I attended my first ever Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore over the weekend, and had an amazing time. However, there were some, um, interesting moments:
A game of beer-can volleyball broke out when someone flung a brew from on top of an outhouse. That, the surrounding masses realized, looked like jolly good fun. And soon the sky filled with silver-and-foam, the silver signifying surprisingly heavy vessels of lite beer, the foam showing that this lite beer anxiously wished to come out and join the party.
Six, seven, eight cans were volleyed back and forth simultaneously, some being consumed after their fleshy landings, others taking flight again. Some infielders shielded their heads with Styrofoam coolers. Others joined forces, hoisting a giant blue tarp to ward off the incoming fermentable attack.
One man proudly showed off what he claimed was a beer-can related broken finger. Another yanked a can out of mid-air, consumed its contents and chomped the defeated can between his jaws. A young woman face's snapped back after impact; she shook her head and managed a timid laugh.
The game was interrupted occasionally by a less subtle form of hostility, shirtless men beating each other upon the face, then hugging, then beating some more. Solidarity peeked around every corner; when the fights faded, the shirtless punchers clumped into wobbly kick-lines and joined voices in soccer's iconic "Ole" song.
But then solidarity slunk back into the mud, fists flew again, and chests already painted with mud and lite-beer added bright crimson highlights.
"I always love watching the fights," one bystander mused philosophically, as two shirtless fellows went careening into the row of porta-potties.
Actually, these last few paragraphs were written by Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post from his experiences at Pimlico’s infield. While I did see several people attempt to run across the tops of porta-potties and lots of silver items being thrown in the air (apparently they were beer cans), I did so from the last row of the Grandstands near the top of the stretch. I spent time watching the races, seeing women wear cute sundresses with ridiculous hats and listening to vendors yell in their attempts to sell Black-Eyed Susans. I wish I could write that I won a lot of money, and I did end up hitting an exacta in an early race (I actually thought I lost until one of my friends told me I won), but overall, I ended up down about $20. Watching Big Brown win in such an impressive fashion was also amazing, although at the time, I was disappointed about how poorly my exacta selections along with Big Brown finished (I’m looking at you Gayego and Hey Byrn).
I wish I could come up with my usual funny observations, but it was just a fun time at the track with friends. The closest I came to the experiences of those on the infield came on bus ride back to the Baltimore metro. We almost got into a fight (it wasn’t actually that close) with obnoxious drunks who cut in front of the bus line and then yelled and talked non-stop during the ride.
Actually, I do have one odd question/observation. Did the Los Angeles Dodgers sell their old seats to Pimlico? All of the seats in our section had "LA" on the side.
Anyway, if you want to see video of the infield madness, check out Friends of the Program and more pictures are at Deadspin. I’m way too old to every go in there.