Welcome back to the second set of answers in our Opening Day 2013 series of mailbag posts. As always, The Bullpen’s comments are in italics. Enjoy!
Q: Let’s talk about Ryan Braun and the report that MLB is “out to get him.” Does that makes sense? Why would baseball go after one of its biggest names? (submitted by brewcrew420)
Nice user ID! Major League Baseball denies they are out to get Braun or anyone else, but reports say MLB may offer immunity to anyone who testifies against another player. Whether it be Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez or another player, for MLB to even consider such a move — essentially letting a player who was caught cheating to get off scot-free for dropping a dime on a bigger name — shows how adamant they are NOT about their “zero-tolerance” policy.
If MLB were an actual person in this situation, I could understand why they might want to target Braun. He showed them up by being the first major-league player to have a PED-related suspension overturned upon appeal. But in this situation MLB would look exactly like a jilted lover: the girl who NEVER gets over being dumped by the jock, even though she was dumped for all the right reasons.
Q: Tim, it seems the superstition of baseball players smacks of religiosity. One theory is that superstition and religiosity involve a shutdown of the intellect; then the magical thinking of belief (superstition) is invoked to explain real phenomena in the real world. Take Carlos Zambrano; he was always pointing at the lord (very impolite, if you ask me) which seems to directly correlate with his self-defeating spurts of low intellect. Any thoughts on this? (submitted by gazettefan)
I’m not the religious type, but have been known to have a superstition or two when it comes to baseball, the Brewers and life in general. I have worn a blue shirt on every single Saturday since I have worked in the car business. Does it help me sell more cars? No, but it’s what I’ve always done and it’s now my comfort zone.
I believe finding a comfort zone is what players are doing when it comes to superstitions. They’ve always done these things because they bring comfort, and in turn are perceived to parlay into success. We can discuss the logic behind the idea of a comfort zone, but I’m confident that’s why. I don’t care where a player finds comfort, as long as he find it he believes it helps him perform.
Now, if we are talking about players (such as Zambrano) thanking a higher power for their performance on the field, that’s a different story altogether. To each his own, but I have a feeling the Big Guy in the Sky has more important things to worry about than a professional athlete.
Q: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? (submitted by 1slippery1)
This is an age-old question for which I wish I had an answer. My middle name (Charles) was given in honor of my great-grandfather, who passed away before I was born. So, when I was growing up that question was always raised as, “How much wood could a Tim Chuck chuck if a Tim Chuck could chuck wood?” I don’t have an answer to that question, either.
I am excited to report that I soon will be able to answer another age-old question. My beautiful wife and I are awaiting the arrival of two ducks, whom we already have named Frank and Margaret. Frank has only one leg, so I’m super-stoked to find out if he swims in circles. Stay tuned!
Q: I recently read a book entitled “Jewish Jocks.” Any idea how many Jewish baseball players (Ryan Braun is one) there are in the major leagues? (submitted by Bdgrlvr)
This is an odd question, and one I’ve never thought (or really cared) about. Apparently there are at least a few people do care, though, as a quick Google search provided quite a few links. This one actually has a list of all the Jewish players, for your reading pleasure.
If I may chime in here… this is something I have thought about/known about for some time, although until this questions was asked I never really thought about why it is an issue. Perhaps it has something to do with the stereotype that Jews aren’t very good athletes? But, as with all stereotypes and generalizations, that’s not really the case.
Off the top of my head and without looking at the link above, can think of several notable Jewish players, including a couple hall-of-famers: the great Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg, Al Rosen and, more recently, Shawn Green (he of the 4-home run game against the Brewers). Greene routinely sat out games that fell on Yom Kippur but made headlines several years ago when he opted to sit out two critical games that fell within the holiday’s 24-hour window.
Q: On what day will they be able to open the roof at Miller Park? (submitted by Chris T. via Facebook)
I wish it could have been April 1 for the home opener, but it’s just a bit too chilly yet. It’s weird because it seems like SO many people are complaining about the “long” winter, but it didn’t really get started until the end of December.
Maybe next year I will do a bobblehead giveaway in which I people guess the first game the roof will be open. (Note to The Bullpen: Please make note of this.)
Just going off the cuff without looking at any kind of extended forecast, I will guess the roof will be open April 20 when the Crew takes on the Chicago Cubs. I am calling for a sunny and pleasant 70 degrees. Also, it’s sort of a holiday.
I thought I was finished answering questions until the legendary Kenny_Powers chimed in with a few. I will take the liberty of combining a few because, in typical KP fashion, he likes to ramble.
Q: Did the Brewers overpay for Kyle Lohse? He is 34, had career bests in literally every stat category and has been all over the board from year-to-year. He has been trending up for the last few years, but has only had five winning seasons dating back to 2001 and just three seasons with a sub-4.00 ERA. Do you remember the last Cardinal starting pitcher that Brewers acquired (hint: it’s Jeff Suppan)? He didn’t turn out so well. Could this be deja vu all over again?
Of course I remember that guy and of course it could turn out to be déjà-vu all over again. I’m an optimist so at this point I refuse to believe Lohse will become Soup 2.0. Check back with me in a few years because I also am a realist.
Did they overpay? It’s impossible to tell from my vantage point. When we signed Suppan we thought it was a good deal, but in hindsight it wasn’t. What I can say is that signing Kyle Lohse, who has a combined 34-19 record over the past three seasons, to a three-year, $33 million deal makes a lot more sense than signing Edwin Jackson (who is 32-32 during the same time frame) for four years and $52MM. Just sayin’ …
Q: Where do you see the Brewers finishing in the NL Central this year? Will I have the opportunity to win another bobble head?
Back in the spring of 2002 I saw the Crew finishing in first place and returning to the playoffs for the first time in 20 years. I obviously was wrong, as that team went on to lose a club-record 106 games. My point is that hope springs eternal and, before the first pitch is thrown each season, I see the Brewers winning it all. Is that childish? I hope so.
This year I see Yovani taking care of business as the No. 1 starter. I see Lohse putting up similar numbers to last year (16-3 record, 2.86 ERA). I see one or two of the young pitchers stepping up and giving the organization a reason to buy out a few of their arbitration-eligible years. I see Axford saving more than 40 victories while blowing only a handful of opportunities.
I see Carlos Gomez tracking down every ball in center field while hitting 20 home runs and stealing 40 bases. I see Rickie Weeks playing healthy for a full year and FINALLY putting together the type of year for which Brewers fans have been waiting. I see Ryan Braun once again doing what he’s done NATURALLY over his entire career.
Asking me how the Crew will finish is akin to asking Norm if he likes beer. And yes, you will have the chance to be the first-ever, two-time Peace & Glove contest winner. I will follow the same format as last year; look for that blog post soon!
Q: Who will be the biggest surprise for the Crew this year?
A few weeks ago I would have said, without a doubt, it would be Carlos Gomez. I’ve seen SO many guys somehow find a way to put it all together during a “contract year,” which was what Gomez was facing in 2013. But then the Brewers signed him to a four-year deal (buying out this year and adding three more) so let’s hope that motivation has not disappeared.
Another good guess is Corey Hart. He moved to first base last year and showed he can handle the position. He’s going to miss the first month-and-a-half of this season, which makes it more difficult to predict how a guy will play upon his return.
For the record, my guess is Marco Estrada. I have no particular reasons for this, other than the thought that a Cy Young-type season from our No. 3 guy almost certainly would guarantee meaningful games in September, the first goal for any organization.