Milwaukee’s Brewers once shared a league with the Tigers of Detroit. They don’t anymore, but sometimes, under cover of night, they still play each other in the darkened blind alleys of the American Midwest. Third-generation Poles part their bungalow curtains and watch.
Across all such contests, whether sanctioned or questionable, the Brewers are 1,005-0 against the Tigers. To what is their rousing success against the Jungle Cats O’ Michy-Gandy owing? Crippling alcoholism.
Witness this revealing pen-and-ink dispatch:
The Tigers, miserable sots one and all, are unable to resist the foggy inveiglements of the tipple. “Firewater, as fresh as it is cold? The promise of a teeming pour? We are stinking with foretaste!” The Tigers say in benumbed unison. “On this day, death to all other toil!”
Then they get drunk and lurch around those Michigan towns named after dead Anglicans and boot in mullioned windowpanes in a red-eyed search for copulus — a search they’d dare not abate even if they had the will, which they do not, on account of their intemperance.
The villagers are left ensnared in that very moment when they can’t tell whether the hoof-beats are approaching, or passing them by.
(This piece originally appeared at FanGraphs. It has since been revised and made even worse, probably.)