The Milwaukee Brewers 2nd World Serious this Season
“Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times, and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is. My gorge rises at it. . . .”
(William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1.)
Now we are it. This is our time. The Milwaukee Brewers have played all year to get to this moment now. Last season, and the season before it, the Milwaukee Brewers were out of it at this point in the season with ten games or so to go. Indeed, last season most of the season was lost, and the games stopped being important by June. Now we can watch and cheer. It is not too even too late for a possible celebration? Now is when the cream rises to the top. Now is when a player’s character is judged. The next six games are as important as any games in the season because they will determine the success of the season. It can be successful.
The first “World Series” games for the franchise this season were the first six (6) games of the season. This was because if the team faltered out of the gate, they could in theory without much difficulty have lost all six (6) of the games. Coming off two mediocre seasons, enthusiasm in fan base then would have surely dropped. Once fallen, it would be tough to get back with the natural skepticism of good baseball fans, and borne of every reflection on recent history, and a recollection of the evolution of those events.
Questions abounded about the quality of the players. How would the new first base tandem of veterans work out? Who is going to play second base? Can Ryan Braun face down the “boos” and recover his form after the 65 game suspension and change of position to right field? How good is the team’s relief pitching when it is relying a left-hander acquired in a trade as 8th inning set-up man? How consistently good can a very veteran closer be who was picked up off the scrap heap when no other team bid on him, and he was signed as non-roster invitee to spring training camp as a free agent? Were the third baseman’s knees healthy enough for him to be effective? Can the team expect the same home run production and offense from a second year left fielder who played only adequately in the field? (Oddly, there was no question about our returning shortstop, whose play has not equaled the play of his break-out rookie year.)
Let us recall the opponents for the first three games of the season were a very good Atlanta Braves team. The following series was jumping from the frying pan into the fire in the challenge of three games on the road at Fenway Park in Boston facing the defending World Series Champions.
Yovani Gallardo won the Brewer’s home opener 2 – 0. I was hoping he would have the confidence to throw a “ball” on the first pitch to avoid grooving a pitch to start things off, and he did. I thought it was good way to start the season, and it was. While the Braves took the next two games, Wily Peralto threw a masterpiece on Friday night in game one of the Boston series to even the season record. Then the Brewers took games two and three as well, to boost the record to 4 wins and 2 losses. That was good enough for first place in the National League Central Division, which they only very recently relinquished.
Now these next six games against the Cardinals and Pirates, both ahead of us by a little, are the team’s second “World Series” this season. Without successfully traversing the first six, the last six would mean nothing, like last year and the year BEFORE THAT.
The Cardinals are observed to play their outfielders very close-in. Let the Brewers hit some over their heads! The Cardinal hitters make Brewer pitchers throw strikes first. They love to sit in an at-bat taking pitches outside the strike zone to wait for the one they know must be a strike, and pounce on it. Let the Brewer pitchers throw lots of good pitches hard to hit for strikes early in the count. Make the Cardinal hitters swing! Lastly, keep playing good defense. Remain strong up-the-middle. This may mean playing good hitting LuCroy more at first base. The powder is dry. The players are healthy. The manager is not standing in their way. May Wily Peralta get past the first few innings unscathed in the first game. I hope he has the confidence to throw a first pitch ball. I will be cheering if he does, and feel more confident.
“. . . Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not oft. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now to mock your own grinning.”
(Continuation of Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1.)
J. D. Thorne
*Author and Speaker, The 10 Commandments of Baseball. Book is available through the publisher directly at www.SportingChancePress.com ($20 + $4 Shipping) or at the museum store of The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.