Finding the right word to describe the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers is almost as difficult as it will be to stop the Crew’s powerful (imposing, intimidating, robust, strapping, dominant) offense.
The Crew is loaded. They are stacked. They are 36-24-36. They are a “Brick House.” But can they parlay that offensive awesomeness into a winning hand?
(Too much Commodores? Give me some credit. At least I’m referencing the pre-gone soft Lionel Richie days.)
Need another example as to how chock full of talent the Crew is at the plate? Every position is cast in iron with the exception being the one in the southwest corner of County Stadium. The offense hasn’t grown fallow since Sixto Lezcano was sent to St. Louis after the 1980 season with two other players to secure the Brewers’ battery of Pete Vuckovich, reliever Rollie Fingers and switch-hitting catcher Ted Simmons, but I do miss Bob Betts’ wonderful cadence in announcing Sixto’s name: “Now batting, No. 16, Sixtoooooooo Lezcanooooooo…”
Save the loss ol’ Twelve Toes rhythmic name, the Brewers did fine with Gorman Thomas playing the position. This year, Stormin will move to center and Paul Molitor, who played center will move to the infield to handle the hot corner. This season, any production the Brewers get from Mark Brouhard, who won the job from Charlie Moore, will be just piling on. The Brewers will take it and if Brouhard can give the Crew just a modicum of offense, Milwaukee could have an AL East title in their sights.
Even without Brouhard putting up big numbers, the Crew’s offense should be one of the best in the league. Not even heavy-handed manager Buck Rodgers can screw this up. Let’s go down the order to see just how incredible it can be.
3B, Paul Molitor
Lives up to his nickname, “The Ignitor” at the top of the order. The 1980 All-Star has never stolen less than 30 bases in a full season and has one of the quickest bats in all of baseball. He should be on base plenty for …
SS, Robin Yount
Yount is 26. This will be his ninth — NINTH! — season in the big leagues. Yount had his best offensive season in 1980 with 23 homers, a league-leading 49 doubles and a .293 average. Could he be even better this season?
1B, Cecil Cooper
The two-time All-Star smacked home 122 runs to lead the league in 1980 and hit .352. With Molly and the Kid in front of him, Coop will have plenty of chances to drive in runs. And, Coop has replaced Lezcano as Betts’ best PA call. “Cecil Cooooooooooooooper…”
C, Ted Simmons
The switch-hitting Simmons’ nickname is “Simba.” He runs like one, but can sock the ball around the yard (90 homers in the last four full seasons) and drove in 98 in 1980. He’s perfect for handling the Crew’s veteran staff.
CF, Gorman Thomas
Stormin’ Gorman is Milwaukee: he’s gritty, scruffy and will run through a wall to catch a ball. He works hard and he plays hard. Like Oglivie, Thomas once led the AL in taters with 45 in ’79.
2B, Jim Gantner
The Wisconsin boy is the gritty heart of the Brewers. Not much of a hitter, Gantner patrols the middle of the infield like Nitschke patrolled the middle of the Packers’ championship defenses.
As for DH, Rodgers has Don Money, Charlie Moore and (a slightly disgruntled) Roy Howell from which to choose. It’d be great if Larry Hisle could overcome his numerous injury issues to be the force he was when he came to the Crew as a free agent from Minnesota in 1978, but then again, it would be great if Van Halen could play Loomer’s birthday party.
On the mound, the Crew has its usual suspects of serviceable starters including Vuckovich, Mike Caldwell (who struggled mightily last September), workout fiend Moose Haas, lefty Bob McClure and Randy Lerch. It would be great if the Crew had a true ace, but if this group can keep the Brewers close, Fingers can close the door and the offense should make up the difference.
All of this sounds great on paper. If the Crew can build on last year’s second half AL East title and forget about the disappointment of losing to those damned Yankees, this season could be special. Very special. They’re on the precipice of something great and for the first time this team will be burdened with expectations of greatness.
Anything less will be the greatest letdown in the franchise’s short, unstoried history.