Brewers' Victory More Important Than No-No

Most fans--as well as Brewers coaches and players--wanted to talk about CC Sabathia's controversial one-hitter Sunday. That would have been great, but something more important was at stake, a little history in the making perhaps.

Lost in the hullabaloo know as "The Bob Webb Incident" on Sunday—you know, the whole CC Sabathia no-hitter, one-hitter controversy—was something more important and just as rare, at least in Milwaukee Brewers baseball annals.

Oh, it would have been wonderful if the big unbeaten left-hander's performance would have been a no-hitter from the fifth inning on, which is when Webb, the official scorer, made his decisive but ill-fated ruling that Andy LaRoche's swinging bunt was a base hit rather than an error on Sabathia.

Sabathia, to his credit, took his brush with history in stride. After all, if he hadn't muffed the dribbler, who knows what would have happened?

"The ball was still rolling," Sabathia said of the play. "I probably should have picked it up with my glove. If I did, we wouldn't be having this conversation. If they change it, they change it. If they don't, they don't. I'll be fine either way. We won. We swept the series. That's the biggest thing, the most important thing about today."

My point exactly, as Sabathia improved his record since coming from Cleveland to 9-0 with a 1.43 earned run average.

And it pushed the surging Brewers to 80-56 and to within 41/2 games of Chicago in the National League Central Division race.

Juan Nieves' gem on April 15, 1987, was the last and only no-hitter in Brewers' history, so Sabathia and Beertown could have celebrated a rare feat indeed.

However, Sunday's victory to complete a sweep in Pittsburgh also marked a rare feat—it was only the second time in Brewers history that they have entered September with 80 victories.

Can anybody guess the only other team to reach that plateau more quickly? It must have been the 1982 World Series squad? Nope. Well, then it was the 1992 team, the last one before last year to post a winning record and the most recent to surpass 90 wins? Nope.

Try George Bamberger's second squad of 1979. They had posted the franchise's first winning record the year before and reached win No. 80 on Aug. 28, 1979. That group set the Brewers' mark of 95 victories, which the pennant winners of '82 matched, but went 15-13 after that in finishing second to Baltimore. By the way, those Orioles went on to lose the Fall Classic to Willie Stargell and the "We Are Family" crew in Pittsburgh. Yes, the Pirates have been good before, too.

The 1982 Brewers, despite being in first place from July 31st on, didn't reach 80 wins until Sept. 4 and then were forced to win on the final day in Baltimore to clinch the American League East.

So, back to the current Brewers, who were sitting 51/2 games ahead in the Senior Circuit's wildcard race entering their Labor Day matinee against the Mets. They have 26 games remaining, 16 of them at Miller Park, that will determine whether they can end a 26-year postseason drought.

If they do, all will be right with the world, and they could easily establish a franchise standard for wins in a season along the way. But all of that, even "The Bob Webb Incident," will be mere footnotes to what was, and is, the ultimate prize.

After all, winning games and championships is what will be remembered most.

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