To quote rapper Snoop Dogg (he may still be Snoop Lion ) “stickey ickey ickey eww wee” is the best way to describe the weather inside the partially closed “Keg” officially known as Miller Park Sunday afternoon, here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. With a heat index in the 100’s the Brewers and Cubs did battle for 4 hours and 8 minutes in a regulation 9 inning game which left Brewer fans dehydrated physically, mentally and emotionally.
Chicago won the sweat fest 6-5 (and the series), but, until the 7th inning Sunday it looked like the the Crew would be the ones with the series win and not the Cubs. Up 4-1 going into that inning Brewers starter Junior Guerra was rolling and in complete command until he got into a slight jam, but, instead of letting the 31 year old work out of it, manager Craig Counsell pulled him for reliever Will Smith. Smith, has indeed been dominant as of late… but… that’s not where I’m going with this piece.
This is now the second game in a row, and one of numerous this season where Counsell has pulled a pitcher who is in complete control when he reaches the mid 90 pitch mark. Why? Are these guys that fragile, or does Counsell have zero clue on how to manage pitchers? I honestly think it’s a little of both.
Why not let these pitchers go the distance, and see what they are made of… because the Brewers aren’t going anywhere this year or next. The Brewers had a three run lead, and if they lose, they lose; wins mean zero this season. I personally would like to see our pitchers go longer, hell, if anything it would build character. And if the lead is lost, let’s see what kind of clutch players we have at the plate to regain the lead. Where is the “killer” instinct?
Before the whole “set up” pitcher mentality came to fruition in the major leagues, pitchers pitched to finish games. I think the pitchers of years gone by had more pride in their craft, and weren’t just looking to cash a check, jump on a hoverboard and listen to their cordless headphones.
Take for example Brewer starter Matt Garza, last year when the Brewers shut him down late in the season, instead of working on his game and coming out of the bullpen, he decided to not pitch at all. Love of the game and true competitive spirit has gone by the wayside for a lot of players nowadays.
On July 2, 1963 Milwaukee Braves Pitcher Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal (two hall of Fame Pitchers) had an epic battle in San Francisco. The game went 16 innings, was over 4 hours in length and both starters went the distance. Spahn 42 years old threw 201 pitches in the Braves 1-0 loss, while Marichal 25 years old threw 227. The only run was scored on a Willie Mays homerun on Spahn’s last offering that afternoon. Rumor has it that as the game got further and further along Marichal said to his manager
* “Alvin, do you see that man pitching on the other side? He’s 42 and I’m 25. You can’t take me out until that man is not pitching”
Ahh the golden age of baseball.
Counsell needs to re-visit an old saying: “if it’s not broke don’t try to fix it,” or at least ask someone who knows how to deal with pitching. Yes it was hot and humid, but, I guarantee you if this was before the whole “soft player/manager era,” whoever was out there on the mound to start the game would’ve finished it.
On a positive note Kirk Nieuhuas the Brewers rookie outfielder hit his third home run in two games, and may have got his stroke back. The Crew will go at it this whole week at home, first Arizona then the Pittsburgh.
(Photos courtesy of: Getty, and AP)
*Special to MLB.com/