By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Aug 30, 2011 at 1:05 PM

I'm not sure how to frame this without offending almost an entire city of boosters, so I'm just going to go ahead and say it and then try and explain what I mean.

Getting so damn excited about being on the cover of Sports Illustrated is one more sign that we have some distance to go before we are a major-league city.

Let's back up a little bit to the end of last week. The word came that the Brewers were going to be on the cover for the first time since, oh, the 19th century or something. From the reaction you would have thought that the city won the Nobel Peace Prize or that the Pope was coming for a visit or that Scott Walker had joined AFSCME.

There were dozens of articles online (including at The dead tree newspaper wrote about it. Radio talk shows flew the flag and television stations tried to tie their stations to the cover. People did interviews with the guy who wrote the article. You could hear the chest-thumping all around town.

Friday night I wandered Miller Park while the Cubs were in town. I bet I saw 50 fans with copies of Sports Illustrated in their laps, or waving them, or gazing at them. At a baseball game.

Don't get me wrong. I like the fact that our baseball team is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. I like the fact that the rest of the world is noticing our team.

But one of the big problems with Milwaukee, and it's been this way for decades, is that we seem to need outside affirmation that Milwaukee is quite a place.

We just don't have self-confidence and we don't feel all that good about ourselves until someone – Sports Illustrated, The New York Times or Chicago Tribune, Architectural Digest, NBC or the Food Network or ESPN – does something that gives us a pat on the back.

Think back, if you will, to the opening of the marvelous Calatrava wing of the Milwaukee Art Museum. It was the first installation of the august Spanish architect in the United States. It captured a spirit and evoked a wonder that far surpassed the collection inside the museum.

But the masses in this city didn't take much notice of the building until The New York Times, and then Architectural Digest, ran huge articles praising the wonder of it all, and by extension, the wonder of Milwaukee.

Only then did we really puff out our collective chests. Only then did we feel that burst of pride in our city.

The same thing has happened over and over. When the Milwaukee Symphony traveled out of the city and drew raves, we all took great pride, although we generally ignored the symphony before then.

When a travel writer or a cable television network comes to town and ends up writing about a restaurant or our lakefront or a theater or a band, we go nuts. Man, that is so cool.

I'm not saying we shouldn't take notice when we are on the cover of Sports Illustrated or have a good shot on the Food Network. It's nice to get that kind of publicity.

But let's find a way to take it with slightly less glee. Let's have confidence in how cool things are right here, without the outside affirmation. I think attitude has a lot to do with how a city is perceived. And if we keep on making such a big deal about what other people say about us, we will continue to be viewed as this nice little suburb somewhere near Chicago or Minneapolis or ... somewhere.

Confidence breeds confidence. Or, as Vince Lombardi said, when you score a touchdown and get into the end zone, act like you've been there before.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.