Of late, fans in the Wrigley Field bleachers have begun, late in many games, making large stacks of beer cups. (It’s even been spotted in other parts of the park besides the bleachers.)
Let me state right here, unequivocally and without hesitation: This is idiot behavior and it has to stop. Later, I’ll have several suggestions on how the Cubs can do exactly that.
But first and foremost, this is utterly disrespectful to other fans who want to watch the game. As a friend of mine, a fellow bleacher season-ticket holder, told me regarding ballpark etiquette:
When the batter is in the box, you sit. This nonsense has been going on during the late innings of tight games and many people aren’t able to watch the game because of these people.
Bleachers will always come with shenanigans, although nobody should assume just because you’re in the bleachers that it’s OK to ruin the game for those around you.
I couldn’t agree more. Second, from the same friend regarding ballpark etiquette and one of the reasons these things are dangerous:
Drink your beer. These idiots are so enthusiastic about building cup snakes they’re using cups that still have beer in them, which causes dozens and dozens of people to get covered in beer and backwash.
I think you can see that’s not optimal. Here, in fact, is a video example of people being spilled on when a stack collapsed (from the Mariners broadcast on Monday).
Personally, I’d be pretty unhappy to have beer poured on me like that. I also heard that recently, in the crush of people trying to do one of these, one friend of mine had a very expensive pair of glasses knocked down and stomped on. (Also heard the Cubs are going to pay for a replacement.)
I’ll say it again: This is idiot behavior and it has to stop before someone is seriously injured.
Here are three suggestions for what the Cubs could do to eliminate cup stacking.
1) Implement a cup deposit system (e.g. $0.25 per cup, or something similar)
Basically, this would mean you’d be charged a quarter more per beer.
This would incentivize people to return their empty cups to retrieve their deposit for their next beer. Not only would it prevent cup stacks from forming, as there’d be significantly fewer cups around, it would also make it easier to collect and recycle empty cups. Additionally, some people would neglect to collect the deposit, which would increase profit margins on beer sales.
2) Sell beer in cups similar to the souvenir cups sold in the grandstand that have rims with inwardly tapered edges
This would make stacking cups impossible. Doing something like this would probably have to wait until the 2020 season, as a vendor would have to be found who sells cups like this. Cups for this year have likely already been purchased.
3) Have Cubs facilities people go up and down aisles and collect cups during every inning break
Problem solved, as there simply wouldn’t be any cups available for stacking. Facilities people are around anyway waiting to help clean up after the game. Why not start this process during the game?
Cubs security has done its best to try to stop this, but often they are outnumbered and people who start these have been belligerent to gameday staff, another ballpark no-no. At some point security is simply going to have to start throwing people out in large numbers if they do this. I’d be 100 percent in favor of that. Which leads to one more suggestion:
4) Do what the White Sox do and hire off-duty/retired Chicago Police to help with security
The Sox have their own security staff, as the Cubs do. And many Cubs security people are conscientious folks and do a good job. But there are times when they are overwhelmed because the ballpark is understaffed.
The off-duty/retired Chicago police who work at Guaranteed Rate Field do a good job of keeping nonsense there to a minimum. They’ve been empowered to eject unruly fans. Apart from the one well-publicized fight there last July when the Cubs were the opponent, things on the South Side are generally kept under control.
Yes, this would cost money. The Cubs ought to spend it. Combine this idea with the cup deposit and maybe you’ve paid for a fair portion of it.
Sure, come to the ballpark and have fun. But cup stacking, again, is dumb and potentially dangerous. It gets in the way of people watching the game, and as noted above, has been happening in the late innings of close games when most people are interested in what’s going on down on the field.
Hopefully, the Cubs can implement one or more of the suggestions above, or some other method of stopping cup stacks, before someone gets seriously injured in the bleachers.