Monday, September 29, 2008

Suddenly, It Wasn't That Bad of a Weekend After All (Or, How The Brewers Made the Playoffs)

If I had to break it down, I would say that I write this blog for three reasons. The largest reason I write this is for you guys, my readers. You're the people that come here when you get the chance, to either browse some postings and/or participate in the discussion. A second reason is because I've also wanted someone from a radio station to view the site and add me as their guest interviewee, but that hasn't happened yet. Perhaps the one reason that keeps me going even in the dark times however, is that this serves as my diary.

I like the fact that I have an outlet to let all my feelings, emotions, and expressions out. I like the fact that people have the chance to then view and participate with those thoughts. After the Packers lost the NFC Championship Game, the first thing I did was sit down at the computer and put my feelings into print, because I always wanted to be able to relive what that was like.

That's what I'm doing this weekend. Up until around 4pm on Sunday, this was shaping up to be one of the worst weekends in Wisconsin sports history. Not only that, I was having just a terrible weekend in general. In order to explain to you how much it meant to me that the Brewers clinched a playoff spot today, I have to describe to you the whole weekend. All the posts I missed this weekend will be covered in this article. It's probably going to be a long one, and I'm writing it after a bottle of champagne, but I hope you stick around.

If you want to skim it, that's fine. Feel free. I'm doing this because whenever the Brewers let me down again, whether it's in the near future or a long time from now, I want to remind myself of the one day they made everything right in the world.

We start with Friday. It's a decent enough day, although I'm a little bored. The plans for the weekend call for me traveling back to La Crosse with a few buddies for the annual Oktoberfest celebration. Now, I haven't been to La Crosse in two weeks, which is a big deal for me, because the last day I was in the city was the last day I worked as a television reporter there. I didn't really say goodbye to people like I should have, so this was going to be my going away party. That, and I wanted to show off my new beard (it's hard to grow facial hard as a tv reporter, and I love having facial hair).

Friday was good, for the most part. The Brewers got big peformances out of Jeff Suppan, Seth McClung, and Rickie Weeks as they beat the Cubs 5-1. While I never made it to the Oktoberfest fest grounds, I did have a good time in downtown La Crosse and was able to see a lot of old friends. So far, so good.

As soon as I woke up Saturday, however, I knew things were not going to go my way. The biggest problem facing me was my health. Not only was a stuck with a headache from the night prior, but for some reason, I had the worst allergy attack I've ever had in this lifetime. All I wanted to do was nap, but I had made the three hour drive to be with friends and have a good time, so I attempted to carry on.

Staying alert definitely proved to be a struggle though, so we headed back to a friends house to watch the Brewers possibly clinch their first playoff birth in 26 years. Unfortunately, the Mets had beat the Marlins 2-0, so the best the Brewers could do was pick up a victory against the Cubs and then try again on Sunday. While the Crew had plenty of chances, they ultimately lost to the Cubbies in demoralizing fashion, 7-3.

It was a tough loss to take, but as a Wisconsin fan, you're trained to try to look for the positives. My buddies and I figured we could find solace in the Wisconsin Badgers, who were leading Michigan 19-0 the last time we had checked in on the action. When we turned back to ABC after the Brewers lost, we caught the tail end of the touchdown that gave the Wolverines the lead. We stayed with the game until the heartbreaking finish, when the Badgers had a 2 point conversion negated by a penalty, and then couldn't convert their second try. They lost the game 27-25, and things were suddenly getting worse at rapid speed.

Now, I have no idea who this girl is, but I posted it to call you out for skimming this posting. Anyway, after the Badger loss, we decided it was time to rejoin the Oktoberfest celebration, and forget our troubles of being a Wisconsin sports fan for the day. I was starting to conquer my allergies as well, so things were on the up and up.

When we arrived at the Oktoberfest grounds, things weren't as fun as we imagined. I was with two of my buddies, who I'll call Woos and Bear (who you may remember before he mysteriously quit contributing to this blog). We weren't having fun at the fairgrounds, mainly because it was a "been there, done that" sort of thing. If you've never been to the celebration, I recommend going, it's a fun time. But if you go once, there's really no need to go again. The same bands play the same songs for the same people, year after year. That, and a town that usually sells everything on the cheap (I know, I lived there for six years) suddenly jacks up there prices to take advantage of the out of towners.

After many tries and many "C'mon, we can have fun!"'s, we decided it was best to go home. Forget about the day, and start anew on Sunday.

It seemed like a good idea, until we actually made the trip back to Fond du Lac and found ourselves in front of two tv's. One had the Packers game on, the other was switching between the Brewers game and the Mets contest. After talking big about how I was going to watch the Packers, I ended up watching only about seven minutes of the game, as I was locked in on the Crew. Big game for the Brewers not withstanding, I couldn't believe I allowed myself to pay that little attention to Packers game. In fact, I'm sure at least one of your friends told you how Sunday was "the best Packers loss day ever", or something to that extent.

What I did see of the Packers game though wasn't pretty. The Packers played poorly throughout the contest, as they loss to the Buccaneers 30-21. Besides the turnovers, the defense played pretty poorly, as it seems they are having a difficult time stopping anyone on third downs. Perhaps more disappointing was Ryan Grant's 15 attempts for 20 carries performance, which also included a touchdown that was returned for an interception. Way to totally under performance after signing a big contact Ryan. Like nobody saw that one coming.

In addition to that, it wasn't a good day for Aaron Rodgers, although I don't put all the blame on him today. Granted, I may again be accused of "drinking the Kool-Aid", which I'll accept. I just thing the offensive line played poorly, the receivers couldn't catch the ball, and McCarthy once again showed some conservative play-calling. But that is all in addition to the poor performance from Rodgers.

I'm not leaving the Rodgers bandwagon anytime soon, but it was discouraging to see him rough up his shoulder. I have to be honest, this was not the situation I wanted to see Matt Flynn get his first NFL snaps in. Rodgers may have a separated shoulder, but they can just pop that back in, I hope. Still, it didn't help for all the Ted Thompson haters that Brett Favre threw a personal best six touchdown passes today (Fine, I'll admit. It was a good performance. But, on the other hand, the Cardinals defense is terrible, and the Jets barely tried to run the ball. These are just some of the facts I hope you consider before you start saying things like "Favre is way better than Rodgers". Please. Consider these things.)

With all those things happening, it's easy to see I was NOT having a good weekend. And with the Brewers struggling to find any offense with the Cubs, and the Mets coming back against the Marlins, more heartbreak looked to be just around the corner.

But then, with one swing of the bat, everything changed.

I can't remember a time where I've screamed louder for a longer period of time than when Ryan Braun cracked a two run shot over the fence to put Milwaukee up 3-1. Granted, there was still an inning to go, and the Mets still had some fight in them, but I could feel the playoffs coming. I was nervous, and unsure at times, but at that moment, when that ball cleared the fence, it started to become clear that the Brewers were going to make the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. The first time in my lifetime.

You know, even as I just wrote that sentence at 2:03am on Monday morning, I still can't believe that it's true. The Brewers are in the playoffs. Say that out loud, if you would. It's unbelievable.

Why is it so unbelievable? Because we're talking about the Milwaukee Brewers here. We're talking about a team I have been rooting for ever since I first understood what sports were. A team that I saw fall just short of the AL East pennant in 1992. A team that I had a hard time loving because of my hatred towards baseball after the strike. A team that I fell back in love with in the late 1990's, even though that logo was so atrocious. A team that gave us a 100 plus loss season when I did come back around.

A team that gave us Jeffrey Hammonds, Jose Hernandez, and Nick Neugebauer. A team that continued to disappoint us even while trying to rebuild. A team that blew a 24-10 start in the 2007 season. A team that blew the Wild Card lead to the Phillies just two short weeks ago, and seemed destined to collapse. A team I thought was done.

But this was also a team that wasn't going to let Milwaukee down, as easy as that might have been. This was a team that saw CC Sabathia go on three days rest for the third straight game, and gave an unbelievable performance. This was a team that had fought back from certain doom, and stayed alive until the final day. This was a team that wasn't going to quit, no matter what the odds.

When the Brewers turned the final double play of their 2008 season, you could see the relief radiate off the Brewers faces. It was the same relief you could probably see on the person next to you, either at your house, or at the bar.

You see, this was a terrible weekend. Nothing went right. Everyone in this state, from the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan, needed something to pick them up from the lows their teams had given them. In the end, it was the one team that has been so good at disappointing us for all of these years that came through. The team that finally got the monkey off their back. The words you never thought you'd say again, if you ever had the chance to before.

The Milwaukee Brewers were going to the postseason.

That alone, makes this the best weekend ever.


Chris said...

haven't read the whole post yet, but another brewer's fan site wrote something most of us young-ens can appreciate.

Jack Burton said...

Ok, I really do not want to take on troll status on this blog. And yay to the Brewers. Also the punter has to go, you are so right about Ryan. But I need to come back to the point I tried to shove through with about 4 thousand other words that were garbage the last time. The NFL is a league where teams that have legitimate talent have a short shelf life mostly due to salary cap restrictions and aging of players. We have in the Packers basically the same team as last year. The team that was one game away from the Super Bowl is in serious jeopardy of not going even .500. Alarmist, I know, but this is not going to be a problem solved soon. Last year, I recall, we had no running game until mid-season. I believe our record was 7-1 at that point. We have nine sacks on Rodgers thus far this year. Last year we had 15 total, for the season.(That has nothing to do with AR holding onto the ball for an interminably long time, I'm sure) I know AR is going to be very good, if not prone to taking big hits, in the future. It just is not going to win us very many games now. Like it or not, Favre is still doing it, and it is frustrating I guess. I know all the horrible, terrible things he did to us, and it hurt, it really did. But I was ready to forgive, because it was good business. Every company has a-holes. Read the new Cowboys book, they won Super Bowls with those guys. Just once again, we may not have this much talent assembled on our squad in the future. So yeah, I guess this blog is my windmill and I am Don Quixote.
I also think the defense is actually doing quite well, it is hard to maintain when constantly on the field due to poor offensive positioning. We are having way too many three and outs and our receivers are way confused. Everything just seems off, and not in a biased way. Everyone as well. Strange. Kind of like a lack of leadership, or something. Oh well. Again, Go Brew.
Oh yeah, um, the Cardinals are ranked 16th against the pass, 17th overall. Tampa? 20th vs the pass, 19th overall. "Cardinals defense is horrible". You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

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