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Local Brewers fans ride roller coaster to victory

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
October 8, 2011
— Rich Van Cleve’s fingernails were slowly disappearing after the Milwaukee Brewers blew a one-run lead late in Friday night’s decisive game with Arizona.

The self-described diehard Brewers fan sat at the bar at Sneakers Sports Bar & Grill in Janesville, one of dozens in the bar and hundreds of thousands statewide who rode an emotional rollercoaster Friday night, courtesy of their baseball heroes.


At times, the Brewers teetered on the precipice of disaster. Fans groaned at unfortunate plays but came alive with lusty cheers and pumped fists in the air whenever they sniffed victory.


Van Cleve of Janesville had suffered when the Brewers lost two straight in Phoenix to even the series on Tuesday and Wednesday. He said he was ready to rip his TV out of the wall.


Friday, he was staying positive, even as the game seemed in doubt.


“I don’t think they’re gonna lose. They’re not gonna lose. They’re not gonna lose,” he repeated as if this mantra was magic. “It’s not gonna happen.”


Christine Grenlund and her husband, David, who came from their home in Sharon to watch the game, were also projecting positive thoughts to the gods of baseball.


“They have to win! I love my Brewers!” said Grenlund, who held her hands close to her mouth in the final moments, the outcome still in doubt.


“This is so intense,” Grenlund said.


Even Sneakers owner Matt DeWitt, a Chicago Cubs fan, was pulling for Wisconsin’s team, and he wasn’t the only Cubs fan in the room so inclined, at least Friday night.


DeWitt sat next to Crew-crazy Brad and Mary Weins of Janesville.


Brad grumbled good-naturedly about being surrounded by Cubs fans.


The Weinses attended the game that cemented Milwaukee’s place in the post season, and they brought DeWitt a poster proclaiming that fact.


DeWitt put the poster next to his “Go Cubbies!” poster.


“He had no choice,” Brad said with a gleeful glint in his eye. “I made him.”


And then it was over. Sneakers erupted with hearty cheers as Carlos “Go-Go” Gomez scored the deciding run off the bat of Nyjer Morgan.


“That’s what it’s all about,” said a satisfied Weins.


“I just love ’em,” Grenlund said. “We’re Wisconsin! Wisconsin is the best state in the United States!


“I could cry. I am just so happy! The Packers won the Superbowl, so the Brewers have to win the World Series!”


Then she took a breath to load up on more exclamation points:


“Oh my God, that was so good!”



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