Expectations of a World Series in Milwaukee
One Win and They're In!
Brewers Win! Brewers Win! Brewers Win!
Not bad for a rebuilding program that usually takes 4, 5, 6 years to complete. Our Milwaukee Brewers became a contender in two, losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the NLCS. One win short of the 2018 World Series.
I was there along with son Matt and 41,998 friends (give or take a few).
You see the last time the Milwaukee Brewers got this close to a World Series Bid was 2011. Before that, 1982.
There haven't been many post-season highlights of the team in one of the smallest markets for baseball.
There was that 12 game winning streak in 1987 that started the George Webb free burger thing. They did it again this year to the tune of some 170,000 free hamburgers.
That's about it.
When the Braves were in Milwaukee they won it all in 1957.
I was seven years old.
My favorite player was Eddie Mathews, third baseman, batted left, hit 512 home runs. Of course, they also had the home run king, Henry Aaron on the team. His statue stands in front of Miller Park today.
I always thought the 'Star Spangled Banner' ended with the words: "and the home of the Braves".
Through all that playoff drought other teams with bigger payrolls and more fans struggled just as much to get to the "Fall Classic."
The Chicago Cubs of course from that town south of the border won it all in 2016. Before that, in 1908. Something about a billy goat's curse.
Others; the Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals, have never reached the pinnacle of their sport.
There was a time when Abner Doubleday’s game was the only one in town.
Football was just getting a toehold on the American scene but baseball was well entrenched in our psyche. Just like Mom and apple pie.
"The boys of summer" included just about everyone, of all ages.
From vacant lot ball (that was the empty lot between ours and the neighbor's) to organized Little Leagues, American Legion ball and even local community teams. The whole summer revolved around baseball.
Our rules were simple.
- In the garden was an out and a chance to suffer the wrath of my Mom or Mrs. Moldenhauer if any damage was done.
- Over the road, a couple hundred feet straight away was a home run. Unless of course, the ball hit Sarnowski's house. Then, like the gardens, it was an out, with more trouble to follow.
- "Pitcher’s hands out" because there weren’t enough players to have a first baseman. The fielder had to throw to the pitcher before the runner reached first base.
- There was no catcher either. The backstop was the back wall of the neighbors' garage so the batter would have to retrieve a missed ball and toss it back to the pitcher.
As a result, these games usually took a while to finish.
The bases consisted of flat pieces of slab wood collected from the woodpile.
We didn’t count innings-just quit when someone’s mother called for supper, or the losing team tired of losing.
Disputes were settled by neighborhood rules. Lots of shouting and complaining until all gave up and went home. Some conflicts lasted for days but mostly, just until the next game.
I played in Little League ball. My uncle was the coach with my dad an umpire.
Even with the blatant nepotism, I was a perennial right fielder. That’s where no one except the occasional lefty ever hit the ball. I counted dandelions and watched birds and every now and then had to chase a ball to the fence and throw it, halfway back to second base.
I pitched once. Had a no-hitter going-walked every batter.
I even got suspended once, for swearing. Imagine that- a twelve-year-old swearing. Today it would be for a concealed weapon. My cousin was the one who ratted me out.
We couldn't afford to buy a bat but I knew the batboy for the community team and got a broken "Al Kaline" 32incher.
Put in a screw or two with some Elmer's glue and wrap black friction tape around it and we had a new bat.
It was way too big so you had to choke up on it about six inches. It only stung when you hit the ball just right.
Baseball continues to transcend our society.
I saw families with young children in tow with strollers or backpacks. Sometimes, three generations together.
You can carry on a conversation between batters, innings, pitching changes. Discuss the stats, debate the prospects of certain hitters, pitchers etc. Even politics, should you really want to.
It's a relaxed event interspersed with moments of heightened excitement, or the depths of despair.
There are no protesters.
So now, I have seen two and almost three world series teams from Wisconsin.
But unlike the Cubs, I don't have 108 years to wait.
Maybe next year.