CHICAGO — Tim Fleming and Jennifer Miller took the plastic cups of Old Style from the Wrigley Field vendor, then tapped the beers together as if making a champagne toast.
This workingman's brew is as much part of the lore at the home of the Cubs as bricks, ivy and the billy goat curse blamed for the team's long championship drought. So news that Pabst Brewing Co. might pull the beer from the ballpark after six decades doesn't sit well with Miller and other loyalists.
"Not acceptable," she said.
With no pennant race to worry about, fans are buzzing both at Wrigley and on the Internet about the prospect that the team will end one of the most amazing streaks in sports: the 61 years with Old Style.
According to a published report, billionaire C. Dean Metropoulos fired off a memo to senior staffers shortly after he bought Pabst last year that he wanted to "exit the Cubs deal" in favor of spending more to market Old Style Light.
Pabst's chief marketing officer Bryan Crowley declined to acknowledge the memo exists as the Chicago Tribune reported this summer. However, he told the Associated Press that a contract is set to expire after this season between the Cubs and the company, which also makes Old Milwaukee and Schlitz.
Wally Hayward, the team's chief sales and marketing officer, said Cubs officials are well aware of fans' loyalty to the brand. He speculated that talk of discontinuing the partnership likely stems from the many changes at the beer company, including a revamped executive team and its headquarters moving from suburban Chicago to Los Angeles.
"We've enjoyed a 61-year partnership with Old Style, and we'd like to keep them (as partners) longer," Hayward said.
SURGERY FOR HANLEY?: The Marlins medical staff has recommended surgery for SS Hanley Ramirez, who has been out since early August with instability in his left shoulder. Ramirez would need about 4-6 months to recover. In other Marlins news, RF Mike Stanton, who left Saturday's game with right hamstring tightness, was out of the lineup but is expected back within the next few days.
PHILLIES PROTEST: The Phillies played their game against the Marlins under protest after Hunter Pence was ruled out on fan interference in the sixth inning after initially being awarded a double, costing them two runs.
ATHLETICS: OF Coco Crisp was out of the lineup because of a bruised right foot.
BLUE JAYS: CF Colby Rasmus, on the disabled list since Aug. 24 with a sore right wrist, reported significant improvement and expects to begin taking practice swings this week.
GIANTS: LHP Jonathan Sanchez, who hasn't pitched in a game since Aug. 16 because of a badly sprained left ankle, threw a brief bullpen session Saturday and could be ready for the final two weeks of the season.
INDIANS: 3B Jack Hannahan left the game against the Royals in the third inning with tightness in his left calf.
MARINERS: OF Casper Wells left the game against the A's after getting hit by a pitch on his left wrist during the second inning.
PADRES: 1B Anthony Rizzo was recalled from Triple-A Tucson for his second stint with the team. He was optioned back to Tucson July 22 when he hit .143 with one homer and six RBIs in 35 games.
RED SOX: RF Conor Jackson left the game against the Rangers after running into the wall chasing Ian Kinsler's third-inning RBI triple. He was holding his left arm and flexing his right knee after the play.
TIGERS: LF Brennan Boesch expects to have surgery on his injured right thumb within the next week and is likely to miss the rest of the season.
TWINS: LHP Francisco Liriano, on the disabled list since Aug. 25 with a shoulder strain, likely won't pitch again this season, manager Ron Gardenhire said.