April 2007

The Hang

Many have asked where I’ve been hanging out before and after games.  Mostly, I’ve been grinding in my apartment but on the occasions I’ve been out on the town, there have been a few spots worth mentioning…for your approval, of course. 

The 4th Base was great.  Loved the food, service and atmosphere.  The smoke chokes a little but it’s my kind of place and I was impressed that the wait staff remembers your name.  It’s close to the ballpark and offers a solid education on all things Milwaukee.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time at the Champps in Brookfield.  It’s big, it’s new, the food is good and the flat screen, hi-def TV’s make me want to move in.  Easy to follow multiple games and have some chow.  One day, I was there so long I ate lunch and dinner without leaving.  I watched games and golf between meals while reading the sports pages.  That was a good day.

I’ve hit "Friday’s Front Row Grill" after games a few times as well.  Great spot. Convenient, very convenient.

Being "out" is nice, but the best meal I’ve had in Milwaukee was "in" at Brewers TV director Mitch Riggin’s house.  Can’t beat dinner, a ballgame and live music!  If you’re at Miller Park and you want to get on TV, Mitch is the guy to talk to…you better like the video link below, however, or you can forget it.

Here are some other recommendations from the blogworld:

Bill writes: "If you want some good Tex-Mex, La Perla is your spot."

Mike writes: "…remember a couple of things: When someone says "’Stallis", they mean "West Allis", when they say "Cudahee" they mean "Cudahy", a "bubbler" is a water fountain and if you really want to win their hearts mention Brett Favre a lot and walk around the parking lot before games with a circa 1980 George Bameberger jersey and sample the cuisine.  The only places to hang out is Wolski’s (just ask Matt Vasgersian and Drew Olson), anywhere on the east side, or Milwaukee Ale House (not my fav, but you will like the music)."

Sheila offers the "Water Street Grill" in Delafield.

Marc says: "Forget bars, a lot brat before a game will get you right where you need to be!"

And, Jeff Suppan suggests "Soup’s Grill" in SoCal…when it opens this summer.  I’ve got the house account!

Any others?  Bring ‘em on.  Click on the comments icon below.

BA

This is for my guy Mitch, Check it out: CLICK

Blogga B’s

Brewers, Bill, Braun, Brennaman, Bro, BA, and Buddy…welcome to the alliteration station.

The first road trip is in the books and the Brewers made it a success.  It’s always good to win more than you lose away from your home ballpark. 

The mailbox is filling up with Bill Hall and Ryan Braun thoughts/comments/suggestions.  It’s too early to panic on Hall in center.  He’s going to make some mistakes but as I said on the air, he’s a great athlete, a great character-guy, and he has high expectations of his outfield defense…I’m not betting against him.  Let’s revisit the center field saga in June.  Hopefully, Hall will have made it a non-issue by then.  As for Ryan Braun, he is "raking" in Triple-A.  But, we knew he’d hit.  I’m told his third base play has been solid.  His time is coming but he needs more reps in the minor leagues.  It’s too risky to bring him up before he’s ready.  His bat is special but the Brewers can win without him.  How bout we hope for the Brewers to run away with the division, call up Braun in September, get him acclimated to Big League life and watch him win Rookie of the Year in 2008?  I know you like the sound of that.  Ryan Braun hears about such expectations every day.  That’s a big burden to bear for a young player, so be patient.

The trip to Cincinnati was special for me.  It was great to see Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman again.  In 1993, during my brother’s brief trip to the big leagues with the Reds, Marty Brennaman brought me to his booth after he heard I was interested in broadcasting.  I was still in college but brother Mike asked Marty if he could let me "hang" for a day.  Marty obliged and once I saw him work in person, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.  Now, 14 years later, he was the first person I sought out in Cincinnati.  I was ready to re-introduce myself and remind him of our past but before I could say a word, he greeted me like an old friend…remembering it all while offering a hearty "welcome to the club!"  He knew all about my trek through the minor leagues, the Golf Channel and now the Brewers.  I got a glimpse into a Hall of Famer’s window 14 years ago and to share the same press box with him is beyond cool.  I’m glad he’s getting a chance to work with his equally talented son, Thom, all over again Cincinnati.

Seeing the Brennamans reminded me of how many doors my brother, Mike, opened for me.  Mike was an undrafted pitcher, signed out of a "cattle call" tryout camp.  He fought his way to the Major Leagues and put me in some great company along the way.  He’s a big reason I’m here.  Twenty years after that tryout camp, Mike is still in the game.  He’s a pitching coach in the Texas Rangers organization (Bakersfield – Cal league) and I have no doubt he’ll be in the big leagues soon.  There is a growing list of pitchers that my big bro has helped develop into Major Leaguers.  His story is blog-worthy on its own.  Perhaps next time.

Thanks for the all of the great comments and encouraging words.  Let’s hope the Brew Crew can get a win streak started.  See you on TV!

BA

Everybody needs a little Buddy sometimes. Enjoy!  CLICK.

Please feel free to send your thoughts/questions by clicking the "Comments" icon below.

Guest Blogger: Bill Engvall

Well, well, well…the baseball gods have smiled upon Milwaukee.  Due to the lovely weather in Cleveland which, by the way, I think would have been hysterical to watch a baseball game in that snow. Just think of the fun of starting your slide 20 feet from the base or homeplate and then sliding right on in to the backstop or into outfield. I think that we are missing a real opportunity here. Although I would not want to foul tip a ball or take one inside on the small part of the bat. Yeeesh!  It brings back memories of being a kid in the freezing cold and some dork would flick your ear. The vendors could sell for that one week Cleveland Indian ear muffs and scarves and parkas. 

Heck, why stop there Cleveland Indian thermal underwear.  Anyway, I digress.  You the Milwaukee baseball fans get a chance to see in your beautiful ball park the spectacular Angels baseball club, you must be giddy with excitement.  I know Brian is jealous that he can’t be there.  He’s miserable sitting on the beach in Miami.  Oh well, good luck and remember it could be worse, you could be in Cleveland

Here’s your sign…Go Brew Crew!

Bill Engvall

Brew and Green

The first week of the season has passed and I have enjoyed every minute of it in the booth.  I could not have dreamed up a more perfect Opening Day scenario than the Ben Sheets masterpiece versus the Dodgers.  The energy in Miller Park was off the charts.  Opening Day was by far the busiest day I have ever experienced in my career.  From TV and radio interviews, personal appearances and preparing for my own call of the game, most of my MLB debut anxiety had no chance to creep in.  The game was over before I knew it and I can barely remember a thing outside the final inning.

The highlight of the opening series for me was to share the press box with three Hall of Fame broadcasters.  Bob Uecker, Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrin.  Combined, these three legends have spent 142 years in the booth…and all with one team.  Vin Scully recommended I keep this gig, reminding me that, "the job pays well and noooo heavy lifting…" as only Vin Scully can say it.  He is such a gracious man. 

While the opening homestand has been the headliner, I think I’ve answered more golf questions than baseball questions with the playing of the year’s first major, The Masters.  The proud new owner of the green jacket is Zach Johnson.  A guy I covered closely in 2003 while he played on the Nationwide Tour.  He was the Player of the Year on that Tour in ’03 and kudos to my ex-Golf Channel partner Curt Byrum, who accurately predicted at the time that Zach would not only win on the PGA Tour (which he did immediately in Atlanta in ’04) but that he would contend for Major’s.  Now, four years later, Curt was right and Zach Johnson has played his way from the mini-tour’s to the Butler Cabin…earning golf’s most coveted title. 

In my opinion, to go toe-to-toe with Tiger on the back nine of Augusta National on Championship Sunday at the Masters…and come out on top…is one of the most impressive feats in ALL of sports.  Zach is one of the greatest character-guys I have ever known.  A man of faith and a bulldog of a competitor, it’s only fitting he won on Easter Sunday. 

Enough about golf…the first road trip of the year begins Monday.  An eight game, nine day, three city roadie.  Let’s hope the Brewers can put a good run together.  See you on TV.

BA

Here is a tune you might like…a little on the pop side but they pass the acoustic test with this performance.  If you can write it, play it and sing it…I’m a fan: Click here

Away We Go!

Have you ever wondered what the Greyhound would do if he ever caught the rabbit?  Would he be disappointed?  I think he would race again because the chase is just as fun as the catch.  As we get ready to start the new season, I kind of feel like that mutt.  I have caught a big league bunny with this job.  My dream job.  But, now we move to the "keeping" portion of the race. 

Many have asked what my emotions are going to be like before the first telecast.  Well, I’ll tell you…nervous, excited, uncomfortable, humbled, fearful to name a few.  Every announcer wants to be liked and I’m no different.  Likability is what keeps us talking heads employed.  But, it’s not about me.  My voice, my style, is what it is.  My pledge.  My priority…is to make sure my Brewers still sound like your Brewers (at least the TV version).  Day by day, night after night.  A wise producer once told me, "An announcer cannot make a bad game great…but he can make a great game bad."  I agree with that.  My goal is to help keep the great games great and the bad games watchable.  Let’s hope the bad eggs are few and far between. 

I believe this team has a chance to win a lot.  Talent matters and the Crew has plenty.  Especially the pitching.  We asked Bill Hall the other day if he’s ready for 162 (number of games in a season).  He said with a smile: "At least!"  I love hearing that.  He’s expecting more than 162 and that’s what you want to hear from your leader.  All of the Brewers are expecting more this year.  There is a quiet confidence in that clubhouse and I can’t wait to watch this team attempt to cash in on the expectations. 

So, here’s to a new race!  On the field and in the booth.  It’s Opening Day…the greatest Opening Day of my career!  Hope you enjoy Brewers TV this season. 

BA

And…for good luck.  My guy…SRV.  Click here

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