Thursday, January 21, 2016

Beer and football VI — playoffs, week two

The game: Chiefs at Patriots
The beer: Ballast Point Sculpin India Pale Ale
The result: Win, 27–20
The commentary: Ladies and gentlemen, Andy Reid & His Five-Minute Drives! I love that band. I love when the Pats' defense can just hang out and listen to them perform without worrying about where to stand and whom to cover because, oh look, the singer and the guitarist are doing the thing where they're facing each other like they're the only people in the world. "This song rocks! I hope it goes on forever!" And it did. For eleven years.

NFL media is on it from all angles. As news items go, maybe ninety percent of the coverage is "Andy Reid historically mismanaged the clock," nine percent is "Chandler Jones smoked PCP and the Foxborough police department covered it up," zero percent—somehow—is "There seems to be legitimate evidence that Peyton Manning has been using HGH for years" and one percent is "No, stupid, it's his wife… and did you hear about Chandler Jones's PCP rampage? Go Broncos!"

(Elsewhere, notable fucktard Dan Fouts applied his notably fucktarded analytical skills during the third quarter by observing "What a chess match between coaches!" The Pats led 21–6 at the time. Let's turn the mic over to G., upon completing a family portrait in the medium of markers: "Dad, I'm giving you orange hair. Is that OK? Because you like orange." The artist—taking a break from her ongoing Playmobile jungle parties, well attended by all manner of fairies and unicorns as well as a Canadiens goaltender and a flower-power guitarist—has vision!)

Brady–Manning lives! We'll be telling our grandkids about this. "No, the one with the giant welt on his forehead played for the other team." Good guys favored by three but all that means, I think, is that more people are betting on them to win/cover than on the Broncos. (I know nothing about point spreads, for straight up is how I roll.) Is it possible for Manning's jacked-up hormones to score twenty-five points? That his defense can hold Brady, Gronk, Edelman and James "Don't Sleep on Me… Oh Wait, I'm Not a Major Part of the Game Plan Again for Some Reason So Maybe Go Ahead and Sleep (Seriously, Though, I Could Be the Difference-Maker on Sunday)" White to fewer than twenty? I just hope it's colder than fifty goddamn degrees.

I am comfortable. In Foxborough it's a blowout, right? On a neutral field it's a ten-point victory. But in Denver? Surrounded by such passionate, bearded hostility? Where players openly talk of going after Gronk's knees, even if it is the only way to tackle him? Our friends at Danilchuk have yet to indicate their confidence level but I like your New England Patriots by four. A Super Bowl bye week's worth of PSI discussion is riding on it.

Up next: I know formulas determine regular-season schedules and playoff seeding but—Jesus Christ!—have the Broncos ever come to Foxborough? Cheers!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Beer and football VI — playoffs, week one (bye)

The beer: Ipswich Route 1A Double India Pale Ale
The commentary: And, lo, on the fourth day of the fourteen billionth (or so) year, the Mercury Brewing Company opened (soft-opened) its Brewer's Table pub and restaurant, and it was good.

Well, decent. Still some kinks to work out like the lack of a children's menu, any vegetarian options other than salad (not that I mind) and, seemingly, a reliable hostess. My burger was pretty good but A's salmon was barely cooked and lactose-intolerant G's giant meatball (who needs a kids menu?) came smothered in mozzarella cheese despite our request. I also suspect the "pints" total twelve ounces, much like at Nebo near my office. Otherwise? You're goddamn right we're excited to have a proper fucking brewpub a ten-minute walk from our toilet. I've an upcoming day off and will absolutely stop in for a bit to check out the bar scene, which was pretty lively during our Friday-night visit. I should bring along a measuring cup to suss out those pours.

How did you spend your playoff bye week? You say your team doesn't account for this every January? Shame. Bengals–Steelers was everything we wanted and more. What I would give to have the Steelers (whose offense I respect) limp into Foxborough for the AFC Championship after another slobberknocker against the Broncos next week. Seahawks–Vikings was odd too, with a kicker regressing from probable game MVP to goat (not GOAT) after that laces-in affair. And who knows what to make of the Seahawks and the Packers? I guess more teams should run the be-present-during-an-offensive-collapse defense. Surely, this flawless strategy offers no countermove, rendering the tournament a formality. Too bad there are only a handful of MVP-worthy quarterbacks in their way.

Up next: No more Pink Floyd talk, alright? Cheers!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Beer and football VI — weeks sixteen and seventeen

Week sixteen
The game: Patriots at Jets
The beer: Berkshire Cabin Fever Ale
The result: Loss, 26–20
The commentary: Shades of Nausea! The Jets game was disjointed in that G. and I suffered through the ugly first half at home, then ran off to the local toy store and café before I was to meet Hector, Ivan and Ivan's brother Oleg at the Common Ground in lovely Allston ahead of their appalling Mighty Mighty Bosstones concert a few hours later. Their concert. "CG" was the place at one point and we were there every Friday. And then? And then! While we got old, moved to the suburbs and had kids, CG was assaulted by automobile-shaped projectiles (we used to sit behind that window) and rebuilt itself as a Eurotrash haven for people who prefer their bar tops slightly too tall for their stools. I wrote of this… progress… during my "abbreviated" playlist back in May after pounding a couple of beers before a Blues Explosion show. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Raining, listening on the radio, concert plans later that evening. And defeat. The parallels with that Bengals/Misfits Sunday were carved in stone ages ago. From the café I dropped A. and G. at home right as Scott Zolak was stepping all over Bob Socci's call of Gronk's game-tying touchdown—along the lines of "Touchd–" "NNNHHHHH!11!!1"—and was excited to hear a likely overtime on my way south. As I passed the first of two strip clubs (plus a Hooters) that mark our daily commute, heads was the call and heads was the result. Driving to endanger for a second or two I literally made the "receive" gesture with both hands and anticipated discussing a hard-fought victory with the boys. Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Brady! However.

Belichick had other ideas. Ideas that relied more upon Logan Ryan and Jordan Richards than Brady and Gronk. (Ideas that Zolak blindly defended as soon as the decision was announced. Literally "I love this call," if I remember right, followed by several slurred consonants. I've come around on him as an astute analyst when he wants to be, which unfortunately isn't very often. How many broadcasters shout themselves hoarse before a game is half over? So yeah, aside from making Socci's job harder, punctuating every other play with guttural discharges, pouting when the Pats play poorly, openly whining when the opponent is getting the calls and offering no criticism whatsoever of the countless strategic decisions that Belichick makes over the coarse of a football season? He's quite good.) All season I've been reading about how strong this defense is, that nothing is lacking with the departures of Revis and Browner. On paper it might be true. This was their chance to prove it, to earn the team home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and they failed without giving their once-in-a-lifetime quarterback the ball. Is this what we ride into the postseason? Is this familiar? Drag.

If only it were always as easy and free to park in Allston as it is during a college-break Sunday. After a quick pitcher at CG we crossed over to the Sunset Grill & Tap, where there is such a thing as too many options. Particularly when your table isn't very large. What is it with bar furniture around there? We shot the shit for a couple of hours, openly wondered what the hell was going on with the Packers and made grand plans to attend this year's New England Brewfest. Oleg might even fly in from Oregon, where beer and beer-drinkers are scarce. Grand plans hatched over heavy beer always work out, right? They asked if I was "still writing that nonsense" (paraphrased) and so I've added yonder subscribe-by-email field for their benefit. Who even reads blogs anymore? Who ever read mine?

Week seventeen
The game: Patriots at Dolphins
The beer: Jack's Abby Lashes Red Lager
The result: Loss, 20–10
The commentary: A. and I were looong asleep on the couch by the time January 1 rolled around so it's a good thing we brought G. to Beverly's "family ball drop" at seven o'clock New Year's Eve to celebrate. Upon that countdown's conclusion, hundreds (thousands?) of beach balls were tossed out of the third floor of a downtown bank. Pictured, the look on my face reads "There is no way they have enough for all these kids." But they did! Oh, the power of branding.

"Please keep Ndamukong Suh away from Brady's and Gronkowski's knees." I am not paranoid. This game was strange all over—Brady playing (mostly) throughout indicates the Pats were taking it seriously and trying to win… with a vanilla game plan and, toward the end, a headset-less head coach that betrayed what might actually have been a "Let's get out of here" lack of effort. Did they lose because they played poorly or because they didn't care? I'm sure Belichick will let us know.

Our quarterback is limping. Ho-hum, nothing to fear. Erm…

The Jack's Abby was labeled an "IPL." India pale lager? I don't even know what that is. If only there were websites dedicated to people letting you know that your favorite beer sucks. I enjoyed it despite the flames and will stick with a "red lager" designation since IPL could stand for Ministry's upcoming Industrial Penile Laundromutt boxed set for all I know. Looking good, Al.

Up next: An interesting hometown development highlights the bye week. There will be beer. Happy new year!