Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled Chugging Is Dumb

We need to talk about your drinking. To have an intervention, of sorts.

So Madison Bumgarner, ace pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, has this thing he does where he holds a bunch of open beer bottles in his notably massive hands and tilts them toward his open mouth, all at the same time. After the Giants won the National League's wild card play-in game, he did it with four beer bottles. When the Giants later defeated the Washington Nationals in the divisional playoff, he did it with five beer bottles. And, last night, when the Giants eliminated the ass-stinking hateful St. Louis Cardinals to advance to the World Series, he did it with six.


This is really something! As a feat of large-hand-having, it's super impressive; plus, the progressive adding of beers harmonizes nicely with the there-they-go-again audacity and unlikeliness of a wild card play-in team advancing round after round to the World Series. It's fun, it's goofy, it's rollicking and Dionysian and joyous, it's [devil horns hand-gesture], it's probably refreshingly bracing, it's great.

It is also not "chugging." Saying, as some websites did, that Madison Bumgarner "chugged" six beers after last night's game is like saying the Super Bowl-winning coach "chugged" a cooler of Gatorade when some players dumped it over his head. Yes, beer exited six bottles simultaneously, and yes, some of that beer proceeded to enter Madison Bumgarner's open mouth—and, yes, that appears to have been his intent. Even a cursory glance at the above photograph, however, ought to be enough to disabuse anyone of the notion that what Bumgarner did can be called "chugging." Hell, it can scarcely be called "drinking."

To chug is to consume a large volume of beverage quickly, without pausing, in large gulps, as the talented and excellent Katie Nolan demonstrated. When you chug, you are demonstrating the capacity of your throat and stomach and willpower to intake a lotta fuggin' liquid all at once; when you chug beer, you are demonstrating all those things, plus your determination to become very intoxicated, very quickly; when you chug hard liquor, you are demonstrating suicide. Both in the literal sense (he isn't really consuming a large volume of beer so much as he's depositing it onto his shirt via his open mouth) and in the performative one (what he's demonstrating is the capacity of his hands, not his gut), Bumgarner is not chugging.

Which is good, because actually, chugging is dumb.

A thing that dumb people tend not to know about drinking alcohol is that, when managed smartly and casually by an experienced person, becoming drunk is at least as much fun as being drunk. In this respect, achieving drunkenness is like achieving orgasm: The wise and cool and attractive people take their time and share the journey with other wise and cool and attractive people; scrubs and teens and the dumb sprint for the finish by themselves. Scrubs do not understand this. This is why scrubs think chugging is cool. This is why scrubs think masturbating in the penalty box during a hockey game is cool. No one else thinks so.


Final, hammered, end-of-the-night drunkenness is lonely: By definition, it's a state of intoxication that impairs your ability to communicate, to comprehend, and (sometimes!) to control your bowels. A conversation between two genuine by-God drunks is like two blind people signing at each other in different languages: The gestures of communication may be present, but there's no connection. A drunk can (or, more to the point, might as well) hold a conversation with a bathroom mirror, because a drunk is alone in any case.

Becoming a drunk, by contrast, is social: The early drinks lower your inhibitions and self-consciousness by increments, making you (in most cases) friendlier, more charming, more ready to laugh and make out, more open to new stuff. This is the best part of drinking! The early and middle stages, when you are your funniest, friendliest, most don't-give-a-fuck version of yourself, and still essentially with-it enough to not, say, shit your pants.


The later stages, when the booze has dissolved not only your inhibitions but your cognitive and motor functions, and you're basically a marginally ambulatory brainstem with bad breath, and the only reason to keep drinking is that you're too pickled to recognize that you should stop—those stages suck, and when you're not drunk, that truth is plain as day. Hurrying to those stages as though racing against time is dumb. When you have a few drinks at a reasonable pace, you are a cool person having a good time. When you chug a bunch of booze all at once, you are a scrub.

Scrubs do not get this. To a scrub, the reason to become drunk is to facilitate moaning and saying ohhhh fuck I got sooooooo drunk last night and be regarded as some kind of debauched rockstar by the other sixth graders in the lunchline. (Leaving aside—for the moment, at least—those drinkers for whom the reason to speed heedlessly into blackout drunkenness is to numb psychic pain and/or become dead.) To a scrub, drinking is performative and nothing else: If the scrub's alcohol intake cannot be posed to elicit oohs and ahhs and man that sure is a lotta fuggin' barfs from other scrubs, there is no reason to intake alcohol. This might be just as well, since the scrub, being a scrub, will not get more interesting or charming or funny in the early stages of well-managed drinking. Might as well skip to the part where an ambulance relieves everybody else of the burden of the scrub's company.


Chugging is a can't-lose proposition for the scrub: If the scrub chugs, and holds the alcohol, other scrubs will go whoa, that dude is hardcore; if the scrub chugs, and pukes, and goes to the hospital to get his stomach pumped, other scrubs will go whoa, that dude is a self-destructive punk rocker. It's a can't-win proposition for the smart person: It skips past all the fun parts of drinking and directly to the stupid, lonely, embarrassing part, the part with the sirens, the part with the poopy pants.

In any case, chugging is a thing scrubs do for other scrubs; it's dumb and showoffy and ridiculous and immature. And, it's not what Madison Bumgarner was doing.


What was Madison Bumgarner doing? He was partying. Partying is pretty cool. Let's party.

Image via Katie Nolan

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