Category: Uncategorized

2017 Brewers Pennant Race

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This catch on August 30th. One of the best catches to win a game this season.

Rebuilds are odd. Sometimes they can be hard on a team and its fan base and sometimes they can take you on a wild ride.

The latter is the case for the 2017 Milwaukee Brewers.

It is a strange baseball season we are experiencing this season. San Francisco Giants bullpen dumpster fire last year spread to the entire team, the St. Louis Cardinals want the title of most mediocre team in baseball like it is nobody’s business, and the Toronto Blue Jays have all that talent and never been able to show it yet on the W-L record.

And here we have Milwaukee. A team projected to be in year 2 of a rebuild but as of today, own the most days in first in the NL Central (60 days), keep having the Cubs cancel or change the time on their games, and sneak within a shot of not only possibly winning their division but also a Wild Card spot.

They also beat the best team in baseball (LA Dodgers) on their home field 2 out of 3 last weekend. It was their first series loss at the time since the first weekend in June.

This team was supposed to compete maybe 2019 at the earliest. And looking back to 2016, they did show glimpses that they could be where they are on September 1st, 2017 in the middle of a Pennant Race. Here is why:

The Cubs DO NOT want you to know this but, they actually lost the last 2 season series against the Brewers.

 

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Today until July 6th will tell much about the NL Central

July 6th will be the makeup game between the First Place Brewers (36-32 as of Friday 6/16) and the Chicago Cubs (32-33 as of Friday 6/16).

The Brewers just completed a very tough schedule by winning 3 out of 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals which historically has been a tough place to play for them.

From now until July 6th, not one team at or above .500 will play Milwaukee. This includes San Diego, Pittsburgh, @ Atlanta, @ Cincinnati, Miami, and Baltimore (19 games).

The Cubs only have one series at home series from now until July 4th (14 games).

The reason why I say this is because there is a pretty eye opening reason why the Cubs are underachieving this year.

The Cubs before Friday’s game have a road record of 13-18. It seems like every time they turn a corner and look to go on a run, they negate it with a loss. They have NOT won a road series since April 24-26 at Pittsburgh.

The Brewers on the other had have the 3rd best road record in the NL at 19-13.

What these two teams do before July 6th might be telling. Hopefully for the Brewers, they can begin to separate themselves from the pack of the NL Central.

The kids from AAA (Brett Phillips, Lewis Brinson, and Josh Hader) have arrived already.

People say it’s still early but July 6th won’t be so early anymore. The Brewers have the best of both worlds. First place during a rebuild season. This has been the most fun I have had watching this baseball team since 2011.

Sit back and enjoy the ride!!

What rebuild!?!? This Brewers team could be for real… Right NOW

I had a chance on a rare Sunday to watch the entire Brewers game. When I woke up that morning, I was surprised to see this article from ESPN:

http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/19378480/pay-attention-brewers-offense

Getting Brewers pitcher wrong (his name is Zach Davies ESPN editors), the article does make some good points about how good and a pleasant surprise, the Brewers offense has been this year.

However, there was one stat that you can’t measure which I noticed seeing Keon Broxton’s quote:

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“Seeing the guys that hit before me and seeing the success that they have, I feed off of that,” Broxton said. “It gets my energy up. We’re low-key competitive with each other, and when we see a guy have success, we want to do just as good or better. That motivates the rest of the lineup. From top to bottom, we’re in there grinding.”

And what do you know, SI wrote a article about Broxton and his approach to hitting recently:

https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/05/11/milwaukee-brewers-keon-broxton-hitting-offense

Back to this quote. Chemistry. This team battles together, fights together, and celebrates together. I have not seen so much togetherness in a Brewers team since 2011. And Mother’s Day vs the Mets was a perfect example of why Chemistry is a underrated stat.

Against the Mets Jacob deGrom the Brewers were down 7-1. You thought perhaps they won’t have it today, the sweep is not in the cards. And the Brewers continued to battle and battle back chipping away.

BREWERS 6TH
JACOB DEGROM PITCHING:
Travis Shaw: Ball, Strike looking, Strike looking, Foul, Ball, Shaw grounded out to pitcher.
Manny Pina: Foul, Pina doubled to deep left.
Jhan Marinez: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Marinez grounded out to first, Pina to third.
Keon Broxton: Strike swinging, Foul, Ball, Ball, Broxton homered to left center, Pina scored.
Orlando Arcia: Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Arcia struck out looking.
End of Inning (2 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors)

Mets 7 Brewers 3

BREWERS 7TH
JACOB DEGROM PITCHING:
Domingo Santana: Ball, Ball, Foul, Ball, Strike swinging, Santana singled to center.
JERRY BLEVINS RELIEVED JACOB DEGROM.
Jonathan Villar: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Villar homered to left center, Santana scored.
Eric Thames: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Thames walked.
FERNANDO SALAS RELIEVED CURTIS GRANDERSON.
Hernan Perez: Ball, Ball, Ball, Perez walked, Thames to second
WILMER FLORES AT THIRD.
Jesus Aguilar: Strike looking, Foul, Ball, Foul, Ball, Aguilar doubled to deep center, Thames scored, Perez to third.
Manny Pina: Foul, Strike looking, Foul, Pina grounded out to pitcher
JETT BANDY HIT FOR JHAN MARINEZ.
Jett Bandy: Ball, Strike swinging, Foul, Foul, Bandy struck out swinging.
Keon Broxton: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Strike looking, Broxton struck out swinging.
End of Inning (3 Runs, 3 Hits, 0 Errors)

Mets 8 Brewers 6

And then this happened in the 8th.

BREWERS 8TH
FERNANDO SALAS PITCHING:
Orlando Arcia: Foul, Ball, Ball, Foul, Ball, Arcia walked.
Domingo Santana: Ball, Strike swinging, Santana flied out to deep center.
Jonathan Villar: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Villar singled to deep right, Arcia to third.
JOSH EDGIN RELIEVED FERNANDO SALAS.
Eric Thames: Ball, Ball, Strike swinging, Thames hit by pitch, Villar to second.
ADDISON REED RELIEVED T.J. RIVERA.
Hernan Perez: Strike swinging, Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Foul, Perez singled to right, Arcia and Villar scored, Thames to second.
Jesus Aguilar: Ball, Strike looking, Strike swinging, Ball, Foul, Aguilar struck out swinging.
Manny Pina: Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Foul, Pina homered to left center, Thames and Perez scored
ERIC SOGARD HIT FOR NEFTALI FELIZ.
Eric Sogard: Ball, Strike looking, Sogard grounded out to third.
End of Inning (5 Runs, 3 Hits, 0 Errors)

Brewers 11 Mets 9 which was the final.

When Manny Pina came up to bat battling and battling foul ball after fall ball, he finally came up with the biggest hit of the season so far.

 

http://www.foxsports.com/wisconsin/video/943725635737

Unbelievable. I immediately thought this shared similarities with the Easter 1987 comeback.

IF and that is a big IF this rebuild team ends up making a run at the playoffs, we will look back to May 14, 2017 as a game that defined the season. Again, the Brewers are not supposed to make a playoff run. Saying that, it is clearly obvious the rebuild is going much quicker than anyone thought, me included.

The season is still a long ways to go. In any case, I absolutely love the way this team is playing now. They are fun to watch!! What an amazing day!!

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Snoop Dogg Wellness Tour Seattle 4/13/17

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In mid-April I spent 4 days in the Pacific Northwest visiting Seattle. This was my second time there and it is easily my 2nd favorite city (Chicago being #1). There is just something breathtaking about all of the nature surrounding the city and when the sun is out, it is one of the most picturesque cities in the country.

On Thursday of that week, I saw Snoop Dogg in concert. It was part of the Mount Kushmore Wellness Retreat Tour. In addition to Snoop, there were other 90s hip-hop greats like Method Man/Redman, and Cyprus Hill. Below are samples of the video I took. It was an awesome memory back to the 90s. Also these are the explicit lyrics so the videos are NSFW.

Method Man & Redman

Cypress Hill

Snoop Dogg

The start of another baseball season!

It’s been awhile since I did a blog. Sometimes other things in life took me away from doing this. Since my favorite sport officially started April 2nd, I thought the time would be perfect to start posting regularly again.

Baseball has always been about connections. The connection of your hometown. The connection of your youth and where you grew up. The connection of your favorite player growing up and your favorite player now. And the connection of a family member (in this case my grandfather) who while in heaven, I will never forget the bond we shared and how I grew to love the game just like seeing him on a summer evening with a game on the radio and a game on television.

Miller Park History

This picture is great. It shows my connection to why I love baseball. And the memories of the day I noticed my Grandfather spending his summers watching Cubs Home games in the afternoon on WGN, Brewers road games on Super 18/Fox 24, or Braves games on TBS at night. If the Brewers weren’t televised, he would have his transistor radio on WTMJ AM for a Brewers game with the TV on another game. Warm summer evenings watching the sun set on another day with the Brewers game by his side was his idea of relaxing.

One day my curious mind asked him what he was watching. He told me a little about the sport and I instantly became hooked. Heck we could clear a room of family with our long conversations about the sport. 🙂

Dodgers fans or not, we all have been connected to the game by Vin Scully for the last 67 years. It may have been a summer night in Southern California, a NBC Saturday Game of the Week, or The memorable calls of the 1986 and 1988 World Series.

Vin Scully connected us to baseball unlike any broadcaster. While I think we will really start to miss him now, here is a reminder of how great he his during Jackie Robinson day Saturday 4/15.

 

Hope everyone is having a good Passover and Easter weekend!

 

Sunday Perspectives

I have not posted a blog in months but felt I needed to today.

It is strange how the world works and how a something makes you stop and put life in perspective.

I have worked pretty much every hour I was not sleeping this weekend. I am cranky, irritable, and tired as I write this.

This morning at the school nearby my place, I was awoken to the 5k run that they are hosting. There is a DJ outside, I can hear him loud and clear and all I want to do is go back to sleep and not get ready for work.

I finally wake up and read the news of Jose Fernandez’ unfortunate passing on my phone.

http://m.mlb.com/news/article/203268704/jose-fernandez-killed-in-boating-accident/

Suddenly, I feel guilty. Like my crankiness, irritability, and being tired does not matter anymore. Indeed it is strange how you feel several things in life and all it takes is one thing to put life back in perspective for you.

I also was surprise and upset to see someone who I have known for years have the audacity to make light of what happened. It makes me pause and revisit who I should share my energy with going forward. Too much negativity in the world to be associated with people who make light out of situations like this.

A promising career and you could argue the start of a Hall of Fame pitching career has now ended too soon. You can’t help but feel for the Marlins, their players, their employees, their fans, and all fans of baseball. One thing great about this sport is that when something unfortunate happens, everyone comes together like a family, and this won’t be any different.

Below is a video that I watched this morning which gives some insight on who the person Jose Fernandez was that some may not know. And it will make you understand why so many are struggling to cope with the news this morning. I want to warn you that it may cause some tears to flow.

Jose’s bond with his grandmother reminds me of the bond for this game I shared with my grandfather growing up. Most importantly it is a reminder that tomorrow is never promise to us and that we should live everyday of our lives to the fullest.

jose-fernandez-marlins

If this is how a rebuild is supposed to go, then count me in

So it has been awhile since I did a baseball blog, and today is June 1st and already 1/3 of the season is over.

At the beginning of the season while I thought this Brewers team is not going to be a playoff team, I thought they would be better than many people think. I was not buying that this is instantly a 100 loss team.

The defense and fundamentals are much better than last year’s debacle. And they still (while not playoff contending) do have talent on this team.

I challenge each and every Brewers fan to just enjoy each game. Don’t worry about Wins or Losses and how many games this team is back out of a playoff spot. One thing I notice is this team puts bad (and yes there have been some stinkers) losses behind them and always competes each and every game. That is all you can hope as year one of the rebuild is underway.

Here are some good observations about this team I have notice in April and May:

Defense is much better. While they sometimes make boneheaded mistakes and bad decisions (which I admit does get to me), there are not the worst defensive team in the majors. Surprisingly their rival The St. Louis Cardinals earn that distinction and which is probably why A: They hover near .500 and B: Are and probably will be the best 3rd place team in baseball.

Jonathan Villar

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Milwaukee Brewers

Who is this guy we got from Houston? Apparently one of the top 5 Shortstops via his stats in the MLB. There is becoming talk that this guy should be placed in the All-Star game. With his batting average a little over .300 at .308, his OBP at .412 and 19 stolen bases, we may have found our new lead off hitter. This also gives time for Orlando Arcia, the highly touted and long awaited SS to get some seasoning in AAA before being brought up. If Villar can figure out how to play 3B or 2B, then we may have a surprising IF piece in the start of our rebuild.

Jimmy Nelson

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After a year of figuring things out in the majors, Jimmy Nelson already looks like a solid #2 or #3 piece that you can build the rotation around. One important thing that I notice about Nelson is whenever he gets into trouble, he has figured out how to limit and even in some cases eliminate the damage. I do think the guy has an outside chance of being a potential Ace in the making.

Josh Hader

Milwaukee Brewers non-roster invitee Josh Hader, points to help his catcher field a wild pitch, Wednesday, February 24, 2016, in Phoenix. Arizona.(Photo/Roy Dabner) ORG XMIT: RD037

Have you heard of him? If you don’t keep up with the minors, you probably have not. I suggest you keep an eye on the minor league teams. This is one of the reasons why I don’t think this rebuild will take as long as many think.

Hader is one of the pieces we got back in return from the Gomez and Fiers trade. This guy is legit and he is a southpaw. In AA this year he is 1-1 with a 0.88 ERA in 10 starts. Hader is the one to watch out for. While he still is probably 1-2 seasons away, if Hader keeps this up, we could have a nice 1-2 combo with him and Nelson.

The Veterans

BREWERS-PIRATES. The Milwaukee Brewers Ryan Braun, hits a three run homer in the first inning, driving in Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez in the first inning as the Brewers continue their dominance against the National League Central rival Pittsburgh Pirates, Sunday, May 15, 2011 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ryan Braun hit his National League-leading 12th homer, tripled and drove in four runs, helping a shaky Zack Greinke and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-6 Sunday for a three-game sweep.. Photo by MICHAEL SEARS/ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, Aaron Hill, and Chris Carter:

The Brewers have leaned on these guys for a couple of reasons:

  1. Good clubhouse guys who can teach the young players how to play.
  2. Great possible trade chips.

Who would have ever thought tons of teams would show interest in Ryan Braun. While people still don’t forget his PED suspension, he is batting an incredible .348 and showing good hitters can always figure out a way to hit.

Jonathan Lucroy is starting to heat up. After a quiet early start to the season he is now up to .299 and has a .355 OBP. Lucroy is one of the biggest trade pieces for the Brewers as his contract is very friendly through next season.

Aaron Hill has also showed signs he can still hit. Additionally his defense has been better than advertised. His batting average is up to .275.

Hernan Perez

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During the Cubs-Brewers game that last 13 innings I got really upset at Perez for his poor at bat with the bases loaded and nobody out. Maybe he heard me. Lately he is showing Detroit made a mistake letting him go through waivers. He recently is starting to draw more walks and additionally is showing signs of power. This could be the future 3B if or when Aaron Hill gets traded.

Here are some not so good observations during April and May:

Inconsistent. With any rebuild you will notice a team will show signs that in some games they can be really good and other games not so good.

The pitching was all over the place in April and has since showed signs that they can compete. Now recently the offense seems to be struggling. Big innings are few and far away. While this can be maddening sometimes, I have had to learn to let it go just like the team is showing a good example of doing.

Wily Peralta

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It was not too long ago that Peralta was close to a 20 game winner. Now, who knows what we have. I can’t figure out the issue and neither can Craig Counsell or the Brewers coaching staff. He has shown times that he could turn the corner but the minute you think he will, there is a major setback. Peralta has been a disappointment this season. While fans talk about moving him to the bullpen, the best you can do right now is keep him in the rotation. If he still can’t figure it out by July, then it might be time to make changes or even think about if he needs a change of scenery through a trade.

Outfield

Minus Braun and Domingo Santana, the Brewers Outfield situation looks like a work in progress. Guys like Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Keon Broxton, and Ramon Flores bring good things to the table, however nobody has been solid enough in hitting and fielding to take over the position of CF. Alex Pressley has been nice however he is much suited as a bench player. This will remain a work in progress.

Overall, if you are a fan of baseball, you always want your team to compete every day. And Craig Counsell has this team fighting and playing hard. They are also quite fun to watch if you can let the bad play go. It’s all you can ask for a team in year 1 of their rebuild.

North of the Border baseball:

In April I was in Toronto and was able to see Rogers Centre for the first time in my life! What a cool stadium and atmosphere. It reminded me a little bit of how Miller Park is structured. If you love baseball like me and have a bucket list of visiting every stadium during your lifetime, I suggest if you find good airfare, update your passport if needed, and take a trip there.

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