In defense of—gulp—Craig Counsell
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Exactly one week ago, Craig Counsell avoided making history. With a simple base hit during an away game against the Houston Astros, Counsell snapped a stunningly awful 0-45 hitting slump. How stunningly awful is 0-45? Just one more whiffed at-bat would have tied a 0-46 record set 101 years ago (!) by Bill Bergen. The only player in the modern era as epically shitty was Dave Campbell, who went 0-45 back in 1973.
Of course, Counsell’s face-saving base hit brought out a bunch of semi-backhanded compliments from fans and teammates alike. In the Journal Sentinel, Casey McGehee—a man who knows a thing or two about slumps—had this to say:
“He brings so much more to the table than just hits, you know what I mean?” McGehee said. “He’s such a valuable asset to this team. He’s almost—and I don’t know how to say this without making it sound bad, and I don’t mean it to be—like having an extra coach.”
We know what McGehee means: At this point in his career, the 40-year-old Counsell is more elder statesman than go-to player. Sure, he’s the Brewers’ all-time leader in pinch-hits and pinch-hit appearances, but, as They Might Be Giants used to say, that’s kind of like being the world’s tallest dwarf.
We like to kid Counsell from time to time, but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t have a soft spot for him. Here are a few reasons why Craiggers is still the man, and why it’s okay to like a guy who’s currently hitting .148.
His walk-up music is pretty sweet
Amidst all the anonymous hip-hop, hard rock, and whatever shit-kicker music Corey Hart occasionally uses, Counsell’s continued use of Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower” for his walk-up music is downright awesome. There’s just something so right about imagining Counsell sitting in his bedroom—some lava lamps strewn about, maybe one of those beaded curtains hanging in his door—and “chilling out” to some Hendrix, man.
He looks like he’s 19 years old
We don’t know what kind of Dorian Gray shit Counsell has going on, but the dude looks roughly half of his 40 years. Seriously, every time he shows up at some fundraiser at a local Pick ’n Save, he’s just an apron away from blending in with the teenage grocery baggers. And in a game so brazenly obsessed with facial hair, it’s nice to have a guy on our side who probably couldn’t grow much more than some random peach fuzz if he tried.
He has two more World Series rings than you
Yup, the man who currently fills the Brewers’ adorable-team-mascot role has two—count ’em, two—World Series rings under his belt. And let’s not forget that in 1997, he scored the winning run for the Florida Marlins in Game 7. Not bad for a dude who grew up on the mean streets of Whitefish Bay.
He used to have a really tweaked-out stance
It’s hard to remember, but it wasn’t all that long ago that Counsell both baffled and delighted fans with his unique batting stance. With his bat held sky-high over his head and his back ramrod straight, Counsell looked less like a Major League baseball player than an aging yoga instructor and/or crazy person. The goofball stance was tamed somewhat in 2009, but it can still be revisited in countless crappy PS2 and GameCube baseball games.
His bobblehead day is this Sunday
Okay: Are we the only ones who are really, really over the whole bobblehead thing? After 14 different versions of Robin Yount, 12 iterations of Gorman Thomas, and a freaking beer vendor doll planned for this Saturday, we’ve just about had it with these dopey knickknacks. Still, it’s nice to see Counsell finally getting his day in the bobblehead sun. Good thing that whole “approaching a 101-year-old batting slump record” is firmly behind him, because nothing ruins a bobblehead day like a shitty performance. Just ask Derrick Turnbow.