Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wisconsin Demands Better from These Brewers

They say that there is supposed to be a grace period after one of your favorite teams wins a championship. By that logic, because the Packers won the Super just two short months ago I should be able to brush off any shortcomings of the other teams that I root for, at least for a short period of time. Thing about that is, I'm having a hard time subscribing to that theory. Yes, the Packers won the Super Bowl and it was one of the greatest five days of my life, but that doesn't excuse the heartaching losses we've been witnessing as a state lately.

The Badgers and Golden Eagles awesome runs to the Sweet Sixteen? Yeah, those were great but I still can't get the taste of the Badgers heartbreaking loss to a mid-major out of my mouth, and that Marquette clobbering at the hands of North Carolina is still a tough pill to swallow. The Bucks? Don't get me started (don't even get me started!) on how disappointing this supposed playoff run has been, and their loss the other night to the Bobcats was nothing short of embarrassing. Yes, we as Wisconsin fans found huge success with a Super Bowl victory this season, but elsewhere it seems that our other favorite teams are having a hard time following that success.

Now for me to say all of this and then talk depressingly about the Brewers would be a little silly, because the Brewers on Thursday loss just one game out of a 162-game season, this one a 7-6 heartbreaker to the Reds thanks to a game winning bomb from Ramon Hernandez. But even though it counts just as much in the standings as every other game does, there is a little more weight to the games played on Opening Day. This was the game that we've been waiting for since last Fall. How would the new manager run this team? How would the new guys contribute on defense? What would the new lineup look like? My workplace during this game was euphoric when Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez hit back-to-back homers to kick off the season. There's no doubt that we'd be celebrating back-to-back home runs no matter what the game, but because it happened on Opening Day it just felt a little more special.

For that same reason, losing on Opening Day feels a little worse than it really is. Most of which has to do with the fact that the Brewers seemed to be in control of this game throughout eight and one half innings, only to fall apart when John Axford went for the save. I've been quietly worried about Axamaphone all through Spring, but I still had enough confidence in him to close this one out. It's funny how after one blown save we're already hearing comparisons to Trevor Hoffman of last year and Derrick Turnbow of years past, and how people are already calling for Zach Braddock or Takashi Saito to be the closer. But I think that this is the attitude Wisconsin fans have taken since the Super Bowl victory. Just because we won one championship doesn't mean we're fine with settling for the next few years; we want to see more of these titles come back home. Does that make us snobby? Does that make us crass? Is it fair to the teams we root for? I'm not sure I can answer those questions at this time.

The thing is, it gets hard to keep a baseball season in perspective. Opening Day seems more important than the other 161. A tough loss is going to be tougher on you individually if you attend the game than if it occurred while you weren't able to catch it at work. Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. I think one of the things that did happen to us as Wisconsin fans in the last few months is that we've been conditioned to think that every game needs to have do-or-die implications. The Packers needed to win or go home for six straight weeks. Then we followed our college hoops teams through the one-and-done tournament format. And all of these Bucks games recently have felt like must wins. While Thursday was a devastating loss to witness for Brewers fans, we need to remember that it's not going to be do-or-die for this team for quite awhile. Let's make sure we sit back, enjoy that baseball has finally returned, and watch this team come together and hopefully deliver the kind of season we as Wisconsin sports fans are starting to grow fond of.

Baby lock them doors and turn the lights down low.

POTG: Rickie Weeks (1)


Tony Brown said...

not loving the mustache on Bucky right now.

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