The smell of brats and beer wafted gently through the concourse, through the stands, and into the Milwaukee sun. The sound of children laughing, men reminiscing, and line-drives flying pulsed through a near sellout crowd. The thrill of the Brewers sixth straight win was not lost on anyone in Milwaukee, but it was lost on the rest of the world.
As the chirping of Blackberries and iPhone’s drowned out the sounds of baseball with the sounds of trade rumors, as the news on the hot stove simmered so loud people couldn’t hear the games, the Brewers quietly built themselves a 2-game lead in the central, stole Pittsburgh’s magic slipper, and all but delivered a knock out punch to a punch-less Reds team. Quietly, without fanfare (except those Brew Crew faithful), they swept the Cubs and they swept the Astros.
Now, two games better than the Cardinals and four and a half games better than the Pirates, the Brewers must contend with results. They must contend with being 11-games over .500 for the first time this season, with leading the division once again after squandering it away and finding themselves in a three-team race, and they must contend with the trades. As the Brewers have been doing a crazy little thing called winning, other teams were wheeling a dealing.
The Pirates, in the midst of being punished by Philly over the course of three games, picked up some offensive help in Derek Lee and Ryan Ludwick. Both hope to reinvent themselves in a hitter’s park. The Cardinals added five players in July trades including Rafael Furcal from the Dodgers. In a move designed to increase on-base percentage and generate offense ahead of Pujols and Berkman, the Cardinals sent Double-A player Alex Castellanos to the Dodgers. And so the puzzle pieces have been laid out. It’s up to the teams to make them fit. It’s up to the players to make it stick.
The Brewers in the mean time will continue to rely on Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, monster home runs and come from behind wins. They will continue to kick, scratch, and bite their way towards a National League Central Championship. The other teams may get the headlines, but the Brewers will let their wins do the talking and go quietly into the night (or day in today’s case).