MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers will celebrate their first division crown since 1982 with a playoff rally on Milwaukee's lakefront Summerfest grounds on Thursday, with tunes from the band Five for Fighting. The free event is from 4 p.m.-7:30 p.m. CT at the Miller Oasis.More than 14,000 fans attended a similar send-off after the Brewers won the National League Wild Card in 2008, and they were whipped into a frenzy by then-closer Salomon Torres. Players will address the fans again this time. Parking is available for $5 in Lots G, H, M and P near the Henry Maier Festival Park. Patrons should enter the Summerfest Grounds at the Mid Gate (Chicago St. and Harbor Dr.). Gates open at 3:30 p.m. CT. The band Pan Am will take the stage at 4 p.m., and players and coaches are expected to address the crowd between 5:15-5:45. p.m. The event will be carried live on FS Wisconsin from 5-6 p.m., and 620 WTMJ-AM will also broadcast live. Five for Fighting will take the stage at about 6 p.m.
Season's final days hold drama for Brewers
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke actually made it to bed at 1 a.m. Saturday, not bad considering his team spent the night celebrating its National League Central-clinching win.He was awake by 5 a.m., his mind involuntarily back to work. "As soon as I started to think about rosters and the pitching stuff, that was it," Roenicke said. "No more sleep." Roenicke & Co. still had work to do as they reported to Miller Park on Saturday afternoon. Most pressingly, they had a magic number of five to edge the D-backs for the NL's second seed, which comes with the right to begin a Division Series at home. The No. 3 seed is currently positioned to travel to Philadelphia to start. The outcome of that race, in turn, will dictate how the Brewers align their starting pitchers for the postseason. Roenicke and pitching coach Rick Kranitz are working on a series of scenarios, but until the matchups are clear, they cannot set anything in place. "Unfortunately, we're in a position where these are all really important games, so we really can't adjust too much," Roenicke said. "We can't mess with the rotation too much. It's going to be interesting." The Brewers will keep their starting pitchers in order, with Zack Greinke making his final regular-season start on Saturday against the Marlins, followed by left-hander Chris Narveson on Sunday. Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf and Yovani Gallardo were penciled in to pitch the final series against the Pirates. Wednesday's regular-season finale could be a busy day for the guy operating the bullpen door. Both Gallardo and Greinke could see action that day, and Roenicke said he also wants to get four relievers -- likely John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez, Takashi Saito and LaTroy Hawkins -- into that game. If they don't pitch Greinke on Wednesday, it would mean a weeklong layoff before he starts one of the first two postseason games. Greinke prefers to stay on a more regular schedule. "We're trying to figure that out," Roenicke said. "We'll see how these games go here, and maybe we can adjust that a little bit. In [Greinke's] mind, anyway, he's not one who likes to be off too long. So we're going to try to help him out there. ... "There's a lot we need to work out, the last two games especially. We'll go day by day, but we have a plan about what the options are." Roenicke would not say whether Gallardo or Greinke is the preferred choice for Game 1. Gallardo earned that honor in 2008, when he was just coming back from knee surgery because CC Sabathia was unavailable until Game 2. Roenicke did say that he prefers to use four starting pitchers in the best-of-five NLDS. Some teams get by with three. He also indicated that he's comfortable with Greinke starting at home or on the road. Greinke has much stronger splits at Miller Park, but Roenicke said most of the poor outings on the road came earlier in the season and skewed the numbers.
McGehee revels in long-awaited celebration
MILWAUKEE -- When the Brewers clinched the National League Wild Card in 2008, third baseman Casey McGehee was in the visiting clubhouse.
After their final game of the season, McGehee and his Cubs teammates packed up as the Brewers and their fans awaited the eventual postseason berth, their first since 1982.
"It sounded like we were in the middle of the infield, it was so loud in the clubhouse," McGehee said. "Kind of for three years now, I've been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to do that again."
As the Brewers clinched their first division title since 1982 on Friday in similar fashion, McGehee was there waiting with his teammates along the dugout railing as they watched the Cubs defeat the Cardinals.
When they headed into the clubhouse, McGehee finally got that opportunity to be in the middle of the Brewers' championship celebration.
"It was incredible being in the middle of it, just kind of taking it in. It was unbelievable," McGehee said. "It was louder and more intense. It was just a madhouse.
"For an hour and a half, it didn't look like anybody had left. It was cool, it was unbelievable. I can see how that would never get old, that feeling. It was pretty special."
Fans stuck around Miller Park for hours after the final out Friday night, first to watch the Cardinals' loss clinch the Brewers' division title, and then to celebrate with the players.
Center fielder Carlos Gomez shared the champagne with the fans, spraying those who were in the front rows along the right-field line. Later in the night, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio climbed on top of the home dugout to exchange high fives with fans and spray some of them with beer.
It was unmistakable to anyone in attendance how much the club's first division title in 29 years meant to the city of Milwaukee and the Brewers' fan base.
"Those of us that maybe didn't quite know how much it meant to the city, I think last night kind of put that into perspective," McGehee said. "We all knew it was a big deal.
"Everybody thinks of Milwaukee and Green Bay and all that as kind of the same thing and just being a big football town. But they let us know last night they love some baseball, too."
McKeon picks Brewers to reach World Series
MILWAUKEE -- No longer does Marlins manager Jack McKeon consider the Brewers "sleepers" in the playoffs.
The way Milwaukee is heading into the postseason, McKeon has now tabbed them as being the National League favorites to reach the World Series.
The Brewers clinched the NL Central on Friday night with a 4-1 win over the Marlins.
Previously, McKeon called the Phillies the team to beat. But with Philadelphia's struggles of late, the manager has a new frontrunner.
"I changed to Milwaukee," McKeon said. "I just think they have just as good pitching, plus the fact, I think they've got better hitters. Now watch Philadelphia come through in the playoffs. Plus, they're not playing good.
"I used to say that the sleeper is Milwaukee. Now, I've switched over. I think they'll go to the World Series, put it that way."
The edge to the Brewers, McKeon says, is tied to the offense.
"Their pitching is on par [with the Phillies]," the Marlins manager said. "But I think they've got more offense, right now. The Phillies potentially had it. But guys don't always have very good years. Except, when you look at their runners in scoring position -- they are way up there."
~ Joe Frisaro
Right fielder Corey Hart and second baseman Rickie Weeks were given the day off Saturday, but the rest of the regulars were in the lineup. Manager Ron Roenicke would like to rest some of the everyday players, particularly first baseman Prince Fielder, who has started each of the team's 158 games."We left it [Friday] night as I was going to put him in the lineup, and if he decided he wanted the day off, he was going to have the day off," Roenicke said. "He's played every day, he probably could use the day off. Maybe we'll just shorten his day a little bit."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.