Talk Me Through This Pennant-Fever Thing...
That's what Brewers fans have to be thinking heading into next week's All-Star break, what with a six and a half game lead over the Cubs as of this writing plus four players headed to San Francisco for the midsummer classic next Tuesday night.
Heady times, for sure. It hasn't been like this since, what, 1983...and, let's hope it doesn't end up the same way.
Stoked by the American League pennant and the World Series near miss the year before, Brewers fans by the thousands figured there'd be postseason baseball in Milwaukee in '83. Harvey Kuehn returned with pretty much the same outfit he'd paraded down Wisconsin Avenue with after the Game Seven loss to St. Louis, and a lot of us made autumn vacation requests around Christmas of '82, figuring a return trip to the playoffs was a lock.
The Brewers finished fifth in the seven-team American League East, despite an 87-75 record. Milwaukee played itself out of competition by dropping 10 in a row and 12 of 13 between September 7th and 19th, all to division contenders like the eventual champion Orioles who swept the Brewers four-straight to finish off the losing skein and drive the nail in the Milwaukee postseason casket.
Kuehn would be fired at season's end, ushering in Rene Lachemann, the disbanding of the '82 squad and a 23 year postseason drought.
The first half of the 2007 season played out in three acts: the 24-10 start, the 10-20 slide, and the current revival that has Milwaukeeans leaping face-first back onto the bandwagon. Ned Yost is suddenly much smarter. The beer tastes better. The sausages run faster.
Baseball fortunes, like golf swings, are rented. Nothing is forever, and nothing can be assumed. The Chicago Cubs and their terminally deep pockets lurk just 90 miles south and a mere six and a half back in the standings.
I've been a fan too long.
We've seen too many bad things.
Then again, it's been two and a half decades since we've felt like this about our Brewers, which means we probably forgot what comes with being a contender. Ronald Reagan was still in his first term the last time we were able to apply the phrase "potential division champ" to our local team.
As the All-Star break approaches, savor the accomplishments that came in the first 80 plus games, and anticipate what may happen in the months ahead. Take nothing for granted. Don't rule out a possible heartache, or even a complete meltdown. It happens. It's baseball.
And, whatever you do, don't wreck our mojo by asking the boss if you can have off in late October/early November, unless it's for a Packers game.
After all, isn't that why God made sick days?