Forgive us, we know not what we do. Moreover, we don’t care.
You see, we’re accustomed to failure.
This franchise has existed for 50 years. After its inaugural season, it went bankrupt and relocated. Its first season as the newest incarnation of the Milwaukee Brewers used uniform remnants from remaindered Pilots jersey material to rebrand themselves. And those first Brewers teams, playing in a mostly-unoccupied Milwaukee County Stadium since the Braves nope’d out of the area in 1966, were bad. The franchise didn’t have a .500 season until 1978.
Where Johnny-come-lately types like the Marlins and Diamondbacks inexplicably have World Series banners–and the Kansas City Royals have two pennants after emerging from their dark age–if you look along the left field facade at Miller Park, you’ll see a murderers row of…yay?: 1981, 1982, 2008, 2011. Two division titles, the strike-shortened ’81 postseason appearance and a wild card berth. A fifth will be added next spring, after Wednesday night’s sweep of their historical bugaboos, the St. Louis Cardinals, guaranteed the Crew a spot at least in Tuesday’s Wild Card game.
Our historical standard is happy to be here. Our beloved team didn’t even win it all.
And we just don’t care.
The intellectual dissonance was palpable in the family room of stately Chateau Sirvio last night, watching a team celebrate the fact that it gets to play one more game next week when the calendar turns to a page with which the Brewers are historically unfamiliar. Yet, the Brewers are here and, contrary to many voices throughout this summer on Brewers Twitter, they’re good, well-managed and now they’re peaking at the absolute right time.
I remember 2008 and how the Brewers backed into the postseason. I remember 2011 and the team expending all its energy against the D-Backs before serving themselves up as a sacrifice to the Cardinals. I’m actively trying to forget that a key player in that last run was the dreadful Yuniesky Betancourt, and a 2018 pennant run should help with that.
More to the point, I came of age as the Brewers entered that dark period. Baseball ranging from atrocious to painfully mediocre, played in a dump of a ballpark, then under the best roof in sports. I fell in love with the game not with Cecil Cooper and Paul Molitor and Gorman Thomas, but with a team that local media celebrated after trading Richie Sexson because it garnered them several major league-level players, including now-manager Craig Counsell. That move was the pivot point toward the Brewers reversal of fortune, but it is also an indictment of just how bad the franchise had become.
We celebrate because this doesn’t happen. The Yankees have been to almost as many Octobers as the Brewers have seasons. With all respect to my friend and BtB partner-in-crime Dan Federico, there isn’t really a way to translate that to a fanbase accustomed to success on the ball field. For a time in this state, we had bad baseball, bad football, bad collegiate teams and bad basketball all at once. The University of Wisconsin turned into a powerhouse, the Packers have two Super Bowls, the Bucks had the 80s and are on their way to returning to that splendor.
All that remains is for the Brewers to finally break through. And, make no mistake, I don’t want to party like it’s 1982.
I want to party like it’s 1957.
This Brewers club might be the best the franchise has ever fielded, including Harvey’s Wallbangers. Where ’82 had Coop, Molitor, Robin Yount and Ted Simmons, we have Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, Travis Shaw, Ryan Braun and a bunch of guys who will work opposing pitchers to death. Those ’82 guys were good, and there’s no reason to think this 2018 squad isn’t capable of reaching or even surpassing those heights.
So, yeah, we’re happy about getting to October. We’ve blown up Twitter and other social media platforms. I haven’t not worn Brewers gear to work this week. But if there is a Brewers fan who is merely satisfied with this and ready to get back to the Packers’ rapidly-imploding 2018 campaign, know that there is so much more to play for and so much more this squad can do. The division is within the Brewers’ grasp. They can play with any of their NL postseason counterparts. Given the right breaks, they could absolutely wreak havoc in a park like Fenway or Minute Maid or Yankee Stadium.
You don’t get to this point in the baseball season without having earned it. After so many years of turning up dirt, to have hit on something is worthy of a beer shower.
The Brewers faithful are revived, and every night at Miller Park is now a camp meeting. Every tweet is raw passion, the kind of devotion that only comes with persistence in keeping the faith, that moment when love isn’t unrequited. This is what we’ve wanted for years, and to have swept the same Cardinals that blocked the Brewers in two of their postseasons and have won numerous championships on the backs of Brewers’ futility en route to October is poetic justice.
Sorry, not sorry. We don’t know what we’re doing, and that’s exactly why we should believe in this team.
Brent Sirvio is a co-founder of Bronx to Bushville.