Photo: Jeffery Phelps/AP
The Brewers’ front office has sold the nine-game intradivision run that kicked off after the All-Star break as a sink-or-swim proposition. The team has perhaps overachieved slightly thus far, gaining series wins against both the Pirates and Cardinals in going 4-2. This winning thing they’ve done after the All-Star break has done little to clarify things for the Brewers going forward, and in fact it’s muddied up the situation immensely. The Zack Greinke melodrama notwithstanding, the Brewers are in a position to win all three series and emerge from the nine-game marathon with a winning record against key division foes. But what does it all mean for a team that could crumble directly after such a run? The new-fangled bullpen setup has looked OK so far and it’s certainly possible the team could go on an extensive winning streak after the series against the Reds, which starts Friday in Cincinnati. But for all the much-publicized (and possibly fictional) importance of this intradivision stretch, the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers are still strangers: an enigma inside a riddle, an impenetrable conundrum that defies explanation and rational thought.
The Brewers are only a few games off their pace of last year, when they were similarly middling and underachieving. It’s really mind-blowing that they are only three games under .500 at 44-47. Despite all the blown leads and saves, inept offensive performances, Randy Wolf and Marco Estrada starts, lack of Shaun Marcum, injuries and Rickie Weeks forgetting how to hit, they are poised to contend if they can get things worked out. I wouldn’t want to be in Doug Melvin’s position this year. It’s been a tough shell to crack just as an observer, and a lot could hinge on what Melvin does in the next week and a half. Of course, last year the Brewers went on an incredible tear in August in which they won something like 22 out of 25 games. That kind of magic is unlikely to play out this year. The Brewers don’t seem to have the luck flowing that they did last year. However, it will be nice to get a few players back from injury over the next month, namely catcher Jonathan Lucroy. As well as Martin Maldonado has filled in for him, Lucroy always appeared to be a big part of the soul of this baseball team and he’s been sorely missed.
So, as bad as the Barrel Riders have been this year, and at times they have been downright putrid, committing high crimes against the baseball gods, fans should take some comfort in the fact that the team isn’t taking the belly-flop fall we might have expected from them. They are trying to win, it seems. To me, K-Rod’s maniacal screams and fist pumps after Tuesday’s save against the Cards was refreshing. It was a sign that not only is K-Rod still a crazy mofo up there on the mound and perhaps over-exuberant about a win, but that this team still has some passion overall. Some of the unwatchable portions of the season have not only been like watching white-noise fuzz on a screen for three hours, they’ve also been depressing in the lack of pep, energy and evidence of the WANT to win. I don’t care how it shakes out on the field. Baseball is a crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy game. Things don’t go according to plan. Baseball happens when you’re busy making plans to play it a certain way. But show the fans that despite the year’s hardships, you are doing all you can to represent Milwaukee well and put up a ‘W’ every night, and at least for me, all the bad stuff is forgotten if not forgiven.