Photo: Joy B. Absalon/U.S. Presswire
Right now, it’s not a terribly exciting time to be a Brewers fan. As fun as the club’s torrid September was for everyone involved, it wasn’t enough to sneak into the playoffs, forcing us all to face the painful truth that we’ve seen our last Brewers game until next April. The hot stove can fill the void somewhat, and it should be an interesting one to follow, but the action won’t begin in earnest for at least another month.
However, there is one thing that should be of interest to Brewers fans in the coming weeks: postseason baseball. Even if you don’t have a favorite team in the field this year, there are more than a few teams and storylines that will make October worth following, which we’ll look at today:
(Ed. Note: Today, we’ll restrict our focus to the wild-card games taking place on Friday, but I expect to do something similar for the division series and possibly beyond. –NP)
4:00 CT Friday: St. Louis Cardinals (Lohse) @ Atlanta Braves (Medlen)
I don’t have much to say about this game, and it’s hard to approach it with any sort of objectivity – at least for today, Brewers fans everywhere will be rooting for the Braves with a fervor that hasn’t been seen since the franchise moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee. Even after 162 games of relative peace, the Cardinals are regarded as a nemesis by most Wisconsin residents, and still tend to annoy Brewers fans in most of the things they do (and vice versa, I might add). You would find little opposition among this community if you were to shift your allegiances to the Braves for the duration of the postseason.
If you’ve already had enough competition for one season, the game should still be interesting from a pure baseball perspective. In addition to the fact that it should be a darn exciting game whether you have any vested interest in it or not, it may also be the farewell for Chipper Jones and Ben Sheets. Jones is one of the best and most-loved players of the last 15 years. Sheets, though he won’t be pitching, should have the respect and admiration of every Brewer fan for his time in Milwaukee. After pitching himself into the ground to get the Brewers into a postseason he ultimately wouldn’t get to appear in, it’s good to see him get one more trip there before he retires.
7:30 CT Friday: Baltimore Orioles (Saunders) @ Texas Rangers (Darvish)
In the later contest, you should be fine cheering for either team, or none at all. For me, the Orioles get the nod because we can all empathize with a team that has been terrible for a long time finally making their way into the postseason. The presence of former Brewers Randy Wolf and J.J. Hardy doesn’t hurt their cause, either.
In contrast to the first game, this one should be relatively easy to watch unclouded by opinions about either team – “as a baseball fan”, if you will. Yu Darvish, the probable starter for Texas, has one of the best and deepest arsenals in the league, and should be a lot of fun to watch. Baltimore’s mix of talented youngsters and assorted veterans makes for a very interesting team on the surface, albeit one that doesn’t look like it should have a prayer with the Rangers on paper. However, the Orioles have flown in the face of conventional wisdom all year, and they only need to for nine more innings. Just another reason why baseball is the greatest game in the whole world.