Results tagged ‘ Ryan Braun ’
by Kevin Kimmes
In recent years, Cubs fans have taken to calling Miller Park “Wrigley Field North”. Apparently with this brazen lack of disrespect for our park, also comes a brazen disrespect for our players.
The following photo arrived in my inbox this morning from a friend’s wife who was at yesterday’s game. From what I’ve been told, the man being led away by police and security decided to use his seat in left field to yell obscenities and make herpes accusations against Ryan Braun. For all of his efforts, he was shown the quickest way out of Miller Park and his crappy Cubs went on to lose in extra innings further cementing their spot as the cellar dwellers of the NL Central. See, good things happen to good people after-all!
Happy Friday everybody. Go Crew!
I guess the Governor’s race isn’t the only thing the state is deeply divided on. You’ll find many defenders of the sacrifice bunt. I used to be on of them.
Back then, it seemed to me that any opportunity you had to advance runners was unequivocally good. Isn’t that the point of the game? Except now, I’ve realized that is not the point. The point is to score runs. Scoring runs = good. Not scoring runs = bad.
Where a bunt falls between these two poles is defined by the circumstances. We can pull plenty of examples from Wednesday night’s buntfest:
- Gallardo sacrifice bunt in the 3rd with no outs to advance Maldonado to 2nd.
I understand that, as a category of offensive talent, pitchers don’t have much to offer. Still, Gallardo has a silver slugger to his name and some decent pop, so this isn’t a totally obvious move. Nontheless, the end result is a runner in scoring position with just one out, and you’ve eliminated the double play possibility. With two of the team’s best hitters coming behind Gallardo (Corey Hart and Nori Aoki), I am okay with this choice.
2. Aoki sacrifice bunt in the 5th with no outs to advance Hart to 2nd.
These are the bunts that I just completely fail to understand. Aoki is slashing .319/.380/.473. He was a batting champion in Japan, and we didn’t bring him over here to act like he doesn’t know how to swing a bat. But the more alarming issue is what ordering Aoki to sacrifice does to the guy behind him. Ron Roenicke basically wrapped up the inning in a nice, neat bow for Don Mattingly. Not only did Roenicke give away a free out, but he virtually guaranteed that the team’s best hitter would not have the opportunity to swing the bat.
Ryan Topp valiantly attempts to define this move as a strategic Roenicke effort to put another runner on base in front of Aramis Ramirez. I suppose that logic works, if you think having your best hitter intentionally walked in front of a guy hitting .239 is really worth the price of an out. But even if that was the idea, Aoki still has a .380 on base percent. There’s a pretty decent chance the guy is going to find his way on somehow, so why not let him swing the bat and keep your out? To be clear, I don’t think Topp is defending Roenicke here; but his attempt to root out Roenicke’s strategy comes up short, I think.
3. Gomez attempts a bunt single in the 6th with runners on 1st and 2nd and no outs.
Let’s start from this premise: Gomez is not a good hitter. I think it’s wonderful that Gomez is batting .324/.342/.459 off of left-handed pitching this year, but for his career that line is .247/.291/.396. What Gomez does have, though, is blazing speed. And I have absolutely no problem with using that to our advantage by having him take a shot at reaching first via the bunt. As Ryan points out, Gomez has successfully bunted for a hit in about 38% of his attempts.
Now, Ryan is also correct that Gomez is visibly not 100% – but he’s still playing. If he’s really that hobbled, put him back on the DL. Otherwise, let the dude do what he does. It didn’t exactly work out as intended – Weeks advanced to third, while Ransom advancing to second was forced out – but these things happen. As Ryan points out, there was always the possibility of a misplay.
4. Maldonado sacrifice bunt in the 6th with runners at the corners and 1 out.
This goes back to my original point: scoring runs = good. A squeeze play is very hard to defend and the Brewers have successfully done it five times this year. With Gallardo coming up behind the untested Maldonado (versus the reigning Cy Young winner, no less), I have no problem with this bunt play either. After you’ve made the choice to bunt with Gomez – which I think was a reasonable one – and have the results, this is a pretty easy call.
5. Aoki sacrifice bunt in the 8th with runners on 1st and 2nd and no outs.
Ugh. See no. 2.
The bottom line is that both Paul and Ryan are right. Roenicke does bunt too much, and some of the bunt calls in this game were flat out terrible. But, since I do like bunting more than Paul, I also see a larger role for the tactic than he does, particularly in the post-steroid era. This is where I’m inclined to agree with Ryan: if you want to highlight how Roenicke’s bunt-happy philosophy has harmed the team, Wednesday’s 6th inning is a pretty weak place to hang your hat.
By: Ryan Smith
The Brewers had just experienced a four-game losing streak at the hands of the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins. To make matters worse, the Crew only managed to score 10 runs over the course of those four games. Some fans – myself included – couldn’t help but start to wonder if it was too early to be genuinely concerned about this season. At that given moment, the Brewers were pathetic.
Then last Sunday’s outburst happened. The Brewer bats woke up to the tune of 16 runs. Sure, a good portion of those runs came against the very mortal Jason Marquis, whose less-than-stellar performance that day forced him into unemployment. Still, it was nice to see the team wake up at the plate.
For Brewers fans, Sunday’s game was a damn good time.
Helping to lead the charge on Sunday was The Jonathon Lucroy. (I’ve decided to refer to him as “The Jonathon Lucroy” because of the way he’s dominating at and behind the plate this season.) Already having a breakout season, The Jonathon Lucroy continued his success at the plate with a monster performance, crushing two home runs and knocking in seven runs along the way. I couldn’t help but think that Sunday might have been just what the doctor ordered: a game to build some confidence for our struggling lineup.
On Monday, my excitement would be put on hold.
Randy Wolf was pitching.
Now let me point out that I am a fan of Randy Wolf. I was never a big fan of Randy Wolf as the second guy in our rotation, but as our fourth? Sign me up.
My problem with Randy Wolf is George Kottaras.
Let me point something else out: I like George Kottaras. As a kid, I grew up cheering for Milwaukee and Boston, and I’ve continued to do so for quite some time, so I liked Kottaras well before most Brewers fans started using his name as a verb early this season.
My problem with George Kottaras is Randy Wolf.
I can buy into the idea of a pitcher having a “personal catcher” for a few reasons. Tim Wakefield always had a specific catcher in Boston, and if you remember Jason Varitek trying to catch the knuckleballer in the ’04 playoffs, you completely understand why he has his own catcher. I would understand if someone like Daisuke Matsuzaka had a personal catcher because he came to the big leagues with a rumored seven pitches. I would even understand if someone like Justin Verlander or Roy Halladay requested a personal catcher because, well, I’d give those guys whatever the hell they wanted.
But Randy Wolf? As Tom Haudricourt tweeted during Monday’s game, Randy Wolf has exactly eight 1-2-3 innings this season. He’s pitched 46.1 innings thus far. That performance warrants a personal catcher?
Sorry. I don’t buy it.
I’ve heard other arguments for this whole “personal catcher” situation that Wolf and Kottaras have going. I get the idea that giving The Jonathon Lucroy an off-day every fifth game will help save his legs and keep him fresh into September.
But does the situation have to be so rigid? Does it have to be every fifth game? What about every seventh game? Wouldn’t that still give him more off days than other top-tier catchers have throughout a given season?
Or if they insisted on giving him that fifth game off, couldn’t they juggle it around from starter to starter, based on the each game’s pitching matchup?
Monday’s game against San Francisco was the perfect example of my last point. The Giants were sending southpaw Madison Bumgarner to the mound. The Jonathon Lucroy is, quite simply, hitting the crap out of the ball against lefties, sporting a line of .419/.455/.742 in 2012.
The left-handed George Kottaras, in limited at-bats, has a line of .167/.500/.167 against lefties this season. So basically, he knows how to draw a walk against left-handed pitching but isn’t as gifted when it comes to actually swinging the bat in those same situations.
So I have to ask Ron Roenicke one thing: why?
Why take out a guy who is hitting the ball with reckless abandon regardless of where you put him in the batting order? Why give him an off-day against a left-handed pitcher when he might be our most dangerous bat against lefties outside of Ryan Braun? Why not wait and give Kottaras his turn in the lineup against Matt Cain on Tuesday?
Because it was Randy Wolf’s start. And George Kottaras is Randy Wolf’s personal catcher.
Before the game, when asked about possibly changing this philosophy, Roenicke said, “I like them both out there. I think there should be some times when I’d rather put ‘Luc’ in there catching Randy. Tonight would be one of them. But we need to talk to them more about that if we decide we’re going to go that way.”
Once again, sorry. I don’t buy it.
Mr. Roenicke, I’m a fan of yours. I like the style of game you preach to the players. I like your aggressiveness on the bases. I love seeing a suicide squeeze once a week.
But I also know that you’re the manager and they are your players. It is your job to try and put out the lineup that gives us the best chance to win the game on any given night. “We” don’t need to talk about anything if “we” are going to make a decision.
You need to make that decision. The next time Randy Wolf is matched up against another lefty, you need to put out the best lineup possible.
You need to make sure you have The Jonathon Lucroy out there. Because right now, The Jonathon Lucroy trumps any “personal catcher” system that you have in place.
By: Ryan Smith
It appears that I haven’t written a post in quite some time. While I may be lacking in the extra time that it takes to write consistent, quality posts, I certainly have not been lacking ideas for new columns.
After an opening weekend that saw Gallardo look like a batting practice pitcher one day, followed by Greinke absolutely shutting down that same St. Louis team the next day, I decided that I wanted to write an article reminding everyone that I said Greinke would be the team’s “ace” for this season. Then Greinke had his start in Chicago with a chance for the sweep, and he proceeded to stink up the joint (which is not an easy thing to do considering Wrigley already reeks). Too late for that column.
Two weeks into the season, I decided that I wanted to write an article about early season overreactions, pointing out some statements and thoughts that had been running through Brewer Nation. I was going to write about how everyone needs to calm down and not promote George Kottaras ahead of Jonathon Lucroy based on a few long balls. I was going to write about how we need to wait a bit for Aramis Ramirez to get his feet under him before all of Milwaukee called that signing a mistake.
But then, two weeks into the season became three weeks into the season which then became a month into the season. Too late for that column.
After today’s extra-innings loss to the Twins, the Brewers find themselves at 16-24. A 16-24 record means they’ve now played 40 games, which is roughly a quarter of the way through the season. As I looked at the standings and pondered what I could write about, I realized something:
Much like my column ideas, it’s starting to appear like it may be too late for this Milwaukee Brewers team.
Don’t get me wrong – there are still 122 games left in the season, so they have plenty of time to turn things around. But as I watch them play (which has been downright painful this past week), I have growing concerns about certain areas of this team.
And the fact that there are 122 games left doesn’t make me say that we have time to fix those concerns. In actuality, it makes me fear that those concerns could only grow to more frightening levels as we make our way through summer.
So let’s take a look at some of my concerns at this early but not-so-early juncture of the 2012 season, shall we?
First, allow me to give you a hypothetical situation:
You are Ron Roenicke and the Brewers are up 3-2 going into the 8th inning. The starter has thrown 107 pitches, so he’s done for the night. For some reason or another, Axford and Loe are not available for this particular game. You need to select two guys to send to the mound to get the next six outs, and your options are Rodriguez, Veras, Dillard, Parra, and Chulk. Who do you choose?
If you’re like me, you just got that disgusting vomit taste in your mouth. With a few exceptions, Axford has been typical Axford, giving the fans close calls but usually coming through in the end. Loe looks like a different guy than the one who was only appearing in low-leverage situations late last year. But everyone else? Let’s just say that if Roenicke goes through the entire season without having a late-inning heart attack, I’ll consider that a victory.
Luckily, bullpen improvements happen every year for contenders, either with organizational call-ups – Tyler Thornburg would fill this role nicely – or through trade deadline moves, like when we acquired K-Rod last season. The only problem is if we keep losing like we have been, we won’t be contenders when July rolls around.
Another issue I have with this team is at the plate. More specifically, it pains me that a good portion of our hitters have the plate approach of a Little League team. Braun has been Braun, leading the team in most statistical categories and providing a consistent, dangerous bat, and he hasn’t been alone. I mean, who could have seen the type of season Lucroy is producing thus far? Oh, that’s right – I said he could do this, as did Cream City Cables founder Nate Petrashek. But beyond Braun and Lucroy and the occasional power surge from Hart, the early portion of this season has not seen a lot of consistency at the plate for this team. Ramirez has started to look better in recent weeks, though that’s not saying much considering how terrible he was in April. Perhaps my biggest concern with our hitters is Rickie Weeks. It’s one thing to start slowly, but he’s not really showing any signs of improvement. Needless to say, my confidence in Mr. Weeks is being challenged.
Finally, I can’t help but worry about all of the injuries that have hit Milwaukee in the first six weeks of the season. Last year, the Brewers only had to use six starters throughout the course of the entire season. Now, we’ve lost Narveson for the season, putting more pressure on the rest of our very talented rotation. We lost new infield regulars Gamel and Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s defense was as advertised, so that isn’t something the team can just replace overnight. And Gamel’s injury was heartbreaking. The guy finally gets his everyday shot and, quite frankly, does well in that spot. So of course he goes out for the season. Travis Ishikawa has been a pleasant surprise, but it would have been a nice luxury to be able to bring him off the bench on most nights as a pinch-hitter or a defensive replacement. In 2011, the Brewers had limited injuries that impacted the everyday roster. This year, it seems like that run of good luck may have come to an end.
As I said earlier, I’m not giving up on this season. It’s still too early to just start looking to next year (unless you’re a Cubs fan). But if they don’t start turning things around soon, it might be too late for the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers.
For those of you who didn’t stay up to catch last night’s game against the San Diego Padres, prepare to start kicking yourselves, as what you are about to read is the kind of thing no self respecting Brewers fan should have missed:
With this performance, Braun now leads the team in 4 offensive categories:
- Batting Average (.294)
- Runs (16, tied with Hart)
- Homeruns (7)
- RBI (17)
Additionally, the performance carried some additional records with it:
- Braun is the first player, home or visitor, to have a 3 homerun game at Petco Park.
- This was Braun’s first 3 homerun game of his career.
- Braun is the firstplayer with 3 homeruns and a triple since Boston Red Sox outfielder Fred Lynn accomplished the feat on June 18, 1975.
- The last major leaguer to have 15 total bases in a game was Dustin Pedroia on June 24, 2010.
- Braun has set anew Brewers franchise record with 15 total bases in a single game. The previous high was 14 by Richie Sexson in 2003.
We at Cream City Cables would like to extend our congratulations to Ryan on this monumental performance, and a great end to the 1st month of the season. And don’t forget you can follow Cream City Cables on Facebook as well as on Twitter (@kevinkimmes, @NPetrashek, and@ryanhenrysmith2) for all the latest Brewers (and Timber Rattler) news and opinions.
By: Ryan Smith
2012 would mark the second-consecutive season that I made it to the Milwaukee Brewers home opener. Now that I’m writing for Cream City Cables, I thought this would be a good opportunity for an article. After tossing around a few ideas, I decided that I wanted to tackle the day in the form of a running diary. I chose to take this approach for two reasons:
Reason #1: I’ve enjoyed the writing of Bill Simmons for over a decade now. I find his mix of sports content, opinion, pop culture and humor to be consistently entertaining to the point that I still look forward to his weekly articles on Grantland.com. Being a Bill Simmons fan, some of my favorite articles that he has written have taken on the running diary format.
Reason #2: I don’t remember the 2011 home opener. The game started at 1 pm. We were drinking outside of Miller Park by 8:30 am. We had jello shots with the tailgaters around us. Shots of whiskey and blackberry brandy were passed around generously. My cousin Zach brought beer margaritas – a concoction that is equal parts frozen limeade concentrate, citrus soda, beer, and tequila – and I feel that he was very liberal with his use of tequila. In our circle of friends, we call these “Flux Capacitors” because they tend to allow the consumer to travel through time, which is a nicer way of saying they make you black out. So yeah, I figured that a running diary would force me to stay coherent throughout this season’s home opener.
With all that being said, I woke up early on Friday, April 6th, grabbed a six-pack of Spotted Cow and a black coffee, and headed out to the apartment of Cream City Cables creator Nate Petrashek. It was finally time for some Brewers baseball. Let’s jump right into the action.
9:54 AM – I’m at the apartment of Mr. Petrashek. Nate’s girlfriend Sarah is ready, and Jason Stuewe has also arrived. My cousin Zach and his fiancé Michelle just parked outside. I’m checking to see where a few of our friends are. Our college friends Matt, Hof, and Pete are supposed to meet us at 10 AM so we can get to Miller Park by 10:30. Hof and Pete are historically known for being late. Nate says he spoke to them earlier and they were on pace to arrive ten minutes early, so I ask what time it is. Stuewe promptly replies “Six minutes early.” So much for that.
9:58 AM – Matt arrives with Hof and Pete. This might be the first time those two have ever been early. For anything. Time to load up the cars and head off to Miller Park.
10:27 AM – We stop at a Walgreens to meet up with some of Nate’s other friends. Everyone in our tailgating group packs into three cars. Now it’s REALLY time to get to Miller Park.
10:58 AM – We’ve officially arrived. The parking lot seems more cramped than last year, or what I remember of last year anyway. We quickly realize that the row of cars in front of us decided to set up their tailgate stations as far away from their cars as possible, putting them right at our bumpers. Luckily, they are willing to adjust their tailgating placement so we can all come together and spend the next four hours preparing for the home opener.
10:59 AM – Shots! Before the cars are even unpacked, Stuewe is passing around shots of Jack Daniels. Nate raises his solo cup and yells “Fuck the Redbirds!” I’ll drink to that.
11:09 AM – Apparently, there has been some more tailgate shifting going on, so we have extra room on the other end of our cars. We pack everything up and shift to the east. In the process, Nate drops the grill. Boo, Nate. Boo.
11:15 AM – Stuewe now passes out cigars in honor of opening day. I don’t smoke very often, but I feel this is an occasion worthy of lighting up. So let’s see, I have a beer in hand, I’ve taken a few shots, and now I’m smoking a cigar. 24-year-old me is loving this right now. Cue obscure reference to Will Smith and a “victory dance.”
11:23 AM – I just have to say that this weather is absolutely gorgeous. Perfect opening day weather. Earlier in the week, it looked like we’d be dealing with a windy, 40-degree day. Instead, I see people putting on sunscreen. Where’s my bottle opener?
11:30 AM – Nate starts ranting, saying “You gotta win today! Set the tone!” He’s talking to no one in particular. This is actually pretty routine with him.
11:36 AM – Someone mentions the holiday weekend, to which Stuewe replies “Yeah, I keep hearing about that. What’s the holiday?” Umm, it’s Easter. Kind of a big one. Today isn’t called Good Friday just because of the home opener, buddy.
11:43 AM – So far, I’m on my second beer and I’ve only had four shots. Right now, I think my chances of remember Opening Day ’12 are looking pretty good.
11:58 AM – Can someone make an air freshener that smells like brats on the grill? I don’t care about lavender, vanilla, or apple cinnamon, but I’d be perfectly fine if my apartment always had the scent of brats on the grill.
12:10 PM – Crisis averted. My bottle opener – the one I’ve had on my keychain since college – just broke. Luckily, it was a minor issue and I easily fixed it. Still, a close call.
12:18 PM – Just saw a guy walk by with a personalized jersey. Everyone is our group agrees that personalized jerseys suck. I love when we’re all on the same page.
12:28 PM – You know how you always hear about how Wisconsin has an obesity problem? If you ever doubt it, just come to opening day. Or any Brewer game. I’m looking around and I see fruit and pasta salads on tables all around us, completely untouched. It’s the thought that counts.
12:37 PM – Matt brought steak sandwiches for the grill this year. Bravo, Matt. Great choice.
12:50 PM – Another jersey rant: we all agree that it’s lazy to simply put tape over the name on your old jersey. Fielder is gone. Either accept it and wear his jersey with pride or buy a new one. And by the way, Ramirez isn’t #28.
12:51 PM – Nate is now heckling the guy who has “Ramirez” written on tape over Fielder’s name. The guy is absolutely clueless.
1:00 PM – Finally breaking the seal.
1:03 PM – There’s a fucking line at the men’s room, yet no wait at all for the women. Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense. A guy in line ahead of me says that it’s because “90 percent of the people here are dudes.” That seems a little high. Then again, so does he.
1:10 PM – First trip inside the men’s room of the 2012 season. I think all men assume that the women’s room is the complete opposite of the hell we visit. I figure that they have couches to sit on while they wait and the room smells of daisies and sunshine. Meanwhile, I’m waiting in line, surrounding by the scent of bad decisions.
1:21 PM – Nate returns from the restroom, and apparently I missed a fight. We all agree that it is not proper etiquette to enter the restroom through the exit door. Someone breaking this unwritten rule was then accused of being a Cubs fan for doing so. They proceeded to get into a shoving match while standing by the urinals. Nate left, saying “Nothing good could come from that situation.” Agreed.
1:32 PM – Hof goes to crack open another Bud Light until we question his loyalty to the Brewers. After all, can you really drink a Budweiser product when you are at Miller Park and the Brewers are about to play the Cardinals? Hof succumbs to peer pressure and trades the Bug Light for a Miller Lite.
1:36 PM – The blackberry brandy is making the rounds again. Hof initially refuses, but another dose of peer pressure gets him to take a swig. Peer pressure is Hof’s fatal flaw.
1:43 PM – The third game of “bag tag” just took place. For those that are unaware, “bag tag” is when one guy decides to backhand another guy in the genital region. This usually results in one participant sitting down for a few minutes. All the males in our group are on complete lockdown now.
1:44 PM – Right now, I’ve had five beers and 11 shots. Once again, 24-year-old me would be perfectly fine right now. I’m thinking that I should slow down. It’s hard not to get drunk when you tailgate for over four hours.
1:54 PM – Nate is getting defensive. For no reason. I like when he gets like this. It’s really easy to get him to rant about pretty much anything.
2:12 PM – Team effort to create a human wall so Nate could avoid a trip to the dreaded men’s room. I love when we all come together to work towards a common goal. Mental note not to walk on the passenger side of Stuewe’s car.
2:31 PM – Time to head in to Miller Park. My official Opening Day 2012 Tailgate line looks like this: 1 brat, 1 burger, 1 hot dog, 1 steak sandwich, 8 beers, 15 shots.
2:48 PM – Today’s free giveaway: 2012 Brewers Magnet Schedule. I like giveaways that I won’t immediately throw in the garbage.
3:03 PM – Does anyone else really enjoy watching drunk people trying to act sober? I just watched a guy swipe at the railing four times before he just sat down on the steps.
3:08 PM – I love the first time that the team takes the field. Not just on opening day either. Every game.
3:10 PM – Gallardo takes the mound for his third opening day start in a row. I still think Greinke should have gotten the ball today, and that in no way is an insult to Gallardo.
3:20 PM – Gallardo gets through the 1st inning, allowing two walks and throwing 20 pitches. Not a great start, but he put a zero on the board.
3:24 PM – Weeks leads off the season with a base hit, followed by a Gomez triple! 1-0!
3:26 PM – Braun comes up for his first at-bat of the season. The ovation is ridiculous. I’m joining in on the “MVP!” chant.
3:27 PM – Braun lines out sharply to short.
3:32 PM – Yadier Molina leads off the top of the 2nd with a solo homerun. I hate Molina. Hate him.
3:37 PM – It’s still the top of the 2nd and Hof is falling asleep. More on this in a moment.
3:38 PM – Did you know that the last concert Randy Wolf attended was to see the band Tool? I love in-between inning trivia.
3:39 PM – Hof heads out to get ice cream. I suggest a soda or coffee. Anything with caffeine, really. It’s a long game, Hof.
3:41 PM – Gamel’s first at-bat of the year and he flies out to center. I can already hear the doubters warming up.
3:46 PM – A woman loses the between-inning game, and the crowd proceeds to boo her. Stay classy.
3:48 PM – Gallardo serves up his second homerun. Tie ballgame.
3:49 PM – Homerun #3…
3:51 PM - …and #4. It’s now 5-2. Hof yells “You suck, Gallardo!” Hof tends to do this at times. He quickly overreacts, only to retract his statement 20 minutes later. I’m surprised he’s not saying we should trade Yo at this point.
3:58 PM – Lucroy visits the mound for the third time this inning. That’s never a good sign.
4:00 PM – I also love when everyone complains about balls and strikes from the stands. We’re sitting on the third base side in the upper deck of Miller Park. I’m going to assume the umpire at home has a better angle than I do right now. It’s probably a ball; after all, most of the strikes thrown by Gallardo today have ended up in the stands.
4:10 PM – Pete: “Fucking Gallardo will probably give up four more this inning too!” I forgot to mention this, but Pete is Hof’s older brother. It must run in the family.
4:18 PM – Hof is dozing off once again, slowly leaning out into the aisle.
4:23 PM – Gallardo is done for the day. He only lasts 3 2/3 innings…not a great start to 2012.
4:30 PM – Hof is falling asleep for the third time. This is getting sad. Or funny. Yeah, I’m going to lean towards “funny” right now.
4:32 PM – Pete has put the rally cap on…in the 4th inning. I can’t blame him.
4:35 PM – Got the “Crazy Cap Shuffle” wrong. I used to own that game. I’m frazzled right now.
4:38 PM – And the Milwaukee Brewers have their first 1-2-3 inning of 2012! Too bad it’s the 5th inning.
4:40 PM – I swear, I can’t go anywhere without hearing “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson. I hate that song. Damnit, Kelly!
4:48 PM – Runners on 1st and 3rd, no outs, and we don’t score. Fuuuuuuuu…
4:55 PM – We have one of those annoying fans behind us right now that cheer extra loud for their team when they are winning. If you were just cheering to cheer for your team, you wouldn’t be looking around and trying to make eye contact with all of the home fans. By doing that, you are no longer just a fan; you are a douche. Fuck you, douche.
5:01 PM – Sausage Race time! I always cheer for Guido. Sadly, Hot Dog gets away with an early start and Guido settles for 2nd place.
5:06 PM – Braun’s now 0-3. Let the steroid comments commence, haters.
5:32 PM – T-Plush pinch hits. His appearance wakes up the comatose crowd for a moment.
5:36 PM – Two on, no outs, and we fail to score again. Somebody pass the whiskey…
5:44 PM – I guessed the attendance wrong too. The jumbotron is owning me today.
5:46 PM – They’re playing “Jump Around” right now. I think 12 people are actually jumping. Everyone else is too tired/full/depressed right now.
5:48 PM – And the rally cap is on!
5:53 PM – Braun and Ramirez are a combined 0-8 today…
6:02 PM – 10-2, top of the 9th…I should have had more to drink…
6:03 PM – Make that 11-2…
6:09 PM – They said the attendance was over 46,000 for today’s game. Right now, I doubt there’s more than 6,000 remaining.
6:15 PM – Lucroy gets hit by a pitch. Silver lining from today’s game is that Lucroy, Gamel, and Hart have all been on base three times.
6:17 PM – Pinch-hitter George Kottaras hits a 3-run shot, making it 11-5.
6:20 PM – I’m not completely certain, but I think Hof just said he shit his pants. I’m glad I’m driving separately.
6:22 PM – And Braun gets the final out, going 0-5 on the day.
6:23 PM – The Brewers fall on opening day, 11-5. Not a great start to the season, but I’m reminded that we started 0-4 last year. Things seemed to work out well for us then. Time to pack up and head home. I might try to do a few more of these throughout the course of the season. Until next time, Go Crew!
By: Ryan Smith
To say that Nyjer Morgan is a character is a massive understatement.
Morgan, known better by his “gentleman-moniker” Tony Plush, is a veritable lightning rod for attention any time he steps near the diamond. Whether he is unknowingly delivering a game-winning, walk-off hit, voicing his displeasure with opponents, or simply firing up the Miller Park faithful and his teammates with his now-famous “Beast Mode” gesture, Morgan’s larger-than-life flair is evident from the second you see him.
But what can we expect from “Tony Plush: Year Two”?
Let me start off by saying I want to be completely honest with all of you. During August and September of last season, I was enjoying T-Plush as much as anyone else. I enjoyed all of those antics he would display during games. I loved the energy and enthusiasm he brought to the game. And I really loved the scared look that would appear on the face of Telly Hughes if he had to interview the enigmatic outfielder after a big win.
All that being said, I was also quite adamant in my proclamation that the Brewers should trade Mr. Plush as soon as the season ended.
Now let me defend my reasoning.
When the Brewers acquired Morgan before the 2011 season, I was thrilled. We took a non-prospect in Cutter Dykstra and turned him into a talented, toolsy outfielder.
Now, I also knew that Morgan was a player who came with some baggage. While he produced a few productive seasons with Pittsburgh and Washington (he posted a 5.2 WAR in 2009), he was most famous, or infamous, for his wild and out of control antics while playing for Washington in 2010. Most notably, Morgan sparked a bench-clearing brawl while playing in a heated series against the Florida Marlins. It really didn’t seem to matter who was at fault for the breakout of that brawl (Morgan had already been hit by one pitch and just had another one go behind him). The general public had made up its collective mind: Nyjer Morgan was the bad guy.
I’m a strong believer that sometimes a guy just needs a change of scenery, a fresh start. For Morgan, Milwaukee was that fresh start.
As the 2011 season progressed, Brewers fans started to sense that there was something special about this team. We actually had pitching. We had the best hitting duo in the majors. We had other players stepping up and making plays when we needed them to do so. And we had T-Plush.
Morgan made us love him. He never seemed to take a play off. He played wonderful defense (15.0 UZR/150 between the three outfield positions). He came up with clutch hits. He routinely dropped down bunts for base hits. He energized the team, Miller Park, and all of Brewer Nation.
And yet, there were still those moments when he would remind us of that ticking time bomb that drew criticism from everyone with an opinion just one year earlier.
Of course, the moment that stands out in my mind as the warning flag involved Morgan’s distaste for a few of the St. Louis Cardinals. After striking out in the ninth inning of a 2-0 loss to the Cardinals, Morgan got into a shouting match with Cardinals’ ace Chris Carpenter before throwing his chewing tobacco at the pitcher. Albert Pujols stepped up to defend his pitcher, and Morgan reacted by calling out the superstar first baseman on Twitter later that night.
This was not the T-Plush we were all falling in love with. This was Tony Plush, 2010.
I wanted no part of that Tony Plush.
I decided that it would be best to ride T-Plush into the playoffs and then try and flip him before he went all bat-shit-crazy on us in 2012.
Now, roughly one month before the start of the 2012 season, I just want to say one thing: I was wrong.
I’ve thought about it quite a bit. Could T-Plush revert back to his old ways, causing more distractions and headaches than memorable plays and wins? Sure he could. But I don’t think that’s going to be the case, and here’s why:
The 2012 Milwaukee Brewers are going to be contenders.
Yes, we lost Prince Fielder. But we added Aramis Ramirez. We got rid of Yuniesky Betancourt. We still have a pretty impressive rotation. We have the ‘stache closing games once again. We have Ryan Braun for 162 games.
And we have T-Plush.
If the Brewers have yet another successful season, one where they are in contention deep into September, Tony Plush is going to keep showing up to the ballpark. According to Manager Ron Roenicke, T-Plush is going to fly around the bases a bit more. He’s going to keep doing crazy things. He’s going to keep flashing the “Beast Mode” gesture that the fans love and opponents hate. And if he produces like last year (.304/.357/.421), we’re all going to love it.
That last part might be the most important element in understanding why I think T-Plush will be just fine this season. He’s quirky. He’s “out there” and somewhat misunderstood. He’s outspoken. And Brewer Nation loves him.
We don’t just tolerate him. We don’t simply accept him. We love him. We love his crazy antics. We love his unpredictable nature. We love the fact that he is a player who truly enjoys playing the game every single day. Maybe Nyjer Morgan or Tony Plush just needed to find a place that would love him for who is. Milwaukee is just that place.
So now, with the 2012 season just beyond the horizon, I’m ready to go into battle with T-Plush. After all, I’d rather have him with me than against me. Plus, as all of his twitter followers can attest to, he already has a pretty good battle cry:
“Watz Goood Nation!!!! Aaaahhhhhhh!!!”
T-Plush, I couldn’t have put it better myself. What’s good, indeed.
(You can follow Nyjer Morgan on twitter @TheRealTPlush)
by Kevin Kimmes
A few weeks back I wrote an article titled “A Look Into The Crystal Baseball: The Brewers 2012 Opening Day Lineup” in which I tried to predict what the Brewers Opening Day lineup might look like. At the time, I was convinced that Braun would be missing time due to the charges that he was facing. Let’s face it, until last week no one had ever beat the rap when accused of having violated the league’s banned substance policy, so realistically it was a safe assumption to make at the time.
Since then, Braun has been exonerated of the charges meaning that he will now be available in left field for Milwaukee on Opening Day. Case closed, right? Well, not exactly. The more that I thought about it, the more I started to wonder about what will wind up happening in the outfield now that there are way more potential starters than there are positions, and the possible implications that this may have on the vacancy left at 1st base with the departure of Prince Fielder.
Playing Right Field, It’s Easy You Know…
I’ve joked with friends over the past year that I will some day find the time to put together a YouTube clip combining Corey Hart’s fielding “lowlights” and the Peter, Paul and Mary song “Right Field“. If you don’t know the song, here’s a snippet of the lyric:
Right field, it’s easy, you know.
You can be awkward and you can be slow
That’s why I’m here in right field
Just watching the dandelions grow
Now, to be clear, I am not anti-Corey Hart, in fact, I think his bat will be crucial this year in assisting with making up the run production lost due to Fielder’s departure. However, I am a realist when it comes to Milwaukee’s current overabundance of outfield talent. For starters, all 4 of the starting outfielders from last years NL Central Championship squad are returning (Braun, Morgan, Gomez, and Hart). Add to this that Milwaukee acquired two time Japanese batting champion Norichika Aoki (a left fielder), and it quickly becomes obvious that we have more players than we have positions.
Put Me In Coach, I’m Ready to Play
Now, I am going to make an assumption that Aoki will take to the American version of the game quickly, thus leaving Brewers management with the hard decision to make of what to do with 5 guys for 3 positions. Braun is the everyday left fielder hands down, and the platoon of Morgan (L) and Gomez (R) will own center. So now we get to right, which has been Corey Hart’s primary position since he was placed there in 2002 while with the Huntsville Stars due to problems defensively at 1st base.
Now, Ron Roenicke could choose to platoon Aoki, as he is a lefty, which would add some versatility to the lineup and allow Milwaukee to play the advantage when it comes to pitching matchups, or you could potentially have both bats in the lineup on a daily basis. How you ask?
Roenicke has made it clear that he wants to use Corey Hart in a flex role this season having him spend time at both 1st base and in right field, due to questions regarding Mat Gamel’s ability to play everyday at 1st. Gamel, while productive in the minors, has struggled to settle in when given major league assignments over the last several seasons. If this appears to again be the situation in spring training, then I feel like the best option may be to move Hart to 1st to begin the season and position Aoki in right where he can ease his way defensively into the game.
With that said, I now present 2 versions of the potential opening day batting order. The first assumes that Gamel struggles and Roenicke goes with Hart at 1st and Aoki in right:
1) Corey Hart – 1st Base
2) Nyjer Morgan – Center Field
3) Ryan Braun – Left Field
4) Aramis Ramirez – 3rd Base
5) Rickie Weeks – 2nd Base
6) Norichika Aoki – Right Field
7) Alex Gonzalez – Shortstop
8) Jonathan Lucroy – Catcher
9) Yovanni Gallardo – Pitcher
In this version of the lineup, Milwaukee has itself a formidable 1-6 which should give opposing pitchers fits when it comes to developing a plan of who to pitch to and who to pitch around. This is very similar to last seasons batting order, which worked well for Milwaukee, but with Ramirez in the cleanup role and Aoki and Gonzalez replacing Betancourt and McGehee at 6 and 7 respectively.
Assuming that Gamel does have a good spring, the only major changes for the second version of the lineup would be at the 6 hole where Gamel (reporting at 1st) would replace Aoki, and in the lead off spot where Hart would be listed in right field.
With the Brewers first Cactus League game coming up this Sunday (March 4th) against the San Francisco Giants, we will soon get our first glimpse of Aoki, and with any luck, begin to clarify just which opening day lineup we will be looking forward to.
It’s been days since we learned of Ryan Braun’s exoneration in perhaps the biggest controversy since MLB and MLPBA instituted the current drug-testing policy. Yet there are still lingering problems, with both sides. The media didn’t waste any time disclosing the names of the collector of Braun’s urine sample and his son, and word is that MLB has assigned a security detail for their protection. My hope is that with this post, we can step away from the frenzy and approach this rationally.
Why did Braun attempt to create an inference of tampering in his press conference?
We now know that Braun successfully challenged his drug test on the basis of a 44-hour delay between the time of the test and the time it was eventually shipped via FedEx to a Montreal testing facility. During that time, the collector apparently kept Braun’s sample and those of two other players in his home, but reports vary as to where precisely the samples were held; one version has the samples on a desk, another in the fridge, another in a cooler in the basement. During his press conference, Braun made the following statement:
Why he didn’t bring it in, I don’t know. On the day that he did finally bring it in, FedEx opened at 7:30. Why didn’t he bring it in until 1:30? I can’t answer that question. Why was there zero documentation? What could have possibly happened to it during that 44-hour period? There were a lot of things that we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way that the entire thing worked that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened.
The inference Braun would have us draw is that the collector (or, perhaps, his son) had something to do with the positive drug test.
But why would Braun suggest this? MLB has said that, at the hearing, neither Braun nor MLBPA contended that the sample had been tampered with. The Montreal lab did not find any evidence of tampering, and, from Tom Haudricourt’s description of the process, tampering would be extraordinarily difficult to pull off, despite Braun’s statement during his news conference that “it would be extremely easy” for a motivated person. And if reports are true that Braun was able to describe, with repeatable results, precisely how a 44-hour delay in transporting the sample could lead to an inaccurate test, then we have a scientific explanation and there is no need to allege malfeasance on the part of the collector. And what motive might the collector have had?
What evidence Braun has against the collector, he declined to reveal. Braun was up front in stating he could not answer those questions, as he is contemplating all his legal options.
According to a former Anti-Doping Agency official, a 44-hour delay could not have produced the positive result found in Braun’s sample. If true, that would explain Braun’s tampering charge, but not how he won his appeal. If he produced no evidence of tampering, and there is no scientific explanation for the positive result, how in the world was Braun exonerated?
What does the MLB have to gain by challenging the result of the arbitration hearing?
Almost immediately after the decision was announced, the MLB was reportedly contemplating federal litigation aimed at overturning the award. But they appear to have nothing to gain by doing so. Courts treat arbitration awards deferentially; they may vacate an award under only four circumstances:
(1) where the award was procured by corruption, fraud, or undue means;
(2) where there was evident partiality or corruption in the arbitrators, or either of them;
(3) where the arbitrators were guilty of misconduct in refusing to postpone the hearing, upon sufficient cause shown, or in refusing to hear evidence pertinent and material to the controversy; or of any other misbehavior by which the rights of any party have been prejudiced; or
(4) where the arbitrators exceeded their powers, or so imperfectly executed them that a mutual, final, and definite award upon the subject matter submitted was not made.
9 U.S.C. § 10(a). It isn’t enough to show that the panel committed error, or even serious error. And let’s be clear; the dispute here is about the interpretation of the Joint Drug Agreement. The arbitrator appears to have simply accepted the player’s interpretation over MLB’s. In short, the MLB isn’t likely to succeed in federal litigation if it chooses to go that route, though its ultimate decision on the matter will have to wait until the arbitration panel issues its written opinion (due 30 days from the date of the award).
Indeed, by contemplating the litigation route, MLB appears by its actions to disregard the very process it now seeks to uphold. On the one hand, the Commissioner’s Office wants to make its drug policy look airtight and infallible. This is the message it seeks to broadcast with press releases stating, for example, that it “vehemently disagrees” with the panel’s decision. Yet, on the other hand, a decision to litigate means that the process does not work; that it did not produce a just result in this case. By litigating, MLB in fact concedes the system is flawed, and undermines its work to clean baseball up.
Why do some still view Braun as guilty?
This is a much tougher question, as it goes to philosophical debates this country has been having for centuries. As one New York Met observed following the news of Braun’s exoneration, many (most?) still regard O.J. Simpson as guilty of killing his ex-wife, even though he was found innocent in a criminal trial. The perception of many – that Braun skated on a technicality – is not likely to go away soon. This is because many view Braun as not having challenged the science of his test. In other words, the perception is that Braun has failed to explain why his sample was tainted in the first place. Bob Wolfey reports that in unscientific polls, a majority of the nation felt that Braun’s legacy is still tarnished, although most aren’t sure whether he actually used PEDs.
This perception – that Braun has failed to prove his innocence – is inaccurate. Again, Braun was apparently able to show how a sample sitting for 44 hours could become tainted. But more than that, the perception is wrong because chain-of-custody (which many view as the “technicality”) IS a part of the scientific process. We need to make sure that the sample was “pure” (as in untainted by outside influences), just as it was when it left Braun’s body. The only way to demonstrate that is by ensuring that we know, at all times, where the sample is, what condition it is in, and who had access to it.
While it is correct that Braun did not prove that he never took performance enhancers, what we do know is that the process that yielded the positive result were so flawed that the panel’s confidence in the validity of the result was undermined. In other words, the positive result was untrustworthy. With that in mind, Braun has no obligation to prove that he never took PEDs, a likely impossible task anyway given the difficulty of proving a negative. What he does have is an obligation, consistent with the Joint Drug Agreement, to ensure that nothing prohibited enters his body in the future.
What can MLB do to ensure this never happens again?
MLB and the MLBPA have an obligation to annually review the program and develop recommendations for improvement. You can bet that’ll be an interesting meeting next year.
The current JDA lacks a hard deadline for shipment, but does say that, “absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the Laboratory on the same day they are collected.” The collector must take the specimens “to a FedEx Customer Service Center for shipment. The specimens cannot be placed in a FedEx Drop Box location.” If a collector does not immediately prepare the specimen for shipment, he or she has to “ensure that it is appropriately safeguarded during temporary storage.” This requires that the collector “keep the chain of custody intact” and “store the samples in a cool and secure location.”
I suspect future changes will obligate the collector, before temporarily storing the samples, to verify that there are no open FedEx locations within a X-mile radius of the collection site. In the event that a collector must store the samples because FedEx is closed, language will probably be added requiring the collector to mail the samples at beginning of the next business day. While these changes might be tough for MLB to swallow – after all, failure to comply would mean more invalidated tests – it appears that spelling out the collector’s obligations up front is the only way to prevent future cases like Braun’s. Presumably, the collection agency would then instruct its employees precisely what is expected of them. Not that I expect there to be many of these cases; if you’re in the business, and you haven’t learned anything from the Braun affair, you should probably find another line of work.
When the decision came down yesterday that Ryan Braun would be exonerated of the charges against him for allegedly testing positive for a banned substance, I honestly was the happiest I had been since the initial announcement regarding the test had come out in December. That elation, however soon soured as I began to see that despite being found not guilty, the fight was far from over. So, what have we learned from all of this?
There’s a Reason That Testing Results are Supposed to Remain Confidential Until a Final Outcome is Determined
In a perfect world, we would not even be addressing this issue, and Ryan Braun would have reported to camp today with the public none the wiser to what had gone on in the offseason. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
Instead, we were treated to a 2+ month long circus as everyone and their mother tried to weigh in on whether Braun was guilty or not of violating the league’s banned substance policy despite not having any of the facts regarding what had transpired. Here’s the long and the short of it, baseball in many ways is an allegory for life in America. In this case there was a labor dispute between a worker and his employer over a test result, the employee invoked his legal right to appeal the finding, he had his day in court and was exonerated of the charge due to a testing inconsistency. If this had been Joe Six-Pack who worked for XYZ Company, this wouldn’t be considered news. The HR department would have handled the proceedings, end of story. Unfortunately, there was another court at work here, The Court of Public Opinion, which brings me to my next point.
The Court of Public Opinion Hates to be Wrong
Despite, a 3 person panel ruling 2-1 in favor of overturning the initial decision (and the 50 game suspension that it carried), some people just can’t accept the outcome. Some people just want to belong to a cause, no matter how ridiculous or unfounded the cause may be. This is what happened here as a (metaphorical) pitchfork and torch wielding mob took to the internet to let everyone know that no matter what the decision was, it was wrong because…well…because that’s what they had heard from someone.
Well, who told you that?
Uhmm…you know the guy, the one with the…face…yeah, and he has that show on that one channel (or maybe it was the radio)…well, he said he was guilty, so it must be true…right?
Again, without all the details who can say if the correct decision was rendered or not, but here’s what we know:
1) Braun has insisted from the beginning that he was innocent and that he was going to leave it up to the arbitrators to determine this based on the information that he planned to present.
2) Based on said information, Braun is exonerated of the charges.
3) Life goes on no matter if you agree with the decision or not. Kicking and screaming because you didn’t get your way will not change this no matter how long or how loud you do it. It’s like the Beatles said, “Let It Be”.
People Love a Good Conspiracy Theory
It’s amazing the leaps in logic that some people are willing to make in order to justify an opinion that is not factually sound. With this said, I would like to debunk several theories that people have used to justify why Braun was the only player in MLB history to successfully appeal a positive test result. And yes, I found all of these gems in the comments section of various articles today.
***Warning*** the lack of logic that follows may cause readers to believe that we have entered the times portrayed in Mike Judge’s film Idiocracy. Consider yourself warned!
1) Braun must be related to Selig. – Nope. There is no factual evidence to back up this claim what-so-ever.
2) Braun got his appeal overturned because Selig’s daughter owns the Brewers. – While it is true that Bud Selig sold the team to his daughter, Wendy Selig-Prieb, in 1998, it is also true that she sold the team to current owner Mark Attanasio in 2004. At this time, the Selig family has no vested financial interest in the team.
3) Braun got off the hook because he’s white. – Ah, the ever present race card. Too bad the PED issue has no bias when it comes to race. See Roger Clemens and Mark McGuire if you need further proof.
When the Deck is Stacked Against You, Face Adversity Head on and Keep It Classy
The final thing we should take away from this case is that despite all of the name calling and accusations that have been strewn around since this started, Braun has been a class act the entire way through. He could have easily come off the rails and started his own counter assault against his accusers, yet he took the high road and didn’t stoop to that level, maintaining that the truth would prove what he said all along.
And that is the most important lesson that we can learn from all of this. No matter how bad things may get, no matter how dark the road ahead may look, never loose sight of who you are and what you stand for. Braun has refused to let himself be dragged down by this mess, and stuck to his convictions and morals the entire way, and guess what, in the end he prevailed. It’s a lesson that we all can learn from.