Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Beer Leaguers: Four Peaks Hefeweizen and Jonathan Papelbon

First, a programming note: The Common Man is on vacation this week in Scottsdale. From work, not from blogging. But that may mean that some of the blogging may be erratic, as he tries to schedule writing around family-type activities. Also, tonight TCM will be attending the Diamondbacks-Cardinals game at Chase Field in Phoenix. If you’re going to be there, drop TCM a line at the email address on the right and let’s grab a beer. Also, if you have suggestions of things to do or eat at the park, let TCM know.

Speaking of things you ingest, The Common Man and The Boy (The Uncommon Wife doesn’t join this vacation until Wednesday) were treated to dinner by The Boy’s grandmother last night at Oregano’s, a terrific pizza joint in Scottsdale (although there are 8 locations in Arizona. While it’s set up for adults, complete with an outdoor bar and patio, it’s a terrific place for kids as well, as The Boy got his own pizza dough to play with. The beer was also terrific.

Four Peaks Hefe-weizen is brewed locally, in Tempe and is terrific. It’s a springtime or summertime beer, which is perfect since it’s always spring or summer in Arizona. The flavor is smooth and light, but very flavorful, especially when accompanied by a lemon wedge. The citrus is a perfect complement to its maltiness. It presents as a cloudy yellow, as a result of being unfiltered. The yeast mellows the bitterness of the hops and makes this beer eminently drinkable. It’s not overly complicated, but it is a crowd-pleaser.

It’s a lot like Jonathan Papelbon, actually. As discerning baseball fans know, Jonathan Papelbon may actually be insane. He is loud and goofy, and prone to say ridiculous things. For instance, why does he wear his undershirt? “It’s a free shirt. You can’t beat it with a stick. I don’t have any reason behind wearing it. It’s just a free shirt.” What’s his entrance music? “'Let the bodies hit the floor,' something like that. I think the fans were more worried about my entrance song than I was. They can send in suggestions if they have some.” How’s married life? “I'm all good. I'm married now, man. All I've got is one person to answer to.” What’s his favorite board game? “Don’t make me bring the Scrabble board to the locker room. I will bring it." Why did he name his son Gunner Roberts? “Just a badass name, so we went with it.” What should be done about long game times? “Bundle up and drink beer . . . If you don't want to be there, don't be there. Go home. Why are you complaining." What does he think of Manny Ramirez? “For him not to be on the same page as the rest of the team was a killer, man! It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that’s exactly what was happening. Once we saw that, we weren’t afraid to get rid of him. It’s like cancer. That’s what he was. Cancer. He had to go. It sucked, but that was the only scenario that was going to work.” How do you handle clubhouse disputes? “Even a guy like me, just heading into my fourth year in the big leagues — if David Ortiz gets a little, you know — I’ll tell him what’s up! I’m not afraid to do that. I’m not afraid to put him in his place, because I think everybody needs that. And if somebody does it to me, I understand that. I most certainly understand that. Varitek tells me all the time, 'Just shut up. Do what you’re supposed to do.'” Now why would Jason Varitek say that?

Plus, nobody dances a jig quite like Jonathan Papelbon:

But as unbalanced as Papelbon can seem, there is no doubt that he’s a fantastic pitcher. In his first four full seasons, Paps garnered 151 saves across 264 innings, with 312 strikeouts. He had a 5.20 K/BB ratio and just a .917 WHIP. He had a 1.74 ERA. He converted his save opportunities 90% of the time, and was asked to go more than three outs in 17% of his appearances. By contrast, Joe Natan had 159 saves and more innings and Ks, but a lower K/BB and went more than 3 outs in just 7% of his outings. He has a devastating fastball that averages 94-95 MPH. And despite an overreliance on his fastball last year, it was still one of the most 25 effective fastballs in baseball for anyone with more than 50 innings. Like the Hefeweizen, Papelbon may be unfiltered, but he’s crazy good.

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