Devon O’Neil: Yeah, the Mets lost it, but the Brew Crew also won it
September 29, 2008
It is true that there were better teams than the 90-72 Brewers this year – five, as records go. And every good team has a story about how its players and coaches achieved their success – the sacrifices they made, the adversity they overcame, the doubters who fueled them.
But no way the celebratory champagne tasted better for any of the other playoff clubs than it did for the Brewers.
Though their success came at the expense of my pitiful, make-you-want-to-vomit Mets, Milwaukee’s players endured nail biter after nail biter down the stretch with a third-base-coach-turned-manager, Dale Sveum, who’d replaced the fired incumbent Ned Yost with 12 games to go in a 162-game season; a 6-foot-7 ace, CC Sabathia, who pitched like Sandy Koufax in his three-month tenure with the club; and a group of 20-something sluggers led by Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder who never saw a pitch they couldn’t turn into a game-changing home run.
It’s been 26 years since Milwaukee made the playoffs. The team has switched leagues in that time, joining the NL in 1998, but otherwise done very little to maintain relevance. Other than Robin Yount and Paul Molitor, the club’s most important member over the past three decades has been its wacky voice, Bob Uecker.
When Yost was fired with two weeks to go, you figured the Brew Crew were finished as well. Or at least I did. Especially after the team lost four of its first five with Sveum at the helm.
But then Milwaukee won six of its last seven, leapfrogging that pathetic excuse for a contender known as the Mets (you can tell I’m not bitter), and roaring into the postseason with as much momentum as you could want.
In pursuing the world championship, Milwaukee will try to become the fourth wild-card
team in the last seven years to win it all. …
Someday, decades from now when baseball historians try to mark the beginning and conclusion of the steroids era, they will check out the 2008 long-ball stats. And they will see that only two players hit 40 home runs, neither of them American Leaguers (Ryan Howard clubbed 48 and Adam Dunn finished with exactly 40 for the fourth straight year).
And the historians will rest assured that the widespread evils of the previous decade were officially no longer present. …
The most unexpected performance in baseball this year belonged to Yankees starter Mike Mussina. Over the past few years I’d begun to lump him in with the five-innings-or-less crew ” that distinguished collection of fading pitchers who were smart enough to sign long-term deals when they were still good.
Coming off an 11-10 season, however, the 39-year-old Mussina finished 20-9 in the New York pressure cooker – the first time in his 18-year career he’s won 20 games – with a league-best 34 starts and the fifth best ERA in the AL (3.37). He now has 270 victories and seems more and more like a possible Hall of Fame selection down the road. …
Dear Broncos, it’s called defense. It wins championships. Yours will not. On the contrary, however, your offense is still a hoot to watch. See if your guys can hold on to the ball for the entire play more often, though. …
For those who lambasted Denver for getting rid of Jason Elam, consider this: Since signing with Atlanta, Elam is 9-of-9 on field goals this year, his 16th in the NFL, with a long of 50 yards. His undrafted free agent replacement, Matt Prater, whom Denver signed off Miami’s practice squad, is 9-of-10 with a 56-yard long. …
Sunday in the NFL was an excellent day to be: Dan Snyder, Larry Johnson, a Cowboys hater, a Raiders hater, a Jets receiver.
But a really bad day to be: a Ram, a Cardinals defensive back, the guy who said Terrell Owens had changed his selfish ways, in Al Davis’ owner’s box in the fourth quarter, Aaron Rodgers’ shoulder. …
Right now there are three Big 12 teams and two SEC teams in college football’s top five. Don’t let that fool you, though. The SEC is unlike any conference in the nation. And from what I’ve seen, Alabama is America’s premier team. …
Nice time for Penn State (5-0) to return to power, as it’s helped Joe Paterno overtake Bobby Bowden in career Division 1 wins, 377-376, a classic back-and-forth that gets too little attention. …
In parting, John Elway is engaged to a former Raiders cheerleader, 41-year-old Paige Green. I wondered whether Broncos fans would have a problem with it when I heard the news, so I browsed some online message boards.
“At least she is in his age group,” wrote one poster.
“The apocalypse begins,” wrote another.
Breckenridge resident Devon O’Neil’s $0.02 column runs Tuesdays. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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