I was on a train one time and I was wearing a Brewers hat.
This was in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and my friends and I were riding the light rail train back from Target Field. It was a sunny day and we’d had some beers. I started talking to some guy who was also riding the train away from downtown Minneapolis. That’s when he said something to me that I haven’t been able to shake since, for whatever reason.
“The Milwaukee Brewers are the devil”, he told me.
“The devil?” I asked, dumbfounded. Surely this had to be false. I imagined the Brewers could be Mephistopheles, a fiend, a spirit, demon, ghoul, ghost or poltergeist. The Brewers baseball club had at times been a nightmare; could they also be a banshee, bogeyman, vampire or incubus? Perhaps the club was merely a phantasm on the level of an apparition, genie or wraith. A gnome, dwarf, elf, leprechaun, pixie, sprite, troll, ogre or hobgoblin: surely not. Could my beloved baseball team be an archfiend such as Old Nick to anyone, even to Minnesotans?
I understood border rivalries, or at least I thought I did.
“Hey, this guy says the Brewers are the devil”, I told my friends. “Whaddya think about that?”
I turned back to the man, who was unassuming but dreadfully serious. He was not fooling.
“You don’t actually think the Brewers are the devil, do you? I mean, I understand you not liking them because they’re from Wisconsin, but do you mean it?” I pleaded.
“The Milwaukee Brewers are the devil”, he said again, matter of fact, just like that.
Again, I poured on the interrogation inquisitively. I wanted to get to the root of this problem and solve it. I couldn’t imagine what specter, shadow or spook this man had seen in the Brewers. I didn’t want to see his vision, but I wanted to understand it. There are no monsters in me, I thought to myself. Then I thought better.
I tried to trick the guy into revealing the source of his dissatisfaction, his discontentment, perhaps his secret blues. Was he disconsolate because of some previous trauma? Surely I can understand a Minnesotan’s cheerless despair when it comes to the Green Bay Packers. But the Milwaukee Brewers? What have they ever done to anyone? No really, what have they done? Not much!
But he wouldn’t budge. He wouldn’t even answer my questions any longer. He just looked elsewhere, dejected, downcast, turned away. I felt it only polite not to berate him on the subject further.
The mystery remains. His puzzling remark, whether folly or feint, I’ll never know.no comments
A recent article on the economic impact of Milwaukee Brewers fans who don’t live in the five-county metro area has revealed some substantial but not very startling figures. The UW-Milwaukee study, apparently commissioned by MLB, reports that nearly 50 percent of fans at Brewers home games reside in places outside the five-county area, and that those outstate baseball fans contribute as much as $263 million per year to the local economy. Certainly, many fans come from Madison, the state’s second-largest city, along with bigger cities like Appleton, Eau Claire, etc. But the cumulative economic punch that these fans provide for the Brewers baseball club, the great city of Milwaukee and its surrounding suburbs is monumental.
Attendance is up at Brewers games in large part because of the retractable roof at Miller Park. The roof is sometimes lamentable but never useless. Miller Park opened in 2001 and has been a boon to the Brewers in their ability to attract fans from outside the metro area. The roof convinces fans that their drive (or journey in whatever fashion, be it train, donkey or bicycle) will be worth it because a baseball game will be played. The significance of the guaranteed game cannot be overstated. Back when the Milwaukee Braves were in town in the 50s and into the very early 60s, Milwaukee was the only nearby major-league town other than Chicago for baseball fans in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, the Dakotas and beyond, going west.
Once the Twins arrived on the Minnesota prairie in 1961, Milwaukee’s market got a whole lot smaller. The Twins organization, strangely enough, originated as the Kansas City Blues of the Western League in 1894, and then was the Washington Senators and/or Nationals organization from 1901 until it moved to Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, MN, in time for the 1961 season. Of course, five years after the Twins arrived in Minnesota, the Milwaukee Braves ownership group that purchased the team in 1962 completed its quest to move the team to Atlanta and the fatter paychecks there. When Bud Selig was successful in bringing MLB back to Milwaukee in 1970, the newfangled Brewers found themselves boxed in by Detroit to the east, Minneapolis-St. Paul to the west and two teams in the Windy City directly south.
As happened to the Green Bay Packers when the Minnesota Vikings came around, territory in Minnesota, Iowa and the Dakotas that may have previously leaned towards the Braves was splintered or fell completely to the new Minnesota franchises. There is certainly nothing wrong or unnatural about this process. However, Milwaukee suddenly needed Wisconsinites a lot more than it did previously.
County Stadium was a great stadium for a time, but it suffered from housing poor Brewers teams for much of its existence. It began to wear and tear, and was susceptible to freakish weather even during the best months, not to mention snow, rain and abundant unpredictability in April, May and September. Not that northern weather is unique to Milwaukee, but bad weather is a definite turnoff when one thinks of travelling many miles just to get to the ballpark.
Those Brewers fans who go to Miller Park often (and perhaps are commuter fans themselves from outside the five-county) probably greet this study’s results with a shrug of knowing confidence. I’ve noticed it myself. When I go to Miller Park, I’ll often see evidence that vehicles are there from not only other states but elsewhere in Wisconsin. In addition, as is part of the great tradition of Brewers baseball games, I often talk with fellow fans when I’m at games and I very often talk with people who are not only not Milwaukeeans, but live hours away from Brew City.
What this boils down to is some real data and recognition that the Brew Crew is supported by fans from all over the place, not just the five-county Milwaukee area. Madison, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Green Bay, the Fox Cities and many other Wisconsin cities and towns deserve a shout-out and a very gracious thank-you for coming down and packing Miller Park. Brewers fans in neighboring states and everywhere in the USA and the world: thank you. Miller Park’s roof saves the date but all fans together make it happen. We are Brewers Nation.no comments
There is a feeling of unease, of fear and trembling, among some Brewers fans as the team approaches the start of the regular season. The fog of the unknown surrounds the Brewers. Youth possesses potential, but isn’t it only likely that potential will be wasted? Look at the life of an average person. There’s potential there, but isn’t it really easy to piss that away? Wasting potential is effortless.
Sure, the team signed some bullpen guys that appear to be improvements from last year’s bunch, and the daily lineup is pretty solid. But couldn’t they have done more? Would you like to see more? Is it upon us to resign doubts and have faith in the Brewers?
Most pressingly, the starting rotation looks prone to a letdown. I hope I’m wrong. I understand the application of the young arms and all that. You’ve got Yovani Gallardo as a lock for the rotation. No problem there. Marco Estrada as a #2 guy: that’s not what I would consider wise but all right, I suppose. For the sake of reviewing the rotation after that, it would be, in no particular order: Mike Fiers, who deserves a shot to continue starting after last year’s run, then Wily Peralta, who is owed a chance because it’s about time he gets a real one, and Mark Rogers, who’s simply out of options. Then they have Chris Narveson, who may or may not be ready to contribute again, and who’s also out of options. I’m starting to really like the presence of Alfredo Figaro, who is a total wildcard, but could provide some innings as a spot starter if needed. Is that enough? Could this season of hopeful promise crash and burn by April? Should we just stop asking questions, tie ourselves to the mast and embrace what ever will come?
Que será, será, tambien.
By the way, I had the pleasure of doing a Q&A on the Brewers’ upcoming season with Daniel Shoptaw at the Cards blog C70 At The Bat, be sure to check it out. In hindsight, I think I may have been a tad too optimistic in my projection for the Brewers’ record. It could be a bumpy 2013, but that’s life, right? Thanks.no comments
A report Monday indicates Brewers scouts watched L.A. Dodgers veteran right-hander Aaron Harang in a minor league game. Apparently scouts from the Baltimore Orioles were also in attendance. Baltimore, like Milwaukee, has stuck with the young guns and internal options for their 2013 starting rotation, rather than exploring the dicey free-agent market. Harang, 34, pitched to a 3.61 ERA in 31 starts for the Dodgers in 2012, along with a 1.403 WHIP, 4.3 BB/9 and 6.6 SO/9. Harang pitched nearly 180 innings with a sub-4.00 ERA, and that is likely what interests the Brewers: his workhorse capability.
A longtime Cincinnati Red, Harang wouldn’t be a terrible acquisition for the Brewers, especially considering their lack of experience in the rotation. It’s still very early in spring training, but Yovani Gallardo has already dealt with some injury issues and Mark Rogers has struggled thus far. Chris Narveson is coming off of a major injury. It’s unclear what the Dodgers would want for Harang, or fellow excess starter Chris Capuano, but Harang is making a pretty big salary ($7MM in 2013 with an identical salary next year on a mutual option or a $2MM buyout). Capuano is also making good money. Perhaps if the Brewers felt they needed some veteran experience on the staff after all, they could look into acquiring one of Harang or Capuano, but I would imagine the price would have to be very low in terms of players going back to L.A. Certainly, this option to fortify the rotation would be far wiser and less risky than signing Scott Boras client Kyle Lohse.