I've found the issue and it is actually related to color profiles. Apparently, some users report that when using a gutenprint based driver the color profile may get set to something other than "use the profile of the device," especially when you're using a driver that works but isn't for the exact model of hardware.
The bottom line is that if you face this problem, check the OSX printing dialog, under the "Color Matching" option. If "ColorSync" is checked, you need to change that to "Vendor Matching."
In my case, I was using a model-specific driver for the printer, was witnessing "polarized" output, yet could not select "Vendor Matching" as the option was disabled in the UI. I actually changed to a gutenprint-based driver for a slightly different printer model and voila, was able to select "Vendor Matching." What irks me is that I actually have to use this gutenprint driver for a different model printer in order to change the color management option. (sigh) At least printing works and I don't have to think about it any more.
Another thing I discovered is being able to "Reset Printing System..." via the Print & Fax prefpane, which is only evident when you right-click a printer in the list. (This is different from deleting and re-adding the printer).
Lastly, I also discovered the "Printing Simulator" which could perhaps have been used to further troubleshoot the data being generated by the driver.