Each 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.
I'm not afraid to admit it. In 2008, after a Ryan Braun home run essentially won the ever-important 162nd game of the Brewers season and FSN (as it was called at the time) stayed live to show fan reaction to the last out of the Mets collapse that landed the Brewers in the playoffs, I wept. I was 23 at the time and in (in true blogger form) in my mom's basement with my family... none of whom particularly care for the Brewers, especially when the rare feat got in the way of a week 4 Packers game. I'm sure it was an odd sight for them, but (as sad as it sounds) I'd never felt such joy in my life in relation to baseball.
I went to Game 5 of the NLDS in 2011. Vince and I shelled out $100 apiece for left field bleacher seats, and Vince quickly abandoned me to watch at Friday's out of nervous habit. When the Crew won in extra innings, I stifled a full-on man-sob as best I could, hugged and high-fived strangers as confetti rained down from the metallic heavens. A few tears cracked through my masculine veneer and rolled down my cheek as I scooped up come confetti and departed.
I swear I'm not that guy who cries over sports stuff usually. I'm aware of the invisible line in the sand that separates being a sports fan and being a sports nut. And I'm sure as hell not that guy who cries over anything. At least I wasn't. You'd think as you get older, it gets easier to hold one's emotions in check. To a certain extent, it does become more manageable to weather the constant blows of life's disappointments. But in another sense, the longer you live on Earth, the more you taken in, the more you're shaped and re-shaped, and the more your emotions are eroded and mutated in the waxing and waning of existence's high and low tides. Occasionally, something small or unexpected can just break you down. Or at least that's what I'm dealing with at 28.
If a Subaru commercial, a line from a Weakerthans song or some god damn sports moment from yet another World Series-less Milwaukee Brewers season can produce ocular moisture, I'm seriously afraid for my tear ducts when I become a father (and all subsequent dad moments), when I get married and when I lose a close friend or relative. This makes me a total wuss and I probably shouldn't have written it. But hey, I'll take the Brewers tears when I can get them. I'll just blame it on allergies or being way too drunk.
MicroBrew - Minor Leaguer Of The Week
In the wake of the tornado that ravaged Oklahoma earlier this week, some good came in the form of Timber Rattlers pitcher Damien Magnifico pledging to donate money to an Oklahoma charity for each Retweet he received. In all, he donated more than $300 to charity, which is a lot of trips to Solea and the Fox River Mall for a low-A player. Hopefully the gesture provides a karmic boost to the young hurler's 4.91 ERA through seven appearances.
Blatz from the Pabst - Old School Brewer
Ben Hendrickson is the best quadruple-A pitcher in Brewers franchise history. The blonde-haired hurler dominated at almost every minor league level, but could never put it together at the big league level. I can remember being really high on this guy when I was a senior in high school and my first couple years of college. It's pretty sad when you hinge your rotation's future on guys like Hendrickson and Nick Neugebauer. Anyway, Hendrickson managed a 1-10 career record with a 7.41 ERA in 58 innings in 2004 and 2006, before being dealt to the Royals for an double-A catcher named Maxim St. Pierre. Neither did anything thereafter, but the Brewers totally won that deal by getting a guy with a name like that.
Handy Heckle - Pirates
There's so much to choose from. Picking your favorite piece of Pirates smack is like choosing your favorite child. You pick the best one. For me, the best way to troll Pittsburgh fans is to focus on their on-going 20-season postseason drought. The last time the Bucs were in the playoffs, Starling Marte was celebrating his 4th birthday. Dough Drabek (whose son Kyle is like a five-year pro now) was the last Pirates playoff starter. Sure, that streak of playofflessness could very well end this season. That's when you bring up the Packers beating the Steelers in the Super Bowl 45.
Tailgating Tips - What to put inside you, etc.
To eat: Hot dogs! With Spring Madness in full swing this week, $1 helpings of lips and buttholes were flying haphazardly from concession stands and (momentarily) into the bodies of fans. The MPD boyz got in on the fun Tuesday when Vince and myself took down some dogs... seven apiece, to be exact. Having gone a few years without eating a hot dog, I actually enjoyed a basic dog. The other six on the other hand...
To drink: If you're craving a decent Wisconsin-made brew, but you're short on time, money and/alcohol tolerance, consider a Rhinelander Shorty. A few years ago, Minhas Brewery (of Mountain Crest and violent diarrhea fame) in Monroe, WI helped resurrect this once-discontinued beer. Since pulling a Lazarus, Rhinelander and its classic 7-ounce shorty bottle have been making increasingly more appearances in Wisconsin liquor stores and taverns by the week. Oftentimes, you can get a 24-bottle case for like $9. Not bad, and perfect for a bloody mary chaser.
Tailgating Tunes - Wisconsin music recommendation
Hailing from the indie rock hotbed that is Baraboo, WI, Phox (pronounced "Fox"... I think) is truly something special. While most of the band's catalog isn't exactly rip-roaring tailgating music, you need to hear the seven-piece folky outfit do its thing. "Its thing" constitutes gorgeous, sometimes-peppy, sometimes-crushing songs destined to propel the band to greater things. They also have been making music videos for every song on their albums of late (watch one if you have 20 idle minutes). In songs like "Laura," Phox singer Monica Martin can reduce me to rubble with a voice that's somehow as beautiful as she is. You can download their album Confetti for as much as you'd like to pay (including free) on Bandcamp. If you're in Green Bay tomorrow (Thursday), you can see them at the Meyer Theatre for free. Show Monica that Vine video of me eating a hot dog, gauge her interest and report back to me.
If you can't make it to Miller Park - Watch the game here
I'm feeling oddly nostalgic as I write this and I want to venture outside of Milwaukee for this every now and then, so I'll go with Peabody's Ale House (544 N. Main St., Oshkosh) this week. I went to college in Oshkosh, and (hailing from nearby Menasha) felt like I robbed myself of the true "college experience" by attending a school so close to home. But for the most part, Peabody's is a place that carries good memories from the predominately regrettable experience that helped make me into the $21,000/year uninsured freelance writer with $50,000 in education debt. Peabody's is one of the city's few live music venues and used to have pitchers of "Lizard Lager" (*cough* Berghoff Red *cough*) for like $6 and popcorn for free at all hours. After I graduated, the ale house got even better, adding an outdoor bar, bonfire pits and projecting movies/games on the brick wall of a neighboring business. I make it to Oshkosh to visit my sister and be that pathetic weirdo grasping at his youth about twice a year, so I try to make it there now and then. If you live in Oshkosh, give it a shot. If you don't live in Oshkosh, avoid Oshkosh.
Ad-monishment - Shaming commercials that deserve it
I thought KFC was bad enough when it was just unethically-produced, criminally unhealthy food I avoided. My dislike for the company grew all the more when the commercial where the woman said "Gameday Bucket go boom!" rendered me sterile. Both those things are nothing compared to the corporation's new "I ate the bones" ad campaign for its NEW Original Recipe Boneless.
The word "Boneless" is in the name of the menu item! Unless the dude is blind and/or illiterate and pointed at a laminated photo of it, gave an approving grunt and plugged his ears when the order was repeated back to him, the guy had to either say or hear the word BONELESS--likely both--before he can receive his food. The fact that people on Earth laugh at this and repeat it without a shred of irony makes me surrender the last remaining morsels of hope I have for humanity. It makes my brain want to, not unlike the Gameday Bucket, go boom.
@NelliesNuggets - an accurate ode to Milwaukee's favorite member of the Brewers broadcast team skating by on the fumes of moderate athletic talent 30 years ago that didn't catch a Juan Nieves no-hitter. As I write this, the account has an unjustly low 23 followers. Follow and hopefully the volume of tweets will increase as well. Who couldn't use more gems like this in their timeline?
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