MILWAUKEE — The announcement that the start time for a Major League Baseball team’s game had been moved up several hours would normally be met with moans and groans from a clubhouse full of players, coaches and staff who operate on a primarily nocturnal schedule.
In Milwaukee, these are far from normal times, so when Brewers players were informed their Tuesday game against the Kansas City Royals would be played at 3:10 p.m. instead of the usual 7:10 p.m. start, there was unquestionable excitement.
The change became necessary when the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, setting the stage for a potential championship-clinching affair Tuesday night in Milwaukee.
And while the Brewers are focused on winning their own championship later this season, the chance to watch history made is too good to pass up.
“Day games are a grind at times, but coming off an off-day and for the basketball team to have a chance to win a title, I think we’re more than willing to make that exception,” Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich said Sunday after the team’s 8-0 victory over the Reds in Cincinnati. “Everybody in the clubhouse is pulling for those guys. We know how important it is to the city. I think we’re just as excited as everybody else for Tuesday.”
Yelich was a regular during Milwaukee’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals two years ago and famously engaged in a beer-chugging contest with Green Bay Packers offensive lineman David Bakhtiari.
“It’s just really exciting for the city, for anybody that’s been around and knows how passionate Wisconsin and Milwaukee sports fans are,” Yelich said. “It’s an exciting time and I think we showed that by moving our game on Tuesday. We’re rooting for them, and hopefully they can close this game out and get the job done and bring a championship home to Milwaukee and the city. I think the city will go nuts and we’re all rooting for it. Exciting times in Milwaukee.”
He wasn’t sure whether or not he’d be in the building Tuesday night. Neither was manager Craig Counsell, who attended Game 4 of the series last Wednesday.
“It was a thrill,” Counsell said of the experience. “Any time you can put yourself in that environment, that’s why we’re sports fans. It’s easy to turn into a fan when you’re at that game.”
Counsell himself has been a member of two championship teams. He famously scored the winning run for the Marlins on Édgar Rentería’s walk-off single in the 11th inning of Game 7 in the 1997 World Series and scored on Luis Gonzalez’s bases-loaded walk-off single in Game 7 of the 2001 Fall Classic, bringing the Arizona Diamondbacks their first and only championship.
He saw first-hand how championships can bring a community together and came close to that feeling again in 2018, when he managed the Brewers to within a game of their first World Series since 1982.
Counsell has something of a personal connection to the Bucks and can appreciate how special this moment is for the team and the city. Having grown up in Milwaukee, he knows as well as anyone the Bucks’ history of futility and frustration over the last few decades and knows how much a championship would mean to a city that hasn’t won one at a major-league level since the Bucks’ lone title in 1971.
“It’s huge for the city,” Counsell said. “It’s huge for the state. It’s just a thrill and we’re all excited, we really are. The clubhouse is excited for them. We’ve been talking about it a lot and we’re thrilled and happy for the city and happy for all the fans. It’s a really, really cool thing.
“We’ll try to take care of business Tuesday (afternoon) and then we’ll absolutely be Bucks fans. I can’t wait. I can’t wait. I’m not sure what my plans are, but I’ve got my daughter texting me, like, ‘get tickets, get tickets, get tickets,’ so we’ll see what happens. It’s just a thrill.”
Fans with tickets to the Brewers’ game Tuesday who are unable to attend because of the time change can exchange their tickets for another game or for a refund by contacting the Brewers ticket office at 414-902-4000.