The Business Man’s Special and the Art of Baseball Hooky
Most call it the ‘getaway game’ but there was a time in the not so distant past where the mid-week day game before one or both of the two teams playing had to leave for their next series was called, “The Business Man’s Special” due to the fact that back when most teams had their stadiums in downtown locations, it wasn’t uncommon for a board or restless advertising exec, or a vacuum salesman having a slow day to take a long lunch and catch a few innings or an entire game. Although our job market has changed significantly and a day like this has gone the way of the three martini lunch, there are still very few things as rewarding as being out at the yard in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week while watching the game and knocking back a few cold ones when you know you should be at work. It’s an opportunity to indulge yourself and leave your feelings of guilt about missing a meeting at the front gates where your only concern should be one atomic hot dog or two (note: the answer is always one atomic hot dog. Trust me). Now the phenomenon of the Business Man’s Special may seem foreign and you may be asking yourself how someone like you can treat yourself to a day like this. Well rest assured. My buddy, Brew, and I make this an annual tradition and I’m here to share our secrets so you too can sit in the sun and cheer on your team. So sit back, kick up those hard working paws of yours on the seat in front of you, sip your suds, get some mustard on that dog and relax as you follow this to-do list in the art of baseball hooky.
Call it a rite of passage but calling in sick to get out of your job so you can take in a baseball game is a time honored tradition that every fan should partake in at least once a year. Scientific studies conducted by some of the most decorated and highest regarded psychologists practicing today all agree that this does the mind right. And by scientific studies conducted by some of the most decorated and highest regarded psychologists practicing today, I’m referring to Brew and I who have zero credentials to make that type of statement but we’re sure good at playing hooky from work and catching a mid-week, mid-afternoon A’s game. But first thing is first, you need to get out of work.
The Excuse. The first inclination may be to simply try honesty. Wrong! Asking for a personal day is all good and fine but this is a day of hooky so technically, you have to cut out when you actually don’t need a personal or sick day. Plus, making up an excuse gives the afternoon an increased sense of excitement. Will I run into someone I work with from HR who’s on vacation? Will I be seen on TV diving for a foul ball? Who knows but that’s the fun of it. For your excuse though, don’t get too elaborate. One year I told my boss a piece of ceiling fell from my bathroom and I had to stay home while the repairs were underway. Turns out my boss did carpentry on the side and had all these very intricate questions he wanted answered. Something like, “you know what, the call is breaking up, I need to run” was the answer. I barely dodged that bullet but I learned that simplicity is the key. Brew often goes with a sore throat or flu like symptoms whereas I’ll often go with “something I ate” or my cat is “having an episode”. Most workplaces want to avoid people working with the flu or the potential of someone running to the bathroom every ten minutes so these are relatively full proof. Plus, if anything ever did happen to your hypothetical cat, the hypothetical guilt that would be fall upon your boss if she or he refused your excuse will hypothetically be significant enough that they’ll usually let you off. The migraine defense is usually a good one too because it’s vague but also invites a lot of empathy from others. I don’t think I’ve ever had a migraine but they sound horrible and what’s terrific is that most people think that same way!
Location, location, location. If you’re like me then you try and stay on a budget. Baseball games with their ticket fees, $9 beers, $7 hot dogs and traveling to the game costs don’t take too kindly to ballers on budgets so this can be tricky. What is important to keep in mind though is that this is your day of hooky so it should be somewhat indulgent and it’s key that you treat yourself. If you’re calling in sick every few series then suspicions will arise at your workplace so do what Brew and I do and select one game a season to do this and splurge a little on tickets. We like to get pretty close to the action on our Business Man’s Special and during the day when the crowd is usually a little more thinned out and if you get close enough you can really hear that catcher’s glove pop and can even catch a frustrated hitter yell at himself or an infielder calling for a pop fly. It’s pretty exciting and who doesn’t want to sit close? Brew and I also tend to indulge in some heckling on days like this and you can’t really do this from too far away so I highly recommend saving a few bucks and getting a seat close to the action.
Have a good breakfast. By have a good breakfast I mean make sure you’re having a beer with it. Beginning last year and continuing this year, Brew and I kick off our day at Arbor Cafe on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland with a hearty breakfast sandwich. What’s great about Arbor is that they are the only place on Telegraph open that time of the day that serves suds. Trust me, we checked. Arbor offers the fine connoisseur the option of either a PBR or Tecate tall boy and I recommend the Tecate to go with your breakfast because it pairs very well with the baked eggs in your sando. Why do I need a beer at 11 in the morning you ask? Fair question. What’s intriguing about the Business Man’s Special is that with the excitement of playing hooky from work you may feel some twinges of anxiety as well because you’re really not accustomed to being out for breakfast at 11 on a Wednesday morning that isn’t work related and an ice cold can of beer or adult drink of your choice will help with whatever nerves you’re dealing with. Just a suggestion but it is also quite fun to head into a cafe where people are very seriously working on their laptops, pounding cup after cup of the house French Press and order a tall boy while decked out in your best game threads. You’ll get a few looks from the serious grad students while you and your buddy toast and high five while discussing that game’s pitching match-ups but dirty looks aside, you’re getting ready to go sit in awesome seats and have a great time at the ballpark so who really deserves the dirty look here? The person with a day off or the overly caffeinated academic trying to work on their Literature of World Mythologies thesis? I rest my case! Also, if you do make it into Arbor, be sure to grab a slice of their homemade pumpkin bread. It’s awesome and also pairs well with the Tecate. Cheers!
Enjoy the game but more importantly enjoy yourself. Unfortunately, Brew and I were on the losing side of a ten-inning Blue Jays v. A’s game this year and although we left a little bummed out, we left with our heads high knowing that we had a great day and that the A’s will be back in the win column sooner rather than later. We got to enjoy the sunshine on a gorgeous day, make some new friends in the stands, yell a little bit and crack some jokes. Not a bad alternative to work and when we did make it back into our respective jobs we were fresh and relaxed with even a little perspective on it all. Why work all the time if you can’t enjoy some of the benefits of your labor? Even if your boss doesn’t seem to appreciate all you do, you should take some time to appreciate yourself and all you do now and then. That my friends, is what The Business Man’s Special is all about.
Oh, and if my boss is reading this, that wasn’t me you saw screaming at Jerry Blevins to throw strikes on TV on Wednesday. That was some other good looking guy and yes, I can’t wait for that meeting!
From left to right: The blogger and Brew in the thick of our 2013 Business Man’s Special Day of Hooky.