Calculated excitement: 5 more magic numbers for the Brewers season
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No amount of calling Albert Pujols a woman could cajole a win for the Brewers’ final regular-season game against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday. That means after yesterday’s loss to Philadelphia, the Brewers’ magic number still sits at 11. Any combination of Brewers wins or Cardinals losses totaling that will punch the crew’s postseason ticket, but focusing on that with the teams’ combined 36 remaining games will hemorrhage you out. Instead, The A.V. Club will concern itself with some of the less immediate magic numbers that apply as the Brewers wind down the season.
The 2011 Crew is already one of the Brewers’ most memorable incarnations, but the shaggy, blue-collar ghost of the ’82 team still lingers. Hell, based on the number of times Robin Yount kicks it in the booth with Uecker, or the number of times Gorman Thomas simply kicks it in the stands, you’d think that someone had resurrected County Stadium from below the family-friendly Helfaer Field. But while the ’11 Crew may sometimes seem like a slick, Hollywood reboot of
Harvey’s Wallbangers (with Ryan Braun reprising the long-term role made famous by Yount), there’s little doubt it will be celebrated on its own merits for years to come. Still, give the AL pennant-winning ’82 dudes their due: They may have rocked some serious ’staches back in the day, but at least they had the good sense—and the lack of technology—to not constantly tweet about it.
Back in 2008, the Brewers snapped a nasty 26-year postseason drought by securing an unexpected Wild Card spot. The champagne flowed and the team (and state) went nuts, but when it came time to face the Phillies in the NLDS, the team chomped the big one. Over the course of four games, the Brewers put up only nine runs, and lost the series 3-1. It certainly wasn’t the team’s finest hour, especially for the pitching staff: C.C. Sabathia gave up a grand slam in Game 2, and Jeff Suppan (remember Jeff Suppan?) gave up three separate home runs in Game 4. So when the time comes for the Crew’s almost inevitable appearance in the 2011 postseason, here’s hoping the team can drive in more than nine lousy runs. If the Brewers’ recent series against St. Louis is any indication, however, they might have better luck hitting flying tins of tobacco.
The universe isn’t big enough to hold the collective boner sprung by the amazing turnaround of Milwaukee’s starting pitching this season. The addition of righteous dudes like Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke (along with their combined 26 wins and 315 strikeouts) next to stellar years from Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf, and Chris Narveson—plus some solid starts from Marco Estrada—means the 2011 rotation knocks the stuffing out of 2010. With that said, now it’s time to kill the buzz by pointing out that the staff has only three postseason starts between them—two for Wolf, and one for Gallardo. If you buy into the theory that more experienced players outperform less experienced ones in the postseason, then it could give you reason to doubt how the Crew’s rotation will deal against old dudes like Atlanta’s Derek Lowe and Tim Hudson and basically the entire Philadelphia death squad. But Arizona is essentially in the same boat as the Brewers, and besides, fuck that noise. It’s not like Suppan is going out there.
Few were surprised when the Brewers recently announced they had surpassed 3 million tickets sold. This is the third time the club has reached the magic number, and the second-earliest point when it has managed to achieve it. Currently, the all-time attendance record stands at 3,068,458 (set in 2008)—a number that will almost surely be shattered by the end of the 2011 season. What does setting a new record mean? It depends. The boosters and Brewers brass will be quick to applaud the number, while the more cynical and browbeaten among the team’s backers will constantly remind us that “tickets sold” and “asses in the seats” are two different things. Either way, the new record will surely be a testament to just how many folks love watching the Brewers, and how many of them simply aren’t satisfied with hanging out in the parking lot and throwing beanbags for three hours.
Worrying about whether Prince Fielder will be a Brewer next season is. So. Totally. Out. But when Angels ace Jered Weaver recently signed a new five-year, $85 million contract ($17 million a year), a glimmer of hope had to bust through to Fielder fans’ tear-crusted eyes. Weaver is a guy that could have easily scored a three-digit payday, but he chose to stick with the current team for less, just like Fielder could do. In the process, he probably defied his laser-shooting shark agent Scott Boras, the same guy Prince will have to stand up to if he plans to stay in Milwaukee. Most importantly though, it might make the five-year, $100 million offer from a few years ago—that could easily end up on the table again this off-season—look awfully nice. Just saying is all. But for anyone worried about the Brewers being bereft of royal names should Prince decide to take a hike, maybe Doug Melvin can convince Ray King to come out of retirement?