Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Can Ryan Braun get 200 hits this season?

Braun struggled mightily at times this season. After knocking the cover off of April, he batted .264 in June and an absolutely miserable .200 in July, with a .615 OPS. His slump was the subject of much analysis and debate. Was he injured? Had he changed his approach? His stance? His girlfriend? Did Corey Hart steal his eyes?

Look at that focus!
On one of the broadcasts, Rock and BA said that Braun had said that the best advice that he’d received was to just “move on.” So simple, yet so profound. Braun went on to bat .421 in August with a 1.080 OPS. His average is back over .300 at .303 and his OPS has risen to .842. I think he’s moved on.

After tonight’s two-hit game, Braun has 155 hits for the season with 30 games to play. (He was fourth in the NL in hits behind Prado, Pujols and Carlos Gonzalez prior to the start of play.)  Braun will need 45 more hits, or 1.5 hits per game, to reach 200 for the second straight season. With three center fielders vying for playing time, it is possible that Chris Dickerson, Carlos Gomez or Lorenzo Cain could get some time in left field before the season is out, but, if Braun does play in the final 30 games, he is likely to get at least 120 at bats. At that rate, he would have to bat .375 to reach the 200 hit mark. Keep in mind that the Brewers schedule is full of .500 or better teams, many of whom need to make up games to make play-off runs. There are 13 home games on the schedule, and 8 days games, although, perhaps this will be less of a factor with the new closed panel design at Miller Park.

Braun faced a similar up-hill battle in 2009, when he finished with 203 hits. (He led the NL.) Ryan had 157 hits at the end of August 2009, but went on to collect 46 hits in 129 at bats in September and October. I remember that Braun said he found a new level of focus with his hitting.

There’s not a whole lot left to cheer for this season, but I am going to root like hell for Braun to get to 200 hits. If he can get the at-bats, I think he’ll do it. A meaningless stat? Maybe. A reason to keep watching? Yes. 

Feelin’ a little Washington General-ish

This is how Tuesday night’s game ended. With the Brewers trailing 8-3 in the eighth inning, the Reds unleashed Aroldis Chapman on the bottom of the order. Chapman, pitching in his much-hyped MLB debut, needed just 8 pitches to retire Jonathan Lucroy, Craig Counsell, and pinch hitter Carlos Gomez. His fastball topped out at 103 MPH (or 102, depending on the source). Whether Chapman will be as good as advertised remains to be seen but I can’t see how Chapmen won’t help in the Reds’ playoff run.

After Todd Coffey pitched a scoreless eighth, the Brewers had one last shot at a comeback in the ninth. Weeks led off with his 25th home run of the season. Corey Hart, who appears to have a case of lazy head once again, flied out to right. Ryan Braun singled to right, bringing the tying run, to errr, I guess, still in the dugout.

This is when the Reds started to toy with us.

Prince Fielder hit a hard ground ball down the right field line, which Joey Votto smothered. Votto, who had fallen to his knees to get to the ball, began to fall over backward but somehow managed to throw a strike to the shortstop, Paul Janish, and get Braun running to second. (I’m pretty sure that even Braun turned around to admire the play.) The next batter, Casey McGehee hit a bouncer to Scott Rolen at third. Rolen slid feet first to grab the ball and ended up with his back to home plate. Because of his position he couldn’t make a normal throw, so he backhanded the ball to Chris Valaika covering second. Rolen’s one-hop flip nailed Prince for the final out.

Some days you’re the Harlem Globetrotters and some days you’re the Washington Generals. We got dunked on tonight. 

Reds 8, Brewers 4
Game played 8-31-10

A little bundle of joy called Lo Cain

I learned today that another one of my friends is pregnant. That makes two good friends and two co-workers who are expecting. When I walk around the skyway at lunch, it seems like every fifth woman I pass has a baby bump.

When Seth and I started dating that was something we agreed on—no kids. I’m not sure what his reasoning was but I grew up with five siblings and spent plenty of time watching my brother and sisters. I have four nieces and six nephews—so far. I am sure that I will have more. It’s not that I don’t like children. It’s more that I’m selfish. I like doing my own thing. I don’t know anyone who has a child who doesn’t love being a parent but I worried that I could be the first.

“Ummm, Seth, isn’t it your turn to watch the baby? The Brewers are on.”

In honor of all the procreating going on, I want to take a moment to acknowledge Brewers’ fans newest kid—Lorenzo Cain.  Cain is the latest Milwaukee prospect to make a splash in the big leagues--and it seems that he might be something special. (See, don’t I sound like a proud mother?) Since being called up on August 6, Cain has impressed with a .303 BA and .750 OPS in 21 games (66 AB, 73 PA). His defense has been solid, and at times, spectacular.

Cain was spectacular in the first of three against the Reds on Monday night. He had two defensive plays that made the ESPN Top Ten, including the No. 1 play, an impressive grab that ended with Cain crashing into the outfield fence. He went 1-3, with a walk.

The youth movement couldn’t save the Brewers, however, as the oldest Brewer, Trevor Hoffman, gave up a walk-off single to Jay Bruce in the tenth inning.  

Reds 5, Brewers 4
Game played 8-30-10

Monday, August 30, 2010

Is this the pants party?

A day game after a night game—it’s hard on players and it was hard on us. The parking lots at Miller Park open three hours before game time. We had to hustle but we made it into line to park at 10:06 a.m. Starbucks in hand. We parked our car and wandered around the parking lot trying to find the party put on by the Miller Park Drunk guy.

There is a certain amount of risk that you take when you sign up (and pay) for a game and tailgate party put on by an internet personality whom you’ve never met. It seemed legit but as my friend pointed out, it could also be a swingers’ party. I rolled the dice.

Megan and I walked up to one guy who was setting up a tent. “Is this the pants party?” we asked.

The guy looked at us and said, “Excuse me?”

“Oh, sorry, wrong party.”

We knew we were in the right place when we saw the MPD t-shirts. The next problem was that we didn’t really know anyone and no one knew who we were either. (I guess I needed a nametag that said “Hi, my name is Hangwith’em Rach”.) Finally, we just walked up to the group and said, “we’re here for the pants party.”

After that, and several cups of beer, we felt like we were with a group of our long lost friends. Great group, great food, great fun. The one thing about standing in the middle of a blacktopped parking lot at noon on a summer day—it’s hot. And, no matter how much beer you drink, you’re still hot and sweaty. One person commented that they were surprised the stadium didn’t smell worse on a day like Sunday.

Our seats were way up high in section 434 but they were in the shade and there was a nice breeze. And the Brewers were nice enough to overcome a 0-2 deficit after the first half of the inning to win, 8-4. And, by allowing two base runners in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Brewers were able to bring in Trevor Hoffman to collect his 599th career save. Nice touch—a Hoffman appearance at the pants party.

With a sweep of the Pirates, the Brewers are now 62-68. It would be monumental if the Brewers could finish the season at .500—although if you told me that was the goal at the beginning of the season, I’d have been mad. Milwaukee will have to play some of its best baseball of the season to do so, however. Of the 32 remaining games, the Brewers have 26 games against teams with .500 records or better. Of those, nine are against the Reds, with series against the Phillies, Cardinals and Giants, who are all just a few games out of the lead in their divisions. In other words, a lot of these games will mean a lot to Milwaukee’s opponents.   

Brewers 8, Pirates 4
Game played 8-29-10

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has

It had already been a long day when Saturday night's game went into extra innings. We left St. Paul at 9:30 a.m. and had been on the road most of the day.  But when you've come this far, you don't quit early.

Chris Capuano, who started in place of Manny Parra, did little to solidify a place in the starting rotation, giving up six runs on six hits and three walks, in three innings. Ironically, Parra had to come in to settle things down. He pitched three scoreless innings. The Brewers found themselves in a 6-3 hole after three innings and down 7-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Milwaukee rallied to tie the score. Ryan Braun led off with a single and scored when Prince Fielder hit his second home run of the night--a shot that hit the Tundra Territory truck. An error by the Pirates allowed the tying run to score. (I heart the Pirates.) With neither team able to score in the eighth or ninth inning, the game went into extra innings.

Because it is such a long drive and attending a Brewers game is such a treat, we usually go for the full fan experience. We tailgate, we keep score, we buy overpriced crap at the Brewers store, we polka in the aisle, we make friends with people in our section, we cheer--AND, on this night, we heckled. We are effective. In fact, I think it is safe to say that you can thank sections 119 and 120 for what happened next.

In the top of the tenth inning, after Ronny Cedeno innocently popped out, Chris Snyder came to the plate. And those of us still left in Sections 119 and 120 decided to let him know that he, in fact, sucked. Normally, I'm not one for taunting an opposing player unless it's witty and funny but for some reason, the guy sitting behind us took the "Chris Snyder, you stink" to a whole new level. And when this same guy went to the taunt where you just repeat the player's name over and over, Megan chimed in with sucks ...Chris Snyder ...sucks! ... Chris Snyder... sucks! It was during this at bat that I noticed that Chris Snyder's pants looked like they spent too much time in the dryer. "Chris Snyder, your pants are unreasonably tight" became quite popular in our section. Snyder was nice enough to ground out to first.

Having tasted a little success, Sections 119 and 120 were hungry for more. The rest of the way, we let no pitch go by without some form of cheering or heckling. (If you listen closely to the Fox Sports Wisconsin feed of the game, you can hear us.) And there is no doubt in my mind, that we willed that winning run to score. Braun led off the eleventh inning with a single. Prince followed with a hot shot that was booted by Neil Walker. See, we were in his head. After McGehee flew out, rookie Lorenzo Cain lined one down the left field line that easily scored Braun.

Chris Snyder your pants are unreasonably tight, and, you suck. Game time 4:16 and worth every minute.

Brewers 8, Pirates 7
Gamed played 8-28-10

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Spending money to make money: Would it work for Pittsburgh?

After being swept in a three-game series by the Dodgers, there was little doubt that the Brewers were ecstatic to see the Pittsburgh Pirates come to town for a weekend series. Going into tonight’s game, the Brewers were 10-5 against the Pirates in 2010 and 43-17 since 2007. Overall Pittsburgh has a 43-85 record this year, following up 62-99 (2009), 67-95 (2008) and 68-94 (2007) campaigns. You have to go all the way back to 2004 to find a season in which the Pirates won more than 70 ball games. 

OK. You get it. The Pirates are not a good baseball team. And tonight’s game was a good illustration of this fact.

James McDonald, a recent acquisition from the Los Angeles Dodgers, was nearly untouchable for the first five innings for the Pirates. Milwaukee managed just one hit, an infield single by Alcides Escobar. During this stretch Pittsburgh put together a 2-0 lead, with a few timely hits (and a dropped ball at home plate) in the second and a solo home run in the fifth. The Brewers finally broke through for one run in the sixth but were unable to tie the score when Ryan Braun hit into an inning ending double play. (Replays showed he was safe.)

And then the seventh inning happened (to the Bucs!)—in much the same way the sixth inning usually happens to the Brewers. With one out and runners on first and second, Escobar tagged one to the opposite field. Right fielder Lastings Milledge froze for a half second and then broke back but the ball was over his head and to his left. By the time Milledge got the ball into the infield, two runs had scored and Escobar stood on third. It was as if Milledge opened the floodgates for the Brewers. These would be the first two of six runs that the Brewers would score in the seventh inning.

Chris Narveson picked up his tenth victory, pitching seven innings and allowing two runs on seven hits and one walk. He struck out eight.

The Pirates have been the subject of much discussion in the baseball world. Eighteen consecutive losing seasons will do that. Sports Illustrated ran an article in July that detailed the Pirates woes. “There hasn't been one seminal event or single colossal error that has sunk the Pirates' ship. Rather—fitting for a city situated at the convergence of three rivers—a confluence of factors has created this singular awfulness. Bad trades. Bad picks. Bad signings. Bad finances. Alone, none is insurmountable. But taken together, they create a death spiral for a faltering small-market team.”

A recent article on Slate gave the situation in Pittsburgh an interesting twist. Taking confidential information published on Deadspin, this article analyzed whether the Pirates should spend money to win ballgames. “In light of these financial statements, the Pirates have been criticized for refusing to spend money to make money. It's not clear, though, that Pittsburgh's owners could spend more on player salaries without turning their profits into losses. Buying wins is not a cheap proposition.”

Sabermetricians have found that it costs approximately $5 million to purchase each additional win. It is not clear that these additional wins would give the organization a return on its investment, especially when the potential loss of revenue sharing money is factored into the equation. In other words, the Pirates would probably lose money to become only marginally better. The good news (if you can call it that), for fans of other small market teams—like the Brewers, is that you don’t always need a big payroll to be good. You have to rely on “young, cheap players” and hope for a little luck if you want to make a run at the playoffs. Signing veteran stars to long-term contracts is not an option. 

Milwaukee’s payroll of $81 million is significantly higher than the $35 million that Pittsburgh doled out this year. Milwaukee ranks 18th out of 30 clubs in payroll in 2010—a giant leap forward since it spent $27 million in 2004. While I am not always happy with the manner in which the $80 million payroll is spent, I am happy that the Brewers organization spends it. I am glad that at least some of our best players, who were developed through the Brewers farm system, will be Brewers in the upcoming years. I am glad that we can go after free agents, too. (Again, happy with the ability, not always the selection.) The hope (in Pittsburgh) is that the same will happen for the Pirates—that many of their young players will develop and lead a charge in a few years. This is not my hope. I am ecstatic when the Pirates come to town.

Brewers 7, Pirates 2
Game played 8-27-10

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Paul Molitor: My first sports crush

On this day (August 26, 1987) in baseball history, Paul Molitor had his 39-game hitting streak end while standing in the on-deck circle. Rick Manning drove in the game-winning run in the tenth inning and Molitor didn’t get another crack at extending his hitting streak. 

Molitor turned 54 on August 22.  Happy birthday, Igniter!

My first baseball memories are of the 1982 World Series. I can’t explain why or how but I fell madly in love with Paul Molitor. He made me feel like my heart would explode. I was nine years old and I did not possess the vocabulary to express how he made me feel. I tried to explain this to one friend, who made fun of me.

“Rachel and Paul Molitor sittin’ in a tree…” she taunted.

“But you should see him hit … it’s amazing…” I tried to explain.

My first sports crush lasted for a long time—until Molitor did the unthinkable. He went to play for the Minnesota Twins in 1995. Now, this is a move that makes a ton of sense if you know Molitor’s background. He grew up in St. Paul and went to the University of Minnesota. He was coming home. (I actually live about a mile from where he went to high school.) To me, he was going to play for the enemy. (I never felt this way about the Blue Jays but I think I’ve already explained my feelings about the Twins.) I’ve never gotten over it. To this day, I harbor resentment toward Molitor for leaving me for the Minnesota Twins. He is without question my favorite Brewer of all time but this comes with a caveat. He was my favorite player UNTIL 1995. 

I feel like this picture requires explanation. Back in 1986, the Brewers had a promotion called photo night. They actually let fans onto the field at County Stadium before the game and the players would pose with the fans. Molitor put his arm firmly around me and asked, “who’s taking your picture tonight?” And I pointed and he smiled in that direction. I cannot even imagine what would happen if they had photo night in 2010, on the field, before a game. I think the game would have to be forfeited like disco demolition night. I might not let go of Ryan Braun if he put his arm around me. 

There is no explanation for my hair. My friend Andy, who was nice enough to scan in this photo, joked that my hair made the file too large to e-mail. He’s not kidding. On a positive note, Paul and I have matching high-waisted pants.  I remember that the Brewers played the Blue Jays on this night and we thought we were cool for taunting Jesse Barfield. 

Dodgers 7, Brewers 1 (I have nothing to say about this game.)
Game played 8-26-10

Sad face

I'm happy when the Brewers win. I'm unhappy when the Brewers lose.

Today I am unhappy. Yes, I am that fickle.

Dodgers 5, Brewers 4
Game played 8-25-10

Random thoughts
On Carlos Gomez: Tom Haudricourt's recent post in the Journal Sentinel regarding Carlos Gomez and his feelings about being the best center fielder on the team reminds me of a piece that ran in the Minnesota Star Tribune in May after Gomez flipped his bat and hit Joe Mauer. (The article was written by my college journalism professor. He never liked me. He thought I was lazy. I was.)

During tonight's game Brewers announcers Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder asked Ed Cedar to give us a sense of the kind of person and player Gomez is. "As you've seen, all out effort all the time. He's always trying, sometimes a little bit too hard. He's always out there giving 100%. You've got to like that especially when he's on the bases. He makes things happen. And, of course, he's a great bunter. There's a lot of good things to Carlos," the Brewers first base coach said.

BA and Rock went on to try to restore Gomez's public image, feeling that Gomez's comments didn't reflect the real Carlos Gomez. First, BA claimed that there was, of course, a language barrier. "I think what he meant was he believes in his ability. But at the end of the day, the manager whatever line-up he puts out there he wants to be a part of the line-up. Any competitor would have that take," BA said in Gomez's defense.

Rock went on to say that Carlos just didn't have that kind of tone in him. "You could understand how it could be construed as being a bit cocky. ... That's not Carlos Gomez," Rock said, adding that Gomez just wanted to play.

We all see a world of talent with Gomez. It is frustrating to watch him waste it. It becomes more frustrating when he seemingly strives for mediocrity--like batting .260. He words and his antics only begin to bother me when he fails to lay down a bunt or make good contact. I don't know the real Carlos Gomez but, if I did, I'd want to grab him by the collar and shake him. Maybe Lorenzo Cain will be to Carlos what Jim Edmonds was to Corey Hart. Here's hoping.

On Manny Parra: Today came news that Manny Parra will be replaced in the starting rotation by Chris Capuano. Parra will work out of the bullpen. I like this move. Like Gomez, Parra has a world of potential but has rarely lived up to it. A change of scenery might do him good. I do not think that Parra was going to find himself by continuing to start. He lost his confidence and control of his fastball. I'm not sure that he will find either in the bullpen but maybe if he can pitch an inning or two here and there he will gain some confidence. I know I'm reaching here. I have no idea how to fix Parra. It seems like no one does or it would have happened already. I hope he has one of those Aha moments that Oprah talks about.

On Hunter Pence: FHP! reported that he switched from coffee to hot tea because it was better for his body. Also, he was successful in getting Call of Duty from Best Buy even after he left the game at the cash register after he paid for it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I’ve seen THIS one before

If you watch enough Brewers games, there comes a point in the season where you are pretty sure that you’ve already seen this game. Maybe not THIS actual game—that would be impossible—but a game just like the one you are currently watching. And, no matter how much you wish things would end differently in THIS game, you sort of know that they won’t and the Brewers will lose. Because if Milwaukee regularly pulled out THIS sort of game, they’d be in the heat of a pennant race.  

The Dodgers took an early lead on a two-run home run by Matt Kemp in the second inning. The Brewers answered in the bottom of the second when Prince Fielder singled and scored on Casey McGehee’s triple (the second of his career). Despite having McGehee on third with no outs, the Brewers stranded him there. The Brewers would eventually be 0-11 with runners in scoring position. THIS.

Both pitchers, Ted Lilly for the Cubs (we cannot escape this man!) Dodgers and Dave Bush for the Crew settled down after the second and pitched scoreless ball until the fifth. The Brewers took the lead in the fifth with a two out rally. Rickie Weeks hit his 24th homer of the season to tie the game. Milwaukee went ahead 3-2 on a single by Alcides Escobar and a double by Ryan Braun.

And then the sixth inning happened. Bush retired the first two batters and then just couldn’t finish out the inning. He gave up back-to-back singles and then a three-run shot to Rod Barajas. Barajas was just traded to the Dodgers from the Mets for “cash considerations” and has hit 105 home runs in his entire 11-year career. THIS.

"It's neat, you know? There's a lot of people here, it's a packed house and I didn't realize it until about the sixth inning that I saw Tommy Lasorda sitting right next to the dugout," Barajas said. "That was great to play well in front of him."

I hate to burst his bubble but it looked like Lasorda slept through most of the game.

In the eighth, Prince hit a double to deep center with one out only to be doubled off when McGehee lined out to third. It was a nice play to get McGehee and an even nicer one to get Fielder scrambling back to second base. THIS.

In the ninth inning, the Brewers staged a rally when Carlos Gomez (THIS) got a bunt single and LA closer Hong-Chih Kuo botched an easy double play ball—his throw was a lot like the one that got him in trouble in the All-Star game. With runners on first and second and only one out, pinch hitter Corey Hart popped out and Weeks struck out.

THIS is getting old. Given the history of Brewers pitchers blowing up in the sixth, Bush probably should have been pulled after the second single, if not sooner. And with only a two-run deficit, it’s a shame that Milwaukee couldn’t plate McGehee in the second inning. Really, it’s just a shame the Brewers didn’t win THIS game.  

Dodgers 5, Brewers 3
Game played 8-24-10

Monday, August 23, 2010

A feeble stab at statistical analysis

On Saturday night, Padres announcer Dick Enberg made an interesting comment about the NL Central. He said that young sluggers should want to play in the NL Central because they can hit a lot of home runs in that league, as compared to the NL West. (I think he was talking about the ball parks.) This comment got me to thinking and so I crunched some numbers. I looked at Park Factors but wanted to dig a little deeper. I don’t know if I can really draw any conclusions from these. See what you think.

Random findings (through Saturday’s game stats).

1.       The NL West has given up an average of 112.8 home runs per team this season. The NL Central has given up an average of 120.3 homers per team. (Arizona skews this stat, having given up a whopping 167 home runs so far this year. Pittsburg is second with 140 and Milwaukee follows with 136.) If Arizona and Pittsburg are eliminated, there is a 99.25 average for the West and a 116.4 average for the Central.
2.        The teams in the NL West have hit an average of 114.2 home runs this year, while NL Central teams have hit an average 115.5 home runs this year. (Milwaukee has hit the most with 146, followed by Arizona with 143 and Cincinnati with 137.)
3.       Of the home runs given up by each team, the following are percentages of those home runs given up by each club at home. San Diego 43%; San Francisco 42%; Colorado 51%; Los Angeles 54%; Arizona 63%; Cincinnati 58%; St. Louis 44%; Milwaukee 54%; Houston 49%; Chicago 54% and Pittsburgh 39%.
4.       The Padres are 26-21 in their division. They have given up a total of 74 home runs in these games for an average of 1.57 per game; Giants are 20-24; 37 home runs; .841 HRs per game; Rockies are 23-21; 31 home runs; .705 HRs per game; Dodgers are 29-16; 29 home runs; .644 HRs per game; and Diamondbacks are 14-30; 62 home runs; 1.41 HRs per game.
5.       The Reds are 34-21 in their division. They have given up a total of 48 home runs for an average of .872 home runs per game. Cardinals are 30-24; 43 home runs; .796 HRs per game; Brewers are 28-28; 70 home runs; 1.25 HRs per game; Astros are 33-24; 52 home runs; .912 HRs per game; Cubs are 22-36; 55 home runs; .948 HRs per game; Pirates are 22-36; 67 home runs; 1.15 HRs per game.
6.       Home runs per game allowed in all games played. Padres .844; Giants .830; Rockies .787; Dodgers .766; Diamondbacks 1.347; Reds 1.00; Cardinals .842; Brewers 1.106; Astros .836; Cubs .968; Pirates 1.138.

Ryan Braun hit his second home run in two days on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough, as the Brewers were unable to take their third in a row from the Padres. Sadly, it was a typical Manny Parra outing. Parra gave up seven runs in six innings on eight hits and four walks. The Padres didn’t hit any home runs.  The Padres hit two more home runs. 

[I completely screwed this up. No excuses. The Padres hit two home runs on Sunday, which was sort of the point Enberg was making. Thanks to the person who pointed this out to me.] 

Padres 7, Brewers 3
Game played 8-23-10

Sunday, August 22, 2010

You are who you are

Milwaukee might have gotten the lead on Saturday night by playing Padres baseball but they kept it by playing Brewers baseball.

The Brewers built a 3-0 lead in the third inning, stringing together singles, walks and a sac fly. The lead was short lived, however, as Chris Narveson suddenly was unable to find the plate in the fourth inning, allowing the first four batters to reach and giving up two runs.

And then something odd happened--Ken Macha made a timely pitching change. Rather than let Narveson completely implode, Macha went to the bullpen and brought in Mike McClendon. McClendon gave up a walk and a single that tied the game (run charged to Narveson) but he retired the next three batters without giving up any additional runs.

Milwaukee came back to score two in the bottom of the fifth inning on a walk, a stolen base and a couple of timely singles, prompting Padres announcer Dick Enberg to say that the Brewers were playing Padres baseball.

Ryan Braun upped the lead to three runs with his 17th home run of the year, and first in 22 games, in the sixth inning. Braun's home run turned out to be the difference in the game when Matt Stairs came in to hit a pinch-hit, two-run shot to close the gap to just one run. After the Stairs homer, in what has become a pattern for Macha, he put in Axford to get the final five outs. Ax closed the door to secure the Brewers fourth straight victory.

Brewers 6, Padres 5
Game played 8-21-10

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sorry, Seth

I’m not a very good wife.

I can never remember if Seth’s birthday is March 17 or 19. On Thursday, I excitedly asked him if he knew what that day was.  (I sort of had a gift for him picked out in my head. I hadn’t actually gotten it yet … but at least I could tell him about it.)

He rolled his eyes at me and said, “Ummm, it’s 13 years and two days since our first date.”

“And two days? Really? Oops.”

Seth went out of town (without me) this weekend for the third time in 13+ years. Is it wrong that I was sort of excited? Not that I don’t love him dearly but there is something awesome about not having to answer to anyone for a few days. All Seth has ever asked of me during the span of our relationship is to: a) stop spending money; b) pick up my shit; and c) watch something other than Wisconsin sports on TV.

The first thing I did when he left on Friday night was go to the liquor store, where there was a sale on Spanish wine, so I stocked up. Then I headed to the grocery store where I picked up a pan of Rice Krispie treats, pretzels and onion dip, and an Oprah magazine. Paul checked me out at the register without making eye contact.  I asked him if he had any big plans for the night and he said, “no.”

When I got home, I opened a bottle of wine and left the corkscrew on the table. (Rebel!)  I gathered all my food around me, put the Oprah magazine on my lap and my laptop on top of that and I settled in for the Brewers-Padres game. I know that this is pathetic but it was exactly what I wanted to do with my Friday night.

Friday night’s game was billed as a pitcher’s duel. And it was, for about eleven pitches. Adrian Gonzales crushed Yovani Gallardo’s twelfth pitch of the night for a home run to deep center and, after that, the scoreboard lit up like a pinball machine. San Diego built a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first and a 5-2 lead after two. Gallardo was finally pulled with one out in the fourth after giving up six runs on six hits.

This is the sort of lead the Padres have been able to hang onto all season. San Diego boasts the best record in the NL at 73-47 and had won 9 of 10, including 5 in a row. But not on this night.  Milwaukee rallied for three runs in the third, two in the fourth and single runs in the fifth, six and seventh innings. And Chris Capuano, who came in in relief of Gallardo was unhittable. Capuano faced the minimum giving up just one walk in 3 2/3 innings.

I can’t wait for Saturday. I’m going shopping at Mall of America.

Brewers 10, Padres 6
Game played 8-20-10

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Foiled by Facebook

I was flirting with disaster. I usually am when the Brewers play a day game. I have to avoid the score until I get home and am actually able to watch the game. The degree of difficulty on this becomes higher when I have to look up stats and a box score from the previous game (to write a blog post). You must exercise defensive reading and viewing when looking on ESPN or baseballreference.com.

I had done a masterful job of avoiding the score on Wednesday, even after trying to determine whether Axford was overused. In comparing Axford’s numbers this year to Hoffman’s last year, I was somewhat taken aback by Hoffman’s 2009 season stats. Trevor went 3-2 and had 37 saves in 55 appearances. He had a .907 WHIP and a 1.83 ERA. I had forgotten just how good he had been. I wonder if Brett Farve’s numbers will fall off in a similar fashion …

I started watching the game but then my ADD kicked in. Typically, I have to do something in addition to watching the game and on this day I couldn’t go to the usual sites that I visit during the game because they would reveal the score. So I went to Facebook. Big mistake. Stupid Facebook. At some point I learned that the Brewers won 3-2 and then later I saw the following picture.

Knowing these two facts made my viewing experience sort of odd. The ninth inning started with Randy Wolf still on the mound. In out-dueling Adam Wainwright, Wolf had allowed just two hits and no runs. OK, things must start to get interesting now, I thought. Wolf got the first out and then Pujols lined one to left that Braun probably should have caught. It hit his glove but dropped and went for a double. Macha then pulled Wolf for Axford, who had recorded five, six and five outs in his last three outings.  I don’t really see how Hoffman gets the save here, I thought, and why is he using Axford again?

Axford proceeded to give up a double to Holliday (which Braun should have caught! and which scored Pujols) and hit Schumaker with a pitch. Fortunately, he was able to strike out Molina before walking Rasmus on four pitches to load the bases. I think Macha went to the well one too many times. Trevor Time? Yes, Trevor Time. If I hadn’t have known that this ended well, I probably would have been jumping out of my skin. Brendan Ryan lined the first pitch down the third base line that luckily went foul—had it stayed fair it certainly would have scored two. Ryan fouled off the second pitch before swinging woefully through a Hoffman change-up. After the swing, Ryan looked down at the ball in Kottaras’s mitt seemingly wondering how he had missed that pitch. Almost to 600, Trevor.

Brewers 3, Cardinals 2
Game played 8-18-10

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age

When I was in third grade, my teacher made us draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up. We then had to get up in front of the class and explain why we picked that particular career. I said I was going to be President of the United States.

I’m not sure where I got off track. Maybe it was that first beer party in the middle of a cornfield …

In any case, I certainly did not expect to end up as a middle-aged real estate attorney, trying to hang on for a few more years in the Cities Sports Connection slow-pitch co-rec softball league. (I’m on the DL for the rest of the season because of my knee surgery. I have a solid rehab program in place and I expect to return to my role as utility IF/OF next April.)  Most of my team is in their mid-to-late 30s. The teams we play are getting younger.

In order to stay competitive, we’ve devised a risky strategy. We use crappy bats. We have two bats that are OK, one of which is double-walled. The rest are little more than dented pieces of aluminum. I don’t think they even have one wall.  Solid hits fall in front of the outfielders and crappy hits bounce numerous times before getting to an infielder.  This has reduced the number of lazy fly balls and one-hopers to the shortstop.  It actually works most of the time. So affectionate are we toward our bats, they all have nicknames—like Denty and Goldie.  If you have to get older, the hope is that you’ll at least get smarter.

With his use of words such as stinker and poppycock, Ken Macha has always struck me as much older than  59. (Exhibit A from last night: "He's on fire," Macha said of Casey McGehee. "I told him I didn't want to stand next to him because I was afraid of spontaneous combustion.")  I bet he said it with a smirk.

With his continued use of John Axford in multiple inning appearances (and about 900 other decisions), I wonder whether Ken Macha has gotten any smarter. Yes, Axford is the best chance for the Brewers to win but it also seems like a good way to give your closer of the future arm issues. Has Macha gone to the Ax too often?

Axford has appeared in 36 games and pitched 42.1 innings since being called up May 15--36 games into the season. He has 18 saves in 20 chances with a record of 7-1.

In the entire 2008 season, Trevor Hoffman appeared in 55 games and pitched 54 innings (after coming off the DL on April 27).  Saves leader Heath Bell has appeared in 52 games and pitched 52.2 innings this season, with Brian Wilson appearing in 50 games and 52.1 innings.  

Axford says that his arm is fresh and that he doesn’t feel over-used. “I don’t mind doing it. I don’t think ‘Mach’ or (pitching coach) Rick (Peterson) are going to risk me.”
Speaking of old—Craig Counsell, who turns 40 in a couple of days, cleared waivers. He said he loves playing in Milwaukee but the thought of playing for a contender is enticing. Counsell has appeared in 83 games this year, batting .246 in 188 plate appearances. He has 17 walks. 

The so-hot-that-he might-spontaneously-combust Casey McGehee hit a two-run homer in the third inning to spark the Brewers to a 3-2 victory over St. Louis on Tuesday. Dave Bush bounced back from giving all those consecutive homeruns against the D-Backs to give up just one run (a homerun) over six innings and the possibly overused John Axford got the last five outs for the save.

Brewers 3, Cardinals 2
Game played 8-17-10

**This post is dedicated to Dane, who is stuck in China on business and missed the playoffs. What now, bitches? **

Monday, August 16, 2010

Take it down or leave it up and pretend it's not there?

I keep thinking about that sign in leftfield. I wonder if it haunts him.

By now, we all know the numbers. Trevor Hoffman hasn’t been very good this year. For a time it seemed that he had earned his way back and would get a few spot closing opportunities so that he could reach 600 and retire gracefully. Last Saturday’s save, number 597, was emotional for Hoffman. It was sort of emotional for me. It was his first in three months.

"There were a lot of emotions out there, just hearing the song. I am very thankful for everyone's support during a personal struggle of trying to get back out there,” Hoffman said. "I don't think this would have happened had I folded up the tent and gone home."

Since number 597, Hoffman has made 3 appearances and given up 4 runs on 5 hits and 4 walks, in 2.2 innings pitched. During that time he has had a 3.38 WHIP and a 13.50 ERA.

Despite being the MLB all-time leader in saves, Hoffman remains a notoriously hard worker and a nice guy (from what I can gather. We don’t hang out much.) I went to one of those Brewer block parties last season. It was 96 and humid. I wanted to see Ryan Braun but he was “delayed.” Not Hoffman—he was front and center, taking it all in. He seemed genuinely happy to be there, thanking the fans repeatedly with a big smile on his face. He has good hair.

Which is why deciding what to do now is so agonizing. I had no problem kicking Jeff Suppan to the curb. He seemed like a nice guy, too, but releasing him was awesome (other than that part about having to pay his salary). I don’t want to release Hoffman and I would strongly urge the Brewers front office to not do so. Here is the part where I’m a little torn. I want to win—even if they are somewhat meaningless wins at this point—but I’m not opposed to giving Hoffman a few more opportunities to reach 600. At least Hoffman hasn’t given up any homeruns in his last three outings. I think the Brewers should continue to use him as they have over the last several months; and they have to keep the sign up. As much as I would like for it to come down, I think that it would be embarrassing for Hoffman and I don’t see any point in doing that at this point in the season.  It's easier to pretend it's not there. Leaving it up would call less attention to it than taking it down.  And I think that's the key.

Rockies 6, Brewers 5 (Yep, the Brewers lost when Hoffman gave up the go-ahead run in the bottom of the ninth. To be fair, the only reason that the game wasn’t already over is that Clint Barmes was unable to secure a pop-up that got caught up in the wind, which scored two Brewers. Still, you get a gift, you should use it.)
Game played 6-15-10

Did you know that in Hells Bells, the narrator has been sent to drag a soul into Hell? It’s true. Wikipedia says so.

Remember when Hoffman first starting blowing saves and we used Carlos Villanueva as our closer? It happened on May 18. Thank you, John Axford.

ESPN News, in discussing Francisco Rodriguez’s injury noted that the Mets bullpen has 13 career saves, while K-Rod had 25 this year. “Maybe it’s time to bring back Braden Looper. Just kidding. Mets fans aren’t that desperate yet.”

Hunter Pence tweet of the week: “Friday the 13th and my water isn't working...I’ll just use extra deodorant before breakfast. :(  “

Sunday, August 15, 2010

One night on the town with a couple of corn-fed sweethearts will change you

I might have mentioned this before, but I have a huge inferiority complex. As such, I am a bit concerned about what the outside world thinks of Wisconsin. Specifically, I am concerned about what Ryan Braun thinks of Wisconsin.

"Most athletes have a restaurant that ends up being a sports bar," Braun said in a USA TODAY article, discussing the two restaurants he opened in Wisconsin. "I wanted a contemporary place. A little L.A. A little Miami. A little New York. I wanted this to be more of a lifestyle restaurant, one representative of my personality."

Wisconsin isn’t L.A., Miami or New York, but that doesn’t mean it’s not freakin’ awesome in its own way. So, I propose that, you, Ryan Braun spend a night on the town with my sister, Megan, and me. As I see it, after a night with us, you’ll embrace your inner cheesehead. You’ll still wish you were playing for the Yankees, Dodgers or Marlins but at least you’ll have a better appreciation for your fans (and you’ll understand that it takes a lot of work to get a physique like this).

The night would go roughly as follows.

We would start out the night at the prototypical Wisconsin-eating establishment. Everyone in the place will have on a Packer sweatshirt--that’s business casual in Wisconsin. Ryan, you should probably leave the Remetee at home for this night on the town. It’s not that your shirts aren’t nice; it’s just that they’re a little too colorful and they don’t say Packers anywhere. You don’t want people to get the wrong idea.

There will be meat and more meat on the menu—all of which is either fried or deep-fried. Veggies are for wussies worried about their heart problems. Even if you try to get something healthy, like a chicken sandwich, it will be breaded, deep-fried and come with a ham and cheese sandwich on top of it. Whatever you get will be served with a side of melted butter. Hello, this is Wisconsin: America’s Dairyland. And you’ll need to drink some tap beer, preferably Schlitz, Old Style, Hamm’s or the High Life. If the beer is foamy, make sure that you make a joke about liking head. It’s funny every time! 

After dinner, we’d head to a bar with a lot of down-and-out looking regulars seated on bar stools. The most important things about this bar would be 2-for-1 drinks and karaoke. I know you have a lot of money but beer tastes better if it is cheap. It’s a proven fact. In order to get superior service throughout the night, we’ll buy our server a shot. Again, money can’t buy happiness but it can buy booze.

After you’ve downed five to six beers, we’ll sign you up for some karaoke. Song selection is going to be important—we would steer you away from any song that you’ve walked to the plate to. Again, your music selection at the ballpark is top-notch—this is just for your own safety. I would sign you up to sing Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi. I’m not sure if you were even born when this song came out but Wisconsinites dig heavy metal. Own it. Pretend it’s about baseball. 

It’s all the same, only the names will change
Everyday it seems we’re wasting away
Another place where the faces are so cold
I drive all night just to get back home
I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride
I'm wanted dead or alive
Wanted dead or alive

Sometimes I sleep, sometimes it's not for days
And the people I meet always go their separate ways
Sometimes you tell the day
By the bottle that you drink
And times when you're alone all you do is think

I walk these streets, a loaded six string on my back
I play for keeps, 'cause I might not make it back
I been everywhere, and I'm standing tall
I've seen a million faces an I've rocked them all

I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride
I'm wanted dead or alive
I'm a cowboy, I got the night on my side
I'm wanted dead or alive
And I ride, dead or alive
I still drive, dead or alive
Dead or alive
Dead or alive
Dead or alive
Dead or alive

[Wanted! (Wanted!) Dead or A-Li-VE! Sorry, I got distracted. I love that song.]

After karaoke, we’ll take you to Denny’s. You didn’t grow up here and no one expects you to have that sort of tolerance yet. But it will have been a few hours since we last ate and we don’t want you to come down from that uncomfortable full feeling. If all goes as planned, you’ll wake up: 1) hating yourself; 2) feeling miserably gross; and 3) hungry. And after a night like that, how could you even remotely envision yourself playing anywhere else?

Brewers 5, Rockies 4 F/10
Game played 8-15-10

I'm thinking something like this scene. On this night, our waitress, Dawn (left), who cackled, gladly took a cherry bomb shot with Megan (right) in lieu of a tip. I love Megan's shirt. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It never happened

If I squint my eyes shut and put my hands over my ears, I think that I can pretend that I didn't see that three-run homer....

See, the Brewers are still ahead in my world.

It's a pretty good place to be.

Brewers 4, Rockies 2
Game played 8-13-10 in my world

Rockies 5, Brewers 4
Cold hard reality, 8-13-10

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Situation makes for bad blogging

I'm multi-tasking. I'm trying to blog and watch Jersey Shore at the same time so if I have a situation, you'll know why.
“This situation is gonna be indescribable you can’t even describe the situation that you’re about to get into the situation.” --Mike "The Situation"
It was hot out today. How hot was it? It was so hot that Randy Wolf nearly turned into a pool of sweat on the mound but it wasn't nearly as hot as Casey McGehee at the plate. McGehee collected four hits in his four at-bats, making it nine hits in a row dating back to his last at-bat in Tuesday night's game--a Brewers team record.

The game was not televised and I forgot to bring a radio to work (and my company blocks websites that stream radio) so I had to rely on ESPN. All I can say is that the Brewers pitchers seemed particularly adept at filling up those bases and turning them yellow. Zach Braddock walked three people in the eighth inning and John Axford walked three more in the ninth. Remarkably, none of these six runners scored, and the Brewers held on for the 8-4 victory. Put those brooms away.

Brewers 8, Diamondbacks 4
Game played 8-12-10

Random stuff
I purchased my tickets for the Miller Park Drunk Pants Party tonight. Very exciting. I'll be making my third pilgrimage to Milwaukee this summer--this time with sister Megan who said she purchased the Jersey Shore soundtrack for the trip. Sweet.

Hunter Pence Watch: Today, FHP! contemplated eating a burrito in a tuxedo.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sorry Mom

This came as sort of a surprise to me, but people actually read my blog. Most of the readers are related to me or are people that I pester to read it. Seth, for example, reads my blog when I helpfully place the laptop in his lap and say, "you should read this right now." My friend Dane is even reading this in China. Well, he said he would but he wasn't sure if he would have Internet access or time ...

Occasionally, I even get comments. I received the following from my co-worker's husband, Neil, regarding the Let's Blog Two post (and all the hit batters).

Gardy would have totally lost his schpadoinkle (this is a family blog, right?) on that one. The only solution is to bring up some kid to go all Dock Ellis on the Cubs
[Note from Rachel--I thought that this would be an excellent use of Doug Davis. Why waste some kid on this task?]

Based on this comment, I feel the need to clear something up. This is not a family blog. (My family reads it because if they didn't it would hurt my feelings but it really isn't a family blog.) In fact, I am a rather foul mouthed person. I've tried to be respectful but there are days... today is one of those days.

The Brewers built a 2-0 lead against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday on the strength of back-to-back homeruns by Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee. And then Arizona made history (or at least tied it) with four consecutive homeruns.

Four consecutive homeruns in the fourth inning as follows:
A. LaRouche homered to right [Note from Rachel: Shit!]
M. Montero homered to right  [Note from Rachel: Damn!]
M. Reynolds homered to left center [Note from Rachel: Jesus!]
S. Drew homered to right center [Note from Rachel: Fuck!]
I admit it. I'm using vulgarity in place of creativity and I'm OK with that tonight. We just lost another one to Arizona.
Diamondbacks 8, Brewers 2
Game played 8-11-10 

**Thursday's game is not on TV. I'll see what I can do. **

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Revenge is a dish best served cold

The showdown for the NL Central turned into an all out brawl on Tuesday night. Brandon Phillips made a few disparaging remarks about the Cardinals and it was only a matter of time until the two teams came to blows. [I want to make sure I get this quote right because it is truly priceless.]
"I hate the Cardinals. All they do is bitch and moan about everything, all of them, they're little bitches, all of 'em," Phillips said.
The highlight of the Reds-Cardinals fight, in my opinion, was when Johnny Cueto got pinned against the backstop and responded by going kung fu on anyone within kicking distance. One of the kicks landed Jason LaRue on the DL.

This fight got me thinking about the best way for the Brewers to retaliate for all the bean balls. I keep telling my husband that Prince just needs to punch one pitcher and that will solve that problem but, upon review of ESPN's top ten fights, I realize that it might not be that simple. If the hit batsman does not take the proper approach, he will be unable to reach his target, much less land a solid punch.

Immediately after being plunked, the batter must make a decision. He can charge the mound immediately and try to outrun the catcher and the umpire. This is a solid approach but might not be the best one for Prince. I question his speed to the mound. I could see Weeks using this successfully. Another approach would be to do the fake toward first base and after taking a few steps toward first, sprint toward the mound. This will allow the bench to get to at least the top step and also may allow for a clear path to the pitcher. The third approach would be to stare down the pitcher, allow your bench to get onto the field, and then take off toward the mound. The key is to get as clear a path to the pitcher as possible, so as to not be intercepted by Mo Vaughn, for example, before reaching the mound.  If Prince has it in him, I think this approach by Izzy Alantara is top notch. Boom! Catcher down. Boom! Pitcher down. Another thought is to utilize the headlock--think Nolan Ryan and Robin Ventura.

After these initial decisions, it will probably come down to reacting to the opposition. Do you want to be held back?  Do you want to throw your batting helmet at the someone? It's best to think about these things ahead of time so you can just react in the moment.

Without Hart and Braun in the line-up, the Brewer managed one measly run. ONE. Come on, Crew, show a little fight.

Diamondbacks 2, Brewers 1
Game played 8-10-10

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Alternate universe

I work in an office building in downtown Minneapolis. It's located on a pedestrian mall and the sidewalks along it are usually filled with a lot of professionals scurrying around. There are lots of nice restaurants and stores along the mall. Dress on the mall is almost universally business casual.

Step into the Walgreen's on the mall, however, and you'll enter a totally different universe. All those professionals you see everywhere else, they aren't in Walgreen's. The people that you see in Walgreen's seem to only exist within the confines of Walgreen's. Homeless chic rules in this Walgreen's. My friends Chris and Beth dubbed this Walgreen's, Alternate Universe Walgreen's. This doesn't stop me from shopping at this Walgreen's. Quite the opposite, in fact. It makes me more likely to stop by just to witness the happenings. There are the people loading up on the 5 for $5 hydrogen peroxide or the crazy lady yelling that Hilary Clinton stole her dog. The other day a woman in the Walgreen's walked up to her male friend, who was in a wheel chair, and berated him for not moving faster. "We have to get out of this f&ck hole! F&ucking weirdos!" I don't think she saw the irony that I did.

When I stumbled upon the Brewers line-up on Monday night, I felt like I had entered yet another alternate universe. Somehow our shortstop was starting in rightfield, our newly recalled rookie in centerfield and our utility infielder in leftfield. Did someone drink too much hydrogen peroxide?

Escobar RF
Counsell SS
Weeks 2B
Fielder 1B
McGehee 3B
Cain CF
Inglett LF
Lucroy C
Narveson P

The events that precipitated this unconventional line-up were as follows: Jim Edmonds was dealt to Cincinnati for Chris Dickerson but Dickerson missed his flight and did not arrive at Miller Park until the 10th inning; Ryan Braun hurt his wrist running to first base; Corey Hart had a sore back; Jody Geret has been on the DL for, like, ever; and Carlos Gomez was placed on the 15-day DL after being hit in the head by a pitch.

Alternate Universe Brewers had a chance to win, largely because Ian Kennedy had little to no control. He hit three batters and a couple of runs scored on wild pitches. Milwaukee led 4-3 heading into the ninth. Enter the Axman. Unfortunately for the Brewers, CB Buckner was behind the plate and he decided to contract the strike zone. Ax walked two batters and gave up the tying run. Hoffman pitched the tenth and it got ugly. As awesome as Saturday night was for Trevor, Monday night was awful.

I'm ready to enter the alternate universe where the Brewers win a lot of games.

Diamondbacks 7, Brewers 4
Game played 8-9-10

A marathon you don't have to run

"We'll be home in time to do laundry, go to the grocery store and do our weekend chores," Seth said.

Well, when you put it that way, honey...

We caught the 9:15 a.m. ferry out of Madeline Island and headed back to the Twin Cities on Monday morning. I hadn't seen a Brewers game since Wednesday night and I felt like a crack addict looking for a hit. Que up the TiVo, I got some games to watch. I should confess that I did know that the Brewers had swept the Astros. I had found a bar with a TV and convinced the bartender to break away from the nature channel for a few minutes of ESPN. Really, the TV was on the nature channel. It seemed to be a special on tree frogs.

After completing my chores, I sat down and watched four consecutive Brewers games--the three Astros games and the first Arizona game. It was good to be home. (I even had one person wondering what the hell happened to the blog.)

Sunday's game was not Yovani Gallardo's finest, but run support is a beautiful thing. Milwaukee built a 11-4 lead through four innings behind Casey McGehee's three run-homer and Lorenzo Cain's first (three) big league RBIs.

At my friend Chris's persistent urging, I gave in and be-friended Hunter Pence and also became a follower on Twitter. According to Chris, Pence is a prolific tweeter and the unintentional humor factor is high. Pence hit safely in all three games against the Brewers to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. F&*k Hunter Pence and his tweets!

Brewers 11, Astros 6
Game played 8-8-10

Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 2 (of the family vacation): You gotta start early

There's a sign in Tom's Burned Down Cafe* that says: "You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning!"  Profound.

If my day were Saturday's baseball game: Rickie Weeks' lead-off, inside-the-park homerun was like starting off the day with a shot of tequila; building a 5-2 lead, like sipping ice cold Leinies on a hot afternoon; and Trevor Hoffman's 597th career save like Bailey's on the rocks. Sweet.

I love vacation.

Brewers 5, Astros 2
Game played 8-7-10

*Tom's Burned Down Cafe is really just a bar in a tent. I can't tell if it really burned down at one point or if that's just a marketing ploy.

If it's yellow, let it mellow

I spend most of my days rushing from one thing to the next. I rush to work (because I hate to get up in the morning and I'm always running late). I rush to run errands over lunch. I rush around at work because I have too much to do. I rush home from work so that I don't make my husband wait too long to either work out (we did P90X together before my knee surgery) or cook dinner. (Yes, my husband does all the cooking--he's sort of a foodie and he doesn't like my cooking. And, yes, this is awesome.) When I'm not rushing home, I usually have some volunteer activity or happy hour marketing deal. In addition to all this, I watch the Brewers and try to write something interesting and witty every day. I love my life.

On Thursday night, Seth and I rushed home from work, packed up most of our belongings and headed "up North" for a vacation with my family (all 22 of them). Destination: Madeline Island (LaPointe, Wisconsin). Pit stop: Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

I did not anticipate that it would be a problem to either watch or listen to the Brewers game (we were going to be in Wisconsin!) and then find a place with free Wi-Fi to blog over the weekend. Wrong. There is no rushing on Madeline Island.

Madeline Island really is ... wait for it ... an island. You have to take a ferry across Lake Superior just to get there. There is very spotty cell phone service and no one seems to have a TV or a radio. If you pee, you are asked to let it mellow. It's that kind of place. When my Uncle Bill took us sailing around Lake Superior we hit a place with cell phone service and my phone started to go nuts with text messages. It's strange to be talking on a cell phone in the middle of a lake.

I asked my uncle, who has a house on the Island, whether there was a place where we could watch or listen to the Brewers game. He looked at me with a puzzled expression, "Are you really that big of a fan?" he asked. The best we could do was to get the spotty cell phone service at a restaurant, where my brother and brother-in-law could get periodic updates. The last update of the night was that the Brewers were down 4-2. We had no connection with the outside world once we got back to our rental house. I felt weird. I never go to bed not knowing...

In the morning, I wanted to find a newspaper. What I got was a recount from my Mom. (She and my Dad had come over on the ferry on Saturday morning.) "So, did the Brewers end up losing?" I asked my Mom as soon as I saw her.

"Nooooooo, they won," she said dancing around with jazz hands. My Mom and I have similar mannerisms. We act sort of like kids on Christmas morning when we talk about our sports teams winning. "OK, OK, let me tell you what happened," she continued. "Ummm, Hoffman pitched the eighth and didn't give up any runs, so it was still 4-2. And then someone else pitched the ninth."

"Ax? No, that doesn't make any sense. He wouldn't have pitched if it was 4-2...." I said.

"Someone, maybe Loe, pitched the ninth and gave up a run," Mom said.

"And they won?" I ask.

"Right, well, OK, so Escobar got out. No, maybe he got on. No, he got out. He made the first out. So there was one out. And then there was a walk to Kottaras. And then Inglett pinch hit and he hit a homerun," Mom continued.

I interrupted, "Inglett?"

"Yes, Inglett. So then Weeks and Hart got on. I don't remember how. And then Prince lined one down the first base line but it hit that thing so it didn't go to the corner, it caromed off funny so Weeks scored easily but then Hart slid in just under the tag. He would have gotten in easily if it hadn't hit that thing but it was close because it didn't go to the corner," Mom said with lots of excited hand gestures.

With no Internet, I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't be able to blog or get any more details on the game for a few days. I sat down on the couch and took a deep breath. I guess if I can learn to not flush the toilet, I can learn to live without the Brewers for a few days.

Brewers 6, Astros 5
Game played 8-6-10

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Let’s blog two!

I’m a little behind in my posts. I didn’t finish watching Tuesday night’s game until 1 a.m. and I was too tired to write anything. It’s now 9:41 p.m. on Wednesday and I just finished today’s game.  Milwaukee held on to win 4-3 on Tuesday but got crushed 15-3 on Wednesday. The Brewers took 2 of 3 from the Cubs and are now 50-59 and 11 games behind Cincinnati in the NL Central and 10.5 behind St. Louis.

A few random thoughts.

  1. Does anyone pitch slower than Ryan Dempster? I had the Cubs feed for Wednesday’s game and Dempster took so much time between pitches, they showed a shot of the crowd or the batter’s facial expression—between every pitch. I’ve never seen so many different styles of Cubs tank tops—and I don’t really want to ever again. (Best shirt: Hit St. Louis in the Pujols.) Quit doing that stupid thing with your glove and pitch, Dumpster.
  1. Manny Parra had a ball lined off his mid-section in the second inning by Alfonso Soriano. Randy Wolf lost his bid at a shutout when Hunter Pence (middle finger!) lined one off of his wrist on Sunday. It’s getting scary out there. It’s not enough to hit the Brewers batters, now they’re going after our players in the field. It reminded me of this Sports Illustrated article
  1. LaTroy Hawkins was ejected for throwing at Alfonso Soriano in the seventh inning. Hawkins’ first pitch was a bit inside. The second pitch grazed Soriano’s jersey and went to the backstop. (“Graze” is the word that the Cubs broadcasters used.) This earned Hawkins an ejection. Unbelievable. Soriano was the SECOND Cub to be hit by a Brewers pitcher this season, while Cubs pitchers have hit THIRTEEN Brewers—including the fastball from Brian Schlitter that hit Carols Gomez in the head on Monday night. Hmmm… the Cubs hit the Brewers three times in Monday’s blow out. No ejections. The Brewers hit the Cubs once in Wednesday’s blow out. Ejection without warning.  Blue FAIL. 
  1. If Yovani Gallardo is YoGa, why isn’t Manny Parra, MaPa or even MawPaw?
  1. I think I would like it if Mark Cuban owned the Texas Rangers. I think he might offend the old guard and make Tony LaRussa’s head explode—at least that’s what I hope he would do.
  1. Brett Farve can suck it. How much of an attention whore can one person be? I mean, he could write his random thoughts and put them on the internet and expect people to read them ...

Brewers 4, Cubs 3 – Game played 8-3-10
Cubs 15, Brewers 3 – Game played 8-4-10