This is a segment I generally reserve for players who I like…but leave the greater Milwaukee area. Normally, I would not think to do this faux obituary type article for an entire season. But the truth is, I really liked the 2011 season. There is no question in my mind that this was probably the 2nd best Brewers season in franchise history. Then I realized that I wrote an article like this for Chris Capuano and Dave Bush, and let’s not kid ourselves…the 2011 was much better than either of those two guys. If anything, I owe it to the 2011 season to give it a proper farewell.
The 2011 Brewers Season:
* Quick Note: I left out a great deal of amazing things about this past season. For more from Colin Bennett, click here.
You started on a sad note. Arguably the greatest closer in the history of baseball, Trevor Hoffman, retired as a Brewer. Then you made a very irrational decision and brought Mark Kotsay in to our universe. Many of your close friends assumed it was due to your belief that you must overpay at least one veteran every season. Whether that is true or false, remains to be seen. If that was your motive, Kotsay met your quota and tortured Brewers fans for roughly 7 months…he eventually ended the 2011 season by striking out. This decision was a very rare miss in a season full of hits.
Then you decided that Kotsay was not enough, so injuries rained down from on high. First Jonathan Lucroy dislocated his finger and would miss all of spring training. Then Greinke-Gate broke and we knew that this season could not possibly be like any other. Superstar pitcher Zack Greinke was the prize of the 2011 off-season, and shortly after camp started we heard that he had a cracked rib from playing pick-up basketball with his friends. Most of Brewers nation spent the month of March debating on just how stupid Greinke must be. My personal favorite was calling him “Zack-A-Shaq”. Greinke was all any of us could talk about, until March 27th, then everything changed…
Nyjer Morgan was acquired from the Washington Nationals, just days before April Fools Day. No coincidence that Morgan had a reputation for being a jokester and kind of a bad guy. At the time of the trade, I really did not like it and had major concerns about his mental health. Then I watched him play (both on and off the field) with this team for a few weeks. Morgan was a perfect fit and exactly the type of personality this team had been missing for the past few seasons. T-Plush fever began sweeping Brew Crew Nation after several incidents in early April, involving him destroying catchers at home plate. Tony Plush gave the 2011 Brewers their “wild card”, a la Rick ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn in Major League. The Plush Fever was moving so quickly that people all most didn’t notice when Ryan Braun signed a huge contract extension in April. Our acceptance and love for T-Plush would eventually pay dividends.
As we watched the team flail and flounder through most of April and May, something finally clicked on May 23rd. It was that game, in which Prince Fielder launched a walk-off, two-run homer in the bottom of the 14th inning. In that particular game, the Brewers had come back to tie the game in the 8th, 13th, and eventually won it in the 14th inning. I deemed that victory over the Colorado Rockies as “The Turning Point“. If you need a refresher, here is the video of Prince’s Homer. You could sense that things were about to change and get the team back on track. One of the many gifts given to us by Prince Fielder in his final season of Suds.
In August, we were witness to something new and exciting, a rivalry. After an incident involving Ryan Braun being thrown at on back to back pitches, some hatred began to emerge between the Brewers and Cardinals of St. Louis. Tony LaRussa completely denied the incident which only fueled Brewers fans fire. That eventually lead to Tony LaRussa calling Brewers fans “Idiots” after the conclusion of a 4 game series in Milwaukee. This series eventually fueled an entire slue of misadventures by resident team Wild Card, Nyjer Morgan. Who could possibly forget him referring to Pujols as ‘Alberta’, or the tobacco toss? Priceless. Thank you for this beautiful gift. It felt great to have a rival for once, instead of teams who liked to beat up on us.
As August came to a close, the team had become almost invincible. Many thought the Brewers had peaked to early and played their best ball in late July and all of August (in hind sight, those people were probably right). The Brewers went 27-7 from July 23rd to August 31st. It was a time of dandelioin wine and cheese croissants. There was little to be upset about, even Mark Kotsay seemed to be tolerable during this stretch. Now, I have never been, but I assume that heaven will be a lot like those 6 weeks. Everything just seemed right with the world. Normally at the end of August I am burying the Brewers and playing T.A.P.S on my mouth trumpet…while gearing up for Packers season. This year was different, we had a solid lead in the division and were steam rolling people on our way to the World Series. The 2011 season made the last two months of the major league season important and relevant.
If you remember one date from this season, it should be September 23rd, that is the day that the Brewers clinched their first NL Central Title in franchise history. For the first time during my existence on this planet, the Brewers were division champs. This is truly one of the greatest moments of 2011. That joy was short-lived, as we started looking towards the playoffs.
The 2011 NLDS was a very unique series. The Arizona D’Backs were a worst-to-first story, who had very minimal big name power, but a great deal of heart and determination. Luckily the Brewers had won the rights to home-field advantage in this series. In the 5 game series, the home team won all of the games in their stadium. The Brewers took the first two games in Miller Park, the D’Backs embarassed us in the dessert to take Games 3 and 4. Game 5 of the NLDS is the greatest Brewers moment of 2011:
The people who live below me, came upstairs to make sure that everyone was ok. I can count on one hand, how many times I have been that naturally juiced up on adrenaline. My heart was pumping so fast, that I could not hold my hands steady while chopping onions for a celebratory lasagna…2 hours later!!!! Of all the gifts you gave us 2011, this is the one I will treasure the most. If watching this video does not make you want to go out and incite a New Years Day riot, you might want to check your pulse…you are dead.
You ended the playing portion of your legacy with a bit of a thud. The Brewers fell to the Cardinals, 4-2, in the NLCS. It wasn’t bad enough that they beat us, but then they went on to win the World Series too. In the end, I probably would not have had it any other way though. After watching how cruel of a mistress you were to the Rangers (2 years in a row), I consider you our friend. Not like a really good friend who comes over all the time, but like a person we see every once in a while and find your company enjoyable. You must really like us back though, because at a certain point, you made it very clear that this was not the end of the Brewers playoff chances…
That point came just a few weeks ago as the Brewers signed Aramis Ramirez and traded away Casey McGehee. It was your final gift to those of us who must go on living in this crazy world. You gave us so much and it is so sad that you are gone. Granted, I am still pissed off at you for Kotsay…and K-Rod accepting arbitration…you really screwed us on that one. That aside, it was one hell of a ride.
We will never forget you 2011 season. How could we? Colin and I have kept very thorough and occasionally humorous diary of all of your gifts and curses. Check out this article, which is the first of several, as Colin breaks down some of our best and worst from 2011.
Since it is a New Year, I will make one resolution to you, our readers. I am not resolving anything to 2012, until 2011 apologizes. But, in 2012, I promise to not be so angry and blatantly mean to our boys. After going through all of my articles from the past year, I realized that I can be a real dick. For that I apologize and will make a conscious effort to be more positive and objective…especially when I am angry. I am looking forward to what 2012 is going to bring us.
Hope that everyone had a safe and Happy Holidays. If you want to share your favorite 2011 moment, please feel free to do so in the comments below. We will talk about what is up with Ryan Braun tomorrow. Go Badgers!!!