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May 7, 2009 at 4:36 am ET
I’m Still Behind Brad Nelson… But I Don’t Know Why
Better times.

Better times.

Buried somewhere in the box score of Milwaukee’s 15-3 slaughter of the Reds (who called on shortstop Paul Janish to pitch the ninth inning), you’ll find a pinch hitter’s name next to an 0 for 1, GIDP.

You may say, “So what? The Brewers offense is killing it right now and the pitching is nothing to scoff at either. What difference does one player’s 0-fer make?” It makes a big difference if it’s a week into May and that player is O for the season. Brad Nelson is in the slump of his life.

Wednesday’s ground out marked the 19th time in 19 official at bats this season that Nelson was hitless; save for one walk, he hasn’t even touched first base yet. He’s out of minor league options, but fans are still calling for his release. And if he doesn’t turn it around, the team might just give it to him.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. John Bradley “Brad” Nelson was selected by Milwaukee in the 4th round of the 2001 draft. The following year, he was named the Brewers’ Minor League Player of the Year – at age 19 – after driving in 116 runs and smacking almost 50 doubles. He was pegged to be Milwaukee’s slugger of the future while names like Fielder and Braun were studying for their SATs.

Nelson’s star faded with Prince’s arrival, and he was leapfrogged by many prospects in his seven-year crawl to the bigs, but his goal was finally realized as he arrived in Milwaukee as a September call-up last season. He made good on what few pinch-hit opportunities he was granted, going 2 for 7, including a double on September 20 in his last at bat of the season. To date, that double was his last big league hit.

To put that into perspective, here are some things that have happened since Brad Nelson’s last regular season hit:
1. America gets new President.
2. America gets first black President.
3. American media unnecessarily drives issue about President’s race into ground.
4. Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter – I receive a game-worn Kevin Seitzer jersey, chocolate and free brunch for each respective occasion.
5. 2009.
6. Susan Boyle
7. Slovakia adopts Euro as national currency.
8. New baseball season starts and games are played in March, April, and May.
9. My girlfriend drags me to see Revolutionary Road causing me to question exactly why I’m with her.
10. Swine flu (see: Susan Boyle)
11. Bea Arthur and that guy who resembles celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme die.
12. I write this post.

I could go on, but I won’t. The point is, it’s been a while. I can imagine the expectations to perform at a high level in minimal opportunities with next-to-no notice must be difficult, but to stay in the clubhouse, he has to find a way to do it soon. If he can’t, the last eight years or waiting, hoping and trying will have been for nothing.

I’m still in Brad’s corner – but it isn’t because I think he’s still the player capable of posting great numbers; it isn’t because I don’t think there might be better bench option in Triple-A or free agency; it’s kind of because his batting helmet looks like one of those little helmet ice cream bowls atop his fat ass dome; but it’s mostly because I still want him to succeed professionally.

Even in the revised, lengthy and kind of sad means in which Nelson arrived to baseball’s highest level, and the impact – albeit negative – he’s had in his time there… I truly believe he deserved to make the team, once and for all, this year. Now he just has to prove he should stay.

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2 Responses to “I’m Still Behind Brad Nelson… But I Don’t Know Why”
  1. Jack says:

    I love to say “I told you so” again, so

    I told you so, again.

  2. Tony Tindall says:

    Nice blog on Brad. I used to coach Brad when he 14, so my major league dreams are vicariously being lived through Brad. It is personally excruciating to see him struggle at the plate, especially when all I ever saw was a .600 hitter in Jr High and High School. I am very proud of Brad for getting this far in his career. Moreover, I don’t think you will ever meet a nicer person off the field. Even if Brad’s career doesn’t go as far as he hopes, he will succeed in whatever else he does. I don’t think some of his current and former teammates could say the same.

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