Why Is The Glass Half-Empty For So Many Brewers Fans?
Aug 17, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Wily Peralta (38) follows through on a pitch in the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Image by Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
We should be bouncing off the walls.
Instead, we're gnashing teeth.
The Brewers are atop the National League Central by three games as the new week begins, fresh off a sweep of the Los Angeles freakin' Dodgers. It's a lofty perch they've held since well-before you mailed in your income taxes. Think about that for a second, fans: a club given paltry-at-best chances of contending has been in first place for more than four months.
Milwaukee remains there despite running a gauntlet of opposing starters of with Cy Young creds ov late, including Zach Greinke Friday night and Clayton Kershaw Saturday evening. And, they beat 'em both, leaving the Brewers poised for a sweep of the team with one of the best marks in the bigs.
But from Opening Day on, when the team's early success was a pleasant surprise until these back-to-school-days of summer, there's been an undercurrent flowing among fans, one that oozes doom and gloom, one that reeks of pending dispair.
Jonathan Lucroy is an MVP candidate. Aramis Ramirez is strong and steady at third. Carlos Gomez is remains a beast. Ryan Braun fights gamely on even though he's left with only one functioning opposable thumb. Starting pitching? No worries--beyond a pleasant surprise, in fact. So what's not to love? Why are so many True Blue members of the Brew Crew so...blue?
They worry about Braun's functionality. They fret about first base where Lyle Overbay isn't the doubles machine we loved during his first tour of duty and where Mark Reynolds is prone to the whiff between prodigious homers. They don't care to see Rickey Weeks sharing time with Scooter Gennett at second. They worry about Jean Segura's slide at the plate, and Khris Davis' issues in left field. And, they live in mortal fear about the bullpen.
Solid points, indeed, but enough to take the shine off what's been a season for the ages so far?
A team is the sum of its parts and the bottom line for the Brewers so far is that it's a club good enough to lead a division where no one's caught fire. The Cards, Pirates and Reds haven't gone on any daunting win streaks, but then again, Milwaukee hasn't, either. The Brewers July swoon served to fortify the doubters, and the lack of a torrid streak keeps many wondering when the other shoe is going to drop.
St. Louis is always a threat, and the Redbirds are due to get some starting pitchers back in September, just in time for the kind of run many fear could undo the Brewers--there's something about that red parakeet that strikes fear in the heart of even the most fervid Milwaukee seam head--while Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are contending despite injuries to key position players. It would be nice to see some of these clubs falter, but that hasn't been the case.
The big worries for Brewers fans should be injury and the pop-gun offense: the team lacks depth among position players and losing a big bat could be a death knell. The attack? Milwaukee seems to score just enough to get by but too often goes into funks that leave its hitters estranged from home plate. It's those kind of slumps that can be enough to thwart a late-season push during a critical series, or bounce a team from the playoffs in an early round.
The trade deadline came and went with GM Doug Melvin making a deal for another outfielder, Gold Glover Gerardo Parra. It wasn't enough for some fans, but the asking price for other available talent seemed too high with more than a few clubs hot for Jimmy Nelson. Sometimes, the best trade is the one you DON'T make. That said, don't think Melvin is done looking for help, as deals can still get done (once those involved clear waivers). He's not the kind of guy to sit on his hands, especially when the club is this close to the playoffs.
Cheer up, Brewers Nation! This is the kind of season many dreamed of but few thought would happen. Not only is your team contending in a tough division, it's leading the pack in late August. This could be a fantastic late summer that could segue into an exciting autumn. And, even if the worst happens, how can anyone say they're disappointed by the kind of baseball we've been treated to in 2014 (factoring out a large hunk of July, of course)?
Celebrate. Revel. Party. Savor. The glass isn't half-empty, Brewers fans. A three-game lead is far from a mortal lock, but it's something we really didn't expect to have this late in the season when we gathered for those first frosty tailgates back in April. There's more good than bad going on with Milwaukee baseball, folks.
Stop waiting for the other shoe to drop--instead, how's about tightening up the laces and getting ready for a run to the MLB finish line?