Ohh, baby! Brewers top BIG Wisconsin sports weekend
The 2011 Milwaukee Brewers team finished the regular season with its best record in franchise history and the third best record in baseball. But will it matter come the playoffs, especially considering that their first game will be against a pitcher who has won the most games in the National league this year? Who cares? For now let us take our loaf of baseball bread and sop up as much of the Milwaukee Brewers au jus as we possibly can.
Ahh, it’s great to be a Brewers fan right now. Everything has come together just like management and fans were hoping they would back in spring training. On paper, it looked like the Brewers had what it would take to make it to the playoffs. But many teams have looked good on paper this year, only to ultimately stink it up on the field. Can you hear me, Boston and Atlanta?
The Milwaukee Brewers, with the smallest television market in the major leagues, have done what they told their fans they would do after going “all in” with a plethora of off-season moves, winning their first division title since 1982. I, for one, am thrilled, if for no other reason than perhaps we can finally move past the “retro-Friday” nonsense and stop with the “back in 1982” garbage.
Don’t get me wrong, I was 16 when the ’82 Brewers won the American League Pennant. I was one of thousands who lined Wisconsin Avenue to celebrate. Robin Yount is still my favorite baseball player of all time. I was in the bleachers at the crummy County Stadium as often as I could be. Heck, my friends and I would wait by gate X for the players to leave and then follow Molitor and others down to the Knick after the games. But to be honest, I am sick of the ’82 references. So here’s hoping the ’11 Brewers make the baby blue a faded memory.
And for the Brewers, that many of the games will be played at Miller Park is what has all of Brewers Nation excited. The team pulled off a 57-24 record at home this year, the best home record in the entire major leagues.
Of the eight teams that made the playoffs this year, the Brewers have the fifth best team batting average (.261); the sixth in runs scored (721); the fourth best slugging percentage (.425); and the third best earned run average (3.63).
As far as team salary goes the Brewers rank 6th with $85 million, right in the middle of the playoff pack. The New York Yankees (surprise) lead with $203 million, followed by Philadelphia – $173 million; Detroit – $106 million; St. Louis – $105 million; Texas – $93 million; Milwaukee- $85 million; Arizona- $54 million; Tampa Bay – $41 million.
It’s been 29 years since the Milwaukee Brewers won their division. Twenty-nine years since the Brewers had any type of home field advantage in the playoffs. Twenty-nine years of fans waiting and waiting and waiting. I know, they made the playoffs in ’08. But they were a wild card and backed in on the last day of the season.
This year is different. The feeling around the state is different. The Brewers have a real chance to make it to the World Series. This year, Brewers fans had an entire season of anticipation, and for once that anticipation was warranted. The Brewers have the pitching staff to go far in the playoffs. Their top four starting pitchers are arguably as good as any other team’s in the playoffs (hush Philly fans, I said “arguably”). The Brewers’ set-up and relief pitchers have rocked it all year. Plus, we have a couple of guys named Fielder and Braun who have a real shot at being named 2011 MVP. I’m in too good a mood right now to bring the readers and myself down by discussing the left side of the Brewers infield. So I won’t.
This weekend is going to be unreal for the Wisconsin sports fans. The Green Bay Packers play AT HOME, vying to remain undefeated against the Denver Broncos, the last organization to beat the Pack in a Super Bowl. The seventh-ranked Wisconsin Badgers play AT HOME against the eighth-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, the first time ever the Badgers have played in Camp Randall when both they and their opponent have been ranked in the top 10. The Brewers will be playing AT HOME twice this weekend, trying to get back to the World Series after 29 years.