It’s that time of year again. I no longer have to plant myself in front of the television for nearly 3 straight hours on Thursdays to catch all the zany action in Pawnee, Scranton, New York and Philadelphia. The Top Chef has been chosen, Dexter killed his last victim until next year and I still don’t know how Ted met his kids’ mother. The freetime I have is astounding. I mean, just check out what I did last night in the same amount of time I would’ve spent on my couch with some of my favorite fictional friends.
I seriously don’t understand why I give so much of my life to television when I see what I’m able to do instead. I still can’t manage to turn away from The Jersey Shore or Tough Love, though. Ah, well. We all have our weaknesses.
But moving on to baseball.
The Brewers finalized their deals with new pitchers Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins and also worked out a 1-year deal to bring Craig Counsell back next season. (Yay!) The Crew is also only a physical away from having Claudio Vargas back in their bullpen even though they probably could’ve had Seth McClung instead. Sorry, Big Red. I’ll miss you! In addition to McClung, the Brewers non-tendered catcher Mike Rivera and pitcher Mark DiFelice, though DiFelice later signed a minor-league contract with the club.
A couple of Milwaukee’s free agents have found homes this week, as well. Mike Cameron is heading to Boston, while Jason Kendall will be the Royals new backstop and Corey Patterson will be sucking in the Mariners minor league system. But the biggest news this week was undoubtedly the 4-team deal involving Toronto, Oakland, Seattle and Philly. The deal sent post-season superstar Cliff Lee to the Mariners and Roy Halladay can finally breath easy, having landed in Philadelphia after much trade speculation for the last six or seven months. Halladay wanted be part of a contending team in 2010, the Phillies seemed like the perfect team for him and he finally approved the trade.
And the TYIB winners were announced today. My picks didn’t fare so well. Obviously, Joe Mauer was winning Hitter. I just had high hopes for Prince Fielder. I was right on with Zach Greinke for Starter, was waaaaay off the mark picking Casey McGehee for ROY, but got back on track by choosing Jim Tracy for Manager. Stupid Yankee Mariano Rivera got closer. Again. I did pick Jeremy Affeldt for Set-Up, so way to go me, but Torii Hunter wasn’t even close to Jacoby Ellsbury for Defense. Mark Burhle, blah, blah, blah. Really? Dewayne Wise? The best play of the year? Sure, he kept perfection in order, but it was just robbing a homerun. It happens pretty much every game. Over it. How the Angels celebrating the post season in honor of Nick Adenhart didn’t beat out everything else for Moment is beyond me. Phillies Dad got his 15 minutes. Over that, too. Ruben Amaro, Jr. was pretty deserving for Executive. I tooooootally picked the Unsung Star in Jayson Werth and, yes, I’m a Yankee hater so their post season anything didn’t deserve to win. But anyway, congrats to all the winners. These awards mean nothing, so way to go.
And, lastly, since Christmas is only a week away and I work in retail, don’t expect any new posts for a bit. I mean, unless the Brewers manage to do something astounding in the next 7 days. Which is pretty unlikely.
So I was grocery shopping with my mom today and we walked past a rack of calendars. It made me think of how, even though it’s December 4th, I had just turned my calendar page yesterday. And who do I see? JJ Hardy. Understandably, JJ wasn’t entirely terrible in 2008 and, yes, was still part of the team so why not put him in the 2009 calendar? Well, the month before had featured Bill Hall. As we all know by now, Hall is now a Mariner.
So I had to walk over to the rack and find a 2010 Milwaukee Brewers calendar and wouldn’t you know it, both Hardy and Hall are featured again!
Of course, baseball is a fickle business and unless you’re locked down to a solid, long-term contract, you’re future could be a pretty big question mark. But Hall was traded in August. Does it really take that long to put a calendar together? I mean, at least wait until late September to submit the pages. There are 25 guys on the team. You only have to pick 12. Bill Hall? Really?
Anyway, we both found it humorous that the 2 biggest slumping players of last season (Brad Nelson notwithstanding) were chosen way back when to be calendar boys for 2010.
But the Brewers seemed to have gotten themselves a catcher for next season, and at a more than 50% discount, too. Gregg Zaun, who split time within the Orioles and Rays organizations last year, signed on for 1 year at $2.15 million, with a club option for 2011. The 38-year-old Zaun will have to earn his keep, as Mike Rivera, Angel Salome and George Kottaras are all on the 40-man roster as well. The Brewers were looking to shed payroll of some of their higher-paid guys to open up their options and hopefully acquite some starting pitching for next year. They certainly did so by not making Jason Kendall an offer, who made $5 million in 2009.
Also, Doug Melvin spoke with Craig Counsell’s agent earlier in the week to discuss the possibility of keeping Counsell on for the 2010 season. As I’ve said before, I’m all for keeping Craigy on the team. Left-handed bats are always useful, and as a bench player, he’s certainly versatile. He had an amazing season last year on a bum knee, so hopefully his post-surgery knee will be even better. Plus, I always like hearing Jimi Hendrix when Counsell comes up to bat…
In other news, I just want to say how happy I am to have made the mlblogs leaderboard for the month of November. I love having this outlet to voice my thoughts and OPINIONS, even if I do create a little controversy every now and then. So perhaps thanks are in order to Zack Hample for getting me there? Yes, thanks, Zack, for not being able to handle one person, alllllll the way in Milwaukee, not liking your childish hobby and sending all your loyal minions to flock to my blog. I appreciate it!
I’m not dwelling on JJ Hardy’s departure. Sure, the Brewers lost a true hottie, a Top 10 Hottie no less, but here’s to hoping they gain much more. Much more by way of speedy, young center fielder Carlos Gomez.
The season may be over here in Milwaukee, but Miller Park has seen it’s second consecutive year of 3 million plus fans. For me, the home season started with a win and ended with a bang, all in all bringing my record this year to 12-10. (Clearly, the Boys prefer my presence more often than not.)
Some of the best moments from Miller Park this season? Well, why don’t we take a look back…
April 10 vs. Chicago Cubs
Opening Day was finally upon us. Ryan Braun belted a 2-run homer to take a 3-2 lead. Reminiscent of the final, Wildcard clinching game to end last year, no? It would be the only game of the series that the Brewers would win, but the weekend was pretty damn fun. I’m already looking forward to Opening Day 2010.
April 27 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
As if free Club Level seats weren’t enough, the Brewers were in the midst of that crazy winning streak against the Pirates. Not only was this game a come from behind win, but it was a one-inning undoing of Matt Capps for the Crew to secure a 5-run lead. It was also Trevor Hoffman’s first appearance at home and even though it wasn’t a save situation, it was the first of many times I’d hear Hell’s Bells. Amazing.
May 8 vs. Chicago Cubs
It was Danny Gokey day in Milwaukee and I was just as pumped to see him sing the National Anthem as I was to attend the 4th of many matchups against the Cubs. The Brewers won, Aramis Ramirez separated his shoulder and it was way back when when JJ Hardy still contributed to the team. His homerun put the Brewers on top and then Hell’s Bells came out and saved it.
June 24 vs. Minnesota Twins
This was probably the hottest night ever at Miller Park, but I stuck it out, even though the Brewers were down late in the game. I honestly don’t remember the details, but what I do remember is missing an entire play that put Jason Kendall at 3rd base, and then a throwing error scored him to tie it up? Honestly, that may not even have been the case. Either way, Milwaukee came out on top and it was a pretty exciting game. Just really hot.
July 25 vs. Atlanta Braves
The Hottie worlds collided that night at Miller Park. Ryan Braun and Ryan Church faced off and although neither did anything particularly spectacular, both were equally hot and I was in heaven. And the Brewers won 4-0.
August 30 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
The winning streak was broken up already and the week prior, the Pirates swept the Brewers. But the Brewers returned the favor this weekend at Miller Park. Jeff Suppan had just come off the DL and was making his second start, just in time to finish out the sweep on his own bobblehead day. It also helped that it was a Leff’s sponsored tailgate party and so the game would’ve been a blast anyway.
September 23 vs. Chicago Cubs
Already having dropped the first 2 games of the series, and on the verge of being knocked out of playoff contention, Milwaukee managed to pull off a win in the final showdown with the Cubs. It was the last time Mol, Nik and I would all be together at Miller Park and also was the last time we’d hear Hell’s Bells played. (Tear.)
September 26 vs. Philadelphia Phillies
There are many reasons this final game is so memorable. Let me start from the beginning. Nik and I were enjoying some drinks in the parking lot when we see 4 golf carts go by with what appears to be a large amount of Brewers. Indeed, it was nearly the entire bullpen! As part of Fan Appreciation weekend, they were driving around giving out tshirts and other things to the tailgaters. We missed out on the giveaways, so we headed in to Miller Park for the final time this season.
Since we were sitting in the seats from my 9-pack, I didn’t even need to look for the location. We got to our section and a guy was sitting in my seat. I politely asked him to move, he asked was I sure he was in my seat, I said yes and he moved. We watched nearly the entire game from these seats. About 7 innings later, my dad texted me, pointing out we were 1 section over. Oops. But, as Nik, Mol and I always say, if you’re cute and act like you know what you’re doing, you can get away with pretty much everything. This guy just got up, like he was wrong. We all had a good laugh about it.
Also, it’s the last time that I’ll eat Cactus League nachos this year. That in itself is so sad, as I will be craving them again until next April.
Basically since we left the house, Nik and I had been talking about how Ryan Braun needed to hit a big homerun that night, as it had been over 2 weeks since his last one and since it was our last homegame, we really wanted to see it. After the Crew tied the game at 5 apiece and Trevor Hoffman held the Phils scoreless in the top of the 9th, I kid you not, this is the exact text conversation I had with my friend Mark G.
Mark: Let’s go T. Hoff!
Michelle: Hells yeah. Need my last game to be a win!
Michelle: Counsell singles. RB walkoff for the win. Calling it now.
Mark: That’ll work!
Mark: One down.
Michelle: My plan is working!
(RB walkoff homerun.)
Michelle: Called it. My texts are proof!
Mark: U did indeed! That was fun!
And it sure as hell was fun. Excellent last game, if I do say so myself.
I’m so greatful that I had such a blast at Miller Park this season. The Brewers may not have done as well as we fans would’ve liked, but you know, that’s just how the game goes. Baseball is full of ups and downs and, unfortunately for Milwaukee, there were just more downs this season. I still have a great time watching my Boys, no matter what. What can I say? I’m a lifer!
And to prove my loyalty, I’m closing out the regular season at Busch Stadium where the Brewers will take on the NL Central Champion Cardinals. We were all hoping these games would mean something when we planned the trip, but I’m just happy to get to see all the Boys one last time before next season.
This week is a busy one for me, so this will probably be my only post until I get back from St. Louis. But there will be lots to talk about, I’m sure.
Lately, it seems that’s all a team needs to make fools out of the Brewers. Lucky for them, New York didn’t have any to send to the mound in this series. That, coupled with nearly all of their A-squad on the DL, and they pretty much handed the series win to the Crew.
Brewers 10, Mets 6
If it weren’t for Carlos Villanueva, I would say Monday night’s was one of the best games of the season so far. Instead, it was just a really good game with a bit of a blemish.
The Brewers finally rejoined the hit parade, nearly tying their season high of 20. That game was the 15-3 blowout in Cincinatti back in May. Aside from the high hit count, this game had something else in common with that one: the grandslam.
Casey McGehee had the honor in the bottom of the 6th–sweet redemption from the lazy pop-up that entered, then promptly left, his glove in the top of the frame.
But, being the diehard gamer that he is, McGehee didn’t seem to even acknowledge the grandslam. He was too busy mulling the error that eventually led to 2 Mets’ runs to even think about what he’d just done. Either way, he was beckoned back out by the thankful crowd and he reluctantly obliged the curtain call. It was nice to see his post-game interview, too because, one, I’ve never seen him smile or heard him speak and two, I wanted him to show some pride over what he’d accomplished. Way to go, Casey!
There were other things working for the Brewers that night, too. JJ Hardy went 4-4, including a solo HR. Jason Kendall went 3-4 with an RBI, and even when McGehee was taken out, Bill Hall was shockingly able to produce. Hall stepped up, going 2-2 with 2 RBIs.
Villanueva, as I mentioned, was the lone dark spot on an otherwise great game. After Todd Coffey and Mitch Stetter worked a combined scoreless 1+ inning, Villa gave up enough runs (including a Gary Sheffield 2-run shot. Boo.) to warrant a trip to the mound from Trevor Hoffman. Ordinarily, I’m not opposed to seeing Hoffman, but with a 7-run lead going into the 9th, I’d rather not have to. Instead, he comes out with 2 on and 1 out, and with one pitch, the game is over and the shirts are untucked.
When all is said and done, Milwaukee leads the NL Central by 1. Awesome.
Brewers 6, Mets 3
Mike Burns vs. Johan Santana. Hmmmm….
This game did not go as many wouldn’ve expected it to. Although, it started that way.
Burns gave up a 2-run homer early in the first to David Wright. His remaining 6+ innings were basically flawless.
Santana, on the other hand, wasn’t as lucky. A series of hits in the 3rd ended up scoring the first Brewers run on a Ryan Braun RBI. One inning later, I found myself hoping for another grandslam. Santana walked Burns on 4 straight pitches then Corey Hart doubled on the most hilarious outfield slip I’ve seen in a long time. (I kid you not. The fall that Fernando Martinez took was classic. My stomach hurt from laughing so hard.) JJ Hardy followed with a walk to load the bases for Braun.
What happened next may as well have been a grandslam, as far as I’m concerned. But I’ll take what I can get.
Braun doubled on an 0-2 count to Gary Sheffield. Burns and Hart scored easily, but a throw to the plate to catch Hardy was deflected past Omir Santos to Santana, allowing the third run. Santana then overthrew third on an attempt to tag Braun out and, despite not technically being a grandslam, that 4th run scored anyway. My neighbors probably think I’m crazy after that play, for I was home alone, screaming like an absolute maniac. (Can you blame me?)
Three innings go by with nary a run scored. Somehow Burns is out of the game in the 7th with a mid-90’s pitch count, while Johan remains in the game, over 100 pitches, and proceeds to give up a solo bomb to Prince Fielder. Just a little insurance, I guess. Looks like Jerry Manuel wasn’t thinking too clearly by leaving Santana in to start the bottom of the 7th. He finally exits the game after that.
A myriad of pitchers come out for both teams and the Brewers narrowly avoided an 8th innings Mets’ threat. And because Hoffman worked a grueling 1-pitch game the night before, it was Coffey on the mound to finish it off. A nice double-play ball put the first 2 outs on the board, but I guess Martinez wanted to make up for his embarassment back in the 4th and hit a homer to the Tundra Territory. Ah well. Too little, too late.
The game ended one batter later, preserving Burns’ first Major League win.
The Brewers now lead the Central by 2 games. Awesome.
Brewers 0, Mets 1
Apparently Yovani Gallardo can’t catch a break against the Mets. The poor guy pitches another great game, yet loses again in a 1-0 shutout.
Newly appointed Top 10 Hottie Ryan Church was responsible for the single RBI of the game, and Gallardo was tabbed for the loss.
Despite outhitting the Mets 7-5, the Brewers were unable to capitalize and give Yo what would’ve been a well-deserved win.
Gallardo struck out a career-high 12 batters in 7 innings pitched. That’s twice as many as Mets’ starter Mike Pelfrey.
And Fielder was caught stealing. Shocker.
The Brewers currently lead the Central by a game and a half. Still awesome. Hopefully the Cardinals will get swept.
The Brewers final roadtrip of the first half is a 4-game series this weekend in Chicago. The Cubs have been faltering lately, so I’m not too worried the Crew will come home with their lead in tact. But before the All-Star break, the Cards and Dodgers come to Miller Park. That leaves a bit up in the air. But, as I said in my last post, the second half is relatively easy for Milwaukee. Hopefully the lead will still be theirs come October.
Tomorrow’s match-up: Seth McClung (3-1, 3.55 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (4-5, 4.09 ERA) in a rare Thursday night game at Wrigley.
With the excitement that’s still running through me from the awesome game that ended nearly 2 hours ago, I have to tell you about the day that almost wasn’t.
I feel like it’s a long story, but bear with me. It has a very happy ending!
My dad and I purchased 2 seats in a 9-pack for the season and tonight’s game was to be our third. As we had 2 graduation parties to attend, he decided I could have the tickets for tonight. It was a 6:05 start time and he didn’t want to be rushed. Awesome. Of course, I’ll take the tickets.
Then, of course, no one is available to go with me. People are either working, or have plans or are already going. Typical. I had a week to try and unload the second ticket, but no takers. eriously, annoying.
So my dad decides he’ll take my mom, if that’s alright with me. I said sure, since I had just gone to Wednesday’s game. No big deal.
Well, all day I’m getting texts from Mol from her tailgate party asking if I found anyone to go with because I should meet them down there. So now I’m a little jealous I’m not going. And I’m sulking my way through the 2 grad parties and I really wished I could go.
My mom offers her ticket back to me, but my dad wasn’t having it. “Why don’t you just get a standing room only ticket?” she asks. I thought about it and just decided I didn’t want to deal with trying to meet up with people and wandering around until someone texted or called. Plus, at this point, it was a little over an hour before the first pitch.
So, we get home, mom and dad change and are ready to walk out the door and I changed my mind super-last minute and bought myself a ticket when we got down there. I bummed a seat in their section just in time to see Seth McClung throw his first pitch.
Then I was kindly asked to leave the seat. So I move to another and same thing. Three seats later, I just leave to wander and get some food, maybe something to drink and end up behind the right field bleachers with a margarita in my hand.
A nice guy comes and starts chatting me up, because, hello? Why wouldn’t he? And I find out he’s with a bachelor party, the groom had disappeared 4 innings prior, thus there was a seat open, would I like to join him? Why not? My friends, at this point, had not told me where their seats were, nor had offered to meet up with me anywhere.
Now, not that I’m the good luck charm or anything, but on Wednesday when I moved down into the right field bleachers, the Brewers took the lead and thus, won the game. Tonight when I sat down there, the Brewers tied it up 4-4 on a Prince Fielder 3-run homer followed by a first-pitch blast from Casey McGehee. Coincidence? (Probably.)
It’s still tied in the 7th, I finally hear from my friends and I leave the nice bachelor party-goers and head one section up. The panels were open in right field and it was the most amazing breeze I’ve ever felt. Todd Coffey’s pitching, he does an amazing job, and then the Brewers fail to score, prompting Trevor Hoffman to enter the game in the 9th, minus Hell’s Bells. Ugh.
This doesn’t look so troublesome on paper. Except Hoffman proceeds to give up 3 basehits in a row, loaded the bases and 2 Giants’ runs score. Oops. And the 3 batters coming up for Milwaukee aren’t really who you want at the plate in the bottom of the 9th to face Brian Wilson, one of the best closers this season — Mike Rivera, Bill Hall, pitcher’s spot.
Rivera was out and Craig Counsell batted in place Hall. Good move, Macha. Seriously. If anyone can start a 9th inning rally, it’s Counsell. Sure enough, he singled. Jason Kendall stepped in for Counsell as a pinch runner. Mat Gamel pinch hit for Hoffman and walked. Corey Hart’s single scored Kendall and JJ Hardy, who hadn’t done too much offensively all night, singled in Gamel. When Ryan Braun stepped to the plate, we knew it was gonna be a “go big or go home” kind of at bat. And Braun struck out. Eh. Not surprised. Then Prince Fielder saunters up, bat in hand, ready to make some magic happen.
The fans at Miller Park were doing all they could to summon something of greatness from that bat. And we got it. An RBI double to right field scored Hart for the win.
It was absolutely incredible that my little saga of a day ended the way it did! And I was so happy to have been with friends, instead of strange men at that bachelor party when it happened!
So now that the Giants have lost the series, I wonder if they’ll end up sending Tim Lincecum to the mound tomorrow. Their off day this week would mean it’s his day, but not his spot in the rotation. If the do, it would be an Opening Day re-match for Jeff Suppan. Otherwise, it’s Ryan Sadowski with the ball for San Fran. Either way, the Brewers already have the series win and are still holding on to that first place tie in the NL Central with the Cardinals.
However, after tomorrow, the Brewers face some major obstacles to get to the All-Star break with that lead in tact. I guess I should really start thinking one game at a time, since July hasn’t even started yet, and the way Milwaukee’s played these last 2 games, I shouldn’t be too worried. But they’ve got the Mets, Cubs, Cards and Dodgers over the next 2 and a half weeks. Not easy.
Anyway, I shall not dwell. Tomorrow is another day.
Last night’s game was terrible.
Thank you for winning tonight, as I decided at the last minute to attend. I’m sure it was all because of my presence.
Jason Kendall is my hero. Well, Minnesota throwing errors are my heroes.
I heart Trevor Hoffman for number 17.
PS. Tomorrow’s day game = time to write a good post. I promise.