illustration by Samara Pearlstein
There are times in our lives where we look back and realize that, in retrospect, what seemed simply a lot of Experience was, in fact, something of a different caliber. These moments, so full in their own time that we cannot even process them, upon long and careful reflection reveal themselves to us. This process cannot be rushed. Understanding comes on its own schedule. Knowledge resists force. But if one is patient, and open to the totality of the Experience, then that knowledge may eventually arrive, and with it, the possibility for true Enlightenment.
Long story short, my roommate and I played the Rod Allen Drinking Game.
We laughed, we cried (especially after my roommate took a champagne cork to the face), we hung on every word of Roderick Bernet Allen as he did his commentator thing up there in the booth. Here are the facts.
What were we drinking? A punch made of guava nectar, passionfruit juice, a smidgen of orange juice, Malibu rum and champagne. There were crazy straws and cocktail umbrellas, for purposes of festivity.
What did we count as a drink? A sip, counting seconds. The way the game is constructed, some Rod Allenisms are ‘worth’ up to 20 drinks. Most are in the 3-7 drinks range. If you treat this as full drinks, you will die. For a seven-drink Allenism, we would sip while counting to 7. This worked out well.
You are supposed to select a well-known FSD commercial which, when it appears during the broadcast, will require a certain number of drinks. Which commercial did we choose? We decided to go with the Ace Hardware Rod-Allen-vs-lawncare advertisement, on the grounds that it was the Most Rod Allen commercial available as an option.
What adjustments did we make? We added a few Rod Allenisms that seemed deserving of recognition, but somehow had not made the list. We gave one drink to “turn and burn,” two drinks to “better to be lucky than good” and “hitting shoes,” and an honorary drink for Mario Impemba completely losing his cool in the face of a Prince Fielder home run.
What did Rod Allen say/do? Rod referred to opposing players by nickname four times. He mentioned a sponsor six times. He said “big fella” only once. He mentioned talking to people before the game twice. Twice something was “filthy” and twice something was “tremendous”. He was wearing his black hipster glasses. He correctly answered the trivia question. Someone got a “steady diet” of some pitch, and there was a reference to “country strong”. He referenced his playing time in Japan, and said that a broken bat “died a hero” (both high-scoring utterances). There were other miscellaneous things scattered throughout.
Was there any ‘general silliness’? This category applies to both Rod and Mario and is not defined precisely; one must be a veteran of the Rod and Mario broadcast to properly play, because ‘general silliness’ can only be recognized reliably by the expert. Yes, there was general silliness– five instances of it, by my count.
What did Rod not say/do? Rod did not call Mario “pahdnuh” at any point during the broadcast. Nobody “flat out” did anything. He did not say “Cabby” once. There was no “oh no he didn’t” and nobody was instructed to “stop it”. There were no comments on the pleasing chunkiness of players’ bodies.
Most surprisingly… Rod did not see anybody in this game, i.e. the classic phrase, “I see you, [Tigers player]!” was not said once.
What did we learn? The Rod Allen Drinking Game materially improves the game-viewing experience. Perhaps especially now that I am in grad school, I miss more games than I would like, and when I am watching them, it’s often while I’m working on something else on the computer, or I’m listening while drawing in the studio. Do not mistake me, I am grateful that baseball is a game that allows for this, and it is an unavoidable necessity given my life at the moment, so it’s not as if this is going to change any time soon. But the point is that I often watch the game with half an eye and half a brain these days.
What the Rod Allen Drinking Game does is focus your attention. You have to pay extremely close attention to the broadcast, because every single thing that Rod Allen says could be a potential drinking event. As a result, you bring the full power of your entire conscious brain to bear on the Tigers game. The only times I have paid equal or greater attention to a game on TV is probably during the playoffs, or a developing no-hitter.
The reward system of the Rod Allen Drinking Game is divorced from the reward system of the baseball game– that is, it matters not if the Tigers are winning or losing, all you need to have a good time is Rod Allen being himself, which, necessarily, he generally is. This increases the possibility of any given game being a positive viewing experience.
Of course, you cannot play the Rod Allen Drinking Game for every game, in part because most of us don’t have the ability to dedicate that much attention to each game in the long MLB season, and in part because your liver would shrivel up and die a horrible death within your body cavity. But as a treat– say, a once-per-season treat– it is a glory and a wonder that might, just might show you a new way to love and appreciate our already (mostly) beloved Tigers.
What else did we learn? At one point near the end of the game there was a score crawl on the bottom of the screen, and the score for something called Real Zaragoza rolled by. I was not sure if I was hallucinating or not at that point, but it turns out this is a Spanish soccer team and is a real thing that exists in the world and is absolutely not a science fiction alien superhero.
How did we feel the next morning? All things considered it was not too bad. This may seem surprising, but we were also as responsible as one can be while playing the Rod Allen Drinking Game– we ate a lot of Chinese take-out, drank water continuously while playing, and planned it for a night when neither one of us had anything planned or anywhere we needed to be the following day.
What do we now think of Rod Allen, here on the other side of the Rod Allen Drinking Game? Rod Allen is a genius, a gentleman, a poet and an artist. We are lucky to have him and his weird phrases, his seeming love for the game and his job, his gigglefits, his predilection for the husky ballplayer, his ability to See. Haters gonna hate.
What of Mario Impemba? Mario is a mensch.
It should be noted that if one does not drink alcohol, for whatever reason, there are other ways to play the Rod Allen Drinking Game. You could try it with spoonfuls of Nutella, for instance, or, I don’t know, handfuls of cheese curls. The key is for it to be something you find delicious, but something that you know will possibly make you sick if you have too much of it too fast. This is where the fun lies in the Rod Allen Drinking Game– the fine line between toothsome pleasure and physiological danger.
Should you wish to attempt this for yourselves, good luck and Pawsspeed, brave Cats. Roar of the Tigers sees you all.