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The whole nine yards: It’s hard to say goodbye

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This week I’m going to write about something a little different. I planned for this column to be primarily about football, but a few months ago it looked like there wasn’t going to be any football to write about. The NFL was in the middle of one of the longest labor disputes in history, and it seemed like the players would be locked out for the 2011-2012 season. Being the huge football fan that I am, I was getting sick of hearing about this “millionaires vs. billionaires” conflict in a time when many people were out of a job.

In my search to find a new team to follow with the NFL and NBA locked out, I found one in baseball that I could really get behind. This was a team that was cocky, silly, and most of all, good. This team was the Milwaukee Brewers.

Here was a team with plenty of All-Star talent that appeared to be making the acquisitions to make a World Series run in Prince Fielder’s final contract year. The player that won my heart however was Nyjer Morgan, the outspoken and controversial outfielder who went by the alter ego of “Tony Plush.” Morgan’s antics had forced the Washington Nationals to trade him to the Brewers, where he was just supposed to be a backup. In Milwaukee, both the fans and players embraced his dual personality and ridiculous post-game interviews. He made the Brewers so entertaining to watch because he not only was a good player, but he had fun, something you rarely see in professional athletes.

I followed this team every step of the way, from their early season struggles to their strong surge following the All-Start break. Every game I watched I became more fascinated in a team that found every way under the sun to win. With first year manager Ron Roenicke at the helm there was never a dull moment as he used a variety of “suicide squeeze” plays and field shifts to help the Brewers win their first division title since 1982.

In game five with the “Crew” on the brink of elimination in the NLDS, I couldn’t help but think that the story couldn’t possibly end here. It just wasn’t fitting for a team that had ridden all the way to the playoffs with such a cast of characters to lose. The game went to extra innings, where in the bottom of the tenth “Tony Plush” hit a walk off single, throwing his arms up mimicking Sully from Monster’s Inc. in a celebration known as “Beast Mode” as he sprinted around first and was mobbed by teammates.

It appeared that this team was destined for greatness, but in the end the St. Louis Cardinals were celebrating in Milwaukee’s Miller Park with a 4-2 NLCS win, a venue in which the Brewers dominated in the regular season.

When the NFL turned its back on the fans, baseball was there, and I gained a lot of respect for a sport I could hardly sit through before this summer. Although the story didn’t quite end the way the Brewers intended, it was a magical run that few expected going into the season.

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The whole nine yards: It’s hard to say goodbye