The 2007 baseball season isn't short on juicy plot lines.
Roger Clemens is returning to the Yankees. Barry Bonds is inching closer to 755. Rickey Henderson is talking comeback.
And then there's the news out of Milwaukee.
The Brewers are 5 1/2 games ahead of Houston in the NL Central, and were sporting the league's best record before a rough road trip last week
. Young shortstop J.J. Hardy is on fire, with 13 homers and a .320 batting average. Closer Francisco Cordero is leading the league in saves. And Bernie Brewer has been buzzed since Opening Day.
The national media can't get enough. The Brewers' success is a headline-writer's dream—think "Something's Brewing in Milwaukee" or (to cite a more pertinent example) "Just Brew It."
After such a hot start, though, Milwaukee needs to be careful of a letdown. The team's latest swing through New York and Philadelphia was hardly a success—and if it's any indication of how the Brewers play with their backs to the wall, their wins in April and May may well go for naught.
What that means, of course, is that the Brew Crew needs to capitalize on their good fortune while they still can. After all, there's a lot of money to be made on underdog stories. Milwaukee's recent play, coupled with the franchise's history, could make for a lucrative opportunity—if the Brewers play their cards right.
For starters, the team needs to find a more marketable nickname. Take my predicament for instance: I want to root for the Brewers, I really do. I remember the days of Robin Yount and the baseball mitt logo, and I've always kept an eye on how the team is doing.
The only problem: I don't drink.
How can a sober fellow like myself love a team devoted to boozing? What would my mom think? And I'm sure it's not just me. Recovering alcoholics, teetotalers, and even Dr. James Dobson probably have the same hang-up. We want to jump on the bandwagon...but how can we be sure it has a designated driver?
What was the alternative to "Brewers"—the "Liver Diseases"?
The bottom line is that Milwaukee needs a team name that's more family-friendly and less life-ruining. There are plenty of other popular beverages out there—the Milks, the Seltzer Waters, and the Ginger Ales all sound like winners. Wisconsin is famous for its cheese, so a cheesy nickname could work too. Nothing says Wisconsin like Badger football...and nothing says pennant like the Milwaukee Barry Alvarezes.
But changing the nickname might be too difficult. If the Brewers are to remain the Brewers, they could at least take better advantage of their popular sausage races. As is, the action involves five processed meats racing around the field. Why not make it 10? They could add Beef Stick, Slim Jim, Lil' Smokey, Deli Meat, and Bologna. And how about hurdles, or a steeplechase water hazard...or even a push to get sausage racing recognized at the 2008 Beijing Olympics?
I'm pretty sure that it's more of a sport than floor gymnastics.
The franchise could also work on cleaning up Bernie Brewer's image. Given that he slides into a vat of beer after every home run, he probably has a significant drinking problem. Get the guy in rehab—or at least get him on light beer.
And maybe do something about the lederhosen while you're at it.
Of course, desperate times call for desperate measures. If all else fails, the Brewers could be so bold as to turn the team over to Commissioner Bud...
What's that? Selig already does run the team?
Well, maybe the Brewers are in better shape than I thought. With Selig's invisible hand controlling their fate and a host of young stars shaping their future, Milwaukee could well remain the class of the NL Central...and a dark horse favorite to make the World Series.
I'll drink (chocolate milk) to that.