October 4, 2006

Postseason And Beer

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Aside from salted peanuts and anabolic steroids, nothing goes better with major league baseball than beer. This year’s playoffs are a lot like your typical Collegetown bar, boasting the standard drafts (Yankees, Mets), some interesting microbrews (A’s, Twins), and, of course, some god-awful swill (Cardinals). So sit back, put Joe Buck on mute, and crack into the beers of this year’s MLB Playoffs.

St. Louis Cardinals, O’Doul’s

You’d think Busch Light would be the de facto choice for the Cardinals, but no — sorry — 83 wins doesn’t warrant an actual beer classification. Imagine you’re at a party. You reach into a cooler and pull out an O’Doul’s. That “What the hell is this doing here?” reaction is the same way I feel about this year’s Redbirds being in the playoffs. Clinching the division with a loss is no way to enter the postseason, but starting guys like Jason Marquis, Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver is a sure way to exit it. 0.4 percent isn’t just the alcohol content of O’Doul’s. It’s also a good estimate of the Cards chances at winning it all.

San Diego Padres, Yuengling

Winning the NL West is sort of like being a pretty good domestic beer. Yuengling’s good for Pennsylvania but then what’s it competition? Jake Peavy and Princeton product Chris Young are a nice one-two punch, and Trevor Hoffman should win the NL Cy Young. But let’s face it; David Wells needs something a lot stronger than Yuengling to be effective. The Padres’ playoff run is going to be a lot like Mike Piazza’s throws: they may get to second, but they’re not going much farther.

Los Angeles Dodger, Blue Moon

Dodger’s G.M. Ned Colleti’s trades and signings spiced up the foundering Dodgers like a slice of orange tossed into this Belgian white ale. With Nomar Garciparra and my boy Kenny Lofton (75 stolen bases in 1996 for the Indians), L.A. certainly has some flavor, but wheat beers, like Dodger manager Grady Little, are only good in the summer. At least L.A. fans will be free this Sunday to watch Matt Leinart’s first start for the Arizona Cardinals.

New York Mets: Corona

Mets fans are like the limes inevitably left at the bottom of Coronas: they’re just waiting for fruit flies and Yankee fans to pick them apart. But this year’s supposed to be different — Wright? However, with the loss of Pedro Martinez, the Mets rotation is a freshly opened bottle just waiting to be tapped, spilling into a horrible mess and ruining everyone’s night. Still, you pick the Mets to win the NL pennant for the same reason you bring Coronas to the beach: it’s a hell of lot better than drinking salt water, and the rest of the National League is an ocean of mediocrity.

Oakland A’s: Sam Adam’s Light

A’s G.M. Billy Beane is baseball’s ultimate calorie counter, and Sam Adam’s Light is the best light beer on the market. Always good, but never great, Oakland’s defense is much better than in recent years and its pitching is way underrated. Still its lineup has less flavor than Michelob Ultra, batting .260 during the regular season — worst among this year’s playoff teams. Claiming Moneyball’s great for the regular season is like telling your date you only drink microbrews. It may work in the Bay Area, but it’s never going to get you that far.

Detroit Tigers: Pabst Blue Ribbon

Didn’t this used to be a shitty beer? Didn’t the Tigers used to be a lock to lose 90 to 100 games a season? Suddenly PBR is cool — at least if you’re a dirty hipster like Arts Editor Elliot Singer — and the Tigers were baseball’s best team for the first half of the season.

The Midwest brew won its famed blue ribbon in 1893, a year before the Tigers were founded and only a year after Detroit manager Jim Leyland was born. Don’t get me wrong; Pabst has great kitsch appeal, and the Tigers were incredibly fun to watch this season with a great young staff and a potent lineup. But their starting rotation in September looked flatter than day-old beer, and you know the Yankee’s Jason Giambi just laps that stuff up. Anything can happen in a short series, but I think the only champagne the good people of Detroit will be drinking this October comes in a can and is made by Miller.

New York Yankees: Heineken

Heineken is the A-Rod of beers: overpriced and never good in the clutch. Pitching and defense are the hops and barley of World Series championships. Of the playoff teams, only the Dodgers have a worse fielding percentage than the Bombers, and the Yank’s regular season ERA (4.41) is pretty close to the alcohol content of most light beers. Let’s face it, the only pump in the Yankee’s clubhouse this postseason will be filled with oxygen, not CO2, and the only time Jaret Wright has ever been remotely good was when he had a Wahoo on his hat and he was pitching against the Yankees.

Ever had a Heineken that got lost on its way from Amsterdam to the States? It has a taste similar to the aroma of Derek Jeter’s new cologne — skunk. Steinbrenner’s Leviathan is like an engineer in beer pong tournament — maybe good for a few games, but by no means championship caliber.

Minnesota Twins: J.W. Dundee’s Honeybrown

Brewed in Rochester like most of the Twin’s lineup this year (the Rochester Red Wing’s are Minnesota’s Triple-A affiliate) Honeybrown is a perfect match for the small market Twinkies. It’s easy on the wallet, good when you’re young and has an aftertaste as smooth as manager’s Ron Gardenhire’s goatee. Like beer infused with honey, the Twins have a lot going for them. Johan Santana is without a doubt the AL Cy Young, Justin Mourneau should be the AL MVP and the only person capable of shutting the door faster than Joe Nathan may be my ex-girlfriend Brianne. Don’t be fooled by yesterday’s loss, Mr. Dundee, I think your tasty line of reasonably priced beverages needs an addition, because the Twin Cities will be celebrating this Oktoberfest with a World Series parade.

Paul Testa is a Sun Assistant Sports Editor. Cleveland Rocks will appear ever other Wednesday this semester.