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Former #Brewers OF Darryl Hamilton, 50, Killed in Apparent Murder-Suicide

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Folks, this just breaks my heart.

Darryl Hamilton was known as one of the original good guys in Milwaukee. He played full-time for the Brewers from 1990 to 1995, and debuted with the team in 1988. He was a brilliant defensive outfielder and a good clutch hitter with a lifetime batting average of .291 (not too shabby)…eventually, he made his way to the World Series with the New York Mets in 2000 during the course of a successful thirteen-year career.

Now, he is dead.

As Adam McCalvy reported, Hamilton was shot to death over the weekend by Monica Jordan — Jordan was his girlfriend, and the two of them had a child together. Then Jordan turned the gun on herself.

What’s even sadder is this: a little child, born of Hamilton and Jordan, was left behind.

Words fail me in this tragedy.

The first thought I had after hearing this terrible news was this: Domestic violence is real, whether it’s at the hands of a man, like Ray Rice, or a woman, Monica Jordan.

(Or Hope Solo, who hasn’t been sanctioned at all by USA Soccer. But I digress.)

My second thought is how much Hamilton will be missed in Milwaukee, and all around MLB. He was a good-hearted man who enjoyed life, and had a boundless passion for baseball.

He should not be dead at age 50.

—–

Edited to add in Hamilton’s stats, and his “cup of coffee” with the Brewers in 1988. Also edited the bit about Ms. Jordan; she now has been positively identified as his late girlfriend.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 22, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Memorial Day for Sale: NFL Teams Take Money to ‘Honor’ the Military

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Is Memorial Day truly for sale?

It sure seems that way, after finding out that 14 NFL teams have actually taken money to “honor” military veterans — including my own favorite team, the Green Bay Packers.

I found out about this last Friday (May 22, 2015) by watching Keith Olbermann’s ESPN2 show. As quoted from the website PoliticsUSA.com:

In a lengthy monologue on Friday’s broadcast of ESPN2′s Olbermann, host Keith Olbermann took NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to school over the recent revelation that the National Football League has taken millions of dollars from the US military to promote the armed forces of this country. Over the past few years, it has been estimated that the NFL has received $5.4 million since 2011 to ‘honor’ members of the military at games and other events. As Olbermann pointed out, the main issue isn’t that the league took money, but that it pretended that it was honoring the soldiers out of true patriotism rather than love of money.

This disturbs me for more than one reason.

First, veterans of the armed forces deserve to be treated well without teams being paid to do so.

Second, that teams have been pretending they’re doing this out of the goodness of their nonexistent hearts rather than some sort of business-oriented motivation is incredibly hypocritical.

It is especially upsetting because fans are expected to be both patriotic and uncritical of the teams they follow. So when we see teams giving what surely look to be deserving shout-outs to serving military members (or honorable veterans), we think it’s genuine.

We don’t expect these “Hometown Heroes” shout-outs to be merely a matter of public relations.

But they are. And that’s wrong.

Olbermann isn’t the only high-profile person angered by this behavior. Arizona’s two United States Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, are also appalled. In an article from the Washington Post, McCain was quoted as saying:

“I think it’s really disgraceful that NFL teams whose profits are at an all-time high had to be paid to honor our veterans,” he said Tuesday (via ESPN)..

Agreed. (To the Nth power.)

Taking money in order to salute these real hometown heroes is wrong. Just ask U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, as quoted in the Washington Post article:

“You go to a game and you see a team honoring ‘Hometown Heroes,’ and you think it’s some sort of public service announcement, that the team is doing it out of the goodness of their heart,” Flake told ESPN on Monday. “Then you find out it’s paid for? That seems a little unseemly.”

This, right here, encapsulates why I’m so steamed.

Look. According to Olbermann (see his YouTube rant here), the Green Bay Packers took $600,000 from the Department of Defense for this practice.

But even if the Packers hadn’t taken any money, I’d still be upset.

As a fan, I’ve always seen military members get shout-outs. They are feted, get tickets to games, often are highlighted on the scoreboard, and the impression is that the teams are doing this because it’s the right thing to do.

Sure, it’s all public relations. We know this, deep down inside.

But we don’t expect that teams would actually be crass enough to require payment.

That these 14 NFL teams have done so is truly shameful. A recent editorial at Jacksonville.com said:

…the Department of Defense and 14 NFL teams deserve boos over revelations that the federal agency paid the clubs $5.4 million over a three-year period to feature military members during games. According to the Defense Department and the 14 teams, the payments were merely part of mutually agreed “sponsorship deals” designed to promote the military in a flattering, high-profile manner. But in truth, the deals were simply “crass” and “disgraceful,” as Sen. John McCain — a military hero who bravely survived captivity during the Vietnam War — so aptly put it.

(Preach it, brothers and sisters.)

Why the Packers ever thought it a good idea to take money to salute the military makes no sense.

NFL teams make money hand-over-fist. They do not need to take money from the Department of Defense or anyone else to salute the hard-working men and women who comprise the United States military.

That they did was absolutely reprehensible.

******
P.S. Because it’s come out that 14 NFL teams have taken money to salute soldiers, it makes me wonder…are teams in Major League Baseball also taking money for this practice?

Have the Milwaukee Brewers actually taken money over the years to salute these “Hometown Heroes” in order to put them on the big scoreboard in centerfield?

I sincerely hope the Brewers haven’t.

Milwaukee Brewers Chatter: Will Smith Gets an 8-Game Suspension

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Folks, I’ve been head-down in my final edit for A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, so I am a bit behind-hand in discussing what’s going on with the Milwaukee Brewers lately.

Let’s rectify that.

A few days ago (on Thursday, May 21, 2015), Brewers reliever Will Smith came into a game against the Atlanta Braves and had something shiny on his forearm. This substance was something to help him better grip the ball on a cold and somewhat windy day, and many pitchers use it for exactly that. But they don’t put it openly on their arm; they attempt to conceal it.

Smith, because he did not conceal this substance, got thrown out of the baseball game after Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez complained. And Smith was irate.

After the game, Smith answered some questions from reporters (this was shown on Fox Sports Wisconsin’s postgame show). Smith said he’d put that substance (identified as a mix of sunscreen and rosin) on his arm in the bullpen to help with his grip. He said he wanted to wipe it off, but forgot…and then he got thrown out. Smith pointed out that many pitchers do this, and they do not get thrown out.

On Friday, Smith was suspended by Major League Baseball for eight games for using this illegal substance.

Of course Smith is appealing the suspension, because both Smith and the Brewers management think that eight games is too long, considering the cold weather and the fact that Smith is a relief pitcher. (Why does the last part matter? Well, a starter who’s suspended for 10 games misses two starts. But a reliever who misses eight games misses eight potential opportunities to pitch.)

Smith is allowed to keep pitching until his appeal is heard (probably sometime early next week).

What do I think of all this as a Brewers fan? I think Smith was at best absentminded, at worst incredibly foolish, to have that substance openly on his arm. But I don’t blame him for wanting to get a better grip on the ball considering the conditions, especially as the Brewers have had several players hit in the head this year — most notably Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura.

(Of course, Smith hit a batter anyway. So I don’t know what good that substance actually did him. But I digress.)

Ultimately, I think the suspension is likely to be reduced on appeal. It’s possible MLB could reduce it by a couple of games, maybe even three…which will leave Smith with a five- or six-game suspension rather than the current length of eight games.

Let’s hope that Smith can use his impending time off wisely. (Maybe he’ll study up on just how to properly conceal the same substance so he’ll not get thrown out of the game next time. Or am I being too cynical?)

Alex Rodriguez Hits HR 661, Passes Willie Mays on All-Time List

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Folks, Alex Rodriguez has returned to his hitting ways with a vengeance.

After sitting out all of the 2014 season with an unprecedented 162-game suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, Rodriguez has come back to the New York Yankees revitalized. And it’s allowed him to first hit his 660th home run — tying Willie Mays on the all-time HR list — then his 661st last night.

Apparently, being away from baseball and able to heal completely from a number of nagging injuries has allowed Rodriguez (also known as A-Rod) to partially sip from the fountain of youth. And that’s why he’s hitting so much better than he has in years.

OK, OK. I’m being a bit fanciful. (Then again, I am a science fiction and fantasy writer by trade. Can you blame me?)

Truthfully, I don’t know why A-Rod is hitting so much better than he has in years. I do suspect that having to take time off and fully heal up has helped him. He’s also known as a “workout warrior,” much like Kobe Bryant — or before him, Nolan Ryan; sometimes being in such excellent physical condition allows a premiere athlete like A-Rod additional time in the sun.

(Doesn’t that explain such feats as Julio Franco’s extraordinary longevity in baseball? But I digress.)

Rodriguez has also been much different with regards to how he behaves in front of the media and how he behaves with the fans. A-Rod seems to have learned some humility in his year away from baseball, too. (Or perhaps a brilliant public relations person has whispered into his ear, and the message stuck.)

Now, all of a sudden, A-Rod seems to understand that being a baseball player is a privilege. Not a right.

Or at least that while he has enormous gifts for baseball (which should be celebrated), that doesn’t make him the best thing since sliced bread.

Look. I am on record as saying I don’t care about PEDs that much. I don’t think PEDs help you hit a baseball; I don’t think they make you that much better of a fielder; the only thing PEDs are proven to affect, as far as I can tell, are the skinny pitchers who can’t gain weight. (On PEDs, that scrawny guy can gain weight, which will allow him to have a higher MPH fastball, which might get him entrance to the majors. Maybe even keep him there.)

I’ve seen that with the Milwaukee Brewers, my own team, mind. Derrick Turnbow was an excellent closer for the Brewers, for a while. But he apparently was one of the Brewers “outed” by the Mitchell Report…when he had to start passing drug tests, all of a sudden he lost his effectiveness. Then he was out of baseball not too long after that.

I still don’t know for certain if Turnbow actually gained that much with PEDs. But I do know that for an elite athlete, confidence is everything. If he thinks that he’s taking something that’ll help, it will help…psychologically, anyway.

Whether it actually does anything physiologically is another story entirely.

And closers are particularly friable. They lose their confidence for whatever reason, and they aren’t able to regain it sometimes. It may be years, or never, before they regain their top form.

Baseball is funny that way.

At any rate, premiere hitters like Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds do not need PEDs to hit homers. They might need PEDs to stay on the field a few years longer, to somehow help with their physical conditioning.

But they were HR hitters before they took PEDs (if Bonds actually took anything; nothing was ever proven). That doesn’t change after you stop taking PEDs, as A-Rod is showing right now.

All I can say to Rodriguez is this: Good for you, Alex.

I’m glad you came back to the Yankees, and I’m glad you’re hitting homers again. You make baseball a more exciting game to watch.

Thank you for understanding that, and for being willing to work so hard to regain your top hitting form without the use of PEDs.

It’s Official: Craig Counsell Is the New Brewers Manager

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Folks, the Milwaukee Brewers and their managerial situation don’t matter much in the cosmic scheme of things.

But as I blogged about the possibilities I saw for a manager late last night, I thought I’d come back and say a few words about the selection of Craig Counsell as the new manager of the Milwaukee Brewers.

I watched the press coverage, carried live by Channel 4 (WTMJ) in Milwaukee. Counsell spoke well, appears eager to take on the responsibility of managing, and pointed out that he’s always felt like a Brewer — that as he started coming to Brewers games and hanging out at old Milwaukee County Stadium around age ten, he knows that the Brewers logo means something.

Counsell, you see, is from Whitefish Bay. His father used to work for the Brewers, which is one reason Counsell hung out so often at the ballpark. (These are things I knew, but didn’t say in my previous post about Ron Roenicke being fired, as I didn’t think Counsell would be the pick.)

Note that Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin explained the odd timing in this way (my best paraphrase, as I do not have a transcript in front of me): Melvin said that since last September 1, the Brewers only won two games in a row three times (including this past weekend against the Cubs). And that’s not good enough.

But if that were the only reason for Roenicke to get fired, you’d still think it would’ve happened weeks ago.

And Melvin really had no answer for this; instead, he said that owner Mark Attanasio had called him on the Brewers off-day last Thursday and discussed the way the team was playing (poorly), and how neither of them liked it very much. Then, Melvin said, they slept on their decision for a few days.

Look. I’ve already laid out why I thought Counsell shouldn’t be the pick. My view had nothing to do with whether or not I think Counsell is qualified; of course he is. And it had nothing to do with whether or not I like Counsell; I liked him as a player, and figure if he’s as much of a straight shooter as a manager as he was as a player, I’m going to like him a whole lot more than I liked Ron Roenicke.

But I still don’t like the timing at all.

This sort of timing only would make sense if the Brewers had gone after one of the three men with ties to the Brewers organization who are currently working for other teams: Ted Simmons, Mike Maddux, and Dale Sveum. There, I could see where contractual issues would have to be dealt with, maybe compensation to the other team (definitely so in the case of Sveum and Maddux, as they are currently coaches for the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers, respectively).

This situation, I really don’t fathom.

Counsell has been a special assistant to the GM for years. He could’ve been hired last year in October. He could’ve again been hired when the Brewers started the season off 2-13.

There was no need to hire him right now.

In that, I echo the words of Ron Roenicke, who was quoted by Adam McCalvy as saying, “I told Doug I wished it would have happened a week ago,” Roenicke said. “I would have understood it better then.”

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 4, 2015 at 11:14 am

Milwaukee Brewers Fire Manager Ron Roenicke, Successor Not Yet Named…

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Folks, as anyone who follows my blog knows, I’ve wanted the Milwaukee Brewers to fire manager Ron Roenicke for at least nine months. (Take a look at my most recent blog on the subject, dated April 20, 2015, for example.)

Tonight, it actually happened. Roenicke has been relieved of his managerial duties despite the Brewers finally winning a series against the Chicago Cubs…and winning two games in a row for the first time all season.

Granted, the team is still only 7-18. Many of the hitters, such as Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez, aren’t doing well. Many of the pitchers have been inconsistent at best, downright awful at worst.

But the team was finally starting to look up. Which is why the timing of Roenicke’s firing looks so very, very odd.

All fans know thus far is that Roenicke is out, the coaching staff has apparently been asked to stay in place, and a new manager is on his way to Milwaukee right now. That person, whoever he may be, will be announced at 10:30 a.m. CDT on Monday.

Because I’ve listened to all of the various reports and studied what’s available online thus far, I can at least give you an idea of the candidates’ names who’ve been mentioned, and a few who haven’t been but seem like obvious choices.

Because this hiring appears to have been in the works for a while, it argues against any current Brewers coaches, much less anyone currently working in the front office (such as Craig Counsell). Any of them could’ve been named back when the Brewers were still 2-13, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that any of them would be named tomorrow morning.

Yet naming a new manager mid-season is often fraught with peril, which is why it’s likely that once a new manager has been named (with the caveat that all the current coaches are still in place), he will have some ties to the Brewers already.

Note that this list is purely speculative. I have no inside information whatsoever. All I know is what the rest of you know; I’ve read Tom Haudricourt’s article, Adam McCalvy’s article, and have heard various radio and TV reports in the Milwaukee area.

So, here we go — here are my seven most likely suspects for the Brewers managerial job:

  1. Ron Gardenhire, who formerly managed the Minnesota Twins, is currently on the unemployment line. He has a lifetime record of 1068-1039, is known as a manager who works well with young talent…but has past issues with three current Brewers players: Kyle Lohse, Carlos Gomez and Matt Garza. (But if Gardenhire is the pick, why wouldn’t he bring an entirely new bunch of coaches with him?)
  2. Former Brewer infielder Don Money managed at all levels of the Brewers minor league farm system and, perhaps more famously in Milwaukee, was an All-Star for the Brewers. Money is known as a player’s manager, like Roenicke, but has a bit more fire to him than Roenicke. Currently Money is a special instructor of player development for the Brewers, and may like that job better as he’s now 67 years of age. Could the Brewers have coaxed him to help them out as their manager for the big club?
  3. Former Brewer Cecil Cooper managed a few seasons with the Houston Astros and has a winning record. Like Money, Cooper was an All-Star and a member of the best team to ever play in Milwaukee, the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers (winners of the American League pennant). Cooper is now 65 and has been out of baseball for a while…could the Brewers have coaxed him out of retirement?
  4. Hall-of-Famer Robin Yount has never managed. However, as perhaps the best player Milwaukee has ever had, Yount has always carried enormous clout with current-day players. Yount also was briefly a bench coach for the Brewers back in 2008 after Ned Yost was fired during the Brewers Wild Card playoff run…could the Brewers have talked Yount into managing, at long last?
  5. Former Brewer Ted Simmons was known in his time as a volatile competitor. He also was the Brewers bench coach during much of the 2010 season under Ken Macha. (Simmons, like Cooper, Yount, and Money, was a member of the 1982 Brewers squad.) Simmons is a viable “old-timer Hall of Fame” candidate as he has the hitting numbers to someday make the Hall. Lately, he’s been a special advisor to General Manager Jack Zduriencik of the Seattle Mariners, so perhaps it would’ve taken a bit of time to get everything contractually straightened out to hire the 65-year-old Simmons.
  6. Former Brewer infielder Dale Sveum has lately been the hitting coach at Kansas City, but once upon a time he was asked by the Brewers to finish up the 2008 season after Ned Yost was fired. Sveum has some big-league managerial experience beyond that as he managed the Chicago Cubs during 2012 and 2013. Sveum also managed in the Brewers minor-league system and is popular with the current players on the Brewers roster. Could the Brewers have managed to pry Sveum loose from the Royals?
  7. Mike Maddux is currently the pitching coach of the Texas Rangers. Word is, he wants to manage, and was under consideration for a few jobs last year. Maddux has ties to the Brewers as he was their pitching coach for six seasons. Could the Brewers have managed to pry Maddux loose from the Rangers?

So that’s it — those are my top seven speculative picks for the Brewers vacant managerial job.

My hunch is that the Brewers may have hired Ted Simmons. I am not quite sure why I think this as his name has not been mentioned once by any member of the Milwaukee media, whereas Craig Counsell’s name has been floated a great deal.

But as I said before, if Counsell is the pick, the Brewers could’ve hired him when they were 2-13.

Anyway, we will all know tomorrow as of 10:30 a.m. who the next manager of the Milwaukee Brewers is. Stay tuned.

* * * * * * Edited to Add:

Multiple sources are saying now that Craig Counsell is the new manager of the Milwaukee Brewers (as of about 1:20 AM CDT). However, Greg Matzek of WTMJ-AM 620 radio in Milwaukee (the Brewers’ flagship station), has said there’s no official comment; the only thing he knows right now is that the new manager, whoever he may be, has been hired with a multi-year deal and will not be an interim manager.

Again, if the pick is Counsell, the Brewers could’ve hired him weeks ago without all this sturm und drang. It seems very unlikely to me that the Brewers would hire Counsell at this particular time, too, considering the man already works in the front office and that Roenicke had just managed the Brewers to their first winning series and first two-game winning streak all season long.

But I guess we will see what the Brewers will do later this morning.

You can be assured that if Counsell is the pick, though, I will not be happy about it, even though I do like Counsell. (I just do not think he can fix this team. Whereas any of the seven men I mentioned can.)

A Quick Blog About Baltimore

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Folks, since the death of Freddie Gray, who sustained grave spinal injuries while in police custody and later died of them, Baltimore has been a place of massive unrest.

There have been riots. There have been burnings. There have been lootings. There now is a nightly curfew between 10 PM and 5 AM. And the National Guard has been called out by the Governor of Maryland, because Baltimore appears to be consuming itself from within.

As I spent five months in Baltimore back in 2005, I have been able to picture nearly all of the places described by the media before they were burned and/or looted. I have friends in that area, and I worry about them; I also follow several players on the Baltimore Orioles, including J.J. Hardy (an ex-Brewer shortstop).

Well, today is an interesting day in Baltimore, to be sure. Because despite all the chaos, baseball will be played today — albeit in an empty stadium, as spectators have been told by the team to stay home.

Better yet, the Baltimore Symphony is right now engaged in playing a free concert outdoors. The hope there is that music can unite what was once divided, and maybe somehow bring a bit of peace — maybe even some sanity? — to all concerned.

I’m glad to see that the orchestra is doing what it can to help calm everything down. And I am glad that the Orioles are finally playing today, as the last two days, games were cancelled.

Still, I remain worried about the unrest in Baltimore.

I don’t know what all of the answers are. I do know that I hope that Mr. Gray’s death will bring about better police procedures (he should’ve been properly secured in the police van, at minimum, so the spinal injuries Gray later died from wouldn’t have happened). And I hope the city can come together and heal itself…

But one thing’s for certain. Burning businesses to the ground does not promote job growth. It doesn’t make people feel good about wanting to visit Baltimore as a tourist attraction, either.

And those two things will hurt Baltimore more in the long run than anything else.

I hope that somehow, some way, the angry people in Baltimore will heed the words of Freddie Gray’s sister, who has pleaded for peace.

And maybe, just maybe, they’ll listen to the music of the Baltimore Symphony. Because music truly can heal, if people will only hear it.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 29, 2015 at 11:33 am

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