Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A new low...

The Brewer's bullpen had an ERA of about 1.50 for the month of August...

until yesterday.

Finding yet another new and unusual way to lose, as they gave up a 7-run 8th inning, including a grand slam. All 7 runs were recorded before an out was.

In today's Journal, Ned Yost said, "They're not going to be perfect every night," manager Ned Yost said of his relief corps. "They've been really good. You're not going to get everybody out every time."

Even Ned's stopped making excuses for them.

Going into the 8th, the game was tied 3-3.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A GOOD Wisconsin preview... opposed to the one our paper did this past weekend.

This one comes from an Ohio State website, of all places.
Check out the preview here.

Some highlights:

Two Cent Overview
Quarterback John Stocco is back, and it's a good thing because he's just about the only guy coming back on offense. The Badgers will be trying out some new running backs, but that's never usually a problem. There's only one receiver on the roster who has actually caught a pass, and he's only caught one. Most of the offensive line is gone, but left tackle Joe Thomas returns. Thomas is expected to be a Top 5 pick in next year's NFL draft. Just about everybody returns on a defense that held Auburn to 236 yards of offense in last year's Capital One Bowl Game. The kicking game will be strong, led by two awards candidates at punter and place-kicker.

Second Best Player
Quarterback John Stocco. Stocco is about the most unsung star in the conference. He finished third in the conference in passing yards behind Bret Basanez and Drew Stanton. He also finished third in passing efficiency behind Troy Smith and Drew Stanton. Stocco will be tested this season with an all-new receiving corps, but he is entering his third season as a starter, so the offense is in good hands.

Best Chance For a Big Loss
At Iowa. The Badgers have lost four straight to the Hawkeyes. The last two trips to Iowa, Wisconsin has been outscored 50-10.

Most Important Game
At Michigan. The Wolverines owe the Badgers for last season's upset. However, Michigan has to play Notre Dame the week prior, meaning that the Wolverines could come into this game either deflated, or overconfident. While Michigan has owned the series for the last ten years or so, there hasn't been a game between the two teams settled by more than a touchdown since 1998. It's the Big Ten opener for both teams, so expect the unexpected.

Game On The Schedule That Glen Mason Is Jealous That He Didn't Schedule
All of them. Next year, this category will be renamed in honor of Bret Bielema.

Nirvana retracted

Did you watch last night's football game? Could you, really? Because my eyes were bleeding and I turned it off. The Packers got wailed upon. We could only score against the 2nd team defense. I couldn't bear the agony.

I prefer to remain in denial about this season a bit longer.

And to make matters worse, Saturday's Badger game is at 6pm, the same time as the Brewers game I've had tickets for for weeks. So I won't be seeing that game, either.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Football nirvana

Or as close to it as we've gotten in months.

A Monday night Packer's preseason game leaves me just 4 footballess days until the college season opens (here in Wisconsin anyway)!

Some linkage...

Illegal posting from work, so this will be short and sweet:

A story from the Journal-Sentinel about Ahman Green's return to the Packer's for tonight's preseason game. Green ruptured a tendon in his knee. It's unknown how strong he'll be.

So the J-S also did a big Badger football preview in this Sunday's paper, and I'm linking to it out of duty to you, not because I like it.

Basically, it's a really themey piece called "recipe for success" that has Bielema in a chef outfit and talks about the offense, defense and special teams in terms of meat, potatoes and dessert. Blech!

Northwestern at a glance, story

Ohio State at a glance, story

Penn State at a glance, story

Also, these notes say we could be playing 12 freshmen


I moved this weekend. Work today. Cleaning up the old house after work this week. No computer set up.

It's downtime on at CuteSports central. We apologize for the delay!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Breaking (bad) News

Wisconsin wide receive Marcus Randal El damaged ligaments in his knee and is likely out for the season.

Randal El was basically the only returner with any experience, and even his was limited. He was one of three guys on the roster to have caught at least one pass in a game.

Yes, that's right, Wisconsin has 2, count them TWO, guys at wide receiver who have each had ONE catch in an actual game!

This comes just two days after fullback Chris Pressley broke his leg.

We'd better hope the Brewers make the postseason so we can bask in the glow of that into the new year, as football prospects in this state are looking leaner and leaner.

My picks

So Nico over at Roll Bama Roll is having a college pick 'em game featuring 12 games each week.

My picks this week are:

North Texas @ Texas

Northern Illinois @ OSU

California @ Tennessee

Marshall @ West Virginia

Hawaii @ Alabama

Southern Mississippi @ Florida

UAB @ Oklahoma

Washington State @ Auburn

Notre Dame @ Georgia Tech

University of Louisiana - Lafayette @ LSU

USC @ Arkansas

Florida State @ Miami

Also, it bears mentioning...

That though they've been upsetting and frustrating at best these past few weeks, it has to be said that the Brewers are still alive.

At a time when thoughts have long since switched to football season, my Brew Crew is only 4 1/2 out of the Wild Card lead, though they're still 4 below .500 (gotta love the NL)

And to get way ahead of ourselves, we're only 5.5 games out of first in the division.
Granted, we've a long way to go, but even if it is just over-optimistic manager speak, Ned has said that it's not the Wildcard we've got our eyes on. And only the Reds and Cards are ahead of us.

So it's up to us to do well in the coming weeks - win 2/3 or 3/4 of the upcoming games, which seems doable, - get above .500, - stay in control of the upcoming Cards series -

and if we do these things, the post season may be in our grasp!

Brewers vs. Rockies

The Brewers have won four of the past five, including the past two from the Rockies. Winning this afternoon's game would mean a sweep of the series, which hasn't happened in awhile.

I'm listening to the game on the radio, having a nice Bob Uecker afternoon.

It's another unconventional lineup, much like yesterday, though I've yet to hear if there's a reason (such as last night's catcher sucking against lefties).

It's a good start to the game as Bill Hall homered, then Geoff Jenkins singled, David Bell doubled, Damian Miller was intentionally walked.

Then on a weird play, Tomo Ohka went up to bat lefty (first time in his career) and he drew a catcher's interference call so that Jenkins scored.

Gabe Gross than doubled, scoring Bell and Miller.

So it was a 4 run second inning, showing this new-look Brewers that are stringing together hits and plays, getting on base and proving that they know how to score without the home run ball.

Tomo's making himself more and more useful, as he singles in the third, scoring two and bringing his RBI count for this game to 3.

It was a nice looking third as Bill Hall doubled, advanced to third on a Laynce Nix groundout and scored on a David Bell single.
Jenkins as intentionally walked (HA!) and was one of Ohka's RBIs. Damian Miller was hit by a pitch and was Ohka's other RBI.

It's now 7-2 Milwaukee in the 5th!


UniWatch - Milwaukee style this evening.

We'll be hanging out at Art's Concertina Bar tonight at 7 ish, come on by!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More New Orleans stuff

These two songs are by Cowboy Mouth off their new album Voodoo Shoppe. When I saw them live at Summerfest at the end of June, they gave me goose bumps and almost made me cry - at a rock show, for pete's sake! But they're really quite perfect. Instead of trying to explain it, I'll just put down the lyrics.


It's hard in St. Bernard; there's tears in Algiers
If you're calling for New Orleans, there's nobody here

So fix yourself a drink; pack your things and go
Last one out turn out the lights and board up the doors

I wanna go home, whatever it takes
I wanna go home, when the levee breaks
I wanna go home, where the streets have holes
I wanna go home, where the good times roll

The Ninth Ward's disappeared; the Treme's overflowed
It's Dante's Inferno in the Superdome

The inhumanity of this insanity,
Could have been prevented oh so easily

My heart is heavy, feet are draggin'
Everywhere it seems
This time even Fats ain't walkin' back to New Orleans

Repeat chorus

The world is gonna pay; cuz we'll be everywhere
There'll be dancin' in your streets and music in your hair
And when that water starts to fall you won't see us around
Unless you're buying us a drink in our hometown

Repeat chorus twice


The Avenue

The water broke past the levee; my heart beats hard and heavy
There's so much more to say, but I'm silent for now

I'm lost deep in the emotions that hit me just like an ocean
that seemed so refreshing once, but it's not, for now

Because the marching bands will roll
I'll find my city in my soul
Because I plan on growing old on The Avenue

My best friend's house lies beneath
the teardrops God has bequeathed
to add to the pool of rage that will flow for now

I never thought I would see
in my lifetime my memory
But Fate has a way to show who's the boss, for now


And the parades will ride again
I'll see my family and my friends
Because this cannot be the end of The Avenue

It's so hard to take this hurt and hide it on a shelf
It's just cuz I never want to be from somewhere else

Deep in my darkest hour
Standing alone in the shower
I let my emotions go, for now


And the parade's will ride again
I'll see my family and my friends
Because this will not be the end of The Avenue

And yes the marching bands will roll
I'll find my city in my soul
Because there's no where else to go but The Avenue


You can hear clips of these songs here.


As we approach the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, there have been oodles and oodles of TV specials on the subject that have all really served to make me very sad and miss my city very, very much.

There are some song lyrics I'd like to post, but a Google search has brought me up empty so I'll have to wait til I get home and can transcribe for you all.

I feel like I could write forever about this topic and how much I miss living in New Orleans and all these shows that have scenes from around the city just make my heart ache a little more. I'll try and wax more poetic on this later, but I wanted to post this quote from Wynton Marsalis that was actually on an Emeril show about rebuilding New Orleans, of all things:

"New Orleans people have a lot of pride. They like being what they are. There's not going to be a group of people who will fight harder to be themselves than New Orleanians."

Not only do I love this because it's absolutely true, but it's also said in perfect New Orleans English.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Not a good day for fullbacks...

The Badgers starting fullback Chris Pressley is likely out for the season with a very ambiguous "lower leg injury." Little has been leaked out this, so we have no idea what sort of injury Pressley sustained and thus far there haven't been any unequivical comments on whether or not his season is totally over.

On the Packers' side of the ball, fullback William Henderson underwent a knee scope today. Coach Mike McCarthy was supremely optimistic, saying Henderson could be back in 2 or 3 weeks.

Not bloody likely.

And not only are we without Henderson, but we have no one to replace him. The only candidate is a guy who flat out dropped two passes in the last preseason game.

What's likely is that we're looking at some halfback-cum-fullbacks and one back situations.

This loss is a big one, not just for talent, but because Henderson is truly one of the good guys. He's a renowned team player. He's solid and reliable and strong and has absolutely no ego. He's a rarity in a sea of big heads and individual performances.

Get back soon, William!

We're still loosing ...

But this time we can't blame the pitching!

The Brewers' Bullpen ERA for the month of August is 1.88.

It's likely that hasn't happened ... EVER!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Some well-written thoughts on sports journalism and blogging...

This comment appeared in response to this post from MZone. The newspaper column he's referring to is here. The comment apparently originally was left on MGoBlog, and the Brian he refers to is the owner of said blog.

I'm not one of these people that demands that media blow sunshine up my ass all times when it comes to my team of choice, and I think there's some merit to looking at recent drafts and debating just how talented U-M's football team has been, but what's with Sharp's jab at Michigan's fans? What does that have to do with anything? He really didn't spend any time addressing the numbers he presented (as Brian did a few months back); he just tossed the figures out there and took a poke at the fan base, leaving me suspicious that he wasn't really making a sports-related point at all, but rather looking for a reason to say something nasty. Is he a journalist or a thug with a keyboard?

The newspaper as we know it is a dying medium, and the sports section will be among the first to go. Wire services have replaced the need for local beat writers, while message boards and bloggers are feeding the jones for opinion and analysis--and they're doing it far better than journalists ever have.

I've had these debates with newspaper lifers, and they defiantly maintain their stance that readers will always trust in the "superior" quality of analysis in a newspaper. I point to something like this Sharp piece, which is nothing more than a cheap attempt get people talking about you, as evidence that any value columnists once had has completely dissipated in their misguided to fight "new" media on their own ground.

There's a battle journalists and columnists can win. What they can do that most message-board posters and bloggers can't is offer perspective; historical, geographic, etc. But in their desperation to stay relevant, they're often not bothering to get better at what they offer that's of use to readers, they're emulating what they think is the draw of their online competition: They're trying to bring, as Brian put it some months back when he dropped that MSU imbecile in the first round, stank. As Brian said at the time, if you want to bring stank, bring it strong. Sharp just comes across as silly and childish here.

And they're wrong anyway. It's not "stank" that brings readers to mgoblog and other excellent blogs out there. It's that Brian and others simply outwork your typical columnist.

Chelsea captain says third championship not such a crazy concept

John Terry (fresh off of earning me major fantasy league points yesterday) doesn't want the major personnel changes at Chelsea to fool you.

Terry said: 'After the Community Shield, maybe a few people said Chelsea are beatable. '

Any team is beatable but we bounced back and showed the character we have shown the last two years.

'If we get that character, get the football and get the team spirit we have had the last couple of years, we have a very good chance of achieving something special.'

Terry said: 'A lot has been written about out team spirit. That has been an important part of our success but equally so has been our focus. '

After two years in which we've had a lot of success, the most important thing now is to stay focused.

'We need to kick off this season with the same concentration on detail, to make the most of every opportunity.'

from this article

Also, the Blues signed Dutch International Khalid Boulahrouz. Nice signing, but methinks this means the Ashley Cole move isn't happening.

Adventures in sock hunting...

To further prove my intense attention to detail and my lack of a life....

Last week, August 15, Corey Hart hit a home run early in the game (it was televised) and he was wearing his pants to his ankles. A few innings later, he makes a play in right field and there he is, socked up.

The next game I watched, the starting pitcher was Dave Bush, who's a sock wearer. Corey, too, socked it up.

Saturday night's game vs. the Astros and Jeff Cirillo starts at second. He's all socked up, properly old-school for the old man. Beginning of the 9th inning and the Brewers do a double switch to keep the pitcher in, but move his batting order. Cirillo gets moved to third. When he comes out of the dugout for the bottom of the 9th, he's not wearing the socks anymore.

What's with all this sock craziness? And really, why am I so interested?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Jenkins who?

Ok, I've posted a bunch and I don't think anyone cares that much, so I'm not going to do any extensive stat searches, but I'd like to point out how incredibly happy I am the Corey Hart is starting instead of the benched Jeff Jenkins.

Hart's hit three homeruns in the past 6 games.

On the other hand, Jenkins', who's the highest payed hitter on our roster, is hitting .254 this season with 10 home runs and 58 RBIs. He has three home runs in 232 at-bats since May 19, seven RBIs over the last month and was hitting .140 over his last 43 at-bats.

Corey Hart's well on his way to becoming my favorite Brewer, so Bill Hall better watch out. I remember Hart when he played vs. New Orleans in the minors. Plus, they have something in common, both their first Major League hits were for home runs, though Corey's was a 3-run shot. Not a bad welcome to the big league's gift!

And Corey doesn't chew. All he has to do is get rid of his chin pubes and he's a shoo-in for Cute Sports official favorite Brewer. I'd post a pic of him with disgusting blonde goatee, but google's fresh out, only showing us how good Corey looks bald chinned.

Football stories that have one guy talking about another's butt are always a good read - Or Why we Badgers are happy to have P.J. Hill


Madison - Not long after John Settle joined the University of Wisconsin coaching staff last winter, he was regaled with stories about P.J. Hill.




A punishing tailback.

"I had heard so much about him," said Settle, in his first season as UW's running backs coach. "I was expecting a Jamil Walker type."

In other words, he expected Adonis - a sculpted 225 pounds on a 6-foot-2 frame with so little body fat you'd need a microscope to find any.

When Settle first saw Hill's physique he thought he would be tutoring someone better suited for bowling.

"I wasn't very impressed," Settle said, chuckling.

Then Settle watched Hill run.

"The first time I saw him explode into somebody, I was like: 'Wow,' " Settle said. "He has a knack for that. He is very explosive."

Hill, who says he carries only 235 pounds on his 5-11 frame, doesn't look like a Greek god and never has. His friends and teammates tease him, saying he has the upper body of a 180-pound wide receiver paired with the lower body of a 300-pound offensive lineman. Yet he has been UW's best runner in pre-season camp and should be the starter in the season-opener.

"It shocks a lot of people that I move the way I move," Hill said with pride.

Hill, who grew up in Queens and will turn 20 on Jan. 3, has been defying people's initial perception of his physical appearance and gifts for years.

When he began playing Pop Warner ball at the age of 8, he was immediately penciled in to play on the line, usually on defense.

At age 11, a new youth coach gave him the ball. Hill weighed about 160 pounds at the time and says he had to trim down to 125 to play in the league.

"It was all baby fat," he said. "Before games I used to run laps with a plastic bag on to make weight. But I was committed to the game. I had to do what I had to do.

"I enjoyed it. I was getting the ball and putting points up. Everybody wants to be the person getting the ball."

Hill got the ball often at Brooklyn-Poly Prep. He lettered three years and finished with 4,012 rushing yards in 464 carries, 8.6 yards per carry, and 48 touchdowns. He was the team MVP as a senior when he rushed 166 times for 1,421 yards, 8.6 yards per carry, and 17 touchdowns.

He quickly impressed the UW staff last summer and was set to challenge for the No. 2 tailback spot until he suffered a broken leg in the first week of camp. The injury ended his season before it started and he redshirted.

"Last year I had the chance to play and I got hurt," he said. "I had to get healthy and the time off motivated me…Now I feel I'm ready to go and help this team."

Through the first two weeks of camp, Hill has displayed a feel for finding the proper hole - or making one himself - surprising quickness, the ability to power through tacklers, soft hands as a receiver and a knack for picking up the blitz. And like most productive runners, Hill always seems to be falling forward.

He quickly has earned the respect of his defensive teammates.

"His body is very unique," strong safety Joe Stellmacher said, giggling. "It's nothing I've ever seen in a running back before.

"But once you look at him from the waist down and you see that butt and those thighs, it's nothing to mess around with. He's like a bowling ball back there. You've got to go low otherwise he is going to run you over."

Stellmacher is in his fifth year in the program. During that time, he has faced several talented runners in practice. That list includes Anthony Davis and Brian Calhoun, both of whom rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season, and Booker Stanley.

Hill, according to Stellmacher, packs the biggest punch.

"He is the most physical back that I've played against here," Stellmacher said. "P.J. is coming downhill. He'll get you that 4 or 5 yards every time and he is looking to run you over.

"He is a different breed of back than we've had here in the last couple years. I've always got to be strapped up when he is coming at me."

Such words from a would-be tackler evoke a smile from Hill.

"I like to use my power," he said. "I like to be very physical and not take the punishment. Be a punisher instead.

"Because when you are the punisher throughout the game you change the way the defense approaches you. You'll end up wearing them out."

Whether you look like Adonis or a bowler.

"On the field, it is performance that really matters," Hill said. "My body is just the way it is. But I perform on the field and that's all that really matters."

Badger notes and links

A good story about the consistency of fifth year tailback Dywon Rowan. Basically, he's about all we've got.... but he doesn't make mistakes and he's a former walk-on who's proved he's willing to do what it takes.

A profile of Defensive Back Shane Carter that has this interesting tidbit from Bielema:
"One thing I want to establish in this program is that you'll be rewarded if you do certain
things correctly," Bielema said. "And you'll be held accountable for things you don't do well.
That was kind of a subtle message that we had to try to get across."

Profile of Freshman receiver Xavier Harris, who'll be filling in on the severly depleted offense.

There's a new NCAA rule that says kicker's tees can only be 1 inch from the ground, down from last year's 2 inch tees. But Badger kicker Taylor Mehlhaff says he's adapting well. And apparently his hang time's only down .3 seconds.

Finally, former Kansas State QB Allan Evridge chose to transfer to UW, choosing the Badgers over TCU and Oregon State.

Apparently, he was rather impressed and had a good visit. He also knew Bielema from his time at Kansas State.

The most impressive part of this story is that he won't be getting a scholarship until January, so he's a technical walk-on til then and his parents are footing the bill for the first semester. The other schools couring Evridge offered him scholarships, but he wanted to come to Madison. That says a lot about the program.
His mother, Lori Evridge, echoed those sentiments and sounded ecstatic about Allan's decision.
"The main thing Allan was looking for was trust in a coaching staff," Lori Evridge said. "He doesn't want
any promises. He just wants a fair chance to compete.
"He felt trust from the top to the bottom."

That says a lot about Bret Bielema.

Journal-Sentinel preview the Big Ten teams

Illinois at a glance, Illinois story

Indiana at a glance, Indiana story

Iowa at a glance, Iowa story

Michigan at a glance, Michigan story

The Iowa story says they're conference champion contenders, but the Michigan story says they're a National Champion possibility.

Packers don't suck, use up all points that were allotted for first three weeks' games

NFL Green Bay VS Atlanta

Ok, I didn't get to watch the game because I had tickets to last night's Brewers game and didn't realize the two were on the same night, so I'll point you here if you want some actual analysis.

I do wonder why Favre has played well into the second quarter for both of these preseason games. It seems a bit much and also like it's tempting fate.

Also, I'm saying right now that we won't score 38 points in the first 2 or 3 games combined. It's going to be a rough season and we used a good portion of our point allotment yesterday.

However, check out the play that starts about :49. That's shades of something past I wouldn't mind seeing more of this season.

Premier League stuff...

A nice, fun opening weekend for the EPL and my team came away with a win. I did the fast forward version of a few games, including Reading and Middlesbrough in which top tier newbies Reading came back from a 2-0 defecit to take their first ever EPL win 3-2.

I haven't finished watching the Chelsea game, so I'll refrain from talking about that game specifically yet.

And I'm fairly non-committal about Wayne Rooney. I think he does some dumb shit but I don't hate him like some do. At the same time, I don't think he's god's gift. But in this instance, I think he's spot on, even if it does come off as a bit like blackmail.

Rooney threatens sponsor strike over FA ban
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has threatened to withdraw all co-operation with the Football Association's commercial programmes in response to the three-match ban he was handed last week.

Despite United claiming they were informed Rooney would escape punishment following his red card against Porto in the recent Amsterdam tournament, the striker must sit out the Premiership encounters with Charlton, Watford and Tottenham.

An independent three-man disciplinary panel backed up the view of referee Ruud Bossen that Rooney deserved to be dismissed for his aerial challenge on Porto defender Pepe, even though the TV replays showed the striker clearly keep his eye on the ball as he jumped.

The verdict drew an angry response from United, with skipper Gary Neville describing it as `shocking', while new England coach Steve McClaren has declared it `unhelpful' as he tries to foster relations with the Premiership's major clubs.

Now, having taken legal advice, Rooney has hit back. And, in a letter to FA chief executive Brian Barwick, issued by his advisor Paul Stretford, copied to United counterpart David Gill and which McClaren was informed of on Friday, the 20-year-old is threatening not to allow his image to be used as part of any promotional campaign, or get involved in commercial events with FA partners.

'Strong representation has been made to the FA regarding the imposition of this three-match ban, which Wayne Rooney feels strongly is entirely unjustified,' a spokesman for Rooney confirmed to PA Sport.

In the letter, Stretford expresses 'Wayne's complete dismay' at the decision, adding that Rooney feels `extremely let down'.

'While he will continue if selected to play for his country with pride and commitment, he is considering withdrawing his support for the FA's commercial programme: in other words, he will not allow his image to be used or exploited, or participate in personal appearances for and on behalf of the FA's commercial partners unless he is satisfied with how the FA conducts its affairs in regard to player matters.'

Rooney is now awaiting a reply to the letter before deciding on his next course of action.
Although it would appear there is no imminent problem given the striker is suspended for next month's Euro 2008 qualifiers against Andorra and Macedonia, the FA's marketing arm will be making plans to promote the Old Trafford encounter with Macedonia on October 7.

With former skipper David Beckham not part of McClaren's plans, Rooney is now by far the most recognisable member of the England fold.

It would be safe to assume the FA planned to use Rooney's picture in their plans to sell tickets for the Macedonia clash.

However, until the present dispute is resolved, they will be unable to do so and neither will the FA be able to plan any commercial campaigns around him.

So busy...

I have lots I want to post and no time. Coming soon, lots on Chelsea, including some detail after I watch my tivo-ed version of this morning's match, Brewers updates, the Packers didn't suck last night and much much more. Stay tuned!

I'm moving, this is as good as it gets, I'm afraid!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

As suggested by the boyfriend...

Some good reading by newly defected Monday Morning Quarterback on An interview with Brett Favre where he's pretty damn candid about why he returned to the Packers this year.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- I came here last week still not knowing, deep down, why Brett Favre came back, at 36, for a 16th season. Because late last season he was done. Finished. He told coach Mike Holmgren as much twice, even saying in one late-season conversation, "I never should have come back this year.''

Former Packers center Mike Flanagan, now with the Texans, figured Favre was toast after an embarrassing 48-3 Monday-night loss at Baltimore in December. "Every time after a road game, on the bus, we'd always sit in back and talk about what worked and what didn't work,'' Flanagan told me. "Not that night. Brett just laid back there, saying nothing to anyone, like it was over.''

When Favre arrived at camp this year, all of his golfing buddies were gone. All of them. Doug Pederson, Craig Nall, Ryan Longwell, the last two in free agency this offseason. So why? Why was he back here, in a back hallway behind the Packers' locker room at Lambeau Field, holding up something that looked like a cross between a Devil Dog and a Moonpie, 10 minutes before his afternoon quarterback meeting, smiling with his mouth full and saying, "Pretty good lunch, huh?''

The easy answer seemed to be because he still wanted to play and the money was good. But there had to be something more, and I hadn't heard it yet.

"To be honest,'' he said, "I'm shocked too. I'm shocked to be back. Because I was gone.''

"So what happened? What really happened?'' I asked.

"I guess, really, there're two things,'' Favre said. "Last year, as our season kept going downhill [the Pack finished 4-12] and I knew it was over for me, I said to [then coach] Mike Sherman, 'I guess as soon as the season's over, I'll announce I'm retiring.'

"Mike said, 'Why? What's the hurry? Go home. Think for a while. With the season you've just been through, you don't want to make a quick decision. You're healthy. You owe it to yourself to take your time and think about it. If you make a quick decision, and if you make it now, you might regret it for a long time.'

"So even though I was sure I wasn't going to play, I thought what Mike said was smart. And I went home. I think I was home [in Mississippi] before this place even got cleaned out from our last game of the year. I had to get away. And as time passed, I knew I could still play. I felt healthy. I felt like I'd be a good fit in [new coach] Mike McCarthy's system. But I wasn't sure still, and as time went on, you know how it goes, you're looking for a sign or whatever to help you make that decision for sure.

"And one day, I'm down in Mississippi. I've got the satellite radio on. And I never do this, but for some reason I turned on the NFL Channel on the radio, and they're interviewing Phil Simms. I guess it was just a weird coincidence, but they asked him: 'What do you think Favre's going to do?'

"Phil says, 'I have no idea. But I think him being the competitor he is, he'd continue playing. I know if it was me, I'd make 'em drag me off the field. I don't care what he's doing down there in Mississippi. He's got the rest of his life to do that. He's only got a year or two more he can play this game.'

"And I thought," said Favre, "that really said it all. That helped make my decision a lot clearer. He was right. I still loved it. I wanted to play and I still thought I could be good. And there was nothing else I wanted to do as much as this.''

I called Simms after talking with Favre and told him the story.

"Holy crap!'' he said. "Holy crap! You are kidding me. That is unbelievable. You're serious?''

"Very,'' I said.

"Well, he's right. I remember it," said Simms. "I was on with Bob Papa that day, I think. I think I said, 'If it was me, they'd have to tear the uniform off me.'

"You get to that point in your career, and you're on top of everything so well mentally, and nothing the defense throws at you can confuse you, and you just want to keep playing. Because when it's over, it's over. But that's something.

"I've heard a lot of people say, 'Oh, Favre's coming back to a lousy team and it's going to be an awful year for him. What's he doing that for?' And I can tell you from personal experience -- sometimes your favorite year can be a year when you weren't supposed to do anything and you go 8-8. That's fun. You're just out there playing as hard as you can with a bunch of guys, nothing's expected of you, and you win some games and have fun. It's like [Bill] Parcells used to say when he was giving players advice: 'You can't always drive a Cadillac.'''

In McCarthy's offense, which features more short passes than previous Packers schemes, Favre will have the same sort of freedom to make the decisions he's always made, but he'll have more short and intermediate hot reads to choose from. That means he shouldn't get battered as much this year.

It also helps that Aaron Rodgers is having a good camp this summer. McCarthy even told Favre to get lost for the last five days of organized offseason practices, which meant Rodgers could get all the reps with the first unit those days. "We found out a lot of good things about Aaron,'' McCarthy said. "I've got a lot of confidence in him right now.''

I asked Favre: "What do you say to those who would say it's stupid for a guy like you to come back to a rebuilding team?''

"You mean from those people who think the Packers ain't gonna be worth a s---?''

"No,'' I said. "I mean from anyone.'' In other words, how could he say this was the most talented Green Bay team he's been around?

"Well, that's fine,'' he said. "I'm telling you, we're going to be OK. I know people will be surprised if we're 8-8. But who knows? This year may be better, it may not be. And if there comes a point in the season where it's like it was last year, I won't walk away, but I will totally understand if Mike says, 'We're going to look to the future.' That's fine. This thing has to be about our team, not about me.''

With the early precincts reporting, the start is inauspicious. At San Diego on Saturday night, Favre and the first offense generated zero points in four series. Stay tuned. This might not be pretty.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Drive by blogging...

I'm tired, I just got home and there's tons I want to post about so as to be timely, so I think it's going to be quick posts tonight and hopefully I'll be able to elaborate soon, when I find time. But I started work today, I was gone all night doing family obligation stuff, there's more work tomorrow and Friday this weekend is Irish Fest (NOT TO BE MISSED!) as well as a Brewer game. Plus I'm moving next weekend. Moral of the story is, I'm trying, but don't hold out much hope.

OK, here we go:

Milwaukee native Bruce Froemming umped his 5000th game today! He was also featured in USA Today wearing his Packer shirt and grilling some brats in his backyard. Way to go Bruce! He's only the 2nd to reach that many games.

Today's Brewers game went 13 innings and they won the second straight. The bullpen pitched 7 innings. We used 7 different pitchers. Francisco Cordero notched save #8 for the Brew Crew. That's amazing for us! We won our first road series in almost 2 months.

Also, yesterday, Geoff Jenkins replacement Corey Hart hit a homerun, proving why this switch was a very very good idea.

However, our 13 innings look like nothing compared to last night's marathon in Houston. 18 innings and the entire bullpen, including the next day's starting pitcher later, the Cubs beat Houston 8-6.

Having used their probable starter and everyone else, including Carlos Zambrano as a pinch hitter, the Cubs felt a little screwed. So they called down to AAA for a starter.
I'd like to make this all cool and explain the story for you, but I'll just point you to this article, which tells is better than I could right now. Please read it, it's worth the 2 minutes.

Good for you, Ryan O'Malley!

Work was ... work, I suppose. As long as I get a paycheck I can't complain too much. Though I did a lot of menial labor today for someone who was hired to answer the phone. Comfy shoes are in order and I hope my bum knee stops swelling, but other than that....Mostly it was just holding myself back from propositioning Todd. What can I say, Paul Bunyan does it for me.

Big Ten Men's BBall Schedule announced

I'm frankly too tired to make it all pretty, so here you go:

2006-07 Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Schedule
Day Date Opponent Time TV
Friday Nov. 3 UW-STOUT (Exh.) 7 p.m.
Wednesday Nov. 8 CARROLL COLLEGE (Exh.) 7 p.m.
Sunday Nov. 12 MERCER
Wednesday Nov. 15 UW-GREEN BAY
Sunday Nov. 19 SOUTHERN
(South Padre Invitational)
Tuesday Nov. 21 DELAWARE STATE
(South Padre Invitational)
Fri.-Sat. Nov. 24-25 at South Padre Invitational
Tuesday Nov. 28 FLORIDA STATE 6:30 p.m. ESPN2
(ACC-Big Ten Challenge)
Monday Dec. 4 WINTHROP
Saturday Dec. 9 at Marquette
Wednesday Dec. 13 UW-MILWAUKEE
Saturday Dec. 16 PITTSBURGH
Saturday Dec. 23 PACIFIC
Wednesday Dec. 27 GARDNER-WEBB
Sunday Dec. 31 at Georgia
Saturday Jan. 6 MINNESOTA 3:37 p.m. ESPN+ Regional
Tuesday Jan. 9 OHIO STATE 8 p.m. ESPN
Saturday Jan. 13 at Northwestern 1:31 p.m. ESPN+ Regional
Wednesday Jan. 17 PURDUE 7 p.m. ESPN+ Local
Saturday Jan. 20 at Illinois 1 p.m. ESPN
Wednesday Jan. 24 MICHIGAN 8 p.m. ESPN+ Local
Sunday Jan. 28 at Iowa Noon CBS
Wednesday Jan. 31 at Indiana 7 p.m. ESPN+ Local
Saturday Feb. 3 NORTHWESTERN 1:05 p.m. ESPN+ Regional
Wednesday Feb. 7 at Penn State 7 p.m. ESPN+ Local
Saturday Feb. 10 IOWA 1 p.m. ESPN
Wednesday Feb. 14 at Minnesota 7 p.m. ESPN+ Local
Saturday Feb. 17 PENN STATE 11:17 a.m. ESPN+ Regional
Tuesday Feb. 20 at Michigan State 6 p.m. ESPN
Sunday Feb. 25 at Ohio State 3 p.m. CBS
Thurs.-Sun. March 8-11 at Big Ten Tournament, Chicago, Ill.
Thurs.-Sun. March 15-18 NCAA Tournament First/Second Rounds
Thurs.-Sun March 22-25 NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinals/Finals
Saturday March 31 NCAA Final Four, Atlanta, Ga.
Monday April 2 NCAA Championship, Atlanta, Ga.
Home games in ALL CAPS
Times listed as CST and subject to change

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Good Day

The past 24 hours or so have been rather fabulous so I thought I'd share. I'd been charged over $300 by UHaul for returning the trailer late after my accident. I was charged 6 weeks after the accident and after I'd put in an insurance claim through them. Lots of haggling later, I'm being returned my money!

I also got a job today. I start at 8 am tomorrow. It's nothing special, but at least it will pay the bills while I continue to look for other things. It's technically temporary, with a chance at temp to permanent status, but I'm actually digging that because I have no intention of being a receptionist forever, so it already has an escape clause.

I get to keep the second puppy when we move. I'm moving next weekend, which I'm not looking forward to, as the last time I tried to move it didn't work out so well for me. When we looked at the place we only asked about one dog, because most people don't want any dogs and technically Flash, the Basset Hound, is a foster dog (though I'm trying to keep him). Anyway, we got permission from the new landlord to keep the Basset as well.

Some other minor stuff was finally able to be worked out. It's nice when it feels like things are finally starting to look up.

Packers make offensive line changes

In Saturday's game, the Packers O-Line was basically non-existant. Apparently (thankfully) our coaches thought so too and some changes have been made. Second round draft pick Daryn Colledge was demoted to second team, despite having been a starter since the moment he was drafted. According to the article, the demotion's supposed to be a wake up call.

In depth story on O-Line struggles here

Monday, August 14, 2006

Decision 2006

The official Cute Sports EPL team is: Chelsea FC

Now before you all get on me for choosing the Champion, I have to say that I really didn't know how to choose. I was hoping someone would come up as a front runner or some random thing would just make me want to choose one team over another.

I had it narrowed down to Liverpool, Newcastle and Chelsea and the deciding factors were tenuous and silly at best.

1. I've seen Chelsea play
2. They have an official Midwest (U.S.) Fan Club

And frankly this right here illustrates why I'm afraid this little self-challenge may be over before it begins for me. If I can't even be hardcore about the choice, however will I commit to a season of Tivo-ed matches and internet searches?

But I will press on with the Blues. Plus, I figure that any taunting about this being a bandwagon choice, if not already deflected for my 2 already mentioned reasons, can also be explained away by saying "What are the odds they'll win again?" I mean picking a team that just won 2 is like catching the wave a little too late.

Ultimately, I really want this venture to succeed and I feel that in order for that to happen I really needed to go with a team that's going to get a lot of coverage, that's going to draw me in and who's games I'll be able to see with some frequency. I think the Midwest Fan Club can only help me get excited and involved.

It makes a difference that I've seen them live, even if it was a friendly, and can relate to them and the fans (though I regret not being able to sing You'll Never Walk Alone) My final inconsequential reason is that I really, really like Michael Essien. There's no real explanation for it except I think he's a crazy good defender and I wish I could have been a quarter so good.

So there you have it, a totally unscientific or even reasonable choice. Chelsea FC, the choice made so that my venture is successful. Time to purchase some Chelsea gear...

Sock Convert

Corey Hart's starting in right field tonight (adios, Jenkins) and he's sporting some cool looking knee socks. This isn't his usual look when he's just pinch hitting and riding the pine, so I hope it's not only in concert with starting pitcher Dave Bush and these socks are a whole new Corey Hart era!

Decision 2006 - delayed a bit longer

So here I am, all set to announce my choice, and blogger doesn't want to load my image! Bad sign?!

Some more thought will be put into this and the decision will be announced this evening.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Courtesy of Nico...

I was pointed to this very cool site, Home Team Blogs. Basically, it's a rundown of the best blogging for each team. Nico said it's a daily read for him and I've got it bookmarked as well. It's also been added to the links section.

I'm really digging having everything nice and tidy and easily accessible. And the proprietor was kind enough to add CuteSports. Plus, he's a non-Wisconsinite Cheesehead. How can you go wrong?

More Badger Preseason News

Defensive line touted as Big Ten's Best and 4th nationally

Because we need to feel more uneasy: Backup QBs have horrible practice

A look at the cornerbacks. Apparently Bielema's a fan.

Former Kansas State QB to visit UW Monday

Madison - Quarterback Allan Evridge, who left the Kansas State program last week and is mulling transferring to either the University of Wisconsin or Texas Christian University, is scheduled to meet with the UW coaches and players on Monday.

Evridge's mother, Lori, told the Journal Sentinel tonight that Allan was en route to Madison.Allan Levridge plans to tour the UW facilities Monday and attend practice, which is set for 3:45 p.m. at Camp Randall Stadium.

He plans to return home Tuesday and may still visit another school. However, he intends to make his final decision sometime this week.

Allan Evridge visited the TCU campus in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday and attended the team's pre-season practice. He wants to choose a school quickly so he can enroll for the fall semester. Classes open on Aug. 21 at TCU and on Sept. 5 at UW.

Under NCAA rules, if Evridge transfers to UW or another Division I-A school he will have to sit out the 2006 season and will have just two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Evridge started six games as a redshirt freshman last season for the Wildcats and passed for a school freshman record 1,365 yards. He completed 102 of 213 passes (47.9%) with seven interceptions. However, he passed for a Kansas State freshman record six touchdowns and rushed for 213 yards. He led the Wildcats in total offense with 174.2 yards per game.

LSU season poster

Over at the Wizard of Odds, he's taking a look at some 2006 football posters. By far the best one is from LSU.

This is a kickass poster. No goofy looking linemen. No crazy cheerleaders. Simple, effective and poignant. I love it!

Saturday, August 12, 2006


There's Packer football on TV

(we're still in the early football euphoria - no discussions on how bad this season will be are allowed yet. Right now let's just revel in all that is football on TV)

Aside form tonight's flurry o'posts...

it's probably going to be slow next week as it was this week.

Not much going on here at CuteSports central and I've been feeling particularly pathetically unemployed so the urge to come on here and bitch/wallow has been strong and I'm fighting it as best I can. You can thank me later.

And why exactly did he get another chance?

Brewers are in a tie game with a team ahead of us in the wild card and heading into the bottom of the 9th and for some ungodly reason decide to use Derrick Turnbow, who promptly puts men on base and gives up a double to let the winning run score.

And NOW is when manager Ned Yost finally says the words we've been longing to hear:

Given one more chance to redeem himself and show he can contribute to victories, Turnbow failed again Friday night. Afterward, Milwaukee Brewers manager Ned Yost conceded that he'll have to stop using the deposed closer with games on the line.

"We're going to have to (stop)," Yost said. "Right now, his tempo is real slow. He's thinking way too much out there."

Consider these mind-boggling stats:
Now 4-8 with a 6.40 earned run average, Turnbow has made 15 appearances since the start of July. Over that span, he is 0-5 with four blown saves and an 18.32 ERA, with 16 hits, 13 walks and 19 earned runs in 9 1/3 innings

On the plus side, this is the 3rd straight really nice outing for our starting pitchers:

For most of the night, it was the hitters who were frustrated as Smoltz and Brewers lefty Chris Capuano locked up in an old-fashioned pitching duel. Trying for the sixth time to record his first victory of the second half, Capuano was brilliant, allowing only four hits and one run over seven innings, with no walks and four strikeouts.

Capuano was in such command that he threw only 68 pitches before departing. With runners on the corners and one down in the eighth, Yost had no choice but to hit for Capuano. Geoff Jenkins - who was removed from his starting job in right field earlier in the day - delivered a tying sacrifice fly that nearly left the park in right.

" 'Jenksie' just got under that ball," Yost said. "It sounded really good when he hit it."

The only damage the Braves did to Capuano came in the second inning, when Jones led off with his 29th homer of the season on the first pitch. Capuano was trying to get a fastball in on Jones but left it up and over the plate.

"They were hacking early, swinging at a lot of pitches early in the count," Capuano said. "That made for a fast game (2 hours 16 minutes).

(all info from this article)

How is this just an aside story?

For the record, this is bad. This is really, really, really bad!

FRIDAY, Aug. 11, 2006, 3:14 p.m.
UW's Stocco has surgery on right knee
University of Wisconsin quarterback John Stocco had surgery on his right knee today, the athletic department announced.

The procedure at the UW Hospital and Clinics was aimed at alleviating a "re-aggravation" of an injury Stocco sustained in 2003. The school did not release any other information immediately about the surgery.

"We're hopeful to have John available to us for most, if not all, of our games this season," head coach Bret Bielema said on the UW Web site. "Our physicians, in conjunction with John, felt it was best to get this addressed now."

Stocco added: "In order for me to have the most productive senior season possible, I felt this surgery was the best decision I could make at this point in time."

The Badgers open their season Sept. 2 vs. Bowling Green at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

and here's an article about our 2 and 3 QBs (plus, scroll down to learn about the possible transfer from Kansas State, who has scheduled a campus visit)

In a move that took entirely too long to happen....

Brewers sit Jenkins to look at youngsters
Associated Press
ATLANTA -- Milwaukee Brewers manager Ned Yost benched veteran outfielder Geoff Jenkins Friday and said he would look at prospects Gabe Gross and Corey Hart the rest of the season.

Jenkins, a 1995 first-round pick, ranks fourth on the team's all-time home-run list and has the longest active service with the Brewers. He made his seventh Opening Day start this season, his eighth full season with the team.

Yost said Jenkins' status made the decision more difficult.

"That's probably why it took me so long to do it," Yost said. "It was very hard. It wasn't a decision that I took lightly."

Jenkins, 32, is hitting .254 with 10 homers and 57 RBI in 397 at-bats. He hit .292 with 25 homers and 86 RBI last season.

Jenkins went 142 at-bats between homers this season, from May 20 to July 5, the longest drought of his career.

He has 184 career homers, trailing only Robin Yount, Gorman Thomas and Cecil Cooper on the team's career list.

Jenkins, who has been booed by Milwaukee fans this season, had only six hits in his last 43 at-bats this year before Friday's decision by Yost.

"He's been pressing," Yost said. "The booing at home has been affecting him. Players say it doesn't but it does."

Yost referred to Jenkins' status as being given "time off."

"He doesn't like the decision but I think he understands why I made it," Yost said. "I think he knows he's struggled this year and he also knows that he's very capable of putting up big numbers."

Yost said he would give Gross playing time in all three outfield positions and Hart would play more in right field.

In Friday night's game at Atlanta, Yost started Gross in right field, Brady Clark in center and Kevin Mench in left field. Gross went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts as the Brewers lost 2-1.
Gross is hitting .265 with nine homers and 32 RBI in 162 at-bats. Hart is hitting .299 with one homer and eight RBI in 67 at-bats.

"We've got six weeks left in the season," Yost said. "We need to find out where we're at. Neither one of those guys has had extended playing time this year."

Jenkins was not immediately available for comment.

Yost said the decision is not an "end-all" for Jenkins' future in Milwaukee, but he said Jenkins needs to work on his swing.

"It's a timing issue and that's something that he's going to have to work out in his swing," Yost said. "But this isn't the end-all. I think Jenks will make adjustment."

Yost said he could not say what playing time Jenkins will receive the rest of this season.

"I can't give you an honest answer about how I'm going to use him because I don't know," he said.

Jenkins, making $7.8 million this season, is signed to earn $7 million in 2007 with a club option for $9 million in 2008 with a $500,000 buyout.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

Happy 25th Birthday...

To the P.C. - without which I could never waste hours (of your time and mine) blogging away. (BBC story here)

Friday, August 11, 2006

New England coach Steve McClaren leaves Beckham off roster

I feel like this is probably less major than it seems, as we're only talking the roster for a friendly with Greece, but it still seems like a slap in the face to go from Captain of the World Cup team to not even on the roster in less than a month.

Full story here.

Badger links

It's the first few days of camp, so there's been lots of Badger coverage. The boys move inside for training camp tomorrow, as Camp Randall hosts some sort of world drum corps competition.
On to the links:

Guy who played one year as Kansas State QB considering transfer to UW

TE at a glance, profile of TE corps highlighting their youth and inexperience

It's an Insider story, but there's some info available. And it says you may see the Badgers in a New Year's Day bowl.

Profiling the defensive backs

A story on how depleted the receiving corps is and who's going to have to step up

22 freshman in camp for Badgers and Bielema says many will play

Speaking of which, this freshman QB may be made into a WR

O-Line quickie , Position breakdown - O-Line

Profile of fifth year linebacker Mark Zalewski

Speaking of linebackers, our depth at that position resembles a kiddy pool

but some of the injured have been cleared to play

Another Miller Park outing...

Got my moms to play hookie and today it was off for a day game at Miller Park against the hated Cubbies. Last time, this didn't work out so well for me, as the Cubs plastered us.

Thankfully this time things were different. The Brewers opened up an 8-1 lead. We scored 8 runs and none of them came off a homerun! Believe me when I tell you that this is an accomplishment!!

Of course, we then proceeded to not produce any more runs and allow the Cubs to slowly sneak back into the game. Eventually, it's 8-6 in the top of the 9th. Men on first and second. And Francisco Cordero worked out of another job (though self made) and the Brew Crew won.

That's a 2 straight from the Cubs. That's also two straight games in which we lit up their starters and forced Dusty to make pitching moves early. By the end of today's game, I'm certain we had seen basically every guy they had in the bullpen. Today's pitcher was Prior, so the win and runs aren't too surprising. But yesterday we pushed Zambrano up into a pitch count above 80 in the 5th inning.

Dave Bush pitched a great game on Wed., taking a no-hitter into the 6th. Doug Davis struggled a bit late, but didn't give up more than 2 runs in any inning and stayed in the game through the 7th.

More story here. (I feel not so articulate and like this isn't coming out sounding so smart, so I'll quite while I'm behind)

These two wins mean 4 1/2 back in the wild card. Tomorrow it's on to Atlanta.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Chelsea and Arsenal fight it out for Ashley Cole

LONDON, England -- Chelsea have said their attempts to sign Ashley Cole from Arsenal have reached deadlock with the clubs unable to agree a fee for the England left-back.

Media reports say Arsenal value Cole at about 25 million pounds ($47.69m) but the English champions released a statement making it clear they were not prepared to raise their latest offer.

"Chelsea have been in discussions with Arsenal over the possible transfer of Ashley Cole," the statement read.

"Chelsea have made a very substantial offer for the player. Although discussions have continued, Arsenal's valuation of the player does not match Chelsea's and therefore no agreement can be reached in the current circumstances."

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said this week he would consider other options if agreement could not be reached for the Arsenal full back.

He wants Cole to replace Asier Del Horno as his first-choice left back, with Wayne Bridge not in favor and William Gallas keen to move rather than play out of his natural central defensive position.

Gallas was missing from Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Celtic at Stamford Bridge. Gary Caldwell opened the scoring for the Scottish champions in the 10th minute before Shaun Wright-Phillips equalised on the stroke of halftime.

New signings Andriy Shevchenko, Michael Ballack, Salomon Kalou and John Obi Mikel made their first appearances at home for Chelsea who struggled to break down Gordon Strachan's well-drilled side

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

UniWatch Milwaukee style

If you're a daily(*coughhourlycough*) UniWatch reader like I am, then you already know that Paul Lukas is going to be traveling a bit in the coming weeks, including a stop here in Milwaukee.

I'm fairly convinced I don't have any Milwaukee, or even Wisconsin readers (or, you know, any readers) but if you are in the area, the details are here. August 24th. Uninerds unite!

Another Watch List

I have to say that this is the first time I remember so many of our players being named as guys to watch in their positions. I suppose of late we've been the team of surprise greatness, so people actually recognizing our talent and respecting the program is something of a shock to us. We're not quite sure what that looks like.

But here you go:

Senior Roderick Rogers, the Badgers' returning starter at free safety, was named to the 2006 pre-season watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award. The award is given annually to the top defensive back in the nation. Rogers is also on the watch list for the Lott Trophy, was a second-team All-Big Ten Conference selection last season.

Monday, August 07, 2006

College football. So close, yet so far away....

The earliest I've ever seen this, but someone out there came up with bowl projections for this season already. It's mighty early, but they do build that in. While every bowl is lined up, there's also 3 or 4 possibilities for some. Take Wisconsin, according to these predictions, we could be playing in one of four bowls. That really doesn't narrow it down. Basically, we'll either be playing in one of the Big Ten tie-ins or we won't be playing. Not exactly rocket science.

Nevertheless, props to them for even chancing to make such predictions so early. And there's some definite surprises, including Auburn playing in the National Championship game. Most of what I've read and heard doesn't have Auburn winning the SEC, so I feel that's a mighty bold prediction. Especially after Wisconsin embarassed them in the Capital One Bowl, of all bowls, last year.

More Ed Hochuli

I'm fairly certain that I forgot to mention that Senor Hochuli is a Milwaukeean. We can't leave that tidbit out.

In the comments, Ed Hochuli websites were requested, so here you go:

An SI article about Ed (I got the pic there) that even includes his day by day workout - You too can be HOCHULI!

MLS All-Star Game Part 1

Ok, I'll try not to make this super crazy long.

On Saturday I went to the MLS All-Star game vs. Chelsea in Chicago.

We definitely had good times, but couldn't believe how uneventful the game was. Before you all yell at me and say "it's soccer, duh" let's not forget that in previous year's the All-Star Game has had scores of 9-4, 6-1, 6-6, etc.... These are notoriously high scoring matches.

Both teams were rather lackluster in their attacks. Often, a midfielder would get the ball near the top of the box and there would be no one moving, no one making a run and no one out wide. Just the poor midfielder and 5 defenders converging fast.

In that respect, the game was a little disappointing. You never really felt like you were watching world class talent. I'd say the only exception to that was Micheal Essien. He ran a few people over, gave Freddy Adu a defensive clinic, stuck a few guys and basically was Micheal Essien.

The worst thing of the whole day was the absolutely uncomfortable loudness of the public address system. I had a headache from the moment we sat down until long after the game ended. And while I do applaud them for us being able to hear and understand the PA, which is rarely, if ever, the case, at some point some employee that was walking around the stadium should have let them know. I spent the entire halftime show (which was also crap) with my fingers in my ears, I was that uncomfortable.

Now all this sounds like I didn't enjoy myself, which is far from the case. The game was good, it just wasn't great. I still got to see Chelsea, with their myriad of stars, which was absolutely awesome. The crowd booed and jeered Freddy Adu from the time he stood up to warm up to after the final whistle. There were about 12 Eastern European or Russian people behind me ( I didn't turn around and ask) who I'm fairly certain were only there to see Shevchenko. They rattled on in said language the entire game. I feel like that should have been annoying, but it ended up drowning out all the other people around us talking and since I couldn't understand them, it was easy to tune them out. There was also the guy a few rows back, whom I could hear before the Eastern European/Russians arrived, who was literally trying to coach his kid based on the All-Star teams' warm ups, which were half-assed at best. He was driving me nuts, so the EE/R's were a welcome distraction.

The other fun thing to note is that all PA announcements were in English and Spanish, as was the program. However, what the Spanish announcer would say was not the same as the English announcement. Basically, the Spanish announcement would give more information. The same was true in the program. They'd have paragraphs on each player, then underneath a small Spanish paragraph which added completely new information.

Anyway, on to the pictures.

Chelsea brought the Barclay's trophy with, and for $10 (for Charity) you could have your pic taken with it. The line was incredibly long, so we settled for these snuck inbetween type shots. Sorry for all the people in the shot!

A slightly blurry cropped shot of the trophy.

View from our seats and a view for you all of the new Toyota Park - Chicago's brand spanking new soccer specific stadium.

Another look at the stadium.

This is the Women's World Cup trophy. You can see from the picture that it ain't much. It was surprisingly small. And also, it was just sitting on a folding table with some guys milling near it. So much for exhaltation. You could just walk up and handle the thing. It was super informal and frankly a little weird.

Teams walk onto the pitch.

Some MLS guy we don't care about clears the ball.

Lampard takes a free kick.

MLS All-Star Game Part 2

Part two of the pics.

I'm not sure why this picture is so small.

These are some obviously soccer illiterate folks who ran around the whole stadium with these goal flags on a goal that got called back for offsides. (which, by the way, I'm still not convinced it was offsides and it was a beautiful run)The whole stadium was laughing at these dorks.

Michael Essien making a run in the first half.

Michael Ballack putting up a cross in the first half.

I'm fairly certain this is Lampard taking a corner near the end of the first half.

Freddy Adu taking a corner right before full-time.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I absolutely could not resist

So the NFL has come up with new ref uniforms. They're ugly. We'll cover this when I get back.

But over at UniWatch, they've been discussed in detail. In the discussion, an Ed Hochuli website was found. Apparently he is ripped, especially for an older, white NFL referee.

In response, some commentors have come up with some Chuck Norris style facts. Comment# 116 on the link says:

"Ed Hochuli stared at the goalposts years ago, and that’s why they retreated to the back of the end zone instead of the front like they used to be."

I've been laughing about this for a good 10 minutes.

So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehn, Goobye!

Ok, not that final, but I will be MIA until Monday.

Tonight it's a fierce round of frisbee golf and tomorrow it's off to Chicago for a very balanced weekend of MLS All-Star game and the Art Institute of Chicago.

I know it's hard to believe that I may be interested in things other than sports, but it's true. On Sunday it's off to view the beautiful art at my favorite place in the whole world. I could spend days at the Art Institute. I find it both fascinating and relaxing and it never gets old for me.

Catch you on the flip side!

Remembering Reggie

There's a really good story on today about Sarah White and Reggie's induction into the Hall of Fame.

Well worth the read.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Gratuitous self-appreciation...

Get your minds out of the gutters, I'm merely mentioning that I got a nod over at UniWatch for my thoughts on the new Admirals logo.

I told my boyfriend he was dating a celebrity. I don't think he bought it.

Vote for Bill Hall

The nominees for the Hank Aaron Award have been announced and Bill Hall is up, representing the Brewers. The Aaron Award goes to the top offensive player in each league.

Voting is here.

Joe Thomas looking to be cleared to play

Badgers' Joe Thomas, who tore his ACL playing IronMan football in the Capital One Bowl at the end of last season, sees a doctor on Sunday with hopes of being cleared to play. No one expects him to get absolute clearance, but best case scenario has him starting once a day practices and being ready for the opening of the season.

Pre-season camp for the Badgers starts this Sunday (hallelujia!) There's a nice story about Thomas in today's Journal-Sentinel, discussing his comeback from injury, how the coaching staff is handling it, and how Thomas has not spent the off-season lazing about waiting for his knee to recover. Apparently he's created a noticably bigger upper body, spending much of the off-season in the weight room. His weight is listed almost 20 pounds heavier.

MU gets commitment from guard

The Marquette Golden Eagles on Wednesday secured a verbal commitment from Nick Williams, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound guard from Le Flore High School in Mobile, Ala.

Williams, who just recently turned 16, is entering his junior year in high school and won't be eligible to play at MU until the 2008-'09 school year. Already considered an elite prospect in his class, Williams had been hotly pursued by the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Cincinnati, Florida State, Mississippi, Mississippi State and Miami.

Florida, Kansas and Connecticut had also been expressing interest recently.

"He was convinced he was going to Alabama," said Otis Hughley, Williams' coach at Le Flore. "One of his high-school teammates is at Alabama, the other is at Auburn. They were lobbying pretty hard for him. He just decided he wanted to go to a pure basketball school where he has the best chance of development."

Williams took part in MU's Elite Camp for prep players at the Al McGuire Center in June and had strongly considered the Golden Eagles ever since.

"He got a chance to get a bird's-eye view of the players, the campus," Hughley said. "He's always been intrigued by Dwyane Wade. When he went there he got to see exactly what he thought Marquette would be for him. I think that really tipped the scales."

MU assistant Bennie Seltzer, who was hired by coach Tom Crean in April, is a native of Birmingham, Ala. and played a key role in Williams' recruitment. According to Hughley Seltzer and MU were relentless in their pursuit of Williams over the past few months.

"When they followed him every game this summer (in AAU), he said that's what made the difference," said Hughley. "Plus his dad is a die-hard Marquette fan. He saw what Tom and those guys did with Dwyane and he hopes the same things for his son."

Williams averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds per game as a sophomore for Le Flore, which went 29-6. He boasts nearly a 6-10 wing span and has experience playing in the post as well.

Cream puffs for all!

Happy first day of the Wisconsin State Fair everyone!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Former Badger given Bronze Star

Former Badger Rower Smith Earns Bronze Star

MADISON, Wis. - Former Wisconsin men’s rower Matt Smith, 2000 team captain, has been awarded the U.S. Army’s Bronze Star Medal for his service in Iraq. Smith, a 2004 U.S. Olympian who was scheduled to return to the United States on July 30, will return to the Army’s World Class Athlete Program and begin training for the 2008 Olympics in mid-August.

According to the Pentagon Web site, the Bronze Star Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the military of the United States after 6 December 1941, distinguished himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. Awards may be made for acts of heroism, performed under circumstances described above, which are of lesser degree than required for the award of the Silver Star. Awards may be made to recognize single acts of merit or meritorious service. The required achievement or service while of lesser degree than that required for the award of the Legion of Merit must nevertheless have been meritorious and accomplished with distinction.

It is not known at this time what prompted the honor that was recieved on July 22, however Captain Smith spent at least part of his time in Taji, Iraq (about 20 miles north of Baghdad) on a 10-man Military Transition Team (MiTT), in the 1st Tank Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 9th Division Iraqi Army MiTT. The Woodbridge, Va., native served a one-year stretch during his deployment training Iraqi soldiers. His tour of duty began approximately one year after he finished ninth in the men’s lightweight four without coxswain at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Now 'Rillo, don't be bitter...

Look Jeff. Life's rough. You're not a young man. You went from starting every game to not having appeared in the past five games. But really, this bid for attention has 1st grader written all over it.

Cirillo suggests balls at Coors Field waterlogged
DENVER -- Illegal, waterlogged baseballs are the real reason runs are harder to come by at Coors Field nowadays, Milwaukee infielder Jeff Cirillo suggested Tuesday.

Cirillo said that on Monday he compared a baseball from Milwaukee that Brewers first base coach Dave Nelson used to hit fly balls to the outfielders with one from that night's game. The one from Denver was spongy, puffy and heavy, he said.

"One looked like a round ball and the other looked like an oblong ball," Cirillo said. "And even some of the infielders said when they were throwing across the diamond, the ball felt a little heavy."

Cirillo did not offer the baseballs as evidence when he spoke to reporters before the Brewers-Rockies game on Tuesday night.

The baseball from Milwaukee might simply have dried out and shrunk in Denver's thin air, the very reason the humidor was introduced at Coors Field five years ago. Balls are now stored in a humidor before they are used in Colorado's home park.

Milwaukee's 1-0 win at Coors Field on Tuesday night was the major league-leading 11th shutout at Coors Field this year. Six have been thrown by Rockies pitchers. Also, it was the third 1-0 game at Coors this season after just one such game in the stadium's first 11 seasons.
Cirillo, who played two seasons in Colorado pre-humidor, agreed the Rockies have better pitching now, "but at the same time, does that mean the rest of the league has better pitching, also?"

Cirillo suggested shenanigans with the humidor could account for the dip in scoring and the decline in home runs at the ballpark that used to be known as "Coors Canaveral" for all the baseballs that were launched into the seats.

"The other thing, too, is what if the Rockies get behind by a lot of runs in a game? Say they break out the non-humidor balls, you know what I'm saying?" Cirillo said.

Hogwash, said his manager, Ned Yost.

"That's nuts, man. That's just a waste of time discussing it. The same balls are used by both teams," Yost said. "I don't care if they are dry or wet."

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, who was Cirillo's hitting instructor in Colorado from 2000-01, got a good chuckle out of Cirillo's comments.

"I think as long as people are talking in that vein and that avenue, it can do nothing but work for us," Hurdle said. "We're not allowed to cheat. And the balls that we send in are tested. And the humidor's regulated. You know, Jeff's always been a very creative thinker. ... He's always been able to think outside the box."

Cirillo said he's serious and that baseball should investigate his claims.

"It's pretty dramatic, wouldn't you say? Most shutouts in Coors Field, in the National League, when you take into account Petco, Dodger Stadium, where Washington plays. Those are huge parks," Cirillo said.

"Hey, I'm not the first one to complain about it."

Runs have never been harder to score at Coors Field since the stadium opened in 1995. The average game now features a combined nine runs -- down from 15 runs that were scored a decade ago. Of course, the Rockies don't have the Blake Street Bombers hitting home runs all over the place as they did back then.

Admirals new logo

We went from this, the so-called "salty" admiral:

To this:

The explanation for this inexplicable change is apparently thus:

"In conjunction with its new slogan 'Never say die,' which has been teasing local billboard readers for the past month, the Admirals introduced the new logo: the admiral of a ghost ship. A pirate explained to the crowd that the admiral had been at the bottom of Lake Michigan for the past 20 years and that this was what was left of him.

The new logo is quite a bit edgier than the last logo of the salty seaman admiral. The new admiral, designed by Joe Locher of Yes Men of Milwaukee, is a skull with a black admiral's cap with ice blue trim.

The team's new colors will be black, ice blue and silver, replacing the old red, white and blue. 'We wanted to do something that would be really popular with the younger crowd,' Locher said. 'We wanted to avoid the idea of a trendy logo, yet we wanted to tie it in to the heritage of the team to have it make more sense.'"

Not only is ice blue a seriously wimpy color, but there's something fundamentally wrong with a hockey team having any color that begins with the word "ice."

(The fun anecdote here is that they put this thing on the screen in the late innings of the Brewer game last night. There was the split second of horrification, then I reached for my phone to call my boyfriend and express my disgust. Of course, the phone was already ringing by the time I got my hands on it. The boyfriend was thinking the same thing: A comic skull with a photoshopped on admiral's hat. Seriously, doesn't it look odd to have this sylized skull and then a perfect hat on it?)