It was so close for much of the game...and despite the frustration caused by a bit of lousy umpiring, serious observers have to acknowledge the Brewers inability to execute in clutch situations as the real cause for losing...again. Is that a run-on sentence? Does it matter?
The Brewers are my team. Yours too. Why do games like this hurt? Why do we care? It's only a game, right?
It hurts because we are emotionally invested in our Home Team. We live in or around Milwaukee, or at least Wisconsin. It's part of our identity as Milwaukians, as Wisconsinites, as Midwesterners who live in a great city, a great state, a wonderful part of the world. We take pride in the institutions that are part of our home. The Brewers are close to being at the top of our world, in baseball season anyway. (See: The Packers 2010/11 season for prime example of Wisconsin Pride institution succeeding.)
We love Our Teams! We want them to do well. We want them to be the best because in part we want the same for ourselves. We can control most of our actions so we can be the best. We can't control the actions of our sports teams. That is up to the players....but the responsibility is shared.
It's also up to Team Management to give the playing part of the institution the tools required to succeed on the field. Look at our collective response to the question of how we rated Doug Melvin's performance as General Manager after he completed trades for Shaun Marcum and Zack Grienke...and when he hired Ron Roenicke. Doug was The Man, right? Gord Ash was his second, and we swept him along in our universal approbation of The Front Office. "Those guys rock! This is proving they are really going all out to win the division this year!"
Then remember what some of us said when they acquired Nyjer Morgan. "The Brewers got who? WHY? Why is getting this guy a good idea?" Sure, we looked at the stories of the excess baggage he brought with him, and we collectively wondered. But then we got to see him in action, and before April was finished Tony Plush was in our minds as yet another master stroke by our fabulous front office. And were we wrong?
Hell no! The Brewers got off to another slow start, but we saw the potential of this team. We were soon rewarded, in a short-term sense, by some spectacular plays, by occasional clutch hitting, and by a record that was slowly rising to half wins and half losses. And then came a hot streak, thanks to the Home portion of the schedule. Our Brewers went above five hundred, and kept rising.....
But the inevitable Road games came along again, as they will always do. And once again, the constant weakness in the lineup appeared.....lousy hitting. Make that lousy batting, which produces bad hitting and a lack of clutch performances. We're all disgustingly familiar with who is responsible for this. Our hitting coach? Maybe. Maybe not. Remember the old adage, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him wait on a pitch?
Sure you do. We all do. We see it every dirty rotten frustrating game where Yuniesky Betancourt and Carlos Gomez get up to the plate and start hacking away, missing the pitch either just enough to pop up (early in the count too) or whiff like a loser. We see some has-been (never was?) named Mark Kotsay bat in a clutch situation and strike out, ground out or fly out. We've seen a waste of space get too many plate appearances because Randy Wolf demands to use anyone other than our good reliable starter as catcher. And by golly Corey Hart needs to start producing too. He has too much talent and has been around long enough to know how to stay away from that low and away slider.
This is just too much. We can't stand for it. There are too many good choices in the Major Leagues and in AAA, to have such a fantastic top of the order and at the same time tolerate such a completely useless bottom of the order. Why invest so much of the organization's resources in good pitching, a good bullpen, and an All-Star top of the order when one third of the lineup is so consistently lousy?
At the risk of beating a dead metaphor into the ground, a chain is as strong as its weakest link. This team will never achieve the post-season success that everyone wants until management acts decisively to improve the automatic outs named Kotsay, Betancourt, and Gomez. These guys have proven to be a very large millstone round the neck of Our Team. Unless this issue is successfully addressed by getting them out of the regular lineup one way or another, this team will be a big money-sink for Mark Attanasio....and nothing more than a landfill for the emotional investment we all put into Our Brewers.