I’m 30 years old and for most of my life the Brewers have been awful. I have a memory of my Dad getting us on the list for possible playoff tickets in 1992. That was my Brewer highlight from 1982 to 2008, with some random awesomeness sprinkled in…hello Steve Woodard!
The early 2000s brought Doug Melvin, Jack Z and renewed hope. Brewerfan and other internet blogs sprung up giving fans way more places to get information on prospects. Hope that was on the way, but the team still sucked. 2003 was a 68 win season and 2004 was a 67 win season. Reasons to be excited were on the way (and read about daily), but they still sucked at the MLB level.
The 2004 team lacked for good hitters and only one team in baseball scored fewer runs. Scotty Pods was fun if you liked stolen bases, but usually that meant he was stranded at 2B or 3B instead of 1B. Lyle Overbay was the only full time player to have an OPS above .800. It sucked to watch unless Ben Sheets pitched.
Enter 2005. Scotty Pods is traded for a Carlos Lee who in all truth, if you’re including defense, was a good but not great player. Its hard to make a statistical argument that he was a savior or anything, but he hit bombs and drove guys in. That’s pretty fun.
Even better, he added some personality to a pretty dreary team. We take it for granted in 2013 after years with Prince, Tony Plush, Braun, etc, but the early-mid 2000s were pretty boring teams. Lee always had a smile on his face, did funny things while attempting to play defense in LF and had perhaps the greatest nickname ever, “El Caballo.” He was a noted farmer in a Panama during the offseason and just seemed to enjoy playing for the Brewers.
The team was better too! They won 81 games! At the time that was a something.
Now you’ll point to arrivals like Weeks and Hardy and career years from Jenkins, Branyan and Hall as being pretty important to those 81 wins, but I usually remember El Caballo roaming LF. Here’s hoping the farm in Panama becomes even better as he leaves MLB behind.