In his well-traveled career, Eric Thames has gone from bust to god, and back. However, his success with the Milwaukee Brewers is drawing criticism from those who believe there’s more to it than his love of beer.
After finding little success with the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners, Eric Thames departed MLB in 2012. He landed in Korea in 2014, where his Samsonite powers were discovered. In his three seasons with the NC Dinos, Thames never hit below .320 and managed no fewer than 37 home runs and 120 RBI. His home run career-high in MLB up to that point was 12.
Last offseason, the Brewers took a chance on the 30-year-old KBO star to play first base, signing him to a three-year, $16 million contract. For a beer connoisseur, there are far worse places to be making that kind of money.
Thames’ criticisms have primarily come from a divisional foe he recently smoked. The first baseman lit up the Chicago Cubs in April, when he slashed a ridiculous .545/1.091/1.796 with one home run, three doubles and three walks at Wrigley. At home, Thames did similar damage. He had a .409 OBP in the two games he played at Miller Park while collecting another double as well. Milwaukee lost both series, but Thames surely made his mark on Chicago’s staff and the league.
Cubs veteran starter John Lackey, who Thames took deep on a 1-0 low cutter at Wrigley, also openly criticized Thames’ success. He told the Chicago Tribune that the slugger’s home runs “make you scratch your head a little.” Though Brew Crew fans couldn’t really care less at this point.
Brewers fans haven’t had much to cheer about recently, so Thames’ success as Milwaukee’s premier slugger and one of the most productive bats in the National League is a welcome surprise. He currently leads the NL in batting average (.415) and home runs (8) while ranking in the top five for RBI.
When Thames found out he was going to be playing MLB baseball in Milwaukee in 2017, he had an unusual reaction. He was elated.
Why? Because Thames is an admitted beer lover.
“I came to Milwaukee before I signed, and after an hour I knew it was where I wanted to be,” Thames said in a recent interview. “I love the Midwest. I love the hospitality of people. And Milwaukee has great beer.”
According to Thrillist.com, Milwaukee is the ninth-best beer city in the Union. As they describe it, “Milwaukee’s pretty much responsible for keeping everyone from your dad’s work buddies to your fixie-riding neighbor Starmichael hydrated for more than a century.” Watering holes such as Wolski’s Tavern, which has been open since 1908, are to thank for this feat.
Aside from the great bars, the city also hosts some of the nation’s largest breweries. Miller, Milwaukee Brewing Company and Leinenkugel all brew within the city.
I’ll be honest, I won’t be shocked if these allegations are true. I will, however, be surprised. Thames seems pretty calm about the whole situation. When asked about his success in the league this time around, Thames simply said, “I love beer.”