The Brewers Aren't The Mets...
I don't think so.
Two national publications, The New York Times and the Sporting News, feature columns comparing the slides of Milwaukee and New York from playoff consideration. The conclusion: they're identical in that both teams led their respective divisions for the bulk of the season before losing their divisions the final weekend.
I don't see it.
The Mets led by seven with 17 games to play in September before gagging down the stretch to the rampaging Phillies. The Brewers' swan song was much more protracted, and, in some ways, more painful since it played out over most of the second half of the season.
The Cubs actually caught Milwaukee long before the stretch drive--the two then battled back and forth through much of September, with Chicago eeking it's way to the crown despite getting swept by the Marlins the final week of the season.
The Sporting News column puts much of the blame for the Brewers' collapse at Ned Yost's feet. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Yost fought for his club in Atlanta--trouble is, he should've started acting out Friday night instead of waiting until his team got absolutely robbed three times Sunday. A pre-emptive strike, ala his mentor, Bobby Cox, could've sent the message that Milwaukee wasn't to be trifled with.
What happened down south created a hangover against the Cards at Miller Park--Yost squawking about calls late in a Brewers blow-out win supposedly angered his other number in the St. Louis dugout, Tony LaRussa. It's been written that the bickering, as well as a few other alleged Milwaukee crimes against baseball etiquette, prompted LaRussa to order the dotting of Prince Fielder that fateful Wednesday night. Yost's subsequent dismissal that evening didn't lose the game for the Brewers--that gets hung on Milwaukee hitters who malperformed earlier in the contest, as well as the bullpen (particularly Derrick Turnbow, who amazingly wonders why he gets booed at Miller Park).
Chicago had the better, and certainly more expensive team. As good as Milwaukee's 24-10 start was, the Cubs' first two months were dreadful. Chicago overcame clubhouse drama and some injuries while the Brewers were never the same after they're unbelievable opening month or so. Add the injuries to Ben Sheets and Chris Capuano's flame-out and, wa-la: home for October.
It was a fun season, and those playoff dreams we sported around Memorial Day died hard. Would I rather lose a big lead over a long haul, or see my team collapse the last two weeks of the season? Pick your poison. They both smart.
But they aren't the same.