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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast



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It's hard to sell a book when everybody knows how the story ends. Well, we may know how it ends, but even die-hard Brewer fans will learn something from the book Where have you gone '82 Brewers?

Due out today, the retrospective on the pennant winning Brewers is written by Journal Sentinel sportswriter Tom Haudricourt. He tracked down every last surviving member of the team, some guys who haven't given interviews in 2 decades. In fact, Haudricourt said this morning on Live at Daybreak that it was a condition of the book... all in or none in.

I'd encourage any Brewer fan to get this book. For the fans who remember the '82 season well, you'll still hear stories you haven't heard before. Haudricourt said some guys really opened up, or as he put it, "loosened their lips," after 25 years.

For your middle aged fan like me... sure I remember the World Series. I was 8 years old. So I remember it like an 8 year old. Now I'm able to fill in the blanks. I forgot it was such a tight race for the division championship. I forgot the Brewers essentially had to win the last game of the year on the road to make the playoffs. I forgot how close the Crew was to winning game 7.

For the new Brewer fans who have no recollection of this bygone era, it's a chance to learn why your fathers and grandfathers compare everything that happens to '82, and every player to the likes of Yount, Molitor, Gantner and Coop.  

In the excerpts I was privileged to read ahead of time, Pitcher Mike Caldwell offers a great discussion about the ridiculous pranks this tight knit group played on each other. It includes some real good stuff including Rollie Fingers keys frozen in a block of ice, and Caldwell himself having to fly home in his uniform because his suit ended up in a hot tub. Those memories make you laugh.

Others, make you sad. The chapter on Pete Vukovich even made me a little angry. It made me angry at the modern day ballplayer.

Vuk reveals he had a torn rotator cuff for half the '82 season! The guy pitched anyway... and pitched well. He literally threw his arm out that season, never really coming back from the injury and essentially ending his productive career. Despite all that, the Brewer ace feels a self-doubt and guilt he has carried for two and a half decades. He feels like he let his teammates down.

Here's why I'm angry. I don't want him to feel that way. As a fan I loved Vuk, though as an 8 year old he did scare me a bit. I don't want that guy to feel badly about anything that happened in '82.

I'm also angry because there's not a player in that clubhouse today, or any clubhouse it seems, capable of that level of passion and self sacrifice. Our ace is out... again this year... on the DL with a hang nail or something or other. Guys go down with "tightness" in their backs, or "tweaks" to a groin or "strains" to a quad. This dude's arm darn near fell off and he feels like he could have been better!

I can think of a few athletes who want it that bad today: Brett Favre, Tiger Woods, maybe Payton Manning and Lance Armstrong. That's it, I think. Actually, that's an interesting topic. Send me your thoughts on who today in sports still wants it like the '82 Brewers. I'd love to share your thoughts.

Apologies for that aside. Anyway, get this book. It's on sale today at Miller Park... bookstores everywhere tomorrow.





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