In their recent analysis of a trade between the Athletics and the Astros the gang over at Brew Crew Ball included this line in their opening:
Both sides of yesterday's Athletics/Astros trade show us why it's good to be a Brewer fan.
The gist of the article, it seems, is that the As gave up a lot to fill a need that the Brewers no longer have and that they are in a better position going forward than the Astros. This is oh so very true. Jean Segura could work out great and fill a serious need for a long time, it would suck to be the Astros and the Brewers have very few legit holes in their roster. It is a good time to root for this particular baseball team over those particular baseball teams. (Well, except the As who have an (arguably) better front office, deeper farm system and had a much more fun 2012 than the Brewers, but still.) This is a good point, I suppose, liking the Brewers is "fun" right now. They've been in the discussion for the playoffs in four of the past six years and have actually been there twice. They field teams with superstars like Ryan Braun, Zack Greinke, Ben Sheets Prince Fielder,
Eric Gagne and CC Sabathia. Best of all, they aren't the Cubs so the idea of them winning the World Series seems plausible. If you like baseball teams because they might win the World Series, then the Brewers sure are a decent to average choice of baseball team to like!
Is that why we're watching though? This question has been bugging me lately as the Brewers enter the (NO) MONEYBALL era of the franchise. The Brewers are looking to have their lowest Opening Day payroll since Geoff Jenkins was a thing and this has caused some serious worry in Brewers land. (Despite popular belief I have not entered into a Mrs. Robinson-esque situation with Mrs. Attanasio and the payroll drop isn't a reflection of my new salary as her official blogger/sex toy. Although my girlfriend and I have talked about it and she'd be okay with it. So, like, call me Debbie.) I don't think this is something to really worry about, honestly. It'd have been cool if the Brewers added another starter, but it's hard to look at those last few months of the season and say things like "Re-sign Marcum!" or "Don't give Rogers or Peralta a chance!" They built a new bullpen by removing some junk and adding some intriguing pieces. Oh, and the fifth best OPS team in all of baseball remains intact. Why screw up the future by signing Kyle Lohse? What do they need with Michael Bourn, seriously? What would they even do with him? What's the issue here?
The issue, of course, is that you spend your hard earned money on tickets. Three million sold three of the past five years! Over 2.75 million for six years in a row, going on seven! They owe us a winning team. They owe us the NL Central title. They owe us a World Series! We are only spending our money on this team because we think that we might be rewarded for it later! Rewarded with championship trophies and parades! Then we can spend even more money on them! Don't they want our money!?
Here's the thing, the Brewers do want your money. They love taking your money. They want to win a World Series too. Not even for your money, but to prove that they were right. So that Mark Attanasio can prove he was right to buy a baseball team in bumfuck Milwaukee and so that Doug Melvin can prove that his moves were right and that he is really awesome at GM-ing and so that Ron Roenicke can prove that he was right to do all those weird things that he does. Spending money does not equal winning. Doug Melvin and his front office guys are way better at front office stuff than you. If they think that this team can win the division and it isn't worth the money or the picks to add someone then they have good reasons for that. Reasons besides this:
But the question of "is that why you are watching?" still remains. Do you really follow a team year round, watch them for one hundred and sixty two games, a season so long it borders on masochism, just on the off-chance that they will somehow stay healthy, get hot and win eleven out of nineteen games at the end of the year? Is that why you put yourself through all of this?
Don't get me wrong, winning the World Series would be pretty frickin' amazing. I'd probably write a book, get a "Brewers World Chapmions" tramp stamp then get black out drunk every single game until my liver gives out and they donate my body to science. There would be a new record set for World Series champion related merchandise sold and no one would ever be able to take that away from us. It'd be ours forever.
That'd be cool.
It's also somewhat unrealistic. The playoffs are a crap shoot as it is. Everything needs to break perfect for your team and even then you still need a miracle (See: Zito, Barry.) It might happen, but what if it doesn't? The rich are starting to get richer than ever before and the days of this seeming somewhat plausible might pass us by. Will you still be there?
Maybe it's my age, my growing understanding of How Baseball Works, my increasing maturity or the addition of more playoff teams that make this thing even more of a game of Blind Man's Bluff, but I have stopped watching for the dreams of the World Series. The World Series would be amazing, but it doesn't define me as a Brewers fan. I loved the 2012 team more than the 2011 team. Wily Peralta excites me more than Kyle Lohse ever could. The Brewers might not always put a World Series-caliber team on the field, but they always put together a team worth watching over a long season and that's what I need from Milwaukee Brewers baseball.
I desire the unknown, the journey. The destination stopped mattering a long time ago.