Happy Labor Day!
This is the last sprint of the marathon called the baseball season. I write this ironically as I am leaving the comforts of home in Milwaukee back to Chicago where the Brewers are about to play again in a little over an hour.
Now the wannabe ultra critical sports fans that don’t watch the league as much as a die-hard like me can watch NFL football and that “Cheese team” while the most emotional part of the year is upon us.
Before I get into anything else, this has been a great Brewers season! The media and some glass half empty fans make it sound otherwise, but back in March, NOBODY ever thought we would be where we are at right now. If you told me in January that we would be 73-63 tied for first with the St. Louis Cardinals, I one would have thought you were crazy and two would have said I loved if that happened.
Here is some articles that gave us not chance back in March:
So here we are. The Brewers proved so many people wrong and their talent is developing faster than expected while the Cardinals best young talent in many ways never materialized to their potential this season. This highly touted starting pitching they had needed to get Justin Masterson and John Lackey in July in order to tie with us on September 1st.
Personally, I am happy that we are tied with the Cardinals for 1st. In order for the Brewers to ever exorcise that yellow Cardinal beak that has been hovering over this franchise like a vulture since 1982, we need to prove that we can beat them. Personally I think the Cardinals and some of their fans have assumed that at any point they will take over first and win the division that we have been keeping warm since April 5th. It’s time for the Brewers to pick themselves up off the infield dirt, dig down and finish these last games on a high note.
Here are my grades on my trends from August:
1) Schedule C+
If this was mid August I would have given the team an A+. To go to LA and sweep that team after playing Kershaw and Greinke back to back was the most proud moment of the season. It sent a statement that this team is for real and here to stay.
Then the disaster in San Diego and San Francisco happened.
I am kind of glad it happened. Sometimes having a team beat you left and right like the Giants did will show what type of team you really are. It’s why today’s game at the Cubs may be one of the defining moments of the year. How will this team bounce back?
2) Wily Peralta Future ACE B-
Wily is struggling as we head into September. However 15 wins for the season and competing with the likes of Adam Wainwright and Clayton Kershaw for most NL wins shows how far he has come. He is still only in his 2nd full year. He will get better. The best thing about how he loses is his demeanor. He used to get upset when he did not have his stuff last year. This year he has learned to take it with a grain of salt.
3) Waiver Claims A
Baseball is one of the few sports where people that don’t follow the game stick out like sore thumbs. I heard everyone blame Doug Melvin for not getting Justin Morneau when they don’t even know the waiver process. The Rockies probably were never really serious about dealing Morneau and wanted to see if a team would be stupid enough to give away too much.
Then Doug Melvin under the radar gets another bullpen guy in Jonathon Braxton.
Melvin does not get enough credit. Here is the 8th inning guy who not only is reliable but could even close if needed. He also has a contract through next season should K-Rod leave. Brilliant waiver deal!! Mevlin is smart enough not to mortgage the farm for this season and then get pieces that help now and will benefit later.
4) Injuries B
Matt Garza went on the DL and Mike Fiers pitched better than anyone ever expected. Carlos Gomez it was revealed has been bothered by a sore wrist (day-to-day) and Gerrardo Parra can instantly fill in. Another under the radar move by Melvin.
For the most part injuries have not hurt this team. Let’s hope it stays this way.
5) West Coast Woes D
I knew when the Brewers had to travel to California two times in the last two weeks and have to be in Chicago also two times in the last three weeks that might have been trouble.
The Padres are playing better lately and gave the Brewers fits and then the Giants decided they know how to hit again. The only reason why this is not an F is because of the Dodgers sweep in LA.
So now why did I call this a war? Because it is more PC than a blood bath.
Here is the Brewers schedule in September
1-3 @ Chicago
4-7 vs St. Louis
8-11 vs Miami
12-14 vs Cincy
16-18 @ St Louis
19-21 @ Pittsburgh
23-25 @ Cincy
26-28 vs Chicago
Only 4 games vs a non NL Central team
1-3 vs Pittsburgh
4-7 @ Milwaukee
8-11 @ Cincy
12-14 vs Colorado
16-18 vs Milwaukee
19-21 vs Cincy
22-24 @ Chicago
26-28 @ Arizona
6 games vs a non NL Central team
1-3 @ St Louis
5-7 @ Chicago
8-11 @ Philadephia
12-14 vs Chicago
16-18 vs Boston
19-21 vs Milwaukee
22-25 @ Atlanta
26-28 @ Cincy
11 games vs a non NL Central team
And while I think the Reds playoff hopes are dwindling, I will put their schedule down for sake of argument.
2-4 @ Baltimore
5-7 vs New York Mets
8-11 vs St. Louis
12-14 @ Milwaukee
15-17 @ Chicago
18-21 @ St Louis
23-25 vs Milwaukee
27-28 vs Pittsburgh
6 games vs a non NL Central team
The math is simple for the Brewers. For them to win the NL Central, they have to beat their rivals. Pittsburgh might have the edge there or it might be a curse. They have the least chance to control their own destiny since they play 11 games vs non NL Central teams, the most out of the competing teams.
Also, the Chicago Cubs who have nothing to play for and have players who are out to prove they can be major league talent, will have plenty of say in this NL Central.
Additionally, don’t believe for a second they are not licking their chops trying to bypass the Reds for 4th place which would be considered a major success.
September 4-7 is probably the biggest challenge of the year for the Brewers to start this month. They can prove they belong and are better than the Cardinals this year, or they can be down for the first time looking up. The Red birds have that circled on the calendar. Expect a war. Heck I even expect a bench clearing incident to occur. However this is what as a fan we live for. Let me quote the great wrestler Ric Flair as saying:
“In order to be the man, you have to beat the man”
And let me add for everyone that wants to rip this franchise for not getting David Price or Jon Lester.
September 1st the Tigers after acquiring David Price are in 2nd place chasing the Royals and have the 2nd wild card.
How about the Athletics going for it this year? They are 5 games out of first and have the first wild card.
It is not even guaranteed one or both teams may keep that as Seattle and Cleveland are hot on their trail.
To make a July blockbuster move can backfire.
It is time to let the chips fall where they may and just the enjoy the ride that this season has given Brewers fans! Can they make it to the end of the road celebrating what would be the best division title since that 1982 season?
We will find out soon. Until then, I declare war!