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The Sweet 16 Reasons Why Fans Should Be Excited About the Milwaukee Brewers

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COMMENTARY | Just as we did last week with our March Madness style breakdown of the greatest Milwaukee Brewers of all-time, we'll continue with our NCAA tournament theme. On the cusp of both the Sweet 16 and opening day, what better time than now is there to give you 16 quick-hitters on why Brewer fans should be excited about the upcoming season?

Let the excitement begin as we run down the list that will undeniably make everyone wish they were Brewers fans.

Ryan Braun - Duh.

The Kyle Lohse signing - This move has been greeted with mixed reactions, but the fact of the matter is that Lohse makes the Brewers better this season - forget about the future for now. It gives them a much-needed veteran presence in the starting rotation, and much, much more.

K-Rod is gone - Was Francisco Rodriguez worth the $8 million the Brewer paid him last season. In a word - no.

So is the entire bullpen - The Milwaukee bullpen sported an embarrassing 4.66 ERA in 2012, good for dead-last in all of baseball. The only member of the opening day roster to return to the 'pen is closer John Axford, and in-season call-up Jim Henderson will also be back.

Miller Park is awesome - From cooking brats and enjoying ice-cold beverages in the parking lot beforehand to the in-game experience inside, Miller Park presents us with one of the best gameday experiences in the country, regardless of the sport.

Power, power, power - Chicks dig the long ball, and so do the Brewers. Led by Braun, the Brewers have some big boppers in Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez, who are threats to go deep every time they step up to the plate.

The Hopper - Acquired in an offseason trade, long/middle reliever Burke Badenhop, who is naturally nicknamed "The Hopper," will quickly become a fan favorite. He has a bit of a drop-down delivery that results in him hopping after he releases the ball, and he seems like quite the character in general.

Runnin' Ron Roenicke - He's earned the nickname during his two years in Milwaukee. Roenicke loves to put his base runners in motion and isn't afraid to call a squeeze every now and then. While the risks don't always pay off, his managerial style certainly makes the team more fun to watch.

Gomez on the go - One of the fastest players in the league, Carlos Gomez recently signed a three-year extension, so Brewer fans should get used to watching his incredible speed on display on the bases and in the outfield chasing down fly balls.

Prospects turned pros - A few youngsters are expected to be on the opening day roster. Shortstop Jean Segura, outfielder Logan Schafer and pitcher Wily Peralta are entering their first full big league seasons, and others could join as well. It will be interesting to watch them progress in 2013 and should give fans hope for the future.

A midseason boost - Sometime in May, the Brewers will receive a shot in the arm when first baseman Corey Hart is expected to return from knee surgery. It will allow Alex Gonzalez to return to a backup role in his natural position and provide more roster stability. Oh, and Hart's not all that bad, either.

Bobbleheads! - And plenty of them. From current players like Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Norichika Aoki and Corey Hart to old-school Brewers like George Scott, Gorman Thomas and Hank Aaron, there will be plenty of fan giveaways as the season progresses.

The Cubs still…stink - That's right. The Chicago Cubs are still in rebuilding mode and are projected to be the doormat of the Central division. There's no sweeter victory for Brewer fans than when their team is able to knock off their rivals from south of the border.

Diminished expectations - You might be wondering how this is something to get excited about, but having lowered expectations isn't always a bad thing. Even after signing Lohse, not much is expected of the Brewers this season, and being an under-the-radar team relieves some pressure and could help Milwaukee overachieve.

The voice(s) of the Brewers - When tuning into the game on the radio, there's nothing better than hearing the voice of Hall-of-Famer Bob Uecker. And on the television side of things, play-by-play man Brian Anderson is a rising star in the business and a great listen on those hot summer nights. Both bring their witty humor to the table to make lulls in the game entertaining.

Betancourt is back - I kid, I kid - about this being exciting. Yuniesky Betancourt is indeed back in a Brewers' uniform. But hey, he did have a .451 on-base percentage this spring before being released by the Philadelphia Phillies. No? OK, my bad.

Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who contains an unhealthy amount of knowledge about Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline and as a featured columnist among other sites and publications.

You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .

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