Last week the news came that the Brewers had declined the 2015 contract option for Rickie Weeks and he won't be back. This was no surprise. But it feels significant.
I quote from Adam McCalvy on June 25th, 2005 on Brewers.com:
Years from now, if things go as planned, a whole lot more than 44,685 people will say they were at Miller Park on Saturday night.
But that's how many made up the third-largest crowd in ballpark history and saw super-prospects Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder hit their first Major League home runs in a 7-6 win over the Twins that gave the Brewers and their fans another indication that this is a franchise on the rise.
In my mind the night described above was the turning point for the Milwaukee Brewers as a franchise, the moment the pendulum began to swing back towards success. Weeks had been called up two weeks prior to this game and had started out hot, but hadn't connected on a home run yet. Prince Fielder joined him in the bigs to DH during an interleague stretch for a few weeks. At the time I was in middle school and on the way to a barbecue with my family while listening to Uke's call of Rickie's home run in the first inning. Later on that night I snuck away to the family truck with the keys to catch a score update on the radio and happened to tune in at the exact moment that Prince Fielder hit a 3-run homer to give the Brewers the lead.
The Brewers were still pretty bad then. And the past 8 and a half seasons haven't had all the glory that we all might have hoped for. But the club has played meaningful September baseball in 5 of the 8 seasons since then and played October baseball twice. Through that all the one constant has been Rickie Weeks, over 1142 games and 4700 plate appearances.
In a lot of ways Rickie Weeks was the Brewers, for as long as I can remember actually being a fan. He was the highest of the high draft picks. His emergence represented a turning point. He, like the Brewers, didn't give us everything we had hoped for over the past 9 years. But he gave us a hell of a lot of great moments.