Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Zetlin: Players at fault for late slump

If you’ve got 11 and the dealer’s showing a six, you double down. You know it, I know it, Doug Melvin knows it. It’s standard operating procedure.

So when the Indians began to falter in early summer, Melvin put all his chips on the table and snagged Cleveland ace CC Sabathia while giving up Matt LaPorta, Milwaukee’s brightest future star.

It was an anti-Milwaukee, win-now-at-all-costs-type move. It had to be done. With Ben Sheets’ and Prince Fielder’s contracts nearing their respective ends, this was the year.


No really, it was.

Four weeks ago, Melvin’s master plan was following the script he had written so perfectly. Sabathia was more dominant than Bill Gates at a car auction; Manny Parra came out of nowhere to solidify the rotation behind CC and Sheets; the Brew Crew sat five games atop the NL wild card race, and everyone from Lake Forest to Eau Claire was talking about a Brewers-Cubs October showdown.

But as you know, sometimes you get an ace and the dealer hits a five, leaving you more helpless than Paris Hilton on the SATs. As a fan, you want to jump through the TV, grab the bat out of Jason Kendall’s hands and hit the sac fly for him, because you know he’s going to groundout again and strand the runner at third.

But of course, you can’t.

The Brewers haven’t made the playoffs in 26 years, and much of it you can blame on the “small market” label. New era baseball fans know that teams like Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh rarely make big offseason acquisitions but manage to throw talent at the Bostons and New Yorks of the world for money and prospects every July 31 in order to keep afloat and “rebuild.”

“If we had the money the Yankees have, we’d make the playoffs every year, too,” you’ve said.

Not so fast — $200 million couldn’t buy the Bronx Bombers a ticket to the postseason this fall. And this time, it wasn’t shallow pockets that spun the Brewers’ into a tailspin. This, my friends, was a good old-fashioned choke job.

They say money can’t buy happiness. And in baseball, it can’t purchase you wins or productivity either.

Especially if you spend it poorly, like Melvin has in recent offseasons. Eric Gagne and Jeff Suppan are making a combined $18,250,000 this season, and neither has an ERA below five.

Not exactly economically efficient.

But all season, the Brewers were poised to overcome Melvin’s mistakes. Ryan Braun was putting up MVP numbers, Corey Hart made the All-Star team, Salomon Torres was solid in the closing role, even player-then-manager-then-player-again Gabe Kapler was productive in the Milwaukee outfield.

But then September came around, and the Crew fell faster than Lehman’s stock. Last week, Melvin hit the panic button, firing manager Ned Yost after an embarrassing four-game sweep at the mercy of the Philadelphia Phillies, as the Crew’s wild card lead vanished from sight.

Sorry, Doug, but he wasn’t the problem. Maybe this just wasn’t meant to be.

The Rays parted with the devil and made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history with a roster full of Matt Garzas, Eric Hinske and about 12,000 fans. It’s nice when small market teams make things interesting, even for Red Sox and Yankees fans, whether they’re man enough to admit it or not.

Unfortunately, the Midwest version of the Tampa turnaround just wasn’t in the cards. But don’t worry; it may all be over soon.

In a mere four days, the Brewers’ season will likely end just like the previous 26: playoff-less. But when you’re sitting in your apartment wondering what just happened, don’t blame Yost or Melvin or money.

The sinkers didn’t sink, and lineup lost its pop. The 2008 Collapse of the Crew occurred between the lines and nowhere else.

Hey, there’s always next year, right?

Um, we’ll see about that.

But when CC, Sheets and Prince are in pinstripes come spring, you can bring up the whole money thing again. Yeah, then it will be relevant once more.

Derek is a junior majoring in economics. Why do you think the Brewers collapsed this September? E-mail him at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *