by Nathan Petrashek
I am not a fan of golf. I wouldn’t mind playing it, but it’s not an activity I’ve taken up yet. And, as far as television sports go, it is easily the most uninteresting. Yet I’m sure I’ve seen Tiger Woods play a hundred times or more. He’s the Greatest Golfer Ever. His last major win before the Arnold Palmer Invitational this year was in 2008, but he still draws people to the game and Forbes still ranks him as the #1 athlete. His personal problems are well-documented, but it takes a lot for people to turn on success.
This applies on a smaller scale to Rickie Weeks, who for the first time since 2008 heard the crowd heavily boo his at-bats. I’ll forgive my Milwaukee brothers and sisters for that. Frustration needs to find expression, and the start of 2012 has been almost as frustrating for fans of the now 5th-place Brewers as it has been for Rickie Weeks.
And it has taken a lot for the crowd to turn on him. If Milwaukee fans were not the patient type, they would have booed him at the end of April when he was batting just .186 and slugging a paltry .360. It’s only been downhill from there. A .154/.288/.287 slash line isn’t likely to endear you to the masses. Or your manager, who dropped Weeks from lead-off to sixth in the order. This is easily Weeks’ worst start since … well, ever. His 53 strikeouts lead the national league. He’s been a liability in the field, too, with 3 errors on the young season and a -24.8(!) UZR/150.
Yesterday the anti-Weeks campaign reached critical mass. That will happen after a day with zero hits in five at-bats and four more strikeouts. Even though fans must know that his slump isn’t for lack of effort – did anyone see his face after his last strikeout? – sometimes we just have to vent. Weeks is a convenient candidate for fan ire in a lineup that has, as a whole, consistently underperformed.
I don’t pretend to know what is wrong with Rickie offensively. Statistical evidence suggests he’s been unlucky this year (.209 BABIP vs. career .287), but anyone who has seen him at the plate knows it’s much more than that. Weeks has always been aggressive, but lately his bat appears stagnant or sluggish. All I have is hope that Weeks can bust out of this slump in grand fashion at some point and generate some much-needed offense for this club. If not … let’s just say Tiger Woods has a considerably longer leash with the public. I still hear hushed talk of Weeks’ 2007 and 2008 campaigns; it’s as though we aren’t fully convinced that the last three years have been the real Rickie Weeks. 2012 is adding considerable fuel to that fire.