We’ve seen it all… As Mets fans, the absurd becomes an integral part of our enjoyment of the game. From the indescribable highs like Mr. Koo’s Wild Ride and the Grand Slam Single, to unfathomable lows like DJ Carrasco’s walk-off balk or Benny Agbayani tossing a live ball to a fan in the seats, Mets fans have come to embrace a certain level of pride at their team’s ability to find …shall we say…creative ways to approach the game of baseball. I consider these moments, these improbable confluences of circumstances, one of my favorite parts of the game.
This past season featured a play that had all the hallmarks of one of these Mets-ian moments. The Mets were paying a visit to the lowly Philadelphia Phillies in late August. Despite Jonathan Niese giving up five runs in the third, the Mets had quickly rallied back and tied the game in the fifth inning before the bats went silent on both sides. The score remained knotted into the 10th inning, which is where our story picks up.
With two outs and the bases empty, free swinging ex-Met Jeff Francoeur stepped up to the plate. Jeff Francoeur’s Mets tenure is best remembered for his own surreal moment, in which he hit into an unassisted triple play to end a ballgame, snatching defeat from the jaws of near certain victory. Frenchy proceeded to hit a sharp liner back at the feet of Carlos Torres. Torres, well known to wear soccer cleats during team practices, reflexively kicked at the ball with his back foot as it rocketed towards him, deflecting the line drive into no man’s land between first and second base. The ball seemed destined to find outfield grass, and Mets fans braced for the possibility that the winning run would be in scoring position on the odd deflection.
Folk-legend Daniel Murphy, however, had other plans for that ball. Murph ranged far towards second base and fully extended his body to snag the ball as it bounced off of the dirt, keeping it in the infield and, it appeared, preventing Francoeur from taking extra bases on the carom. Had the play ended there, it would have simply been seen as a great effort by Murphy to save extra bases. Instead Murphy, on his knees with his back turned to first base, blindly flipped the ball towards the bag on an awkward backhanded toss. Mets fans tensed a second time, wondering if the seemingly ill-advised blind throw would sail into foul territory putting Francoeur into scoring position after all. Amazingly, Torres had recovered from his encounter with the line drive and was in a footrace with Francoeur to reach the bag. The throw hit Carlos Torres’ glove perfectly in stride as he reached the base a step ahead of a stunned Francoeur. Despite an unlucky ricochet, the Mets not only limited the damage, but turned the play into one of the most remarkable moments in a year full of stand-out memories.
When I think of improbable confluences of events leading to amazing outcomes, there’s only one beer that comes to mind; Jolly Folly brewed by Green Flash (San Diego, CA). Jolly Folly was first created, or would it be more accurate to say discovered, when a worker at Green Flash accidentally combined two vats (Soul Style and Pure Hoppiness) of beer, earning it the title of Folly. Once the error had been discovered, the brewery could have decided to scrap the entire batch and start over, but after one taste of the resultant beer, the flavor was unique enough to warrant its own limited run. This initial release was so wildly successful that the brewery decided to re-create the happy accident for a national release, making this once scarce beer available for all to enjoy.
The beer itself is classified as an American IPA, weighing in at a respectable 7.7% ABV. While many IPAs have been described as having a hop character reminiscent of pine, Jolly Folly takes this flavor to the next level. The characteristic floral bitterness one expects from an IPA was largely absent, replaced by a flavor akin to what one would imagine pine sap would taste like. I was fortunate to find the beer on tap, and when the pint arrived at my table, I was immediately struck by the aroma of a freshly cut Douglas Fir. My first sip of the coniferous treat had a mild malty flavor up front which almost immediately gave way to its characteristic piney flavor. Despite the sap-like aroma and flavor, the piney effect didn’t stick to the palate for long, leaving a surprisingly crisp finish, and leaving the imbiber eager to take another swig. While Jolly Folly may not be what you’d expect when ordering an IPA, it is well worth the experience. The mild malt and clean finish make this beer surprisingly refreshing, leaving the palate ready for more. The unique flavor is the perfect reminder that even though things don’t always go as planned, you never know when a bit of chaos will yield something truly remarkable.
Flavor: An Omir Santos home run off of Jonathan Papelbon
Weirdness Level: Moises Alou’s patented hand-toughening elixir