If you're surfing Brewerfan.net, you're probably a Brewer fan. If you're a Brewer fan, you're probably asking yourself, why do I put up with this? Why do I spend my money and don my Brewer cap and waste my TV time and-worst of all-get my hopes up for this hapless collection of fundamentally poor, injury prone, talent stunted, overpaid, whining losers?
If you keep kicking a dog, sooner or later the dog will learn to stay away from your foot. And yet here we are, joining our cyber-hands and collectively hoping that maybe, just maybe, the Brewers will show some improvement this year. Don't we learn?
No, we don't learn. We have our reasons to stay committed, even if we're not sure what those reasons are. Well, the next time your Yankee fan friend asks you to join the dark side, or the next time your Cubs fan friend says that the Loveable Losers are better than the Laughable Losers, here are a few items to justify your continued support of Milwaukee's lackluster franchise.
1. New management. From Ulice Payne to Mike Maddux, the organization has been refreshed with new talent. Talent that, hopefully, will bring new enthusiasm for their work. The coaches should all have the optimism and idealism of a fresh faced rookie. Doug Melvin has experience and knows what he's doing. Several front office personnel have been lured away from successful franchises. And all I hear about Payne is that he's shrewd, that he's a leader, that he's a ground-breaker. The last regime was decent in that it gave the new regime some parts to build with, but they obviously didn't get the job done at the Major League level. There will be no pennants in Milwaukee this year, but there is reason to believe that the franchise is headed in the right direction. Finally.
2. Miller Park. Yes, the novelty has worn off, but it's still a beautiful park and a great place to see some ball. It also guarantees a game, which is important for out-of-towners like myself. If the roof really is fixed this year, then a good thing just got better. And allow me to add this: A big hullabaloo was made last year when rain poured onto a section of fans during the home run derby. But at least there was a home run derby.
3. Ben Sheets. From 2001 to 2002 Sheets significantly improved his K/9 innings (5.60 to 7.06), K/BB ratio (1.96 to 2.43), HR/9 innings (1.37 to 0.87) and accordingly, his ERA (4.76 to 4.15). His BB/9 innings (2.86 to 2.90) and WHIP (1.41 to 1.41) remained almost exactly the same, suggesting that the drop in ERA was due to more strike outs and fewer home runs. Another year of similar improvement could drop his ERA into the middle 3 range, worthy of 20 wins on a better team. Cutting down on walks and hits would establish him among the top handful of starters in the bigs. That he showed such drastic improvement in his second year suggests that he has the ability to make adjustments and become even better than he already is.
4. Stadium Sauce.
5. Draft position. The Brewers have this year's number 2 pick and will be in the running for next year's number 1. Regardless, they'll get two high picks to choose two potential superstars. Though far from a sure thing, it's something to be excited about.
6. Tailgating. If you can think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon, you are a radder dude than me.
7. Richie Sexson. When he finally gets some lineup protection and runners on base, Sexson will put up monster numbers. No doubt about it.
8. Sausage races. I can't wait until Nomo suits up again.
9. Daron Sutton's weekly articles on brewers.mlb.com. How many TV guys are excited enough about their team to exceed expectations and provide valuable insight on the status of Brewer players and personnel? Your fever is contagious, Daron. Thank you.
10. Hope. Being a Brewer fan is not watching Sexson's bomb beat the Yankees in Game 7 (not yet, anyway). Being a Brewer fan is Sheets outdueling Kerry Wood on a Thursday afternoon. It's eagerly anticipating J.J. Hardy's first big league double play. It's the catcher carousel. It's Neuge's fastball. It's a sweaty beer cup, the smell of brats, a two-run double to left-center, Jenkins pulling one back, Uke and Powell on the mic. Being a Brewer fan is sweeping the Cards and getting swept by the Pirates. It's pride in the little things. It's being able to say, "I was there." It's fathers and sons.
But if there's one thing that bonds all Brewer fans, it's hope. Brewer hope varies from maybe this year to maybe next year to maybe in five years. But it's always a hope and a faith that eventually, they'll make it. And when that time comes, you'll be able to say, "I'm a Brewer fan. I've always been a Brewer fan. I stuck with them through 106 losses. I stuck with them through decades without playoffs. I stuck with them through years of front office turmoil, through strike outs and booted grounders, through labor uncertainty and pitchers who weren't ready, through overpriced veterans and swollen disabled lists, through stranded runners and mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. I stuck with them. And now that they made it, it was all worth it."
Brewer fans know that if you never catch a cold, you'll never know how good it feels to get healthy again.
Being a Yankee fan is easy. Being a Brewer fan takes hard work. You have to be dedicated. You have to be able to deal with failure. You have to take your lumps. The hardships get harder and the patience wears thinner each year. But if being a Brewer fan wasn't such a challenge, the eventual rewards wouldn't taste nearly as sweet. I know that. You know that. That's why we're Brewer fans.