The day started on a sour note. Our group of die-hard but goony Brewers fans picked what seemed like a great choice to watch the biggest game of our adult lives: Roman's Pub in Bay View. We've come to expect a lovable sort of surliness from owner Mike Romans, but today I wasn't in the mood.
As we ordered our pints, I asked him if he'd play the Brewers audio instead of the Packers. Mike said no. Then he referred to the cash register as a "Jewish piano," to which I said, "I think I'm offended, Mike. I'm Jewish."
He said sorry about that, but it's an old slogan, and I shouldn't worry about it. Then he mentioned to another customer that Bay View has become too full of liberals, and he was disgusted.
I'd seen enough of his antics, so our group headed to Palomino. Once again, the Packers audio was on, and I pleaded with the bartenders to turn on the Brewers game. Understandably, they said we'd have to ask the Packers fans who got there before us.
I turned to them -- one of whom I knew, the other who I didn't, and said, "Would you guys mind if we turned on the sound to the Brewers game?"
"F**ck you!" the Packers fan I didn't know yelled at me.
"Hey, man, I'm a Packers fan, too, but this is the most important game of our adult lives, and it's a meaningless Packers game that we're losing," I said.
"F**ck you!" he yelled again. "Baseball sucks, this is the Packers! We're out of here," he yelled as he demanded his check. Apparently, in real life, this guy (who I'll refrain from naming) is very nice guy. But not today. Today, amazingly, I almost got in fight with a fellow Packers fan.
This couldn't bode well.
Thankfully, the surly anti-Brewers guys left the building, and the rest of the bar watched as our team swung wildly at pitches outside of the zone -- and only our new-found savior CC Sabathia kept us in the game.
It looked bad.
It looked worse when the Mets pulled even with the Marlins. We nervously fondled our High Lifes.
This was it.
When off-duty Palomino bartender Bill showed up, I realized that almost the entire contingent of my Spring Training groupies was in the house: Eron, Corey, Chris, Bill, Neil and me.
The guys who've stuck with the Brewers through thick and thin. All this collective karma in one place -- I hoped it signaled some sort of turning point.
The game wore on, and eventually the Brewers pulled even. With one eye on the game and the other eye on my iPhone, watching the Mets score, I actually missed the crack of Ryan Braun's bat. But I looked up in time to see his go-ahead homer.
The bar erupted in a scene I've never before witnessed for a Brewers game.
Now near hysteria, we cheered wildly as the Brewers beat the Cubs. But with one inning left in the Mets / Marlins game, we grew silent.
Bill wisely ordered up a round of champagne for our group, and without me noticing, he also secured a bottle of the stuff.
I took of my Brewers hat and took off my glasses -- two outs.
We high-fived without saying a word.
We sent text messages to friends and loved ones: this is the moment we've waited for, for our entire adult lives.
And then the Mets made the final out. Out of deference for the 'Mino, we stepped outside -- and proceeded to dump our cups of champagne on each other. Bill came running out with the bottle and sprayed it in my face.
The sting couldn't have felt any sweeter.
We've sat through season after humiliating season. We watched the Brewers lose 106 games. We watched the Crew blow big leads, squander giant contracts and underdeliver, year after year. This season, we endured a depressing September.
But in the end, we're going to the playoffs. To say I feel redeemed is an understatement.
Whatever happens in the post-season, we made it. Right now, I'm sticky from a dousing of champagne. And I'm in the best mood I could possible be in.
Oh. My. God. The Brewers are going to the playoffs.
I'll see you in the stands.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.