Editorial: Liberal about everything … except beer
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(This editorial originally ran in the Santa Fe New Mexican on July 29.)
I guess I’m just a careless thrill-seeker, impervious to peril and reckless in regard to my own safety. Yes, I suppose you could say “danger” is my middle name.
Because I live to tell the tale, gentle reader, of having survived numerous trips to our fair city’s minor-league baseball park.
Oh yes, I was aware I might be putting my life on the line, as were hundreds — nay, thousands! — of others who ventured to Fort Marcy Ballpark to partake in the national pastime sullied by the presence of … demon brew.
If you don’t know the background, Santa Fe’s team almost never came into existence. The City Council came within a whisker of rejecting the agreement bringing the team to town because league officials insisted on a license to sell beer at home games.
That’s right, the City Different — where anything goes and judgmental behavior is something reserved for Puritans — nearly saw its elected officials prohibit law-abiding taxpayers from quaffing a brew at a city ballpark the taxpayers themselves maintain.
Yep, that same City Council protecting us from the insidious danger of fluoride in our water is sure looking out for us.
We’ve got burglars dancing around lampposts on the Plaza, and the City Council is passing symbolic resolutions telling those Washington warmongers to keep their hands off Iran.
Last November, City Council members heard from the public on the baseball issue. Some wanted the team to come. A few neighbors angrily objected to the noise the games would generate. But the chief complaint was about beer.
In a scene too weird even to register on the Santa Fe weirdness meter, a teen in a Ché Guevara T-shirt appealed to the council to ban beer at the ballpark because it “sends a bad message to kids” to see adults drinking in a public place.
Those silly baseball people. If they had just asked the City Council to approve medical marijuana at the ballpark, it would have passed unanimously.
But Northern New Mexico — hell, the entire state — has a serious problem with drunken driving, and the City Council was on the verge of rejecting the whole thing, even though the team agreed to a series of strict guidelines for beer sales.
It took Mayor David Coss to cast the deciding vote to OK beer at the ballpark, and in April, the newly christened Santa Fe Fuego took the field. Even though it’s still July, the Fuego already have wrapped up their home season. (The Pecos League plays just 70 games; we’re not talking Yankees and Dodgers here.)
In that time, I’ve taken my life into my own hands and watched a few games. The team hasn’t been very good in the win-loss column but, besides baseball, I’ll tell you what I saw.
I saw people from all parts of our little burgh gather in one place and enjoy themselves. I saw parents taking their kids and I saw grandparents in folding chairs and I saw teenage boys and girls giggling and paying no attention to the game whatsoever.
And I saw people — the well-off and the working poor, Anglo and Hispanic as well as Native American — watching the sun set over the mountains as a few young men chased a nearly impossible dream.
White men of a certain age are prone to rhapsodize about the greater meaning of baseball. I’m not falling into that trap. I’m just saying, having that minor league baseball team here this summer made our town a better place.
And I’ll tell you what I didn’t see.
I didn’t see mayhem in the parking lots or drunken drivers wreaking havoc on their way home from the stadium. All those things so many had warned about back in November didn’t happen.
There’s a lesson there. And I hope some City Council members ponder it.