The Brewers dumped Claudio Vargas today. It’s probably a smart move, but we here at Cerve will still miss him. Here’s why:
The night Vargas won his first game as a Brewer — nearly one year ago on April 18 — he was in a jam in the fourth inning. The Brewers were winning 3-1 over Pittsburgh. But Vargas had just walked two batters to load the bases with no outs.
Brewers pitching coach Mike Maddux walked out to the mound with his head down, hiding a smirk under his mustache.
Maddux stood, giving his trademark “stroking the beard of wisdom” move to obscure his words from possible lip-readers on the Pirates’ bench. The then-28-year-old Dominican nodded, listening dutifully. Maddux left the mound and walked back to the dugout, now with a full out smile. There might have even been a chuckle in there.
Vargas got set to throw the next pitch. He then proceeded to strike out the next three guys to end the inning.
What did Maddux say? Why was he smiling? He wouldn’t say.
“I was just reassuring him that he was going to get out of it, and how he was going to get out of it,” Maddux reportedly said. Then he said: “That’s MacGyver. Give him a rake and a loaf of bread and he can build the next atom bomb.”
Awesome. Awesome awesome awesome. Instantly love Vargas; sign me up for whatever you say, Coach Maddux. And while Vargas never pitched the lights out, he never drew our ire because the Crew’s vaunted offense always seemed to show up for him. Vargas would give up 4, 5, or 6 runs, but Fielder & Co. would deliver 7, 9 or 12 runs FTW. We watched him give up the lead several, get the lead back courtesy of the offense and then fight like a dog to keep it.
Was he a good luck charm? Who knows? He’s gone now.
Happy trails, Claudio.