It's Memorial Day Weekend, and things are looking up for residents of Madison, Wisconsin. The temperatures are settling into the 70's, the lakes are warming up, the Bucks have a number 2 draft pick and the Brewers are in 1st place. All things considered, it should be a fun weekend, except for one minor detail, those "1st place" Brewers won't be there long, and here are five tell tale signs, The Ides Of May, why they will be bird watching come June 1st.
5. Carlos Gomez made the cover of Sports Illustrated. Since Go-Go Gomez graced the cover of the infamous Sports Illustrated magazine, he had to serve his three game suspension, tweaked his lower back, missed a game with food poisoning, and drilled a foul ball that nearly decapitated an 8 year old child in the stands at Atlanta. Gomez missed another game because of his back again last night, so if anyone knows the expiration date on the SI Jinx, please let the Brewer front office know ASAP.
4. Ryan Braun, to put it "oblique-ly", is having a terrible season. With the exception of a three home run outburst a long time ago in Pittsburgh, Braun is on the shelf again, this time with tightness in his right hamstring. Having already missed 16 games with an oblique strain, the former reigning NL MVP and now admitted steroid abuser has 7 home runs, 19 RBI and a .289 average. Spread those numbers out over the course of a full season and you wind up with 24 HR's and 65 RBI, certainly not franchise player numbers. The shine is off what once was one of the game's most promising stars, and without the aid of recovery enhancing injections, it appears Braun is destined for the average player heap.
3. Aramis Ramirez has not only cooled off, he has hit an iceberg. Add to his struggles at the plate before his annual appearance on the DL, and you know have a gaping hole at third base and at cleanup that equals 5 HR's, 21 RBI, and a .252 average. Having appeared in just 34 of 48 games to date, Ramirez still leads the Brewers in RBI, go figure. Without his bat and average glove in the lineup, the Brewer offense has been stuck in neutral, and with the addition of Gomez and Braun to the injured list, Milwaukee is famished for runs.
2. Rickie 4-6 Weeks is playing again. When Scooter Gennett was getting the majority of starts at 2nd base, the Brew-Ha's were rolling. Injuries and left handed pitching gave Weeks a chance, and he has responded with a .317 average in 62 AB's, with a couple of home runs and 7 runs batted in, and a few clutch hits along the way. What this ultimately means is Weeks will begin swinging at everything under the sun eventually, his average will plummet, and the hamstring will pull. At $11 million dollars a year, he's an extremely expensive bad habit.
1. Your manager forgets how to get a reliever ready in the bullpen. In last night's giveaway loss to the Braves (their fifth road loss in 7 games), wannabe manager Ron Roenicke asked for a left hand pitcher out of the Brewers bullpen in a one run game. The only problem was Roenicke never bothered to check and see if his instructions to backup catcher Martin Maldonado had been carried out. Why Roenicke never picked up the phone like all managers do to instruct their underlings to call the bullpen in this situation is beyond belief, and being in Atlanta, home of the Tomahawk Chop, you'd think the least he could have done was send smoke signals. What is totally inexcusable is granting permission to both your bullpen coach and pitching coach to attend their children's graduation, thus leaving even more links in a communication breakdown likely to happen.
Still clinging to 1 1/2 game over the eventual NL Comedy Central champion St. Louis Cardinals, the Brewers have once again proven that pennants are not won in April, even when you start out 20-8. So, as you sit back on your porch and contemplate the year to date on this glorious Memorial Day weekend, rest assured that just as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, when it comes baseball in Milwaukee, the Ides Of May will most certainly cripple your Brewer playoff hopes, year after year, beer after beer.
And For What