Anne in the Stands: Fears doused
Preseason questions answered with club's undying grit
Watching the Brewers battle their way into the Wild Card race last year was like living a dream. The trouble is, now I want -- no, cross out "want" -- now I expect more from my team. As Opening Day 2009 drew closer, a tickle of worry refused to vanish.
What if the Brewers don't play as well this year? What if the team can't win 90 games without Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia? What if our new manager, Ken Macha, isn't a good fit with my guys?
It all came down to one question -- what if this season turns out to be disappointing?
It's only mid-May, and that tickle is gone. This young team is already tougher in the field and at the plate than last year. In other words: my team dazzles!
When I read that the Brewers have the best record in all of baseball in the last four weeks, I giggled. By playing stellar baseball, as they did last Saturday against the Cardinals, the Crew managed to pull into first place all alone. (Note I am not mentioning our competitor 90 miles south.)
The starting pitchers are in a groove. The reliable bats of Weeks, Cameron and even veterans Craig Counsell and Jason Kendall have made a huge difference to the team's success.
My guys throw out base-stealers and get hits with men on base. And, by the way, is there a move or play in any sport more fun to see and hear than the towering arc of a home run smacked by your favorite team?
Last year, the players bonded and inspired each other. This year, they know they can win. Even when they're behind, the players look like they're winning. You can see it and feel it.
And then there's our closer ...
Answering the Bells
When Trevor Hoffman strides to the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning, you have to be there in person to comprehend the crescendo of excitement that sizzles through the stadium. Even though we can't even hear ourselves, all 30,000-plus fans rise to our feet, clapping, stomping and cheering, our skin rippling with goose bumps, and our breath catching at the raw, overwhelming, thunderous reverberation that proclaims to the Brewers' opponent, "Prepare to surrender!"
One by one, each batter watches as the 94-mph pitch whistles by, thinking he'll catch up with the next one. One by one, each batter strikes out swinging, or pops out to the infield. One by one, each defeated player slinks to the dugout shaking his head.
It's easy to love a sorcerer like Trevor Hoffman. (I suspect hearing aid companies feel that way too!)
P.S. To Corey Hart: please let the dye job grow out. It's freaky!
P.P.S. Soon after I wrote this, I heard the lousy news that Rickie Weeks is out for the season. Dang!
Anne Stratton is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.