Jake Burger at the end of the Bacardi Classics Softball Tournament.
Actually picking on Jake is slightly unfair (the Australian Cricket team’s pride is also an acceptable answer). Once a year Bacardi gather together a few dozen bartenders, who’s normal idea of exercise is flicking through a big book of tattoo designs, to run around in the sun until they hallucinate so badly they swear they saw a giant chicken riding a bike.
The Bacardi Classics Softball may only be in its second year but it has already become one of the most enjoyed events on the bartender calendar. Once again Finsbury Park’s Softball Fields formed the base and the sun was shining on the 8 teams and throng of supporters.
Whilst the teams warmed up the spectators and cheerleaders started on the mountain of Bacardi and Cokes/Ginger Beers as well as the specially imported (and deceivingly strong) bottles of Hatuey Cuban ale from Cuba. The teams fighting it out for a trip to Barcelona were:
West London Warriors, captain Jake Burger London Cocktail Club, captain James JJ Goodman East London/Sharp n’ Dapper, captain Megs Miller Hawksmoor, captain Ali Reynolds Soho House Group (House Tonic), captain Tom Kerr Rushmore Group, captain Steven Tarr The Eastern Europeans (CSI), captain MiMi Lorandova The Brand Ambassadors, captain David Cordoba
For those not familiar with the rules of Softball you would have been in very good company. Hit the ball, run, catch and throw were about as advanced as anyone got. This wasn’t going to stop the action being fierce though and the first game up was a bit of a grudge match.
Last years final saw LCC captained by JJ beat the Old Timers captained by Jake in the last innings and take the trip to Barcelona. First up this time was LCC up against Jake’s new outfit West London (albeit with a few of last year’s team in the ranks, however BarLifeUK had been dropped!).
This year’s tournament was a straight knockout and from the moment Jake ran into JJ at approximately Mach 3, creating a dustbowl of flailing limbs similar to a Bugs Bunny cartoon, you could see this meant a lot.
As it turned out Jake got his revenge (12-11) and one look at JJ’s face told you he wasn’t happy about giving up his title (in fact he was still sulking an hour later). Next up saw Hawksmoor take on the much fancied East London team which contained an actual, real life softball player in the form of Rhys from Callooh Callay. The rest of his team must have been rubbish as they were trounced 6-1.
Rushmore then took out the Soho House Group 8-5 followed by the Brand Ambassadors showing their skills and knocking out CSI 10-2.
As well as being popular with those playing, the Bacardi Softball day also attracts more support than Pamela Anderson’s bra. It is surprising just how enjoyable watching pasty, out of shape, tipsy people running round in circles is (although I suppose plenty of people watch the Scotland Football team play).
In a similar way to watching motor racing it is actually the dropped catches, falling over and crashing into each other that really gets the crowd going (and when that happens all at once it’s almost too much to bear). However one of my personal highlights was watching Ian Burrell run onto the pitch to help celebrate a great catch to fall arse over tit with his martini glass staying upright the entire time.
The crowd were of course roused by the Bacardi Cheerleaders in the form of Shervene, May and Camille who were not only making sure the drinks were kept cold and everyone was kept happy but also pom-poming (yes it’s a word), whistling and cheering away.
The semi-finals saw the West London Warriors continue their march to the final with a 14-8 win over Hawksmoor. The other semi-final was the nail bitter with the Brand Ambassadors on top for the duration of their game against Rushmore before a late surge saw a dramatic 1 run win for the bar group despite some heroic efforts from the Ambassadors including a flying catch from Dean Callan which nearly took out half of his supporters.
So the final came down to West London and Rushmore. Drinks were in hand. The supporters had drinks too. The cheerleaders were reaching fever pitch and we were off.
Rushmore took an early lead and it looked as though West London’s fitness would catch up with them again. Dub Dub had a twisted ankle and cramp, Jake looked broken, Ed had a runner and even Jack’s gold shorts had lost their some of their shine.
However a rally cry to ‘do it’ for the recently departed Portbello Star favourite Carlos saw a brave and epic fight back. Suddenly only one run was needed for the draw with one out left. No one knew what would happen if there was a draw but hell we’d worry about that later.
A hush fell over the crowd as the pitch came in. The batter swung, the ball was edged, the backstop took the catch and for a split second there was silence as everyone took it in. The only audible sound was Jake’s heart breaking before Rushmore celebrated wildly and their supporters rushed the field of play.
So Rushmore are off to Barcelona with Bacardi after a well deserved win in the final. Jake was honoured with MVP narrowly beating out his own teammate Rowan to the title.
No one was in a hurry to leave and the celebrations went long into the night.
A huge thank you to Bacardi for putting on such a fantastic event and Shev and her team for not only making it run flawlessly but also managing to have a word with him upstairs to get the sun out once again. It is such fun to hang around with everyone in such a relaxed, fun and ‘non-worky’ environment.
We’re already looking forward to next year. Oh and did I mentioned there was a giant chicken…..