There's a fantastic scene in the horror classic "An American Werewolf in London". In it, David, our hero, is spending an idyllic evening with his family in front of the television. Suddenly, the night is interrupted by a murderous group of mutant Nazi soldiers bursting through the door. They kill his family, burn the house down and, eventually, cut David's throat. As David bleeds out, the scene shifts suddenly and we learn that it was all a nightmare, with David bolting upright in his hospital bed, breathing heavily and sweating profusely. What a relief. David's nurse, the kindly Alex (who apparently has not yet turned 30), tells him everything is alright and walks over to the windows to let some sun into the small room. As she opens the curtains, one of the mutant Nazi soldiers jumps through the window and stabs Alex to death.
It's another dream. A nightmare within a nightmare, something very appropriate for such a bloody horror movie. Keep the audience guessing and the screams coming. But the concept is hardly restricted to horror movies. At the start of "Star Trek: First Contact", for example, Captain Picard experiences a similar nightmare-within-a-nightmare as he remembers his time with the Borg. In Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" comics, the trope is perfected. Gaiman created Sandy Koufax's curveball, Steve Carlton's slider, and Pedro Martinez's changeup all in one. I won't say much so as not to spoil any potential surprises, but there are very few things scarier than the manner in which the nightmare-within-a-nightmare is utilized early in the "Sandman" run. He even gives it a name: "eternal waking", the nightmare everlasting.
The Brewers are likely feeling their own version of eternal waking this week. As the baseball world returned from the All-Star break, Brewers players and executives were candid in their appraisal of the club's season. With nine straight games against the NL Central's three division leaders, everyone around the club knew that this stretch of games was important to Milwaukee's postseason chances. A bad stretch would throw them out of the playoff race completely while a good stretch could put them in prime striking distance. After winning both series against the Pirates and Cardinals, the Brewers went into Cincinnati and were swept by the Reds. In two of the games, they lost by a total of three runs.
Still, a 4-5 stretch wasn't the end of the world, even if it did end in a sweep. No, the nightmare everlasting began the next night, when the Crew went into Philadelphia. Over the next three nights, Milwaukee lost each game by a score of 7-6—all in Philly's final at-bat.
The first night, Milwaukee took a 6-3 lead into the ninth before a four-run rally won it. Bernie Brewer sits bolt upright in bed, sweat pouring down his shirt.
The second night was due to a six-run eighth inning coming immediately after Milwaukee had scored five runs in the previous three innings to take a 6-1 lead. Bernie Brewer sits bolt upright in bed again, gasping, his eyes wide in terror, his shirt drenched in sweat.
The third night was the worst, with Milwaukee fighting back to tie the game at 5 in the eighth inning before taking a one-run lead in the 10th. Philadelphia scored two in the bottom of the inning to win it. Bernie Brewer's eyes flash open, his hair plastered to his forehead, the light of the full moon shining on his bed.
The nightmare just won't end. After Thursday's game, an 8-2 loss that was over in the second inning for a change, Milwaukee has lost seven in a row and are deadset on trading Zack Greinke, George Kottaras and almost any other player a playoff contender might want.
Bernie might want to set his alarm clock before he goes to bed tonight, just to be safe..