Brew Town Buzz: Milwaukee's Rocking With Brewer Mania
Diiiiing....Diiiiing....the bells were ringing profoundly, declaring prominence and striking intimidation into the opponents' core.
Blasting out of Miller Park's speaker system, the bells, ensued by a guitar solo, left no doubt of who was in to pitch.
The crowd rose and cheered as No. 51 came of the leftcenter bullpen and a mystifying rush fell across the stadium.
Trevor Time has come to Miller Park.
You would go to a game (if you even chose to go) and see mostly a group of no name kids and a few familiar faces lose. For the optimists out there, the sausages were good and the stadium served famous Milwaukee beer.
The Brewers and Milwaukee began to build a reputation, as what happened at County Stadium transcended into Milwaukee—lots of drinking, violence, losing, hard work, etc. Was it a heavenly calling or just common sense that the Crew's new retractable-roof stadium was named Miller Park after the Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Company?
Take your opinion on that matter, but America and Milwaukee considered the naming a perfect fit for Brew Town. Milwaukee was becoming stereotyped as "the beer capital of the US with a losing baseball team," as I read in a newspaper as an elementary schooler.
As a hometown native and die-hard, I have "been a witness" by seeing the Brewers miraculously change from terrible to their current state of success (no, I don't need a t-shirt that reads 'WITNESS' with a Nike swoosh underneath). Attendance was pitiful and it must have been painstaking for the front office to play "Wisconsin Lottery Guess the Attendance" at Miller Park. On Saturdays in summer, the attendance could be found at a mere 20,000, with a few thousand of that total being added on to make the number appear decent, as if to tell the world that Milwaukee still loves its baseball.
While Milwaukee has always loved baseball but, besides five or so good seasons, has not been blessed by the baseball gods. Therefore, the people didn't go to the games, and some even considered it an embarrassment. Milwaukeeans supported the Brewers but willingly admitted that their team sucked by mid-June or May. By July, Brewers' talk had been side-washed and Packers Mania was popping up everywhere, like weeds in my backyard.
One of the best ways to personify how bad the Brewers were was how everything involving the Brewers got hit hard; attendance, pitching, even the Klement's Racing Sausages.
On a muggy Milwaukee night in 2003, I was on-hand as the Brew Crew battled the Pirates. Though the Brewers won the game in extra innings, the highlight in the game between the two cellar dwellers was when the Italian Sausage was "whacked" by Bucs player Randall Simon and fell down.
Despite the Brewers lackluster record that year, the worst thing that happened to the team was the sausage whacking. Sad.
Ever since 1983, Milwaukee had been living in 1982, the season that the Brewers reached the Fall Classic but fell to the Cardinals in seven games. (The only problem was that I wasn't around in '82.)
But then the saviors of Milwaukee appeared, bursting onto the Big League scene one-at-a-time to save a city hungry- check that: starving- for winning baseball.
"Big" Ben Sheets, Corey "Sunglasses at night", J.J "Heartthrob" Hardy, Rickie "Golden Spikes" Weeks, Prince "The King" Fielder, and 2008 NL Rookie of the Year Ryan "The Hebrew Hammer" Braun. And a team had seemingly been bad ever since inherited by Bud Selig in 1970 was winning. For any antagonists that don't believe that the Brewers were that bad, check out some of the numbers and facts.
Didn't have a winning season until 1978. Went 12 seasons with a losing record from 1993-2004.
Went 26 years without a Playoff appearance.
12 seasons with a winning record out of 40 campaigns in Milwaukee.
No World Series Titles, three Playoff births.
Six first or second-place finishes; Nineteen second-last or last-place finishes
It hasn't been a cake walk being a Brewer fan. Even now, I am constantly reminded that "the Brewers suck" by my peers at school. There was no September or October heartbreak because we weren't playing for anything during that time of year. Unlike some teams, the Crew managed to save their fans from heart-shattering, demoralizing times because nobody expected them to succeed. Instead, we were out playing spoiler.
How did I ever get a kick out of being the spoiler?
Now being a fan of the Brew Crew and sticking with it has payed off. We get Hell's Bells, but Hoffman's pitching in 2009 has come from above. We made the playoffs last season and get to see the famous Sausage Race.
Summers are exciting, especially when the Brewers are in town. And when they aren't, we can turn on the television and watch or tune into the radio and listen to Hall-of-Fame announcer Bob Uecker.
Brewers craze is sweeping Wisconsin. Sell outs are arriving in multitudes and we surpassed the sell-out totals from the late '90s and early 2000s within the first two short homestands. Hell's Bells are ringing throughout the city on Lake Michigan, from Bradford Beach to West Bend and Germantown and people are enjoying Miller Time and Trevor Time.
Brewer fans are being rewarded for their faith with great players and good baseball. Winning sure feels fun, though the team hasn't reached its pinnacle.
A new livelihood is bouncing around Miller Park and the younger generation is getting into the game. The older fans are renewing their inner youth and loving the Miller Park experience. And the players...well, they might as well be playing across the Home Plate Gate at little Helfaer Field, standing where the hallowed County Stadium once was.
On Friday night, the opener of a three game series against Cincinnati, the crowd must've eaten their Wheaties and was as energized as ever. All 42,000 people of the near-capacity crowd (many supporting Brewers player t-shirts, a popular item-buy yours today!) were on their feet during numerous spans during the game.
After a gem tossed by Braden Looper, Corey Hart's go-ahead dinger in the seventh, and Trevor Hoffman's stellar ninth inning to get the save, the crowd, including me, began a thunderous chants of "Tre-vor Hoff-man" and "Let's Go Brew-ers!" ensued by a series of claps. The chant has become sort of a ritual at Miller Park.
Milwaukee is especially in love with Hoffman. In the men's restroom after the game, the man next to me said, "I dedicate this one to Trevor Hoffman!" A series of laughs and "woo-hoo's" were heard.
Yes, sir, Milwaukee loves its baseball.
And for a city clad with a losing history, a winning baseball team and a city in love with those 25 men is a love affair that keeps going.
Diiiiiing......Diiiiiiing......Diiiiiiing.....that sound is becoming familiar in Milwaukee and can be heard throughout the city, roof closed or roof open.
And it may never end for BEWARE! THE BELLS ARE RINGING IN MILWAUKEE AND THIS CITY LOVES THE BREWERS!
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