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What Do We Do Now?
Can we survive without a pennant race?

Milwaukee is alive this summer.
Photo courtesy of Ecotec Insulation.
I’m a little sad. One year ago, we were gearing up for the Brewers stretch drive, when they went on a 25-5 tear en route to the NL Central Division title. Came within two games of the World Series in fact. Miller Park was crazy last year, and it was a blast.

I don’t think that’s going to happen this year. We are just entering the post-Zack Grienke era, which was necessitated by the incredible imploding bullpen losing game after game, as it did Sunday in front of another sellout crowd. Because of said bullpen, the Brewers are out of the playoff race and are going through wholesale changes to the roster, basically getting ready for next year and beyond.

So what do we do for the rest of the summer without a pennant race? We’re lucky, because in Milwaukee, there’s plenty. Here are some of the things I like:

The Keg. That’s what Nyjer Morgan calls Miller Park. And despite the bullpen, Brewers games are still fun. They have some great talent, led by reigning MVP Ryan Braun of course, and Miller Park was voted the best ballpark in the majors. Tailgate. Watch some baseball. Watch the young players (but close your eyes if K-Rod happens to come in).

And make sure to watch Mike Fiers pitch. He’s a rookie, was brought up in May and has an ERA under 2.00 so far in 10 games. He actually throws strikes (what a concept) and strikes people out. He’s pitched into the 6th inning in virtually each game he’s started, so you’ll get a good look at him.  

State Fair. The 161st annual shindig starts Thursday. For 11 days. Can you say cream puff?? And where else can you see the Turtles, Styx and Tesla at the same venue?

Summer Sizzle. The Third Ward is a great place any day, but this Saturday is their annual Jazz Festival – they close Broadway, there are a bevy of bands and food tents. It’s a party.

Concerts! There are great concerts coming up at the Pabst, Shank Hall, Turner Hall and lots of Milwaukee County Parks. There is always great music somewhere in the city.

The Calatrava. The Art Museum is architecturally the best thing in Milwaukee. And there is a fabulous exhibit on display now of French posters, called ‘Posters of Paris’, by Toulouse Lautrec and his contemporaries. It goes through September 9.

The Zoo. Per capita, the Milwaukee County Zoo is the best zoo in the country. It’s in the top ten no matter how you slice it and is a blast for young and old alike. Speaking of the zoo, there is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Zoo a la Carte August 16-19, where the animals dance to trendy music while patrons sample food from virtually every restaurant in Milwaukee.  

The Grohmann Museum. What, you say? This is former federal reserve bank building on the campus of MSOE that has been converted into the "world's largest collection of industrial art." They call themselves a museum dedicated to "Men at Work" and that is exactly what it is, with more than 900 paintings dating from 1580 to the present. It’s new, it's cool, and you’ll love it.

Discovery World. There’s a lot going on here in the science, water and technology arenas, and while it’s oriented to younger audiences (read teens and pre-teens, not toddlers) the location and stunning building right on the lakefront make it a worthwhile venture.

The Pettit Center. Skating in the summer is really cool, pun intended, and great exercise if you go around the rink more than once. The oval won’t be put back in until fall, but you can skate on one of the hockey rinks. That way you can hang on to the boards.

The Riverwalk. We were down in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. We took a boat tour and the narrator said that the “Chicago River was no longer toxic, it was just polluted.” Nice. And they’ve got virtually no fun places along the river. We’ve got a killer riverwalk, with a ton of bars and restaurants. Take a long walk. It’s beautiful. And don't worry, there's a railing.

The Basilica of St. Josaphat. Doesn’t matter whether you’re Catholic or not, this is one of the most amazing buildings you’ll ever see and you should take a tour. Architecture, murals, stained glass; stunning. Tours of the Basilica are conducted weekly after the 10:00am Sunday Mass. Groups of fifteen or more can arrange for a tour by calling the visitor service representative at 414-902-3523.

Cafe at the Plaza. A great place for breakfast. Yes it’s on the ground floor of the Plaza Hotel on Cass Street, and you’ll think you’re in the 1930’s. The food is just perfect and the coffee is to die for.

So while we shouldn’t give up on the Crew, Milwaukee has a ton of things to take advantage of this summer.  Hope to see you out and about. Cheers!


Follow me on Twitter: @jpalmer7890

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