Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Brewers are going to give me high blood pressure.

By Nicole
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As someone who’s been a pretty hardcore fan for a few years now, the lead up to this season was filled with a lot of expectations. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not sure I’m at the “do or die” stage, but I do feel that this season we have all the pieces and should have no problem being a contender. In my head, this season is and should be the beginning of the Brewers having a strong presence in the NL. No team is perfect and too many people I think forget that we’re only a few years removed from the morass of compounded losing seasons and being excited to make a final push to finish at .500.

I can’t remember a time I was so wrapped up in the day-to-day trials and tribulations of a team. Baseball offers a completely unique fan experience – you’re not tied in for 3 hours every Saturday or Sunday for 3 months. You’re in for at least 162 games for a little more than 6 months. It’s so easy to forget that saying it’s a long season is an understatement. Individual wins and losses can’t be measured like you do in football. No one likes to lose, but every baseball team will do it at least 40-50 (and usually more like 80) times a year. As fans, we have to keep this in mind so that we don’t take each loss like a heartbreak.

I have had to keep telling myself this over and over the past few days. I’m so wrapped up in every game and every result that tough, final inning losses have really had the ability to change my mood. I’ve found myself on message boards analyzing every catch, substitution and pitch. I’m usually the person here in my office that rolls her eyes when the guy over in accounting talks like he can coach the Packers/Bucks/Brewers better. Yet here I am questioning every move that Ned Yost makes.

It’s in our nature to find someone to blame when things go wrong and though I’ve tried to stay objective, Ned Yost has won no points in my book this week. His post-game press conference demeanor couldn’t be more off-putting. Even if I didn’t already have questions about him, that right there would be enough to put him on my shit list. He acts like it’s above him to be there, like all the questions are ridiculous and that he shouldn’t have to answer them. I’m sorry Ned, but press conferences are part of the job. You don’t have to like them, but you’re not endearing yourself to a fan base that is already iffy on you. When you make a move in a game that turns out to be questionable, don’t act like it’s unfathomable that a reporter will ask you about the decision. You made the decision for a reason – we just want to know what it is.

I have great respect for Doug Melvin and he likes Ned, which gives Ned a lot of cred in my book. Just as I think it’s ridiculous when actors/actresses get up upset about being in the limelight, I think it’s ridiculous that Ned is so obnoxious during press conferences. His tendency towards “non-answers,” snide remarks and defensiveness has got to stop.

Ned, the club has built a team that has people interested in baseball in Milwaukee like they haven’t been in 25 years. Along with that will come heightened scrutiny. It’s not unreasonable that people will want to know why you used Eric Gagne, a pitcher with a noted injury past, for a 4th day in a row when we’re carrying a pitching staff of 14, when you wouldn’t use Shouse due to fatigue though he’d had more rest than Gagne. An answer of “He’s our closer” is not an answer at all.

(Memo to Trenni, FSN Milwaukee sideline reporter: A quick check over the history of Eric Gagne showed no stretch of games pitched longer than 5. Your apparent attempt to show Ned you’re on his side and win favor by claiming Gagne had pitched up to 8 or 9 games in a row before was false. I saw a quote after the game where Gagne said that he had pitched multiple games in a row and I don’t know if that was said before or after you gave us that info during the broadcast, but if your source was Gagne, you have to back that up with some research.)

For some reason that I haven’t actually been able to pinpoint yet, I desperately want Eric Gagne to do well. Obviously, he’s our closer and I need/want our closer to be successful as it will have a dramatic effect on the outcome of our season. But it’s not that simple. It’s Eric Gagne himself that I really want to succeed. It’s completely irrational. I had no feelings pro or con about Gagne before he became a Brewer. So why do I care about a guy we have for one season? It’s so strange.

It’s hard to stay objective and not let every game take you on an emotional roller coaster like last night’s 12 inning saga did. Of course the end was a high note, but I was emotionally drained by the time we got there.

This team drives me mad. I take the lows so hard and want answers as to why things aren’t working, but there aren’t always going to be pinpoint-able reasons.

Remember, we’re only 20 games in. Three weeks ago, you’d have never believed that Gabe Kapler and Seth McClung would be the bench player heroes. You wouldn’t believe Gabe Gross would score the game winning run in the 12th and be traded about an hour later. You wouldn’t believe that Prince would have just one home run and Gabe Kapler would have four. You wouldn’t believe that Bill Hall would have 6 HR and 16 RBI while hitting .185.

This is a reminder to all the fans out there, but it’s also a memo to me. Relax. It’s a long season. We’re only a half game behind the extremely surprising Cardinals. The Cubs – well, they’re the Cubs. Their hot start won’t continue either. This is the National League Central.

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