Monday, August 21, 2017

Beer & Bacon Cheeseburger

THE GAME: Angels vs Rangers

One of my best friends from high school sent me a beautiful text on Saturday morning. It was three sentences long but here was the heart of it: "This is the last Saturday without college football until 1/6/18."

I don't know about you, but that makes me really happy. Baseball and college football are my two favorite sports, and I love the two months when we get to watch them concurrently.

Tonight, the Angels (with sole possession of the second Wild Card as of first pitch) start a four-game series against the Rangers (2.5 back). I won't lie: I don't have a good feeling about this series, especially tonight's matchup against Cole Hamels.

But this Angels team has surprised me all season. They are 13th (out of 15 teams) in runs scored, average, and on-base percentage, but somehow their patchwork pitching staff has performed well enough for the team to hang around.

I have no illusions about them playing in late October, but it's late August and the team is four games over .500, which is more than I ever expected.


NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I picked up a patty of USDA Prime ground beef, stuffed with cheddar and bacon. You can try cooking this on the grill, but the cheese melts and the bacon fat renders and you will create a massive flame. It's cool to look at and it smells wonderful, but it ruins the flavor.
  • In a cast iron pan, nothing flares up, and the beef cooks in that wonderful grease and pork fat. This is what you want. 

  • A couple of years ago, I saw a BBQ sauce online made with beer and bacon. I ordered it on the spot. It's delicious. Once I felt my patty had cooked long enough, I slathered the sauce all over it, turned off the heat and covered the pan for a couple of minutes. 
  • This is not the kind of burger you want to eat on a hard or fancy roll. You just want something to hold it together and not interfere with the flavors, so I opted to use a soft white bun, slicked with a little bit of mayo.

  • Yes, there was bacon in the patty and bacon in the barbecue sauce. You didn't think I was going to stop there, did you? I cooked a few slices of thick bacon in the oven, drained off the fat, and layered them on top of the patty.

  • Months ago, I realized how much I enjoy rehydrating dehydrated onions and adding them to my burgers. It provides that classic fast food/roadside stand taste. Sometimes I'm making a gourmet burger and that flavor isn't welcome. Sometimes it is. 
  • I used a tablespoon of Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale to rehydrate the onions. 20 seconds in the microwave and then 20 minutes of resting. Pale Ale is one of my least-favorite styles of beer - I actually drink very little ale (and a whole lot of lager) - but Deschutes does one of the best examples of the style.

  • I saw this bag of garlic fries on sale at the store the other day and took a chance. Sometimes Kroger-brand items are surprisingly good. This one was not. I ate all the fries I cooked, with aioli and Irish ketchup (with stout), but I threw out the rest of the bag and will not be purchasing these again.

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • The last time Tyler Skaggs faced the Rangers (in April before he got hurt) he got hit pretty hard. (Though the Angels scored four runs in the 9th and 10th innings to win the game). Texas is playing well right now. Like I wrote, I don't like this matchup. 
  • C.J. Cron is batting cleanup tonight. I suppose that's worth a try - he's been having a great August. 
  • Of course, Albert Pujols is batting third, permanently entrenched behind Mike Trout. I don't even get upset at this point. (Well, not too upset.) I don't think that will change as long as Mike Scioscia is the manager. (Which means... it may never change.)
  • Josh Hamilton's time with the Angels is almost exclusively referred to as a "disaster." Yet in two seasons, his average was .255, his on-base percentage was .359, and his OPS+ was 110, (meaning 10% better than the league average). I would fucking kill to have him batting behind Trout instead of this broken-down version of Pujols. (I mean, I wouldn't kill a person, but a wild animal for sure. Possibly even a family pet.)
  • 5 pitches into the game, Skaggs has hit a batter, given up a hit, and thrown a passed ball that could well have been a wild pitch. 
  • How many times did you hear "Total Eclipse of the Heart" today? I heard it five times: local news, hardware store, grocery store, car, and now at the Angels game. That's neither funny nor clever, but, whatever. 
  • Adrian Beltre with a fielders choice RBI. You know, I was at Dodger Stadium the night he made his MLB debut - June 24, 1998. If you had told me that 19 years later Adrian would have 3019 hits and I would be sitting at home blogging about him, I would have said "Cool." And also "What the fuck is 'blogging'?"
  • Trout just misses one. He's now 0 for his last 9. This team is not fun to watch when he slumps, even if it's just for a game and a half. 
  • Pujols rolls over the first pitch. Hamels only needed six pitches to get through that inning. Way to make him work, Halos. 
  • Funny, Skaggs only needs eight pitches to get through the second inning. 
  • Beltre with a 3-run homer in the third inning, his 43rd career homer against the Angels, more than any other team. 5-1 Rangers. Can't say I'm the tiniest bit surprised. The Dodgers and Pirates are in the 11th inning right now, I'm gonna watch that for a bit. 
  • The Dodgers win in 12 innings. Because that's what they do. They are now 88-35. They have lost 10 games since... June 6th. They have gone 53-10 in that stretch. This is almost beyond my ability to comprehend. If they "only" go 29-10 to finish the season, they will win 117 games... more than any team in the history of baseball.
  • Let's see what I've missed with the Angels game... huh, not much. The score is the same. The Angels have added one measly hit. 
  • Tim Salmon says Adrian Beltre will finish his career as the greatest third baseman of all time. I'm a big Beltre fan, he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but Mike Schmidt won three MVPs and 10 Gold Gloves. 
  • The Angels have loaded the bases in the 8th inning, which is somewhat interesting... 
  • ... but Jefrey Marte is coming up, which is not. He's hitting .163 this season - I just looked it up and, frankly, I'm shocked it's that high. 
  • Also, who spells their first name "Jefrey?"
  • Yeah, the Angels don't get any runs there. 
  • Ballgame. 5-3, Rangers. Pujols grounds out to end the game. 

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