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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Can Anyone Else Smell the World Series?

(Article Written by Roberto Ruiz,, twitter @RobertoRuiz33)

I would guess not, given the circumstances.

The 2011 MLB season is not even halfway done yet and the Milwaukee Brewers do not hold a commanding grip on first place in the division; they don't even have a lead since they are tied for first with the St. Louis Cardinals (not counting tiebreakers). This team, though, is starting to show the right blend of youth and veteran leadership. Each of the key players are in their prime, so logically the time is now or never. Beyond that, the Brewers are playing at such a high level that it seems like they can beat anybody. Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf, and Chris Narveson seem more comfortable than ever in their current spots in the rotation. Shaun Marcum is pitching like the staff ace, and Zach Greinke hasn't even shown all that he can do yet. This team is eight games above .500 and they have three key players not even playing close to their potential (Greinke, Casey Mcgehee, and John Axford), and a manager who is still learning (even though it doesn't seem like it).

After sweeping the Cardinals at home this last week, the Brewers were riding high on emotions. Ryan Braun, Nyjer Morgan, Rickie Weeks, and Prince Fielder have been playing about as well as fans can expect them to play, and they have been carrying the offense thus far. Corey Hart and Johnathan Lucroy are playing up to snuff thus far, and fans expect them to continue being nice complements to this offense. Mcgehee has been hitting sub .230 thus far, far below his career average, and he should start heating up soon and providing a nice cover to Prince's bat like he has in years past. Greinke's ERA has remained far above what is expected, but that can be attributed to his lack of preparation before the season started; Greinke is just starting to find his groove so expect the ERA to drop below 4.00 within the next few weeks.

The main speed bump will be the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies have the pitching to one-up the Brewers but their hitting has been lacking all season. The Phillies were the preseason pick to win the World Series before the season started, but anybody who just watched the NBA finals knows that a few stars can be outplayed by a team.

With Mark Kotsay and Craig Counsell providing veteran leadership off of the bench, the Brewers expect to be running hard through mid-October for the first time since most of us can remember. This article may be a bit premature, but I have a feeling about this, kind of like when I had a feeling about the Green Bay Packers winning the Super Bowl way back in November.

Postscript: Speaking of the Super Bowl: I watched the game again today, in entirety, and it still amazes me how the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to contain Greg Jennings for 75% of the field, but couldn't keep an eye on him when the Packers were within 25 yards of the end zone. It just seems to me like you should pay extra close attention to a star athlete when a touchdown is a distinct possibility. (Also, did anyone else find it incredibly refreshing when Jennings referred to Donald Driver as the number one receiver after the game ended? That showed the type of team attitude that the Packers possessed.)
Post-postscript: Troy Polamalu looked like a fool all game.

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