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MLB's beer sale changes raise concerns about fan safety, drunk driving

Some worry the extended beer sales could lead to more drunk driving since fans will be able to drink closer to the end of the game.
MLB's beer sale changes raise concerns about fan safety, drunk driving
Posted at 6:31 PM, Apr 24, 2023

Major League Baseball is in full swing, and this season, a handful of teams broke away from tradition and extended beer sales.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins all extended beer sales into the eighth inning in response to the 2023 season's new pitch clock regulations, which speed up games by roughly 30 minutes. In the past, beer sales ended at the bottom of the seventh inning.

The Arizona Diamondbacks organization released a statement to Scripps News reading in part:

"We consider this a trial, and we will monitor the overall pace of play and comparative volume of sales closely. And as always, we will continue to encourage the registration and use of designated drivers and responsible drinking for those legally of age."

Rick Schlesinger, president of business operations for the Milwaukee Brewers, said the change is on an "experimental basis."

"This is [reflective] of the fact that the games are shorter," Schlesinger told MLB.com. "From a time perspective, we're probably looking at selling beer for the same amount of time by extending to the eighth inning that we did last year through the seventh. Obviously, the safety and the conduct of our fans has primacy."

SEE MORE: MLB Opening Day: Fans react to new pitch clock

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Matt Strahm strongly criticized the MLB move on the "Baseball Isn't Boring" podcast.

"When you mess with billionaires' dollars, they find a way to make their dollars back, but my thing is when you are looking at the safety of your fans, that's probably not the smartest decision," Strahm said. "Now you are putting our fans and our family at risk driving home with people who have just drank beers 22 minutes ago."

Mothers Against Drunk Driving's national president Tess Rowland also raised concerns and highlighted the latest statistics showcasing an increase in drinking and driving deaths.

"We are concerned because the data is now showing that someone is killed by a drunk driver every 39 minutes in this country, so that's 37 people a day," Rowland said. "And for the first time since 2006, these deaths are over 13,000. And for the second consecutive year, drunk driving deaths have increased by 14%."

Fans outside Chase Field in Phoenix had mixed feelings about the MLB move. 

"I'm so used to the seven inning rule, so I still continue that process myself," one attendee, Thomas Guesh said.

Baseball fan Ryan Green says he now plans to make drinking a beer in the eighth inning a new tradition. He said he hasn't driven to a baseball game in years, adding that it all boils down to adults making responsible decisions. 

Outside Chase Field, Tim Tylitizki runs a pedal cab business. He dropped off fans eager to catch the Arizona Diamondbacks play the San Diego Padres. 

"Anything I can do to keep people from dying in car accidents," Tylitizki said. 

The Diamondbacks also reward designated drivers that are 21 and older with a free fountain drink or water.

SEE MORE: Belgium crushes 2,000 High Life cans for 'Champagne of Beers' slogan


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