They threw a hell of an infield party at Pimlico Race Course yesterday. Too bad nobody showed up.
Normally, you have, what, 60,000 beered-up fans shoehorned into the infield for the Preakness?
Saturday, there was a fraction of that.
Saturday, you could have landed planes out there, it was so empty.
In one of the great Baltimore protests of all time, the sweltering masses rose up as one and thundered: You won't let us bring beer to your party? Fine, we won't show up at all. See how you like that.
Me, I happen to think Preakness officials made the right call prohibiting folks from bringing in their own beer. Look, things were getting completely out of hand.
People were getting hit with full cans of beer thrown by drunks. Fights were breaking out. Women were being groped.
The place had taken on all the calm of a Mike Tyson pub crawl.
But, boy, the ban sure did chill the party, didn't it?
Sure, there was still plenty to do in the infield to kill time before Rachel Alexandra's thrilling victory in the Preakness Stakes over Mine That Bird, the spirited Kentucky Derby winner.
The Hooters swimsuit contest was a class act, as always.
The sumo wrestling featured the usual sweaty fat guys throwing each other around, which you can see almost every night in Fells Point when the bars let out.
There was an air guitar contest and NASCAR simulator and the Skoal Zone, where, in a nice thumbs-up to the American Cancer Society, a sign said: "Show a pack of cigarettes, get a free gift!"
There was even the great Texas boogie band ZZ Top, whose members have beards older than most of those in the infield crowd yesterday.
But the vast emptiness of the infield was an absolutely incredible sight to veteran Preakness-goers.
At 1 in the afternoon, track officials were privately estimating that only a few thousand revelers were out in the grassy oval.
By post time for the Preakness, the crowd had grown larger, but not by that much.
Clearly, all the rock bands and oxygen bars and NASCAR simulators weren't going to pull in the crowds this day.
"[People] didn't give it a chance," said Bob Leffler, president of the ad agency for the track. "This is the best [infield] experience we've given them in 10 years."
"It was time for a change," Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said of the BYOB ban. "We tried to upgrade the experience for our guests."
Well, OK. Again, I thought it was a good move, too. But a lot of the guests didn't, Tom. A lot of the guests stayed home.
If the lack of infield debauchery bothered anyone, know this: There were still plenty of drunks wandering around out there.
Oh, it wasn't like you couldn't get hammered, if that was your intention.
After all, you could buy 16-ounce. beers for $3.50, which is a way better deal than you could get at, say, Camden Yards, where they stick you for $6.50 a beer at Orioles games.
Preakness officials even helpfully introduced a "Breakfast Special," if you will: $1 beers from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m.
It was a big hit, too - at least with the usual coterie of hard-core, early-bird partiers.
But the fact is, even with the heavy drinkers getting their load on, the infield was so quiet at that time of morning you could've studied for the law boards.
At least no one jumped onto the track and tried to punch a horse, as that glassy-eyed kid did 10 years ago.
And there was none of that "Running of the Urinals" business, either, in which drunken revelers scamper atop rows of porta-potties while onlookers fire full cans of beer at them.
As often happens, it was up to the big race, the Preakness, to save the day. And maybe Rachel Alexandra's win eased a little of the sting of an empty infield for track officials.
After all, the last time a filly won the Preakness was in 1924. This was something to shout about.
"I think she's the greatest horse in the country right now, colt or filly," said her jockey, Calvin Borel. "She's an amazing filly. God knows how good she is."
She ran a great race in Baltimore Saturday.
Too bad there weren't more people there to cheer her on.