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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

From C to Shining C

The Fairly Detached Observers

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The Observers were on hand for Game 2 of the CC Sabathia era, and the Brewers’ hefty lefty put on quite a show. He pitched a complete game against Cincinnati, hit a home run and raised his Milwaukee record to 2-0 thanks to a ninth inning run driven in by Craig Counsell, batting for Sabathia. So the Brewers and their fans went into the All-Star break happy and confident.

Frank: What can be said of this glorious day except that the legend grows? It’s probably going to be a four-month legend, but what the heck?

Artie: There is one reason they won: No one from the bullpen made an appearance.

Frank: Maybe that was part of the reason the crowd gave CC a standing ovation just for walking out to the mound in the ninth, and yelled “Let’s go, CC!” on every pitch.

Artie: In other words, “Oh please, make it so we don’t have to see any of those clowns coming out of the bullpen.”

Frank: That may be ju-u-u-st a bit harsh. But hey, the big guy hits a home run, too. I’ll bet he’d have gotten the winning RBI if he’d taken his own swings in the ninth.

Artie: Is there some kind of Nobel Prize he may be a candidate for? A homer, he pitches nine innings, one walk, nine strikeouts—he’s saving this city from the depths of Brett Favre despair.

Maybe the Nobel Peace Prize, ain’a?

Frank: We’ll get to Brett, but first I must point out that since CC’s arrival, they’re 2-0 with him on the mound and 1- 4 with anyone else. They may need a few more All-Star breaks so they can keep pitching him in consecutive games.

Artie: You know, we’ve only got him for a few months, so why not get our money’s worth and pitch him every damn game? OK, every other game. For one thing, it helps the defense against bunts. With him and Prince on the field together, anything bunted to the right side rolls foul because the field will be tilted that way.

Frank: Don’t forget, though, CC is lighter since coming here.

Artie: Below 300 pounds?

Frank: Not sure about that, but he has lost the two periods from his initials. So let’s see, at the break the Brewers are nine games over .500, five games behind the Cubs and a half-game behind St. Louis, with 67 games to play. They play the Cubs 10 more times, seven of them here, and the Cardinals six more times, all of them down there.

Artie: So, what’s your prediction?

Frank: As I’ve said before, I think they’ll score enough runs to make the playoffs, regardless of how well they pitch. I don’t think they’ll catch the Cubs, but they'll get the wild card.

Artie: It pains me no end to say it, but I think that right now the Cubs are a better team overall. But in a playoff series, Sabathia and Sheets could make the difference.

And in such a series I hope Jeff Suppan never gets off the bench.

Frank: That’s $10 million worth of sitting, and by a guy who two years ago had a good post-season for St. Louis.

Artie: Toss another $10 million into the pot and hope Eric Gagne never pitches in the playoffs. In fact, that bullpen could knock them out of the wild card unless they make another deal.

Frank: You’re right, if there’s a thing that sinks them it’ll be the bullpen, whether Ned Yost admits it or not.

Artie: And don’t forget this is a bullpen that has a pitcher with the greatest stuff any pitcher ever had: Guillermo Mota. And if you don’t believe me, just ask Yost.

Frank: It does seem that every time someone gets rocked, Ned says he had really good stuff, it was just a couple of pitches here and there. He had a classic bit of manager-speak the other day after Mota pitched badly. He said, “It’s a team game. You can’t get me to admit that one guy lost a game for us.” Truer words were never spoken. It’s not just Ned; no one will ever get any manager to admit that someone wasn’t the right guy to bring in.

Artie: Now that I remember that Ned Yost is our manager, I’m going to solidify my prediction. If they don’t make a serious bullpen move, they will not make the playoffs.

Frank: I like Ned. I’ll stick with him for the wild card.

Artie: And if I’m wrong, I swear I’ll eat... a gyro sandwich from Mykonos on Van Buren.

Frank: Boldly stated! Now for that other legendary guy, Mr. Favre. What a mess! Why does he keep having relatives and this sportswriter pal in Mississippi speak for him? Get in front of a micro phone yourself, Brett.

Frank: Brett summed it up well: “It’s ridiculous, it really is.”

Artie: I felt bad for the guy. He really seemed conflicted, uncomfortable, as though somebody prodded him to be there. And he just added to the confusion.

Frank: I think he’s still wrestling with himself. Even though he wants his release, he never actually said he’s 100% committed to playing again.

Artie: He was essentially saying the Packers couldn’t wait for his decision until training camp.

Frank: He said he’s not mad they’ve moved on, but quite clearly he is. And just as clearly, he’s angry at the notion of going to camp as anything but the anointed starter. He played well last year and he doesn’t want to be Aaron Rodgers’ tutor.

But at the same time he essentially confirmed the Packers’ story that he backed away from un-retiring a few weeks after his big farewell. Why wouldn’t the Packers have moved on?

Artie: Now what? The Packers certainly aren’t going to release him. If he leaves Titletown, they’ll get something for him.

Frank: And if they trade him, it certainly won’t be within their division. If he wears purple, it’ll be the Ravens’ shade.

Artie: I still have my plan: Trade Rodgers to Miami for Jason Taylor and go for it all with Brett. But now you sense his animosity toward Ted Thompson is just too strong.

Frank: I still see a chance that he comes to camp and after the exhibition games Thompson says, “Well, Brett proved he deserves to be No. 1.”

Artie: If it wasn’t apparent before, it is now: Brett’s got a superhuman ego. He ain’t interested in being on equal footing with his understudy.

Frank: He’s a good old country boy, so why not a good old country competition?

Artie: A gosh darn quarterback hoe down. Sooey!

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. In an ideal world, Art Kumbalek would’ve retired yesterday.

Once again, the Observers get results! The next day Favre talked on the air with Wisconsin native and Packer backer Greta Van Susteren of Fox News Channel. And the Observers reconvened.