Building a Better Opening Day is ongoing series about how to get the most out of your experience as a Brewer Fan on the first day of the season. You can read the first installment here.
By now you’ve settled on a place for your Opening Day shindig I’m sure. Congratulations. You are well on your way now to throwing one of the finest celebrations your team and city will ever have the pleasure of seeing. As we stated before, location may be the most important decision you have to make. But it certainly isn’t the only one. Lucky for you I have decided to grace you with even more tips on Building a Better Opening Day – and this time we are talking all about the essential gear you need to kick off Opening Day in style.
Dress the Part
Equipping yourself for Opening Day is as important as equipping the party itself. Style is paramount to the true essence of a classy individual. You want to be supportive of your team, but it’s important to exercise restraint as well. Remember that clothes make the man, and crazy outfits make the man crazy.
First off, dress for the weather. I know that your vintage Paul Molitor pullover jersey is amazing. I know you want to show off your Brewers t-shirt, but guess what? It’s early April in Wisconsin. If it’s over 55 degrees without a chance of rain that day I will eat my own shoes. If you can’t find space in your car to pack a sweatshirt or jacket just in case, you should be hog-tied to the roof of the car for the drive home. No one wants to hear you complain or find you huddled up in the driver’s seat with all the heaters blasting you during a tailgate. It’s not fun for you, first off, and it screams immaturity. Classy people are prepared to have a good time regardless of the weather. Are we clear on this?
Let’s talk team apparel. I like to subscribe to the “One at a time” rule. I have an assortment of hats, shirts, and jerseys from Milwaukee. When it comes to supporting my team, I wear only one of those things at a time. This is a personal preference of mine, and need not be taken as law. It is my opinion that your personal karma does not transfer to the team in proportion to number of official insignia on your person. Besides that, it’s a slippery slope. Before you know it, your whole crew is going to be decked out in matching outfits, and nothing says “we’re not to be associated with” like a bunch of full grown adults in matching costume. Be classy, be understated, but still support the team.
What about personalized jerseys? I have mixed feelings about this. Part of me (the part that’s perennially thirteen), loves the idea of my name on the back of a jersey. The part of me that’s classy, sophisticated, and giving out advice to strangers says leave them at home. What do you think is going to happen? Is Roenicke going to look in the stands for a pinch hitter and suddenly pull you into the game? It would be perfect, he wouldn’t even need to find you a uniform! Let the Rookie of the Year fantasy live deep inside you – AND NEVER BRING IT OUT. The only time I think personalized jerseys are acceptable is when the name portion is a joke. For instance, I once saw a Prince Fielder jersey where his name was replaced by “Man Boobs”. That’s good. Still not very classy, but at least your making a statement, which is part of what fashion is about if I remember anything from Project Runway.
My final note on this subject – if you don’t have a lot (or any) Brewers apparel, don’t fret. And don’t try to create something with Sharpies and puffy paint. You’re an adult, for God’s sake. Just dress the same way you would if you were going out with friends. Don’t try too hard, and you’ll end up being comfortable and fitting right in.
Tailgate Like a Boss
Or if not a boss, at least someone who has a high level of expendable income. The truth is, you don’t need to spend a lot of money in order to have a really great tailgate.
The important thing to remember about tailgating in the parking lot is that you need to use the environment to the best of your ability. You have limited space (obviously) and therefore the appropriate allocation of real estate is essential to your celebration. That’s why you need to – and I can’t stress this enough, people – GET THERE EARLY. The lots normally open up three hours before game time, I suggest you get there at the point where you have to bribe a lot attendant to let you in. That way you can stake your claim early and the party is in full swing before the Johnny-Come-Latelys even pull off of the freeway. There’s no better feeling than being the only tailgate in the lot: it’s a mark of distinction and team pride that can never be taken away from you.
So, now you’re in the lot – early of course, and it’s time to set up. What did you bring with you? A few folding chairs and a grill? What is this, amateur hour? This is Opening Day, people, not your cousin’s 13th birthday party. This demands a modicum of class and style. I highly recommend you pick up some of those folding chairs with cup holders – at least three, and encourage your friends to do the same. This accomplishes a number of things. Number one, having more than one per person ensures a safety net because you just know that someone is going to forget one and that person will nag and complain all day that they don’t have a seat. Number two – the cup holders are great because every kicked over can, bottle, and plastic cup is actually a dagger in your father’s heart, to say nothing of the lost money incurred by beer or soda that doesn’t make its way into your gullet. They are not expensive, and anyone who has went to college in the last ten years has probably acquired one at some point. You’re a big boy (or girl) now, it’s time to start acting like it.
In my opinion, you’re also going to need at least one folding end table. The extra space will be appreciated. You don’t need the big gaudy card tables – your trunk or tailgate will provide all the space you need. Conserve your resources, people.
Also, we have to talk about grills. I’m not saying you have to go out and spend a couple grand on your grill, I’m just saying that you need to remember that without a solid cooking surface your whole party goes right in the crapper. That’s not what you want, is it? Of course not. My sources in the field tell me that you can get a great, portable grill at a price range of $20 – $60 for charcoal grills. Gas grills are pricier in a portable size, not to mention adding the cost of the fuel itself. Go with charcoal. The food tastes better, the price is right, and nothing makes you feel like a man quite like starting a good grill fire.
Don’t forget to check and double check all of your tools – charcoal, tongs, utensils, etc. – for durability and ease of use before you bring it to the lots. Nothing ruins a good pre-game meal like flimsy plates or dropping a burger on the pavement. Pro-tip: if you bring pasta salad, pack a ladle or an ice cream scoop. There is nothing in this world as infuriating as battling noodles with a spoon.
Let’s take a minute to discuss those aspects of a tailgate that are not essential. Canopies and tents fall directly under this category. Yeah, I know – what about rain? All I’m saying is, canopies are expensive and garish. You can still use them, of course. Just remember that ponchos, umbrellas, and your own tailgate (in the case of SUVs) are perfectly serviceable and much, much cheaper. While we’re at it, let’s just ditch the whole huge flagpole thing. You’re at the game – we know you’re a fan. Classy parties are all about understatement. If your other party members are somewhere else in the lot, tell them to follow the trail of awesomeness to your vehicle. The way I see it, if they can’t caravan with you, they don’t deserve the extra help.
When it comes to storing food and beverage, one should take extra care here. Plan your packing space to include at least two coolers – a big one for beverages and a smaller one for food. Three would be ultra-classy as you can divide the adult and non-alcoholic beverages for easier selection. It’s not necessary, of course. Just way classier. Also a note on the food itself. You should pack a variety of meats, vegetables, sides and condiments. I know a lot of people are expecting me to say “just eat meat, veggies are for wimps, blah blah I’m a bro, etc.” WRONG. There is nothing classy about limiting your options or excluding people with different preferences. More food means more variety, more variety means more fun.
I would also like to take this time to remind you that meat should be stored on the bottom of the cooler, and vegetables above to limit cross-contamination from raw food. There is nothing classy about salmonella – especially if your only option is a stadium bathroom (or God forbid a Port-a-Potty).
When it comes to beverage options (a topic we will delve into in later editions) your process should be fairly simple. At the very least, bring THREE beers per legal aged* guest, and likewise for the whole party when it comes to sodas and non-alcoholic choices. I say at least because I need to remind you that being horribly drunk is decidedly NOT classy, but three beers ought to leave any adult feeling just fine on their way into the game.
*Again, children – rules are rules. When you turn 21, you can do whatever you want. Until then, chill out and don’t use my advice to go all Superbad. Deal?
Finally, we get to the entertainment. Please, please, please do not rely on your car stereo to provide the entertainment. iHomes and portable stereos work very well and can direct sound to the guests, not just bouncing inside of your vehicle. Most of these instruments have battery backups, and you can buy the additions that can plug into your car. Do not use the car speakers unless they are really, really good.
In terms of games, you could be shelling out a lot of money on bags sets and washers from retailers. The materials necessary to MAKE those things are fairly cheap. Get a friend, get to the hardware store, build a bags or washers set, and get that friend some food and drinks as a thank you. As a side note, bring only one of those tailgate games to the party if you’re hanging out in the lots. Remember that you have limited space out there, and instead of having some good old-fashioned fun you’ll just be bumping into each other and there’s very little fun about that.
If you can’t afford to spend the time and effort on game sets, nothing ever beats a mitt and a ball. It’s baseball, guys – let’s not over think this OK?
This was a very basic list of tools that are essential and superfluous in any tailgate party. It didn’t cover everything, but hopefully gave you a springboard to get your party straight to Classyville.
What do you need to bring to a tailgate party for Opening Day?