Minor League Baseball and Letting Go

Josh Augustine, June 12, 2013

In Minor League Baseball, whether you're a team or a fan, you have to take what you can get. Players get lesser pay and lower quality facilities. Fans must settle for watching mostly never-will-bes with a smattering of has beens. Sure, you may get to watch a few budding superstars for a little while, but rest assured that they will be snatched away in short order. The ballparks don't have the luxurious amenities of the hulking big league stadiums, and shoestring budgets very likely mean that the concessions may not be the extravagant gastronomical monstrosities of the bigs.

These are things that you accept, and maybe even treasure as you attend minor league games. After all, it's pretty nice to not have to deal with huge crowds and be able to enjoy a leisurely, relaxing evening watching a ballgame. Hopefully, though, the sacrifice of good beer is a sacrifice that minor league baseball attendees will have to make less and less frequently. My local team, the Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals), seem to be slowly moving in that direction.

I recently attended a game at Werner Park in the Omaha, Nebraska suburb of Papillion mostly expecting to partake in the two-dollar Budweisers that are the standard Thursday night promotion. Generally those are the only beer choices at Werner Park, normally running $6 for a 16 oz. draft, except on Thirsty Thursdays when you get the option of 12 oz. cans for $2 each.

On this particular Thursday, however, a  buddy with a connection who works for either the team or stadium managed to get us access to something called the Jim Beam Club. The Jim Beam Club is a clubhouse of sorts with a full service bar that carries a couple of craft offerings in addition to Bud. Granted, their offerings are limited to Shock Top Wheat and maybe Boulevard Wheat or Blue Moon. However, for the 2013 season one of the crafts is an American Blonde Ale (according to untappd anyway) brewed by Nebraska Brewing Company called Ale Storm.

Well, I suppose that'll do just fine.

I ordered the beer, they verified that it was the 24 oz. glass that I wanted (naturally) and handed me a very nice looking plastic cup full of darker than gold but not quite amber foamy liquid. I took a sip, but before I could really process the beer I noticed this hanging prominently on the wall:

I had to set down my beer for a moment to slap my forehead, and then to nudge my buddy so we could share a modest chortle. I get it, guys. I enjoyed watching Wil Myers last year in all of his no-batting-gloves glory. I enjoyed watching him whip his bat around to sock dingers out of our cute little PCL ballpark. But that’s over now. Wil is a Durham Bull now. It’s time to take down the poster.

I took a hearty swig of the Ale Storm while I reflected on the situation. It was a nice, crisp beer. The more than golden but not quite amber color contrasted with the relatively gray evening. Light bodied, but balanced. Frankly, a good beer to have on a spring night at the ballpark.

Now, there are plenty of players of whom they could hang a nice photo in this spot. Maybe not many that have been on the cover of Baseball America, but certainly some that are more relevant to the current iteration of the Storm Chasers. For example, Johnny Giavotella has been around for a couple years, and is pretty good. Dayton Moore seems to hate him so he might be stuck here for a little while. Why not a poster of him? Or what about Irving Falu? He’s been rattling around in Omaha for 5 years now and doesn’t seem to be going away soon. Heck, you could even throw Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas up there, because who knows, they might just be headed back this way one of these days! Yordano Ventura just got called up here from AA, and is showing some promise, he could be a poster candidate.

But Wil is gone. We all miss him. We were all hoping he'd be playing just a hop, skip, and a jump from Omaha in the barbecue haven of Kansas City and we'd be able to carpool down there to see him play under the bright lights of Kaufman Stadium. But we have to face the reality that it won't happen. And reminding me of that is only going to make me want another beer. And maybe that’s your end game here, your means of selling a few more Ale Storms. In which case, I suppose I will oblige. For Johnny, and for Irving, and for Yordano. I'll have an Ale Storm for all of those guys. And maybe just one more for Wil.

Nebraska Brewing Company has a decent distribution footprint. I believe it's the largest of any of the breweries in Nebraska, at least, so maybe some of you out there in internet land have tried some of their other offerings. The Ale Storm, however, is just for us. It's there to tide us over while we wait for the next Wil Myers, or at least while we wait for a new poster to be hung in the Jim Beam Club. It's there for us while we wait for a decent IPA to show up in one of the taps at the ballpark. But for now, the Ale Storm is a beer that was just made to be sipped on a cool evening in a modest ballpark while watching decent but low-ceiling prospects play a ballgame and reminiscing the great prospects that have passed through the last few years. And for that purpose, just like Johnny Giavotella serves the purpose of playing second Base, the Ale Storm will do just fine.


Ale Storm

Appearance: 4, deep golden color, thin but noticable head.

Smell: 3, smells rich with malt, very subtle citrusy hop presence.

Taste: 3.8, matches the smell perfectly, forward malts, subtle hops.

Mouthfeel: 4.2, light and crisp. very smooth. a little biscuity, but without being chewy.

Overall: 3.8, very nice brew, very sessionable, would fit in nicely in almost any situation, especially so on a cool spring evening at a baseball park).