and when I turn back, she's gone. I hate being drunk. In the restroom, I notice somebody has scrawled, "Give Peace a Chance" on the wall. This bothers me no end. Don't these people know there's a war on? Or is the war already over? More important, where's my beer? 7:15 p.m.
El Ranchito Mexican Restaurant
Cocktail: no score
The game schedule says this inning should actually be at Rudy's three blocks away, but no one wants to walk that far. Bill is gone. I think Kelly is gone. Most of the group is gone. No one is keeping score anymore, so I order a Sprite. My buddy Mark orders me a margarita. Everyone's drinking margaritas. I hate margaritas. I'm also eating chips and salsa. Taste good. I talk a lot with a guy I think is in our group, but I'm not sure. He's eating tacos. But then he leaves. The room is really spinning now. I'm wasted. Why do I keep writing that in my notebook? I find myself spending a lot of time arguing about who is worse, the French or the Swiss. I keep insisting it's the Swiss, but I can't get anyone to agree with me. I go to the restroom, but it's out of paper towels. I have to use one of those paper toilet-seat liners. It's too early in the evening for this. Mark just refilled my margarita. The thought of taking another sip knots up my stomach. I'm also now listening to Jane tell me about her allergies that aren't really allergies. I can't take this anymore. 8:10 p.m.
I say goodbye to my friends and take myself out of the lineup. Just like Lou Gehrig, only in a girl-drink drunk sort of way. I guess I lost, but no one says anything. I think they forgot about the game. I feel sick but walk all the way home without incident. I place upright every temporary no-parking sign I find overturned on the sidewalk. God, I feel awful. 8:40 p.m.
Home. I lie face-down on the floor because that way, the walls move less. I still have to take out and clean my contact lenses, which somehow I manage. I start worrying again about whether I tipped Sam at the Blue Beet. Then I throw up. Feeling better, I go to bed. This is pathetic. It's not even 9 on a Saturday night, and I'm already through. I listen to a phone message left after I started drinking this afternoon. I'd like to call her back but don't dare, as I can't be sure what I'd say. How long did I last? Six hours? I can't believe I'm still capable of writing notes. I drink the last of my bottled water. That means tap water from now on. I try to lie down and die, but I only fall asleep. I'm out.