Sveum remains cool under pressure
Acting manager quietly leads Brewers to Wild Card berth
As the playoffs begin, MLB.com gives you a look at what drives the eight managers looking to guide their clubs to a World Series title.
MILWAUKEE -- The "beer is half empty" crowd -- this is Milwaukee, after all -- will say that acting Brewers manager Dale Sveum was thrust into an awful situation. He took over a team off to a 3-11 start to September that had just lost its hold of the National League Wild Card, then made a stunning late-season managerial change with only 12 games left.The "beer is half full crowd" says Sveum was handed a gift. How many skippers, after all, get to take over a team that is 16 games over .500 and tied for a postseason spot?
They beat the Reds that day, then watched the Mets lose two in a row to cut the deficit to one game with six to play. The Brewers ultimately extended their winning streak to five in a row, briefly took a one-game lead and then settled into a tie with New York entering the final regular season game. With CC Sabathia pitching on three days' rest, the Brewers beat the Cubs, 3-1, and a short time later, the Mets were defeated by the Marlins, giving Sveum's crew the NL Wild Card playoff berth."He hasn't changed at all, which is a good thing," said Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy, who has worked extensively with Sveum since Sveum rejoined the organization as a coach for the 2006 season. "He definitely knows what he's doing. I don't think there is anybody in this clubhouse who questions him." Sveum himself is in the "beer is half full" crowd. "I got a chance to come in here tied for the Wild Card," he said. "That doesn't happen very often." That kind of unflappable optimism is Sveum's trademark, say those who know him. His ties to Milwaukee go back to 1982, when the Brewers drafted him in the first round, and he played five big league seasons in Milwaukee from 1986-91. Sveum hit a career-high 27 home runs in 1987, including his famous Easter Sunday shot, but his playing career was derailed in '88, when Sveum suffered a broke leg in a collision with Brewers outfielder Darryl Hamilton. The injury opened a door for Gary Sheffield at shortstop, and Sveum never hit more than 12 home runs in his remaining years as a big league player.
|"If anyone can handle it, he can. He is the right guy, I'm telling you. I've known him too long and he has the personality for this. He's unflappable, and he's like that all the time."|
|-- Robin Yount, on Dale Sveum|
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.