4/24/2014 1:43 P.M. ET
Crew should ride the wave, not look up
Carrying best record in baseball, Milwaukee trying to keep big picture out of sight
By Richard Justice / MLB.com
Ride the wave, Brewers. Ride the wave, boys. Who knows where it'll end? Don't look up now. At this point, the worst thing you guys can do is start thinking. Just keep playing.
This clubhouse has to be the happiest place on earth at the moment. There's nothing in sports like a baseball team when everything is clicking. At 16-6, the Brewers have the best record in baseball. This is a surprise only to those outside the Milwaukee clubhouse.
They finished Spring Training with an inkling that they were a pretty good baseball club.
What's not to like?
If Ryan Braun bounced back, if the rotation stayed healthy, if general manager Doug Melvin's overhauled bullpen was as good as it looked, the Brewers believed they could compete with anyone.
Best of all, it's not one guy, or even one thing.
They're fifth in the National League in runs, fifth in home runs and fourth in stolen bases entering play Thursday. In other words, they can beat you a couple of ways.
No single player has thrown up monstrous numbers, but Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis, Aramis Ramirez and, yes, Braun have all been solid.
As for that rotation, it's as good as advertised, ranking third in the NL in with a 2.57 ERA. In 22 games, the club has turned in 17 quality starts.
And that bullpen.
Nice job, Doug.
Francisco Rodriguez, Will Smith and Tyler Thornburg have all been outstanding.
Here's a tip of the hat to Melvin, one of baseball's most respected executives, a smart, thoughtful, analytical guy who plays the market and picks bargains here and there.
And here's to Brewers owner Mark Attanasio. If you care about this baseball team, you know your guy will deliver.
In the last two offseasons, he has ponied up the cash to add Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza to the rotation. That's a lot of quality innings, a lot of quality pitches.
Manager Ron Roenicke makes it all work. He's a quiet, no-nonsense guy who is honest, decent and competent. He has no agenda other than winning, and there's no better way to gain the respect of a clubhouse.
He has a tremendous coaching staff, too, including former Reds and Rangers skipper Jerry Narron, one of the good guys in the game.
So play on, boys.
To be 9-1 on the road and to have a plus-21 run differential (only the Braves and A's are better), makes the Brewers look like a team capable of giving Milwaukee a special summer.
Yep, it'll be fun. They care about their baseball team and might turn out three-million strong again. Brats and beer and Brewers. Ain't nothing better.
The Brewers were widely picked to finish fourth in the NL Central, which may show how little we know. Or how badly we underrated the Brewers. Or how much parity the game has.
The Brewers could eventually find themselves in a dogfight with the Cardinals, Pirates, etc., but they're establishing their own credentials.
Confidence builds a day at a time, and one day a club shows up and knows -- I mean absolutely knows -- it's going to win. Those waves don't last forever, but when you're on one, it's as good as it gets.
For the Brewers, the daily grind is a joy ride. Sure, there will be challenges in the months ahead. But the Brewers are building confidence, trust in one another and plenty of other intangibles that can help carry them through the tough times.
That's pretty much the message Lohse delivered after winning his fourth game and lowering his ERA to 2.38 in a 5-2 victory over the Padres on Wednesday. He said the worst thing the Brewers could do now is think big picture. Just keep playing. Just keep rolling up W's.
Finally, a word about Braun. Those of us who root for him wondered how he could put his suspension in the rearview mirror. Because he's only 30 years old, he has a chance to write a different ending to his career.
Even with a nerve issue in his right hand, he's hitting .300 with six homers. That's one way to put the past in the past.
Another way is to be part of a team like this, a team that's playing great baseball and getting its city excited, a team that appears to be having as much fun as any in the game.
Anyway, enjoy the day off, Brew Crew. Sleep late, eat well and most of all, don't think about any of this. Just appreciate all the fun you're having and how lucky you are to be part of this thing. Keep on keeping on.
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.