At least it is for my Brewers. The A’s and Mariners played two games in Japan last week, Miami and St. Louis christened the Marlins’ new stadium on Wednesday, and a good chunk of the league began the season yesterday. Today, the Brewers and the other remaining teams get their start.
They open up at home against the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals (1-0). That championship came at Milwaukee’s expense, in a heartbreaking repeat of 1982. So the rivalry is a little more intense than it was this time last year, even though Tony LaRussa, Albert Pujols, and Prince Fielder have all moved on.
By my calculations from Wikipedia’s handy formula, I put the Brewers’ magic number to clinch their division at 163. Any combination of Brewer wins and Cardinal losses adding up to 163 makes the Brewers NL Central champs.
It is far, far too early to be calculating this kind of thing, but that’s precisely why it’s so much fun. This blog will be keeping an eye on the magic number throughout the season.
This week, the Brewers will play a series against the Yankees in New York for the first time since 1997. The New York Times used the occasion to profile Ryan Braun. It’s worth a read; very rarely does a player of his caliber stay with a small-market team for an entire career. Braun signed a contract extension earlier this season to stay in Milwaukee through 2020, when he’ll turn 36. This fan wishes there were more like him.
It turns out that Abner Doubleday did not invent baseball. The true story of the game’s origins is actually quite mundane — it evolved over time as a messy, Hayekian spontaneous order. No one person can claim to have invented the modern version of baseball.
The story of how Abner Doubleday was given his mythical status, however, is immensely entertaining. Apparently it came from a crazy person — literally — who wrote a letter to the founder of Spalding sporting goods. Spalding spread the story because he wanted people to believe that baseball was a uniquely American game, invented by an American. People were eager to believe him; some still are.
Joe Posnanski tells the tale well, as he does with everything he writes. Read the whole thing. It will make you laugh, and you will learn something about how easy it is for tall tales to become accepted fact. Lessons abound for the public policy world.
Well, the Brewers lost their final two games. The 2010 season is in the books at a middling 77-85. Another losing season. No playoffs this year. Manager Ken Macha was fired today. And Prince Fielder’s 50-home run swing will likely be traded away over the winter. Trevor Hoffman isn’t coming back. The starting pitching is still woefully thin. The team doesn’t seem to be in win-now mode anymore.
But I’m ok with that. Because at least they beat the Cubs (75-87).
Nothing against those poor, poor Cubs. I used to watch Harry Caray call their games after school when I was a kid. I cheered for Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson and Shawon Dunston. I even went to a few games at Wrigley Field and sang along to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch.
But when my beloved Brewers clearly aren’t playoff-bound, I set a secondary goal. It gives meaning to otherwise meaningless September games. This year’s pennant race substitute was beating the division rival Cubs. After all, most of the league managed to. It’s good to know that my favorite team can, too.
Rooting for bad teams can teach important life lessons. This year, I learned that it’s hard to be disappointed when you have low expectations. One wonders what next year’s lesson will be.
Brewers 8, Mets 7 (game 1 of doubleheader)
Brewers 3, Mets, 1 (game 2)
Padres 3, Cubs 0.
The Brewers’ magic number is 2. Any combination of Brewer wins and Cub losses adding up to that number will ensure that the Brewers end the season with a better record than the Cubs. The Brewers could clinch tonight if everything goes their way.
Both teams have 4 games remaining.
Marlins 4, Brewers 0.
Cubs 7, Cardinals 3.
The Brewers’ magic number remains 7. Any combination of Brewer wins and Cub losses adding up to that number will ensure that the Brewers end the season with a better record than the Cubs.
Both teams have 8 games remaining.
Brewers 6, Marlins 2.
Cardinals 7, Cubs 1.
The Brewers’ magic number is now 7. Any combination of Brewer wins and Cub losses adding up to that number will ensure that the Brewers end the season with a better record than the Cubs.
Both teams have 9 games remaining.