I’d scarcely remembered hearing Brewers manager Ron Roenicke talk before last night’s NLCS game 2 between the Cardinals and Brewers.
Now I know why.
During his in-game interview on TBS, it became crystal clear why the Brewers on-field behaviors are so out-of-control that they’ve become despised throughout the league.
Apart from Brewers (and presumably Cubs) fans, everyone wants to see them lose to a Cardinals team that, prior to this series, wasn’t exactly a contender for Miss Congeniality.
Tony LaRussa clubs aren’t well-liked because they play old-school and on the edge—they’re not out there to make friends; they’re out there to beat you. The Brewers are reviled because they think they’re better than they are; they behave as if they’ve won 5 championships; and are so overt in their celebrations that their arrogance is palpable.
One self-interested pitcher—whose reputation isn’t sterling in any context—and two utility players.
I doubt their voices carry much weight—literally or figuratively—in that clubhouse.
The player with the weight, Prince Fielder, is running things and he’s a sullen, mercurial individual who has come through for his club, but is also the one who has to be viewed as the catalyst for the Brewers act.
Nyjer Morgan can be referenced as the “attitude” behind the Brewers, but it all stems from Fielder. If he told Morgan to tone it down, Morgan would tone it down.
Roenicke is so soft-spoken and understated that the only way to judge him is the way his team behaves. There are managers who don’t say much in the Gil Hodges tradition, but players know not to muck with them and are aware that the manager is in charge.
Roenicke is just sort of there in the Bob Brenly scope of a manager hired not to screw it up. And he hasn’t. Yet.
He had a resume of managing in the minors and was on a well-respected coaching staff for a strong-handed manager Mike Scioscia.
But Scioscia’s teams don’t disrespect their opponents and the game the way these Brewers do.
They can defend “The Beast” silliness in which they raise their arms when they do….whatever; say that it’s all in good fun. But it’s offensive; and what makes it worse is that these players have accomplished absolutely nothing to warrant it. There are teams that expect to win and behave appropriately when they do; and there are teams for whom circumstances have coalesced into a perfect storm so their results are better than the reality.
The Brewers loaded up on starting pitching with Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke joining Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf; they brought in an All Star closer in K-Rod to set-up for John Axford; their two main bashers Ryan Braun and Fielder have carried them beyond a terrible defense and top-heavy lineup.
Teams like this can win with a weak manager, but they’re not in it for the long haul because Fielder’s not coming back after this season and once the novelty wears off and they need discipline, Roenicke isn’t going to be able to provide it.
The potential championship is worth the compromises they’ve made. But they’d better get that championship this year because it’s the only chance this group is going to have.
All of baseball is watching.
And rooting against them.