“Hopefully we can finish this
season on a high note and carry it on into spring training next year, get some
momentum going and leave everyone with a good taste in their mouth.”
Those were third baseman Casey
McGehee’s words in the Brewers clubhouse 20 August, after his team had just
clobbered the NL West-leading San Diego Padres, 10-6.
At that point the season still had
50 – i.e. nearly a third – of its games left to go and here was one of the Brewers’
big hitters essentially saying that they had nothing left to play for but pride
and a good vibe. Was he wrong? Not at all. McGehee wasn’t being pessimistic and
he won’t have been hauled in front of management for giving off a negative
aura. By that point the Milwaukee Brewers, though only third out of six in
their division, were (and still are) 13 games behind the division-leading
Late August through September can
be a strange time of year for many teams in baseball, full of intensely
competitive men with no chance of winning anything because their teams are too
far back in the standings. The good ones (teams and players) will try and
conjure up McGehee’s kind of team-oriented motivation – try to treat each game
as a season in its own right and compete as if they still had a chance of
getting to the postseason. He spoke further of playing “spoilers” – beating the
contending teams which, McGehee said, “definitely gives us something to play
for”. Ouch. It doesn’t help that there is a looming issue over the team in star
slugger Prince Fielder who had an off-year and might be dealt to save money.
Of greater interest after that game
was pitcher Chris Capuano’s first home win since 2007 after Tommy John
(ligament replacement) surgery. It was refreshing to see a man so obviously
grateful just to be there.
The game of the week is actually a
crucial series with the Tampa Bay Rays at the Boston Red Sox from Monday 6
September to Wednesday 8 September. Boston,
currently seven games behind the Rays in the wild card standings, need to sweep
the series to stand any chance of making the post-season.