You don't need to tour Jacobs Field to learn that beer sales keep baseball solvent, but if you do grab a behind-the-scenes look at the ballpark, you may have a hard time hearing the trivia over the various machines used to transport the kegs and cases. Forklifts, trucks, golf carts, and hand trolleys full of beer trundle past as you walk through the underbelly of the Jake, with a tour guide pointing out the sights an average visit to the diamond doesn't reveal.
Case in point: Overlooking the park on one side and the private concessions area (where the social elite hobnob with players and media after big games) on the other are the private suites. On game day, it takes $6,000 to see the inside of a suite -- a blow softened by the luxury of a TV tuned to the game, in case you can't put down the martini and hoist your ass out of the plush chairs to watch the action unfold from your private balcony in person.
Then there's a glimpse at the hidden life of the working stiffs who enter the Jake simply to earn a paycheck. Members of the print media -- once the only link between fans and their game -- get the front row in the cramped press box, which is stuffed with 90 seats and has hallways lined with the head shots of famous scribes and announcers. Even the players seem more like simple employees of the franchise, after it's learned that their parking lot maintains the traditional corporate hierarchy: Rookies park in the back, by the fences.
Of course, everywhere is empty and quiet -- save the beeping of forklifts -- in the hours before the first pitch. The only players tourists are likely to meet are those who jog past on the warning track while the tour looks at the nooks and crannies of the home team dugout and batting cages. The players' usual haunts -- the weight room and locker room -- are off limits, "because of the liability." That, and you never know whose sticky fingers would try to hook Roberto Alomar's jockstrap on the way out.
And then there are the nameless workers laboring endlessly -- through the underground two-lane street that connects the ballpark to Gund Arena to the various doors and hallways leading to concession stands -- to get the beer and other delicacies in place, their constant work the bloodflow of Jacobs Field.
But if it makes you feel any better, they know it's the same swill served in the suites as in the bleacher seats.
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