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Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008

Playoff Fever

Jim Cryns on Sports

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  So this is what a baseball playoff atmosphere feels like in Milwaukee.

  I was around for the last one, but at that time I was much thinner, had more hair, less intelligence. Miller Park was an exciting place to be last night. The fans armed with their Brewers towels, waved them vigorously from the early innings. When CC Sabathia was in a jam, they waved the towels again and he magically got out of the inning. When a clutch hit was required, the towels again.

  As a side-bar, the game between the Cubs and Mets was as intriguing as the game on the field. A see-saw battle found the Cubs winning, which allowed the Brewers to tie for the Wild Card as they beat the Pirates. The crowd, while not huge, made its presence felt. Over 31,000 fans cheered on the team and was part of the action from the first inning, something I haven't seen in a long while. The crowd pushed the seasons total attendance to soar to within 3-million, a new record for the club.

  Manny Parra was in the bullpen, but he had one eye on the Mets game. "We were watching a screen on the mezzanine," Parra confessed. "We could only make out so much of what was going on, but we got enough."

  In the press box half the sets were tuned to the Cubs game. One eye on the pitch on the field, another on a late inning development in New York.

  In his post game press conference, interim manager Dale Svuem said his team would do whatever it took, including small-ball. "nobody is exempt from bunting or 'situational' hitting," Svuem said. He added it can be a fun game when you do all those things. These are baseball players not individuals who play for the betterment of the team. If a player plans on being on the field at any time during the next four games, he'd better adhere to this philosophy.

  On only a few days rest, CC Sabathia confirmed why he may have been the best trade in professional sports, giving up just one run over 7 innings. "He made my job kind of easy," Svuem joked, "you hope to get to the playoffs and make it look like the greatest trade of all time."

"I'll take a confident team, a hot team winning close games, doing the fundamental things, playing solid defense."

  Eric Gagne came in to relieve Sabathia and almost fell into a canyon created by the voluminous pitcher on the mound. "CC digs a pretty big hole out there," Sveum laughed.

  Strap on your seat belts, this could be an interesting ride.