Edmonton is without a Major League Baseball team, and that breaks my heart. I am a passionate baseball fan and will watch any game at any level. Major League Baseball is the best of the best. I grew up in Milwaukee and have been watching the Milwaukee Brewers since the late 70s. I would like to share my passion and offer a seat on the Brewer Bandwagon.
The Brewers started just 800 miles from Edmonton as the Seattle Pilots in 1969. After finishing 64-98 and drawing just 677,944 fans, the team moved to Milwaukee and became the Brewers just before the 1970 season.
The team found their first success in 1978, when they finally finished above .500. The Brew Crew would continue their success for the next five seasons. They got their first taste of the playoffs in 1981, when they lost the to New York Yankees in the ALDS three games to two. The following season, they made their only World Series appearance, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals four games to three.
Those playoff teams were led by a group of blue collar type players. Hall of Famers Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Rollie Fingers, and Ted Simmons formed the core of the team. Other fan favorites, such as Gorman Thomas, Jim Gantner, Charlie Moore, Cecil Cooper, Ben Oglivie, and Pete Vukovich added personality and brought the fun to the stadium.
The Brewers were up and down for the next decade, then it was all downhill after the 1992 season. They went 13 seasons with a losing record, and even moved from the American League to the National League in 1998. Then a new group of Brewers came up and brought success back to Milwaukee.
Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy, Bill Hall, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, Craig Counsell, and Ben Sheets led the way to a Wild Card spot. They lost to the Phillies in the NLDS three games to one.
Braun, Fielder, and Weeks were joined in 2011 by Jonathan Lucroy and Casey McGehee in 2011 as they won their division for the first time since 1982. They won the ALDS, but the Cardinals once again ended the Brewer season, this time in the NLCS.
The Brewers struggled for a couple of years and went through a rebuild. They started to reap the benefits of the rebuild in 2017 when they finished above .500 again. They won the division in 2018 and made it to the NLCS again, losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games.
The Brewers earned a Wild Card spot in each of the next two seasons, giving them three straight playoff appearances for the first time in franchise history.
The Brewers have a strong team this year, even though they did not perform well in 2020. They have a good mix of veterans and younger players and a good mix of offense and defense. Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Kolton Wong are all Gold Glove winners, while Yelich is also a Silver Slugger.
The left side of the infield will be primarily manned by three players. Luis Urias will play shortstop, Travis Shaw will play third base, and Orlando Arcia will see time at both positions. Urias and Arcia are slick fielders, but Arcia’s bat has not come around yet. Shaw saw success in Milwaukee in 2017 and 2018, but had a disastrous 2019 season at the plate. The Brewers are hoping that Shaw can return to his 2018 self.
The right side of the infield is bolstered by the addition of Wong. Keston Hiura debuted in 2019 and has hit 32 home runs in 143 games, but had issues making an accurate throw from second base. Wong’s arrival allows the Brewers move Hiura to first base, where his arm is no longer a liability and his bat will still be effective.
The outfield is one of the best defensive outfields in baseball. Yelich should be an MVP candidate again after a down year in 2020. Cain should be in top form after sitting out in 2020 and could be a Gold Glover again. Bradley can play both center and right and brings yet another Gold Glove to the Brewer outfield. Avasail Garcia is a strong defender in his own right and should hit around 20 home runs this year.
The pitching staff is quietly one of the best in the league. Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Adrian Houser, and Freddy Peralta are all under 30 and rising stars. Lefty Brett Anderson brings the experience to the rotation. The bullpen boasts the unhittable Josh Hader and the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year Devon Williams.
The Brewers have not won a championship and have only made one World Series appearance. However, they have a history of fun players and a blue collar playing style. The current team is no different. Milwaukee fans are loyal and enthusiastic and adore players that give their all. It’s a small market, but the passion is undeniable.
To the baseball fans in Edmonton, I invite you to join the True Blue Brew Crew. I will save you a seat on the bandwagon, but beware. Once you hop on, you may not want to hop off. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of beer, brats, and cheese curds for everyone!