October 19, 2011
As the postseason nears its end, the eliminated teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategery.
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 detain their squads for the equivalent of a Saturday morning detention stay.
Up next in our series is our never-sober pal, Miller Park Drunk. His plans to avoid the World Series involve cleaning out his Smokey Joe for the offseason and beer. Lots and lots of beer.
What are you looking at? You think this is cute? You think this is funny, 2011 Milwaukee Brewers? Do you even realize why you are here? You have been eliminated. You are done. The season is over. Try acting like it.
Wipe that smile of your face Prince. You look like a Care Bear.
Nyjer, stop doing that weird thing with your face.
Really Carlos? You really think now is the opportune time to bust out "Beast Mode"? Really?
Braun get back in your seat, I expected a little more from an MVP candidate.
Come on guys this is serious business. You just got eliminated from the playoffs! Stop acting like you are so happy about it! I will never know the taste of World Series cheese fries in a helmet. Do you know what that is like for me?
Look for the next five months you're pretty much free to do whatever you want, but before we get to that I need you to sit down and listen because I've got a few things I want to say that you need to hear before you leave us and head to your warm weather homes, leaving us here to freeze through another World Series-less winter.
The punishable offenses: I hate you guys. I really, really do because here I am and all I want to do is tell you every thing you did wrong this season and how you could have done better, but I just don't even know how to do it. I loved this season so much and there were so many times when you seemed like you could do no wrong, so how can I possibly be mad at you now? Sure, the lineup was lopsided and the defense wasn't the greatest, but this was the best Brewers team of my lifetime. I don't want to be mad at them.
Take Yuniesky Betancourt(notes) for example. A hitter with no approach whatsoever who played below average defense throughout the season. He was the scorn of Brewers fans everywhere all year, but once the playoffs rolled around he started busting out hits like the Violent Femmes. Of course he was still the same Yuni, but how can I possibly be mad at him? He got some big hits in the playoffs and didn't make any huge game changing errors, I love him! Four more years of Yuni!
(Actually, I take that back. No more years of Yuni please.)
The reverse would be true for someone like Shaun Marcum(notes). Depending on who you ask it's probably 50 percent likely that the Brewers early playoff exit is completely his fault. At the same time where would the Brewers have been without him? The Brewers own guy-who-looks-like-Pigpen-from-Charlie Brown-if-he-grew-up-and-played-baseball posted a 13-7 record with a 110 ERA+ that made him the team's second best starting pitcher this season. We never would have sniffed October without him so it's hard to get too mad at him for his playoff performance. At the same time, a 14.90 postseason ERA? Are you serious, bro?
The truth is this is a team that went "all-in" and maybe it went a little too "all-in" during the season. There wasn't one fatal flaw that plagued them during the season that came back to bite them in the playoffs. There were errors, but it was their non-Yovani pitchers who fell apart that cost them a trip to the World Series.
In retrospect would resting Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf(notes) in the last week of the season have hurt them? Home field advantage was great, but what good is that doing us right now? The Cardinals didn't have home field and now they are in the World Series. Baseball is stupid like that. Maybe we should have spent a little less time worrying about where we played and instead made sure we put our best, healthiest team on the field for the playoffs. Ever think of that, Ron Roenicke? I'm guessing no.
Partners in crime: I have to admit that what I just said probably wouldn't have made a difference. It's been said before that the playoffs are luck and I've never felt that was more true in my life than I did during the NLCS. Every ground ball they hit found a hole, but every ground ball the Brewers hit did not. Every time a Brewer dove for a ball, they missed. Every time the Cardinals dove for a ball, they didn't. You can call this defense if you like, but it's not. Lance Berkman(notes) making diving stabs isn't defense, it's luck. There is nothing fundamental about Lance Berkman's defense. Guys who make great defensive plays aren't shaped like Chicken McNuggets. Balls the Brewers hit were 1/16th of an inch or less on the wrong part of the bat, taking would be homeruns and turning them into deep flyouts. The Cardinals didn't have this problem. I saw it all happen. I lived it. It was awful.
I don't believe this series proved that the Cardinals are a better team than the Brewers. The only thing it proved is that everything that could go right for the Cardinals did and everything that could go wrong for the Brewers did. (And then it went wrong again a couple more times for good measure.) The baseball gods were clearly in their corner and it honestly felt like the Cardinals were "meant" to win this series. Like it was written in the stars a million miles away or something. Sometimes life is unfair like that. Salman Rushdie married Padma Lakshi AND dated Olivia Munn. Snooki is a multi-millionaire. Don't even get me started on who Christina Hendricks married. The Brewers lost to the Cardinals. Firefly got canceled. It's all the same. Life sucks.
Something to build on: The great misconception about the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers season is that the Brewers were "all-in" and that this was their last chance to do something. I even made this allusion earlier. Yes, this was their last chance with Prince Fielder(notes) on the team (no matter what Mark Attanasio says or what you read everywhere for the next few months), but this wasn't their last chance at success. They'll still be a very good team next year.
The Brewers nucleus of Ryan Braun(notes), Corey Hart(notes), Rickie Weeks(notes), Yovani Gallardo(notes), Zack Greinke(notes), Shaun Marcum and John Axford(notes) is something that would make 80 percent of the teams in this league jealous and they will all be back next year. Prince is leaving and that's no fun, but if our Brad Pitt induced Moneyball-mania has taught us anything it's that you don't have to replace Prince Fielder with another Prince Fielder. The Brewers don't have to replace his production at first base. They can replace his production by spreading it across first, third and shortstop and became a more balanced team for it. Luckily for us the Brewers have a great GM in Doug Melvin that can do this sort of thing. There's a strong chance the Brewers can come back next season better than ever and I think I might even believe what I just wrote.
Shape up or ship out: Today is a Wednesday which means that the Brewers only have about three or four days left in the collective Wisconsin consciousness before they are forgotten in favor of football until next spring. Hey I don't like it either, but it's just the way things work around here. You gave us all some great memories this season and you have a real argument with the 1982 team as the greatest Brewers team of all time. Good for you, but if you ever want to be number one in this state you're going to have to
sign Aaron Rodgers do better than that and that's why I have a few reading assignments to hand out before I let you go.
• Ron Roenicke: Weaver on Strategy by Earl Weaver. Read this, read it again and read it again for good measure. Whatever you picked up from Scioscia didn't work. Read this and maybe next year we can see John Axford in an important non-save situation.
• Shaun Marcum: 23 Minutes In Hell: One Man's Story About What He Saw, Heard, and Felt in that Place of Torment by Bill Weise. So you know how I felt watching you pitch in the first inning of game 6.
• Ryan Braun: Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook by Andrew Doughty and Leona Boyd. Take a vacation, you deserve it! Check out the banyan tree in Lahaina, you'll love it!
• Rickie Weeks: I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle. Rickie, you are my Beth Cooper.
• Prince Fielder: Wrigleyworld by Kevin Kaduk. #justsayin
• Yovani Gallardo: No assignment. You did great. I'm so proud of you.
• Nyjer Morgan(notes): How to Be a Gentleman: A Contemporary Guide to Common Courtesy by John Bridges. We all love Tony Plush, but I think you are confused on the definition of "gentleman." For instance, gentleman don't constantly yell "AHHHH!" whenever they do something good.
• Corey Hart: Ultimate Dog Grooming by Eileen Geeson. More for whoever cuts your hair because clearly whatever they are doing isn't working.
• John Axford: Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy's Journey to Becoming a Big Kid by Simon Pegg. I actually just think you'd like this.
• Zack Greinke: Throw More Pitches For Strikes and Attack Hitters In 0-2 Counts More: You Have Way Too Much Talent Not To Be A Much Better Pitcher. Not an actual book. Just read that sentence over and over until it sinks in. Seriously.
• Yuniesky Betancourt: Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss. Not mentioned in this book: Milwaukee in 2012.
Once again, the playoffs are luck. The 2011 Milwaukee Brewers were a very good team who won their division. There will be some roster turnover, but for the most part they'll be the same team. This/that team can win it all. We just need a little luck and then we can all make babies.
Now get the heck out of here, 2011 Milwaukee Brewers.
Read more of Big League Stew's Detention Lecture series here