Endings hurt. Even sports endings hurt, and coping mechanisms are a natural reaction. One coping mechanism I have already seen a lot is this kind of thinking: "Well, this stings, but we were never going to be good enough to beat the Giants/Dodgers anyway." I understand that it is a protection against the "what could have been" thoughts, but I just cannot accept that with this team.
The season broke down into three clear parts:
- 21-23 (Pre-Adames)
- 7-15 (after building a 14-game division lead with three weeks left)
68-32. 100 games is not exactly a small sample size. For those 100 games, this team averaged 5.12 runs per game. (For the year, that would have been good for 5th in the MLB.) For 100 games, this team had a .680 winning percentage. (Over the course of 162 games, a .680 winning percentage is an 110-win team.) In the course of those 100 games, the Brewers played the league-leading Giants seven times. They went 4-3 without any ifs, ands, or buts (or COVID excuses), and would have been 5-2 if you throw in a "yeah, but" on an Avi Garcia dropped fly ball. They literally played seven games against the Giants with SF having home-field advantage and the Brewers came out on top. "Yeah, but that's not the playoffs" doesn't really work with this team either. With the starting pitching and back-end of the bullpen, this team was built for the playoffs more so than the regular season even.
This ending hurts so much precisely because this team was plenty good enough. Williams broke his hand (small factor) and pretty much the whole offense got cold at the exact wrong time (huge factor), and the season was lost because of it. That hurts, but I refuse to cope.
I hope we add some bats in the offseason, and I'm not advocating "for just running it back." The offense needs work, clearly. But you would have to ignore a lot to pretend this team never had a chance. They absolutely did, and that's why it hurts so bad.