I had help out hope that the Brewers would wrap up the division down in Chicago earlier this week to set off a scene much like the one back in January where throngs of Packers fans made their way down towards the field to chant Go Pack Go! to the players after earning the trip to the Super Bowl.
The idea of Prince and Ryan and T-Plush saluting the Brewer faithful that dominated Wrigley was one that I had actually hoped for. The agonizing looks on the Chicago fans' faces would have just been wonderful. Alas, the pesky Cardinals just kept winning and the Cubs played a hard series in what many could assume was their World Series.
The next scenario was a potential clinch yesterday when the team was off. This, for me would have been the worst scenario. What would they have done? Held a private celebration or would they have reveled in the bask of the Championship glow during pregame today? Again, the Cardinals and Cubs did not cooperate.
Then came the epic fail of the St. Louis bullpen yesterday. Ahead 6-2 in the ninth, the genius Tony LaRussa decided to go with his closer who had worked in nine of the previous 14 games. I watch a ton of baseball and the ONLY time I ever see a manager bring his closer in with a four-run lead in the ninth is when he hasn't gotten any work lately. But, admittedly, I am not Tony LaRussa so what do I know?
Walk, Error, Walk, Walk...
Suddenly, the lead is only three and the winning run is at the plate. LaRussa goes to the mound and makes a change to Marc Rzepczynski. The apperance would be his 10th in 15 games. He promptly gave up a base hit to Jose Reyes bringing the Mets within two with the bases still loaded.
LaRussa heads to the mound again and calls for Fernando Salas. This was only Salas' eighth appearance in the last 15 games so LaRussa must have found him "fresh." Ruben Tejada greeted him with a booming double and the score was suddenly tied. The camera shots of the Cardinals' dugout showed utter disbelief. the announcers sounded like the Viking announcers after the Favre interception in the NFC championship game in New Orleans two years ago.
No more pitching changes for LaRussa. He was going to go with Salas to get out of this but Willie Harris delivered the dagger and after meekly popping out three times in the bottom of the ninth the game was over and the Brewers magic number was down to just two.
Some questioned LaRussa as to why he would go with the "overworked" Motte in a save situation. This was the fourth straight game Motte was charged with a run. What came out of his mouth was astounding to me.
"No," La Russa said when asked about potential effects of Motte's workload. "He may be getting distracted by somebody thinking he's the closer. He should keep his fine focus on, just pitch as good as I can. He's not the closer. He's the closer a lot of times. He doesn't need to be distracted with that nonsense. He's not the closer for next year. That's just not in his best interest or ours to distract guys."
What a vote of confidence for him heading into the final six games.
So, now we can be done with the Cardinals by just winning two more games no matter what they do. And the celebration can take place where it rightfully should have, at Miller Park in front of the fans that will push attendance in this small market city over the 3 million mark for the third time in four years.
Their home record bordered on absurd at times this year and is still one of the best in the majors. The faithfull had their taste of fun in 2008 but this is a division title, not a backdoor entry because someone else caved. All the pain and suffering of almost 30 years of futility will be forgotten if even for a few glorious moments as no doubt the players will spend plenty of time on the field saluting their fans.
I am sure that most, like me, were hoping this thing would have been over already and that the at times anemic offense would kick it into high gear heading into October. that can still happen, and most likely we are going to party like it is 1982 this weekend! Who gets to ride the Harley????