Connoisseurs in almost every clubhouse
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At some point during almost every baseball season, usually when a matinee game drags past the three-hour mark, a play-by-play announcer will gaze down at a conference on the mound or an argument between a manager and an umpire and say: "Maybe they're discussing where to make dinner reservations for tonight."
It's a classic line -- one that will probably never go out of style -- but it could probably use a slight update. As a service to budding broadcasters, we suggest the following alteration:
"Maybe they're discussing what kind of wine to have with dinner."
Though it may come as a surprise to some fans, a number of baseball players -- along with many athletes and executives from across the sporting world -- have developed an affinity for wine. They drink it. They collect it. They trade it. They talk about it. And, in some cases, they make it.
Golfers like Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Ernie Els, Nick Faldo and Mike Weir are involved with wineries. So are former hockey great Wayne Gretzky, auto racing icon Mario Andretti, legendary quarterback Joe Montana and figure skater Peggy Fleming.
"A lot of baseball players are into wine," former Brewers infielder Jeff Cirillo said from his home near Seattle. "For me, living in the Northwest, it's something that just seems kind of natural.
Cirillo, who favors Cabernets, began getting into wines later in his career. "I don't really like vodka that much and I figured beer was too fattening," he said. "Wine is good when you're in your 30s. I guess it's good for your 40s, 50s and probably your 80s, too."
Brewers vice president / assistant general manager Gord Ash said he began developing an interest in wine while working for the Blue Jays in the 1980s.
"(Former Blue Jays general manager) Pat Gillick is a big-time wine drinker, and that's how I started," Ash said. "I think with Pat it wasn't so much the drinking or the collecting, but the intrigue of finding the next new thing. It parallels a lot his scouting background -- looking for players and looking for varietals."
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is always on the lookout for talented players, but he leaves the wine decisions up to Ash.
"I like wine, but I'm definitely not an expert," Melvin said. "When we go to dinner, I just give Gord the wine list and drink whatever he says is good."
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Not a golf fan, eh? I believe the "Tom Weir" you are referring to is actually everyones favorite golfing Canuck, Mike Weir.
For anyone interested learning more about wine and finding "incredible" buys you need to seek out Jeff''s Spirits on Main in West Bend. The owner is extremely knowledgable , loves to talk about wine and has a tremendous selection of wine for all tastes... The wine world is looking good in southeastern Wisconsin
I've heard through the grapevine that both Nick Barnett and Charles Woodson are pretty serious wine connoisseurs in Green Bay. Also Daniel Baldwin...though not an athlete.
The Red Sox's Tim Wakefield has his own wine called "Caberknuckle."
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