Dave is in Vegas (the real one). He made a bet for me:
Suppan’s on today. I had to. Hoping to lose it!
Dave is in Vegas (the real one). He made a bet for me:
Suppan’s on today. I had to. Hoping to lose it!
Let me ask a new question: Wasn’t it great in 2008?
Being in the stands on Sunday afternoon when the Brewers clinched the Wild Card and their first trip to the post-season in 26 years was nothing short of amazing. I have seen some very exciting games in a number of different sports, and I was there for every home game when the Milwaukee Bucks nearly made the Finals in 2001. But I think this was probably better, or at least, more surreal.
When I got to the park at about 20 minutes to 12 on Sunday, I just wanted to take some time mill around and soak up the atmosphere on what I knew could be the last day of the season. I listened to or attended almost every game in 2008, and overall, it was a great time to be a fan; I wanted to cement some things in my memory, regardless of what the day’s outcome would be.
I watched the Brewers take batting practice for a while from a number of different vantage points– I tried to push my way toward the field near homeplate. I stopped for a few minutes in right field and stood with the kids flexing and patting their gloves, waiting for a ball to fly out. I slowly made my way all the way around the stadium, and as I recall now, I had no thoughts of the team moving on at all. I’ve never seen it. I had no idea what to even imagine.
Dave and I settled in to our seats, and for the first 6 innings of the game, I didn’t have a lot of confidence. How can you when it’s been so long, and you’ve been thrilled but ultimately disappointed by this team so many times over the years? Sitting amongst a swath of fans from Chicago, who always seem to know just how to condecendingly twist the knife never helps.
Then it was the 7th, and we realized that CC had gone from laboring to dominating. It was a 1-run game, and nobody was going to pile up a bunch of hits. If we could manage to push a couple across, I started to like our chances. They tied it at 1 with PATIENCE AT THE PLATE, and after 161 games and 7 innings, the season was down to the last 6 outs.
When we got to the bottom of the 8th, one of the Cubs faithful in front of me said something like, “Aww, not Homerun Howry!” And he turned out to be absolutely right. Braun blasted that 2-run shot after Mike Cameron had singled, and the stadium exploded as the dreams of 40,000 people began to come into focus. A scoreboard check showed that the Brewers were up, and the Mets were down. If both could hang on for a couple more innings, it was going to happen.
I wasn’t nervous during most of the game. I had sort of resigned myself to the notion that we would either not make it, or at best not have our fate decided that day– quite honestly, I felt like Milwaukee would be traveling to Shea Stadium on Monday for a head-to-head matchup with New York. But once they got the lead, I broke into a cold sweat. The Cubs remained a great team, and they were only down by 2 runs. I needn’t remind the Brewers faithful of what had happened just 10 days before. They were up, but not quite in.
The difference on this day was CC. What an amazing performance to cap such a remarkable season! If the Brewers go anywhere in October, it will be because of this guy. And if he leaves for greener, lu$her pa$tures after it’s done, I know that I’m one fan who won’t blame him. I’ll just hang on to the memories of this glorious summer of baseball that finally pushed through to fall.
So now it’s time to shake off those unflappable monkeys that are the 1982 Brewers– it’s true, this incarnation hasn’t won a league championship yet, but they have a chance every bit as good as that group did 26 years ago. The stories of these current players are no less compelling. The fever around the city is no less severe. Like Favre and White and Holmgren finally silenced the ghosts of Starr, Hornung, and Lombardi up in Green Bay 12 years ago, so can these players do for the Brewers. Not because anyone wants to forget the great days in the past, but because we want to believe they’ll be here again.
What a baseball week. Today, I will attending my 5th of 6 games on this final Brewers homestand. It’s been a helluva ride this year, and now it all comes down to today– the Crew is tied with the New York Mets for the NL wild card. If one team wins today, and the other loses, the winner makes the playoffs. If both win or both lose, there will be a 1-game playoff in New York tomorrow.
It’s hard to imagine things being more tense and exciting at Miller Park than they have been over the last few days. We’ve seen Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder hit walk-off homeruns in extra inning games. We watched Jeff Suppan and Seth McClung combine to pitch a fantastic game against the Cubs. We cheered as loudly as we could watching Ben Sheets try to gut one out, and the team rallying from a 3-run deficit on Saturday afternoon, only to finally succumb in the 9th.
I imagine the playoffs would be better, if only because the Miller Park faithful could relax. Everyone in the stands understands what’s going on, and what a tragic waste it would be for this team to miss the post-season. Still, only one can make it, and no matter what, it’s been an amazing week of baseball.
See you at the park, for at least one more day.
Successful weekend for the most part, but I still have more to get done this evening…
I believe that I found a new place to live.
I can’t say that with 100% certainty, since I haven’t heard back yet about the application that I filed on Wednesday, but I think it looks pretty good. All things considered, I will be trading a lot of space and the free & available washer/dryer that I have now for a significantly shorter commute and slightly lower overall per-month living expenses. I’m glad that I’ll now be able to focus on thesis work and getting packed in the short term.
I was told when I saw the apartment that I would have the opportunity to move in early, paying a pro-rated portion of a month’s rent. I’ll probably shoot for a week ahead; I took a few days at the end of the month off for that very purpose. I’ll now be just under 2 miles from work; an easily bike-able distance. Maybe I’ll even get a chance to shed some of this doughy flab with the balance of my summer, too…
Been very busy at work, which is my excuse for the gap of several days between posts. In the meantime, what’s happened? The Brew Crew is on a tear— here’s hoping they can carry that momentum through the road trip. Even if the Cubs haven’t gotten around to losing just yet, you know they’re not going to win out for the rest of the season. Brewers just have to keep it up, and put the lengthy losing streaks behind them. It’s a well-documented point that a season is going to have ups and downs, but Milwaukee has pretty much used up their allotment of “downs” already.
Also very glad to see the Democratic presedential primary season finally coming to a conclusion. I was glad to deliver the news to Petters last night that Hillary is going to officially leave the race at the end of this week. In the short term, that means that focus will shift to Obama selecting a VP. I am NOT at all in favor of the Obama/Clinton ticket for one major reason: I would be concerned that Hillary was trying to run the show from the backseat all too often. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Clintons are really, really, REALLY pushy when it comes to politics, and that’s probably putting it lightly. Barack needs her to be a valued campaign resource, and he definitely needs her endorsement, but he also needs to make this potential presidency his own. I’m pretty sure that’s what we (his supporters) got on board for.
OK, back to it. These phone calls aren’t going to ignore themselves…
The Crew is in Chicago for Opening Day of the baseball season today, and with the weather that’s predicted, they *might* even get to play.
Either way, if you need a ticket, apparently there are still some available. I checked online, but declined to buy the single seat in the “dugout box” area for $300.00.
Most publications and prognosticators are picking the Brewers to finish 2nd in the Central this year behind the Cubs. Milwaukee definitely has a lot of if’s about it (if Sheets stays healthy, if the rest of the rotation holds up, if the Boston-version of Gagne doesn’t show up, if the rest of the bullpen plays their best ball, if none of the young everyday guys regresses, if Jason Kendall is a steadying force behind the plate, and if they can weather the 25 games without Mike Cameron in center), but they could be in for a special year. Baseball is always a game of if’s, and the speculating, measuring, and analyzing the day-to-day is what a lot of people love about it.
A lot of other people just love the atmosphere of summertime and the ballpark. That’s why I’ll be there 15 to 20 times this season, starting on Friday against the Giants. That’s also the reason that, despite the question marks, they Brewers are going to sell a LOT of tickets this year. They’ve got a very legitimate shot of going over 3 million through the turnstiles this year.
Good luck Brew Crew– catch you at home this weekend after a (hopefully) successful series down south!
I don’t want to go on at too great a length about the end of the Brewers season, but I said that I would blog on it again on October 1.
It wasn’t a very challenging prediction that I made last time about how falling 2 games behind with a week and change to play would be an insurmountable lead. The Cubs and Brewers both proved to be pretty average teams, and average teams more or less win one, lose one, win one, lose, etc. That’s basically the way the division shook out, with the Cubs getting a little more lucky than the Crew.
I had written up a post that went into detail as far a fan’s assessment of the season, but it felt like it missed something more important– even though the Brewers wound up on the outside looking in, it was a really fun baseball season that I wouldn’t want to trade. And as much fun as men from coast to coast might have analyzing sports, for me baseball is at least as much about how the memories feel as the numbers look.
I went to more games this year than any season before. Schrubbe and I had a great time collecting the bobbleheads on Friday nights and just hanging out at the park. I was really glad to have organized a couple group outings– I feel like the Bocks are a sports-loving family in general, and a baseball game on a weekend afternoon is still probably the most fun you can have at any sort of event for the money. I was grateful to be able to catch a couple weeknight games with Lorch on the spur of the moment, too– the one we saw in May where Vargas struck out 11 was pretty great.
Michelle became a bona fide fan by the time the season wound down– she was listening to games on the radio even when I wasn’t there. We had a long talk on Friday night after the Crew was eliminated about how we would get through the off-season and the changes that might be in store. My mom has always been at least a casual fan, but I think it’s really cool when your mom can tell you the names of every guy on the roster, and on the last day of the season, even though it doesn’t mean anything, she’s still glued to the TV.
This year was the first time that I was able to go to the park with my dad in September for a game that meant something. We missed the playoffs, but it was so tantilizingly close that one thing I’m going to save up for this year is a pack of 2008 playoff tickets. I want to watch post-season baseball in Milwaukee with my pa for sure.
Probably the best thing about being a baseball fan is the length of the season– it’s a grueling haul from the first of April until the last of September, so there is always a game to talk about. Even after the dust settles from the World Series, the winter meetings are always right around the corner, and by the time you can say “Super Bowl” we’ll be getting ready for spring training.
Personally, I think baseball plays into that stuff about summer that we enjoy the most– baseball-nay-sayers might complain about the speed of the game, or the length of the season, but I think fondly of afternoons bathing in the sun at the ballpark, walking up Bluemound to Mitchell Park, and the smell of charcoal wafting over the freeway at rush hour on the day of an afternoon game. Baseball might be slow, but that’s exactly what you want your summer to be– you want to stretch it out and make it last. You want the optimism that comes with a 162-game schedule to draw your eye to the standings every morning. You want the game broadcast to be the soundtrack of your summer, and as much as you miss Bob and all the players over the winter, you want every spring to feel like coming home.
I’m sure you’re as sick of reading my two cents on this topic every few days as I am of the Brewers just refusing to morph back into the team that was here in April and May.
That being said, here is my last word on MLB until October 1: if the Brewers lose tonight and the Cubs win, you can forget the season. A two-game deficit at this point will be insurmountable.
No matter what happens down the stretch, there are some really exciting division races happening in Major League Baseball with only about six weeks to go. There’s no one further ahead of 2nd place than Boston, at just 4 games.
This much seems pretty certain– the Brewers are going to have to take the division if they want in to the playoffs. The wild card leaders have a better record than MKE right now, so a few teams would have to fade in case the Cubs pull ahead.
Here’s hoping you’re still on the wagon. Just think of this: it’s been 15 years since Brewers fans have had anything to get legitimately excited about this late in the season. Enjoy the rest of the ride…