As disconcerting and detrimental as the Brewers’ play has been this season, 2012 has at least been beneficial in a couple of ways. It’s been humbling. Not that fans of a MLB franchise in the smallest market in baseball, a team whose city has not won it all in baseball since a different team occupied the turf in 1957, need to be humbled. Those who could use some humble pie might be the folks in New York City (Yankees fans) and perhaps some in the baseball ‘mecca’ that is St. Louis. Brewers fans, and Milwaukee sports fans in general, know how to take a kick in the teeth. Some might say that they know how to back losers all too well, and almost welcome or embrace mediocrity and defeat. I don’t see it that way. I think there’s simply been the absence of a winning culture in Milwaukee.
The (Milwaukee) Braves won the World Series so long ago that there’s hardly much cultural memory of it these days, and the fact that it was a franchise that then moved to Atlanta fewer than 10 years later doesn’t help our collective recollection. The Milwaukee Bucks have had a similar trajectory to the Brewers. They did manage to win it all in 1971, but that was so long ago that today’s average fan has no notion of it, partially because they probably weren’t even born until later on. It’s nice to be able to say the Bucks have won one, but that former glory is faded. And, of course, there’s 1982. It was a year in Milwaukee baseball that glows with infamy. What a bummer that all was!
Now, I don’t mean that comprehensively. I’m just saying that I do agree with some critics of the non-stop campaign to celebrate the non-World-Series-winning Brewers of 1982. Again, most fans these days were kids, if even born, in 1982. Doesn’t it seem a little much to overly celebrate a team that wasn’t able to seal the deal for Milwaukee back then? It’s the closest thing the Brewers have to a Series win, but come on. It’s not like the Minnesota Twins were boasting about nearly defeating the Dodgers in the 1965 World Series, still decades later. I totally get the love for that team, and the magical run that year. It was amazing, and still is. But to see constant reminders about the failures of that team, all while suffering with the current malaise, can become a bit stifling at times.
The second benefit to the 2012 Brewers’ poor play is that fans can just enjoy the game again. Sure, most would trade relaxed contentment for the feverish highs and lows of a pennant race; as would I. But there is a certain element of calm, delight or simple enjoyment that can be attained when the team is not in contention. Instead of over-analyzing moves the team makes that could be critical to the pennant race, we can over-analyze moves that are made with an eye towards the future, the hypothetical. The stakes are lower, and one can dwell on the game of baseball itself, and not as much concern oneself with the result. A friend of mine from Scotland once asked me about whether in baseball it’s about the result or the journey to that result. I remember immediately replying that the result was most important. But in hindsight I have chewed on that question many times and the fact is: the game itself is the most important thing, not the outcome. It is a game, after all.