Dear Mr. Counsell,
I’ve been a fan of yours since your second go-around with the Brewers in 2007. It was about the time I started getting back into baseball after my fandom diminished during high school and college. I was back home in the Milwaukee area, my bobblehead collection was blooming as the Brewers started giving out more all-fan giveaways bobbleheads on an annual basis, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with that adorable batting stance of yours (needless to say, I was a little disappointed - as was my wife - when you switched to a more conventional batting stance later in your playing career). As I educated myself more about the Brewers and you in general, I learned that you were born and raised in Whitefish Bay, played for two World Series-winning teams (and contributed to a big part of those teams winning it all), and had previously played for the Brewers in 2004 (back when I thought I was too cool for baseball - I blame the philosophy classes I took in college for having such an elitist attitude). Despite the fact that you played for winning teams in sunny Arizona and Florida, you always came back home to Wisconsin - even after retiring as a player - and I respected you for that.
As a fellow goofy-looking guy with a big nose (not Ed Sedar-big, mind you), you inspired me to give it my all in my post-college life. If a guy like Craig Counsell can be a Major League Baseball player, surely I could make it in this crazy, mixed-up world we live in. Now I have a great career, a nice house, and a beautiful family after I chipped away at getting there for years. And that’s what you do - you chip away. Sure, you were never a huge power hitter or guy who bats for a high average, but you had good plate discipline, great infield defense, and strong fundamentals in your approach to the game.
My dad and I have bonded a lot over the years talking about the Brewers and, oftentimes, about you in particular - sometimes in jest, sometimes in all seriousness. We both have number 30 shirt jerseys (I refuse to refer to them as "sherseys"). We laugh over this Onion article but wholeheartedly believe the truth at the core of its humor. After CC Sabathia left for free agency, my pops would always say, "That’s okay - we have the only CC we’ll ever need in Craig Counsell".
My parents have a friend who played some minor league ball (and I believe he even pitched a game or two in the majors) before blowing out his arm - he always thought you were born to manage a ball club one day and manage it well. He said you had a really smart perspective on the game and that would translate naturally into a leadership role. And this guy had good insight when it came to professional baseball. He predicted that Carlos Gomez would break out and be a star when so many people were frustrated with his aggressiveness and lack of discipline and called him a bust. This guy was right about Go-Go - could he be right about you, too? If so, I’m glad you’ve chosen to go through the ups and downs of being a first-time manager with the Brewers and not the Rays.
I know that your new venture is going to be challenging - even right off the bat, you're saddled with the worst record in the league and there's some controversy on whether or not your predecessor should have been fired (and if it was done in a poor fashion). And there may be more bad days than good as you go through the growing pains of an unproven leader, but from the perspective of one fan, I feel like I can get myself invested more in the losing, battling-for-.500, most likely rebuilding Milwaukee Brewers with you in charge than if Ron Roenicke, Ken Macha, or Ned Yost was helming the team. Welcome to the new chapter of your baseball career, Craiggers. The Counsell Era has begun.
P.S. - You said it best today during your press conference: "I’m a Brewer. That means something to me. That logo means something to me."