Friday, September 19, 2014

The Annual Baseball Rant

This year, rather than my usual mid-season-All-Star-Break rant, I decided to wait until the Brewers season was over to compose the rant.

Oh, I suppose mathematically there’s some way they could sneak in….as a wild card….if they sweep the rest of their games with the Pirates and the Cubs….and the Pirates collapse….but, it’s not gonna happen. And this year’s rant will have more of a tone of resignation and disgust, rather than the usual anger and brimstone.

First of all, the guy on the right should have fired the guy on the left in July. Or early August at the latest. Just like he did to Ned Yost, in the middle of September 2008 – when the Brewers actually were in contention.  Nedly told the media back then he never saw it coming.

I would have fired Roenicke weeks ago. Back in the early part of August you could sense the slide coming, and RR did NOTHING – at least nothing which I can glean from the popular prints and blogs and chatrooms – to get his players to motivate themselves to play like it meant something.

I’m of the school which believes you can’t motivate people, they have to do it for themselves – but you can try to create the circumstances and climate under which they will have an attitude (motivation) adjustment.  And sometimes, as any baseball fan knows, firing the manager causes the players to motivate themselves.

Kinda like ranting at an ump and getting tossed out of the game does, once in a while.

This guy should have been fired on the spot Thursday night for the unforgivable error in the 8th inning against the Cards when he “forgot” how many outs there were. For those not close followers of the team, his name is Mark Reynolds.  His mistake cost them the game. In a contest their playoff lives depended on, Reynolds head was clearly not in the game.

At the conclusion of that debacle, before the pitcher stepped on the rubber and started the next play, RR should have called time out, removed Reynolds from the game, put someone else on first, sent a team functionary to retrieve Reynolds’ street clothes and wallet from the locker room, told Reynolds to catch a cab to the airport and make his own way home, and that any other personal affects would be boxed up and shipped to him at whatever his seasonal address is, and inform him that his services would no longer be needed by the Milwaukee franchise of Major League Baseball.

But such things never happen. I can only dream them. It’s like my late father taught me so many times: there are mistakes you can recover from, and mistakes you can’t recover from.  This is one of those mistakes that’s so egregious that it should have been a career-ender.

This guy should be given a fat salary bump and a nice non-negotiated bonus. Not because Jonathon Lucroy hits a ton of doubles, but because he consistently plays with spirit and enthusiasm, performing at the highest level of his profession. It’s a shame that the other teammates don’t follow the lead of Luc, who “plays like he means it”.

Carlos Gomez is not a leadoff man. I think everyone in baseball knows that, except RR and Gomez. The job of the leadoff man is to get on base. Yet, if you’ve watched the Brewers in the past month, every time Gomez takes to the plate – and, not just the first at-bat of the Brewers’ half of the first inning, when the role of the leadoff man is so clearly defined –he tries to hit a homer. And usually falls down at least once in EVERY at-bat because his swing is so undisciplined and goofy.

It’s become a joke at the Morrissey Compound. My wife and I will be sure we’re tuned in to the game at the very beginning, so we can see Gomez try to kill the ball in his first at-bat and fall down. For the uninformed, my bride is a true fan and student of the game, and has been since her wasted youth as a teenage pain-in-the-butt malingering daily, all summer, at the old Comiskey Park and at Wrigley Field. She claimed she was a fan of both teams, a claim no other Chicagoan has ever made.

Doesn’t anyone ever sit these guys like Gomez down and say “now, Carlos, we’re going to put you in the leadoff spot – all we want you to do is get on base. Whether you just meet the ball and put it in play, or take a base on balls, all we need you to do is get on base”.

This is the second year (last year was the first) that my bride and I attended NO major league baseball games. I’m not sure why.  We had plenty of opportunity; even though I insist in my advanced age (65.25) on sitting in very expensive seats right behind home plate, we’re fortunate that the cost isn’t really a consideration; I’m not sure why both of us just don’t seem to want to pull the trigger, buy some great seats on StubHub, and go to a game.

Part of the reason is advancing age; part of it is the glot of stupid, drunken, self-indulgent yay-hoos who always seem to have seats near the ones we buy (Section 117 or 118 at Miller Park, to be exact); and part of it is our media room is equipped with a 66-inch HDTV and a 500-watt outboard sound system and some VERY comfortable chairs.

Usually the annual rant takes a shot or two at baseball in general, but, with all the crap going on in the NFL right now, I just didn’t feel the desire to say crappy things about baseball. I still love the sport. But I’m just so disappointed in my home team this year.  A collapse comparable to the swoon the ’69 Cubs took.
I'll watch the playoffs and the world series as I always do, but from this point on, my attention will be focused on the Green and Gold, until Spring Training.


  1. Interesting rant, with some good points.
    I agree that the Brewers do not have a true leadoff man, but until one emerges, Gomez is the best option. Yes he strikes out too much and needs to take more pitches, but his on base percentage is .354, second on the team to Lucroy (.371). He's got great speed and leads the team in stolen bases with 34, also characteristics of good lead off men. He is a lot like Bobby Bonds, another lead off man who struck out too much 189 times in 1970 after 187 in '69) but had great power and speed. That being said, I'd like him down in the order farther so he can drive in runs.

    In general, the Brewers as a team need to improve their on base percentage, and that means more discipline at the plate.

    Both Reynolds and Lyle Overbay are rentals at first base for this season. Need to address 1B in the off season.

    While this collapse is disappointing, it doesn't compare in my mind to the '69 Cubs, who I believe were up by something like 8 1/2 games in late August before falling apart. The Brewers were up by 6 1/2 in late June, but were only 2 to 4 games up for most of the season. That's bad enough but doesn't rank with the '78 Red Sox, '64 Phillies, or '69 Cubs. I don't think the Brewers have the depth that the Cardinals have, and that catches up with you in a long season.

  2. Glad you're back Tim:

    I enjoy your baseball rants and have contributed to them in the past. However, I can't agree with your retribution plan for Reynolds. Showing up players during games is what Bobby Valentine loved to do. So it usually only took him 1/4 of a season to lose the clubhouse. Why he got so many manager jobs when he clearly sucked at it is a good question.

    The Brewers have lived and died by the HR. This year, they died. Braun didn't perform, the corner infielders need upgrading. They need a real leadoff guy, maybe in LF. The starting pitching is OK and that is the hardest thing to find. Bullpen guys seem to have become interchangeable, with good years coming every other year.

    So I'm not ready to give up next year. They don't have to spend a lot of money to upgrade the positions I mentioned. Let's banish Hank the Dog over the winter and come into spring with our chins up!