In his always-amusing column in the Journal Sentinel on Tuesday, Jim Stingl relates the story of a couple of guys who got into a heated political argument at Miller Park on Saturday during the Brewer game. Well, now that the cat’s out of the bag, I guess I can man-up and confess to being one of the apparently obnoxious drunken debaters. Things kind of snowballed in the course of the game and...well, let me start at the beginning.
It all started innocently enough in the parking lot, where my friends and I were having a friendly game of toss-the-beanbag over a case or two of Milwaukee’s finest. We were minding our own business when a football flew in from a couple of rows over and smacked into the back of my car, right on my "I’m already against the next war" bumper sticker. "Hey, man, take it easy," I said to the perps. "Shut up and give me the football, you hippie jerk," the young man responded. I flashed a peace sign and headed towards the stadium, not knowing that the dangerous mix of politics and sports was just beginning.
As we settled into our seats, it appeared Ben Sheets was going to be serviceable, but not great, on this day. He gave up a couple of runs early and the Brewers continued their lethargic early-season hitting. But it was baseball on a Saturday afternoon and all was right with the world.
The thing that I love about going to Brewer games is just hanging out with my friends and/or family. You can watch the game or you don’t have to. You can engage in conversations, interrupted only by the crack of the bat. You look up to see what happened – groan if it’s bad, cheer if it’s good – and go back to talking. Or not. Your choice.
On this day, one of my friends was blabbing on like he was Chris Matthews about why Hillary Clinton wouldn’t just quit already. "What’s her deal, man?" he complained while sipping his Leinie Red. "I mean, it’s over. Just go home already. Jeesh." Having heard this from him for the last three months, I know how to deal with it. "Relax, let it play out," I said. "We’ll be fine. McCain is just Bob Dole without the Grecian Formula."
Then someone sitting next to me decided to pipe up. I had seen him out of the corner of my eye. He looked kind of familiar, but seemed kind of stuffy. But apparently, he had had enough of our liberal jibber-jabber. "Aw, she’ll never quit," he said. "A house has to fall on her and her toes have to curl up before she’ll be done." Well, alright. This guy just called Hillary a witch – the Wicked Witch of the West, no less. I turned to him with a smile and an attitude. My friend, knowing what was coming, said "oh oh". It was ON.
"Oh, I see," I began, as another Brewer swung and missed. "And your candidate would be he of the 100 Year Stupid War in Iraq?" "That’s not what he meant..." he stammered. I continued. "Yes...I suppose he also didn’t mean to be against the Bush tax cuts for the rich before he was for them. And he didn’t mean to accept the endorsement of that religious nutjob. And his wife’s secret taxes, I suppose that’s something you can live with?" Down the row, I could see the people he was with trying to pull him to the side. But my new friend apparently thought he was up to the task.
"Say, who was that great president you guys had not so long ago...Carter? I seem to remember, peanut farmer, terrorist-lover, Jimmy somebody..." He was smirking now, egging me on. "Jimmy Carter is a great humanitarian," I proclaimed, without a shred of irony. "I can’t wait to see Bush as an ex-president. What’s he gonna do – go on a tour giving play-time lectures at Chuckie Cheese?" I could tell I was getting to him now. "Oh yeah?" he said. "Well, Bill Clinton got his DNA on a blue dress!" "Really?" I was just warming up. "Well, Bush got buckets blood and death all over tens of thousands of people and that stuff just will not come off!" Our necks swiveled at the crack of the bat – a two-run dinger for the Cardinals. Groan.
I took the opportunity to get in a double shot. "Oh yeah, and you guys have been just great for the economy. I had to take another loan to fill up my car again today. Nice to know it’s all going to Bush and Cheney’s oil buddies, idn’t it?" "Figures," he said. "Can’t trust the free market. Damn socialist." "Free market??" I retorted. "The oil market is about as free as a Gitmo prisoner." "There you go again," he went again. "Won’t be happy ‘til the terrorists win. Why don’t you take your damn law license and go represent a few of them?"
OK, so now it’s clear I’ve been made. But I had his number, too. "I’d love to, but then I’d miss your radio comedy show. It is a comedy show, right? All that stuff about the 50 Rules that you don’t even follow? All that reading GOP talking points with a straight face. Hilarious."
"Shut up!" "No, you shut up." ‘No, you." "You shut up." Etc.
By this time, our entire section was vacated, the aisles roped off with police tape. It was getting really ugly, and it was only the 6th inning – Gagne wouldn’t give up the winning runs for at least another hour. I decided it had to stop and looked for a graceful exit. "Look, Sykes, why don’t you save your half-baked, pseudo-intellectual, right-wing-funded nonsense for Monday morning. I’m trying to watch some baseball here." I reached out my hand to shake his but - honest! - forgot I had a beer in that hand. Before I knew it, he was wearing my beer.
In retrospect, it was the best $6.75 I ever spent.