How to run your next sausage race
Back in February, the Brewers invited me to participate in spring training. As it turns out, I blow at baseball. But my efforts were enough to earn me a spot in Milwaukee's sausage race. While the results of my spring at the Polish Sausage will soon be forgotten, the wisdom I gained lives on.
Plastic cleats are permitted, and might help on the dirt. But know that if you're the only competitor wearing spikes, any humiliating loss will be that much more humiliating.
DO: CHOOSE WISELY
Some runners are influenced by the standings, choosing to avoid the Italian Sausage and Bratwurst and their single-digit win tallies. Some choose fan-favorite sausages, such as the rookie Chorizo. And some base their decision on Slavic ancestry that up until that moment meant nothing to them. Whatever the reason, being one with your sausage will help you to win with your sausage.
DON'T: UNDERESTIMATE YOUR FOES
Most the sausages are members of the team's Brew Crew, a group of fleet-footed teenagers who are otherwise stationed around the stadium to help during the game. They're young, they're fit, they're hungry, and they don't take kindly to the idea of a stranger coming into their house and outrunning them.
DO: SEPARATE WORK AND PLAY
Before the race, the sausages tailgate with the Miller Park crowd. After 20 minutes of high-fives, hugs and dances with babes, it's easy for novice sausages to get lulled into a false sense of security. Truly elite sausages know that what happens in the parking lot doesn't translate to the field.
DON'T: TAKE IT LIGHTLY
It might be a race featuring running meat, but you'll still seem like a jackass if you don't put forth a solid effort. There's a time for horsing around. A game against San Francisco when Barry Bonds has 753 homers and the Brewers' owner, the MLB commissioner and a sell-out crowd are on hand is not it.
DO: KNOW YOUR STRATEGY
There are two approaches to running the race. Some runners get a good jump at the start and use the first leg, from the left field tarp to home, to get position. They then make a power move to the inside as the group rounds home before sprinting to the finish line just past the home dugout. Others immediately fall behind a four-sausage wall and spend the race trying to get their sausage to stop teetering in what has become a battle for stability and vision. Historically speaking, the former strategy is more effective than the latter.
DON'T: SLOW DOWN MID-RACE TO REACH FOR THE POLISH FLAGS YOU PUT IN YOUR SOCKS IN AN ILL-FATED ATTEMPT TO BE CLEVER AND WIND UP FINISHING 20 LENGTHS BEHIND THE OTHER SAUSAGES
Because Giants reliever Steve Kline will call you pathetic when you run into him in the hotel bar after the game. And no one wants that.
Neil Janowitz is an editor for ESPN The Magazine. You can reach him at email@example.com.