THEY AREN'T WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE
Not sure if it would have mattered, but what if we had put our best team on the field?
First things first, thank you Milwaukee Brewers.
Thank you for putting a competitive team on the field. (We always said that's all we wanted, and we'd go.)
Thank you for playing hard, even when you weren't playing well.
Thank you for not giving up down the stretch.
Thank you for 90 wins... plus one.
Thank you Ned Yost for your part in getting us most of them.
Thank you Dale Sveum for your part in getting us the rest.
Thank you for that magical final week of the season.
Thank you for making the playoffs.
Thank you for at least winning one. (pictures from Saturday night... yes I actually sat near Craig Koplien)
So seriously, thank you, but that doesn't mean we fans can't be a bit disappointed too about how things turned out. We've all been trying to figure out what went wrong. What went wrong for most of September, and what went wrong again in the playoffs.
Allow me this theory for one root cause of not winning more games, it's that they aren't who we thought they were.
I'm playing off those infamous words of former Vikings Crazy Man Dennis Green. His melt-down as coach of the Arizona Cardinals was fantastic. I've included a link if you need a refresher. It's when Denny kept saying, "They are who we thought they were!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_N1OjGhIFc
It seems to me a few Brewers weren't who we thought they were, or more accurately, who we wanted them to be. Despite that, even in the playoffs, Dale kept playing them.
RICKIE WEEKS: He's quick. He's fast. He's strong. He's talented more than most people deserve to be. He just wasn't actually performing. We wanted him to be the player he could be. A consistent... hits for average guy who gets on first and he's at third base before the next at-bat is finished. A guy who could work through his defensive struggles (he did try). Problem was, at the end of the year he was still a defensive liability who couldn't get on base. Ray Durham should have started game one, and beyond.
BILL HALL: He's a hard worker. He's been a dedicated player moving where and when he's been asked. At times he's been a game-changing explosive hitter. He just wasn't that for much of this season and certainly not in September. He showed a propensity for making errors in critical situations. He couldn't put the bat on the ball down the stretch, and he shouldn't have started in the playoffs. Craig Counsell should have started game 1 and beyond at 3rd base.
COREY HART: All Star. Great glove in right field. For a while our best bat in the lineup. Just not in September. In fact, Corey looked so out-of-it in the box that you wondered if he was even seeing straight. We wanted him to revert back to his All-Star self in the playoffs, but what evidence was there to show that was going to happen? None. Tony Gwynn Jr. ought to have started Game 2 and beyond in right field. I know... that's not really his position, but it was worth a try. Anything was worth a try.
JEFF SUPPAN: Solid. Smart. Veteran. A guy who can be counted on down the stretch because he's been there before. It's who we wanted him to be. He just wasn't. Again... horrible second half of the season. Awful September. Couldn't get out of the third inning on some nights. We hoped the playoffs would magically transform him into the Soup of years ago. Didn't happen. He never should have gotten the ball for game 4. Should have been Yo on short rest (as my friend Craig suggested) or Seth McClung.
Maybe we still come up short. We'll never know.
It's these decisions, however, that make me fear for a future with Dale Sveum. I like Dale, and I think I'm pulling for him to come back, but those moves give me pause. So does the interview with Prince Fielder after Sunday's game. Prince said Dale was always behind the guys and, "it didn't matter if you were 0-3 or 0-4." Well... maybe it should matter. We tried that whole coddling approach with Ned. We tried wishing guys into better performances. Maybe what we need now is a ball-breaker who's going to get in somebody's face and hold them accountable for poor play. Maybe we need somebody with the courage to tell under-performers to find the bench.
Maybe next year.