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 canâ€™t go eight against the Pirates, I donâ€™t 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 whoâ€™s as wide as Prince but taller, thatâ€™ll be Mr. Sabathia, the final piece of the playoff puzzle.
Artie: Getting him takes a Sheets trade off the table and means theyâ€™re rolling the dice and going for it all this year.
Frank: Can you argue with that, the way things line up? Theyâ€™ve got to figure they canâ€™t afford Sabathiaâ€™s next contract and theyâ€™re just renting him for a few months, but their first playoff spot in 26 years would be worth it.
Artie: Absolutely. Nowâ€™s the time. And with Sheets, if they canâ€™t re-sign him next year, maybe itâ€™ll be back to, â€śWell, weâ€™ll make the playoffs in a year or two.â€ť But if they hope to re-sign Sheets, getting Sabathia and making the playoffs may make Sheets think, â€śWe can keep win ning with this team. Iâ€™m comfortable here, I like the guys, so maybe I wonâ€™t ask for top dollar.â€ť
Sheets wasnâ€™t 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 inningâ€”a few seconds after Frank said, â€śHereâ€™s where it all starts to turn around for Billy.â€ť
Artie: Way to light a fire under Hall! See, this is the kind of thing thatâ€™ll keep Sheets here.
Frank: If he stays healthy, thereâ€™ll be plenty of money elsewhere to tempt him. Everybody says, â€śItâ€™s not about the money, I want to win,â€ť 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 runsâ€”the 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 wasnâ€™t really Ben today, but heâ€™s had lots of strong games when he didnâ€™t get enough runs. So back to his future: Youâ€™re saying Sheets, in whom theyâ€™ve 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
heâ€™s 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, â€śWhat can I do for my family for $127 million
that I canâ€™t do for $111 million?â€ť
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 Milwaukeeâ€™s own Latrell Sprewell.
Remember a few years ago, he turned down $21 million over three years
from the Timberwolves with the immor tal words, â€śIâ€™ve got my family to
feed.â€ť Havenâ€™t heard much about him since then except for legal
Artie: â€śIâ€™ve gotta put food on the table.â€ť What, youâ€™re flying to Paris for dinner every night? Thatâ€™s where the table is?
for Sheets, youâ€™ve described a best-case scenario. But really, can the
Brewers afford not to roll the dice this year under any circumstances?
Unless thereâ€™s a total disaster, theyâ€™ve got to believe they can go all
Artie: Thereâ€™s never a guarantee for next year, even with all the good young players. Theyâ€™ve got to go for it. The
9-1 game dragged to a finish in 2 hours 48 minutesâ€”not bad by
major-league standards but hardly what the Observers expected from a
Sheets start. He got a â€śWâ€ť in the box score but the Observers gave him
an â€śL,â€ť 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?
itâ€™s a business. Iâ€™d bring Favre back, trade Aaron Rodgers to Miami for
Jason Taylor, and voila! Youâ€™ve got the quarterback and added a premier
pass rusher. Hello, Super Bowl.
Frank: Once again, youâ€™re the man with a plan.
Artie: Iâ€™ve been getting my resume together for the Packersâ€™ GM job, just in case. It pays pretty well, I hear.
Frank: And thereâ€™ll be an opening if Favre says he wants to come back and Ted Thompson says, â€śEnjoy your time in Vikings purple.â€ť
Artie: Itâ€™ll be â€śTed Thompson, rest in peace.â€ť
I think if Favre does want to come back, itâ€™s with the Packers for one
big reason: He probably doesnâ€™t want to go through a training camp
learning a new system. The Packers wouldnâ€™t 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 Favreâ€™s royally pissed off at Thompson, that he feels he was pushed out the door.
Frank: If he doesnâ€™t have that much animosity, his mother appears to. Thereâ€™s 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, howâ€™s 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 doesnâ€™t read that.
Now Iâ€™ve put some kind of Southern juju voodoo thing on him. I guess
Mama Favre wonâ€™t be inviting me over for gumbo down there in Bumfock,
Ole Miss, anytime soon, ainâ€™a?
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.