It’s goodbye to our favorite utility infielder, Craig Counsell, and hello to Craig Counsell, Special Assistant to the General Manager. I’m not sure which one is pictured in this photo from 2007, but either one certainly seems happy to be there.
For those of you that don’t know, Counsell is (was) my favorite player in the game. I always admired his study habits and plate discipline, even through his awful hitless stretch last season. He was a hometown guy, a community guy, a player the Brewers could claim as their own (Counsell resides with his family in Whitefish Bay, a Milwaukee suburb). Oh, yeah, and it turns out he was the best legit hitter of the steroid era. But my favorite memory: Counsell’s bases-loaded walk on the final day of the regular season in 2008 to tie the game at 1. Braun would hit a home run the next inning and catapult the Brewers to their first playoff berth since 1982.
I loved Counsell for his play as a Brewer, but his most significant accomplishments came as a member of the 1997 World Series Champion Florida Marlins and the 2001 World Series Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Counsell scored the game-winning run in the ’97 Series and was named the 2001 NLCS MVP. At his presser today, Counsell reminisced about both teams. “You play in game sevens of World Series, tell me what’s above that. Those are without a doubt the two things that stand out.” Wish you could have seen a third, Craig, but at least you came close.
Many consider Counsell a GM in the making, and it sounds like he’ll have plenty of exposure to baseball operations in his new role to make that a reality someday. Counsell will get his feet wet with player evaluations and the draft, and will also help on field during spring training.
One thing is for sure; Counsell will retain his sense of humor in his new role. “I’m excited that I don’t have to get any hits anymore. That was a challenge at the end,” said Counsell. “It’s easy [to retire] when you’ve got more softball teams calling you than baseball teams, and those softball teams want to DH for you.”
Thanks for the memories, Craig, and best of luck in your new role. Look forward to seeing you around the Keg.