If there's one thing Brewers fans have learned over the course of this marvelous 2011 regular season, it's that Prince Fielder's inevitable exit will sting. A lot.
Assuming Fielder's ill-timed comments in an interview with TBS earlier this month prove to be valid, Milwaukee natives must live with the fact that they will be without their star-studded first baseman for the foreseeable future—for better or worse.
Wait a minute...doesn't this sound eerily familiar? It does, as a matter of fact.
James, whose rookie season came all the way back in the 2003-04 season with the Cavaliers, stood pat in Cleveland for seven full seasons until his rookie contract dissipated at the end of his 2009-10 campaign. He then, as we all know well and full, took to the free-agent market. Amid the persisting speculation and controversy, James decided to (literally) air a live show on ESPN, declaring once and for all where he would "take his talents" for what would presumably be the remainder of his historic career.
While I can't say Fielder will hold a live press conference announcing where he plans to play for the next decade, I can say this: The loss of Fielder, no matter how likely or unlikely it may be at this juncture, will be catastrophic for the city of Milwaukee. What No. 28 has been able to accomplish over his six full years as a Brewer (.281 BA, 226 HR, 648 RBI, .536 SLG, .924 OPS) will never again be replicated—just like that of James' stay (40.1 MPG, 27.7 PPG, .328 3PT) in Cleveland.
Sure, Fielder has (through last season) never successfully won an MVP award like that of James. But, statistics aside, Fielder is every bit as valuable to the city of Milwaukee as James was to the city of Cleveland, and his departure will be treated as such.
Here's to the hope that Milwaukee doesn't burn Fielder's jersey after he cashes in this winter.