Chasing Cheese Curds

In 1984, while Cubs Fever was spreading among the Cubs Faithful, an equally powerful revolution was underway in Wisconsin: the first Culver’s Restaurant opened. While many of us were cheering on Ryne Sandberg, “the Penguin” Ron Cey, Gary “Sarge” Matthews, and Jody Davis, hundreds of Wisconsonians partook in daily pilgrimages to satiate their considerable appetites with ButterBurgers, frozen custard, and, of course, cheese curds.

I bring this up, not to make you hungry, or to open a discussion on health care premiums, but rather to put in perspective the accomplishments of the state of Wisconsin….basically, their basketball team is bad, their football team is worse, and their baseball team’s current 1st place standing is a fluke. Think the Cubbies should be sweating the Brew Crew this year? You know better….

Mark Prior Lite….

Let me introduce you to Ben Sheets. He is the ace of the Brewers, and he would feel right at home, rehabbing in extended Spring Training with Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, and I am fairly sure he has a few Larry Rothschild-autographed towels in his possession. Sheets is under .500 for his career, and hasn’t made 30 starts his past two seasons, and I am guessing he won’t make 30 starts this year either.

Who else does Milwaukee throw out there? Does Jeff Suppan strike fear in your hearts? Suppan benefited from playing for the Cardinals the past three seasons, and is a .500 pitcher basically. I think I read an article comparing him to Greg Maddux, and how his experience will greatly help the young Brewer rotation. The whole “veteran teaching the young kids” theory is thrown around a lot in baseball, and I never see any indication the young kids ever learn anything. For example, 2005 and 2006 weren’t exactly banner years for young Cubs pitchers, despite the presence of Maddux in the clubhouse….so if Maddux can’t have an impact on young pitchers, then I doubt Suppan can either.

Family Genes….

Think Prince Fielder has had a few ButterBurgers lately? Just don’t throw this guy a fastball down the middle, and you will be just fine. Better yet, just walk him, and let him clog up the bases (thanks for the assist, Dusty) for the guys that can run. A nice power hitter, but he looks like a short offensive lineman, or a participant in a competitive eating contest. Tony Gwynn, Jr. may have the pedigree to hit .370, but I am guessing he won’t do that all year, either. I do applaud Prince for working harder than Gwynn Jr. to emulate his fathers playing weight….that kind of weight gain takes dedication. (just ask Glendon Rusch)

JJ Hardy and Geoff Jenkins are playing out of their minds right now, so I really don’t expect them to bat over .330 by the end of the year. The Cubs have legitimate high-average power-hitters in Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez….and even Michael Barrett had a great average last year. These guys can hit .330, but not Hardy and Jenkins.

Honestly….look at these names: Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Michael Barrett, Cliff Floyd, Jacque Jones, Matt Murton. Compare them to: Fielder (Jr.), Jenkins, Hardy, Rickie Weeks, Bill Hall and Johnny Estrada.

Or look at this comparison: Zambrano, Lilly, Hill, Marquis….versus Sheets, Chris Capuano, Dave Bush, and Jeff Suppan.

Quite frankly, there is no comparison. The Milwaukee Brewers are simply this year’s Cincinnati Reds….they are off to a fast start, but by the All-Star break, they will be an afterthought.

Final Thoughts….

I miss Culvers….especially the chocolate chip cookie custard sandwiches….mmmm. I also like Miller Park, as it is a nice place to meet Cubs fans, is nice and clean, and the sausage races are always good for a laugh. I don’t seriously consider the Brewers to be a threat to the Cubs winning the division title. I am honestly not sure who could possibly beat the Cubs, as the rest of the Central is playing so poorly. Houston and St. Louis seem to be starting a new cycle, and their string of postseason appearance and division titles is coming to an end. The Reds are, well, the Reds. Ditto with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Brewers? Don’t give them another thought….but Uncle Bud Selig should be proud of the 2nd place finish they will likely have this year. They are a good little team, but they are not the star-studded Chicago Cubs of 2007. Until next time, CCO Readers, let’s hope Dempster goes on a year-long streak of not blowing any saves, so that we can avoid pesky extra inning losses, and let’s go Cubs!

Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver