Some teams have “It”, others don’t. That magical spark that kicks in when things look bleak. That loud yet silent mojo which emanates from player to player, leading them from victory to victory. That energy which provides a glimmer of hope for the impossible to happen when you least expect it. A unifying synergy that makes a team greater than the sum of its parts, defying logic and intuition.
Congratulations, Milwaukee. Your Brewers have that ever-important “It” factor.
We’ve seen it all year. Want some evidence? Well, here you go.
On March 30th, at the San Diego Padres, the Brewers trailed 6-3 entering the top of the ninth. It looked like the Brewers would suffer their first loss of the year… until they didn’t. They put up 5 runs capped by a mammoth home run by Ryan Braun with two strikes and two outs to take the lead, resulting in an improbable 8-6 victory by the Crew.
On April 3rd, the Brewers trailed the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 in Miller Park entering the bottom of the ninth. With two outs, Christian Yelich strode to the plate. Down to his last strike, Yelich launched his first Brewers’ home run to deep right center to tie the game, sending the home crowd into a frenzy. Hardly a minute later, and exactly one pitch later, vintage Ryan Braun made an appearance and absolutely wrecked a Dominic Leone fastball over the Brewers bullpen to walk-off those pesky birds from Missouri.
On April 21st, the Brewers were in yet another late inning battle at home, this time against the Miami Marlins. Tied 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth, Craig Counsell inserted Jesus Aguilar as a pinch hitter. Aguilar quickly fell down 0-2 in the count, until he proceeded to take three balls and foul off seven pitches before hitting a moon shot on the 13th pitch for the walk-off. It was potentially one of the best at bats of the year in the MLB, and it kick-started Aguilar’s breakout 2018 campaign that led to an all-star appearance.
The list of improbable moments and achievements goes on and on. Josh Hader striking out 8 in 2 and 2/3 innings of work on April 30th. Jeremy Jeffress re-emerging as a dominant force out of the ‘pen and earning his first all-star nod. The Brewers’ 3-run comeback in the bottom of the 15th against the Pittsburgh Pirates, with PITCHER JORDAN LYLES DRAWING A KEY WALK AND SCORING THE GAME-WINNING RUN. Christian Yelich’s two cycles in a span of two weeks. Jonathan Schoop’s grand slam against Madison Bumgarner. Taking the division after trailing the Cubs by as many as 6 games near the end of August. This team just doesn’t stop.
All of this wouldn’t be possible without one thing however – the “It” factor. These Brewers have an aura about them that exudes confidence and accomplishment. Every team that does anything special needs it. It breeds success, and leads to improbable outcomes like the many listed above. Could that lead to an NLCS series win and Milwaukee’s first World Series berth since 1982? It’s certainly in the realm of possibility.
Derek Jeter’s world championship Yankee teams had “It”. The 2016 Chicago Cubs had “It”. And I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that the 2018 Milwaukee Brewers truly do have “It”.
Man, how can you not be romantic about baseball. Go Crew.