Originally posted on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 8/8/12

Over the past month, it has become painfully obvious that the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers are not and will not be anything like the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers.

Milwaukee Brewers fans have had to slowly come to grips with the reality of 2012. (Image credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images via B/R)

2011 was the culmination of all that could have been for Milwaukee.

It was the prime example of a small market team doing it the right way. The Brewers had home-grown-talent-turned-All-Stars up and down the lineup, from Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart, to Prince Fielder and MVP Ryan Braun, to Yovani Gallardo in the rotation and John Axford in the bullpen.

Milwaukee then went about filling in pieces around this nucleus the way that a small-market team has to: trading away top prospects, including Brett Lawrie, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, and Lorenzo Cain to bring back two rotation studs in Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum.

Add in some veterans like Nyjer Morgan coming through in the clutch and Milwaukee had itself a team.

The Brewers set a franchise record with 96 wins and then T-Plushed their way into the NLCS in five games over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Holding home field advantage in the NLCS, Milwaukee ran into the unstoppable force that was David Freese and the 2012 St. Louis Cardinals.

And just like that, the Brewers’ magical season was over.

Fielder walked in the off-season, Weeks has hovered below .200 for most of the season, Marcum hasn’t been able to stay healthy, the bullpen became a liability, and Milwaukee couldn’t find itself on the right side of .500.

After reaching 44-47 and creating a sliver of a hope for the wildcard, the Brewers promptly lost seven straight to fall completely out of contention.

That skid prompted Milwaukee to finally bite the bullet and accept that trading Zack Greinke was indeed the right idea, renting him out to the Angels for the rest of the season.

While Brewers fans were said to see Greinke go, the trade did mark a bright spot for Milwaukee. The fact that the team had a desired commodity that it could flip for top prospects was something that they hadn’t been able to do in years past.

Acquiring Jean Segura from Anaheim and then bringing him up from AA was absolutely the right move to make. The final 60 games of the regular season could now an extended audition of what the 2013 Brewers might look like.

Watching our shortstop of the future, sprinkled in with a handful of impressive performances from the likes of Michael Fiers, Tyler Thornburg, and Jim Henderson gives Milwaukee fans something to be excited about.

And the fans are still excited, and still loyal.

Over 41,000 came out to watch the Brewers play the Reds on Tuesday night. The Brewers fan base has developed into a knowledgeable and passionate group over the past decade.

As a Brewers faithful, it was hard to accept that 2012 was not going to be 2011. But once I could overlook a three-game sweep against the hated Cardinals and look more at individual performances, it made looking at the season a whole heck of a lot better.

I am more excited about individual pitching matchups and singular at-bats than home stands or weekend series at Wrigley Field. Accepting that the Brewers are regrouping and rebuilding as they head into 2013 has allowed the fan base to look at the season on a much different scale.

I’ve been paying much closer attention to the break on Fiers’ curveball and Hart’s defense at first than wins and losses; and frankly, that’s kind of refreshing.

I still, of course, want Milwaukee to win every game. But the result is not the lingering storyline that sticks with me. Everything from here on out is in relation to 2013.

I was so totally invested in every pitch last season, and I understand that seasons like this year are part of the process of being a fan. And I’m very aware that those feelings aren’t possible without all that went into making 2011 what it was.

Next season probably won’t be what 2011 what, but having the unbridled optimism that it could be is what being a fan is all about.


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