By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Jul 19, 2011 at 5:08 AM Photography: David Bernacchi

They spent a lot of money to buy a seat at the big time poker table.

They've got a pair of jacks in the hole. On the flop they get their third jack. Now it's just a time to go all in, wait and surprise people with three-of-a-kind and walk away with the pot.

Welcome to the world of the Milwaukee Brewers and, perhaps, the most important two and a half months in their history.

This is what we have all been hoping for and, this year at least, what we have come to expect. But there is serious danger in brand new high expectations. The disappointment if there is a failure to meet those expectations can be severe and prolonged.

Doug Melvin and the rest of the Brewers' brain trust have created a lineup that is kind of like three-of-a-kind; good enough to win most hands, but not a sure thing.

There is a kind of implicit promise that the Brewers have made this year. It's a promise that comes from its marketing efforts. It comes from the trades and moves to upgrade the lineup. It comes from the huge Ryan Braun signing.

That promise says that "We are a very good team and we are on our way to the playoffs, and perhaps, even the World Series."

Ask each player or member of the front office, and they will quickly deny that they have promised everything. But it's not the promiser who gets to decide on whether it's a promise. It's the promisee; in this case, all of us.

We want that to be a promise every year. Oh, when CC Sabathia spent half a year here and we eked into the playoffs, we wanted it to be a promise of glory, but in our hearts we knew that we didn't have enough firepower to make much of a dent in the playoffs.

But this year is different. It's been different since winter, when Melvin started to haul in players. With each acquisition we felt our hearts beat a little faster. We listened to sports talk radio and heard the "experts" talk about how improved the team was. We read national publications that sang the expectant praise of this baseball team.

We have been turning out in near record droves. We are buying shirts and hats and souvenirs and brats dipped in secret stadium sauce.

In short, for the first time in a long time, we believe. We really believe.

Oh, our heads tell us that some things need to improve. The side of the infield where the shortstop and third baseman play is almost an embarrassment. The guy who we thought would be our ace has to shake some inconsistencies. We need to solve this riddle of playing away from Miller Park.

But those are minor irritations. They are not harbingers of anything that will sink this ship as it sails toward the chill of fall evenings and the official stoppage of life as we know it.

That's because we have bought into what the Brewers are selling. They have gone All-In, and so have we. Cards are on the table. We know what we are holding. We can hardly keep from smiling. The stars and cards are lined up.

Now all we need is to find out whether we've got a winning hand, or something else. And if we don't win, we're going to be looking for something – or someone – to blame.

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.