(recent Lotte Busan Giants signing Karim Garcia, sending his best wishes to all of his fans back in the United States)
Trouble is, said firm isn’t a Major League Baseball franchise. Walkoff Walk‘s Kris Liakos attended Spring Training in Florida last month, hellbent on exploring “the working vacation where ballplayers walked a razor’s edge between getting in shape and getting bent.” Alas, times have changed.
I wanted to know who was carrying the torch for those gin and gravy soaked titans of yore. In the golf courses, strip clubs, bars, pool halls… and strip clubs the answer was, quite simply, just me. Madison (last name not given or made up yet) at Rendezvous in Ft Myers said that ballplayers came in once in awhile but they were always well behaved. And it was far less frequent than it used to be. Same thing from the girls at Body Talk in Port St. Lucie, Mons Venus in Tampa and the Peek a Boo Lounge in Bradenton. And I’d like to think I’d be able to see through an exotic dancer’s cover-up. Especially with a wad of twenties.
Off a lukewarm tip over a lukewarm Yuengling at the PGA Golf resort in Port St. Lucie, I was told to check out Duffy’s, a sports bar right up the street from the Mets’ Tradition Field. After talking to manager Bryan Bomar, I learned that Duffy’s had just been your run of the mill watering hole until about 5 years ago. On a warm Spring Night in 2004, noted bum Karim Garcia was watering the bushes of the adjacent pizza place when the manager came out and told him to relieve himself elsewhere. Garcia punched the pizza man out, made the papers and all of a sudden Duffy’s was “the place that the Mets players hung out.” It was probably the most recent Player Gone Wild story I heard and It’s been great for the bar. Fans flood Duffy’s after each Spring game in the hopes of swallowing down a purple hooter with Ryan Church. As for Garcia, perhaps he should have been a little more studious in camp. He appeared in 85 games that season and then was out of baseball. He played twenty years too late. I mean, he still would have stunk in 1979 but his buffoonery would have been more accepted.
“Back in the day”, guys like me weren’t driving around looking for drunken blind items to write about in a national magazine. These teams have PR mavens like any other corporation, and the players are well schooled in the power of negative press. Get drunk with a fan in 1989 and he’ll buy your next round. Get drunk with a fan in 2009 and he’ll take your picture on his phone and send it to Deadspin. The times are not exactly conducive to getting loose.