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Big League Stew

Concession Speech: 2012 Milwaukee Brewers

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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With the regular season over, many teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategy.

But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from each team the opportunity to give a concession speech for this year's squad. Up next is our old inebriated neighbor to the north Miller Park Drunk.

Attention Milwaukee Brewers fans, drunks, A/A members, ball hawks, Packer fans who were bored during the offseason, children, WWE Superstar Hornswoggle, Green Bay Packer players who are friends with Ryan Braun, people who like Bob Uecker, beer enthusiasts who found this page through a search, people who remember me from last year and the elderly:

[Related: Leukemia survivor attends all 162 Brewers games]

Our season is over. We made a good run, for the last two months or so at least, but in the end we just didn't have it this year. The last few weeks have given us a lot to be excited for in the future, but that future does not include this October. Some of you may say that it wasn't "written in the stars (a million miles away)", but much like the Brewers' World Series chances that song is so last year. We did our best to keep things interesting, but the math was never on our side and the Brewers slim hopes have disappeared like so many of the bodies of my ex-associates. Yes, folks, that's a little political humor for you.While it is no fun to be deliverig a concession speech at this juncture, it's sort of amazing that we didn't have to give this much sooner. (Oh wait, I did. July 25 to be exact. You know, when the Brewers were eight games under .500 with a mere 1.9 percent chance of making the playoffs.) The run the Brewers went on after they traded away Zack Greinke will go down as one of the great "What if?" seasons in Brewers history. Right up there with "What if Ron Roenicke knew how to use a bullpen in a crucial Game 6?" (Never forget.) However, it was just not meant to be and the Brewers were unable to overcome the insurmountable mathematical odds and atrocious bullpen to make it happen. Sometimes it doesn't matter what you do in the present because the damage was already done a long time ago. Kind of like Herman Cain in the '90s.

Mistakes were made: Of course there were mistakes. We wouldn't be in this position if they didn't make them. For instance, the Brewers let Prince Fielder go in free agency and they paid for it by ... leading the National League in runs. (Whoops. Sorry to ruin your storyline, mainstream media.) The Brewers scored runs in 2012 like Bill Clinton handed out pardons in 2001.

Unfortunately for the Brewers, their bullpen gave up runs more akin to Ronald Reagan's pardoning ways. The biggest difference between the 2011 and 2012 Milwaukee Brewers was the bullpen ERA jumping from 3.32 to 4.61. That definitely hurt, but not as bad as the major-league leading 28 blown saves. Not to play "What if?" guy, but if the Brewers blew four less saves they would still have blown the most saves of any team in all of baseball and we wouldn't be making this speech right now. Not yet at least. "Leading" the way was John Axford who went from a 1.95 ERA in 2011 to a 4.88 ERA in 2012 and led the NL in blown saves. Second in blown saves? His set-up man and occasional closer, K-Rod. Oh yes, this was a bad season for those two. K-Rod almost certainly won't be back, but Axford seems to have played himself into another chance next season which, while a very reasonable decision by the Brewers brass, could turn ugly. For the record: I don't think it will, but patience will be short for many fans.

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The Brewers also suffered from the injury bug this season which caused added strain. Alex Gonzalez, the Brewers starting shortstop, was lost early. Mat Gamel who was thought to be the new first baseman was also lost early, but his loss was negated by the emergence of Norichika Aoki and Corey Hart's switching to first base. The loss of the Brewers fifth starter, Chris Narveson, may have actually ended up hurting the Brewers more than any other. While his numbers were replaced (and then some) by Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers, the loss of depth hurt more than we'll know. When Shaun Marcum ended up spending some time on the DL as well, the Brewers were forced to use Estrada and Fiers in the rotation. Had everyone remained healthy they might have been able to use them in the bullpen where the help was truly needed. Or maybe they could have replaced Randy Wolf and his 5.69 ERA much earlier in the season. Either way it's hard not to look at the Brewers disabled list and see where things could have certainly gone better for the Brewers.

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(Getty Images)

Mudslinging time: A lot of people will be using this area to rage against the machine, to blame Major League baseball for it's seemingly unfair business practices. Others will be using this platform to disparage their opponents and while I would love to tell the St. Louis Cardinals exactly where they can put their World Series trophy, I will not be.

(Although we would like to support the Braves in a Fast and Furious type agreement to eliminate the Cardinals at all costs.)

Because there is no single person or team to blame for the Brewers' woes this season. Doug Melvin and company built a very good team that should have been competitive this season. They won more games than they lost and their Pythagorean record shows them as a better team than their record would indicate, but it's not the same. They should've been a contender for a division crown, but instead ended up as an outsider looking in at the second Wild Card. These are not the playoffs I ordered, waitress.

Instead, you get the Baltimore Orioles who clinched a playoff spot and won 93 games despite a worse Pythagorean record than the 83-79 Milwaukee Brewers. The reason for this is simple, it makes no sense, but it is still simple.

RECORD IN EXTRA INNING GAMES
Brewers: 7-11
Orioles: 16-2

The Brewers and Orioles are very similar teams run differential wise, but the Orioles have 11 more wins. Why? They are way better at winning coin flips. No, really. That's it. That's the only reason. I know that life and baseball are not fair, but come on. Be more fair. Please.

Hope for the future: Despite a seemingly lost season there were still so many good things to come out of it. Ryan Braun should win a second MVP this year (he won't, but he should) and that dude is coming back. Aramis Ramirez just put together his best season since the Cubs were good and he's coming back too. We have a super bright prospect manning shortstop that will continue to impress in Jean Segura, and Carlos Gomez seems to have finally had the breakout season everyone has been waiting on. In fact, the whole lineup that just led the NL in runs (and outscored a few AL teams without the benefit of a DH) is under contract for 2012 and should remain intact.

Yovani Gallardo also remains a Brewer and will lead a rotation with some combination of Estrada, Narveson, Fiers and Wily Peralta behind him along with someone else. The bullpen, the Iran-Contra Affair of the Brewers 2012 campaign, should see a complete overhaul with only a few holdovers. John Axford will have a whole new crew setting him up next season and hopefully that is enough for a complete turnaround.

[Video: World Series prediction]

The Brewers have close to 90 percent of their team in place for next season and still have a lot of money to spend in the offseason. More importantly, they still have Doug Melvin in place to spend it. Last year he won Executive of the Year, but his work this season has been amazing and is even more deserving of awards. Or at least another bobblehead.

A change is going to come: I won't try to predict the Brewers offseason or try to tell you who they "should" pick up, but I will tell you this: This Brewers team that finished this season is very good. If you played 2012 over again, there is a good chance that this team makes the playoffs. Heck, put their September record in June and they would have been buyers instead of sellers at the deadline. Who knows what would have happened then? Almost of all that very good team is going to be back next season with possibly a new frontline starter, a shiny new bullpen and a 1B/RF power guy. I talked to Rickie Weeks and he promises me he will be alive for the first half next season. Yovani Gallardo is ready to be that same "ace, but not a true" ace Brewers fans have grown to under appreciate. Ryan Braun is going to be back looking for his third straight MVP-type season, ready to immortalize himself in Wisconsin by leading that team to greatness. That team will contend and it should be a favorite for the NL Central crown next year.

Folks, that team is your team. Don't give up on it. Keep loving the Brewers, keep coming to Miller Park and keep on tailgating. No matter what happens that stadium will always be yours and in 2013 we will take back the Central!

Follow Miller Park Drunk on Twitter and read his website here.

Previous Concession Speeches: Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros

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