The Brewers have nothing left to play for this season. They will not make the playoffs nor will they finish .500. A win or a loss has very little significance to this team, and yet I found myself, good and bad, hanging on every pitch in the late innings of the games on Friday and Sunday.
Worse than being resigned to losing is being resigned to losing, only to come back and be in prime position to win, and then become re-resigned to losing, and then losing. The 9th and 10th innings of Friday's game illustrate this well-known phenomenon. After Matt Adams hit a no-doubter against Jim Henderson to give the Cardinals a 6-4 lead in the top of the 9th the Brewers battled back and positioned themselves to win against none other than John "It's Amazing How A New Uniform Can Change Your Attitude About A Guy" Axford.* After Aramis Ramirez tied the game on an infield single I was certain Carlos Gomez would end the game, and he would have if it wasn't for that meddling third baseman. The Cardinals wasted little time taking the lead for good in the top of the 10th, and this left me with a delightful feeling of agony.
*I still like the Ax Man, but in this case I was rooting for the granny.
I enjoy getting emotionally involved in Brewers games, even if that means I'm a sad panda for a an hour or two. The worst feeling is no feeling at all. In this case I was frustrated the Brewers once again let a winnable game against St. Louis slip into the loss column, and I felt a sense of dread knowing the loss made a pennant more likely for the Cardinals. It would have been nice playing a direct role to force them into the Wild Card. That did not happen in heartbreaking fashion, and yet I would still rather ruminate over this bitter ending than not have the Brewers amongst my thoughts.
The good news is my baseball watching on Sunday ended with a hearty pump of the fist. After watching the Packers have their annual early season meltdown* I was relieved to watch Henderson strike out Adams to seal the "W." And yes, I did have visions of a go-ahead three-run homer going through my head before every pitch in that at bat. Fortunately these premonitions did not materialize and I got the feel rare thrill that comes with a win against the Cardinals.
*McCarthy's teams always seem to blow at least one winnable game early in the season. In 2009 they allowed 21 4th quarter points to the winless Buccaneers and last year they allowed Indianapolis to come back from 21-3 in the second half to steal a victory.