The Rundown: Things to Do in Milwaukee This Weekend, Hodge Earns First Career Save, Cubs Looking to Escape Cellar, Trade Rumors Heating Up

“Oh, these miles that have torn us apart. My new-found faith and my broken heart.” – Amos Lee, Windows Are Rolled Down

The Cubs beat the Giants 5-3 on Thursday to avoid the sweep and will head to Milwaukee to try to put a dent in the 10.5-game lead the first-place Brewers have over Chicago’s last-place squad. Craig Counsell wasn’t welcome in these parts the last time Chicago’s North Side Baseballers crossed the Cheddar Curtain, so expect similar hostilities this weekend.

Milwaukee should embrace Counsell with open arms, quite frankly. He’s done more to separate the gap between the two teams as a member of the Cubs than when he was the opposing manager. Pat Murphy is doing a bang-up job leading the Brewers, who are on a path to making baseball’s postseason for the fifth time in seven seasons. The Cubs haven’t sniffed the playoffs during a full season since 2018 when Chicago lost the NL Central after a Game 163 home loss to Counsell’s squad.

Chicago enters this evening’s game with a payroll that more than doubles Milwaukee’s, though Jed Hoyer may have built the lightest-producing $220 million dollar roster in the history of the game. The Cubs are 11 games behind the Brewers in the loss column, and their Cream City rivals could bury them with a three-game sweep. Ahh, what a glorious time to be alive.

I know a lot of folks will make the trip to Milwaukee this weekend and we have a lot going on up here, so rather than dwell on the Cubs’ miserable first half, how about I give you some suggestions for making the most of your weekend here in the 414?

  1. Summerfest – The annual event is celebrating its second of three legs, and this weekend’s headliners include Illenium, Tyler Childers, and Keith Urban. That said, there are some excellent undercard bands of all genres to see at the Summerfest grounds. REO Speedwagon has been around for about six decades and they’re playing this weekend, but you’ll want to catch shows by Sleater-Kinney, Hippo Campus, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, The Church, and Afghan Whigs. That said, you’ll kick yourself in the ass if you miss Amos Lee. He’s playing Saturday evening at 9:30 PM on the U-Line Stage.
  2. The Cooperage (822 S. Water Street) – Speaking of Hippo Campus, they’re playing a private event at The Cooperage this afternoon at 1:00 PM. Radio Milwaukee (88.9 FM) is hosting a series of mini-shows by festival headliners at the riverside venue throughout Summerfest. Dawes played to an enthusiastic crowd last weekend and St. Paul & The Broken Bones did a live set on Thursday. DJ Gemini Gilly is hosting Summer Jam 2K24 Saturday night at 9 PM, too. You can get tickets here, and early arrival is suggested.
  3. Taco Moto (820 S. Water Street) – Just outside The Cooperage is Milwaukee’s best taco truck, Taco Moto, home of the unapologetically unauthentic taco. Taco Moto is the renowned riverside cookshack of Chef Mitch Ciohon and has become a local food staple. Situated right outside of Boone & Crockett in the Harbor District, Taco Moto serves food and flavors that are both powerful and experimental. Mitch is a Deadhead who makes Milwaukee’s best tacos and its not even close. My favorite is the marinated grilled chicken thigh with feta cheese, aioli, pickled peppers, and cilantro. The Dr. Pepper Braised Pork Shoulder runs a very close second. Mitch prepares those babies with aioli, radish, cabbage, pickles, cilantro, and jalapeno peppers. The Braised Beef Chuck tacos are great, too, and vegetarian dishes include sauteed mushroom and roasted root vegetable tacos. Everything is homemade by Mitch and his staff, the tacos are a bargain at $5 a pop, and if you get there before 7 PM (or all day Sunday) you can enjoy half-price specialty drinks and discounted craft drafts at Boone & Crockett. Make sure you try the Gin Bramble or Sazerac.
  4. At Random (2501 S. Delaware Street) – At Random has been serving Bay View specialty cocktails since 1964. Located at the corner of Russell and Delaware, this joint is a time capsule of mid-century ice cream drinks, classic cocktails, Naugahyde, and swag lights. It’s the type of place you’d expect to find in West Hollywood or a Quentin Tarantino movie. It’s very dark, wonderfully discreet, and decadently delicious.
  5. Any Bloody Mary Bar – If you need to nurse your next-day hangover after Saturday night baseball, hit up one of Milwaukee’s famous brunch and bloody establishments. The Wicked Hop and Sobleman’s are the most popular, O’Lydia’s is the most underrated, and Mad Rooster offers the best food fare. If you like a decent steak and eggs with your Bloody Mary or favorite tap beer, you have to try McBob’s or Miss Katie’s Diner. Sweet Diner used to be decent but it’s too crowded and the food isn’t as good since it became a churn and burn establishment, though they do have some of the friendliest staff in Milwaukee.
  6. Paulie’s Pub & Eatery (8031 W. Greenfield, West Allis) – If 70s/80s/90s cover bands and cheap drinks are your thing, Paulie’s will not disappoint. Their food is great, too, and they’ve got wing sauces you won’t find at any other establishments. I prefer the Raspberry Habanero and Drunken Red Stag Bourbon Cherry, but the Dry Rub Ranch is irresistible, too. You won’t find Chicago-style pizza in Milwaukee, but Paulie’s pies come close if you get them well done. If you stop by on a Sunday ask about the Bucket-O-Ribs. They come with a pound of fries and 4-6 ears of sweet corn and go great with your favorite microbrew. The music is hit or miss, but nothing is as fun as a Judas Priest or Night Ranger cover band with an icy cold brew.
  7. Barnacle Buds (1955 S. Hilbert Street) – Go see Jimmy on the back patio Sunday afternoon. You’ll thank me later. Don’t forget to also say hi to Gene (the owner), Victoria (his wife), and regulars David and Annalee. This is by far Milwaukee’s best dive bar.
  8. Deadelijk at Vivarium (1818 N. Farwell Avenue) – Saving the best for last… This is the finest Grateful Dead cover band you’ll see outside Dark Star Orchestra, and there is no better place to see them than at the 450-seat arena on Milwaukee’s East Side. Deadelijk (pronounced dead alike), revels in the improvisation and ethereal music that Deadheads expect, and they’re shows are never disappointing. Their Sunday gig starts at 3 PM and I’ll be there for the first set. I’ve only missed one of their shows since they started performing in 2022 and each has been beyond my expectations. Their cover of Althea is sublime, but China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider is my favorite.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Is there anything more delightful than Bob Uecker interviewing Mark Fidrych?

Central Intelligence

Climbing the Ladder

“Your eyes tell more than you mean them to.” – Grateful Dead, Feel Like a Stranger

Counsell looks more and more defeated with each postgame press conference, doesn’t he? The Cubs continue to struggle in one-run games, and they’re flat out wretched when it comes to hitting with ducks on the pond, but a sweep would put them 7.5 games behind Milwaukee with a 41-44 record. Counsell has always been a better second-half manager but he’s no miracle worker. The Cubs are 20-32 since May 1 and I can’t remember the last time they swept a three-game series.

Chicago’s starting rotation remains its best asset, but Counsell’s squad gives away too many games in the 7th inning or later. The Cubs won’t fire Hoyer if the Brewers sweep, though the barbarians will be at the gate en masse if that happens.

  • Games Played: 82
  • Record: 38-44 (.463), last place in NL Central
  • In One-Run Games: 14-19 (.424)
  • Total Plate Appearances: 3,081
  • Total Strikeouts: 729
  • Strikeout Rate: 23.66%
  • Team Batting Average: .230
  • With Runners in Scoring Position: 146-for-663 (.220)
  • Runs Scored: 339
  • Runs Allowed: 363
  • Pythagorean Record: 38-44
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 5.5%, 0.1% chance to win World Series 

How About That!

Shohei Ohtani might be underrated, as impossible as that may be to believe.

The Brewers and Cardinals would represent the NL Central in this year’s playoffs if the season ended today. Climb slowly down from that ledge, please and thank you.

The Padres are this year’s surprising success story, while the Blue Jays are one of baseball’s biggest disappointments.

White Sox player Garrett Crochet and Luis Robert Jr. lead this year’s list of potential trade candidates.

Cubs fans know the drill: Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. never came close to signing extensions with the Blue Jays, and both will probably be traded at this year’s deadline.

Orelvis Martínez, Toronto’s No. 2 prospect, was suspended 80 games for a PED violation.

Phillies stars Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper left last night’s game with injuries.

Thursday’s Three Stars

  1. White Sox Bullpen – It’s rare when Chicago’s other baseball team tops this list, but Chad Kuhl, Justin Anderson, Jared Shuster, John Brebbia, and Michael Kopech outdueled Chris Sale in a 1-0 win over the Braves. Chicago’s South Side Baseballer are 22-61, but 12 of those wins have come against the Braves, Rays, Guardians, and Red Sox. Sale did strikeout 11 ChiSox batters.
  2. George Springer – The Blue Jays outfielder, who would look great in the Cubs’ lineup, had a day. Springer was 3-for-3 with two taters and six RBI in a 9-2 win over the Yankees. Springer now has 250 career home runs.
  3. Davis Daniel – The Angels starter tossed eight innings of shutout baseball with eight strikeouts in a 5-0 win over the Tigers. It was Daniel’s first big league start.

Apropos of Nothing

I’ll be back to writing a daily column starting Monday, though the prospect of second-half Cubs baseball is nauseating, at best.

Extra Innings

Ian Happ is on a heater right now. He’s slashing .317/.429/1.112 with 4 HR and 12 RBI over his last 12 games.

They Said It

  • “We battled our asses off.” – Hodge
  • “We go out there and play every day and try to put ourselves in the best competitive position possible. That’s our job. We have a lot of trust in Jed and Carter, and let them do their job.” – Happ
  • “As a guy coming out of the bullpen, our job is to get Strike 1, get ahead of guys and make them swing at bad pitches. My goal is to get ahead of hitters and make them put the ball in play without hitting any barrels. Honestly just not trying to overthink it and control what I can control.” – Miller

Friday Walk-Up Song

For the love of Jerry!


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