Tipping Pitches: Fatherhood: Father and Sons Stuck in 1982


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fatherhood: Father and Sons Stuck in 1982

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One of the most fulfilling of the many fulfilling aspects of fatherhood is enjoying something you are passionate about with your children.

Tonight, I had bath duties since my wife was having her lady friends over to do crazy lady stuff.  Books, complain about men, play with GI Joe's.  Not real sure what they did.

But we "men" (Michael, Pee Wee, JJ and me) were upstairs doing man stuff.  Unplugged the PS2 from downstairs and hooked it up to our bedroom TV.

To play some games?  Nope.

To watch "Harvey's Wallbangers."  That's right, the story of the 1982 Brewers.

And before you say it, think again.  This was not my idea.  While at the dinner table last night, we let the boys know of the ensuing Lady Liason and let them know they could watch a movie of their choice during that time.

"Harvey's Wallbangers!"  Michael shouted.

"Harvey's Wallbangers!"  Pee Wee joins in.

"Hi!"  Ok, JJ's still figuring it out.  He thinks baseballs are something you eat.

Proud moment as a dad.  Properly brainwashed.  And don't think that brainwashing is easy, particularly when you have a wife who is of no help in this situation.  She somehow convinced them to root for the Broncos over the Packers.

It's difficult for me to admit that.  Although, lately it's seemed that they are coming around.  Instead of hating the Packers, they have joined me in my Brett Favre hate.  And Michael's even proclaimed that the Packers are his second favorite team.

Baby steps.  I'll take it.

But my boys LOVE the Brewers.  Love them like I do.  Love them the way I did when I was their age, if not even more.  And that's saying something.

It was a great scene.  Bob Uecker (the voice of summer) narrating the greatest moments of our beloved Brewers' 1982 season.  Michael asking me questions every 30 seconds.  Pee Wee acting out everything he sees.

"What's that racket?!  All we're hearing is a bunch of thumping downstairs."

Pee Wee, the ladies have spoken.  Have a seat.

I was a year younger than Michael (who is now eight) the year this Harvey's Wallbangers business took place.  To share the memories with them now is special.

It's bittersweet, for lack of a better word to describe the feeling of something that feels great and somehow depressing at the same time (I'm like a walking thesaurus, I know).  I am still holding onto something that happened 27 years ago.

And the Brewers didn't even win the World Series.

And all of those dudes are old now.  And they were my age now (and younger) when this stuff happened.

I want to tell the boys that the Brewers will make some new memories that they'll create a video about.  I want to tell them that they will one day have a similar moment with their kids, watching and reminiscing about the 2012 Brewers.

But I don't have the heart to tell them.  They may want to hold onto Harvey's Wallbangers.  It may be the movie they watch with their kids.

It's such a different game now.  The Brewers could compete with anyone, and they did.  During the offseason before the 1981 season, they went out and traded for two All-Stars and one future Hall of Famer: catcher Ted Simmons, starting pitcher Pete Vuckovich, and closer Rollie Fingers.

In fact, between Fingers and Vuckovich, the trade would bring the Brewers two Cy Young awards and one MVP during the next two seasons.

If that weren't enough, they added future Hall of Famer Don Sutton at the tail end of the 1982 season. It seemed they could do what ever they wanted as a franchise.

Was it because these players were unknowns?  Nope.

Was it because they were washed up?  Nope.

They may have been reaching the other side of their prime, but they were valuable players.  Players the Brewers could never acquire now.

Not to mention, think about that roster.  Paul Molitor.  Robin Yount.  Cecil Cooper.  Ben Oglivie.  Gorman Thomas.  Sal Bando.  Don Money.  Jim Gantner.  Don Sutton.  Mike Caldwell.  The trio of Fingers, Simmons and Vuckovich.

Four future Hall of Famers.  Four.

It was the perfect combination of youth, players in their prime, and savvy veterans.  Many grew up through the Brewers' system.  Some were acquired for the stretch drive.

But the Brewers kept that team in tact, for the most part.  The year 1982 was their pinnacle, but it wasn't because they needed to disband the team.

They could still afford it.  They could still compete.  It was simply that the combination of injuries and age hit them hard.

But they were able to assemble that dream team, and it wasn't assembled entirely through the farm system.  It wasn't a one year spending spree prior to a fire sale.

The Brewers did what any team could have done at that time.  They just did it better.

Sorry, sons.  Not like that any more.  After six years, they would no longer have a Robin Yount or Paul Molitor.  In all likelihood, they'd have to trade one of those guys away while they still had them under control.

Couldn't acquire guys like Simmons, Fingers and Vuckovich at the same time.  Then Sutton.  Too much money.  Gotta build from within.  Fill in with young guys and cheap veterans.

No chance they could hold onto players like Cecil Cooper and Ben Oglivie. Cooper was the best at his position and in the league for 10 years. Oglivie had hit over 40 homers in a year and was also a veteran.

Those guys would be raking in $15 Million now.

Hate coming off like the old guy, but it's a shame.  It's not that I want 1982 back.  It's not that I want the players to play like they did in those days.  It's not that the brand of baseball was necessarily better back then.

I just want to have faith in baseball.  I want to feel good about my team.  I want to experience another 1982.

I want that for me, but I also want that for my sons.  I just don't have the courage to tell them it may never happen.

So we hold on.  We hold on to a second place finish.  And we hold on like 27 championship seasons wrapped into one.


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