It’s bittersweet, holding onto a blessing you know won’t last. I’m talking about the double marshmallow Oreo ice cream cone you will devour in 3.7 seconds. Or the loving look you get from your daughter when you, years before she meets a tattooed bouncer on a Harley-Davidson, are still her one true love. Or the rebuilding Milwaukee Brewers holding onto first place for half a season over the world champion Chicago Cubs.
That last phrase — “world champion Chicago Cubs” – still makes me sick to my stomach. Just like when I put away a double marshmallow Oreo cone in 3.7 seconds.
Brewers fans weren’t looking forward to this season. We knew the Cubs and their fans would be enjoying a victory lap after winning the World Series for the first time since the Model T rolled off the assembly line. Milwaukee fans could no longer shout down hapless Chicagoans with taunts about a black cat, a billy goat or Steve Bartman.
Sure, we could razz them about their 108-year dry spell — “Hey, Chicago: The Sahara called. It wants its drought back.” — but it would ring hollow. Especially considering that our Brewers were expected to, like your daughter’s bouncer boyfriend, reside in the basement.
But surprisingly, the Brew Crew’s place in the division standings has been not at the bottom, but the top. Last week, at the season’s halfway point, a ragtag mix of castoffs and prospects remained in first ahead of the mighty Cubbies. In a rainy summer worthy of Seattle, the Brewers have provided a much-needed ray of light.
CHEESEHEAD: “Doc, I feel like I have seasonal affective disorder, even though it’s summertime.”
DOCTOR: “I’m prescribing a daily look at the National League Central standings. Take it with Leinenkugel’s.”
We know it won’t last. The Brewers may continue to win as many as they lose — an impressive feat for a team that’s a couple years away from seriously contending — but eventually the south siders will return to form and run away with the division. In the meantime, Brewers fans, let us savor the bragging rights, regardless of how short-lived they may be. “Go Cubs go? Sure, go look up at the first place Brewers!”
As summer turns to fall, and Chicago takes first place, Brewers fans’ best hope will be that the Cubs find a new way to fail in tragic fashion this postseason. Perhaps the entire team, the night before a deciding game, will contract a bug resulting in violent diarrhea and projectile vomiting. “Hey fans, tonight Cubs ace Jake Arrieta will be hurling: And I mean that!”
It’s tempting to hold out hope that the Cubs will continue to underachieve and the Brewers will stay in contention down the stretch. But Milwaukee is short on pitching, and last week its best starter hurt himself while batting. This after our opening day starter injured himself on a bunt attempt. Anybody seen a black cat around Miller Park?
It’s more sensible to remember the Brewers are building for a future that’s two years off. By then, the players casual fans haven’t heard of — a relief pitcher named Corey Knebel likely will be Milwaukee’s lone All-Star Game representative next week — just might be household names.
By then, we’ll be going toe-to-toe with the Cubs on the way to what we hope will be the Brewers’ first world championship. Those will be ice cream days, indeed. Make mine a double marshmallow Oreo.