I consider this to be my 43rd season as a baseball fan. While I recall going to see the Pale Hose play at old County Stadium in Milwaukee in 1968 (who forgets their first Bat Night?), I didn’t really become a fan until the following season. For reasons that are unclear to me, I chose to become a Cubs fan in 1969. It might have been that the Cubs, unlike the Sox, could be seen regularly on TV in Milwaukee. Also, their radio broadcasts on WGN boomed in clearly on my mom’s AM radio, allowing me to follow every game. It also could have been that the Cubs were a much better team than the White Sox.

Whatever the reason, unbeknownst to me, I had purchased a ticket on the Titantic. While that CHI team finished with 92 wins, they aren’t remembered for their solid overall performance or quality of their pitching staff or their fine everyday lineup. No, that club is remembered for a monumental collapse that converted a nine game division lead on August 12 to a eight game deficit by the time the season ended just six weeks later.

And herein lies the root of my hesitation to jump out of my shoes about the seemingly commanding NL Central lead presently possessed by the Brewers, the team I cashiered the Cubs for and have followed religiously since they came to Milwaukee 42 seasons ago.

I have been taking a lot of shots (mostly good-natured) from my Twitter tweeps about my hesitation to be giddy about the Brewers current state of affairs. These guys are real students of the game, follow it closely and are extremely knowledgeable–not just about the Brewers, but about the whole professional baseball scene. However, I have at least 15 years on most of them, and that has allowed me to see stories like this unfold in ways that haven’t always had a happy ending. Like @BigSnakeMan (who is just three days younger than me), I’ve been following the game long enough to have experienced a sudden downpour on an otherwise sunny day. In other words, I’ve seen my team cash in a nine game lead at this time of the year and exchange it for an eight game deficit by season’s end. I’ve seen how a five game winning streak can be immediately followed by losing 11 of the next 13, dropping my team out of the lead and leaving it listing.

I realize that the projections show the Brewers have a better than 90% chance of making it to the post-season. I know that Rickie Weeks is making progress with his ankle injury and will probably be back in the Brewers lineup early next month (just when the team will also be able to bring on some minor league reinforcements when the rosters expand). By then, Chris Narveson will also be back in the rotation and Carlos Gomez will be available to provide defensive help and pinch run in close and late situations. All that is good. But it is hard for me to get too revved up just yet. After all, the Cubs were seven games up on the Mets in the NL East after 125 games in 1969. Interestingly, after 125 games this year the Brewers are 6.5 games up heading into tonight’s match up against, of all teams, the Mets. Fortunately, NY won’t be sending Tom Seaver to the mound during this series.

 

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  • http://www.twitter.com/aldensports @aldensports

    I appreciate the skepticism. Looking like a team of destiny, the Brewers should no doubt maintain and even extend their lead. But there is a reason why they play the season out even when it looks like the door is closed for opponents. I think the Brewers players share your mentality more than the fans do, and that is what scares people. This team is focused.

    • http://www.retaggr.com/Page/crichar3 Chris

      Exactly! In a few lines you articulated what it took me an entire blog post to say. Thanks for saying it better than I did.

  • http://www.pocketdoppler.com BigSnakeMan

    Wow, it’s as if I wrote it myself. Except that my pre-Brewers experience was a tad less traumatic than yours as I rooted for the late ’60s Twins as seen on snowy over the air broadcasts from an Eau Claire TV station. But, as you know, I get where you’re coming from. I’ve seen enough as a Brewers’s fan, from following a 13 game winning streak to start a season with a 12 game losing streak, to watching them almost piss away the 2008 postseason.

    • Chris

      I was going to cite that 12 game losing streak that followed the 13 game winning streak in 1987, but I thought I made my point with the Cubs stuff. (I was also going to mention the 2007 team going from 14 over .500 at the beginning of July only to be one game under by the end of August.) But, yeah, that is another great example about how things can shift around quickly.