Top 10 Brewers Moments in 2009

We continuously see the articles about how bad the pitching was for the Brewers and what they need to do in order to improve in 2010, but one concept seemed to get lost among all that....the Brewers were still a blast to watch and had plenty of highlights in 2009. Thanks to Tom Haudricourt for asking the question about the highlights and lowlights of the 2009 season after writing about the USA Today's top 10 MLB moments (of which Fielder and the team were mentioned). Without further ado, here are my favorite moments in 2009:

#10 - Yovanni Does it All (April 29th vs Pirates)
A pitcher's duel generally isn't going to make a list of top moments in a season. Some consider pitching duels to be baseball at its finest, but to the casual fan it is nothing more than a snoozefest, especially in April where games don't seem to have the same value as a September or October game. But this game Yo struck out 11, and when the normally potent Brewers offense was worse than anemic, Gallardo took things into his own hands and knocked a solo shot into the crowd.

This was the 2nd time Yovanni hit the go ahead homer to help himself. The first being when he hit a three run blast off Randy Johnson, and became the first pitcher to ever take the Big Unit yard.

#9 - Braun Walks It Off to Show Appreciation (September 26th vs Phillies)

Ryan Braun sure likes to give the fans something to appreciate on Fan Appreciation Day. In 2008, in easily the most exciting game I ever attended Braun hit what was his only walk off homer, in grand slam fashion to beat the Pirates in bottom of the 10th. 2009's game came down to the bottom of the 9th on Fan Appreciation Night...different year against a different opponent with different stakes, but Braun provided the same ending with a two run homer, his 30th of the year. I once again was in attendance, and though much less was on the line, I can tell you that the fans and players still showed they cared.

#8 - Braunie Lays Out For It (May 18th vs Cardinals)

You may have read that the Cardinals dislike having any sort fun by a recent post by Lange. Well, the Cardinals also dislike players making amazing plays against them and taking a second to gather themselves after slamming into the turf. Plenty happened on this day. The Brewers learned that Rickie Weeks would be out for the season, Jason Kendall hit his 2,000th hit, Braden Looper picked up the Brewer's Major League leading 24th quality start (you read that right), and Mat Gamel hit his 1st major league homerun. What stands out though was Ryan Braun's full extension catch in the third inning (video here). The message boards quickly lit up about how "unclassy" Braun was for laying on the ground with his arms extended after that catch. I think those fans were just upset that the Brewers ended up sweeping the Cards that series.

#7 - Home Opener Thriller/Rickie Weeks? Really? Okay then! (April 10th vs Cubs)
The Milwaukee Brewers Home Opener should be a statewide Holiday, seriously Governor Doyle, you should get on that. I know myself and many of my friends quickly ask for that day off of work so we can get to the park as early as possible and grill and drink for as long as possible. To me, it is the unofficial start of spring. So, what can make the home opener even better? Playing the hated Cubs of course! This game was the one Brewers vs Cubs game I've been to that didn't have 30%-50% Cubs fans because most of the seats went to those who purchased ticket packages for the season.

What's even better than those reasons? Watching Chicago's newest closer melt down the same way every other Chicago closer seems to do. In the bottom of the 9th, Rickie Weeks doubled home the tying run, then moved to third on a Gregg wild pitch. Ryan Braun then hit a soft grounder to Theriot and Weeks went for the kill. It was a close play at the plate, but when the umpire went palms down, the stadium erupted in a frenzy! Weeks, who many fans had given up on, pulled through in a clutch....really.

#6 - Fielder Goes "Back, Back, Back, Back, Back" Twenty Three Times (July 13th - HR Derby)
I apologize for making you think of Chris Berman, but unfortunately when I think of the HR Derby during the All Star Break all I hear is that doofus in my head. I was debating if this was technically a "Brewers" top moment, but act like you weren't glued to your TV cheering your ass off for Fielder. Fielder hit 23 total and took down former Brewer Nelson Cruz of the Rangers in the finals to hoist up his well deserved hardware.

It was a nice scene. Moments after winning the Derby both of Fielder's boys and Ryan Braun were quickly there to help the big guy celebrate. The best part though, Fielder "untucking it" at Busch Stadium, but the Cardinal fans, who usually respect impressive feats (ex. giving Rickie Weeks applause after he crushed one to 'Big Mac Land' years ago) gave Prince the cheers he deserved.

#5 - A Near No-No for Bush (April 23rd vs Phillies)
Nothing gets fans buzzing like the prospect of a no-hitter, also superstitions start to come into play like few other moments in sports. It was a day game in Philadelphia, so I like most was at work listening. After the 5th inning the office start to stir about the Brewer game and that "Bush is pitching very well", thankfully I had AT&T U-Verse and quickly went online to start recording the game on my DVR. After the 6th and 7th people couldn't help but mention the no-hitter and work progress started to slow. Uecker stayed right on with baseball announcer tradition of not making a deal of it, while still letting the audience know after each inning saying something like, the Phillies have no runs on no hits after 4...5...6...7. Then the bottom of the 8th I started to believe after listening to Uecker's call about Bill Hall's amazing play (video). There always seems to be an amazing defensive play involved in a no-hitter. For Juan Nieves it was Robin Yount diving for the 27th out, and even for Mark Buehrle this year he had an amazing HR saving catch. When I got home and watched that play I was in awe at Billy's throw. I also got a huge kick at how uncomfortable Bill Schroeder was at Brian Anderson for talking about the no-hitter (nonstop) and at one point telling him he wasn't comfortable with it.

Both Hall and Braun had that same feeling I did. Hall said, "When you get a play like that during a no-hitter, everybody starts to feel a little bit of momentum, like it's actually going to happen." Ryan Braun stated, "When Billy made that play, I really thought it was going to be [Bush's] day, our day. It almost happened."

Then Matt Stairs came along and sent one into the seats, ending Bush's bid for history. Just something about former Brewers (2002) crushing the Brewers at inopportune times. The crew still won the game though, and look, it made for a good story.

#4 - Ryan Dumpster Dempster Beans Braun...Braun Let's the Bat Talk Back (May 9th vs Cubs)
Ryan Braun doesn't like to get beaned, especially if he feels it is intentional. We all found out about that earlier in the year after Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens was all but threatened by Braun after an obvious intentional ball. To set this one up, you have to go to the Brewers win night before where Braun hit a go ahead 8th inning HR to win the game off of Cubs pitcher, Aaron Heilman. It was somewhat similar to 2008's final regular season game, including Braun doing the "airplane", which set off many people as a classless move since it was only May.

Back to the game at hand. In the 5th inning, Dempster, who was pitching fairly sharp, threw one way inside as Braun tried to drop a drag bunt, and the ball got a piece of Braun's helmet. Dempster, of course, claimed the ball wasn't intentional, but Braun and most Brewer fans felt it was payback for last night's heroics/actions. It's hard to say if it was intentional or not, especially because Dempster unraveled in the 7th inning giving up a homerun to the non-power threat Craig Counsell followed up by the obviously upset Braun who launched one for back to back homers. Braunie did make it a point to stare Dempster down while trotting the bases. The thankfully not hired for Brewers Manager, Bob Brenly, had a big problem with that saying Braun was going to be getting hit plenty more for acting like he did. To us Brewer fans, it was awesome! It was as if Braun hated the Cubs as much as we did. Oh it should be mentioned this was game where the lights went out at Miller Park.

#3 - The Runoff Celebration (May 25th vs Cardinals)

Another "boring" pitcher duel with Gallardo on the mound. Chris Carpenter and Yo battled for 8 scoreless innings on Memorial Day. Things remained scoreless after 9 1/2, then Bill Hall, who seems to have a flair for the dramatic when it comes to Holidays, singled Casey McGehee home for the winning run in the bottom of the 10th. I was in the crowd, and noticed Bill Hall touch first and immediately sprint into the clubhouse. I thought maybe he was emotional since he was struggling mightily and had just came through in the clutch. I was too busy celebrating myself to notice the rest of the team had also all vacated the dugout immediately.

It is no secret the St. Louis Cardinals hate that the Brewers 'untuckem' after win, and the Cards have been vocal about it. So, as a smartass way to retaliate, the Brewers celebrated inside their clubhouse so as to not offend the losing Cardinals. Of course, this just infuriated the Cardinals even more, but made us fans love that the Crew was having some fun.

#2 - Prince Fielder is 'Da Bomb' (September 6th vs Giants)

I had the opportunity to use 90's slang talk, so I took it, and I'm pretty sure I nailed it! I'm talking of course about Prince Fielder's walk off homerun where he 'blasted' his teammates over with a 'mighty' hop on home plate. This was one of USA Today's top regular season moments, and what prompted Tom Haudricourt to ask the question that prompted me to write this post...whew. Why wasn't it #1 for me then? It was probably the best celebration I have ever seen in baseball, but we'll just say my heart strings weren't tugged (foreshadowing).

This actually was an amazing game that involved many defensive gems, of which a triple play wasn't even at the top of the list, but everyone will remember...quite possibly for years to come, the Brewers players (and some coaches) falling over as Fielder triumphantly hopped on the plate. The Giants were upset by it, the media, while loving it, claimed it to be pushing the envelope probably too far, especially since the Giants were still in the playoff hunt. Here's my question, if the Giants were trying to push for the postseason, what are they doing losing then? I think it is fantastic to see the Brewers having a good time, even though the season didn't go the way they wanted.

What Will be the Iconic Image of the 2009 Season

#1 - A McGehee Day to Remember (July 29th vs Nationals)
As mentioned before, I am going to go with the heart strings moment of the season. Casey McGehee had already proven himself to the fans with his great rookie campaign for the Brewers after the Cubs discarded him. His double shy of the cycle, his playing on a bum knee, his many clutch hits including his game winning Grand Slam a month earlier that probably could/should be on this very Top 10 list, were all shining moments we fans will remember about him this year. On this night though, Casey and his 2 year old son Mackail McGehee became endeared into Milwaukee's hearts.

Mackail McGehee has Cerebral Palsy, who many Brewer fans (myself included) were unaware of. So, when 'Mack' threw out the opening pitch to his Dad with assistance from Prince Fielder I think most of Wisconsin felt a wave of emotion for the moment. What made it all come together for a seemingly perfect day for Casey and his family, though, was when Casey hit the go ahead 2 run pinch hit homer that provided the difference for the win.

Casey was emotional (rightfully so) after the game, here is a portion of Adam McCalvy's article (linked above) after the game:

"As a father, that's going to me a moment I remember for a long time," said the elder McGehee, fighting back tears. "He's something special. To go through what he's going through and to keep on plugging, no one even notices he has anything wrong with him most of the time.

"He's been a big inspiration to me. The way some of the guys have taken to him is really special. If you would have asked me a few years ago if I would even be on a big league field, let alone be able to share it with my son in any way, shape or form, I was pretty lucky to have that happen."

Perhaps Casey can bring the Rookie of the Year Trophy home this year as well. It'll be a long shot, but wouldn't be surprising either.

There are 162 games, it is highly likely that I forgot about some top moments. Please leave a comment sharing some of your favorite moments from 2009 that I may have overlooked. Otherwise, here's looking to 2010's highlights!