A Window to Another World

Hello, Brew Crew Ball. Jake Einstein here. I'm a Wisconsin-native and long-time lurker currently going for my grad degree in quantum physics. I was conducting some minor research in my faculty advisor's lab near Lake Park the other day when... well, I'm not exactly sure what happened. All I really remember is a flash of brilliant white light, the smell of fresh-cut grass, a woman's voice, and the sound of a manual typewriter. The next thing I remember was waking up on the floor of the lab, totally zonked. I didn't think much of it at the time (I have narcolepsy), but later on I discovered a rumpled page from a newspaper that I was sure hadn't been in the lab before. It was sitting on the floor a few feet away from where I fell, and was slightly charred around the edges. I read over it in disbelief, then quickly called my professor. Well, he seemed to think that it was all some kind of strange joke I was playing on him. But it wasn't a joke. And the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that I had somehow managed to open a wormhole into another dimension.

I'm working around the clock to replicate the results, but I haven't had any luck so far. As baseball fans, though, I thought you'd appreciate what I found. You see, there's baseball in this strange other-Milwaukee. Not the Brewers, but another team -- the Cream City Hops. It's an astonishing thing. If you're interested (and if I'm able to open that wormhole again), I'll try to periodically post my findings. Next time, if there is one, I'm going to try to get ahold of some pictures.

I have included the full text of the newspaper clipping below. And so. In a parallel universe, not too far from our own………

Cream City Hops Season Preview
By Margaret Piper

Despite the embarrassment of last season, there is reason for cautious optimism in Cream City. Maggie Piper explains.

The hot dogs are rolling, the popcorn is popped, and the beer is on tap. That’s right, everybody, baseball season is back. Monday heralds a welcomed turn of the page for our hometown heroes, the Cream City Hops. Coming off a franchise-worst season that saw our boys of summer tumble ingloriously to a 48-106 record (good for dead last in a crowded pennant), the Hops leap head-long into a new season featuring a revamped roster under the watchful tutelage of player-manager Wrench Ruxley.

Ruxley, 36, enters his fourteenth season with the Hops, but has never before handled managerial duties. He was offered the job last October by GM Armand Rosetti, and will continue to serve as the team’s primary backstop and run producer. He pencils into the number four hole in the lineup, a slot he has occupied for the last decade.

This year, however, he figures to face a significant challenge from upstart 24-year-old slugger Chaz Simmons, whose powerful bat was good for 32 round-trippers last year at Triple-A Missoula. Will Ruxley swallow his pride and bat Simmons clean-up if the young first baseman delivers on prodigious potential? Only time will tell.

Joining Ruxley and Simmons on the Schlitz Stadium diamond are a mix of newcomers and familiar faces.

Fans will be happy to know that Griff Jones is back to man right field, and will be joined in center by fellow holdover Franco Calatrava. Gabe Greene was brought in to patrol left in a controversial offseason move that sent fan-favorite first baseman Buddy Nelson to the archrival world champion Missouri Bluebirds.

Keystoner Chester Stokes represents the Hops’ only returning infielder, and figures to be joined by Simmons at first, Raul Cassavetes at short, and Alvin Jacobs at the hot corner, fresh from a six-year stint in Baltimore. All eyes will be on the infield, as it will be interesting to see whether this band of strangers can form into the deft defensive unit Cream City needs after committing a league-high 121 errors last season.

Journeymen and fresh talent harvested from the farm round out the Hops’ bench. We’ll be seeing Chico Sal, Tom Rant, Darren Darnell, Billy Grouse, and Stan Adams in limited roles this summer.

Toeing the rubber for the Hops on opening day will be Guillaume Guy-Homme, the statuesque and memorably-named French-Dominican whose rise to stardom last season accounted for almost half of Cream City’s wins. This 24-year-old southpaw is one to watch. Rumor has it he’s spent the spring developing a new pitch, but he’s been uncharacteristically tight-lipped when pressed for details. If it’s the hammer curve I’m hoping for, he’ll have hitters ‘round the league running for cover. Red Bailey, Bugs Robbins, fresh Japanese import Sosuke Moto, and offseason acquisition Buck Nichols fill out the starting five.

In the bullpen, a sea of fresh faces wait in the wings, fire-hoses at the ready. Chip Camp, Dickie Smith, Rog Hardy, and Mac Parton will join incumbents Tsunemi Neko and Fred Paul. Inexplicably returning for a second tour of duty in Cream City after a five-season reprieve is Gary "Gopher Ball" Grant, who hopes to improve upon the seventeen dingers he gave up in sixty-eight innings last season. If recent results are any indication, it will take a miracle.

And those aren't the only new faces you can expect to see at Schlitz Stadium this season! Citing mounting complaints from parent groups, the Hops have unveiled a new mascot – Gus Grasshopper. Our leggy new friend will be replacing Baldric the Beer Stein as the team’s official mascot, in the hopes that more kiddies will be come out to the ballpark this year. Gus will be available for autographs two hours before the start of Monday’s game.

Finally, my take on the team. The Hops have some promise, but face an uphill battle back to relevancy. A .500 season seems reasonable, but the discerning fan should not expect much more. There’s a whole lot of talented ball clubs around the league who are standing in their way. Perhaps most talented of all are the dreaded Missouri Bluebirds, with the taste of last season’s victory still on their lips. Jasper Katz and his squad of goons will do everything they can to keep the Hops in the cellar. I sat down with Wrench Ruxley last week, who had this to say about the matter: "Well Peg, I think we’re gonna go out there and play some real good ball this season. We’ve got nowhere to go but up, and I think we have a good core of talent here. Obviously we have a lot of work to do, but me and the guys are looking forward to going out there this year and seeing if we can silence those [darn] songbirds. We’re ready to play ball. .500? We’ll see about that."

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, straight from the horse’s mouth. Those same songbirds roll into town tomorrow for a 1:00 start to this summer’s season. See ya at the ballpark.

– Maggie Piper

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