This is a simple exercise. Beer and tacos. Which ballplayers would I want to take out for beer and tacos? I like both of these things and I obviously like talking baseball. I’ve been a restaurant dork for a long time and I know most of the great grub spots in my town. Fine dining to “find” dining, I’ve got the area covered. One of my favorite spots is a taco shop, in a gas station. Actually, there are a lot of good spots like this, but there are only a few GREAT spots like this. It’s a simple, dumb, fun column, I know, but this game sometimes needs to be thought of as a simple, dumb, and fun game. So here goes.
-First, I can’t think of a single player whom I put in the “ace” category I want to get beer and tacos with. I’m aware of Justin Verlander’s Taco Bell routine and I watched him describe it on Conan. Problem is, he was describing it with intensity and a lack of humor that befits a competitive son of a bitch I want taking the ball every 5th day, but not someone I want to spend an hour with eating tacos in my truck. Yes, I have a million questions I want to ask them, but sorry, aces are out- too intense.
-Second, no straight-edge. Duh. I’ve got no problem with it, but for this particular experiment, no beer, no taco
-Third- no one under 21. That rules out Profar, Sano, Archie Bradley, and Bryce Harper. Harper, however, may end up at the top of the list someday.
Okay, so those are the only three “rules” for my endeavor. This list is a work in progress. I’ll be updating it throughout the season and maybe for the rest of my taco eating, beer drinking career, which I expect will be a long one. Sometimes I’ll offer a brief explanation as to why I think player X would make a good taco partner, sometimes I’ll simply say their name and the understanding will be intrinsic- that guy likes beer and tacos.
-Prince Fielder- I know he’s a vegetarian*** and people think we don’t have those in Texas, but I can load him up with some fresh iceberg, some cilantro, jalapenos, tomatoes, etc. I’d want to ask him about his memories of growing up around the game, and if he’ll let me, I’ll ask him about his father. I understand those questions are forbidden, but maybe tacos and Tecate will break the ice. I’d also like to know during what point in his FA period the Tigers were really on his radar.
*****UPDATE: h/t to reader Ross, who points out that Fielder is not a vegetarian, but was for a time. Big fella’s gonna get him some CARNITAS!! Thanks Ross, you’re comin’ with us.
-Jeff Francoeur- Interesting guy who was on the cover of SI when he was like 21 and was expected to win MVP awards and carry the Braves to a couple of World Championships. It didn’t work out that way, but he kept a good attitude and he can hit. But I really want to ask him about throwing runners out, and at what point when he gets the ball and releases it does he think to himself, “I got you, motherfucker.”
-Luke Scott, Josh Leuke, Rich Harden, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez. For one reason or another, I’m not taking any of these guys for tacos.
-Derek Jeter- “Seriously, has there ever been a point where it was all just too much and you wanted to be traded to the Brewers?” What a remarkable run in one of the most high-profile positions in all of sports. Championships and numbers and respect. He’s getting steak tacos and bottled beer ’cause he’s pretty big time.
-Yoenis Cespedes and Aroldis Chapman. I know I won’t be able to get a lot out of them because their family and friends are still there, but you can’t say you’re not curious about the current state of mind for people living in Cuba. I really want to ask both of them if they feel like they belong in MLB now and at what moment that occurred. Also, I know a couple of Cuban Americans and I tease them about “arguing for sport”. Imagine how many other places Cespedes and Chapman will tell me have better tacos than the ones we’re eating, even if they are actually the best tacos they’ve ever had. Fun.
-Justin Upton- He seems like a pretty affable fella. He also has a keen understanding of what it feels like to be a (THE) top prospect not only in an organization’s system, but in all of MiLB. He’s not hitting well this year yet, but he could win an MVP before his days are through. And the spotlight has never been off of him. At every level, every bus ride, every small park, to the big parks, all eyes have been on him. What’s that feel like?
-Troy Tulowitzki- “what do you do to try to make the rest of your teammates better?” Tulo is great, but the Rockies are not. How do guys like him and David Wright, 1. Get motivated to come to the park everyday knowing you don’t have a single teammate that can touch your skills, and 2. Play your ass off knowing that your team may not be good in the immediate future. This is a touchy line of questions and it may require some special brews with a higher ALC content. And really good tacos.
-Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis- got traded away from a potential perennial powerhouse to a team that isn’t expected to compete in their own division (I know they are right now, but they might not be by the time I’m finished typing this sentence). Also, is there a point where you recognize that you may not be a perennial All-Star, but that you can compete and occasionally excel in the big leagues. What were their expectations for their careers, and have they changed those expectations in the last two seasons? “You’re both rather big dudes, if properly motivated, could you kick his ass?”
-Kerry Wood- Texan, so likes tacos right? What a career. Next big thing, 20K games, starts in huge games in Wrigley, crapload of injuries, doubts about future, transition to bullpen, some success, some failure, some good teams, some terrible teams. Also doesn’t appear to age. Will probably request Shiner Bock which is what Texans actually drink.
Alright, so this is my first beer and tacos list. I’ll keep it updated from time to time. Sorry for the levity with this idea, but I needed it on a personal level and I felt like baseball needed it right now. The season and the standings and the summer are starting to take shape, so some people are getting pretty pissy out there, maybe it’s just me, but I felt the need to use baseball as my therapy tonight, so you got beer and tacos. Maybe on one of our later dates, we can have conversations with more gravitas, but I kinda doubt it ’cause, it’s just baseball…and beer…and tacos.
As always, thanks for reading,
@tepidp on Twitter