Now we’re down to the Final Four (On Wisconsin!), so we thought we’d post the updated brackets here so you can follow along with Brew Crew Bracketology below and see how their picks are “netting” out.
As you can see, even Hank and Bernie Brewer got in on the fun and Bernie has even correctly picked 3 of the Final Four! He’s got Wisconsin in the National Championship game, so let’s hope he’s right!
If you’ll notice, I filled out a bracket, too. Although I’m a Marquette girl and I’m bummed they aren’t in it, I am cheering Wisconsin on loudly and I really do love the excitement of this time of year–both on the basketball and baseball fronts.
Bracket busted? Never fear. Brewers season is underway!
The “Brewers Baseball Academy presented by Kwik Trip,” 10 separate weeklong baseball/softball camps that will be held in various cities across Wisconsin this summer for kids ages 6-14, will be back for its second season and so is Tim Rappe. In addition to putting on the camps, last summer executive director Tim Rappe provided some baseball tips here on John and Cait…Plus 9 as well. Read on for more from Coach Tim!
“MOMENT OF TRUTH #1”: GET SET UP TO SMASH
In my last post I talked about the overwhelming value of using video to help your athlete. In our Brewers Baseball Academy summer camps we video the swing of every player. But that’s the easy part. Video is nothing more than a nice keepsake unless it’s transformed into a teaching tool and that takes some serious baseball smarts.
I’ve done over 2,000 swing analyses over the past couple years and I’ve identified four points in the swing that can make or break a hitter’s at bat. It’s those four “Moments of Truth” where kids have a tendency to mess up. I think the reason why these breakdowns occur is because there’s nothing particularly “natural” about these four key points in the swing. Kids don’t fall out of the crib doing them.
That these critical moments in the swing don’t come naturally is the bad news. The good news is that they can be taught.
MOMENT OF TRUTH #1: If you want to finish right, you need to start right. Many of the problems at contact are a function of bad posture at heel plant. What the hitter does prior to the front heel planting is, for the most part, a matter of personal style. However, at heel plant is when hitting instructors start “keeping score.”
Here is a great shot of Carlos Gomez at heel plant and the following six checkpoints are critical to starting a good swing.
- Head up and turned so that both eyes can track the ball. No tilting!!
- Don’t let the camera angle fool you. At heel plant, Carlos’ head is right above his belt buckle and in the middle of his feet. He looks like his weight is evenly distributed front to back
- Knob of the bat is angled toward the catcher’s feet. Barrel is somewhat about his head
- Hands are at shoulder height and at or just inside his back elbow (toward the catcher)
- Knees are inside ankles and flexed in athletic position
- Toes are on a straight line toward the pitcher
Does your hitter have to look exactly like this? Or course not. But all good hitters at heel plant look remarkably similar. So, from our perspective it makes a whole bunch of sense for the Brewers Baseball Academy to make sure our kids understand this. If you start right there is no guarantee you’ll finish right. But, if you start wrong, there is not much chance of finishing right. Make sense?
In my next post I’ll focus on Moment of Truth #2…the first domino to fall in the swing sequence. Until then, if you’re gonna swing, might as well swing hard.
In March, we asked you to help us pick which design to put on the side of the 2014 Brewers bases via a vote across brewers.com, Twitter and Facebook.
As a follow-up, here’s a photo of one of the Opening Day bases with the fan-selected design on the side:
Thank you for your help!
After a 3-game series against the Atlanta Braves to open the season at Miller Park, the Brewers are embarking on their first road trip of the season, with stops in Boston and Philadelphia where they will be part of two more Opening Days.
The team will begin with Interleague play in Boston against the Red Sox with three games this weekend, including tomorrow afternoon, which is Boston’s home opener. Then, the team will head to Philadelphia. Monday is the Phillies home opener, followed by an off day on Tuesday and two more games against the Phillies next Wednesday and Thursday before heading back home to Miller Park to take on the Pirates beginning Friday, April 11.
From what we’ve seen over the past few seasons, Brewers fans love to travel. Every city we go to, there are Brewers fans making their presence felt, and, in talking to players and coaches, they notice and appreciate the support while away from Miller Park.
Nothing is better than seeing true Brewers fans hanging out before games during batting practice, cheering on the team after a Brewers road win and walking the streets in whatever city the Crew is in.
From seeing some of your tweets and hearing people talk, it sounds like the Brewers will be well supported in Boston and Philly with many fans planning on making the trip.
John will be on the road trip with the team and he will be looking for Brewers fans in both cities. If you plan on going to the games (or any games throughout the season for that matter), tweet and/or Instagram your photos using #BrewersRoadCrew as the hashtag.
We’ll collect them throughout the trip and post them here on the blog, as well as post them on our social sites.
In addition, you can upload them to our Brewers Fans on the Fly digital fan map and your photo just might be selected to be shown on the scoreboard during a game!
Are any fans planning meeting up anywhere before any of the games? Let us know; we’ll also post any Brewers fans pregame events that fans might be planning.
Hopefully we’ll see some of you on the road–if not this trip, sometime this season!
Cheer loud and proud, Brewers fans!
–JOHN & CAIT
As we noted last week when Brandon Kintzler served as batboy for the Brewers vs. Royals Exhibition Game at Miller Park… a bet is a bet.
And, while Kyle Lohse may have won the bet on his golf match against Brandon, he wasn’t quite so lucky earlier this spring when he took on Will Smith, Tyler Thornburg and yours truly.
Gather around, kids. This is the story of how Kyle Lohse joined Twitter.
Yes, you read that right. You can now follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleLohse26 and we suggest you do—be sure to tweet him your messages using #WelcomeKyle, too! Maybe we can even get him trending.
It all started when I went down to Phoenix for Spring Training with the idea of writing stories on what players do with free time in Arizona. Having noticed many of the players tweeting about playing golf, and being a lover of the sport myself, I decided that might be something fun to cover for the blog and our social media sites. I asked a couple of guys about it but was pointed in the same direction each time: “You have to talk to Kyle,” they said.
I started doing a little research and realized that, in addition to being a championship-caliber pitcher, he’s also a heck of a golfer. In 2009, he even made Golf Digest’s list of “150 Top Athlete Golfers,” coming in tied at #33 (with Wisconsin’s own Dan Jansen, oddly enough) and in 2011, he was named one of TotalProSports.com’s list of “11 Best Pro Athlete Golfers,” coming in at #9. He started playing when he was about 19, taking up the sport as something to do in the offseason. He is completely self-taught; he’s never had a lesson and he’s basically a scratch golfer. His lowest score was a 67 at TPC Scottsdale.
So, I talked to Kyle and he was open to playing a round of golf for the good of social media. Little did he know just how much social media he’d ultimately be in for!
All that was left was to come up with some sort of challenge/stakes, as Kyle said, his first hint of smack talk emerging, “to make it interesting so I don’t get bored.”
Now, I’m an avid golfer, but nowhere near Lohse level, so in order to be fair, we decided to set some parameters.
In the past, he’d challenged some of his teammates, with a couple of guys teaming up and playing a scramble against his individual score, so we decided that Will, Tyler and I would play a team scramble format against Kyle’s individual score. It was also match play, meaning we would take our team score against Kyle’s on each hole to determine who “won the hole.” We would not be given any strokes.
“I think that if we beat you, you should have to join Twitter,” I suggested, fitting since not only am I the Director of New Media for the Club and referred to affectionately (I hope) as “Twitter Girl,” but Will and Tyler are also both avid users of Twitter themselves.
“Okay, fine, sure I’ll join Twitter,” Kyle said, shrugging it off. I could tell he didn’t think he’d have to worry about it.
As for Kyle’s bet with Will and Tyler, they agreed upon dinner as their bet—steaks as the stakes.
And with all of that squared away, we were off.
On the first hole, a par 4, our group got off to a hot start with a birdie and Kyle made par; however, we gave that right back with Kyle making a birdie on the second hole.
On the third hole, a par 5, we caught a break—Kyle made a bogey!—but then he quickly made up for it a couple holes later, sticking a shot on the 5th hole, a par 3, within a foot of the pin.
In Kyle’s mind, the 6th hole was a turning point in the match. He said that the fact that I “outdrove” him didn’t bother him as much as the approach shots: “I think if I remember, we had about 151-yds in [Cait's note: He had 151, we had 150.] and I was hitting a knockdown 9-iron and you were hitting your 3-wood. You got it on the green, which was huge because Thorny hit a line-drive over the green and Will hit his about 7-yds, so I thought I was looking pretty good there, but then you stepped up and put it on the green. That was a clutch hole for you.”
Both “teams” made par on the 6th, but then Kyle birdied the 7th hole to take his first lead of the day… However, then I came through on the 8th hole, another par 3, hitting a great shot that rivaled Kyle’s on 5:
Will and Tyler let me do the honors. I sank the birdie putt, bringing the match back to even.
“You know there was a string of holes where, if you weren’t there, the boys would have fallen further behind than they were at the time. That one kind of stopped my momentum,” Kyle conceded. “It came down to that and me not making birdie on the next hole when I had 90-yds in on a par 5. I hit it about 5-yds too long and ended up making par, but that’s the kind of stuff that ends up happening out there on the course.”
If Kyle’s ball had landed on the green, there’s a good chance he would have made birdie on #9.
We remained all square through 9.
Then, we made the turn.
We had fun with the GoPro in Spring Training and we even brought it out on the course with us. Here are drives by Lohse, Thornburg and Smith on #10, both at regular speeds and in slo-mo.
The guys even tested out the GoPro, taking this video of one of my shots.
Kyle started off the back with a bogey. He also made bogey on #12. Our team was able to hang in there, making pars during that stretch, and matching Kyle on holes 13-16, but we couldn’t get any more birdies to drop to put him away.
As we neared the end of the round, we started talking about what we’d do if we ended up tied—a chip-off? Putting challenge? Extra holes?
Fortunately, we didn’t need to worry about that. On the 17th, a short par 3 over water, both teams made par on the hole and the match reached dormie—Team Will, Tyler & Cait was two up with one to play and had effectively won the match.
“It always feels good to take down the best,” Tyler said. “Sometimes you have to knock them down a notch. You (Cait) really picked us up on a few holes and were always there for mental support.”
Here was Will’s reaction:
As for Kyle? He was a gracious loser, sticking around for the final hole and a post-round interview.
“I was kind of disappointed. I played well in our round. Really you’re asking kind of the impossible, to beat three people in a scramble, in match play. I think I had you guys in strokes,” Kyle said. “But I could go home at the end of the day and not be upset about that, knowing that I took on three people and almost pulled off the impossible.”
And, when he returned to Milwaukee, he also held up his end of the bargain, and joined the Twitterverse.
“I’m not real happy about the reason why it is happening, but it will be interesting. I’ve never been in on any form of social media, so we’ll see how it goes,” Kyle told me today, after signing up for his account.
“Hopefully sarcasm comes through very well because I have a dry sense of humor and I’m sarcastic at times, so we’ll see what I’ve got.”
When I asked him what he plans to tweet about it, he said, “The random things that go on in the everyday life of a baseball player, I just want to keep it kind of light and fun, or try to anyways.”
As for his bet with Tyler and Will? “I still owe them dinner. We talked about it. We’ll find a good time.”
It was a lot of fun out there on the course, getting to know these guys a little better away from the field. They were relaxed and having a good time.
However, now that the season is underway, there won’t be much (if any) time for golf, but we can all look forward to following Kyle and the rest of the Brewers on Twitter this season. Stay tuned for insights into their day-to-day lives, interesting anecdotes and playful banter among teammates; for a complete Brewers Twitter Roster, visit brewers.com/connect.
Brewers players and Front Office staff headed out on the concourse before tonight’s game armed with autographed baseballs, ticket upgrades, ticket vouchers for future games, food & beverage vouchers, Kids Club kits, merchandise and more–with the intent of giving it all away to Brewers fans, no strings attached.
This was no April Fools’ Day joke, instead it was part of our Brewers Fans First program. Tonight was just a fun way to kick off the 2014 season, by surprising fans and thanking them for their support.
Here are a few more photos from tonight so far, I’ll update this post with more later as they roll in.
Were you one of the lucky fans we ran into tonight? Share your comments with us below, or tweet/Instagram us your photos using #BrewersFansFirst.
Now you can take home a Hank that’s almost as cuddly as the #BallparkPup himself!
Yes, plush Hank toys are available at the Brewers Team Store at Miller Park. They retail for $20 and 20% goes to the Wisconsin Humane Society.
Chef John is at it again, putting his own touch on the soul food classic meal of Chicken and Waffles available for the Opening Series at Miller Park’s “Double Clutch” stand.
We think you’ll really enjoy the Buttermilk fried chicken and rosemary and thyme-infused waffles, covered with cayenne maple syrup, arugula, endive and pecan slaw–two to an order.
A popular dish in the South, the Chicken and Waffles are $9 and available through the Opening series with the Atlanta Braves.
Also available is a Smoked Turkey Chili, served in a bread bowl. That is $9 as well.
The Double Clutch stand is on the Loge Level outside section 215 (on the first base side of the press box).
-John & Cait
If you were at any of the Exhibition Games this weekend, along with taking in the new changes around the ballpark, you might have found yourself taking in some new music as well, especially as our players walked up to the plate, or our pitchers entered the games.
For players, this is often an important decision. What brief part of a song is going to send a message to the fans—and what do I want that message to be? Do I keep the same song that I had last year? What’s the hit that is going to produce the most hits? Is it a superstitious thing, do I want fans to sing along, or do I just use my favorite song right now?
And, it’s a big deal because sometimes, fans might not remember your exact career batting average or ERA with the team, but they just might remember your at-bat song.
Take these blasts from the past, for instance, which were very distinctive and will probably always stick out–in my mind, at least–as being associated with a certain player at a certain time: Tyler Houston using Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out” (2001); Frank Catalanotto and Mark Kotsay using The Outfield’s “Your Love” (2009; 2011—”Josie’s on a vacation far away….”); or Brooks Kieschnick entering the game to George Strait’s “Cowboys Like Us” (2004).
So, if you’re like me and you’re attuned to the tunes, you’ll probably enjoy seeing this list—and updating your iPod playlists accordingly.
DID YOU KNOW? Make sure you download the free MLB At The Ballpark App! In addition to check-in offers, ballpark maps, game updates and more, one of the really cool features is “Ballpark Music.” Like a song you hear? Check it out on At The Ballpark–and you can even download it right there! No Shazam necessary!
2014 AT-BAT WALK-UP MUSIC
Bianchi – “Tonight” by Jeremy Camp
Braun – “Still in this” by B.o.B
Davis – “Gangsta Rap Made me do it” by Ice Cube
Estrada – “Bodies” by Drowning Pool
Gallardo – “My Time” by Fabolous
Garza – “Toss it Up” by Tupac
Gennett – “Courage to Grow” by Rebelution
Gomez – “All me” by Drake
Lohse – “Next Episode” by Dr. Dre
Lucroy – “You’re Going Down” by Sick Puppies
Maldonado – “Watch Out for this” by Major Lazer
“Odio (Remix)” by Baby Rasta
Overbay –“Given to Fly” by Pearl Jam
Peralta – “Ponteme Melia” by Chimbala
Ramirez – None (at his request)
Reynolds – “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” by Jake Owen
Schafer – “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison
Segura – “Pa Que Tu Me Saluda” by Don Miguelo
“Dando Coriente” by El Alfa
Weeks – “Trophies” by Drake
2014 PITCHING ENTRANCE MUSIC
Duke – “Outsiders” by Eric Church
Estrada – “Bodies” by Drowning Pool
Gallardo – “My Time” by Fabolous
Garza – “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” by Tupac
Henderson – “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC
Lohse – “Wake Up” by Rage Against the Machine
Peralta – “Ponteme Melia” by Chimbala
F. Rodriguez – “Sandunqueoso” by Tego Cableron
Smith – “Hell Yeah” by Rev Theory
In case you weren’t aware, in addition to At The Ballpark, we do keep a list of these songs on brewers.com and try our best to update it accordingly, so you might want to bookmark this page for future reference.
So now, what about you? What’s your favorite, or most memorable Brewers at-bat song? And, if you were a player, what song might you choose as yours?
This season, the Head & Shoulders“Season of the Whiff” is back and smells better than ever. Last season, we encouraged fans to support local RBI Leagues by tweeting #WHIFF at their Club Twitter handle for every strikeout they saw, resulting in over $140,000 in donations for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI).
And this season, they are upping their game. In addition to donating $1 to the national RBI program for every strikeout during the 2014 MLB regular season, the seven MLB teams with the most #Whiff tweets each month will win donations for their local RBI leagues.
Here’s how Brewers fans can help! When a Brewers pitcher strikes out an opposing batter, make sure to jump on Twitter and tweet: #WHIFF and include our handle, @Brewers.
Simple as this:
That’s all you have to do! Each month, if we’re in the top 7 teams, we can win anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 for our local RBI program. AND the team with the most #Whiff tweets for the season will receive an additional $20,000 donation!
About the RBI Program
Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities, is a urban youth baseball initiative that was developed by former scout and Major Leaguer John Young in Los Angeles in 1989 to provide youth an opportunity to learn and enjoy the game of baseball.
The RBI program encourages participating in baseball while providing youth with a positive, team-oriented activity that challenges them mentally and physically. The program also uses baseball to emphasize academics and community responsibility.
So… I don’t know about you, but I’m never one to back down from a challenge. See a whiff, tweet a #Whiff @Brewers and let’s win some money for a great cause!