Just one week ago the Scewers were sitting at 2-8, and as I was blogging about their inability to scratch out a single run in the last 32 innings, they inexplicably woke up on the road against the Cardinals and left St. Louis with an extra inning 4-3 victory last Sunday.
It has been nothing but “W’s” since, after a sweep of the reigning World Champion San Francisco Giants, the Blew-Ha’s have been blessed with the arrival of the Chicago Cubs to close out the current home stand at $8.50 Miller Park. When it’s all added up, the Screwers have managed to extricate themselves from the NL Comedy Central basement in the process, evened their record at 8-8, and ironically find themselves just 1 1/2 half out of first.
All of this after the miserable start, highlighted by the ineptitude of the offense in St. Louis, pathetic starting pitching, and a general malaise that was prevalent throughout the entire lineup. All it took, apparently, to kick start the season, was a DUI collected by none other than starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo. Maybe Gallardo’s declaration that too many beers led to his .22 blood alcohol content (nearly three times the legal limit in Wisconsin), rang true with his teammates and the fans, who invariably were feeling the same way. After starting 2-8, drinking a half barrel to forget maybe wasn’t such a bad idea, just hire a driver or catch a cab next time, Yovani.
Suddenly the Blewers are back to banging HR’s, getting decent starting pitching and even acceptable relief efforts from the guys in the Kingsford Bullpen. John Axford seems to be setlting down in the role as a set up guy, so you know what? Leave him there. Let Henderson run it up there in the ninth as long as that’s what’s working, at least for now. Kudos for whoever decided to send Fiers back to Nashville, and a tip of the cap to Burgos for his fine performance yesterday, albeit against the lowly Cubs.
Yes, it appears through my blurry eyesight that the Screwers are once again are up to their old tricks, including some historical base running escapades from Jean Segura Friday night that were simply legendary. They are back to their streaking selves, already putting their fan base through one losing week and now riding another, more entertaining, six game winning streak, and it’s not even the end of April.
So after 16 games, they have managed to shorten the season to 136 contests, leaving me the hope they can still finish 87-75, or 79- 67 the rest of the way. In a division as watered down as the NL Comedy Central, that might just result in a divisional pennant.
Stranger things have happened. Streak on, Brewers, streak on!
And For What
Yeah I know, it's early, and once again Skipper Ron of The Good Ship Roenicke has the injury card to trump all the naysayers. Aramis Ramirez sits on the 15 day DL, Jean Segura missed a couple of games, Chris Narveson in on the DL, Alex Gonzalez missed a couple of games, Braun has, and is a pain in the neck so far, and Corey Hart, the "quick healer", is now on the 60 day DL and not scheduled to return until June.
So for the few players that are healthy, no one is producing, with maybe the exception of Nori Aoki. The Screwers have unloaded a grand total of 5 home runs in 10 games. St. Louis has blanked them in the last two games, and today they drew another doughnut in the first inning. Your RBI leader is Braun with 6, so apparently he is off the PED's for now. Rickie Weeks, jammed into the cleanup role out of necessity, has been pathetic at the plate. As has just about everyone else, including the newly crowned savior named Carlos Gomez, proud owner of the huge contract gift from Doug Melvin and company.
The pitching, which everyone knew would be suspect anyway, has been just that. John Axford has been a total bust, contributing a blown save and basically unable to deliver anything to the plate resembling a major league pitch. The lone starting off season acquisition, Kyle Lohse, has been more than solid in his two outings but has received no run support at all. Gallardo is his typical All-Star for five innings and then Nashville for one horrendous inning, certainly not performing at the caliber of the so-called "Ace" of your staff. Estrada has been serviceable, as has Peralta, but it appears Fiers was a mistake to be included in the starting lineup. As for the bullpen relief, Gonzalez has yet to get anybody out, especially left handers, and Gorzellany, is well, an ex-Cub. Figaro, Badenhop, Henderson and KIntzler, come on, no explanation needed.
Add to that more suspect base running escapades plus a shoddy defense littered with players playing out of position, and you have all the necessary ingredients for a 2-8 start. So where will it end? The World Champion San Francisco Giants come to $8.50 Miller Park next week followed by another series with the Cubbies, who will certainly turn the venue into Wrigley North once again.
As I blog this nonsense, the Screwers are now 21 straight scoreless innings into St. Louis, 28 straight going back to Tuesday in Chicago, thus I would imagine a 2-9 record is not too far away. They say baseball championships can't be lost in April, but with this kind of start and with the lack of depth being exposed with all their injuries, it would appear the biggest Fool's in April are the Brewer faithful themselves.
Here's hoping for everyone involved they can turn it around, but until that happens, there is absolutely no reason to watch this mess, resulting in just another convincing argument to turn on your local Wisconsin radio affiliate and listen to Bob Uecker describe it all to you instead. At least his jokes are funny.
And For What
Here’s today’s powerhouse lineup for Nori Aoki Bobblehead Day At $8.50 Miller Park:
Aoki RF .285
Gomez CF .105
Segura SS .500
Weeks 2B .421
Gonzalez 3B .063
Schafer LF .500
Betancourt 1B .250
Maldonado C .000
Gallardo P .000
Notably absent: Ramirez, now on the 15 Day DL, ensuring yet another slow start, and Braun, day-to-day, with a pain in his neck.
Also the absence of Corey Hart has created a ripple effect throughout the stagnant offense. Not a real positive vibe going up against the likes of Ian Kennedy and the rest of the Snakes today.
Add to that a pathetic performance from just abut everyone in the starting rotation (excluding Lohse), plus the fiasco known as John Axford in the closers role, and you have the recipe for 1-4 homestead and a four game losing streak.
Albeit it’s only April 7th,but the panic buttons have been pushed repeatedly already, and it appears the Screwers are heading into a permanent home at the bottom of the NL Comedy Central, at least for April.
Blew Notes: The team ERA is 5.48 which ranks Mildoggie 13 out of 15 in the NL, and 27 out 30 overall in MLB. Axford has given up a blown save, 3 HRS and owns a 21.60 ERA in two appearances. Braun leads the team in RBI with 4. Chris Davis of Baltimore has 17 RBI to lead the majors through 5 games.
And For What
For those of us that endured many horrible April games at the old County Stadium grounds, news that temperatures will be in the 30′s today in Milwaukee stir up fond memories of Opening Days past. If you were one of the frigid faithful that piled into school buses year after year in the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s to see your beloved Screwers get crushed time and time again, you know what I’m talking about.
You were there despite the rain, snow, sleet and ice, crappy baseball and games that finally started at 4pm, the stadium nearly empty, as Bud seig made the rounds adding up the concession tape receipts. It really didn’t matter if the Blew-Ha’s won or lost, it was a day off of work, or if you were unemployed, a heavier day of drinking than the day before.
It was bus trips, and tailgate tents, the party was on the asphalt and concrete outside the ugly confines of County Stadium, because after all, who wanted to pay the outrageous prices for $2 beers inside the ball park? You got your buzz on before the game, then hung on until the driver tossed you out into the Park ‘n Ride once you were back in Madison, or maybe it was back at he bar you started from. Any way you look at it, Opening Day translated into one big party.
And that is why, now in the age of climate-controlled stadiums like Miller Park, that the real zest for Opening Day has all but vanished. It doesn’t matter now if its 35 degrees or 65 degrees, (as it happens every ten years or so), you are guaranteed a warm and dry seat for a game that will start on time and have you back home rested and ready for work the next day. Where’s the fun in that?
What has changed is the price tag once you get inside the ball park. I’ll refer to it a s $8.50 Miller Park until I hear otherwise from the faithful attending today – since that was the price I paid the last time I visited there, that being the price for a big, screw-top plastic bottle of Lite beer. Beer in a plastic bottle, it doesn’t get much better than that, huh?
The photo above ($6.75) is dated, probably two years old. The point being, now, more than ever, you better get your game on in the parking lot because, unless you are making six figures plus, it is simply way too expensive to consume large quantities of suds inside $8.50 Miller Park. THe days of catching a round for the boys with a $20 bill and still tipping the vendor vanished the last time Pedro Garcia strode to the plate. Now, hombre, you better pack at least a couple of C-Notes in the old George Castanza wallet, or make sure your debit card has been re-charged before you step up to the all-you-can-drink plate at $8.50 Miller Park.
So, if anyone attends the game today, please report back to me here or on Twitter the going rate for a nice, flat, warm draft of the beer that used to taste great and was less filling. These days your wallet is filled less and nothing tastes like actual beer.
Opening daze indeed.
And For What
As if the three inches of snow falling outside is somehow necessary for the effect, Christmas in March occurred last night for hoops fans here in Wisconsin as the pairings for the 2013 NCAA basketball tournament were announced. Today, copiers and printers in offices all across the country are humming with multiple printouts of the soon-to-be-filled-in bracket sheets. Office pools are materializing, text messages an e-mails are going back and forth among friends and relatives as the proper payoffs for the ultimate basketball one-on-one wager are determined.
The Madness of March is upon us, and with more zeal and enthusiasm in year’s past, and rightly so. This edition of the 2013 NCAAA Tourney boasts a wide-open field that is littered with double-digit loss teams, number 1 seeds that could be 3′s or 4′s and 10-16 seeds that could easily wreak havoc on anyone’s bracket sheet.
Of the four number one seeds, Louisville appears to me to be the strongest, with Miami a close second and then Indiana and Gonzaga falling in line after that. If you believe the BIG10 conference is overrated, then its seven team field may wind up on the wayside earlier than most of the so-called experts would lead you to believe. Certainly that will hold true for Wisconsin, placed in the unenviable position of the 5 seed against SEC Tourney champ Mississippi. Should the Badgers continue their penchant for delivering 5-10 minute scoring droughts in nearly every game they play, Ole Miss will be an easy pick for those that like to take the underdogs early.
Other 5-12 upset specials include Oklahoma State versus PAC 10 Tournament Champ Oregon, another possible ‘dog in Ducks feathers that could deliver a surprise. One would think VCU can handle Akron in the South 5-12 pairing, but in the East region it’s a tough task for UNLV versus Cal, especially considering the venue the Runnin‘ Rebels will have to play in.
By my count there could be 26 teams with double digit losses in this years 68 team field, roughly 38%, a staggering number when more than nine losses would usually mean your team was looking at the NIT or worse in past year’s tournament selections. That’s not the case this year, and that just makes all the office pools and friendly wagers that much more interesting. So get out your dartboards, consult the cleaning people, ask your teenage daughter what she thinks or seek advice from the little old lady in front of you at the supermarket, they’ll all be worth the effort this year.
Anyway you slice it, Christmas has arrived for hoop fans everywhere, the brackets are here. For the record I’ll take the Cardinals of Louisville all the way, they play defense, have two great guards, and a very respectable cheerleading crew.
And For What