Mark Attanasio's Letter to the Fans...With what he was really thinking in parenthesis:
Dear Brewers Fans:
We did it! After an absence of 26 years, the Milwaukee Brewers joined the elite group (And the Cubs) of eight Major League Baseball teams that qualified for the postseason playoffs. This was the ultimate team effort (Except you, Corey Hart), involving the 44 players who were on our roster during the 2008 season; the General Manager and his staff who assembled those players; the Managers (Plural, LOL) and coaches who guided those players; the front-office executives and staff who made everything work from behind the scenes; and, of course, our sponsors, marketing partners (Hardware Hank!), and the three million of you who came through the turnstiles in record numbers to support our Brewers through the final innings of Game 162 of the regular season and Games Three and Four (Did we really start Suppan in this game?) of the National League Division Series. We were the National League Wild Card, and we had a wild ride, indeed.
When I reflect on this past season, I think about the many electrifying moments that contributed to our success, and about how this year's team added to the long legacy (As in, 1957, 1958, and 1982) of Milwaukee baseball. In just the last week of the season, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun hit walk-off home runs (Prince needed a golf cart to round the bases), and CC Sabathia started three games on only three days' rest over nine days (...and would have started every other day had we advanced). The night before our final regular season game versus the Cubs, a team executive sent me an email stating, "I think back to my childhood, playing Wiffle ball with my dad, and I always dreamed of my favorite team collecting a dramatic hit to propel it to the playoffs. We may be witness to history tomorrow.... The whole sports world will have its eyes on the Milwaukee Brewers, and I believe we will deliver." When we were behind the Cubs 1-0 in the sixth inning and the Mets had just tied their game 2-2 against the Marlins, I recalled that email and felt a sense of comfort. His prophecy soon came true as Ryan Braun hit a dramatic eighth-inning home run, and CC Sabathia pitched a complete game four-hitter (on only 213 pitches) to lead us to a 3-1 victory. Some 40,000 of you then watched the last six outs of the Mets-Marlins (They choked worse than us) game on the Miller Park scoreboard. It's hard to recall a moment in any baseball game when players and fans shared the tension — pitch by pitch, out by out — of the final steps of a successful playoff quest. A wild celebration ensued, including champagne being sprayed on the fans standing behind our first base dugout.
The emotion of reaching the playoffs continued to be felt at the rally the next day, as upwards of 15,000 of you (losers) gathered around the Miller Lite stage at the Summerfest grounds to support our team and send us to Philadelphia. Although many of our players had not yet been born in 1982 — the last time the Brewers played in the postseason (we know, we know 1982 already) — they all could relate to your joy and excitement about reaching the playoffs. Salomon Torres (thanks for melting down when we needed you) summed up the feelings of a generation of Brewers fans best when he addressed the crowd, saying, "Twenty-six years. You've been waiting 26 years! Well, you will wait no more!"
We ran into a strong Philadelphia Phillies team in the NLDS, but I was left with vivid memories nonetheless. At 6:00 on the evening before our first home playoff game, I walked around a quiet Miller Park. Batting practice had finished, and I wanted a few minutes to enjoy the serenity of our beautiful ballpark. I felt great pride at seeing the MLB-NLDS logos in banners around the stadium; "Postseason 2008" billboards; and the red, white, and blue bunting strung around the stadium (and also found room to jam in more luxury boxes). The next day, the roar of the standing-room-only crowd and the white rally towels (Matt puked on his) waving everywhere reflected your exhilaration at participating in our version of "OctoberFest" — October baseball in Milwaukee. As J.J. Hardy collected three hits, Dave Bush stifled his favorite team from his childhood for five and a third innings, and our bullpen held the Phillies scoreless the rest of the way. We added a playoff victory to the special memories of this special season. And while Sunday's Game Four proved to be a disappointment (really...with Jeff Suppan pitching?!? No way), it perhaps provided the most vivid memory of all: With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, down by four runs, some 44,000 of you were standing, banging your thundersticks (Fans should make noise, not inflatable balloons) together, supporting our team to the very end and beyond, chanting, "Let's go, Brewers!" even after the final out. I was not surprised to receive many compliments from other team owners, baseball officials, and members of the national press, who had not been familiar with our team, our fans, or our city, about how impressed they were by the intensity of your enthusiasm and loyalty (Loyalty? There were empty seats in the final week of the season, while still tied for the Wild Card?).
While our players have justifiable pride (Except you, Corey) in creating their own tradition and legacy of winning (and stealing paychecks: Bill Hall, Eric Gagne, Dick Weeks, etc), they and everyone associated with the Brewers have genuine pride in being able to connect the past winners (correct that: winner) with the present. Last weekend, we had three prime examples of "standing on the shoulders of giants": Robin Yount served as our bench coach (Later, Simba) down the stretch and through the playoffs; Mr. Baseball, Bob Uecker, threw the ceremonial first pitch (Juuust a bit outside) on Saturday; and Commissioner Bud Selig, without whom there would not be Major League Baseball (and fleecing hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers) in Milwaukee, threw the ceremonial first pitch on Sunday.
As many of you know, I work in the investment field (uh, oh!), and I can't help identifying some measuring facts in this end-of-season letter. A record 3,068,458 of you passed through the turnstiles this season. Of 81 home games, 44 were sold out, ranking us ninth in all of MLB in attendance. More fans came to see the Brewers than went to games in Boston (small ballpark, they would sell out if it seated 80,000), in San Francisco (they suck), or on the South Side of Chicago (ghetto) to see the White Sox. Your support has helped translate into the most home wins for any National League club over the past four years (Let's not bring up the road record). Millions watched our telecasts (For Trenni), listened to us on the radio (Not for Powell), or followed us on the Internet (Wonder if Ueck gets the Internet). Specifically, on FSN Wisconsin (All because of Dave Nelson, or not), the Brewers were the top-rated prime time show 44 times out of 80 nights this season. These ratings place us in the top-tier of all clubs, and the number of Internet pages viewed on brewers.com also place us eighth among MLB teams. Clearly, the Brewers transcended Wisconsin and garnered a significant amount of national interest. You again helped send a sizable contingent of Brewers to the All-Star Game — Ben Sheets (Boooo), Ryan Braun (Dropping hammer as we speak), and Corey Hart (Booooooooooo) — all of whom were drafted and developed through our Minor League system. We are fortunate that this year, Ryan Braun — the 2007 National League Rookie of the Year — has committed to be a Brewer through 2015 (Thank you, Lord).
We also are fortunate to call Miller Park our home field, as fine a stadium as any venue in sports (Debate). We are committed to refreshing the ballpark continually as a way of demonstrating our thanks to you and Wisconsin (Check that, 1 voter from each of the 5 area counties) for standing behind the team in building the ballpark at a time when — like now — there was significant economic uncertainty. The courageous decision (Forced down taxpayers throats) to build Miller Park ensured that Major League Baseball will remain in Milwaukee (Even in times of Minor League quality baseball). Today, it provides us with a facility that has supported the Club's rise in the standings and, according to surveys, gives Milwaukee fans one of the best values in all of professional sports.
This letter would not be complete without special thanks to Doug Melvin (The Mustache lives!) our talented and tireless General Manager, who was the architect of this team that won 90 regular season games this season. Doug took over a team that had only 56 wins in 2002, and it has steadily improved under his direction and leadership, as well as from the hard work of his staff, which includes Assistant General Manager Gord Ash and Special Assistant to the GM for Player Personnel Jack Zduriencik (How about drafting more guys with gloves?). The improvement in our team's performance is also a reflection of the efforts of Ned Yost (Laughable) — who also worked diligently for the team since 2002 and led us to our first 83 wins this season — and Dale Sveum, who recorded the final eight wins.
Saturday's home NLDS win coincided with the fourth anniversary of my introduction as the new Principal Owner of the Brewers. In my first season-ending letter to you in 2005, I reserved my most heartfelt thanks for you — for welcoming my family and me to Milwaukee, encouraging my efforts to improve the team (Spend all my cash), and making home games such a thrilling experience. Three seasons later, my appreciation of you is even greater after sharing this extraordinary experience (One playoff win...extraordinary?). You have my commitment to try to make achieving the postseason in 2008 a "first-in-a-lifetime" — not a "once-in-a-lifetime" — event as we seek ways (Sign CC!) to continue to deliver a winning team for the best fans anywhere.