Homestander: Fantasy And Reality

HomestanderEach Thursday preceding Brewers weekend home stands, Tyler Maas will help prepare fans for all elements of the upcoming series with the Homestander. Tyler prints Wisconsin-themed shirts at Forward Fabrics and contributes to such fine publications as Milwaukee Magazine and The A.V. Club Milwaukee. All views, naughty words and weirdo sentiments are his own. Follow him at @TylerJamesMaas.

Last weekend, my fantasy league had its draft in a secluded backroom at a bar (creatively called "The Bar") back in my hometown of Appleton. This is the eighth year of my league, so we all kind of have our tendencies. Some over-study, others do next-to-no work (me), there's the guy who takes five minutes to pick, the dude who always drafts Shin Soo Choo two rounds too early, the one running two separate projection aps on his elaborate bar-table war room. Among other tendencies I have (taking too many starters way too early), I've always been the guy who doesn't draft any meaningful Brewers.

A good portion of our league either keeps Brewers or draft them way too early. Since I'm not about to take Aramis Ramirez in the second round or have Mike Fiers on my team at all, I usually miss out on the homer picks and try to get the best value left. This year was different. First, I reacted to a run on middle infielders by snatching up Rickie Weeks way too early. Whoops! Then I used the free pick from a trade to reach for Carlos Gomez in the sixth round (well, ninth including our three keepers) because he's my favorite Brewer. That's not even the worst of it. A mixture of taking down multiple buckets of beer and wanting to screw over other teams without shortstops yet, I drafted Jean Segura way too early... meaning I drafted Jean Segura.

Just days into the season, I've realized an underlying reason why I don't traditionally draft Brewers. I get too wrapped up in both being a Brewers fan AND being a fantasy nerd. Mixing the two has already led to lofty highs and crushing lows for me. When CarGo had a .125 OBP and no steals in the first series, it sucked all the more. When Weeks hit a homer last night and Miller Park went wild, I high-fived a friend and said "FANTASY!" which made me feel lame for putting stat priority over a player on my favorite real team doing well. As Jean Segura is blistering hot, I kick myself for having him on the bench. In short, it's weird to own Brewers in fantasy. Juggling fantasy and reality is tough. Rickie Weeks is available.

MicroBrew - Minor Leaguer Of The Week
Brock Kjeldgaard is a fan favorite among those with an extensive knowledge of the club's minor league system. Of course, part of that is because he's been in that system since 2006, so he has exposure on his side. The 34th round pick is a converted pitcher who, following two abysmal seasons on the mound, re-started his minor league journey at first base then, eventually, in the outfield. He's still in double-A and seemingly blocked by Khris Davis, Logan Schaefer and--until 2020--Ryan Braun, but just try and hate a Canadian former-pitcher with a crazy-ass last name who hit 87 homers in the minors.

Blatz from the Pabst - Old School Brewer
Remember when Yuniesky Betancourt was on the Brewers? Crazy! Just kidding. Let's talk about Steve Sparks. Speaking of long roads from the minors to the bigs, Sparks was taken in the 5th round of the 1987 draft. However his first start came in 1995... it would've been '94, barring a freak season-ending injury sustained trying to tear a phone book in half. The knuckleballer started 40 games in 1995 and 1996 (winning 13) and posting a 5.23 ERA before missing another season due to injury and eventually signing with the Tigers. If I were a wealthier man, I'd take out an ad in the Yellow Pages to advertise how much Sparks screwed the Brewers over. Literally dozens of people would see it.

Handy Heckle - Diamondbacks
Even though the Brewers don't exactly have much to hold over the much-young D-Backs franchise in terms of success (with Arizona winning four division titles and one World Series this century to Milwaukee's one division title and no World Series crowns EVER), the Brew Crew does have one point of pride--aside from the 2011 NLDS--to hoist above the franchise. Before the 2004 season, Brewers GM Doug Melvin made his first big deal by trading franchise face Richie Sexson to the Diamondbacks for petty much everyone on Arizona. The haul brought Craig Counsell, Lyle Overbay, Chris Capuano, Jorge De La Rosa, Junior Spivey and Chad Moeller. Those players, and the players brought in resulting trades (Dave Bush, Zach Jackson [later in C.C. Sabathia deal], Gabe Gross, Josh Butler, Tomo Ohka, Tony Graffanino) were invaluable in turning the Brewers franchise around completely. Sexson's contributions to Arizona, you ask? Nine homers and 23 RBI in 23 games.

That's pretty wordy and stat-laden, so if you see any Arizona fans this weekend, just say... actually, don't worry about it. Nobody who likes the Diamondbacks lives anywhere near Wisconsin.

Tailgating Tips - What to put inside you, etc.
To eat: Chorizo. All day, every day. There's no wrong way to eat this succulent Mexican staple. Seriously, you could eat in one of those plastic Playskool buns. You could eat it raw out of a rented bowling shoe and it'd still be good if you put some diced avocado on it. But the best way to get deep on some 'Rizo is by blanketing that MFer in a warm flour tortilla (lay it over the sausage a minute or two before it's done) with El Rey™ pico de gallo generously heaped atop it all. Not a requirement, with if you have sour cream or guacamole, even better. Clean up the mess with El Rey™ lemon flavor chips, which are so worth the resulting man-breasts. El Rey™ should sponsor this.
To drink: Old Milwaukee! Wisconsin is responsible for some of the finest and most delicious beers on Earth, hands down. Also, we make Old Milwaukee. Perhaps best known recently for the hilarious Will Ferrell ads, people fail to realize Old Milwaukee is actually a pretty solid cheap beer. I'll easily forgo PBR for an Old Milwaukee, much to the chagrin of friends. Whatever, more for me.
Avoid: Slapping the bag. To those not in the know, this is where you strike a plastic bladder of wine (for no particular reason), then wrap your lips around the spout and drink from it for as long as you can because, uh... SLAP-A DA BAG, MON!!! I've done it more than a few times, and if you're looking for the fastest way to get drunk, contract cold sores and ensure you have a headache for the next 48 hours, you've found it!

Tailgating Tunes - Milwaukee music recommendation
In this month's Milwaukee Magazine, I wrote an article about The Fatty Acids. Since I first heard the band a couple years ago, I've championed this band hard. In spending a little more time with the band to write the feature and hearing some of their new songs, I'm more behind this band than ever. Not only are they nice, funny and motivated youngsters, I predict they'll be the next band in Milwaukee to break out. It's not a matter of if, it's when.

Just try and resist The Fatty Acids' infectious brand of indie rock-meets-pop. You can download every song they've ever recorded on Bandcamp for FREE. So you have zero excuse not to listen to this band and play them in the general admission lot this weekend. Then see them play a comedy show at Cactus Club (Milwaukee) on 4/26.

If you can't make it to Miller Park - Watch the game here
My favorite bar in Milwaukee is none other than Blackbird Bar (3007 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee). In addition to letting me sell some of my shirts there recently, employing a bunch of great people, letting me fill in on door (if you've seen my muscle tone, you know how generous this is) this great Bay View bar offers an incredible selection of Wisconsin beer (over 100!). Admittedly, there are only two non-HD TVs (one of which seems to have alien coding for close captioning. Still, between the great happy hour special of $2 Riverwest Stein/Schlitz and BOGO rail cocktails from 4-9 every day--even on weekends--you need to go there. After the game, we can all play Apples to Apples and take a picture in the photo booth.

Ad-monishment - Shaming local commercials that deserve it
This space is usually reserved for tearing apart TV and radio commercials, but a new Miller Park in-game promotion I saw last night is too terrible not to mention. I mean, they're all awful, but this one takes the cake, spits on it and throws it into a Port-O-John before anyone can take a bite.

The new Briggs & Stratton roulette promo is a scoreboard version of the casino game with red, black and gray sections. Not one, but THREE lucky fans are assigned a colored chip and vie for a single prize. Using NO skill at all, the contestants watch the scoreboard to see if they will be the lucky winner ooooof... a generator? A $50 gift card good towards a new snow thrower? Nope! The prize is a God damn adjustable cap that has the company's logo on it. "Way to go, Mr. Gray! Here's an unfashionable head garment to help advertise this company that gave us money to build a boring game around it. Hope you enjoy trying (and failing) to sell it for 50 cents at a rummage sale in two years."

This promo makes the Palermo's sausage toss of yore seem like the Oprah's favorite things giveaway show by comparison.

Follow
@DimTillard -- better known as former Brewers pitcher Tim Dillard. He's only 20 tweets in and he's already rendering most of us unnecessary with his funny oddball tweets that make you cringe and smile at the same time. If he starts having Twitter conversations with @Cinnabon, I'll be obsolete.

Have any ideas for any of these categories? Email tips to ForwardFabrics@gmail.com.

In addition to contributing to Miller Park Drunk, Tyler Maas writes for Milwaukee Magazine, The A.V. Club Milwaukee and The A.V. Club Madison. When he isn't writing, he's holding down the Forward Fabrics shop. He wholeheartedly endorses Frank's Sauerkaut, Koops' Arizona Heat mustard and removing the DH from baseball altogether. Follow him on Twitter @TylerJamesMaas.

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