Posts Tagged ‘Collapse’

In the News (9/24)

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Today’s Game: Brewers 4, Pirates 2
Record: 87-71
Wild Card: Tied with the Mets

Today’s Game

WILD CARD, BITCHES! YEE HAWWWWW!

(If you’re not familiar with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I recommend you check it out)

- The Brewers win, the Mets lose. It’s all tied up. Four games. Winner takes the Wild Card!

- CC is an absolute beast. He went seven innings and only allowed one run tonight while striking out 11. And it was on short rest. He is now 10-2 with a 1.78 ERA as a Brewer and is the reason the Brewers are still in this race. He could pitch again Sunday on short rest if the Brewers need him. In fact, he says, “If it matters, I want to pitch.” We’ll be there giving CC a well-deserved standing ovation, no matter what happens.

- Don’t look now, but Gagne has been pretty good lately… He pitched another scoreless inning tonight.

- You might have noticed something new about the Brewers since Sveum took over. They actually can play some fundamental baseball. They don’t have to hit a home run to score. Bunts, stolen bases, walks, sac flies… They’re not the Twins or anything, but it’s nice to see a few manufactured runs once in a while.

Brewers News

- OK, Brewers, now that you have won my faith over again in a season that’s turning into quite the roller coaster of emotions, please, please, please don’t fall short of the postseason. It’s great that you’re playing meaningful baseball in late September, but let’s take this thing into October now!

- But hey, even if the Brewers return to their less-than-clutch ways from earlier this month, there’s always the “one-game choke-off” with the Mets, right?

- Amazingly, Yovanni Gallardo will start tomorrow. Gallardo tore his ACL on May 1. Less than five months later, he’s back and ready to contribute in the most important game of his young career. Yo will be on a strict pitch count (70) and will likely only go four innings or so, but it has to be a huge moral boost for the team to see Gallardo back so soon. I can’t wait to see him throw. More HERE.

- Sheets on the other hand might not pitch again during the regular season. Sveum is being a little wishy-washy on Sheets’ status saying he’s “very optimistic” Sheets could start this week and then saying “it would take some small miracle” in the next sentence. Huh?

- Trenni and Erin Andrews have outfits that look awfully similar to each other. The Daily Drink asks “Who wears it better?”

- This New York Post columnist says another Mets choke job would be “two much to take.” How about a postseason without any New York teams?

- Apparently, there’s a lot of rain in the forecast for NY so it could make for some interesting scenarios as the Wild Card race comes down to the wire.

- Have to slip this in somewhere… Thank you Cubs. I never thought I’d be rooting for you, but you came up big tonight for the Crew. Now, beat the Mets tomorrow and feel free to tank the last three games of the season…

Minor Leagues

- For a lot of in-depth reaction and info surrounding the Brewers affiliation with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, check out this great Timber Rattler fan site: Rattler Radio. (Note: It’s now been pointed out to me that the site is not exactly a fan site, it’s actually run by Timber Rattlers broadcaster Chris Mehring, which means there is even more inside insight. Nice.)

NL Central

- Will Lou Piniella retire following this season?

- Cubs fans have a strange way of celebrating a division championship…

Other News

- Barry Bonds is in the news again. And he still might face jail time for lying to a federal grand jury.

- In other steroid-related news, Roger Clemens looks like Uncle Joey’s puppet. (Hat tip to Deadspin)

Get Pissed, Joe - You Gotta Be Titsin’ Me!

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

It’s really happening. Before our very eyes, the Brewers are again breaking our hearts. I kept telling myself every few days that the Brewers are going to pull out of it, but it just hasn’t happened. With only eight games left they are two games back in the Wild Card. Two games is tough to make up in a week, but I’m going to say it’s impossible for a team playing as bad as the Brewers are. I started my yearly detachment about a week ago, but it isn’t going very well. I’ve replaced my raging anger with heartbreak and despair. What’s worse is that I keep coming up with new reasons why this team is so ridiculously disappointing. Not that they are reasons not totally clear to everyone; I just haven’t thought of them because I’ve replaced my fantasies of ripping Carlos Zambrono’s head off with fantasies of kicking Corey Hart in his undoubtedly undersized, redneck package.

Let’s start with the most obvious reason I’m so disappointed: there seems to be a trend starting. The Brewers’ old trend was just sucking balls year in and year out, but we’ve been hearing hype about the Prince Fielders and Rickie Weeks and JJ Hardys for a long time. This as rightfully made our expectations grow immensely over the last handful of years, but they have yet to produce to those expectations. A couple seasons ago, coming off their first .500 season in years, the Brewers couldn’t even make it back to that mark, going 75-87. Expectations were again high last year, and everyone knows about that horrible collapse. And now this year, coming off a 20-7 August, and with a 5 1/2 game lead in the Wild Card as of September 1, they are on the verge of doing it again. I mean, it’s not 100 years, but still. Throw us a bone.

I love you but I hate you, which brings to mind how much I love you...

Recently the whole CC Sabathia trade has really bummed me out. The Brewers hiked their payroll to nearly $100,000 and traded away highly touted prospects Matt LaPorta and likely either Michael Brantley or Taylor Green to get CC. Really, it was a great move, and I don’t think it’s at all regrettable. CC has been the best pitcher in baseball since the move. It’s just too bad that everyone else has seemed to crumble around him. I guess the underlying point is that this year was the best opportunity to make a championship run for nearly three decades. Also, this year is arguably the best shot they’ll have for many more. (Personally, I don’t believe that argument, but we’ll just have to see)

The last main thing that’s botherng me is how much time and energy I put into this team. The Milwaukee Brewers and baseball in general may be my biggest passion in life, so I never regret it, but the disappointment kills me. How long will it be before we have to stop ripping Cubs fans for their undying commitment and take a look at ourselves in the mirror? If you answered 62 years, you’re right! It can’t ever get that bad. Can it?

A Letter to Corey

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Dear Corey Hart,

In late July, after you and your teammates dropped four straight games to the division rival Chicago Cubs at your home field, you expressed your displeasure with Brewer fans by saying, “Maybe our fans will stick up for us one of these days.”

The comment struck me as just a young, frustrated player making a poor choice of words after a crushing blow in the NL Central title chase.

Apparently that wasn’t the case though because you followed that up this month with another set of foolish statements after losing the first game of a four-game set to the Phillies.

“Actually, it felt more like a home game than playing in Miller Park. We didn’t hear the boos that we sometimes hear at home,” you said.

“A guy makes an error, a guy strikes out and you hear your hometown booing you,” you later continued. “It makes you ready to get out of there and go somewhere else for a while. I think we’re all looser here.”

You and your teammates were so “loose” you went out and dropped the other three games in the series too. And you lost the Wild Card lead and your manager in the process.

Maybe in retrospect you realize how stupid your comments were. If not, please consider wising up while you still have a chance to repair your increasingly damaged reputation among Brewer fans.

Playing in Milwaukee, you’re probably sick of hearing about 1982. Heck, you were born just days before that season started more than 26 years ago. Most of us fans are more than ready to move on to some new glory days too, but, frankly, that World Series loss a quarter century ago is all we’ve got to cling on to. To call the years since Harvey’s Wallbangers bleak would be a colossal understatement. Sure, there have been moments that captivated us, players that we fell in love with and even a few glimmers of hope along the way, but the majority of those seasons were essentially over before Memorial Day.

Yet we’re still here, supporting you.

That stadium you play in? We paid for it.

That attendance record the Brewers broke this season? We bought the tickets.

That top 10 attendance rank in MLB despite being the smallest market in baseball? We filled the seats.

That All-Star game you played in? We voted you in.

The unprecedented support for this team? That’s us.

And that booing you hear? That’s called expectations, something that’s been missing in Milwaukee for far, far too long.

So, Corey, as your team nears a second consecutive late-season collapse that has crushed our spirits one more time, allow me to flip the coin for you. What have you done for us? How have you earned the unconditional support you clearly expect? Why do we come back year after year after year just to have our hearts broke again?

Maybe our team will win for us one of these days.

The Biggest Series in 15 Years

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Editor’s Note: I like to think I’m a pretty level-headed guy when it comes to the Brewers. I’ll get a little grumpy after a tough loss, but I can usually put it behind me after a few minutes. It’s a long season and you can’t live and die with every game. Even when the Brewers started stringing together losses after the calendar flipped to September, I kept telling friends and co-workers that the team still had a nice lead and it wasn’t time to panic. However, as the cushion continued to shrink, the losses mounted and the Brewers looked nothing like a playoff contender, worry started to creep in. After two crushing losses to the Reds this week, I felt for the first time since the Brewers took a nice lead in the Wild Card race last month that there was a real chance this team could blow it down the stretch. I was on the verge of slamming that panic button myself. So, what better way to calm myself than to shoot an e-mail tirade to a player that is as familiar with what’s going on in Milwaukee right now as anyone who’s not sporting a Brewers uni on game days?

And Jeff Cirillo came through with some thoughtful responses.

Me: It seems like every time this team plays meaningful games, especially late in the season, they go into a full collapse. Now the Brewers are losing in every way possible at a time when they absolutely need to win. Why do they have these struggles? Is this team mentally weak? Is this just a case of a team full of young players going through growing pains? How long is that excuse viable?

‘Rillo: You have to remember that every team in the majors will win 60 and lose 60. The other 42 seperates the teams. The Brewers have done a great job of beating up the teams they have to beat up. The Dodgers got swept two weeks ago in Washington, the worst team in the Majors. Yes, they have had their struggles, but what about the ride they were on from late May, when they were under .500, to August 31? When you look at a season you cannot judge your team on one series, week or even month. Two teams come to mind when I think of this: The (2005) Houston Astros, who were 10 games under .500 in late May, World Series. The (2007) Colorado Rockies, under .500 late August, World Series. Every team is beat up, tired and looking forward to the season being over.

The players are not young when it comes to Major League Baseball years of service. What happens is teams find ways to lose instead of playing to win. It is hard to put into words, it is more of a feel for the attitude of the team at that time. When they played that series in St Louis, you could see the swagger of a ballclulb that expected to win. Unfortunately, that gate can swing the other way. You get caught on your heals and instead of playing your game, you play not to lose. In the big leagues the seperation in talent is pretty equal. It is this mental swagger that seperates that last 42 games. Today was a must win. They showed great competitiveness today in coming back in CC’s game. You lose today with CC, it shows a vulnerability even when the best pitcher in baseball gets beat. Now you roll into the next stop, realize that this is a playoff series against Philadelphia. I can’t think of a bigger series the Brewers have played in the last 15 years, since ‘93.

I’ve defended Yost for the entire time he’s been here. I think he has weaknesses (managing a bullpen, dealing with the media, being very stubborn with struggling players, etc.), but I also believe he’s a player’s manager that helps keep the clubhouse tight and does everything he can to put a winning team on the field. That said, it’s beginning to seem like he just has no answers when his team is in a stretch like this. I believe one of the main jobs of a manager is to make sure his team stays out of funks like this (especially late in the season) and if they do begin to struggle, the manager should make sure the team gets out of it, and fast. Do you think part of these struggles can be put on Yost? If so, what could he do differently?

Ned Yost, if you look at the stats compared to their rankings in hitting, fielding and pitching. The team should be about 10 games over .500 so if a manager w/l record is a plus/minus 5.  The Brewers are probably 10 games over what their record should be. It is an objective formula, but the manager is not a magician. Ned always protects his players, whether he wants to or not! That type of loyalty goes over well in a clubhouse. Players have tons of pressures to perform on a nightly basis and there is enough arm chair managers that are very quick to doll out criticism to the players. It is a nice luxury to have when you know the manager doesn’t show you up on the field or throw you under the bus in the media.  

Players like Bill Hall and Eric Gagne, who have struggled all season, remain in prominent roles on the team despite the fact that there are other players on the roster that could certainly contribute as much, if not significantly more, if given the chance. I understand having loyalty to players that have been grinding all year and have made sacrifices for the team in the past, but this team is in the heat of a playoff chase and it’s all about winning now. Shouldn’t Yost be plugging holes in the line-up instead of allowing the team to continue to sink?

You play manager! The Brewers play in Philly this next series. Go to Fox Sports or another Web page. Go to batter vs. pitcher and left/right splits. The lineup you come up with will probably not waver much from what Ned’s lineup would be. We also don’t have the information from the trainers. Cameron’s knee, Durham’s shoulder, Weeks’ wrist. They have team meetings and for the most part they are for a fire-up type approach. I am sure they probably had one last night, usually they are planned around who is pitching that night’s starter, i.e. CC. You can only have so many meetings though, because they lose their affect.

P.S. I just heard on a show, Lou Pinella said, “We are playing not to get beat.” Sound familiar?

Gagne had a horrible first month of the season. For a reliever, who is a one-inning guy, it takes a long time to get your ERA down. You have to judge him on when he came back from the DL and make your decision. He throws strikes and can strike people out. That is what you need late in the ballgame. Unfortunately, when his strikes get hit, they are leaving the ballpark.

Billy Hall has a great energy about him. Every day he comes with a great attitude, works hard and plays all out. His struggles come from power right-handed pitchers, who run the ball under his hands or elevate the ball with above-average fastballs. Keep in mind, the Brewers hitters are all very streaky. But, when two or three are streaking (hot), they can carry your team. During the season, Braun, Fielder, Hart, Cameron and especially Hardy have carried this team on their backs.

Yost is very loyal to his players and defends them to the media even when they are clearly not getting the job done. He says things like ‘He’s throwing well. They just hit a good pitch’ or ‘We just ran into a good pitcher today.’ On one hand, I think that’s admirable, but on the other, I think the manager should hold these guys accountable for not getting it done. Maybe he does that behind closed doors, but I think the perception that he pats his players on the back and tells them they’re great even when they are playing horribly is part of the reason a lot of fans have soured on Yost. I don’t think it takes the criticism off of the player. It just makes Yost look foolish. Why does he continue to do this? And do players appreciate it? 

Look back to 1.

Publically, the players back Yost all of the time, which is understandable, but this year and at times last year it has seemed like there are some tensions. There have also been rumors that some players will not talk about extensions while Yost is manager. (Editor’s Note: The “rumors” are very much hearsay and from no sources that I would even consider close to reliable. It’s just a “guy at the bar” kind of rumor. So, I wouldn’t put much faith in it, but it makes for interesting fan conversation). Is Yost well liked in the locker room? Why or why not?

Players, if they are paid according to the other players in the league, will sign long-term deals. Agents have all the comparisons to the other players in the league and what they are paid. Ryan Howard won his arbitration and got $10 million in his first year of arbitration. Some agents want their players to go year to year. Guys like Hardy, Fielder and Hart, if they go year to year, will be free agents at 27, 27 and 28, I think. For general managers in baseball they know that those years are the prime years for great players.

A week ago, you felt very good about the Brewers chances of making the playoffs and about how they’d play once they got there. Do you still think this team will make some noise in October? What can you tell us fans to make us feel better?

Fans are panicking right now, but what would be the feeling if the Brewers had won every game on their homestand to get to within 3 1/2 games of the Wild Card? Who is in a better position? The Cardinals and a beat-up starting rotation? The Astros with a questionable rotation, offense?

The thing I get pissed at is the national attention the Brewers don’t get! The Brewers have lost seven of 10, but all you hear about is the Rays, Red Sox, Toronto and the Cubs. I think that is a joke. The Brewers have all the ingredients to get to the World Series and hopefully their snag is right now instead of going into the final week.

Playoffs, First Round: CC, Sheets for four of the five games. Is there another team in baseball that can match that twosome? The only snag for the Brewers would be if teams pitched tons of righties against them, but the Mets’ and Phillies’ top pitchers are lefties and Perez and Moyer are also lefties. So, these next four games should be very fun to watch. Have fun watching and realize that these are all playoff games…

 

Between Jeff’s responses, a nice come-from-behind victory for the Crew this afternoon and a Phillies’ loss today, I feel a little more at peace going into this big Phillies series. How about everyone else?


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