Several baseball teams have amended their alcohol sale policies in response to shorter game times this season, and at least one major leaguer isn’t wild about the change.
Phillies pitcher Matt Strahm said during a recent podcast that he disagreed with extending alcohol sales beyond the traditional seventh-inning cutoff, citing “common sense” and the “safety of fans.”
“The reason we stopped [selling alcohol in] the seventh before was to give our fans time to sober up and drive home safe, correct?” Strahm said on the “Baseball Isn’t Boring” podcast. “So now with a faster-pace game — and me just being a man of common sense — if the game is going to finish quicker, would we not move the beer sales back to the sixth inning to give our fans time to sober up and drive home?
“Instead, we’re going to the eighth, and now you’re putting our fans and our family at risk driving home with people who have just drank beers 22 minutes ago.”
Major League Baseball games have been considerably shorter this season, largely thanks to a series of rule changes, particularly the pitch clock. Through the first week and a half of the season, the average game time was down 31 minutes, on track to be the sport’s lowest since 1984.
To combat that time crunch, at least four teams — the Diamondbacks, Rangers, Twins and Brewers — have extended alcohol sales through the eighth inning. Others, such as the Marlins and Mets, still stop after the seventh inning but haven’t ruled out changes.
The Orioles already sold alcohol through the eighth inning, or until 3½ hours after first pitch, whichever came first.
“I’m not surprised,” Strahm said. “When you mess with billionaires’ dollars, [they] find a way to make their dollars back. My thing is, when you’re looking at the safety of your fans, that’s probably not the smartest decision to extend it into the eighth.”
MLB does not regulate when teams sell alcohol, but most franchises have used the seventh inning as a cutoff, at least partly to avoid overserving customers who could then get in their cars and drive home. Most teams, however, already had areas around the ballpark where fans could get alcohol after the seventh, even if the concession stands stopped serving.
“No one ever wants to admit they’re wrong, which I think is a problem in itself for our society,” Strahm said. “But it is what it is. We have to deal with what we’re given.
“But just using common sense: We stopped it in the seventh for the safety of fans and people getting home. Like, it just makes no sense to me that you’re going to allow it to the eighth inning.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.