So much for making this a running series of posts, but life got in the way a lot during August and I just couldn’t find the time for this aspect of things. That being said, I first had this notion for the series back when Jonathan Lucroy walked off against Aroldis Chapman and the Reds back on August 16th at Miller Park.
Away we go.
As I mentioned here back on August 1st, the end of a season like this brings out many naysayers and exposes a multitude of casual fans who can’t wait until the Packers (or whichever NFL team is their favorite) begin to training camp and pre-season. But there are certainly things to continue to watch baseball for in August and September of a “lost” season (at least “lost” as far as the playoffs are concerned). On August 1st I spoke of September callups of which the Brewers tapped top prospect Jimmy Nelson. Nelson is getting his feet wet and experiencing what goes into being a Major League player from the travel schedule to the daily routine and more.
Today though I wanted to talk about what happened on August 16th and what happened again last night:
On August 16th the Brewers were down to their last turn at the plate when the unexpected happened. Jonathan Lucroy stepped to the plate with a man on, trailing by a run, against a pitcher to which point in his career he was 0-for-5 with five strikeouts against. Lucroy worked a seven-pitch at-bat, fouling off five consecutive fastballs averging 98 MPH. Then, on the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Chapman hung a slider. And, as the saying goes, you hang ’em, we bang ’em. Lucroy sent Chapman and the Reds walking off the field in defeat.
Miller Park erupted and the Brewers celebrated an unexpected victory, because if Lucroy doesn’t come through in that situation, there’s hardly a guarantee that Aramis Ramirez (career 0-for-3, 3 K, 1 BB) or Sean Halton (career 0-for-1, 1 K) would have. In fact, Lucroy has faced Chapman once since that day and again struck out.
These games exist and they are an absolute delight to attend and to be paying attention to. After all, cheering our collective heads off is what being a fan is all about.
That brings us specifically to the game almost exactly one month later on September 15th. The Brewers trailed 5-1 going into the 8th inning, having been stymied all day by the pitcher who they are historically terrible against. Look up some of the career numbers of Brewers hitters against Bronson Arroyo and you’ll be floored if you didn’t already realize how poor they are.
Anyway, the Brewers are looking set up for consecutive losses to the Reds, a team which Milwaukee just took a series from on the road. But then the magic of baseball took over and the Brewers pulled out an unexpected victory. Norichika Aoki entered the game as a pinch hitter and walked. Khris Davis pinch-hit for Scooter Gennett and was hit by a pitch. Jean Segura tripled to the right-centerfield gap, scoring both Aoki and Davis. Lucroy followed that up with a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right field, and the game was tied.
In the 9th, Jim Henderson struck out two of the first three batters he faced, walking Shin-Soo Choo in between. He stole second and Ron Roenicke elected to put Joey Votto on base, putting the force in play. Noted Brewers killer Jay Bruce stepped in and hammered a ball that was headed over the wall for a heart-crushing three-run home run. But then Carlos Gomez did what he had done four other times this season and lept at the wall to catch the ball and keep the runs off of the scoreboard.
That gave the offense a chance and a chance is all Sean Halton has ever wanted. Halton swung at a 1-0 change up and the Brewers were walk-off winners again!
That’s the beauty of baseball, fellow fans. I know the term “any given Sunday” exists for good reason in the National Football League, but there are 162 “Sundays” in a Major League Baseball season. Any one of them has a chance to end up in an unexpected victory, snatched from the jaws of defeat.
This season of Sundays has but 13 games left after tonight. That’s 14 more chances to witness something unexpected.
I’ll be watching.
The Milwaukee Brewers announced today that admission for Brewers On Deck, presented by Time Warner Cable, will be free of charge for all attendees in 2014. Set to take place on Sunday, January 26, 2014 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Wisconsin Center, Brewers On Deck is the winter fan festival that bridges the gap between the Wisconsin winter and Spring Training.
“As another way to say ‘thank you’ to our fans for their incredible support this year, we wanted to do something very special as we head into the 2014 campaign,” said Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger. “We are committed to delivering the best fan experience possible, both at Miller Park and in our off-site events, and we expect that free admission to Brewers On Deck will be very popular.”
Today’s announcement is part of a series of fan appreciation initiatives unveiled by the Brewers during the final two months of the season under an umbrella program known as “Fans First.” Last month, the team provided $10 vouchers for free concessions, merchandise and game tickets at Miller Park to all fans during the month of August.
The free admission is applicable to the 2014 Brewers On Deck event only. Typically, admission ranges from $9 to $20.
Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family. Autographs and photos from Brewers players and coaches, interactive games in the Kids Area, Q&A sessions and game shows with Brewers players, coaches and broadcasters, vendor booths with baseball memorabilia, the Brewers Community Foundation Treasure Hunt and many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.
Details on autograph sessions and tickets will be announced at a later date.
There have been some momentous happenings on July 9th in baseball history. Satchel Paige made his sorely delayed debut in Major League Baseball in 1948, as an example.
There was also a less-than-glorious moment for HONKBAL’s own Randall Simon as his Pittsburgh Pirates were preparing to bat one inning at Miller Park in 2003.
My buddy Chris Jaffe has a feature on the event that spawned a catchphrase and launched a t-shirt (updated with commemorative anniversary logo!)
Click here for Chris’s column: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/blog_article/10th-anniversary-randall-simon-versus-milwaukees-sausage-race/
You can buy the updated t-shirt pictured above from the gang at Brew City here.
Or get the original here.
Catching up on a couple of news items from yesterday in advance of tonight’s game in Pittsburgh.
Perhaps his musical counterpart of the same name would never do it, but the Brewers Corey Hart was forced to surrender the rest of the season. While furiously rehabbing his surgically-repaired right knee, Hart’s left knee began swelling and giving him problems during and after workouts. It finally became bad enough that he sought a second opinion from renowned surgeon Dr. Neal El Attrache.
Surgery was the recommended option and Hart will undergo such soon. It’s the same surgery that he needed on his right knee so the obviously Hart has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Hopefully everything goes cleanly for him after this.
The biggest question for Hart now is where his career goes from here. While he should be healthy before spring training next year the fact is that he’s a free agent after this one. And with multiple knee surgeries (both in terms of surgeries and knees), the 31-year-old veteran faces an uncertain future at a time when he should be preparing to cash in on a free agent contract.
The Brewers could extend a qualifying offer to him in an attempt to get draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere, but the risk there is that if he accepts and the knee injuries limit his effectiveness in 2014, then they’d be paying him somewhere north of $13.5 million to sit. That’s probably not a risk that they can take unless Hart can prove himself 100% healthy before the deadline to decide this off-season.
Gindl Optioned, Thornburg Returns
This feels like deja vu all over again.
The last time the Brewers started a long stretch of consecutive games, the team dealt with a number of short starts out of its rotation members at the beginning of the run. The bullpen was worked hard and an extra arm was brought up to help alleviate some of the strain. It’s happened again and Caleb Gindl was the victim of the numbers game this time. He hit okay while he was here, tallying both his first hit and first RBI in his first turn in the Major Leagues, but his defense in an unfamiliar left field was shaky. With Carlos Gomez back after his scary wall collision just a few days ago, Logan Schafer can shift back to starting every day in left with the usual starters of Gomez and Norichika Aoki in center and right. The back up outfielder on the roster though is one who has only played it extensively this season for the first time in Sean Halton. They’d never put him in center and would prefer to keep him out of right. In fact, Ron Roenicke specifically mentioned that with how big the Pittsburgh left field is, he’d question putting Halton in there defensively at all in this series. Hopefully it doesn’t come to a spot where Roenicke’s hand is forced in any direction.
Returning as that extra bullpen arm is Tyler Thornburg who has seen time up with the parent club already this year after making his MLB debut last season. Thornburg had been struggling in the Nashville rotation but pitched very well in relief with Milwaukee during his previous stay. The Brewers will be looking for Thornburg to provide them length after both Tom Gorzelanny and Burke Badenhop went multiple innings in relief of Johnny Hellweg’s short outing in his debut on Friday night.
As promised earlier on Twitter, here is a quick diversion on this night of no Brewers baseball.
Opening Day 2013 saw the following factual things occur.
- Rickie Weeks went 2-for-4 at the plate.
- Rickie Weeks scored two runs.
- Rickie Weeks stole a base.
- Rickie Weeks was hit by a pitch.
Weeks would end the day with a .500 batting average and a .600 OBP. The hangover would last a couple of days and on the third day of the season, Weeks got three more hits to finish at a high water mark of .545/.643/.909 on the early season.
But the fall from the heights was swift, complete, and drastic.
Including April 2nd and May 28th, Rickie Weeks slashed .171/.273/.268 (.541 OPS) while striking out 56 times in 164 AB. In that same window of time, Rickie Weeks was hit by exactly zero pitches.
Weeks lost his every day job, splitting some time with with Jeff Bianchi and others. It was brutal. Nothing seemed to make sense. Inexplicable was tossed around a lot.
Then, on May 29th, the following factual things occurred.
- Rickie Weeks was 1-for-3 at the plate.
- Rickie Weeks got hit by a pitch.
Now you can point to a still-blossoming seven-game hit streak that was four games in already but to be fair May 28th was a 1-for-6 performance that dropped even Weeks’ average fractions of a point.
Here now, presented with only one further comment, is Rickie Weeks’ statistical slash line from May 29th to the completion of the series in Cincinnati.
.371/.450/.886 (1.336 OPS)
The key is obviously the hit-by-pitch he suffered. Rickie Weeks is a man who thrives on consistency. As the active leader in hit-by-pitches, Rickie Weeks was obviously thrown off his game when pitchers weren’t hitting him. Now that he got plunked and had his wiring resent, he’s been better off for it.
So thank you, Samuel Deduno, for barely being able to control your pitches. While you hit Jean Segura on the hand, scaring the hell out of the Brewer Nation at the time, and you also unnecessarily plunked Norichika Aoki on the same night, your errant pill fired at the veteran second baseman obviously is saving his season.
With a tip of the hat to Craig Glaser (@sabometrics on Twitter), here is an image of what the Brewers’ edition of the 2013 All-Star Game figurine — believed to be currently residing outside of the Commissioner’s Office — looks like.
Fitting image given the game is being held at Citi Field this year.
You may recall that this isn’t the first time something like this has been done either. Miller Park displays both the Mickey Mouse statue and one of the Statue of Liberty which were produced for the games held in Anaheim (2010) and the Bronx (2008), respectively.
Hopefully this big apple makes its way to Milwaukee when it’s all said and done. I wonder where they’d put it?
That picture above? That’s of the replica figurines available for purchase on MLB.com. Here is what the actual apple looks like on the streets of New York. You can follow the photographer of these pictures on Twitter: @thatgirlmegan
Brewers & Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to Honor Lourdes Castillo and James Novak
The Milwaukee Brewers announced details for the Eighth Annual Cerveceros Day events at Miller Park, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 8 as the Brewers take on the Philadelphia Phillies at 6:15 pm.
Cerveceros Day is hosted in conjunction with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin (HCCW). On June 8, the Brewers will take the field in jerseys with the traditional “Brewers” script replaced by the Spanish language translation “Cerveceros.”
The event coincides with the HCCW’s 27th Annual “Fiesta Tailgate,” and the ballpark will take on a Latin flair all day with bilingual PA announcements and scoreboard features, mariachi bands and much more.
Additionally, the Brewers along with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin will honor Lourdes Castillo and James Novak as recipients of the 2013 HCCW Cerveceros Legacy Award. Castillo began working at Vieau School in 1967 and was named principal in 1993. She retired in 2008. Under her tenure, the school achieved a 95% attendance rate at the bilingual school on Milwaukee’s South Side. Castillo is still involved in education, helping teach and mentor the next generation of teachers at Cardinal Stritch University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and MATC.
Novak graduated from Vieau school in 1960 where he eventually returned to teach physical education. Novak attended South Division High School and later the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where he received a degree in Education. He helped many youths over his 38-year career with Milwaukee Public Schools and retired in 2008. Novak continues to work with youth as adjunct faculty at MATC.
Brewers Community Foundation will auction off the commemorative “Cerveceros” uniforms worn by the players and coaches. The online auction at Brewers.com begins on Tuesday, June 11 at Noon CT and concludes on Monday, June 17 at 5 p.m. CT. The money raised will go directly to Brewers Community Foundation and will be earmarked for the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin Scholarship Fund and the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee Scholarship Fund.