The Dice Tumble
The Fairly Detached Observers
As the Observers took theirpatriotic spirit to Miller Park for the Fourth of July, the Brewers were hoping to recover from a hideous loss at Arizona by sending Ben Sheets to the mound against Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, they were nailing down a trade for Cleveland ace C.C. Sabathia, a blockbuster that became official three days later.
Artie: A nice fast pace and he goes at least eight.
Frank: If he canât go eight against the Pirates, I donât think we want to be around for three hours of mayhem. And keep your eyes peeled, Artie. If you see someone shagging flies in batting prac tice whoâs as wide as Prince but taller, thatâll be Mr. Sabathia, the final piece of the playoff puzzle.
Artie: Getting him takes a Sheets trade off the table and means theyâre rolling the dice and going for it all this year.
Frank: Can you argue with that, the way things line up? Theyâve got to figure they canât afford Sabathiaâs next contract and theyâre just renting him for a few months, but their first playoff spot in 26 years would be worth it.
Artie: Absolutely. Nowâs the time. And with Sheets, if they canât re-sign him next year, maybe itâll be back to, âWell, weâll make the playoffs in a year or two.â But if they hope to re-sign Sheets, getting Sabathia and making the playoffs may make Sheets think, âWe can keep win ning with this team. Iâm comfortable here, I like the guys, so maybe I wonât ask for top dollar.â
Sheets wasnât sharp but stranded plenty of Pirates on base. And the struggling Bill Hall gave him a 2-0 lead when he homered in the second inningâa few seconds after Frank said, âHereâs where it all starts to turn around for Billy.â
Artie: Way to light a fire under Hall! See, this is the kind of thing thatâll keep Sheets here.
Frank: If he stays healthy, thereâll be plenty of money elsewhere to tempt him. Everybody says, âItâs not about the money, I want to win,â but very few seem to decide that way. Take Coco Cordero, the beloved closer of last year. Did he really think he had a better chance to win in Cincinnati than he had here? But off he went, and the difference in offers was only about 4 million bucks.
Artie: Before the season a few writers picked the Reds as their sleeper team in the NL Central. Well, they were right: The Reds are sleeping.
Brewers took command in the fifth inning with five runsâthe first of
them scored by the non-hitting Sheets, who some how drew a leadoff
walk. His 10th victory was secure, even though he needed 120 pitches to
get through only 5 2/3 innings.
Frank: Ben wasnât really Ben today, but heâs had lots of strong games when he didnât get enough runs. So back to his future: Youâre saying Sheets, in whom theyâve invested eight years of love and money...
Artie: And ointment and doctor visits.
maybe Sheets does a Ken Griffey Jr. and takes less money to be where
heâs comfortable. Or now it would be doing a Gilbert Arenas, who passed
up a chance at $127 million and stayed with the Wizards for a mere $111
million. As he put it, âWhat can I do for my family for $127 million
that I canât do for $111 million?â
Artie: For $127 million I guess he could have upgraded the security at his estate. Something like a missile defense system.
actually sounded sensible, unlike Milwaukeeâs own Latrell Sprewell.
Remember a few years ago, he turned down $21 million over three years
from the Timberwolves with the immor tal words, âIâve got my family to
feed.â Havenât heard much about him since then except for legal
Artie: âIâve gotta put food on the table.â What, youâre flying to Paris for dinner every night? Thatâs where the table is?
for Sheets, youâve described a best-case scenario. But really, can the
Brewers afford not to roll the dice this year under any circumstances?
Unless thereâs a total disaster, theyâve got to believe they can go all
Artie: Thereâs never a guarantee for next year, even with all the good young players. Theyâve got to go for it. The
9-1 game dragged to a finish in 2 hours 48 minutesânot bad by
major-league standards but hardly what the Observers expected from a
Sheets start. He got a âWâ in the box score but the Observers gave him
an âL,â for lengthy, as they took the bus Downtown.
Frank: Speaking of rolling the dice, the Packersâ fans probably feel the same way about doing whatever it takes next sea son. So does that mean the man from Mississippi returns?
itâs a business. Iâd bring Favre back, trade Aaron Rodgers to Miami for
Jason Taylor, and voila! Youâve got the quarterback and added a premier
pass rusher. Hello, Super Bowl.
Frank: Once again, youâre the man with a plan.
Artie: Iâve been getting my resume together for the Packersâ GM job, just in case. It pays pretty well, I hear.
Frank: And thereâll be an opening if Favre says he wants to come back and Ted Thompson says, âEnjoy your time in Vikings purple.â
Artie: Itâll be âTed Thompson, rest in peace.â
I think if Favre does want to come back, itâs with the Packers for one
big reason: He probably doesnât want to go through a training camp
learning a new system. The Packers wouldnât be happy, but he could
string them along and miss most of camp. It worked for Michael Strahan.
He skipped the Giantsâ whole camp and wound up a Super Bowl champ.
Artie: And going to another team, the question is if Favreâs royally pissed off at Thompson, that he feels he was pushed out the door.
Frank: If he doesnât have that much animosity, his mother appears to. Thereâs something weird about your mom scolding the GM for you.
last two years the Packers have been relatively injury-free, but it can
change so quickly. Hey, howâs this for a worst-case scenario: The
Packers rein state Favre, trade Rodgers, get Jason Taylor and the first
game, pow, Favre blows out a knee and breaks both hips. And now he is done.
Frank: You better hope Bonita doesnât read that.
Now Iâve put some kind of Southern juju voodoo thing on him. I guess
Mama Favre wonât be inviting me over for gumbo down there in Bumfock,
Ole Miss, anytime soon, ainâa?
Frank Clines labored almost 20 years in the sports department at the Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and covered the Brewers part-time for most of those years. These days, Art Kumbalek rarely travels south of National Avenue.