It started in 1982.
At the time, the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals weren’t even in the same league, but became quick—albeit temporary—rivals in the World Series (also known as the “Suds Series”). We all know how the battle of the brewery magnates turned out: The Brewers lost, but managed to skate by with fans on account of the fabled runner-up season of ’82 from then until [looks at watch], and the Cards took home their ninth World Series crown (and first since 1967). After that, both franchises floundered in their separate-but-equally-pennant-free purgatories until the advent of interleague play pitted the one-time foes against one another again in 1997. Shockingly to some, the Brewers swept the Cardinals in the three-game series—though then-Milwaukee catcher Mike Matheny must’ve been auditioning for the eventual St. Louis managerial opening with his two for nine performance at the plate in the match-up.
However, the following season, Milwaukee was cast out into the National League and into a new, legitimate division rivalry with its nearby N.L. predecessor. So began a lopsided pairing that almost always seems to land in St. Louis’ favor. Since that original ’82 meeting, the Cards have taken home six National League pennants (yielding two World Series titles), seven division titles, and three Wild Card berths. Conversely, the Brewers have one Wild Card appearance, a lone division title…that was eventually squashed by St. Louis in the NLCS, and exactly zero World Series appearances nor titles. At this moment, Milwaukee trails the all-time Brewers/Cardinals series 113-149, including a 4-5 record against St. Louis so far this season. While the league change yielded little in the way of winning for the Brewers, it did result in some major developments for Milwaukee fans, namely a victim complex, a little-guy syndrome, and an utter inability to enjoy any semblance of success without looking Missouri’s way for validation. With the Brewers headed to St. Louis for a three-game series this weekend, Milwaukee Record is issuing a plea to Brew Crew fans to shut the fuck up about the Cardinals already, and focus on the important things these last two months.
The Brewers are in first place, by the way
Raise your hand if you expected the Milwaukee Brewers to be in first place in their division and posses the second best record in the entire National League on August 1. Since both of your hands are still free, use them to pull your head out of your ass, clear the crap from your eyes, and focus on the relatively unexpected season at hand. Milwaukee has been in first place (or had a share of first place) for more than 115 consecutive days. For frame of reference, it was barely spring when this incredible run streak started. However, instead of enjoying the outstanding play of a team many baseball pundits (and us) realistically predicted to finish third or fourth in the division, most Brewers fans weren’t basking in the view from the top but, instead, were fixated on how close a team below them in the standings was. As the once-sizable margin between Milwaukee and St. Louis narrowed, fans took their familiar place on the ledge, preparing for another dose of medicine from its almost perennial ruler. There’s no reason to scoreboard watch before mid-August. That’s not a way to live.
EVERY team has a streak of awful games
Since the most vocal Brewers fans on the Internet and phoning into to sports talk radio shows seem to just be Packers fans who need something to do between the NFL combine and when pre-season starts, we’ll remind them that unlike in a sport with just 16 games, a baseball team dropping five or six straight is a manageable and actually quite normal occurrence—even for playoff-bound clubs. Sure, the Crew’s 1-11 run from June 29 to July 12 wasn’t a high point. However, the Brewers went 19-8 in April and were on a 13-5 run leading up to the aforementioned late June to early-July slide. Baseball is a marathon wherein even the best team loses about 60 times and even the worst team wins about 60 times. Milwaukee has played 109 games and is in first place. That’s all that should matter at this point.
Milwaukee didn’t need to do anything huge at the trade deadline
As Major League Baseball’s July 31 non-waiver deadline came and went, the lone Brewers transaction was the addition of outfielder Gerardo Parra via a low-risk trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Kneejerk fans were quick to bemoan the lack of a significant trade for a David Price- or Jon Lester-type pitcher to bolster the rotation, all while looking with envy at the paperwork being filed by St. Louis’ front office as the deadline approached. First, as one of three 60-win teams in the National League right now, Milwaukee didn’t really need to do anything at the deadline. That’s like leasing a luxury car because your dependable vehicle might have problems over the next two months. On the other hand, the Cards felt they needed to change things up to continue to compete. Those threatening trades by the way were for Justin Masterson, a dude with a 5.51 ERA and even less appealing 1.65 WHIP who is currently on the disabled list, and over-performing veteran salary burden John Lackey. After a strong start, Lackey has a 5.56 ERA in his last six outings, and St. Louis will likely come to regret selling scuffling 1B/OF Allen Craig (who hit over .300 and drove in more than 90 runs each of the past two seasons) and promising back-of-the-rotation arm Joe Kelly low to get the declining pitcher. As much as these trades imply a desire to compete, they also reek of desperation.
Besides, if moves must be made, the Brewers could still make a trade via waivers this month. With the expanded playoff format, there are more teams who consider themselves contenders and are hesitant to make trades that could change that. August deals are the new norm.
Anything can happen
Yes, we just got done saying how nice it is Milwaukee is leading the Central on August 1. It’s great to have a slight head start going into the final two months, but there exist a myriad of possibilities of scenarios that could unfold over the next 60 days. Shit, the Pirates or Reds could get hot a sneak into the division lead. Adam Wainwright’s Cy Young runner-up (to Clayton Kershaw) campaign could come to an abrupt end. Looking ahead, the Cardinals are playing only 13 games against teams who would be in the postseason if the season ended today, and 10 of those are against the Brewers. Cardinals game included, Milwaukee has 24 games against clubs fitting the same criteria. As division leader with double-digit games left against the second place team, the Brewers have an active role in their playoff fate—be it the division-winning or Wild Card variety. We’re as vexed as you are that almost every season, a cast of scrappy dudes named Matt some use their grit to hustle to miraculously win another Central banner for their prick manager and sanctimonious contradiction of a fan base. Still, it’s important to appreciate what the Brewers have done to this point, and look ahead at the meaningful baseball to come with with a sense of excitement, not dread. The next two months are going to be fun.