Late in the 2017 baseball season, I realized we were going to have to absorb joy where we could find it. So I thought about what makes me happy, and what makes me happy is food and lessening contact with other people.

Jim Day demonstrated on a pregame show that GABP was piloting a program which allowed fans to order food, pay for it, and pick it up, all without interacting with another human being. The feature included several satisfying seconds of Phil Castellini desperately attempting to scan a phone barcode under a laser with absolutely no success, the prize of beer and peanuts locked away behind a clear-windowed kiosk. Now he knows how the 2013 post season felt for the entire city.

I was eager to try the kiosk; this was an exciting innovation which demonstrated that the Reds are intent upon keeping the fan experience on pace with the rest of the market, and was a notable indication of how fully wifi devices have saturated mainstream America. Also beer orders came with free peanuts.

Josh The Pilot and I started an order from the MLB app. This not only allowed us to preview our total, but also absorb the information that our order required agreeing to a privacy policy, which made us realize we now had to decide between saying “I would like a weenie” to another human being or providing unknown foreign entities with the forever information of where, when, and how we had ordered a weenie.

This the screen you get after you order. We were concerned that Josh’s beer wasn’t reflecting on the total, but I was so excited about the prospect of being fed without either cooking or making eye contact with a stranger that I didn’t much care. Also notice what an excellent job I’m doing of minding my phone battery.

Here is the Moment of Scan. Josh The Pilot did this part because I sometimes get lost in bathroom stalls.

Wrinkly, wrinkly overcooked weenie and… I don’t eat brats so I have no idea if it too was terrible. You will have to ask Josh The Pilot, who, after only three years a West Sider, is quickly becoming a proper connoisseur of the cuisine.

At this point Josh The Pilot became immediately disenchanted with the procedure, not necessarily due to the status of my dinner, but because he was expecting the kiosk to be up against the wall of the stadium, through which employees would slide the food and vanish. Instead, runners were carrying the orders to the kiosk on trays, walking around behind it, and visibly placing them into the lockers. It did detract from the Tomorrowland aura of it all, but given that I grew up in a stadium where setting a drink on the ground for a single second meant several innings’ worth of peanut shells amongst the ice cubes, this was like receiving a fine Pinot from an anti-gravity decanter which dispensed upon retinal scan.

Josh was further disgruntled over his missing beer, so at this moment we immediately fell from Cutting Edge Early Technology Adaptors to Old People Frantically Tapping at Screens Who Have to Ask a Young Person What to Do.

GABP had anticipated this problem, and given the fact that we were sensibly clothed and unoffended by all around us, an employee hovering nearby for exactly this purpose offered help. We outlined the Case of the Missing Beer, and she pointed out that no, food is dispensed from one kiosk and beer from another. She led us gently, as one does the elderly, down the concourse.

Beer!

Which cost $14.00.

I now have a whole new set of complaints.

****

Oh, and there won’t be magically appearing buns in kiosks, but I will be nonfictioning at Cincinnati’s Memorial Hall next Monday, January 22 at 7:30. I would love to see you there because people who pay money to heat me talk are people I do want to meet. The sponsoring company, True Theatre, is now looking for baseball stories for its next show, so gather up all that WAR angst and unleash it here.

Proud aunt Mary Beth Ellis is a freelance writer and college teacher who lives in Cincinnati, OH. Her home site, BlondeChampagne.com, has existed in at least some form since 2003, and Mary Beth has been a regular columnist with one publication or another from the age of 16. Her first book, Drink to the Lasses, was published in 2006. She currently teaches college, runs personal wine tastings, gives literary readings, and stares into the middle distance.

Join the conversation! 24 Comments

  1. In the year 25/25 pick your son, pick your daughter to, from the bottom of a long glass tube

  2. So many questions. Is there a laugh track that plays as you retrieve your $14 beer? Or for that matter your $6 hot dog? Depending on how extravagant a hot dog I wish to purchase, that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of ten times the retail value of a store bought frank (with bun), and I’m pretty sure no one has ever described the GABP variety as “extravagant”. I used to take some pride in the reasonable food prices at Reds games, but it seems that the lure of food gouging has proven irresistible even in the heartland and it is, frankly, embarrassing. See what I did there?

    And though I’m sorry to live nowhere near Cincinnati and will sadly miss your yarn spinning soirée, I can’t in good conscience endorse “nonfictioning”. Even spell check didn’t want to let me type that. And I hope you’ll turn around with a repeat performance for trueBaseball on the 30th. With the possible exceptions of Yogi Berra who won’t be there for obvious, post-funeral related reasons, Vin Scully, and perhaps Sean Casey, I can’t think of anyone I might find more entertaining in the “folk tales of real life tangentially related to baseball” category than RLN’s own MBE. So though I’ll miss one or both extemporaneous explosions of the explanatory arts, I hope you break at least one leg!

    • Thanks much! I’ll have a reasonably priced brew to celebrate!

    • In all fairness on the beer price… When it comes to $14 beers at GABP, they are 20 or 22oz craft brews. While a 6-pack of such brews usually runs between $9-$15, pints (16 oz variety) at a local bar or taproom are often $5-$7. The price is higher than it should be but this isn’t $14 for a 20oz Bud-light that you could get at Buffalo Wild Wings for $4.

      • $2 draft night at the local Class A Advanced park includes some fine craft beer … I even had a “custom blend” the attendant suggested. But that took human contact to get that suggestion.

      • Overall GABP prices aren’t that horrid compared to the rest of the market, considering you can bring in your own food and (sealed) drinks.

  3. Welcome to getting older. (Sorry) That’s why I let my son or daughter do most of the technological stuff. I’ve had Apple Pay on my phone now, ever since the update that required you to put it on, so you would stop getting those annoying notices that tell you to update your phone, but still have not tried to use it. Much easier to pull out the credit card. And besides, I don’t mind talking to strangers, unless they snarl at me. Would love to come hear you speak on Monday but the drive from Virginia is a little too far. If you ever speak anywhere near Charlottesville, Va let us know, there are a few Reds fans down here.

    • You are excused…this time. I visited Charlottesville recently and would be a fan of reading there. Apparently there’s like some college or something nearby?

  4. yep, I believe that within the next few generations humans will lose their vocal cords. lol

  5. And wait a minute…Nathan’s? What happened to Kahn’s? Tell me I can still get Big Red Smokeys if I ever find my way back to GABP!

    • I know. Gross. Nathan’s is too… skin-focused, or something.

    • You can still get a Kahn’s hotdog. You can also get Big Red Smokeys. The Nathan’s replaced Hebrew National as the 100% beef option for a frank.

  6. Love the image of Phil cursing out the machine. Shades of Ford Fairlane in the original radio series adaptation of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.

    This kind of sounds like a weird mix of the Jetson’s meets a future based on “Sleeper” … and it doesn’t look that pretty to me. Fortunately, my minor-league park will keep selling me over-priced, shriveled hot dogs personally for some time to come. I guess that’s comforting …

    • “Hitchhiker’s Guide” needs to be taught in high school English classes far, far ahead of what’s actually in there now.

  7. As always, a entertaining read from you Mary Beth… I’ll see what I can do about getting down there Monday.

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About Mary Beth Ellis

Proud aunt Mary Beth Ellis is a freelance writer and college teacher who lives in Cincinnati, OH. Her home site, BlondeChampagne.com, has existed in at least some form since 2003, and Mary Beth has been a regular columnist with one publication or another from the age of 16. Her first book, Drink to the Lasses, was published in 2006. She currently teaches college, runs personal wine tastings, gives literary readings, and stares into the middle distance.

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Baseball Is Life