The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Biggest Flop

For all the talk of Billy Goats and curses coming from the North side of Chicago, there's not much talk about a monumental choke-job in progress in the Menomonee River valley.

It's odd when you think of it, but the Brewers got off to the franchise's best start at 24-10 back in May. Since that time, they've gone 57-68, which is the worst "finish" to a season in franchise history. It tops the 1975 team, that started 24-10 and ended with a 68-win season (and Del Crandall being shown the door).

It's not quite as bad if you look back just to July 1st, but even if the Crew were to win out over the weekend against the Padres (about as likely as me winning the lottery), it would still rank as one of the six worst records over the last three months of the season in franchise history.

Three of those, by the way, have come since the Brewers switched to the NL: in 1998, their first season in the Senior Circuit, they went from a .538 record on the first of July to 74 wins on the season. In 2001, they were a game under .500 at 39-40; they finished with 68 wins. In 2004, Yost's first season, the Crew had the exact same record they posted in 1975 on the first of July (41-34). They finished with one fewer win than 29 years earlier.

The only other monumental collapse was the 1977 team, which saw Alex Grammas' squad go from a game under .500 (37-38) to win only 30 more games on the season. Grammas lost his job, as did GM Jim Baumer. Bud Selig turned around and hired some guy named Harry Dalton, who in turn hired the old pitching coach of the Baltimore Orioles, George Bamberger. We know what happened next.

The signs basically point to two things for me: one, this team ain't gonna do it this year. Two, this team is on the cusp of greatness. Within a couple of years, this team's core group of players could possibly dominate the NL Central (and, with a little luck, maybe a bit more than that).

But a spade is a spade, and this is a monumental choke job. Is someone to blame for this fiasco? Well, the conventional wisdom will suggest that the anomaly was the beginning of the season, not the end - which I can definitely believe. However, there are some players that should consider finding jobs elsewhere - and that Melvin and company should consider divesting themselves of their salary - before this team advances to greater heights.

Meanwhile, you have to wonder - are the Brewers cursed? Because this is a collapse job that a Cub fan would empathize with - if it wasn't the Cubs benefiting from it.