The Brewers, The Cardinals, and Reputations. | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

(A note: I was in the air for most of Wednesday, and this was written prior to the Brewers’ game against the Cardinals. Unless something really odd happened today, though, everything said applies)

Our perceptions of the world tend to be painted by the groups and communities we interact with most. Whether it’s politics, religion, or even, yes, sports, if we stay within one group for long enough, we start to lose touch with what the rest of the world sees.

If the city of Madison is “78 square miles surrounded by reality,” then perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised if the group of people I take in games with – be it in person or online – resides in its own sequestered area of cyberspace surrounded by reality. So I will keep that in mind as I attempt to formulate my opinions on the reputations of both teams; hopefully the reader, regardless of his position, will do so as well.

The Brewers are by no means the darlings of the MLB, nor should we expect them to be. Ryan Braun could be replaced by Jersey Shore’s “The Situation” and I might not notice. Prince Fielder orchestrated the flashiest home run celebration in the game’s history. Nyjer Morgan’s antics have drawn more laughter than anger this season, but it’s been less than a year since Tony Plush was starting bench clearing brawls instead of impersonating Bryant Gumbel in post-game interviews.

For better or for worse, this is the face of the Milwaukee Brewers. But personally, I fail to see the harm in this team’s actions, from Fielder’s earthquake celebration to Morgan’s craziness and especially back to Mike Cameron’s ritual of untucking the jerseys after a victory that angered the Cardinals so damn much. This is a team with personality, and losing to teams with personality sucks. Personality manifests it so much more in a victory than in the subdued environment surrounding a loss. Just ask Telly Hughes.

For some reason or another, St. Louis is referred to as baseball heaven. I’ve never been there. I’m sure it’s fantastic. And there’s no doubt the Cardinals have a storied history as a franchise. Over 111 years, the franchise has recorded 10 championships, 17 pennants, and 23 postseason appearances. And their fans, well, their fans are supposedly the best in the game.

But is the view of St. Louis baseball on a pedestal, staring down it’s metaphorical nose at the rest of the league shared by anybody besides Joe Buck? If it is, I would certainly question those who still hold this belief after Tuesday night’s farce in Milwaukee, a game which saw a St. Louis team retaliate for nothing and Milwaukee remain calm as their star was the brunt of this false retribution, and a game which saw one of the game’s worst blowups by the catcher of a supposedly classy St. Louis team.

This isn’t about the city of St. Louis or its fans at all. Each and every major league city has its bright spots and its blemishes, and each city has its share of great fans and lousy fans. No, in the end this is about Tony La Russa, a man who seems to be on a mission to irritate and anger fans everywhere. A man with a list of complaints longer than Prince Fielder’s waistline. A man who can’t handle when an announcer calls him out for being “bush league.”

Yes, Tony La Russa has won 2,696 more games as a Major League Baseball manager than I ever will, and counting. No, that doesn’t speak a word about his character.

Rarely in sport do I ever see the game on the field in the way of Hawk Harrelson, as “good guys” versus “bad guys.” Baseball players are hardly role models, and I’m certain that some of the players on the field for the Milwaukee Brewers are douchebags. When they’re on the field, though, they’re our douchebags, and the same goes for those wearing Cardinal Red for the denizens of St. Louis.

And I suppose it would be taking things far too seriously to characterize Tony La Russa as a “villain,” as a truly “bad guy.” But never have I encountered a figure who could take the fun and enjoyment out of the game so swiftly as La Russa. When it comes to the baseball diamond, that’s as close as somebody can get to actual evil, short of commanding a pitcher to throw at a guy’s head at least.

Maybe it’s just my perspective, but the playful antics of the Prince Fielder-era Milwaukee Brewers and the irritating, abrasive, and aggressive actions of Tony La Russa’s St. Louis Cardinals (or Oakland Athletics or Chicago White Sox, it hardly matters) are hardly comparable. But maybe that’s just because I live in my own world, sequestered from reality. If so, much like Madison, I never want to leave.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Sam says: August 3, 2011

    Beautiful

  2. Aaron S. Veenstra says: August 3, 2011

    I’ve never been there. I’m sure it’s fantastic.

    It’s not. (Full disclosure: I moved from Madison to southern Illinois a couple years ago.) Nice view out the back of Busch Stadium, though.

  3. Chris says: August 3, 2011

    Like Aaron, I’ve been to the aptly named Busch Stadium. I went to two games there last August, both of which the Brewers won. Perhaps I was expecting too much, but I found the stadium lack-luster and the crowd bland. Maybe the oppressive heat and humidity of the St. Louis summer dampened the enthusiasm. Maybe the Brewers good play those two days took the crowd out of it. But there was no juice in the stadium, sort of like being at Camp Randall for a non-conference game. On the other hand, maybe that’s how they view the Brewers–as a D-IA team not worthy of their engagement, mojo they save for when CHI comes to town.

    As for the ballpark itself, the best I can say is that it is new. It is a pretty nondescript place, very utilitarian and lacking in signature touches that were apparent to me. It’s possible that I overlooked the truly memorable aspects, the sorts of things one needs to discover over many visits. Whatever the case, I will echo Aaron in noting that Busch does give a wonderful view of the STL cityscape. Other than that…meh.

  4. Brian E says: August 3, 2011

    Well said. The arrogance of the insufferable Tony La Russa make each Brewers win over the Cards that much more enjoyable.

  5. Justin B says: August 3, 2011

    Great assessment. For a manager who has seen so much to lack perspective in such a ridiculous manner is so humiliating to the game of baseball. His persona belongs in the NBA. The side-effect of his asshattery was visible Tuesday, as his disciple, Yadi the Yeti, nearly devoured his blue prey.

    *pedantic budget-busting English Teacher side note: in the first line, “…tend to be painted …” I only mention it so that when I link to this article on FB, my Card fan friends have no cheap rebuttal.

  6. Rob says: August 4, 2011

    Awesome article/post. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said.

  7. Mike says: August 4, 2011

    Great article Jack.

    How come nobody brings up the fact that Tony not only plunked Ryan but had his hardest throwing unit fire a 97 and then 98 mph fastball at Ryan’s head? Why is this never brought up? Tony himself called it a “little stinger”. How ridiculous! The intent of that pitch was pure evil. This was no ordinary “message”. Isnt a typical message pitch low 80s in the back! Not high 90s at the head!!!!
    Tony LaRussa is a dirtbag. I just wish someone in the mainstream (why didn’t Schraeder stand by his statement????) would call a spade a spade. Does Tony have nude pictures of everybody?

  8. Cory Casper says: August 4, 2011

    Mike, you touched on it, and it’s something else I’d like other opinions on. Bill Schroeder, who has been on thin ice with me this season, lost ALL credibility with me after Tuesday’s game. I watched the game, and I know I heard him call out “Bush League” 3-4 times after Braun got hit. Yet, the next day, he, what, calls LaRussa personally to tell him how much respect he has for him and that he would never call him “Bush League”? If that isn’t a direct slap in the face of the organization that he works for, I don’t know what is! Since the decision to hit Braun came DIRECTLY from TLR, who exactly was he calling “Bush League” then? Any remaining respect I had for Schroeder is now almost completely gone after that B.S. What a sackless coward!

  9. alex says: August 4, 2011

    cory, the actions of a commentator are hardly comparable to the actions of a manager.

  10. Cory Casper says: August 4, 2011

    I’m not saying Schroeder is worse than LaRussa. I’m not comparing the two at all, it’s just another side story to this whole mess, and a positive response to Mike’s comment about the mainstream calling a spade a spade. TLR has been doing this for almost as long as I’ve been alive, and it appears MLB and those who cover it are too afraid to call him out on any of it. Schroeder, on a very small scale, did just that, and then retracted all of it because LaRussa made a comment about it.

  11. Kennedy says: August 4, 2011

    Let’s not forget to add into the mix the whole “home lighting advantage” nonsense LaRussa was crying about a few days ago. People give LaRussa far too much credit by calling his antics “gamesmanship.” He makes Billy Martin look almost like Connie Mack

  12. Cory Casper says: August 4, 2011

    Are you kidding me Kennedy? He makes Billy Martin look like Mr. Rogers!

  13. Adam says: August 5, 2011

    Well said. I have lived in both cities, and both are great in their own ways. For what it’s worth, Cardinal fans are definitely “more dedicated” than Brewer fans if you will. I tell people the Cardinals are to St. Louis what the Packers are to the state of Wisconsin. I agree about Tony, he is just a punk and ruins all the fun. I don’t understand how Jim Leyland is such good friends with Tony, I really like that guy.

  14. Mark says: August 5, 2011

    I totally disagree Cory — I think Schroeder is one of the best color commentators of any local announcers in baseball. And I feel I’m equipped to comment on this because I live in SF and have to watch the OTHER teams’ announcers on the DirecTv broadcast when the Brewers are on the road (I only get Anderson and Schroeder for home games).

    Schroeder’s analyses are generally well thought out, out-of-the-box, and blunt. Too often you get color commentators saying things to be politically correct instead of telling it like it is. Also, most other teams’ color commentators are total homers where they never compliment the other teams’ players. Is Schroeder a homer? Of course he is and he should be because it makes the games more exciting. But he also knows how to dish out compliments to other teams when it’s warranted. And on the flip side, when criticism is warranted, he gives that also. I seriously invite you to listen to some other local announcers and you’ll see my point.

  15. Cory Casper says: August 6, 2011

    I respect your opinion Mark, and I have heard others as well, so I do know where you’re coming from. But, his backtracking on the whole “bush league” thing has left a nasty taste in my mouth, and, to me, I feel as if that was a slap in the face of the Brewers’ organization, an organization that I have lived and died with for almost 30 years. To me, his actions and words made it look as if he cares more about what Tony LaRussa thinks of him than he does about standing up for the team he works for. If he was a true homer, as you are suggesting (and deep down, I know he is), then he would have stuck to his spot-on comments, and let anything LaRussa said roll off his back.
    I’m not saying I want a commentator who constantly rips on the other team, but when it is warranted, as it was Wednesday night, I think it should be said. And yes, he dishes out compliments to the other teams, but he does so way too often. It seems whenever we are playing a new opponent, they always seem to have someone who is “the best in the business.” The last series, it was Yadier Molina who was the best catcher in the business. I agree he is a great all-around catcher, but he did cost them 2 runs himself defensively in the series finale.
    But, it all boils down to the fact that I think his actions and words after Wednesday’s game were out of line, and were probably only made because LaRussa took exception. We all heard him call TLR bush league, and for him to come out and say he would never call him bush league makes him a liar. He didn’t come out and say, “I was in the heat of the moment, and said something I probably shouldn’t have said.” This would have at least been plausible. No, he came out and said he would NEVER call LaRussa bush league, when he did just that a few hours earlier.
    Again, it’s just my opinion! (Can you tell I take my Brewers’ Baseball VERY seriously?)

  16. Geoff says: August 8, 2011

    I liked TLR better when he had shingles…

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