Tagged: Baseball

My first 2 weeks as a Brewer!

I’m now in to week 3!

I forgot to mention in my post on Tuesday that it marked the start of my 3rd week as a Brewers fan! Get me, I’ll be a veteran before you know it! Although I am rather lacking in one thing to do with writing about baseball, and that is watching a game! I will have to see if there is any way for me to watch a spring training game when they start and see how writing a match report compares to my normal ramblings! I am though, happily reading news of the players now reporting back for training.

New terminology

So I learnt this week 3 new bits of terminology that may help me get through listening to games on a radio. They are, No-Hitter, Hidden Ball and probably the more common, Stolen Base. I read another blog by DJ who is currently talking about his 5 favourite moments as a Brewers fan (his blog is called DJ’s Baseball Blog). So at number 4 is Nieves No-Hitter in 1987. I read the article but as I’m a complete noob to baseball I had trouble understanding what the achievement of a No-Hitter was. So, on I went to what is fast becoming my most used website, Wikipedia. The idea of no batsmen hitting a pitch for 9 innings is quite an achievement and very rare.

Stolen Bases

As I understand it, this is where a base runner runs from one base to the next whilst the pitcher is going through his actions. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but from clips I’ve seen on You Tube it appears the base runner sets off before the ball is pitched? There were some comedy moments of runners getting stuck between bases with the ball going between basemen to effectively tag him out. It reminded me a little of an old school game we used to play called British Bulldog. It was great fun and highly amusing seeing someone trying to get to a point before being tagged by the chasing pack.

Hidden Ball

You Tube then lead me to some of the hidden plays. Now I’m guessing this is the most frustrating way you can see one of your base runners given out. To lose concentration for a moment and not see that the infielder hasn’t actually just thrown the ball away to another of his team mates, only for him to step off the plate for a second and get tagged out. It is probably great if you are the defending team though.

Twitter

One thing about blogging is that you can be very safe with it. I can post what I like, when I like, and remain anonymous to the world. Whilst I feel this is good (particularly as I’m probably due a review of some sort from the writers guild soon and you have to be prepared for negativity before you get the awards), one thing I do love is keeping up to date through twitter and tweeting about games and other such nonsense. So a question to you out there, who is worth following on twitter? So far I have @Brewers and @AdamMcCalvy (is he someone I need to look in to? Ex-player?). Also if you are interested, my twitter handle is @redstripe78 (Mark Lewis). Twitter is a great way for me to catch up on things as being 6 hours in front of Milwaukee time (what is the time zone called btw?), generally games are going to happen whilst I’m asleep. So feel free to follow me and I’ll probably follow back.

Did my t-shirt arrive you may ask????

….well yes it did, and here’s a mug shot of me wearing my new pride and joy holding the English flag.

Mark Brewers T-Shirt

Until next time…….GO BREWERS!!!!!

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The Atmosphere Plays a Part

Known Fans

Mark Simons, a Brewers Super fan. Does he still have his season ticket right behind the away dug out? I stumbled across a little news piece on this guy on you tube whilst looking through clips of games. It is legendary that a fan can have such an impact on a game. I’m a firm believer that the fans are a 12th man (I know 10th in baseball) and have witnessed on many occasions how fans help their team at games. With my seat at the Amex in the 4th row from the front, on many occasion our section has got a rise out players from the opposition just in front of us.

Be the extra player

In football (soccer) there is a yellow and red card system. The yellow card is a final warning and red card means you’re off the field and your team is down a man. On one such occasion at an away game at Leeds United in May last year (2013), us Brighton fans did everything we could to give their star striker stick (El-Hadj Diouf – known for rising to fans baiting). We did so well that after he scored against us, instead of celebrating his goal, he came running over to us and gave us a hand gesture in retaliation. The referee gave him a straight red card for trying to incite us (officially known as un-sportsmen like conduct). Hasten to say we went on to win the game with that man advantage. It is for this reason, I think attending games and supporting your team is so important. You can make a difference.

Never cross the line

I must point out though, there is a line with this and that downright abuse is not on. It has to be clever and these players have to accept that as professional sportsmen they will take some stick from opposing fans.

A friend of mine whom I sit with at home games is very good at giving the opposing team players stick. He will nearly always get a rise out of the players, but it’s all in a good nature (there is no foul or abusive language). At the last home game, the opposition had a player who’s surname is Husband. All my friend did throughout the game was shout “Wifey”. It got to him at first but by the end of the game he was giving him a smile and thumbs up. After the game, my friend got his autograph on a few items and chatted with him. By all accounts he was a good bloke and my friend now has a few programmes to sell on eBay!

Atmosphere

The atmosphere is part of our football culture, to be loud and boisterous, intimidate but support. Real fans will appreciate a good sportsman (even on the opposition), but they’ll want their team to have the edge. I hope this culture lives in baseball because the atmosphere is one of those things that for me, makes attending a game worthwhile. It is the only time you’ll ever get me to sing (albeit very out of tune).

So I’ll be at Miller Park for the season then…..

…I wish, but I do hope the Brewers fans are passionate, loyal and lively and I hope it’s also in good taste and good humour. Update on my t-shirt though, it has been despatched today. Hope it arrives tomorrow!

Until next time…….GO BREWERS!!!!!

Pitching

Batting seems the coolest

….as a child, whenever we played cricket on our local field or at school, everyone always wanted to be the batsman. Why is it that the appeal to playing a sport that involves bat and ball, being the big hitter is what everyone wants to aspire to? It was certainly true with me and my friends in our sleepy little town in Sussex, England. Yet when I started to go and watch cricket, I found I did most of my beer drinking during my teams batting. It was actually the bowling I was more interested in as a spectacle. I find it phenomenal that a bowler can bowl a ball at speeds of up to 90mph with that pin point accuracy or that a bowler can get a ball to turn in the air using the friction of the ball through its projection. I wonder if I will find the same to be true with baseball. It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to seeing. I found out that the fastest ever pitch recorded was by Aroldis Chapman of the San Cincinnati Reds, officially recorded at 105mph (unofficially at 106mph). Considering a Pitcher is standing and not running, it beggars belief how much power there must be in a pitchers arm. I think I’m going to have to buy a baseball, glove and bat and see if I can get some friends out for knock around. I reckon I’d be lucky to even be able to pitch at 50mph!

Different Pitches

….I understand that there is more than one way to pitch a ball too! Yovani Gallardo (whom thanks to DJ I now know to be our star pitcher) is known to throw 4 different pitches in his game, the fastball, the curveball, the slider and the changeup. His fast ball is usually between 92 and 95mph with the other pitches in the 80’s! So that gives the batsman less than a second to work out where the ball is going and swing his bat to connect with it. I need to get my head around the statistics of strike outs and giving up runs, but from what I understand Gallardo is on course for some fantastic stats by the time he finishes his career.

Still no T-Shirt yet

….my Brewers top hasn’t arrived yet. I really hope it does this week. I spent time yesterday at Lakeside shopping centre in Essex yesterday. My girlfriend willingly followed me around the sports shops whilst I looked for anything Brewers related. Sadly, there was nothing, except Yankees and Dodgers stuff and who wants to buy that stuff? Of course I jest. I did nearly buy a baseball and bat but decided against just buying a cheap set for the sake of it. I did want to know though, are baseball bats metal? The one I could have bought yesterday was wood but it really does sound like they are metal when they connect with the ball in a game.

Its 42 days to opening day

…so I can’t resist putting this picture up for my official @Brewers count down.

42

Until next time…….GO BREWERS!!!!!

Finally, learning a little about the game.

So I’m not going to teach you to suck eggs.

….9 Players in a team played over 9 innings. An innings is classed as both teams having a turn to bat and field. When the batting team has 3 outs the teams switch over. When both teams have fielded and batted then that is an innings over. The fielding team has a Pitcher and Catcher (I’m guessing similar to the wicket keeper in cricket) plus 7 outfielders and the batting team has 9 batsmen. Most runs around the diamond (4 bases) wins, simples. I think I’m ready to watch a game. I guess it’s like any sport, the idea is simple, but I’m guessing there are many complexities to this I won’t actually see until I start watching games.

Here’s what I notice first.

….I’ve played cricket and bowling anything up to 5 overs (6 balls per over) in succession really takes it out of your arm. I’m guessing pitchers suffer the same fatigue in game. By the end of it, it can feel like you’re arm is trying to wrench itself out of its socket! So there has to be more than one pitcher in a team and this I can see then opens the possibilities of tactics! Does your best pitcher start the game or come in for the last few innings?

Substitutions

….This made me start thinking about a team’s roster and then I looked in to substitutions. The rules on this seem a little long winded so I think it may be a case of getting used to it. I notice though that The National League and American League differ slightly with regards to the Designated Hitter not being treated as a substitution and the fact that there is a traditionalist’s view on this. I of course cannot comment either way but I am interested to see how this works. What happens when there is a crossover of conferences? What about the World Series games when the best of each conference play against each other? Are Designated Hitters allowed in these games? Either way, I get that substitutions are permanent like in football (sorry guys but you’ll have to get used to me calling soccer football. We all know it is the correct term for it. *insert smiley face*) and once a player is substituted he is out of the game. Is it common for a pitcher to be rested in the outfield for a while whilst an outfielder comes in to pitch? Again this opens more questions than I am finding answers for but can’t wait to see how this all works.

Rosters

….I took my first look at the Brewers Roster. Firstly, I was surprised that none of them were classified as batsmen (I’m guessing the real term is Hitters). Man that is a lot of Pitchers though. I’m not sure what I expected to see, but of the 40 players, I certainly didn’t expect to see twenty two of them classified as Pitchers! How many are used in a game? Knowing a little about cricket though, I do get that players are more specialised at one certain discipline within the game. So I look forward to seeing how rosters are used and in particular, who are the star players and fans favourites?

You Tube is a bit of a saviour

….there is not a massive amount of coverage of baseball on T.V. in the UK. I may well need to subscribe to ESPN for the season, but for now I’ve been looking at some videos uploaded to you tube. One such video I did find was Carlos Gomez’ home run hit at the Atlanta Braves which started a mass brawl (bench clearing I think you call it) towards the end of the last regular season. Now I know nothing about why this brawl started, maybe it was some history in a previous game, but seeing as our first game is at home to the Braves, it should make for an interesting opening day to the season.

In conclusion…

….I think I may need to rest my brain a little and digest, but I think I can get the hang of this. Objective 3 complete then? Maybe, but objective 4 is still a work in progress! Writing is not nearly as easy as it seems (I work with numbers so I may find baseballs many stats easier to get around).

23 days until spring training, 47 days until opening day. Excited yet?

Until next time…….GO BREWERS!!!!!

One week a fan (well 6 days but who’s counting!)

Why am I writing this blog?

….It’s not very often in your life that you can actually pin point the day something enters your life. In the case of me and baseball I have that exception. Tuesday 4February 2014 will forever now be known as my initiation to The Brew Crew. Do I need to do some sort of initiation? So I thought, why not document it? From that date, I can record everything about my life as a Milwaukee Brewers fan.

I wish I could go back to the time when I first fell in love with my football team (Soccer to those of you in the U.S.). For the record I follow Brighton and Hove Albion (www.seagulls.co.uk) currently playing in the Championship (2nd Tier) of the English Football League pyramid. I have few memories of my time at our old stadium (The Goldstone Ground), I can’t remember many of the games I went to see and this is a real shame, because supporting the “Seagulls” as we call them has become a major part of my life, and something my nephews are now learning as they are dragged, screaming and kicking sometimes, week in, week out to watch us play at our new fantastic 30,500 all seated stadium, The American Express Community Stadium (or The Amex as we refer to it).

In this day and age, with the invention of the internet and digital cameras, we can record every detail of our lives that are important to us. So as I have chosen the path of becoming a Brewers fan, I have the opportunity to record everything so that I can look back in the future.

What have I learnt about the Brewers in my first week of being a fan?

….They are known as the Brewers because of Milwaukee’s association with the Brewing Industry (if that isn’t a good enough reason to support a team you’ve never previously known about then what is!) They play their home games at Miller Park. A 41,900 capacity stadium built for $400 million and opened 6 April 2001 after moving from their previous home (of 30 years) the Milwaukee County Stadium. Miller Park has a fully retractable fan roof to counter the unpredictable Wisconsin weather.

The team itself was formed in 1969, originally in Seattle (known as the Pilots) and played just one season at the Sick’s Stadium in Seattle (Washington). In 1970 the team was acquired through the Bankruptcy Courts by Bud Selig who moved the franchise to Milwaukee after unsuccessfully trying to acquire a number of other teams for the city in the years previous. The Brewers were now born (or re-born if you look back to the early 1900’s when a number of minor league baseball teams played in Milwaukee under the same name). This brought major league baseball back to Milwaukee after their franchise team, The Milwaukee Braves (originally the Boston Braves), whom played in the city from 1953 to 1965 moved to Atlanta forming the now Atlanta Braves. Selig finally sold the club to current owner Mark Attanasio in 2004.

The Brewers play in the Central Division of the National League (founded in 1876). This was originally classed as the Senior League before the formation of the American League in 1901. There are 3 divisions of 5 teams in both the National League and American League (West, Central and East). Their divisional rivals are the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs. So it begs the question, who do we dislike the most? Rivalries interest me. In England, our football teams have some pretty fierce rivalries and it certainly adds to the atmosphere of games!

Answers only create more questions!

….after learning a little about the Brewer’s history there come many more questions. More of which I hope I can answer soon. Who are our biggest rivals? How many players are there in a team for a game? Just how many games are played in a baseball season? Who are our star players? What are the rules to baseball? I’m definitely going to have to write about some baseball soon! Although I have had fun looking through you tube at some memorable moments, More on that another day though. During this next week, I aim to look in to the team, the roster, the manager and hopefully a little in to the rules too!

So a second objective complete!

I now know where the team are located, a little of the history of the team and of the area of Wisconsin. I think that gives me good ground to focus on the real things now. Oh and my t-shirt hasn’t been delivered yet so no picture yet!

A sombre note to end this blog.

I was saddened to find out about the accident in 1999 that resulted in the deaths of 3 workers whilst constructing the new stadium. If I ever get to visit Miller Park, I will take a minute of silence in their memory.

Until next time…….GO BREWERS!!!!!

Where is Milwaukee?

First things first…..

….so as suggested in my initial blog, I have chosen to follow a new sport and support a new team and combine that with learning how to write a blog. I set myself some objectives one I have managed to actually complete and the others are still ongoing.

Milwaukee….

….is the largest city in Wisconsin, United States of America. Ok many people know this. Even I knew that. I didn’t have a clue where in the United States, Wisconsin actually was. Very quickly I found out to my delight that it sits on Lake Michigan just 90 miles (a mere 2 hours drive) north of Chicago. I was happy to learn this as Chicago is the only city in the States that I have visited (other than Orlando when I was a child to go to Disney World)! It is for this reason that my NFL team is Da Bears!

Milwaukee’s History as I know it….

….originally 3 towns known as Juneautown, Kilbourntown and Walker’s Point which were all joined by roads crossing the many rivers that pass through it. These include The Milwaukee River, The Menomonee and the Kinnickinnic to name a few. A number of battles between the towns (mainly between Juneautown and Kilbourntown) ensued because of their egotistical founders dislike for each other. After the Milwaukee Bridge War of 1845 the 3 towns decided to merge and become the city of Milwaukee. Soon after, a large population of German immigrants started to arrive bringing with them their love of brewing beer. Wisconsin became a focal point for the wheat industry because of this although later became known as the dairy lands of America now famed for its cheese industry. Today the German history of the city is still celebrated and there are an abundance of pubs and bars in the city. Oktoberfest is actually celebrated (in July). It must be said that there is a large Polish contingent in the city also and the south side of Milwaukee still represents this.

Only one of the breweries remains in Milwaukee, The Miller Brewery and is a major employer in the city (plus major sponsor for the baseball team). I was also surprised to find out that another famous company based in the city is Harley-Davidson (I’m not a biker). Of course I could devote my blog to the city and its history but that is not my intention so that will do for now, but I have learnt something (every day is a school day).

Objective 2 complete….

….I spent a long time looking through websites at clothing ranges for the Milwaukee Brewers. I finally managed to find a supplier of NBL clothing based in the UK and can proudly say that I have ordered myself a Brewers t-shirt. I can’t wait until it arrives so I can post a picture of myself proudly wearing the team colours.

On the road to super fan…

….so I’ve learnt a little of the history of the city, but now I need to look in to the history of my team. I understand its 50 days until opening day! That’s not long to learn the rules of the game and the players of the team. I best get working on that then! Next time I actually intend to write about some baseball! Oh and thanks for the comment and follow DJ.

Until next time…….GO BREWERS!!!!!

A Noobs Entrance to Baseball

The Seed was planted…

….it was the evening of Tuesday 4 February 2014 and two friends and I were sitting down to watch Super Bowl 48 (Seahawks v Broncos). Coming from the South East of England and all having to be at work on the Monday morning we decided not to stay up all night on the Sunday but to record the game and get together to watch it at a more sociable hour. Early in the evening conversation went around all the sports we follow and the teams we support. It soon became apparent that not one of us followed the same team at any sport. It also became apparent that none of us followed Baseball. As the evening went further we all started to like the idea that for once, the three of us could start to follow a team together. There would be no rivalry and we could all share in the highs and lows of a team’s success. So the seed was planted, lets become fans of a baseball team.

Who to follow

….so none of us know anything about baseball. Other than the fact that we knew of a few of the teams we couldn’t decide on whom to follow. We immediatly dismissed the idea of following one of the bigger teams. It’s just not British to support the favourite so we needed an underdog to get behind. One thing that we love about American sports is the naming of their teams. In the U.K. our teams are very interestingly known as City, Town or United. So trawling through all of the team names became a big conversation in itself. We liked the idea of associating the name of the team to our lives and hasten to say we finally decided on our team, Milwaukee Brewers. This stems from the fact that we all spend far too much time drinking beer and that the other two have a like for brewing their own beer. So the hard part was now done.

So where is Milwaukee?

…..so we are 100% behind the Brewers and will follow the upcoming and forth coming seasons with all the passion of you long living fans. We just had one problem. We knew nothing about the team. We didn’t even know where Milwaukee was. So it’s in Wisconsin. Where is that? So as you can see we have a lot to learn about our new team! As this blog suggests, we are no experts on anything to do with baseball or the brewers. So as it will be a long learning curve for us, I decided to take up another new hobby and blog my musings of becoming a Milwaukee Brewers fan.

Objectives

So over the next few weeks I now have a number of challenges to myself…

  1. To learn about Milwaukee, its location and the team.
  2. To get some Milwaukee Brewers apparel to wear in support of the team.
  3. To learn the rules of baseball.
  4. To learn how to write a blog.

Simple right? I hope so.

Until next time…….GO BREWERS!!!!!