It’s a simple formula: Brewers playoff hopes = 0 + Packer preseason in full swing = baseball interest dwindling in Wisconsin. Miller Park is still drawing big crowds, but as August turns to September and the excitement of watching Jean Segura turns into impatience that Jean Segura isn’t Barry Larkin yet, more and more eyes will turn towards Green Bay.
It doesn’t need to be that way, though. While the prospect of watching the Brewer bullpen blow another lead is depressing, there are plenty of storylines around baseball to keep even the most casual baseball fan watching.
Wild Finish For the Wild Cards:
There are three moments in the last few years that as I watched it, I said to myself “this is going to be a 30 for 30 documentary someday”. The day Dan Wheldon died, the entire Tim Tebow saga in Denver, and the final night of the 2011 baseball season. (That reminds me – Rejected 30 for 30 idea #1: “Shirtless in the Rain – Tim Tebow and the 2012 Jets preseason”)
Bud Selig hopes to get the same result this year by adding a second wild card – the idea being that more teams will be in the race to create chaos, and even if the final day of the season doesn’t provide fireworks, the one game Wild Card playoff game will. The worst case scenario is that the system will provide all the excitement of the NCAA play in games. (Rejected 30 for 30 idea #2: (Western Kentucky/Mississippi Valley State – The Battle To Get Routed By Kentucky”) The best case scenario is what you have right now, where 8 American League teams and 7 National League teams are legitimately fighting for 10 playoff spots.
The Yankees, Rangers, Nationals, and Reds are all but locks to find their way into the postseason, but from there it’s a crapshoot. The schedule will only make things more exciting: the Rays end the season with three games in Baltimore, and the Rangers end the season with 7 games against Oakland and three with the Angels. In the NL, the Braves end the year with a series against the Pirates, the Reds close out the year against the Cardinals, and the Dodgers and Giants, one of baseball’s greatest rivalries and currently tied for 1st in the NL West, have a three game set to finish things off. To put it simply – the beginning of October is shaping up to be more exciting than the end of it.
The Future is Now:
When the Angels spent the GNP of Estonia on Albert Pujols in the offseason, could anyone have predicted their entire season would be built around a player making $480,000? Yet here we are, less than 50 games to go, and 20 year old phenom Mike Trout is unquestionably the A.L. MVP.
Andrew McCutchen could bring home the trophy in the N.L. – he’s 25 and making just over $700,000.
Chris Sale may be the AL Cy Young award winner – he’s certainly a major reason the White Sox could find themselves playing in October – and is making just $500,000. He turned 23 in March.
Look at the names of the guys who have defined baseball for the past decade – Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Johan Santana – they’re closer to Cooperstown than they are the peak of their careers. Baseball’s next generation is now. With the exception of the Yankees, every team in this year’s postseason will be there because of the guys who are 25 or younger. (Rejected 30 for 30 #3: Hall of Fame Class – Brien Taylor, David McCarty, Joe Vitiello, and the unforgettable 1991 MLB Draft.)
“Yeah, we got uniforms and everything. It’s really great.”:
It’s no secret that baseball’s postseason has been a little stale lately. The Phillies have won five straight division titles. The Rangers and Angels have won the last 5 titles in the AL West. The Yankees are…well, the Yankees, and the Red Sox have become the Yankees with an accent.
Some of those teams are still in it this year – but they are surrounded by teams that haven’t been in the postseason in ages. Here’s a handy reference:
Team #1 song the last time they made the postseason
Baltimore Candle in the Wind ’97, Elton John
Pittsburgh End of the Road, Boyz II Men
Washington/Montreal Endless Love, Diana Ross and Lionel Richie
If your team is already out, like, for example, a certain team located at 1 Miller Park Way, there are plenty of Cinderellas to choose from to follow for the rest of the year. Give baseball a chance. The Brewers may be done, and it’s hard to stay focused on a sport when your team is out of it 2/3 of the way through the season, but this year is unfolding as a classic, and the ending is nowhere near done being written yet. So while the action in Wisconsin is decidedly turning toward Lambeau, keep one eye on the diamond. It’ll be worth it. It’s a good year to be a tortured fan.
Matt Regashus is the producer of The Bill Michaels Show. Follow him on twitter @mregashus. Questions? Comments? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org