brewers baseball and things

but that was yesterday

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The marriage of a city to a baseball team amounts to nothing more than a press conference and a glass of champagne. There are no oaths taken before God and no perfect recipes to maintain the relationship. Winning a World Series, however, does work wonders. The honeymoon only lasts seven games at most, but the thrill is preserved and marketed for decades, unless it’s Miami where no one seems to care.

In the 110 year history of the World Series, only four winning cities have lost their teams to relocation.The Boston Braves won in 1914, relocated to Milwaukee in 1953, won again in 1957 only to move again six years later; to Atlanta. The Philadelphia Athletics won in 1930 for the fifth time, relocated west to Kansas City in 1955 and further west to Oakland in 1968 where they won four more.

And then there was New York. The Brooklyn Dodgers finally won in 1955 and were punished three years later with Los Angeles. The New York Giants won their fifth title in 1954 and then followed Brooklyn out west to become San Francisco.

New York and Brooklyn disappearing must have stung with celebrations still so fresh in fan’s minds, but the city was not strip-mined of baseball. The Yankees still existed. and the Mets were right around the corner. Same in Philly where the Whiz Kid Phillies were winning. And in Boston , there was a team called the Red Sox.

That leaves Milwaukee as the only baseball city to experience a World Series victory parade and in a flash; no baseball at all. But in a 7 year itch, the Brewers were born and once again, all cities with previous World Series winners had a team.

The Athletics are unique in that they won back to back World Series in both Philadelphia and Oakland where they won three in a row. The back to back has been achieved by seven franchises; New York Giants, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees (3 different times including five in a row, four in a row, and three in a row) Philadelphia and Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, and Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993.

The Blue Jays are the only expansion team to do it and they take every opportunity to market the fact. It reached schmaltzy levels last winter. It was the first time in recent memory the cheesy engine had anything to work with and they went overboard.

The Blue Jays traded away prospects in the winter of 2012-2013 and then traded some more in exchange for big names; Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, R.A. Dickey, Melky Cabrera l. It was the same formula from 1992 and 1993; outspend the Yankees.

The Rogers TV network ran the entire 1992 and 1993 World Series during Christmas and New Years. The anniversary year hardly mattered. They could turn 19 into a significant number. Blue Jay commercials featured current players who just about guaranteed victory. So much for prudence. I’m surprised post season tickets weren’t printed. Maybe they were.

I admit to laughing when just about anything that could go wrong…did. Reyes was injured. Johnson sucked. Dickey was not pitching anymore at Citi Field in New York. Cabrera had a benign tumor removed from his back. That part wasn’t funny, but the Blue Jays fell on their face, finishing 14 games under .500 and in last place. But average attendance spiked from 25,000 to 31,000 so apparently, the marketing spiel worked.

This off-season, the spinsters shut up; didn’t say a damn thing and there were no big acquisitions except one very small, under the radar change. Keven Seitzer was appointed as hitting instructor.

The Blue Jays were poor situational hitters in 2012. They failed to hit behind runners, couldn’t find opposite field gaps, lacked patience, didn’t walk enough. Seitzer as a player achieved exactly what the Blue Jays lacked.

And so Seitzer was hired to tweak top of the order habits, get people on base, set the table for maybe the most underrated power tandems in all of baseball; Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

There is rhetoric sounding from the Jays training facility in Dunedin, Florida.  “The boys look looser; determined to put last year behind them. This team can win and plans on doing so.” But there is no mention of 1992 and 1993. I’m beginning to wonder if only the Yankees stand to gain from marketing this so-called “tradition of excellence.”

Love em or hate em; but they do sit alone atop World Series trophy mountain with 27. It makes the St. Louis Cardinal’s attempt to play the same schmaltzy tradition hype a bit premature. Yeh, they’ve won 11 trophies, but the Athletics are breathing down their necks with 9 and don’t feel the need to say a damn thing about it.


Author: Steve Myers

I grew up in Milwaukee and have been a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan for as long as I can remember.

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