You know what’s crazy? I’ll tell you what’s crazy™
Going to a bar and a baseball game breaks out.
I’m seated at the Band Box in Sulfur Dell.
This part of Nashville was once a reclamation project for hobos and old rusted warehouses.
But like so many other sections of Nashville, a city with a forest of construction cranes and booming real estate possibilities, the air is somehow cleaner, the clientele hipper.
We are seated at the bar. It is modern and sleek, about 30 yards long.
The bar has no walls, no door and only a thatched roof of palm leaves protects us from the elements.
If I didn’t know that I was in Middle Tennessee, I might fool myself that I was at an all inclusive beach bar with a tropical flavor.
All around me is blue sky as the sun begins to sink to the horizon.
I sense the pink hue reflecting off the bar top. The day is warm, and I can feel the heat on my back.
There’s a gentle breeze and it is refreshing.
The music is loud, energizing the space. There’s a buzz in the air. People are bustling all around me.
I look up at the speakers suspended from the roof. The music is pumping. The Latin rhythm is almost visible as it drifts down on the patrons settling in.
TV screens hang over the bar. ESPN is showing a Cubs game. The other flat screen is showing a truck race in Alabama.
The bar is packed with people laughing and drinking. The crowd is young.
I’m surrounded by more tattoos than a South American Prison.
The bar tenders are lively, responding quickly to each guest.
The music is probably too loud. I have to shout to be heard.
But it’s not hard to mouth the words: I’LL TAKE ANOTHER.
The bar is rectangular with people seated around the periphery. There are patrons on the other side but I cannot see them. They are obscured by large machines, mixing iced slushee drinks filled with exotic liquors.
I see bottles of Rum and Whiskey and Vodka stacked three deep.
Behind me people are playing shuffle board and corn hole and ping pong.
While we are drinking our first round, the music fades and people stand.
Patrons at the bar remove their hats and placing their hands over their hearts.
I hear a woman somewhere singing the national anthem.
I place my hand on my heart and sing along.
“Play ball,” people shout.
The music cranks back up and the mystery of who sang the national anthem is a memory.
We order another round. Then another. Then another.
2 hours slip by. It’s now 9pm.
The bar is a non stop assembly line of hipsters and ink.
“I wonder what the score is,” I shout.
And that’s when we realize we’re at the ball park.
“Bartender, we need to cash out,” I say.
We get up and step around to the other side of the rectangular bar.
I’m now on the other side of the bottles of booze and hypnotizing slushee machines.
It’s like entering another universe, or a baseball stadium.
Suddenly the lights from the field fill my eyes. I see the crowd and the big green field.
It is a beautiful sight, so green, so sacrosanct, like a pristine hillside in the old country.
It sets off a child hood memory of walking through the tunnel at Shea Stadium as a kid back in New York.
LET’S GO METS!!
As I step to the railing on the other side of the Band Box, I take it all in.
The music from the bar is softer but still pronounced.
But now I can also hear the crowd murmur and the P.A. announcer and the crack of the bat.
It’s the 7th inning. The Sounds are up 1-0.
“A pitcher’s duel”, I say
And that’s when it fully strikes me.
The bar is in right field, high above the outfield wall.
I have 2 seats, somewhere in this sports paladium, but I will never ever use them. I am content to stand on the rail, listen to the music drift down on the warm summer breeze and let the images of the game fill my thoughts.
It’s the tale of two sides of the same bar.
One side a hipster bar. The other side a baseball game with grain alcohol.
What a great country.