Out With The Crowd: "Hey, hey, he was framed!"
The Milwaukee Brewers didn't get off to a great start in 2013. That plus the PED-shaped cloud that continues to follow their biggest star around meant I was eager to get a Crew fan's take on the team's chances this year…and Andrew Maraniss has stayed loyal to the crew through several decades (and two different leagues).
We spoke late last week about bullpen woes, sophomore slumps, and Rob "One True Outcome" Deer.
Andrew Maraniss: I worked for the Rays during their inaugural season of 1998. So they are my second-favorite team…
Sarah D. Bunting: I'm a big fan of Maddon.
Yes, he's awesome.
Even though apparently he's not a fan of bunting.
(My dad and I collect these headlines. "Bunting is overrated!" "We know.")
Great name for a baseball fan…I feel bad for Homer Bailey being a pitcher.
Right? …Anyway! Who's your favorite new Brewer this season?
My favorite new Brewer this season actually had a cup of coffee with the team last year, the shortstop Jean Segura…he looks like he'll be a real star; one of the best young shortstops they've had in a long time (which reminds me one of my favorite all-time Brewers was Ernie Riles, who for awhile, at least to me as a kid, looked like he would be the next Robin Yount!).
It's funny how those things go. Gregg Jefferies was supposed to be in the HoF by now.
And the Brewers had another promising shortstop, Pat Listach, who was Rookie of the Year in '92.
God, that guy. He was everything. Then he was gone.
It's fun to think back on the names of guys who came up with some promise and then kind of disappeared: Billy Jo Robidoux ["now umpiring high-school games" — SDB], Randy Ready ["Triple-A manager in the Braves org"], Dion James ["the kid who killed a bird in flight with a fly ball"], George Canale ["last seen playing for the Hyundai Unicorns — awesome"], La Vel Freeman…
My grandparents used to live in Milwaukee. I'd go up to visit them every summer, and one time, for four straight days, they asked me what I wanted to do that day — and every day I said "go to the Brewers game"…so that's what we did. It was Billy Jo Robidoux's rookie year and I remember thinking to myself, someday it will be cool to say I saw Billy Joe Robidoux when he was just a rookie. That doesn't impress too many people now, however.
He'd probably be pleased about it, a little.
I hope so!
Who's your least favorite new Brewer?
Well, I saw that they just re-signed K-Rod. That doesn't bring back too many good memories from last year.
[wan high-five] I feel you.
One of my favorite all-time lines about bullpen woes came from Jon Miller when he was the Orioles broadcaster — and this has a Brewers connection. For most of my childhood, I lived in DC and my dad and I would go up to Baltimore often when the Brewers were in town. One time we had great seats behind home plate. I was a little older by this point, actually, maybe visiting from Nashville. During a pitching change, they played "This Is How We Do It" …then Greg Vaughn proceeded to hit a grand slam off the reliever. As he crossed home plate, I stood up and yelled, "That's how we do it" …kind of embarrassing looking back on it.
Anyway, on the postgame show, Miller was talking about how the bullpen blew that game for the O's and he said, "Rarely has so much gasoline been poured on an already raging inferno." I loved that.
HA HA HA! I always liked Miller. His former broadcast partner wasn't my favorite…and speaking of that, anyone you were glad to see go before the 2013 season?
Not necessarily…I was glad they were able to keep the starting lineup intact and was just worried about the pitching. See K-Rod answer above!
Anyone you were sorry to see go?
I wasn't sorry to see him go from a production standpoint, but Nyjer Morgan brought some swagger to the team for a brief but important time. Clutch hit against D-backs will be remembered for a long time.
I've kept up with his FB page/Tweets, etc. from Japan. Still as energetic as ever.
I always enjoy the pepperpots. (Up to a point. And that point is Delmon Young.)
We used to call my little sister a pepperpot, after Phil Garner, who was a true pepperpot with the Pirates. She had no idea what were talking about, of course.
Speaking of my sister, she played a role in the Brewers' 13-game winning streak in 1987. We lived in Texas then. My dad and I were watching a Brewers game. Sarah walked in the room, and things weren't looking good. As any big brother would do, I blamed it on her, and asked her to leave. Then Rob Deer hit a game-winning homer. Obvious connection.
But if he'd struck out, you'd have thought nothing of it, because: Rob Deer.
True! Feast or famine.
What's your biggest worry for the Crew this year? Bullpen? Corner outfield? Braun goes to jail?
Hey, hey, he was framed!
Yeah, just ask him. (Or his lawyer.)
I think the biggest worry is the pitching — starters and bullpen. Which seems like is always the case. I'm glad we are having this chat today and not a few days ago; I was ready to cash in on the season at 2-8, and was very pleasantly surprised to see them sweep the Giants. A good reminder that it's a loooong season.
But when Axford had his early troubles again, it looked bleak. Still could be.
I was thinking the same thing; it's funny how the answers evolve over the course of the season (and sometimes it's fun to revisit the same team at the All-Star Break). We're currently in the first rash of major injuries and you can't really tell anything 'til that's over. (Unless you're an Astros fan.)
Now, that's true.
Where do you see the team finishing this year? Standings- or wins-wise.
I am not an objective person to ask such questions. So here's another story from long ago. Back when I was 9, 10, 11 years old and living in DC, I became pen pals with one of the minority owners of the Brewers, a PR man in Milwaukee named Ben Barkin. He would send me Christmas cards from the Brewers, media guides, etc., and I would write him with my predictions for the starting lineup, predicted stats for the players, etc.
One time, he shared my predicted batting order, batting avg., home runs with Harry Dalton, who was the team's general manager at the time. Dalton wrote me back with a nice note saying how if they really did have a .315 team batting average with all the home runs I had predicted, they would indeed have quite a season. I still have that letter framed on my wall.
Anyway, I am not quite the optimist that I was back then, but close (despite saying I was calling the season over after 10 games!). I think they can contend for a wild card this year.
As a side note, the Bob Uecker matroyshka doll set I got from a reader is one of my most treasured possessions. ["Hi, Gretchen!" — SDB]
As it should be. My daughter is probably the only two-year-old girl in Nashville with a complete set of racing sausages.
Brewersiana is the best. …Any surprises so far this season? Pleasant or otherwise.
I have been surprised by how well Segura has been hitting. I knew he was a good fielder but wasn't sure about his hitting. Also have to say I was surprised by Gallardo's arrest.
The other thing to say about the season so far is that with Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez hurt, this isn't really the "real" lineup yet…so, that's another reason for optimism.
If you could tell the manager one thing, what would it be?
Give me a shot! I have been working on my slow-pitch-softball knuckleball, and it is pretty amazing. Otherwise, I'd tell him to keep doing what he's doing. Roenicke seems like a pretty level-headed guy, which is a good trait to have when you're dealing with injuries and trying to sort out a bullpen.
Anything else bugging you? Could be Brewer headlines, other players, etc. Here's mine: I'd like an A-Rod cone of silence for two weeks.
As a Brewers fan living in Nashville, where the Brew Crew's Triple-A team is located, it is bugging me that we still don't have a new stadium for the Nashville Sounds. Nashville is great in so many ways, but a new ballpark, preferably downtown, would be the icing on the cake.
Andrew Maraniss was born in Wisconsin, but moved away at the age of 4. Still, he’s passionately followed the Milwaukee Brewers from afar. Growing up in Washington, D.C., he and his father attended many a Brewers-Orioles game (including the legendary season-ending series in 1982) at Memorial Stadium and later Camden Yards, and after moving to Texas, he would travel to Arlington to see the Crew play the Rangers. Now a partner at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations in Nashville, Andrew is brainwashing the next generation of long-distance Brewers fans by showering his 2-year-old daughter with Brewers gear and racing sausages.
Andrew can be followed on Twitter @trublu24 (a reference to the True Blue Brew Crew that not many of his Nashville friends appreciate). In addition to his work at MP&F, Andrew is currently writing a book on Perry Wallace, the first African-American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference.
Tags: Alex Rodriguez Andrew Maraniss Aramis Ramirez Ben Barkin Billy Jo Robidoux Bob Uecker bunting Corey Hart Delmon Young Dion James Ernie Riles Fire Joe Morgan RIP Francisco Rodriguez George Canale Greg Vaughn Gregg Jefferies Harry Dalton Homer Bailey Jean Segura Joe Maddon John Axford Jon Miller La Vel Freeman Milwaukee Brewers Nyjer Morgan Out With The Crowd Pat Listach Perry Wallace Phil Garner Randy Ready Reader Gretchen Rob Deer Robin Yount Ron Roenicke Ryan Braun Tampa Bay Rays Yovani Gallardo