The Mariners kick-off the 2010 MLB season this upcoming Monday against the Oakland Athletics. The Mariners made some nice improvements for this year, but only time will tell if that will be enough to get them to the promised land. Since this is not a sports blog, I thought I’d be creative and combine my love of beer and sports into a single post. Following is a “six-pack” of Mariners players paired with beers. Good luck to the Mariners this year.
New to the Market
The Player: Chone Figgins
The Beer: Upright Five
The Mariners did well to add one of the most prized free agents available in Figgins this offseason. The 32 year old comes to Seattle from the division rival Angels, and he’ll fit perfectly in the order right behind Ichiro. Figgins is a versatile fielder, and he’ll start the year manning second base after the club decided to move Jose Lopez to third base.
It seems like there is a new brewery entering the Seattle market every month. One exciting new addition is Upright Brewing from Portland. Upright specializes in “farmhouse inspired beers rooted in France & Belgium but made with local ingredients and a PNW twist”. Their “Five” is a farmhouse pale ale and is a good place to start exploring their lineup.
The Question Mark
The Player: Milton Bradley
The Beer: Cascade Apricot
Sure, Milton Bradley could bounce back to his impressive 2008 numbers when he hit .321 and belted 22 HR in 414 at-bats with the Texas Rangers. Or, he could repeat his .257 average and 12 HR from his eventful season with the Chicago Cubs last year. As long as he doesn’t repeat this disaster of a moment, he’ll have a more successful year than his last.
Cascade Brewing Company, located in Portland, is beloved by Seattle beer geeks for their award winning sour ales. Unfortunately, the last time I spoke with them their distribution status in Seattle was “uncertain”. I hope we continue to see their beers in multiple locations up here, but it sounds like nothing is certain. If you want to help make sure they continue to be available up here, go out and buy whatever stock you can find at local bottle shops! Their beers are well-worth the money, if you are a fan of sour ales or fruit beers.
The Best From Abroad
The Player: Ichiro Suzuki
The Beer: Pilsner Urquell
After coming over from Japan in 2001, Ichiro has gathered over 200 hits in an MLB record nine consecutive years and should continue that trend. He’s easily the best Japanese player to ever play in the MLB.
Pilsner Urquell is the original Pilsner that all others are modeled after and is amazing when served fresh. It is light and drinkable, and the snap of signature Saaz hops set it apart from the impostors. It can be tough to find it fresh sometimes in the US, but the few times I’ve tried it from their 16oz cans I have been a happy man. Yes, the brewery is now owned by SABMiller; get over it.
Old and in the Way
The Player: Ken Griffey Jr.
The Beer: Heineken
Sorry, Griffey fans. Most of us realize that Junior’s days as an effective baseball player are pretty much over. As he enters his 22nd season in the majors, he should be happy if he’s able to finish with a batting average above .250 (he won’t). It is certainly a feel good story to have him back in town again, but he’d be better off on the coaching staff.
We’re lucky enough to live in Seattle, where good craft beer is abundant. But, how many times have you been to a restaurant or bar elsewhere to find that their beer offerings consist of several light American lagers, and then…Heineken? I’ll never understand how this bland import continues to be held in such high regard by so many. If managers and decision makers would put as much thought into their beer as their wine, then they’d realize they should choose something else over this entrenched relic.
Young and Outstanding
The Player: Felix Hernandez
The Beer: Black Raven IPA
It is hard to grasp that Felix is just 24 years old. He was just 19 when he started with the Mariners in 2005, and he has continued to improve each year. Last year, he was in the running for the AL Cy Young award, and he may be the favorite to win it this year.
Black Raven Brewing has yet to celebrate their 1st anniversary of being in business. But, they just keep impressing. Their IPA managed quite a feat when it ousted stalwart Boundary Bay IPA as the customer-favorite and year-round house IPA for 2010 at the Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle. If you still haven’t tried their beer, a visit to their Redmond brewery is the perfect reason to visit the Eastside.
The Hot Commodity
The Player: Cliff Lee
The Beer: Deschutes The Abyss
The Mariners somehow managed to give up just a few mid-level prospects in return for one of the best pitchers in the game. The catch? His contract runs out at the end of this season, and he is sure to test the free agency waters when it does. He’s starting out the season on the disabled list, but he should be back close to May 1. If the Mariners aren’t looking good as the trade deadline approaches in 2010, you can expect Lee to be one of the hottest trade commodities available.
Deschutes The Abyss is an 11% ABV Imperial Stout that is coveted by beer geeks across the country. When first released in January of 2007, one could go onto the trading forums at RateBeer or BeerAdvocate and trade a bottle for just about anything of your choosing. It’s still a popular trading beer, but increased production and wider distribution by Deschutes has softened the demand for it. Regardless, it is still a great beer. Look for the 2010 release later this fall or winter.