What can the 2012 Brewers learn from Bernie Mac and the Brewers of Mr. 3000?
More Talkin' Baseball
More than a quarter of the way into the season, it’s still tough to figure out exactly what kind of team the Milwaukee Brewers actually have. The presence of a Cy Young winner, a reigning MVP, and an accumulation of past All-Stars screams “’82.” The initial potential and fanfare surrounding the team draws parallels to the 1983 and 2009 clubs. The incessant string of serious injuries to vital players harkens back to, well, never before. And the team’s current record shows shades of 2002.
Really, one of the only Milwaukee squads that hasn’t been paired with this shifty 2012 team is the fictional Brewers in the 2004 Bernie Mac motion picture Mr. 3000. That’s probably because the movie barely cracked $21 million at the box office, and its predictable plot and lack of continuity make Little Big League look like The Sandlot. Yet to aid our search for the true identity of the Brewers, The A.V. Club bravely adjusted its Netflix queue and set aside 144 painful minutes to track the similarities and differences between the Mr. 3000-era Brew Crew, and the real life team that currently confounds us.
Following his abrupt retirement upon tallying (what’s assumed to be) his 3,000th career hit, the film’s self-centered, Hall Of Fame-hopeful protagonist Stan Ross (Mac) shills for a shopping plaza on the not-even-close-to-real Peacock Road in nearby Waukesha County. (Or, as Mac says, “WOE-KEE-SHA” County.) The plaza contains an array of “3000”-themed business ventures: Mr. 3000 Sports Bar, already outdated pager outlet 3000 Beeps, a Chinese eatery called 3000 Woks, and a pet groomer (3000 Paws) where Ross invites commercial viewers to “Get [their] woof on.” Not to be outshined by his business savvy, he also gives area youth the gift of literacy with his “READING IZ DOPE” foundation.
A handful of actual Brewers also make/raise money through non-playing channels. Jonathan Lucroy has replaced Andrew Bogut as the newest local athlete to read lackluster radio copy. John Axford’s ongoing mustache-ride-to-the-top has seen him use his iconic cookie duster to help charity. Judging by his affiliation with Limelite Fusion Drink, Ryan Braun will put his name on anything, with the possible exception of a beeper store.
Mr. 3000’s sole broadcaster comes in the form of an unnamed character played by respected voice Dick Enberg, likely portraying himself. In the press box is Maureen “Mo” Simmons (Angela Bassett), an ESPN reporter with roots in Milwaukee and Ross’ bedroom. It’s not the most ethical reporting out there.
Even with Enberg’s track record and Simmons’ knack for fucking her bug-eyed interview subjects, the pair has nothing on the true blue Brew Crew reporters and broadcasters. Uecker is God, Adam McCalvy is one of the best beat writers in all of baseball, and Brian Anderson is a noted national broadcast voice. Even JS’s Tom Haudricourt says that kind-of-funny Ichiro Jones thing sometimes.
The undeniable star of the Brewers before Ross’ September call-up (nine years after retirement, so he can get three hits to actually reach 3,000) is Rex “T-Rex” Pennebaker, who tells Ross he hit 43 home runs before the veteran’s arrival. Even after, T-Rex hits a flurry of other homers, though all are solo. He’s also featured prominently on videogames and commercials. If it wasn’t already obvious, Braun is the Brewers’ main attraction—allow his team-leads in runs, homers, steals, RBI, endorsements, and shirt-jersey sales hammer that point home.
Ownership and management
Hoping to bring more fans in to see a last-place team play its final, meaningless games, fictional Brewers owner Mr. Schiembri—played by “Mr. Big” himself, Christopher Noth—is glad to give Ross a chance to reach his milestone. However, he won’t let him play road games once he gets to 2,999 hits. What an unexpected prick move, right? Meanwhile, skipper Gus Panas, who managed Ross during his first Brewers stint, sits silently by and watches his team’s season slip away. If nothing else, Mr. 3000 predicted the Ken Macha hiring.
Double play combo
The M3K Brewers are covered up the middle by the light-hitting, best-friend duo of Minadeo and “Skillet,” a competitive pair who try to best one another at anything, except they don’t give a shit about baseball. That is, until Ross ushers in a new team-first mentality (shocker!) Right now, most Brewer fans would kill for any new set of middle infielders—even if their friendship is annoying as shit. Since Alex Gonzalez was injured, Milwaukee has been privy to an array of diverse-yet-equally awful 2B/SS combos, including the likes of Rickie Weeks, Cesar Izturis, Edwin Maysonet, Taylor Green, and Brooks Conrad (RIP).
Strength of schedule
Based on the film, Ross and company played the Houston Astros, like, 95 percent of the time and the Reds once. Either prop uniforms are really expensive, or those fictional schedule makers should be fake fired. The actual Brewers play at least one series against nearly every big league team. Plus, they share a division with the defending World Series champions. This Brewers team would be much less perplexing if they played the ’Stros 153 times—excluding Houston’s sweep last week.