Steve Brunolli | Sun after dark
We were kicking around story ideas last week when my editor uttered four words that would lay the foundation for this piece and swing the baseball bat currently pounding on my temples.
“Nine bars, nine innings. You go to a new bar every in-”
“That’s it!” I interrupted him before he could go further. “That’s the one!”
I knew that if I were going to attempt this feat, I needed a partner in crime, and, since it would undoubtedly be a wild night, there was only one person I could ask: my radio co-host and band mate, Paulie. We decided to do it Sunday night so that we could run to our radio show after it was all said and done. (That show, by the way, is JiveKiller Radio on Sunday nights from 9pm to 11pm on 91.3 KSVY SonomaSun FM. Color me orange, black and shameless.)
We met at Proof’d 30 minutes before Sunday’s clincher to discuss the game plan. All drinks were half off – a tempting offer – but we settled on a single pour of Blue Star. Gotta start light. Pace yourself.
Steiners had to be first. It had to be first or it had to be last, but I’d be damned if I let it be last. With the level of inebriation I was anticipating, I wouldn’t be able to handle the large ninth inning crowd. For now, the crowd was thin. The bartender, Megan, poured us both a Stella, and we settled in.
And the game has begun! No, wait, no it hasn’t. Who is this girl? Demi Lovato? Oh, right, the National Anthem. Stellar job …
At last, the game began. My favorite Giant, Angel Pagan, was up to the plate. And then he wasn’t. One out. The next two batters went down in similar fashion. Three up, three down; this wasn’t going well. I heard a slam on the table next to me. Paulie had chugged the rest of his beer and thrown the glass down.
“Fine, let’s go to that sports bar on Arnold,” I downed the rest of my beer. “I got good feelings about that place. Feels lucky.”
We hopped in my car and drove out to Cary’s Sports Bar and Grill where the owner, who is unsurprisingly named Cary, tended bar for us. Two dollar draft beers during Giants games. What a deal! Two Stellas please.
“Do you guys like figs?”
We turned around to find a fellow holding a plate with pickled prunes, each impaled with a little toothpick. My notes say his name was Claude Blondin. He pickled them himself “Iranian Style,” which, apparently, means they’re drenched in balsamic vinegar and butter and are very delicious.
The Giants were up again. Buster Posey, our National Treasure, was in the batter’s box. If anyone could get this thing going, it would be him, but, alas, he struck out looking. This still wasn’t going well. Great, here comes Pence. He’ll probably just strike ou- What!? Pence, you beautiful, strange creature! He smacked the ball into center and it bounced over the fence. Ground-rule double. Now, all Belt had to do was pop a good fly ball out to- What!? Belt hit a freakin’ triple! Score: 1-0 Giants. The next two Giants got out, and then the Tigers did something that amounted to very little. Time for a new bar.
So off we went to Sonoma Springs Brewing Co on West Napa Street, where we were greeted at the door by a little Boston Terrier named Poncho. Cute dog. Cute girls! We finally hit a place with some lookers. Up to this point we had been watching the game with mostly guys, but, now, here in front of us was the perfect number of cute, young girls: two. Two of us, two of them. What could go wrong? Oh, the guy they’re with…right. After one of the girls showed us her new flower tattoo, we invited them to follow us around all night. The friend-that-is-a-boy-slash-driver, however, put a red light on that real quick. Fine. Have fun not partying with us.
Kathy poured us both a Green Pearl, which is a fantastic beer, real complex, as we watched Miguel Cabrera smash out a 2-run homer. Paulie wasn’t allowed to pick any more bars for the rest of the night. Score: 1-2 Tigers.
My ability to drive was now taken from me and securely stowed away in a lockbox set to open the next morning, so we decided to take a cab to Olde Sonoma Public House. The only problem was trying to catch one. Paulie ran out to the street and started trying to hail down every car that might pass as a taxi.
“Dude, this isn’t working. No one’s gonna pick us up. Let’s just call Ghost,” I suggested, perhaps being the reasonable one this time.
Ghost, our friend and drummer, was there within minutes to cart us around. And we were off to Olde Sonoma.
The Pub was packed. All of our friends and coworkers were there. All of them, so it seemed. Because of the taxi debacle, we missed the beginning of the fourth inning, but it must have been uneventful; the score was the same. We didn’t have much time, so we slammed through two Crispin Ciders and flew out the door.
Destination, the Plaza. Stay light. Stay light. No liquor. The game is only half over. This is Nine Bars, Nine Innings not Five Bars, Five Innings and a Good Night’s Rest.
Next stop: Mary’s. First stop: Mary’s bathroom. Twice. The bartender, John, was kind enough to pour me an Anchor Steam. The Giants and Tigers may have been the most boring teams in baseball during those fourth and fifth innings, and I couldn’t have been angrier with them. A lot of three-up-three-downs makes for very quick drinking.
Murphy’s pub. Sixth inning. Two-thirds of the way there. Paulie and I sat next to two very nice, albeit extremely red-faced gentlemen who somehow recognized us from somewhere. I think they had seen our rockin’ rock and roll band, Paulie Hips and the Childbearers, play at Olde Sonoma. I may be entirely wrong, but, again, I’m also entirely shameless. Check us out.
I got caught up talking with the gents and lost track of the game. When I eventually looked up, Scutaro was on base and Captain America (Buster Posey) was in the box. Home Run! We all went wild. Score: 3-2 Giants. I bought shots of whiskey. Why did I buy shots? We downed them, and the Tigers tied the game in the bottom of the inning. Oh, why did I buy shots? Score: 3-3.
Seventh inning, Towne Square. Paulie and I ran down the street screaming “Tigers and Tigers and Bears. Who cares?” which we thought was the funniest thing anybody has ever said. When we entered the bar, I immediately got into an argument with some fellow named Brian about Ryan Adams and Gram Parsons, while Paulie told jokes from his stand-up routine to anybody that would hear them. Clearly the whiskey was doing its job well. Hard worker, that whiskey.
I have very sparse notes about the next bar. My pad says “Maya. Cute girl. Thomas.” I can’t remember anything else eventful, not in the game or anywhere else. So, we went to Maya, where I met a cute girl named Thomas, and I got on the ground and proposed to her. Let’s go with that.
Meritage, our favorite bar, sat quietly at the end of our journey. We go there before every radio show and ask Gerard, who very well may be the best bartender in Sonoma, to make us one of his signature cocktails. Tonight was no different. It was the ninth inning and we had enough time to catch a drink before the show and (hopefully) watch the Giants win it all. But, wait, the game was tied.
Bottom of the ninth, and it’s still tied? We didn’t agree to this. The deal was to go to nine bars in nine innings. There wasn’t supposed to be a tenth. The Giants weren’t keeping their part of the bargain! I was worried that we wouldn’t catch the end of the game. Then the magical tenth inning happened, and all was good in the world. The bad guys lost. The good guys won. Praise the Lord and pass the aspirin.
And then it was 9 p.m. We were in no condition to do the radio show. We couldn’t talk, but, then, we didn’t have to. We came with two hours worth of music, in anticipation of this outcome. At the end of the night, four words got me into all this, but it was six words that got me through it. They were the only six words Paulie and I could say when we got on the air, and the only thing making blistering hangover feel completely worth it: The Giants won the World Series!