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Believe in the Brewers?
The optimistic guide to Milwaukee's playoff hopes.

It was over, right? The Milwaukee Brewers were done in the standings, so you were done with the season.

Yes, you’d checked out of America’s pastime and into Wisconsin’s addiction. The Pack was back. So were the Badgers. Come September, there were plenty of things to keep you busy. Emotionally investing in a team with no playoff hopes until 2013 was not on the to-do list.

But let’s hope you wrote that list in pencil. Some revisions could be in order.

When dawn broke Wednesday, the Brewers were 71-71, the first time they’d been .500 since April 24, when they were 9-9. They were also four games out of a wildcard spot with 20 games left to play. And under normal circumstances, this would hardly be cause for celebration.

But this is a team that was once 12 games below .500 and 12.5 games behind in the wildcard standings. Seen through that once-bleak prism, Milwaukee’s current outlook is positively glowing.

Making up four games in three weeks is a huge ask. Especially when you’re racing four other teams for one playoff spot. St. Louis, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh are all ahead of the Brewers, while Philadelphia has staged its own back-from-the-dead run to share Milwaukee’s spot in the standings. Given all of that, the cool sight called CoolStandings.com gives the Brewers a scant 4 percent shot at the postseason. Daunting.

And yet, once upon a time, Milwaukee’s chances stood at 1 percent. That time was three days ago. And once upon a time, St. Louis’ playoff hopes were 1.1 percent. That time was August 27, 2011, two months before their World Series celebration.

So daunting does not mean done.

The hardest thing for Milwaukee to overcome may be this. The Brewers had to put together an amazing run just to reach this point. For so many teams, a 17-5 stretch into September would put the icing on their playoff cake. For the Brewers, it only got them into the conversation. Now, they have to basically do it all over again.

WSCO radio’s Justin Hull did some math on Twitter, and here’s what he came up with. If the Brewers go 14-6, they’d need at least the following results from their fellow contenders: St. Louis 8-12, Los Angeles 9-11, Pittsburgh 11-10 and Philadelphia 13-7. That all seems within the realm of possibility. But what about Milwaukee going 14-6?

Well, if the Brewers did that, they’d close the season on a 31-11 run. It sounds almost too ludicrous to even contemplate.

Unless you’re the Brewers, who once upon a time had a 31-11 stretch. And that time was in 2011, from July 23 to Sept. 6.

Look, is a Brewers playoff berth likely? No. Is it a lot more likely than before this run? Indeed. Should that be enough to tear fans away from football and pay attention to what happens? Absolutely.

Because the Brewers have already crafted quite the baseball story.

If they pull this thing off, you can change that to history.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter, where I tweet as howiemag. And listen to me chat sports with Mitch Teich monthly on WUWM's "Lake Effect."

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