"You guys...you lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Lollygaggers!"
Coach Lou Brown in the 1989 move - Major League
I’ve been very supportive of the Brewers so far in 2012. Before the season I would tell anyone that would listen that this team would not suffer from the loss of Prince Fielder to the degree some were predicting.
Since the season started I have defended their slow start and asked for people to remember last year when April went about the same as it has this year. I even went on to point out the number of really good teams and players that are treading water much like the Crew.
Well after last night’s uninspiring effort I am officially starting to worry. The team needed a starting pitcher to step up and have a shut down outing against an inferior team and they got it. Marcum’s performance was special and what did he get in return? 0 runs and so little excitement it was as if the team was “feeding” off the small crowd at Petco and the sleeping fans in Milwaukee.
There were two things that really came to mind after watching the game:
- The Brewers miss Fielder for very different reasons than many thought
- There is a massive void on the bench where a guy like Mark Kotsay used to sit
One of the lasting memories from 2011 will undoubtedly be “Beast Mode”. The rallying cry of the team the second half was more than simply that. It was an illustration of how when a team really comes together on all levels it can be a ton of fun to watch and accomplish incredible things.
The Red Sox had their “Cowboy Up” approach on their run to the World Series a few years ago. Remember those annoying rally monkeys in Anaheim? Or a little closer to home, the outfield celebrations of Mike Cameron, Ryan Braun and Corey Hart in 2008.
There is no doubt in my mind that St. Louis rallied behind a collective hatred of the Brewers led by skipper Tony Larussa last year.
Prince brought “Beast Mode” to the team through his kids. Prince isn’t much more than a big kid himself based on my observations – and that isn’t a criticism. I believe there is something to be said for living your life that way. Evidently, No Prince – No Beast Mode.
In the rare clutch moments this season the team has regressed on the showmanship considerably. A serious toned, simple salute is all you get. Nyjer Morgan is struggling at the plate and a shot of him in the ninth inning last night as the team tried to rally in the ninth showed me what some had already told me. When it’s going good Nyjer is a blast – when it isn’t…
New additions Alex Gonzalez and Aramis Ramirez have replaced the quirky Yuniesky Betancourt and blue collar Casey McGehee. They both show very little emotion and are cookie-cutter types compared to the full of personality low on defensive talent former occupants. They are upgrades but has the “team” been sacrificed for it?
Rickie Weeks is intense as they come but has always been more of a lead by example type. He is going 100% always but also carries a very serious and business like persona. Ryan Braun has been humble and quiet and gone is his “bash buddy” to spar with on his way to the dugout after big shots. Corey Hart looks like he wants to take a nap most of the time and has that kind of slacker persona.
The only guy that I have seen give 2011 emotion is Carlos Gomez who plays the game like any play could be his last. He wants to play baseball at the pace the Packers play offense. If he was a .300 hitter he would be Rickey Henderson.
The pitching staff up until the 8th and 9th is about as boring as you can get. Even K-Rod has been goggle-less and subdued while serving up gopher balls to other teams.
Then there is the bench. Norichika Aoki was a great signing by the team and he provides quite a bit of insurance should anything happen to the other outfielders. But you saw the difference between him and Kotsay last night. Aoki can start a rally and play defense. Kotsay can win games with one swing. Who off the bench is that guy this year?
The team has used George Kottaras and Jonathan Lucroy often in 2012 for that role and that is a dangerous business when you start using backup catchers late in games.
There is a long way to go and you have to believe the pitching will be okay but the team needs a spark. I thought the win in St. Louis followed by the 3 HR game by Braun might jumpstart the emotions. Instead a quiet bunch of professionals showed up last night and it was boring to watch.
It would be a stretch to call the Brewers “lollygaggers” but they need the new Beast Mode – and a big veteran bat to come in and launch bombs like the one that put the Brewers away last night.