By Nathan Petrashek
Ryan Braun has a dream. That dream is to make the playoffs in 2012:
“There’s no reason to give up. Why are you going to give up, ever? I think until you’re mathematically eliminated, you’re going to continue to believe you have a chance. There’s a lot of crazy things that have happened throughout the course of the history of this game.”
There is enough truth to Braun’s last point. Exhibit A is last year’s St. Louis Cardinals, a team both Braun and Doug Melvin like to cite as proof of the impossible. The Cardinals were 10.5 games out of first place as late as September 5, but managed to win 8 out of their last 12 games en route to a wild card berth and eventual World Series victory. They were helped by a faltering Atlanta team that lost its last 5 games.
History definitely isn’t on the Brewers’ side, though. At 15.5 games back, the Brewers will need a comeback of epic proportions.
To my knowledge, no team has ever made the kind of comeback Braun seems to believe in. The 1914 Boston Braves at one point trailed the front-running New York Giants by 15 games. That was on July 4, 1914, and the Braves were in last place. By October 1, the Braves would lead the National League by 11 games. They would go on to sweep the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1914 World Series, earning the “Miracle Braves” moniker.
A miracle would be about what the Brewers need right now: an extraordinary event that surpasses all known powers. What once rivaled the best rotations in baseball has been left in shambles with the injuries to Shaun Marcum and Chris Narveson and the Zack Grienke trade. The same players that have contributed 26 losses to the 2012 club still haunt the Brewers’ bullpen. And an offense that lost its starting shortstop and first baseman is still putting it all together.
The odds are made all the worse by the fact that three different teams will need to go on prolonged losing streaks. St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati all have significantly better records. The Brewers’ best hope is a wild card berth, but they’re even 11.5 games out of that.
I see where Braun’s optimism comes from. The Brewers’ will undoubtedly play better baseball in the final months, because they couldn’t get much worse. He’s trying to motivate a team that looks like it has little left to play for. But don’t dare hope for a playoff spot. Not yet. The Brewers need to show me more than a sweep of the lowly Astros to make me believe in miracles.