The Mystical, Mysterious, Magical Tour


Part Houdini, part Blackstone. The Master of Minestrone in Baseball. 2 tablespoons of 30+ rookies, 1 large Korean import. 1 slightly crumbling superstar. 3 great young arms. 1 relief pitcher. An overpaid starting pitcher who has been on the DL more than not. Hercules who sometimes plays first. Two catchers who are an equal part of one. A second baseman with all the speed in the universe but no baseball brain. A centerfielder who simply can’t find his hitting grove. And absolutely there is no rhyme err thyme or reason why this concoction should work. But the Wizard of Whitefish Bay has leaned on a learned master in his dugout and worked closely with a newbie GM, and stirred this unbelievable pot of people like himself into a winning unit. In fact, his team, the beloved Milwaukee Brewers have risen to the top of the Central Division of the National League on Sunday, June 11, 2017. Are you kidding me?

Last night in Arizona in 106 degree temperatures with the roof open (the D’Back’s owner is so cheap…How cheap is he?) there was a 30+ refugee at First Base, a 30+ refugee at 2nd base; a multidimensional player at 3B; a first baseman playing left field (and it looked like a 1st baseman who was playing left field); a rookie in centerfield who got his first hit on Monday, sent down on Wednesday, brought back up on Thursday; and regular players in right field, shortstop and catching.

The night before, in 106 degree temperatures with the roof open (the D’Back’s owner is so cheap…How cheap is he?) every regular position player was used in a two run victory. Every player off the bench was used. That doesn’t usually happen in non-extra inning games. But the Wizard of Whitefish Bay was busy mixing his concoction and cooked up another victory.

On the record, they are 1 game ahead of the World Champions of last year. And they have a winning record on the road, one of only three teams in the National League to do so (Washington and Colorado are the others, both leading their divisions). They are the only team in their division with a winning record and one of only five in the league to do so. How good are they? Who knows?

This is a real team…a group of guys who are bonded with…their skipper and their bench coach. They are a group of carrots and onions, with a bit of mystery thrown in. And as they continue on this unbelievable magical tour of a baseball season, from city to city, they are exceeding all expectations.

Don’t wake up.

Don’t do anything you didn’t do yesterday.

Don’t change your socks or shoes.

This is a ride that no one knows how long it will last but on this wave, it is going much longer than anyone expected.

Just enjoy.

Play ball!

#watchingattanasio⚾️

This Time In The Natty

The first time he was in Cincinnati, Scooter hit a home run. This was his boyhood team. And he had done the improbable right at home. Ryan Joseph “Scooter” Gennett was the future second baseman of the Milwaukee Brewers for four years. He was by all standards, a fan favorite.

In his tenure, he batted .279 and hit 35 home runs in Milwaukee. On Tuesday, back home again in his home town in another uniform, and he hit one-seventh of that total in one game.

While it all began with Beaneaters in 1894, on Tuesday for only 17th time, Scooter did something for which he will always be remembered. He did something Lou Gehrig did.

#watchingattanasio⚾️

Play Ball!

Eric…Hits The Ball Real Far

‘He’s a comic book hero with a prep school education.’ That is what Adam Karen, Eric Thames agent was told by the Korean representatives as they were in pursuit of Thames for the NC Dinos in the Korean League. A graduate from Bellarmine Prep, a private Jesuit school in San Jose, California, then majored in Integrated Marketing at Pepperdine University, Mr Thames was drafted in the 7th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008. In 2011 and 2012 he was a platoon player while appearing in 141 games and batting .257 with 15 HRs and 48 RBI. On July 30, 2012, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners for Steve Delebar. In Seattle, he appeared in 40 games during batting .220 with 6 HRs and 15 RBI. On June 30, 2013, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Ty Kelly and did not appear in a single game. Then on September 5, 2013, he was selected off Waivers by the Houston Astros. In the field, he only had 5 errors. Disappointed, but not discouraged, he went and played in the Venezuelan Winter Ball league in December 2013.

By this time, the Dinos understood a couple of things: Eric Thames was covered in tattoos and had a big personality while in 633 at bats in the major leagues, he had hit 21 HRs and driven in 54 RBI, had an on base percentage of .296 and a slugging percentage of .431. He was not afraid to travel to other countries to play ball. They understood what this would translate for their fans in Southeastern Korea.

According to Jerry Crasnick, ESPN Senior writer (11/29/16), ‘After signing with the Dinos, Thames bought the Rosetta Stone Korean program and dove head-first into learning the language. “When you look at this as just a paycheck, that’s when you struggle,” Thames said. “The key is to enjoy the ride. Fully embrace the experience. [The] Hangul [alphabet] is pretty easy to learn, so I was able to pick it up easily. I am not fluent by any means, but speaking like a baby is better than not knowing any at all.”

As Thames immersed himself in the Korean culture and began clearing fences with regularity, he developed an ardent following. He patiently signed autographs for long lines of fans at Masan Stadium, and he grew accustomed to having meals interrupted by fans in search of selfies. “Going anywhere with him is insane in that country,” Karon said. “It’s like going out with the Beatles. Girls are crying and people are trying to touch him and get pictures. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

In Korea he put up cartoon numbers. In 2015, Thames won the MVP award and a Gold Glove at first base, became the first KBO player to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in a season, logged a .391/.497/.790 slash line and became the first player in Korean baseball to hit for the cycle twice in the same season. In 2016, Thames regressed slightly, but he still hit 40 homers and logged an OPS of 1.101 for the Dinos, who lost to the Doosan Bears in the KBO final, known as the Korean Series.

According to Crasnick, ‘Thames showed a strong work ethic in Korea and was popular with his teammates. The natural question was how his skills would translate to the majors. Could he adjust to higher level of competition and bigger ballparks in the majors? Thames has more of a line-drive swing than loft power. Could he catch up to 94-95 mph fastballs after feasting on 89-91 mph heaters in the KBO? “He’s very aggressive at the plate and on the field, too, for that matter,” a scout said. “He’s a first-ball fastball hacker, boy. He’s trying to hit the ball hard. Sometime you see guys who are happy to make contact and put the ball in play. That’s not him. He’s gonna hurt somebody someday.”

Thames’ defense in the outfield was considered below-average in Toronto. He moved to first base in Korea and would most likely be viewed by MLB teams as a combination first baseman-corner outfield-DH candidate. A National League front office man said he wouldn’t be surprised if teams were willing to give Thames a multiyear deal to return to the States. “You have an element that’s going to be skeptical,” the executive said. “He’s already played over here, and he wasn’t a tremendous success the first time. But you have to ask yourself, ‘Is this guy a late bloomer?’ “Look at some of the money that Cuban players have gotten. What’s the difference here? I think somebody is going to bite, and he’ll get a contract for two years and $12 million, or three years and $15-18 million.”‘

So far, through Saturday, he has appeared in 23 games, hit 11 HRs, driven in 19 RBI while batting .350 with an OPS of 1.312.

What an April. What a month.

Will it last?

#watchingattanasio⚾️

Play Ball!

Flop Sweat


Baseball is a game of averages. It is pretty easy to gauge how a player or a team will perform as averages usually don’t lie. After all, the marathon tends to even things up.

Opening Day in Cream City showed exactly how the averages work. In 2016, the Milwaukee Brewers were the worst fielding team in Major League Baseball. Only the Minnesota Twins came close, but the Twinkies were still a distance from their Southern neighbors. The illustrious Brew Crew committed 136 errors last season. In all honestly, they also probably led the league in mental errors. Their fielding average was .978.

In pitching, they had the third worst record for striking out opposing batters. Only the Angels and Rangers had fewer. In relief pitching, they had the fifth worst record for striking out opposing batters. Only the Angels and Rangers, who where joined by the Giants and the Tigers, were less effective.

This led the management to stress fielding and pitching in spring training. Let’s concentrate on fielding. While they let their second baseman go on waivers, and traded away both of their catchers, their strength up the middle would be at a premium this season. It didn’t work that way. One of the new catchers they obtained as one of two second stringers from other teams (remember, they traded away their All-Star catcher who also was an excellent hitter, a rare combination in the game of baseball), committed two (2) errors in his first game. Both were on throws. Then the eclectic Jonathan Villar, who now plays second, gave an over enthusiastic throw in a critical situation into the home team’s dugout, striking the back of the Double Bubble plastic pail with such authority, the reserves thought it was Halloween, thus allowing runners to advance and eventually score the go-ahead and winning runs.

As for pitching, their Opening Day starter, Guerra, suffered a pulled calf in the bottom of the 3rd while batting and running to first. Then the bullpen came in and gave the game away. Well, to be specific Jhan Carlos Mariñez gave it away. Get this, after 1/3rd of an inning, he gave up 2 runs and 3 hits, walked a batter for an ERA into infinity, or in Mr. Mariñez case, an ERA of 27.00. He will have to pitch a zillion innings to find respect.

OK. It’s only the first game. But familiarity is ever present.

While Miller Park was packed, new food venues were opened with local goods, and Big Jim West was behind the plate as the Hot Dog won the Sausage Race, the team on the field looked the same.

It is good to love mediocrity if you live in Milwaukee. After all, with one of the lowest payrolls (‘Managable’ as the owner said on television on Opening Day) in The Show, the Pigsville Nine will always perform to their averages. And that means it will be a long, long season in the ‘Gathering place [by the water]’. Gemütlichkeit!

#WatchingAttanasio

Play Ball!

Everybody Is Even

Photo Credit: © Lance Hanish 2017 all rights reserved


All of the fresh bats are in the racks. The new gloves have been broken in with weeks of catching in Spring Training. Now the marathon known as a Major League Baseball season is upon us.

Six teams begin today. The New York Yankees visit Tampa Bay Rays; the San Francisco Giants meet the Arizona Diamondbacks and the World Champion Chicago Cubs begin their season visiting their biggest rival, the Saint Louis Cardinals.

This is probably one of the most exciting days of the year. All of the hopes of fans everywhere is at its highest.

There is only one thing to say….

The Milwaukee Brewers won’t win the pennant.

A fan favorite, Scooter Gennett has been let go to division rival Cincinnati. The National League home run leader in 2016, was let go. An All-Star catcher and his defensively skilled back-up were traded. While all of this happened, the Cream City Nine brought in two new first basemen; a new third baseman and a partridge in a pear tree.

But, they got younger.

Yet they still have, through no fault of their own, one of the finest baseball players to ever play the game, Ryan Braun.

He is an absolute gem.

While rival fans love to trash him for his past problems with PEDs and of course his lying about taking performance enhancing drugs, fans of Pigsville, love this guy. He has a regime like few in the game. He is the consummate professional. At the plate, he is rarely off-balance. And he can hit the ball out of the ballpark nearly everywhere in the strike zone. His fielding and arm are exemplary. He is the last of the players from the great teams of the early ‘00s. He is their only All-Star left.

After ten years, here is what he has done on the field:
He’s played in 1,354 games with 1,597 hits.
He has banged 317 doubles, 43 triples and 285 home runs.
He has driven in 937 RBI, stolen 181 bases, walked 473 times while striking out 1,070 times while compiling a .304 batting average with an OBP of .367; a slugging percentage of .544 and an OPS of .910. On defense, he has 225 assists and only 47 errors (26 of which were in his first season at 3B) in 10 years with a fielding percentage of .981.

He is a six (6) time All-Star and did you know that he actually was #23 in the MVP last season?

In the history of the game, he compares with Hack Wilson.

At the age of 32, he compares with Lance Berkman and Larry Walker in hitting.

Is he the greatest player in Milwaukee Brewer history?

There is Robin Yount. And Paul Molitor. Cecil Cooper. Prince Fielder.

All he has to do is play another ten years and perhaps he will have number 8 up on the ring at Miller Park.

Tomorrow he will hit the field. In the meantime, as we said, baseball is a marathon.

It’s April 2, 2017. Now it’s time to

Play Ball!

Programs Here! Can’t Tell The Players Without A Program.


Sadly, no more. There are no more hawkers in the stadiums shouting out, ‘Programs. Programs Here! Can’t Tell The Players Without A Program.’ It is a sound that has passed, like coins dropping in a coin operated telephone in a telephone booth or the ring of a landline phone in the home.

This year, the fans of the Cream City ball club could use the sound of the program hawker. For the money-pinching owners of Pigsville’s Nine, most fans will have trouble knowing who’s on first, what’s on second or I don’t knows on third.

For the record, the first baseman is Eric Thames. ‘Who?’ Eric Thames. Elig temjeuneun nugu-ibnikka? (‘에릭 템즈는 누구입니까?’). He’ll make $4,000,000 and is taking over for Chris Carter who made $2.5 million last season but was headed for arbitration which could have earned him $8+ million. After all, he was the National League Home Run champion. Thus, in the Brewers way of thinking, they saved $4+ million. You have to understand Brewer thinking. They save $4 million and gained 30 points in a batting average. Yet that is all hypothetical because Mr. Thames has been hitting against Korean baseball league pitching for the last three years. 오 좋은! Wow!
At second will be Jonathan Villar. ‘What?’ He is taking over from Scooter. Villar’s salary will be $512,900.
At third will be Travis Shaw. ‘I don’t know’. Shaw? He will earn $515,000.
At shortstop will be Orlando Arcia. ‘I don’t give a damn’ will earn $507,500.
In left will be one of the few we know…Ryan Braun, if he isn’t traded in the next couple of months before he reaches his ability to block any trade starting in late May, when he becomes a 10-year veteran who has spent his past five seasons with his current team. He will earn $20 million.
In center, Keon Broxton. ‘Hit like the second half of last season’ will earn $508,500.
In right, Domingo Santana. ‘Don’t Get Hurt Santana’ will earn $513,800.
Catching will be Andrew Susac. Not ‘today’. But this season, Susac, who replaced Maldonado who replaced Lucroy, will be making $507,500.

Compared to last year’s starting lineup, this year’s projected edition will save approximately $4.5 million less than last year. In fact, according to SPOTRAC, the Milwaukee Brewers will have the third lowest 25 man roster salary in the entire Major League. It is estimated that the team salary will be $41.175 million. Watch out, San Diego and Tampa. Milwaukee is coming after your cheap crown.

They have traded away one of the best catchers in baseball for somebody. They have traded away a veteran third baseman for somebody. They have released the National League’s home run champion for nobody.

If they trade away Braun, they will fly by the San Diego and Tampa and threaten the Salt Lake City Bees for salary.

What an accomplishment.

The Cream City Nine’s owner, who has never won a pennant much less a World Series title, will threaten most of the top Major League owners in profit. He knows that the Milwaukee fans will pack the stadium for Tiddlywinks. OK. That may be a stretch, but ‘program hawkers’ will be needed. Perhaps they can have a ‘Tiddlywinks Night’ to introduce all of the new faces.

We’ll be watching, Mr. Attanasio. We’ll be watching.

Play Ball!

#watchingattanasio

The Curious Travels Of Mr Carter


He is a huge man. The soon to be 30 year old is 6’4″ and near 250 lbs. When he comes to the batter’s box, his shadow precedes him to plate nearly as soon as he steps out of the dugout. Nearly everyone looks up to him. He is massive. And his power is impressive. It is not often that opposing players come out to view the other team’s batting practice. But they do to see Mr Carter pound ball after ball into the stands.

In his seven years in the Big Leagues, he has hit 150 home runs in 688 games. That means that 21.8% of the games in which he bats, the ball leaves the yard. In fan terms that means he lofts one each series. Wow!

The home run has always been the ‘hit of choice’ for the fans since Babe recreated baseball in the ’20s. In 2.503 games, the ‘Sultan of Swat’ banged 714 home runs. For the stat geeks, that a lofty 28.5% of the games he played in, the crowd stood and cheered for another home run.

No. Mr. Carter is no Babe Ruth. The problem is Mr. Carter is on his way to another team. It will be is fourth team in eight years. And he is the National League Home Run Champion. Yet the lowly Milwaukee Brewers don’t want to pay for such power and gave him his papers. They are replacing him with a Korean League first baseman.

Why?

Mr. Carter strikes out a lot. He has led the league in strike outs twice, including this past season. He has struck out 875 times in 688 games (that’s 1.27/game). Fans do not like strike outs. He did that 206 times last season, setting a Brewers’ record. Babe did that less than 1 per game (0.82/game).

In Milwaukee, there is a legacy of great first baseman. From George Scott to Cecil Cooper, Richie Sexson to Prince Fielder, this is the standard of excellence any first baseman in Cream City has to measure up to.

Prince 998 games 230 home runs 656 RBI 779 KOs .929 OPS (7 years)
Sexson 534 games 133 home runs 398 RBI 528 KOs .902 OPS (4 years)
Cooper 1490 games 241 home runs 944 RBI 721 KOs .809 OPS (11 years)
Scott 782 games 115 home runs 463 RBI 529 KOs .798 OPS (5 years)

69 Minchner 140 games 25 home runs 78 RBI 69 KOs .829 OPS
70 Hegan 148 games 11 home runs 52 RBI 116 KOs .701 OPS
71 Briggs 125 games 21 home runs 59 RBI 79 KOs .845 OPS
72 Scott 152 games 20 home runs 88 RBI 130 KOs .746 OPS
73 Scott 158 games 24 home runs 107 RBI 94 KOs .858 OPS
74 Scott 158 games 17 home runs 82 RBI 90 KOs .777 OPS
75 Scott 158 games 38 home runs 109 RBI 97 KOs .857 OPS
76 Scott 156 games 18 home runs 77 RBI 118 KOs .748 OPS
77 Cooper 160 games 20 home runs 78 RBI 110 KOs .789 OPS
78 Cooper 107 games 13 home runs 54 RBI 72 KOs .833 OPS
79 Cooper 150 games 24 home runs 106 RBI 77 KOs .872 OPS
80 Cooper 153 games 25 home runs 122 RBI 42 KOs .926 OPS
81 Cooper 106 games 12 home runs 60 RBI 30 KOs .858 OPS
82 Cooper 155 games 32 home runs 121 RBI 53 KOs .870 OPS
83 Cooper 160 games 30 home runs 126 RBI 63 KOs .849 OPS
84 Cooper 148 games 11 home runs 67 RBI 59 KOs .693 OPS
85 Cooper 154 games 16 home runs 99 RBI 77 KOs .779 OPS
86 Cooper 134 games 12 home runs 75 RBI 87 KOs .682 OPS
87 Brock 141 games 13 home runs 85 RBI 63 KOs .809 OPS
88 Brock 115 games 6 home runs 50 RBI 48 KOs .649 OPS
89 Brock 107 games 12 home runs 52 RBI 49 KOs .750 OPS
90 Brock 127 games 7 home runs 50 RBI 45 KOs .692 OPS
91 Stubbs 103 games 11 home runs 38 RBI 71 KOs .641 OPS
92 Stubbs 92 games 9 home runs 42 RBI 68 KOs .665 OPS
93 Jaha 153 games 19 home runs 70 RBI 109 KOs .753 OPS
94 Jaha 89 games 12 home runs 34 RBI 75 KOs .412 OPS
95 Jaha 88 games 20 home runs 65 RBI 66 KOs .968 OPS
96 Jaha 148 games 30 home runs 118 RBI 118 KOs .941 OPS
97 Nilsson 156 games 20 home runs 81 RBI 88 KOs .798 OPS
98 Jaha 73 games 7 home runs 38 RBI 66 KOs .709 OPS
99 Loretta 153 games 5 home runs 67 RBI 59 KOs .744 OPS
00 Sexson 57 games 14 home runs 47 RBI 63 KOs .957 OPS
01 Sexson 158 games 45 home runs 125 RBI 60 KOs .889 OPS
02 Sexson 157 games 29 home runs 102 RBI 136 KOs .867 OPS
03 Sexson 162 games 45 home runs 124 RBI 151 KOs .927 OPS
04 Overbay 159 games 16 home runs 87 RBI 128 KOs .863 OPS
05 Overbay 158 games 19 home runs 72 RBI 98 KOs .816 OPS
06 Fielder 157 games 28 home runs 81 RBI 125 KOs .831 OPS
07 Fielder 158 games 50 home runs 119 RBI 121 KOs 1.013 OPS
08 Fielder 159 games 34 home runs 102 RBI 132 KOs .879 OPS
09 Fielder 162 games 46 home runs 141 RBI 138 KOs 1.014 OPS
10 Fielder 161 games 32 home runs 83 RBI 138 KOs .871 OPS
11 Fielder 162 games 38 home runs 120 RBI 106 KOs .981 OPS
12 Hart 149 games 30 home runs 83 RBI 151 KOs .841 OPS
13 Francisco 89 games 13 home runs 32 RBI 95 KOs .733 OPS
14 Reynolds 130 games 22 home runs 45 RBI 122 KOs .681 OPS
15 Lind 149 games 20 home runs 87 RBI 100 KOs .820 OPS
16 Carter 160 games 41 home runs 94 RBI 206 KOs .821 OPS

The Cream City Nine was at its best when it had a great first baseman. Both Cooper and Fielder led their teams to the post season. Both were the heart of their teams.

With Mr Carter moving on, this team is looking for their heart once again.

Play Ball!