The Hot Milwaukee Brewers and the Rich Roger Clemens

The Brewers have the best record in Major League Baseball at 24-10. As of this writing, they are on a six-game win streak. They have won 21 of their last 28 games. They have not lost a series since the second series of the year when they dropped two of three to the Chicago Cubs — the only series they’ve lost all season. According to RPI rankings, the Brewers are the best team in baseball. Should the Brewers keep this pace up, they will finish with 114 wins, just shy of the record of 116 wins posted by the Seattle Mariners in 2001.

In short, for the Brewers, these are Good Times. They are hassling and hustling the rest of the NL, in particular the rest of the NL Central, who, except maybe for the .500 Chicago Cubs, are not able to keep their head above water and are not making any waves.

But there are still doubters who don’t believe the Brewers are for real. Wait until the end of May, these doubters say. Wait until the conclusion of the upcoming series with the Mets, Phillies, Twins, Dodgers, Padres, and Braves. Then the wheels will start to come off the Brewers Magical Mystery Tour of One Hundred Wins.

These people may have a point. The Brewers’ opponents over the last 28 games have a combined record of 101-133, while the Brewers’ opponents over the next 19 games have a combined record of 113-92. The Brewers have played 21 games at home so far this season with only 13 road games. 13 of the next 19 games are away from the friendly confines of Miller Park.

While I don’t doubt that the upcoming stretch of games should be the most challenging of the young season, I’m not buying into the panic. The Brewers are flat out better than the Phillies and Padres. They look to be better than the Twins, but it’s difficult to say since the Twins play in such a tougher division. (But the Twins series is in Milwaukee.) They’ve already beaten the Dodgers two of three.

That leaves the Mets (the series that starts the day that I write this) at 21-12 and the Braves (the series that ends this tough stretch) at 22-12. Statistically, the Brewers match up very well with both teams. While Milwaukee’s been taking advantage of the weak NL Central, the Braves and Mets have been taking advantage of the weaker teams in their division, especially the lowly Washington Nationals, the worst team in baseball. Should Milwaukee falter against New York and Atlanta, it will likely be because of the pressure put on the young Brewers players to “prove themselves” in these games, while the Mets and Braves have plenty of battle-tested veterans used to much bigger games than these upcoming contests.

I think the Brewers will be fine during this stretch. I see at worst — at worst — a record of 9-10 over the next nineteen games. While a sub-.500 stretch might sound awful for a team currently playing .700 baseball, a 9-10 run would still leave them with a record of 33-20 and no doubt high on top of the NL Central.

Bottom line is this — the Brewers have dominated the NL Central so far this year with a record of 17-8. No other NL Central team is over .500 in the division. They are in very good shape to take the division, which would obviously put them in the playoffs for the first time in 25 years. And even if they stumble into the playoffs because some team from the NL Central has to make it, I wouldn’t count them out. Being NL Central champs worked out pretty good for the Cardinals last year.

Speaking of working out pretty good, Roger Clemens’s life seems to be working out well for him these days. But what’s got people talking is not his $4.5 million a month salary to pitch for the Yankees starting in June, but the clauses in his contract that basically allow him to show up for games only when he is scheduled to pitch.

I have no problem with this. In fact, I think it’s great. The guy wants time to spend with his wife and four sons. How can you argue against that? If he’s not pitching, who cares if he’s there? It’s not like they’d ask him to pitch middle relief on his off days or take left field for an inning so Hideki Matsui can have a smoke break. And the Yankees don’t need him around for moral support — they’re a veteran team full of guys that can take care of themselves. Those guys are ecstatic to land Clemens, even for 2/3 of a season.

This smacks of some sort of sexism to me — would the same writers criticizing Clemens criticize a woman for working a deal that allowed her more time with her family, especially if it meant absolutely no change in her professional responsibilities?

Good for you, Roger. Now go out there and have a terrible season. Sorry, but I still hate the Yankees.

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