It was worse than I had imagined.
Tuesday night, I warned you that the fall-out from the no-no was going to be ugly. I had no idea it would be THAT ugly. There were more people calling for Yost's head than I had ever expected. Quite frankly, I didn't even know there were that many Brewers fans out there.
This morning, I stumbled upon yesterday's JSonline chat with Tom Haudricourt
http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=619565, in which more than half of the "chatters" were calling for Yost's dismissal. I'm not sure how many times or in how many different ways Mr. Haudricourt can say, "Managers in first place do not get fired," but I give him credit for keeping with it. At some point, I would have just started to delete those questions as they arrived. Seriously. Enough is enough.
I just have one question for those fans calling for Yost's dismissal--did you give him half as much credit for the 24-10 start as you blame him for the 10-20 stretch? 'Cause if so, you must have thought he was a frickin' genius. You do understand that those first 34 games count towards the standings too, right? (Okay, that's two questions, but I'm really, really baffled by this Yost hatred.)
Look, I was as miffed about Counsell and Grafanino batting one and two and I've already talked ad nausea about the Gabe Gross/DH-extraordinaire decision, but Yost has done some good things for this ball club too. Really. He has. I read a lot of comments that Yost is supportive of his players--to a fault. And that philosophy makes me laugh harder than the first time I saw Will Ferrel get plugged by the tranquilizer dart in Old School.
Ned Yost's faith in his players is the biggest reason the Brewers started 24-10 this year.
If you don't believe me, look no further than at our SS position. Remember his rookie year, when the entire Brewers' nations was calling for J.J. to be shipped back to the minors as he struggled to get close to the .200 mark? After the fact, Melvin admitted that he considered making that move, but Nedly didn't want him to do it. That support paid off to the tune of JJ hitting over .300 in the second half of the season. Fast forward to this off-season, and after a JJ injury, I once again hear the Brewers nation spew mad, obnoxious venom towards the organization for even thinking of moving Billy Hall from SS. This our MVP, they cried. What has JJ done so far?
I don't need to explain my point any further, do I? (Interesting how now those same fans are getting on Billy for his power struggles. I'm really not very good with the "what have you done for me lately" attitude.)
Anyhow, that's Ned Yost in a nut shell. He believes in the guys in his dug out, and he'll tell you that every single day, after every single game, no matter what the outcome.
I didn't play basketball in high school (for good reason, trust me), but two of my good friends, Eric and Darren did. And these two hot-headed knuckleheads might still be in the WIAA record book under the statistic for "most technicals received." (Eric had the amazing ability to take the Lord's name, "Christ," and turn it into a seven syllable word when he directed at refs.) One time, I was razzing Darren about a technical he received and the subsequent benching, and in a rare serious moment, he looked and me and said, "Yeah, but Tom, sometimes it would just be nice to know that the coach was on my side."
Every player wants to know that their coach is in their corner. And every Brewer knows that Yost is in his. Given the youth on the club and the fact that they are going to make their fair share of mistakes, that faith from their coach is crucial to these kids' development. How many times have you ever heard Ned Yost call out a player in the press Alla George Karl? On the other hand, anytime a Brewers player has a beef with an ump, Yost flies out of the dug-out and backs him, even when that player is dead wrong. For that reason, Yost deserves support. You might not like that he keeps trotting Graffanino out there or that Turnbow gets the ball every 8th inning, but his players do. And when those guys chip in on a win, the Brewers are better because of it.
Look, I realize that the Brewers can't continue to play at a 10-20 clip and still hope to make the play-offs. No team is going to the play-offs playing at a .333 pace--no matter how bad their division is. But you might be surprised to see how many teams go through extended stretches (two weeks or more) playing at .333--I did a little research, and although the majority of these don't cover a full 30 games, consider this:
In 2003, the Florida Marlins went 7-18 (under a .333 clip) from April 25 until May 22. With a little help from a cat named Bartman, they went on to win the World Series.
(Speaking of Bartman, wouldn't it be awesome if the Brewers made a statue of the guy and put it down in the left field corner, with his arms extended towards the third base foul line? It would cost us a front row seat on the third base corner, but if we're going to allow it to be Wrigley North, why not pay homage to the defining Cubs moment of the past thirty years? Better yet. Next year, instead of Take Back Miller Park campaigns, we should all dress like Bartman, complete with headphones and balding cap, and stand with our hands in the air for the entire game in this position:
Win or lose, those Cubs fans are going home to nightmares.)
In 2004, the Boston Red Sox went 6-12 (a .333 clip) from June 15 until July 4. Despite that stretch, the curse still came to an end.
In 2005, the Chicago White Sox went 6-12 (a .333 clip) from August 12 until August 31. In October, they too claimed the prize.
In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals went 8-16 (a .333 clip) from September 2 until September 28. You know the rest.
Of course, you're probably saying that the Cardinals run was a fluke, so let's look at their opponents, the Tigers.
Last year, the Detroit Tigers went 11-23 (less than a .333 clip) from August 8 until September 13. They played that kind of baseball just weeks before the play-offs started and still managed to make a World Series appearance.
Now, I'm not claiming that the Brewers are World Series bound. There's far too much baseball to be played to even think about that. But there's also too much season left to get so chop-block happy towards Ned. After all, Yovanni's on his way!
And he'll help us settle things down...
I have to mention that my wife thought it was unfair of me to talk about her going to bed during the no-no without any mention of the fact that she is currently 5 months pregnant with our first child. And I have to admit, she's extremely supportive of my constant, must-see-every-inning Brewers obsession. And every once-in-a-while she will say something that makes me completely fall in love with her all over again. A couple of weeks ago, for example, I was zoning out on the couch when she came back into the room and said,
"Oh, did they do a double switch?"
"No," I said, "they just brought Turnbow in for Villanueva."
"But that's Gwynn in centerfield now."
My wife pointed out a double switch to me, fellas. I was so turned on, it wasn't even funny.
I also was pleased that I received three comments on my last blog. And I have to say, I have no idea who submitted the comment with the Cubs slant and the blatant enjoyment of my misery, but I don't think I've ever been trash-talked so eloquently before in my life...
The sentence, "as the brewers nosedive, you seem to be grasping at the unreachable hope of the playoffs, almost as if the sweet fruit that your palate suckled on w/the great start of the season has, little by little, been pulled away from your lips," made me feel abused, dirty, and for some reason, a tad bit hungry. Very nice job.
Anyhow, although I respect the anonymous blog, everyone should feel free to drop a hyphen and a name so I know who's actually reading my babble...