September 2009: Personal Milestone Time
By: Big Rygg
September 2008 was a time for celebration for both the Milwaukee Brewers and their fans. A playoff berth, the team’s first since appearing in the 1982 World Series, was clinched on the final day of the regular season and the streamers rained down inside of Miller Park. One of the longest playoff droughts in Major League Baseball came to an end and the city of Milwaukee rejoiced.
September 2009, on the contrary, has been a time of hoping to finish the year above .500 in the win/loss percentages. It has become a time of cringing whenever an opponent takes a lead in a ballgame. It has become a time of fans clamoring for the return of both Packer football and, to a lesser extent, Bucks basketball. (And when you’re ready for the return of Bucks basketball, you know things aren’t going particularly well with the beermakers.)
Another thing that this edition of September is providing, but on the optimism end of the spectrum, is individual players chasing down personal- and team-bests in the game most driven by numbers.
September 19th gave us the falling of a team record when Prince Fielder finally broke his tie with a another Brewer first baseman, Cecil Cooper, in regular season RBI. Fielder hit a sacrifice fly with one out in the bottom of the 8th inning in a game which the Brewers would go on to win. Congratulations to the “Heir to the Throne” as he set another Brewer record.
September 20th gave us three things. First, a nice moment before the game when Prince Fielder was honored for setting the aforementioned RBI mark. Instead of, as what usually happens when a player is honored for something prior to a game, just Manager Ken Macha coming out with a trophy, the entire available team and coaching staff joined Macha for the recognition. What’s more, Cecil Cooper himself (in town because the record was broken against the visiting Houston Astros of which Cooper is the manager) also came out to congratulate Fielder. Cooper received a loud ovation from the sparse crowd. I know because I was there.
Second, the 3rd inning gave us our second milestone in the last two days when Yovani Gallardo recorded his third strikeout of the game which brought his season total to an even 200. Gallardo struck out Astro pitcher Felipe Paulino to reach the mark and then, if for no other reason than to prove he didn’t have to get it against the pitcher, struck out Astro lead-off man Michael Bourn for the second time in the game to end the Top of the 3rd inning with 201 strikeouts. Gallardo would end his day after five scoreless innings with seven Ks, giving him 204 on the season. He is definitely ready to officially assume the “Ace” role next year when the Brewers open their 40th anniversary season on April 5th. Though enough about April. We’re still talking about Septembers.
The third thing that was accomplished this September was the felling of another team record for Fielder. It happened today as well when Fielder was walked for the 100th time this season. He is the first Brewer to ever reach the century mark in free passes (which makes sense why it’s a team record then, doesn’t it?) and in doing so he broke his tie in that category with Jeromy Burnitz (who, for what it’s worth, is tied for 3rd in single-season RBI total with 125).
Fielder also extended his RBI mark today when he reached a personal threshold by slugging his 40th home run of the year. All in all, a couple of nice days that come during a current stretch of good play that has seen the Brewers win five in a row and eight of their last 10.
Oh, and as for that finishing with a .500 or better record thing from before? The team took another step in the right direction today by drawing to within a game of even as they increased their record to 74-75.
After all, it might be a time for personal milestones, but a little bit of a good feeling based on the team’s fortunes wouldn’t be a bad thing either.