"I was just telling somebody, when I got traded here, we only played here six weeks, eight weeks," Sabathia said. "But I feel like I had been here my whole career, just from the people in the organization and the players. I wasn't here a long time, but my time here, it was a good time."
Dealt by the Indians in a July 7, 2008 trade, Sabathia proved to be one of the best midseason acquisitions in history. He went 11-2 with a dominant 1.65 ERA in 17 starts, striking out 128 batters in 130 2/3 innings while leading Milwaukee to its first postseason appearance since 1982.
In just a half season, Sabathia led the National League with seven complete games and three shutouts. Even with free agency around the corner, Sabathia gamely volunteered to take the ball on three days' rest in each of his last three starts, winning twice and rattling off an 0.83 ERA in those outings.
"I just wanted to win," Sabathia said. "The organization got me here to come over here to help pitch them into the playoffs and that's what I was here to do. Whether that was pitching on three days' rest or pitching out of the bullpen, or whatever I had to do to try to help, I was here to do that."
Sabathia turned in his Brewers colors when Milwaukee was defeated by the Phillies in a four-game NL Division Series. He soon signed a seven-year, $161 million deal with the Yankees that he called "the best decision for me and my family."
Winning the 2009 World Series in New York, Sabathia said, serves as evidence that he made the right call to close that brief Milwaukee chapter of his career. He believes that those outings with the Brewers paid valuable dividends down the line after being fitted for pinstripes.
"I think that's all the validation," Sabathia said. "Pitching down the stretch in '08 and pitching on three days' rest; pitching in those tight games definitely helped me in '09.
"We went with three starters in the playoffs in '09, pitching on three days' rest the whole time, so I was used to it. I was used to the routine and the way everything happens, so I definitely think my time and experience here helped me in '09 be able to go out and pitch and help us win the World Series."