Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Staying Positive, Against the Odds

When the Brewers made the playoffs in 2008, I was dirt broke. Not broke like I am now, but literally living paycheck to paycheck, only I wasn't receiving paychecks at the time. Still, when I was told that I could possibly get tickets to the Brewers playoff series against Philadelphia, I jumped at the chance, bought the whole postseason, and never looked back.

Miller Park only would host two games those playoffs, but the win during game three of the NLDS will forever go down as one of my favorite games to attend in my life. Yeah, the next day was pretty lame, but that wasn't the point. The Brewers were in the playoffs, and I was lucky enough to be there.

In 2011, the Brewers have a much better team, and maybe it's for that reason that I haven't been as eager to buy ticket after ticket. Maybe it's because I live an hour away and have to work at 5am in the morning. Maybe it's because I'm a little more responsible with my money and I have more bills that need to be paid. Or maybe it's because I just keep figuring that the Brewers will play another game at Miller Park soon enough, and I'll just go to that game at that time. Most likely, it's a combination of all of those reasons and perhaps a few others.

But I was done playing the waiting game on Monday night, and I finally made it to a playoff game circa 2011. After four great wins at Miller Park already in these playoffs, I just wanted to have my own wild playoff experience and I didn't want to wait any longer. I sort of had a bad feeling before the game (my direct quote is that "I feel bad about this game, but good about the series") but I never envisioned Albert Pujols to come out and basically win the game by himself. Shaun Marcum struggled, the Brewers couldn't plate runners, and Milwaukee's pitching staff imploded yet again and the St. Louis Cardinals took game two of the series 12-3. Not what I expected for my first taste of the playoffs in 2011 (I am, by the way, saying twenty eleven, and not two thousand and eleven, and I hope you're all with me by now).

Despite my early start time the next day, there was no way I was going to leave this game early. Most people didn't make it to the sausage race. I can't blame them if that's their prerogative. I'm just not a person that is going to spend money on nine innings of baseball and not see it through. Potentially missing an epic comeback is a strong enough motivator to not want to beat the post-game traffic out of the ballpark (and if you stayed to the end last night, the post-game was probably when the traffic was flowing the smoothest).

So we stayed, got beat up on, and the Brewers were embarrassed at Miller Park for really the first time this season. What we may have saw however - the final at-bat by Prince Fielder in Miller Park as a Brewer. If it was his final one, he made it count. A solo shot to right field and a standing ovation to follow.

Why might it be his last at-bat? Because of the playoff format in Major League Baseball which really does not benefit the home club, in my opinion. With the series split at one, the Cardinals have a major advantage by playing the next three games in Busch Stadium. I get that both teams have to play at home during a series, but the 2-2-1-1-1 option would seem a little more fair to me. Sure, it's extra travel for everyone involved, but I'd rather the series be determined by play on the field instead of whose field we're playing on.

Ultimately, and I might be stupid for feeling this, but I feel that the Brewers are going to take 2-of-3 in St. Louis and then clinch in game six. I think they are going to win this series, and to do that, they have to win at least one on the road, obviously. But I've also seen the Brewers win in St. Louis when they had to, and it's something I think they can do despite their struggles on the road. My only concern is the pitching, which has really vanished this October.

Again, I'm glad I went to game two of the NLCS despite the outcome, as it was something that I certainly never thought I would attend as a Brewers fan. And while the series does look bleak as we enter this new best-of-five where the Cardinals have home-field, you still gotta play those games. I'm thinking that whoever wins game three wins this series, and I'm thinking it's going to be Milwaukee.

Or at least win one of these games, so the taste of a 12-3 loss doesn't rot in my mouth all offseason.


Tony Brown said...

Game 3 is huge! Obviously. We have our only productive starter out their against their ace. The implications of us losing are almost too dire to talk about. I think Greinke would be moved up and pitch on 3 days rest, meaning we'd be relying on Wolf and Marcum in games 5 and 6. Scary. So we need it tomorrow then even if we lost game 4, the series is still ours to take.

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