The Observer is beginning to worry about the new ballpark. First, we saw a photograph of workers riveting numbers on the backs of all the seats. Ray Winder Field didn’t have numbers on the seats, and except for the box seats there was no reserved seating. Even the box seats were only semi-reserved. Ray Winder regulars will understand what we mean by that.

To The Observer, part of the charm of Ray Winder Field was that you could get up and roam around and sit anywhere there wasn’t somebody already sitting. It was not uncommon for The Observer to change seats during a game just because we wanted to watch from a different perspective. Once, we got up and moved because a guy nearby was trying a little too hard to make friends. But that only happened once out of many trips to Ray Winder.

At the new park, every seat will be reserved. “Just like the major-league parks,” a Traveler executive said of the new arrangement, proudly. To The Observer, newness is not the same thing as progress.

Now The Observer learns that the new park will have TV cameras and a big screen so that everyone can watch close-ups of their fellow fans, or themselves, picking their noses and spilling their beer. There’ll probably be pictures on the screen of guys with no shirts, and letters painted on their stomachs spelling out “TRAVS.” The Observer remembers Morganna, the Kissing Bandit. She didn’t need any stinking TV screens to make her appearances at Ray Winder memorable.

It’s possible The Observer is worrying too much. Maybe when the game starts, we’ll forget these new-fangled annoyances. We hope so. Looking on the bright side, there’ll still be no aluminum bats.

Winston Churchill said that war is too important to be left to the generals. There are matters too important to be left to the legislature, too, and beer at the ballpark is one of them.

A North Little Rock legislator sponsored a bill to require the Arkansas Travelers to sell beer from all the local liquor wholesalers. The legislator’s in-laws own the business that distributes Budweiser; the Travelers stopped selling Bud a few years back. They still sell a wide variety of domestic beers, like the blue-collar Pabst Blue Ribbon and the chi-chi Fat Tire, and imported beers like Corona and Foster’s. There’s something for just about every beer taste.

To their credit, legislators rejected the meddlesome bill overwhelmingly after the situation was explained to them. Representative government still works, as least some of the time. Fans should drink a beer toast to the lawmakers when the new ballpark opens.

The Observer has a consumer tip for those who enjoy a brew or two at the game. (We were not compensated for this.) You get more beer for your money when you buy one of the big Foster cans than when you buy two of the regular-sized cans of other beers.

A couple of objections are made to Foster and its large can. Some ladies say it’s too big for them to hold. We say, you have two hands, don’t you? Nitpickers protest that their Foster’s gets warm before they can drink the whole can. This has never been a problem for The Observer. Sounds like the complainers aren’t drinking it right. Stop playing with your beer.

(A late bulletin informs us that we erred with our quotation up top. According to Bartlett’s, it was Georges Clemenceau, not Churchill, who said “War is much too serious a matter to be entrusted to the military.” He said it in French, presumably. Ah well, everything that’s not attributed to Shakespeare is attributed to Churchill. Unless it’s witty in a jaded sort of way, and then it’s attributed to Dorothy Parker. )

A group of Ivy League grads visited a remote town in the Ozarks recently to spend a bachelor weekend with an Arkie classmate about to get married. The Chamber of Commerce was open, so the young men stopped in to get some tips on area attractions.

First highlight offered by the chamber representative: “We don’t have any blacks or Hispanics around here.” Later, one of the group, a marathoner, took a long run through town. He had to outrace a pack of three dogs in hot pursuit. He’s of Asian heritage and it occurred to him that maybe the Chamber of Commerce hadn’t given the complete diversity highlight speech when he dropped by earlier.

Welcome to Arkansas, gents.



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