The Milwaukee Brewers were supposed to be in a so-called “rebuilding year.” At the start of this season spring optimism felt more like spring resignation. We figured our team would be a little better than last year and, if we were lucky, hover close to .500 for much of the summer. Needless to say, our Brewers have defied expectations.
When asked if Brewer fan Paul Koller thought we’d be here and the Brewers would be in first place in late June, he said:
“Not a chance,” he said as he leaned back in his folding chair during pregame tailgating. “Not this year at all. No. No. This has been fun. It’s been entertaining. I don’t get to watch too many games. Mostly listen to (Bob) Uecker on the radio.”
For Monday night’s divisional matchup with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a large and loud crowd filed into the stadium. The optimism at Miller Park is infectious.
We wanted to know how optimistic, on a scale of 1-to-10, West Bend father Mitch Bury is that there will be meaningful baseball games played in Miller Park this September.
“I’d say probably a seven, as long as we can keep the pitching going and the bats stay awake, we should be fine,” he said balancing his one-year-old son in one arm.
Of course, not all Brewer fans are infused with such optimism. The fans that fill Miller Park on hot summer nights are used to disappointment.
“They’ll fall apart,” said Robert Wojak tersely. “They won’t stay in first place. They have no bullpen.”
But Wojak’s cynicism is in the minority among the Brewer faithful.
“I think we’re going to the playoffs,” said Marcus Riser as he stepped into line outside the ballpark. “Honestly, how we’re playing now? We’re in first place!”
Teresa Bittner believes her team is playing with the house’s money because they have so unfailingly exceeded expectations this season.
“I think these young kids, these young players that we have right now, they don’t realize,” she said with a smile. “They don’t have any pressure on them. They’re just having fun and playing the game.”