You’re totally going to fall in love with these guys.
OK, so: in baseball there’s a sort of complicated way of determining win-loss records. It’s not like you can just say the Packers won 275 games when Brett Favre started and lost 172, so his win-loss record is 275-172. Pitchers usually don’t play the whole game, so determining their win-loss record is more complicated.
I can’t recite the rules on W-L, but it sort of comes down to whether you did something to win or lose the game during your time in it. It’s kind of like the doctor in the medical drama who is like “You’re not dying on my watch… Not today… Clear! Live, goddamn you! Live!”
So during the first month of last season, when the Brewers were briefly the best team in baseball, their top three starters in the five-man rotation each went 5-0. That means they played well enough to win, or well enough to not lose while the hitters did the work of winning. Those three guys are:
Ben Sheets, who the Brewers drafted in 1999. He won a gold medal for the U.S. in the 2000 Olympics, and was introduced before the last game at County Stadium as A New Hope. You can refer to him using his full proper name: “Olympic Gold Medalist Ben Sheets,” just as you might refer to “Academy Award winners Three 6 Mafia.” His nickname is “Sheeter” because his last name is Sheets — or “Big Ben” because his first name is Ben and he’s a big boy.
“You mean he’s fat,” Posh said.
“No. He’s not fat. He’s a big boy.”
Then there is Jeff Suppan. Here’s a good example of the win-loss thing — he pitched great in the game that got the St. Louis Cardinals into the 2006 World Series. He didn’t get the win because of the guidelines, but his performance did earn him the MVP of the playoff series (and the notoriety to score a big money deal with the Crew). He’s opposed to stem cell research, which a major faux pas in Wisconsin, but he is a reliable veteran pitcher. His nickname is “Soup” because his last name is Suppan.
That brings us to one of my favorite players, Chris Capuano. His struggle, like many of us, is to achieve and then maintain greatness. For example, in 2006 he was named to the All-Star team as a last-minute replacement. He had won 10 games by that point. By the end of the season, he had only won 11. Last year, he started a red-hot 5-0 just like Big Ben and Soup but then he didn’t record a win for the rest of the entire season. Whether he pitched well or pitched poorly, as a starter or a reliever, something always went horribly wrong. He finished 5-12; the Brewers lost 22 consecutive games in which he pitched.
I like to think of Capuano as the nice guy who can just not close with the ladies, especially when you watch him walk off the mound after getting absolutely shellacked in the Big Inning. He’s a Dukie, an econ major, single, knows how to pick a nice restaurant, but man… is it hot in here or is that flop sweat? That’s the problem with college boys, always over-thinking things. His nickname is “Cappy” because his last name is Capuano.
Posh Tosh seems vaguely interested by all this. A few days later she calls me, excited because someone posted Facebook pics of Spring Training. “There are all these pictures of the guys, and the sunshine, and Cappy warming up.”
Excuse me, did you just use one of our simple, catchy, name-based nicknames? You are totally going to fall in love with these guys.