Jared Carrabis, Barstool Sports MLB writer and host of the Starting 9 podcast, has held Boston Red Sox season tickets for 20 years. He hasn’t missed a Red Sox game since 2002, and he even brought a portable radio to his prom so he could listen to the game that night.
Carrabis has never rooted for another team, but this season he has chosen the Milwaukee Brewers as his favorite National League club.
We caught up with Carrabis to talk about why he will be cheering on the Brewers, how he thinks the Brew Crew will fare this season and the origin story of Boston-turned-Milwaukee third baseman Travis Shaw’s nickname, "The Mayor of Ding Dong City."
OnMilwaukee: Have you ever had a favorite NL team?
Jared Carrabis: Not really, no. I definitely follow players. I will root for players, but I never had a team that was like, "All right, I’m getting behind these guys." I’m friends with (Christian) Yellich and Travis Shaw, and then Corey Knebel came on the Starting 9 podcast too, so a lot of these guys have been friendly with me, so I can get behind the whole team.
100% — Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) January 7, 2018
I remember following Eric Thames when he was in the (Korean Baseball League) and being like, this guy is a monster, I would love to see him come back to the big leagues and see if that translates. Then, when he came back and signed with the Brewers I was like, "All right, let’s go."
What do you like about the Brewers this season?
I was onboard with the Brewers even before the Yellich trade, but this is a team that is definitely the underdog because they didn’t win the division, they didn’t get the wildcard, but they were pretty much in it till the last second. They were a team that was really fun to root for last year. Even though they came up short, you can make a case that they got better in the offseason.
Offseason Day 92: I'm happy to announce that I've officially adopted the @Brewers as my National League team. I just wanted to thank all of the Brewers fans who immediately welcomed me with open arms. Feels good to be a part of something special. Let's get this NL pennant. pic.twitter.com/O5qWvm7kEA — Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) February 1, 2018
So it’s like, what does 2018 look like for them now, because if they were fun to root for last year, and they just added another guy – who, on top of being a very good player, has very good character, a clubhouse guy – they are just going to be even more fun to root for. By no means are they a slam dunk to make it to the postseason, but it is going to be a lot of fun watching them attempt to get there.
Do you think there is extra pressure on the Brewers this year because there are higher expectations?
No, I don’t think they feel pressure because I still think they are embracing that underdog role. They may have gotten better, but the additions they made really don’t make them a favorite still. They definitely got better, but it’s not like they went out and got a Giancarlo Stanton. They haven’t yet signed a Jake Arrieta type, or a Yu Darvish.
They have added some nice pieces, I think. I don’t want to say they are complementary pieces because they are definitely pieces that take them a step closer. Lorenzo Cain, I feel like if you are a part of that core in Kansas City – everyone is always talking about Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas – but Lorenzo Cain is a very consistently good player and has been for many years. Christian Yellich is another guy that didn’t really get noticed because of the market he was in, not to say Milwaukee is a big market, but he has never played on a winning team aside from the World Baseball Classic Team USA. So, I think now if they move to this winning environment they will be able to become more appreciated.
Milwaukee was a winning environment last year, but in terms of star power, Ryan Braun’s name doesn’t carry the same weight that it used to, so now there is opportunity for guys like Travis Shaw to step up and get some spotlight in Milwaukee and Christian Yellich, Lorenzo Cain and Eric Thames.
Do you remember how you created the nickname "Mayor of Ding Dong City" for Travis Shaw?
Yeah, I do. I used to play whiffle ball with my friends every single night, and we would play inside this parking lot of a shopping mall. We would play in the side parking lot, and a home run was when you hit it off the wall, but I was the only one who put it over the roof, so one of my friends started calling me the ‘Mayor of Ding Dong City’ because he called home runs ding dongs. I always thought that was funny.
Then, when Travis Shaw got called up (to the Red Sox) in 2015, he had this stretch where he hit a bunch of home runs out of nowhere. When he got called up, he wasn’t considered to be a top-10 prospect in the Red Sox organization. Most of the time, if I give a nickname to a player, it is an underdog-type player. He might not have high expectations. Chris Sale doesn’t have a nickname, David Price doesn’t have a nickname; those guys are who they are, everyone knows who they are.
Travis Shaw gets called up and hits 13 home runs in a third of a season, so you give him a nickname and fans sort of gravitate toward that. It’s supposed to be funny, but it also makes them easier to root for when they have a funny nickname like that. It caught on, apparently.
Are you surprised the nickname has carried over from Boston to Milwaukee?
A little bit, just because I honestly think it has been bigger in Milwaukee than Boston for some reason. It was big in Boston because we sold the T-shirts. There was a point where when (Shaw) would hit home runs, in Fenway they would play "Keep your Head Ringing" by Dr. Dre because the lyrics had ding dong in it. They would do that at Fenway, but I feel like fans in Milwaukee have embraced it way more.
They’re doing the Travis Shaw bobblehead night with "Mayor of Ding Dong City" on it and the Red Sox never did anything like that. The social media accounts in Boston, the Red Sox accounts, they would call him that every once in a great while. I think it’s crazy how it’s has carried over to the Brewers. I absolutely love it. I like that it serves its purpose: it gives fans an extra reason to root for a guy who deserves having the fan support behind him.
What are your predictions for the Brewers this season?
It all depends. Jake Arrieta is still out there, and I know he has been linked to the Phillies most recently, but I would like to see them at least add a starting pitcher, especially with the whole Chase Anderson situation going on. I would like them to add a starting pitcher if they can, but I think this is a team that is totally capable of winning the wild card spot this year.
It’s not looking like it’s going to be a division-winning team, but they can definitely build on 86 wins from last year. They are in a positon now with the talent that they have added over the offseason, and the guys they having coming back from last year and also the experience they got from that stretch run in September, when they were in position where they could have made the postseason, and maybe they come back hungry to put themselves over the top because they were so close that they can taste it.
The times we had Travis Shaw on Starting 9, he was saying the expectation is to make the postseason. He was like, "This isn’t just a feel-good group where we will be happy at .500, or we are focused on the future." Right now, they feel like a win-now team and I think they should feel that way, especially if they win 86 games last year and then get better by adding two really good players. There is no reason to believe they shouldn’t be able to make a wild-card spot.
Do you have any plans to come to Milwaukee for a game this summer?
I would love to. That is really all about whether or not A., Dave (Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports) will let me, and B., Dallas (Braden) will want to come with me. But yeah, I would love to come out for the Travis Shaw bobblehead night because that is a proud dad moment.