2009 Ken-trospective (77-79)
Dear Ken Macha,
The season is almost over, Ken. After a six-game jaunt through Denver and St. Louis, where you’ll get the opportunity to spoil Colorado’s Rocky Mountain high playoff aspirations, this long, beige trip will finally end.
Although there’s some doubt as to whether you’ll be back next year, I think it’s safe to assume I’ll be addressing my letters to you in 2010. You’ve been quite adept at keeping a low profile throughout the season, so I imagine that’s gone a long way toward convincing Doug Melvin to bring you back. There’s something to be said for not becoming a lightning rod. Perhaps I’d be writing this letter to Ned Yost if he were capable of understanding that (among other things).
But let’s not dwell on the future. Or Ned Yost. This letter is all about you — and the letters I’ve written you every week since April. Just hit play on the Dear Ken Macha virtual boombox (don’t forget to turn the volume down!) and let’s go back, Ken, and do it all over:
I welcomed you to Miller Park and warned you about Jeff Suppan. A week later, I fell in love with a ginger named Todd. As the team started to pull out of an early funk, it became apparent there was a Selleck stach, soul patch or neckbeard behind every victory.
The team was back on track and in serious need of a few tweaks to the stadium experience. Larger problems were looming for you in the form of a stubble-faced quarterback who doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone (I warned you about him, Ken), but then he told everyone he was staying retired and that was the last we heard of him.
The Florida Marlins enjoyed the ghosts at the Pfister Hotel almost as much as the local media enjoyed milking that story all summer. The ghosts weren’t the only assholish apparitions the Marlins had to deal with during their visit — a grown man known as “The Happy Youngster” taught them a hard lesson about negotiating with ballhawks. Later in the month, everyone’s attention had turned from ghosts to getting girl drink drunk thanks to the Brewers 18 wins in the month of May. At 30-20 after sweeping the Cincinnati Reds, we were, to quote my favorite Winwood, “truly back in the highlife again.”
Hardy and Hart’s stank was too much for me, and I suggested you give Hardy a permanent vacation. It was also the first time that Frank Catalanotto’s entrance song graced my ears. I was instantly hooked on this outfielder’s preference for The Outfield. A visit to Cleveland helped awaken the Brewers’ bats, but your shotty pitching had me offering a few suggestions in order to get the team back on track. And then I compared the Brewers to various Summerfest performers…
I pointed out that Melvin’s comments were more disrespectful than Braun’s gig as armchair GM. For the All-Star break, I handed out mid-season awards. After the break, everyone got antsy for a trade and Frank Catalanotto’s entrance song once again made the letter. By the end of the month I was almost ready to throw in the towel.
I shared a few Brewers urban legends, followed by some conspicuous Craigslist personals I found. I tried to put a positive spin on J.J. Hardy’s demotion, but losing Bill Hall was too much for me to bear. In a moment of vulnerability, I wanted to believe there was still hope, but you put a stop to that right quick.
It’s been a pleasure writing to you all season long, Ken. I’ve occasionally made light of your team’s foibles, flaws and farcical T-shirts, but I’ve always aimed to keep my criticism light and flaky because, well, you’re just a baseball manager. You aren’t responsible for the constant misery that humanity introduces day in and day out. If anything, your profession helps to make people’s lives a little more enjoyable than they’d be without you. And even if Miller Park sometimes resembles a monster truck rally more than a baseball game, the claustrophobic feeling of sitting among boorish drunks melts away the moment one of your players makes an amazing play. If only the rest of life’s uncomfortable moments could be whisked away that easily.
That’s why you’re a net positive, Ken, and not just in the Milwaukee area. Judging by the Brewers’ record this year, you’ve made a lot of other teams’ fans very happy, too.
Until next season, Ken, thanks for everything.