September 2011

Sunday game time change

Because tonight’s Yankees-Tigers game was rained out, Sunday’s Game 2 between the Brewers and D-backs was moved 30 minutes later, to 4:07p.m. CT.

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Game 1 fan guide

A ceremonial first pitch by Brewers Hall of Fame Broadcaster Bob Uecker and a national anthem performance by Joseph Attanasio are among the highlights announced for tomorrow’s National League Division Series Game 1 at Miller Park. Here’s everything you need to know if you’re attending:

PARKING LOTS: The Miller Park parking lots will open at 10 a.m. Fans should plan to arrive early.

GATE TIMES: Gates to Miller Park will open at 11 a.m.

RALLY TOWELS: All fans in attendance will be given a Brewers Rally Towel upon entry, courtesy of U.S. Cellular.

CEREMONIAL FIRST PITCH: The ceremonial first pitch will be tossed by Hall of Famer Bob Uecker.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: The national anthem will be performed by Joseph Attanasio, father of Brewers Chairman and Principal Owner Mark Attanasio.

GAME TIME: The first pitch of the game is scheduled for 1:07 p.m. CT. It will be televised exclusively on TBS.

MILLER PARK ROOF: The roof position is determined by Major League Baseball after conferring with the Brewers on weather conditions. No final decision will be made until the day of each game. Fans and media may call the Brewers roof hotline tomorrow morning for the latest update (414-902-4636).

BREWERS TEAM STORE BY MAJESTIC: The Brewers Team Store by Majestic and Brewers Team Store at the Home Plate Gate will both open at 10 a.m. There will also be satellite merchandise locations throughout the Miller Park parking lots. The stores will be open until 8 p.m. or an hour after the game ends.

NLDS COMMEMORATIVE GAME PROGRAM: A limited number of Milwaukee Brewers 2011 NLDS Game Programs will be available for $8 at Miller Park this weekend. Each game program is individually numbered. There are four different covers.

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Brewers increase 2012 ticket prices

Hot off the presses from the Brewers:

MILWAUKEE, WI – As the Milwaukee Brewers prepare for tomorrow’s Game One of the National League Division Series, the Club today announced ticket prices for the 2012 season.

“Setting another all-time attendance mark of over three million fans this season is a great testament to the passion of Brewers fans, and they played a major role in securing the Brewers first National League Central Division title,” said Rick Schlesinger, Brewers Chief Operating Officer. “While our pricing reflects some increases for 2012, we will remain one of Major League Baseball’s most affordable experiences. We remain committed to investing ticket and other revenue in player salaries, player development, and an improved Miller Park experience.”

Last season, all ticket prices for the Brewers were frozen at 2010 levels. The Brewers were ranked by Team Marketing Report’s annual survey as the eighth most-affordable fan experience in all of Major League Baseball. For 2011, the Brewers average ticket price as determined by Team Marketing Report was $22.10. In 2012, the average price will increase to $24.01 (an 8.6% increase). That number is well below the 2011 average ticket price of $26.91 for all 30 teams.

For 2012, the Brewers are introducing a new concept in pricing structure for Individual Game tickets. There will be three categories of games and corresponding prices: “Blue” Games (56 games), “Gold” Games (6 Saturday and 6 Sunday games from June through August), and the traditional “Marquee” Games (Opening Day, 9 Cubs, and 3 Twins games).

For Blue Games, most category prices will increase either $1 or $2 over 2011, depending on the ticket purchased. For many of these seating categories, this will mark the first time since the end of 2008 that prices were increased. Blue Game prices start at just $9 per ticket.

Gold Game tickets will be $1 to $6 higher than Blue Games but are priced well under Marquee Game levels, again depending on the category of seating. Gold Game prices start at $15 per ticket.

Marquee Game prices will remain frozen at 2011 levels. In 2012, there will be three fewer Marquee Games than in 2011. Marquee Game prices start at $15 per ticket.

The Brewers will once again offer a wide variety of ticket savings programs for many individual home games. Included among these are the popular 5-County 5-Day Celebration, Spring Madness, College Nights, Kids and Senior Citizen Discount Days, and many more. All together, there will be savings available for at least 43 of the Brewers 81 scheduled home games next year.

“We are committed to offering savings opportunities and added value for all of our fans, from our popular All Fan Giveaways to numerous special ticket deals for the majority of games,” Schlesinger said. “This will continue in 2012, and we’ll be adding some creative new opportunities as well.”

On the Season Seat side, renewals for existing customers will increase by an average of 8.6%. Prices for existing Season Seat Holders did not increase last year.

DEPOSITS FOR 2012 PACKAGES EARN POSTSEASON RIGHTS

Fans placing deposits now on 2012 Season Seat Plans of at least 20 games can secure rights to purchase tickets to potential 2011 Brewers National League Championship Series and World Series games at Miller Park. This program has already resulted in more than 2,000 new full season ticket equivalent packages for next season.

There are two options available:

OPTION 1

Purchase a Full Season Ticket Plan for 2012

• Fans who purchase a Full Season Ticket Plan for 2012 will be given the opportunity to purchase tickets to ALL National League Championship Series (NLCS) and World Series games at Miller Park.

OPTION 2

Purchase a 20-Game Plan for 2012

• Those who purchase a 20-Game Ticket Plan for the 2012 season will be given the opportunity to purchase tickets to all 2011 National League Championship Series (NLCS) games at Miller Park.

Fans interested in either one of these two options can visit brewers.com or call 414-902-HITS.

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Afternoon starts for Games 1 and 2

At last, Major League Baseball announced start times for Games 1 and 2 of the National League Division Series in Milwaukee this weekend. Yovani Gallardo will throw the first pitch of Game 1 on Saturday at 1:07 p.m. CT, and Game 2 is set for Sunday at 3:37 p.m. CT.

Both teams will have workouts at Miller Park on Friday — sorry, not open to the public — so check out Brewers.com for more preview coverage of the series. And young Jordan Schelling will be covering this afternoon’s fan rally at Summerfest. Who’s going to be there?

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Bring on the D-backs

The Brewers began Wednesday with more questions than answers — who will we play in the postseason? Where? — but found clarity before the end of the night thanks to the Cardinals’ win in Houston, the Braves’ loss in Atlanta and the Brewers’ own win over the Pirates at Miller Park. Milwaukee will host Arizonato begin the National League Division Series, with Game 1 on Saturday.

Major League Baseball has yet to announce times beyond Friday’s American League Game 1s. When times are available, they will immediately be posted on MLB.com.

The rundown of Brewers.com coverage from Wednesday:

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

– The Brewers took care of the home field question themselves by beating the Pirates, 7-3. Playing in front of 41,976 fans at Miller Park, the Brewers set the new franchise attendance record at 3,071,373, while also setting a new club mark with their 96th win of the season.

“It’s special,” Ryan Braun said. “We recognize that we’re a really tough team to beat here,” said left fielder Ryan Braun. “It’s a huge advantage for us to know that we have home-field advantage, at least for the first round.”

– While players dressed and prepared Miller Park, the Braves lost in extra innings to the Phillies, cementing the Brewers-Diamondbacks matchup. Yovani Gallardo will start but the team has some options after that, all centering around whether to bring back prized offseason acquisition Zack Greinke to pitch Game 2 on Sunday, on three days’ rest for the second straight start and only the third time in his career. Roenicke at first said Wednesday that he was against the idea, but Greinke delivered six very sharp innings to beat the Pirates, and indicated to reporters that he was interested.

If the Brewers keep Greinke on regular rest, he would pitch Game 3 in Arizona on Tuesday and Shaun Marcum or Randy Wolf would work Game 2 at Miller Park. Wolf has far more experience against Arizona, 10-5 with a 4.64 ERA in 20 starts. Marcum was better this season on the road.

The numbers are compelling for bringing back Greinke to pitch Game 2. He went 11-0 with a 3.13 ERA in 15 Miller Park starts this season, all Brewers wins.

Pitching coach Rick Kranitz said, “we’re not going to close any doors on anything,” and manager Ron Roenicke softened his own stance after the game. If Greinke asks for the assignment, Roenicke would consider it.

– MLB.com columnist Mike Bauman writes about the importance of pitching in both teams’ success this season. “The great strides these two clubs made in improving their pitching from 2010 to this season,” Bauman wrote, “have transformed these teams from also-rans to division champions.” Bauman also believes that whichever team advances to the NL Championship Series, it’s a win for Major League Baseball.

– Braun went 0-for-4 and finished second to NL batting champion Jose Reyes of the Mets, who bunted for a hit Wednesday afternoon and then left the game. Reyes was roundly ripped for that move — booed by his own fans at Citi Field in what might prove Reyes’ final appearance in a Mets uniform — but Braun was exceedingly diplomatic.

– Don’t forget, the rally at Milwaukee’s Summerfest grounds begins today at 4 p.m. CT.

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Brewers make creative push for MVP candidates

(AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

As if he doesn’t have enough on his plate with postseason possibilities galore, Brewers PR man Mike Vassallo was busy Wednesday writing resumes on behalf of National League MVP hopefuls Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Vassallo emailed the resumes to members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, who will cast their votes by Friday for the various major awards.

Check out Vassallo’s handiwork. I especially enjoyed Prince Fielder’s references.

Braun MVP Resume

Fielder MVP Resume

Who gets your vote?

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Braun: Can’t fault Reyes for bunting

Ryan Braun took a diplomatic approach in addressing the ethics of Jose Reyes’ “bunt and bolt” approach in the race for the National League batting title.

Reyes, the Mets shortstop, bunted for a single in his first at-bat and then called it a season. He finished the year 181-for-537, or .337057. Braun, the Brewers’ left fielder, entered an important game Wednesday night at 187-for-559, or .334525.

Braun would need to go 3-for-3 or 3-for-4 to reclaim the lead, a fact that was made very clear to him in a series of text messages from math-savvy friends on Wednesday afternoon.

“I respect whatever decision he decided to make, and ultimately he left the door open for me,” Braun said. “I know it’s not impossible. I’ve gotten three hits in a game plenty of times. It’s still attainable, still a possibility. If he had stayed in the game and gotten multiple hits, it would not have been a possibility at all. I respect whatever decision he decided to make, and I’m not really here to judge him. …

“I like Jose. I think he’s a great person, he’s a great player, he’s a lot of fun to watch. It’s not my position to judge him in any way.

He was certainly given an opportunity. Reporters peppered Braun to see if he would criticize the Mets speedster. Braun never bit.

“[Bunting], that’s a part of his game,” Braun said. “I can never fault him for trying to get a hit. That’s what he does. He’s fast, he’s an exciting player and I bet you he’s gotten plenty of bunt hits this year. I don’t think it’s anything out of the ordinary. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

“I said yesterday or the day before, it’s cool that both of us are kind of sprinting to the finish line. I think I’m six for my last nine with a few walks; he’s obviously swung the bat really well. It’s exciting. It’s fun that some of the individual races and some of the team races have come down to the last day. I think it’s great for baseball.”

Braun insisted his priority on Wednesday was the Brewers’ bid to win home field advantage in the first round of the postseason. They could seal it with a win over the Pirates, or a D-backs loss at home to the Dodgers.

The Brewers’ lineup included most of the regulars including Braun, who batted in his usual three-hole. He said he would stay in the game as long as circumstances dictated; in other words, if he was 3-for-4 after six innings and the game was still on the line, Braun would stay in and risk losing the batting title.

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Good test for Greinke tonight

Let’s be clear — Wednesday’s regular season finale is not a “must win” for the Brewers, who have already clinched their postseason ticket. But it is certainly a “want to win” game, as a victory would mean beginning the National League Division Series at home on Saturday. Win or lose tonight, the Brewers are baseball’s best home team.

So, it’s a good glimpse into how Zack Greinke might perform under pressure. He’s pitching on three days’ rest at his own request, unwilling to wait more than a week between his final regular-season start and his first in the postseason. Considering the Brewers need to win to begin the postseason at home, this is as close to playoff pressure as Greinke will have experienced in his eight-year Major League career.

The Brewers would have preferred to have home-field advantage clinched by now, which would have allowed them to pitch Greinke only an inning or two as a tune-up for Game 2 of the NLDS on Sunday. Instead, Dodgers reliever Blake Hawksworth decided not to cover first base with two outs and a five-run lead in the 10th inning in Arizona last night, opening the door for the D-backs to rally for an improbable win.

A Brewers win or a D-backs loss tonight would give the Brewers the No. 2 seed. A Brewers loss AND a D-backs win would give it to Arizona.

Either way, the Brewers might not know by the end of tonight who they will play in the postseason. That depends on the outcome of the NL Wild Card race, which has Atlanta and St. Louis tied entering today.

Then there’s the NL batting race, with Jose Reyes leading at .337057 (181-for-537) after bunting for a hit Wednesday and then bolting the Mets’ season finale. The Brewers’ Ryan Braun enters tonight at .334525 (187-for-559) and must go 3-for-4 or or better to win the Brewers’ first batting title.

So many scenarios it makes your head hurt. Good luck to me and the rest of the scribes getting a flight if we have to be somewhere else for a workout on Friday…

Anyway, the Brewers will play to win tonight with this lineup:

Corey Hart RF
Jerry Hairston 3B
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Carlos Gomez CF
Zack Greinke RHP

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Rivas undergoes elbow surgery

The Brewers just announced that right-hander Amaury Rivas underwent right elbow surgery on Tuesday to remove a bone spur. The surgery was performed by Dr. William Raasch, and Rivas will travel to Phoenix to begin his rehab.

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Fielder will play all 162

The Brewers were still in a holding pattern after beating the Pirates on Tuesday, and every TV in the clubhouse was tuned to Dodgers-Dbacks. The outcome would dictate how the Brewers use starter Zack Greinke in Wednesday’s regular-season finale, which in turn would dictate whether Greinke would pitch Game 2 of Game 3 in the NLDS.

One thing was sure: Prince Fielder will be in Wednesday’s lineup. He will become the second player in Brewers history to play all 162 games twice in his career.

“I’m playing,” Fielder said. “I play.”

He played all 162 games in 2009, and would have again in 2010 if not for a nasty illness in September that necessitated two bags of intravenous fluid.

“It’s just special man,” he said. “It’s a good year and you never know when you might have this chance again. I’m trying to take advantage of it. … No. 1, I just like playing. I don’t like sitting on the bench at all. A couple of times my rookie year, I didn’t have a choice, so I always said, if I have a chance to play every day, I’m going to do it.”

This goes against what Fielder told an FS Wisconsin reporter amid the Brewers’ clinch celebration on Friday night. He predicted he would take Saturday off. He did not.

“It didn’t feel right,” Fielder said with a laugh. “I thought about it, it sounded great, but it just didn’t feel right. Plus, my wife was like, ‘You need to play.’ She was pumping me up.”

On home field: “That’s very important,” Fielder said. “Not that we can’t do it on the road, by any means, but everybody knows we play a lot better at home. It’s good to have the fans behind you. They get your confidence a little [up]; you can get a little ‘swag’ before you have to go on the road.”

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