Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for October 2010

Time to vote — also some reflections on Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity”

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I have a simple message today: please, regardless of your political persuasion, be sure to vote.  If there is no one to vote for, figure out who you like the least, then vote against that person even if you end up writing in your own name.  Just go, make your case, and vote.  Our system of representative democracy depends on it.

Voting is a way to say that we, the people of the United States of America, demand your notice, Mr. and Ms. Politician.  And we’re tired of being blown off.

That’s why we must vote, and have our say.  Keep them honest, or at least less dirty.  And make your will be known.  Please, please vote. 

I would also like to suggest that all political ads be removed from the air two or three days before an election.  Most people have made up their minds by this time, and the few that haven’t aren’t going to be swayed by political advertising.  Maybe a non-partisan “please, vote” on voting day would be fine — but the plethora of political ads now is deafening and irresponsible.

In my home state, Wisconsin, I am subjected to ads over and over again, to the point where I can quote them.  I’ve heard from Russ Feingold, incumbent Democrat, and I’ve heard from Ron Johnson, a very wealthy man who’s running for the Senate as a Republican.  (This year, being very wealthy seems to equal being an incumbent; both are despised by the vast majority of voters.  Don’t start on how irrational this is, because I am well aware.)  I’ve heard from Tom Barrett, Democratic candidate for Governor (and current, sitting mayor of Milwaukee, the biggest city in Wisconsin), and I’ve heard from Scott Walker, the Republican candidate for Governor (and current, sitting county executive for Milwaukee County, the biggest county in Wisconsin).  And I’ve heard all sorts of ads for just about any campaign imaginable in Southeastern Wisconsin.

All I can say is this: stop, please.  There is no need for this.  Voters are fed up, and all these ads do is make voters more and more upset that we haven’t a way to fast-forward to Voting Day (this year on November 2nd) and vote already in order to shut the various candidates’ voices up yesterday, by preference.

Finally, I think Jon Stewart’s “Rally for Sanity,” which was held this past Saturday, was on to something.  As Stewart said, we all work together every day — it’s only in the hallowed halls of government that everything breaks down.  If we are going underneath a tunnel, or are trying to merge into traffic, whether a person has a NRA sticker or an Obama sticker on the car is irrelevant — we’re going to let that person in, and most of the time won’t hit them with our car in the process.

Here’s a link to the full text of that speech:

http://www.examiner.com/celebrity-in-national/rally-to-restore-sanity-jon-stewart-s-closing-speech-full-text

And a relevant quote:

If we amplify everything we hear nothing.  There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats but those are titles that must be earned.  You must have the resume.  Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate–just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe not more.  The press is our immune system.  If we overreact to everything we actually get sicker–and perhaps eczema. 

And yet, with that being said, I feel good—strangely, calmly good.  Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false.  It is us through a fun house mirror, and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass shaped like a month old pumpkin and one eyeball.

Mr. Stewart is right on the money in his critique of the overreaction of the mainstream media.  When everything is a crisis, how can anything be evaluated except as a crisis?  Then whatever you say, whatever you do, is “amped up” to the point that it’s blown so far out of proportion that it can barely be recognized.

I don’t know what the answers are to the 24/7 cable news networks in this country.  I don’t know what the answers are to why our own federal government works so improperly, and with so much more “heat” than “light.”

I do know that we need people in Congress to work together.  Find a consensus.  And go from there.

Our country deserves better from our politicians, and it’s time to stand up and demand they take notice.  That’s what the “Rally for Sanity” was saying, and they were right; it’s what many of the Tea Partiers have been saying, and they, too, are right.

We, the people, are better than our representatives.  And the imbalance is palpable.

This must be fixed.  Which is why I say again, for the third (and last) time, please, please vote.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 31, 2010 at 11:42 pm

On the Meaning of Friendship.

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One of my friends on Facebook sent along a “status update,” something that’s supposed to discuss what she’s experiencing or thinking about.  Hers was on the nature of friendship, which got me thinking about what, to me, constitutes a true friend.

To me, a true friend is someone who cares about you regardless of your background, your financial status, how you look, what your house or car might look like, or even if you have a house or car at all.  A true friend cares about you because of who you are, not what, and he or she cares because of what makes you the unique individual you’ve become. 

Or, to put it another way, friends care.  They care how you’ve lived your life — what experiences you’ve gone through, and how they’ve made you who you are.  They help you observe the various life lessons you’ve learned over time, and celebrate your achievements while mourning your setbacks.  These are the things that bind you together.

It is that spark of interest from another person as to just how you’ve managed to get through it all that celebrates the best part of humanity.  And it’s one of the things that makes life worth living no matter how difficult it may be the rest of the time.

I can’t say enough about the value of true friendship.  Friendship is beyond any monetary price tag, and is right up there with love as far as I’m concerned. 

If you have a good friend, cherish him or her, and tell your friend often how much you care.  Life is too short, a truism often heard but rarely felt.  Please don’t leave words unsaid if you can help it.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 27, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Posted in friendship, Writing

An Elegy for Pat Strawnsky, 73.

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One of my friends, Pat Stransky, passed away recently at the age of 73. I hadn’t seen her in at least two years, but I thought about her often and called upon occasion . . . she, like me, lost her husband in 2004 and we often talked about how much we missed our husbands, along with current events and the oddities of which pop star was doing what to whom.  (Pat, like my Grandma, liked to follow the gossip magazines.)

Pat and Roger had two children; one, Mark, is in a group home due to some learning disabilities, while the other is married with children living in another state.  I hope the two surviving children will remember the love Pat had for them, and all the good times they must have shared as a family.

Pat loved animals.  She had a very large dog — I can’t recall her dog’s name right now, but though it weighed well over 100 pounds it was a sweet and gentle animal, devoted to Pat’s well-being.  Pat’s dog died a year or so ago, which saddened me when I heard about it.

Pat was 73, which is a good age for a woman with chronic health issues, emphysema, and all the other things Pat faced in retirement as a woman alone after her husband died.  But it saddened me greatly to hear of her passing for two reasons — one, she spent her last days in a nursing home (a very nice one, but she’d never wanted to go there — we’d talked about it often), and two, she was a very kind and gracious lady, and the world needs far more of those than it has.

I cannot say “rest in peace” because I find that common phrase to be an abomination — but I can say that I hope Pat has found Roger in the afterlife, and that they’ve been reunited with all their loved ones on the other side, including their pets.

My life was richer for knowing you, Pat.  I’ll miss you.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 26, 2010 at 4:07 am

Posted in Remembrance

The Economy 2, SF/F magazines, 0 — or, RoF and DoD shut down due to poor sales figures.

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I was shocked to read at Ralan.com this evening that both Dreams of Decadence and Realms of Fantasy (also called DoD and RoF by cognoscenti) are shutting down immediately due to poor sales figures.  I knew Realms of Fantasy was in trouble; I didn’t know Dreams of Decadence was also in trouble, though they were both owned by the same parent company.

Warren LaPine, the publisher of Realms of Fantasy, said this in his final letter from the publisher, available at this link http://www.rofmag.com/2010/10/18/a-note-from-the-publisher/ :

I invested more than $50,000.00 of my own money into reviving (Realms of Fantasy). I tried every traditional method I could think of to increase the circulation, but nothing worked. I also spent a great deal of money trying nontraditional methods. I advertised online with Google and Facebook, neither of which came close to covering their costs. And we created DRM-free electronic versions of the magazine to see if that would help increase our circulation. Sadly, the DRM-free versions never sold more than twenty five copies per issue, and the Kindle editions sold fewer still.

 As things stand, I would need to invest another large amount of money simply to continue publishing the magazine at its current level—an investment that I do not believe would have any chance of repaying itself. So, unfortunately, I have no choice but to close Realms of Fantasy and Dreams of Decadence.

This is horrible news for readers, who now have fewer choices when it comes to quality magazines that publish science fiction and fantasy, but it’s even worse news for writers.  Simply put: the economy gets us coming and going.  We all scramble for the available markets, and while a few new ones have opened that seem very, very good (Redstone SF, Daily Science Fiction, and John Joseph Adams’ new Lightspeed magazine), it seems that every time we turn around, there’s another venerable SF&F magazine like RoF biting the dust.

It’s sad.  It’s shocking.  And I wish I didn’t have to report such horrible news.

The only potential good that may come out of Mr. LaPine’s note as of 10/18/2010 is that he’s willing to sell Realms of Fantasy for $1.  That’s right.  One whole dollar.  But don’t try to buy it unless you’re willing to put at least as much money — and time — as Mr. LaPine . . . I know that if I had at least $50K start-up, I’d be glad to buy Realms of Fantasy and Dreams of Decadence and put everyone back to work.

But I don’t.  And many writers/editors are like me — flat-out busted.

So for now — and perhaps forever — we must bid adieu to these two fine magazines.  How I wish it weren’t so.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 20, 2010 at 4:05 am

Loren Jones’s novel “All that Glitters” now available from e-Quill Publishing.

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My friend Loren K. Jones now has two novels available, the first being All that Glitters at e-Quill Publishing.  All that Glitters is a fantasy novel/coming of age story about Stavin kel’Aniston, once the smallest and least-regarded of all the warrior-candidates in his village.  Because of this, he feels he has nothing to lose in attempting to beard a dragon in its den, and ends up with a quasi-friend in the dragon along with dragonscale armor, something no one else in his village has or has ever had.

But this is just the start of Stavin’s problems; he still must learn how to work within the system in order to show his worth.   If he can do so, fame and fortune will be his, but more importantly, he’ll be able to marry the woman of his dreams (a slightly older, and nearly blind, scholar).

All that Glitters is just under 100K words, and is an excellent read.  I urge everyone who loves fantasy, coming of age tales, or simply something fun to read to check out Loren K. Jones’s fine novel.  And better yet, it is the first in a four-book series . . . more reading pleasure awaits, if you only will accept the challenge of buying — and reading — the first book in Stavin’s journey.

Go here to purchase Loren’s novel All that Glitters:

http://www.equillpublishing.com/all-that-glitters.html

Loren also has available another very strong novel, this one through Amazon Kindle’s wireless e-book program.  This novel is called Inadvertent Adventures and is also right around the 100K mark.  Inadvertent Adventures is space opera/humor; Sterling Silver is a veteran who’s been cashiered from his job due to spurious reasons, and now must make shift for himself.  He finds space on a tramp freighter and learns the ropes, all while missing his ex-wife, Ann . . . in the process, this middle-aged man re-learns how to enjoy his life, and that no matter how boxed in he might feel himself to be at the start, there are more options and opportunities available than he’d ever dreamed.  This novel, too, is highly recommended; please follow this link in order to buy Inadvertent Adventures:

http://www.amazon.com/Inadvertent-Adventures-ebook/dp/B0042P5F1I/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287536667&sr=1-4

A bit about how I know Loren:  my late husband and Loren were very strong Internet friends and writing critique partners, and after Michael died, I continued working with Loren (and Loren returned the favor with my stuff).  Loren is a good man and a very fine writer; his writing has been compared to David Eddings and L.E. Modesitt, Jr., as it has freshness, authenticity, and the ability to effortlessly carry the reader into another place.  If the science fiction and fantasy community were not so difficult to break into with all the closed book markets, requiring agents to help you find a way in for the most part, and the few “opens” like Tor, Baen, DAW, etc., being overloaded with manuscripts on the one hand and being understaffed on the other (meaning no disrespect to anyone — it’s simply a fact of life), Loren would’ve broken in years ago.  And so, no doubt, would’ve my late husband, Michael, me, Jason Cordova, and many other good writers without major publisher book contracts I have the privilege to know.

Please do not let the fact that Loren does not have a major book publishing contract fool you, in short.  This man can write.  Give him a chance, and you will enjoy your reading experience.  Thus ends today’s public service announcement.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 19, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Jason Cordova’s “Corruptor” now available in “sneak preview” PDF format from Twilight Times Books

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My friend Jason Cordova’s excellent Corruptor is finally available — albeit in PDF only and as a “sneak preview” — from Twilight Times Books.

A bit about Corruptor: it’s a near-future thriller that has everything — action, adventure, intrigue, corporate politics, games theory, and even some romance.  It features a teenage girl as its main character, and the main problem she has is getting trapped in a computer game — but don’t let that fool you, as the game she’s trapped inside has multiple ways of losing, and only a few ways of winning, especially due to some in-game and out-of-the-game bad guys.

I read Corruptor a year ago and enjoyed it immensely; please go check out the PDF “sneak preview” at Twilight Times books.

Here’s the quote from their Web site:

Twilight Times Books is offering a sneak preview of several upcoming releases: Corruptor, SF/F by Jason Cordova

(rest snipped out, BC)

The above titles are available for purchase now as pdf arcs.

And here’s the link to the page you need so you can order Jason Cordova’s magnum opus:

http://twilighttimesbooks.com/ttb_arc_order.html

The link to Corruptor is about halfway down the page.

So what are you waiting for?  Check it out already!

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 16, 2010 at 10:46 pm

“The Fair at South Farallon” up at e-Quill Publishing.

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Well, Lawrence got that story up in less than two days; he wrote the blurb himself, which I might have to tweak but am not going to worry about just yet . . . the story is a satire, and is about aliens, an odd contest that says it’s all about “story-telling” under a vague machine, but isn’t, and is most of all about friendship in the oddest of senses.

Betty and Karen are good friends, the type who’ve seemingly known each other forever.  Yet Karen’s behaving out of character, and nothing at the Fair occurring on South Farallon Island out in San Francisco Bay is as it seems . . . will Betty figure out what’s going on before it’s too late?

At any rate, it’s fantasy/satire, mostly on the subject of unemployment and how many people are out there who are able to do much more than life gives ‘em a chance to do.  Note that I write a lot of satire, though this is the first piece I’ve written that has anything to do with the employment issue in this country.  

This story isn’t as humorous as “Trouble with Elfs” or most of my stories, to be frank, but it’s definitely a satire — maybe that’s why I had so much trouble getting this sold.  I tried at least 75 publications over the years, with two — two! — holding the story for a month or two, then releasing it when there was “no room” for it or they changed their mind about the story.

Here’s the link to “The Fair at South Farallon,” and I hope that you’ll give it a chance.  If you do, I believe you’ll enjoy it.

http://www.equillpublishing.com/the-fair-at-south-farallon.html

Whatever you think, please come back and drop me a line, here, or at my Yahoo e-mail address which is barbcaffrey (all one word) AT Yahoo DOT com.  I’d love to know people are reading my stories!

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 13, 2010 at 9:09 pm

A Bunch of Stuff — new Publications, Yoplait Yogurt lids, and Brett Favre observation.

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Well, I don’t have enough for a full blog post today, but I do have a lot of little things to discuss.

First, e-Quill Publishing has accepted an original story; for those of you who’ve known me a while, this story started as “Dream/Reality,” then became “Betty goes to the Fair.”  It’s now entitled “The Fair at South Farallon,” I think — Lawrence at e-Quill liked that much better.   I do not know when it will be available, but I am glad that it’s been accepted.

Second, I am writing a collaborative novella with Piotr Mierzejewski for e-Quill Publishing that’s titled “Iron Falls.”  It is near-future military suspense; I’ve never written anything like this before, and have been doing a great deal of research.  It is in Piotr’s world with Piotr’s characters; we’re still hammering out the plot.  Two chapters have been written with a third on the way; estimated time for this story’s completion is late December 2010.  (Lawrence is very confident and has already announced this at the e-Quill Publishing Web site.  I would’ve preferred to wait until at least four chapters were completed.  But now that the cat’s out of the bag . . . . )

Third, anyone who eats Yoplait yogurt knows that around this time of year, they start making all the lids pink for breast cancer awareness.  My Mom is taking part in all that; it’s called “Save Lids to Save Lives.”  So please, save your pink lids and send ‘em to Yoplait down the road, OK?

Finally, my Brett Favre observation.  I’m sure most if not all of you know Favre is in trouble due to some allegations made by two massage therapists working for the New York Jets and a “game hostess” also employed by the Jets.  (I don’t know what a “game hostess” does.  Sorry.)  These were all attractive women, and Favre is alleged to have sent racy text messages to them and also to have sent naked “below-the-waist” pics.  He also left voice mail messages for the “hostess.”

Look.  Favre is a married man; his wife is the inestimable Deanna Favre, who has beaten breast cancer once (though it may return).  They’ve known each other all their lives, have two children (one who is grown and has already reproduced, so Favre is the NFL’s only known player that’s also a grandfather), and have been married fourteen years.  Their marriage has been strong, though there have been allegations in the past of Favre cheating on her — I’ve always thought that Favre loves Deanna like no other, but maybe has trouble being faithful to her, even though I could be wrong about all of it.

What I am sorry about is that Favre’s life is played out in public.  These problems are difficult for anyone to deal with; infidelity is not easy for the non-cheating partner to have to deal with.  And women, more than men, have to deal with this — it’s an awful situation even if it’s all happening behind closed doors.  It is a thousand times worse, it seems to me, to have all this happen in the public eye.

Favre is a major, big-time player with many NFL records; he’s still playing at 41 and is still highly competent as a QB (though it seems to me he now has to pick his spots; last night’s game against the Jets, where Favre played a good fourth quarter but the first three weren’t good at all, is a case in point).  He has the consecutive games-played record — not just for quarterbacks, but for all NFL players — and is considered the “iron man” of professional American football.

All that being said, he’s a man like any other.  And his faults seem to be remarkably similar to many other men; he apparently has a wandering eye, and now his marriage may be in major trouble.

I believe the publication Deadspin.com, who has reveled in these Favre allegations (even to the point of paying $20,000 for the voice-mails and “corroborating evidence”), is mostly to blame for all this.  They don’t need to be muckrakers.  Yet to get publicity for themselves, Deadspin.com has played this for all its worth — and I find that disgusting.

I would prefer that Brett Favre re-commit to his marriage, if indeed any of the allegations against him are true.  Deanna Favre is a remarkable, strong, intelligent lady and she’s stood by him through many difficult times — including Favre’s Vicodin addiction in the ’90s.  She deserves better treatment from her husband.  And Favre really needs to learn that, at 41 years of age, he should appreciate the great woman he has and stop trying to re-live his youth or behave in a crass, classless manner.  He’s not young; he’s a grandfather.  He should set an example for his teammates and clean up his act.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 12, 2010 at 10:00 pm

New Book Review — Read “The Crucible of Empire,” as it’s Outstanding.

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Folks, I just wrote a review at the “sister site” Shiny Book Reviews for Eric Flint and K.D. Wentworth’s excellent The Crucible of Empire.  I had previously reviewed it at Amazon.com but I wasn’t comfortable with my review there, partly due to space limitations.  At Shiny Book Reviews that isn’t as much of a concern; I now feel comfortable with my review of The Crucible of Empire and hope you all will read it.

Here’s the link:

http://shinybookreview.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/the-crucible-of-empire-passes-rigid-test-another-outstanding-novel-from-flint-and-wentworth/

But to sum up: if you love books that make you think along with appreciating the rousing space-battle action, you will love The Crucible of Empire.  Can’t praise it highly enough.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 10, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Ken Macha out as Brewers manager; more on Brewers.

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The Milwaukee Brewers, who finished with a 77-85 record, fired manager Ken Macha today by the simple expedient of not picking up his option for next season.  Macha said here (http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/104276948.html):

“Nobody likes to be let go, but I understand baseball, too,” Macha said. “I’ve been around a long time and been through this stuff. I told (Melvin) this Milwaukee experience for me was tremendous.

“It’s too bad we didn’t win more games, but I appreciate him bringing me here. … The expectations were to put up more wins and we didn’t do that. That’s the game.”

Macha’s words were classy, especially as he found out he’d been fired last evening via the media rather than by his good friend, Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin.  Macha continued:

“When you sit down and build your club … you really got to compare your club to the other teams that have won,” Macha said. “How do we stack up with say St. Louis? We signed Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins. … Yeah we filled some holes, but are we on the same level with (Chris) Carpenter and (Adam) Wainright? So maybe the expectations were a little high but you still have to win.

“We lacked that No. 1 guy going out there. That’s my thoughts. If you could put someone at the top (of the rotation) and move everybody else down, you’d give yourself a much better chance to win.”

Now, this is something I, as a fan of the Brewers, said all year long.  Yovani Gallardo is not an ace.  He is a good pitcher and would probably be just fine as the second pitcher on the Brewers staff, but he is no ace.  And Randy Wolf, who’s a fine number three pitcher, has too much pressure on him as a number two pitcher — all of those roles, ace, number two pitcher, number three pitcher, are clearly defined now in major league baseball, and the ace of the staff is expected to be the guy who shuts down the opposition no matter what’s been happening with the rest of the club.  (In other words, if the Brewers had lost six or seven in a row and Gallardo’s turn was up, he was expected to keep the other team in check while he was out there and get the Brewers a better chance to win thereby.  Gallardo can do this, but he mostly doesn’t — that’s why he’d be better as the number two pitcher on the staff because he’d have far less pressure on him thereby.)

Going on in Anthony Witrado’s blog from today’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Macha also acknowledged his trying relationships with stars Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder while noting that several other players he had good relationships with thanked him after yesterday’s season finale, including Corey Hart, Casey McGehee and Wolf among plenty of others.

Skipping ahead in the blog:

“If the effort wasn’t reciprocated, then there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. You can’t force guys to do that,” Macha said. “Some guys were open to discussion and some guys weren’t, I guess, but that’s the same with every club.

“I talked a lot to Ryan, almost every day, but he does his own thing. He’s going to do what he wants to do.

“With Prince, I think he had some issues this year to deal with, the contract probably being the main thing, and at times he was hard to talk to. I don’t know if there were any guys on the staff that talked a whole lot to him this year.

“Those are the two guys, but the rest of the guys it was all positive. I opened up to (Braun and Fielder) but you have to have a back and forth. The faces of the franchise, that’s what they are.”

After reading all this, while I remain convinced Ken Macha was always the wrong man for this job, I feel rather sorry for him.  I’ve been in positions where I came into a job and wasn’t really given a chance, and it sounds like that’s exactly what happened between Macha and Brewers’ stars Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun, who were both extremely angry after Ned Yost was fired in 2008 with only twelve games remaining in the season.  (For the record, I was, too.  I liked Yost a great deal.)

Macha had nothing to do with Ned Yost’s firing whatsoever, but I think because he was known to be such good friends with Brewers GM Doug Melvin, those two players in particular never gave Macha much of a chance.  But what really surprises me is that apparently no one could reach Fielder this year — which explains Fielder’s extremely poor year, where he dropped in home runs from 46 to 31, dropped in RBI from 141 to 83, and dropped in batting average from .299 to .261.  Fielder is the Brewers clean-up hitter, yet he had the fewest RBI of anyone who batted in the top five of the Brewers batting order, as you’ll see by this quick list:

Brewers RBI leaders:

Casey McGehee, 104 (bats fifth) — .285 BA, 23 HR, .464 slugging percentage

Ryan Braun, 103 (bats third) — .304 BA (led team), 25 HR, .501 slugging percentage, .365 on base percentage

Corey Hart, 102 (bats second) — .280 BA, 31 HR (8th in league), .525 slugging percentage (led team)

Rickie Weeks, 83 (bats first) — .269 BA, 29 HR, 184 strikeouts (led team), .366 on base percentage

Prince Fielder, 83 (bats fourth) — .261 BA, 32 HR (sixth in league), .401 on base percentage (led team), 114 walks (led team)

Now that you’ve seen that list, here’s some more information.  Corey Hart started the season on the bench because he’d had a horrible Spring Training; he played so well Macha had to play Hart, and eventually Hart not only made the National League All-Star team, he took part in the Home Run Derby as he was among the league leaders in home runs at that time.  Corey Hart finished with career highs in home runs and RBI and greatly improved his defensive play in right field; pretty good for a guy who started out on the bench, eh?

Then there’s Casey McGehee, who in his second full season led the team in RBI.  McGehee is a third baseman who was an older-than-average rookie last year that GM Doug Melvin picked up prior to 2009 — McGehee had been buried in the farm system of the Chicago Cubs, but was a good, solid hitter and Melvin knew it.  Signing McGehee, who started 2009 on the bench and eventually became the starting third baseman, then continued on in that role in 2010, was probably one of Melvin’s best — and most unheralded — moves of the past two years.

The other three guys — Weeks, Braun and Fielder — were all expected to do well.  But Weeks, in the past, had trouble staying healthy due to problems with his wrists that required operations; that he finished a whole season credibly, improved his defense, and led all major league lead-off men in RBI was impressive.  Braun got hit on the hand by a fastball thrown by Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson early in the season, had a huge dip in all batting stats during the summer, but rallied to have his usual excellent year in RBI, batting average and on base percentage (this includes hits, walks, and getting on base via errors).  It was only Fielder who had a rotten year, especially by his standards — and as Macha said, that’s probably due to contractual reasons as Fielder is eligible next year for arbitration, then is a free agent, so for the moment does not have financial stability assured.  (That Fielder is a client of hard-nosed agent Scott Boras is another concern, but of course Macha would never mention that even though everyone knows it’s part of the problem.  The Brewers offered Fielder $100 million for five years — $20 million a year — but Boras said that wasn’t enough.  That didn’t go over well with Brewers fans at all, though no one blamed Fielder, a bluff, genial, good-hearted man, for Boras’s actions even though Boras works for Fielder, not the reverse.)

Since this will probably be my final blog about the Brewers for a while, I may as well give my end of the season awards now.

Brewers Most Valuable Player: Corey Hart (Casey McGehee, second) — this is because when the Brewers still had a shot to get back in the pennant race and everyone else slumped, Hart carried the team through much of May and June.

Rookie of the Year: John Axford, who took over the closing job from Trevor Hoffman and never looked back, going 8-2 with a 2.48 ERA, and saving 24 out of 27 games.

Brewers Most Valuable Pitcher: John Axford.

Comeback Player of the Year: Chris Capuano — Capuano’s stats of 4-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 24 appearances (and nine starts) are a little misleading, though they’re perfectly fine.  As it stands, “Cappy” is the first player to effectively pitch in the major leagues after a second “Tommy John” ligament replacement surgery on his pitching arm.  He also is a study in perseverence, as his second comeback required nearly two full years of rehabilitation.  Capuano deserves serious consideration as major league comeback player of the year.

The Brewers had many good players who had fine years for them in 2010; they just did not jell as a team.  Here’s hoping that next year, the Brewers will be much better and give the fans a great deal more excitement overall.

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