“All I do is write their names on the lineup card and let them play. It’s not a tough job. I haven’t misspelled one name yet.” —1982-’84 Milwaukee Brewers manager Harvey E. Kuenn Jr. (1930-’88)

Hope, as they say, springs eternal. 

And as winter gives way to spring, one of the sure harbingers of sunnier, balmier days ahead, alongside the bob-bob-bobbin’ red-red-robin is the return of the national pastime, baseball, to America’s emerald green diamonds.

For Brewers fans moving from the hopeful fantasies of the winter hot stove league to the statistical realities of the new season, the forever hopeful question on many lips is whether this year will be the one where the Brewers return to the World Series for the first time since October 1982. 

In my lengthening years, 1982 doesn’t sound that long ago — it almost seems like yesterday — until I do the sobering task of ciphering the tally. 

In October 1982 I was a 17-year-old senior at Racine’s William Horlick High School, penning a front cover Horlick Herald scoop feature profile on Kuenn, the Milwaukee native local-boy-done-good who had piloted the Brewers to their first-ever World Series berth at Milwaukee County Stadium (which should have been renamed Harvey Edward Kuenn, Jr. Field, but I digress). 

Fast forward to 2021 — one marriage, one global pandemic, two mortgages, three kids, three states, eight reporting gigs and ten cars later — and I’m a 56-year-old empty-nester on the inexorable slide toward my retirement gold watch as manager Craig Counsell’s Brewers squad takes to the diamond at County Stadium, er, Miller Park, er, American Family Field.

My age, and memory, are showing.

My baseball loyalties having been split over the ensuing nearly two score of years, I lived to see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series in 2016, ending a 108-year World Series championship drought. 

In a race with my life insurer’s actuarial tables, for me the question now becomes whether I will live to see the Brewers return to the World Series, much less win their first-ever championship ring.

As the last out was called on Oct. 20, 1982 in the Milwaukee Brewers’ 6-3 Game 7 “Suds Series” loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, I resolved to not quaff from my beloved Channel 4 Brewers mug until Milwaukee returned to the World Series.

Several Channel 4 logo iterations later, my Brewers mug still stands ready to hoist in celebration, albeit with a 39-year accumulation of dust that will need to be washed away in the interest of health and sanitation. I might get scurvy — or worse.

To be sure, there have been a smattering of hopeful moments along the way that had me eyeing my beloved Brewers mug, most famously the team’s MLB record-tying 13-0 season-starting winning streak in 1987. 

Hopes were also raised by post-season National League divisional series berths in 2008, 2011 and 2018, and National League championship berths in 2011 and 2018, with the Brewers losing the NLCS to the Cardinals and the L.A. Dodgers respectively. 

Facing longer odds, the Brewers lost back-to-back post-season Wild Card berths to the Washington Nationals and Dodgers respectively in 2019 and 2020. 

While the Brewers were off to a lackluster 1-3 start for the 2021 season as of this writing, the team’s World Series odds have inexplicably spiked on FanDuel Sportsbook last week. 

Noted FanDuel Sportsbook writer Larry Rupp on April 5, “This is definitely an intriguing development given Milwaukee has not excelled at any part of the game so far. They rank No. 15 in the MLB with a team earned run average (ERA) of 4.50 and are averaging the seventh-least runs per game at just 2.67. Plus, they have hit just one home run on the season.

“This jump may have to do with the fact that the NL Central division remains wide open. While the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs have winning records, no team looked amazing during the first weekend of play. In fact, only one team in the division has higher World Series odds than the Brewers, which is the St. Louis Cardinals.

“These odds will continue to change throughout the season, but it is interesting to note the early love Milwaukee is getting.”

Ultimately, time will tell whether the FanDuel odds-makers are envisioning a Cinderella season, or the 2021 Brewers are baseball’s version of GameStop stock.

I’m not ready to wash the dust out of my Channel 4 Brewers mug yet, but I’ve moved it down from the top shelf.

Hope, after all, springs eternal, albeit with a skeptical Mr. Spock raised eyebrow. With 158 games to go, time will tell.