Spiritual Pilgram


It is that said time of the year when baseball fans everywhere feel a bit despondent. It is a time when other sports are beginning to cut in on the glorious days of this sporting summer, taking some of the press headlines away from the sport of 108 stitches. And today, for many of the teams in the sport reportedly founded by Doubleday, they have entered the 30% solution period…they only have 50 games left in the regular season.

For teams like the Milwaukee Brewers, running 1/2 have behind the NL Central leading World Champions of last season, this has been a year of delightful discovery. This team made up of rebuilding journeyman, a flawed aging and aching star, and a youthful front office and clubhouse management, the excitement they have created is what gives baseball the spirit of the ages for their fans everywhere. They have found the mystery other search for…chemistry…that drives success.

The philosophy that success breeds success, and positive thinking bring good things to the top, have all been exercised in enormous doses of hope and excitement. And so much of it is due to a ‘spiritual pilgrim’ of this team.

Hernán Perez de Ovando was a 13th Century nobleman. Hernán is a Spanish given name, originating from Germanic Hernan in the Visigoth culture in Spain. It is the Latinized version of the compound name Fard-nanth, which seems to mean ‘gentle traveler’ or ‘spiritual pilgrim’. The House of Hernan gave its name to those with the surname Hernández, the -ez at the end denoting membership of that House. The surname, like many Spanish surnames, is of Teutonic-Gothic origin.

In Milwaukee, Hernán is the ‘spiritual pilgrim’ who has become the glue that holds a team of wildebeests together on the plains of baseball. One of the many vagabond players the Brewers have compiled to form a team as they re-build from their recent glory days of Prince-Ryan-Cory-Rickie and the Gang, Hernán is the key to getting this team to where they are today…far ahead of what anybody in baseball expected of this Craig Counsell led team.

Players fall down because of physical ailments, then another steps up. This has happened to the Pigsville Nine all year long. Villar stumbles out of the gate after given a clear path to future stardom and Sogard takes his place. Sogard goes down and Hernán Pérez takes his place. Piña has been a rock behind the plate while each of his co-workers have been injured, first Bandy, then Vogt and then and then Bandy again and now Susac. At first, two unknown talents have taken the bag, one from Korea, Thames, who knocked the cover off the ball in April, then Aguilar who goes by the first name of Jesus, has filled in everywhere and has given the first base position solid thumbs up during the season. At short, Arcia is on the brink of becoming a superstar. On Friday, he nearly singlehandedly won the game for the Cream City team, first with the bat and then with his defense as the team shut out the near mirror-image of themselves in the American League, Tampa Bay. And yesterday, it was Arcia again who helped the team earn another shutout and Davies 13th win of the season, At third, an overachiever in the Don Money school of playing the hot corner, Shaw got knocked out of the game yesterday with a weird injury sliding into second and being hit on the neck with a thrown ball by the Ray’s catcher. Hernán Pérez filled in. In Center, a host of player have filled that position, be it Broxton or Brinson, Phillips, Nieuwenhuis or, yes, Hernán Pérez again. In left, the steady, Braun has, when not injured, been the solid star performer he has always been. But when injured, you will find Hernán Pérez filling in. And in right, Santana, is the rising superstar of this team. Rock solid arm in right, his batting has driven him up the ladder of ‘most reliable’ on the team. Yet one he needs a day off, Hernán Pérez can be found in right. On the mound, Davies has been the most underrated and most abused pitcher in the majors, not only by the entire game ignoring his contribution to the team but the continual harping by the television announcers who are more or less suggesting this right hander is lucky in winning the amount he has because the team ‘hits for him’ or because he isn’t as precise with his pitches as they think he should be. At last glance, he appears to be the stopper of the team. Wake up Bill. Then there is Nelson, the powerhouse right hander who is always a threat to go the distance. Garza is finally earning his pay with surprisingly solid work, while Anderson, before he went down with an injury was considered the top arm on the team. Yet he was replaced by a Harvard trained, quick worker, Suter who has been brilliant in his few outings since he came up. Then when the bullpen was completely overworked, when the Midshipman Drake, Hughes and Knebel were ineffective, Hernán Pérez came in for an inning to assist. Yup, the same Hernán Pérez who plays first, second, shortstop, third, left, center, right and is the back-up to the back-up catcher on the team. Then there are the latest additions to the bullpen, the ever returning Jefferess, Starzak and the future superstar starter, Hader. They all probably talk to Hernán Pérez for something because everyone knows the value of this man.

Take all of these players, and line them with a Pérez, and you have a team of excitement that has 50 more games to make history happen. And to do that, they have to win their division over the past World Champions. That’s their only path to the playoffs this season as the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Rockies of the National League West appear to have all of the wild card positions filed in the National League.

Thirty point eight (30.8%) percent of the regular season games are still to be played. Fifty (50) games are all ahead of them.

Can this team of spare parts, the Wildebeests of baseball, actually achieve the unbelievable?

Stay tuned. It may all land at the feet of the man named Hernán.

Play Ball!

#watching attanasio

Baseball Rebirth

During the past two weeks, while most sports fans were watching college basketball’s conference tournaments, the NCAA first round of March Madness, the first night of the second round of March madness, golf from Florida, NASCAR, motorcycle racing, boxing, WWE, the Premiere League, NBA Basketball and NHL Hockey, there was something that was exceptional happening in the world of sport. Some of the best players in the world were playing baseball for their home nations or for nations someone in their family might have a hereditary line, were playing baseball behind a flag. The WBC this year is exceptional.

For those who have been watching these games, from Korea, Japan, Mexico, Miami and San Diego, the game progressed to mid-season form in a hurry.

Last night in San Diego, with everything on the line for the defending champion, Dominican Republic and the United States, baseball was reborn. In front of a packed stadium at Petco Park, the feeling was electric. Could the USA come back and beat the team who had defeated them in Miami after giving up a big lead last week? Could anyone get the tremendous players from DR out? There were 23 All-Stars on both teams for one game. And something happened.

This was big time, Major League Baseball at its very best. The crowd was in it. In fact, the crowd was one of the loudest one could imagine. But, three plays stood out to make this one of the most amazing games you could ever want to see. And perhaps that was the point. You go to a game in hopes that you see something you can talk about for a long time to come. Then it happens. Not once. Not twice. But three times.

The first was the incredible pressure the Dominican team puts on its opponents. There is one basher after another. There is not space to take a breath. And in the first inning, as the home team, they began pounding the ball. But as it again happened in the second inning and the fifth inning, somehow the USA team stopped what could have ended the game as it had in Miami a week before. Solid pitching and solid defense stopped the DR in its tracks. Danny Duffey’s great pitching and a terrific tag of Nelson Cruz at home by catcher Jonathon Lucroy with a fine throw to him by Brandon Crawford, kept DR at bay in Mission Bay.

The second was an unbelievable force of one Giancarlo Stanton. The ‘Adonis of Miami’ absolutely crushed a baseball which took off faster than one could imagine to give the USA a huge lift and the lead. An unbelievable speed of a ball being hit into the warehouse in left field went out faster than Staton could complete his swing. If in all the time you spend watching baseball, here is a memory nugget you can keep forever. Wow!

Then the third made this game an important turning point for the game. This WBC showed off big time baseball at its very best. And this is a memory nugget you will never forget. The incomparable Manuel Arturo ‘Manny’ Machada hit a blast to deep center field and as if time stood still in the marine layer, Adam Jones, the centerfielder for the Baltimore Orioles, raced to the fence and leaped way over the wall to make one of the best catches in the history of the game. Electric. Unbelievable. Fantastic. The Golden Memory Nugget. The pitcher mouthing ‘Oh My God’. But it is what happened a moment later that made this the great game and gave rebirth to the new era of baseball. Muchada while rounding first acknowledged Jones great athletic feat by his regular season teammate by doffing his cap to him as he headed back to the dugout on third base. In return, silently while a tumultuous roar of the crowd, tipped his hat in return to his teammate for saluting him.

This is when baseball was reborn in the hearts of the old who love the game, in the hearts of the fathers who take their sons and daughters to the game and to the young people who packed the stadium and watched on television what a great game can be as a fabric of their lives today and into the future.

This is baseball.

This is why it is so important.

Play Ball!

A Complex Measure


It was simply a very complex day in baseball. In New York City, at the legendary home of Champions, the Yankees on Friday were either saying good-bye or ridding themselves of one of the most gifted, tarnished individuals who ever played the game. For the record, this was Alex Rodriguez last game for the New York Yankees.

Perhaps the center focus of the PED-Era in the game, here is one of the best players who ever played the game crystalized in everything that is bad and good about the game. There is no middle ground when speaking of A-Rod. For the record, he is tied as the 23rd best fielding shortstop in the history of baseball with a career .9772 fielding percentage at shortstop. But in all fairness, he only played 1,272 of his 2,784 games at short. His fWAR was below 50%. At third base, he ranked tied for 32nd place all-time with a .9648 fielding percentage. Let’s face it, fielding isn’t what got him to be one of the highest paid players in the history of the game, although he won the Gold Glove twice in his career at shortstop.

When it came to hitting, he hit 50+ home runs three (3) times with a high of 57 in 2002. In his career, over 22 years, he had a lifetime .295 batting average in 10,566 at bats. 3.115 hits; 548 doubles; 31 triples; 696 home runs; 2,086 RBI; .550 slugging percentage; .930 OPS; 5,813 total bases; and 14 time All-Star; 3 time MVP in 12 years with the New York Yankees, 7 years with the Seattle Mariners and 3 years with the Texas Rangers. In his career he made $375,416,252, with a high annual salary of $33 million in a single season (2009 & 2010). Three times he was named the Major League Player of the Year; won the AL batting title once in 1996 with a .358 average; won the Hank Aaron Award four (4) times and the Babe Ruth Award once. He won the Silver Slugger Award ten (10) times. For his career his WAR was 117.8, five (5) times finished #1. He had an on-base percentage of .380 in his career, had 2,021 runs scored while on base 4,629 times. As a batter he ranks with Willie Mays.

This was a great player in the game of baseball. But that is what you would want in the first player selected in the 1993 MLB draft.

Yet he played under the shadow of suspicion, jealousy, admiration and contempt for the better part of the last eight years. It probably began when he left Seattle. But the flight of other great top players from that team including Ken Griffey, Jr. and Randy Johnson (both now in the Hall of Fame) was not that big of a contributing factor to dislike. In 2007, the cornerstone of fan disillusionment when Rodriguez was finishing the last year of a $252 million contract. He did the unthinkable for pin-strip fans. He opted out, effectively making him a free agent once again. Now the die was cast as it was announced he would not renew his contract with the Yankees citing that he was ‘unsure of the future composition ‘ of the team. He was now the target of criticism not only for not meeting with team officials before his announcement but for financial gluttony. But the biggest issue with fans was that he did it during the 8th inning of Game Four of the World Series as Boston was finishing their victory over the Colorado Rockies. MLB’s chief operating officer, Bob DuPuy, called it ‘an attempt by Rodriguez’ agent, Scott Boras, to try to put his selfish interests and that of one individual player above the overall good of the game’. After a quick PR repair job by A-Rod himself, a new 10 year $275 million contract was finalized on December 13, 2007.

Out of nowhere, the report hit. In the February 7, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated hit the stands, it reported that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for testosterone and the anabolic steroid Primobolan in 2003. His name had appeared on a government-sealed list of 104 major-league players (out of 1200 tested) who came up positive for performance-enhancing drugs. As crazy as it seems today, there was no penalty or punishment for a positive steroid test in Major League Baseball. To his credit, two days after the allegations, Rodriguez admitted to steroid use from 2001 until 2003, claiming that he cease using such substances after spring training that year.

What might become a reason for so many star players to take PEDs, injury, has loomed over the game. Prior to the 2009 season, A-Rod was forced to withdraw from the World Baseball Classic where he would represent the Dominican Republic, when an MRI revealed a cyst in his right hip. He went to have the cyst drained but discovered that he was also suffering from a torn labrum in the same hip. He underwent an arthroscopic procedure with a recovery period of 6 to 9 weeks, instead of the usual three to four months. He would require a second, more extensive surgery in the off-season. He missed spring training and the month of April. But he came out with a very strong season. It was his 12th consecutive season and 13th overall of reaching 30 home runs and 100 RBI breaking a ties with Manny Ramirez, Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx for the most in Major League Baseball history. And as a topper to any career, he helped the Yankees win their 27th World Series Championship and his first.

Two years later, Rodriguez opted for arthroscopic surgery on his knee to repair a torn meniscus that placed him on the disabled list at the All-Star break. During his recovery, he was facing serious allegations that he had participated in illegal, underground poker games. One of those games turned violent and cocaine was openly used Rodriguez denied that he had ever participated in illegal poker games. MLB had warned him in 2005 not to participate in such games. After retiring in late August, he sustained another injury with a jammed thumb.

In 2013, he underwent another arthroscopic surgery in his hip to repair a torn labrum. It was the second time in four years that he had the surgery. But this operation was more serious than before. He began the season on the 60-day disabled list. While rehabbing, he again was embroiled in a series negative situations He became a central figure in the Biogenesis baseball scandal and MLB’s investigation into his possible connection to performance-enhancing drugs. Then he again got embroiled with Yankee management when he said on social media (Twitter) that his doctor had medically cleared him to play in games. Yankee GM Brian Cashman said Rodriguez’s doctor did not have such authority and that Rodriguez should ’shut the fxxx up.’ While rehabbing in the minors, he sustained a new injury as an MRI later revealed a Grade 1 quad strain, delaying his return and forcing him to continue in the minors. Rodriguez clearly frustrated sought a second opinion on his quad strain with a doctor who stated that there did not appear to be an injury. The Yankees were incensed. The war began. They said he had violated league rules for seeking a second opinion without the team’s permission. The stage was now clearly set for Yankees to get rid of Rodriguez. The ‘Cashman Conflict’ was the beginning of the end. Rodriguez continued to feud with Yankees management following his return, as his lawyers accused the team, and specifically Christopher S. Ahmad MD, of mishandling his hip injury in several ways; Rodriguez’s legal team contends the team withheld the injury from him and continued to play him in 2012 despite his health, and that team president, Randy Levine told Rodriguez’s hip surgeon that he would be happy if Rodriguez never played again. In response to the accusations, Cashman said, “I’m not comfortable talking to Alex about this because we feel we are in a litigious environment. Hello and goodbye, that’s about it.” He added, “It’s not just Yankees’ management. He’s putting it at the level of our trainers, our medical staff. The organization. The team.” It wasn’t a good year for A-Rod.

Alex Rodriguez was suspended from baseball but he delayed it pending an appeal. The suspension was upheld for the entirety of the 2014 regular season and post season. He was found to have violated the league’s Performance Enhancing Drugs policy, specifically through the ‘use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years’ and ‘attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation.’

In the 2015 off-season it was reported that Rodriguez met with new Commissioner of Baseball, Rob Manfred, in which it is reported that Rodriguez apologized while promising to behave in the future. In February he issued a hand-written letter of apology to “Major League Baseball, the Yankees, the Steinbrenner family, the Players Association and you,the fans’.

And now here we are. Criticism is plenty. In Joe Torre’s 2009 book, ‘The Yankee Years’, Rodriguez earned the nickname ‘A-Fraud’ from teammates and particularly from clubhouse attendants who were said to resent his demands. Steroid-user Jose Canseco said in his book, ‘Juiced:Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big’ called A-Rod a hypocrite. But then again, who cares what Canseco says. The fact remains, there is a playing stats side and there is the drugs side.

Performance enhancing drugs have torn baseball’s unique stat world apart. Those accused and/or suspended, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Ryan Braun, Rager Clemens, Rafael Palmero, Lenny Dykstra, Eric Gagne, Jerry Hairston, Jr., Glenallen Hill, Todd Hundley, David Justice, Andy Petite, Mo Vaughn, Fernando VBina, Manny Ramirez, Melky Cabrera, Jason Giambi, Jeremy Giambi, Benito Santiago, Gary Sheffield, Bartolo Colon, Yasmani Grandal, Carlos Ruiz, Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Miguel Tejada, Dee Gordon, Raul Mondesi, Rick Ankiel, Jose Canseco, Gary Matthews, Jr., Matt Williams, Wally Joyner, Ken Caminiti, Chuck Knoblauch, Paul Lo Duca, David Ortiz, Ivan Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Mike Stanton and many more have put the stain on the game. We are not talking about hard drugs or alcohol consumption here. We are talking about people taking drugs to make them perform better.

Thus the dilemma.

Alex Rodriguez could hit. Alex Rodriguez could field. Alex Rodriguez took performance enhancing drugs. He paid for the results. He served his time. His day in the game appears to now be over.

Baseball is a game we all play as kids. It is a game we love from our very core. He did as well and did it better then nearly anyone.

A-Rod…we hardly knew ya.

Play Ball!

‘The Moment’

'The Moment'

‘The Moment’


Many people in life have ‘a moment’. And, in the annuals of life, one time…..just one time, a person has ‘the moment’. It is defining.

On Friday with most of the crowd headed for the parking lot, the 31 year old rookie sensation, Junior Guerra, was pitching a gem for the Cream City Nine. He had stepped into the top of the ninth against the mighty Pirates, having giving up only two hits the entire evening and now was leading 3-0. He appeared to be in complete control.

His journey in Pigsville had begun, not against the Pittsburgh nine, but when rookie General Manager, David Stearns’ made his first official move after being hired in that position. He claimed, last Fall, one Junior Guerra off waivers from the Chicago White Sox. As Manager, Craig Counsell said, ‘I don’t think anybody accurately forecasted this. But he was claimed for a reason. He was claimed because we thought there were possibilities there and there was talent there. We thought he was a guy that had gone about it in a really different way and got to this place in a really different way, but that he was a really good pitcher at this point. This level of success, maybe not. But yeah, I think we thought he’d have success.’

And he showed his confidence that really wasn’t at all about the Bob ‘Hurricane’ Hazel of this generation, but rather the rookie manager’s grasp of the psychology of the game. In the 9th inning, Junior had begun with only 87 pitches and Counsell was attempting to have his starting pitcher finish a complete game, the first complete game for the Brewers since last July. The first batter, Matt Joyce, got a single. Then John Jaso was walked. Two on, nobody out, Gregory Polanco was coming to the plate as the tying run.

It is one thing to face Jaso, but it was quite another to face this guy before the big guy in the Buc’s lineup.

The eyes of the 29,000+ were all on the manager in the dugout. Would he come out and bring in, what has been, a very iffy bullpen to try to wrap up the game? Or would he let his rookie pitcher try to complete the game in style? It was the beginning of ‘The Moment’ that will live with Brewer fans forever. Out came Counsell, looking quickly right down the first base line, then eyes down and walked up toward the mound as he approached the pitcher and the gathering infielders, Carter, Gennett, Villar and Jonathan Lucroy (in his last inning and game as a Brewer?).

Collectively the crowd at Miller Park was disappointed expecting the manager to accept the ball from his pitcher. But now he became a fan-legend in the land of beer, brats and cheese. With Guerra offering the ball to the manager, Counsell refused to accept his pitcher’s decision and slapped him on the back and it was now his game to try to finish. With stunning and overwhelming approval and cheers from everyone in the crowd and those watching on television, Counsell left the mound, with an astonished pitcher receiving slaps with the gloves of the other players on the mound. This was ‘The Moment’ when the guy from Whitefish Bay proved to be the next great Brewer manager, in the shadows of George Bamberger and Harvey Kuenn. Right then and there, Craig Counsell would be marked in history as doing something that most in the stands had never seen. But to be truthful, all were very happy to see. What a confidence booster. This was one giant step for the kid from Whitefish Bay.

The rest of the story, although a bit bizarre, finished with a win. Polanco hit into a fielder’s choice as Carter forced the runner at second. Andrew McCutcheon hit into another fielders choice to drive in Pittsburgh’s only run when Marte singled off the head of the second base umpire before Jeffers relieved Guerra and retired Kang to end the game with another (sic) Brewers victory. While the details of the game were unusual, THE story was about the decision that Counsell made on this historic night. ‘I really wanted him to get through the inning’, Counsell said of Guerra. ‘I thought he pitched like he deserved to, and I don’t think he was tiring or anything like that. I thought he was still making pitches.’

Guerra had won his seventh game of the year. He had lowered his ERA to a most respectable 2.70, ranking him #8 among Major League starters, just behind Stephen Strasburg and ahead of Jake Arrieta. And for all the stat rats, in 16 starts over 103.1 innings this season, the ‘Velvet Venezuelan’ has posted a 3.67 FIP, and an 85/34 K/BB rate while generating ground balls (46.3%) and infield pop ups (11%) along with a 20.8% K rate and an 11% swinging strike rate.

But the real story that will live well beyond the wins and losses of the pitcher will be…’Do you remember the time when Counsell walked out to the mound and kept the pitcher in the game?’ That will be ‘The Moment’. And that is when Whitefish Bay’s favorite son became THE manager of the Milwaukee Brewers in the minds of the Crew’s faithful forever.

Play Ball!

#win63
#watchingattanasio

A Wasted Effort

A Wasted Effort


There was a hush in the big room at the ballpark as everyone seated around the table was in rapt attention as they wanted to know what the ‘Big Guy’ thought of the idea.

‘Dumb’, he said. ‘It’s a dumb idea. And I can say that because I am the GM and not one of you.’ Ah. Those words. It makes you just a little bit proud that a fellow from the North who could, in fact, put two words together without mispronouncing the word ‘schedule’ instead of ‘sheedual’. Yet he is the de-architect. He is the tearer-downer of the team.

While there was a huge departure of Latin players from the Brewers roster as the trade deadline neared, in one of the trades, the one that sent the most popular Crew member to Houston, Carlos Gomez, along with starter, Mike Fiers, was that this GM also traded away the International Bonus spending rights to Houston. It was that little single line in the trade legaleze that may come back to haunt a team which resembles a minor league franchise while season ticket holders pay big boy bucks for their right to view this mess on the field. For the 2015-16 twelve month period, Houston, which already has a bonus pool of $4,248,800, now gets the Brewers $2,389,300 for a total of $6,638,100 which pushed them from #4 to #1, over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Most important, it drops back that lovable Cream City Nine to #30 or dead last with $0 to invest. Any investment they may want to make in the next 11 months will come with a stiff penalty consisting of 75% tax on the amount invested. In other words, the Brewers will have to pay nearly double the amount if they really want to sign an International player.

The bonus pool is determined based on reverse order of winning percentage from the 2014 major league season which means that the Brewers finished somewhere in the middle because of their monumental collapse last season. Now that they are in the need for fresh new talent, they have $0 bonus to entice new players from around the world to consider Milwaukee their home.

On today’s active roster of the Milwaukee Brewers there are seven players who are Internationals. This week they traded away their two best players who were Internationals. Obviously with no bonus pool for the next year, there will probably be none added.

In a time when the game is loaded with International stars, the Brewers find themselves with precious few of star quality. If they are to build out of this extreme hole they themselves created, they need to rethink their position on the climb out of obscurity. If they really want to get above, not just even with the Mendoza Line of baseball they find themselves in at present, they have to become less satisfied with the world of mediocrity they have created.

Perhaps trading the star center fielder to another team could have been done without giving up a starting pitcher that had some value himself. It could also be stated that the trade didn’t have to include giving up the International Bonus. But then they are led by a guy who thinks a moose is a national icon … in Milwaukee. This isn’t Chatham, Ontario. For a guy who began his executive career in baseball as a batting practice pitcher, his claim to fame is that he helped bring the franchise its first postseason berth in 26 years. Yet he has never won a league pennant of any kind during his storied baseball executive career.

This is called: melvinitis.

The chance of the Milwaukee Brewers improving themselves as have Houston and Arizona are hidden in a cloudy permanency that hangs over Miller Park like another losing season. The maddening reality of losing two of the most popular players on the team this week is depressing enough. But the hope hinges on a person who has shown he is better at digging a hole than digging out of one.

Play Ball!

Dancing Mets And The Polka Brewers

Dancing Mets & The Polka Brewers

Dazzling!

They are New York’s second team. And there are plenty of reasons for that position. They are the Diamondbacks-of-the-East as far as ineptitude in making trades. While the D’Backs trade players away who have been, and for some become future All-Stars, the Mets are reluctant to trade to improve without including the Yankee-type head fakes and faints to get the majority of fans in their mind-set before they make a trade. It is the ‘trade dance’.

Then there are the Brewers. A lovely team formerly in pinstripes, the team from the Cream City dances the Polka. No Metropolitanism here, these are the beer and brat team of the Midwest. They have heart. They cry a lot. They leak out the possibility of something new in the bush when rarely does that exist. They never believed that ‘one in the hand’ is better stuff. Go for the unknown hope of the future…never for the reality of today. That just isn’t parochial. And if there is one trait the citizens of Pigsville are known for, they are and forever will be parochial. ‘Hail Mary full of grace…’.

These two teams were made for each other in trades. After all, Frankie Rodriguez came to the Crew via the Mets. But this is another year. And we have a few examples of this amazing dance as the Loveables attempt to fill the holes at third, at short, in the outfield and at first at the bane of the Brewers. They have good noses. They can smell these things. After all, they are the Mets. They have extensively scouted Jean Segura, the young shortstop of the Milwaukee Brewers who will be moved because of a bright young star in the bush leagues. Remember, ‘One in the hand’ philosophy? But the Mets have sent out signals, via the press, that they don’t like his ‘free swinging’. Using the press to push the price down? What would you expect from the home of ‘The Donald’. Segura has shown some upside and is young. Plus, he has three more seasons under club control. That makes him affordable. If there is one thing those lovable Mets like is ‘affordability’. It solves every question in a press conference. All of this for a guy who stole first base.

Moving to the waltz, there is the Aramis Ramirez dance, as the veteran Brewer third baseman is on the Mets radar. He is the one sitting against the wall of the ballroom. A notorious late season hitter, he is at the end of his playing career. But he still has some pop in his bat, as evidenced on Saturday night. But those lovable Mets have again floated a lovely head fake of ‘who would play where’ if Ramirez were acquired. It’s all so wonderful to see a fully orchestrated Metropolitan talk-fest prior to decision making. ‘Run it up the flagpole and see which way the wind blows’ seems to be a favorite tack out at a sea called ‘Citi’. After all, they would only be obligated to pay the last couple of months of his $14 million contract. (Let’s see, $14 million divided by 6 times 2…) He is the ultimate rent-a-player. They, through the press, let it be known that they don’t like his play on both sides of the ball (per Joel Sherman of the New York Post via Twitter). That means they really must like him.

While all this is going on, the Brewers have the Twins and Rangers looking at Neal Cotts; The Padres looking at Gerardo Parra, along with the Giants who have ‘loved Parra forever’ according to Andrew Beggarly of the San Jose Mercury News (via Twitter). They wanted to get him from the D’Backs but then Arizona didn’t want to trade him to a division rival. Note to D’Backs: you have no rivals until you field a winning team. The 2001 Championship is just a memory. The Angels are also looking at Parra. And of course, those crazy Mets have leaked out that they would like a left-handed hitting outfielder who plays in Milwaukee. Head fake!

Surprisingly, The Mets haven’t said anything about their bullpen. The Blue Jays are looking at Francisco Rodriguez. Everybody in need of a first baseman are looking at Adam Lind of the Crew including those Loveables.

Why all of this interest in a team in last place in the National League Central? Last year at this time this same team was in First place. The only addition since their collapse was Jonathan Broxton who has disappeared in a fog of ineffectiveness. Along with the acquisition of Will Smith who became a Brewer in one of the most despised trades in Milwaukee history (OK…Stormin’ Gorman to Cleveland was a doosey) when traded to KC for Nori Aoki, they also got rid of the numb Roenicke as a manager.

Point is, the teams who are chasing this year’s dream of winning a pennant and a World Series championship, see weakness in the Brewers executive ranks. The non-effective General Manger is in limbo as he is in the process of being offered the face-saving transition to upstairs where he will be in charge of Zoo Nights in August with the title of ‘Head of Whatever’, a title passed down by Harry Dalton in his quiet dual with Buddy Selig, the ex-used car ex commish. Craig Counsell is in line to become the next GM. The San Diego Padres interim manager, could succeed Counsell in the dugout. The third base coach would be replaced; Garza would be sent to limbo on permanent DL and all the world would be better in Cream City. Weak GM? Lower costs for players needed. The Mets love this type of upheaval.

That’s how the Mets play ball..err dance. Floating rumors and letting the pot boil with ‘what ifs’ and ‘why nots’. That’s the way those dizzy Metropolitans like to play the game. And their record shows exactly what a success that has led to. Of course, Milwaukee is not much better. Looks like a marriage made in baseball heaven. #watchingattanasio

It’s time to roll out the barrel.

Play Ball!

The Face

He smiles as if he is lighting up his team when in fact he is lighting up a city. Two doubles, five RBIs and he single-handedly destroyed the Dodgers in Mary Hart’s home park. That was Saturday night in the City of Angels.

But it is more than just a smile and a mile of talent that makes Carlos Gomez the leader of The Crew. Notice what he did when Parra his a home run late in the game. Up on the steps of the dugout, he welcomed Gerarado with a rehearsed chorigraphical routine reminiscent of Prince at his finest. He was the welcome mat. He was the cheerleader. He is the backbone of the team.

In the Era of Craig, he IS ‘The Face’, the heart and soul of the new Brewer spirit. Rival fans don’t like his antics as they think it is showboating. Certainly he has no friends in St. Louis. But to fans of the Pigsville Nine, that is just the way GoGo rolls. Flashing the glove with speed to burn; turning that single into a double; firing behind the runner to double him off of first; and smashing a clutch hit when it counts, Mr Gomez has left Braun and Lucroy behind in a memory of dust for this team’s leadership.

But the best reason why he is what he is to Cream City is what he does to the opposing teams. He made sure that a Braves pitcher who might think of throwing inside would be up for retaliation. And he said so. He created a fun atmosphere with Puig by throwing a wad of gum at him and then making it a contest with their arms on Saturday night. Puig threw a runner out at second. GoGo threw a runner out at first. He simply is not afraid of anyone. And that is a sign of a winner.

If he had not been hurt so much early this season, Gomez would again be an All-Star. He already is an All-Star to Brewer’s fans. Hitting .278 with 41 RBIs as the All-Star break is upon us, Gomez is more than stats. He is a spirit of excitement…of accomplishment that makes this version of the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers now fun to watch.

They finally have a manager who will allow a young man to finish a game. In fact, Taylor Jungmann became the first Brewer in history to have a complete game in Dodger Stadium. He fired 100 pitches in a 7-1 complete game win. He had the force of Gomez banging in five of those runs. And, coming off the mound for the post-game high-fives, there was ‘The Face’ of the franchise making sure, with a slap on the back with his glove to the rookie pitcher that he did OK. In the post game interview he praised Jungmann’s pitching and command.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Carlos Gomez, at 29, is The Face of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Play Ball!