Prior to my days as the Brewers TV Announcer, I called live golf tournaments for Golf Channel. One of the most exciting and entertaining players I covered was Bubba Watson.
During my time, Bubba was stuck on the Nationwide Tour mostly because of his over-aggressiveness and a fidgety putter. He was a train-wreck and a masterpiece all in one, every week.
Yet, there he was Sunday, on golf’s most treacherous greens, Augusta National, putting his way to a Green Jacket. Bubba Watson is a Masters champion! I’m so happy for him.
I can share a story that Bubba shared with me during our days together on the Nationwide Tour. Growing up as a kid in Baghdad, Florida, Bubba would hit whiffle golf balls around the corners of his house. Around and ’round he’d go. Both ways. Hooks and slices. A great athlete with a self-made swing. All of those “trick” shots helped make him the most impressive shot-shaper in golf, along with being the longest driver on Tour.
That story popped in my mind when Bubba hooked his tee-shot into the trees on the second playoff hole, hole #10. ‘Ol Bubba, the king of bling, livin’ large at Augusta, stuck in the pine straw…Perfect! Now, the safe play is a punch out, then trust your putter. The “Bubba-play” is a giant hook around the trees, over the patrons, over the bunkers, onto the green. Just as he’d done thousands of times as a kid, with whiffle balls around his house in Baghdad.
He pulled off the shot of a lifetime. Two-putts later, his golfing-life changed. Way to go Bubba. Way to be a kid again on one of the biggest stages in sports!
I have the greatest seat in the house from the TV booth, but it’s nice to watch a game from a different perspective sometimes. It’s a beautiful game from any angle.
There is not much left to accomplish in the Cactus League other than the final bench spot. After watching Corey Hart play well, 2 hits, in a minor league game Sunday morning, my guess is that Hart will open the season in Milwaukee, which leaves two players (Brooks Conrad, Travis Ishikawa) for one job. You feel for the anxiety those two must be experiencing.
Still three more days in Phoenix. Join Rock and me on the webcast Monday from Glendale, and on FS Wisconsin Wednesday afternoon from Chase Field for the final game of the exhibition season.
Opening Day is Friday at Miller Park. Until then, stay healthy!
With exhibition games starting Sunday, the “workout” phase of Spring Training is wrapping up today. I have spoken to a number of players and to a man, they praise Ron Roenicke and the coaching staff for their execution of Camp.
Brewers Third base coach Ed Sedar, and his distinguished profile that would make a chicken hawk jealous, is the man responsible for putting all the pieces together. He’s the “Camp Coordinator” and he’s one of the best in the business. From his eagle eye view atop the tower that sits in the middle of the four “back” fields at Maryvale Park, Sedar is the one making sure the various drills/sessions go off without a hitch. A lot gets done in a short amount of time. It looks like chaos, but it is pure art to see played out. All of the individual groups: starting pitchers, relief pitchers, infielders, outfielders, catchers, etc…use every inch of every field. Bodies are everywhere, moving in concert. What seems like complete confusion to an outsider is orderly and precise to the participants. If not, they will let you hear about it. Every player has somewhere to be and something to do.
Sedar takes input from the manager and the various coaches after each day’s session, stirs it all up and serves up the “workout stew” in digestible form the next morning. His tools of the trade include his detailed schedule on a clipboard, a stopwatch and, of course, an air horn (which his multiple unofficial comical applications).
I love the large bold lettered phrase on the bottom of the sheet, “Prepare To Win!” It is there everyday for every coach and player to see and it’s beautiful thing.
So, congratulations to Ed Sedar for a camp well coordinated. He is the Brewers version of an air traffic controller…with less dire consequences. Now, it’s on to Phase II, the exhibition games versus actual opponents. That presents a new set of challenges. At least for us, it starts to take the shape of a an actual baseball game.
Watching the Brew Crew workout on a perfect day for baseball.
Seeing the infield of Aramis Ramirez, Alex Gonzalez, Rickie Weeks, and Mat Gamel in action will set the pitching staff at ease. The Brewers have dramatically improved their infield defense.
Gamel has good range and is in fantastic shape. There was even a Corey Hart sighting at 1B today. Hart was considered a plus defender at 1B in the minors. Judging by the commentary of the coaches during this session, they are very pleased with his re-acclimation to the position. He looked like he belonged.
Ha…remember that slogan? That’s what I tell my family when I have work to do.
Today, my “off-season” ends. It’s my final day in Wisconsin until Opening Day. As mild as the winter has been here this year, I’m still eager to get to sunny, 70 degrees and some baseball!
It was an off-season that got off to a late start (thank goodness) as the Brew Crew played through the third week of October. It’s an honor to have been able to call the Brewers recent playoff runs (’08 and ’11). I’m even more proud that Miller Park and Milwaukee, Wisconsin was exposed to the country in all it’s glory. Milwaukee is a baseball hotbed and everywhere I go, people ask me about it.
Soon after the NLCS, the Brewers approached me about an extension. What a blessing. I love living and working here. My family and I didn’t know a soul when we moved here in ’07. We have made a life here an I’m excited to plant deeper roots. Having spent nine years in the Minor Leagues, I know how rare job security is in this business and it’s not something I take for granted. I lived on Denny’s and Days Inn’s for way too long. I gladly accepted the offer (4 year extension). Rock is signed long-term as well so you’re stuck with us for a while.
The new deal will allow me to continue working for Turner Sports during the MLB season and postseason. I’ll continue working for Big Ten Network as long as they’ll have me and recently, I accepted an offer to join Turner/CBS Sports. I’ll be covering NCAA basketball the next two weekends along with the 2nd/3rd rounds of the NCAA Tournament next month. I enjoy calling games on a national stage and I enjoy calling games for the Brew Crew. I’m glad my bosses allow me to do both. Thank you, bosses.
I enjoyed the On Deck event this past January along with my normal appearances with Doug Melvin. I also helped put together a non-profit called The Point www.whatsthepoint.net.
Hello everyone…it’s good to be back in the House of Blogs. Pitchers and Catchers report tomorrow so I thought I’d beat ’em by a day…from my couch in Wisconsin.
First off, let’s get this out of the way…I have no idea how the Ryan Braun situation will play out. I have been asked that question everyday since December 10th and I know nothing.
Regardless, I do think the Brewers are going to be very good in 2012. The game is trending back to it’s beautiful roots, pitching and defense reign. The Crew returns a deep, balanced pitching staff and an improved defense. I believe the Reds will present the biggest challenge in the Central Division. The Cardinals will be in the picture if Adam Wainwright returns healthy.
I spoke to Ron Roenicke yesterday and he seems as confident as ever. He’s a man of few words but a master communicator. Nothing phases him and nothing gets by him. To that point, last year, Rock and I were hosting a “thank you” dinner for the TV crew before a September home game. Ron seemed intrigued so I flippantly suggested he stop by, never dreaming he would. He responded, very seriously, that he’d like to. So here is a big league manager, in the heat of a pennant race, wanting to address our crew of 50 or so in the South Dock service entrance at Miller Park. He thanked them for their contributions to the organization and spoke about teamwork and embracing your role for the betterment of the group. I do not have the hard data, but I can say with 99.9% certainty that this was the first time in the history of baseball that a manager addressed a TV crew in this manner. It was jaw-dropping impressive and it left a mark on a group of men and women who work very hard, with very little credit, to be great bringing the Brewers into your living room.
Ron and the rest of the coaching staff report to Maryvale today. Ed Sedar is in charge of camp for the second consecutive season and what happens in Arizona will set the tone for the rest of the season. Players want to know if they can trust the manager and coaches and believe it or not, Spring Training organization speaks volumes.
Here are some key dates for Spring Training:
- February 17: All coaches/staff report
- February 18: Pitchers and Catchers report
- February 20: First workout
- February 24: Position players report
- February 25: First full squad workout
- March 3: Intra-squad game
- March 4: Cactus League Opener
- March 5: First brewers.com webcast
- March 6: First FS Wisconsin Telecast
- March 16: Minor League games begin
- March 17: FS Wi Telecast
- March 20: FS Wi Telecast
- March 30: FS Wi Telecast
- March 31: FS Wi Telecast
- April 4: FS Wi Telecast, Final Exhibition game