5 reasons to keep paying attention to the Brewers
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The writing is on the wall. After four and a half months of ACL tears, blown saves, Rickie Weeks straddling the .200 mark, hurt pitchers, blown saves, suitcase injuries, routinely snatching defeat from the clutches of victory, utter disappointment, and blown saves, the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers season is pretty much over. Add a 42nd consecutive mark to the World Champion-less season tally. Zack Greinke, George Kottaras, and even Cesar Izturis have been sold off, and the team sits well below .500, with more than six weeks of baseball left to play.
Combine the Brewers shortcomings with the approaching Packers, Badgers, and (for 12 of you) Bucks seasons, and the idea of stomaching another Crew contest is rendered even less alluring. However, as Milwaukee limps its way toward the forth-place finish line, there are still a few reasons to watch, listen, and even consider attending Brewers games. The A.V. Club fought to find the West Bend Silver Lining in what’s left of this overcast period of Milwaukee Brewers baseball.
1. Michael Fiers:
Rookie Of The Year Major League-caliber starter
Amid the departure of Greinke, Shaun Marcum’s lengthy absence, the catastrophically bad bullpen, and Randy Wolf’s existence, an unexpected stopgap has emerged to plug the run-funnel that is contemporary Brewers pitching every fifth day. Well, “unexpected” might be the wrong term, as it implies any of us knew who he was prior to May—and nobody remembers his two scoreless innings last September. Regardless of adjective or past recollections, Mike Fiers has come on unbelievably strong in his first dozen big league starts since being called up to the show.
Fiers’ first 80 innings with the Brewers this season found the righty going 6-4 with a 1.80 ERA and 80 Ks, in addition to breaking off nine consecutive quality starts. Even after Fiers was bludgeoned for eight runs in two-plus innings by the Rockies this week, his ERA only rose to a paltry 2.63. The 27-year-old rookie’s work in (arguably) meaningless post-All-Star break contests has been enough to thrust his name into the 2013 Brewers rotation, and even has some knee-jerk Brewers faithful asking “Zack who?” Though not exactly Greinke-caliber, Fiers making the most of his opportunity in the ailing Brewers rotation has been encouraging, and fun to witness.
2. The scary realization that Bob Uecker could potentially be mortal
Face it: Mr. Baseball likely doesn’t have another 41 seasons of Brewers broadcasting left in him. Sure, even at 77, he boasts a better physique than much of our fair state’s populace. But he’s only a couple of seasons removed from heart surgery, and with every late-term pregnant pause and “Get up! Get up! Get … off that wall!”, we’re reminded that there will be a day when his iconic voice and unmatched hilarity will no longer be heard on AM radio, or anywhere else.
Hopefully, that tragic day won’t arrive for many, many years. But, should it come sooner than later, wouldn’t you hate knowing you squandered the opportunity to hear Ueck in action because you opted to watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on The Learning Channel? Plus, as the Crew gets ever further from contention, he’s more prone to venturing off topic.
(Case in point, from July 30: “Beautiful night. Moon is out. Every once in a while you can see the spaceship Zoyja passing by. They're probably tuned into our broadcast up there. Gotta have good eyes to see it, though.” Never die, Bob.)
3. Ballpark promotions
No matter the significance, it’s always fun to take in a game in person, between tailgating, the (now) lack of guilt associated with tailgating until the third inning, hearing such modern hits as “Whoomp! (There It Is)” over the stadium speakers, and the actual game. Sweetening the deal even more are the remaining promotions and giveaways. Just try sleeping at night knowing you’ve wasted two opportunities to obtain a Subway coupon. There’s also an Aramis Ramirez bobblehead, which provides little-to-no savings at Subway, but is still kind of cool.
4. New faces
The array or injuries, the Greinke trade, and the utter lack of effectiveness of most regulars have augmented the Brewers lineup into an unrecognizable cast of no-risk minor league call-ups. Aside from the aforementioned Fiers, the fragile elbow tendons of 2004 first-round draftee Mark Rodgers have been given a chance to pitch regularly. Something called Jim Henderson briefly donned the closer role, and new shortstop of the future, Jean Segura, is the shortstop of the present, too. September 1 roster expansion promises even more unfamiliar names will appear on lineup cards.
5. The Brewers are (technically) still in playoff contention
With about 40 games left, a lot can happen. Who knows, maybe Milwaukee will win out! Playoffs could abruptly expand to a 30-team format, or Doug Melvin could unearth some type of Contra-like cheat code in the baseball rulebook. Anything is possible... except, you know, any of that stuff.