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!

Concerto in F Flat



In the world of symphonic music, the orchestras of the world are led by a conductor, who is regarded as the task master. He is the one who whips the orchestra members into place by relentlessly practicing over and over again until everyone understands his or her part and intones correctly every single phrase of every single measure. The entire group is led by a concertmaster, usually the number one chair violinist who is the second highest person in the orchestra. Then comes the first chair oboe, who is the one that begins the orchestra by first, carrying a tuning fork and plays a perfect ‘A’ to bring everyone into tune.

Orchestras are measured by their excellence. There is a group which contains the ‘Major’ orchestras. In America, according to various sources including Gramophone, one of the leading music publishers in the world, the Majors are Philadelphia, New York (#12 in the world), Cleveland (#7 in the world), Chicago (#5 in the world and the top in America), Los Angeles (#8 in the world), San Francisco (#13 in the world), Boston (#11 in the world) and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (#18 in the world). Then there are minors, divided like baseball into various levels. While there may be good musicians in Milwaukee, as a group, they cannot hold a candle, or in this refrain, a violin bow, to Chicago.

Baseball is very much like this. The manager is the task master. The coaches are the one who train, over and over again the disciplines of a major league player, in every situation, in every condition. Then there are the star players who set the tone for the team. The General Manager is the one who makes the chemistry work, mixing the whims of this player with the wants of another player, and so forth and so on. The Milwaukee Brewers today are a step away from relegation. They have earned an ‘F’.

Here is a team which is playing with, on Friday, a minor league catcher, a minor league second baseman and a below average coaching staff. The shortstop just got off of the DL. The Center fielder is a step behind what he was last season due to injury. The left fielder is the fourth outfielder on the team. And the manager is new. Since taking over three weeks ago, things are not going so well.

This is not a good team. Nor, with all realism, was it ever a good team even though they led the league last season for the first five months. The swan song they went into in September is legendary and that carried over in Spring Training and in the first two months of this season. The sad losing song is the same.

This team needs new professionals in many positions, most importantly in pitching, in coaching and in the general management of the organization.

They will have to trade away some of their better players to bring in top young talent from the minor leagues. They will have to free up their salary structure to lure free agents pros to come play in their world-class ball park. They need to reach the very top where it is most important, and that means pitching. They need pitchers like Zach Greinke who as a Brewers never lost a game he started in Miller Park. How impressive is that? Considering that Miller is a hitter’s paradise and a home run haven, ZG’s performance was legendary. There are pitchers who will become free agents who can come close to matching that record. Milwaukee needs them.

Now for the hard part. San Francisco needs a third baseman. As difficult as it may seem and this being his last year, Aarmis Ramirez should be dealt to the Giants if for nothing else, to free up some cash. Then there is Gerardo Parra. A gold glove outfielder, he should be dealt while he is hot. A middle relief pitcher could be pulled off. There of course is Ryan Braun. With $100,000,000 due him in the next five years, he is the key to a top ranked pitcher or two top prospect picks. Washington needs a top quality outfielder and they have pitching. He would be perfect for the Yankees who need a star attraction like Ryan for a couple of their top minor league pitchers. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim need an outfield of his caliber. Milwaukee needs a top-level pitcher. Texas, Seattle, Detroit, and Cleveland could use a player of Braun’s caliber. Milwaukee needs a top-level pitcher. Even the dreaded St. Louis Cardinals will need an outfielder. Milwaukee needs a top-level starting pitcher or a couple of their top prospects. The rest including Khris Davis, Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse and Martin Maldonado could all bring Cream City something of value. Davis simply was a bad replacement for Aoki. Garza was washed up. Lohse just seems extremely uncomfortable on the mound. No pace. No rhythm. No confidence.

What they should not do is mess with the middle. No trades for Lucroy, Segura or Carlos Gomez.

All of this hinges on a new general manager with vision for the future. That is why it is important that the first step that should be taken is to bring in an architect to put a new team together who understands the game as it is today. Pitching is paramount. Starting pitching is a necessity. And a coaching staff that are proven winners is a must. At present, including the new manager, there are only three other coaches who have won a League Championship or a World Series (Coles won a WS with Toronto in ’93; Tunnell won a NL title with St. Louis in ’87; and Shelby won two WS with Baltimore ’83 & Dodgers ’88.). And it is important to understand this: the current general manager has never won a League or World Series title.

The new General Manager has to be able to see into the future and blend all of his or her skills in bringing a winner to Cream City.

And that is the job of the owner. He not only has to have vision but has to be knowledgeable enough to find that perfect baseball person to take up the challenge Milwaukee presents.

The music they are playing in Milwaukee is off-key. Fans at Miller never boo. But on Saturday the dissidents drew the nation’s ear with the sound of displeasure. Some of the players are below average. Some of the coaches are below average. The new manager has been a winner in the game. Now, let’s surround him with other winners and make music together.

Tap the violin bow on the music stand and allow the oboist to play an ‘A’. We are #watchingattanasio. So far, all we have here is a Concerto in F Flat. Now is time to get in tune and make some music on the field of play.

Play Ball!

There Was Still A Chance.



The chance was still there and it was in their hands. But as the manager made the decision to insert a rookie in his first Major League start, brought up in the September call-up from Huntsville in AA ball, to play first, it seems as though it was not in their hands. On one of the easiest 5-4-3 double play opportunities, the newbie could not catch the very catchable throw from second. Error on the 1st baseman for dropping the ball. It was discovered that his glove did not work. Thus the reason he is called a minor leaguer. The door opened for the Cincinnati Reds to pull ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers in the fourth-to-last game of the season and they took a 3-2 lead which they never relinquished.

This was an important game.

In fact, it was one of the most important games of the year.

The manager again did something that has eluded him from past mistakes. When this team has more veteran first basemen than any other team, why start someone who isn’t even #5 on the depth chart? The manager continues to make moves to lose, not to win. But it isn’t just the manager and his coaching staff that are less than adequate.

The veteran second baseman committed yet another fielding error when he failed to field a pop up.

Again, the veteran second baseman committed his second error, and the team’s third in the game, by making a wild throw to second.

The second year shortstop who brought us so much hope before this year, stayed on the ground rather than rush to the ball to control the game. A mental error.

The season ended at Great American ballpark on the banks of the Ohio River.

The catcher was left in the game to see if he could hit some sort of record double, again leaving the backup catcher sitting on the bench. The catcher, who has been attempting to get this double for a week, would break an existing record of a catcher leading his league in doubles. Hasn’t been done for quite a while. Let’s go after some records rather than try to win a game that could keep you in the hunt.

The right fielder looked tired. For the first time in his career, his bat looked too long…too big for him to catch up to a 95+ mph heater. In a season which greeted him with catcalls throughout the games wherever the team went, he progressively broke down physically at first with a hand injury and a hammy, a this or that which a season is made of. But this season, in an effort to blow all of the negative thoughts out of his head, it became clear to his loyal fans, he no longer was the player he used to be. The center fielder, playing with more heart and soul than anyone on the team gave his all, that Go Go spirit, played hurt down the stretch, and just hit pop ups, no more slashing singles turning into doubles as he had early in the season to bring him All-Star status. Scooter just hit shallow pop flys. Rickie, at bat, hit. In the field, he was not such a hit.

Why all the concern over a baseball team? When one follows a team and a home town with a team for most of their lives, an attachment grows. It boils in the blood. It reaches the heart. It possesses the soul. There is a bond of escape filled with moments of joy and wonder that are the adrenaline of the spot. But if you are a Milwaukee Brewers fan, if you are one of the faithful of the Cream City Nine, it has been 57 years since the City was presented with a World Champion in baseball from its team. Two owners. Fifty-Seven years. In dog years, that’s more than four dog lifetimes. It is almost incomprehensible that a team, outside of those hapless loveable Northsiders of Chicago, can go through such a drought with players like Joe Torre, Tony Cloninger, Roy McMillan of the old Braves and Cecil Cooper, Jim Gantner, Paul Molitor, Don Money, Robin Yount, Ben Oglivie, Teddy Higuera, Gorman Thomas, Ted Simmons, Rollie Fingers, Ken Sanders, Jerry Augustine, Sal Bando, Dante Bichette, Chris Bosio, Jeremy Burnitz, Mike Caldwell, Jeff Cirillo, Craig Counsell, Rob Deer, Billy Hall, Darryl Hamilton, JJ Hardy, Tommy Harper, Cory Hart, Mike Hegan, Larry Hisle, Trevor Hoffman, Geoff Jenkins, Sixto Lezcano, Mike Methany, Davey May, Bob McClure, Charlie Moore, Jaime Navarro, Juan Nieves, Lyle Overbay, Dan Plesac, Darrell Porter, Francisco Rodriguez, George Scott, Richie Sexson, Gary Sheffield, BJ Surhoff, Fernando Vina, Pete Vuckovich, Greg Vaughn, Ben Sheets, CC Sabathia, Prince Fielder, Yovani Gallardo, Aarmis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, Zach Greinke, Ryan Braun, Jonathon Lucroy and a host of other fine players. Perhaps Fred Haney was the only real manager this City ever had. Most of the rest were losers. OK. Even if Bambi and Harvey didn’t bring us the World Championship, they did bring us near the pinnacle once. Once! That’s it. One League Pennant which was brought home when Coop did a Jeter.

There can only be one conclusion. And it is one that rips at the heart of everyone who cherishes Cream City.

It’s the water.

To many that is a sacrilege. ‘Go to the confessional immediately.’ they say. ‘Blastphemer’, they can be heard yelling. ‘Step on his face and twist’, they shouted. ‘Don’t say that. You’re making our city look bad’, others murmured under their breath honoring the guiding word of Sister Ramegia.

But consider this. When the Milwaukee Braves won the World Championship in 1957, Schlitz was the #1 beer. Enough said.

At one time the water in Milwaukee was great. Grandma would say, ‘Just drink from the tap. Its that good.’ City fathers would point with pride to their many beers brewed with the great water. There was Fox Head 400, Blatz, the city’s favorite (‘Blatz is Milwaukee’s finest beer.’), Pabst Blue Ribbon, Gettelman, Miller and many, many more.

But one should not forget what the native Potowatami’s called this special place, remembering that the Milwaukee area was originally inhabited by the Fox, Mascouten, Potawatomi, and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) native American tribes. The name “Milwaukee” comes from an Algonquian word ‘Millioke’, meaning “Good”, “Beautiful” and “Pleasant Land”. That’s what many natives believe and they all follow the Chamber of Commerce pledge: ‘Never give St. Louis the opportunity to hold one over on us. They make rice beer…pretend beer.’

Yet there is a rumor, buried along side of Jacob Best in the Forest Home Cemetery that there is a piece of paper which says that when he talked to a native in Juneautown when he began to brew his first frothy drink, that the name ‘Millioke’ meant: land of stinking water.

Come on. Monks made beer because the water was bad. Boiled water with some wheat, barley and hops purified the drink. Have no idea what rice does to it. Never drank that stuff from the Mississippi River.

So kids, take heart. The former Brewers who make up a good number of the Kansas City Royals, escaped the plight of Cream City and are now in the playoffs. Congratulations to Nori Aoki, one of the best right fielders we ever had is tied for the second best hitter on the Royals. Congratulations to Alcides Escobar, one of the best young shortstops we ever had, is tied for the second best hitter on the Royals. Congratulations to Lorenzo Cain, one of the best outfield prospects we every had and is the best hitter on the Royals and the third best base stealer on the Royals. Congratulations to Dale Sveum, the Royals hitting coach, former Brewer and the best manager the Brewers ever had. Congratulations to Nedly Yost, a former player and manager of the Crew who almost did it, guiding the Crew to two winning seasons, their first in 11 years, before being relieved of his duties 16 games above .500. Sixteen games ABOVE .500. Oh, Mike Jirschele, the Royals third base coach, is from Clintonville. Doug Henry, the Royals bullpen coach, a former Brewer, lives in Hartland. They no longer have to drink the water. They are in the playoffs. The Brewers aren’t.

Play Ball.

But not in Milwaukee this post-season.