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Craig Counsell retiring, joining the Brewers’ front office

Jan 17, 2012, 10:32 AM EST

craig-counsell-brewers-spring Getty Images

Craig Counsell don’t need a weatherman to see which way the wind blows.  With no interest in his services this offseason, he has decided to retire and will take a job with the Brewers’ front office.

Counsell is 41, which even though he’s been around forever, is older than I think of him as. That’s because he was already in his late 20s when he started to register in our baseball consciousness when he scored the winning run in the 1997 World Series. He played a good bit with the Marlins after that, but didn’t spend a full season with a full-time job until he was 30.

That was with the Diamondbacks in 2001, a year which would cement his place, such as it is, in baseball history. he was the NLCS MVP that season, going 8 for 21 and driving in four runs in five games against the Braves.  While he was only 2 for 24 in the World Series that year, he was famously hit by a Mariano Rivera pitch to load the bases for Luis Gonzalez in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 7. And we all know what Luis Gonzalez did next.

After that he didn’t have trouble finding work for over a decade, going from Arizona to Milwaukee … and then back to Arizona … and then back to Milwaukee.  Hey, whatever worked.  For his career he posted a line of .255/.342/.344 which is useful enough for a middle infielder/third baseman. And with the caveat that fielding metrics often disagree with one another, his glove was reputed to be solid. At times excellent. He certainly seemed that way.

His career ended with something of a whimper, going hitless in four plate appearances during the 2011 postseason. This following a record-tying 45 consecutive hitless at bats during the regular season.

But you know what? There’s a saying in many professions which basically goes “you have to be something really special to screw up that many damn times.”  It’s not a backhanded compliment if you think about it. Being given an opportunity to fail big and/or to fail often means that someone trusts you, likes you and has confidence on some level that you’ll eventually succeed or that you’ll figure it out soon.  That doesn’t always happen, but it’s better to be given that chance than to have the account, the case, the task or, in Counsell’s situation, the bat, taken out of one’s hands.

Happy trails, Mr. Counsell.  You gave Craigs — and late bloomers — a good name.

  1. pauleee - Jan 17, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Mark your calendars, gentlemen. 5 years from now, Hall of Scrap, first ballot!

  2. phillieschamps2012 - Jan 17, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    Craig Council, Cody Ross, David Freese… these are the type of players that get hot at the right time and propel their teams to World Series championships. It’s always funny how baseball works. Rarely do the big names produce in the playoffs.

    Then you have Francisco Cabrera…1 pinch hit wins a pennant for the Braves.

  3. Francisco (FC) - Jan 17, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    But you know what? There’s a saying in many professions which basically goes “you have to be something really special to screw up that many damn times.” It’s not a backhanded compliment if you think about it. Being given an opportunity to fail big and/or to fail often means that someone trusts you, likes you and has confidence on some level that you’ll eventually succeed or that you’ll figure it out soon. That doesn’t always happen, but it’s better to be given that chance than to have the account, the case, the task or, in Counsell’s situation, the bat, taken out of one’s hands.

    Adam Dunn falls in this category yes?

    • cur68 - Jan 17, 2012 at 11:45 AM

      Yes, Adm Dunn, definitely. He had all last season to live on his rep. This season, the big fella better look like he’s awake from the second spring training opens or he could be swapped, straight up, for Wilfredo Modesto Peña. I’d be really happy if that happened.

      Happy Trails Craig Counsell. Drop the remains of your mojo off with Jamie Moyer as you go. He could use just a little extra magic.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:03 PM

        Adam Dunn did live up to his rep; he had a low BA and struck out a lot! High five.

        And I second Jamie Moyer; may that man pitch for the rest of his life.

  4. sanzarq - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    I have to laugh about this guy. My wife generally doesn’t watch many games, but she does tune in during the post season. The first time she saw Counsell in the 90’s, she nicknamed him “Goonybird”, because of his exaggerated elevated bat stance. I remember her watching the 2001 WS and yelling out “That’s Goonybird” when he came to the plate.

    Since then, over the years, I’ve seen Counsell play on TV countless times & when he would come to bat, I’d yell to my wife to tell her he was at the plate. She would invariably stop what she was doing & watch him. Then she would go back to doing whatever she was doing.

    I’ll have to break the news of his retirement to her gently later today. Craig is undoubtedly her favorite player!!!

  5. Old Gator - Jan 17, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    Have a happy, Craig. I remember you getting hit in the face with a pitch and then trying to make it to first base anyway leaving a trail of blood and broken teeth. I also remember your elegant statement in defense of the working men and women of Wisconsin when the beady-eyed, slick-coiffed Fuhrer of that state and his Rethugnican cronies stole their bargaining rights at the behest of their big corporate pimps. Thanks for remembering where you came from. They really don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

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