Milwaukee Brewers: A Brief 2023 Postseason
The Milwaukee Brewers entered the 2023 Postseason as a common “dark horse” pick to win the World Series, such as the prediction from Bob Nightengale. However, despite hosting the Wild Card Series in Milwaukee against the 6-seeded Arizona Diamondbacks, the Brewers were unable to keep the lead they held in either game before being swept out of the 2023 Postseason. This result was rather shocking given the team’s expectations and performance to end the season as the National League Central Division Champions for the third time under Craig Counsell’s tenure and fourth in franchise history.
Milwaukee Brewers: A Cursed Postseason Franchise
The Milwaukee Brewers franchise, which came to its present form in 1970, did not make their first postseason appearance until the 1981 season, losing to the New York Yankees in the ALDS. The Yankees would go on to lose the World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The following year, the Brewers made it to the 1982 World Series (the franchise’s only appearance to date), losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games.
Fast forward to 2008. After a move to the National League and a 26-year-long Postseason drought, the Milwaukee Brewers then claimed the sole Wild Card spot in the NL, losing the NLDS 3-1 to the eventual World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies. The 2011 Brewers won their first NL Central title in franchise history, advancing to the NLCS before losing a heartbreaking series in 6 games to the eventual World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals. In retrospect, the 2011 team was perhaps the most likely team to win the World Series of all.
Seven years later, the Milwaukee Brewers reclaimed the NL Central title to return to the Postseason, advancing to the NLCS in 2018 before losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 7 games. The Dodgers would go on to lose the World Series to the Boston Red Sox in 5 games. This is the closest the Brewers have been to a World Series since 1982, but the season-long dominance of the 2018 Red Sox was inevitable, regardless of their opponent.
In 2019, the kneecap injury to Christian Yelich stifled the team’s momentum down the stretch, costing the opportunity at a back-to-back MVP for Yelich, a possible division title, and home field in the Wild Card game. The Brewers went to Washington, D.C., where Trent Grisham’s inability to field a routine ground ball capped off an 8th-inning rally for the Nationals to win the Wild Card Game 4-3, one where the Brewers led nearly the whole game. The Nationals went on to win the World Series in 7 games against the Houston Astros.
In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, the Brewers squeaked in as the 8 seed in the expanded Postseason format. They were swept in the Wild Card series by the eventual World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. 2021 yet again offered no respite for the NL Central Champion Brewers, where a 3-1 NLDS loss to the NL East Champion Atlanta Braves meant only one thing: Atlanta would go on to win the World Series against the Houston Astros.
If the trend hasn’t become clear, the Milwaukee Brewers have lost to a World Series representative, if not the eventual World Series Champion, in every year they have made a Postseason appearance.
Every team that has bounced the Brewers in the postseason has played in the World Series.
1981 Yankees lost WS
1982 Cardinals won WS
2008 Phillies won WS
2011 Cardinals won WS
2018 Dodgers lost WS
2019 Nationals won WS
2020 Dodgers won WS
2021 Braves won WS
2023 D-backs ??? WS
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) October 25, 2023
Arizona Diamondbacks: World Series Bound and a Continued Postseason Curse
With the Arizona Diamondbacks Game 7 victory in the NLCS over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, the Milwaukee Brewers curse has now been extended to at least a 42nd year with their representation in the 2023 World Series, where they will play the AL representative Texas Rangers.
Such a historical trend seems like some combination of silly, tragic, and heartbreaking. Especially considering the franchise’s continued quest for a first World Series title, continually losing to a World Series-destined team is incredibly frustrating, especially with some of the ways in which the Brewers have lost. Let’s hope that the Brewers can end both pieces of unfortunate history in the 2024 season by raising the Commissioner’s Trophy next October.
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