Reasons to keep watching/listening to/attending Brewers games
Even the most optimistic Brewers fans must be thinking thoughts of 2013 after what happened in Cincinnati and Philadelphia over the past six games.
A pair of debilitating sweeps drove innumerable nails into the Milwaukee playoff casket. Could the team inject itself back into the divisional chase? Sure, and I could find Amelia Earhart swing-dancing with Jimmy Hoffa to a Glenn Miller trombone solo on my back deck tonight, too, but the chances of either are fairly non-existent.
Many of us still hold tickets to remaining Brewers games--occasions we thought held the promise of meaningful autumn baseball before this awful losing streak set in. Others reserve large portions of their nights to either watch or listen to the games, depending on your platforms/announcers of preference. Admittedly, the games lost a lot of their juice now that they're largely going to be auditions for next season, even more so after September 1st when rosters expand and the minor leagues empty.
You might need a nudge to stay plugged into baseball. You might crave a reason or two to head out to Miller Park. You could use a little motivation to give a team going nowhere three hours of your life each evening.
Here's a modest list:
--Ryan Braun: He's incredible when he has a surrounding cast, and even more amazing amid this year's admittedly less talented aggregation. To put up the numbers he is without Prince Fielder protecting him in the line-up is a tribute to his skills. Two doubles, a game-tying homer and solid play in Wednesday's loss in Philly show he's not mailing it in--he never will. And, he's proving to the haters that the off-season drug allegations won't stick, that he's the same or even better in 2012 without the benefit of anything coming out of a syringe Enjoy him while you can, even if it isn't during a playoff chase.
--Whatever is left of the Zach Greinke Experience: It may be over. It may not. GM Doug Melvin has until the end of the month to peddle the free-agent-in-waiting, but until he does see Greinke while you can. His Tuesday night return was a tour de force after he overcame the first-inning yips and he's one of the game's best hurlers.
--Miller Park: For one, it's one of the few places in southeast Wisconsin where the grass is still green. And, it's an architectural wonder, what with the roof, the sight-lines, the various seating levels and overall creature comfort.
No matter how large the crowd, Miller Park is never uncomfortable (unless the lid is closed and it's 90 degrees outside--then, it's the world's largest Dutch oven). Sure, they charge ballpark prices inside, but that's why Bud Selig put the stadium where it is--so you can tailgate on the cheap in the parking lot. Fill the gut, crack some brews before your ticket gets ripped. Plus, you can bring grub inside (something few fans know/take advantage of). Ticket prices? If you're paying retail, you aren't trying. Sure, you'll pay top dollar if you want to be Front Row Amy's seat mate, but there are better and cheaper seats all over the place.
--The guys who aren't sucking: See if Corey Hart's outstanding play at first makes a third-sacker of Mat Gamel in 2013. Thrill as Aramis Ramierez continues his warm-weather assault on National League pitching. Watch the reinvigorated Carlos Gomez hustle his heart out. And how about Nori Aoki in right field? See the retooled rotation--Fiers, Thornburg and Estrada--fight for starting spots next spring. Leave before the bullpen takes over though, unless you like having stuff come up the back of your throat as another late-inning lead melts away.
--What else would you be doing?: Anyone can go to a ball game when your team is contention. It's the true fan who goes when there's nothing on the line. You go to enjoy the game, it's subtleties and strategies. They're in play, no matter what's on the line. Old as I am, there isn't a game that goes by where I don't learn something new. And really, where else would a ball fan want to be? Fests are fine, and church festivals are swell (what parking lot is Pat McCurdy playing in this weekend?). You can do both. And, Lord knows you aren't tied down by yard work this summer.
--A good MLB game is better than a meaningless NFL one: Here's where I lose a whole bunch of you, the folks who'll watch every second of a Packers pre-season game over a Brewers tilt or even the birth of one of their own kids. I get that, I respect that, but that ain't me. I'll watch the third exhibition game (that's when the starters go their longest) and the final one (when the kids on the bubble are fighting for roster spots) but the first two preseason go-arounds are anonymous, tedious, penalty-filled slogs. Give me a crisply played baseball game any day, even if the combatants aren't in it any more.
It would've been fun to have a repeat of 2011, when the Brewers played a series for the ages against the Diamondbacks before losing the pennant to an insanely hot group of St. Louis Cardinals. The excitement, the all-for-one feeling and the sorely needed distraction from the state's sour political environment were sorely needed. It made winter feel shorter--that, and the fact we didn't really HAVE a winter. Springtime couldn't get here soon enough, but then the games started and the reality set in: this team wasn't good enough to compete, even before the injuries and misfires set in.
So, until we say "wait til next year", let's savor what's left of 2012. See you at the yard.