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In our last blog, we traced the origins of the Milwaukee Brewers franchise, up to the consolidation of form in 1988. As the Bombers and Wallbangers, they had seen out the 70s and ushered in the 80s in real style, and quite a degree of success, venturing into post-season near-glory. Since that era, that had been something of a collapse in performance and a lot of fan disappointment. Would the 1988 season prove to be a turning point, stopping the rot, and propelling them to new pennant races and beyond?

Sadly, it was not to be. The seasons from 1989 to 1991 proved to be shambolic, with manager Trebelhorn being shown the door. Trebelhorn had been the mastermind of the ’88 revival, and it was a miserable conclusion to his story with the Brewers. However, his departure did prompt an upsurge of sorts in 1992, finishing in an honorable second position (behind the soon-to-be World Series champions the Blue Jays) under the new management of Phil Garner. In a see-saw shift that Brewers fans were becoming dismayingly familiar with, 1993 saw yet another collapse in form. Would the Brewers ever be able to build a sustainable challenge? Not in the 90s. As the decade went on, the Brewers were reduced in stature and became also-rans. Defeat and failure were presumed, and frequently evident.

Re-Structuring for Success

From the 1994 re-structuring, the Brewers moved to the new AL Central division, before further MLB expansion lead them to move again, heading to the National League in 1997. None of these shifts were to lead to improvements in play, however. But there was still support for the franchise; 2001 saw eight years of planning come to fruition with the new Miller Stadium, a roofed stadium ‘fit for a new millennium.’ But the new stadium was not without a shadow; there was a measure of outcry over the amount of public money spent on the project, hundreds of millions of dollars. And then there was Big Blue accident. Big Blue, one of the biggest cranes on the globe fell during the erection of one the roofing panels. The panel weighed in at a colossal four hundred tons, and tragically, three construction workers were killed in the accident. The workers are honored by a memorial at the ground.

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Contenders at Last

Just as the division and league shifts had not altered performance, neither did the move to the new stadium produce any appreciable improvement in form. A change in ownership beckoned; new initiatives followed, with 2004 proving to be the most hopeful season in over a decade. The next couple of years were a bit mixed, though overall the signs were positive. This new budding positivity seemed to flower for the 2007 season, with the Brewers being talked up as NL ‘contenders’. In the event, they finished second but were to follow through on the following season, finally making the playoffs. They had failed to reach the playoffs since 1982, and would the wait be worth it? Matched against the Phillies, the Brewers put up a spirited fight but were defeated with moderate dispatch. The Brewers were left disappointed again, while the Phillies went on take the World Series.

Perhaps the hurt went deep; the next two seasons were duds. But 2011 saw an upswing, and what a swing! They spectacularly took the NL Central division and pressed the eventual World Series winners the Cardinals in the post-season. Missing out the Pennant and the World Series, the Brewers were content with the division. 2012 saw the team hampered by a departure of talent, with valiant efforts going ultimately unrewarded for the next few years. 2016 was a season marked for new growth, and while it did not prove to be everything the manager and fans hoped for, the team’s home form was formidable. What of this season? At the time of writing, they currently head their divisional rankings. Maybe (just maybe) 2017 will be the Brewer’s year.

Also published on Medium.