McGehee’s upbeat about the future

“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 – which is nearly a third – of their 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
Cincinnati Reds.

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.

So McGehee was actually saying all
the right things, while in the postgame interview being fed information by
reporters that could have goaded him into an altogether more individualistic
perspective:

Reporter: “You said you weren’t
aware of nine (home games in a row with at least one hit), the other day…are
you aware that it was 11 today?”

McGehee: “At home?”

McGehee paused, looking slightly
bemused and entirely disinterested.

“Now I am.”

There’s nothing wrong, of course,
in celebrating individual accomplishments, even in a team sport. However, so
far this season there have been more than 30 players putting together real
hitting streaks of 13 games or more, so give McGehee credit for not getting
overly excited about a fake one (home games only).

Of greater interest after that game
was pitcher Chris Capuano’s first home win since 2007 after Tommy John had
ligament replacement surgery. It was refreshing to see a man so obviously
grateful just to be there.

And this win was not all he had to
celebrate. One of the reporters wished him a happy birthday. Brewers pitcher
Randy Wolf, walking across the clubhouse behind us, seemed about to join in the
congratulations when he asked, “Oh, is it your birthday, Cap?”.

“Yeah, yesterday”, he replied.

“Oh, never mind…” smirked Wolf, his
voice trailing off as he left a slightly embarrassed Capuano still facing the
bevy of TV cameras, microphones and voice recorders in front of him.

Oh well, there’s always next year.

Game of the week: Rays at the Red
Sox (Mon-Wed). Boston, currently seven games behind the Rays in the wild card
standings, need to sweep the series to stand any chance of making the
postseason.

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