Countdown to Opening Day: 9 Things for Brewers Fans to Look Forward to in 2012


Technically, the Major League Baseball season began today with the Seattle Mariners defeating the Oakland Athletics in extra innings in Japan. But for the rest of the league, Opening Day is next week, with Milwaukee’s season and home opener coming on April 6 against St. Louis.

The treacherous off-season for baseball fans that seems to crawl at the pace of a snail after the Super Bowl is nearing its end. In nine days, Yovani Gallardo will take the mound, 44,000 fans will file into Miller Park, and Bob Uecker will call the season opener.

As if that last sentence isn’t ebullient enough to make you and your old legs jump off the couch with unparalleled excitement since Willis Reed hobbled onto the floor at Madison Square Garden, you’re in luck. With nine days until Opening Day, I have nine more reasons for Brewers fans to look forward to the upcoming 2012 season. Clever, right?

Ryan Braun

Love him, hate him, completely innocent, or simply “not guilty”, the reigning National League MVP will be in the Brewers lineup throughout 2012. If Milwaukee had lost Braun to a 50-game suspension, who knows what the offensive outcome would have been? All I can foresee is that it wouldn’t be pleasant.

Cavalcade of Bobbleheads

Jonathan Lucroy, Yovani Gallardo, Nyjer Morgan, and Bob Uecker highlight the list of 2012 all-fan bobblehead doll giveaways at Miller Park this year. They say a picture is worth a thousand words….but I’d say that these ones are worth a few more.

3. New Faces, New Places

While the core of the franchise has remained the same (minus Prince Fielder, of course), the Brewers have added a fair deal of new players to their 2012 roster. Aramis Ramirez replaces Casey McGehee at third, Alex Gonzalez is the defensively-improved Yuniesky Betancourt, Mat Gamel fills the shoes of Fielder at first, and Nori Aoki is the Japanese off-season signing in the outfield (more on him later).

4. Ueck and Block

Legend radio play-by-play broadcaster Bob Uecker is joined by a new voice this season in Joe Block. Block will take over for Corey Provus after serving as commentator for the Montreal Expos in 2003-04 and, most recently, working for the Dodgers’ post-game broadcast. Block provides a fresh voice to the game and, at least throughout spring training, has kept listeners involved and engaged in all facets of the game.

As if that wasn’t enough, Uecker will receive a statue outside of Miller Park. The statue will be revealed on August 31, joining him with the ranks of Hank Aaron, Robin Yount, and Bud Selig. Hopefully they depict Uecker during his days as a .200-hitting catcher. Hopefully.

5. Playoff Hopes

Sure, bobbleheads and statues of announcers and secret stadium sauce are nice and all, but what’s more fun than winning? The 2011 Brewers season showed longtime fans that nothing beats the feeling of having a winning time. In my ACT essay, I quoted that “ignorance is bliss”…but in this case, winning is a lot more blissful than ignorance.

The Brewers return as reigning NL Central champions with one of the league’s top starting rotations and MVP in left field. Throw in the additional Wild Card spot for the new season, and the Crew’s aspirations are high, once again.

6. 26.2 Miles

26.2 is the distance of a marathon, if you didn’t catch that. The MLB’s marathon is 162 games long–that’s 162 games of Brewers baseball , if you didn’t catch that. Six months of Brewers baseball awaits, and I think that’s something to mildly anticipate.

7. Norichika Aoki

The Brewers signed former Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki (henceforth referred to as Nori Aoki on my RtB posts) to a two-year, $2.25 million deal with a plethora of bonuses thrown in. This spring he has been absolutely torrid, batting .333 in 21 games with three triples and eight RBI to go along with three stolen bases. With Corey Hart expected to miss the season opener, Aoki will be the Opening Day lineup and is expected to contribute throughout the season.

8. Ryan Braun

Wait, I mentioned him already? Well, if you missed it, he’s not suspended. Cool, right?

9. Reviewing the Brew

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