While Milwaukee is swilling green beer for St. Patrick's Day Wednesday, I'll be on a plane bound for Phoenix, the Brewers' temporary home each and every spring. I'm hardly complaining -- I'll happily forgo corned beef and cabbage for a taco from Filiberto's when I land -- but the real fun starts with the first of four baseball games I'll see when I'm in the valley.
This week marks my 13th consecutive Cactus League trip, and by now, you think my giddiness over this annual tradition would have subsided. It hasn't.
Each year, this trip marks my first in-person look at the Crew, which begins a six- or seven-month obsession that frequently ends in heartbreak.
Even though this trip has a (nearly) equal amount of work and relaxation to it, I'm not a professional sports journalist. I am, however, a passionate Brewers fan and spring training gives me a chance to answer the nagging questions that have been plaguing me all winter. Questions like:
- Will I see Chris Capuano pitch? News today indicates he's been shut down with inflammation in his elbow, which is a shame, because he is working so hard on a comeback. I've been a Capuano fan for a long time, and hope he can continue to heal. With this development, my gut says he won't.
- Is Corey Hart's head screwed on tightly? After a sub-par 2009, followed by a victory in arbitration this off-season, I've lost a lot of faith in this guy. You can tell a lot about the way a player carries himself in spring training, and I've seen it before. The year that the Brewers disposed of Dave Krynzel, I noticed he was loping around Maryvale, his heart not into it. I expect Hart to make a statement about his season to be this March.
- Will Jim Edmonds play his heart out? I think that he will, since most of my memories of Edmonds are of him destroying the Brewers. Sure, he's 40, but a few years ago, I saw Jeff Cirillo light up the Cactus League en route to a comeback. This is one guy I'm excited to see in a Brewers uniform
- Who will be our spring training underdog? Every year, our group picks a guy and roots for him. In the past, we've hitched our wagon to players like Lou Collier, Mike Coolbaugh (R.I.P.), Chris Magruder and Brooks Kieschnick. It's always fun to get behind a non-roster invitee and cheer him on to a little glory.
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.