It’s All Downhill From Here (45-43)
Dear Ken Macha,
I suppose this is why Brewer fans tailgate as much as they do. Nothing numbs the pain of watching bad baseball quite like a cheddarwurst and copious amounts of beer. The indigestion alone is enough to distract from the eventual heartbreak of yet another lost series.
The final week before the All Star break perfectly encapsulated the entire first half of the season — bright moments of simple and effortless baseball followed by absolutely bewildering scenes of bullpen futility. Both of the series against the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers — neither team a slouch — were this close to being winnable if only we’d gotten rid of both Villenuevas in Milwaukee, not just the big-hearted hairless one.
Nevertheless, there’s a lot for a skipper like you, Ken, to be happy about when it comes to the first half of the season.
Initially, the season looked like it would be a bad hangover compared to the salad days of the second half of last season, when C.C. Sabathia dominated other teams and the playoffs felt like a birthright, not a slightly out of reach dream. But since those long-forgotten moments of trepidation to start the year the team has established itself as a legitimate contender in the National League Central thanks in part to the general mediocrity of the division. Call it success by default if you want, Ken, but it’s still success in my book.
Sure, the team has fallen flat as of late, but if anything this recent swoon can generously be chalked up to the normal happenings in the course of a 162 game season. So as we cross the official mid-point of the season, let’s stop and congratulate a few of the most-deserving Brewers from the first half of the season. Join me, Ken, in the first-and-potentially-last-ever presentation of the Dear Ken Macha Mid Season Awards.
The Candle In The Wind Award: Rickie Weeks
After four seasons as a perpetual breakout candidate, Rickie was well on his way to making critics eat crow when an unapparent injury during a routine at bat sidelined him for the rest of the season. Instead, Rickie’s projected 30+ HR, 100+ RBI season will have to suffice as a sign of hope that maybe next season will finally be the season of Rickie.
The Can’t Knock The Hustle Award: Todd Coffey
I have a platonic love for Todd Coffey but his sprinting in from the bullpen, while entertaining, seems like it’s probably not a great idea for a 6’4″, 240lb guy with moobs. Somehow, Todd isn’t completely winded from his timed sprints and has managed to become an integral, redwood-sized piece of the new look Brewers bullpen. Smarminess aside, Coffey’s resurgence as a blue-collar bullpen stalwart is genuinely remarkable and his intensity ought to be emulated by all kids who find Craig Counsell too old.
The Junior Achievement Entrepreneurial Spirit Award: Ryan Braun
When Ryan Braun was called up nearly two years ago, nobody expected that the young Californian with a big bat and a lead glove at third base would strike gold as the t-shirt baron of the cobag set. Oh, how wrong we all were. Today, Braun’s line of $80 t-shirts are dazzling the eyes — and confusing the minds — of Angelinos with bad taste and Milwaukeeans with bad taste alike. Where’s my quetzalcoatl tee, Braunie?!
The “I Learned It By Watching You!” Award: Prince Fielder
Usually, having a dad that was one of the eminent sluggers of his time gives you an upper-hand. Not so much with Prince. Cecil Fielder divorced Prince’s mom and gambled away all of his own money before he gambled away all of Prince’s signing bonus. And you think your dad’s an asshole for not paying your rent or buying you a car? Pshh! Prince channeled his anger into the singular goal of making his dad’s quasi-prodigious baseball career look downright amateurish. Falling one home run short of eclipsing Cecil’s season-best home run total of 51 in 2007, Prince is still seeking satisfaction. Hopefully, he can get some on Monday night by breaking Cecil’s minuscule home run derby record of 4.
The Secret Of My Success Award: Dave Bush’s Beard
Dave Bush had 7 quality starts in the first two months of the season, gaining strength as his beard filled in and his arm loosened up in the warmer spring air. Hitters grew frustrated and, realizing they were no match for a bearded pitcher of such high caliber, plotted for a way to remove the beard before it overtook Dave’s neckline and made him vastly unhittable for ever and ever. Their plan came to fruition on a warm Florida evening in June when Hanley Ramirez lined a ball off of Bush’s throwing arm. Bush, with watery eyes and clenched upper lip, knew the ball had struck a meridian point in his arm that, in a manner similar to acupuncture, contributed to the growth of his beard. Bush is now beardless and in the minor leagues.
Enjoy the time off, Ken. Expect another letter in a week, when hopefully we’ll be discussing the managerial ignoramus that is Dusty Baker, the Brewers’ best victory smiles and Prince Fielder’s conquering of Cecil’s home run derby total.