Archive for July, 2007

Tragedy Along the First Base Line

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

I neglected to post this yesterday and by now, I’m sure many of you have heard this, but I think it’s important to make mention of Tulsa Drillers first-base coach Mike Coolbaugh’s death.

He was struck in the side of a head by a line drive and killed Sunday night during the double A club’s game. He died on the way to the hospital.

Something probably few people knew, including myself prior to reading articles about the event, is that Coolbaugh played 39 games for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2001. He hit 2 homers while posting 7 RBI in his brief stint as a Brewer third baseman and shortstop.

He bounced around the minors for more than a decade and undoubtedly, due to that fact and how he continued working with his former minor leage club he had an appreciation for the game.

Despite only scarcely suiting up for the Brewers, I think it is important to acknowledge his passing. I wish his loved ones and his ball club the best in this tragic situation. Especially sad to hear, he leaves behind a wife, two young son’s and an unborn child.

Lastly, I hope the unlucky player who hit the ball that struck Coolbaugh is able to forgive himself for his unintentional role in the coach’s death.

That lazy bum behind the plate…

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Johnny Estrada

11th inning. Bases loaded. No outs. Johnny Estrada up. Ground ball towards first.

Worst case scenario? Man out at home, one out, bases still loaded. You’d assume… But apparently not with Estrada at the plate. He took a light jog, which is more than he usually does on a ground ball I guess, and was out by a mile at first.

That was the last straw for me…

He is lackadaisical on offense and defense, slow as molasses, has poor at-bats, never takes pitches, never runs out ground balls, misses pop ups, does not run towards pop ups between him and first or third, cannot throw out a runner to save his life and generally seems to have a poor attitude all the time (i.e. sulking back to the dugout after executing a sac bunt). That all adds up to him earning the role of my least favorite Brewer. And it’s no longer a contest.

I was jacked up when the Brewers got a catcher that could hit for a .300 average and was advertised as at least average defensively. Turns out his offensive numbers are largely a mirage and his defense is below average. Plus his attitude is a burden to the team. It’s no wonder now why Estrada is on his fourth team in his short MLB career. I’d gladly trade him for a player with half his talent who tried twice as hard. Miller would more than suffice and Mike Rivera could split time with him.

Estrada should be benched for at least a few games as discipline for tonight. What he did is inexcusable. Some could argue that with his incredibly poor speed he would have been out even if he sprinted, but he would have at least put pressure on the defense. He was only halfway down the line when the first basemen got the ball back for the out. Yost and the veteran leaders of the club should not stand for it. Every player should give it his all at all times and if his good salary and pride aren’t motivation enough, this team is in the playoff hunt and that was an extra inning game against a division foe on the road where the team is struggling. This would have been a big win. If he’s not going to run out a ground ball in that scenario, when will he?

I just hope Estrada is on his fifth team next year…

Somethin’ Brewin’? The Brewers In Music

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

Turnin' Up The Heat

I stumbled upon a great (and hilarious) Brewers’ rap song about the 2007 season earlier this week, which got me thinking… With the Brewers resurgence, will there be an influx of incredibly corny (yet somehow still awesome) songs about the Brewers like there were about the Green Bay Packers during their great run in the mid- to late-1990s (i.e. “The Packerena,” “Jump In the Stands,” “I Love My Packers” or anything by Cheeseheads With an Attitude)?

Either way, there’s not much out there right now (for better or worse), so I made a blog playlist of the Brewer songs I would have if I had to make a CD right now for a Brewers playoff run. If I forgot anything, let me know. (Hit the play on the players beneath the songs for streaming audio).

1. “Somethin’ Brewin’” by Osmosis Gintronic (The rap song I talked about)

2. “Let’s Hear It For the Crew” by Modern Machines (another new one)

3. “Brewers Be Good” by The Wisco Kid

4. “Brewers Champs Polka” by The Wisco Kid

5. “Turnin’ Up the Heat” (a true classic)

6. “Come See What’s Brewin’”

7. “Go, Go, You Pilots” by Rod Belcher (a REAL throwback, circa 1969 of course)

LaRussa Strikes Again!

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Was anyone else wondering why Tony LaRussa decided not to substitute Albert Pujols, who said earlier that he was holding out his big hitter because he could play anywhere and he might need that near the end of the game, for an overperforming Aaron Rowand? It seems to me that since the Cardinals aren’t in the thick of the NL Central, Tony covered his own interests. It seemed like he was thinking “Well, since it doesn’t matter to me if we get home field advantage or not, I don’t want to risk an injury for my most prized player.”

Pujols is allegedly angry about the snub, to which LaRussa answered: “If he wants to get upset, he can get upset,” La Russa said. “Whatever he wants to do, he can do. It’s America. That wasn’t the most important thing tonight.”

So basically, LaRussa turned into Randy from South Park:

Might I ask what the most important thing was? Obviously not putting in one of the most feared hitters in the game in a crucial moment that directly influences the outcome of the All-Star Game. Whoever from the National League makes it to the World Series should give LaRussa a big flunk you!

Twisting a postive into a negative…

Monday, July 9th, 2007

I was so angry after reading a column in the Journal-Sentinel tonight, I was inspired to write a letter to the editor, something I never do…

I’ll let you read Eugene Kane’s column and form your own opinion first: Brewers’ new diversity could pay off at the gate

And here’s my response:


While you were patting yourself on the back so hard about the increased numbers of African-American and Latino players on the Brewers’ roster since your 2004 column, you must have failed to notice that all four players you mentioned (Prince Fielder, Bill Hall, Rickie Weeks and Tony Gwynn, Jr.) were a part of the Brewers’ system before that edition even hit news stands and one (Hall) was already on the big league club.

Whether it is an exciting, young ball club, the racial make-up of the roster, the Brewers’ marketing campaign, or, most likely, a combination of all three, there is no arguing that an increase in African-American fans is a good thing for the Brewers and the community.

Your insinuation of racial bias in the team’s roster management, however, is completely unfounded and, frankly, insulting. Do you honestly believe management was passing on African-American talent for lesser players before Mark Attanasio took over? Do you even have a shred of evidence to support your ludicrous theory aside from the flawed method of simply going down the Major League roster and counting the number of African-Americans?

As you mentioned, the African-American players on the Brewers are joined by several Latino contributors (Francisco Cordero, Carlos Villanueva, Yovani Gallardo and Johnny Estrada come to mind) to make one of Major League Baseball’s most diverse rosters. I hope that in the future you will choose to celebrate that diversity and an impressive up-and-coming team rather than wasting ink on self-promoting “I told you so” columns rooted in twisted false logic.

Go Brewers!

I could have gone on longer (and poked even more holes in his convoluted argument), but I tried to at least keep it close to the Journal-Sentinel’s word limit. We’ll see if they print it…

Either way, I feel a little better after venting…

Bryan’s 1st Half Awards!

Monday, July 9th, 2007

Yes it’s over halfway through the season and most sports networks are giving awards away for the first half. It’s no different here, as I present my 1st Half Awards:

The Good Awards:

Half Season MVP: Francisco Cordero/Prince Fielder

I’ve been going back and forth on both of these guys and I make the same argument for both: If it wasn’t for Cordero being lights out for most of the season, we might have lost many more close games. If it wasn’t for Prince’s bat, we wouldn’t be in those games. I think so far you can’t have one without the other. Runner Up: J.J. Hardy

Rookie of the First Half: Ryan Braun

How good has this kid been? I was a little leery bringing him up already, but man, he was ready and delivered. There have been some gaffes, especially in the field, but you have to expect that from a rook. Runner Up: Yovanni Gallardo

Cy Higuera Award:

Best Brewer Starting Pitcher of the first half goes to Ben Sheets. It has to. He has the most wins, an E.R.A. of 3.4, and the most strikeouts on the team. He is the Brewer’s ace, hands down. Runner Up: Dave Bush

The “WOW” Moment of the First Half:

This moment is the one that sticks out in your head as just a great moment of the first half. I have to give it to Prince Fielder’s inside-the-park home run. He chugged himself into the hearts of many and gave us bleacher-creatures a perfect comeback to any Cub fan who says Prince is too slow. Runner Up: 5-4 Win Over the Cubs in 11 innings, 24-10

The “Blue Collar” Award:

This award goes to a player that doesn’t get much credit for what he does, but deserves it. Corey Hart began the year hurt and led a lot of people to give up on him. However, when he started getting everyday playing time, he took complete advantage and has put together two amazing hitting streaks. So pop one open for our “Blue Collar” award recipient. Runner Up: Ben Sheets

The “Benchie”:

This award goes to the player who has done the most coming off the bench. The Benchie goes to Kevin Mench. He was part of the platoon, but lost even his every other day starting gig when Geoff Jenkins started to hit. He still has done well, hitting about .270 with 24 RBI’s and only 15 K’s in 176 AB’s. I’m still not the biggest “Shrek” fan, but I feel better when he comes up to the plate than when Gabe Gross does. Runner Up: Tony Gwynn

The “2003 Scott Podsednik” Award:

This award is for a guy who comes out and dazzles beyond expectations. The award goes to Carlos Villanueva. This kid has been spectacular and has been the one consistent bullpen arm outside of Cordero. I think that’s the only reason he’s still in the bullpen, plus he’s a starter that can stop the bleeding and possibly keep the game within grasp. Runner up: J.J. Hardy

The Not So Good Awards:

The “2004 Scott Podsednik Award”

This award goes to one who was good the year before, but disappoints the next. That one has to go to Tony Graffanino. He hit .280 with the brewers last year and was a great fill in for the injured Rickie Weeks. This year, he’s been humping the Mendoza Line never being able to really shake it. Runner Up: Bill Hall

The “Oh S**t” Moment of the First Half:

This award goes to the moment when we all put our heads down in dismay and said various forms of the word “crap”. I think this goes to Justin Verlander’s No Hitter. It was the rock bottom of the first half, but soon after came a lovely resurgence. Runners Up: Losing the Nationals Series, Losing the Rangers Series, Losing the Cubs Series

The “Mulligan” Award:

Elmer Dessens for Brady Clark. I call mulligan on that one. I said it was a good trade, that he’d be like Rick Helling, an aging bullpen arm that can really eat up innings without blowing the game wide open, but he’s not. He’s been hurt and I haven’t even missed him. Runner Up: Jose Capellan for some perennial minor leaguer.

The “Richie Sexson” Award:

Richie Sexson was well known for blowing it in the clutch and delivering hits and home runs when it mattered least. He also would half ass it and usually never even tried to tag a runner on a pick off play. The winner of this award is Johnny Estrada. His average is very good, but I can’t remember a time when he delivered a truly crucial hit. I think he did once…but I’m not sure, which is exactly what I would say about Sexson. Runner Up: If Sexson was a pitcher, he might have been like Vargas…gets the important stats (Wins), but doesn’t work as hard as the rest (IP)

Miller South

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Here’s some great ammo for the next time FIBs make their way north to Miller Park again (or even worse, Wisconsinites who cheer for the scrubs):

The weekend series between the Cubs and Brewers this weekend set an ALL-TIME ATTENDANCE RECORD for a three-game series at Wrigley Field, which opened in 1916. The new mark is 124,810.

So, when those obnoxious fans call Miller Park “Wrigley North,” remind them it was the droves of fans wearing Brewer blue that tipped the all-time attendance scales for Wrigley this weekend. NICE.

Now let’s get some separation from the Cubs before the all-star break against the lowly Pirates and Nationals.

So, I promised a report…

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

I’m going to make this brief because I’m really tired and the game was less than thrilling…

- The seats were great. We were right next to the foul pole in the first row of the bleacher box seats. Joe (and Tyler after he switched for part of the game), was behind the mesh part of the foul pole, but he could see through it and it really wasn’t an issue.

- The fans were not as bad as advertised. I’m sure the Cubs fans are worse in the actual cheap bleacher seats, but fan behavior was really a non-issue where we sat (after we heard horror stories all week). The worst we got was a little heckling, which is to be expected and more than welcome actually. It makes it a little fun. They could have been a little more creative than “sit down cheeseheads” or “Cecil!” (every time Prince was up or touched a ball) though. In fact, for as much as I hear about how “hardcore” Cubs fans are (mostly from themselves), Wrigley was pretty quite Sunday, especially for a game against division/border rivals that they needed to win and controlled from the opening inning.

- There were quite a few Brewer fans there. It wasn’t split like Miller Park for Brewers/Cubs games, but Brewer fans were sprinkled throughout the crowd. We had roughly a half dozen sitting in the bleacher box section and 10 to 15 more in the next section over. It was nice to see, but we didn’t have much to cheer about…

- Wrigley Field is relatively dumpy and also very small-looking. I’m surprised they can fit 41,000 in there. It doesn’t look that big. The archaic scoreboard is a joke too. In fact, there was no where in the stadium where a player’s season stats (after their first at bat) or a pitcher’s season stats were listed during the game and they didn’t tally the starting pitcher’s strike outs anywhere either.

- The one big positive of Wrigley for me was that we got to sit in right field and see a game in the sun. Even when the roof is open at Miller, it still kind of feels like you’re inside. Wrigley is very open and I have a sunburn to prove it. That’s not nearly enough to convince me Wrigley is even close to as nice of a stadium as Miller though and that roof comes in pretty handy when a storm front moves in or it’s 10 degrees in April.

- Johnny Estrada needs to run out balls. Him half-assing it down the line several times was pissing all of us off.

- Bill Hall looked brutally bad at the plate.

- Prince Fielder is DUE.

- If the home plate umpire got the call right on Jenkins’ relay throw to home and Braun didn’t have that terrible error in the third inning, this game might have been totally different. Tough luck, but it swings both ways…

- Illinois sucks.

Insomniac Ink