I'm always checking out twitter during the games. This isn't because all my friends are either old or
lame married or gay, and it's certainly not because I live in a basement and if I make too much noise I'll wake my mom up and she'll be mad. No, I do this because I like to keep my finger on the pulse of what Brewers fans are thinking. I've always sort of prided this blog on that and I enjoy being able to write about whatever people are happy or mad or sad about. It's kind of our thing.
Lately when I take to twitter it hasn't been a lot of fun. All I seem to be doing is defending the Brewers and trying to talk people off of the ledge. This is pretty crazy to me because it's May 15th and we're still a good 126 games away from the end of the season. A LOT CAN HAPPEN. Hell, I just wrote about the season not being over a week ago. Are we giving up again already? Since I wrote that post the Brewers have gone 4-3. Not exactly the streak you've been looking for, but hey they are better off than they were (and if they kept playing like that they'd win 88 games. #justsaying) Oh, and their starters have been really awesome since that post too. Zack Greinke has put in two genius performances, Marcum threw another gem and... you know what? That's not what this is about. I'm not here to tell you not to worry or to relax because I realize the problem runs much deeper than that.
You see I've thought for a long time that if I could just make some strong points about why the Brewers are actually better than their most recent results then people would see a clearer picture and agree with me and thus feel better about the baseball team. Sometimes we all need a little wake up call and that is a post I enjoy writing because people have been telling me to
grow wake up my entire life. It's worked in the past, but what I've come to realize is that some people don't need a wake up call. Some people are just doing it wrong. Some people are watching the Brewers for the wrong reasons. Some people think like this:
And that's just a bad idea. What fun would that be anyway? 35-0, what would be the point of even watching? Oh, the Brewers won again big frickin' deal. I don't even want these George Webb burgers. That isn't what life is about and it certainly isn't what baseball is about. If you are watching the Brewers like this then I think you need some help and I want to be the one to do it. I am going to help you learn to enjoy baseball the Miller Park Drunk way and, no, I don't mean just getting drunk the whole time. (Although that does work too.) I am talking about watching baseball and liking what you see it. Do you think you can handle that? Let's do it.
Remember that there are two teams playing. Two teams that want to win.
Remember Sunday when the Cubs beat the Brewers? A lot of people seemed offended that the last place Cubs dare beat the Brewers, but no matter how much better one team is than another that team will still win games. The 2003 Tigers lost 119 games which doesn't even really seem possible, but they still won 43 games. Yeah, it sucks to lose to that team, but you can't expect them to just lie down for you. That team had Mike Maroth go 9-21 as a starter which is crazy bad, but again there is the 9 wins. Would it suck to lose to that pitcher? Of course it would (we should know we just lost to Miguel Batista,) but he wouldn't have started 33 games if he wasn't just a little bit talented. Even a pitcher with a 8.00 ERA doesn't give up a run every inning.
Sometimes the Brewers will lose to a team that they "should" beat and sometimes they will beat a team that they "shouldn't." It's not a big deal and it doesn't take you out of playoff contention to lose to the Padres.
Enjoy the little things.
Remember that catch. Remember that homerun. Remember that steal. Remember that strikeout. There is always something you can take from a nine inning game that you can recall fondly. Even if it's this:
Don't get mad at things you (or the manager) can't control.
Picture it. It's the bottom of the ninth inning. The Brewers are down by one run. There are two outs. The pitcher is set to bat, a pinch hitter is needed and, wouldn't you know it, this just happens to be Aramis Ramirez's day off. Aramis steps up to the plate with fire in his eyes, he works the count full, waiting for his pitch and when he finally gets it he... pops up to third. The Brewers lose.
Sucks, right? You wanted them to win! If it wasn't for stupid Aramis popping up then they would have!
Now picture this. Tie game in the tenth. On the road. St. Louis. The Brewers need a pitcher so they turn to their closer, John Axford. Best arm in the pen, nobody denies this. The bottom of the order is up so it should be easy pickings, but the first ball gets away from him and he plucks the batter. The next batter sacrifices to second. The next batter strikes out. It's between Axford and whoever is leading off for the Cardinals. John Axford gets a quick two strikes and then... a bloop single sends the Cardinals fans home happy.
Sucks, right? Again, you wanted them to win and they didn't! What the h, man?
Here's the thing about these two situations: there is nothing anyone could do. That's how things were going to go down. Maybe if they had used a different pinch hitter or a different reliever then they might have won, but why would they have used someone different in these spots? They were the best players available and they didn't get the job done. He thought he could hit the pitch he swung at. He thought he could get him out with the pitch he threw. They were wrong and the Brewers lost. Call it bad luck or call it bad timing, but there is nothing you can do about it except try again next time.
Now take that concept and expand it to the entire game you are watching.
Which is to say: don't ever get mad at a hitter for getting out. Or a pitcher for giving up a hit.
The last person to average a hit in four out of ten at-bats did so in 1941. Which is to say a person hasn't got out "only" six out of ten times in 71 years. You simply cannot get a hit every time and you will fail a lot more than you succeed. Don't be mad when those times of failure came with "runners in scoring position" or when the game was tied. Trust me the player, no matter how silly he may look at the plate, wants to get a hit.
Pitchers are harder to explain. They can miss their spots, they can call the wrong pitch and just get beat, they can have a ball slip on them, they can get a tight strike zone from an umpire or a multitude of other things. There are a ton of things that can go wrong on a pitch per pitch basis and a very short list of things that can go right. Keep that in mind, but also keep in mind that the amount of pitchers who are actually really good at pitching is very small. There is a reason that no-hitters are a big deal. For the most part every middle reliever is not good enough to be a closer, every closer is not good enough to be a starter, every #2 starter is not good enough to the be #1 starter and on and on. When Kameron Loe gives up hits, it shouldn't be that surprising. When Marco Estrada gives up a bomb to Jay Bruce, you should see it coming. Jay Bruce is better at baseball than him.
To simplify this point: just think of baseball as a never ending game of rock-paper-scissors. (It's not a coin flip, there's more to it than that.) Every at-bat and every pitch is a game of rock-paper-scissors. You want a team full of guys who take a deep analytical approach to rock-paper-scissors and have well thought out strategies for how to win, but sometimes people are just going to beat you at it because rock beats scissors, scissors beat paper and paper beats rock. It's just the way it goes.
It takes a lot of skill to be a good baseball team, but it also takes a lot of luck too.
So tune it out.
I do my best to watch every game, but I hardly watch every game. I'll read a book or listen to music or mess around on the computer while the game plays in the background. If the game sucks, I'll keep doing whatever it is I'm doing. If it's good, I will put more attention on it. Nobody every said that you have to watch every pitch of every game to be a "true" Brewers fan.
Blame the manager.
Hey, when the Brewers lose because John Axford gave up a run I can handle it. He's their best reliever and he got beat. It happens. When the Brewers lose a game because John Axford is sitting on the bench and Tim Dillard is in the game? I get pissed. You can't ask the players to do better than they are doing, but you can ask the manager to do the right thing. Using Tim Dillard when there are better options is the wrong thing. Having Cesar Izturis pinch hit is the wrong thing. Put the team in the best position to win and I will never complain when they lose. Do this crap? I WILL COMPLAIN LOUDLY. SEE? I AM TYPING IN ALL CAPS.
Sometimes a team starts off slow and then heats up. Sometimes teams go up and down all season. Some teams just suck. I'm not sure which one of these the Milwaukee Brewers are yet, but I can assure you they are not the last one. They won't lose 90 games and there won't be a fire sale. Rickie Weeks won't hit below .200 and John Axford will not have a Trevor Hoffman-esque ERA. A baseball season tells a story and the first chapter has sucked, but there's a hell of a lot of story left to be told. Don't rush to judgement and just enjoy the ride.
And if you can't do that?
Just stop watching. Please. Don't do something you don't enjoy. It's a waste of life. Go do something fun and forget about baseball for awhile. We'll be here waiting in October.