If you’ve been watching the Brewers lately, you’ve most likely noticed something new. Whenever a player drops down a base hit, they throw their hands up like claws. This has caught on like wildfire as the Brewers have gotten hot as of late.
Many are wondering where this started, and why they do it, but today we will be going deeper.
David Gasper at Reviewing The Brew made a great, in depth story of this celebration and the ones which preceded it. I got a good amount of the factual information in this article from there. It is linked here. I absolutely recommend reading it.
Although we will briefly discuss where this all started and the history of these clubhouse traditions, we will have more of an emphasis on why this is a great sign of things to come.
First, lets cover the former:
How Did This Start?
Manny Pina Makes a Proclamation
While in Kansas City for a quick two game series with the Royals, Manny Pina had a proclamation to make: He is the tiger.
Yes, it is said that Manny Pina yelled “I am the Tiger” in the visiting clubhouse.
When he said that, he threw his hands up like claws and the team loved it. Players began doing as well. Soon, it spilled into the actual games and by then the fans loved it. It had become the new beloved, quirky Brewers tradition.
As Previously mentioned, this is not nearly the first fan favorite Brewers clubhouse tradition. Before diving into it’s importance, lets look at a few more from the past:
What Others from History are Like This?
Despite the Long Season, The Crew Knows How to Have Fun
There are a few famous instances of traditions like this in modern Brewers history. As mentioned before, Reviewing The Brew did a great piece detailing all of these traditions, so I won’t go to deep, but here are a few from the past:
“Beast Mode” was a tradition from 2011. The 2011 Brewers had a lot of hype coming into that season, All Star first baseman Prince Fielder was in a contract year, they had a new manager, and a new ace in Zack Greinke. They were primed to win and they did, winning their division for the second time ever, and the first time since 1982. Along with the success came a team tradition: beast mode. It was used all season by most of the team as they flew to top of the NL Central.
The celebration is used most famously by Nyjer Morgan after hitting his tenth inning walk off to send the Brewers to the NLCS.
Pina’s “Beast Mode 2.0” is based on this tradition as it and the team it represents celebrate their tenth anniversary.
Home Run Gauntlet:
The “Home Run Gauntlet” was a celebration used by the 2017 Brewers. It was used exclusively after a home run. That 2017 Brewers team had very low expectations, their expectations were so low, their best offseason acquisition was considered to be Neftali Feliz, who, while being a big name, had an ERA of 6.00 in 29 games. He was designated for assignment in June.
Early in the year, the Brewers actually lead the National League in home runs, and they were sure to have fun with it. Whether it was Eric Thames screaming into the camera at the end of the dugout, or Jesus Aguilar stomping to the camera and staring at it (That description doesn’t do that justice. Seriously, look it up its hilarious).
Despite those almost zero expectations, the Brewers got hot early as they would climb to a large division lead by the all star break.
Of course, we’re talking about the Brewers, so you can probably guess what happened to that lead.
Despite not making the postseason, that Brewers team was one of the most fun teams to watch that year, and set the groundwork for future success.
Show Me Some Love:
“Show Me Some Love” was a fan favorite celebration used by the 2018 Brewers. This one was different than the others, as it was used almost anywhere. You would see Ryan Braun doing it after a double into the gap, Brent Suter would be doing it in the dugout after a heads up play by Lorenzo Cain, the entire outfield would do it after a win, the fans would do it after great plays. The latter still happens to this day when a player like Lorenzo Cain gets on.
Show me some love was everywhere, and both the team and the fans absolutely loved it. The Brewers would win a franchise record ninety six games that year and lost in game seven of the NLCS, the deepest playoff run since 1982.
What Do All Of These Have In Common?
Well, a lot of things. But, one important thing that all of these teams have in common is that they were having fun. By extension, they were fun to watch.
In a one hundred and sixty two game baseball season, you need to have fun at some point. Almost all successful baseball teams have something like this that they all take part in. This doesn’t have to be a base hit celebration, it can be Manny Pina belting The Eagles’ “Hotel California” or “Air Uecker” T-shirts with Bob Uecker dunking like Michael Jordan.
The nice thing about fun baseball teams is that there is typically one thing they all have in common:
All of the Brewers teams listed above had winning records, and three of the four (including “Air Uecker” in 2019) all went to the postseason, with 2017 being the only one to fall short. Can you think of a tradition like this from 2015? How about 2002? You may find something, but not nearly as easy or as widespread as these.
Why is This a Good Sign?
It May Just Be a Goofy Celebration, but it Means Much More
Now that we’ve taken a look back to the visiting clubhouse at Kaufmann Stadium in Kansas City, MO, let’s go back a little further:
After a hot start that took the Brewers to the top of the National League at the end of April, the Brewers got cold.
They didn’t just cool off, they were practically frozen.
Like, shorts at a night game in March, frozen.
By the halfway point in May, the Brewers were hurting badly. The Brewers Would get swept in four in Philadelphia, took three of four in Miami, lost three of four to the Cardinals and lost the first two of a three game series vs. the Braves.
They had gotten most of their injured players back, but were still struggling mightily. They had limped their way to a 20 – 20 record by May 15.
Rollercoaster of a Game on a Beautiful Sunday Afternoon
Despite the lackluster performance, May 16 vs. the Braves would show some promise. The bats heated up as they built a nearly insurmountable 8-0 lead.
The Braves would proceed to surmount it.
Seven Braves crossed the plate in the seventh inning as they would cut the lead to one and add on two more in the 8th. Luckily for the Brewers, they also plated two in the bottom of the seventh and grew their lead to three. The Brewers would narrowly hold on to win 10-9 after a few more scares in the 8th and 9th.
A Fan Defeated
I was at that game with a friend of mine. If I’m being honest, I actually jinxed it in the bottom of the 6th by saying “too bad we wont see Hader”.
So, is the blown lead my fault?
Let’s just move on…
Was it a great time? Of course it was! It’s always fun to take in a ballgame with a good friend on a beautiful day. However, in an ironic sense, part of how fun that game was, was because of how stressful it was. It was a rollercoaster of emotion to say the least.
Between building that eight run lead, cheering with the people behind us who bet the over on Freddy Peralta’s strikeout total (they won), losing the lead in nearly an instant, my heart dropping when I saw Ronald Acuna Jr. coming in to pinch hit in the 8th, and the Josh Hader strikeout to slam the door in the 9th, I was exhausted.
An Exhausted Fanbase
I wasn’t exhausted as in needing to take a nap, I had plenty of energy after a game like that. What I mean is that I was exhausted as a Brewers fan. Don’t get me wrong, it was one of the most exciting games I had ever gone to, and I’m always grateful to see a game at American Family Field. However, I was sick of the rollercoaster that the baseball team that lives in my heart put me on.
Those who know me personally know that I am one of the most outspoken Brewers fans you will find. It is rare to find me in the wild without my half faded Brewers hat (nicknamed: Faded Glory III) on. I’ve even brought a broom to classes the day after a series sweep. Not my best idea yet, but at least it was funny.
Despite all of that pride and excitement, I was not proud of my baseball team that day, and I wasn’t alone. I am not quite sure how to put into words the feeling of hopelessness that was felt by me and all Brewers fans that day.
The Brewers went from one of the most exciting and hot teams in baseball in late April to a dud of a team in just two short weeks. They just get going, and the fanbase was tired of it.
To make it worse: all season long, the one big thing that the fanbase complained about was lack of run support.
Well, they plated ten, and could barely hold on.
At this point, the Brewers are 21-20. Not bad, but not great coming from 17-10 just two weeks ago. The Brewers were on a massive skid, and most fans feared the worst.
Luckily, they would be surprised soon enough.
Why do I mention this?
The reason I bring that game up specifically is because it may have been the low point of the season so far. Luckily, Manny Pina’s joke about being “the tiger” came days later.
Those words started a domino effect. After being swept in two games by the Royals they took two of three from the Reds and split with the Padres. They sat at 25-25, not great, but still staying afloat.
After that Padres series the Brewers got hot.
Like, left field bleachers at a 1:10 first pitch in August hot.
They would win 15 of 17 after that Padres Series. That hot streak was good for a share of the top spot in the NL Central.
Now the Brewers sit at 38 – 30 (as of 6/16/21), good for a tie at the top of the Central. More importantly, the Brewers are fun to watch again, due in large part to the tiger claw celebration.
That is why “Beast Mode 2.0” is so important. It doesn’t score runs, or throw runners out, it’s importance is more abstract.
Before we go, Let’s Look Back
Think back to when the Brewers were on that massive skid mentioned before. How did it feel to be a fan? How must it have felt to be a player? Based on their body language in the dugout and clubhouse, I’m guessing it wasn’t great. It’s never fun when your team isn’t having fun. It typically doesn’t lead to much success either.
But, just like the old years mentioned, the Brewers are fun to watch again. Those teams were successful and had plenty of memories. More importantly, all but one team mentioned today was playing in October. Could that be a sign as well?
For now, we can only watch, and hope.