(Look: this team's a fuckin' trip, man. I think we got some bad shit.) (Photo: Timothy Leary)
Bad baseball gets me down. Bad baseball turns me round.
Bad baseball is depressing sometimes, discouraging. That's why I admire the tenacity of people like Tom Haudricourt of the JS and Kyle Lobner of Brew Crew Ball, to name just a couple, as well as all baseball scribes who manage to keep an even temperament and cover the team in times of harvest and drought. It helps if one makes a living covering the team, sure. But regardless there are existential moments when calamity follows disaster and one thinks 'why am I doing this again'? Even the seemingly stable balance of being a fan can be lost when teams do little but fail. The Brewers are testing patience once again and it has me wondering how much patience the Brewers ownership group has with players and executives, as well as the coaching staff.
Owner Mark Attanasio added Kyle Lohse to a costly deal before the season to shore up the pitching, but the ugly picture we've seen revealed for all to see is a team with serious concerns in all areas of the game and no safety net in the minor leagues. The Brewers don't measure up in the pitching department, their homer-happy hitting fails at inopportune moments and they still look like a team that hasn't practiced enough catching the ball and making smart baseball plays. How long has the TERRIBLE DEFENSE of the Milwaukee Brewers been tolerated? They look like my softball team at times: booting the ball, misreading fly balls, and making bad decisions. My softball team hasn’t practiced much. Have the Brewers practiced enough?
This team ain't cheap and the poor overall attendance that could result this year would be yet another setback for the franchise. The Brewers need to be smarter, more proactive, more innovative. They need to be thinking one step ahead of most other teams, rather than three steps behind. Sadly, the future is ‘dark and full of terrors’, to borrow a phrase from George R. R. Martin’s well-written A Game of Thrones.
One person who rightfully has come under fire this year is Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. Many complaints have targeted his constant juggling of the lineup, his questionable use of bullpen pitchers and management of the starting rotation. Then there is the overall failure of this team to reach even the low expectations many fans had coming into the season. Is Roenicke on the hot seat? Or sitting on a seat that’s getting hotter? Surely accountability will reign in 2013 and heads will roll if the Brewers’ play does not improve, yes?
Here’s the rub: Roenicke and GM Doug Melvin were extended in May 2012. Roenicke’s contract goes through 2014 with a club option for ’15, while Melvin is signed through ’15. If they hadn’t been extended back then, perhaps the wheels could turn in another direction now. But for a team that’s already in tough spots financially, cutting Roenicke and/or Melvin with money remaining on their deals is financially prohibitive and therefore unlikely for the Brewers.
Ownership wants to win, but they realize that 2013 may be a milestone year on the road to a better team in 2014. Unfortunately, the team in 2013 is sinking beneath the floor rather than showing how high the ceiling may be. Brewers ownership has to be greatly concerned about the way the season has unfolded thus far. It’s not even June and many people are likely cancelling or have cancelled potential trips to Miller Park; thrown it off with a shrug. Unless the team turns things around, expectations and advanced purchases for next year will fall precipitously. I normally get to several games by the end of May but I’m not ashamed to say I haven’t even been to Miller Park yet this year. They really don’t deserve it, the way this has gone. Some of it’s bad luck, some of it’s just bad.
It’s sad that things have developed this way. Milwaukee’s fans want so badly to have some fun and see some success. Milwaukee gets shafted in pro sports. 2011 was a blast. Roenicke managed that team well enough but that team was set up to kick some ass and it did so. They could have won the Series that year, that’s how goddamn good that team was. It’s tough that ahead more darkness shows than light. The Brewers’ hands are tied. Roenicke and Weeks will stay more than likely. To make a change may signal more internal chaos than many fans would like to admit is present or possible. Harvey Kuenn isn’t available. If only the team could be average this year, just play to a .500 record or thereabouts, keep us meandering through summer rather than taking an elevator to baseball hell. Here’s hoping the team can help everyone save some face this summer, or perhaps fans will do like Timothy Leary and ‘turn on, tune in and drop out’, except without all the LSD.