In this day in age, many Milwaukee Brewers fans discuss their favorite team daily on Twitter and other social media sites. The Brewers are off to a fast start to the 2018 season, but their fanbase is not always euphoric online.
The first qualification that has to be made is that viewing Twitter does not always gauge the fan base as a whole. Most on social media are part of a vocal minority.
Secondly, after being in sports media for many years, I can attest that fans/viewers usually complain before they praise. It is human nature. Positive feelings are not as likely to move someone to actually react, rather than a quick disagreement.
So, let’s dive into some of the more consistent complaints that we have seen online this year. I will not put a spotlight on individuals like @OldTakesExposed. I think we can group together the common disagreements pretty easily in broad terms.
The daily lineup reveal
The starting position players and where they sit in the lineup is by far the one that brings out the most disagreement. It has worked to a good result 36 times in 57 games, but that does not stop the second guessing. The Milwaukee Brewers post their lineup on Twitter each day a few hours before the first pitch. I always check to see what fans are saying. There is usually one major issue with the configuration that will get the group-think brewing before the game even starts.
Nitpicking the batting order of the starting nine is a bit fruitless. The average fan only has a sliver of the information that’s available. The more knowledgeable fan can dig deeper for statistics, like splits with the opposing pitcher, but that still only tells a portion of the story. Brewers beat writers like Tom Haudricourt and Adam McCalvy should get a lot of credit for trying to help the masses understand the rationale for a certain decision.
Does a certain player have a minor injury or a cold? Is Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell keeping his position player group engaged with a spot start? Is there a larger plan that fans are clearly not able to see when reacting to just one game?
The lineup typically has one player that is a lightning rod if he plays or sits. He also happens to be one of the best players in Brewers history.
Ryan Braun is a problem?
In the first month of the season, almost every time that Ryan Braun‘s name was posted in the lineup, there would be a subset of people asking why he was in there. At that point in the season, the team had a full complement of players. Braun was also off to a slow start, last inning heroics notwithstanding.
The depth the Milwaukee Brewers had subsequently gave way to injuries. Many times to the former MVP himself. However, when Braun returned from the disabled list recently, the drumbeat remained. This time it shifted to his third spot in the batting order. Counsell may have heard this particular complaint! It seems Braun will now bat fifth while Jesus Aguilar is hitting like a small market David Ortiz.
Age is undefeated and Braun is certainly not the same player he was in 2011. However, he can still barrel up a baseball. Braun has also been quite unlucky to this point. It will be interesting to see how he does the rest of the way.
Craig Counsell does not handle the pitching staff well
I am including this criticism mainly because it may be seen more later in the season. Attacking the moves of the skipper was popular in 2017. It also started strongly in the first few weeks of the season after a few losses. Obviously the collective ERA by the pitching staff and the sublime performance of the bullpen has quieted the critics a bit.
However, all it would take is an arm injury or drop in performance to amplify this gripe yet again. At this point, it really is hard to argue how Counsell has handled the staff. A lot of this may have to do with the breaking of baseball tradition. Fans have been accustomed to seeing a pitcher pulled when their pitch count neared 100. This is not the article to dive into all of those stats, but the bullpen use is clearing working at this point.
The Josh Hader conundrum
“Josh Hader should be a starter!” “Hader should be our closer!” “Why isn’t Hader in the game?” I have seen variations of all three of these by fans, friends, and family members. Hader has almost not been human, but even he would be unable to be all of these things.
He certainly would get more innings if he started, but he would impact far fewer games than he is on pace for. We also do not know how effective he would be the second or third time through an order. It is no coincidence that the Brewers are undefeated in his appearances. I think it is a great role for him for now and it could be his future too.
Player X should not be sent down to the minors
Milwaukee Brewers GM David Stearns has by-in-large made correct decisions at every turn. However, I hope he is not on Twitter when he has to make a tough decision. He made a very unpopular one lately when he sent the struggling Orlando Arcia to Triple-A.
They have also made liberal use of their options that their young players have, moving guys up and down to keep the bullpen fresh and cover for injuries. It is certainly a new way of doing things. Similar to the use of pitchers, I think this will become more of the norm and expected part of the game moving forward.
Following the Brewers on Twitter
Baseball is a great game that lends itself to this kind of criticism. In the National League there are countless decisions that can be second guessed each game. Or first guessed.
From my seat, I prefer to enjoy the first place ride. There will be times you may want to vent, but it seems that the duo of Stearns/Counsell should get the benefit of the doubt more times than not. You cannot argue with results. The moves they are both making are obviously working going into June.
Your patience will certainly be tested this season. There will be losing streaks. Players will go into slumps. It may not be the worst idea to ride it out and trust the people in the charge.
This summer should be a fun one. After beating the Cardinals Wednesday, they now have won six straight series. It will also be a long way to the end and the team could test your patience along the way. Keeping all of this in perspective online is probably a good idea. My guess is that most Milwaukee Brewers fans already do.