My first years as a real diehard Milwaukee Brewers fan came in the early 2000s, shortly after my family moved out from the boonies to the relative metropolis that was Trempealeau (population 1,315). Cable television was just one benefit of moving to civilization, and it was exciting to have a team like the Brewers on my television every day for the first time.
I couldn’t get enough of that hot Brewers content, but much to my dismay, those squads were utterly nationally irrelevant. I so badly wanted the Brewers to get any screen time they could on ESPN, whether on a vaunted Sunday or Monday or Wednesday Night Baseball primetime slot, or even just some shoutouts and highlights on SportsCenter or Baseball Tonight. Quite frankly, nobody should have been subjected to the Brewers teams that lost at least 94 games per season from 2001 through 2004. Still, their irrelevance, the utter dearth of Brewers buzz anywhere outside of Wisconsin, was a disappointment.
That was why, even though the Brewers’ recent competitive cycle was disappointing in terms of results, it was still so much fun to have a potential winner in Milwaukee from 2008 through 2014. The presence of multiple All-Stars on the Brewers and their ability to contend at least once every few years made it so that fans around the league knew the Brewers; road games became bigger events, they earned some of those valuable primetime slots, and fans of other teams finally had something to talk to me about besides how much it must suck to be a Brewers fan.
So much for those days. I was reminded of the Brewers’ recent nosedive back to national irrelevance by an article on ESPN this weekend, titled “Your ultimate guide to navigating the 2017 MLB season.” The article runs down potential important dates for the upcoming season, highlighting important games and possible milestones that could be reached in 2017. The Brewers got all of one mention, celebrating their upcoming May 28th bobblehead of Robin Yount riding a motorcycle. Which, fair, everybody should want one of those, but that’s a resounding way to show that nobody outside of Milwaukee’s faithful cares a whit about this team.
Luckily, we have more and more diverse sources of baseball media these days. We don’t need to rely on cable highlight packages or national sports talk for baseball content any more. The internet allows for a broader national baseball media, where outlets like Baseball Prospectus or FanGraphs, or even FanRag Sports outside the sabermetric sphere, will extend their coverage to even irrelevant clubs like ours. And of course, it allows sites like this one to exist and provide the kind of in-depth analysis that I was always waiting for and never got on TV as a teenager.
We are outsiders in the national baseball conversation, and that hurts, because one of the reasons many of us love being baseball fans is because we want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s something we can get through, because what we love is baseball and the people we watch it with, and if we’re only watching to win, any joy the game provides will be fleeting. But it still sucks, and I just want to express to all my Brewers fans that until the good times come again and we’re worth more to the baseball world than a Robin Yount motorcycle bobblehead: I feel your pain, and I’m with you in solidarity.