Earlier this month, the Milwaukee Brewers needed a players-only team meeting to get back on track. The simple message: Focus on fun.
No question something is going right again for this loose, light-hearted bunch just a few weeks later – with a winning weekend series on the road against the practically unbeatable, baseball-leading Los Angeles Dodgers to show for it.
The Brewers have found an ideal blend of cagey, experienced veterans with a youth movement that has proven invaluable to contend with the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.
”That’s been our formula all year, that’s who we are, it really is,” manager Craig Counsell said. ”Our youth is who we are, and the energy that comes from that is who we are. And it’s been the biggest reason kind of defining us this year and defining who we are together as a group, and that’s good – the fact that it’s having an impact on older players to me tells you it’s working.”
Catcher Stephen Vogt, claimed off waivers from Oakland on June 25, has been through a pennant push. Same goes for newly acquired infielder Neil Walker, a switch-hitter who came from the New York Mets earlier this month to provide an offensive boost from second base.
They’re having a blast being part of this and helping guide the young Brewers who are going through a playoff chase for the first time.
”There’s nothing better than playing meaningful baseball,” Vogt said. ”It was a good opportunity for me to do it.”
The Brewers are right there in the wild-card race, too.
Milwaukee hasn’t been to the postseason since losing in six games of the 2011 NL Championship Series to the Cardinals.
Counsell has been beyond impressed with how his entire club is handling the grind as September nears and the scoreboard watching begins in earnest.
”I think that’s human nature, it’s these guys that you go from a team that’s maybe not in it to in it,” Counsell said of guys like…