Update: September 26
The 2018 Brewers did what the 1957 Braves did to clinch a playoff berth: Beat the team that took away their postseason hopes the year before. The Crew did it with a 2-1 win to clinch a wild card berth...at least. We'll see what happens with the rest...but there are SO many coincidences with these teams.
Original story: July 9
Yes, the Milwaukee Brewers' latest video discussing "expectations" has gone viral as it showcased how the team is focusing on the task of making the postseason for the first time since 2011.
But it also uncovers a precedent from incredible circumstances that could be a portent of really good things to come.
The Brewers shared this video in recent days about the team's expectations and focus on making 2018 all it can be, and they are getting the job done so far as the National League's No. 1 seed for playoff positioning as of this writing.
But notice the moment of the first scene in the video: The dejection of losing the second-to-last game of the 2017 season on September 30 to the St. Louis Cardinals in walk-off fashion by one run. One run that cost the Brewers the postseason, as Milwaukee finished one game out of the NL Wildcard.
OK, Brewers fans, it's now way-back-machine time for you...to 1956. September 29, 1956 to be specific.
On that day, the second-to-last game of the regular season, the Milwaukee Braves played the St. Louis Cardinals. In Busch Stadium. (The first edition, of course. They're in the 3rd edition now.)
The Brewers entered that must-win game against St. Louis in the midst of a race for the postseason with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Warren Spahn threw an absolute gem of a 12-inning game, but lost in walk-off fashion - yes - by one run.
That one run cost the Braves the NL pennant. Just like the 2017 Brewers, despite a last-game victory, they lost out in the standings by one game.
What did they do the next year?
Well, they rededicated themselves like never before under the drive of Fred Haney, used the most prolific home run hitting lineup in baseball that year and the National League's second-best pitching staff (by team ERA) to earn that spot in the postseason.
Fast forward to now, and the continued list of similarities between Aaron, Spahn and company and these Brewers.
Just like the 1957 Braves, Milwaukee is currently second in the NL in ERA. (The Brewers are No. 2 in the NL in home run hitting.)
Just like the 1957 Braves on July 6 of that year, these Brewers currently own a small lead over their nearest pursuers.
Just like the 1957 Braves who picked up Red Schoendienst to bring added bat, defense and experience, the Brewers made massive moves to grab Lorenzo Cain & Christian Yelich (and may have another move up their sleeve).
Just like the 1957 Braves, the Brewers are getting unexpected offensive production. In 1957, it was Bob "Hurricane" Hazle and his ridiculous .403 average and 1.126 OPS. This year, it's Jesus Aguilar and his 19 home runs, 56 RBI and ridiculous .958 OPS.
Though the style of pitching has changed from 1957 to 2018, the rate of success remains with these teams. The 1957 Braves had Warren Spahn going 21-11, Lew Burdette at 17-9 and Bob Buhl at 18-7.
These Brewers are getting domination instead from their bullpen. The triumverate of Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress (seen in the video walking his dog in the Third Ward) and Corey Knebel are 10-1 with 20 saves and an off-the-charts 1.57 ERA.
(No, we have found no video footage from 1957 of Lew Burdette walking his pooch in a trendy Milwaukee neighborhood.)
Different style, but same point. Pitching and power win. The same, seemingly timeless formula for victory. Both teams have used it in spades.
Oh, and their record after 87 games?
- 1957 Braves: 50-37
- 2018 Brewers: 52-35.
We all know what the Braves then did in October of 1957: They vanquished the dynastic New York Yankees to bring the World Series trophy, which had resided within New York City limits for nine straight years, to Milwaukee for the first time ever.
Will we see Aguilar or Ryan Braun crank a postseason-clinching home run in extra innings against the Cardinals in the opening game of the second-to-last series of the 2018 regular season, just like Hank Aaron did to the Cardinals in the second-to-last series of the 1957 regular campaign?
Will Chase Anderson and Josh Hader combine on a 5-0 shutout in Yankee Stadium in Game 7 of the World Series to bring home the city's second Fall Classic title, just like Lew Burdette did by himself in October 1957 for Milwaukee's first major pro sports championship?
Of course, the road to the promised land in October 2018 is much harder: Having to win 11 or 12 postseason games instead of just four to earn the biggest prize their sport has to offer.
But that said, there just seems something special about this team. Especially with the incredible mirror images these Brewers have to their predecessors from 61 years ago.
Stay tuned. This ride will be fun.