As a child, I was enchanted by the scene in the Disney movie, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," where sweet, unlucky Snow White croons the ballad of hope and yearning, "Some Day my Prince will Come."
Hope and yearning pretty much define my mood during the second month of each baseball season. But this year feels different. This year, I'm not just yearning for wins, I'm seeing them -- lots of them, including Tuesday night's come-from-behind victory over the Astros, when the Brewers pounded out nine runs in one inning, with everyone contributing, including a pinch-hit home run by Tony Graffanino.
Stories about teams that reach the pinnacle, like the 1957 and '58 Milwaukee Braves or the 1982 Brewers, mention the emotional connection that developed among the players, enabling them to support each other throughout the season. One sign that this 2007 team has bonded is the way they share accolades.
In an interview after the blow-out victory, grand-slam hitter Johnny Estrada gave credit to Matt Wise, who kept Houston from scoring when they had the bases loaded just before the Crew began the slugfest.
Good players, they say, come through when others are struggling. In a game when slugger Bill Hall couldn't get the important hit, Johnny Estrada reached out for the grand slam.
Other incidents come to mind. In the first game of the Houston series at home, J.J. Hardy prevented a run by hustling to field a ball bare-handed and then whipping it to first for the out. In the same game, Houston's hopes for a big inning faded as Craig Counsell leaped at the perfect moment to catch a bullet and complete a jaw-dropping double play.
Every Brewers player has become a vital part of an exciting, entertaining team -- a winning team. This year, dreams just might turn into reality.
Speaking of Princes
By the end of May, when Prince Fielder was named NL player of the month, my prince had not only arrived, he was slugging his way to the top of the royalty charts.
I admit I was nervous last year, after the Brewers traded Lyle Overbay and named Prince Fielder, a rookie, his replacement.
Fielder didn't take long to prove he could play like a veteran. In the field, he's a calm, focused, talented professional. If the throw from short to first is wide (which hardly happens with J.J. on the job), he snags it as if it's no big deal. If the throw is high, he leaps for it and still tags the runner in time. In worse situations, he doesn't overreact, just makes the best play he can. He doesn't even change his expression after a pitcher nails him on the shoulder, the way one did the other night. He simply takes his base and gets ready to steal another. Even early last year I noticed how often the patient Prince, my prince, managed to get a walk even after starting out with two quick strikes.
No other sport has a feature as exciting as the home run. In an instant, one smack of the bat can transform an entire contest. The sound of that smack brings us to our feet, prepared to applaud the latest hero.
Fielder's home runs are different. They're magical. Once the ball explodes off his bat and sails above the pitcher it jolts into another gear, as if it was ignited by a booster rocket. Tell me I'm not crazy, that you've noticed this phenomena too, all twenty-five times.
Handsome is as handsome does
One morning my daughter called me from her home in Rhode Island. "Mom," she said breathlessly, "On this show I'm watching, they're talking to these guys and calling them Milwaukee Brewers. Are they the real players?" When I said yes, that's Bill Hall, J.J. Hardy, Chris Capuano and Jeff Suppan, she was amazed. "They're really cute! Who's the one with the goatee?"
There's the proof. Not only are the Brewers great hitters, fielders and pitchers, they're really CUTE!