David I. Leavitt, who tweets at @LeavittDC, has been a Nats fan for six years and a Brewers fan for 34 years. You may remember him from the Redskins vs. Packers Q&A last football season and several Penn State vs. Wisconsin previews (2008 2007 2006). We address on a variety of topics, including who the current Washingtonian is rooting for this weekend, former Brewers owner and current MLB commissioner Bud Selig and a recent trade between the two teams.
WFY: The expectations around the Milwaukee Brewers seem fairly high this season but newly-acquired Zack Grienke is only signed for two years and if I am not mistaken, Prince Fielder is in his final year. Are you eager about the 2011 Brew Crew or has anxiety about the future tempered your enthusiasm?
DL: It’s true that expectations are high for the Brewers this year. Zack Grienke and Shaun Marcum are important additions to a team that has finished in the bottom three in the NL in runs allowed the last two seasons. With Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks becoming free agents at the end of the season, it seems like now would be the year to make a run. And we seemed to have been everyone’s favorite sleeper pick to be a division winner.
Having said that, it’s still the Brewers. I mean, when Grienke went down with a broken rib while playing in a pickup basketball game, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking: “Of course he did.”
WFY: What is your take on the Nyjer Morgan trade?
DL: I rooted for him, but he made it hard for me. And I didn’t appreciate him saying that D.C. isn’t a good baseball town, as if a “real” baseball city would have appreciated him more. I mean, I saw it with my own eyes: he never got on base and was a terrible base-runner when he did get on base. Evidently real baseball cities love centerfielders with an on base percentage of .317, slugging percentage of .314 and a league-leading 17 caught stealings. By the way, my spell-check doesn’t think “stealings” is a word. That’s how rare it is. And he had 17 of them.
WFY: From afar, the people of Wisconsin seem very passionate about the Green Bay Packers and the Wisconsin Badgers. Are the Brewers similarly beloved? I got the feeling that the nostalgia for the Milwaukee Braves was stronger than the Brewers. By the way, I think Milwaukee Brewers is one of the best names in sports.
DL: Well that’s not really fair. The Packers have won 13 NFL championships! The Badgers are a state-wide institution! Meanwhile, the Brewers showed up in 1970 from Seattle and have made the playoffs only three times in 40 years.
WFY: The Brewers have played in 4 different divisions and moved to the National League in the late 1990s. Between the Braves and Brewers, I think Milwaukee has been in each league for about the same number of seasons by now. Was their a general consensus amongst the fanbase on the move to the NL? How did you feel about then and now?
DL: Yeah, moving to the NL was weird. It gave them a nice rivalry with the Cubs, but the other divisional match-ups (Reds and Astros, in particular) feel forced. It’s hard to just flip a switch and stop thinking that the Brewers should be playing the Twins and Tigers instead. It would be as if Redskins fans are told they have to suddenly care about a new rivalry with the Bengals. Starting… now!
And the whole thing happened of course because of Bud Selig had to figure out a way to add one team to each league (the Diamondbacks and the Devil Rays) without resulting in an odd number of teams. His solution was easy to push through since he was simultaneously MLB commissioner and Milwaukee’s owner. Wow — just typing that sentence makes me realize how little we appreciated the craziness of that situation.
Incidentally, most Brewers fans were thrilled when Selig’s daughter sold the team in 2004. Owner Mark Attanasio has been great for the team.
WFY: Were you disappointed that Bernie Brewer stopped sliding into a mug of beer after home runs? That was way better than riding along the warning track on an ATV like some mascots do. Even without the beer slide, I’d put Bernie in the top 3 MLB mascots though.
DL: Well, he still has the slide, but it doesn’t end in a mug of beer. And sliding into home plate, as he does now, is still pretty cool. But maybe it will return. After all, the slide went away completely from 1984 to 1993 before making a comeback.
WFY: You have been in D.C. since the Nats arrived and have been a fan. Who are you the bigger fan of though, the Brewers or the Nats? have you gone back and forth over the last six years?
DL: I’m hopelessly conflicted (see photo from last year’s match-up at Nats Park).
WFY: On the whole, I like the Brewers uniforms. The cap is distinct with the barley sprig under the “M” and the Brewers script is pleasing enough, but I have two problems with the kit — no city name on the road jerseys and the Times New Roman-like numbers look like somebody put the Brewers logo in MS Word and used the default font. Can you defend those two decisions or are you just going to advocate for the old ball and glove “mb” logo?
DL: The glove/MB logo is the best in all of sports. By far.
WFY: A previous guest prognosticator claimed Miller Park is the best ballpark. What makes Miller Park great? How was County Stadium?
DL: Miller Park is probably bigger than it should have been. I’m probably the only one on the planet who misses the old County Stadium. I can’t help it. It’s what I grew up with. It’s where the 1987 Brewers played, perhaps my favorite team that I’ve ever rooted for. I like where we’re headed with new sports stadiums, though. The Minnesota park is small, which was a great decision on their part. Ballparks should be small and intimate.
WFY: What is your opinion of former Brewers owner Bud Selig’s tenure as MLB commissioner? How has it evolved, particularly in relation to his dealings with D.C.?
DL: I believe he means well. But that’s pretty much the only nice thing I have to say about him.
WFY: Why haven’t the Racing Sausages accepted an invitation to race the Racing Presidents? Which racing sausage is your favorite? Which racing president?
DL: Huh. I wasn’t aware that the sausages have been snubbing the presidents.
Milwaukee’s sausage race is a great tradition. (And newer than people think: it had been a simple scoreboard diversion until 1995 when it became live-action.) I root for the chorizo. I suppose I don’t have a favorite racing president, but I think it’s a missed opportunity that we don’t mix up the contestants at Nats Park.
You’re telling me it wouldn’t be compelling to see a race between Romney, Gingrich, Bachman and Trump? You don’t think it would be fun to relive old presidential races and have Clinton mix it up with Dole or have Nixon face Kennedy? And what about a vice presidential race pitting Mondale, Quayle, Gore and Cheney?
Find me the person who would look away for one second during those races.
WFY: How do you see this series playing out and who wins the season series, D.C. or Milwaukee?
DL: I haven’t seen the scheduled pitching match-ups yet for this series. But I’m going to go with Milwaukee to win both this series and the season series.