Home / Sports / Proper Observance Is Only Fitting
Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Proper Observance Is Only Fitting

The Fairly Detached Observers

Google+ Pinterest Print

The Brewers passed the season’s 50-game milestone Sunday with a 5-2 victory that completed a sweep of Cincinnati. The Observers were on hand, and marking a milestone of their own.

Artie: Three hours and three minutes for that game. Nowhere near my ideal of 2:24, or the 2:36 I’d accept if it included a bench-clearing brawl.

Frank: And a cold 3:03 at that. Together we have 90 years of experience with County Stadium and Miller Park. You’d think we’d know that on a sunny spring day with a brisk wind, folks on the first-base side will freeze in the shade. Why do I always think shorts are a good idea?

Artie: Optimism is beautiful, even when it’s shivering.

Frank: At least we got Trevor Hoffman bobbleheads out of it.

Artie: Something else to dust. My light housekeeping just got heavier.

Frank: But we deserved some gifts. Our very first column ran on May 29, 2008. Whatever it is we’re doing, we’ve just passed our first anniversary of doing it.

Artie: You know, it’s amazing how things can change. A year ago, we were talking about whether Brett Favre would stay retired, whether the Brewers would have enough pitching to match their offense, whether the Bucks would draft well enough to rebuild from a losing season... Hmmm, maybe things don’t change much after all.

Frank: We just saw the Brewers pass the 50-game mark at 30-20, seven games better than last year. So far they’re getting whatever pitching they need.

Artie: I believe they lead the league in “quality starts”—at least six innings pitched, three or fewer earned runs. Under that standard, a 4.50 ERA is “quality.”

Frank: Through 50 games, seven Milwaukee pitchers had ERAs under 4.00, and except for Yovani Gallardo they were all relievers—Hoffman, Mark DiFelice, Todd Coffey, Seth McClung, Carlos Villaneuva and Mitch Stetter. If the bullpen stays that good, it’ll be OK if Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush and Braden Looper end up in their usual “not terrible, not great” territory.

Artie: Leading the division at the 50-game mark. And did you notice anyone else with a division lead?

Frank: My Yankees! Are we heading for 1957 and ‘58 again?

Artie: Bushville vs. the Big Apple in the World Series. Bring it on!

Time To Get Restrung

Artie: A year ago, we were probably talking about how David Stern was pulling strings to get that Celtics-Lakers championship series he wanted.

Frank: This year somebody cut the puppet strings attached to LeBron James. I was certain that both of those NBA conference finals would go to seven games.

Artie: And yet, they ended in six.

Frank: Maybe Stern promised Gary Bettman that the NHL could have this one Sunday night so NBC could show Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Artie: I figured that once the Lakers beat Denver in six games, LeBron and Co. would take Orlando to a Game 7 just so Kobe Bryant could get the added rest.

Frank: So “what the league wants” is Kobe at the summit again?

Artie: So he can get a ring on his own. He has three, of course, but they were all with Shaq.

Frank: You watched the Magic finish off Cleveland. Since it wasn’t close, I guess the officiating wasn’t an issue.

Artie: Orlando clearly is a better team, but if it had come down to five or six points in the fourth quarter, I’m sure Cleveland would have gotten all the calls. LeBron, I think, gets negative fouls, building up a credit.

Frank: Something like that “cap and trade” scheme the president wants for carbon emissions?

Artie: There seems to be an unwritten law that LeBron can’t be called for a charge in the fourth quarter. Time and time again, he’d put his head down like he was Emmitt Smith and barrel to the hoop. And never a charge call!

Frank: Despite the national sorrow over LeBron’s ouster...

Artie: No sorrow here.

Frank: At least we still have a nickname in the Finals. Instead of “The King” against Kobe, it’s “Superman,” aka Dwight Howard.

Artie: The NBA marketers are on it! I think it’s a better story line: The upstart Magic against Kobe the Almighty. I say Orlando will prevail in seven games, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s six.

Frank: I’d love to see the Magic win, but I think it’ll be the Lakers. And I would be surprised if it didn’t go seven.

Artie: Stern plays a new set of strings, ain’a?

Frank: You know who’s happy about the Cavaliers’ departure? Anyone connected to the Knicks. This must show LeBron that he can’t quite get to the mountaintop with this bunch, so when he can opt out of his contract in 2010, it’s on to New York.

Artie: As soon as Game 6 was over, LeBron was gone. No hugs for the Magic, and later no media appearance. I think there are bad vibes going there.

Frank: I did see other Cavaliers who stayed on the court to show some sportsmanship.

Artie: A year from now the Knicks will have enough room under the salary cap to bring in LeBron and a buddy, like maybe Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh.

Frank: Hey, I know another team that’ll be in real good shape under the cap next year. They play right here.

Artie: Even Sen. Kohl doesn’t have enough money for the King’s ransom.

On To Year 2!

Frank: So here we are after a whole year. Let’s count our accomplishments.

Artie: I’ll follow your lead. It’s all been a blur.

Frank: We predicted the Packers would go 8-8, and they should have. All those games where they faded in the closing minutes—hey, they should have won at least two of those. So we were dead accurate.

Artie: In the NCAA tournament, I predicted some team to win it all that didn’t, but they should have.

Frank: I was right in saying North Carolina would win it all. So what if I muffed most of the Sweet Sixteen games?

Artie: What did we have the Brewers doing last year?

Frank: We weren’t together before the season began, but I’m sure we would have projected them going to the playoffs.

Artie: And they did. So we’ll count that as a success.

Frank: We said the Bucks would not make the playoffs but would be a little better—not a tough call, since they were coming off 26 wins.

Artie: And they went all the way to 34, giving them the No. 10 draft pick instead of No. 7. If that’s improvement, again we take credit.

Frank: As we’ve noted before, countless times we’ve observed that a player or team is going bad and suddenly they turn it around.

Artie: What other explanation is there, except that we’ve gotten involved?

Frank: I can pledge that whatever we’ve done for the last year, we’ll continue. We’ll keep the perspective that big-time sports ain’t rocket science, it ain’t a national security issue as NFL coaches seem to believe…

Artie: We’re not talking about how to deal with North Korea.

Frank: And most of all, we’ll remind folks that the sports machine is an enterprise designed to take as much money as possible out of your pocket and put it in someone else’s. If you enjoy the games and want to spend your disposable income that way, do it with your eyes wide open.

Artie: Because that’s what we’re doing.

If you’re just joining us, 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.

Art Kumbalek believes that the North Korean problem is nothing that the establishment of a nice Pizza Hut on Main Street, Pyongyang couldn’t fix.