The Wisconsin Badgers won the Big Ten’s football crown and played in one of the most-watched Rose Bowls of all-time. The Badgers are also poised for success on the basketball court, crushing Michigan State yesterday to stay in a second-place tie in the conference standings. And, of course, the Packers are now Super Bowl champions.
I said it last night, and I was far from the only one: it’s your turn now, Brewers.
In some ways, Green Bay winning the Super Bowl increased expectations for the Brewers more than the trades for Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke did. Instead of just expecting a playoff spot or division title, now a lot of people are going to be looking for a World Series berth…or even a World title.
Jim Breen addressed the topic of increased (and probably unfair) expectations at Bernie’s Crew this morning, specifically when it comes to Zack Greinke, and I agree with him.
Can you say that Greinke is the Aaron Rodgers of the Brewers? As far as being the most marketable and recognizable face of the franchise, I think you can. But Jim is right when he says that you can’t tie the Brewers’ success or failure on Greinke’s success or failure. Just like the Super Bowl run wasn’t completely tied to Rodgers, a World Series run won’t be completely tied to Greinke.
Was Rodgers great? Absolutely. If it weren’t for dropped passes, we might be talking about one of the best QB performances in Super Bowl history. But the Packers don’t win that game without role players stepping up to play their best games of the season. With Donald Driver out, Jordy Nelson stepped up. With Charles Woodson and Sam Shields hurting, Jarrett Bush redeemed himself after years of being the fans’ favorite whipping boy. Desmond Bishop replaced Nick Barnett midseason and played lights out for the rest of the year.
If the Brewers are going to make a deep postseason run of their own, they’re going to need the role players to step up. Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum, Prince Fielder, and Ryan Braun are going to be good. We already know this. But at times this year, they’re going to need Jonathan Lucroy to step up. We’ve constantly expressed concern over Yuniesky Betancourt because they’re going to need him to contribute. And as scary as it sounds, a few games may depend on Carlos Gomez.
World Series-winning teams, just like Super Bowl-winning teams, are the ones that get contributions from unlikely sources. The Giants’ pitching was incredible during the playoffs last year, but they don’t have rings without Cody Ross and Edgar Renteria. Just remember how Craig Counsell got his two World Series rings. He was on teams with the likes of Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, and Kevin Brown. While they’re all Hall of Fame-caliber pitchers, he had as much to do with their World Series wins as they did.