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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

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Why is everyone so angry?
Why is everyone so angry? (Photo:

Time to end readers comments?

If you ever want to see the worst people in the world, just scroll down to the bottom of stories on or Yahoo News. No matter what the subject of the article, the anonymous trolls will be there, spewing hate, racism, right- and left-wing political crazy talk, and the worst grammar and spelling on the Internet.

I was reading a story on yesterday, in fact, about a 93-year-old WWII veteran who recreated his parachute jump in Normandy. A heartwarming, wonderful story, it only took a few comments before the hatred and trolling to begin. And it never ended; some 630 comments later, it's still so very ugly and unnecessary.

Of course, we’ve had comments on since about 2001; we call them "Talkbacks," and for some reason, our readers – minus a few – seem to be far more civil than the readers of the newspaper down the street at JSOnline. Even though we moderate our comments, we let most of the silly stuff slide. For the 87,439 posted, we’ve only declined 2,414 comments, mostly because they are libelous, profane, repetitive or wildly off topic.

Some publications have buried their readers’ comments, moving them off the page of the content. I get that – they don’t want the nonsense to tarnish otherwise good journalism; however, hiding the comments slightly is sort of a half-measure. I say either keep them or get rid of them.

Then, of course, there are the Facebook comments. Some of us publishers hoped that by using its system, which at least somewhat forces people to use their real identities, it would add a sense of civility to the discussion. We, for example, include FB comments alongside our internal system.

The result, unfortunately, has been similarly terrible stuff – and we lose the opportunity to really moderate those comments. And the business reality is that Facebook has deeply cut into our comment numbers. Before Zuck and Twitter, popular stories would get upwards of 100 comments; now those comments are being posted dire…

Cooperstown road trip in 1999: an early bucket list fill up.
Cooperstown road trip in 1999: an early bucket list fill up.

Don't forget to fill those buckets

I am an extremely fortunate person, and an even more fortunate Milwaukeean. By founding at such a young age – I was 23 at 1998 – I’ve had too many amazing experiences to count. Almost every opportunity to do something cool in this city has been at my disposal, and I never forget that, even when I’m having a bad day at work.

But becoming an entrepreneur in my early 20s also presented some challenges. I never had the chance to backpack around Europe. I haven’t taken one of those long, detached vacations where you turn off your brain and stop checking your email. I had to take the decade more seriously than most of my peers, because running your own business is serious business.

Throughout this time, however, I’ve made it a priority to cross items off my bucket list. Visiting Cooperstown to see Robin Yount inducted into the Hall of Fame; driving my own car on the Autobahn at 135 miles per hour; hanging out with the Violent Femmes post-show; flying above Milwaukee with the Blue Angels, and much, much more.

One more bucket list item, though, awaits me this weekend, and just in time. On May 27, I’ll turn 40, and I’m not overly excited about this milestone. Three days later, one of my oldest friends, Eron Laber, also hits the big 4-0. To commemorate it, we’re finally doing something we’ve talked about for years: hitting all the Brewers’ minor league teams in one weekend.

That’s right; this afternoon, we’re driving to Beloit, then Montgomery and finally to New Orleans to catch road games of the single-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, double-A Huntsville Stars and triple-A Nashville Sounds. It’s a ton of driving in a very short time.

Eron and I haven’t taken a road trip like this in many years, probably since we decided to actually drive to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training (another bucket list item) in 2000. We have to give major props to our wives for being OK with this trip, because they’ll be single parents while we speed so…

With a healthy Ryan Braun, the 2014 Brewers are for real.
With a healthy Ryan Braun, the 2014 Brewers are for real.

Why the Brewers are so good

I am stunned. I did not expect the Brewers to be so good this season. Even without Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez, they took two of three from the Yankees. They may have cooled down from their amazing April, but the Brewers are for real.

Keep in mind that I saw them in Spring Training. True, it was only four games, and they lost them all. They didn’t look great like they did in 2008 or 2011. Still, as I wrote in March, the Brewers had a air confidence about them. They looked ready to go out there and get to work.

Amazingly, they brought that attitude to the regular season.

I’ll admit it, though. I was an early naysayer. I thought Doug Melvin made some questionable moves in the offseason, and swung and missed by bringing in Mark Reynolds at first.

Back in January, I tweeted my angst, actually. I wondered if the 2014 Brewers would be an improvement from the 2013 squad. That skepticism led to a long and detailed email from Joe Robinson, a senior account executive in ticket sales with the Brewers.

With his permission, I’m reprinting that email from Jan. 10. I have to say, Joe was right on:

I’m optimistic by nature, but I honestly am excited about this year. Working for the Brewers, you probably think I have to say this, but I really don’t. There are plenty of co-workers here that feel the same way you do. Let me tell you why I’m excited!!

Regardless of who plays 1B, with Braun and Ramirez back in the middle of the lineup, scoring runs won’t be a problem. It’s all going to come down to pitching like it always does and I really like our pitching. Keep in mind, last year when Gallardo and Estrada pitched for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, they threw a ton of pitches in February. They both looked to me to have completely dead arms in May (when we went 6-22). Once they went on the DL with their hamstring injuries, they came back lights out (which is how they both pitched for most of 2012). Kyle Lohse never even had a spring training last year. He sig…

No doubt is Carlos Gomez cocky. But he's also really good.
No doubt is Carlos Gomez cocky. But he's also really good. (Photo:

Fear the beer?

No one hates bad baseball teams. Sure, people feel sorry for them, or they just ignore them. But you don’t read national sportswriters talking smack about the Royals. Players from opposing teams don’t pick fights with them, either.

But lately, the Brewers – currently the best team in baseball – are finding all sorts of new haters. Whether they’re ripping on Carlos Gomez’ swagger or presuming that Ryan Braun most obviously still juicing, the Crew is facing all sorts of new heat.

And that’s awesome.

You expect people to fear the Yankees. You might even expect the Brewers players to underperform when they play the Cardinals – remember back when Ned Yost threw at Pujols?

But look at the Pirates. The Brewers have absolutely dominated them for years, and while Gomez shouldn’t have thrown punches on Sunday, the Bucs taunted him out of frustration. He’s just that good now.

Need proof? Look at these tweets from national sportswriter Jeff Pearlman. Moralizing aside, the assertion that Braun used steroids after he tested positive, in 2012, then now, in 2014, is preposterous. Braun is being tested all the time. Pearlman calls him "slime" but won’t concede that he’s naturally a great player.

Or this gem from Jeff Passan:

And Pearlman's newfound hate for Gomez? Whatever, dude:

I especially liked the quote from the Pirates’ Russell Martin:

"The fair thing would be to have our team hold down Maldonado so t…