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Baseball takes a lot of flak. It’s too slow. Unwritten rules dictate that players can’t admire a home run for too long -- or have any fun whatsoever. Simply put, it lacks the excitement of other pro sports.
Meanwhile, fans and columnists alike will pore over the physique of the first baseman who came to Spring Training shaped more like an eggplant than an athlete. These are the same people who bemoan chewing gum and the fact that starting pitchers are only scheduled to play once every five days: it’s the inactivity that bothers them.
But there’s an inherent hypocrisy here: The best part of baseball is the inactivity. You get to sit outside -- ideally, in the sun, on a warm summer day -- drink a beer, and watch other people do hard shit. Baseball asks nothing in return; we must only cheer, boo, and enjoy the view with a cold one in hand.
Fortunately, the beer is only getting better, and coming from shorter distances away. So if you’re going to cringe (or laugh) at Bartolo Colon’s attempts at the plate, some MLB stadiums will give you the chance to do it in style: with fresh, local beer in hand.
Citi Field (New York Mets)
The kid brother of New York’s premier baseball franchise may live in the shadows of its pinstriped sibling, but if there’s one category in which the Mets are ahead in the standings, it’s beer. At Citi Field, you can enjoy brews from Six Point Brewery, Blue Point Brewing Co., Southern Tier Brewing Co., Brewery Ommegang, and Montauk Brewing Co., among others. It’s a nice, new ballpark with all the amenities you’d expect in one (“multiple sit-down, climate-controlled restaurants, bars, clubs, and lounge!”), but still maintains an old-world feel. Sure, there’s high-end BBQ available, but so is the traditional sausage, peppers, and onion sandwich. One odd gripe: the color scheme. Green seats?? Mr. Met should be pissed.
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Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners)
Probably the best beer list can be found in the Pacific Northwest, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s visited. Taps from Fremont Brewing, pFriem Family Brewers, Ninkasi Brewing Co., Laurelwood Brewing Co., and a third baseline-long list of other beers make good lubricants for reminiscing over the good ol' days of Ken Griffey Jr. Especially his legendary Upper Deck rookie card. The stadium also serves Pyramid Brewing Co., which has a home right across the street. Safeco has good food (it might be the only place in America to serve both restaurant-quality sushi and a hot dog), great beer, and beautiful vistas -- the stadium overlooks the Port of Seattle. In the summer, the sun doesn’t set until 10 p.m. Also on the menu: toasted grasshoppers. Google it.
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Busch Stadium (St. Louis Cardinals)
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m drinking a Schlafly Summer Lager as I write this. The beer can be found on tap at Busch Stadium alongside local favorites like Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. and, yes, the namesake of the venue. Cardinals fans are among the most loyal in the entire league, and have no compunction about telling you so (see: this Twitter account). The Cards are typically among the best in the league, though last year was the first since 2010 that they didn’t make the postseason. Add “helps you endure obnoxious fans” to the list of benefits good beer will afford you.
Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati Reds)
Interesting fact: The city of Cincinnati once housed the most breweries per capita in the United States, and the enterprising owners of its baseball team sold more than $3,000 in beer concessions during games in the late 1800s. When asked to cease sales, the Cincinnati team balked and were thrown out of the league. It’s also been almost 30 years since the Reds have won a World Series, so it’d be easy to assume that the beer at the Great American Ball Park is similarly stuck in the past -- but you’d be wrong. The beer at the stadium on the banks of the Ohio River is among the best anywhere, including local favorites Rhinegeist, MadTree Brewing, Blank Slate Brewing Co., and Fifty West Brewing Co. They also host non-Cincy power hitters like Founders Brewing Co., Bell’s Brewery, and SweetWater Brewing Co.
Petco Park (San Diego Padres)
It’s hard to feel bad for San Diego. The Clippers left decades ago, the Chargers skipped town last year, and the Padres have never won a World Series. But spending some time on the pier in Pacific Beach eating a fish taco and enjoying the view will make all of those things seem insignificant. San Diego is also a town on the short list for best beer cities in America. Their ballpark is no different, with beer from Alesmith Brewing Co. (including a Tony Gwynn-inspired pale ale), Stone Brewing, and Ballast Point Brewing Co. -- truly the heaviest hitters in town. Don’t forget the smaller breweries, either: Black Market, Mike Hess, and Mother Earth Brewing crush it, too. And though I haven’t personally experienced eating a fish taco in the stadium, I’d be willing to bet you can find one there.
Note: Blue Point is a member of The High End, owned by Anheuser-Busch. Busch Beer is owned by Anheuser-Busch.