There’s nothing worse than being late to a sausage party.
Just hours after I had turned in my column for last week, news broke that the Milwaukee Brewers had severed ties with Klements Sausage, longtime sponsor of the Miller Park sausage races. The pun possibilities were mouth-watering.
But the timing was terrible: By week’s end all the good plays on words had been taken. Devoured, really. “Brewers cut links to Klements.” “This is the wurst news of the week.” “Someone should grill team management.” I couldn’t possibly top Jim Stingl of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who hogged puns like a glutton piling sausages on a picnic plate: “Let’s be frank: Klements couldn’t cut the mustard, and other potential sponsors relished this chance to ketchup. Endorsements are all about wieners and losers.”
That’s tasty stuff. But it left me with few original puns, even though I had been casing the situation all week. In the end, all that was left at this sausage party was the linguistic equivalent of a hot dog you see on the rotisserie at Kwik Trip, which incidentally will continue to sponsor the Bernie’s Slide Experience. I sat on my buns all week, pouting like a brat, boiling in a salty mood because there’s no cure for bad timing.
The next day news broke that Johnsonville, and not rival Usinger’s, would take over sponsorship of the Famous Racing Sausages. That’s the beautiful thing about Milwaukee: There’s no shortage of sausage makers, breweries or guys driving around in Trans Ams blasting Whitesnake.
Why the change? Klements reported the team broke things off after 25 years. The company CEO sounded hot as a charcoal briquette when he announced the Brewers cut off negotiations, reached a deal with an (at the time) unknown sausage company and refused to let Klements match the offer. Am I too late to suggest that the Unknown Sausage join the Hot Dog, Italian, Polish, Brat and Chorizo in this season’s races? It could sprint down the warning track with a paper bag over its head.
The team assured fans the sixth-inning races will continue, saying in a statement that although the heat was being turned up on simmering rumors, the Brewers would retain their link to the Famous Racing Sausages. See, even the suits in Public Relations beat me to the punch.
In a quintessentially Wisconsin development, the sausage controversy made headlines statewide. This was partly because not that much happens here, but mostly because we love sausage. We’ve been cheering these races since the sausages were electronic dots on the County Stadium scoreboard.
In lean years, they were the only guaranteed source of entertainment other than the cartoon warning fans about the Two-Fisted Slobber, the tank-top-wearing avatar of drunken bleacher bums who should immediately be reported to the Fan Assistance Center. Leave it to a team called the Brewers whose mascot used to dive into a gigantic mug of beer after home runs to preach the virtues of responsible consumption.
Miller Brewing seems safe as the team’s official beer sponsor, given that its name is on the stadium. Then again, its $40 million sponsorship of the ballpark runs out in 2020. I can only hope if the Brewers choose a new stadium sponsor, the news doesn’t break hours after I’ve finished my column for the week, putting this lagerhead at loggerheads.
The plays on words will flow like beer from a tap. I’ll hop to it, fermenting a batch of puns so stout it’ll cure what ales you. It’ll be so savory, you’ll want to couple it with a brat. Johnsonville, of course.