I've got chills right now.
Not because of the cold outside on this snowy Monday or the appalling quarterback play in the Super Bowl. But because of the eternally warm nostalgia of America's pastime and the expectant hope of Spring Training, which can only come from Brewers baseball.
And those fiery feelings were further stoked after Milwaukee released a new television commercial for the 2016 season titled "Born a Brewer" that highlights manager Craig Counsell's local origins and lifelong bond with the club. It's an endearing, emotive ad, focusing on Counsell's rise from ball-playing Whitefish Bay boy to longtime big-leaguer, with the hometown hero explaining, "I know you because I am you."
Counsell wanders around his suburban village and narrates throughout the spot, saying, "Just like you, I was born a Brewer. This is my first love, my passion, my responsibility. It's a torch I'll carry with me always. Through the ups and the downs, the good times and the bad, no matter what, this will always be my team."
A bit melodramatic, yes, but that's sort of the point.
It's a clever, poignant approach, connecting team leader (face of the franchise, really) with fan base, and it's much-needed in this first season of what could be a lengthy, cringe-inducing rebuild. The club has talked plenty about the new direction, acquiring assets and developing young talent, and isn't at all shying away from its likely fate of not being very good for a while.
So what can a baseball team advertise when it can't advertise its brand's on-field product? The nebulous feeling of being a Brewers fan – of loving the organization and reminiscing about the good times; it's saying "remember the 80s?!" with twinkling background music. The ad uses traditional-baseball idyllic imagery (American flag! Sunshine! Slow-motion cheering children!), overt sensory appeal (Bob Uecker! Fresh-cut grass! The roar of the crowd!) and specific Milwaukee history (County Stadium! October 10, 1982! Nyjer Morgan's series-clincher!) to play on people's shared emotions and experiences as supporters of the local club.
Overall, it's quietly and creatively on-message with the rebuilding team's rebrand. Simply put, it's really good.
As Counsell concludes, "Brewers baseball: It's part of who I am, it's part of who we are."
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.