02
May 13

Homestander: One Hand, No Hits

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 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.

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18
Apr 13

Homestander: Funky Butt-Lovin’

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.

It's no understatement to say that the internet is pretty cool. In my early childhood, the internet didn't exist. Around 1994, my dad brought home one of those AOL discs and his gigantic work laptop and we spent an hour downloading me pictures of Robert Brooks and George Teague. Growing up during the transitional period between rampant net-lessness and when everyone had the internet and used it constantly is special. I get to appreciate a "simpler" time before the internet in which people had to call people on land lines (or Zack Morris cell phones) to make plans to watch VHS tapes rented from video stores to watch on non-HD televisions while eating yogurt that wasn't in portable plastic tubes. It's a wonder we didn't die.

However, I also got to experience living in a world where I could make plans with girls in ways that didn't require awkwardly talking to dads. I got to watch internet evolve from dial up tones to optional high-speed upgrade to high-speed becoming the norm. We went from taking an hour to download a Len song on Napster to every song being available and, often, offered up by bands themselves. Don't even get me started on improvements in adult entertainment.

Now we live in a world where everyone has the internet and uses it constantly for everything. Embarrassing as it is, I met my girlfriend because of the internet, and that's becoming more and more acceptable (at least that's what people tell me as they slowly back away). I make the majority of my living through writing things for websites. I've seen thousands of cat memes. Memes is a word now. It's great. But with the internet being so prevalent, it's difficult to dodge the annoying tendencies of others. Between relatives with horrendous grammar, everyone from my past shitting out 5,000 kids and people littering my Facebook feed with political nonsense, it can be rough. But everyone has one Twitter follow or Facebook "friend" who takes the cake with their cringeworthy status updates. I'm probably that to person more than a few people, and I won't tell you who mine is, but his existence serves as a daily (at times hourly) reminder than there's someone out there who I'm better than.

So the next time you're retweeted by Taco John's, paying your bills in the middle of the night in your underwear, video-chatting with your friend in Japan, watching a replay of Blake Lalli's game-winning hit or Googling the name of the fat white kid on The Cosby Show (Peter, by the way), count your blessings for living in an age that offers us all these great things... as well as the ability to know that dude you worked with at a pizza place for four months in college is made a vegan stew tonight that was "yummers in [his] tummers." The good still outweighs the bad.

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04
Apr 13

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.
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28
Mar 13

Homestander: Opening Day Edition

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.

In many ways, October 3, 2012 wasn't that long ago. We have the same president. The lease I signed for my apartment has yet to expire. "Gangnam Style" is, unfortunately, still taking faint, periodic breaths of relevance. Though fewer than six months have elapsed since that early October night, it seems like eons have passed. That evening, Vince, myself and a documented 34,449 others (More like 12,000. We alone were handed 20 free tickets by people who had extras) witnessed the last regular season Brewers game that's occurred to date. Fittingly, it was a loss brought on by the bullpen.

Each of the days sitting between October 4 through this coming Easter Sunday is the longest day for Brewers fans. While there are some worthwhile things like Packer season, holidays, the return of beloved TV shows, the occasional concert or comedy show, feigning interest in Spring Training, and out-of-town excursions to occupy our interest and funnel our attention into, it all amounts to just temporary rest stops on the lengthy, desolate road that connects the last out of one season to the first pitch of the next.

Opening Day is special. Not only does it mark the return of baseball, but it also signals the true beginning of a cycle that includes grilling, outdoor drinking, the notion that before 161 more of these games are through being played the snow will melt and leaves will grow on (and later, fall off) trees. We'll be met by familiar sights, sounds and smells. There's also an infinite field of unpredictable possibilities that span April 1, 2013 and yet-to-be-known departure date of Brewers baseball. Maybe Ryan Braun will earn another MVP award that will be given to Buster Posey. Bob Uecker could muster the funniest statement of his broadcast career. A bevy of Twitter accounts devoted to Miller Park animals could be born. Any one of us could bone someone in one of the single occupancy shitters on the 400 level.

So much could happen. And I'm ready for it. Bring on baseball. Continue reading →

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