Over the Fourth of July weekend, the Brewers and Cubs participated in a 4-game installment of their budding rivalry in Chicago at Wrigley Field. Some of the series’ details will be mentioned below, but for the most part, it was not kind to the Crew, and so this post will choose to ignore it. For Milwaukee fans, the most important thing to come from the series didn’t involve a game at all, but rather the comments made post game by one Ryan Braun – and now, the reaction to those comments by general manager Doug Melvin.
To set the stage, here’s a rundown of what transpired on the field of play. On Thursday, a game I attended in an increasingly drunk (sorry Dad) and depressed state, Seth McClung was tossed around to the tune of seven runs in 3.1 innings. Derrek Lee hit a 3-run bomb in the first and a grand slam in the fourth. All things considered, it was a blowout loss. It felt like a blowout the whole time, but one clutch hit in the late innings would have made it a dicey situation. Cubs, 9-5. On Friday, Jeff Suppan twirled seven great innings, but they were wasted when Mark DiFelice walked Jake Fox on a 2-out, bases loaded, full count pitch in the bottom of the tenth. Cubs, 2-1. Before we move on, watch the video for yourself. It was a strike. Any Cubs fan will disagree with you, but if you could force them to tell the truth, the initial reaction to that call was “Damn. Wow. Well, shit, we’ll take it.” Nobody wants to lose like that, but the Crew had plenty of chances to score more than one damn run (1-for-11 with RISP). On Saturday, the Brewers celebrated America’s birthday by jumping all over the Cubs in a blowout of their own. Brewers, 11-2. And to finish things off on Sunday, Mike Burns got lit up, Ted Lilly dominated and the Cubbies won the series going away with another big win. Cubs, 8-2.
But the real story happened Sunday night, when Ryan Braun discussed his feelings on the Brewers pitching problems. Let’s analyze the intelligence of such words and whether he should keep it up or shut it up.
1) “They threw the ball a lot better than our starters did,” said Braun. “All four guys we saw in this series are No. 1, worst-case, No. 2 type starters. They make big pitches in big situations. You’re not always going to get hits in those situations.”
First, Braun is correct. The Cubs do have a very good starting rotation, even though Dick Harden got his face rocked off on Saturday. Suppan and Looper pitched well for the Crew, but they both have season ERA’s over 4.60 so those were an exception more than the norm. I’m pretty sure Braunie didn’t overlook the two good outings, but he was just irate over losing 3 of 4. That’s competitiveness. It was the underlying theme of his comments, but he just presented them in a terrible, terrible fashion.
2) Asked about the rotation missing Dave Bush (disabled list) and Manny Parra (demoted to the minors), Braun said, “Regardless of the reasons, we’ve got to find a way to throw the ball a little bit better for us to have success. When you’re constantly behind in games, it’s not easy and not fun.”
Makes sense from here, but then again, Braun led the offense to rousing totals of one run on Friday and two runs on Sunday. Not to mention the 1-0 loss to the Mets last week and the 7-0 loss at the hands of the Giants as well. Hypocritical sonofab…
3) “They swung the bats better than we did as well. Clearly, they were the better team.”
Oh. So he called the hitters out, too. Himself included. Maybe this was just a normal interview and Braun was being honest. You know, what the media wants athletes to be. Isn’t that something?
4) “To show everybody we’re for real, we can go out there and make a move and improve our ball club,” said Braun. “We want to head in the right direction, not the wrong direction.”
Melvin (and many pundits) claimed this comment showed that Braun didn’t trust his teammates and was over the line. Well, Melvin also said he’s always looking for more help, so isn’t the basically the same thing, but just in more politically correct terms?
The answer to today’s conundrum: Braun should have said what he said. But he should have said it in the locker room, away from reporters. He’s right about the pitching holding this team back from better things, but saying it in front of reporters will only make it the wrong kind of story. Melvin should make a move to get another starter if a good one is there, but only for the right pieces. The Crew already mortgaged a lot of the future by giving up Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley for CC Sabathia last season, and I’m not ready for them to do that again. Melvin also needs to realize that Braun is a young player who was pissed off the team was playing poorly. He’s the veteran front office guy who needs to bite his tongue and not answer back. Just let the issue die.