Off Base: Putting down Hank The Dog Tyler Maas April 11, 2014 Don’t look now, but the 7-2 Milwaukee Brewers are currently in first place in the National League Central, and are tied with the Washington Nationals for the best record in all of baseball. While the team’s returning bullpen has been great, Yovani Gallardo has been infallible in two outings, and the three home runs and 10 RBI Ryan Braun has contributed since returning [pause to allow misspelled comment about explaining morality to your son and empty threats to boycott the team] helps, much of the club’s early success can be attributed to new acquisitions. Through two starts, Matt Garza has a 2.57 ERA, a .196 opponent average, and hasn’t even gone on a sexist Twitter tirade yet; Mark Reynolds has crushed a pair of homers to go with his team-leading four walks and not unexpected 11 strikeouts; parents AND opposing hitters just don’t understand lefty reliever Will Smith, who has six scoreless outings in as many appearances; Wei-Chung Wang hasn’t given up a hit (or thrown a pitch, but still!); and Zach Duke has offset his 5.40 ERA by being kind of funny in a totally necessary music video. Really, all of Milwaukee’s offseason acquisitions have benefited the team in one way or another, except one. Despite being snatched off the street and literally being paid in scraps, a widely heralded spring training addition hasn’t lived up to his lofty expectations to help take the Brewers in an entirely new direction. He hasn’t hit for shit. He can’t catch… at least not on the fly, and he doesn’t travel with the rest of the team. Hank the Dog is fucking useless. To be fair, the Bichon Frise mix is absolutely adorable, and the story of the team adopting the injured canine and bringing him back to health is so heartwarming that even the most evil baseball fans (likely all residing in St. Louis) can’t help but tear up just thinking about the poor pup’s awful origin. It’s touching, but now more than 50 days removed from the dog’s discovery, Hank-a-Mania is rampant—and growing. Local news stations—still salivating from those sweet, sweet priceless violin theft ratings—cram dog tales into each broadcast. Miller Park’s scoreboard now has Hank-related bumpers. Despite being illiterate and having no fingers, the 15 pound pooch has more Twitter followers than starting left fielder Khris Davis. Hank’s been mentioned on The Tonight Show. He’s been featured in People magazine, despite not meeting the periodical’s only criteria. It’s become too much. While we’re certainly not recommending the Brewers send him to a farm upstate, Milwaukee Record has some reasons fans should cool it on this Hank the Dog shit, already. He can’t stay healthy In Hank’s sub-two-month Brewers tenure, his lack of durability has made Mat Gamel seem like Cal Ripken Jr. by comparison. Missing time after the whole getting hit by a car thing is understandable, but days after he officially became part of the organization, he was on the vet’s table again. This time around, he was getting neutered, which sounds like an elective procedure. It should also be noted that he has gained five pounds, almost half of what he weighed when the Brewers acquired him. He’s nearly past his prime At an estimated three years of age, Hank (along with Wang) is the youngest member of the team at 21 human years. Next year, though, he’ll be 28 human years. By 2016, Hank will be close to baseball retirement age in human years. Perhaps the decision to neuter the unofficial mascot—thus disallowing future generations of Hanks—was a shortsighted one. He lacks focus in the field And you thought Carlos Gomez was erratic around the bases. At least Go-Go usually runs in the baselines. He inspires awful merchandise Kneejerk fans looking to replace that tainted Braun shirt or people feeling sensitive that their Lyle Overbay jersey features the number 11 instead of 24 now have any array of new, terrible ways to show their tangential team spirit. The Brewers were quick to capitalize on the marketable mutt with the release of a $32.99 Hank shirt, complete with K9 and paw prints (because player-devoted shirts have handprints?). Add $5.95 for shipping and handling. It’s currently the team store’s top-selling item. This planet is fucked. Grown men with occupations, driver’s licenses, and free will are going to proudly wear this shirt in the company of 43,000 other people as they unconsciously clap along to a song prompting them to do so. Not even $7 of the cost of this shirt—in all its Bill Hall-jersey levels of eventual buyer’s remorse—actually goes to benefit the Wisconsin Humane Society. Hank stuffed animals, pennants, and baseballs are also available. He reeks of organizational desperation Akin to Family Matters bringing on cool kid “3J” when ratings dipped and Richie was trucked by puberty, the Brewers’ opportunist and incessant incorporation of Hank into all facets of the team is a move of desperation. It all smells of a team that’s more fixated on hitting its annual goal of three million people through the Miller Park turnstiles than a team concerned with winning more than 81 games. Hank bobbleheads will be given out in September. It took Gallardo six seasons to get the same honor. Hank is a lovable dog whose mere existence is a reminder that there is good in the world. But Hank is also a living embodiment of exactly how far from the field the priorities of most “baseball fans” have ventured. Hank Aaron must be proud that his amazing on-field accomplishments amid death threats and the imposing shadow of Babe Ruth’s career have rendered his name worthy to share with a dog somebody found in Arizona. It could be worse, though.