Sometimes in this business, you feel like the Typhoid Mary of sportswriters.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote a By the Numbers column featuring 20 factoids about the Pittsburgh Pirates. You know, because they were doing well and were the feel-good story of the season.
Well, word must have gotten back to Pittsburgh. Since then, the Pirates have fallen out of contention, and that leaves the first-place Milwaukee Brewers as the feel-good story of the season. With that in mind, we take our best shot at destroying the Brewers’ season, because we are the kiss of death:
1) The Brewers began life as the Seattle Pilots. They were there for one season, in 1969, before they were bought and moved to Milwaukee by … wait for it … wait for it … Bud Selig.
2) In 1998, the Brewers moved from the American League to the National League, the only team to switch leagues since the AL was founded in 1901.
3) The Brewers have been in the playoffs three times in their 42 previous seasons — 1981, 1982, and 2008. Which makes this hope-crushing column particularly cruel.
4) The Brewers have made the World Series once, losing to the Cardinals in seven games in 1982.
5) The 1982 Brewers were known as “Harvey’s Wallbangers,” after manager Harvey Kuenn. Their 891 runs were 77 more than any team in the league, and the most by any AL club between 1950 and 1987.
6) Milwaukee had major-league teams prior to 1970. The Braves were there from 1953-65, after leaving Boston and before heading to Atlanta. And the Baltimore Orioles once were the Milwaukee Brewers — for one season — before becoming the St. Louis Browns and eventually moving east.
7) Robin Yount played 2,856 games with the Brewers. Four players have appeared in more games while playing their entire career with one team — Carl Yastrzemski, Stan Musial, Cal Ripken, and Brooks Robinson.
8) Yount is the Brewers’ all-time leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, total bases, doubles, triples, homers, RBI, walks, strikeouts, and sacrifice flies. Oh, and he’s second in stolen bases. Robin Yount is the greatest player in Brewers history.
9) Yount’s brother, Larry, had a unique career. As a 21-year-old in 1971, he was called into a game to pitch for the Houston Astros. But he suffered an arm injury while warming up and never got back to the majors. He is credited with one game, but never threw a pitch in a major-league contest.
10) The greatest player in Seattle Pilots history was Mike Hegan, who hit .292 with 8 homers and 54 runs. But, you know, it was a short history, and the Pilots went 64-98.
11) The greatest player in Milwaukee Braves history was Hank Aaron, who arrived in the majors while the franchise was in Milwaukee and had his best seasons there.
12) I’m not going to bother looking up who was the Milwaukee Brewers’ best player in 1901. OK, yes I will. It was John Anderson, who had the nickname “Honest John” and batted .330 with 8 homers, 90 runs, 99 RBI, and 35 steals.
13) “Ball Four,” the seminal baseball book by pitcher Jim Bouton, was written about his 1969 season with the Pilots.
14) According to Bouton, manager Joe Schultz had a four-word vocabulary. I can’t share it with you here.
15) Until Prince Fielder came along, Brush Prairie native Richie Sexson held a share of the Brewers’ record for homers in a season. Sexson hit 45 in both 2001 and 2003, tying the mark set by Gorman Thomas.
16) Two pitchers have won 100 games for the franchise — Jim Slaton with 117, and Mike Caldwell with 102.
17) The Brewers have had three league MVPs — Rollie Fingers in 1981, and Yount in 1982 and 1989. They have had two Cy Young winners — Fingers in 1981, and Pete Vukovich in 1982, who had probably the worst season of any Cy Young winner.
18) Uniform No. 50 hasn’t been retired by the club, but it has been placed in the Ring of Honor to commemorate longtime announcer Bob Uecker and his half-century in baseball.
19) All-time Brewers lineup:
C — B.J. Surhoff
1B — Cecil Cooper
2B — Jim Gantner
3B — Paul Molitor
SS — Robin Yount
LF — Ben Oglivie
CF — Gorman Thomas
RF — Sixto Lezcano
DH — Ted Simmons
SP — Teddy Higuera
SP — Ben Sheets
SP — Mike Caldwell
SP — Jim Slaton
SP — Chris Bosio
RP — Dan Plesac
RP — Rollie Fingers
Manager — Ugh, nobody stands out
Yount was actually their best center fielder, and Molitor was their best DH, but we already have them at other positions.
20) With an all-time lineup like that, the Brewers are due for some good news.
Question or comment for By the Numbers? You can reach Greg Jayne, Sports editor of The Columbian, at 360-735-4531 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To “Like” his Facebook page, search for “Greg Jayne – The Columbian.”