11.8.18

THE COLUMN ARRIVES A MONTH TOO LATE.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel baseball pundit Tom Haudricort notices the Milwaukee Brewers appear to be tapped out.
Since July 8, when the Brewers were a season-high 18 games over .500 (54-36), they have gone 12-17, a woeful .414 “winning” percentage.

That’s a month of sub-par play, and it has eroded too much of the good work the Brewers did over the first three months of the season. The lopsided loss to the Braves dropped the Brewers three games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs, who have the talent to put their collective feet on the gas at any time.
The warning signs were present going into the All-Star break, with the Crew losing two of three (both in extra innings) in Miami and five straight at Pittsburgh, to be overhauled by the Chicago Cubs.  Brewer fans and pundits, though, aren't in the habit of expecting victory.  The spin, as stirred up by the commentators, was, "Had anyone told us at the beginning of the season that the team would be two games behind the Cubs and holding the first wild card, we'd have taken it."

No, we have to talk about how the team went from three games ahead of the Cubs with the best record in the National League to holding the second wild card today.

A year ago, at the All-Star break, the Brewers were leading the division, with the Cubs a few wins shy of .500, and the Brewers regressed to the mean, as did the Cubs, and the conversation this time of year was, you guessed it, "Had anyone told us at the beginning of the season that the team would be playing .500 baseball, and in the middle of the wild card mix, we'd have taken it."

Yes, the Brewers were in the first or second year of a rebuild, and they might have overachieved at the beginning of the season, but, again, we have to talk about how the team went from leading the division at the All-Star break to out of the playoff at the end of the season. Instead, Mr Haudricort frets about woulda, shoulda.
The Brewers already had played one bad game in [a three game visit by the fire-sale Padres], turning leads of 4-0 and 5-2 into an 11-5 loss in the opener against the Padres. Had the Brewers swept that series, as they should have, this dud against the Braves would have been a mere blip on the radar screen of a long season.

But, in combination with those poorly played games at home, and the long, slow trickle of losing that began the week before the all-star break, the time has come for the Brewers to make a statement to show they’re going to remain a force until the very end.
Perhaps it starts with the sports pundits no longer being content with mediocrity.  I sometimes complain about Packer Nation fans and pundits holding unrealistically high expectations, although if you start each season with the understanding that any season that doesn't conclude with another Lombardi Trophy in Titletown is a failed season, you don't get the "close enough" happy talk characteristic of Brewer fans.

I doubt there's much "close enough" happy talk in St. Louis, a small-market baseball team with a pretty good record once October rolls around.

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