Ladies and gentleman, it comes down to this: a win-or-go-home matchup between the Cleveland Indians and the scrappy upstart New York Yankees. One team’s fanbase follow its team into the ALCS against the Houston Astros; the other descends into a winter of discontent that’s not likely to be made glorious anytime soon.
There are several different scenarios in which you may find yourself viewing today’s game. I’d like to provide a primer on the appropriate way to handle yourself in each.
A watch party at a local sports bar
I know many fans in far-off lands, like Tokyo, London, and Fort Wayne prefer this game-watching environment. It’s quite fun — rarely does a diehard Indians fan get to watch a game surrounded by fellow Tribe devotees. Here are the important things to remember for this environment:
- Always stand as close to the person in front of you as possible. These events can get quite drafty. It’s October, you know, and while they won’t say it, the couple in front of you greatly appreciates you replacing their personal space with body heat. Related to this, always hold your drink above your head. This gives you an opportunity to cool them down later if things get too warm.
- Jump around the entire bar anytime something remotely good happens. You’re a fan. You need to show it. So, when Kipnis makes a routine out to end the fourth inning, yell at the top of your lungs, beat your chest, and hop through nearby groups of strangers. If they’re not as excited as you are, tell them this and question their fanhood.
- Make sure the bartenders stay on top of their game. What could be more annoying than waiting up to three minutes for another Corona? Throughout the night, pepper your waitstaff with advice and critique them as necessary. They may not show it, but they appreciate this type of nuanced sidecoaching.
At home, alone
Many of use don’t handle high-stakes sporting events very well. Rather than make fools of ourselves in public, we choose to do it at home, where only the dog can judge us.
- Assemble a large magazine of blankets. During the tense moments of the game, it is perfectly acceptable to wrap oneself in one or more of these. Extra innings contests sometimes lead to an entire pile of blankets covering the body as tension mounts. In best case scenarios, this becomes an impenetrable fortress where no one can hurt you anymore.
- Tweet absurdities. Sure, you might be physically alone, but the Baseball Internet is only a couple of taps away. Why settle for yelling at your screen (still mandatory) when you can criticize everything that happens 140 characters at a time? Made bold declarations, like that Edwin Encarnacion may never walk again. The hotter your takes get, the more you should consider tagging players on these tweets. It’s good form.
- Find bizarre chores to do in the middle of innings. All that nervous energy has to go somewhere, and you really should have vacuumed this weekend. Hey, dog — want to go on another walk? Yes you do! And we’re going to sprint, little buddy. Some people choose to fold laundry during a game to keep the nervous parts of their brain occupied with something, but I’ve found that all of my clothes became balled-up wads of cotton by the end of the game, and in unusual parts of the apartment.
A small gathering at a friend’s house
Ooh, somebody is popular! You’ve been invited to someone’s place of residence to watch the game with familiars. This is a warmer, more welcoming place to watch than the bar, and so the rules are slightly different.
- Don’t worry about bringing your own beverages. Every host knows that they always end up with so much extra booze after a party, which is an insurmountable burden. Don’t inconvenience your host by leaving them with alcohol. In fact, it’s best to do your part to make sure they have plenty of room to store the buffalo dip at the end of the night. Drink up.
- This is the perfect opportunity to get with Katie. You’ve been messaging her on Facebook for, like, two months now. Sure, she never texted you on your cell phone even though you gave her your number, but that’s just dating in the modern era. All these head games. Once you’re good and limbered up from the drinking, and her boyfriend Josh gets up to grab a smoke, it’s time to swoop in, like a pitcher calling off the shortstop.
- This guy can drive, screw you Mike. MICHAEL. Michael Michael Mikeeeeyyyy. What? I didn’t — look I cleaned it up, right? Just gimme the keys. I live like four... fourteen... I’m real close, all right? And 270 is a loop anyway if I go the wrong way I can just keeeeeep gooooooing until it’s the right way again, man. Ahahaha circles are fucking wild, give me the keys right now. I — [faints]
At the game itself
Ah, so you’re one of the lucky ones that managed to score tickets for the game! Congratulations. Here are a few tips to make your in-stadium experience as enjoyable as possible.
- Plan to stand for the entire game. If you’re at a playoff game, at home, with elimination on the line, it is your duty to be the best fan possible. This may even include stomping your feet to a John Adams drumbeat when a runner is on first.
- Dingers do not provide universal hug / high five consent. Is it fantastic to embrace a complete stranger after a crucial moment in the game? Absolutely. But don’t just grab people. That’s weird (or worse). Make eye contact, offer a hand and/our raise your arms, ensure that your and/or their drink will not be spilled, and complete the embrace. Continue as necessary for the duration of the celebration.
- Every time you use the exit of a restroom as the entrance, thereby bypassing the line, another puppy mill opens. Don’t be a monster. Wait in line.
- If you have the ability to take mass transit to the game, do it. Parking has been $40 or so, and it takes about an hour to get out of Cleveland depending on where you park. You are then able to press certain advantages provided to those who do not drive.
- HAVE FUN. It’s okay to be a little bit gripey during the game, but nobody wants to sit next to the guy or gal that’s yelling obscenities at Francona all night. It’s a relatively rare opportunity to see playoff baseball in Cleveland. Win or lose, make sure to enjoy it to the best of your abilities. Also, there is an escalator that takes you to the 500 section right by the Great Lakes beer garden. This significantly improves game enjoyment.
That’s all I’ve got. It’s going to be fun tonight, and these tips should help you navigate the game accordingly. If all else fails, follow the following maxim: “Don’t be a dick”.
Not that I’m even going to take my own advice; I’ll inevitably be curled underneath a couch cushion, in the fetal position, murmuring to myself for nine-plus innings.