Wayne Campbell: So, do you come to Milwaukee often?

Alice Cooper: Well, I’m a regular visitor here, but Milwaukee has certainly had its share of visitors. The French missionaries and explorers began visiting here in the late 16th century.

Pete: Hey, isn’t “Milwaukee” an Indian name?

Alice Cooper: Yes, Pete, it is. In fact, it was originally an Algonquin term meaning “the good land.”

Wayne Campbell: I was not aware of that.

Alice Cooper: I think one of the most interesting things about Milwaukee is that it’s the only American city to elect three Socialist mayors.

Wayne Campbell: Does this guy know how to party or what?

The Good Land eh?

The Reds were heading south sunday night fresh from a butt whooping and a display of pitching maladies that make one long for even the 2001 Reds. One can only hope that the Reds can lick their wounds and get their act together against St. Louis.

Now, nothing seems as bad as getting whooped by the Brewers, they have had a short, sporadic history and their stay in the National League hasn’t made anyone forget the 57-58 Braves either.

I think it’s safe to say that they haven’t scared many since they entered the NL in 1997.

                     W        L       PCT    
Brewers	            558      735     .432   

But they have had the Reds number during that time and after Sundays loss they inched one game within of .500 against the Reds, with a 56-57-1 record. The fact is that the Brewers seem to make most Reds fans red in the face at least two or three times a year.

Baseball has that effect on people, they know that all too well in Milwaukee.

The city of Milwaukee is the only city to have 2 AL teams and 2 NL teams, Milwaukee is also the only city to bring in two struggling franchises and lose another themselves. Even more obscure is that the city also can boast of membership in the 1884 Union Association and the 1800’s American Association.

Milwaukee’s first foray in professional baseball was brief to say the least. It was 1878 and the National League was on a shaky foundation (as they were for much of their early years) That season the league boasted only six teams and bringing up the rear was Jack Chapman’s Milwaukee Cream City’s or Grays, depending on the source.

For you Reds fans out there The Reds came in 2nd that year, 4 games behind Harry Wright’s Boston Nationals.

Most folks already know that the Baltimore Orioles were originally the St. Louis Browns. But not many know that the Browns were at one time the first Milwaukee Brewers.

In 1901 when the American League was making their play to be an equal major league they were mainly a western side of the country organization. However in the rush to take the National League on head to head as a major league a move to larger cities was going to be pertinent to enhance the league in the eyes of the potential patrons.

Thus the 1901 Brewers were disbanded and many of the players channeled to the new St Louis franchise, who were grabbing the Cardinals original name the Browns and taking the National League Cardinals on head to head and for the next 25 years would prove to be the major draw in the St. Louis area until Branch Rickey and his magic rendered them obsolete.

Meanwhile from 1902 to 1952 the Milwaukee Brewers were one of the flagship teams in the American Association, the upper Midwest’s highest minor league.

In the early 1950’s the city of Milwaukee built a new stadium and set their sites on filling it with a major league team. In 1953, Milwaukee persuaded the National Leagues Boston Braves to move west. The Boston team had connections back to the 1869 Red Stockings and had been in Boston and the National League since 1876, the only team aside from the Cubs to place in every NL season since the first. However the Boston team had lost their fight with the Red Sox for the sports headlines and greener pastures out west beckoned.

Lost in the details of that transfer was the fact that the St. Louis Browns and owner Bill Veeck were eying the Milwaukee area themselves (Veeck had history there in management) and had already petitioned the American League for permission to essentially return the original Brewers to Milwaukee. Undercutting this deal was the fact that the Braves owned the Milwaukee American Association team and had first dibs on the area. Moving there 1953 and bidding Boston a farewell the Braves shocked the baseball world when they drew an incredible 1,826,397 fans in 1953, a new National League record.

The Reds and Cincinnati didn’t top that total until 1973.

The success of the Braves in Milwaukee created the great move west by the New York
National League teams and the further courting of MLB franchises (like the Reds) by New York City throughout the late fifties fueled the expansion of the early 60’s. In short they started something that is now used to finagle stadiums and sweetheart deals out of city governments.

See…you can loathe the Braves even before Turner showed up.

By the early 60’s the Braves luster was in need of some Brasso and elbow grease and the fans in Milwaukee found other things to do besides go to the ballpark. In 1963 a new group of local businessmen purchased the Braves, by 1965 used -car salesman Bud Selig became the largest “public” owner of shares. Unfortunately that didn’t give him voting proxy and in 1965, the lure of the “New South” beckoned the ownership to flee the rust belt for Atlanta.

At the urging of Bud Selig the city filed a suit against the National League for allowing the loss of the Braves. In the meantime Bud and his friend Ed Fitzgerald (the son of the man the Edmund Fitzgerald was named after) formed a group to pursue a new team to occupy County Stadium. Their first target was the American League team south of Milwaukee, the Chicago White Sox.

The late 60’s weren’t the best of years for the White Sox, dwindling attendance, lack of funds, weak teams you name it, they had a wealth of problems. To remedy their woes they played 10 “home” games at County Stadium in Milwaukee against each AL opponent, going 1-8 in 9 games in 1968 and 7-4 in 1969. Each game drew well with a couple topping 40,000.

Bud and Fitzgerald salivated at the thought of bringing a team back to Milwaukee; they continued their search for the perfect team looking for a new market to exploit.

Little did they know that their next target was just settling into their brand new home in Seattle.

The expansion of the league in 1969 put two new teams in the American League, the Kansas City Royals, who were placed in the KC market to atone for the departure west (the reoccurring theme) of the A’s and with their arrival the Kansas City city government promised to drop their lawsuit against the American League. Meanwhile over in the National League the city of Milwaukee and the league were still wrapped up in the court case over the departure of the Braves, who were on the way to claiming the first National League West Division title.

The second new team that the American League got was the Seattle Pilots.

Stuck in a sub standard minor league stadium, bogged down by local government in their attempt to get the Kingdome built the Pilots franchise was one of the most snake bitten teams in recent major league baseball history.

Now known mainly for being the subject of Bouton’s “Ball Four” the Pilots can claim little else in their brief history on the field. But they can claim to be the first MLB team to file for bankruptcy. In attempt to get the Pilots interested in Milwaukee the Selig/Fitzgerald group offered County Stadium to the Pilots over the horrid Sicks Stadium for some late August dates, this offer was
also extended by baseball hungry Ft. Worth. The Seattle management opted to ride out the season and see what would happen financially. Lacking a TV Contract and a proper stadium the team had trouble securing local backing or interest in the team the city had been longing for since the Giants and the Dodgers hit the west coast twelve years earlier.

After pushing off buyers like Selig a deal was cut with a local businessmen…alas when that fell through during spring training of 1970 Selig and his group stepped in and purchased the Pilots for 10 million dollars renaming them the Brewers and bringing them to Milwaukee with a new manager, former Reds skipper Dave Bristol.

Thus making the Brewers the only team in MLB history to show up to spring training as one team and leave as another, with a new city and a new nickname. But, most important of all, they got a brand-new start. Baseball could have invested money and secured the franchise in Seattle, but voted it down instead, making the new franchise essentially worth less then when it was awarded to original Seattle group.

Oddly enough Selig was on the other side of the coin thirty years later when Montreal faced a similar fate. At that time MLB stepped in to carry the financial burden, to insure that the franchise didn’t get sold at an undervalued price. This most likely helped keep the price of all the franchises not in port cities on large bodies of water slightly up as opposed to down.

Of course the move from Seattle to Milwaukee was rubber stamped to alleviate the city’s lawsuit against MLB… meanwhile in Seattle the city prepared their own lawsuit against MLB, thus in 1977 the American League decided to expand (against the NL’s wishes) to Seattle and Toronto. Cluttering up the balance of teams in the leagues, but washing another lawsuit away in the wake of team merchandise and the promise of Ruppert Jones.

In 1997 after Bud tried to get all Pete Rozelle on baseball and revamp the leagues he volunteered the Milwaukee Brewers to jump leagues and become a National League team, thus being the only team to play in both leagues in MLB history.

It was then that they became a regular Reds opponent (this is where the tie in to comes in) and an annual thorn in the side of the Reds.

This weekend was one of those times.

Let’s talk pitching.

Or lack of pitching to be specific. The Reds threw an insane amount of pitches this weekend and most of them weren’t very good ones.

This is the blueprint for a poorly pitched weekend.

The Reds averaged 166 pitches per game (with a high of 188 on Sunday) and faced an average of 43 batters a game with a dismal 1 -1.5 K/BB ratio, the stikeouts and walks per nine were a pathetic 4.3 / 7.33 .

Facts, 22 walks (11 from starters) won’t get it done. Either will giving up large hit totals, the first 2 games featured 19 hits by the Brewers and the last game alone matched that total along with 5 walks… abysmal performance all around.

A pitch to contact team that sports a 1 to 1 GB/FB ratio in three games should not allow over 24% of the runners they allow to reach base get on via the walk.

It’s going to be a long season if you can’t strike them out (only 5 K’s by the starters in the past 3 games) and you can’t pile up the innings (12 innings by the starters, 49% of the pitches thrown by these “workhorses”)

Attrition is the enemy, each broken down start and early appearance by the bullpen is felt across the board. Too many pitches thrown by the bullpen can (and will) grind this team into the ground, forcing Miley to ride guys like Valentine at inopportune situations.

Playing with the theme of the season and its resemblance to 2004 I’ll note that last year in late April the Reds rolled into Milwaukee and allowed 19 runs in two games.

Pitching to contact, seems silly in this offensive powered era and power designed parks, I mean what can you say about a team that just spent the weekend allowing 20 baserunners a game?

Other than “Help!!!!”

4 Responses

  1. tom

    Fasinating stuff. Baseball is the greatest sport for a history buff. Another little tidbit is that the original great Baltimore Orioles who won many championships in the 1890’s moved to New York in 1902 and became the New York Highlanders who eventually became the New York Yankees.

  2. Brian Erts

    Actually Tom, the 1890’s Orioles were contracted after the 1899 season along with the Cleveand Spiders, Louisville Colonels and Washington Nationals. At the time several of the clubs in the NL were owned by the same owner (Loisville/Pittsburgh, St. Louis/Cleveland, Baltimore/Brooklyn) the contraction moved players to other clubs creating some pretty strong teasm (as evidenced in Brooklyn and Pittsburgh)

    The AL Orioles were part owned by John McGraw, when the AL decided they needed to take the Giants on in NYC the Orioles were picked as the team to move. This so enraged McGraw that he arranged to jettison some of his best players to the Giants and the Reds, with McGraw himself taking over the helm of the National Leagues New York team.

    The 2 players sent to Cincinnati were Cy Seymour and Joe Kelly. Kelly managed the Reds and Seymour had the best year by a CF in Reds history in 1905. later he was sold to the Giants for 10K.

  3. Heath

    The Reds also got fleeced by the Giants, acquiring Amos Rusie, the Hoosier Thunderbolt for little-known Christy Mathewson who promply won 372 games with the Giants. The Reds got him back to manage in 1916 where the Reds fleeced the Giants by acquiring Edd Roush.

    So, as history goes, the Reds back then didn’t know how to find pitching….. :mrgreen:

  4. Brian Erts

    Well the Reds at that time were owned by John Brush who also owned stock in the Giants, there was a little backroom action in that dealing. Roush hated McGraw and refused to play for him. Edd got his start on the Indy team in the Federal League. A true Hoosier he was.