The Milwaukee Brewers are headed for their first NL Central title; with a magic number of eight and a 5-1/2 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals with 12 games remaining, they could clinch the division early next week.
Which is why some remarks from Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, made to Brewers TV play-by-play voice Brian Anderson Wednesday night, are so puzzling:
"I'm signed for this year, but being real about it, it is probably the last year," Fielder told Anderson.
Referring to the slugging tandem he has formed with leftfielder Ryan Braun, Fielder said, "It's been great. Unfortunately, this is probably the last year of the one-two punch. . . . Hopefully, we can go out with a blast."
Asked Wednesday night about that interview, Fielder said, "That's exactly what I said. I mean, you guys said it last year. It's probably (the last year). It is what it is."
"They asked me a question. It's the same thing I've been saying."
The puzzling thing is: why would you say that when your team is headed to a possible championship? Even if you, the player, know it in your own mind, the likely right thing to say would be:
"I"m focused on the Milwaukee Brewers and winning the World Series this year."
But Fielder didn't say that. How must his teammates feel about it being public that Fielder is "probably" leaving? How about Brewers fans? They probably sensed it, but now it's on record.
What this could become is a giant distraction to the Brewers. They seem to be good at this; after Nyjer Morgan created an unnecessary controversy with the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter last week, Milwaukee lost five straight. In 2008, when manager Ned Yost whined that CC Sabathia should have had a no-hitter against the Pirates (Sabathia muffed a grounder that wound up as this game's only hit; Yost thought it should have been ruled an error), the Brewers promptly lost 15 of 19 and nearly blew the wild-card spot that was theirs for the taking. Yost was fired with only 12 games left in the season.
The Brewers don't need any distractions if they hope to win the World Series. Their star first baseman might have just created one.