The 2012 Milwaukee Brewers: Cheering for a Losing Team
I have a confession to make.
Despite how much I prattle on and on about the fact that Ryan Grant is underrated, that Brooks Conrad should never pinch hit, and the Bret Bielema should really learn how to use timeouts, I’m relatively new to this whole sports thing. In fact, I’ve really only been paying attention to professional sports since 2007.
I was raised in a culture (read: Wisconsin) that worships professional sports. The Packers, Brewers, and Badgers all have rabid fans here. But my parents never really followed any of these teams, and so neither did I. Sure I knew who Brett Favre was, and my grandmother occasionally had a game on TV when we were over, but I wasn’t exposed to football or baseball the same way I feel so many around me were. That all changed in 2007, when the Green Bay Packers compiled an astounding 13-3 regular season record.
I followed the regular season from afar, mostly checking stats online and learning about football as I went. The first Packer game I actually remember watching was the 2007-08 NFC Championship game, against the New York Giants. The Packers were heavy favorites to make the Super Bowl after the Dallas Cowboys were eliminated, and the New York Giants were just some upstart Wild Card who had managed to rattle off a few upsets. And yet the Giants
won that game 23-20, in overtime. I remember that loss vividly. It hurt. This was OUR year, we were the team that was supposed to WIN. I couldn’t believe Brett Favre threw that interception. I couldn’t believe Lawrence Tynes finally made a field goal.
But despite the tough postseason loss, I couldn’t really complain. The Packers had a great 13-3 season. It was their best year since 1997. And as a fledgling football fan, I had to appreciate that.
Ever since then, I’ve had it pretty cushy as a pro sports fan. The Packers? They’ve had just one losing season since then, a promising 6-10 campaign with new starter Aaron Rodgers under center. They won a Super Bowl. They had two other postseason appearances. They almost had a perfect season.
And it doesn’t stop at the NFL. I started watching Badger Basketball in 2009. In the three seasons I’ve been a fan, they’ve made the NCAA tournament all three years, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen twice, and dropping just 28 games across those three years. Badger Football? I started watching in 2010, and they’ve been to two Rose Bowls. I started watching the Milwaukee Brewers just last year, the year they won their first division title since 1982.
Suffice it to say, I’ve been spoiled. I’ve never really had to cheer for a losing team. Which is why the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers have been so vexing. The Brewers are now 28-34, and as I type this they just lost a game to one of the worst teams in baseball (Kansas City, 26-34), after blowing a two-run lead in the ninth and losing with a walk-off walk. Yes, a walk-off walk.
The 2011 Brewers were fun to watch. They went on a 23-3 run in the second half of the season. Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun were offensive monsters. John Axford saved almost every game he had a chance to. But none of that magic has translated to this year. Prince Fielder left for Detroit. John Axford has blown two saves this year already, and an unfortunate string of injuries has left the Milwaukee roster decimated and with almost a majority of AAA talent. They’ve seen tough loss after tough loss, and it’s getting harder and harder to convince myself this Milwaukee team is headed for the postseason.
But I guess what I’m trying to get at is – that that’s okay. I’m not entitled to see a winning team in Milwaukee, nor is anybody who calls themselves a Brewers fan. Sure it’s frustrating. Sure we can question Ron Roenicke’s decisions. But at the end of the day, Wisconsin sports fans are witnessing a period that can only be described as “an embarrassment of riches”. With the exception of maybe the Bucks, pro sports teams in Wisconsin are consistently excellent – we don’t have much to complain about if a baseball team is six games under .500. And if the 2012 Brewers start a run and win the World Series – that’d be great. I’ll be the first person to gladly point out I was wrong. But it might be time to shrug off the losses this season, enjoy baseball for baseball, and end this post with a truism – “you can’t win ’em all” – whether that’s an individual game, or an entire season.