If you folks haven't seen it promoted on BTSC, a book came out a couple months ago entitled Always A Home Game. The premise is that the author Shawn Allen, and his friend - actual former Steeler Josh Miller - took an epic cross-country series of journeys to every NFL market during the 2013 season, hanging out in about 100 different "Steeler bars." It's a fun concept and a very fun read, and anything in this post that seems to be critical of their ridiculously fun book is meant, well, in fun.
But Josh Miller, former Steelers punter, and his particular project, came close to seriously screwing me over this past Sunday. See, ever since moving to Milwaukee a few years back, I've been missing having a local Steelers bar. As far as I knew, such a thing simply didn't exist in the whole state of Wisconsin. Until I saw that Always A Home Game suggested otherwise.
(The first red flag, by the way, was that Shawn and Josh apparently believe that anywhere in the state of Wisconsin is called "Green Bay," even if it's over a hundred miles away from that town. I don't know that they set wheel in GB at all; the listed bars, repeatedly referred to as "in Green Bay" throughout the text, actually tended to be in places like Madison and - in the case relevant to this particular post - New Berlin, a suburb of Milwaukee.)
The book highlights a Quaker Steak (a Pennsylvania-based chain) location in New Berlin, as a place to which Wisconsin Steelers fans flock, from miles around, to watch the game. This bar received three hypocycloids out of three, a designation which is given to the true Steelers hangouts. The problem is, the Always A Home Game project involved trying to visit multiple bars in each of 32 different metropolitan areas. Obviously, the authors couldn't physically be in every single bar during a game. So they visited the majority of the bars during non-football hours. That means that not all of their information was accurate.
In the case of this particular Quaker Steak, Shawn and Josh correctly summarize things like the menu, the beer selection, and the impressive Sunday morning bloody mary bar. However, I learned that they were just a tiny bit off in representing what Steelers games are like. I learned this when I showed up and found a table, looking around at the numerous TV screens. Fortunately, I didn't order a drink right away. First I flagged down a server to figure out where the best place to watch my game might be. She kind of shrugged vapidly (not rude, just clueless), and suggested I find a bartender. I flagged down one of those and asked about the Steelers-Browns game. She thought it over for a moment and said "I don't think we have that one." The bartender consulted a printed list. "I think we have Bills-Bears, and, um..." Impatiently, I cut her off, to be sure I was understanding the situation properly; Quaker Steak didn't have Sunday Ticket? She confirmed that they did not. This establishment, personally endorsed by former Steelers punter Josh Miller as a specifically Steelers bar, did not subscribe to Sunday Ticket, and was not even showing the %@&$ing game. Kickoff was minutes away, and it decidedly was not a Steelers home game for me. Thanks, Shawn and Josh.
Happy ending - having lived here for awhile, I knew enough to sprint back to the parking lot and gun it over to Romine's High Pockets, a bar on the south side of Milwaukee. (A reminder to Shawn and/or Josh if they ever happen to read this: Milwaukee is not located within Green Bay). Romine's has Sunday Ticket and makes it a policy to try to show every game, with sound (although admittedly some TVs are more audible than others). I'd only missed the opening possession. With my arrival, the Steelers fans (all five of us) represented the largest contingent there for any particular team on this non-Packers day. The staff quickly arranged to make one of the larger TVs in the back the center of a zone for Steelers fans. One of the other guys, new to this Wisconsin city which was not Green Bay, confirmed that he'd been smart enough to actually call the Quaker Steak in advance, and gotten the same story, leading him to come to Romine's instead. Our group bought each other drinks and food, reveled in the joyous celebration that was the first half, watched the second half defensive meltdown in amazement while loudly playing armchair-coach, and warily savored a narrow victory.
Using the Always A Home Game three-point rating system, Romine's earns a single hypocycloid - it's just a sports bar, not a specifically designated hangout for the black and gold. The food is aggressively mediocre, and the short beer list doesn't get much more adventurous than Dos Equis. But at least you can actually watch the Steelers game at Romine's. And that's my biggest criterion for making any Sunday afternoon into a "home game." No point in getting too picky beyond that.