Each March, before I flee Milwaukee and head to sunny Arizona for Brewers spring training, I make myself an informal checklist of what questions I’d like answered on and off the field.
This exhibition season, many questions loom large. Coming off an extremely disappointing year, Brewers’ owner Mark Attanasio will spend a record amount to field this team, and we still don’t who will man first base.
So, while I’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. I’ll report back from Maryvale this weekend.
Who’s on first? I wasn’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 he’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, I’m glad that Francisco Rodriguez is back for yet another hitch with the Brewers, but I’m not sure he’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. I’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, I’m confident that he’s a real quality player. Still, he’s running out of chances, and he’s so, so streaky. Could this be the end of the line for him? Maybe this spring will answer that question.
Braun’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, I’m concerned of reports of stray dogs running amok. That can’t be good. But …
How cute is Hank? I seriously can’t wait to meet this little guy. I’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, I’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 March 19, 2015
My 18th annual Brewers Spring Training trip is now complete, and I'm back in chilly Milwaukee, which actually feels a little better after a few days under the beating hot sun of the desert. This trip was a good one. A really good one. New experiences, old friends and lots and lots of baseball. But you probably know about all that if you read my blog entries this week.
Published March 18, 2015
When I left off yesterday, I was feeling tan, rested and ready for baseball, and we made the 30-minute drive from Talking Stick Resort to Peoria Stadium a little before noon. Brewers fans were out in force for the game against the Padres. St. Patty's Day revelry was in full effect.
Published March 17, 2015
I've said this before, but sometimes Spring Training feels a lot like the movie "Groundhog Day." Events, games and trips tend to run together, because with only a few variations, you're basically doing the same thing every day (and of course, that's a very good thing). But yesterday, we did something that we've only done one other time in 18 years: we didn't go to a Brewers game.
Published March 16, 2015
When you've been awake for 24 consecutive hours, due to an early flight, a time change and the excitement of an 18th consecutive Spring Training trip to Arizona, it's understandable to make a few bad decisions. Fortunately, the only one I regret is that humungous carne asada burrito from Filiberto's at 2 a.m. Mountain Standard Time, before collapsing into a few hours of sleep at the Talking Stick Resort here in Scottsdale.
Published March 10, 2015
Every year - since 1998 - I've made the trip to Arizona to watch the Brewers get ready for a long, long season of baseball. It's my favorite work/fun trip (edging out even Las Vegas) that I get to take, but with all the fun and sun in the desert, it's surprisingly easy to forget to pay attention to the baseball on the field.
Published March 9, 2015
Mequon native Tom Wachs knew he wanted to be a meteorologist a young age. After working in several smaller markets, he returned to his home last year, and even in a tough, demanding job, he's loving every minute of it. We caught up with Wachs to talk tornados, technology, and what it was like to dress up as a clown at his last job.
Published March 4, 2015
When Brewers fans talk to me about Spring Training, I always see the same look in their eyes. "I've always wanted to do that," they say wistfully, like Arizona exists in some far-away land, where you sit right next to the field and talk to the players in between in innings. Well, actually, most of that's true. Except for the far-away land part.
Published Feb. 18, 2015
Doctors are very clear with their warnings that alcohol will not warm you up in the dead of winter. So, obviously, unless you have a Saint Bernard with a little flask of brandy, you should not drink to thaw yourself out during these subzero temperatures in Milwaukee right now. You may, however, drink to take your mind off winter. And it being Bar Month, we tracked down some excellent cocktail recipes from our sponsor brands.
Published Feb. 18, 2015
Karen Leahy, a CPA and Milwaukee native, doesn't really talk about her other career - something she's been doing straight through since the '80s. "I'd rather be known for brains than beauty," says Leahy, who is also a successful part-time model. "I should have been a boy," she says, nuzzling her dog in her chic Downtown condo. "I like cars, sports and sex."
Published Feb. 9, 2015
As we trudge through another winter, thinking we've got it the worst - and we hear about it the most on TV - industry insiders say that's not quite right. Everyone, everywhere complains about their city's weather and its weather coverage. Yet for the most part, every TV station reports on it the same way. Here's an in-depth look at the changing face of Milwaukee weather.