Being in the middle of the final week of the season, not one National League team has clinched a playoff spot. This is not necessarily a sign of strength. It’s more a symbol of parity and it is about as pathetic as a new Britney Spears video. The American League is all but set and has been since Sunday. The Yankees will complete their remarkable comeback by winning the wild card any day now.
I’m sure baseball is thrilled that the NL is going down to the wire since it means larger crowds until the end of the year. But teams that fail to make the post-season will end with a false sense of confidence.
This includes the Milwaukee Brewers who provided their fans with an exciting season. No one expected them to stay in contention this long. General Manager Doug Melvin has put together this team like a brewmaster’s new pilsner. Their nucleus of young players broke the club’s single season home run record. Two rookie pitchers (Carlos Villenueva and Yovani Gallardo) showed they belong in the rotation next year. The bullpen provided some anxious moments which will need to be addressed. All in all, it looks like a promising future in Brew City.
But before fans get lulled into thinking that, they need to understand a few minor details. First, the Brewers play in the weakest division in baseball. It hardly takes a powerhouse to compete. Remember last year the Cardinals rode an 83 win season to the Series title.
Second, as of this evening, the Brewers are 81-76 thus assuring themselves of their second non-losing season in 13 years. If they were to win the last 3 out of five, realistic since they are Dr. Jekyll at home, the Brewers will finish 84-78. Progress sure, but hardly stellar and probably not enough to win the division. If the Brewers were in either of the other divisions, they would be in fourth place.
Third, the Brewers were once ten games ahead in the division only to blow it. None of the division leaders blew a lead that big although the Red Sox almost did.
For this accomplishment, club owner Mark Antanassio gave Manager Ned Yost the dreaded vote of confidence saying that he sees no reason why he should not bring him back. I can think of a few reasons, most notably his handling of the pitching staff and the teams inability to win on the road.
In this humble opinion, the team needs a new leader to take it to the next level. Ned Yost overmanages games and plays it too strictly by the book. If the rumor floating about that he will be the successor to Bobby Cox when he retires then he should go. After all, he still has a home in Atlanta and the team is more suited to his style of managing.
The Brewers need someone with experience managing youngsters. They need to go in a new direction in order to take full advantage of the enormous talent on this team. Another 83-84 win season next year won’t hack it. So Ned Yost got the dreaded vote of confidence which usually means a long walk off of a short plank. For 2008 and beyond, I hope this happens.
My most recent post addressed the state of umpiring and how even unprofessional behavior never gets punished. I know no one reads this blog, but I still take credit for the actions of MLB today when they suspended umpire Mike Winters for the rest of the season. As the story goes, Winters cursed at Milton Bradley after the Padres outfielder asked if Winters told the plate umpire that he threw a bat in his direction after being called out on strikes. Winters knows like all others that Bradley has a volatile personality.
It was said that knowing this, Winters baited Bradley with the curse.
It’s about time baseball disciplines arrogant, condescending umpires who think they are immune from the consequences of their actions. This is a good start.