Results tagged ‘ Caitlin Moyer ’

From the Mound to the Movies: Former Brewers Pitcher Mark Ciardi is Producer of Million Dollar Arm; Film Opens Friday

Disney’s highly-anticipated baseball film Million Dollar Arm is set to open this Friday, May 16.

Based on a true story, sports agent JB Bernstein (played by Jon Hamm) finds that the business has changed and his career isn’t going well. In a last-ditch effort to save his livelihood, he concocts a scheme to find baseball’s next pitching ace. Hoping to find a young cricket pitcher he can turn into a Major League Baseball star, JB travels to India to produce a reality show competition called “The Million Dollar Arm.” There he discovers  two 18-year-old boys, Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh, who have no idea about playing baseball, yet have a knack for throwing a fastball. The boys are brought back to America to train, and, while they learn the finer points of the game, JB learns valuable life lessons about teamwork, commitment and family.

I’m sure Brewers fans have seen the trailers, if not on TV or in theatres, then when they are played before games at Miller Park…but what Brewers fans may not be aware of is the direct tie to their home team.

One of the film’s producers is Mark Ciardi, former Brewers pitcher.

I had a chance to catch up with him last week. We discussed his time with the team and how he made the leap from the Majors to Hollywood.

 Read on.

Mark was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982 out of the University of Maryland, but chose to finish out his college career instead of signing with the team. However, the Club showed a lot of interest in Mark and drafted him again the following year.

Mark Ciardi Brewers

Mark Ciardi pitched in the Brewers organization from 1983-1988.

This time, Mark signed with the team and spent four seasons in the minor league system before making his Major League debut on April 9, 1987.

A Member of Team Streak

Yes, that 1987, as in Team Streak 1987. April 9 was game 3 of what would end up to be a record-tying 13-game winning streak to start the season.

Mark came into the game against the Red Sox in relief of starter Mike Birkbeck and pitched four innings that day, striking out 1 and giving up 3 hits, 3 walks, and 5 earned runs. Yet Team Streak prevailed in what turned out to be a slugfest, winning 12-11.

Mark Ciardi, pitching for the Crew in 1987. Those weren't "retro" uniforms back then.

Mark Ciardi, pitching for the Crew in 1987. Those weren’t “retro” uniforms back then.

“The first game I got in was the third game of the year,” Mark recalled. “I got in, I was kind of long-long relief. I got in to face the Red Sox at County Stadium. I think the first guys I faced were Jim Rice and Dwight Evans, so it was a lot of fun.”

The next time Mark pitched was April 14, game 8 of the streak. He started that game and ended up with the win (his line: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K), as the Brewers beat the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards 7-4.

“I pitched at the University of Maryland and got to go to Baltimore and see a lot of family and friends,” he remembers.

But then…

“Unfortunately, I got the ball in game 14 and didn’t fare so well,” Mark said.

April 21, 1987, Brewers at White Sox. In 2.1 innings, Mark struck out 3 batters, but gave up 7 hits and 1 walk and was tagged with 5 earned runs and ultimately, the 7-1 loss.

“But it was just great during the streak,” he recalls, “There were some great comeback wins… Juan Nieves’ no-hitter…. To start the season off like we did really put a spotlight on things which was pretty incredible. I think it was covered in Time Magazine, there were interviews everywhere, tying a Major League record to start the season. Every year, I look at the start of the season and you know, maybe 7-0, 8-0 was the closest…. and to think that we got to 13-0…”

After that fateful game, Mark pitched in one more contest (April 28, 1987) with the Crew before being sent down to the minors. At the time, Mark thought he’d be called up again soon, but unfortunately it didn’t work out and due to nagging injuries, he ended up retiring during the 1988 season.

“I thought I would get back up and I didn’t, but I’m glad I got to spend some time in the big leagues. I really, really enjoyed my time there,” he said.

Everything Happens For a Reason

Well, I for one have always believed that things happen for a reason though, and it seems like that is certainly true in Mark’s case.

During his time with the Brewers, he had moved out to Los Angeles because his agent was there. Looking for an off-season job and “try[ing] to get the highest-paying least amount of work possible,” Mark says he ended up walking into a modeling agency and started doing that. Modeling led to doing some commercials which ultimately led to acting classes.

So, seven years after his playing days had ended, he used the money he made from modeling and acting, as well as his West Coast connections, to partner with Gordon Gray and start the production company Mayhem Pictures, which possesses a first-look production deal with Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Group.

Mark’s Rookie Film…. The Rookie

 And in his very first “at-bat” in Hollywood, Mark hit a home run. His first credit as producer was for another popular baseball film, 2002’s The Rookie, starring Dennis Quaid and he can trace that success back to the time he spent with the Brewers.

The Rookie is based on the true story of Jim Morris, a promising young pitcher who was forced to drop out of the minor leagues due to injury. Twelve years later, as a high school teacher and coach of the school’s baseball team, he makes a promise to his players—If they win the district championship, he’ll try out for the big leagues. Well, the team holds up their end of the bargain and so does Jim, which ultimately results in him finally realizing his dream of playing in the big leagues at the “ripe old” age of 35.

Jim Morris was originally drafted in 1983. By the Brewers. The same year as Mark.

“I lost touch with [Jim Morris], like most of the guys you play with, and then I read a story in Sports Illustrated and didn’t know it was Jimmy. I was reading the story thinking this would make an amazing movie. This was right when my partner and I had started our company and I couldn’t believe it….Later on at the end of the story, it said he signed with the Brewers in 1983, never got above A-Ball… and I was like ‘Oh my god, it’s Jimmy Morris,’” Mark recalls.

Mark was able to get in touch with Jim and, although he wasn’t the only one with the idea that this story would make a great film, he does believe that the Brewers connection helped in securing the rights.

“I think ultimately it came down to comfort. We didn’t have a list of movies to point to, but I think having us and Disney gave the agent and Jimmy great confidence and I’m glad it worked out that way,” Mark said.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

“It was kind of the perfect movie to come out with and to brand what we do now. With Million Dollar Arm, it’s our seventh movie with Disney and we have another one we just finished….We’ve really got a brand in sports films, probably bigger than any other producers in Hollywood. It’s exciting,” he says.

It’s true. After The Rookie (2002), Mayhem has also produced Miracle (2004), Invincible (2006) and Secretariat (2010), among others, earning him a reputation for producing heartwarming, feel-good, inspiring sports movies.

With movies about baseball, hockey, football, and horse racing under his belt (and a movie on the way later this year about a high school track team [McFarland]), because Million Dollar Arm is now his second baseball motion picture, as a former Major League Baseball player, does he find that baseball movies have a special place in his heart, or resonate more with him?

“Yeah they definitely do. Having played, you know… I didn’t set out to make baseball movies, but boy when you get the opportunity, especially with The Rookie, to have that as your first movie….I just can’t imagine if we didn’t get the rights and weren’t able to tell that story, what would have happened to our careers or the path we would have been on, but it was great. We get first crack at a lot of these sports stories now and it was all really a result of that first movie and 10 years later to be able to tell another baseball story…” Mark said.

Million Dollar Arm

Like his connection with Jim Morris in The Rookie, Million Dollar Arm came about because of another personal connection for Mark.

“I’m friends with JB (Bernstein)….I ran into him right before he was going over to India to start this thing (the “Million Dollar Arm” competition) and I was like ‘Good luck man’ and a year and a half later he comes into my office and he’s got these kids signed. It was an amazing, amazing story,” Mark says.

“You always look for underdog stories and you know, much like The Rookie, Million Dollar Arm is that. These kids never even knew what a baseball was and six months later, they’re getting signed.”

“You either have a story like Secretariat or Miracle where everybody knows this is a famous story, or you get the smaller ones like The Rookie, or Invincible or Million Dollar Arm, where it’s not like these guys are perennial all-stars or it’s a huge event,” Mark continued.

These are small stories and underdog stories and I think sports fans love those. And you know, to see these kids signed at the end and all the real photos and images afterwards is just a lot of fun. I think it’s such a great movie and the good thing is, you don’t even have to be a big fan of baseball. There are no games to watch. It’s a lot of training and then really tryouts, so you don’t get stuck really having to go through tons of games and building all these different things…so in a way, it will appeal to people who don’t understand baseball and that was really our hope going in, that it would appeal to baseball fans and non-baseball fans alike,” Mark says.

And, since Million Dollar Arm centers on pitching, with a pitching contest that offered a prize of $100,000 to the pitcher who could throw the most strikes over 85 mph in a 20-pitch span—and the chance to win $1 million if he could follow that feat by throwing three consecutive strikes of at least 90 mph, as a pitcher in the ‘80s, I had to ask Mark: What was the top speed of his fastball?

“You know I was consistently in the high 80s and touched maybe 90s every now and then….I used to chart pitches in AAA and so many of those guys reached the big leagues, but there were maybe only 3-4 guys who would go consistently above 90 mph and even then, they’d be in the low 90s….and that was Chris Bosio, Rob Dibble, and a couple of other guys. Everybody else was mid-to-high 80s, so yeah, I was upper 80s. I had a good change-up, good slider. Better minor league stats,” Mark said.

And, while on-set in India, Mark recalled working with the actors and throwing knuckleballs:

“It’s the only thing I can throw now that I have arthritis in my shoulder….We were messing around with pitches there. It was always that pitch that you’d never throw in a game but you can dazzle people with on the sidelines. It was really funny working with the kids getting them into baseball,” Mark noted.

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Baseball in India

And just as the kids in India may have had a big learning curve when it comes to baseball, in turn, Mark says he was not at all familiar with the intricacies of the game of cricket before tackling this project.

“I do understand the game now, which we laughed at with Jon Hamm. Hamm is a big baseball fan and we finally kind of have this basic understanding of (cricket). We were there in May shooting and that’s when they have the IPL,” Mark said.

The IPL is the Indian Premier League. It is a Twenty20 cricket tournament where different franchise teams participate for the title.

“For a month they have the biggest cricket players in the world come to India and play for eight different teams in the area and they get a ton of money. It’s like an all-star game. It’s insane how popular it is… it’s the biggest thing in the world at that point cricket-wise. We watched some games and got a little hooked on it. It’s actually fun to watch and to learn. It’s a little more simple than I thought, but totally different than baseball,” Mark told me.

Since he began working on the film, Mark has spoken publicly about how he believes that India is a largely untapped country with immense potential to help grow Major League Baseball into a truly global sport. And he hopes the forays made by Bernstein, as well as the film itself, will help.

“It’s really putting the seeds down….You’ve got to get it started, then you hope five years down the line you can get a kid signed. Well, it happened in the first year and I think now that’s the first step. I think the second step would be getting a guy in the big leagues and having somebody for these kids to look at,” Mark said.

“You know, Yao Ming. China. The NBA wasn’t anything in China until he came. Now it’s a huge engine for the NBA and I think MLB would be looking at India the same way. It’s an emerging country with a huge population and if they can get a hero in baseball, you’d have a lot of kids. You’d see fields popping up. It starts with academies and that’s what happened in the Dominican Republic. You’ve got to put that investment in there, start getting kids from a young age playing the game. The work ethic of Indians is amazing. Rinku and Dinesh outwork everybody and if you can combine talent with that work ethic and that drive to get out, you know, kind of that pot of gold, that inspiration where you’ve got somebody from your own country or village that made it to the big leagues… that will ignite that country.”

“It’s a cricket country, no doubt,” Mark relented, “But with 100 million kids that play cricket, if you could take off even a slice of that, that would be more than probably the rest of the world combined that play this game.”

Back to the Brewers

Speaking of kids that play the game, Mark and his wife, Liat, have two sons, Hayden (10) and Luke (12) who enjoy playing (surprise!) baseball and, although he hasn’t returned to Milwaukee since his playing days, he says he would love to bring them back to the place where he began his career.

These days, Mark says he does still follow the Brewers, although not as closely as he did around his playing days.

“It was a great experience, such a great city to play in briefly. I also played in Beloit in A-Ball and just really enjoyed my time up there in Wisconsin. [The fans] really support the team and it’s great to see the Brewers are getting off to such a good start this year,” Mark said.

Although he hasn’t kept in close contact with many of his teammates, Mark has crossed paths with some of them over the years.

“It’s funny with athletes….When the season ends, even though you’re so close during the year, you just kind of go your own way. But you have these relationships and you’re so close to them. That’s why you see guys and even after 20 years, you pick it up like it is yesterday and I’ve gotten to do that a few times. I’ve run into Paul Molitor and Robin Yount and said ‘Hi’ and I think everybody remembers that streak and that time,” Mark told me.

“I saw Rollie Fingers, he was at our premiere,” Mark also mentioned. Although he didn’t play with Rollie, who retired after the 1985 season, Mark does share a connection beyond playing for the same organization.

“You know, I took his number after he left, which was 34. I think somebody did an article about the bad luck of that number. No one has really succeeded over the years since then and I was one of the guys listed, I thought that was pretty funny,” Mark laughed. (Yes, Mark, they did. Here’s that article. The number 34 was retired by the Club in 1992.)

And, while Rollie has already seen Million Dollar Arm, your first chance to see it is this Friday. I was already looking forward to the film before speaking with Mark, but after our conversation I am even more eager to see it.

It also doesn’t hurt that Jon Hamm is one of my favorite actors (I am a HUGE Mad Men fan).

However, Jon, a St. Louis native, is well-known to be a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan. He even narrated the highlight film for the team’s 2011 World Series and, in yet another Brewers tie-in, says the 1982 Brewers-Cardinals World Series is his favorite baseball memory.

“My best friend growing up was a kid named John Simmons. His dad happened to be a man named Ted Simmons, who played catcher for the Cardinals in the late ’60s and  ’70s and was traded in 1981 to the Milwaukee Brewers. Harvey’s Wallbangers. There’s another team – they were really good. Cardinals and Brewers meet in the World Series in 1982. My favorite baseball memory is my best friend’s baseball disaster. The bond was forged in the heat of that World Series then. To this day, that’s my best baseball memory,” Jon said in an interview with USA Today.

Mark Ciardi and Jon Hamm at the Taj Mahal.

Mark Ciardi and Jon Hamm at the Taj Mahal.

So, before I let Mark go, I did have one more thing to say:

“Mark, as one of my favorite actors, I’m a little disappointed that Jon is well known as such a big Cardinals fan. Obviously, that’s the Brewers biggest rival, so if you can work on him in some way, that would be great.”

“He’s die-hard, man, he’s die-hard. He’s a Brewers-hater,” Mark laughed.

-Cait

JohnandCait@Brewers.com

One Extremely Limited Edition Lohse Bobblehead

This Sunday, May 11, the Brewers take on the New York Yankees at 1:10pm and all-fans in attendance will receive our second all-fan giveaway of the season: the Kyle Lohse bobblehead, presented by Toyota.

MB-14-Lohse-Bobble-social

The bobblehead is posed in his windup and features Lohse’s signature goatee…but not his signature tattoo, as he and his teammates were quick to point out.

Kyle Lohse Tattoo

Kyle Lohse has a large, distinctive tattoo that runs the length of right forearm up to his elbow,  the site of a scar he has from forearm surgery he had in 2010

Kyle told me that the feathered wing represents “a prayer for power and health,” while the baseball peeling back to reveal a globe underneath it is to remind him “that there is more to life than baseball.”

And so, while none of the Brewers bobbleheads feature any tattoos (for numerous reasons, as I am sure you can understand), this felt like a special case.

So, I enlisted the help of our extremely talented Senior Graphic Designer, Jeff Harding.

“So, ah, Jeff…how hard do you think it would be to draw a tattoo on a bobblehead?” I asked him casually.

“Pretty difficult,” he said. And, knowing me very well after working together for over six years, he followed that up with a suspicious look and a, “Why…what are you thinking?”

And so I explained.

“I’d need a photo of the tattoo,” he countered.

I showed him the photo I had already taken.

Jeff shook his head in defeat. “Okay, but no promises,” he warned.

But boy, did he deliver:

Lohse Bobble Tattoo

When I presented Kyle with the bobble today, I think he was pretty stoked:

Kyle Lohse and Bobble Tattoo

He showed it to a couple of  the other guys who thought it was a sticker. Nope. That’s ink, mirroring Kyle’s.

Kyle Lohse and Bobblehead Tattoo

And sorry fans, that’s a special 1/1 limited edition bobble. All of the others to be given away this Sunday feature Kyle in his home white jersey.

By the way, for those of you scoring at home: This is the first bobblehead of Kyle’s career. Yes, the World Series Champion who was drafted in 1996,  made his Major League debut in 2001, and has played in six Major League organizations has never before been immortalized in bobble form.

“I guess I finally made it,” he told me with a smile.

-Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

Brewed for Her Night Set for July 26

If you’re still looking for that perfect Mother’s Day gift, you’re in luck!

Back by popular demand, the Brewers “Brewed For Her” event went on sale this morning.

[CLICK HERE TO READ MY RECAP OF LAST YEAR'S EVENT.]

On Saturday, July 26, during the Brewers vs. Mets game, we’ll be hosting the second  “Brewed For Her” event in the Gehl Club at Miller Park, an event geared toward women showcasing multiple products that are sold in the Brewers Team Stores, along with fashion tips, and interactive beauty stations highlighting new Brewers hair and nail accessories.

MB-14 Brewed for Her Night-Social Graphic

The event will begin two hours before gates open that day (2:30pm) so that attendees have time to shop the stores and visit vendor booths set up by the Brewers Team Store on the Club Level before the game begins. Various vendors, fashion experts, and beauticians will be on hand during the event to offer advice, give demonstrations and offer product information.

Attendees will also be able to purchase items in the Gehl Club that day (with some items at a 20% savings!) and those who purchase the new Brewers hair and nail accessories will also have the opportunity to have the beauticians style their hair and nails with them on the spot.

“We received such great feedback from last year’s event that we decided to bring it back for the 2014 season and make it even better. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the new Brewers gear and accessories and for fans to get ideas on how to show their team support not just at the game, but also out on the town,” said Jill Aronoff, Senior Director Merchandise Branding.

Brewed for Her is $98per ticket and includes:

  • Early entry into Miller Park
  • Your Brewers vs. Mets ticket in the upscale Gehl Club at Miller Park, which includes an all- you-can-eat buffet and two complementary beverages
  • Access to vendor booths and product displays at the Brewers Team Store on the Club Level
  • Demonstrations by beauticians
  • Fashion tips from experts
  • Ability to purchase merchandise that evening from the Gehl Club (some at a 20% savings!)
  • A special Brewed for Her gift bag

I’m planning to attend this event again and look forward to talking with many of the attendees as well as grabbing photos to feature here on the blog–I hope to see you there!

Tickets are on sale now at brewers.com/brewedforher or by phone at (414) 902-GAME (4263). You’ll want to hurry as tickets for this event are limited!

-Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

What John and Cait Ate: “Luc’s Ragin’ Cajun” from AJ Bombers

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

-Yogi Berra

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it…and try these concessions!”

-John & Cait

“Luc’s Ragin’ Cajun” from AJ Bombers

During each homestand, we’ll sample some of the latest and greatest Miller Park fare and review it here, for you.

One of the most fun, new additions to Miller Park this season has been AJ Bombers. The popular restaurant and bar-with locations in Milwaukee and Madison-now occupies the outside space formerly known as the Plaza Pavilion, along the west side of Miller Park near the right-field gate.

AJ Bombers offers a selection of cheeseburgers, egg rolls, tater tots, shakes, custards, specialty concrete mixers and more. The menu also include homestand specials, such as the city-themed concrete mixers and the newest addition: “Luc’s Ragin’ Cajun”.

LUC’S RAGIN’ CAJUN-$9

Lucs Ragin Cajun

Making its debut  tonight,  The Luc’s Ragin’ Cajun is a special burger named after Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

It’s a Cajun-infused Bombers Burger, topped with white cheddar, Nueske’s Bacon and Sriracha. The appropriately named sandwich is the second of several city and/or player-themed burgers that AJ Bombers plans to offer this season (the first was the “Thornburger.”)

Luc’s burger is exclusive to Miller Park (i.e. not served at AJ Bombers’ restaurants) and available for a limited time.

 

:uc's Ragin' Cajun

Also to kick off this 9-game homestand, AJ Bombers is offering a new specialty custard: Triple Citrus Cookie, made with Lemon, Lime and Orange, plus shortbread cookies.

3 citrus custard

We’ll be sure to check in with AJ Bombers often throughout the season to keep you informed on their newest menu items, just like we have been with the ever-popular Double Clutch!

Rating:

(out of 5)

Where To Satisfy Your Craving: Fans can find AJ Bombers on the Field Level, in the outside space formerly known as the Plaza Pavilion, along the west side of Miller Park near the right-field gate.

What about you? Do you have a favorite ballpark snack? A question about concessions? Something you’d like to see featured here? Post your comments below!

Bon Appetit!

-John and Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

What John and Cait Ate: The “Thornburger” from AJ Bombers

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

-Yogi Berra

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it…and try these concessions!”

-John & Cait

The “Thornburger” from AJ Bombers

During each homestand, we’ll sample some of the latest and greatest Miller Park fare and review it here, for you.

One of the most fun, new additions to Miller Park this season has been AJ Bombers. The popular restaurant and bar-with locations in Milwaukee and Madison-now occupies the outside space formerly known as the Plaza Pavilion, along the west side of Miller Park near the right-field gate.

AJ Bombers offers a selection of cheeseburgers, egg rolls, tater tots, shakes, custards, specialty concrete mixers and more. The menu also include homestand specials, such as the city-themed concrete mixers and the newest addition: The “Thornburger.”

THE THORNBURGER-$9

Starting tonight for a limited time, AJ Bombers is offering The "Thornburger," a special burger named after Brewers pitcher Tyler Thornburg

Starting tonight for a limited time, AJ Bombers is offering The “Thornburger,” a special burger named after Brewers pitcher Tyler Thornburg

Making its debut on Tuesday, April 15, The “Thornburger” is a special burger named after Brewers pitcher Tyler Thornburg.

Brewers pitcher Tyler Thornburg now has a burger named after him--the Thornburger!

Brewers pitcher Tyler Thornburg now has a burger named after him–the Thornburger!

It’s a 1/4 lb patty topped with pepperoni, sautéed onions, lettuce, Texas BBQ sauce, Ranch dressing and pepper jack cheese. The appropriately named sandwich is the first of several city and/or player-themed burgers that AJ Bombers plans to offer this season.

He likes it! Hey Tyler!

He likes it! Hey Tyler!

“This may not be the last time I eat one of these,” Tyler said with a grin, as he tucked into the burger, which is exclusive to Miller Park (i.e. not served at AJ Bombers’ restaurants) and available for a limited time.

Last homestand, AJ Bombers featured the Malted Whoopie Pie Concrete Mixer (for the Pittsburgh Pirates Series) and the Gooey Butter Cake Concrete Mixer (St. Louis Cardinals Series) and they are currently featuring a Chili Chocolate Brownie Custard for the San Diego Padres Series.

We’ll be sure to check in with AJ Bombers often throughout the season to keep you informed on their newest menu items, just like we have been with the ever-popular Double Clutch!

Rating:

(out of 5)

Where To Satisfy Your Craving: Fans can find AJ Bombers on the Field Level, in the outside space formerly known as the Plaza Pavilion, along the west side of Miller Park near the right-field gate.

What about you? Do you have a favorite ballpark snack? A question about concessions? Something you’d like to see featured here? Post your comments below!

Bon Appetit!

-John and Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

Brew Crew Bracketology: Brewers March Madness Update

Back in Spring Training when the NCAA tournament got underway, we asked some of the Crew to fill out brackets.

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!

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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!

Cheers,

-Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

A Bet is a Bet: Kyle Lohse is Now on Twitter; Tweet #WelcomeKyle Messages to @KyleLohse26

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!

We set a date at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ (the same course that hosted Bob Uecker’s Front Row Classicand got  pitchers Will Smith and Tyler Thornburg to round out our foursome.

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.

Our fearless foursome, L-R: Will Smith, me, Kyle Lohse & Tyler Thornburg.

Our fearless foursome, L-R: Will Smith, me, Kyle Lohse & Tyler Thornburg.

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.

IMG_5961

Here’s Kyle’s shot on the 5th hole, a 153-yd Par 3.

On the 6th hole, I took great pride when I “outdrove” Kyle. Okay, so I had a 120yd advantage from the ladies’ tee and he used a 3-wood, but that wasn’t stopping me from rubbing it in and making him pose for this photo. I outdrove Kyle and I'm sticking to it.

On the 6th hole, I took great pride when I “outdrove” Kyle. Okay, so I had a 120-yd advantage from the ladies’ tee and he used a 3-wood, but that wasn’t stopping me from rubbing it in and making him pose for this photo. I outdrove Kyle and I’m sticking to it.

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:

My approach on the famed 8th hole, a 172-yd Par 3, the turning point in the match.

My approach on the famed 8th hole, a 172-yd Par 3, the turning point in the match.

Will and Tyler let me do the honors. I sank the birdie putt, bringing the match back to even.

Tyler Thornburg gives me a high five after I made the birdie putt on 8. A disconcerted Kyle looks on.

Tyler Thornburg gives me a high five after I made the birdie putt on 8. A disconcerted Kyle looks on.

“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.

IMG_5965

Thru 9: All square.

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.

This is one of my favorite shots of the day-- Kyle and Tyler using the GoPro and iPad app.

This is one of my favorite shots of the day– Kyle and Tyler using the GoPro and iPad app to capture my swing like I had been doing for them all day long.

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.”

(Sorry, Kyle, if you're reading this, I added it up--we beat you by 2 strokes, FYI.)

(Sorry, Kyle, if you’re reading this, I added it up–we beat you by 2 strokes, FYI.)

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.”

I take that back. THIS is my favorite shot of the day. Kyle Lohse, Will Smith and Tyler Thornburg, having fun on the course--I was trying to take an "epic' photo of them.av

I take that back. THIS is my favorite photo from the day: Kyle Lohse, Will Smith and Tyler Thornburg, having fun on the course–I was trying to take an “epic’ photo of them.

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.

 

4/25/14 Update:

Looks like Kyle made good on the other half of his bet to Tyler and Will last night!  A true man of his word, indeed.

 

-Cait

JohnandCait@Brewers.com

Brew Crew Bracketology: Brewers March Madness Update

Last week when the NCAA Basketball Tournament got underway, we asked some of the Crew to fill out brackets.

Even Hank and Bernie Brewer got in on the fun!

As the next round begins on Thursday, 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.

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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 do love the excitement of this time of year–both on the basketball and baseball fronts.

Bracket busted? Never fear. Opening Day (true March Madness!) is just 6 days away!

Cheers,

-Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

Brewers Fever Leads to March Madness

As the NCAA Basketball Tournament gets underway, we’re all feeling a little bit of that March Madness.

And, although both UW-Milwaukee and UW-Madison are competing this year, the particular “March Madness” I’m referring to in this case is baseball related.

It’s been an especially long, tough winter and, all across the state, fans are suffering from major cases of cabin fever—and, much worse, Brewers fever. The ailment usually hits a crescendo, a state of madness, right about this time of year.

People started coming down with it in late January at Brewers On Deck. For one fleeting day, we got to see the Crew and get pumped up for the season. Then came Spring Training. Since mid-February, we’ve been teased by the sights of the steady string of warm, sunny days in Phoenix and the green grass, along with the sweet sounds of the crack of the bat, the ball smacking a leather glove, and Uecker‘s voice on the radio. These sights and sounds evoke an almost Pavlovian response from our other senses: We can almost smell the brats on the grill; we can almost taste the peanuts and Cracker Jack; and we can definitely feel the excitement in the air.

We’re now less than two weeks from Brewers Baseball returning to Milwaukee and the madness has hit full tilt. We’re ready for the Boys of Summer to return from Arizona and at least bring a little bit of spring back with them. We’re ready for America’s Pastime done the Wisconsin way, with tailgating, Sausage Races and Bernie’s slides. And the barrel? Oh yes, it’s ready to be rolled out. Just say when!

How will we cope the next two weeks? Well, we’ve got a few more Spring Training games that we can watch and listen to, plus two Exhibition Games at Miller Park. In addition to that, there’s that other March Madness that I alluded to, an entertaining diversion that makes that time until Opening Day go by quicker.

Like most of America, we’re sure you found time to fill out a bracket. That’s why we asked some of the Crew to do the same.

Tom Gorzelanny, hard at work on his bracket.

Tom Gorzelanny, hard at work on his bracket.

A few of the participants, like Brewers infielder Rickie Weeks and Brewers reliever Rob Wooten, really get into it. Rickie is a big basketball fan and Wooten in particular is a diehard fan of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.

Wooten lives just south of Chapel Hill, N.C., and attends as many as 10 Tar Heels home basketball games per season before heading to Spring Training.

Wooten lives just south of Chapel Hill, N.C., and attends as many as 10 Tar Heels home basketball games per season before heading to Spring Training.

So big, in fact, that he even associates his teammate’s name with a rival team-Zach Duke who has  nothing to do with the University, other than sharing a name:

Others, like Brewers pitchers Kyle Lohse and Wei-Chung Wang, really don’t follow basketball all that closely, but it’s still fun to participate in the bracket challenge.

Lohse says he “flipped a coin” and Wang, a 21-year-old from Taiwan, got help from some friends.

Wei-Chung Wang getting help filling out NCAA bracket from interpreter Jay Hsu and clubhouse attendant Ben Wilkes.

Wei-Chung Wang getting help filling out NCAA bracket from interpreter Jay Hsu and clubhouse attendant Ben Wilkes.

But that’s the thing with March Madness– the tourney can be so unpredictable that a basketball fanatic has just as much of a chance as a coin-flipper… or a dog.

Yep, that’s right, we even got the newest addition to the team, Hank the Ballpark Pup, and old friend Bernie Brewer in on the fun.

Bernie emailed their brackets to me this morning, noting for his: “I did an in-depth mascot analysis of each team; noting who I believe would win in a duel… oh and, in case you weren’t aware, I always root for the home team(s).”

Hank also appears to have taken team mascots into account; however, with a Final Four comprised of the Albany Great Danes, Connecticut Huskies, Gonzaga Bulldogs and Wofford Terriers, he appears to have stuck with his species.

“He’s also picked a lot of upsets in the other games… it appears Hank consistently roots for the ‘underdog,’” Bernie wrote. “It’s a risky move for a newcomer, choosing species over his new home teams. But I bet people will forgive him. He didn’t even pick AZ teams to go very far.”

Follow along with Brew Crew Bracketology below and see how their picks “net” out.

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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 do love the excitement of this time of year–both on the basketball and baseball fronts.

Yep. March Madness has set in.

I’ve got Brewers Fever and the only prescription is more Brewers Baseball.

-Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

Brewers #BREWITCHED Contest Is Back, Submit Your Entries Starting Monday

This Halloween, our #BREWITCHED Instagram contest is back by popular demand!

Starting this Monday, submit an original photo of your Brewers-themed pumpkin. Carve it, paint it, or decorate it – it’s up to you! Tag it on Instagram using hashtag #BREWITCHED for a chance to win a Brewers prize pack, which will include a baseball signed by Aramis Ramirez.

The contest officially begins on Monday, but we wanted to give you a heads up in case you’re headed to the pumpkin patch and/or planning to carve your gourds this weekend.

We’ll be accepting entries through Thursday, October 31, so you have plenty of time to get in the Brewers “spirit.” Get your pumpkin,  give it a Brewers flare and take some photos. For more information and complete rules, please visit brewers.com/brewitched beginning Monday. We’ll select three winners in this contest.

To help you get started, we’ve even got Brewers pumpkin carving stencils available for download here on brewers.com.

And, for inspiration, here are last year’s winners:

http://instagram.com/p/RWUi-9CSvE/

http://instagram.com/p/RZc-YGGo0F/

http://instagram.com/p/RDVymZITJB/

Happy decorating!

-Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

PS: For those unfamiliar, Instagram is a free, fast and fun way to share photos using most Apple or Android products. You can follow us on Instagram @BrewersFor those without Instagram, you can still view our photos, by visiting  brewers.com/instagram.

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