Scaredy Cats


‘Its a beautiful day at Wrigley Field. The sky is blue. The grass is green. It’s very colorful in the stands with people wearing blue, some white. And Lake Michigan is a turquoise blue.’, that was how Pat Hughes began the broadcast on Saturday. ‘Beautiful, but it is cold. It is 43 degrees and very windy. There are going to be some adventures in the field today.’

What an understatement. The Milwaukee Brewers looked like the Keystone Cops (The term is to be used to criticize a group for its mistakes, particularly if the mistakes happened after a great deal of energy and activity, or if there was a lack of coordination among the members of the group.) in a Roscoe Conkling “Fatty” Arbuckle movie. Orlando Arcia flashing out from shortstop to center field to chase a wind driven fly ball which allowed Javier Báez to reach second with a double. Ryan Braun shaded his eyes with his first base glove as Johnathan Villar called him off at the last moment to grab the pop up near first base. Hernán Pérez ran all across the infield from his third base position to completely miss the pop up behind the pitchers mound as neither Arcia nor Villar could provide any help. In the sixth, Braun again fought the wind and the sun to miraculously catch a pop up to first. Then the next batter, Anthony Rizzo smashed a fly into right and Dominico Santana made a nice running catch against the wind and the vicious sun. This ain’t a beautiful ballpark. It is a field inside of a mix master with a bright light shining into it with a gummy attitude.

But it wasn’t the wind nor the sun that was reflective of a team in turmoil. This was a first place team that completely rolled over and did everything they could to loose again to the Northsiders. The Cream City Nine simply can’t complete with bully teams like the Northsiders or the Mississippi Mudders. They go limp, hoping something bad won’t happen to them. In plain English, they are ‘Scaredy Cats’.

When they play at that other beer stadium, they are bushed. And when it comes to playing in Gum Park, they are overwhelmed by the crowd, the small locker room and the idea they are in a big city. Small farmers can’t fit into big cities. The Cream City Nine is left on the farm.

But why does this happen? Why do teams who are so good play so badly, excessively fearful, when it comes to playing their rivals?

The answer is seasoning. Not salt and pepper but playing time in pressure situations of a pennant race, Divisional playoffs, Championship series and the World Series. On The Crew, there are only a couple of players who have had that ‘seasoned’ experience. Ryan Braun (15 games) has been through a number of playoff runs. And Lorenzo Cain (31 games) has been through the ultimate playoff wars. But if you look further, you will come up short. Only Matt Albers (2.1 innings), Jeremy Jeffries (1.0 inning), Hernán Pérez (2 games), Travis Shaw (1 game), Eric Sogard (5 games) and Jonathon Villar (1 game) have playoff experience. None of the other 17 players on their active roster have any of that in their MLB history. They simply do not have any seasoning.

On the other hand, the Northsiders are awash in Playoff experience, for one of the few times in their history. And they are all young players who can hold their ‘big brother’ mastery for a number of years until the Scardedy Cats from Pigsville go through the grind of understanding the mental attitude of winning.

While The Crew is looking good, slightly better than the previous, exciting season. They beat those teams that are not very good. Lorenzo Cain is a magnificent example of a complete all-around player of the highest caliber. Ryan Braun is a proven star on the field. He is the face of the team and can do everything. But they still do not have the one big stopper on the mound who puts the fear into the opposition.

When you saw Randy Johnson pitch for the D’Backs, the opposition felt, even if they were a good team, they had little to no chance of winning. When Madison Bumgarner or Clayton Kershaw are on the mound, same goes. And when you see Max Scherzer start on the mound for the Nationals, the game is as good as a win for Washington. Until that happens, until this team has a star pitcher, this team is excessively fearful to the point that they cannot beat the big boys of baseball.

Don’t misunderstand. The Cream City Nine had excellent pitching, both starting and in relief, during the first three games of a four game series in Gum Park. But overall, it was just that one mistake a player would make that made the final decision. Excessively fearful is the backbone of this team.

#watchingattanasio⚾️

Play Ball!

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Tinkers To Evers To Nobody


Saturday’s baseball game at Miller Park was a catastrophe. The error-prone Brewers played a game of tiddlywinks as Arcia and Shaw both looked like Keystone Cops as they committed costly errors in a single Ninth inning which also saw a mental error by Thames load the bases in a 2-2 tie game without the ball going past the infield. Cain battled the sun in Center (roof was closed but the bright sunshine flooded the outfield as the sun blazed through the first base glass high atop the upper deck) as he dropped a ball off the bat of the Northsider’s Bryant (what no error?). Baby Bruins laughed all the way to a four run top of the ninth inning to prove once again, the Cream City Nine leads the league in bratwurst, beer and custard…but not Central Division.

In all honesty, Barnes came in and delivered ground balls to retire most teams. But for some reason, the Milwaukee Brewers begin to shake when they play the Wrigley-ites. After nine games of the season, the Brewers have lost 4 at home. That is suppose to be a home team advantage.

For a team full of power, none are doing much at the plate. Sure, the April-riser, Thames, banged his third banger of the season but Braun looks tired. Yet he has to play because Yelich has a sore quad and can’t play. This team was tied 2-2 going into the 9th yet only produced a couple of hits all day.

Whatever the players thought about a shortened Spring Training, surely there are signs that the Brewers could have used batting practice in the heat and sun of Arizona for an extra week.

This team is not ready to play the season if the first wine games are any indication.

Play Ball!
#watchingattanasio⚾️

Let The Marathon Begin


A Look At 2018

Here is the annual prognostication for Major League Baseball In 2018

After seeing a number of Spring Training games, it appears as though
the New York Yankees will win in the AL East. The loss of Bird @ 1st hurts. Out 6-8 weeks. Rookie manager is a question. Red Sox threat.
Cleveland Indians will win the AL Central. One of the best managers in baseball will keep team together for another division championship.
Houston Astros will win the AL West. Good hitting, good pitching will win but pushed by surprising Oakland.

The Washington Nationals will win the NL East, in one of the weakest divisions in baseball.
Milwaukee Brewers will win the NL Central. The loss of Nelson hurts. Out 6-8 weeks.
Colorado Rockies will win the NL West. Impressive batting lineup and half of their games in thin air.

Let the marathon begin.

Play Ball!
#watchingattanasio⚾️

Oh-tani Surprise


There was a big crowd around the batting cages at Maryvale this week. Travis Shaw was smacking the ball as many of the invitees were watch with intentness as the veteran third baseman blistered each machine thrown pitch. Rarely do you see the big boys in The Show in the outside batting cages. Something was up. As we entered, we saw a Brewers team on the field and a team in red jersey’s coming to bat.

As some of the first through the gates, we took our seats and there were just a few in the ballpark. Love this time of the year and the early time at the ballpark. It is all yours. Usually there is just a few players warming up in the outfield. But today, we were given a sheet with all of the players numbers, many in the 90s on the back of their uniform.

There was no announcement of the game. Like an old time ‘Hollywood Sneak Preview’, before the scheduled game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Seattle Mariners, the Angels and Brewers, represented by lineups otherwise consisting mostly of minor leaguers, played inside Maryvale Baseball Park, in front of a few fans, including me, a bunch of scouts and a ton of media.

Then the red jersey’s took to the field. And out of the third base dugout came large man wearing #17 who walked to the mound, quite confident. With his warm ups, he was a pitcher with great confidence.

The sudden realization of what was happening hit me like a smack of thunder. This was to showcase a starting pitcher. Shohei Ohtani, was right in front of me. ‘Smack’, the sound of the fastball hitting the back of the catcher’s glove ricocheted throughout the stands. Although the stands were quite empty, the anticipated attention back in Japan, we were told, was such that the practice game was shown on live television, despite the first pitch coming at 2A, Saturday, Tokyo time.

For the next 2 2/3rds innings, eight (8) strikeouts, two (2) runs and four (4) hits, one realized that Ohtani, who had been the highest priced import from Japan, looked good, with a massive slider that was awesome as he had batters leaning back thinking they were about to get hit. Bigger than one expected, Ohtani was the real deal and it was thrilling to see this reward before the regularly scheduled game.

Someone once said, you nearly always see something in baseball that you have never seen before.

Sure, it was a ‘B’ game featuring the Salt Lake City Bees and the Sky Sox, but this morning…this very special morning, one glimpsed a bit into the future which few were fortunate enough to witness in person.

The magic of spring.

Play Ball!
#watchingattanasio

And They Die


It was like a death in the family. So unexpected. So hurting. So frustrating. It was like they were saying, ‘I just talked to him the other day and he seemed fine.’ After 161 games, with a six run lead in the third, the unexpected Milwaukee Brewers died. But unlike that relative whom you talked to the other day, they will be back next year to break our hearts all over again.

Sure there will be optimism and assuredly there will be the Bill Schroeder platitudes about what a great season it was to finish second when the team was not expected to finish above the cellar. The announcers will tell everyone how great Counsell was in managing this season. Not sure that is entirely true. Why would the manager of the year take out Hader and put in Sxzxczcvz slightly out of position? Why didn’t he remove Jeffries when he could have saved the the bottom of the 8th?

There will be arguments on how great this team finished according to projections. And they will praise the new general manager for the great moves he made. But in this second to the last game of the year, 4/9ths of the team on the field in the 7th was put there by his predecessor and that does not include the manager whom he also placed in charge.

There will be praise for having three players hit 30 or more home runs in the season, just like the ’82 Brewers did. There will be platitudes abound about how bright the future looks. But all of that talk is for teams who have lost.

The cheering happened in Denver on this Saturday evening, who wrapped up the last playoff spot in the National League for this year.

The 2017 Milwaukee Brewers were good, above average in many respects and finished way above expectations. That still doesn’t mend the heart which has been ripped open on the second to last day of the year. Bobby Unser once said, ‘Nobody remembers who finished second but the guy who finished second.’ Perhaps Mr Unser got into one too many crackups. Because it is not just the extended Brewer team who swelled in September with call ups from the minors, but to the millions of fans who thought this just might be the team that takes us to Dyersville.

So farewell 2017 Brewers. Today we are not feeling so good.

7 To Go ‘And Milwaukee Has Walked It Off. Santa Maria!’


http://atmlb.com/2xwjggH
An old voice came back with those words to change an entire season of hope…hope that was lost going into the 9th and hope that was ever more after the 10th. Matt Vasgersian was the Voice of Brewers Past.

In their fourth straight extra inning game, of which they had lost all of the previous three, Ryan Braun smacked a double and Travis Shaw hit the game winning, walk-off home run, creating a world of Brewer fans shocked with delight, bringing back dreams of ’82. Always dreams of ’82.

So, with 7 games to go in the regular Major League Baseball season, here are the odds of the teams making it into the playoffs:

American League

Boston Red Sox 100%
New York Yankees 100%
Cleveland Indians 100%
Houston Astros 100%
Minnesota Twins 90%
Los Angeles Angels 4.2%
Texas Ranger 3.8%
Kansas City Royals 1.1%
Tampa Bay Rays 0.5%
Seattle Mariners 0.3%

National League

Los Angeles Dodgers 100%
Washington Nationals 100%
Arizona Diamondbacks 100%
Chicago Cubs 99.2%
Colorado Rockies 61.7%
St. Louis Cardinals 27.9%
Milwaukee Brewers 11.2%

Of the National League teams that are not in guaranteed to be in the playoffs, only the Milwaukee Brewers have a winning record on the road. The Card nor the Rockies do. And that is important because the Brewers finish a three game series with St. Louis on the road next weekend. The Cardinals still have to play the Pirates on the road today in Pittsburgh. The Rockies have only one game on the road and that is also today in San Diego.

The Cardinals close their final seven games at home beginning on Monday with the Cubs and Brewers. The Rockies have at home, six more games against the Marlins and Dodgers.

The next eight days of baseball are going to be full of ups and downs. And as Craig Counsell stated, ‘There are always ups and downs and they will continue to happen this next week.’ The key is to win the game today.

#watchingattanasio⚾️

Play Ball!

14 To Go


There are two weeks to go from today. And there are 14 games to be played. Between now and then, we will find out who can pitch in the clutch; who can hit in the clutch; who can throw in the clutch and who can pop a clutch to get their car started when the battery is dead.

Right now we know that in the American League, the Boston Red Sox, the Cleveland Indians and the Houston Astros will be in the big dance with a 100% guarantee. In the National League, the Washington Nationals, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks will join them, also with a 100% guarantee.

To join them, here are the odds:

    AL

New York Yankees 99.9%
Minnesota Twins 68.9%
Los Angeles Angels 20.6%
Seattle Mariners 4.9%
Kansas City Royals 2.6%
Texas Rangers 1.7%

    NL

Colorado Rockies 83.8%
Chicago Cubs 82.5%
Milwaukee Brewers 20.1%
St. Louis Cardinals 13.6%

What is remarkable about this season, and for that matter, the real essence of baseball is how ‘hope’ becomes realized. For instance look at the Minnesota Twins. Last season they were blown out of any chance of having a good season due to an unbelievably bad April. This season, they are going to make it into the playoffs unless they have a total collapse.

Then look at the Milwaukee Brewers. They have come out of a lifelong coma, a hiatus from obscurity if you will, waking up only a few times in their history. And this season with a skinny kid who looks like a college freshman leading the league in wins; a catcher who is on his third chance in his career to hit it big and is; a first baseman from Korea; a second baseman from the Mets; a 2nd year shortstop who is brilliant; a third baseman from Boston; a right fielder from Santana Domingo; a center fielder…who is the center fielder? And the pro’s pro in left, along with arguably one of the strongest and strangest bullpens in baseball, led by a kid who throws the ball through a door and made the All Star team in his second year. Oh, then there is the home town kid who is managing all of this, along with his college coach and a GM who is younger then the young coach. Got that. This is the miracle of a season. This is why baseball is the game of games. This is why you fall in love with it as a kid and become more attached to it as life goes on.

Can they make it into the playoffs?

That brings us back to that magic word…hope.

The Pigsville Nine is making us all proud this season. Oh, an alum is managing the Twinkies, and another is managing the Royals. Their old shortstop is up in Seattle. Their HR leader in the NL last season is with the Yankees, we think. Their former second string catcher is the backstop for the Angels, and there have been a rafter full of the Crew passing through the Rangers clubhouse. There’s one in Denver and hopefully none with the Northsiders nor the Redbirds.

OK #watchingattansio⚾️

Thanks for bringing hope back to us for so long this season.

Play ball!