The Brewers have lost the first two games of the 2011 season. A chorus of fans have already declared this year a disappointment; the Brewers, they say, will be watching baseball in October from their living rooms.
Well, hold on. The fact that there are 160 games remaining aside, the most important thing to draw from the pair of losses is that this team is not infallible. John Axford is going to give up walk-off home runs to Ramon Hernandez. Eric Almonte (who, by the way, continued his amazing spring by hammering one out of Great American today) will strike out to end the game. There are going to be tough losses and absolutely heartbreaking losses. That’s baseball.
You got a sense in spring training that some fans, and maybe even some players, didn’t realize what a tough season this would be. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays await the Brewers on the interleague schedule, along with the annual bouts against the ever-poised Minnesota Twins. Add to that frequent games against the Reds and the Cards, two tough Central clubs, and you begin to realize the monumental things we expect from this team.
That’s not to say the Brewers do not have the talent to meet those expectations; they do. And they should rightfully expect to be in this Central race until the end. Confidence is good, and this team has it. But there’s a fine line between confidence and cockiness; between intrepidity and invulnerability. Now that some of the shine has worn off, it’s time to get down to business. It’s time to scrape and claw and scratch for every single run. It’s time to leg it out to first on those routine ground balls. It’s time to spend the extra hours watching film and studying scouting reports.
Two losses and we’ve already learned so much about the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers. Talent alone will not carry this team to the playoffs, but, if the cards fall just right, they have as good a shot as anyone. Now, two games in, is not time to abandon the team; it’s time to realize the difficulty of the task at hand and get to work. We know what that means for the players. For the fans, the sole point is this: no need to panic yet.