“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” – Rogers Hornsby
While we like to augment the staring with dark beers, crusty bread and root-based soups, the sentiments of Mr. Hornsby (he of the .424 average in 1924) are nonetheless shared among our sadder annual observations. That said, the month of October brings, along with its cool breezes, chrysalised females and comically insensitive midterm schedules, two of man’s greatest pleasures: playoff baseball and fall food. This week, we match up each Divisional Series with the autumnal meal that best accompanies it. Enjoy, and remember that if all else fails, a pack of hot dogs and crappy beers will work just fine.
Rockies vs. Phillies: Given how monumentally little fun it is to watch games played in airy Denver or the glorified butler’s pantry that is Citizen’s Bank Park, and how little we care about the outcome of this series, the food will be especially important here. We recommend taking a seat at the bar at Mill’s Tavern, where you can sit down to some raw bar (try some west coast Kumamotos or local Watch Hills, if available) and a fine dish of pumpkin gnocchi, accompanied by a nice fall ale—Sam Adams Oktoberfest, perhaps? If the game is on, take a gander; otherwise, forget about it and enjoy the warmth of the place.
Twins vs. Yankees: The key here is to eat low-stress foods, the sort that will minimize the number of beer cans thrown at your television. The brand of baseball that will be played in this series hardly merits alcohol consumption, so we recommend fresh apple cider from the farmers’ market. And since nothing is quite so sickening as TBS close-ups of Yankee fans in suits looking up from their Blackberrys to notice a flamboyant pitch take from Mark Texeira, go mild on the food as well. Tuna sandwiches, boiled peas, white rice and buttered penne are all acceptable.
Cardinals vs. Dodgers: In honor of Albert Pujols’ quads, a large steak may be in order here. If you can cook it outside, do. Appropriate sides include roasted potatoes and onions with rosemary, bourbon-braised apples, and Napa cabbage in white wine with currants and carrots. Or, if you care to honor the Dodgers’ half of the equation, see if you can find the last good avocados of the season and make guacamole with grapefruit instead of lime. Either way, we suggest a dark and/or spicy beer, such as Sierra Nevada Celebration.
Red Sox vs. Angels: The meal, of course, must begin with a quantity of Irish whiskey (we’ll leave exactly how much up to you; presumably, however, the impotence of Anaheim should equal roughly one half to two thirds of the utter despair of Boston in terms of alcohol intake provoked). After this, it’s really up to you to decide whether food is even necessary. We recommend pan-fried bratwurst with a sampling of mustards, accompanied by whatever else might best prepare you to toe the depression/ecstasy line with little hesitation.