J. D. Thorne

Nuclear First Half for Brewers Fans

Is 2014 the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club’s “Golden Year?”

The 2014 Brewers are off to a terrific start, better than any fan could dream, hope, or pray for at the half season mark so far this season.  The team is more than a dozen games above .500.  It also enjoys a six game lead ahead in the standings over the incumbent Division, League, and defending World Series Champion as of this writing.

Melancholy baseball observer and fan as I may appear as I express divine reality as it occurs to me, this reminds me of the 1969 Chicago Cubs season.  It cures me of becoming emotionally too attached.   I was also similarly emotionally attached with the Brewers in 1981 and 1982, and again a bit in 2008 and 2011.

Yet I welcome the feeling.  Veteran Cubs’ observer WGN Broadcasting Producer Jack Rosenberg was quoted in a book (dedicated to him) published in 2008 that included commentary about the 1969 season. In Cubs Forever Mr. Rosenberg said about the 1969 Cubs:

“I think the building blocks for the Chicago Cubs are the fact that their loyal fans stick behind them win or lose.  There was a certain something about the Cubs that separated them from any other team, and it came particularly home in 1969.  To this day that team has to be the most captivating losing team in the history of sports.”

The sentiment governs my enthusiasm for the 2014 Brewers.  I know disappointment can wreck the feeling such as I will suppress its memory.

Yet, I acknowledge intellectually Brewers catcher Jonathon LuCroy can be considered National League MVP of the first half!  Wow!  He sealed it with grand slam home run in Arizona following a plunking of Ryan Braun.  He continues to perform at an All-Star level carrying the team.  He makes great plays like a Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame catcher Billy Sullivan [see archive].  His batting average and slugging percentage is at the top of the league!

Think also of the continuing success of All-Star CF Carlos Gomez -  no matter where he hits in the lineup!

Then there is third basemen Aramis Ramirez.  He can hit good pitching, and plays a good third base too.  The Brewers are strong up the middle defensively with “Sugar” Segura at short and Scooter Gennett at second.  I am awaiting to learn how they rank as a team in the league relative to double plays, assists, and putouts, but I think they are competitive.  How much an improvement is it defensively at 1B?  Huge, and it does make a difference.

The 2014 Brewers are fun to follow.  Watching them on T.V., and reading about them in the newspaper, and seeing them on the various internet sites is interesting and exciting.  We worry about it.   Are we not concerned when #5 starter Estrada pitches?  It matters.  Who is pitching tonight?

The 1969 Cubs started out like a house-a-fire.  There were four HOF players in Mr. Cub Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, “Sweet” Billy Williams, and 3B Ron Santo playing every day, but the club finished by fading in September to a team that became known as the “Miracle Mets.”  It cannot be denied they were great, and as were the Mets even better.  Nonetheless, there is more to be told about that story of a manager going AWOL in Hollywood, a black cat, and unrested players only playing day baseball at home being tired down-the-stretch every game.  Let the dead past bury its dead.

I believe the 2014 Brewers can win NL Pennant if the offense can score some runs against good, lights out pitching.  The defense is solid.  Will Smith and K Rod may be able close out leads.  If we make the WS, why can’t the Brewers win it just as well as Oakland in the AL, another small market team?  The “Networks” might not like that, but that’s baseball.

Enjoy the All-Star Game.

J. D. Thorne

7-02-2014