Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Happy 4th, Go Brewers (and Marcum), and Other Odds and Ends

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Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Today’s the day to remember the beginning of the United States of America — when we declared independence from Great Britain.  (We actually declared independence on July 2, but the predecessor to the United States Congress didn’t ratify the document until July 4, which is why we celebrate on today’s date.)  It’s also a great day to watch baseball, eat hot dogs and apple pie, and for families to appreciate being with each other (or at least put aside their differences for the day).  And, finally, it’s become another day (like Memorial Day and Veterans Day) to remember our military men and women, especially those serving overseas in war zones, partly because we have three wars going at the same time, but mostly because our military remains an important part of why we remain an independent nation to this day.

Before I go on, I’d like to mention one military man overseas — my cousin, Wayne.   I know he’s seen a number of Independence Days away from the United States, but I can’t believe it ever gets that easy for him — he’s away from his family, most of his friends, and all that is familiar, which would be hard enough even without the three wars going on right now — and I want to remind him that I really do appreciate his service to our country.

Anyway, today is a day for baseball, as I said before, so it’s time to celebrate my favorite players.  Corey Hart hit his 9th home run of the year against Arizona (game is still in progress as I type this; the Brewers lead, 6-4, in the 6th) to make it 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth, then Shaun Marcum — the pitcher — hit a grand slam home run to make it 6-1.  (The Diamondbacks got a run back in the top of the 5th and two runs in the 6th.)  This is the first grand slam of the year for the Brewers — with all their vaunted hitters, including the three 2011 All-Star starters Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Rickie Weeks, and of course the aforementioned Hart, you’d think the Brewers would’ve had multiple grand slam HRs by now.  Not that the first one of the year would be hit by the rather light-hitting pitcher Marcum (who started today batting only .103).

Next, Casey McGehee looks like he’s finally getting on track, and that’s good.  He has two hits today, but so far for the year he’s hitting in the .220s with only 4 HR and 33 RBI despite playing in the vast majority of the Brewers games in the #5 spot.  McGehee has good power to all fields when he’s right, but most of this year he’s been mired in a slump and his defense has also suffered (when one thing goes bad, it tends to make everything go bad; this is an axiom that doesn’t just apply to baseball).  Here’s hoping that his two hits in two ABs (so far) will spur him to better things in the second half.

Next, I wanted to point out how former Brewer Vinny Rottino’s doing in AAA ball for the New Orleans Zephyrs.  Rottino has continued to hit well, though he’s no longer on a tear; he’s batting .307 with 4 HRs and 31 RBI, and his OBP remains a robust .378.  Rottino isn’t really a power guy; instead, he’s a contact hitter, an intelligent runner, and an above-average defender at any outfield position, first base or third base.  Rottino’s now thirty-one years old, yet is in excellent shape and could easily play several more years — perhaps as many as ten — and I really wish someone would give him a chance as a utility player and pinch hitter in the majors.

Next, there’s Chris Capuano, a former Brewers pitcher who now pitches for the New York Mets.  Capuano recently beat the Brewers in Milwaukee and was given a huge round of applause when announced in the starting line-up for the Mets — a sign of respect that isn’t often seen for an opposing player, but Brewers’ fans do not forget “their own.”  For the year, “Cappy” is 7-7 with a 4.27 ERA and has struck out 77 while walking only 24; I wish him nothing but success in the second half.

Finally, there’s former Brewer shortstop J.J. Hardy, who now plays for the Baltimore Orioles.  Hardy’s defense has remained outstanding while his hitting stroke has finally returned after a succession of wrist injuries marred his last two seasons — for the year to date, Hardy is hitting .295 with 11 HR, 30 RBI and 31 runs scored in 54 games played.  That last stat (runs scored) is a bit surprising as Hardy is not exactly what you’d call “fleet afoot” due to a horrific collision sustained in 2006 while trying to score a run — Hardy decided to slide late, and this may have exacerbated that season-ending injury.

At any rate, I enjoy watching my Milwaukee Brewers, past and present, and I hope they all succeed, wherever they are now and wherever they’ll be in the future.  They make the 4th of July — and every day — more interesting, as especially with this year’s team I never have any idea of how they’re going to do.

I hope you all enjoy your 4th of July experience — whatever it may be, from fireworks to Summerfest to just “hanging out” — and do it safely so you’ll be around for July 5th, 6th, and beyond.

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