During a typical season Milwaukee owner Bud Selig is in his
private box for every pitch of all the Brewers' home games. But in
this very atypical year he spends game days working the phones in
his office, which is located on the lower level of County Stadium
and doesn't even afford him a view of the field. He estimates that
he talks to owners, league officials and reporters 18 hours a day.
This is what bothers Selig most about the time demands of his job
as interim commissioner: He's now an interim fan.
So far he has missed plenty of excitement. At week's end the
Brewers were 4- 1 and in first place in the American League
Central. Their play had been a wonderful contradiction of the
small-market blues that Selig has been singing for the past six
years. ``It has been a welcome relief,'' said Selig.
It doesn't matter that the rest of the world sees Milwaukee's beer
mug as half empty; the Brewers view their underdog status as an
advantage. ``This start gives us something to build on,'' said
designated hitter Greg Vaughn. ``We're not supposed to win with
our payroll, right?''
The team with the smallest payroll in baseball ($15 million); the
team that can't afford to sign big stars (the Brewers' only
celebrity is broadcaster Bob Uecker, who is featured on the cover
of the media guide); the team that wasn't given a chance to finish
anywhere but last by most pundits (USA Today's oddsmaker made
Milwaukee a billion-to-one shot to win the World Series) was
The MicroBrew Crew crushed the Chicago White Sox, those big-market
bullies, 12-3 and 9-4 in their first two games. With that run
production the Brewers seemed to be suggesting that they are much
improved offensively, compared with last year's team, which
finished next to last in the American League in both batting and
On Friday the Oakland A's came to town, and late in the game Selig
left his office and wandered into the grandstand behind home
plate, where he sat by himself in Row 30. The Brewers were
trailing 7-6 in the bottom of the 10th inning but rallied and tied
the game. Then Milwaukee first baseman B.J. Surhoff hit a fly to
shallow center off Dennis Eckersley, and pinch runner Fernando
Vina scurried home with the winning run.
The few thousand chilly Cheeseheads remaining from the crowd of
10,059 erupted into a bubbling fondue as they stood and cheered.
This might have been only the third game of the season, but the
Brewers reacted as if the 8-7 win meant much more. They ran onto
the field and smothered Surhoff and Vina with hugs. A fan turned
to Selig and gave him a hearty high five. There was joy in
The giddiness over the auspicious start carried over to Saturday
afternoon. ``Were we 3-0 when we started the season 13-0 in
1987?'' Brewer manager Phil Garner asked a group of reporters
before realizing his Yogiism.
Selig, who had been in his office all afternoon, arrived in the
owner's box during the seventh-inning stretch as the crowd of
10,113 lustily sang, ``Roll out the barrel. We'll have a barrel of
fun. Roll out the barrel. We've got the blues on the run.''
``This is the best part of my day,'' said Selig as he settled into
his seat. Does his role as quasi-commish take some of the
enjoyment out of the game, he was asked. ``Yes,'' he said. ``Yes,
it does.'' But at this moment it didn't matter much that Milwaukee
was behind. Or that the Brewers would eventually lose the game
8-2. At this moment Selig was far removed from the phone that was
surely ringing in his office. At this moment, at least, the blues
were on the run.