Each March, before I flee Milwaukee and head to sunny Arizona for Brewers spring training, I make myself an informal checklist of what questions Iâ€™d like answered on and off the field.
This exhibition season, many questions loom large. Coming off an extremely disappointing year, Brewersâ€™ owner Mark Attanasio will spend a record amount to field this team, and we still donâ€™t who will man first base.
So, while Iâ€™ll only see four games during my time out there, March 14-18, it will still be enough time to form some opinions. These are my questions I hope to answer. And if you have some, let me know. Iâ€™ll report back from Maryvale this weekend.
Whoâ€™s on first? I wasnâ€™t overly enthusiastic when I learned of the Mark Reynolds signing, but I have an open mind. My sentimental side is rooting for Lyle Overbay, who did nothing but hit doubles last time around. But heâ€™s quite a bit older. His defense remains sound, but how does he look at the plate? And what about the strikeout-prone Juan Francisco? Did the coaches really fix his swing?
K-Rod distraction? In a way, Iâ€™m glad that Francisco Rodriguez is back for yet another hitch with the Brewers, but Iâ€™m not sure heâ€™s great for bullpen morale, especially if the team is banking on Jim Henderson as the closer of the future. Henderson said all the right things about K-Rod, but he did allude the reputation K-Rod had in Baltimore last year as last to arrive, first to leave. Iâ€™ll keep an eye on their body language when together.
Which Weeks? Maybe no one else does, but I still believe in Rickie Weeks. When he's healthy, Iâ€™m confident that heâ€™s a real quality player. Still, heâ€™s running out of chances, and heâ€™s so, so streaky. Could this be the end of the line for him? Maybe this spring will answer that question.
Braunâ€™s sense of humor? I remember a spring training game in 2012 against the Angels in Tempe, when Anaheim fans were heckling Ryan Braun mercilessly. Between innings, he overthrew the guy he was playing catch with, and the ball almost sailed into the stands. The crowd went nuts, screaming about steroids, of course, and Braun actually laughed. But this was before he was suspended. How is Braun handling the hecklers now? It will only get worse.
Maryvale decay? By now, the Brewers' ballpark is definitely the worst in the Cactus League. While it has a certain charm and is undergoing some renovations, Iâ€™m concerned of reports of stray dogs running amok. That canâ€™t be good. But â€¦
How cute is Hank? I seriously canâ€™t wait to meet this little guy. Iâ€™m a dog lover, especially of strays, and Hank is a wonderful success story. While this has nothing to do with baseball, I want to meet him, pet him, and take my picture with him. Yes, Iâ€™m that guy.
K-Rod stepped on a cactus?...what? Does he run around barefoot? And does anyone really think he was delayed because of a visa problem?....he's going to be a big distraction and a bigger disappointment.
Hank is just as cute as the pictures you've been seeing. He's a sweet pup. Didn't notice fans heckling Braun while I was there, but it was pretty early in March and the crowds were light at Maryvale (still a great stadium in my opinion, but all I need is a patch of grass, a hot dog and a Summer Shandy). Go to US Egg for breakfast and get the protein pancakes. You will not be disappointed.
2 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published Aug. 22, 2016
I've said it for years. Door County means different things to different people. Whether your idea of this magical peninsula is nature or adventure, shopping or relaxing, friends or family - or a mix of everything above, one storyline arcs above all the rest: Door County is what you make it.
Published Aug. 19, 2016
My friend Drew Olson has a new work address. The veteran Milwaukee sports journalist / broadcaster - and former OnMilwaukee.com senior editor - ended an 11-year run as a talk-show host at ESPN Milwaukee (540 AM) last week and will begin a new chapter with The Big 920 (WOKY) on Monday.
Published Aug. 18, 2016
This Saturday, Priscilla Presley - actress, activist and, perhaps most notably, widow of Elvis - is coming to Milwaukee for "Elvis and Me," an open conversation at The Pabst Theater about the life and experiences of the original First Lady of rock 'n' roll.
Published Aug. 3, 2016
I didn't really even know I was interested in driving a motorcycle until the House of Harley invited me to take a Riding Academy New Rider course. In three days, I checked something off my bucket list that I didn't know was on it. I took it seriously, and it was hard. But also really satisfying.
Published July 25, 2016
Jessica Tighe is an appreciative person. While the Elm Grove native has worked in West Virginia, the Quad Cities and La Crosse, now she's home and co-anchoring the morning news on CBS 58. Ask Tighe how it feels and she actually gets goose bumps: "I have family here. I'm invested in this market," she says with a smile.
Published July 11, 2016
Summerfest 2016 may have come and gone, but the memories will live forever - because we at OnMilwaukee took enough photos and video to fill a large hard drive.
Published July 9, 2016
Playing before the Barenaked Ladies and OMD, Howard Jones got the 6 p.m. spot at the BMO Harris Pavilion Saturday night, and while that's not exactly top billing for an artist who had 15 top 40 singles during his career, I'll take it.
Published July 9, 2016
In a word, Paul McCartney was amazing tonight. I feel beyond fortunate that I've now seen him play twice. Now back at the office, at midnight, Bobby is writing the main review, but I have some stuff to say, too. Random stuff, so please indulge me.
Published July 7, 2016
Go ahead; get those laughs out of the way. I'm trying to write a serious review of Anthony Ray's Big Gig show. You, of course, know him as Sir Mix-a-Lot, and unless you listened to his tapes in the early '90s, you probably recognize just one of his songs.
Published June 30, 2016
If you've ever bought an official Summerfest T-shirt, hat or other branded gift, it's first gone through Dan Elias. As vice president of The Specialized Marketing Group Inc., he's managed the merch for the Big Gig for 17 years.