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And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Look, I ain’t gonna lie to you. I lost track of baseball for a couple of days. You’ll have that when you visit five distilleries and take in all manner of food, music, and odd, assorted — and a few sordid — people, all in places where the drink menus are longer than most metropolitan telephone directories.

So yes, I still have the recaps from yesterday’s games for you, but since the games didn’t involve charred white oak barrels and nice vanilla/caramel balance at first followed by a nice spicy finish, my mind wandered a bit (a lot) while writing these, so let’s just consider today’s installment a bourbon primer with a baseball chaser, OK?  Thanks for indulging me.

Red Sox 12, Brewers 3: A six run inning — with a Kevin Youkilis three-run bomb — iced this one for Boston before it even got going. Speaking of ice, don’t listen to that whiskey snob you know who says that you should never add ice to your pour. Indeed, most experts will tell you that ice — or a few splashes of water — will bring out some other flavors and aromas in the bourbon that you may not be able to appreciate neat. Just don’t drown it, you know?

Rays 2, Marlins 1: James Shields threw a four-hit complete game with 10Ks. Florida loses its tenth straight, with added disorientation given Edwin Rodriguez’s resignation right before the game. Speaking of disorientation, I found that despite all of the great bourbon I sampled over the weekend, I wasn’t really ever inebriated. There’s always something, be it a well-timed meal or a fairly lengthy drive between destinations — plus the fact that you’re savoring good stuff rather than just glugging down grog — that sort of encourages moderation on this kind of trip. Didn’t really lose a step all weekend, which was not something I expected.

Twins 5, Padres 4: Drew Butera singled in Delmon Young in the bottom of the ninth as the Twins won their seventh straight. Speaking of Old No. 7, Did you know what keeps Jack Daniels from being a bourbon?  It’s dripped through ten feet of packed maple charcoal after the distilling process is over and before it’s put in barrels. And Jack Daniels uses red oak, not white oak.  Subtle differences, but enough to give it a totally different taste profile. I’ve never really cared much for Jack Daniels, and I’m guessing it’s that maple charcoal thing going on.

Reds 2, Blue Jays 1: The Reds had gone 16 innings without scoring, but Miguel Cairo’s two-run homer in the sixth broke that streak and gave the Reds enough offense to win it. The Blue Jays had owned Bronson Arroyo before yesterday, but he made people forget that. Speaking of owning, the world of Kentucky bourbon is a lot more consolidated than you may think, with any given distillery producing both high end stuff and rotgut. It’s so easy with beers and wines to get prejudiced against various producers who make stuff you don’t like, even when they dress it up with fancy labels, but you gotta let that go with bourbon. Don’t like Jim Beam? Hey, don’t drink it, but don’t let your feelings toward it sour you on their high end Bookers. Don’t like Buffalo Trace? Well, get used to the fact that the best stuff I ever buy — Blanton’s — is made by the same people. It doesn’t take a fundamentally different corporate mindset to make a premium product in the world of whiskey. It only takes the will and some time, because it only takes a few tweaks and some extra space in the rick house to make a super fine product, not some massive change in a company’s priorities.

Mariners 2, Phillies 0: Jason Vargas shuts out the Phillies on three hits.  Speaking of three hits, Woodford Reserve prides itself on triple distilling its hooch, which it does in these three awesome and massive copper pot stills. No one else distills three times. They claim that’s what makes their stuff so special. I don’t know enough about all of that to know if it truly makes a big difference. Why wouldn’t anyone else distill three times if that was a game-changer?  It’s great stuff, though, I can’t deny it. Maybe it’s because they easily have the best employee of any distillery. He’s so dedicated he takes all of his meals on site!

White Sox 8, Diamondbacks 2: Paul Konerko homers for the third straight day as the Snakes drop two of three to the White Sox. Speaking of white, did you know that, when they put it in the barrels after distilling, the whisky is totally clear like water? This is known as “white dog,” or as it’s more commonly known, “white lightning.” Or more commonly know than that, “moonshine.” Yes, the only real difference between illegal, redneck moonshine and smooth, refined sippin’ whiskey is the fact that it’s aged in those charred oak barrels, transforming that color and, of course, adding some mellow woody flavors. Some distilleries — notably Heaven Hill — are starting to bottle the white dog and sell it, presumably cutting it just enough to make it legal. I’m not sure who on Earth would want that. I have in-laws in West Virginia who have procured me real moonshine before. It’s horrifyingly bad, no matter what you do with it.  I’m assuming 90% of the bottled white dog will be sold either (a) to dumb kids who want to pretend to be badasses; or (b) ironically.

Dodgers 1, Astros 0: A Dioner Navarro homer was the only scoring of the game. Speaking of thin lines, when they empty a barrel for bottling following the aging process, you can look at the cross section of the barrel staves and see a thin reddish line an inch or two into the wood. That’s how far the bourbon soaks into the wood during aging, slowly seeping in and out as the heat in the rick house changes and the barrels and their contents expand and contrast.

Tigers 9, Rockies 1: The AP game story (and I presume others who watched the game too) said that Justin Verlander didn’t have his best stuff. Yet he still retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced en route to a complete game, so even his not-so-best stuff is pretty special. Speaking of retired, the retired master distiller of Woodford Reserve has continued to dabble in the business, and his latest creation just came out. It’s called Angel’s Envy, and it’s different than other bourbons in that, after the normal aging, its transferred to port wine barrels for a few months to give it all kinds of weird fruity, chocolatey and other port-esque flavors. I didn’t try any down there, but I bought a bottle because I am intrigued.

Cardinals 5, Royals 4: The win is a win — a walkoff homer by Skip Schumaker — but it’s cold comfort compared to Albert Pujols’ wrist/shoulder injury, the severity and extent of which we’ll know more about today. Speaking of comfort — or, comfort food anyway — there is no breakfast more fantastic for a day’s worth of imbibing than the stuff you can get at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in the Highlands neighborhood of Louisville. This is what I had on Saturday morning. This is what the missus had. Yeah, we were comforted.

Orioles 7, Nationals 4: The Nats’ eight game winning streak comes to a halt as Chris Jakubauskas pitched five decent innings and got a couple of hits as well to help the Orioles salvage the final game of the series. Speaking of versatility, did you know that Jame Beauregard Beam — who ran Jim Beam when Prohibition hit — managed to continue making money hand over fist running quarries, coal mines and owning orange groves until Prohibition was lifted? Did you also know that it took every ounce of will power I had not to ask the tour guide if, in fact, Beam actually continued to secretly make whiskey, using subterfuge and payoffs to the feds? Because that seems way more likely to me. In fact, at every distillery I went to, they told some tale about how the forefathers survived prohibition, and all I could think was “yeah, they survived it by still making whiskey, dude.”

Athletics 2, Giants 1: Despite staggering into this series, the A’s sweep their cross-bay rivals. Speaking of unexpected, the missus and I sat at the bar at the Brown Hotel for two nights, each night sampling more different bourbons than any sane person should sample, and I’ll be damned if the one I didn’t enjoy the most was a glass of plain old Old Fitz. I ordered it, not because I thought it would be great, but rather, in homage to Hunter S. Thompson, who orders one in the airport bar at the beginning of “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.” And man, I liked it. I really liked it. I’m not sure if that says more about the simple things in life being the best or more about how one’s imagination can fool you into all manner of baloney if you let it. But it was good.

Braves 4, Rangers 2: Jason Heyward hit a two-run single and Freddie Freeman had and RBI double.  Speaking of the young doing good things, I think one of the more enlightening things of the past couple of days came while tasting at the lovely Heaven Hill tasting room in Bardstown. The two samples: their Ezra Brooks single barrel and their 18-year-old Elijah Craig. The Brooks was fantastic. Even if you’d never drink a black label Brooks — and I wouldn’t blame you — do try the single barrel, as it may stand as the greatest discovery of the trip for me. In contrast, they talk up the Elijah Craig as something awesome because bourbon is rarely allowed to age for 18 years, and thus it’s supposed to have all kinds of complex things going on with it and blah blah blah. Know what? “Complex” and “bourbon” aren’t necessarily best friends. This isn’t wine or scotch. This is Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. It is America’s official spirit. In keeping with that legal designation — and yes, Congress so designated it once upon a time — a certain immediacy and directness is called for that isn’t quite delivered when we pretend that our bourbon is scotch and that it needs more time in the barrel. It doesn’t. When I want complex I’ll drink something complex, but I no more want an overly-complicated drink when I’m in the mood for bourbon than I want some vaguely European dandy to give me the double talk when I want someone to tell me how it is, get me?

Angels 7, Mets 3: Tyler Chatwood pitched seven scoreless. The Mets’ three runs in the ninth were basically an afterthought. Speaking of afterthoughts, for reasons that are still unclear to me, the missus and I stumbled up Fourth Street from the Brown Hotel to the little roped-off party central area of Louisville called “Fourth Street Live.” What you find there: lots of chain bars and restaurants like the Hard Rock Cafe and very corporate feeling Irish Pubs. On Friday night they also happened to have a free concert, featuring some hot country band (as in the genre “hot country”) called Thompson Square. A husband and wife duo that, while catchy enough, pretty much tells you everything that is wrong with hot country. When they had the most fun — and, frankly, when we in the crowd had the most fun — was when they did goofy stuff like covers of New Kids on the Block and Joan Jett which, while cute, belied their true pop influences and showed that the country in their sound was barely skin deep and probably more calculated than anything. I can’t say it wasn’t fun to be out on the street on a nice warm early summer evening, fueled by wonderful brown liquor and enjoying a festive atmosphere, but I can’t say I felt great about it all either. I probably overthink this stuff.

Yankees 10, Cubs 4: Tied 4-4 until the eighth inning when Nick Swisher hit a tie-breaking three-run homer as New York pulled away for an easy win. The crowd at Wrigley was a kind of crazy, with lots of New York fans there chanting for the Yankees and all of the interest in the Bombers playing on the north side leading to a three-day attendance record at Wrigley.  Speaking of outsiders sort of invading, on the way to Woodford Reserve, one passes through the heart of Kentucky horse country, where there sit horse farms with gates that appeared to — and almost certainly did — cost more than my house. On those gates are names like “Dubai Arab Farms” and stuff like that, suggesting how crazy international interest has shaped that business. Go a ways up the road and you can see some of their horses just prancing around the most picturesque pastures you’ve ever seen. Taking this all in, I was struck by the notion that anyone who hopped a fence there and got within 200 yards of one of those horses would likely be shot on site and no jury in that county would convict the shooter.

Indians 5, Pirates 2: Cord Phelps with a dramatic three-run walkoff job in the 11th inning. Speaking of dramatic, the problem you have with anything as old as bourbon making, is that all of the good old stories are sort of lost in the mists of time. At each distillery there is some variation of the story of the founding of bourbon told, be it in an interpretive center or a movie or in a booklet or what have you. Sometimes the reverend Elijah Craig accidentally discovered bourbon making when some barrels were burnt in a fire and he decided to use them anyway. Sometimes it was intentional because he had some harebrained idea. At least three distilleries claim to be the oldest … something, be it “continuously operating” or “currently situated on this site” or “using the same recipe” or whatever in all of America. Unlike the California wine industry, for example, there just isn’t anyone alive anymore who can tell you how stuff really went down. And since 3/4 of all distilleries have someone named “Beam” working for them, there’s even more incentive to lie and fudge and all of that.

I found this troubling for a little while because I really wanted to learn things on my trip, but to be honest, this may be all apart of that “official American spirit” thing. America is kind of full of beans itself (in the best sense of the term), so why shouldn’t one of its signature industries be too?

Hell, baseball is the same way and I love it too, so maybe it doesn’t matter.

San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus asks for fired DJ to be reinstated

SAN DIEGO - APRIL 06:  The grounds crew works on the field before the start of the game between the Colorado Rockies and the San Diego Padres during Opening Night at Petco Park on April 6, 2007 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
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OK, I lied. Earlier I said we had the final word on the National Anthem dustup in San Diego from over the weekend. The final word, it seemed, was the Padres apologizing, the revelation that the screwed up Anthem thing was a mistake by a DJ hired to run the music and the DJ then being fired. Oh, and then the DJ apologizing.

Now a new twist! The San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus said today that they’d like to see the DJ rehired by the Padres! Their statement, in relevant part:

We also would like to publicly accept the sincere apology of DJ ARTFORM and recognize his support for the LGBT community and equality for all people. We do not wish to see him lose his job with the San Diego Padres and kindly ask the Padres to reinstate him. Everyone deserves a second chance.”

That’s quite a shift in the past few days, as all of this was came into the public eye via a Facebook post by a Gay Men’s Chorus official saying that this whole thing was part of a pattern of troublesome homophobia. Now we’ve come full circle. Or maybe around the circle a few times and back again. I don’t know. I’m dizzy.

Whatever the case: everyone’s all happy now, and that’s way better than everyone being all mad.

Great Moments in Dealing with Hecklers: Bartolo Colon edition

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 7:  Bartolo Colon #40 of the New York Mets pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on May 7, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Last week the news broke that a lawsuit was filed against Bartolo Colon for back child support for two children he apparently fathered out of wedlock. As we noted repeatedly at the time, the case was sealed and the facts were mostly unknown. Still, the possibility at least exists that Colon has been a deadbeat dad to some degree. And the underlying facts are no doubt a sensitive matter to his family, right? I hope we can all agree on that.

As we’ve all seen in the past, this sort of stuff is what hecklers thrive on. Ask Chipper Jones or any other athlete who have been caught up in scandal, especially sexual scandal, in the past. Fans of the opposition are going to pounce on it. And the fans in Washington for the Mets-Nationals series are no different in that regard:

I wish fans didn’t use stuff about the personal lives of ballplayers like this, especially when it involves their families, but I suppose it’s inevitable. And hey, Colon got him back right? Quickly showed the heckler that he couldn’t be gotten to. The first impulse in reading this is to laugh for just that reason. Indeed, the first impulse in reading a lot of things dealing with Colon these days is to laugh because he’s become a pretty popular and affable figure.

But I also wish Colon, even if this was meant flippantly in order to deflect a jerk, didn’t respond this way in this situation. Why? Because it seems to diminish what, for his family and the woman with whom he fathered a couple of children out of wedlock, is a pretty serious and personal situation. And possibly one with some negative legal consequences in the offing. At the very least Colon’s comment will bring him an extra question or two at a deposition from the lawyer for the mother of his children, putatively to probe him for any other similar situations but, in reality, just to get under his skin. For that reason it was kind of a dumb comment.

More broadly, however, it just doesn’t look great to treat this whole situation flippantly. Maybe Bartolo Colon gets away with this way easier than someone else might because of his current popularity, but how would we feel if another, less popular player were accused of something unseemly and he treated it as a joke like this? I feel like the knives would be out for him in ways they’ll likely never be out for Bartolo Colon based solely on how we feel about the player in question.

It all goes back to what I wrote about all of this last week: we have a sliding scale for behavior for certain athletes and public figures based on their preexisting popularity. We shouldn’t have such a sliding scale. Personally, I think we should be far more hands-off and lenient when it comes to judging these men than we currently are because there is so little we truly know and so little of it is truly the business of fans. But if we do get in the business of judging these guys, we need to be fair about it.

I don’t think we should have the knives out for Colon over this, especially given how little is known about his case and his situation. But I feel like we’d treat someone who was not Bartolo Colon very differently under the same exact facts and that it would do us well to contend with that some.

Report: James Loney’s representatives to contact the Mets

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - MARCH 14:  James Loney #21 of the Tampa Bay Rays swings at a pitch during the first inning of a spring training game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium on March 14, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that representatives of Padres first baseman James Loney are expected to contact the Mets, who are in need of first base help after losing Lucas Duda to a back injury on Monday.

Loney, 32, has spent the season with the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate in El Paso. In 155 plate appearances, he’s hitting .333/.368/.417 with a pair of home runs and 23 RBI. Loney hit slightly below the league average last year with the Rays and has generally played a solid first base defensively. He wouldn’t begin to replace Duda’s power, but he would be a good stopgap on short notice.

Loney has the privilege of opting out of his deal with the Padres if he can find a major league job elsewhere. The Rays are paying the balance of his $8 million salary, so the Mets would only need to pay the prorated major league minimum.

Duda is dealing with stress fractures in his lower back and said “it will be a while” before he returns. The Mets had Eric Campbell start at first base on Monday, and he figures to be the club’s short-term solution.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Tuesday’s action

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 20:  Manager Joe Girardi of the New York Yankees watches batting practice before a game against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on May 20, 2016 in Oakland, California.  The Yankees won 8-3.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
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Last Wednesday night, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner gave a vote of confidence for manager Joe Girardi. The Yankees entered the day 16-22 in last place in the AL East. They beat the Diamondbacks that night to salvage the series. Starting on Thursday, the Yankees would go on to complete a four-game sweep of the Athletics in Oakland and enter tonight’s action in third place at 21-22, on a five-game winning streak.

The Yankees have been hitting well lately, but it’s the pitching that’s responsible for the turnaround. The starting pitcher in four of those five wins went at least six innings and yielded exactly one run, which gave the Yankees the privilege of handing the game off to Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman for the final three innings. That’s exactly the way the Yankees want to win ballgames — play to their strengths.

Nathan Eovaldi will toe the rubber for the Yankees tonight, opposing Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey at Yankee Stadium starting at 7:05 PM EDT.

The rest of Tuesday’s action…

Arizona Diamondbacks (Shelby Miller) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Francisco Liriano), 7:05 PM EDT

New York Mets (Matt Harvey) @ Washington Nationals (Stephen Strasburg), 7:05 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (Jason Hammel) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Michael Wacha), 7:10 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa) @ Boston Red Sox (David Price), 7:10 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson) @ Atlanta Braves (Julio Teheran), 7:10 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Jeremy Hellickson) @ Detroit Tigers (Justin Verlander), 7:10 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Jhoulys Chacin) @ Texas Rangers (Martin Perez), 8:05 PM EDT

Baltimore Orioles (Chris Tillman) @ Houston Astros (Doug Fister), 8:10 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Josh Tomlin) @ Chicago White Sox (Chris Sale), 8:10 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez) @ Minnesota Twins (Ervin Santana), 8:10 PM EDT

Cincinnati Reds (Daniel Wright) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Mike Bolsinger), 10:10 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Kendall Graveman) @ Seattle Mariners (Nathan Karns), 10:10 PM EDT

San Diego Padres (Andrew Cashner) @ San Francisco Giants (Jeff Samardzija), 10:15 PM EDT