The Rundown: No Love (or Hate) for Brewers, Cubs May Look to Shed Salary, Steinbrenner ‘Pissed Off’ at Red Sox

Oh, those Brewers. Whether it’s Milwaukee’s social media team or crazed fans in Brew City who got a taste of playoff baseball for the first time in seven seasons, the team, the city, and their fans desperately want a rivalry with all of Chicago.

Cubs fans’ perceptions of the Brewers lean more toward ambiguity. Is it slow-burning animosity, general loathing, or just the general feeling that the annoying peskiness of the Brew Crew’s fan base isn’t going away anytime soon?

If I may, Brewers media team, stop being such try-hards. Cubs fans still see the Cardinals as their true enemies. Even Cole Hamels, who was new to the NL Central, doesn’t see any type of rivalry between the two teams.

“When you have the majority of Cubs fans in the stands, I don’t know if that’s a rivalry,” Hamels said earlier this year. “They aren’t going to like me for the comment, but look at the ticket sales.”

Proximity and the larger Cubs fan base has led to Miller Park being called “Wrigley North” during Cubs-Brewers games. Further, cities like Kenosha and Racine have nearly as many Cubs fans as Brewers fans. Needless to say, having visiting fans take over the home field doesn’t sit well with Brewers backers.

Adding insult to injury, a decade or so ago Miller Brewing Company merged with Coors and moved corporate operations to Chicago. That had to sting. Besides, the natural Illinois-Wisconsin rivalry belongs to the Bears and Packers. They’ve been playing each other since a football helmet resembled a catcher’s mitt.

So why the insistence that two baseball cities hate each other from our brothers and sisters north of the Cheddar Curtain? Most likely, acknowledgement and validation. There’s just not enough history between the two teams to label it as anything significant, though. The Cubs-Cardinals battle has included over 2,300 games while Milwaukee and Chicago have only been squaring off regularly since 1997.

Before  that, the Brewers and White Sox had a heated rivalry of sorts. But gone are the heady days of Scrap Iron Phil Garner and that always-cantankerous Terry Bevington.

And have we all forgotten the famous 25-inning slog of 1984, when the White Sox beat the Brewers 7-6 in what stands as the longest American League game. It was also the longest major league game by innings that resulted in a victory rather than a tie. The Cubs-Brewers series has nothing close to those incidents.

Kudos to the Brewers on a wonderful season. I hope Milwaukee presents the same challenge in 2019 that they were this year. But rivals? Sorry, not just yet.

Cubs News & Notes

In for a penny, in for a pound may not be the Cubs spending strategy this year as Evan Altman pointed out here. So far, most have assumed the Cubs would have no problem competing for the services of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado since they were destined to be above the luxury tax ceiling anyway.  We may be putting dessert before the main course, though.

The biscuit with that meal is a report that indicates the Cubs might try to move salary before agreeing to pick up the option on Cole Hamels. It’s possible that the Cubs could be trying to move a starting pitcher, say a bad contract swap that includes Tyler Chatwood or picking up a useful player for Chatwood by attaching a prospect. I imagine the Cubs would like to shed Brandon Kintzler and his $5 million salary as well.

The Cubs did pick up their $6.25 million option on Pedro Strop and they claimed Johnny Fields off of waivers, too.

Jason Heyward decided against exercising the opt-out clause in his contract and will remain with the Cubs. The Gold Glove right fielder has five years and $106 million left on his contract.

David Phelps could be a nice get for the Cubs this winter.

The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum has a little something for you today: A Pat Hughes bobblehead that rekindles fans’ memories of the good old days.

Friday Stove

On Deck

Perhaps it’s due the anticipation of free agency and player movement, but the Arizona Fall League has never quite caught on with anyone other than the most religious of baseball fans and that’s a shame. It’s truly a hidden gem.

Extra Innings

Hal Steinbrenner of the Yankees knows rivalry gamesmanship and can stoke and poke with the best of them. When you go on record as saying you are “pissed off, annoyed, and have no love for a team” you refuse to mention by name, you are kicking things up a few notches, and the season just ended a few days ago. Brewers fans, take note.

They Said It

  • “There are going to be some changes and additions, there always is. We need to win the division. I don’t want to go through another wild-card game. Hustle and work ethic is a big part of talking about a player, whether it is a $300 million or $30 million player we are talking about. It is not just Hit f/x or Pitch f/x. It is temperament.” – Hal Steinbrenner
  • “A little bouncer slowly toward Bryant. He will glove it and throw to Rizzo. It’s in time! And the Chicago Cubs win the World Series! The Cubs come pouring out of the dugout, jumping up and down like a bunch of delirious 10-year-olds. The Cubs have done it!” – Pat Hughes, November 1, 2016.

Friday Walk Up Song

I Need Love by Sam Phillips. Hang in there, Milwaukee fans. Rivalries happen naturally over time It’s almost bowling season anyway. The Packers aren’t looking very good so far.

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