I don’t go to a lot of sporting events, mostly because I don’t like sports. I have been to a few baseball games, a single hockey game, and a basketball game, none of which I paid to attend. That’s the only thing that will get me remotely interested in going to a game really. Thursday night, my company supplied tickets to the Rockland Boulders game. This is a local CANAM league baseball team with a stadium about 10 minutes from my house. I’ve been to a couple games there before. The place is nice and again, I didn’t pay for the tickets. We took Oliver to a game last year and he lasted a few innings before we called it quits. Now that he’s about 2.5 years old, his attention span is a little longer and we figured we’d give it a try again. Obviously, this time we’ve got an infant too.
The experience wasn’t bad. We ate some complimentary hot dogs and chips, which Oliver loved. Parker was pretty relaxed for the vast majority of the game, only really crying when it was time for him to eat. Oliver had a blast on the playground and patiently waited in line for a ride on the train the drives around the stadium.
What I was most intrigued by this time around were all the strange promotions that the stadium has for local businesses. There’s a Mercedes dealership that will give away a car if a Rockland Boulder hits a home run into his sign in the outfield. Someone did hit a home run and it landed below the sign, but not nearly far enough to reach it. That car is never going to be given away. The bulk of the promotions are in the form of coupons given out at the end of the game if something happens, such as two doubles in a row. The weirdest one was for IHOP. A batter on the opposing team is selected ahead of time. If at any point during the game, that batter strikes out, everyone in attendance gets a coupon for a free short stack of pancakes. The first time this guy came up, he didn’t strike out, but was knocked out pretty quick. The second time was a different story.
When he got up to the plate, the announcer reminded the crowd that if he struck out, we’d all enjoy a short stack of pancakes. This was followed with a Jaws-like rhythm as the announcer repeated the word “Pancakes” a couple times. Then the pitch. Strike one. The crowd cheered and the announcer came back. “Remember everyone, if he strikes out…pancakes….pancakes.” The next pitch was thrown…strike two. The crowd was now blatantly excited. They were on the verge of eating free pancakes and everyone knows that free food tastes better. The announcer was back on the loud speaker. By this point, he wasn’t even bothering with the niceties. Instead, he just started saying “Pancakes” over and over again, with that Jaws tune backing him up. The crowd joined in, chanting “Pancakes” in unison. The stadium was far from sold out, but it was still a bizarre experience to witness as hundreds of people were so singularly focused on what may come next. This is how much people love pancakes. Now, I think the next pitch resulted in a foul ball, but I can’t remember for sure. The excitement came when the final pitch was thrown with the crowd chanting “Pancakes” in a fervor. It came over the plate and…you guessed it. Strike three. Everyone lost their minds. Free pancakes! They’re from IHOP! Woo!
There’s a catch though. See, the only way to claim that sweet syrupy prize was to stay until the end of the game. We left in the middle of the 8th inning, which was already past 9 PM. With two small kids, that’s like 3 AM. I found out later that the game lasted 13 innings and well into the night. I’m glad that I went home and got some sleep instead of staying at the game for another few hours with two kids that would have grown increasingly cranky as the night went on. I’m also willing to bet that the coupon has a pretty small timeframe for usage.
When I recounted this story to my boss the next day, he brought up a good point that works as a terrific closer to this tale. You can be sure that the rest of the opposing team called that guy “Pancake” for the entire ride home.