Brewers embrace emotion, fun side of baseball

October 3rd, 2018

MILWAUKEE -- Rewrite the rules? For sure. Show emotion? Absolutely. Celebrate the moment? Go for it.

What's wrong with letting the world know how much you love baseball? And how much you care about your teammates? And that you enjoy winning? Yes, especially that last one.

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"You know, the way the game is structured has squashed that for a long time," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

And that's too bad.

And that was then.

Baseball is embracing another way, officially. That's the message Major League Baseball announced this week with the release of an ad campaign entitled simply, "Rewrite the rules."

No team is having more fun -- openly and splendidly -- than these Brewers, who begin an National League Division Series against the Rockies on Thursday at Miller Park.

To sum up: Celebrations are good. So is joy.

Bat flips? Go for it, fellas.

At the end of the MLB spot, Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. looks at the camera and says: "No more talk. Let the kids play."

Indeed.

To watch the Brewers play is to understand all of it, from the moment injured pitcher begins his pregame chant to the high fives and bear hugs and dugout celebrations and postgame rituals.

"I'm glad it's being embraced," outfielder said. "You're not trying to show anybody up, but it's just what it brings out of you, the atmosphere brings that out of you, and it's a lot of fun to be a part of."

Third baseman remembered what Counsell told his players on the first day of Spring Training: Stay connected with one another. He told them he wanted them to play aggressively, to embrace the challenges and to find joy in the journey.

"We're a really close-knit group, and I think that's part of the reason for our success," Shaw said. "Guys have a lot of fun. Even in the lowest of lows, nothing ever changed. We kept it loose, and that's the key."

For Milwaukee, that means first baseman occasionally smiling into dugout cameras. At times, the dugout scene is more like a street party, and that's OK, too.

That's part of the appeal of this team. Suter was reminded of that recently when he heard fans in the bleachers doing his pregame beat.

When the Brewers clinched a postseason berth in St. Louis, Counsell summoned him to the center of the clubhouse to do his thing.

Think of rap lyrics that are basically:

"When I say Lo, you say Cain!

"Lo! Cain!

"Lo! Cain!"

Suter has a similar version for Yelich's candidacy for the NL Most Valuable Player Award. Speaking of Lo Cain, how is he with all of this?

"I didn't know what to think actually," Brewers center fielder said. "He has a lot of energy, brings a lot of energy to the team. It's a lot of fun. He always finds different ideas to loosen the clubhouse and just make it a lot of fun on the field. He's definitely nice to have on the team, for sure."

So is Aguilar, a big man with a big personality who is unafraid to show how much fun he's having.

"I just try to bring a positive vibe to the team," Aguilar said. "In this game, guys have a lot of pressure already. Enjoying the game the right way is important.

"It's love. We're like a family here. I think that's why we're here [in the postseason]."

Counsell played under a dramatically different set of unwritten rules during his 16 seasons in the Major Leagues: Keep your head down. Show little emotion. He has come around to another way.

"It's been a really important part of the culture of this team for sure, that the emotional part of it comes out," he said.

He understands why showing emotion was frowned upon. Seasons are long. Staying the course is important. His guys prefer to do it another way.

"I've found that it works for these guys," Counsell said. "It works for our guys, and they need it. So, you let the fun happen, and you enjoy it. It's not always things I'm comfortable doing, but I don't have to be comfortable doing it. They're the ones that got to perform, and I want them to be at their best to perform."

Or as Yelich said: "I don't think it's any extra effort to show emotion. I think it comes natural. I think the games and the intensity and the situations bring it out of you."

And that's a good thing.