Opening Day – Dos and Don’ts

It's important to know your way around a Brewers Opening Day. Even the most experienced tailgater can find themselves passed out next to their truck and their own vomit.

My good friend Brooks famously described Opening Day by saying, “I went to a bar, and a baseball game broke out.” Since 1998, before we were old enough to legally drink, Frank Grimes and I have been to every single Brewers Opening Day together. We closed Milwaukee County stadium down and we opened Miller Park it’s inaugural year. Every year we create memories that we will have for a lifetime and have walked a fine-line between good old fashioned fun and public indecency.

Opening Day has become our tradition, our national holiday, moreover, it’s our excuse to get together with old friends, and act like we’re still in college. This is why I’ve decided to put together some helpful tips for the less experienced Opening Day participants.

DO: Gather your supplies the day before
You will definitely need a cooler, grill, chairs and enough food and beer to accommodate everyone in your group. Generally we buy all the food and beer together and just split up the cost evenly. By getting everything sorted the day before, you’ll be free go out the night before and not be last in line at the parking lot come Opening Day, thus giving you more time for Beer Shuttle Runs.

Here’s a basic checklist:
Brats
Burgers
Buns
Beer, Beer, and more Beer
Cheese
Pickles
Chips/Pretzels
Paper Towels
Paper Plates
Bottled Water
Condiments (Ketchup, Mustard, and Secret Stadium Sauce)
Ice
Charcoal
Cooler
Grill
Chairs
Spatula
Matches/Lighter
Trash Bags

DON’T: Forget to buy extra of everything
As mentioned in a previous post, my rule of thumb is 12 beers and 2 brats per person. Not everyone will drink 12 beers or eat 2 brats, but it’s good to have extra food since you will be tailgating for 3-4 hours and probably again after the game.  I recommend buying some hot dogs, burgers, a few bags of chips and whatever other snacks you might want in addition to the mainstays. In my experience, it’s always better to have too much than to run out.

It’s also good to have extra beer too so that you’ll drink while in the game and you can also share with friends and fellow Brewers fans in the parking lot. For years we used to bring a 1/2 barrel with us and that always made for a good community atmosphere and a really good time. However, it is much easier to just get a bunch of canned beer instead.

DO: Go to Victor’s for karaoke the night before Opening Day
OnMilwaukee.com voted Victor’s the “Best Cougar Bar of 2011.” According to them, “the low lightning and downtown locale makes Victor’s a prime habitat for cougars.” Let me just say for the record, this is not why we go here, but it’s pretty funny that this is what they’re known for. We go here because it’s usually a Sunday night before Opening Day and on Sunday’s Victor’s has karaoke and we have a great time.

Victor’s
1230 North Van Buren Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

If you do happen to swing by this year, I’ll be the one singing back-up on Color Me Badd’s “I Wanna Sex You Up.” Frank Grimes will be holding down lead vocals. You’re welcome.

DON’T: Order champagne by the bottle
Another oddity at Victor’s, besides the enormous leather booths, crazy DJ lights, and Gary is the fact that they have bottle service. Not just any bottle service. You can order Ketel One with mixers or whatever else your beer-drinking friends won’t touch like at a normal club, or you can order Ballatore Champagne by the bottle. By ordering this $12 bottle of champagne you are somehow granted unlimited frozen pizzas. This IS as great of a deal as it sounds, however, a terrible thing to wake up to in the morning. A belly full of Jack’s pizza and Gran Spumante is no way to start the morning of Opening Day. Take my word for it.

DO: Show up to the parking lot before 9 a.m.
The Brewers will announce again this year that the parking lot will not open until 10 a.m. or something, but that’s just to try and keep people from showing up at dawn. Truth is, each year, a line of cars accumulates at the entrance of the parking lot until it backs up onto the interstate. Once the cars have interfered with Milwaukee traffic, they open the parking lot early and everybody is happy.

It’s all part of the dance. They open the parking lot later to prevent everyone from getting so drunk. Miller creates a bottle with grooves so you can pour beer down your gullet faster. They raise the price of beer to $7. I shotgun 3 beers while waiting in the Will Call line.  Parry and joust.

DON’T: Forget the following…
Tickets
Warm Clothes
Bags Boards (Corn Hole)
Football/Ball and Glove
Deck of Cards
Beer Bong
Spatula (If you forget this you will be forced to use your ice scraper or borrow one)
Music

Other than the tickets, nothing here is completely essential. You could make due without these items, but you’ll probably enjoy yourself more if you’re not freezing and you have something to do other than chug beer. Tickets are actually fairly easy to score in the parking lot for face value. So if you don’t have any tickets, don’t let that keep you home. Go tailgate and make some friends. I’ve found tickets this way more than a few times. Remember, you’re in Wisconsin, not Chicago. People are nice and generally helpful here.

DO: Eat early, and often
Whenever you find yourself in a daytime drinking excursion like Opening Day in Milwaukee, it is easy to forget to do things you would normally do. Such as eat food and drink water. It’s important for longevity to do plenty of both from the beginning of the day. If you wait until you’re already fairly buzzed, it may be too late. Eat breakfast if you can or eat right when you get set up in the parking lot. Some people may say you’re strange for eating a brat at 9:30. Those people will probably be passed out in a puddle of their own urine before the day is done. This might be the most important tip of all.

DON’T: Drink Budweiser products
Just as a courtesy to Miller City, don’t do it. Not that I don’t have friends that drink Bud products, it’s still considered sacrilegious in the Land of Beer and Cheese.

DO: Share the wealth
The main parking lot prior to Brewer games becomes it’s own little community. People in Wisconsin are generally happy to share the wealth as far as food and beer goes, and you should do the same. This is why you bring extra food and beer. There’s always plenty to go around for those that just decided to come the morning of. It makes for a friendly and fun-loving environment that everyone can enjoy.

DON’T: Be a Cubs fan an asshole
Essentially, the Opening Day tailgate party is a peaceful event. I have witnessed altercations, arguments, fights, and outright brawls at baseball games over the years. Although there have been a few internal “Brewer on Brewer” crimes, 99% has involved asshole fans from visiting teams. Now I know that doesn’t mean everyone else is an asshole, I’m just sayin’.

Let me put it this way. I live in downtown Chicago and I’m a Brewers fan. I try to go to at least one game of every Brewers vs. Cubs series here in Chicago. When I am a visiting fan at Wrigley, I wear my Brewers hat/shirt, I cheer for my team, and I take the ribbing from all the Cubs fans with a smile. I don’t stand up in the middle of my section, rip my shirt off like I’m fucking Chris Brown and say that “I’ll take all comers!” while throwing my beer on bystanders.

Act right. Plain and simple.

DO: Know your limit
This is an extension of eating and drinking water, but it is important to be aware of your limits. If you are over 200 pounds with a belly full of brats, it’s probably cool to participate in the first ever Beer Shuttle Run. If you’re a light-weight and you skipped lunch then maybe you just sip your High Life and cheer from the sideline.

Not only will you be doing yourself a favor, you’re friends won’t be stuck baby-sitting you in the 7th inning as you look for the last lone beertender to “hook you up.” Plus you might remember the game and maybe won’t feel like crap the next day.

KNOW YOUR LIMITS!

DON’T: Forget to take pictures
Opening Day is a great place for photo ops, especially with friends you only get to see once or twice a year. Take a few good photos early in the day and then lock the camera away so you don’t lose or damage it. You may not remember everything that happens, so this is a good way to commemorate the occasion.

DO: Watch the game
See ‘DON’T: Be a Cubs fan an asshole’ The main difference between being a Brewer fan and being one of the other guys is that we watch the game. We can tell you what happened in the game afterward. We know who is on the team, in the line-up, and the rotation. We are baseball fans. Not college grads looking for a new fraternity once they moved to the big city.

DON’T: Waste a lot of money on beer in the game
Miller Park is not anymore or less expensive than your average ballpark. If you’re looking to enjoy the game and not spend a fortune, drink your limit before entering the game and then just have 1 or 2 beers during the course of the game to keep you going. No need to go overboard here. It’s not worth it. My friends and I generally go out after the game and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to drink then and taking it easy during the game helps tremendously.

DO: Hang out on the terrace level if you have upper deck seats
If you ended up with less-than-great seats from the lottery then feel free to watch the game from the terrace level. You can almost always find a spot to hang out with a great view of the game. It’s more comfortable standing then being in those cramped seats anyways. Plus you’re just steps away from the concessions and restrooms.

DON’T: Miss out on all-you-can-eat Secret Stadium Sauce
If you’ve never tried Sports Service’s Secret Stadium Sauce, you’ll need to investigate this. As I live in Chicago, I generally use this opportunity to load up on Stadium Sauce. It’s a delicious barbecue flavored sauce that goes great on everything. Wish I could buy it here.

DO: Tailgate again after the game
As this is one of the busiest and most attended games of the year, the parking lot is a real mess after the game. Rather than leaving early and missing part of the game, we have the tradition of going back out to our tailgate spot and firing up the grill a second time. This is truly an all-day party. It’s a good chance to get rid of any beer and food before heading home. This also allows for all the traffic to fight its way out so there should be none waiting for you when you finally decide to move on.

DON’T: Drive home drunk
The second tailgate is a great opportunity for your designated drivers to sober up and eat a little something. This should go without saying, but if you’re not okay to drive, don’t. Milwaukee is a small city. Cabs aren’t that expensive. Make it happen.

Be safe and have fun everybody. 13 Days to go!

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One Response to Opening Day – Dos and Don’ts

  1. Tom says:

    Practical, informative and all together helpful. These are the words commonly used to describe my traveling mini thesaurus . I would also use the same words to describe this article. It was really, really, really, really… good.

    If only Cardinals fans had the ability to truly tailgate also. Alas we are relegated to visiting the sit-down Hardees across the street in which they bring you your food all fancy like. If you miss out on that, there is a Hardees in the stadium also.

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