Good Time for Brewers? May Be Not
Ten games, eight losses, only 17 runs, almost no-hit twice in three games and a team batting average of .172. The biggest ray of hope? Simply coming home for six games against San Diego and Pittsburgh. Two others: the Miller Park debut of Zack Greinke and the revival of Yovani Gallardo after several poor outings.
Still, a 1-7 start to May was ominous. The Observers know the season's second month often isn't kind to the Brew Crew.
Frank: So, anything good to say?
Artie: Not about baseball, but how about the delightful, delicious Dallas demolition of the Lakers? There goes David Stern's blueprint for the NBA Finals. It was Mother's Day, but I got a Christmas present!
Frank: Can't argue with that. But we've got to talk about the Brewers leaving town at 12-12 and coming back 14-20.
Artie: Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder iced up and no one compensated for 'em. And talk about bad breaks! Nyjer Morgan returned to the disabled list after two days when he bunted himself into a broken finger. The only thing hot about the offense was Dale Sveum's seat as the hitting coach.
Frank: They had these puzzling droughts last year too, although they ranked fourth in the league with 750 runs. They had a 20-run game, an 18-er and two 17-ers—almost 10% of their runs in four games. But they also got shut out 14 times and one-runned 12 times, all losses.
Artie: I think teams are developing a good "book" on getting Braun out. He's really having trouble with pitches just below the belt and on the inside corner. If he and his pals don't turn things around quickly, the only flowers in May will be lilies on the grave of our playoff hopes.
Frank: The media guide shows that May historically is a bad month for the Brewers. Over their 42 previous seasons, including the first one in Seattle, they've had only 11 winning Mays and gone 529-616, a .462 winning percentage. Only July, at .457, is worse.
Artie: How about the National League years?
Frank: In 13 previous N.L. seasons the Brewers were 172-193 in May, or .471. The only winning Mays were 15-13 in 2001 and 18-10 two years ago. Last May they went 12-16, including a nine-game losing streak.
Artie: This is getting me sick.
Frank: Let's find a silver lining. Gallardo almost no-hit the Cardinals, snapping a five-start stretch in which his ERA was 8.89.
Artie: I should be an auxiliary pitching coach. Remember how I said during the last homestand that he was working too slowly?
Frank: And then Gallardo told the Journal Sentinel he needed to "speed it up a little."
Artie: Which he did in Atlanta and St. Louis; fastest I've ever seen him work.
Frank: They got another lift Monday from Greinke's strong outing against San Diego, after his so-so debut in Atlanta.
Artie: Well, the Padres came in hitting a measly .215. But then, last week Greinke was hurt by two first-inning errors, as well as a postage-size strike zone.
Frank: That didn't bother Tim Hudson. Well, here's more good news: The Brewers came home with 128 games left.
Artie: But looking up at Pittsburgh in May? That ain't good.
This Isn't a Game
Frank: Was it just me, or were you also a little bothered by the sports-like tone of some of the "Osama Is Dead" celebrating?
Artie: I'm with you. I'm surprised the crowd at the White House didn't bring out the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.
Frank: I think it's valid to ask whether we should whoop it up because a guy—evil though he was—got a bullet in the head.
Artie: Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall tweeted some dumb things about 9/11, but he was right to ask, "What kind of person celebrates death?"
Frank: Besides that, the "We're No. 1" atmosphere hit me wrong. Some commentary called it "patriotism," but I think it was more like performance.
Artie: It sure looked and sounded like the silly stuff that happens when a team wins the World Series or Super Bowl. In this case the team's name was "U-S-A, U-S-A," like it was the Olympics.
Frank: A friend said he heard one of the crowds singing the "Na Na, Hey, Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye" song.
Artie: It's funny for a second, but it just trivializes what's happened. This ain't some game that's been won, and all the other terrorist nutbags ain't trudging into an off-season.
Frank: To me, the partying typified something about our pampered, over-entertained society. Everything comes to be seen in terms of what it can look like on TV or in a video. Doesn't matter if it's a game, a ridiculous "reality" show or the reaction to a deadly serious news event. The displays all look and sound the same because we make them look the same. All too often the main goal is simply to be seen, not to do something meaningful.
Artie: Like what happens with the national anthem at a lot of ballgames. It becomes a Whitney Houston wannabe session, with the singer throwing in all those riffs and wails that make it last forever. Hey, it's about the meaning of the song, not your stylings!
Frank: I noticed Mr. Obama used a sports analogy in explaining why he isn't releasing the death photos: "We don't need to spike the football."
Artie: Which of course is what so many athletes—and fans—insist on doing. It isn't good enough that I beat you; I've gotta rub your nose in it.
Frank: And I thought there was some of that attitude in the Osama celebrating. We should be better than that. I'm not saying the celebrators don't love this country, but I think their sense of patriotism was misplaced. You want to honor the 9/11 victims and our soldiers? Don't ignore any opportunity to vote; cut down your gas-guzzling and give more to charity; do some volunteer work instead of wasting your time on Charlie Sheen and your next tweet about yourself. We could get a lot done if we concentrated on a few things that really matter...
Artie: Like a decent education and at least some medical care for everyone...
Frank: Instead of all the things with no genuine value that we fixate on. Such as anyone named Kardashian, or so much of the irrelevant hoopla and posturing in sports.
Defeated Over Time
Frank: Did you notice that the Kentucky Derby was Saturday?
Artie: Oh yeah. Looked like they shipped all the silly hats from that royal wedding to Churchill Downs.
Frank: As someone who still likes to go to a racetrack, I recalled that 70 years ago horse racing was one of the top three U.S. sports, with baseball and boxing.
Artie: Boxing had its own big weekend event, Manny Pacquiao beating Sugar Shane Mosley—available to anyone with $54.95 to plunk down for pay-per-view.
Frank: Anyway, it got me wondering whether the top sports now—in particular, football—might not be at the top in a few decades. Especially in light of last week's news about Dave Duerson.
Artie: The former Bears safety who killed himself in February and asked that his brain be used for research.
Frank: Neurologists at Boston University confirmed that Duerson suffered from a disease linked to multiple concussions. This will just be the beginning because more and more ex-players are being asked to leave their brains for research.
Artie: We saw this past season an explosion of interest in the effects of concussions, and actions by the NFL to reduce them.
Frank: I think there'll be more and more parents who tell their kids, "You're not playing football." Over time, the pool of available players might evaporate so much that football as we know it can't be sustained.
Artie: Sounds far-fetched, given all the macho appeal of the grid game. But in 1940 how many people thought boxing or horse racing would wither?