I know, I know. I said I was going to write about my stop in Miami. And I will. But the experience was so bloody dreadful that I was left with no choice but to do what I do best: procrastinate.
Instead, now that I'm back in Toronto, having completed The Baseball Road Trip Of A Lifetime in 55 days, I'm going to tell you about Loonies! Or, as I've coined it for my American friends, Dolla Dolla Bill Y'all. It's a game I saw being played only twice throughout my journey and, no, it isn't Mound Ball.
Once in Toronto; and I'm not sure that even counts, because it was my crew who were playing. And once in Chicago; at Wrigley Field, in her bleachers. Funny enough, the group of guys playing at Wrigley were Canadian, from beautiful Saskatchewan, having made the journey south to witness "The Friendly Confines."
The Game Within The Game
The Saskatchewan boys' rules differed slightly from ours in Toronto. But that's not the point. The point is: with so many U.S. one dollar bills in circulation, why aren't more of our American baseball watching brethren playing this marvelous and entertaining game? I figure they just don't know about it, so I'm going to do my best to change that; to educate.
Here's what you need: a baseball cap (preferably a beat up one), and loonies. Or one dollar bills. It's that simple.
If you're lucky enough like me, you have a big brother who is the most organized man you'll ever meet in your life, and who also has a stockpile of loonies. He's our bank. Upon our visits to the SkyDome, my older and much, much wiser brother Nitin brings a fanny pack filled with loonies and serves, essentially, as our pit-boss -- "Ten coming in!" Now, depending on the size of your party, $10-$15 should be more than suffice for a night of Loonies! at the ballpark.
How To Play
Here's how the game works: right off the bat, everyone antes up $1, and drops it in the baseball cap. Hence the name: Loonies! We're not talking high stakes here; harsh economic times remain upon us. Just a little something something, as the kids say.
For this particular example, let's say there are seven of you at the SkyDome, enjoying a fine evening of Toronto Blue Jays baseball and overpriced beer. In that order. Loonies! begins with $7 in the cap, and with the night's first batter. The person sitting furthest to the left holds the cap first; the action's on them. Once an at-bat is complete, the cap moves right, to the next person in the row. After the seventh batter, the cap returns to the person on the left, who kicked off the festivities. The cap does not snake back around.
Loonies! is a hitter's game. What the batter does dictates whether you'll be adding money to the cap, or putting loonies into your pocket. For my National Leaguers out there, enjoy holding the cap when the pitcher's at the dish. I know, as if you needed another reason to hate the Senior Circuit.
Here we go. If the batter:
Hits a single: you win $1.
Hits a double: you win $2.
Hits a triple: you win $3.
Hits a home run: you win ALL the money in the cap.
Chicks don't dig the long ball exclusively. The person playing Loonies!, and holding a cap full of them when someone (preferably a Blue Jay) goes yard, digs the long ball, too. After any and each home run, everyone drops another $1 to the cap, and the game begins anew, with the cap moving on in sequence. Or, if the hat empties of its contents thanks to awful pitching, but no home runs, it's again time to ante up. However, multiple antes without a round tripper or two are rare.
If the batter:
Is retired on a ground ball: you add $1 to the pot.
Is retired on a fly ball: you add $1 to the pot.
Strikes out swinging: you add $1 to the pot.
Strikes out looking: you add $2 to the pot; a loonie for the strike out, and another for the shame of your batter being punched out by blue. (I love this particular rule, and like to think it was inspired by Lyle Overbay.)
Walks: you pass the cap to your right; it's a push.
The walk is a matter of serious debate amongst the Toronto Loonies! chapter. I hate that it's a push. Me, I'm all about on-base percentage. I think the batter's done his job by getting to first base, whether he earns a walk or whether the pitcher can't find the plate. A walk's just as good as a single, and should result in a net gain of $1. Only an intentional walk should result in a push. The Toronto Loonies! chapter is currently reviewing my request.
Below are other scenarios which could result in more loonies in your pocket, or more loonies in the pot.
If the batter:
Hits into a double play: you deposit $2 into the cap; your batter has caused $2 worth of outs. This is where toonies come in handy.
Hits into a triple play: add $3 to the pot; obviously, this is rare.
Hits an RBI single: you win $2; a loonie for the single, and a loonie for the RBI.
Hits an RBI double: you win $3; two loonies for the double, and a loonie for the RBI.
Hits a two-run double: you win $4; $2 for the double, and $2 for the two RsBI.
Hits an RBI triple: you win $4.
The key element to remember is that each RBI is worth $1. If the cap's in your lap, and your batter hits a triple with the bases loaded, you're $6 richer. The Toronto contingent feels that the batter should be rewarded for not only getting on base, but driving in runs. Runs are everything in baseball.
But What About ...
I know what you're thinking, and I've got you.
If the batter:
Hits into a fielder's choice: sorry, but you're out $1; add it to the pot.
Hits into an RBI scoring fielder's choice: push.
Drops a successful sacrifice bunt: push; the batter's out, but he did his job.
Drops an unsuccessful sacrifice bunt: $2 into the cap; every Major League Baseball player should be able to drop a bunt and move the runner over. Even pitchers.
Hits a successful sacrifice fly: treat yourself to a loonie, my friend.
Hits an RBI sacrifice fly: treat yourself to two loonies, my friend.
Hits a sacrifice fly where the runner tagging up is tagged out: push; don't blame the batter, blame the guy running the bases.
Reaches on base via an error: push; he should have been out, meaning $1 should have been added to the pot. But the Baseball Gods saved the batter, and the person with the cap, too.
You tell me: what did I miss?
Know Your Limit, Play Within It
While we attend baseball games at the SkyDome as Toronto Blue Jays fans, the Toronto Loonies! chapter plays the game while both the visitors and Blue Jays are batting. We don't discriminate. The more action, the better.
Some have said we play this game - beautiful, enrapturing Loonies! - because baseball is boring; because we need to create more excitement than what we're provided with at the ballpark. I won't bother justifying that absurd point of view with a response. Try it, then talk to me.
Bring your loonies the next time you head down to the SkyDome, and enjoy yourself. You can thank me later.