The Dive Bomber: An All-Star at the League Lounge

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Since I'm not a fan of sports (or swarming masses of humanity), the All-Star Game hoopla was wasted on me. Yeah, I know. The money and exposure are great for St. Louis, but I'd rather hit myself in the head with a bat than fight the crowds of crazy that converged on downtown this week.

Still, as a journalist in St. Louis, I'd be remiss if I didn't do some research in my area of expertise. So I found the diviest sports bar closest to my house -- the League Lounge in Belleville -- to experience the midsummer classic.

The place was packed like every bar in the metro area, but only two people were watching the game on an old 24-inch television without closed captioning. Stevie Ray Vaughn on the jukebox took priority over the game.

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Aside from an employee who wasn't happy about President Obama wearing a White Sox jacket -- "I can't tell anyone in here how I voted without getting in trouble, so why should he get to pick a team?" -- no one really seemed to care much. There was more interest in throwing darts and playing pool under the gaze of a life-size cutout of Richard Gere, Rene Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones from Chicago than in spectator sports.

I made a new friend, who introduced himself because I was drinking Stag, which is pretty standard in Belleville. The brewery may have left two decades ago, but it's still the cheap beer of choice. And yet this guy was surprised to see someone drinking it. After talking about fancy beer for a bit, he invited my entire family to come drink beer with his family at their house in one of the nearby rural towns.

Such is life in Belleville, where even a major national sporting event fifteen miles up the road doesn't interfere neighborliness over the beloved no-longer-local brew.

Robin Wheeler writes the blog Poppy Mom. She also has a strange attraction to drinking establishments with jars of pickled -- or possibly fossilized -- eggs. She reports on these dives for Gut Check every Thursday.
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