Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Baseball and 9/11

Jose Reyes wore a first-responder cap
before the Mets game on  Sunday.
I'm not a Bud Selig hater. Without him there would be no team in Milwaukee, and while I don't like many of his decisions, I think he does love the game and is doing what he believes is the right thing. But his reaction to the flap over the New York Mets wardrobe choice for Sunday's game on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks has me mystified.

For whatever reason, Major League Baseball decided that teams had to wear their own caps with an American flag sewn on the side. This presented a problem for the Mets. The team famously hosted the first sporting event in New York after the attacks. Players wore hats representing many of the first responders—firefighters, police, EMS etc.—and were lionized for the gesture.

This year, Mets players wanted to repeat the gesture. But MLB said no. Joe Torre, now a member of the league office, explained that baseball wanted all the teams to do the same thing. Although that sounds more like the NFL than MLB, apparently the league has the authority to make that call.

The Mets weren't happy about it but complied under protest. The strange thing is that Selig is upset that the Mets went public with the dispute and "embarrassed" the league. Did he really think no one notice the Mets were wearing their regular caps or that no reporter would ask about it? And if Selig thought it was the right decision why is he embarrassed that it became public?

It seems obvious that in hindsight Selig knows the decision was wrong. No harm would have been done if the Mets had worn the special caps. The controversy was predictable and avoidable.

By the way, even the NFL allowed coaches to wear FDNY and other such hats on the sidelines of its game over the weekend.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Lucky Bounce Off the Roof

Brewers' fans are proud of the retractable roof at Miller Park. They often wonder why newer parks are built without the feature.

This season, the roof has allowed to team to suffer fewer rainouts than many other teams. That means they don't have to contend with as many late-season doubleheaders.

And now the Brewers have another reason to like stadiums with roofs. Pennants are often won by the team that gets a lucky bounce or two. 

After being swept at home by the St. Louis Cardinals, the Brewers looked like they might be headed for a rough September, after all. Then, last night in Houston they looked lost at the plate until a bit of luck jumpstarted the offense.

With the Crew trailing 2-0 in the seventh inning, Corey Hart came to the plate with two out and a runner on first. A high pop foul looked like an easy play for the third baseman. Easy, that is, until the ball struck a support beam on the retractable roof. Instead of the third out, the ground rules mandated it was just a foul ball. Hart singled and the Brewers were on their way to an 8-2 victory.

Add to that the Cardinals' 11-8 loss at home to the Reds and the lead was back to 8.5 games with the magic number reduced to 16.

It's safe to say The Brewers are thankful that the Astros decided to include a roof on their stadium.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Run Continues

At the beginning of the month, I wrote how there's nothing more exciting in sports than your favorite baseball team going on a hot streak. Little did I know that the Brewers were only at the start of an epic run: They'd won 27 of 32 games coming into Tuesday's game with the  hated St. Louis Cardinals.

Those are same Cardinals that Milwaukee always seem to be chasing. Now it's the Redbirds and their cantankerous manager, Tony La Russa, who are desperate for some wins. In fact, they need a lot of wins to even make a dent in Milwaukee's 10.5 game lead.

As exciting as that early run was, the chance to bury a bitter and put away the division before the second week of September takes the joy up several notches. Going into the season, I thought the Brewers had a chance to win the division, but I never imagined they'd be so far ahead, building the biggest lead in the team's history.

The off-season moves to shore up the pitching staff—bringing in Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke—have paid off. And then Doug Melvin, the club's general manager, took a bold chance in trading for New York Mets' closer Frankie Rodriguez. Not only was he able to rework a problematic contract, Rodriguez accepted his less-glamorous role as 8th-inning man.

That move shored up the bullpen and the team has ridden good pitching, timely hitting and some lucky bounces to the upper echelon of the National League.

It's been nearly three decades since Milwaukee has had a team playing at this level. The excitement just keeps growing.

ESPN.com - MLB