The Milwaukee Brewers have held Spring Training practices for a little more than a week and the two biggest stories so far are that a guy laughs in a funny way and that a dog might be dead.
Sure, there are a lot of new faces and this is the first training camp under the David Stearns regime and Ryan Braun is changing positions and so on and so forth but the stories that are gaining national attention are about a snort and a stray.
At this point I'm not sure that the spotlight has shone brighter on any other team so far this young baseball season. And for a squad projected to have a loss total somewhere between 95 and frown emoji, I think that's pretty impressive.
Two fun, light stories coming out of Maryvale. Good old preseason hijinks, right? You would think so, but that’s not quite the case.
On one hand you have the Brett Phillips story. The Brewers prospect has an outrageous laugh which essentially sounds like the mating call of a sick goat. It sounds ridiculous and his teammates are capitalizing on every opportunity to force the noise out of him. Everyone agrees, it’s a great story.
On the other hand you have the tale of Hank the Dog. As Brew Crew Ball claims, the original Hank the Dog that came back to Milwaukee from Brewers Spring Training Camp in 2014 died later that summer. But, since the dog was already such a fan favorite and a merchandising goldmine, the team didn't want to give up on those profits or be the ones to tell thousands of adoring young Brewers fans that Hank went to go live upstate for awhile. So a new, replacement Hank was trotted out and we were none the wiser.
But after some photographical evidence came into play earlier this week, the speculation over the real identity of Hank the Dog began to be questioned. The cries quickly became so loud that the Brewers were almost forced to respond. And they did, albeit in a very cryptic way.
“The "real" Hank? What is real and what is an impostor? Is the Tooth Fairy the next target? Santa Claus? The Great Pumpkin?”
This response only made the cloud of doubt around Hank’s identity darker, and the Brewers now had no other option.
They had to call a press conference.
Now, the fact that a professional baseball team is taking the time to address a mascot conspiracy originating from a blog is upsetting to some of those that cover the sport on a regular basis. Could this be the death of journalism as we know it? Because, you see guys, um, a press conference is an event reserved only for real, true, actual news. That only reporters cover. It is a sanctity that is not to be made fun of and definitely not something that bloggers or fans are able to participate in. For the Brewers to give time to such a silly story in such a professional setting is disgraceful.
That’s the “Old Man Yells at Cloud” way of thinking, at least. I tend to take the approach that it’s early March, that there is no real baseball to be played yet for about a month, and that the on-field product may be lacking in excitement this season for the Brewers so why not have a little fun with your fans to keep up morale?
So here we are. The original Hank the Dog might be dead. That would be sad.
But the Brewers might have covered up the death of a mascot dog and lied to their fans. And that would be funny! It would be ridiculous and nonsensical and a little devious but ultimately, it’s funny.
Two major stories coming out of Maryvale so far this season and neither of them have anything to do with the product on the field. One of them is universally loved and the other is being painted by some as a waste of time and a discredit to the organization’s integrity.
I’d let the first story influence the other.
It’s an absurd situation, yes.
But it’s okay to laugh.