Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Brewers and the Suffering Servant

Well, it has been a month since my last post. I'm not sure why, but I haven't felt like saying much lately. There are times when I want to share all of my thoughts with the world, and other times when I just want to live inside my own head. This past month has fallen under the latter category. Regardless, I'm going to try to post more often. If only I could master the art of the short post instead of always writing essays, then it wouldn't be so darn hard to muster the energy.

Along with all the usual stuff, I've spent a good deal of the past month following baseball - listening to it on the radio, reading about it in the paper, and going to games.* Unlike football, which comes around only once a week, baseball is a daily companion. It's a steady presence, without the hype, and that's one of the reasons why I love it so much. Also, the baseball season is in full blossom right now. Gone are the early days of spring, when every team is equal; now is the time for differentiation. My team, the Milwaukee Brewers, started the season hot (at one point, their record was an unbelievable 24-10), but they have cooled-off considerably, losing 14 of their last 19 games. Thankfully, they are playing in the weak NL central, where 85 wins might be enough to take the division. But given that the BrewCrew hasn't finished above .500 since 1992 and hasn't been to the playoffs since 1982, we Brewers fans are trying to keep our expectations low.

On a related note, I highly recommend Kim Fabricius's recent post at Faith and Theology "Ten Reasons why Baseball is God's game." However, I must quibble with his claim (in #8) that baseball's "Suffering Servant" is the Chicago Cubs. While the Cubs certainly have a long history of losing, they play in gorgeous Wrigley field and have a large, nation-wide fan base (thanks in part to season-long coverage on WGN). On the contrary, the pathetic Brewers - who are just as adept at losing as the Cubs - play in almost total obscurity, followed by Wisconsinites only until the beginning of Packer season, after which they are ignored by everyone. Like the suffering servant, the Brewers have "no beauty or majesty to attract us to [them], nothing in [their] appearance that we should desire [them]." They are a team "despised and rejected by men", full of "sorrows", and "familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces [they are] despised, and we esteemed [them] not." Clearly, these words are more applicable to the Brewers than the Cubs.

* Unfortunately, now that I live in Minnesota I'm forced to attend games at the sterile, soul-sucking bubble called the Metrodome, perhaps the worst stadium in all of major league baseball (only Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay can rival its bleakness). I miss Miller Park - hell, I even miss the old County Stadium. And I certainly miss tailgating and those crazy racing sausages!


Andy said...

I was going to dispute your claim that the Cubs are not the ultimate losers. Did you see the show a while back asking who had the worse curse, Red Sox or Cubs? Red Sox fans rejected the Cubs claim on the basis that the Cubs never even given you the illusion that they're going to win.

But you're right, the Cubs losing ways give them a strange charm. The fact that they continue to let Ron Santo work their radio coverage can only mean that they are intentionally cultivating this. The Brewers on the other hand have got nothing.

Still I really thought they were going to be this year's Tigers. I think they can hold on in the central.

How far over his head is J.J. Hardy playing right now? Is he really this good?

Thomas Adams said...

I think that Brewers are starting to pull out of their slump (in fact, they’ve just won two games from the Marlins). I also predict that they will take the NL Central, although I’m more confident in the weakness of the competition than in the strength of the Brewers. Looking at the standings this morning, the Brewers have a 6 ½ game lead - the second largest in baseball - over the second-place Cardinals, who are six games under .500. But I’m not sure whether the Brewers can hold up against premier NL teams like the Mets and Dodgers.

Hardy is playing very well, but it’s tough to say if he’s in over his head. He’s only in his third season and was limited to 35 games last year due to injury. So we really don’t know what he’s capable of doing over a complete season. What’s been most surprising to me is his new-found power. I hope he can keep it up.

I liked your comment about Ron Santo. When we lived in Madison, I could often pull-in Cubs games on the radio and at first I couldn't believe that they let this guy on the air. But after a while he began to grow on me. The Brewers, of course, have Bob Uecker who is the perfect mix of humor and competence. I still listen to him thanks to radio, which is a godsend for expatriates like me.

P.S. an after-thought said...

I liked County Stadium and also their new stadium too. What was nice about County Stadium was the was the air blew through it, helped keep you cool , if you had a shady seat.