Monday, March 12, 2012

I'm a National League Kind a' Guy

This past week at work was fairly hectic. Like trying to walk the yellow line, blindfolded, between two lanes of traffic, hectic. Maybe the pace at work and the resulting exhaustion helped to focus me. Next time I might go with ginseng tea over impossible deadlines and frustration to help with the concentration, but live and learn, right? I didn't get to write much about beer, but I did get the chance to reflect on it a bit. I thought about a single aspect of my relationship with beer, and it's a big aspect—Why do I respect craft beer?

First off, I think I have to clarify the bit about "respect"—I chose this word specifically. I could have said "Why do I like craft beer?" or even "Why do I love craft beer?"Although, neither of those questions seem right in this situation. My feelings about craft beer may go further than a simple like. I like cinnamon toast, but I don't make a conscience effort to have it as often as I can. It's also not about love. Love is an overused description. I love my wife and I love my children, because they can reciprocate, they can love me back. Beer, while it is delicious, is still, as far as I've been told, inanimate and therefore incapable of loving me back. I think the description that's more apt, is respect—Why do I respect craft beer?    

I'm a sports fan—football (both versions), auto racing, basketball, swimming, golf—you name it chances are I've spent time playing it or watching it. Baseball, however, has always had a special place in my heart. I assisted coached Zoe's tee-ball team last summer, and just being on the field to help the kids—with the smell of the fresh cut grass, the red clay dust billowing across the infield and the sound of cicada buzzing overhead—was exhilarating to me. That's  right, tee-ball is exhilarating. So, as I said, baseball is near and dear. Living in New York, the go-to team is obvious: The 27-time, World Series Champions, Bombers of the Bronx—the American League New York Yankees. The Yanks are the big boys—the winners' winners—not just in New York, either, but across the county. They can afford the best players in the world, they have a 90 year history and they consistently win games, pennants and world championships.

I don't care.

I am a fan of the lowly New York Mets, perennial denizens of the cellar, the can't-pitch-themselves-out-of-a-cardboard-box, National League New York Mets. But it's not just the Amazins I'm drawn to, it's the whole National League—whose combined teams have won 45, but lost 62 of the 107 World Series. Yes, The National League—of which its Philadelphia member, the Phillies, hold the honor of being the losingest team in baseball. Do you know what myself and the Houston Astros have in common? Next year we'll both be watching the World Series on TV—bah dum bum! However, for all its faults, there's something pure about the National League—something scrappy. Their pitchers still hit, more of their stadiums are simply "fields" rather than manicured "parks", and they seem to be universally the underdog. The National League is quirky too— the Chicago Cubs couldn't even play at night until 1988. Sure, there are teams that can pay some of their players millions, but most can't pay all their players millions. Strip away the ballcaps and gloves and dust and bats and what your left with is a set of principals that, I think, the National League shares with craft beer—or at least the idea of well crafted beer. Craft beer is the underdog, and I want to root for the small brewery competing with GloboBrew Inc. I want good craft beer to win, even though the odds are stacked against it. I want people to get swept up with a well made IPA or Stout the way they get swept up when the Mets play the Yanks or the Cubbies play the Sox. Craft beer and the National League fight the good fight.  

So, why do I respect craft beer?

For the same reason that I respect the National League—because they both try just a little harder.

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