It had been the single most enjoyable season, thus far, in this Brewers fan's life. And then last night happened.
The Brewers clinch the division on a late, 3-run HR by the Hebrew Hammer (oh-by-the-way, it was a no-doubter, smacking the bottom of the frame of the scoreboard in straight-away CF) followed by the Cubs beating the Cardinals and old-man La Russa on a 3-run HR by Soriano (also a no-doubter). Then it became pandemonium in Milwaukee.
You could see the stress of the season release from so many players as they celebrated. Those who played well and those who did not. Granted, I wasn't in the hip pocket of guys like McGehee, Fielder, Counsel, Braun, but from the images coming across the flat screen at Cheaters, I could see jubilent men-turned-into-boys. And I could sense relief.
Now that this goal has been accomplished, the team can rest and re-load for the next goal - the NL Pennant. No, I do not know that the Brewers will be able to accomplish that goal. However, I give them a heckuva chance. Of the teams in the playoffs or nearing the playoffs, the Brewers (as remarkable as this may seem given their quality of play in September versus August) are going in as the hottest. Their big three (Gallardo, Greinke, Marcum) are pitching very well. Their back-end bullpen (Saito, Hawkins, Rodriguez, Axford) have been, in a word, unreal. And their stars (Braun, Fielder, Hart, and Weeks) are hot and itching for something special. So, whoever comes to Milwaukee better be ready for a team that is not just happy to be here, like they were in 2008.
And finally, the Brewers have a future. Yes, Fielder might be gone. He and Rodriguez could very well find solace together in the Big Apple again. So be it. That being said, there are more bats and arms waiting in the wings to re-stock this team. And the Brewers are relatively young when compared to their chief rivals in the division (Cardinals, Reds) and have a willingness to spend money when compared to their future rivals (Pirates). So, last night could be the start of something special - a 2-5 year run in the playoffs.
(Images from JSOnline.com).