WIS­CON­SIN’S TEAM

As they ad­vance through the base­ball play­offs, the Brew­ers have be­come

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Front Page - Joe Taschler

They may be the Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers, but as they com­pete in the Na­tional League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries, it’s clear this is Wis­con­sin’s team.

From tiny ham­lets in the forested north to the farm towns west and cen­tral, even to the streets sur­round­ing Lam­beau Field in Green Bay, the Brew­ers’ dizzy­ing run to the Na­tional League Cen­tral Di­vi­sion crown and sweep of the NLDS have cap­tured the col­lec­tive heart and imag­i­na­tion of the Bad­ger State.

For­get about Mil­wau­kee be­ing the small­est mar­ket in Ma­jor League Base­ball. Talk to folks seem­ingly any­where in Wis­con­sin and you re­al­ize a good chunk of the 5.8 mil­lion peo­ple in the state are smit­ten with this team.

“Most of our cus­tomers, our reg­u­lars, are Brew­ers fans. They’re here ev­ery game,” said Holly Schuldt, food man­ager at 7 Broth­ers Bar & Grill in the Polk County com­mu­nity of Clay­ton, pop­u­la­tion 450. “They are su­per-ex­cited.

“We have six TVs and ev­ery one of them will be on the Brew­ers for the play­off games,” Schuldt added. “We turn our juke­box off when we have the Brew­ers on.”

At the 3-Mile Corner Bar & Grill on High­way 13 in Phillips, if the Brew­ers are play­ing, the place is hop­ping — even if the bar oth­er­wise would be closed, said bar man­ager Jen­nifer Benkowski.

“We open on days we’re not even nor­mally open,” if the Brew­ers are play­ing, she

said. “We have done it ever since they started the play­offs. The crowd just gets big­ger and big­ger.”

Speak­ing of crowds, the Brew­ers are gen­er­at­ing them, said Jerry Wat­son, owner of the Sta­dium View Bar & Grille about a block away from Lam­beau Field in Ash­waubenon.

He also owns the 5th Quar­ter Bar and Ban­quet Hall in Lit­tle Chute, about 30 miles south of Green Bay.

In Lit­tle Chute, “We had triple the crowd for the Brew­ers games that we had for the Pack­ers game, and the bar crowd at the Sta­dium View was at least as big for the Brew­ers as it was for the Pack­ers,” Wat­son said.

The Green Bay Pack­ers are about as close to a reli­gion in Wis­con­sin as a pro­fes­sional sports team can get without ac­tu­ally hold­ing church ser­vices. For the state’s base­ball team to even come close to match­ing that level of in­ter­est, well, “That’s say­ing quite a bit” about the pop­u­lar­ity of the Brew­ers, Wat­son said.

“It’s as close to a Su­per Bowl frenzy as you are go­ing to find, and I am very, very se­ri­ous about that,” Wat­son added.

Part of that has to do with the makeup of the Brew­ers and the way they play the game.

“They are a fun group of play­ers to watch,” said Shonda Waller, bar man­ager at Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 100 in Sparta. “I’m not a huge base­ball fan, but I like watch­ing them lately be­cause they are young and fun and en­thu­si­as­tic. It’s just a good team to watch.”

She ex­pects a packed house at the Le­gion Post for the Brew­ers’ games this week­end.

“There’s a lot of ex­cite­ment,” Waller said. “It’s re­ally good for busi­ness.

“My dis­trib­u­tor just walked in and I told him to up (the usual or­der by) a case of ev­ery­thing,” Waller said. “It does get kind of crazy busy.”

For sure, there is likely some band­wagon-jump­ing. But up at 7 Broth­ers, this has been go­ing on all sea­son.

“We have a faith­ful crowd that comes in ev­ery game and will watch it,” Schuldt said.

Mean­while, as sports week­ends go, they don’t get much big­ger than this one for the state of Wis­con­sin. The Brew­ers and Dodgers kicked off this week­end with the open­ing game of the NLCS Fri­day night, when the Mil­wau­kee Bucks also played their fi­nal pre­sea­son game at Fis­erv Fo­rum in Mil­wau­kee.

The Brew­ers and Dodgers will tan­gle in the sec­ond game of the NLCS at 3:09 p.m. Satur­day at Miller Park.

The Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin Bad­gers will play a foot­ball game at 6:30 p.m. Satur­day against the Michi­gan Wolver­ines in Ann Ar­bor, Michi­gan.

Then, the Pack­ers play the San Fran­cisco 49ers in a Mon­day Night Foot­ball game at Lam­beau Field, while the Brew­ers are set to play Game 3 of the NLCS against the Dodgers in Los An­ge­les.

“For me and the (Sta­dium View), it’s go­ing to be huge,” Wat­son said. “The Brew­ers are play­ing. The Bad­gers are play­ing. The Pack­ers are play­ing.

“My in­come from a nor­mal Fri­day, Satur­day, I’m go­ing to say it’s go­ing to be triple, maybe quadru­ple,” Wat­son said.

He has told his beer sup­pli­ers to be ready all week­end to bring in fresh sup­plies when his bars need them. “They are go­ing to be bring­ing me beer at least twice this week­end,” he said.

And, up at 7 Broth­ers, has Schuldt or­dered ex­tra food for the week­end? “Well heck yeah,” she said.

At the Sta­dium View and the 5th Quar­ter on Mon­day night, half the TVs will be on the Pack­ers, half will be on Brew­ers, Wat­son said.

Even with the Pack­ers on Mon­day Night Foot­ball, “You can bet your booty they (fans) are go­ing to want to watch that (Brew­ers) game,” he added.

In Sparta, the folks at the Le­gion Post will be ready.

“I can’t wait,” Waller said.

MICHAEL SEARS / MIL­WAU­KEE JOUR­NAL SEN­TINEL

Shawn Tucker wears a keg hat and Dan Davis dons a Fond du Lac Dock Spiders hat — a North­woods League team based in Fond du Lac where both men are from. They were tail­gat­ing Fri­day be­fore Mil­wau­kee’s NLCS Game 1 win at Miller Park. More cov­er­age in Sports and json­line.com.

MICHAEL SEARS / MIL­WAU­KEE JOUR­NAL SEN­TINEL

Tom Wolfe of Foun­tain City (left) and his daugh­ter Bri­ana Wolfe of Black River Falls tail­gate be­fore the game. They said they for­got to load chairs into the truck.

WM. GLASHEEN/USA TO­DAY NET­WORK-WIS­CON­SIN

Lea and Jim “Yogi” Van­den­berg sit at the 5th Quar­ter sports bar Thurs­day in Lit­tle Chute. “We had triple the crowd for the Brew­ers games that we had for the Pack­ers game,” says owner Jerry Wat­son.

/ GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE JIM MATTHEWS

Sta­dium View Sports Bar & Grille on Holm­gren Way in Ash­waubenon.

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