Category Archives: Brewers

Ranking Each MLB Team’s Best Walk-up Song

Let’s talk about walk up music in the Major Leagues. We’ve all had the discussion, possibly at the local watering hole, possibly while waxing poetic about how great your terrible bar-league softball team is going to be: “If you were in the big leagues, what would your walk-up music be?” My answer, for the record, is “Blockbuster Night Part 1” by Run The Jewels. Your walk-up song should not only serve to work up the hometown crowd, it’s also a reflection of yourself. Do you have the Heart of a Lion? Is there perhaps some Bad Blood between you and the opposing team? You’ve got about 13 seconds to let the crowd know. What follows is a scientific evaluation of the player on each team that currently uses the medium best.

For this study I obtained most of my information from MLB.com’s Ballpark Music site (http://mlb.mlb.com/fan_forum/ballpark_music.jsp?c_id=mlb), to identify each player’s walk up music. So if you have anecdotal evidence that one of these songs is no longer in use by a particular player, or if you feel there’s one I’ve unfairly excluded that isn’t listed on MLB.com’s site, you’ll have take it up with them. I did what fact checking I could, but short of visiting each team’s ballpark every night, there’s only so much I can do.

Each song was scored according to three highly scientific measures on a scale of 1-100: “Is It Good Song”; “Do A Lot Of Folks Know The Song”; and “The Dope Beats and Catchiness Index (DBCI)”, a proprietary statistic of my own devising that seeks to define the level to which a particular song can raise the spirits of 35,000 baseball fans. Those scores were then averaged, with a bonus score of -5 to 5 applied to some songs whenever I felt like it, to find each songs final score.

But First! The Bottom Five:

5) Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays: In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins 29.3

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong about this, because Josh was not alone here; he was only the most well-known player to use this as his theme. Phil Collins is fine if you’re trying to set the mood with your guy or gal, folks. But to set the mood with 35,000 strangers? I’m just not too sure about that, Josh.

4) Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees: International Love by Pitbull and Chris Brown

What a great troll move from A-Rod, the most universally despised baseball player, to use a song from the two most universally despised rap artists as his walk-up music. A-Rod’s hilarious victory lap wouldn’t be the same without being soundtracked by this awful song. He really missed an opportunity to cement his legacy by failing to retire after hitting his 666th home run.

3) Jake McGee, Tampa Bay Rays: My Way by Limp Bizkit 19.0

I’ve got to be honest with you guys, I used to jam to this song too, folks. I think my friends and I probably requested it at our 8th grade dance.

2) A.J. Pierzinski, Atlanta Braves: Bullets by Creed 10.7

A.J. has to be the least surprising entry on this list, right?

1) Shaun Marcum, Cleveland Indians: Burn It To The Ground by Nickleback 9.0

Why, Shaun. Why? I will never forgive Marcum for losing the 2011 NLCS to the C***inals, so it greatly pleases me to rank him as having the single worst walk-up song in the Major Leagues.

Honorable Mention:

A few teams had so many great songs that these just have to be mentioned, although I wasn’t able to include them in the final rankings since the rule is one song per team. Know that most of these would be in the top ten if teams were allowed multiple entries.

Zack Grienke, Los Angeles Dodgers: Careless Whisper by George Michael

Zack Grienke was created in a lab in New Mexico by scientists charged with developing the most entertaining professional sports player of all time. George Michael? Never change, Zack.

Todd Frazier, Cincinatti Reds: Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra

This is a dope choice, not only because it’s a great song in and of itself, but because of the subtle baseball reference from the newly-crowned Home Run Derby champion who hits moonshots on the regular.

Jesse Hahn, Oakland Athletics: Hit ‘Em High (Monstar’s Theme) by B-Real feat. Method Mad, Coolio, LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes

“Travis, would it be a good idea to use a dope track from the undisputed greatest live-action/animated sports movie of all time as my walk-up song?” Yes, Jesse, “I Believe I Can Fly” by R-Kelly would be an excellent choi–ooooh. Well that works too I guess.

Bryce Harper, Washinton Nationasl: The Best is Yet to Come by Frank Sinatra

If that’s true it is utterly terrifying. Got help us all.

And now, finally, on to the rankings. Please note that these are definitive and above reproach.

30

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P Jonathan Schoop

Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) by Silento

50

Look, whatever. If it’s good enough for Queen Riley Curry, it’s good enough for all of us. Other players that use this song: Ryan Howard, Philladephia Phillies

29

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OF Torii Hunter

Heart of a Lion by Kid CuDi

59

Listen, there’s nothing wrong with this song. It’s a dope track, kind of a deep cut from Cudi’s first studio album that was never released as a single. It’s fine, but someone’s got to be down here in the bottom five, and Heart of a Lion really took a hit in the song popularity section.

28

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3B Garin Cecchini

Good Vibrations by Marky Mark

and the Funky Bunch

59

The Red Sox didn’t give me a lot to work with, so the ultimate vanilla party song came back as their top song. Everyone in the world knows this song, and all of those people think it’s okay. It’s the kind of song that you forgot you heard 12 seconds after it ends. Meh. Other players that use this song: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals; Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

26

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P Chad Billingsley

TNT by AC/DC

66.7

Whatever, this is fine. It’s just lazy, you know? This is the kind of walk up song choice that just says you didn’t invest any time in the decision at all. But the rest of the Phillies were horrid (Carlos Ruiz is one of the players that shares Phil Collins with Josh Donaldson), so they’re stuck with this.

26t

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SS Jed Lowrie

Tom Sawyer by Rush

66.7

I don’t know if the middle of a baseball game is the right time for it, but this is an objectively great song. TNT got here just by being a classic Jock Jam, Tom Sawyer lands here on the strength of being awesome.

25

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P Tom Koehler

X Gon Give It To Ya by DMX

67

24

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P R.A. Dickey

Game of Thrones (Theme) by Ramin Djawadi

67.3

I had to look up video of this to see if it was real/how cool it was. It is really cool. Other players that use this song: Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets

23

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P Wade Davis

Ackrite by Dr. Dre feat. Hittman

68.3

Dr. Dre is all over this list, because he’s a noted creator of sick beats and because his songs generally lend themselves to being stadium anthems. This is the lowest on my list, simply because it was never released as a single and isn’t as well known.

22

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OF Mark Canha

7/11 by Beyonce

68.7

This one’s for the ladies. Canha was the only instance I could find of a player using Queen Bey for his walk-up music. I am not overly familiar with this song, but my girlfriend assures me that it is a very good song and that I like it a lot.

21

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OF Jaun Lagares

Hot in Herre by Nelly

69

Nice

20

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OF Mike Trout

Started From the Bottom by Drake

71.7

Toronto’s favorite son, fresh off his annihilation of Meek Mill, makes his only appearance on our countdown with what I can only assume is an over-our-heads subversive joke from the American League MVP, who has been the best baseball player in the league since his debut in 2011.

19

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P Mike Foltynewicz

My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark by Fall Out Boy

72

Man, this name must have SUCKED in high school. Half of my teachers couldn’t pronounce my last name right, and mine sounds exactly like it’s spelled. One time, someone just threw an M in there for no reason. What is wrong with you lady? Anyway my point is, I’m sorry, Mike Fontywantynickles. This song is fine, great safe choice.

18

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P Cody Allen

God’s Gonna Cut You Down by Johnny Cash

72.1

Pretty good song, and feels like an especially good choice for a closer, which is a made-up position based on the baseball community’s fascination with a meaningless stat that was created in 1969. It’s so good for closers, in fact, that the Yankees’ Andrew Miller uses it as well. Other players that use this song, Miller, Nate Eovaldi, New York Yankees

17

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OF Ryan Braun

All Day by Kanye West

72.2

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just save your steroids jokes, they’re old enough to attend kindergarten now. Let them live their lives, you’re smothering them. Braun is basically the Kanye of MLB. Braun is probably MLB’s douchiest player, and Kanye is pop culture’s douchiest human. Have either they done anything really awful? Nah – one kinda cheated at a children’s game, and the other was mean to Taylor Swift once. But they’re annoying, and it’s only magnified by having to constantly acknowledge that they are indeed quite good.

16

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2B Tim Beckham

So Fresh, So Clean by Outkast

76.3

The early aughts were sort of a weird time for hip-hop. For instance, Chingy existed, Mike Jones made an entire album where he just recited his phone number (281-330-8004, hit Mike Jones up on the low, ‘cuz Mike Jones about to blow) and Lil’ Jon and the Ying Yang Twins made like 12 chart-toppers that were basically them just screaming the same 9 words all y’all were like, “….that’s dope as hell, bruh.” Offsetting this nonsense was the brilliance of Andre 3000 and Big Boi, and this track is one of their best.

14t

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SS Ian Desmond

Alright by Kendrick Lamar

77.7

To Pimp A Butterfly is such a good album, and for me right now, this is the best track on the album (this is subject to change at any time). “Alright” is a banger.

14t

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OF Adam Eaton

This Is How We Do It by Montell Jordan

77.7

So at this point, you’re starting to see how quickly the songs on this list get great. Listen, being in the bottom half of this list still puts you among the greats. It’s like being one of the worst players in the Hall of Fame. Literally, I would say, the honor of making this list is pretty much on par with being elected into Cooperstown.

13

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C Kyle Schwarber

No Diggity by Blackstreet feat. Dr. Dre

79.8

Fun fact: 39% of all song released from 1995-2001 ended with “feat. Dr. Dre”, the most notable of which was of course the timeless 1999 classic, “MmmBop (G-funk Remix)” by Hanson feat. Dr. Dre.

12

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OF Peter Bourjos

Still D.R.E. by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg

81.3

The only reason this song isn’t in the top ten is my own pure, unadulterated hatred for the Cardinals. I mean no disrespect to the good doctor and the D-O-double-G. Let me be very clear about this: this song is great, and the Cardinals are the worst.

11

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OF Andrew McCutchen

Bad Blood by Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar

81.7

This is the most entertaining combination of dope song-great player in my opinion, but this list ranks only how good the song is, not how well it lines up with the player. It’s difficult for me to admit that you can add Kendrick Lamar to something and make it slightly worse, but just like Star Wars and the National League, the original is better.

10

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P Josh Collmenter

Blank Space by Taylor Swift

83.0

I’m not sorry about this at all. Everyone that says they don’t like Taylor Swift is a liar. If you’re one of those people, let me tell you something, guy: It’s not that you don’t like Taylor, it’s that you don’t like the part of yourself that loves her. You’ve got to look inside of yourself and just come to terms with exactly who you are.

9

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1B Mark Teixera

It’s Tricky by Run DMC

83.3

Once upon a time, the Yankees signed Tex as a free agent, formerly of the Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem, a couple of weeks after signing C.C. Sabathia, most recently of the Milwaukee Brewers. Based on a completely-not-transparent ranking system, Elias ranked Teixera as a slightly better player than Sabathia, who almost won the dang NL Cy Young even though he didn’t join the league until mid-July (they were the top two ranked free agents that year). Based on those rankings, the Angels received the higher compensatory round pick from the Yankees in the 2012 MLB Draft. The Brewers, rumored to be interested in Mike Trout, watched the reigning MVP go to the Angels at No. 25. Scrambling to find a plan B, the Brewers ended up taking Indiana senior Eric Arnett, who was released in 2013 and finished his career with a 5.18 ERA while failing to ever progress past A ball. What does this have to do with Run D.M.C.? Not a damn thing. But it has haunted me for years, and I needed to get it off my chest.

8

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SS Brad Miller

Big Poppa by The Notorious B.I.G.

84.7

Obviously, I have a thing for dorky looking white dudes using gangsta rap as their walk-up songs. This is one of Biggie’s best and most famous bangers. Dope choice.

7

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P Ian Kennedy

I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift

87.7

In 2011, Kennedy, then with the Diamondbacks, led the league with 21 wins, tallied a 2.88 ERA with 198 strikeouts, and finished 4th in Cy Young voting. It was the only year that he posted a sub-3.60 ERA, and he’s basically been pretty pedestrian otherwise. He’s struggled with surrendering home runs his entire career, allowing an average of 25 per 162 games (source: Baseball Reference). So, he’s certainly trouble when he walks in, but more so for the hometown fans than opposing batters. Yes, it was a long walk to that one. Thanks for sticking around. Reading this column was a voluntary act.

6

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OF Hunter Pence

Circle of Life by Sir Elton John

88.0

This is the most Hunter Pence walk up song of all time. If you don’t love Hunter Pence then I don’t love you. It is my belief that all Hunter Pence Signs are made out of love and respect. Sort of like when you’re pallin’ around with your mates, just funnin’ with them. More players should be using Disney songs as their walk up jams.

5

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OF Charlie Blackmon

Your Love by The Outfield

89.6

VH1 really donked this one up when they ranked what was easily a top three one-hit wonder of the 80s FIFTY NINTH on their highly suspect rankings. “Mickey” at #9? MICKEY!? That song is wet garbage. “Your Love”, on the other hand, is a masterpiece, and has the benefit of a tangential baseball reference. Other players that use this song: Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox; Grant Green, Los Angeles Angels

4

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3B Nick Castellanos

Ignition (Remix) by R. Kelly

89.7

Oh man, oh man, oh man. This song is FOURTH?! The top of this list is basically just a collection of the world’s greatest bangers then. The only reason you would hear this song come on at the club and not immediately start dancing would be if you literally had died.

3

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OF Jay Bruce

Shake It Off by Taylor Swift

90.0

Not only is this one of Tay’s greatest and catchiest songs, it is universally recognized, and everyone who isn’t a liar loves it. I wonder if Jay chose this song so his manager would stop saying “Shake it off” to him after his at-bats, since he’s never had a season in which he didn’t have more strikeouts than hits. The only issue here is Jay breaking my number one rule: never trust a man with two first names. Other players that use this song: A.J. Ellis, Los Angeles Dodgers

2

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P Kenley Jansen

California Love by TuPac

90.5

While doing research for this piece, I noted early on, because of how the alphabet works, that Baltimore Orioles outfield Adam Jones was using this banger, one of hip hop’s greatest collaborations. Answering my silent prayers, Jansen allowed me to give this song to a player from the correct state, which added five bonus points to the score and nearly lifted the Dodgers’ closer to the top spot. Other players that use this song: Jones

1

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3B Joey Gallo

Pony by Ginuwine

91.3

Look, I know he was optioned down to Triple-A Round Rock a couple of weeks ago and I do not care. He represents the Rangers and tops this list anyway because A) This is a top-five all time song and B) the rest of the Rangers have truly awful taste in music (basically have the league is vibing dang Fetty Wap right now, including Rangers rookie Delino DeShields Jr.). I couldn’t leave Ginuwine off the list and I apologize for nothing. Hurry back, Joey.

The 2014-2015 Brewers: A Tale of Two Aprils

Let’s run the clock back a year. It’s July 21st, 2014, and the Brewers are frantically trying to hold off the storming Cardinals, having regained a half game lead in the division with a 5-2 win over the Reds. Brewers fans, nervously scoreboard watching as the Pirates sit just 2.5 games back as well, are wondering what sort of moves Doug Melvin plans to make to bolster the pitching staff and find a left handed hitter to plug holes that have allowed the rest of the NL Central to climb back into the race. Brewer Nation is nervous, having watched what once seemed to be a healthy division lead evaporate, but fears of missing the playoffs haven’t yet begun to take hold for even the most cynical fans; the shade of the horrors of the oncoming September collapse is creeping but remains in the shadows, just beyond our peripheral visions.

Now bring it back to the present. The surging Brewers have won 16 of their last 22 games, but at 41-52 still find themselves decidedly out of the playoff picture, and are one of a small handful of teams universally regarded as sellers at the trade deadline. After a decade-long commitment to winning now that resulted in only two playoff appearances and only one series victory, the farm system is weak, and the Brewers are expected to make a big push to trade most of their veteran players for whatever they can get in an effort to further bolster a recovering minor league system.

The Brewers rather famously got off to a 20-7 start last year, the best start in team history and one that put them in the driver’s seat for most of the year in the NL Central race. This season began just slightly worse, when they all but obliterated their playoff hopes with a disastrous 8-19 start over that same span.

But what about after those aberrational starts? Let’s take a look:

2014 Milwaukee Brewers 2015 Milwaukee Brewers
First 27 Games: 20-7 8-19
Next 66 Games: 32-34 33-33
Final record: 82-80 ???

So the difference between a solid World Series contender looking to buy at the deadline and one of the worst teams in the league due for a fire sale is … a month’s worth of games in April? It seems silly to judge these teams based on a number of games that amounts to about 16% of the season. More likely, last year’s team was significantly worse than we may have thought early on, this year’s version is quite a bit better than their record has shown to date, and the true talent level for both years is right around that 82-80 mark that the 2014 squad wound up with.

None of this is to say that the Brewers were wrong to go for it last year, or that they shouldn’t be sellers at the deadline this year. Often, all it takes is for an average team to get hot for a month to find your way into the playoffs. Remember the 2007 Colorado Rockies? They sat just four games over .500 on September 15th  and were just another NL West also-ran, but went on to win 20 of their next 21 games, including a walk-off win over San Diego in game 163, to find themselves in the World Series. On the flip side of that coin, as we’ve seen this year, a disastrous stretch of bad play like the Brewers experienced this April is more than enough to knock a borderline team out of contention.

That being said, if you thought the Brewers were a legitimate threat to win the World Series in 2014 (and we did), then there is little reason not to believe that going forward under the right circumstances, because it’s essentially the same team. For that reason, and especially given the Brewers recent surge, do not be shocked if the Brewers hold on to their assets that could help them win in the very near future at the trade deadline. Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, Mike Fiers and Adam Lind – the Brewers’ four most valuable trade chips outside of the blistering-hot Gerardo Parra – are all under team control next year in one way or another: Gomez and Lucroy are on team-friendly contracts that run through 2016, Lind’s $8 million club option next year is almost certain to be picked up by whatever team he’s playing for at year’s end, and Fiers won’t even be eligible for arbitration until 2017. All of this give Mark Attanasio and Doug Melvin the flexibility, if they so choose, to make one last run with this core in 2016, and should the fall flat again, trade them next July for a smaller but still substantial bounty.

There are holes that would need to be filled if the Brewers’ meant to compete as early as next year. Matt Garza remains under contract through 2017 (with a vesting option for 2018 that bears discussing sometime soon if he remains with the team), but he isn’t likely to offer a ton of value to a contender going forward, and his contract will make him difficult for the Brewers to move. Kyle Lohse is a free agent after this season, and he’s clearly outstripped his usefulness as a major league starting pitcher. The Brewers have some young talent in Wily Peralta, Jimmy Nelson and Taylor Jungmann in addition to Fiers, but that’s certainly not the kind of rotation that wins you a playoff series. The Brewers will also have to find a third baseman Ramirez retiring after this season, a position at which their farm system is totally bereft of talent. This is neither an endorsement nor a denouncement of a potential effort by the Brewers to try to reload for next year; I present this as a mere statement of fact. If they wanted to fill those holes, they would need to do so through free agency – to gut the already thin system again for an outside shot at a wild card spot in a spectacularly tough division would be a franchise-crippling mistake that I’m willing to trust Attanasio won’t make, no matter how great his drive to produce a team that can fill seats on a yearly basis.

Are the Brewers really, truly done this year? Probably, yeah. They were sitting at about the same spot they are now back in 2012, when a seven game losing streak left them 10 games under .500 and 10 games back of the second wild card spot. That late July slide forced Melvin’s hand toward selling, and Zack Grienke was dealt to the Angels. The Brewers, however, would rally all the way back to get within a game and a half of the Cardinals for that last playoff spot on September 21st before finally fading away. So there’s a slight gasp of hope if you feel like holding onto something, but the NL Central was a lot weaker in 2012, when the both the Cubs and Astros lost 100 games and the Pirates were still a year away from breaking their long streak of losing seasons. So the best case scenario, if you’re the impatient type, is a quick reload (though the free agent third baseman class for next year looks downright brutal) for next year.

What will the Brewers do at the deadline this year? At this point, who knows. It’s been a slow starting trade season across the league this year, but with so much parity throughout the league, the Brewers man be one of a very small amount of teams willing to toss in the towel and sell assets over the next week and a half. If you were hoping for a home run return for the likes of Gomez or Lucroy, the promising signs the Crew has shown over the past month has probably wiped that possibility out, if it ever really existed at all. Parra is the Brewers best and most obvious piece, and were he to still be on the team on August 1st, it would not only be shocking, it would be a grievous mistake on the team’s part. Ramirez may be traded, if he wants to be and if they can find a buyer. The Brewers would love to offload Lohse and/or Garza, but will find it difficult to find a contender that believes either can offer value down the stretch. For anyone else on the roster, the Brewers would really need to be blown away to consider moving pieces with multiple years of team control left. Whatever the Brewers choose to do, I would expect the big league team to look substantially different come August 1st.

Being An Idiot On Twitter: A Tragicomedy in Three Acts

I did not have a very nice morning.

I woke up tired and sore after a weekend mini-vacation to the Wisconsin Dells to celebrate the wedding of a college roommate. Two days of carefree fun in the sun had been replaced with five days of weirdly patterned cubicles, fluorescent lights, and a lot of decidedly un-fun things like spreadsheets that aren’t about baseball statistics, making phone calls to people who do not want to talk to me, and capitalized interest. I didn’t not drink fully 126 ounces of tropical-themed drinks with names such as The Kings of Rum Poolside Punch and Wild Blue Yonder on Sunday out of a giant margarita glass large enough to fit a women’s basketball into, so I was dealing with the aftermath of that as well. I was cranky, and I needed to take it out on someone. I decided to take it out on you, Brewers Twitter.

Oh boy. Oh no.

But wait. Assuredly, there’s no one out there that would take such a preposterously hot take seriously, is there? 10.5 games back is a LOT of games to be back. Orlando Arcia is super NOT going to be traded. I mean, this is @PFTCommenter done very poorly. You have to be a BIT more realistic, right?

Well, look. Brew Crew Ball has upwards of 8,000 followers, and it’s just not reasonable to assume that some portion of them are awe-inspiringly stupid. This is Twitter, after all. They don’t check your official transcripts before they let you join. It’s reasonable for them to assume my reply was in earnest.   Let’s take it up a notch.

Alright now wait just a gosh darn minute. Now, not only am I implying that a single at bat during a meaningless exhibition game in any way affects a prospect’s value, but I am making this claim based on an at bat that I didn’t even see, I only read about it. This is very obvious trolling, and anyone who doesn’t see it just doesn’t want to and feels like havin’ an argument. Definitely, the rest of y’all aren’t fooled, right?

This phrase is trademarked by Elsa you will need to sent $3.99 to Disney to use it

BUT DID YOU SEE THE AT BAT IT WAS BAD CHRIS IT WAS SO BAD

Another $3.99 in the coffers for Disney. Pay the man, Eric

Heh! You an me both, pal. Who wants to be a part of a team that gives up on a season because of silly things like “reality” or “because there isn’t any hope of us competing this year” or “the long term health of the franchise”

“Math” is on to me, you guys. PLAY IT COOL

A stunning development in our story. This is brand new information to me!

So anyway, the experience of pretending to be the world’s worst Brewers fan this afternoon gave me the chance to blow off some steam on my lunch break, while simultaneously making a few folks feel real nice about themselves for being so right in an argument on the internet. Imagine the gift I’ve given these folks! All of them won an argument on Twitter today. What a treat. And my imaginary beef with whoever runs the Brew Crew Ball social media accounts ended with a nice talk about sandwiches.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Chris Heston, And Other Strange No-Hitters

Good afternoon folks,

Many of my friends here know that I’ve just recently started writing with Crooked Scoreboard, a sports and humor website. I’ll still be posting some of my own stuff here, but when I write for them, I’ll still post links here so you can find anything I’ve written in one spot. Below is my debut there, about Juan Nieves, the only Brewer to ever toss a no-hitter, and the pack of jokers that have done so for other teams since:

Crooked Scoreboard – Chris Heston, and Other Strange No-Hitters

The dang Brewers are bad: 5 ways to enjoy the game anyway

You're a spade

You’re a spade.

Okay, folks friends. Now, let’s not beat around the bush or anything, let’s just talk about the dang elephant in the room. Let’s really get down to brass tacks here. Let’s call a spade a spade. It’s time to face the music, people. It really is.

The Brewers are the worst dang baseball team in the whole league.

And it’s just the pits.

So what are you gonna do? If you’re like me (you know, not totally like me, but a little bit I guess is what I’m saying, anyway just shut up and listen, will you), then you’ve got this whole big stack of Brewers tickets for the rest of the season, because you know, maybe you didn’t think they were going to win the World Series or anything like that, and maybe the playoffs were really a long shot all along if we’re being honest with ourselves, but you kind of figured they’d be playing some meaningful baseball for at least a couple months, and darn it, going to the ball game is just a good time all around, anyway.

But instead the days of the Brewers playing meaningful baseball are already over, and holy crap will you just look at that, it’s not even May yet for Pete’s sake. What in the world! That’s right, at 4-17 (as of Tuesday night), the Brewers are already 10 games out of first place. TEN GAMES! In April! They have a -52 run differential, which is 15 runs worse than the next worst team, Philadelphia. As a team, they are ranked 27th in ERA, 29th in OPS and 27th in Fielding%, the latter of which isn’t even a good stat but shut up the point is, they aren’t good at any of the three parts of playing a baseball game. Plus they keep wearing those Dwight Schrute uniforms, so they don’t even look good while the look bad.

But we’re not here to beat any dead horses, that’s what we have @HoustonRockets for. So just how the heck are you going to have any fun at Miller Park this summer with the Milwaukee Nine playing like the Indians at the beginning of Major League? I’ve heard your cries for help:

“We need a solution, Travis!”
Yeah, I know you do, friends.
“The Brewers sure are bad, aren’t they, bud?”
Yup.
“What are we to do, Travis? Die in our beds?”
Quit bein’ so dramatic. I’m here to help with some handy tips on how to really spice up your game-day experience:

1) Drink a lot

The seems like it goes without saying maybe, and shouldn’t necessarily be a significant alteration in your normal game-day routine. Here, I merely suggest drinking slightly-to-moderately more than you would normally. If your tailgating program normally calls for 2-3 beers, perhaps have 3-5 beers instead. If you are 21 years old, you might consider shotgunning two beers (a double-barreled shotgun, if you will), or perhaps a tallboy, rather than the customary single 12 oz. can. Of course, I stress here the importance of a designated driver to make sure you and all your fellow fans get home safely. In the absence of a willing teetotaler, I urge you to consider Uber, which now has it’s own designated pick-up parking lot right next to the Brat Haus.

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You sure don’t want to see this on your date!

2) Take a pretty girl to the game with you

Or a handsome man, okay, that’s fine, ladies and gay dudes. We are accepting of all cultures here. All I’m saying is, you know, most things are more fun if you can bring a nice-looking person of your chosen gender along with you. Y’all can have a nice chat, maybe enjoy some delicious ballpark nachos, and just really see where the night takes you. In fact, there are only a few places where bringing along a hot date would make things less fun:

  • A prostate exam, OBGYN appointment, or colonoscopy.
  • Your own wedding
  • Oddly enough, the movie theater to see 50 Shades of Gray
  • To fight Batman (no one wants to see you get your butt kicked, loser)
  • A Magic: The Gathering tournament
  • Gary, Indiana

3) Root for some other team

This isn’t necessarily a suggestion for enjoying games that you are attending at Miller Park, but rather for having a nice time during the MLB season in general. Now, I do not want to confuse anyone here: I am not advocating abandoning the Brewers or actively rooting for them to lose so that they acquire a better draft pick; that stuff is for jabronis. When you’re at the game, you just better root, root, root for the home team. I simply want to give you the opportunity to watch a team that has a chance to make some noise in October this year. Here’s a few top options:

  • Kansas City Royals – Did you like rooting for the Brewers during the 2006-2008 seasons? Well guess what, most of those guys are here now. The Royals lineup features former Brewers top prospects Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain, and of course, they’re managed by statewide pariah and world-renowned George W. Bush impersonator Ned Yost. They also have the same style as those nasty jerks from the mid-aughts Brewers that so offended the official Keepers of the Unwritten Rules of Baseball. They may have gone too far a week or so ago, but it’s really, really hard to blame anyone for throwing balls at Brett Lawrie.
  • Whichever team is playing against St. Louis – This has been my second favorite team for years. I’m really looking forward to them hopefully having a great season.
  • Houston Astros – Guess whose got a four game lead in the AL West, that’s right you guessed it, it’s the dang Astros. Why not root for the Astros? Why not?
  • Los Angeles Dodgers – They’re gonna win so you might as well root for the winner if you’re gonna pick another team anyway.
8421A_d

This is a silly hat, for example

4) Wear a silly hat

There’s all kinds of silly hats you can wear. This one time, myself and a bunch of friends got roaring drunk and entered a kickball tournament, all wearing a bunch of silly hats from my house. There was a guy with a Packers helmet on, one lady wore a bike helmet, and I was wearing a festive felt chicken hat, like the one pictured to the left. The other team was a bunch of people in their 30s and 40s who had blue kickball uniforms and even wore matching baseball pants. They beat us by 30, but I like to imagine that we left with a greater degree of dignity than they did, having taken a kickball game so seriously. Any time a guy wearin’ a dopey chicken hat on his head thinks he’s ahead of you in the dignity standings, it’s time to reevaluate some choices.

Anyway, wear a silly hat to the Brewers game, who cares anyway. Just make sure it doesn’t obstruct the view of the people behind you.

5) Tacos

Find a way to incorporate tacos into your game-day routine. Tacos are the best food and eating a taco will always make a day better than it was before you ate any tacos. For a baseball themed taco, you can try topping your taco with bits of shaved baseballs or splinters from broken bats. Just make sure they’re new ones from the store and not game-used, or else you might get some dirty bits and your taco might be ruined; ruining a taco is among the gravest of game-day sins.

Can you think of any other ways to enjoy a baseball game featuring a bad team, just have a nice time during the summer in general, or do you own a cat? Sound off in the comment section below!

Travis’s Mailbag #2

Doug-MelvinDo you think the Brewers will extend Doug Melvin’s contract after this season?
Cael, East Troy, WI

Yes. In September 2002, Doug took over as the GM of one of the worst franchises in the league; a team that hadn’t had a winning record in a decade and had just lost over 100 games for the first and only time in team history. In the space of three years, Melvin turned a team that was a league-wide laughingstock into, if not a perennial contender, at least a team that was regularly playing meaningful baseball after the All-Star break. The Brewers have posted winning records in five of the past eight years, a feat accomplished only nine times in 34 years of existence prior to his arrival.

Certainly, there have been questionable moves: signing Jeff Suppan, adding Nelson Cruz and Michael Brantley as throw-ins in larger deals, hiring Ken Macha, everything about Bill Hall. But there are also moves that he took a lot of heat for that made him look like a dang genius: trading James Jerry Hardy for Carlos Gomez (and then extending him), Ryan Braun’s first extension, signing Norichika Aoki (and then dealing him for Will Smith). Doug’s job is secure in Milwaukee. Ron Roenicke, on the other hand, may not make it to the All-Star break.

What’s the best food happy hour on Wednesdays in Milwaukee?
Brad, Milwaukee, WI

Ugly’s Pub on Old World Third.

Tailgating is so fun. How can we make watching baseball more entertaining?
Holly, Madison, WI

I come from a place of already thinking that baseball is fun to watch, but I understand the needs of the masses as well and people, I am here to help. Here are some things you can do to make your time watching the national pastime more engaging:

  • If you love tailgating well guess what, the fun doesn’t have to stop once you hit the turnstiles! Many ballparks have food and/or drink available for purchase for $1-$30 dollars per item. Wishing you could toss the old bean bags around inside the stadium? Well you just better not, there’s a lot of people in there and someone might get hurt.
  • One thing you can do to really kick up your enjoyment of baseball up a notch is to go back in time to when you are five and leave your family behind and get raised by my dad instead. My dad loves baseball and I bet he could instill the same love in you, if you’d just let him.
  • You can try a little bit of friendly wagering with your fellow fans! “Say, chap, I forecast that our local baseball squadron will successfully tally a run in this very inning. What say you to a little bet? I’ve a sixpence that says the old boys will be able to do it.”
  • You can pretend that the offensive team knows the baseball is a bomb while the defense has no stinkin’ idea, and then marvel at the fact that those dummies keep running straight toward it while the offense keeps obviously trying to get the dang thing as far away from them as possible. Stand up and yell, “KABOOM!” every time the ball is caught to let everyone know that the center fielder is now ‘dead’, and must be replaced.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Denver NuggetsHow much better is Michael Carter Williams than Brandon Knight?
Michael (not Mr. Carter-Williams), Milwaukee, WI

Negative seven. As in the Bucks, after the deadline deal that sent Knight to the Suns, finished the season seven games behind the Bucks as constructed prior to the trade: they were 30-23 at the time of the trade and finished the year 11-18, failing to finish above .500 for the fifth consecutive year. In the short term, this trade was disastrous. It made them a worse team on the basketball court, as Knight represented the only legitimate scoring threat on a nightly basis; certainly Giannis and Middleton have their big games, but neither is anything close consistent. It completely disrupted their rhythm and spacing as teams no longer had to worry about a point guard who could shoot; defenses collapsed to the lane and Giannis was unable to find any real estate to work his magic.  From a fan goodwill standpoint, it couldn’t have come at a worse time; with a huge push for a new arena underway and the Bucks coming off a 9-1 stretch, the city was absolutely buzzing with excitement about the NBA. Then the trade, the Bucks lost six of seven, MCW looked lost, and the excitement was gone, the Bucks drowned out by the Badgers tournament run and Brewers spring training; it was just more of the same from a team that has won two playoff series since 1989 (both in the same year). Prior to the trade, the Bucks were a major upset threat in the East, but that is likely no longer the case.

That said, the idea that perhaps some of MCW’s shortcomings in Philadelphia might be corrected simply by getting onto a better team with more weapons proved correct. No longer the lone scoring option, Carter-Williams saw significant bumps to his effective shooting percentage as he was able to be more selective with his shots: though his three-point shooting percentage continues to plummet, he cut his attempts to just 1.1 per game (he averaged 3.0 three point attempts with Philly this season). His per-36 assist numbers fell, and if he’s not going to be able to shoot from outside, he’s going to have to provide more scoring chances for his teammates. But going forward, there’s hope that although it shot their exciting 2014-15 season to hell, the trade could provide future dividends.

Is it still acceptable to have Blurred Lines as my ringtone?
Andrew, Madison, WI

The fact that you’re asking me this question mean you already know the answer, Andrew. Do the right thing.

What’s the deal with airplane food?
Nicholas, Milwaukee, WI

There are NO deals on airplane food, no sir. That stuff’s expensive as all get out! But if you’re really hankerin’ for a pre-packaged sandwich on your flight, you better come correct with the plastic, because most airlines no longer accept cash for on-board transactions. Imagine that! Not accepting cold hard cash as a form of legal tender. What is the world coming to? I’ll tell you what, it’s all going to hell in a hand basket. You better just pack up your valuables and head for the hills, because this society is falling apart.

Will you marry my mom so she isn’t ‘illegal’ anymore?
Mellie, Milwaukee, WI

No, I would only ever marry for love and I’ve never met your mom, though I’m sure she’s a lovely woman. Also, I’m kind of seeing someone at the moment, and she might not like it if I was married. I could ask her about it though. Don’t they let folks take a test about who were the presidents and where is New Jersey or whatever to become a citizen? Maybe she could sign up for that test. Or maybe we could all just relax and let people live where they want who cares.

98-degrees-2013-650-430Why doesn’t 98 Degrees get more credit as a boy band?
Holly, Madison, WI

We have previously covered what defines a boy band, so let’s take a look back at that to begin (excerpted from Travis’s Mailbag #1):

  • You need a collection of boys making music (you know, because words mean things)
  • No instruments. If I so much as see a guitar string, you’re out (sorry, Hanson)
  • If you weren’t managed by Lou Pearlman, that’s not a good sign (if you were managed by Lou Pearlman, that’s not really great either)
  • No writing your own music. Are you kidding me? Out of the question. Get real.

Unfortunately, 98 Degrees was adamant that they wrote much of their own material. Because of this, 98 Degrees does not qualify as a boy band. However, even allowing it for the sake of argument, their best song, “The Hardest Thing”, isn’t fit to lick to boots of Millennium or No Strings Attached.

leggingsAre leggings like legit pants?
Mellie, Milwaukee, WI

Absolutely not. You don’t see me strollin’ around the city rocking nothing but my dang Jockey’s, do you? Put some damn pants on. I have previously discussed this issue with others, but feel it’s important enough to have it written here: if you are wearing leggings like they’re just regular old pants, you are not adequately covered on your bottom.

Will Wisconsin make the Sweet 16 next year?
Kevin, Madison, WI

It’s hard to answer a question like this, since we have no idea what the bracket will look like, and what sort of match-ups the Badgers will face, so we’d have to forecast not only how well the Badgers will play but where they and every other team would be seeded, and which teams would go where. Rather, we can more easily answer, “Will the Badgers be one of the best 16 teams in the country next year?” To which we can safely answer yes. The Badgers will have a tremendous amount of talent and production to replace, perhaps more than Bo Ryan has ever had to previously. But to repeat a bunch of facts that you’ve heard a thousand times: The Badgers have never finished lower than fourth or failed to advance to the NCAA tournament under Ryan, and have advanced to the tournament’s second weekend in four of the past five years. A solid core of Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig and Vitto Brown should be enough to keep them among the country’s elite teams; count on all of them to make big leaps going into their junior seasons, as almost all of Ryan’s kids do.

Is it acceptable that I listen to Creed even though I’m an atheist?
Mellie, Milwaukee, WI
No, it is 100% not acceptable that you listen to Creed, though it has nothing to do with your belief (or lack thereof) in Christ or in any other deity. It is unacceptable because Creed makes really bad music, and you should listen to better music. Here is a short list of bands that are better than Creed:

"THE MUPPETS"..Ph: John E. Barrett..© 2011 Disney1. The Silver Lining – This is a three-piece band I formed with my friends Sven and Jordan in college. We had one original song and we also did a pretty good cover of “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears. We once played a show for up to three people. It was approximately seven minutes long.
2. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem – Pictured to the right.
3. Pink Floyd – Just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it’s not true.
4. CrossRoad – My mom’s Christian praise band, which plays every other Sunday at Bethlehem Lutheran Church and is currently seeking a drummer.
5. The Chuck E. Cheese’s Animatronic House Band

Or you could just listen to Taylor Swift, the official singer-songwriter of Bucky’s Beer Cheese Co., and have done with it.

Why does everyone hate Nickleback?
-Mellie, Milwaukee, WI

I think it’s about time we sit you down and have a musical intervention.

milwaukee_bucks_logo_primary_detailThe Bucks new logo: Yay or Nay?
Kevin, Madison, WI

It’s fine. I would have preferred, if they were going to re-brand, that they rewind the clock and bring back the sweater buck, but the trend in sports logos is to make your animals meaner looking and more polygonal; the sweater buck just isn’t cut out for the harsher times. I wish they’d used a bit more blue; we’ll have to see what the jerseys look like, but from Jabari’s hint at the unveiling, it sounds like there’s only going to be a touch of it. Perhaps an alternate blue jersey somewhere down the line? I could get down with that.

Speaking of the unveiling, what in the world was that? The painters were cool but man, just stick a DJ up there or something! That dude squeaking away during “Uptown Funk” reminded me of every karaoke night where some jabroni goes up there trying to bite off more than he can chew, a feeling that was solidified when they immediately followed with “Don’t Stop Believin'”. #OwnTheFuture? That song is 34 years old.

I get why they did it now: new owners, a new arena (pretty please??), a new team identity that comes with a return to relevance. I just feel bad for all the people that dropped big money on brand new Jabari and Giannis gear that’s now obsolete 3-5 months later. This is why I always try to stick with buying retro gear when making purchases; that stuff never goes out of style.

What’s with LAX?
Chuck, Milwaukee, WI

I know, right?

A cricket

A cricket

Do you think Martin Guptill is overrated or do you think he’s New Zealand’s only hope of making the Cricket World Cup this year? With his salary alone they could get 2-3 top notch players, and their at bats wouldn’t be so one hit focused.  New Zealand is never going to get above their 5th place international ranking and catch powerhouses like South Africa and Pakistan if they don’t start playing team oriented cricket.
-Greg and Ryan, Denton TX and Greenfield, WI

The New Zealand national cricket team had their most successful showing ever at the 2015 Cricket World Cup, finishing as the runner-up to rival Australia in heartbreaking fashion at the event the two counties co-hosted in March. They should have no trouble qualifying to the next Cricket World Cup in 2019, and they’ll hope to build on the progress they made this year.

While Guptill, ranked 22nd in the world among batsmen, is certainly a key component of the All Blacks’ success, he’s certainly not their only hope. Thought Guptill and fellow top-order batsman Ross Taylor, both 31, may not be with the team in 2019, 24-year-old phenom Kane Williamson may already be the best player on the Kiwis’ national team, and he’ll be joined by all-rounder Corey Anderson, also just 24.

Of course, player salaries don’t enter into the equation of the make-up of the national team. To keep pace with Pakistan and South Africa, not to mention the hated Australians, New Zealand will need to continue to develop young players domestically through youth programs designed to find the next diamond in the rough.

NostaTravis’ 2015 MLB Preview

Hey there pals. Yup that’s right it’s me, appearing before you for the first time, NostaTravis. Well, you know, I heard that baseball season was coming up soon, what with it bein’ April and all, and I thought maybe you all would like to know what was going to happen this year, since the baseball season is pretty long and the games are considered “boring” by some of you less dignified mortals, and you might just not have the patience to stick around and find out who the winner will be come October. So, consider this your **SPOILER ALERT** because if learning the winners of all the games before they happen will upset you, you better just go ahead and check out now.

Some things to note before we get started:

  • I am not very good at this. Last year I predicted that the Diamondbacks would make the playoffs as a Wild Card team (they finished in last place with a record of 64-98) and that the Tampa Bay Rays would win the World Series (at 77-85, the Rays finished 11 games out of the race for the second Wild Card spot). If you make gambling decisions based on my predictions, you will probably lose all of your money.
  • “Travis you big idiot the Brewers aren’t very good you are being a homer.” Read the name of this blog ya chucklehead.
  • Everything written here is exactly as true as you want it to be. Bucky’s Beer Cheese Co. is a magical vehicle powered only by your imagination. Let it run wild.

AL East

1) Baltimore Orioles
2) Boston Red Sox
3) Toronto Blue Jays
4) New York Yankees
5) Tampa Bay Rays

A lot of folks are down on the Orioles this year, which doesn’t make a dang lick of sense; they didn’t do much in the off-season, but they won this division by 12 games last year without Manny Machado and Matt Wieters, they didn’t need to do much … The Rays will have one of the best starting rotations in the league once Alex Cobb and Matt Moore are healthy, but their lineup is abysmal … A-Rod will play this year, which is pretty funny.

brantleymb

Cleveland MVP candidate Michael Brantley, in happier times.

AL Central

1) Cleveland Indians
2) Kansas City Royals*
3) Detroit Tigers
4) Chicago White Sox
5) Minnesota Twins

A couple of years ago, this division was a laughing stock outside of Detroit. Now it’s probably the best division in baseball: I could easily see any one of the four top teams taking it, and the Twins are only a year or two away from contention … The White Sox made a big splash in the free agent market, but a lot of times you don’t see a team click into contention after moves like that until year two … Sure the Tigers are getting old, but they’re not the Yankees yet, and David Price and Miguel Cabrera are still the best pitcher and best hitter in this division.

AL West

1) Los Angeles Angels
2) Seattle Mariners*
3) Oakland Athletics
4) Texas Rangers
5) Houston Astros

Mike Trout is the best player in baseball and it isn’t close. The Angels have a bunch of other nice pieces as well … Oakland was very busy this off-season and made a couple of moves many considered questionable, but they haven’t lost too much … Yu Darvish will miss the season after having Tommy John surgery, which is an absolute tragedy … The Astros still aren’t close. Was the possibility of contending in the nebulous “next year” worth the half decade they’ve put their fans through?

bold-strategy-cotton

The Phillies

NL East

1) Washington Nationals
2) Miami Marlins*
3) New York Mets
4) Atlanta Braves
5) Philadelphia Phillies

A lot of people have dismissed the Nationals’ division championship as a foregone conclusion, which I think is as much an indictment of the rest of the division as it is a crowning for Washington. Everyone else is terrible … That being said, holy cow is Washington’s starting rotation good. Gio Gonzalez is their FIFTH starter — he is better than every pitcher currently employed by the Milwaukee Brewers … The Phillies are sitting at the intersection of really old and really bad. It’s an interesting approach.

NL Central

1) Milwaukee Brewers
2) Pittsburgh Pirates*
3) St. Louis Cardinals
4) Chicago Cubs
5) Cincinnati Reds

“Travis you can’t put the Brewers in first place you are being ridiculous” Oh yeah well guess what idiot I just did, shows what you know … The Brewers are a better team this year than the team that spent 150 days in first place last year. It’s not a stretch to think Jimmy Nelson can produce at the same level Gallardo did last season, Braun is healthy again, they employ an actual first baseman for the first time in three years, and the bullpen is deeeeep … “Travis you can’t put the Cardinals in third place you are being ridiculous” Yes I can fuck the Cardinals … The Cubs are going to be good. Really, really good. But I think they’re still a year away.

NL West

1) Los Angeles Dodgers
2) San Diego Padres
3) San Francisco Giants
4) Colorado Rockies
5) Arizona Diamondbacks

I mean, the Dodgers can afford to outbid everyone for anyone, and they just went on got one of the best penny-pinchers in the game in Andrew Friedman. I’m not sure how well that’s going to play out: he just shelled out 4/$48 for Brandon McCarthy … The Padres were involved in basically every off-season deal all winter, and they’ve obviously improved a league-worst offense immensely. I’m a big fan of their 100% new and improved outfield … The Diamondbacks have about nine major league players on their team, which is pretty good, because there aren’t any on the baseball team that I own. But since most of the other teams in the league have 25, I don’t think they’re gonna have a really nice time.

Playoffs:

Wild Card Games
NL: Marlins over Pirates
AL: Mariners over Royals
Divisional Series
NL: Nationals over Marlins, Dodgers over Brewers
AL: Angels over Mariners, Indians over Orioles
Championship Series
NL: Dodgers over Nationals
AL: Angels over Indians
World Series
Dodgers over Angels

The smirk of a man who knows he's the best in the world.

The smirk of a man who knows he’s the best in the world.

Awards:

MVP
NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami
AL: MIke Trout, Los Angeles
Anyone who picks someone other than Trout for MVP is grasping for headlines. Get real.
Cy Young
NL: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
AL: Felix Hernandez, Seattle
Little bit of chalk here, but these are the two best pitchers in the game, health permitting.
Rookie of the Year
NL: Kris Bryant, Chicago
AL: Rusney Castillo, Boston
Boy, I SURE AM EXCITED for the Cubs future.

Well, thanks for taking a look, friend. Feel free to bookmark this post and tell me what an idiot I am during this year’s White Sox-Cubs World Series.

The Belt-O-Meter: Three Brewers Breakout Candidates

If you’re a fantasy baseball player or a fan of the San Francisco Giants (and why the hell wouldn’t you be? they win constantly), you may have noticed something strange over the past five years concerning a certain alliterative first baseman. To wit:

2011

Rant Sports: “Who Will Be The [sic] MLB’s 2011 Breakout Rookie?” (March 31, 2011)

2012

The Press Democrat: “Giants Breakout Pick for 2012: Brandon Belt”  (April 5, 2012)
Baseball Prospectus: “14 Choices for 2012 Breakout Players” (February 29, 2012)
SB Nation: “Predicting Breakouts With Spring Training” (March 29, 2012)

2013

CBS Sacramento: “Giants’ Brandon Belt Seems Primed for Breakout Season” (March 27, 2013)
SB Nation: “2013 Power Breakout Candidates” (March 30, 2013)
Sports Illustrated: “Reading Into Spring Training Statistics: Expect Big Things from Belt, Moustakas” (March 29, 2013)
Bleacher Report: “San Francisco Giants: Brandon Belt Poised for a Breakout 2013 Season” (November 16, 2012)

2014

Sporting News: “Highlight These 1B Breakouts in Your 2014 Fantasy Baseball Rankings” (February 24, 2014)
Fangraphs: “Is Brandon Belt Due For a Breakout?” (April 1, 2014)
SF Giants Rumors: “Brandon Belt Will Have a Breakout Season, and This is Why” (January 20, 2014)
The Baseball Haven: “2014 Breakout Candidates” (December 28, 2013)
ESPN: “Brandon Belt: Batting Title Contender?” (March 10, 2014)
Fansided: “San Francisco Giants: Who’s Poised for Breakout Year?” (February 6, 2014)

2015

SF Gate: “Shea: Belt Hopes to Provide Healthy Dose of Power” (February 7, 2015)
San Francisco Chronicle: “Belt is Preparing for Breakout 2015” (February 27, 2015)
Fansided: “Brandon Belt Should Enjoy Breakout Season in 2015” (February 11, 2015)
Fantasy Sports Locker Room: “The Price is Right: The Brandon Belt Breakout is Upon Us in 2015” (February 24, 2015)
ESPN: “Is Brandon Belt Ready to Bust Out in 2015?” (March 7, 2015)
Bloguin: “Ten Players Ready to Make The Leap in 2015” (February 27, 2015)

BRANDON BELT IS ETERNALLY BREAKING OUT. The 2015 list will grow as we move closer to Opening Day — A Google search for “Brandon Belt breakout” returns 188,000 results. The twitter dot com search for “Brandon Belt breakout” is pretty fun as well. In honor of the crowned king of the Breakout Year, I’ll be rating this year’s breakout candidates for the Brewers on my brand new Belt-O-Meter™ of Breakout Year potential (scale: 0-5 Belts).

4f177a49_mlbam1. Jimmy Nelson, SP

Nelson had been penciled in as the Brewers’ swingman and first man up in the event of an injury to one of the starting pitchers for 2015 until the February trade of Yovani Gallardo to the Rangers thrust him into the Opening Day rotation. The whiplash-inducing struggles of Marco Estrada, who was also traded in the off-season, in 2014 led to a lot of Brewers fans clamoring for Nelson to be promoted early last year, and the Brewers eventually obliged, though Nelson generally failed to impress after dominating at AAA Nashville. However, Nelson has generally taken about a year to get acclimated to a new level throughout his professional career. Nelson was basically unhittable with the Sounds, being named the PCL Pitcher of the Year despite making only 16 starts. The Brewers’ rotation is incredibly thin, especially when considering Matt Garza’s annual trip to the DL — they’re counting on Nelson making a impact in 2015.

Belt-O-Meter:
belt  belt  belt  belt

47033146_mlbam2. Wily Peralta, SP

Peralta is neck-and-neck with Ryan Braun for Most Important Brewer as far as the Crew’s 2015 fortunes are concerned. While the focus on Braun will be on whether he can finally return to MVP form with a supposedly healthy thumb, the Brewers are basically asking Wily to flash signs that he’ll be able to bust out of the scouts’ consensus that he has a ceiling as a No. 3 pitcher. The Brewers lack a true ace, and most consider the year Wily had last year, when he posted a 17-11 record with a 3.53 ERA, to be pretty close to as good at the 25-year-old right hander is going to get. The Brewers have some potential high-end pitching talent working in the lower levels of their system, but their AAA team is staffed mostly by minor-league lifers and future relievers. To compete in the next couple of years, the Brewers are going to need Peralta to make another leap to something close to a franchise pitcher. Is that realistic, or have we already seen Wily’s ceiling?

Belt-O-Meter:
belt  belt

ph_6083493. Corey Knebel, RP

Knebel, who came over as part of the package the Brewers received for Gallardo, will most likely start the season at AAA Colorado Springs following the acquisition of Francisco Rodriguez (barf) and the steadily improving health of Tyler Thornburg and Jim Henderson. That should in no way be an indictment against his talent, however, as there’s a very good possibility the 23-year-old is the best reliever in the organization right now, according to @D_J_Harvey at Brew Crew Ball. Knebel projects as a potential high-end closer, and he’ll likely be one of the first injury replacement call-ups this year if he doesn’t break camp with the big league club. BBC Co. endorses the idea that Knebel will negate the need to pick up K-Rod’s option in 2017, thus releasing Milwaukee from it’s six-year fever dream.

Belt-O-Meter:
beltbeltbeltbelt

Meet Your 2015 Brewers- A BBC Co. Exclusive

Well, well, well. Look what we have here. That’s right it’s me, Travis, and guess what? I’ve got it. I can’t tell you how but I have acquired a document that outlines definitively who will make the Milwaukee Brewers 2015 Opening Day roster and starting lineup and well, against my better judgment I am going to share it with you. That’s right, here today, just five games into the Cactus League schedule, I am here to share with you what the Brewers will look like when they take on the Colorado Rockies at 1:10 pm on April 6th.

STARTING LINEUP
CF Carlos Gomez
C Jonathan Lucroy
RF Ryan Braun
3B Aramis Ramirez
1B Adam Lind
LF Khris Davis
SS Jean Segura
2B Hector Gomez
P Kyle Lohse

-Gomez is the obvious choice for the lead-off spot, despite the fire takes of jabronis with 24 Twitter dot com followers who don’t understand how baseball works:

I legitimately saw tweets like this in response to the Brewers posted lineups every single day Gomez was in the lead-off spot where he belongs. SMH
-Braun, the Brewers’ lone representative on the 2015 BSOHL team, reclaims the three hole for now, until his no-longer-filled-with-steroids body breaks down again and he spends all of June on the DL.
-Scooter is relegated to backup duty, as the Rockies’ most likely opening day starter is lefty Jorge De La Rosa. Runnin’ Ron has insisted he means to give Scooter and fellow lefty Adam Lind a shot to play everyday, despite the fact that neither has ever hit against lefties ever, at any level of their professional careers. Adam Lind will get the start anyway because he’s the Brewers’ big off-season acquisition and this is Opening Day, but Scooter owns a career OPS of .291 against LHP. TWO NINETY ONE. Scooter will remain the business end of the platoon at the keystone.
-Kyle Lohse will start on Opening Day for the first time since 2012, when he took the ball for the Cardinals following an injury to Chris Carpenter (I am currently checking to see if I have won the prize for being the 1,000,000th person to type the phrase “injury to Chris Carpenter). Some people think Wily Peralta should start on Opening Day. Some people are also idiots.

BENCH
OF Gerado Parra
C Martin Maldonado
1B/3B Luis Jimenez
2B Scooter Gennett
OF Shane Peterson

-Hector Gomez will be the backup at SS and 2B, but as mentioned previously will get the start on Opening Day
-I foresee Parra forcing his way into something close to a 50/50 split with Khris Davis in LF during the rare instances he’s not starting in right due to a Braun injury.

STARTING ROTATION
SP Kyle Lohse
SP Matt Garza
SP Wily Peralta
SP Mike Fiers
SP Jimmy Nelson

-This starting rotation isn’t very good. Sorry about that.
-There’s nothing anyone can do about it and the Brewers are probably going to lose some games because of it.
-The Brewers have said they will be stretching Tyler Thornburg out to provide depth for a suddenly paper-thin starting pitcher stable. IMO he’s more valuable as a reliever, but we shall see.

BULLPEN
CL Jonathan Broxton
RP Francisco Rodriguez
RP Will Smith
RP Neal Cotts
RP Jeremy Jeffress
RP Brandon Kintzler
RP Tyler Thornburg

-This is probably the position the Brewers are deepest at. Newcomers Corey Knebel, Chris Perez and Dontrelle Willis (lol) provide valuable depth, and erstwhile closer Jim Henderson, who appears on track to potentially be healthy for Opening Day, may find there’s not even a spot available for him.
-K-Rod is not listed as the closer because I hate him.

#SeeUApril6

Thirty Pitches of Terror IV: K-Rod Returns

Three and a half years ago, a clerical error sent New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers despite a no-trade clause in his contract that barred him from being sent to Milwaukee. Today, the 33-year-old Venezuelan signed with the Brewers as a free agent for the fourth consecutive year (despite being traded to the Orioles at the 2013 trade deadline). Rodriguez and Brewers GM Doug Melvin have become baseball’s Sarah and Stephan (This reference means nothing to you if you’re not familiar with at least the last half-decade of my love life, so don’t think about it too hard): the couple that keeps hooking back up no matter how many times it doesn’t work out, and no matter what any of their friends say. This tweet, which features some truly flawless Photoshop work, about sums up the complicated relationship between Doug and K-Rod:

Let’s run K-Rod Part IV through the Pro/Con machine:

Pro: Fransisco Rodriguez is a good baseball player, was the best relief pitcher left on the free agent market and makes the Brewers better at baseball.
Con: Francisco Rodriguez is not a very good human person. He beats up his significant others, he beats up his significant others’ family members, and he escapes punishment when his victims conveniently wind up in South America.
Pro: K-Rod immediately replaces Ryan Braun as the worst person in the Brewers organization, because beating folks up is worse than cheating at a children’s game. This frees Braun up to worry about his thumb and how he’s going to get Kwik Trip to resign him as a spokesperson.

Pro: His 2 year/$13 million deal is probably a bit below market for someone with his overall track record and veteran status.
Con: While K-Rod has been very effective over the season’s first few months during his apparently indefinite Brewers tenure, he’s shown a marked decrease in effectiveness in each of the past two years as the season dragged on, including a home run rate that has doubled in the second half:

Pro: This signing eliminates the possibility of the Brewers trading away any of their assets for the right to pay Jonathan Papelbon $26 million over the next two seasons.
Con: Papelbon is a better pitcher than K-Rod.

Pro: This:

Pro: The Brewers already have scoreboard graphics for K-Rod’s entrance, so they won’t need to spend any money on making up something for Jonathan Broxton, who will be pushed to a setup role.
Con: Broxton’s walk-up song is Black friggin’ Sabbath, and K-Rod’s is unintelligible Puerto Rican reggaeton.

Pro: This signing gives the Brewers four pitchers with closing experience: K-Rod, Broxton, Jim Henderson (still on his way back from the shoulder injury that sidelined him for most of 2014) and former Indians closer Chris Perez, who was signed to a minor league contract earlier this month.
Con: It is 2015 and “closer”, a made-up completely fictional non-position, is still a thing professional baseball managers care about.

Pro: “Thirty Pitches of Terror” is a fun nickname, and K-Rod can turn even the most boring three-run saves into a roller coaster of suspense, which is great for television ratings.
Con: That pro was actually a con.

Here’s hoping the Brewers have this in their playlist when it comes time to make a decision about K-Rod’s club option year in 2017: