Bullpen? More like bull....
I wrote a post last week with the same title, but opted not to post it. It just seemed like everyone was complaining about the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen and, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not a big fan of the “flavor of the day.”
Then John Axford came into the ninth inning of Monday night’s game with a two-run lead. If you are reading this there’s a good chance you already know that he proceeded to blow his sixth save of the season. Always a class act, Ax took time to answer questions about the outcome.
All losses are disappointing, but this one truly is a heart-breaker. It’s especially so for pitcher Mike Fiers, who continued his lights-out rookie season by tossing seven scoreless innings. Fiers’ ERA now is a microscopic 2.01, to go along with a 1.08 WHIP. Those numbers, even if he only pitches three-quarters of a season, will put him in the conversation about the National League’s top rookies.
Probably the worst part of this blown save is the inevitable flashback Brewers fans will have. Don’t get me wrong -- I’m not saying that flashback is fair or even correct; it’s just hard not to be reminded of how both closers went from virtual nobodies to rock-star status, only to later be booed off the field.
I’m certainly not one to bust a man’s chops for being proud of his hair, but the similarity between Turnbow’s hair and Ax being proud of his mustache only heightens the comparisons. It also reminds me of another pitcher who was also had a thing for his hair, was lights-out one season but not the next.
I saw the Axford-Turnbow comparisons mentioned a few times on my Twitter timeline last night, but can only imagine what John Axford saw. Holy cow the Twitter EXPLODED with venom after he blew the save. I didn’t look, but I assume the same thing was happening to his Facebook page. Do a search on either site and you will see what I’m talking about.
I have no problem with boo-birds if a player is not performing because of lack of effort, but most adults know John Axford wanted that save as bad as anyone in the state last night. He has blown exactly eight saves in the past two years; unfortunately, six have come in a very short time span this season. Just like pitchers are supposed to have short term memories, we fans tend to as well. I tweeted my thoughts last night but refrained from tagging Axford -- not that he’s would read them, anyway.
One of the discussions on Twitter last night was whether the venom directed at Axford was fair. I don’t necessarily believe it is “fair,” but anyone with an ounce of brain matter knows the hatred that hides behind an anonymous online ID. John Axford, he of the social-media masterhood, absolutely knows the risk of making himself so accessible to his “fans.”
I’m confident Mr. Axford didn’t spend much time on Twitter last night. Or maybe he did -- as motivation. Who knows? A win Monday night would have been nice, but this loss does not mean it’s time to throw in the towel. ("The Bullpen" notes: You’re a towel!) All we need do is remember last year’s pesky Redbirds team who came back from with games back to win the National League wild card. This season, there is a second wild-card spot. There is plenty of time.
The question now becomes what to do with Ax? Personally I believe it’s time for him and Francisco Rodriguez to swap roles for two weeks. Hopefully K-Rod will get the job done and boost his trade value and Ax returns to his form of the past two seasons.
Do you think Axford deserves the boo-birds and Twitter venom?
Tim Thompson is a carsalesman, farmer, and huge fan of the Milwaukee Brewers. He lives in Milton area with his wife and two kids. Tim is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.