Thursday, November 24, 2011

Getting Some Closure: It hurt a lot because I cared a lot

I was cleaning the house today and felt saddened when I came across the chair in our office where I had tossed my stuff after returning from Milwaukee and the NLDS.  After the final loss to the Cardinals, I cried. Tears streamed down my face when it became obvious there would be no comeback. I cried on the drive to work the next morning and then later in my office. I blamed my appearance on allergies. For those who knew better, I just said that it hurt a lot because I cared a lot. There was no way that I could put my feelings into words at that time. So I didn't.

Playoff relics. And quite possibly the last time I'll see Prince as a Brewer.
So what's changed? I decided that I needed some closure. It became obvious to me that I could not fully engage in the college basketball season until I said goodbye to the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers. So, goodbye, Central Division champs. Goodbye, beast moders. Goodbye, Prince Fielder, K-Rod and Craig Counsell. (Sadly I cannot say goodbye to Yuni yet.) 2012 Milwaukee Brewers, you're just a few months away. I can only hope you make me as happy as the 2011 Brewers did.  
This is what I wanted to do after the Cardinals World Series victory.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The National League Division Series

I know that this is late--really, really late--but I can explain. I was in Milwaukee for Games 1 and 2 and didn't get back to my house until 1:30 a.m. on Monday morning. I was back at work at 8 a.m. and then had to decide whether I was going to take a promotion that may require me to move to San Diego. And then I worked many, many hours to get a big deal closed.  Before I knew it, it was Friday and time for Game 5. Most of the time, I work my life around baseball. This week, I had to work baseball around my life.

My view for Game 1.

Great view of home plate, right?

Not so good view of center field and right field, though.
My sister, Alice, won the ticket lottery and gave the rights to me. I went for the best available seats for Game 1. And these were it. Bernie's Terrace. Admittedly, we could not see right field or center field but we had a great view of Braun's strike to the plate to help get Gallardo out of a first inning mess. I was able to see around Bernie's slide enough to see Fielder's ball fly out of the park.

My view for Game 2.

The sun was blinding for an inning or two.

And the smoke from the fireworks did not help.

While tailgating before Game 1, we decided that we needed to go to Game 2. I had to promise my sister, Megan, that she could sleep the entire way home and that I would drive. We purchased some tickets from Stub Hub in Section 122. We were just to the foul side of the left field foul pole and in the row in front of Friday's. I cannot understate just how difficult it was to see with the bright sun and the smoke from the fireworks.

My view for parts of Game 5.

After the Diamondbacks got runners on in the top of the eighth inning and then again the top of the ninth inning, I could not watch. I paced around the kitchen, but mostly, I stood in the bathroom with my hands over my face. I'm not sure why I put my hands over my face since I could not see the game from the bathroom. Any time that I heard the crowd get even louder, I'd yell at Seth to tell me what happened. After Arizona tied the game up in the ninth inning, I returned to the couch, where I stayed until the tenth inning. Once Carlos Gomez reached second base, I felt pretty positive that either Nyjer Morgan or Braun would drive him in. I knew it wouldn't take much to score Gomez. In fact, all that I could think of was that he would score on a overthrow or something crazy like that. Instead, Morgan "tickled" one up the middle, Gomez scored the winning run, and the Brewers advanced to the National League Championship Series.

I started to run around the house like a crazy lady. I threw up the T. I jumped up and down until my pants nearly fell off.

Man, what a series!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This blog post was supposed to be called 'Fielder's Choice' but instead I'm calling it 'I love Prince Fielder'

(h/t Chris Gliedman for Fielder's Choice)

There is a part of me that knows he will be gone after this year. Knows it. There is no scenario that keeps Prince in Milwaukee and makes sense.

Yet there is a part of me that thinks there's a chance that he'll stay. The Yankees don't need him. The Red Sox don't need him. Albert Pujols will be a free agent. HE LOVES US. HE LOVES PLAYING IN MILWAUKEE. There had to be a moment in that clinching celebration when he was bear hugging the crowd that he thought, This is it. This is home. Right?

Even the Pirates pitching staff showered Prince with love on Tuesday night at Miller Park. And it was a good thing, too, because the Brewers needed all three of his home runs to take down the Pirates. Home run number one came in the bottom of the third inning with Milwaukee trailing 0-1. Prince blasted a letter high fastball out to right field. Rickie Weeks followed with a mammoth shot that gave the Crew its first lead of the night, 2-1. After the Pirates had taken back the lead in the top of the fifth inning, Prince snatched it right back with a two-run blast to center field.

The Pirates tied the game at four in the sixth inning but Fielder untied it for good in the seventh with another two-run shot after Ryan Braun had walked to start the inning. After that, the Brewers cruised to their 95th win of the season.

After the game, there was a lot of talk of Fielder "willing the team to win." If by willing you mean went out and won the game, I'd agree. I love Prince Fielder.

Brewers 6, Pirates 4
Game played 9-27-11

El MVsuPer

I'm going to lobby hard for this one: Ryan Braun for NL MVP.

33 HR, 31 SB
And that really killer home run on Friday night.

At the beginning of September, Bill Simmons wrote a story about MVPs, explaining the history of the award and the fact that it is named the most VALUABLE player vs. most OUTSTANDING player award. Give it to Braun and be done with it. No one has been more valuable.

Now I have to run off and try to get my playoff tickets via the lottery. I'll report back.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Clinching is a hell of a lot better than clenching

The Brewers clinched the NL Central division title last night. Whooooooooo!!! Let me say that again. The Brewers are the 2011 NL Central Division Champs.

I've been struggling all day to put my thoughts and feelings into words. Obviously, I'm happy and excited. One of the reasons that I am just now getting to writing this all down (3 pm on Saturday) is that I've spent hours reading the accounts of last night's game--watching video of the game, looking at photos, reading other's posts about the game. It's awesome. Every last word, photo and video that I've watched has been beyond wonderful. I think I've watched Ryan Braun's home run about 25 times today. I cannot put into words what this season has meant to me. So flipping awesome!!

But there's a part of me that just feels relieved. Exhausted and relieved. I have lived and breathed Brewers baseball for 157 games. Heck, I even went to spring training. It's a long season and I've watched nearly every game in its entirety. (Thank you, Tivo.) The ones that I haven't watched, I've listened to on the radio or followed on Gameday. I expected the Brewers to be good from the minute that they traded for Zack Greinke. I expected them to win the division. And, as you all know, there's a different feeling that comes from rooting for an underdog vs. rooting for a team that is expected to win. So, today feels good. Like I can finally exhale. Like I can finally put that Brewers decal on my car window without jinxing the team. Like I can stop worrying that comparing the Pittsburgh Pirates to a giant cream puff (as I did in a previous blog post) would somehow lead to the Pirates knocking the Brewers out of the playoffs in the last three games of the season.

Mixed in with my happiness and relief are feelings of nostalgia. All those clips of Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Cecil Cooper, Gorman Thomas and Rollie Fingers really get to me. I was nine years old in 1982 and my earliest baseball memories are of the Brewers in that post-season. I remember watching the World Series with my Mom. When the Brewers won the Wild Card in 2008 on the last day of the season, I was watching the deciding game with my Mom. I was home for my Grandmother's birthday party. My Grandmother would pass away not so long after this but I will always remember celebrating my Grandmother and celebrating Ryan Braun's home run on that day.

Last night, as I was watching the game with Seth, my brother, Nick, and his wife, Karen, we spent a great deal of time laughing about the confusion between clenching and clinching. So Karen shared a story with us. Karen was speaking to her mother, while her mother was driving. At one point, her mom got upset with another driver. "Someone just swerved in front of me," she told Karen. "I just hate it when people drive erotically around me."

You might say that I'm all over the place with my feelings about the Brewers. You might even say that my feelings are eroitc. At least I know the difference between clinching and clenching. Clinching is what the Brewers did last night. Whoooo!

Brewers 4, Marlins 1
Game played 9-23-11

Monday, September 19, 2011

El Super

Coming into this past weekend's series at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, the Brewers offense was struggling. After winning the opener against St. Louis, 4-1, Milwaukee scored a total of nine runs in the next five games and dropped all of them. Things got only slightly better for the Brewers' bats in a 3-2 win against the Phillies and a 2-1 victory against the Rockies (mostly because the pitching was better, not that the offense exploded). In the finale against the Rockies, the Brewers lost 2-6. That's a total of 20 runs in nine games against St. Louis, Philadelphia and Colorado.

Against this backdrop, the Brewers went into Cincinnati and clobbered the Reds pitching. And for being so generous, the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff earns this week's El Super. In sweeping the Reds, Milwaukee put up 6, 10 and 8 runs, respectively. In Friday night's victory, Milwaukee got just seven hits but five of those hits were home runs. Thank you, Bronson Arroyo. The Brewers pounded out 10 runs on 11 hits with two home runs (6 for 15 RISP) on Saturday. Thank you, Edinson Volquez. On Sunday, against last minute starter Matt Maloney, Milwaukee collected 12 hits (3 home runs, 3 for 7 RISP). Thanks for the back spasms, Dontrelle Willis.

And after watching Milwaukee struggle again on Monday--against the likes of Casey Coleman--the Reds pitching is looking mighty El Super.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Battle to the End

If I were a regular sports writer, writing a regular game summary, I'd probably start out with something along the lines of: It's not how you start the game, it's how you finish it. OR, Ryan Braun may have gotten only one hit on Tuesday night, but he made that one hit count. OR, simply, Fuck yes.

OK. Maybe not that last one, although it seems like the most original. Braun had a tough night at the plate until he led off in the eleventh inning of a 1-1 ball game. Braun got ahead 3-0 in the count, took one strike and then fouled off five pitches. He took the tenth pitch from Matt Lindstrom over the left-center field wall for the walk-off win.

Telly: Ryan, you always said that you live for those types of moments. How did you know exactly when you had it?

Braun: You know, I knew I hit it pretty good off the bat so ahhh first ten innings for me were terrible--probably my worst baseball game of the year so it's nice to be able to help the team out. Big win for us. And you know, we just continue to battle, continue to fight. We didn't play a very good game overall today but we found a way to win.

Telly: You mentioned your first previous at-bats and you weren't able to get a hit but when you're in that situation do you even think about hitting a home run or ending the game?

Braun: No, I mean Linstrom has too good of stuff to worry about hitting a home run, you know. I just hoped to get the bat on the barrel or the ball on the barrel and just compete every at bat. The first two at-bats weren't good but you try to move on. You continue to compete and I think good teams, good players respond to adversity and tonight, definitely playing with adversity.

Telly:  It has to feel good to get the win after such a grinder. Both teams, one run, 1-1 the entire game and you were able to deliver the clutch hit.

Braun: Ya, it's a crazy game sometimes. We didn't play very good baseball today yet somehow we found a way to win and that's what good teams do so come out tomorrow and try to do the same thing.

A superstar like Braun is usually pretty adept at staying on point in the post game interview and tonight was no different. There are a whole bunch of cliches in that interview. Then again, sometimes teams do play poorly and yet they find a way to win. Sometimes they grind or scuffle or whatever but they hang in there and battle. And sometimes that leads to victory.

Brewers 2, Rockies 1
Game played 9-13-11

Monday, September 12, 2011

El Super

It seems incredible but there are only three more Mondays left in the regular season. Only three more El Supers .... and maybe some post season El Super Supers. With a Cardinals loss on Monday night, the Brewers magic number now stands at nine.

This week's El Super winner is Yovani Gallardo. Gallardo started two games and posted a 1-1 record. The win came Sunday against the Phillies and helped to end a five game team losing streak. In the two games, Yo posted a 3.46 ERA, giving up five runs over 13 innings, while striking out 17. Even though four of the seven hits Gallardo gave up were home runs, he did face two of the better offenses in the league (Cardinals and Phillies). At the plate he went 2-for-5 with a double.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I got your back, T. Plush

F--- you, pussy.

You could read his lips. That's exactly what Nyjer Morgan said to Chris Carpenter after he struck out in the ninth inning of Wednesday's game. According to Morgan, Carpenter said something to him first. And after Morgan continued the conversation as he walked up the third base line and toward the dugout, Albert Pujols started jogging (or maybe that's his sprinting speed?) toward Morgan. And then things escalated.

Although I wish that Morgan would have just let it go, he did succinctly sum up my feelings about the Cardinals. Middle finger to you, inferior beer town.

I don't like playing the Cardinals. It isn't fun. Sure, some of it is that the Cardinals are good and it's never super fun to lose. But that isn't really what makes playing the Cardinals like getting a root canal. No, what makes a game against the Cardinals a joyless experience for me is that they have the unique ability to make me (as a fan of the Brewers) feel like crap even when the Brewers win.

According to the St. Louis Cardinals, they've never lost a game because the other team was better. It's only outside factors, like umpires, shadows, sign stealing, ribbon banners, scoreboards, wind, untucked shirts, pitching inside to Pujols, etc... that have led to their losses against Milwaukee. And even on the rare occasions where the Cardinals grudgingly concede a victory, then Milwaukee doesn't win with class. Do not even get me started on Tony LaRussa.

St. Louis, if your goal was to get into the Brewers heads, you've failed. The Crew still leads the division (and you!) by 8.5 games.

But you got into mine. And that pisses me off. You sucked all of the fun out of baseball so I'm glad to be done with you for the season. So while T. Plush may have thrown a few swears (and chew) your way, I can't really blame him for calling you names. Fun suckers.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

El Super Call-Up

"I guess you can't give this award to Ryan Braun every week." --Seth

This week's El Super goes to recent call-up, Taylor Green. After being added to the big league roster, Green patiently waited his turn to see some action. He rewarded the Brewers by collecting a hit in each of his first three at-bats. In a pinch-hit role on Friday night, he helped to turn a 0-2 deficit against the Astros into a 3-2 lead when his two-out single sparked a rally. Ron Roenicke rewarded him with a start on Saturday and another on Monday against the Cardinals. Since being called up from Triple A Nashville, Green has had 12 at-bats and collected hits in half of them. His slash line is pretty at .500/.550/.750.

El Super 1A goes to the Grecian Sensation, George Kottaras, who used one of his rare non-Randy Wolf starts on Saturday night to hit for the cycle. He was the first player in MLB to do so this year. For this statistical anomaly, George earns an El Super.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You can lead a horse to water and you can make him drink but you can't shove a straw up his ass to make him swallow

Following Tuesday night's game against the St. Louis Cardinals, I found myself flipping between channels trying to think about anything other than baseball. There is nothing wrong with losing (once in a great while) but losses like tonight's tend to haunt me for a bit so I try to watch something that has no chance of reminding me of what just happened on the diamond.

Tonight, I stopped on Spike TV to investigate a show called Repo Games. Holy crap. Where do I even begin? The segment of the show that I happened upon had the "host" of the show trying to get the owner of a truck to come to the door so that he can ask him some trivia questions in hopes of having said host pay off the truck and not repo it. (Apparently this is what happens in each segment.) In this particular episode, the owner didn't want to come forward because he thought that the host (and the camera crew) was the police.

In response to the truck owner not coming forward to answer trivia questions, the host (whose name is Josh Lewis) said the following: You can lead a horse to water and you can make him drink but you can't shove a straw up his ass to make him swallow.

Sage advice. 

Then the audience was switched to co-host, Tom DeTone, who informed us that he is about to repossess a 2005 Ford Taurus. The car owner's daughter then pulls up and blocks the tow truck's exit. After a brief negotiation, the mother and daughter team agreed to answer trivia questions in order to save the Taurus. After getting two right and two wrong, it all came down to one final trivia question.

What trees found in the Sequoia National Park are the biggest in the World?  Suspense builds. Will she keep her car? Or will it be towed away? The Taurus owner comes up with a Sequoia and maintains possession of her Taurus. Whewwwww. How does this show happen?

In tonight's game, the Brewers were getting all the trivia right until the top of the fifth inning. In that fateful inning, Prince Fielder booted a ground ball hit by Skip Schumaker to lead off the inning. This was immediately followed by Rafael Furcal hitting one to Jerry Hairston that he booted. Runners on first and second, no outs. Yadier Molina followed with a single. Bases loaded with no outs. Shaun Marcum then gave up a two-strike hit to the pitcher to score a run. The fact that Milwaukee got out of that mess only giving up one more run was a minor miracle. Still, two errors to start the inning ... haunting.

Yet, the Brewers had plenty of chances to get their Taurus off the tow truck and couldn't do it. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Corey Hart hit a lead off double that narrowly missed clearing the fence. Then Nyjer Morgan followed suit. Braun got Morgan to third on a ground out but Prince stuck out and Casey lined out. In the ninth inning, Prince and Casey walked to start the inning. But Betancourt had a straw up his ass and didn't drink ... or something ... because he bunted one off of his hand that led to a force out a third base. And Mark Kotsay was nothing like a Sequoia as he grounded into a double play to end the game.

Repo Games is bad. Tonight's game was bad.

Cardinals 2, Brewers 1
Game played 8-30-11

El Studly

Ryan Braun had a helluva week and being such a stud has earned him this week's El Super. In five games, Braun collected nine hits in 16 AB and five walks. Of those nine hits, six were doubles. His slash line goes something like this: .563/.667/.938. Yep, his OPS is 1.604. He also stole four bases. I suppose it was a little disappointing that he did not hit a home run but I can live with that.

Our runner up is Corey Hart who got hot and put up a .500/.565/.950 line with one double, one triple and two home runs. My hope is that Corey goes off like this in the playoffs--if and when the Brewers make the playoffs. Please, please, please make the playoffs.

Monday, August 29, 2011

No rompe su clavicula otra vez!

Surprising but true fact: It's more difficult to write about a good team than a bad one. Don't get me wrong; this season has been awesome but sometimes it's difficult to know what to write. Sadly, it is easier to criticise than celebrate. So, as the Brewers collect Ws and rack up a huge lead in the NL Central, the blog grows silent. Is this what it's like to be a Yankees fan? What do you mean we're only winning the wild card this year? Sigh.

In an effort to combat this, I traveled to Appleton over the weekend to scout Carlos Gomez's rehab starts. There are no limits to the lengths that I will go for my readers. Or maybe I was already going to be in Appleton for a Timber Rattlers game and it just so happened that Carlos showed up to bat leadoff and play center field.

The thing that always strikes me about Gomez is that he is way bigger in real life than the picture I have of him in my head. So, every time I see him at the start of the season or when I haven't seen him in a while, I am always surprised that he's a solid dude.

I wanted Carlos to feel at home so I wanted to yell something to him in Spanish--something positive and encouraging. My sister Megan came up with the following: No rompe su clavicula otra vez! Translation: Don't break your collar bone again!

In his first at-bat, Gomez watched six pitches. He walked without lifting the bat off his shoulder. In his second at-bat, he broke his bat on an infield groundout. The sound of the wood cracking made me worry that the plate in his surgically repaired shoulder was rattling, too. Ouch. No rompe su clavicula otra vez!

Since we last spoke, your Milwaukee Brewers went 5-2 and took a 10.5 game lead in the Central. OMG, how the hell did the Crew lose two games? See, criticism in this situation doesn't really work.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rachel doesn't do housework, but she likes brooms

It is a darn good thing that the Brewers swept the Mets this weekend because then there was at least one of us that used a broom this weekend. Who cares if there's housework that I'm neglecting? We have a division to win!

For the first time in franchise history, Milwaukee swept the Mets in New York, taking the third game of the series 6-2 on Sunday. The game was scoreless until the fourth inning, when Casey McGehee put the Brewers on top with a solo home run. The lead would grow to 2-0 in the sixth inning when Ryan Braun singled, stole second and scored on Prince Fielder's single.

The Mets finally got to to starter Yovani Gallardo and tied the score in the seventh inning on a Lucas Duda blast that also scored David Wright. But as they did in Saturday's game, the Brewers answered back and took a lead in the next inning. Shoddy defense by the Mets (botched double play) led to two eighth inning runs. Two more crossed the plate in the ninth on a safety squeeze by Morgan and a Braun double.

Rachel doesn't do housework, she sits on her ass and watches baseball--8.5 games up in the Central baseball, that is.

Brewers 6, Mets 2
Game played 8-21-11

Chili Cheese Dog Day... Sort of like being in the Big Apple only with more cheese

In honor of the Brewers-Mets game being the FOX Saturday Baseball Game of the Week (and it actually being broadcast in Minnesota this week), Seth and I celebrated with chili cheese dogs. Over the years, Seth and I have developed a ritual. Any time there is a big game on TV, we watch it while eating food we would eat if we were actually at the game. I find that this ritual makes me feel a lot less guilty than if I just ate a chili cheese dog (or four) on a day that the Brewers had a regular night game (or less guilty than eating an entire pot of cheese fondue on a night that the Packers are not on Monday Night Football). I feel like even Weight Watchers would give extra points for a big game day, if Weight Watchers had a heart, which it doesn't, but that's another blog post.

The Brewers responded to Chili Cheese Dog Day with their second victory in a row over the Mets in New York. But there was definitely a point in the game where my Hebrew Nationals were sitting in my stomach like a couple of rocks.

Through six innings, the Brewers had just three hits against Chris Capuano, yet led 7-1, thanks to a two-run homer by Ryan Braun (following a walk to Jerry Hairston, Jr.), a three-run homer by Prince Fielder (following walks to Hairston and Braun) and a two-run homer by Yuniesky Betancourt (after Braun reached on an error). Josh Wilson broke up the homer streak with a solid single later in the sixth innng after Betancourt's homer.

And then the lead vanished. The Mets came back with five runs in the seventh inning and then took the lead, 9-7, in the eighth inning when K-Rod gave up a walk, double and home run after retiring the first two batters. I felt like puking.

Jason Isringhausen to the rescue. He walked the first two batters that he faced, Jon Lucroy and Nyjer Morgan, and then gave up a single to Corey Hart and another walk to Mark Kotsay to cut the lead to one. After Braun popped out, Prince took a ball destined for the dirt from new pitcher, Manny Acosta, and hit it through the infield to tie the score. Casey McGehee kept it going with a single that scored two. John Axford was able to prevent another Mets rally in the ninth and the Brewers won 11-9.

After the game, I sort of wanted another chili dog.

Brewers 11, Mets 9
Game played 8-20-11

Cantankerous in New York

When Seth and I were shopping at Target last week, an elderly gentleman started to push his cart into the checkout lane next to us, but then looked at the silver haired checkout clerk in that lane and yelled, "Ahhhhh, wrong lane." I suggested to Seth that perhaps they'd had a spat at the retirement complex.

A few minutes later, the elderly gentleman returned. This time, he pushed his cart into line behind Seth and me. But after a few seconds in line, he yelled, "Ahhhhh, wrong lane!" again and pulled his cart out of line and resumed his search for a lane that would be the right fit for him.

After a 2 hour and 46 minute rain delay on Friday night in New York, the Brewers were a little cranky, too. After taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning (Braun reached on an error, stole second and scored on a Fielder single), there was little offense against either Mike Pelfrey or Shaun Marcum. In the third inning, Braun was called out on strikes and found the punch-out call questionable. He had a few words with home plate umpire Angel Campos and refused to move from the batter's box. Compos tossed him.

The bats came to life for Milwaukee in the fifth inning as they tallied three runs on four hits and two walks. Hart singled and Kotsay walked, Prince and McGehee singled and Betancourt doubled to plate the three runs. The Brewers added two more runs in the sixth inning.

In the eighth inning, Fielder batted with two outs and a six-run lead. Frustrated with himself for hitting a soft grounder against relief pitcher Tim Byrdak and making the third out, Prince yelled at himself. Byrdak thought that the comment was directed at him and said something to Prince. After crossing first base, Prince turned around and started running toward Byrdak who was walking to the dugout. After the game, Prince said he had a question that he wanted answered. The benches cleared but nothing happened. The game resumed without incident.

And while Marcum didn't appear to be cranky, he was stingy as all get out. He went seven innings, giving up just one run on six hits and one walk, while striking out six.  Kam Loe and Frankie De La Cruz pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth to close out the Mets.

Whatever lane the Brewers are in right now is the right one. Please don't go looking for a different one.

Brewers 6, Mets 1
Game played 8-19-11

Speaking of being old, Friday was Ron Roenicke's birthday (DOB: 8-19-57). Coincidentally, it was also Ned Yost's birthday (DOB: 8-19-54).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I was starting to think that we'd win them all

Coming off a sweep of the Pirates over the weekend, the Brewers finished up their latest homestand with a four-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers. I have to admit, after so much good fortune lately, I've sort of been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Not drop off a cliff drop but drop a few games drop. But it didn't happen in this series.

On Monday, the seldom seen "awesome defense" version of the 2011 Brewers appeared on the field to lead Milwaukee to a 3-0 victory. Apparently, that's how you win when you're being held in check by the opposing pitcher? I'm not sure. The awesome defense model makes infrequent appearances at Miller Park. Ted Lilly gave up only two hits and two walks over seven innings for the Dodgers, while Randy Wolf struggled a bit, giving up six hits and five walks. But the Brewers didn't let not getting on base stop them. That was for the Dodgers to do. Milwaukee turned four double plays and one triple play, getting two of those outs at home plate to preserve the shutout. Offensively, Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Corey Hart hit solo shots.

On Tuesday, the much more prevalent "one-run victory in our last at-bat" version of the 2011 Brewers appeared. Both the Dodgers and Brewers scored one run in the second inning and then the starters went into shut down mode. Yovani Gallardo went eight innings, giving up only the one run on four hits and one walk. Chad Billingsley went seven innings giving up the one run on four hits and two walks. The game was won in the bottom of the ninth when Prince Fielder walked, Casey McGehee singled, Yuniesky Betancourt walked (walked!) and Mark Kotsay singled in Fielder. The Brewers fifth straight victory was a walk-off.

All season, Brewers fans have asked for the "2009 version of Zack Greinke." 2009 being, of course, Greinke's Cy Young award winning year. Zack's been in a little bit of a 2009 groove lately and on Wednesday night, he was 2009 good. Greinke gave up just one run on five hits and three walks. He struck out eight. The one run came on a home run off the bat of Tony Gwynn, Jr. Milwaukee scored two runs on a two-out single by Jerry Hairston, Jr. in the sixth inning and its final run when Lucroy singled and then moved all the way around the diamond on two wild pitches.

The Brewers came up just short of winning the rest of their games when they finally dropped a game on Thursday afternoon. On paper, it didn't look good. Clayton Kershaw leads the national league in wins (15) and strikeouts (199) and boasts a 2.60 ERA, 1.013 WHIP. Opposing him was Marco Estrada, who has filled in well for Chris Narveson, but is not a Cy Young candidate by any means. Kershaw lived up to his billing and was oh-so-tough to hit. The only Milwaukee run scored in the ninth inning when Braun tripled and Prince drove him home. Estrada, for his part, was nearly as tough, giving up only a home run to Rod Barajas (5 IP, 3H, 2 BB). Kam Loe and Tim Dillard had some problems in relief, however, each giving up two runs and the winning streak was halted at six.

No shoe dropping in this series. Maybe this version of the Brewers is pretty good.

Brewers 3, Dodgers 0
Game played 8-15-11

Brewers 2, Dodgers 1
Gamed played 8-16-11

Brewers 3, Dodgers 1
Game played 8-17-11

Dodgers 5, Brewers 1
Game played 8-18-11

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

El Super

During the Dodgers game last night, Seth wanted to debate the merits of the El Super. His point was that it was really difficult for a starting pitcher to win an El Super because the pitcher would basically need to have a week where he got two starts "unless he pitched a no-hitter or something." So I let Seth pick this week's winner.

Seth's pick for this week's El Super is Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod appeared in four games and pitched 3.1 innings, allowing four hits, no runs while striking out four. He also collected his first big league hit on Friday night against the Pirates. It was K-Rods second plate appearance in his 10 seasons in the big leagues and he made the most of it, legging out an infield hit. His fellow relievers in the bullpen went nuts. The fact that he had to leave the game in the next inning with leg cramps seems like a small price to pay for a big league hit--and an El Super.

Brewers 3, Dodgers 0
Game played 8-15-11 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

That's a lot of cream puff. Oh, and the Pittsburgh Pirates were in town

125-pound cream puff.
Having put together a very respectable 5-1 road trip, the Brewers returned home on Friday and welcomed Pittsburgh to Miller Park for a three-game series. The Brewers have been very good at home this year and they have been very good against Pittsburgh for quite some time.

After the dust had settled from the weekend, neither of these things changed--at all. After the three-game sweep, the Brewers improved their home record to an MLB best 44-15. (The Phillies and the Yankees have the next best records at 42-19 and 40-24.) Milwaukee has an 8-0 record against Pittsburgh in 2011 and a 36-11 (13-5, 9-5, 14-1) record dating back to the 2008 season.

The series against Pittsburgh went much like the triathlon that I completed on Sunday: about as well as I could have hoped for. Sure, there were times when I felt like I might drown on the swim and I almost bit it on the bike when a squirrel ran out in front of me but I finished, and that's what was important.

Likewise, after a dominating performance on Friday night both by Zack Greinke (7.2 IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 9SO) and the offense (7 runs on 12 hits), the Brewers offense hit some rough spots on Saturday and Sunday. They made the most of the offense that they could muster, however, winning Saturday's game 1-0 on a home run by Yuniesky Betancourt and winning Sunday's game 2-1 in 10 innings on a sacrifice fly by Nyjer Morgan. 

Triathlons make me hungry. Yummm, cream puff.

Brewers 7, Pirate2
Game played 8-12-11

Brewers 1, Pirates 0
Game played 8-13-11

Brewers 2, Pirates 1 (10 innings)
Game played 8-14-11

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sometimes odd stuff happens

My husband once missed a few days of work when he pulled a muscle in his neck when he towel dried his hair too vigorously. Sometimes odd stuff happens.

Brewers pitcher Chris Narveson was placed on the disabled list today after he sliced open his left thumb while trying to fix his glove with a pair of scissors. Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday missed Wednesday's contest when he hurt his back lifting weights before the game. This came a day after relief pitcher Lance Lynn injured his left oblique while pitching in the ninth inning on Tuesday night.

Lots of odd injuries in this series. And lots of unusual (but awesome!) road victories.

After sweeping the Astros over the weekend, Milwaukee had a off-day before heading to St. Louis for a three-game series. On Tuesday night, the Brewers let a 3-1 lead slip away before winning 5-3 in 10 innings. Casey McGehee drove in two runs on an opposite field double to earn the victory.

On Wednesday night, after giving up a first inning run, Randy Wolf shut down the Cardinals en route to a 5-1 win. In Wolf's last start he gave up five runs on nine hits over six innings to the Cardinals but tonight he gave up just the one run and five hits over eight innings. 

Brewers 5, Cardinals 3
Game played 8-9-11

Brewers 5, Cardinals 1
Gamed played 8-10-11

RIP, Mr. Landgraf

In the mid-80s, I was just another mouthy junior high school student with unfortunate hair. I was also completely obsessed with sports--watching, playing, reading about, writing about--you name it, I could not get enough baseball, basketball or football. As you can imagine, nothing was more disappointing to me at that time than having to take gym class with the other girls in my class, who wanted to do jazzercise and braid each other's hair. (This was back when gym class was the major source of sports for a kid in rural Wisconsin.)  So I complained that it wasn't fair that I didn't get to play flag football; I whined that I didn't get to play basketball or floor hockey or soccer.

And for once someone listened to me.

That someone was the boys' gym teacher, Mr. Landgraf. He said that I could take phy ed with the boys but I had to understand that he was not going to take it easy on me and that he would not change his grading system to accomodate me. And he didn't, even when I had a heck of time long snapping a football with my little hands. And he made me get up and keep playing when Nathan Hilger missed the soccer ball and kicked me in the shin during a game.

David Landgraf was a stud. He was one of the best athletes you'll ever see. And no one outworked him. He was one of the founders of the Birkebeiner and had finished every Birkebeiner race since it started in 1973. He was the track and field coach at Bloomer High School for many years and he inspired an untold number of runners to push themselves to new levels. He was so fit, his runners used to call him Bruce after Bruce Jenner (this was long before the whole Kardashian clan nonsense).

Mr. Landgraf was killed this past weekend when he was hit by a car while biking south of Hayward. He was 61 years old.

I cannot count all of the lives that Mr. Landgraf touched in his many years as a teacher and coach, nor can I say with any certainty why he let me be a part of his phy ed class. I guess he just recognized that I loved competing as much as he did. Rest in peace, Mr. Landgraf.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What a week! What an El Super!

This past week was a good one for our Milwaukee Brewers. They posted a 5-1 record and now hold a three-game lead over the second place St. Louis Cardinals. There were a lot of memorable performances: Prince Fielder posted a .500/.560/.950 line, while Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke both gave up just one run over eight innings and seven innings, respectively.

This week's winners of the El Super, however, are Casey McGehee and Yuniesky Betancourt. It wasn't so long ago that the blogosphere (me included) was wondering if we could send Doug Melvin to Mexico to find Luis Cruz. But McGehee and Betancourt have been playing better of late, and that makes the Brewers a whole lot more dangerous heading into the stretch run.

McGehee takes the El Super for posting a .368/.400/.842 line over four games and for his three-homer game against the Cardinals. Yuni gets some El Super love by posting a .458/.458/.667 line (always the same BA and OBP for Yuni). He had 11 hits, 8 RBI and even one stolen base.

I hope it's just as hard to pick a winner next week. Go Brewers!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

There oughta be a rule

In honor of that noted rules follower, Tony LaRussa, here are the Miller Park Ground Rules as printed in the 2011 Media Guide. Enjoy. 

The decision as to whether a game begins with the roof open or closed rests solely with the Milwaukee Brewers.

If the game begins with the roof open:
- It shall be closed only in the event of impending rain or other adverse weather conditions. The decision to close the roof shall be made by the home club after consultation with the Umpire Crew Chief.
- The Umpire Crew Chief shall notify the visiting club, which may challenge the closing of the roof if it feels that a competitive imbalance will arise. In such an event, the Umpire Crew Chief shall make a final decision based on the merits of the challenge.
-The roof may be re-opened by following the procedures for opening the roof as detailed below.

If the game begins with the roof closed:
- It may be opened when, in the opinion of the home club, the climatic environment has reached a level where fan comfort and enjoyment will be best served by opening the roof to the natural atmospheric conditions.
- Notwithstanding the foregoing, the following guidelines should be applied when opening the roof during a game:

* The roof may be opened only once during the game.
* The Umpire Crew Chief will be notified at the commencement of the inning that the roof will be opened at the inning's conclusion
* The Umpire Crew Chief shall notify the visiting club, which may challenge the opening of the roof if it feels that a competitive imbalance will arise. In such an event, the Umpire Crew Chief shall make a final decision based on the merits of the challenge.
* The opening of the roof shall only commence between innings.

Got it?

Brewers 6, Cardinals 2
Game played 8-1-11

Cardinals 7, Brewers 6
Game played 8-2-11, 11 innings

Brewers 10, Cardinals 5
Game played 8-3-11

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Axe Super

This is probably overdue but because he's been so gosh darn consistent, it's possible that I've taken him for granted. No more. This week's El Super goes to closer John Axford. Over the past week, Axford appeared in four games and recorded four saves, giving up just one hit and no runs, while striking out five. On Sunday, Axford converted his franchise-record 28th consecutive save with a perfect ninth inning against the Astros. Overall he has saved 31 games in 33 chances this season.

Married to the Crew

Over the weekend, the Astros traded Hunter Pence to the Phillies for three minor leaguers and a PTBNL. It was an odd exit for Pence. He played four innings but was removed from Friday night’s game after taking the field in the bottom of the fifth inning before a pitch was made.

This was probably a huge relief to my now sister-in-law, Karen. Over the years, I’ve developed a unique relationship with Pence. I documented this last year but, in a nutshell, I tend to yell F@#k Hunter Pence! a lot. It caught on and is now sort of a family catch phrase. Somewhere along the way, I started following him on Twitter and Facebook, etc… and now I feel like we’re practically friends.

The Astros trip to Milwaukee coincided with the wedding of Karen to my brother, Nick. Nick secretly arranged to have the TVs turned to the game, but muted, during their wedding reception on Saturday night. Karen only found out when she read the contract with the reception hall. The last time that Nick and Karen visited me, Karen mentioned that there would be an open mic and that it would probably be best if I didn’t get too close to it if I was watching the game and Hunter Pence was batting. As it was, Hunter exited the game during the rehearsal dinner so Karen didn’t have to worry about me ruining the reception with a few f-bombs.

Muted but not forgotten.
Baseball, unlike marriage, is not one of those ‘till death do us part kind of relationships. (The weekend was a frenzy of activity as the trade deadline was Sunday afternoon.) That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t feel like a marriage sometimes. Last night I dreamt that I pulled Prince Fielder into an empty movie theatre and had a heart-to-heart with him about staying in Milwaukee. I was pleading with him. He couldn’t go. Didn’t he know what he meant to me and the State of Wisconsin? In the end, he tugged on his beard and told me that he’d think about it. (Kind of like when I ask Seth to do stuff only Seth doesn’t have a beard.)

The Astros may have traded Pence (and Michael Bourn) but the Brewers are holding onto Prince for now. After struggling following the All-Star break, Prince led the Brewers to a three-game sweep of the Astros over the weekend. On Friday night, Prince went 1 for 4 and scored the first run of the game after hitting a double. On Saturday night, while the wedding party was being introduced for the grand march, Prince clubbed a 475-foot home run. It was one of three hits for Fielder on the night in a 6-2 victory. Fielder went 3 for 4 on Sunday, as well; delivering the go-ahead run on a single in the bottom of the eighth inning after Ryan Braun led off the inning with a double.

The win was the sixth in a row for Milwaukee, who took a 2.5 game lead in the Central with the back-to-back sweeps.

Brewers 4, Astros 0
Game played 7-29-11

Brewers 6, Astros 2
Game played 7-30-11

Brewers 5, Astros 4
Game played 7-31-11

The Happy Couple.

Me and my nephew, Braxton. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Setting up the sweep

After Kam Loe pitched out of a bases loaded, no-outs jam in the sixth inning and LaTroy Hawkins pitched a scoreless seventh inning, Francisco Rodriguez entered Tuesday night's game against the Cubs to pitch the eighth inning.  Our favorite Fox Sports Wisconsin broadcasters described the occasion as follows:

Brian Anderson: This has to be a huge adjustment for Francisco Rodriguez. He's used to coming into games in the ninth inning with the crowd on its feet, with the music blasting in anticipation of a save. And he enters this game in a set-up role with the cap shuffle on the scoreboard and the Benny Hill music. So it's a little bit different setting for K-Rod.

Bill Schroeder: So far he's OK with it. ...All is good in the mind of K-Rod.

Brian Anderson: You can almost see Francisco Rodriguez, he was yelling at himself on the mound. I don't know if he does that all of the time but whatever it takes.

Bill Schroeder: Are you sure that the Benny Hill music isn't what he likes to come into the game to?

Brian Anderson: Maybe it is. [Laughter.]

Tuesday night was the first of three consecutive nights where Milwaukee used K-Rod in the eighth inning and John Axford in the ninth inning. In each game, K-Rod got the hold and Axford the save. It was an important three-game sweep against the Cubs at Miller Park. The wins put Milwaukee back into first place in the division.

Since being acquired from the Mets at the All-Star break, Rodriguez has appeared in seven games and has collected five holds and one win. He has allowed two runs, both coming in a win against the Diamondbacks on July 20. After a shaky start to the season, Axford has been a solid closer. He has now successfully converted his last 27 consecutive save opportunities and has 30 total saves.

As the NL Central heads toward what is shaping up to be a down-to-the-wire finish, it will be interesting to see if Ron Roenicke deviates from the set-up and closer roles. For example, I wonder if Roenicke considered bringing in K-Rod in the sixth inning when the Cubs had loaded the bases and the Brewers had a one run lead. As it turned out, Loe did an amazing job getting out of the jam and preserving the one-run lead but it would seem that that was a golden opportunity to bring in K-Rod for a strikeout.

For now, I guess I'll just be happy that the Brewers have the bullpen to have those type of options.

Brewers 4, Cubs 2
Game played 7-28-11

Thursday, July 28, 2011

'This does not look good'

I feel like puking. And it's not from liquor consumption.

Prince Fielder led off the second inning of Wednesday night's game against the Chicago Cubs with an opposite field home run. It was Prince's first homer since July 5 and his 23rd of the year. Rickie Weeks followed with a grounder to Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro. Castro couldn't get the ball out of his glove and with each tiny millisecond that he tried to get his fingers around the baseball, Rickie Weeks motored closer to first base. Sensing a hit, Weeks put everything he had into one gigantic lunge toward first base. His left foot hit the bag and rolled grotesquely. Weeks took one more step with his right foot, hit the ground, rolled over and didn't get up.

BA: "This does not look good. Rickie Weeks is down in a heap. Hit the bag hard trying for that last stretch to beat out an infield hit."

Rock: "That's the last thing the Brewers need is to have Rickie Weeks down."

You could have heard a pin drop in Miller Park as Ron Roenicke and one of the trainers carried Weeks off the field. After the game Roenicke said that Weeks would be out for awhile. On Thursday, the Brewers put Weeks on the disabled list and called up Eric Farris.

Farris is a 2007 fourth round draft pick, who enjoys playing video games and making music. Farris has a .256/.308/.358 line in AAA Nashville this year. A cursory glance at his minor league stats would seem to indicate that he doesn't strikeout very much and he is fast. He's a threat to steal bases (he had 70 in 76 attempts in 2009 in the Florida State League) and he's a good bunter. He missed a good chunk of the 2010 season with a torn ligament in his right knee. Farris is considered a good defender but he has never appeared in a major league game.

The Brewers would go on to win the game 2-0 behind a brilliant performance by Zack Greinke, who went 6.2 innings and gave up no runs on three hits and three walks, while striking out nine. Takashi Saito got the third out in the seventh inning, Frankie Rodriguez pitched a scoreless eighth inning and John Axford got the save. Axford's save was his 26th in a row.

Despite the win, the injury put a dark cloud over the game. At this point, we only know that the ankle is not broken but ankle sprains can take a long time to heal. Replays showed just how much the ankle rolled. Watching it makes me sick to my stomach.

Weeks' injury comes just one week after centerfielder Carlos Gomez broke his collarbone on a diving catch against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Gomez had surgery to expedite his recovery and is expected to miss about six weeks. It was unfortunate timing as it seemed that Roenicke had just started to use Gomez in a role in which he could excel--against lefties, as a defensive replacement and as a pinch runner. For his part, Gomez played hard and seemed to have a great attitude despite his diminished role.

No doubt, this is a bummer. But the Brewers are now in sole possesion of first place at 56-49, with a .5 game lead over St. Louis and a 1.5 game lead over Pittsburgh. With one more game against the Cubs and then a weekend series with the Astros, the Brewers need to find a way to score runs and beat the bottom of the Central. As Seth always says to me, "Get over it and move on!" because Milwaukee also has six games against the Cardinals. It is no time to feel sorry for yourself.

Brewers 2, Cubs 0
Game played 7-27-11

Brewers 3, Cubs 2
Game played 7-26-11

Monday, July 25, 2011

El Super Monday

Not only did this week's El Super winner have two solid starts, he also made the most out of his five plate appearances. Yovani Gallardo went 2 for 4 with a double, walk and one run scored. (That's a .500/.600/.750 line, which, if sustained over more than two games would be pretty awesome.) In his two starts, Yo went 1-1, giving up just 3 earned runs (5 total) in 13 IP with 11 strikeouts and only two walks.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Yuniesky Betancourt and the Red Mercedes

Parking in downtown St. Paul is a pain in the ass but sometimes we get lucky and find a place to park in a free lot. We were meeting some friends at Patrick McGovern's and we began our search for parking in the small lot behind the bar. We drove through once and didn't find a spot but there was a woman who looked to be in her 70s standing at the passenger's side of a red Mercedes talking on a cell phone. We did a lap through the parking lot and then spotted a gentleman who seemed to be walking to the driver's side of the same red Mercedes. This looked promising. We pulled up near the car and put our blinker on to indicate that we planned to take the spot. Only nothing happened. The guy got in the car but the woman continued to use the cell phone. She would talk into the phone and then stare at the phone and push a few buttons and then talk into the phone again. This went on for several minutes. After about five minutes, she got in the car. This looked more promising. But again, nothing happened. After a few more minutes I got out of the car to see what the holdup was. The couple was just sitting there.

I started laughing. Seth said that he was going to continue to wait because, by this time, he was invested in this parking spot. After another minute some other people walked to their car so Seth backed up so that he could take the spot being vacated by the people who had just walked to the lot from the bar. Of course, at the exact moment that the new people staring backing out, the couple in the red Mercedes did the same. Now when something takes longer than it should, Seth and I say that we've been red Mercedes'ed.

Yuniesky Betancourt is a lot like the couple in the red Mercedes. I feel like I've been waiting around a long time for him [to produce]. On the one hand, he's historically been a pretty below average big leaguer, so maybe all he can do is stand by the side of the car and try to use a cell phone. On the other hand, if the Brewers are to win the NL Central, we really need him to get in the red Mercedes, back out of that parking spot and put his foot on the gas.

I think we're seeing Yuni attempting to put his foot on the gas. In Game 2 against Arizona, the Brewers brought out the bats. Corey Hart led off the game with a home run and one batter later, Ryan Braun connected for a long ball. Three batters later, Yuni got into the act with a home run. At the end of the first, Milwaukee led 5-0. Betancourt would go on to hit another homer in the ninth inning. He went 3 for 5 with four RBI in the 11-3 victory. (Game played July 19, 2011)

Jumping ahead to Friday night's game against the Giants at AT&T, Betancourt went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs in the 4-2 victory. In the second half of the season, Yuni has appeared in eight games, and produced a .423/.444/.731 line. Compare that with .237/.255/.342 line in the first half. Wow, that first half is bad but maybe Yuni can keep his foot on the gas and turn things around.

Maybe. Or maybe we'll watch Doug Melvin pull another rabbit out of his hat and we'll have a new SS before the trade deadline.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The El Slacker

It started like a tiny pin prick. I would just take one series off. I was sick as a dog. I lost my voice. My cold moved into my eyes—yes, my EYES—which caused them to crust shut over night. I could open them in the morning only after I splashed hot water on them. I just kept getting sicker. I finally went to the doctor on July 5. I had a cold that turned into bronchitis, a sinus infection and pink eye. Instead of taking time off from work, I convinced the doctor that I’d wash my hands a lot and not infect the rest of my office.

July 4 – After Shaun Marcum’s grand slam, the Brewers led 6-1. Yet, somehow, they managed to squander the lead and lose 8-6 to Arizona. It was the second day in a row that the Brewers gave away a five-run lead.

July 5 – Randy Wolf gave up four first-inning runs and Milwaukee failed to mount much of a comeback in a 7-3 loss to the D'backs.

July 6 – Yovani Gallardo gave up a leadoff home run to Kelly Johnson but then put the clamps on the D’backs offense. Despite Gallardo’s pitching, the Brewers trailed going into the seventh inning. A benched Casey McGehee to the rescue. After back-to-back singles by Kotsay and Lucroy, McGehee hit a pinch-hit, three-run homer to salvage the finale, 3-1.

And then the flood gates started to open. My company was in the midst of a huge project that necessitated me working nights and weekends. I was sick and working a ton. I would take one more day off. Or maybe I’d just take the entire Cincinnati series off.  I’d come back strong after the All-Star break, like Ryan Braun. Maybe I’d even write something about the first half of the season or the All-Star game.

July 7 – Milwaukee used a four-run fifth inning that included a three-run homer by Rickie Weeks, to erase a 2-1 deficit, and take the opener against Cincinnati 5-4.

July 8 – This game was all about Mark Kotsay. He went from hero, to goat, to hero again in the course of four innings. Kotsay hit a homer in the sixth inning to give Milwaukee the lead but then let one through his legs in left field that led to three Cincinnati runs. But the Brewers rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth to take the game 8-7. Kotsay produced the game winning single that scored the tying and winning runs. “Continue to run, Carlos Gomez.”

July 9 – The Reds broke open a 3-3 ball game with five runs in the top of the tenth inning to win 8-4.

July 10—Craig Counsell hit a sac fly to left field that scored George Kottaras from third base and earned the Brewers a walk-off victory in the final game before the All-Star break. Trailing 3-2 entering the ninth inning, Nyjer Morgan hit a one-out single and stole second base. Kottaras followed with a walk. Morgan scored on a single from Kotsay and the game-winner came on Counsell’s pinch hit fly ball, 4-3. Three out of four against the Reds feels pretty good.

July 12 – Prince Fielder hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning to lead the NL All-Stars to a 5-1 victory over the AL. Fielder was named the All-Star game MVP. His kids are really cute.

The All-Star break was over and I was committed to blogging again. Sort of.  The problem was I had a family vacation looming (at a very lovely Wisconsin lake). I caught the Thursday night Rockies game but then had to listen to Friday and Saturday’s games on the radio. I had no internet access and little time to sit down and write so I didn’t blog. I watched Sunday’s game when I got home on Tivo. I was tired. I had nothing to say. Does anyone even read my blog anymore?

July 14 – Yikes, this one got ugly. Ryan Spilborghs went 4 for 6 and the Rockies exploded for a 12-3 win.

July 15 – This was not a bad Chris Narveson outing. It was a bad offensive outing. Milwaukee was shut out 4-0.

July 16 – This was a crazy game that I had to finish listening to in my hotel room with a really fuzzy little alarm clock radio. Milwaukee fell behind 3-0 after four innings. Corey Hart finally got the Crew on the board with a two-run homer in the fifth inning. Milwaukee took the lead in the top of the seventh inning, 5-3, after a squeeze play, a sac fly, some ejections, and a HBP. Colorado took the lead back in the bottom of the seventh inning on a Todd Helton double and a Troy Tulowitzki single. Milwaukee tied the game in the eighth inning and took the lead in the ninth on a Rickie Weeks two-run blast. Axford got the save and K-Rod the win, 8-7.

July 17 – Milwaukee got a series split with a 4-3 win on Sunday.

Enough with the self-pity. I could do this. I could write something for my blog. But, by this point, I’d been away for almost two weeks. It had been so long, I was starting to have a mental block about writing again. I’d convinced myself that I had nothing interesting to say, that blogging was a huge waste of time, that I would never be able to finish the season.

El Super Monday.  I could do it. Or not.

July 18—Josh Collmenter confounded the Brewers for the second time in the past two weeks and Milwaukee was shut out again on the road, 3-0. 

What in the hell is El Super about this game? I’m tired. I need to sleep.

Only I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking that I should be up blogging. Internal conflict is stupid, especially about something like blogging about the Brewers. What is wrong with me? Just sit down and compare Mark Kotsay to grilling scallops or swimming through algae infested lake water. I’ll get up early and do it before work. [This is laughable to anyone who knows me. I don’t do mornings.] I got to work feeling distraught and overwhelmed. What if I never write again?

And then, with one sentence in his morning email to me, Seth got me to snap out of it. At the end of his email about items he should purchase at Target, came the following: “You need to do El Super, slacker.”

I hate it when he’s right.

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July El Super

This week's El Super goes to Brewers fans and their All-Star voting skills. With 25 votes per email address, Brewers fans made enough mouse clicks to earn Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks starts in the upcoming All-Star game in Arizona. The Brewers are the only team with multiple starters in the NL and just the Yankees in the AL have more starters. Assuming Braun's calf injury doesn't keep him out of the game, it will be the first time in Milwaukee's history that it will have three starters in the game.

Diamondbacks 8, Brewers 6
Game played 7-4-11

Twins 9, Brewers 7
Game played 7-3-11

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Brewers Fan at Target Field Night 2: There was nothing small-ey about this comeback

For most of the past year, I worked on one huge transaction at work. It was a horrible project involving lots of lawyers, lots of money, and lots of contention. For whatever reason, a lot of the nastiness was directed at me. I ended up working a lot of hours. During one conference call with others from my company, the higher ups joked about how much I was working. They commented that they didn't know how they would make it up to my husband for making me be gone so much.

Umm, wait. What? I'm working a bazillion hours a week and you're worried about Seth?? Seth is perfectly happy sitting at home playing video games and drinking beer while I'm working. In fact, I think he would prefer this to spending time with me.

So, while THUs discussed how they could make it up to Seth with beer, I mentioned that Seth would really like Brewers-Twins tickets (even though Seth would have preferred the beer).

My boss's boss said, "Done."

So, on Saturday night, as we entered Target Field and tried to locate Section H in the Legend's Club, Seth commented, "I don't think you're going to be disappointed with these seats." I nodded and smiled. My voice was gone. The only sound that I could produce was something that sounded like a cross between a whisper and a high pitched whistle. Our seats were in the second row of the second level directly behind home plate. We had our own private food and beverage section and our own waiter to bring drinks to our seats.
Target Field with view of Minneapolis.

Just before the game started, a camera guy came and stood next to us to capture the cute kids in the section next to ours. The camera guy commented to the family in front of us that Bert Blyleven was throwing grapes at him. It was at this point that I realized that we were sitting directly in front of the announcer boxes. I turned around and made eye contact with BA. He waved. Seth then said, "I think the guy sitting in front of you is Roy Smalley." My eyes darted to the woman to Smalley's left. I mouthed, "And that's his wife."

"You need to text Chris. Now." I squeaked.

Years ago Chris (see previous blog about Yankees series) told us a story about attending a game as a 12-year old. I forget the specifics but the just of the story is that a heckler at a near empty Yankee Stadium, in pretty good seats, yelled at Roy Smalley, "Hey Roy, does your wife call you smalley?" It was the kind of thing that would make a 12-year old giggle. Since Chris shared that story with us years ago, it's been a long running joke.

Seth, who was taking advantage of the fact that I was sick and acting as the designated driver, had had a few. He started threatening to tap Mrs. Smalley on the shoulder and say, "Excuse me. There's a question that I have always wanted to ask you." "Noooooo...." I mouthed. "Do not do that. Please do not do that."

View from my seat.
Ok, yes, the game. The game sucked. At one point, a bird shit on my nose. Literally. And I was going to use that as the metaphor for the game--that's how bad it was going. Minnesota scored one run in the first inning, two in the third and four in the fourth inning, all off of starter Chris Narveson. Meanwhile, the Brewers managed just two hits in the first four innings. Ryan Braun extended his hitting streak with a double and Prince singled but was erased on a double play. I felt like crying. Partly because the game was frustrating and partly because I couldn't even complain about Yuni because I lost my voice. 7-0 after four innings. That's bird shit on your nose bad.

In the top of the fifth, Yuni hit a seemingly meaningless one out single. For reasons that will never be fully explainable to me, Yuni tagged up on a Kotsay fly ball to center that didn't even make it to the warning track and attempted to advance to second with two outs. The throw beat him but Alexi Casilla caught the ball on the shortstop side of second and when he dived toward Betancourt to make the tag, Betancourt dove over Casilla and was called safe. A very disgusted Roy Smalley turned around, got Blyleven's attention, made the out sign with his fist, nodded and then told his wife that the left field camera had showed that Betancourt was out. Jon Lucroy followed with a single that scored Betancourt. 7-1.

Marco Estrada relieved Narveson and stopped the carnage in the fifth after the Narv-Dog allowed two more base runners that inning. The Twins would score no more runs. In the top of the sixth inning Rickie Weeks reached on an error and TPlush crushed one out in right. I stood up and threw up a "T" just because it's fun to do, not because I was really believing in the comeback yet. Some Brewers fans behind us inquired as to my actions. "Is that for Tony Plush?" they asked. I just nodded. 7-3.

Tony Plush rescued The Crew. He had a 2B, 3B and HR.
The score would stay that way until the top of the eighth inning, when Morgan came through with a one-out triple. He scored on a Braun ground out. (This ground out would be significant later on as Braun injured his calf running out the ground ball.) 7-4.

Takashi Saito pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Welcome back, Takashi.

Now, what I'm about to write is going to seem crazy and improbable, but it really happened. The Twins brought in Matt Capps to shut 'em down and send Milwaukee to its fifth straight loss. Instead, Yuni lined one up the middle to start the inning. Kotsay followed with a hot grounder that got under the glove of Casilla. Next, Lucroy took an outside pitch and dumped it in right field. Three straight singles. 7-5.

Braun would injure his calf running to 1B.
Craig Counsell followed with a popout to Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Weeks flew out to right field. Brewers fans were on their feet but The Crew was down to its last out. TPlush didn't keep us in suspense for long. He unleashed a deep fly ball that Michael Cuddyer (possibly) should have caught but when he didn't, both runs scored and Morgan stood at second. 7-7.

George Kottaras got down 0-2 but hung in there and finally drove one up the middle that scored Morgan. Somehow, the Brewers were now leading this game, 8-7. I was jumping up and down. I was throwing up the T. Silently. I couldn't even produce a sound anymore. John Axford took the Twins down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth, striking out Jim Thome to end the game. Holy shit. What a comeback. What a win. Holy shit. Holy shit.

I jumped around some more. Continued to throw up Ts. Some Twins fans found me amusing and took my picture throwing up the T. Later I got BA's attention and I threw up a T for him, too, and he laughed and pointed at me.

George Kottaras gets ready to win the game.

So flipping awesome.

Ax shuttin' the door.

Brewers 8, Twins 7
Game played 7-2-11

I've been told that my "T" looks more like a "Z" in this photo.