By: Melissa Wollering
Personal highlights include the first christening of my new handmade cornhole game with my little brother, having a Brewers fan tell me ‘that’s an impressive amount of liquor you brought for two people,’ a picture on the Warren Spahn plate near the outfield entrance in honor of the late Walter Wollering, and of course Rickie Weeks safe at the plate last Friday.
Plus, at 10:33 a.m. Opening Day, sitting in traffic backed up before the off-ramp to Miller Park Way, Bill Schroeder decided to get out of the vehicle dropping him off and walk the rest of the way to the press entrance. First he came by our car, peeked in and asked, “What’s everybody waiting for?”
Personal lowlights include Suppan’s pitching, Vanillawafer’s pitching and the four male Cubs fans next to me calling me blondie and exiting from the middle of the row a combined 42 times in 9 innings while I’m trying to score the game in my new geekster Uecker-carbon-copied scorebook (made it myself).
Let’s go good, bad, ugly. Good is Mike Cameron snapping out of his – I need to speak with a psychologist after I fractured Joe Martinez’ scull three times – hitting slump. Cameron returned to glory Wednesday with two solo home runs to help the Brewers actually win a game. He was freakin’ after leaving San Fran and probably needed to rid himself of nightmares before being able to smack the ball again.
Braden Looper may be the only Brewers starting pitcher who knows walking multiple batters is generally unfavorable in the game of baseball. Todd Coffey and Mark DiFelice were the only men who impressed me from the pen. Maybe now that David Riske’s been put on the DL, lefty reliever R.J. Swindle can also contribute. He was just brought up from AAA. God knows we need Hoffman and fast. Hells Bells need to ring throughout Miller Park more than ever.
First however, Brewers bench coach and former Mets manager Willie Randolph will get a chance to seek revenge on the team that gave him a raw deal. Maybe the Brewers can beat up on the Mets in their new house to help Willie out with that.
I have also received a few apologies from Wickie-haters this week. For most of his four years with the organization, Wickie Reeks has earned his nickname by being called the biggest underachiever on the team. On Opening Day, quotes unlike anything anyone has ever heard before came spewing from his proud teammates and coaches.
“He pretty much won the game for us,” says Ken Macha. “I just know it’s going to come together for him. It might be happening right now.”
“You can’t ask for anything more than Rickie gives,” Seth McClung said. “He gets here early and works so hard. Nobody deserves it more.
Weeks tied the home opener with his bat and won it with a slide to the plate as the Brewers rallied in the bottom of the ninth. The swarm of B’s at the plate said more about Rickie’s overdue break than the team though. The team then went on to SUCK IT UP by losing the next 4 in a row.
Which brings us to the bad. Or in this case, sad. Merle Harmon, the original radio voice of the Milwaukee Brewers passed away this week. Harmon partnered with Bob Uecker from ’71 to ’79 and he’s as legendary as they come. With the recent loss of so many baseball greats these last few weeks, the only consolation I can provide is that these amazing men are probably playing a game of countless innings up in the heavens together.
Yovani Gallardo isn’t pitching like Yovani Gallardo either. In his loss to the Reds this week, he went 5 innings giving up 7 runs on 3 hits and 4 BB’s. Also sad, at one point this week, Ryan Braun had hit like 2 for his last 18 or something awful like that. But the bigger picture reveals worse: the Brewers have left a total of 27 on base throughout the last few games. Vomit in my mouth.
Jeff Suppan not only got a-talkin-to by Macha, not only will he sit out his next start but he should also consider retiring next year out of guilt and forfeit his salary back to the organization so they can pay SOMEONE WHO DESERVES IT. I’m torn because what is more alarming: 3 HBP? 10 BB in < 9 innings? 2 HR’s AND ONLY 2 K’s?
It begs the question: can two terrible starts combined with an ugly performance down the stretch last season be enough to give a veteran pitcher an Essen Haus boot to the drawers? Among Brewers who pitched at least 300 innings for the organization, Jeff Suppan has the fourth worst ERA. Here are your top five: Glendon Rusch, Jimmy Haynes, Gene Brabender, Jeff Suppan and Steve Woodard. You want league-adjusted? Fine, when you use ERA+, then Soup drops to eighth. He’s also second worst in quality start percentage, behind Brabender again.
It used to be funny when Madison 1070 AM guys pulled the Conan O’Brien wonder-dog “for me to SUUPPP—AANNN” quote out, but now it’s just reality. In this week’s “Chart Magnificence,” we study Jeff’s movement on pitches. Compare the difference between these four starts.
He threw a great deal of strikes in Sept. 07 and most of his misses were just shy of the zone, too. A year later, his pitches weren’t painting the corners; they were decent pitches to hit. Even so, Suppan managed to cash in a 3.00 ERA based on a joke-of-a .214 batting average on balls in play. Then by the end of last season, Suppan had just crumbled and combined his unimpressive throws with zero command and complete inaccuracy when it came to the zone. Commanding the strike zone is his only hope for saving himself. Painting corners and changing speeds will also need to be part of the equation. Note his falling velocity is also working against him.
In “Around the NL,” Cecil Cooper could be the first manager fired. What? He said the Astros were going to win 120 games? Not if your entire team hates you. Tony La Russa says Chris Carpenter’s going to be out “for a while.” Heh. Meanwhile, the Pirates actually won some games and acquired Delwyn Young. But Young hasn’t been a healthy OF.
This deserves a call-out but it also fits in this column – YOU DO NOT HANG A DEAD GOAT AROUND THE HARRY CARAY STATUE. No way. No how. No matter who you are, you do not do that. I’m not even going to expound on that.
But finally in, “Friendly Fire With the Cubs,” I was pleased to see Cubs fans boo Jason Marquis only to have watch him beat his former team and cash in for 2 RBI’s at the same time. Rich Harden only lasted 3 innings, too. Giggle.
Plus, in a rewind to Sunday, Prince rightfully tipped his hat to Reed Johnson after Reed robbed Prince of a grand salami. See, when Milton Bradley left with an injury, it was the luckiest thing that could’ve happened to the Cubs. Milton would NEVER have made that play at the wall, but Reed Johnson is just ridonkulous. Game-changing catch on a moon shot. Classy describes what I think of Prince’s gesture, too.