By Jim Owczarski Sports Editor Published May 07, 2012 at 11:00 AM

"If healthy."

It's the caveat of all caveats, and the two most frustrating words in the sports dictionary.

Health. When first brought up in the negative, the initial reaction is to call it a ready-made excuse for when things go bad.

In the end, when a season has been lost, it is accepted as the primary reason it turned sour. It leaves fans angry. Championships are so hard to come by, and if a good team is robbed of its best players, fans can't help but feel an opportunity was lost.

Just look to the South and see what Chicago Bulls fans are going through after losing MVP Derrick Rose and then starter Joakim Noah in the first round of the playoffs.

Once that is accepted, and it will be at some point in the offseason, it becomes the reason for optimism the next year when everything starts all over.

"Everyone is back healthy this year," is the mantra.

Health. Nothing can be more frustrating for the fan, and the players.

Naturally, it's a player's body. Their body is their livelihood. No one wants to get hurt. No one enjoys it. As teammates, you know what a guy means to you – both in the clubhouse and on the field. A stint on the disabled list, let alone a season-ending injury, can be tough on the psyche.

Same goes for the coaches and manager, who maybe feel they need to ride the horses a little harder, a little longer than they'd like to get the job done. After all – health can't save your job.

For fans, hearing "if healthy" is like the feeling you get when the dentist says "that's interesting."

It makes you so uncomfortable, and there's that part in your brain that knows this could turn out really badly. But, it could just be interesting because the mercury in your molar from 20 years ago turned to gold on its own. Who knows?

Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio dropped the worst phrase in sports twice on fans all the way back on Opening Day.

"If you compare last year's team, at this point, and this year's team, I think this year's team is better," he said. "If we can stay healthy and we perform to expectations, we're going to be a very tough team."

And then, in a cruel twist, said it again when talking about having both Aramis Ramirez and Mat Gamel on board to make up for the loss of Prince Fielder.

"We know we can't replace Prince Fielder with just one player, but we think we've shored up a bunch of areas and on balance we think this team is as strong as last year's team," he said. "If we stay healthy and if everybody performs the way we expect them to perform."


Perhaps sensing a growing panic back in Milwaukee, Antanasio spoke to Adam McCalvy of over the weekend to say he is not ready to give up on the season and may even add players to reload the team.

That is an encouraging sentiment, but the reality is the cavalry isn't on the way.

Baseball players are expensive, even the ones you really don't want on your team – let alone when other teams know you're in the hole.

You're talking about replacing your everyday first baseman, potentially your everyday shortstop, maybe a fifth starter down the line and now your centerfielder is on the disabled list.

Oh, and your MVP has a tight Achilles tendon which at best, will bother him all year and at worst, snap on him and not only wreck this season, but the next.

That would cost more prospects than general manager Doug Melvin has to replace, money aside.

"If healthy."

The two worst words in the sports dictionary, and it's meaning is something the Brewers are already having to accept.

Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.

A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.

To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.

Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining

In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.

Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.