Christian Schneider

Author, Columnist

Category: Brewers

Take Me Out to the Drunk Tank

True story: Last Brewer game I went to was on the same Sunday that an episode of “Sunday Insight With Charlie Sykes” on which I appeared aired.  So before the game, I sat and actually gave some thought about what I would do if someone recognized me.  I mean, if there are 45,000 people in the ballpark, at least some of them had to see the show that morning, right?  And what if someone sees me and wants to punch me in the nose?  Or call me a name?

So I spent a good 15 minutes thinking about whether I should wear sunglasses, or a floppy hat, or a fake mustache.  (Which, of course, would just cover my real mustache.)  As it turns out, I did none of the the above.

So we got to the stadium, and walked around the whole length of the concourse before we got to our seats.  And not a single person recognized me.  We sat down, and after a minute, I realized – this sucks.  So I got up again and walked the length of the concourse again.  Still nothing.  I probably would have actually welcomed a punch to the grill, because it would have meant someone watched the show (or wanted my jumbo pretzel really badly.)

The lesson, as always, is this: I am a moron.

No such problems tonight as my buddy Johnny Roast Beef and I went to see the Brew Crew take on the Cardinals.  We were way up in the nosebleeds, where I had no allusions of being recognized.  It\’s actually a scientific formula – the closer the seats get to the top of the stadium, the less likely the inhabitants of those seats are to watch political television.  Hell, once you get to the top 4 rows or so, those people are most likely unable to actually turn their televisions on at all.

In fact, the upper deck is always interesting, in that it attracts people who aren’t really there to watch the game at all.  They’re cheap tickets, probably given to them, and it gives them the chance to socialize and look at college aged girls who also aren’t there to watch the game.  And as is often the case, it gives men the chance to get completely bombed and scream obscenities at the top of their lungs, as was the case tonight.

There really is no way to describe the discomfort one feels in a section where some guy is hammered and yelling profane non-sequiturs for all to hear.  It\’s like finding a pubic hair in a giant bowl of potato salad – it ruins the whole thing for everyone.  There is no saving the game experience at that point.

On the way home, I spent the whole time thinking about what the rationale is for people getting drunk at sporting events.  Think about it – alcohol exists to take unbearable situations and make them somewhat more bearable (work picnics, meeting girls, parent-teacher conferences, etc.)  Why would you take an already awesome experience, like going to a Brewer or Packer game, and make it somehow less memorable by getting liquored up?

(Full disclosure – I once emptied the contents of my stomach onto the left field bleachers at County Stadium, but I had an excuse – it was after a work party, and someone made me try chewing tobacco for the first time.  I was 21, I think.)

Here’s where I get all metaphysical…

When you think about it, our memories are really all we have of sporting events.  Days later, you can remember being there to see specific great plays or watching your team win.  But if you get hammered, and can’t remember anything that happened during the game, then what’s the point?  You (may have) paid for a ticket, and (certainly) paid $6.00 per beer to get sloshed.  Since you don’t remember anything that happened, you could have done it at home for a lot cheaper.

So, anyway, back to these morons in our section.  From a young age, I have certainly known my way around a well placed expletive.  I am no stranger to the art of profanity.  But if you try to confront one of these drunks, then suddenly YOU become the bad guy, and a whole host of bad stuff can happen to you.  And if you don’t, then your daughter just thinks you’re a giant puss, and will probably need therapy for 15 years to find out why daddy couldn’t protect them from the angry man at the Brewer game.

So are fans getting more obnoxious?  I think they are, and I have a theory as to why.

I think it mostly has to do with new stadiums.  Let’s be honest – Miller Park exists to attract people who aren’t there to watch baseball.  In a perfect world, everyone would go to the park to watch the game, and County Stadium (and Bernie’s Chalet) could have lived on in perpetuity.  What’s going on in the concourse is irrelevant.  But in order to finance a modern team, you need to draw more than just baseball fans – you need other things (food, attractions, racing sausages) to draw people, and therefore increase revenue.

When you get a lot more people (which Miller Park has been wildly successful in doing), you get a lot more people who are interested in doing other things in the stands than watching the game.  This includes drinking, and drinking a lot.  Add to that the fact that tickets are more expensive now – so drunks believe they have a constitutional right to be as offensive as they want, considering they’re paying such an exorbitant amount for a seat.  They are unaware or disinterested in everyone else’s constitutional right not to be harassed by their drunk ass.  (Side note – neither of these are constitutional rights, in the way I believe we have a constitutional right to know what’s in the secret stadium sauce.)

On the other hand, the Two Fisted Slobber has been a source of pride in Milwaukee sports for as long as I’ve been going to sporting events.  So I could be full of it.

Other sights and sounds from the game:

At one point, they showed a man and a woman on the jumbotron, and the older man looked as if maybe he shouldn\’t have been there with the younger woman.  So Roast Beef and I debated \”what to do if the jumbotron catches you at the game with your mistress.\”  I thought you should immediately pull out your cell phone and pretend you\’re talking to someone else.  Roast Beef thought you should turn and kiss the man next to you, as if you mistakenly thought it was the kissing montage.

There was one guy there wearing a number 45 jersey that clearly had once been a Carlos Lee jersey.  But he took a black marker and added a few letters, making it the jersey of current number 45, Mike DifeLEEce.  (Although it is actually spelled DiFelice, I thought it was a game effort.  Cheap-assed, but game.)

I made the mistake of getting one of those Palermo’s pizzas at the game.  It was one of the worst things I have ever eaten.  Serves me right for getting pizza at a baseball game.  But aren’t ballpark pizzas kind of an advertisement for what a Palermo’s frozen pizza will taste like if you make one at home?  Now, I just know I can lick the inside of my toilet at home for free, instead of buying a Palermo’s frozen pizza.

I was really fired up for the game this week, since I watched an hour long special on the 1982 season on MLB Network on Sunday.  The look on Bud Selig’s face when the Brewers beat the Orioles on the last day to make the playoffs is priceless.  During the entire celebration, he’s holding this incredibly long cigarette with four inches of ash hanging off the end – like he’s auditioning for the role of The Penguin in a hypothetical 1982 Batman movie.  It really is priceless.

Also notable from that season is how skinny all the players were.  As a kid, I remember Gorman Thomas being this larger than life, Paul Bunyan-type figure.  But today’s players make Gorman look like Lance Armstrong.  He looks rail thin in the old films.  He’d probably be a weak hitting second baseman on most teams today.

I listened to the last two innings in my car on the way home, and heard no update on what happened to Ryan Braun after he got plunked.  Almost 45 minutes of radio, with my sanity on the line, and no explanation of why he left the game?  Come on, guys.

Also, another radio-related note: Why do labor unions advertise during Brewers games?  Are there really a lot of people on the fence about joining carpenters’ unions that will be pushed over the edge by a radio ad?  Seems they could reach their intended audience (all 10 of them) in a little more cost-effective way.  And if you’re a member of one of these unions who can afford these ads – dude, your dues are way too high.

I was trying to remember whether Frank Catalanotto had ever played for the Brewers before, but I was getting him confused with fellow journeyman Tony Graffanino.  At that moment, Roast Beef mentioned that they actually had Graffanino jerseys still for sale in the Brewers gift shop.  Seriously – how much would one pay for a Graffanino jersey?  I think you could actually pay in dance moves and you\’d be overpaying.

Just think – if Ryan Braun is hurt for any period of time, the Brewers could be trotting out a lineup that includes Craig Counsell, Frank Catalanotto, Jason Kendall, and Mike Cameron.  I’m starting to have flashbacks to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, as if it’s 1998 all over again.  If Bea Arthur hadn’t died a week ago, she’d be a lock to play right field.

Speaking of Monica Lewinsky, I just read the new book “American Icon” about Roger Clemens’ steroid use.  As is well known now, Clemens began dating 15 year-old country singer Mindy McCready when he was 28 and had 2 kids.  But there’s a story of how Clemens once flew her in on his private jet to go to a swanky New York party with him in 2004, and the party was attended by luminaries such as Monica Lewinsky and Michael Jordan.

Seriously – how bad has it gotten for Michael Jordan that he’s now going to parties that also have Monica Lewinsky on the invite list?  Should we start taking up a collection for MJ?  Have a telethon for him?  This outrages me more than the fact that Clemens was hosing a 15 year old.  Outrageous.

Mini-Brewers Rant

With the possible exception of those who root for the Washington Generals, does any other team\’s fans get their hearts broken harder and more frequently than Brewer fans?

Like the most naive Obama supporter – and that\’s really saying something – I am full of hope every spring. But 2008 was going to be the year for change. HOPE: Brewers finally have it all coming together in 2008. Solid pitching. Explosive offense. CHANGE: This is the year the Brewers finally make the playoffs. Yes we can.

But every year, disasters both expected and unexpected come together to tube the season. And tonight\’s game had plenty of that.

Rewind a couple hours. Brewers up 3-1. Now its 3-2. Now its tied at 3. Now we\’re down 4-3 in 9th. Stomach queasy. Cubs won already today. Brewers can\’t afford to fall further behind in the division. Slow dread of watching another lead slip away as what should be a great hitting Brewer team can\’t score runs again. Compounding the indignity is watching Twins fans acting like they own Miller Park.

Bottom of the ninth. Two outs. Russell the Muscle Branyan comes in to pinch hit. It\’s the scenario you fantasize about as a kid ever since you take your first cut in a t-ball game. Tape-measure blast. Home run. Crowd goes wild. Tie game. Extra innings.

After escaping in the top half of the frame, its now the bottom of the tenth. Prince Fielder connects to center and deep. His follow-through is a high, one-handed flourish that you\’ve seen dozens of times. Will this game-winning homer be the turning point of the season? Will this homer rank with now-third base coach Dale Sveum\’s Easter Sunday 1987 walk-off dinger that still gives me goose bumps just talking about it? Get up, get up, get…one #@%*ing inch away from outta here.
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Prince \”Veggies\” Fielder missed the glorious game-winning home run by a McNugget. I will go to my grave convinced that a shake of Baco\’s on the salad he ate for lunch today would have given him the extra protein oomph needed to get that ball over the fence. This was the chance to win it and I don\’t need to belabor what happens next.

In a patented move, Yost sticks with a tiring reliever too long and the Brewers are now down two runs. (Upon further review, this is unfair. Yost barely had anyone left in the bullpen and he couldn\’t know how long he\’d need to stretch it in a tied game.) Anyway, whatever. Twins tack on a few more and win 9-4.

All I want is to live to see one Brewers World Series victory – but I\’d be almost as thrilled with a back-in-on-the-last-day-and-then-get-swept wild card bid. The Packers could never win another game, but I\’ll always have Super Bowl XXXI. 1996 might as well have been last week the way I remember that season. Will there ever be such a season for the Crew?

Brewers, you\’re breaking my heart. Watching you is not good for my health. I have officially sworn you off until 1 pm tomorrow.

Hey Derrick, Wanna Come Back? No Hard Feelings, Right?

I\’ve had several hours to settle down since Eric GaHGHne* blew his FIFTH save this season, but I\’m still steamin\’. School isn\’t even out yet and the guy we\’re paying $10 MILLION A YEAR to throw one inning of shut-out ball once every three days is a disaster. Our man Derrick Turnbow is probably sitting at home right now organizing his sock drawer mumbling to himself, \”I could be losing all those games for you guys at a third the price.\”

Anyway, Eric Gagne must pay for for his crime of attempted homicide of the Brewers\’ playoff hopes. In the spirit of the punishment fitting the crime, I submit that Eric Gagne:

a.) be mauled by a bear, but not fatally mauled.
b.) be trapped in an elevator for 41 hours.
c.) be forced to compose a handwritten letter of apology to one random Brewer fan for each save he blows. Enclosed in each letter will be a check for $1 million dollars. (At this rate, he\’s broke before the All-Star break.)
d.) give his healthy ACL to Yovani Gallardo. Gagne\’s removed ACL will be replaced with a discarded noodle found outside an Olive Garden.

Please vote or add your own idea. It\’ll make you feel better.

*(\”GaHGHne\”: copyrighted May 2008, Shuffhausen Industries)

Why the closer is the most overrated player in baseball

As much fun as it is to be right, it stinks to be proven correct when you predict a disaster for your favorite baseball team. Like most Crew fans, I cringed when GM Doug Melvin announced the Brewers would be paying washed-up, HGH scandal-tinged Eric Gagne the princely sum of $10 MILLION DOLLARS to be the team\’s closer this year.

Taking a step back, I cheered Melvin when he didn\’t cave into Francisco Cordero\’s ludicrous demand for a four-year $40 million+ contract. For a while there it looked like Melvin was going to wisely go against conventional wisdom and field a team without a highly-paid save specialist. Then he picks up Gagne (bad) for $10 million (worse) for only one year (thank God). But while it\’s obvious Gagne\’s signing was a bad idea, I hereby submit that paying any closer anything more than a poverty wage is a mistake.
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Without further ado, here are the reasons why the closer is the most-overrated man on the roster.

1. People wrongly assume the closer is important because he\’s the only player who enters a game to his own theme music like a pro wrestler. MLB needs to make a rule that if the home team\’s closer stalks out of the bullpen with \”Welcome to the Jungle\” or something similarly awesome heralding his arrival, he must endure a head-hanging walk to the dugout after a blown save while the sound guy plays something quiet and sad by a Lilith Fair artist.

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2. With apologies to Rollie Fingers and his mustache, the save is sort of a made-up statistic that wasn\’t even officially recorded until 1969. Look at all the ways a closer can \”earn\” a save. Sometimes a closer can throw one pitch and he\’ll show up in the box score next to the winning pitcher with an equally-important looking stat.
3. Starting pitchers and position players are way more important than closers. If a starting pitcher gives a team 7 quality innings in 30 games, that\’s about 200 innings of service. Closers typically pitch one inning per appearance. How many innings does the average closer pitch in each season? 70 innings in 70 games? By my calculation, your closer is about one-third the importance as one of your starting pitchers. And while a starting hurler can win for you every five games, a position player can win games for you every game. I will vomit with rage the day Prince or Braun leaves the Brewers for the Yankees saying, \”I woulda re-signed with Milwaukee but Doug Melvin gave my $10 million to a guy who doesn\’t even figure into the equation in half the games.\”

4. There is nothing so special about the ninth inning that you need to have one specific guy to pitch that inning. While the game may be \”on the line\” in a close game in the 9th, the game can also be \”on the line\” in the sixth inning of a 2-2 game if the bases are loaded with nobody out. It\’s easy to remember the closer\’s strike out that ends the game, but the other 26 outs recorded that game were important too.

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5. I\’ll take a reliever who offers a change of pace from the starter over some flame thrower. I don\’t remember what the Brewer paid Doug Jones when we had him at the end of his career, but he, his 70 mph fastball and his mustache saved 36 games in 1997. A closer is just another relief pitcher. Relief pitchers just need to chew up innings and throw strikes. Doug Jones threw strikes.

Thanks for sticking with me. That went longer than I expected. If you only take two things away from this post, remember this: 1.) closers are the most overrated players in baseball, but 2.) the most effective Brewer closers have sported outstanding mustaches.

Memo to Gagne and Turnbow, get in touch with these guys immediately!

Eric Gagne: The second \”g\”; is not silent

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When we\’re paying the guy $10 million a year, you\’d sort of hope your new star closer doesn\’t blow a three run 9th inning lead against your most-hated rival in his Brewer debut.

Assuming Eric Gagne appears in 75 games this season, today\’s gagged save just cost the Brewers $133,333. But then who even knows if we\’ll get that many games out of him since there is always the possibly he\’ll get a suspension for (allegedly) enjoying an HGH daiquiri or three.

Anyway, congratulations to the Brewers for overcoming this latest bout of bullpen incompetence to both beat the Cubs and keep themselves on pace for 162-0.

And my condolences to northside suds-enthusiasts, as Wrigley Field won\’t be able to serve bottles of beer this season since the Cubs lost the opener. Zing!

UPDATE:

E-mail sent to me during the 9th inning:

\”After you blow a 3-0 lead in your first game as Brewer it might be a good idea to MOVE YOUR FAT ASS and cover first base on a ground ball hit deep down the line to your first baseman.

Oh, and tuck in your shirt, you fat frog. And shave off that stupid homeless man beard.

One more thing, start taking drugs again.

And one final note, I hate you.\”

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