Excitement is high at my house over the Milwaukee Brewers’ playoff run, but so is concern over my undiagnosed medical condition.
The Brew Crew has won 11 in a row and has cruised into the second round of the National League playoffs, elating the fans in our household. But my wife Barb can’t help but be concerned, as high-pressure games involving my favorite teams tend to bring about bouts with sports-onset Tourette’s syndrome.
I have long struggled to watch my language during Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers games, directing at players, coaches, referees and opponents epithets unfit for a family newspaper. Let’s just say my go-to references sound a lot like “duck spit,” “sons of witches” and “cheese and rice.”
Most of the time, especially when the kids are around, I’m able to catch myself and use alternatives such as “son of a nutcracker,” “fahrvergnugen” and “Shazbat!” But there are certain things — other drivers not using turn signals, my phone’s talk-to-text software not understanding what the duck I’m trying to say, and big games — that push me over the edge.
Barb likes to remind me that the players and coaches can’t hear me through the television, no matter how loud I shout. This is a shame, because they’re missing out on some sage strategic advice, not to mention some creatively worded theories about their parentage.
She’s as excited about her hometown Brewers’ playoff run as anyone. We were at Miller Park for the home opener, Friday’s playoff win and several games in between. I try to convince myself it’s because she knows going to the ballpark makes me happy, and not because she has developed a crush on manager Craig Counsell. It’s easier for me to convince myself of this when she isn’t wearing her custom-ordered Counsell jersey and caressing his bobblehead doll.
But she’s also concerned about how the currently jubilant atmosphere at home might change if Milwaukee falters. Brewers defeats have been known to bring 10-year-old Frankie to tears. Because the Brewers haven’t been contenders since we got together, she can only wonder how my Tourette’s might intensify during tight moments of the National League Championship Series or, good Lord willing, the World Series.
I wish I could give her some idea, but I don’t know how I’ll react. The last time the Brewers played in the World Series, I was 10 like Frankie. That season ended in tears, when Dad informed me the morning after the seventh game that Harvey’s Wallbangers had lost to St. Louis.
I’ve seen the Packers win the Super Bowl and the Badgers play for the national basketball championship, and I don’t think I launched into profane rants. But I can’t say for sure, because I tend to black out for a minute and emerge with no recollection of what I’ve said. Whatever it was, I probably should ask cheese and rice for forgiveness.
In moments of pregame calm, I remind myself that this already has been a special season. The Brewers won their last seven regular-season games — including a tasty sweep at St. Louis — to tie Chicago for the division lead, and proceeded to win a showdown at Wrigley Field before sweeping Colorado in the first round of the playoffs. They have the league’s top player in Christian Yelich and a clubhouse full of likeable characters. There isn’t much negative to say about these sons of witches.
A fan can’t help but wish for the world championship that has eluded this franchise throughout its 48-year history. But win or lose, for Barb’s sake, I’ll try to count my blessings and remember that this season has been anything but duck spit.