We are in the August few of us predicted. After all, the Cubs are not in the basement and the Pirates have not collapsed yet. The Yankees aren’t in first place and the Angels are anything but. The Nats ain’t…nor are the D’Backs. And what has happened to the San Francisco Giants?
In Milwaukee, this weekend 100,000+ faithful continued to go to Miller Park, or as many call it The Schnitzelhaus. It is a family affair. When in doubt, when things get tough, family comes together to support each other. All of the Brewer fans are part of a unique family. They literally suffer collectively when the team loses and nothing has created more of a suffering than the letdown of their champion…Ryan Braun.
The way the Brewer fans react to trouble is to eat. They have lost two in a row this weekend. And Big Daddy Wurst, owner Mark Attanasio, has helped overcome the troubles by announcing that this August, all fans attending any or all of the Brewer games would be given $10 in a coupon for food and drink. I have dubbed this Braunschweiger. Predictions are that the Brewers will pack the park. Food is FREE. The one word Milwaukeeans love more than food is FREE.
It dates back to the 1940s. In Juneau Park, in August, 135,132 Milwaukee sports fans were in attendance to watch a boxing match between Tony Zale and Billy Pryor, with none other than Jack Dempsey referreeing.
Admission was FREE. To this date it is the largest crowd ever to see a boxing match…anywhere.
Big Daddy Wurst knows this. In a letter to Brewer fans, “Starting this week, we will be introducing a series of initiatives to reaffirm our commitment to you and all our fans throughout Wisconsin.” He is going to feed the masses. In a near Christ-like move, there probable won’t be fishes in the mix but there will be sausages that will meet the needs of those gathered. Of course the moment all will await is the Sausage Race during each game. Pick Italian. Word is that dude has been working out all July.
Point of all this is that we have a guy named Caleb in left, GoGo in center, Nori in right, Jean and Rickie in the middle with Jonathan behind the plate with Juan and Yuni at the corners.
What am I missing?
Just Play Ball!
We have the inane ability as humans to give the guy another break. It is part of our human DNA. We create excuses for not pressing the issue if it means terminating an employee for one reason or another. Our expectations are always at their highest right after hiring. After all, if you are the boss, especially in a family run business, it was your decision to hire that employee in the first place. He’s one of ours. So the field for excuse making widens as the boss attempts to give a little more rope in hopes the employee does something so outrageously bad the boss is given the general approval by all of those around that it becomes a ‘fait accompli’. Or, a miracle happens and the avoidance of termination is taken off of the table.
In baseball, the people are hired based upon the track record of others. If a manager is successful and wins a World Series, his staff is cannibalized by teams desperate to duplicate that same experience.
The major leagues and the a little league have only a couple of things in common. Both use bats and balls, bases and foul lines, gloves and bating helmets. One other thing they have in common is Ron Roenicke, a disciple and former coach under one Mike Lorri Scioscia, a manager who reached the top of the ladder earlier in this Century.
The little leagues have a rule that demands everyone on the roster must play. Roenicke obviously believes in this also. In the last couple of weeks this has become very apparent. After winning two straight against the top team in the NL East, the Atlanta team, he decided to bring his kid managerial skills to the fans who paid big-ticket prices to see the best their team has to offer. A few cases in point:
1. Instead of using his #4 outfielder, Schafer, who is replacing Braun (on the DL) and is just beginning to get needed at bats to get the rust off, he uses Caleb Gindl, also a left-handed batter. Gotta play him or his momma gets mad. Gindl misses an easy fly. He is sent to the minors a few days later. The maddening roster changes make programs necessary in Milwaukee.
2. Jeff Bianchi started at 3rd in place of Aramis Ramirez who had a day off two days earlier.
3. What came as a relief to all fans of the Milwaukee nine, Roenicke was given a ‘vote of confidence’ by his owner during this period. Has anyone noticed that the owner hasn’t appeared much in Milwaukee this season?
4. In the 6th, during a game last week, Roenicke elects to use his last right-handed hitter off the bench, trailing in a 6-4 game, Maldonado, batting for the pitcher, strikes out to end the inning and leaves the bench bare of right-handed hitters. Roenicke forgets this is a nine inning game.
5. On Saturday, June 29th, the manager decides to sit Aoki, one of the leading hitters on the team against left-handed pitchers. Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano faces the Brew Crew. Roenicke said he rested Aoki because Liriano may be too much with his stuff. When is a star player not good enough or not willing to face off against the best? When did a manager pull his leading left-handed batter against left handed pitching? Can anyone give a reasonable explanation for this continued unconscious thought?
6. July 4th displayed yet another lineup in a season filled with lineup changes. Halton (1st), Bianchi (2nd), Segura (ss), Francisco (3rd?), Schafer (lf), Gomez (cf), Aoki (rf), Lucroy (c), Hand (p). As a result, Bianchi doesn’t cover second with a man on first and a right-handed hitter at the plate as Werth steals second, the third off Lucroy in the first four inning of this game. With runners on first and second, no outs, Francisco lets a bunt pop up drop in front of him, taking away the possibility, however small, and fumbling the ball to load the bases, two of which eventually score. In the second double switch in as many innings, Roenicke brings in Weeks to play 2nd, moving Bianchi to left and moves Shafer to center, replacing Gomez who just hit a home run to tie the game. Please grasp this managerial masterpiece of maneuvering. It is truly Scioscia-esque.
This is a curious move, a move by a guy who wants to lose the game and his job. He brings in Kenzler in relief and promptly gives up a 3 run homer to make the score 8-5. Ramos, for Washington, drove in 5 runs in 2 innings. This is not a tribute to a fellow who just came back from the DL, but another example of managerial mayhem.
This is a team without fundamentals. The Milwaukee Brewers this season have fallen to the bottom of fan’s hope chest. This fundamental inadequacy may extend all the way through the organization, through the minor leagues to the big club. Outside of the Narron Bros., the rest of this coaching staff is less than adequate. So many runners have been picked off first base this season one can only hope that the players only hit doubles to avoid any and all input from the first base coach, who appears to be unconscious most of the time. As for the third base coach, everyone knows that he may be the poorest in all of organized sports. But they say, “He’s such a nice guy”. He’s always smiling. You would be too if you had a big league job.
To his credit, Roenicke admitted he made a mistake in Friday’s disappointing loss to the dreadful Mets. The mistake was that he showed up at the ballpark.