Welcome to Saturday Scorecard, where we wrestle with the important questions in sports, such as:
If Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, why does it seem like the Brewers' season is already over?
Just kidding (sort of). Before you dive into yard work, parades, backyard barbecues, relaxation and remembrance, here are few quick points to ponder:
Dire straits: For more than five years, Ned Yost has tried everything in his power to transform the Brewers from a laughing stock into a playoff team. He has poured his heart and soul into the effort, but his fate no longer rests in his own hands.
With 48 games in the books, the Brewers are four games under .500 and seven out of first place. The time for lineup juggling, pep talks and team meetings is past (even the young guys have heard Ned's stories enough to diminish the impact).
It doesn't matter if Prince Fielder gets hot, Bill Hall goes on a tear and Eric Gagne returns from the disabled list and regains his Cy Young form, Yost will be history at Miller Park Way if general manager Doug Melvin doesn't get him some pitching help.
A little more than two months ago, the Brewers considered pitching to be a deep part of the roster. Tonight in Washington, D.C., they'll try to stop a two-game losing streak with Seth McClung as their starter and Mark DiFelice and Tim Dillard among the backup options.
Outside of Ben Sheets and the occasional solid relief performance, it is now a momentum-sucking black hole. Injuries to Yovani Gallardo and Chris Capuano, coupled with the release of Claudio Vargas, the travails of Gagne and Derrick Turnbow, and the inconsistent performance of Dave Bush, Carlos Villanueva and promising Manny Parra have torpedoed the likelihood of the prolonged winning streaks Milwaukee will need to compete for the post-season.
After games, many big-league managers look as though they've been through a 15-round heavyweight fight. The mental part of managing a team (and emotions) over three hours is so draining that it exacts a physical toll. Yost, facing enormous expectations from a restless fan base, has looked whipped after games lately (and an apparent cold / virus didn't help).
Yost's tenure to date has been marked by unwavering optimism and a steadfast and almost maniacal focus on the present. His mantra is that only today counts; that yesterday is gone and tomorrow doesn't matter. Given the current state of the roster, particularly the pitching staff, one wonders how many tomorrows are left.
If the Brewers remain four or five games under .500 at the all-star break, the bogus blog report that predicted Yost's ouster earlier this week may try to claim victory and another manager may try to continue what Yost started in 2003. If that happens, two things will be certain. First, Yost will have leave a situation much better than the one he inherited. Second, the new manager (and the fans) will find that a change in the dugout can't erase the cracks in the foundation of the roster.
Line drives: J.J. Hardy kicked a double play ball on Friday night and the Brewers couldn't get out of the jam. Hardy catches that ball 99 out of 100 times. ... It's interesting that baseball officials have set their sights on increasing the pace of play. During this era of labor peace, they have to feel like they're fixing something. Those guidelines, by the way, were first introduced during spring training a few years ago. ... Reds outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., will hit his 600th homer soon. Remember when those milestones used to mean something? Griffey is one of the all-time greats, but his retirement, at least outside of Cincinnati, will generate about as much buzz as Mike Piazza's did this week. ... Left-handed pitchers Jon Lester (Boston) and Doug Davis (Arizona) both scored impressive victories between the lines this week, but that pales in comparison to beating cancer. ... The Sports Illustrated picture of J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart playing poolside ping-pong in Miami was interesting, but the vision of Bob Uecker standing off to one side made it a classic. ... the more Ozzie Guillen swears, the better the Whtie Sox play. ... One reason for optimism -- at the end of their current trip, the Brewers will have played 31 road games and 20 home contests.
More line drives: NBA ratings are up. If Boston and Los Angeles make it to the Finals, the trend will continue. ... This is the biggest racing weekend of the year. If you want predictions, we're pulling for New Zealander Scott Dixon to win the Indianapolis 500 and think Kyle Bush is a strong pick in the Coca-Cola 600. ... Even if you haven't watched hockey all year, it's worth tuning into the Stanley Cup playoffs to see Pittsburgh sensation Sidney Crosby. ... Here is hoping that Paul Hamm's finger heels in time for him to feel comfortable at the Beijing Olympics. ... Our vote for least surprising sports story of the week? Guard Jerel McNeal's decision to return to Marquette for his senior season. ... Kobe Bryant doesn't need the validation, but it'll be hard to deny he's the MVP if his team wins the championship.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.