In Sports Commentary

Things haven't exactly gone smoothly for the Brewers this season.

Getting to the heart of the Brewers problems

I'm gonna need someone to explain baseball to me pretty soon. At least Milwaukee Brewers baseball.

Here's the situation.

The team absolutely sucks. Hitting, pitching, fielding, running, spitting in the dugout, swinging weighted bats in the on deck circle, grabbing your crotch, turning around your rally cap, giving high fives after the game is over.

Pretty much however you want to measure it this team sucks.

We love them with all our heart, and because of that, we should take notice when a couple of things happen that are supposed to be helpful.

The owner, who lives 2,000 miles away, shows up at a road city to announce that nobody is getting fired on Monday. That Monday he was talking about was yesterday.

Also, the two best players on the team show up one day at the door to the manager's office. You can imagine the flips in Ken Macha's stomach when Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder knocked on his door. What could this be about?

Have these guys fallen in love with each other and they want a team meeting to announce it? Is Prince vowing to have a burger at Braun's restaurant every time he hits a home run? What's up?

What Braun and Fielder want is to switch places in the batting order. That's right. Fielder moves to third and Braun moves to cleanup. The idea of the switch got a lot of attention and was the lead item in a coverage story of the Brewers. The concept was that it could shake things up and maybe get the Brewers back on the track.

Braun and Fielder switched, went a combined one for seven, and then switched back.

Now, I've spent a lot of my life watching and writing about sports. I've seen slumps come and go. I've read lots of things about slumps, both individual slumps and team slumps.

My brother is the founder of the Sports Psychiatry Section of the American Medical Association. I've talked at length with him about performance and about slumps. Nothing in any of his research or treatment protocols suggests that changing your number three and number four hitters is a solution for a slump like this one.

This slump is not a little bitty booboo on your arm. This is a savage slash that is hemorrhaging blood all over the damn floor and nobody has a bandage or a mop anywhere in site. We are way past triage on this one.

Listening to the magpies on the sports talk radio shows and it seems clear that the solution is an easy one. First fire Macha. Then fire Doug Melvin. Then concoct a brew of secret stadium sauce, ground stone from the old County Stadium site, water from Jones Island and the thread used to stitch up Bob Uecker and make the players drink it before every game.

Fortunately cooler heads have prevailed. At least through Monday.

One thing nobody seems willing to talk about is that maybe the Brewers just aren't very good. They've got a couple of guys who can hit the ball and maybe one pitcher you can really count on. But to create a baseball team from those meager elements is a big stretch.

It is possible that the team just isn't very good. Maybe some of them have gotten old and are way past their due date. Maybe some of them just don't have major league stuff. Maybe that new pitching coach with all his fancy ideas and spreadsheets is not Annie Sullivan. (Annie was the woman who taught Helen Keller and the woman upon whom the play "The Miracle Worker" is based.)

If I had a dime for every time I've heard someone say "we're a much better team on paper" I'd hire Simon Cowell to make me a major music star.

But, as we all know, these games aren't played on paper. That theory could very easily be the Big Lie.

It's possible, of course, that the Brewers really are better than they appear to be and that something will soon happen to change their fortunes around.

But it's also possible that they just suck.


Talkbacks

jk1522 | May 29, 2010 at 10:35 a.m. (report)

I will never get why fans want Dale as our manager?! Yes, he was the manager when we made the playoffs, but with CC, he only went 7-5 in the 12 regular season games he managed. Plus, he sucked as a player himself!! Please tell me, who has gotten better under his direction as hitting coach? It surely hasnt been the likes of Bill Hall, JJ Hardy, Weeks, Corey Hart, etc. Oh wait, he had Prince be more patient at the plate...wow...what a great idea...they should have called me, as I would have come a lot cheaper and told him the same thing!

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stollsez | May 28, 2010 at 10:19 a.m. (report)

Hey sandstorm, I don't suggest doing nothing. Make roster moves, trade people, BENCH people, pull the lineup out of a hat. There are a lot of things to be done. Changing managers is a lame answer, unless the guy has totally lost the team. I see no evidence that this is the case with Macha. Also, a season is not written in just two months. If this team goes on to finish below .500 again, then all options are on the table.

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sandstorm | May 28, 2010 at 6:34 a.m. (report)

stollsez, so you think this playoff run might come from doing NOTHING? ask the Rockies if they fired their manager just for show, or if it was the catalyst for their playoff run (19-28 when their manager was fired. sound familiar?). if it's possible, i think a lot of people are caught up in the "knee-jerk" reaction to keep the manager as backlash to the other side's supposed knee-jerk reaction to replace the manager. i think Macha has shown over the course of last year and this year that he's not the guy to energize or motivate this team. if you want to see this season slip away and then think later "gee, maybe they shoulda fired that guy back in May" that's fine. personally, i'd like to see Attanasio do anything and everything to get this team on track. do you think Randolph or Svuem could manage this team to a worse record? i don't think so. could they do better? hell. let's find out. now. before it's too late.

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Karabotsos | May 28, 2010 at 12:14 a.m. (report)

You know what sucks? This article. How about saying something about the fact that we had 2 guys sitting in triple A throwing strikes at 95-97 mph, we had a bunch of soft-tossers in our bullpen, we signed Hawkins for $3mil when everyone in the league knows that he sucks, and the myth was being perpetuated that we had no pitching in the minor leagues. The press sucks for only suggesting that we fire people, or that we suck, and not knowing anything more or reporting anything more to the general public than what is right in front of their noses.

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stollsez | May 26, 2010 at 11:02 a.m. (report)

All signs point to suckville right now, but the length of the season and the weakness of the division could still allow the Brewers to make a run for the playoffs. I found it refreshing, though, that Mark Attanasio resisted the hair trigger front office response. I'm so tired of teams firing managers early or in mid-season, just to show that they're DOING something. Brewers FANS seem to think it's a magic button. You hear it all the time -- 1982, Harvey Kuenn, blah blah blah. Well midseason switches don't typically work that well. In 2002, the Brewers fired Davey Lopes 15 games into the season. Was that the answer? The team went on to lose 106 games. If the losing trend continues through the season, we'll all have to recognize that mistakes were made in building this team and changes will come. For now though, I'm glad they're giving this group a chance to RE-group.

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