Throughout the offseason, Attanasio refused to rule out signing Lohse while general manager Doug Melvin made it clear that the Brewers were going to roll with what they had in the starting rotation. Nevertheless, back-end rotation arms struggled in spring training and Attanasio won out, shelling out $33 million to a 34-year-old starting pitcher.
The move was greeted with mixed reviews, but the general feeling was that Attanasio made Melvin his puppet. Still, after a sluggish start to 2013, Lohse is without question Milwaukee's best starter -- he's 7-7 with a 3.22 ERA in 22 starts. It's been all for naught, as Lohse gets little run support and the Brewers are well out of contention, but, at the very least, Lohse turned himself into a trade chip.
That's beside the point. People were upset that Attanasio was sticking his nose in Melvin's area of expertise. These are probably the same people that either weren't aware or simply forgot what the Milwaukee Brewers were before Attanasio purchased the team following the 2004 season.
On opening day of that 2004 season, the Brewers had the lowest payroll in baseball.
From 1998 to 2004 under the ownership of Wendy Selig-Prieb, the Brewers averaged 68 wins a season.
In Attanasio's first year as owner, the Brewers finished at least .500 for the first time since 1992. By his fourth year, Milwaukee had reached the postseason for the first time in 26 years. He proved he was willing to spend, albeit on players like Bill Hall and Jeff Suppan, but there were lessons to be learned along the way. Instead of simply letting players like CC Sabathia and Prince Fielder walk, Milwaukee made a concerted effort to retain them, offering deals that would have been absolutely unheard of just a few years ago.
Just days following the news of Ryan Braun's suspension, with the city and his team in disarray, Attanasio flew into town not only to speak to his maligned star but also to face the media. He promised to find a way to give back to the fans for a disappointing season, and the bombshell that was Braun's 65-game suspension.
On July 29, Attanasio did just that.
Every fan that attends an August home game at Miller Park will receive a $10 voucher that can be used on food, beverages, tickets or merchandise. Assuming the Brewers continue to draw the roughly 31,000 per game they have all season, that's about a $3.6 million investment (via Darren Rovell of ESPN).
That's slightly more than the $3.25 million the Brewers will save as a result of Braun's suspension, but the point is that Attanasio feels for his fan base -- that this is a great way to give back and soften the blow of a trying summer.
But wouldn't you know it? People are still ungrateful.
Some believe that money would be better served for improving the product on the field, as if Attanasio would spend less on his team in the future as a result of this gesture. There are probably even some who don't believe it's enough. A beer at Miller Park is $8 anyway, so what's the use?
There really is no pleasing everyone.
It was Attanasio at the beginning of the season who wanted to sign Lohse, to put the most competitive product on the field he could despite any potential long-term ramifications. Yes, the Brewers may be slightly handicapped next season, or the season after that, but Lohse is living up to his deal.
You can't plan for injuries, or an awful Yovani Gallardo, or your star player being suspended for 65 games, and these unwelcomed surprises are a huge reason why the Brewers are 17 games below .500. None of them are the fault of Attanasio, either, and yet here he is, reaching into his own pocket to try and reconcile.
Brewers fans shouldn't forget how fortunate they are to have Mark Attanasio.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.
You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_.
- Sports & Recreation
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Mark Attanasio
- Kyle Lohse