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 and watch him embarrass himself at Miller Park Drunk's Pants Party 3D on June 23.
In my 28-plus years on this planet, I'd estimate I've attended approximately 150 or so Major League Baseball games--roughly an entire season's worth of games. Thanks to proximity to the Miller Park, friends who love going to games and likely not being able to get a girl pregnant due to a perfect storm of looking as I do, binge-drinking Lo-Carb Monster and often resting my laptop on my crotch, I get to the park more than the average American. I mean, it's not like I'm in my mid- to late-40s and get to drive 200 combined miles 50 to 60 times a year to watch games alone while my spouse stays home with my kids, but I've still been pretty fortunate to witness as many baseball games as I have in my life.
In games I've attended, I've seen tons of Major League debuts, Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks' first home runs (same game!), first hits, five stadiums in as many states, fist fights, dramatic game-winning plays, crippling bullpen collapses, a 40-something biker lady whip out a breast, the bottom of countless helmet bowls, a Brooks Kieschnick pinch hit HR, and enough people doing the wave to make me absolutely lose faith in humanity. I think I once saw Ken Macha move! I've seen some great things and am lucky to have a baseball stadium serve as the background to many of my most prevalent and joyus memories in my life. But there's one thing I've never seen that I desperately want to, and--no matter how many hundred additional games I attend--might never see: a no-hitter.
If my math is correct, there are 4,860 regular season no-hitter opportunities. Once the playoffs are through, MLB starting pitchers will have more than 4,900 combined chances to accomplish the feat. At this point, there have only been 279 no-hitters in MLB history (280 if Jim Joyce was never born), so it's admittedly not a very common event. Still, of all teams in baseball (excluding the Nationals, who are basically the Expos, which have four no-nos in their history), the Brewers and the Mets have the fewest. That Brewers no-hitter by Juan Nieves--which Bill Schroeder caught. I don't know if he's ever mentioned it--in 1987 is one less than the no-no tallies of the Brooklyn Superbas, Washington Senators and Providence Grays and five fewer than the St. Louis Browns--six fewer than Nolan Ryan on his lonesome. Someone named Steve Busby even tossed one more no-hitter than the entire Brewers franchise has. In fact, one was against Milwaukee.
Milwaukee has been no-hit thrice (1974, 1994 and 2007), but never in a home game when I was alive. Pitchers with Brewers connections, such as Chris Bosio, Hideo Nomo (twice) and Jim Abbott has tossed no-nos, but never in a Brew Crew uniform. Carlos Zombrano threw one at Miller Park when the hurricane-displaced Houston Astros were using it as the team's "Home" stadium and I almost went, but lived in Appleton at the time and decided against buying tickets the morning of. Really, to see a no-hitter is special because it's a perfect recipe of skill, luck, circumstance and a silently thickening atmosphere around the approaching milestone. Once a pitcher (Brewer or otherwise) tosses five clear frames at a game I'm attending, I allow myself to imagine that this might be the game I see my no-hitter and have a story about being there when some asshole like Eric Stults no hit my Brewers in a fairly meaningless contest. In the 9th, I'd openly root for an opposing pitcher to no-hit Milwaukee (excluding elimination games). I don't care. So in addition to the game itself and the periphery joys of tailgating, hearing "Return Of The Mack", seeing mini-milestones, gross boob flashing, 50/50 frozen margaritas and laughing when somebody fucks up a simple trivia question, I go and will continue to go to games with the unlikely, but ever-present hope of witnessing a no-hitter.
Unless it's Bronson Arroyo. Fuck that guy.
MicroBrew - Minor Leaguer Of The Week
Remember when Mike Fiers was on the Brewers? Obama was president and everyone was Twittering while listening to the Lumineers. He's tearing it up in Nashville, so this might be my last chance to nominate the pun-inspiring pitcher for this.
Blatz from the Pabst - Old School Brewer
What has one hand and is incredibly talented and inspiring? Jim Abbott (points at him with one hand while eating a sandwich with the other). Though Jim Abbott only pitched in Milwaukee for one season and it was one of his worst in baseball (and his last), I'm proud the organization is part of his incredible story. Best yet, his stint came just after the Crew moved to the National League, so he had to bat too. In 21 at-bats, Abbott had two hits and three RBI. Suck it, Ben Sheets!
Handy Heckle - Cardinals
Whatever, the Yankees arguably have a richer and more accomplished history than you guys!
Tailgating Tips - What to put inside you, etc.
To eat: Shrimp and Spanish Chorizo Bites (via Lizconsin)
1/2 pound medium shrimp (about 30 shrimp), peeled and deveined if necessary
1 (7.9 ounce) package of Spanish chorizo, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon dry Sherry
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, garlic, oregano, vinegar, Sherry, and 1/4 cup of the olive oil; toss to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Skewer one shrimp and one round of chorizo onto wooden toothpicks or skewers.
Repeat with the remaining shrimp and chorizo.
Working in batches, oil your grill and heat to medium-high. Place skewers on the grill and sear on both sides until the shrimp are cooked through and the chorizo is lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Garnish with parsley.
(Adapted from The Galley Gourmet)
To drink: Like any Wisconsin resident who's five to 10 pounds overweight, I like an Old Fashioned or six to wash down my beer batter-douched cod and seven side starches I wolf down almost every Friday of my life. But if you're on the go or too cheap to buy bitters, pick up Arty's Old Fashioneds. Basically, a Fox Valley man and his uncle pre-make and bottle this in-state brandy staple (though I prefer whiskey in mine) in both sweet and sour varieties. I'm livid that I didn't think of this idea first. It was right there all along. Idiot, Tyler!
Tailgating Tunes - Milwaukee music recommendation
Sharing a spot on the vaunted Sub Pop label with acts like The Shins, Iron And Wine, King Tuff, Wolf Parade, David Cross, Eugene Mirman and a thousand other great bands and comedians, Milwaukee slacker-rock outfit Jaill specializes in stripped-down and summer-inspired songs that have the ability to stick in your head any time the temperature climbs above 70.
Monday, I met Jaill's frontman, founder and sole remaining original member Vinnie at a coffee shop to interview him for an article. After the interview we were finish our drinks and I asked him, a Burlington, WI native in his early 30s, if he knew Tony Romo in high school. He said he tried to convince his then-girlfriend to break up with Romo, saying something along the lines of "That guy's not going to do anything. He's going to Northern Illinois." Strangely, he was sort of right. Unless you count convincing Jerry Jones you're a starting-caliber NFL quarterback as doing something. See Jaill play a somewhat rare local gig at Hotel Foster on Saturday night.
If you can't make it to Miller Park - Watch the game here
Leff's Lucky Town in Wauwatosa. Best known as the Yovani Gallardo DUI bar now, I couldn't resist giving this place a try. I actually had a great sandwich there. Plus, you know the drinks are strong and (overly) abundant.
Ad-monishment - Shaming local commercials that deserve it
It's hard to hate on Leinenkugel's. Through decades of hard work and solid marketing, the Chippewa Falls brewery has gained national notoriety and exponential distribution growth. Plus, they make some pretty good beers. When I was in San Diego last week, they had it. Really, it's everywhere now--it's even a MLB Network sponsor. So it's kind of a polarizing feeling to see a beer I used to overpay my friend's older sister to buy for me when I was 18 morph into Fat Tire v.2.0 a decade later. It's like that band you've loved forever getting huge, then changing its sound and adding four new members.
I couldn't pick just one ad. Between the "Out here, we win a lot of awards" [show one third place certificate from a regional beer competition in 2001], hamming up their Northwoods accents for lines about how it's made right up in here in Chippewa Falls and the sudden addition of 67 new family members to the commercials (Who's Ellie? I mean, she can stay, but still... she's new!), it's becoming too much. Essentially, this little craft brewery that could now serves as Miller's hidden microbrew arm. Acknowledge it, Leine's and stop the forced camping commercials already.
@BernieRadio - Vince and I are too lazy and poor to try and start a podcast, so I appreciate those who take the time and energy to do so. Liz (see recipe above) and Dave host this periodical, predominately unbeat podcast. I won a hot dog bobblehead from listening to it. If you listen, you'll win one too. Guaranteed.
Have any ideas for any of these categories? Email tips to ForwardFabrics@gmail.com. GO TO THE PANTS PARTY 3D!!!