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Thursday, June 13, 2024

An Ode to the Old Gray Lady

Call me what you want, threaten me as you will, but truth be told, I am not a fan of Miller Park'the Milwaukee Brewers' now 1-year-old stadium. The food's too expensive, I feel bad throwing peanut shells under its shiny new seats and the revamp all but ruined Bernie Brewer. So without a Badger baseball team to rant and rave about during this time of year when our national pasttime still seems interesting (and still not sold on women's softball), here are the three top reasons why I miss County Stadium. 






Bernie Brewer was, in his heyday, arguably the greatest mascot in all of professional sports. Dressed in full lederhosen, Bernie would emerge from his German hut after each Brewer home run and slide into a mug of frothy beer. It was a spectacle as unique and rich in Milwaukee tradition as relief pitchers being brought to the mound from the bullpen on a Harley and the famous seventh-inning sausage races. Now in this new upper-class way of living that is Miller Park, Bernie is reduced to a Brewers bat boy uniform and slides down a glaring yellow plastic slide with a huge Sentry ad tacked to it onto a platform littered with more endorsements. 




Admittedly, the new version of Bernie is a more family-oriented one, but, then again, let us not forget what town this is in. Milwaukee can trace its brewing roots back to the mid-19th century, when Hun immigrants first came to the area, bringing with them their master brewing skills from the homeland. And as Milwaukee still maintains a healthy German population, Bernie provided an interesting portrayal of two of the city's main cultural influences. 


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Located right off I-94 on Milwaukee's west side, the grandiose Miller Park looks almost like a spaceship as one approaches town. Sure, it was built on the exact same lot that County Stadium once called home, but County Stadium seemed much better suited to this otherwise run-down neighborhood. A state-of-the-art facility like Miller Park belongs downtown where patrons can walk to bars and restaurants before and after games instead of creating chaotic traffic jams on the already congested Marquette interchange. 






Having not reached the playoffs since the 1982 World Series, County Stadium at least gave the Brewers, who have also not produced a winning record in nine seasons, an excuse to stink. 




The ray of hope getting most fans through these last few struggling seasons was that Miller Park was on its way. The belief was that once the new stadium opened its doors, things would be different. This small-market team would finally have the money to compete with the big dogs and their rise to success would be one as easy and storied as their former American League rival'the Cleveland Indians.  




Miller Park is now one year into its existence, though, and it still appears to be the same old story for the Bad News Brewers. Harboring a 3-13 record thus far, their worst start in 30 years, and still showing that all-too-familiar propensity to blow games in the final innings, one wonders when the skies will again shine bright for this club. The novelty of the new park is wearing off, and the Brewers are running out of excuses.

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