brewers baseball and things

buccoroooonies

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The Pittsburgh Pirates. Now there’s a name. Who loves a pirate? Kids on Halloween, drunks on New Year’s Eve and baseball fans too. The Pirates have been around forever or 1882 to be exact. My Grandpa grew up in Pittsburgh. Good thing too because I heard all about Honus Wagner, Pie Traynor, Paul “big poison” Waner and his brother Lloyd “little poison,” Mazeroski, Clemente, Bob Friend, Steve Blass.

ottI came to life with 1978 Topps. Ed Ott was the only Penguin to me and no one had a shorter name. He also played catcher for the Pirates and squatted for the 1979 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. I remember it well. It was the first Series in which I wrote out the lineups and kept a boxscore. Turns out it was the only one. The Pirates beat the Orioles in seven games.

But the Milwaukee Brewers had the bigger part of my heart and when they switched to the National League in 1998, the Brew Crew joined the Pirates in the NL Central. It was a bummer to say goodbye to the Buccos; short for buccaneers, as my favorite National League Team, but like grandpa used to say, “so it goes, so it goes.”

Harvey Haddix; AP

Harvey Haddix; AP

Initially the rivalry was quiet. In fact, put Pittsburgh and Milwaukee in an equation and miracle more than friction came to mind. May 26, 1959 came to mind.  The Pirate’s Harvey Haddix threw a perfect game for 12 innings at County Stadium Milwaukee that day, but lost in the 13th.

The Pirates won in 1960, 1979, reached the playoffs for three consecutive years in the early 1990’s, but then Barry Bonds fled to San Francisco and that was it. The Pirates nose-dived off the radar.

And the Brewers? They reached the World Series in 1982, were competitive in 1987 and 1992 and then they too nose-dived, both teams living on the dole; bad drafts and losing streaks.

That all changed on July 9, 2003. With one swing, the Pirate’s Randall Simon put both teams on the baseball map, but baseball had nothing to do with it. Simon apparently took offense to Miller Park’s Sausage Race. He hit The Italian; worn by Mandy Bloch with a baseball bat as the traditional carnival like race passed the Pirates dugout. Italian fell to the ground. Simon was arrested, fined and suspended for three games.

I think a rivalry was born. The baseball portion kicked in a few years later when Pirates closer Matt Capps plunked Prince Fielder following a JJ Hardy homerun. Capps also got suspended and Prince didn’t do a damn thing much to everyone’s surprise. He just brushed himself off and walked calmly to first base , but the next day he retaliated by clubbing 2 homeruns.

The Brewers kicked the crap out of the Pirates at Miller Park; 22 games in a row at one point and since inter-league play began in 1997 have a 141-112 against the Buccos for a .557 winning percentage.

But times maybe changed after Andrew McCutchen got on his knees and thanked the good lord after the Pirates finally won a game at Miller Park. The Pirates beat the Brewers 12 out of 19 times last year including 5 out of 9 in Milwaukee. The Pirates have been creeping up the standings the last few years. Confidence and talent danced together in 2013. The Pirates reached the playoffs for the first time in 20 years, but like the Brewers in 2011 and 1982, they fell to the Cardinals.

Friday night was game 1 of 19 between the two with the resurrected Francisco Liriano on the Miller Park mound for the Pirates. Liriano was Harvey Haddix perfect for 3 innings, striking out 5 of the first 9 Brewers he faced. The big southpaw is one of the nastiest pitchers I’ve ever seen. Makes batters swing and miss as much as any pitcher in baseball. It’s his slider and change of pace that send batters fishing for pitches out of the strike zone.

But last year’s comeback player of the year also throws a fastball in the low 90’s and Aramis Ramirez guessed right in the fourth inning. He hit a 2-run homer. And Mark Reynolds guessed right the following inning. He clobbered one into the upper deck. The Brewers took a 4-0 lead and held on for their seventh win in a row.

The Brewer’s Wily Peralta threw consistently in the mid 90’s. He did last year as well, but he now has control of a slider and a change-up. He threw 7 innings of 4 hit baseball last night and maybe most importantly, he didn’t freak out with runners on base. He breathed.

Round 1 goes to the Brewers who now have an 8-2 record, their best start since 1987.

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Author: Steve Myers

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

10 thoughts on “buccoroooonies

  1. Let’s hope the Crew keeps it up! How’s the MLB.TV working out fer ya?

    • Got options now. The signal seems better than the Extra Innings cable tv package and i can choose the feed and bring it with me anywhere there’s an internet. Beers in heaven brother! I got the first round.

      • I love MLB TV. I’ve been watching way too much of it lately.

      • Was it Bob Dylan who sang, it’s easy to see without looking too far that not much is really sacred. Whoever it was. What do they know anyway!

        Bill, those three words, “I love mlb.tv” or is it two? That’s as sanctified as it gets.

      • It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Dylan sang that. My favorite more recent song of his is, “I Used to Care, But Things Have Changed.” You can find it on Youtube, of course.
        As for MLB TV, I’d like to hang out with Harold Reynolds for a while. Play some catch, maybe.

      • I’ll check out the song. Thanks. Yeh, Harold seems very easy going. I’m glad that hell with ESPN and the assault accusations are behind him and that his wife stood by him through all the media headaches.

  2. Ed Ott pretty much ended Felix Millan’s career when he picked him up and pile-drove him headfirst into the dirt.
    Aramis Ramirez may never make it into the HOF, but he has been one of the steadiest and most underrated 3rd basemen of the past 15 years.

    • Ed Ott. My goodness. Shit! if I had known what one of my heroes had done, I mighta taken up kick boxing. Yeh, you’re right about Aramis. Steady steady steady and handles all the hops at third. He was surprised when he got traded from Pittsburgh to Chicago, but happy to sign with Milwaukee and stay in the NL Central. If specific league records matter, Aramis has his own wing of fame for the NL Central.

  3. Have you considered that Pittsburgh named itself Pirates simply because a) it alliterates, and b) it’s macho? Just asking.

    • nope. I never considered the lliteration or macho theory and still don’t. The real story is quite interesting. I’ll try and find a way to slip it into today’s post. Hmmmm. Stretch out.

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