Beyond winning and losing

January 17, 2012

> It really amazes me how the world of sports is rapidly changing.

No, not how the sports are being played. While that aspect of sports will always be the same, there is another aspect of sports that is changing, and it’s kind of hard not to take notice of it. The fanbases.

Up until about two years ago, I thought it was routine for all sports fans to be a fan of their city’s team- whether it’s where they grew up, or where they live now. At least that’s what I was taught; no matter how good or bad your team was, you stayed loyal to them.

But, over the past few years, that’s changed quite a bit. I first realized it when my best friend- at the time- claimed he wasn’t a Brewers, Packers, Badgers, or Bucks fan. I thought he was joking at first, but turns out he was dead serious. But I didn’t understand- he, like me, was raised and lived his whole life in Wisconsin.

That was when I was first introduced to the term “bandwagon fan.” I figured out that he was a fan of the Phillies, Vikings, and Cavaliers. How those three teams were related, I had no idea. But, he simply liked them because they were all guaranteed winners. (Note- this was in 2009-2010. The Vikings are crap now, but they were good then.)

To this day, I don’t understand bandwagon fans. Is it truly fun to cheer for a team that you know is automatically going to get to the postseason?

Some say in order to achieve true happiness, you need to have experienced true pain. Same goes for sports. In order to feel the thrill of your team reaching the postseason, you need to have been to low points with your team as well.

I’ll use myself as an example. I was eccentric when the Brewers made the playoffs in 2008, and again in 2011. Why? In 2004, I watched the Brewers sputter to a 67-94 record, same in 2003. But 2002 was the worst- 56-106. Sounds like a modern-day Pirates or Astros record.

Despite the fact I was young then, it’s those seasons that make seasons like 2008 and 2011 feel so much better. I know it sounds weird, but all teams need seasons like that.

But that’s why I don’t understand bandwagon fans. If you’re just going to switch favorite teams depending on who’s good, you’re not a true fan.

And this all brings me to my point. The love for a team in any sport should go beyond winning and losing; not giving up on them when they lose and switching to another team because you know they’re going to win. That completely defeats the purpose of any sport.

> The deadline for signing Norichika Aoki is tomorrow, and, according to the Brewer Nation, Doug Melvin has said that talks haven’t accelerated since the last update. It sounds like a deal is likely to get done, though, even if it goes right down to the 4:00 PM deadline tomorrow.

> The Brewers avoided arbitration with Nyjer Morgan today. So, he and his multiple alter egos will return for at least one more year in center field.

> And that’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

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Looking back at the first week of 2011’s offseason

November 7, 2011

> The first week of the 2011 MLB offseason was rather quiet, with none of the top free agents reaching agreements with new teams (or the ones they were already with). But I guess that wasn’t expected. Anyway, despite this, there were a lot of minor moves, with some more significant than others, and later in this article I’ll try to go through every move made. But, before that, there is one Brewers-related piece of news that I should probably share.

> Dale Sveum is going to be interviewed for the Cubs’ managerial vacancy tomorrow. Ugh.

Over the past few days, Sveum has been considered the front-runner to become the new Red Sox manager, but nothing has been confirmed. And now he’s going to have a chance to become the Cubs’ manager, a team he has seen up close and personally for quite a few years now as the Brewers’ hitting coach.

So the reason I said “ugh” earlier is because, no matter who it is, I find it painful to see someone from a team I like leave for a team I hate. For instance, I was crushed a few years back when Brett Favre left the Packers for the Jets, and eventually the Vikings- a team I despise. (That is, until I figured out what a loser Favre was under the surface, but you still get the point.) Anyway, I’d be happy for Sveum no matter where he goes (if he does end up managing), but let me say I’d be much happier if he went to the Red Sox instead of the Cubs.

> But, with that aside, let’s get to all the moves that occurred during this first week of the Hot Stove. I guess I didn’t realize how much I didn’t cover on BreakingWI, but here’s my chance to redeem myself.

> Frank McCourt agreed with MLB to sell the Dodgers, and hopefully put this divorce-bankruptcy crap behind him and the franchise. The Dodgers suffered that for far too long, and hopefully whoever ends up being the team can right that ship.

> The long expected CC Sabathia opt-out never actually happened, as the Yankees managed to retain him by adding an extra year, worth $25 million, to his already-remaining for years on the seven-year deal he signed back in 2008 (after he left the Brewers). So much for that… I was looking forward to him sticking it up the Yankees’… Er, maybe I shouldn’t go there.

> The Indians acquired 15-year veteran starting pitcher Derek Lowe from the Braves. Lowe has definitely been on a decline in recent years, but the Indians hope his veteran presence can anchor their very young rotation.

> The Phillies successfully signed designated hitter Jim Thome to a one-year deal worth $1.225 million. Oh, wait, they’re a National League team… Apparently they expect him to play a little first base and be a power lefty off the bench, but I can’t see this deal working out very well.

> Cards manager Tony La Russa decided to retire after 33 seasons as a Major League manager. He definitely went out on top, that’s for sure…

> Davey Johnson is going to be the Nationals’ manager in 2012 as well, after picking up where Jim Riggleman left off midway through the 2011 season.

> The Giants exercised their option on lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt, and also signed fellow lefty reliever Javier Lopez to a two-year deal.

> The Dodgers re-signed Juan Rivera to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million after acquiring him from the Blue Jays halfway through the 2011 season.

> The Cubs exercised their half of the option on third baseman Aramis Ramirez, but Ramirez declined his half, thus becoming a free agent.

> The Nationals re-signed starter Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year deal, following three seasons full of injuries- two of which he didn’t even pitch at all. But, before that, he was a dominant starting pitcher for the Yankees.

> The Diamondbacks made a few signings on and off the field, as they locked up shortstop John McDonald with a two-year, $3 million deal, along with a one-year deal worth $1.2 million for catcher Henry Blanco. They also extended GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson, both of whom completely turned around what looked to be another disappointing season coming in.

> The Brewers declined their $17.5 million option on Francisco Rodriguez, which was inherited from the Mets. They also declined a $6 million option on shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt (HOORAY!).

> The Mets pretty much came out and said that they’re not going to be able to retain shortstop Jose Reyes. Not that I’m surprised, but it’s sort of odd that they’d come out and say it like that.

> The Braves have announced that they would trade starter Jair Jurrjens and outfielder/second baseman Martin Prado, if given a good enough deal. Right now, the Royals look like the best destination, at least for Jurrjens.

> The Giants are willing to trade starter Jonathan Sanchez. Not sure who would want that walk-machine, unless they really need starting pitching.

> The Cardinals declined their optionsĀ  on shortstop Rafael Furcal and reliever Octavio Dotel. That was surprising to some (including me).

> The Red Sox picked up their $6 million option on shortstop Marco Scutaro.

> The Nationals appear to be in the running for starter Roy Oswalt, whose option was declined by the Phillies prior to the World Series.

> It sounds like the Phillies are literally dying for Michael Cuddyer, which means they’ll probably have him. But that would pretty much nullify the Thome deal, because Cuddyer could play a similar role, but is so much more versatile.

> The Diamondbacks declined options on starter Zach Duke, second baseman Aaron Hill, and shortstop Willie Bloomquist, but are probably open to re-signing Hill and Bloomquist.

> The Blue Jays picked up their option on outfielder Edwin Encarnacion, but declined their option on reliever Jon Rauch.

> The Royals picked up their $6 million option on closer Joakim Soria, who is coming off a horrible 2011. But, prior to that, he was one of the top closers in the game.

> The Reds picked up their option on second baseman Brandon Phillips, but declined the option on closer Francisco Cordero.

> The Padres declined options on starter Aaron Harang, reliever Chad Qualls, and first baseman Brad Hawpe. I thought it was interesting that they didn’t pick up Harang’s option, because he actually quietly put up a good season.

> The Rays exercised their optionĀ  on starter James Shields and closer Kyle Farnsworth, while declining both of those pitchers’ batterymate, Kelly Shoppach.

> Mariners closer David Aardsma, who did not pitch at all in 2011 due to an injury from 2010, has elected free agency. Whichever team that signs him will probably have to wait until at least June for his services in the Majors, however, as he’s still recovering from the injury.

> The White Sox picked up their option on reliever Jason Frasor, who they acquired from the Blue Jays at the Trade Deadline.

> The Indians exercised their option on starter Fausto Carmona, but declined the option on the injury-plagued center fielder Grady Sizemore.

> The Pirates declined options on catcher Ryan Doumit, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, catcher Chris Snyder, and starter Paul Maholm. I thought they should have kept Maholm at least, because he’s good- just doesn’t get run support. But they can do whatever the want to keep themselves from having their first winning season since 1992, for all I care…

> The Rockies declined their option on starter Aaron Cook. That was definitely expected, as he’s been injury-plagued and ineffective over the past two years.

> Lastly, the Rangers exercised their option on Japanese reliever Yoshinori Tateyama.

Well, that took awhile, but thanks for reading. Feel free to leave thoughts on these moves, if you have any.



Brewers offense breaks out, hits five HRs to back Wolf

September 17, 2011

After eight games of absolutely no 0ffense, I think I can finally stop complaining about what the Brewers have been lacking lately. Well, at least for today.

The Brewers offense broke out today and defeated the Reds, 6-3. They belted five home runs off Reds pitching, but four of them were off Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo’s home runs allowed count ballooned to 44 tonight, and he’s got a legit chance to break the National League record for home runs given up, which currently stands at 48. But back to the Brewers. The home runs were hit by Prince Fielder, Mark Kotsay, George Kottaras, and Ryan Braun hit two. (Braun hitting two actually has some significance, which I’ll explain later).

Randy Wolf was cruising against the Reds until the seventh inning, when he allowed three consecutive singles to start the inning. He was then removed, and his final line was 7+ innings with three runs given up on seven hits. He struck out seven and walked none. Wolf had actually only given up one run before he was removed, but an “irritated” Francisco Rodriguez allowed two inherited runners to score before inducing an inning-ending double play. Sometimes, I honestly wonder that when players are mad at their team, no matter what sport they play, that they do bad on purpose (kind of like what Randy Moss did to the Vikings last year). I guess it was hard to tell with K-Rod today. But, I did notice that he didn’t look as intense as he usually does on the mound.

Anyway, congratulations to Braun on becoming the second 30/30 player in Brewers’ history! He entered play today with 28 home runs, and his two home runs rose his season total to 30. Braun is now the second player in Brewers’ history, as I mentioned earlier, to become a 30/30 player. Tommy Harper did it in 1970 for the Brewers, their first season in Milwaukee. Braun is also the second player in the Majors to do it this year, joining Matt Kemp of the Dodgers as the only two 30/30 players this year.

Unfortunately, the Cardinals also won today in 12 innings against the Phillies. The Cardinals had the lead going into the ninth inning, but Jason Motte blew the save, courtesy of some awful defense by right fielder Corey Patterson. But, the Cardinals came back in the 11th, scoring two runs and winning 4-2. The Brewers magic number moves to seven after today.

The Brewers will play the second game of this three-game series against the Reds tomorrow at 6:10 PM CT (on WMLW). Yovani Gallardo (16-10, 3.66 ERA) will go for the Brewers, and he’s coming off a stellar start against the Phillies in which he went seven innings while striking out 12. He’s 2-3 with a 5.76 ERA in his career against the Reds, however.

The Reds will counter with Edinson Volquez (5-5, 5.80 ERA), who, as you can see by his mile-high ERA, is having a very inconsistent season. He’s been up and down between the Majors and Triple-A, which you don’t see very often from an Opening Day starter. Anyway, Volquez is 3-1 with a 5.80 ERA in his career against the Brewers.