Wisconsin sports fans had a pretty rough start to last week. First on Monday night, Prince Fielder and Manny Parra were involved in a shoving match in the dugout (well, Prince did all the shoving). And then on Wednesday night, everyone in Wisconsin died a little as the Brett Favre saga finally came to an end with his trade to the Jets for a conditional draft pick. How would the Brewers and Packers recover? The Packers' first pre-season game is this Monday, and the Brewers have responded by going undefeated (5-0) since the altercation.
Hopefully this isn't going to become an annual tradition for the Crew. It was last year at around this time that Johnny Estrada and manager Ned Yost exchanged words in the dugout following a tough loss, and the team was temporarily inspired by this passion, but then fell out of the race in September. I don't really see this altercation as anything nearly as significant as last year's. Last year, the Brewers started out hot and slowly fell down in the standings, whereas this year it's the reverse. Prince just seemed to be letting out some frustration, albeit in a poor way, following a sweep by the Cubs and a tough loss to the lowly Reds at the GAB, where the Brewers have historically played pretty well. Prince and Manny are friends, and Fielder is a large clubhouse presence (literally and figuratively), whereas Estrada was just a jerk and wasn't really friends with anyone, nor was he a person young guys looked up to. The one thing I didn't like about it was how Yost handled it. He refused to comment, saying it wasn't our business: "If the neighbors are fighting, it's pretty rude to go next door and ask what's happening." This is true Ned, but this altercation happened in clear view, in the dugout. If I see my neighbor beating his wife on the front porch, I'm sure as hell going to call the cops and/or ask questions. And to stick with the neighbors analogy, the fight clearly woke up bench coach Ted Simmons, and if the neighbors' raucous wakes me up, I'm sure as hell going to go next door and complain.
All in all, the Brewers have played pretty well since then and have hit amazingly with runners in scoring position with the exception of yesterday. Hopefully our favorable schedule the rest of the way through, the passion ignited by this dugout scrape, and the continued dominance of our starting rotation will propel the Brewers into the playoffs. Meanwhile on the other side of the coin, after losing 2 of 3 to the Crew and getting swept by the Nationals, the Reds are looking pretty horrible now, particularly since the Griffey trade, who was clearly the heart of their team. Volquez, Cueto, and Cordero have not looked sharp since the break, Homer still looks to be a "four-A" type player, and Harang has been off all year. Hopefully Dusty doesn't run the young starting rotation into the ground and they can contend next year.
STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 08.11:
Brewers 67-51, -4.0 (3 @ Padres, 3 @ Dodgers)
Reds 52-67, -19.5 (3 @ Pirates, 3 v. Cardinals)
Twins 65-52, -0.5 (3 v. Yankees, 3 v. Mariners)
RACE FOR 2008 "MOST GAMES ATTENDED" TITLE:
Erik - 21
Peter - 40