If there was pressure on the Brewers in the wake of the Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum additions, it is especially prevalent now. Because after what transpired on Super Sunday, the Brewers must do everything in their power to ensure the cheese doesn't stand alone. As you might have heard, the Packers beat the Steelers, 31-25, to win Super Bowl XLV and bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay.
For a Brewers team that has made marked and marketable improvements this offseason, this was not only a cause for celebration but a call to action. "We're going to do everything we can to bring another championship to Wisconsin," said reliever LaTroy Hawkins, who clearly got the memo. Yep, they take this stuff seriously in Wisconsin. And now that the Packers have reclaimed the Lombardi Trophy, Wisconsinites can turn their attention to a vastly improved Brewers team due to report to Spring Training camp in Maryvale, Ariz., next week. Outfielder Ryan Braun, a buddy of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, said before the Super Bowl that he can feel the anticipation building for the Brew Crew, now that the rotation has been improved. "There's definitely a buzz around the Packers," said Braun, "but there's a buzz around this baseball team, too. People are genuinely excited, probably more so than they've been in years. The last time I can remember anything like this happening was when we traded for CC [Sabathia in 2008], but that was such a short period of time. This is more of a prolonged period of buzz for the players, too. We all stay in touch, and everybody is really excited to get started." Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio is a born-and-bred New Yorker who would have been in a precarious position, had his Jets beaten the Steelers in the AFC Championship and faced the Pack. He could safely root for the Packers in the Super Bowl and is hoping his ballclub can have the same kind of magical year that Green Bay had. "New England had a terrific run with the Celtics and the Patriots and the Red Sox a couple of years ago," Attanasio noted. "So I hope we get some good Wisconsin karma now. Maybe the Packers will rub off on us." The Packers proved that a championship is a team effort, as Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee said. "This was one of my favorite Super Bowls I have ever seen," McGehee wrote in an e-mail. "I thought it was so fitting that the Packers were able to overcome more injuries in this game just like they did throughout the course of the season. I could not help but think of how that team represents the Wisconsin sports fan -- hard working and blue collar all the way." Injuries to Charles Woodson and Donald Driver threatened to derail the Pack, but others stepped up. "It is nice to see some guys that don't get much publicity, like Jordy Nelson, step up on such a big stage," McGehee wrote. "I can't imagine what it must be like in the state of Wisconsin right now. I hope that the party continues all the way up to Opening Day. Now, I am just looking forward to the start of Spring Training so we can get ready to keep the excitement rolling. Maybe just maybe Aaron will let us borrow that belt for a little while." You didn't have to have a rooting interest like McGehee did to enjoy the Super Bowl. Heck, you could have been merely a casual fan like Alex Rodriguez, who was in attendance at Cowboys Stadium. We might have gotten comment from A-Rod, but, last we saw, he had a mouthful of popcorn fed to him by Cameron Diaz. While there was joy in A-Rod's suite and the land of cheese, there was sorrow in the land of steel. The Steelers were vying for their record seventh Super Bowl title, but couldn't put together a game-winning drive in the final minutes. That was a bummer for all Steelers fans, including Pirates second baseman Neil Walker, who knew he was tempting the hand of fate when he opted not to attend Super Bowl XLV. A native of Pittsburgh and, ergo, a lifelong Steelers fan, Walker was in attendance for Super Bowl XL, when the Steelers beat the Seahawks in Detroit, and Super Bowl XLIII, when they took down the Cardinals in Tampa, Fla. An opportunity presented itself, through teammate Joel Hanrahan, for Walker to attend Sunday night's showdown with the NFL champion Packers, but Walker had to turn it down. He had a good reason for bucking tradition, though, as a close childhood friend was getting married on Saturday and Walker didn't want to miss the wedding. So, in the wake of a loss, did Walker still feel he made the right decision? "I was feeling a little guilty inside," he said. "But what will be, will be. I might have had a little hand in the loss, going against the grain. But I got to go to a great wedding, a very close friend's wedding." Walker watched the game with some close friends and family in Wexford, Pa., just north of Pittsburgh. And family support was helpful after a difficult loss. "It's pretty disappointing," Walker said. "But [the Steelers] fought to the very end. They kind of shot themselves in the foot. They were able to overcome the first two turnovers. That last fumble was the backbreaker. They fought, they played Steeler football, it just wasn't meant to be." No, this was the year of the Packers. And who knows? Maybe it'll be the year of the Brewers, too.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.