Every Thursday, the Getting Blanked crew makes a prop bet of sorts with one another having something to do with baseball games over the weekend. Of the three competitors, whoever wins the prop bet is able to dole out a punishment on the colleague of their choice. This week’s punishment was watching and recapping Tuesday night’s Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers game. We call this #PropHate.

The Narrative

I like to call Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Marco Estrada by the nickname Polo Erik. Think about it for a minute. Marco “Polo Erik” Estrada.

Last night, after previously leaving the game with the lead on four separate occasions this season, Polo Erik earned his first win of the season. But for as well as  Polo Erik pitched, and he pitched well (6 IP, 2 hits, 1 walk, 9 strike outs, 0 runs), last night’s game will likely more easily be remembered (if it’s remembered at all) for Chicago Cubs reliever Alberto Cabrera losing it.

The right-hander entered the game with the Cubs down a single run in the sixth inning. He proceeded to walk the bases loaded, then allow a run on a wild pitch before giving up a double to Jonathan Lucroy to clear the remaining runners from the bases, and make the score 4-0 for the Brewers.

This was the effective end of the game. Yeah, sure, a couple more runs got scored, one for each team, but a four run chasm of difference for the Chicago Cubs is as insurmountable as double that would be for another team. The Cubs are one of two teams in baseball who collect outs in more than 70% of their plate appearances.

Nothing further of note happened other than my anger at Ron Roenicke for using three pitchers to close out the ninth inning, even though the Giants/Dodgers game had already started.

The Win Expectancy Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Yep, the game was every bit as exciting as this graph makes it out to be.

The Anatomy Of A Boredom-Driven Mind-Wander

Last week, I expressed my suspicion that these features would get progressively boring as the season dragged on for the teams that end up participating in our little bits of punishment. Last night’s game did an ample job of proving my thesis.

At some point between Lucroy’s double and the end of the game, I blacked out from boredom. I know I watched the game, but I can’t recall a single specific happening from the seventh inning on, except for the pitching changes in the bottom of the ninth. It’s as though my mind was erased.

I was there, watching the happenings on my computer, but the events transpiring in front of me weren’t registering. Instead, my mind wandered. Based on the game being played in Milwaukee at Miller Park, the home of the Brewers, it wandered to the cross-section at which beer and baseball meet.

It’s a funny meeting place with something of a proud tradition. Writing for the New York Times earlier this year, Eric Asimov described some of that history:

The relationship between beer and baseball still recalls those easy days before personal computers and steroids, when players spent entire careers with one team and you could actually afford to take your family to the ballpark and sit in the good seats.

Back then, the beer served at ballparks was awful, because American beer in general was awful. The Yankees were sponsored by Ballantine and the Mets by Rheingold, but you wouldn’t actually want to drink either of those bygone beers.

Personally, my history with beer and baseball is anything but proud. Last night, I remembered the time I drank to such excess at a ball game that I had to cover one of my eyes as I walked up the aisle of my section so as to reduce the number of multiplications of stairs I would’ve otherwise seen. To make matters worse, I’m pretty sure the purpose of my trip up the stairs was to purchase more beer. I also remembered the time a drunk next to me at the urinals in the men’s washroom pissed all over my foot as he sloppily missed his target.

However, my favorite drinking at the ballpark story occurred on May 23rd, 2001. Earlier in the day, a certain Toronto baseball blogger and I had gone to watch the Champion’s League Final at a bar, and had become rather fortified as Bayern Munich claimed their first European title in 25 years. After leaving the pub in a state of 11:00 PM at night drunkenness at 3:00 PM in the afternoon, we staved off the offensive day light long enough to make it to a beer store. We bought a case of cheap beer and continued our bender.

At some point over the next three hours we decided that the best course of action would be to go to tonight’s baseball game because the much-hated David Wells was making his first appearance in Toronto since saying something denigrating about the city or its fans. We were both poor students at the time, and it being a few months before the events of September 11th, we decided to wear coats and smuggle as many beers as we could into the game.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that we each carried eight beers with us. I remember it being cold enough to justify a jacket, but warm enough not to really need one. The temperature didn’t matter to us though, as a jacket only served to facilitate the carrying of more contraband bottles. We bought cheap seats, and snuck down to the seats in right field, buying an actual beer in a cup as our smuggled-in bottles clanged against each other with every step.

Our process was simple, we’d drink the beer we bought and then refill the cup with a freshly opened bottles, finish that one and then repeat. While drinking, we began yelling at the White Sox right fielder Jeff Liefer. I can’t remember why. I can’t even remember if there was a “why,” but we were giving him the gears. It was all clean and fun, with a lot of chanting of his name derisively.

I say right fielder Jeff Liefer, but to be completely honest, in my mind he was in left field. I only know he played right first because of Baseball Reference. I also thought, at the time, that he only switched fields mid-way through the game because he couldn’t take our taunts, but the truth I see now is that Magglio Ordonez came into the game for Carlos Lee causing Liefer to move over the left.

Inspired with our faulty belief that we were getting to him, we too switched positions, moving to left field where we continued to drunkenly abuse him. Liefer went on to have not much of a career, most of his fame being earned for delaying a Minor League game by twenty minutes when he locked himself in a bathroom, and allowing us a fun night of drunken buffoonery.

While that’s my personal favorite beer and baseball story, the greatest of all-time-ever will remain the one about how much Wade Boggs would drink on West Coast road trips.

According to former New York Yankees pitcher Jeff Nelson:

I’m not kidding you Steve. Seriously. Wade was the kind of guy who was always the first one at the club house. So he’d get to the clubhouse, and he’d bring a six pack with him. He’d be there drinking a beer when someone showed up, and as we were all packing our stuff up out of our lockers and getting our bags ready for the trip, Wade would sit there and drink that whole six pack.

Now, at the time, we were flying out of New Jersey, so it was somewhat of a drive from Yankee stadium to the airport in New Jersey. Wade would drink another couple of beers on the bus to the airport. At the time, we were flying this older airplane, it couldn’t make it across the country without refueling, and it wasn’t the fastest airplane in the sky. So we would stop in North Dakota or something. Wade would drink about a half rack between New Jersey and North Dakota, and it would take about a half-hour to an hour to refuel once we got there, so he’d have a few more beers while we were grounded in North Dakota.

Once we got back up in the air, Wade would drink another 10, 11, 12 beers on the way out to the west coast. The whole flight from coast to coast ususally took us well over 7 hours. We’d touch down at Sea-Tac, hop on the bus headed to the Kingdome, and Wade would have another beer or two on the bus. Then, all of us would get to the Kingdome and unpack our bags and sit around and BS with eachother, and Wade would have a beer in his hand the entire time. He was always one of the last people to leave the club house too. So I’d say that all in all, he drank over 50 beers on the trip, and this wasn’t just an isolated incident, he did that almost every time.

The Bob Uecker Stories

During the broadcast, it was mentioned that a Bob Uecker statue would be unveiled at Miller Park’s Home Plate Plaza on Friday, August 31st. Here are three reasons why Uecker is pretty fantastic:

The Most Important Play Of The Game

Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Corey Hart singled in the first run of the game in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and one out. The play increased the Brewers win probability added by 10%, and at no other single point in the game was there a bigger WPA increase.

The Shamsky Award

Named after Art Shamsky, who single handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.

Rookie left-handed starter Chris Rusin made his Major League debut last night for the Chicago Cubs and he actually pitched quite well, allowing a run off of a hit and two walks over five innings while striking out four batters. He increased his team’s WPA by 11% in a losing effort on the mound, and he also contributed 5% with his bat when he hit a third inning triple with his first big league plate appearance.

The Things You Won’t Believe

Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum is cousins with former Toronto Blue Jays first baseman John Olerud. They eventually played together on the Boston Red Sox.

The broadcast from Milwaukee aired some footage of Sveum when he played shortstop for the Brewers back in the nineties. He looked enormous next to his teammates, but a quick look up on Baseball Reference reveals that he’s only 6’2″ tall.

Scott Rusin was the ninth rookie to make his debut for the Cubs this season.

Oh, and there was also this fantastic play from newly acquired Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Jean Segura, who may be able to fly:

Stray Observation

I like this photo from last night, but I think it would look better as a painting.