By Melissa S. Wollering
They were afterthoughts. Surely Prince Fielder has hit a Grand Slam in his career. Nope. Surely, the Milwaukee Brewers would never send Manny down to AAA and start a search for spare pitching parts. Nope. Alas, we relish in both this week. We also take a look at why valuable players like Hardy and Cameron slump worse than aging scoliosis and what helps them bat upright again.
If there ever was a ‘stank’ face, it was the one Prince Fielder made right before he smacked the ball so fast into right-centerfield that Marty McFly could’ve used it as a mode of transportation in Back to the Future.
It truly was the Itchy & Scratchy—Brauny & Fieldy Show. Ryan and Prince drove in a combined 11 RBI’s Monday, prompting this: when your team is slumping, who lifts you up? Who restores the faith of the masses when the pitching is pitiful and your startling lineup is in despair? More importantly, how do they do it?
Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have provided long-term consistency, leadership and foundational strength for the Crew for some time now. However, Monday was the first night I took a step back and admired them for rejuvenating the faith of a team who had just loss 6 of its last 7 and was now losing big-time on national television.
Argue all you want, but isn’t that what gives Braun and Fielder each the “it” factor? There was quite a bit of speculation in the off-season and in spring training that Fielder wouldn’t be worth the hassle of re-negotiating with Dr. Evil/Scott Boras. But combined, these two men seem to be able to alter their teammates’ emotional status, make game-winning plays and affect the entire course of a homestand or away series.
Example #1: JJ Hardy, Mike Cameron and Bill Hall epitomized slump before Monday. On Tuesday, all three drove in key runs for a win. It was JJ’s first multi-RBI game since May 19th. Cameron was 3-for-38 entering that game and Bill Hall has only 7—count them seven—hits in his last 71 AT BATS. Monday was great inspiration for fans, better inspiration for Prince & Braun’s teammates.
Example #2: Prince has stated, “I want to do whatever I can to help the team win,” referencing the importance he places on his defensive contributions to the Milwaukee Brewers as well. Earlier this month against Atlanta, he socked two homers and threw out a runner at the plate to keep the Braves off the board for a second consecutive game. He’s not the best first baseman in MLB, but he’s not the worst.
Example #3: When in doubt, Ryan and Prince make you believe ‘hey, we’re not that bad’. It sounds simple but is easy to forget amidst a losing streak. The Brewers are one of only two teams in the National League with a winning record both on the road and at home. The Los Angeles Dodgers are the other.
Fielder and Braun physically hold their team together like Gorilla Glue. Is it applicable when Doug Melvin and Mark Attanasio consider keeping the dynamic duo together for the good of the team next year? Multiple years? You bet your civil war references it does. Together we stand; divided we fall. Pretty deep for baseball, hey?
In contrast, shallow is the level of skill Manny Parra has displayed so far this season. In this week’s “Ace’s Corner,” if you take away the starts Manny made, the Brewers have a record of 33-21 as of Wednesday. Developmentally, the kid needs work. The team won’t need a 5th starter until June 27, but it rekindles the question that’s been burning all season. Will the Milwaukee Brewers pick up another starter mid-season?
Don’t ask me if he’ll stack up to CC, you’re smart and know better. Peavy’s DL announcement made me smirk for this reason, too. I hate throwing out names, but Ken Macha has stated they are eyes wide open up to the trade deadline. If you absolutely want to see the options, Right Field Bleachers has a great breakdown of who’s worth it and who’s not. Names include Cliff Lee, Tom Glavine, Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson and a host of injured.
In “Just a Bit Outside,” I am relieved to hear he turned down an offer to appear on ABC’s “The Bachelor.” I’m sure it took some restraint, considering the Ken-Finds-Barbie concept works wonders for additional T-shirt sales. Check out Miller Park Drunk for an excellent re-creation of what ABC execs must have said to Braun. The hypothetical conversation includes offering Braun the grown-up version of Walt in LOST, who holds all the island’s mysteries. Yes, Walt is black. And in Grey’s Anatomy…they want him to play “McJewy.”
In “Friendly Fire With the Cubs,” someone has too much time on their hands but has managed to amuse me.
And finally, in this week’s “Chart Magnificence,” I couldn’t resist a Terrell Owens vs. Brett Favre comparison checklist. Don’t forget to use the handy comparison checklist at work when deciding between departmental budget needs vs. wants; who gets pink slip vs. who stays; and the ever-popular inappropriate vs. appropriate responses to your boss. Enjoy.
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