As the Cardinals and Brewers get set for the 2011 NLCS, what better way to preview this highly anticipated series than to exchange some questions with Lou Olsen, the editor of FanSided’s Reviewing the Brew. It’s hard to believe that the National League has come down to two NL Central foes, but this is sure to be an entertaining series. There is no love lost between these two teams, and there is no love lost between Lou and me. I’m kidding of course, but in all seriousness, it’s nice to get a sense of how the opposition is feeling heading into the series. As it turns out, Brewers fans hate Tony La Russa just as much as us Cardinals fans hate Nyjer Morgan.
Game one of this best-of-seven series starts in Milwaukee in less than an hour, so take a look at my 6-pack of questions after the jump. Enjoy!
Q: Zack Greinke just called out Chris Carpenter for having a “phony attitude.” First of all, what the hell does that even mean? Secondly, is he serious? Greinke is about the least intimidating player in all of baseball. Mr. “I’m too scared to pitch away from home” suddenly thinks it’s his responsibility to pick a fight. Do you think he’s stepping a bit out of line with this comment? Trust me, Carpenter is not a guy you want to mess with.
A: Zack Greinke defies logic on a fairly regular basis. I have no idea what he meant and I can’t imagine a single reason why that guy would go out of his way to piss somebody off. Greinke is the same guy who destroyed his ribcage making a rebound in a pick-up basketball game, so let’s take waht he says with a grain of salt (never really understood that saying…). That being said, I do not really think it was out of line. There is no love lost between the Brewers and Cardinals, we all know that, but maybe Zack just wanted in on the action. He probably thought it would help his street cred. Have you seen his “Beast Mode”? Greinke makes Michael Cera look like an MMA fighter. No one has any reason to be afraid of Zack Greinke.
Q: Do you think Nyjer Morgan is an asshole? Be honest. I know I do, and I think most of St. Louis would agree with me on that one. It hardly surprised me that he dropped the F-bomb on national television after driving in the winning run in extra innings of game five. Would you agree with the sentiment that Morgan is a loose cannon who is completely out of control at this point? Does he attract extra security attention on road trips? Because I’m fairly certain that everyone outside of Wisconsin wants to kick his a**? In all seriousness, is all the extra stuff that you get with him worth it for his on field performance? Could this actually be a good thing for baseball, which is generally considered a sport which lacks trash talk? Notice how I avoided calling him T-Plush. No one in baseball deserves an alter ego, not even Albert Pujols.
A: That is a lot of questions. I do not think he is an asshole, but I do not always condone his behavior either. Sometimes you need guys like that on your team. Could have done without all of the f-bombs after the game on Friday. That certainly did not improve his popularity amongst people who are not Brewers fans. I think that Nyjer was a major improvement from Carlos Gomez in center field and so people embraced him pretty quickly. When we made the deal for him I remember being less than thrilled about it, but I have changed my tune a little bit. Say what you want about Morgan, but he knows how to hit and his glove is still top notch. When you consider all of the things he has done in the past, his antics in Milwaukee (accept for all the F-Words) have been really tame. Even if you hate Nyjer Morgan, you have to be willing to admit that he never gives less than 100% when he is on the field. As for the split personality thing, I blame his adolescent hockey playing. Hockey players are f-ing insane.
Q: Why were you guys so happy after winning the NLDS? I know it’s been a long time since your last postseason series win, but the team was celebrating like they had just won the World Series. Are the Brewers just satisfied to be where they are, or are they hungry (or thirsty) for more? Will they be focused for the start of this series?
A: I don’t want to come across as a dick, but some of our teams have not been sucking on the golden playoff teet. The Cardinals have several World Series championships, a slew of division titles, and countless Hall of Fame inductees. The Brewers have none of that. When they made the Wild Card in ’08, it was their first playoff appearance since the year before I was born. That NLDS meant a lot to Brewers fans, because who knows when we will have another crack at the playoffs. So, yes I can see how it seems a bit ridiculous that we all acted like it was the World Series, but we are not as lucky as Cardinals fans. Imagine for a second, if you will, a 3 year period where Richie Sexson and Jeff Cirillo are your two biggest offensive threats. Then ask me why this NLDS meant so much to Brewers nation. As for them being hungry for more, of course they are. The question is, which team will show up; the team that gives up grand slams on back-to-back nights, or the team that scores at will? If the Brewers win the NLCS, you might throw your TV out the window, due to the excessive celebrating.
Q: Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are about as good of an offensive combo as you’ll find in MLB today. However, if you had to pick one of them, who would you rather have on your team and why? See, I do have some non-jackass questions for you! If these two struggle in this series, is there still a chance for you guys to win? In other words, does the Brewers offense live and die by Braun and Fielder? Finally, what will happen to Prince this offseason? Yes, I’m asking you to predict the future. Is there any chance of him staying, and does winning a World Series impact his decision? You might have heard that we have a pretty significant decision coming up in our future as well here in St. Louis.
A: Well, I think Ryan Braun is a more valuable player. Braun hits for better average and is more reliable in the field. If Fielder and Braun struggle, there is no hope for the Brewers in this series. They have lived and died by those two all season long. It was a miracle that they scored 3 runs in Game 5 at all. As for Prince’s future, it is really tough to say. Clearly Fielder loves this team and the city, but money is the driving force in baseball. I think if they were to win the World Series, it would make it easier for him to leave. To the contrary, if they win the NLCS and maybe lose the Series in 6 games, then he might be willing to come back. In the end, I think the Brewers will offer him somewhere in the range of 5 years and $125 million. If he wants to win and get paid, then he will come back. But, should the dollar signs be too much to handle, he will go to Baltimore, or the Mets, or even the Mariners and slowly let his career fade into obscurity. Make no mistake, everyone in Milwaukee wants him back, just like everyone in St. Louis wants Pujols back.
Q: Is it just me or would you rather chew your arm off then listen to playoff baseball on TBS? I mean these guys that they have calling the games can hardly complete a sentence, let alone structure two, yes TWO, worthwhile thoughts together. Are my complaints warranted, or should I just shut up and watch the games?
A: This is by far my favorite question. I absolutely hate the TBS crew doing the games. Not only is their color commentary about as un-colorful as it can get, but most of them sound like they went to the John Madden school of stating the obvious. My personal favorite was in Game 3 of the Brewers and D’Backs series, one of the announcers said “the more pitches a pitcher throws, the less innings they are going to pitch”. Wow, share with us your wisdom oh obvious one. Ted Turner is rich, he should be able to hire some people not plugged in to life support. I am looking forward to the NLCS, because Brain Anderson is the Brewers TV announcer and I think that he does a really nice job. So climb off the ledge Alex, it is going to get better.
Q: If you had to pick one aspect of the game or even one specific player, what/who will be the difference in this series? I know it’s a tough question, but you’ll get through it. After all, you got through nearly 30 years of no league championship appearances. How much of a factor will home field advantage play in this series? You guys are probably the best team in baseball at home, but we just won two games in one of the most hostile environments in Citizens Bank Park. If the over/under on fights in this series is three, you gotta take the over right? I hope you don’t mind that I’m squeezing about five questions into one here. Can you blame me? There’s no shortage of things to talk about between these two NL Central foes, and I gotta fit this all in for the sake of calling it a 6-pack? A 7-pack just sounds stupid. Finally, who ya got in this series and how many games?
A: Ok, I am going to answer all of your questions. Here we go. The key to this series is the 1-5 spots in each roster. Whichever pitching staff can keep those spots in check will win the series. I firmly believe it is as simple as that. I think that home field advantage would have been more important against the Phillies. The Cards and Brewers are too familiar with each other, almost to a fault. Home field will only tip the scales slightly. If the over/under on fights is three…I would probably say over, depending on how we define “fight”. If a tobacco toss, or some shouting and restraining count…then absolutely over. If you mean actual fisticuffs, then probably under…I hope. I do not blame you for cramming 5 questions into one. Next question. Ah, the big one. As a fan I am going to pick the Brewers, but I think no matter who wins it is going to take all 7 games. So, Brewers in 7 (3-1 at home, 1-2 at Busch stadium). As a sports writer I still take the Brewers in 7. Something deep inside me (possibly indigestion) just feels like it is their time. But, what the hell do I know.