All In Their Places…

Saturday at Maryvale. Photo by Lance G. Hanish © 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday at Maryvale. Photo by Lance G. Hanish © 2015. All Rights Reserved.

The fun has stopped. The crowds have left the sunny climes of Florida and Arizona one more time as all the practice games are over. The fields are vacant, once filled with the laughter of the guys who bring the summer dreams alive, even the grounds keepers have left as hot dog wrappers tossing ever so softly in the air on the field around the keystone sack. The aisles are empty. No more hawkers loosening their pipes for the trip back up north. The Brewers and the Indians have left Maryvale to allow the real season to begin.

So, now they are all in their places. The rosters have been set. Schafer has made the team again hoping this time he gets his chance to prove he can hit in The Show and stick this time. Scooter will try to hit left handers to see if he can become the permanent second baseman in the shadow of Gaintner’s ghostly past. Lind is a mystery at first but appears to be a good hitter. Surely he will not be able to live up to the expectations of the legend of Prince. Segura seems set to prove the horrible 2014 events are far behind him after batting .305 in the spring. The trusted veteran, Ramirez is ready for his final season at third. He is the epitome of the word ‘veteran’.

Photo by Lance G. Hanish © 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Photo by Lance G. Hanish © 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Lucroy is ready for another season to see if he can be discovered as the real #1 catcher in the game. Gomez appears to be THE center fielder of the National League as he has groomed his game flawlessly this spring hitting .316. Davis has the breath of Parra on the back of his neck as he battles to prove he deserves the left field spot. And then there is Braun. Once the face of baseball, now he only gains respect in the corners of Cream City. The boys in Pigsville are taking bets on the thumb as they toss down another boilermaker which passes for breakfast. What he did…he did. That will live in his past and be kept in our minds by the writers who will always bring it up like a permanent footnote to his name. But this spring, he has looked like he did before all this happened batting .395 and an OPS of 1.252. Lohse will do what Lohse does…win 14 games. And that won’t do. Of course it is all about pitching. #watchingattanasio

Which brings us to the inevitable…who will win the divisions this season.

In the American League West it will be a fight between the team with the longest name in the history of sports, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Orange County So Cal and the Oakland A’s. And this year, with the best player in the game residing in center field, the Angels will take the crown. He is that good. If you haven’t seen Mike Trout play, he is worth the price of admission. In the Central Division, the Chicago White Sox will be the only winner in Chicago. In the Eastern Division, the Boston Red Sox will again top the standing.

In the National League West, the Los Angeles Dodgers will finally prove that money can buy everything, including a divisional crown. In the Central Division, the St. Louis Cardinals will again be the team to beat. And in the East, the Washington Nationals will demolish the division. Hail to the Nationals.

That is all on paper. Now they take it to the field.

Tonight at Wrigley Field, the game begins for real.

It’s time to … let the games begin.

Play Ball!

GM Needs New Glasses

Texas Rangers trade for Prince Fielder, one of the great hitters in the game. Ken Sanders once said, ‘He has the fastest hands with the bat I have ever seen. It doesn’t matter how big he gets.”

Seattle Mariners sign Robinson Cano for $240 million, a ten year contract, lifetime subscription to the Nintendo News and a good chunk of Jim C’s ad budget. Sorry, Big Mariner.

Curtis Granderson signs with the cross town rival, New York Mets. He gets $60 million.

Boston Red Sox sign A.J. Pierzynski, an aging catcher but fans feel he looks like Carlton Fisk.

Yankees, in anticipation of losing probable PED offender, Alex Rodriguez, signed Jacoby Ellsbury for $153 million to play centerfield from the hated Red Sox. Yankees hope to save approximately $14 million this year, but not on under the counter drugs. They also signed Brian McCann from Atlanta for $85 million. Yet, they still have no third baseman.

St. Louis signs Jhonny Peraltta, a former suspended PED offender. Unusual move by this squeaky clean franchise with a holier-than-thou image. Of course, this is the home of the ‘Gashouse Gang’.

Detroit signed Joe Nathan, pitcher for the Texas Ranger, for $20 million over 2 years. Now they have the best reliever in baseball to go along with the major’s best starting pitching staff.

Baltimore is thinking about signing John Axford.

Miami signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for $21 million over three years from the World Champion Boston Red Sox. The team also signed Rafael Furcal, shortstop from the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals for $3 million.

Houston signs Scot Feldman, a right handed pitcher for 3 years and $30 million.

Washington got a new manager, Matt Williams, perhaps the best third base coach in the game.

The Angels got Don Baylor as their batting coach, perhaps the best batting coach in the game.

The D’Backs lost both Williams and Baylor. They are stuck with one of the best managers in the game, the overwhelming talented first baseman and a solid starting pitcher and a gold glove right fielder.

The Rockies got Justin Morneau for 2 years for a total of $13 million.

Kansas City got the best left handed hitter of left handed pitching in baseball in Nori Aoki. Gives them a tremendous leadoff man who wears opposing pitchers out, often taking them 8-12 pitches into the count and rarely striking out, only 40 times in 2013 out of some 600+ at bats.

Milwaukee got a … pitching reject. Oh, they also are thinking about re-signing Cory Hart who has not played in a year and one-half.

Yet they still have the worst third base coach in the major leagues, a so-so starting rotation, a non-improved bullpen, an aging third baseman, poor throwing catcher, a hopeful prospect in left field, a center fielder who probably had the best season of his career, a GM who inherited a waffle full of young talent when he came into his job (Fielder, Weeks, Hardy, Braun, Hart and Vonnie) but has seen the team fade into another dream sequence of Brewer seasons past, and an owner who allows all of this to happen.

The fans in Milwaukee and Wisconsin are resilient and beyond loyal. They bleed Green & Gold, Cardinal Red & White, Green & Growing and True Blue Brew Crew. They drink beer, eat bratwursts and cheese, send their kids to school and provide plenty of milk, work hard at their jobs, go to Church on Sunday and root for the home teams like no one else. They hate the Bears, White Sox, Cardinals, the carpetbagging Braves, Ohio State and dislike those lovable Cubs. They also dislike Thanksgiving in Detroit. That’s why St. Vincent Lombardi stopped playing the Lions on that day decades ago.

These fans have heroes like few others. Johnny Blood, Don Hutson, Curly Lambeau, Bart Starr, Paul Horning, Jim Taylor, Jerry Kramer, Willie Davis, St. Vincent Lombardi, Reggie White, Bret Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Alan Ameche, Elroy Crazylegs Hirsch, Pat Richter, Barry Alveraz and Ron Dayne in football; Jon McGlocklin, Oscar Robinson, Karem Adbul Jabbar, Larry Costello, Al McGuire, Dean the Dream, Doc Rivers and Bo Ryan in basketball; Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews, Joe Adcock, Billy Bruton, Johnny Logan,Del Crandall, Henry Aaron, Ken Sanders, Augie Doggie, Bernie Brewer, Jim Gaintner, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Rollie Fingers, Vuch, Stormin Gorman, Sixto, Benji, Coop, Ben Sheets, Prince, Nori,  Rickie, Vonnie, Braunschweiger, Jean and Go-Go in baseball.

Just 50 guys who the burgers of Cream City adored in sports, 20 of whom are part of yesterday and today’s Brew Crew. Yet only the last four mentioned are hopefully at the top of their game out of a line-up of 25. Another, Nori Aoki, who only played two years in Milwaukee after years in Japan, became a fan favorite, not because he hit home runs, but because he could hit and stay in the lineup with gripping plays and excitement that reminded more than a few that he was like the ‘Igniter’ of days gone by. He was the best left handed hitter of left handed pitching in baseball. And, he wore opposing pitchers out at the plate. He was just let go for some guy who the GM has had his eye on for a couple of years.

The GM needs a new set of glasses.

Play Ball!

Can’t You See I’m Crying? Can’t You See the Tears?

It is not the cloth that we have to worry about. It is the thread that makes up the cloth. The fabric is critical. If just one strand is of poor quality it makes the entire piece cheaper. In baseball, this equates to each player who makes up a team. Often, this magic ingredient is called “chemistry”. The chemistry of the Milwaukee Nine is based on the ball and glove logo of old, strong, true blue, built through a farm system that has made every effort to make a small market team viable with good quality people and players that these fans can believe in. After all, they have lived and breathed with these young men’s progress ever since they were signed. That is what a small market team community does. It is always in search of hope and dreams to come. Ryan Braun was once believed to be the strongest thread in the entire Brewer cloth. His deterioration has not happened because he cheated. Cheats are cheats. We know how to handle them. But what has made our cloth, the fabric of what we believe in as the True Blue Brew Crew, crafted by legends like Yount, strong and rich is the belief that all is as good as the people who have made the beer, cheese and sausage that has made our land famous. To the good people of Milwaukee and Wisconsin, that is as important as life itself. Nietzsche said, “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” You ask why?

“This is all B.S. I am completely innocent.’ Braun, Dec 2011

“I truly believe in my heart and I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body at any point.” Braun, Feb 2012

“There are a lot of haters-a lot of people who doubted me and lot of people who continue to doubt me.” Braun, Feb 2012

“When you know you’re innocent of something, it’s extremely difficult to have to prove it when you’re in a process where you’re 100% guilty until proven innocent.” Braun, Feb 2012

“We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.” Braun, Feb 2012

“I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide.” Braun, Feb 2012

“I have always taken tremendous pride in my image and my reputation in being a role model and handling myself the right way and doing things the right way.” Braun, Feb 2012

“I have nothing to hide and have never had any other relationship with Bosch.” Braun, Feb 2013

“The truth still hasn’t changed.” Braun, July 9, 2013

“I have tried to handle the entire situation with honor, with integrity, with class, with dignity and with professionalism because that’s  who I am and that’s how I’ve always lived my life.” Braun, Feb 2012

“Lies were never innocent. Their purpose was to escape punishment, or work, or responsibility, and they were used for profit.” John Steinbeck, ‘East of Eden

The improbable happened when performance enhancing drugs removed this icon in our minds. A terrible battle emerges between loyalty for the team and the loyalty for the individual. That is…team loyalty remains while loyalty for the icon diminishes until our next close encounter…at a ballpark whether the icon is still in the uniform that is familiar to us all.

The real problem remains because it wasn’t about PEDs at all. It was about this former icon’s ruthless use of fabricated truths that made so many…that made us lose faith in truth itself. What to do?

In business, we fire cheaters. Contract or not, cheaters are dealt with severely and sent packing. As for liars, we fire them. No matter what we do to them we can never trust them again. They have planted the seed of doubt. They have no more authority. They have nothing more we can trust them with.

Now, as the season is ebbing and after the season has ended, our disgust continues because of the reminders…because Braun brought into his sleeve of lies another stalwart hero of this land, Aaron Rodgers.

He Braunschweigered Aaron to profess his innocence.

How could you? How could you lie to others to get them to profess your alleged innocence?

“Lies are never innocent.”

Go away. I am hurt. Can’t you see I am hurt? You lied to me. You lied to all of us. I don’t want to see you at Maryvale this coming Spring. It would mean that the Season of Braunschweiger, the Lost Season of Lie, will become the Spring of Doubt. We want to see Nori in right; Cory at first; GoGo in center; Jean at short. We want to see Luc behind the plate and Aramis at third and Rickie at second. We want to see Khris or Logan or anybody in left. We don’t want to see you. We don’t want to see you at all.

Spring is about hope, not doubt and dope. Get out. Get out before all of the disdain of your lies come heaping down on the team I love, we all love. These are the hopes brought about by Bambi’s Bombers, Harvey’s Wallbangers…legends of our youth and of our dreams. These are the guys Cooper made the hit for. These are the guys Rollie came in and saved. These are guys Augie, Mollie, Simba and Sanders fought to bring the dream. Guys like Gimby, Vuch and Stormin, Juan and Sixto created and allowed the dream to grow and what Oglivie made the catch in Baltimore for. Get out. Go to where all liars go to live…in a castle of themselves surrounded by a moat of never-ending lies.

All of this was revisited this past week when the Cardinals came to town and the TV announcing crew from the St. Louis side brought up the issue again. None of the other PEDboys were mentioned. They just centered upon our former left fielder and how it will burden the team with his long-term contract strangling a small market team.

Welcome to our new world. Welcome to our new life. Thanks for the joy you are bringing to all of us. I am hurting now. We are all hurting. We can no longer see the pennant in our future. We now are on food stamps to get free food at the ballpark because management, who also believed and trusted in you, doesn’t want us to abandon the team like you have done to our City…our team.

We haven’t. We won’t.

Get out. Can’t you see I’m crying? Can’t you see my tears? Can you not see that we can no longer see the dreams of our future? We need freedom…freedom away from you. We need space where you do not exist. We just need to have the guys we believe in to just….

Play Ball!