As the decade comes to a close we thought it would be a good idea to look back on what it all meant for the Milwaukee Brewers and their fans. It's the Brewers Decade in Review. SPOILERS: Some of it is good, a lot of it was bad and most of it was forgettable. Just like every decade except for the 80's. The 80's were awesome.
The 2001 Opening Day was probably the most anticipated Opening Day in Milwaukee Brewers history. You couldn't drive on I-94 without seeing it, you couldn't turn on the TV without hearing about it and you couldn't make love to a man or woman without accidentally screaming it's name. The presence of Miller Park lingered over everything. At least that's how I assume it was, I was living in Seattle in 2001 watching Ichiro lead a team to 116 wins eating copious amounts of salmon and drinking five gallons of latte per day. Yet I couldn't help but notice what was going on back home and feeling sorry for everyone. A whopping 2.8 million people came to see the new place that season and the Brewers rewarded them by winning their first game there. a game that had President George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch. It would prove to be the high point of the season. In the next 161 games they went 67-94.
The story of the season was the offense. Like all the Selig era teams they could hit homeruns (3rd in the league) and not do much of anything else except lose. Eight players hit ten or more homeruns that season. You'd think with a lineup like that they would have an above average offense and with this group, you would be wrong. They weren't good.
There was, however, a few bright spots.Richie Sexson had one of the better offensive seasons the Brewers have had in years with 45 homeruns and 145 125 RBIs. This season also saw the debut of Ben Sheets who was 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA in the first half of the season. Sheets made the All-Star game that season, but Sexson was somehow left off. (Which probably isn't surprising in retrospect as this was the height of the steroids era and 45 homeruns was only good for 6th in the NL and 9th in the MLB. For comparisons sake he would have been third in the NL and MLB this season.) Sheets ended up falling apart in the second half of the season likely costing him a few Rookie of the Year votes that season, but it didn't really matter because nobody was taking it from Pujols.
Speaking of falling apart Jeff D'Amico was the Opening Day starter that year, but ended up only starting only 10 games where he went 2-4 with a 6.08 ERA.
The amateur draft wasn't much better this year. The first round pick was Mike Jones who would go on to a better rap career than playing career with such hits as "I'm N Luv (Wit a Stripper)" and "Back Then". They would hit with a few more picks with such fan favorites as JJ Hardy and Manny Parra. They also added a few solid future contributors in Brad Nelson, Tim Dillard, Dan Kolb and Dennis Sarfate. (What's that you say? They weren't your favorites? Besides Kolb those guys didn't really contribute much to the team? Huh? I can't hear you.)
When people look back on this season they might remember a towering homerun that Sexson hit or a good start from Sheets, but not much else. When all is said and done, 2001 is the season that Miller Park opened and there is nothing that the Brewers did on the field to make people remember the season for anything besides that. Well, unless you're this guy.