Sunday, December 30, 2007

More Wisconsin beats Texas goodness


This spectacular screen shot came from this website that was linked on Deadspin today. Apparently the blogger's a Texan and likes to post random screen shots. The site also has an A&M fan "diggin' for gold" during the bowl game last night.

Good stuff!

Oh yeah, I'm still enjoying that bball game from yesterday! Recap here

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Holy crap, Holy crap!!!

The Wisconsin men's basketball team just upset #9 Texas on a spectacular 3-point shot with 2 or so seconds left by Michael Flowers. Flowers than stole the inbounds pass and threw the ball as high as he could so that the time ran off the clock.

I hope to find it YouTube-d or at least some pictures later on. But hot damn, that was a great end to the game!

Friday, December 28, 2007

From the only in Wisconsin files...


This story comes up every two years or so, but I'm passing it on to you non-Wisconsinites out there.

At Lambeau, when there's too much snow in the stands, they put out the call and pay people to come in and shovel.

Full story here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

All kinds of interesting facts...

This column by Jayson Stark amasses a large number of strange, but true facts from this past baseball season. Some of the feats are truly remarkable.

Worth the read.

Things I got for Christmas

The bestest gift I got I don't have a picture for, but it's a new stereo for my car so that I can be able to plug my ipod in and listen to it. That's from the fabulous boyfriend.

Other things I got include:















































Mea Culpa


My Christmas was not complete without a scolding for not recognizing Appalachian State for winning their 3rd straight D-1AA football championship.

I was remiss in my coverage, so check the full story here.

ASU is the first NCAA Division I program to win three consecutive national titles since Army accomplished the feat in 1944, 1945 and 1946.

Quarterback Armanti Edwards finishes the season with 1,948 yards passing and 1,587 yards rushing. Edwards falls just short of becoming the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards twice in his career.

DB Corey Lynch finishes his career with 52 pass breakups, capturing the NCAA Division I record for career passes defended.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Howl-idays!

Flash, the CuteSports Basset Hound/Reindeer wants to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.






















Here's to bigger and better things in '08!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A fun picture


UWBadgers.com had a fun article today about how the band has been practicing just as hard as the team in preparation for the upcoming Outback Bowl game. But while the team practices indoors, the band is out on the field.

Full article here

Congratulations Donald Driver!



In the first quarter, Donald caught his 500th pass as a Green Bay Packer.

He joins James Lofton and Sterling Sharpe as the only other 2 Packers to reach that mark.

Congratulations and thanks for sticking around!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bowls galore

I just got back from my Thursday night bowling game so I thought this was as good a time as any to pick my winners for this year's bowl games. There's little to no scientific thought here. Here we go....

Poinsettia Bowl
Tonight, 9 pm
Utah vs. Navy

I'm going with Navy, because you don't pick against a service academy.

New Orleans Bowl
Dec. 21, 8 pm
Florida Atlantic vs. Memphis

Memphis it is, but mostly just because my brother lives there

Papajohns.com Bowl
Dec. 22, 1 pm
Cincinnati vs. Southern Miss

Southern Miss is Brett Favre's alma mater. Nuff said.

New Mexico Bowl
Dec. 22, 4:30
New Mexico vs. Nevada

New Mexico's mascot is the Lobos, which I love.

Las Vegas Bowl
Dec. 22, 8 pm
BYU vs. UCLA

BYU because (just ask the candidates) it's the year of the Mormon. I'm callin' it.

Hawaii Bowl
Dec. 23, 8 pm
East Carolina vs. Boise State

After last year, you don't pick against Boise State in a bowl.

Motor City Bowl
Dec. 26, 7:30
Purdue vs. Central Michigan

It's the one time a year when I root for everyone else in the Big Ten.

Holiday Bowl
Dec. 27, 8 pm
Texas vs. Arizona State

Texas, because how sad would it be if they went from Vince Young in the Rose Bowl to losing the Holiday Bowl in just 2 short years?

Champs Sports Bowl
Dec. 28, 5 pm
Boston College vs. Michigan State

This one is rough because my two tenants are root for the Big Ten and root for the Jesuits. Gotta stick with conference glory here and go with Sparty.

Texas Bowl
Dec. 28, 8 pm
TCU vs. Houston

Luckily, no matter what, the state of Texas wins. Unfortunately for me, I hate Texas. But you can't help but love a team named the Horned Frogs. TCU it is!

Emerald Bowl
Dec. 28, 8:30
Maryland vs. Oregon State

I have absolutely no interest or care for either of these teams, so I'll take the Terrapins because it's more fun sounding.

Meineke Car Care
Dec. 29, 1 pm
Wake Forest vs. Connecticut

UConn, because admit it, before this season you didn't know they had a football team.

Liberty Bowl D
ec. 29, 4:30
UCF vs. Mississippi State

Mississippi State because of Sylvester Croom

Alamo Bowl
Dec. 29, 8 pm
Penn State vs. Texas A&M

Who doesn't love JoePa (you know, when you're not playing against him). Go Big Ten!

Independence
Dec. 30, 8 pm
Colorado vs. Alabama

Alabama, because I have Roll Tide friends, but also because I saw Colorado lose to Iowa State (IOWA F'IN STATE) earlier in the season.

Armed Forces Bowl
Dec. 31, 12:30
Air Force vs. California

Air Force for that whole service academy thing

Sun Bowl
Dec. 31, 2 pm
South Florida vs. Oregon

South Florida for their crazy season and because the Ducks are Nike incarnate

Humanitarian Bowl
Dec. 31, 2 pm
Georgia Tech vs. Fresno State

Georgia Tech because their mascot is cool looking and because I don't know that there are more than 13 people genuinely interested in this game.

Music City Bowl
Dec. 31, 4 pm
Kentucky vs. Florida State

HAHAHAHA! Stupid Florida State.

Chick-fil-A Bowl
Dec. 31, 7:30
Auburn vs. Clemson

Auburn has two mascots. They're the Tigers. They're the War Eagles. They're the War Tigers? I hate it. I hate Auburn on the basis that I have friends who are Alabama fans and so it's like an extension of their hate. Also, Wisconsin beat Auburn 2 years ago when everyone thought we'd get our butts kicked. Clemson it is!

Insight
Dec. 31, TBA
Indiana vs. Oklahoma State
Big Ten Baby!

Outback Bowl
Jan. 1, 11 am
Wisconsin vs. Tennessee

On Wisconsin, On Wisconsin! DUH!

Cotton Bowl
Jan. 1, 11:30
Missouri vs. Arkansas

Mizzou, because they got shafted. Plus, Houston Nutt left Arkansas for Ole Miss, I'm not sure if Arkansas can even show up for this game after that humiliation.

Gator Bowl
Jan. 1, 1 pm
Virginia vs. Texas Tech

Virginia, for Howie Long's kid.

Capital One Bowl
Jan. 1, 1 pm
Michigan vs. Florida

It pains me to pick Michigan, but something has to go their way, right?

Rose Bowl
Jan. 1, 4:30
USC vs. Illinois

Big Ten and I HATE, HATE, HATE USC

Sugar Bowl
Jan. 1, 8:30
Hawaii vs. Georgia

I'm still not convinced Hawaii is for real, so go Bulldogs!

Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 2, 8 pm
Oklahoma vs. West Virginia

I think this is where WVU proves once and for all they belong with the big boys.


Orange Bowl
Jan. 3, 8 pm
Virginia Tech vs. Kansas

Kansas has to win to salvage their dream season.

International Bowl
Jan. 5, 12pm
Rutgers vs. Ball State

Who cares?

GMAC
Jan. 6, 8 pm
Tulsa vs. Bowling Green

Bowling Green, because I've seen them play before

BCS National Championship
Jan. 7, 8 pm
Ohio State vs. LSU

bum bum bumbum GEAUX TIGERS!!! LSU! LSU! LSU! LSU!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My happiest day as a Brewers fan yet...

Matt Wise was "designated" for assignment today which was done to clear a roster spot for Eric Gagne. He will be "non-tender" after 10 days and will for all intents and purposes, be released.

My dislike of Matt Wise has been well documented on this blog, so I'm certainly not sad to see him go.

But I have to feel a little bad for him today. You know your career isn't looking good when the team you're with introduces their newest player to the press wearing your number! The story about Gagne mentions that Mench was designated for assignment but the Wise story didn't break until a little later.

I'm sure it makes me a bad person for finding the story more than a little funny.

Goodbye Matt Wise, I will not miss you at all!

CuteSports Snow Day


I took a self imposed snow day today because there's freezing rain and dangerous conditions and now it's snowing on top of that. Plus, I have vacation I have to use. This is what it looks like outside here right now.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Brewers sign Gagne

I'll be the first to say I didn't see this one coming. Apparently Doug Melvin knows how to wait it out, because the Eric Gagne talk had all but disappeared here in Milwaukee as there were other teams interested.

Instead I awoke this morning to news that, pending a physical, Eric Gagne will be the Brewers' closer next season.

From the vantage point that I don't want Derrick Turn-blown-save as our closer, this is spectacular. But I'm prone to misgivings any time we offer a guy a 1-year reportedly $10 million dollar contract.

It irks me that we would only sign our next closer (whomever he was going to be) to one year. It feels that the disappointment of last season has led to a push that this season must be the season. I understand we have all the tools, but I don't know that we're at "now or never" quite yet. If this coming season proves to be as much of a learning season as last one was, then we've blown a lot of money and we'll be in the same boat closer-wise, next season.

That being said, we were offering more than $10 mil a year for CoCo and at least if something were to happen to Gagne, who isn't young anymore and has had two surgeries on his elbow (one in '06) and (also in '06) had back surgery. So we're secure in not getting stuck with a big contract on an injured guy.

And if Gagne has a good year, if we lose him to free agency, he'll be the type of free agent that brings us two extra draft picks.

There were talks that if we did get Gagne, he and Turnbow would be "fighting" for closer role. The $10 mil salary puts that to rest. No way you pay a guy that much that isn't "your guy."

This column, that ran in today's Journal Sentinel, says that Ned Yost expected to field more interest in our over-loaded pitching core at the Winter Meetings than we did. That we have a surplus of pitchers is news to no-one. According to the column, Yost and Melvin figure they'll be getting the calls once names like Santana are off the board.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Brewers acquire Torres, sign Riske

Just before they hopped their planes home, the Brewers and the Pirates reached a deal that brought reliever Salomon Torres to Milwaukee for relief prospects Marino Salas and Kevin Roberts.

From MilwaukeeBrewers.com: Torres is signed through 2008 under a two-year, $6.5 million contract that pays $3.2 million this season and has a $3.75 club option for 2009. The short-term nature of the Brewers' commitment was also appealing in making the trade.

Full story here

David Riske, a free agent righty who was most recently with Kansas City also signed this week. Rumor has it that he could be able to give Turnbow a run at the closer spot. Whether or not he gets it (though his deal includes some big bucks if he is named closer) I think it's good to put some competition up for Turnbow.

From MilwaukeeBrewers.com: The deal reportedly guarantees $13 million over the course of the contract and could pay more than $20 million if Riske emerges as the closer. The contract includes an option for a fourth season worth about $4.75 million, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Full story here

Sunday, December 02, 2007

BCS cluster*@#%

This is the shakedown:

Ohio State vs. LSU in the national championship

Georgia vs. Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl

USC vs. Illinois in the Rose Bowl

Virginia Tech vs. Kansas in the Orange Bowl

Oklahoma vs. West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl


Normally you'd discuss what they got right, but I think the more glaring point here is what they got very, very wrong.

There is NO WAY that Kansas should be playing in a BCS bowl while Mizzou is relegated to the Sugar Bowl. Let's look at the stats:

Kansas:

Strength of Schedule: 109th out of 119 teams

1 loss: TO MIZZOU

Ranked teams beaten: #24 Kansas State

Final BCS rank: #8

Mizzou:

Strength of Schedule: 26th of 119 teams

2 losses: both to Oklahoma

Ranked teams beaten: #25 Nebraska, #24 Texas Tech, #2 Kansas

Final rank: #6

I cannot fathom a situation in which this leads to Kansas being in and Mizzou being out. Mizzou got punished for making it to the conference championship game. Kansas is getting props for not losing to a lot of really bad teams.


As for what they got right, I think OSU vs. LSU in the final was the only way this could fall.
They are the two most physically dominant teams in the country. Period.

You can make points about LSU having two losses, but the fact that they were both triple overtime has to be a factor.

Georgia didn't get a chance at LSU this year, but they lost to Tennessee, who lost to LSU in the SEC Championship. They didn't win their division or their conference. If one-loss Kansas wasn't in the equation, I don't see why one-loss Georgia was.

Virginia Tech may have won their conference, but they were absolutely dismantled by LSU, 48-7, earlier in the season.

I'm not sure I think Hawaii should be in at all. Sure, they're unbeaten, but I don't know if that should mean an automatic bid into a BCS game. They had the worst strength of schedule and they needed a bit of a miracle last night to remain unbeaten.

Ohio State made their way into the championship by virtue of not playing. By the time all is said and done, it will be 50 days between their last game and the championship game. They benefited hugely from not having a conference championship game.

And by the way, do you remember the beginning of the season when Wisconsin was a top ten team and Michigan hadn't yet lost to Appalachian State and Juice Williams was making Illinois a team to watch? Ohio State was expected to be a non-player in the Big Ten this year. They lost too many players. They needed to rebuild. So much for that, I suppose. The rest of the Big Ten beat up on each other, Michigan shot itself in the foot and Wisconsin showed how they never really were a #5 team.

It was such a messy season and I certainly never thought two weeks ago that I'd be able to proudly sport my LSU gear. After the loss to Arkansas I thought I'd have to hang my head in shame. Instead, I can say

bum bum bumbum GEAUX TIGERS!!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Battle in the Big D

I hate Dallas. You can't have been a Packer fan in the 1990's and not hate the Dallas Cowboys. The fact the current team doesn't resemble that former team at all holds no bearing on the matter. Brett Favre has never won in Dallas and I lived through every one of those heartwrenching playoff losses in Texas Stadium.

Sure, I hate them less now than I did then, but that's only because they haven't mattered in the Green Bay universe in the last decade or so.

I'm positive the blogoshere has been talking this game to China and back, but for some reason I can't get incredibly hyped. I mean, I'll be watching and all. I'll be cheering and hoping Ryan Grant scores me some major Fantasy points, but I think I just don't get what the big deal is. I feel like the hoopla surrounding this game is so manufactured.

This game is hoopla merely because nothing else is.

Other than deciding where the inevitable matchup between these two takes place during the playoffs, this game is really not that big of a damn deal. Yet every news outlet in the Milwaukee area is giving this the same coverage they give the Super Bowl.

Winning or losing this game will determine little in either team's season.

Plus, it's a game most of the country won't see. And if I read one more article with one more crack about how " I'm one of four people outside Texas and Wisconsin with access to the game on TV tonight. " We get it. The NFL Network sucks. But what you're saying isn't technically true. You do have access to the NFL Network. You just don't want to buy Dish Network. Big difference. That's great that we can all bitch about it, but it would be nice if someone would do something about it.

Edit: I was fairly optimistic about this game until I just got the news that both Charles Woodson and KGB are out. Crap!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Vindication

From SI.com's Power Rankings this week:

I think a big part of the Thursday nighter against Green Bay will be which officiating crew is assigned to the game. Various scribes and announcers have described Packers cornerback Al Harris as a "shutdown corner," which is nonsense. He doesn't shut anyone down, he roughs 'em up, and if it'll be the kind of crew that is fairly liberal, then he'll be in decent shape in his battle against T.O., which everyone assumes will take place all over the field. But if it's one of those prissy crews that calls everything tight, Al will get two, maybe three, interference calls and T.O. and Tony Romo will have a big night.


(By the way, Cowboys are #2, Packers are #3 and he's calling it Dallas 31, GB 27)

From the "Ooh Damn!" files

Within hours ofresigning his job at Arkansas on Monday, Houston Nutt becamse the new coach of the Ole Miss Rebels.


I'm so excited we do not lose the lunacy that is Houston Nutt!

Brewers off-season update

*The biggest (and saddest) Brewers news is that closer Francisco Cordero is now a Cincinnati Red. It's bad enough to lose your All-Star Closer, but to lose him to someone within the division is heartbreaking.

I understand that GM Doug Melvin had a number in mind and wasn't willing to top that in terms of the deal he offered Cordero, but it hurts to learn that we lost out over $4 million dollars. Clearly, the bidding war could have gone on, but the loss is painful nonetheless.

*Reliever Scott Linebrink is also gone. The loss of Linebrink isn't too startling, but when you realize we gave up three prospects for a guy that spent two months here and was really a non-factor, it's a little upsetting. That being said, we did receive a free-agent "sandwich" pick as well as the White Sox 2nd round pick.

In addition, this guy says that the Sox overpaid for Linebrink.

*We (mercifully) got rid of catcher Johnny Estrada. Clearly we were desperate to lose him, as we traded him to the Mets for a reliever who spent the first 50 game of last season on suspension for steroid use. Also, it appears Mota gets booed at Shea by his hometown fans. Clearly what the Brewers need is another reliever we can boo! I'll miss Johnny's stirrups, but not his lackluster performance and inability to throw anyone out.

*To replace Estrada we signed a one-year deal with Jason Kendall, formerly of the Cubs.
from jsonline.com:
Kendall is the only big-league catcher to play in at least 130 games in each of the last five seasons.
"He has durability," said Melvin. "When you get older, some of your skills decline. But he has a career .375 on-base percentage and is a good handler of pitchers.
"He doesn't have the power Johnny had but he's more selective at the plate. He'll take more pitches and get on base more often."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Coach-go-round

It's that time of year again. But the ride seems to have started early and is certainly more crowded the usual.

The list (thus far) of outgoing coaches:


Ole Miss' Ed Orgeron

Georgia Tech's Chan Gailey

Texas A&M's Dennis Franchione (to be replaced by former Packer coach Mike Sherman)

Lloyd Carr at Michigan (retired)

Duke's Ted Roof

Arkansas' Houston Nutt

Washington State's Bill Doba

Southern Miss's Jeff Bower

Baylor's Guy Morriss

Northern Illinois' Joe Novak (retired)

Southern Methodist's Phil Bennett

Also, rumors surround the retirement of Sonny Lubick at Colorado State

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Things that make you go hmmmm...

I saw this article and I wasn't going to post it because, well, I find it a little ludicrous. It claims that Al Harris and Charles Woodson are one of the most dynamic duos in all of pro football and also goes on to assert that we have the best corners in the league.

This is also an argument you'll hear bandied about during game broadcasts.

Every time I hear a commentator go on and on about Al Harris, I just shake my head.

I thought that I maybe was reading too much into this, that maybe I was perceiving things differently than they are.

Then the boyfriend sent me this article and I was vindicated!

I dislike Al Harris for one reason, and one reason only. And that reason is a big, glaring yellow flag that seems to appear wherever he goes. Frankly, the same seems to go for Charles Woodson.

I always felt it was wrong for the talking heads to go on and on about their astounding play and never, ever mention how often they have penalties called on them.

But the proof is in the puddin' folks!

From 2004-2007, the 10 most penalized guys in the NFL:

Robert Gallery 46
Alex Barron 43
Leonard Davis 39
Chris McAlister 39
Tarik Glenn 37
Al Harris 36
Flozell Adams 35
Quentin Jammer 33
Chester Pitts 33
Jason Taylor 33

At the time the article was printed, Charles Woodson was leading the whole league with 12 penalties called against him. "Green Bay's Woodson (12) and Al Harris (seven) lead all cornerbacks in penalties this season."

Most penalized players 2007 only

Player Number
Charles Woodson 12
Barry Sims 11
Robert Gallery 11
Jason Taylor 10
Flozell Adams 9
Terrell Owens 8
Alex Barron 8
Albert Haynesworth 8
George Foster 8


"Woodson has 31 penalties since 2004, second-most among corners."

My favorite piece of information:
"Former teammate Ahmad Carroll somehow ranks third with 30 penalties -- even though he's out of the league."

7. D'oh Awards

"Since 2004, Green Bay's defense leads the league with nine penalties for 12 men on the field".... (OUCH!)

All-Flag Team

Players with most penalties at their positions since 2004. Players with fewer than 20 penalties are not ranked among league leaders:
Offense
Position Player Team Penalties Rank
LT Flozell Adams Cowboys 35 Seventh
LG Robert Gallery Raiders 46 First
C Olin Kreutz Bears 26 29th
RG Leonard Davis Cowboys 39 Third
RT Alex Barron Rams 43 Second
TE Tony Gonzalez Chiefs 26 29th
QB Carson Palmer Bengals 24 42nd
WR Anquan Boldin Cardinals 25 39th
WR Chad Johnson Bengals 24 42nd
WR Randy Moss Patriots 24 42nd
RB Mike Sellers Redskins 20 86th
Defense
Position Player Team Penalties Rank
DE Jason Taylor Dolphins 33 Eighth
DT Shaun Rogers Lions 28 23rd
DT Albert Haynesworth Titans 26 29th
DE James Hall Rams 25 39th
LB Terrell Suggs Ravens 21 69th
LB Willie McGinest Browns 16 N/A
LB Antwan Peek Browns 16 N/A
CB Charles Woodson Packers 31 12th
S Adrian Wilson Cardinals 26 29th
S Sean Taylor Redskins 22 61st
CB Ahmad Carroll Former Packer 30 17th

Duke 77, Marquette 73

I would write about this game first-hand, but I sort of fell asleep during the crucial second half. Here, instead, is SI's recap...

from SI.com
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) -It took Kyle Singler five games to place himself on an elite list of Duke basketball players.

The freshman forward scored 25 points, including the clinching free throws with 13 seconds to play, and fought off a leg injury to lead the 13th-ranked Blue Devils to a 77-73 victory over No. 11 Marquette on Wednesday night and claim their fourth EA Sports Maui Invitational championship.

Duke (5-0) won the title here in 1992, 1997 and 2001. The Blue Devils ' first 11 wins came by an average of 18.9 points and nine were by at least 10 points. This one went down to the final seconds.

No other school has won more than two championships in the 24 years of this event.

Singler, who was 7-for-11 from the field and 8-for-8 from the free-throw line, joined Bobby Hurley, current Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski and Mike Dunleavy as Blue Devils who have won the MVP at the Maui Invitational.

''I felt honored to win the MVP but the main goal coming to Maui was to win the championship and that's what we accomplished,'' he said. ''I just wanted to do what I had to do and it meant I got the MVP.''

Singler was stretched out on the floor near the Duke bench when he was out with the injury. He jumped up and sprinted by the bench to get back in the game and took a bottle of Gatorade with him to the scorer's table to report in.

''I got bumped in the knee and it was more of a knot than a cramp in the leg but I have two,'' Singler said.

DeMarcus Nelson added 16 points for the Blue Devils , whose fans were chanting ''our house'' in the final minute and as the awards were being presented.

The Lahaina Civic Center may not be Cameron Indoor Stadium but Duke has a better winning percentage there.

''We look at it as a mini-Cameron, it's nice and intimate,'' Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. ''We love coming here and have been a little bit lucky and our guys have played really tough. We'll come back, I know that.''

Lazar Hayward had 14 points for the Golden Eagles (4-1), who were making their first appearance in the tournament.

Marquette beat Duke 73-62 in the championship game of the CBE Classic in Kansas City, Mo., exactly a year ago. It was the Golden Eagles ' second straight preconference tournament title as they won the Great Alaska Shootout in 2005.

''This was special for this team. It was a chance for us to be a champion,'' Nelson said. ''We talked about that since the beginning of the year. It was our first chance to be a champion. At this time last year we didn't do that. We've improved and gotten better.''

Duke took a 67-61 lead with 6:03 to go on a low move by Lance Thomas off a pass from Singler, his only assist of the game.

The lead was six one more time, before Maurice Acker hit a 3 for the Golden Eagles and Ousmane Barro made one of two free throws to get Marquette within 69-67 with 4:42 left.

The Golden Eagles were within 75-73 with 33 seconds left on a layup by Jerel McNeal .

Singler grabbed a loose ball and was fouled. He made the first free throw and Marquette called a timeout, trying to freeze the freshman.

''I knew I was going to make it,'' Singler said of the second free throw, ''there was no doubt in my mind I was going to make it a two-possession game.''

Marquette fought off foul trouble in the second half and the Golden Eagles were called for 27 fouls, nine more than Duke.

''Even though we didn't get what our goal was, it was a fantastic experience for our team,'' Marquette coach Tom Crean said. ''Both teams brought out the toughness in each other. Tonight, their strengths were a little too good for us: their driving, they got too many free throws and the rebounding. We will come out of here with a much broader and greater perspective of what we are as a basketball team.''

Marquette's Dominic James had 12 points on 4-for-16 shooting.

''In the first half I kind of had it going but it was nothing they did,'' James said. ''A lot of the missed shots were layups, shots I usually make. Unfortunately I didn't in the seocnd half.''

Both teams are perimeter-oriented, yet Duke went inside early, scoring 10 of its first 14 points on drives, tip-ins or layups.

A big lift for the Blue Devils was 7-foot-1 sophomore center Brian Zoubek , who scored four points on offensive rebounds and had an assist when he threw the ball back out to Greg Paulus for a 3-pointer that was part of the 11-2 run that gave them a 35-27 lead with 4:41 left.

Singler capped the run with a 3 and the freshman added another one 2:24 later to make it 39-30.

Even though both teams shot well in the first half - Duke hit 53.3 percent and Marquette was at 44.8 - the defense was intense and every shot was contested.

James hit a scoop shot on a drive with seven seconds left to bring Marquette within 43-36 at halftime.

Profile: Aaron Rodgers

This is an interesting article from USA Today profiling the waiting game that Aaron Rodgers has been doing since being drafted.

And below is sort of a "web extra" from what they have termed Mission: NFL. It seems to be a lot less formal that what appears in the pages of the newspaper, but no less entertaining to fans.

When the Packers drafted quarterback Aaron Rodgers No. 24 overall in 2005, Brett Favre was 35. Rodgers probably figured to sit a couple of years and be the starter this season.

He figured wrong.

Favre, now 38, is having a resurgent season, second the league in passing yards (2,975) and ranking fourth in passer rating (98.6). He’s also the NFL record-holder for consecutive quarterback starts.

Bad luck for Rodgers, but he’s adjusted to the situation. In the third year of a five-year contract, he may never play for Green Bay before his deal runs out. But if that day does come, he wants to be ready. So he’s working to gain his teammates’ trust.

“As a quarterback, you’ve got to have guys who want to play for you,” he says. “To do that you have to build relationships, so I’m big on giving guys nicknames. It’s a great way to make a connection.”

Because 6-4, 210-pound wide receiver Ruvell Martin is long and lanky, Rodgers has dubbed him “Gumby.”

Others have taken to calling Martin “Rooster” or “Rubu.”

“But I still call him ‘Gumby,’” Rodgers says.

Martin is one of Rodgers’ closest friends on the team.

Tackle Mark Tauscher is “Piggy.” Rodgers can’t quite remember how that one came about, but he believes it happened during a summertime tailgate tour for charity.
Other nicknames are straight forward; he’ll take the first initial of their first name and combine it with the first three letters of their last name. So he would be “A-Rod,” Charles Woodson would be “C-Wood,” and so on.

Rodgers also has fun with his facial hair. Last year, he grew a 1970s-style mustache, “a Chuck Norris-Sam Elliott thing,” he says.

This year, he decided to go for broke. Growing the mustache was no problem — “it’s a gift,” he says — but the rest of his beard took longer to fill out. By the third week of training camp, he had a full beard and plotted his strategy: after a week of the full beard, he shaved his chin, leaving the sideburns merged into the beard and mustache, “for a Civil War look,” he says.

The third week he shaved the sideburns for a FuManchu look that he says was “definitely a big hit.”

(By the way, I know there's a space in FuManchu. But our website won't let me use the first two letters by themselves. In Web-ese, it's taboo; you can probably figure out why.)

The last week, he returned to the old-standby 1970s mustache. “My brother would get calls from people who were a little confused,” Rodgers says of his different looks. “They’d say, ‘What’s wrong with your boy? What’s he doing?’ But I was never taking it seriously. It was just a way to make my teammates laugh.”

Favre wouldn’t join Rodgers in his facial hair stunt, but the two are getting along much better these days. At the time Green Bay drafted Rogers, Favre made at least one thing clear: it wasn’t his job to serve as a mentor. What’s more, he probably didn’t appreciate the virtual nudge that the selection implied.

“That first year,” Rodgers says, “we were more teammates than friends.” Gannett's people in Green Bay tell me Rodgers didn’t even have Favre’s cell phone number.

But now the two arrive in meetings together joking, laughing and seeing who can produce the loudest bodily noises. Although Rodgers considers himself no slouch in this department, he admits Favre has no peer.

One day Rodgers was in the hallway with quarterbacks coach Tom Clements when they hard a tremendous belch from some 40 yards away.

“That HAS to be Favre,” Clements said.

Washington quarterback Mark Brunell, who backed up Favre from 1993-94, can verify Favre’s varied sound-producing skills. “I only wish I had just heard them,” he laughs, “instead of smelled them.”
I'm sorry to keep posting whole articles, but I really want people to read them. This is a really good look at a story that's already been told many ways. Yes, Brett Favre is older than the rest of the team. Yes, we have a lot of rookies that were literally children when Brett was a rookie. But the team makes it work and this article dissects that.


From SI.com
Chemistry teacher
Favre's attitude, leadership keeps Packers unified


GREEN BAY -- Here was Greg Jennings, already multi-tasking. With his left hand he was trying to play a game of dominoes with two teammates. With his right hand, he was gesturing to a writer (that would be me) who was asking him questions in the Green Bay Packers' locker room at Lambeau Field. "It's OK, I can handle it,'' said Jennings. "Dominoes is a pretty easy game.''

The conversation turned predictably to the Packers' (truly) greybeard quarterback, Brett Favre. ``He's more, I don't know, lively I guess, this year,'' said Jennings, the Packers' 2006 second-round draft choice last year out of Western Michigan and their most dangerous receiver. As Jennings spoke, Favre walked up behind him, leaning his ear toward the conversation, snickering. I started smiling. Jennings said, "Is that him?''

Then Favre took a seat with Jennings and assumed a serious posture, as if hanging on every word.

"You can trust me,'' I said to Favre.

The old man gestured at Jennings, laughing. ``It's him I don't trust.''

Let's put this tableau in context: At any level of sport, the single most important quality in assuring success is talent. The second is effort. The third is -- I don't know, pick a term: Chemistry, Teamwork, Synergy -- they've all been worked to death. We could take the rest of this column arguing that order. I've seen Hoosiers; I know that teamwork helped Hickory overcome all those better teams. But so did Jimmy Chitwood's jump shot. Let's just say for the moment that all three elements are mighty important and that it's difficult to win at a high level without all three working.

My view is that the third (the teamwork, the chemistry) is the most difficult to achieve and doubly so in professional sports where unity is roadblocked by financial inequity (some players make 10-figure salaries, others six), divergent backgrounds (some players come from Lincoln, others from L.A.), race (self-explanatory) and age.

Focus on the last of these. Brett Favre turned 38 in October. Jennings' 24th birthday was in September. You can choose any milepost to underscore this gap. My favorite: Jennings was in third grade when Favre was a rookie with the Falcons.

And at the core of the Packers' resurgence is the melding of generations, specifically the melding of Favre and just about everybody else.

Look at it through Jennings' eyes. A year ago he came to Green Bay and immediately got big props in training camp. He's fast and he can catch the ball. He's not afraid. He's one of the reasons why Favre raved last year about the young talent on the roster (and got ripped for it when the team was 4-8).

Jennings caught 45 balls a year ago, for an average of 14 yards a catch, with a total of three touchdowns. This year, through 10 games, he has 27 catches, but for an average of 19.1 yards per reception, with six touchdowns. His improvement traces directly back to No. 4.

(Another aside here: It's hard to travel around the NFL without getting a steady diet of Favre stories, many of them centering on his legendary right arm. Here are just two:

• This past fall I asked Houston Texans' offensive coordinator Mike Sherman about Matt Schaub's arm strength. "Excellent arm strength,'' said Sherman, who was Green Bay's head coach from 2000 to '05. "Of course you've got to remember I was around the all-time arm, talking about Number Four.''

• A few years ago Archie Manning told me a story about one of Favre's first Pro Bowls. Manning was in Hawaii doing promotional work, watching the NFC work out. It was a loose practice, with players wearing just shorts and shirts. It seems Michael Irvin ran a casual down-and-out and the young Favre, throwing on rhythm, whistled a spiral right past Irvin's ear before Irvin got his head around to the ball. A couple inches' difference and we're talking fractured eye socket, broken nose and worse. "One of the coaches blows his whistle,'' recalls Manning, "and says, 'OK, everybody get a helmet on, right now.'')

Jennings, meanwhile, says, "The thing Brett has taught me is how to be patient, with my route-running. I mean, he knows what's going on out there and for him, the timing on routes comes so easy at this point. He knows what you're supposed to do, but I didn't know what I was supposed to do.''

Example: Jennings described running a mid-range crossing route last year against a Cover Two look, where you've got two layers of coverage, vertically and horizontally, and balls can only be completed in the gaps between the layers.

"Last year, I would go up the field and then just run across,'' says Jennings. "There are windows there, where Brett could see me, but I was running right through them. He's been teaching me to see what he sees when he looks down the field. Now I understand that I have to find those holes and not just go sprinting across the field. It's a process of maturing. And he's been a huge help.''

(Sports are full of age-related oddities, and if you are around long enough you will experience many of them. Even for writers. When I broke into the business I would interview the parents of athletes and it was like talking to my own parents. Slowly that changes. I remember meeting and interviewing the mother of onetime Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter and realizing that she was younger than I was. That was a jarring moment. Now I routinely interview athletes who were not born when I began writing).

Back to live action: The Packers are 9-1 heading into Thursday's afternoon game in Detroit. You look at their schedule -- Detroit twice, Dallas, Oakland, St. Louis and Chicago -- and you think this outfit should go an easy 13-3 and maybe 14-2. They will be in the playoffs and they will probably get a first-round bye and then host a game at Lambeau. It's one of the great stories of the NFL season.

Favre's influence extends from the huddle and the film room into the locker room on a daily basis. On the midweek afternoon last week when Favre was chiding Jennings, Favre was a constant presence in the locker room, bouncing from locker to locker, very much like a third- or fourth-year player. He looks older than the coaches and acts younger than the ball boys.

On the field, Favre has given the Packers a feeling of invincibility. ``If we can get on the field, Brett is going to get us in the end zone,'' says defensive tackle Ryan Pickett.

That, of course, is a confidence that cuts across all boundaries. Touchdowns don't discriminate.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

From the only in Wisconsin files

Of course, this is completely unrelated to sports, but it's too funny not to pass on...


WEDNESDAY, Nov. 21, 2007, 9:47 a.m.By Associated Press

Man charged with shooting goats over beer

Waupaca - A man who was upset with his wife for not buying beer subsequently shot one of the family's two pet goats, prosecutors say. Peter W. Mischler, 48, of New London, was charged this week in Waupaca County Circuit Court with mistreatment of animals, possession of a firearm while intoxicated and disorderly conduct with a dangerous weapon. The criminal complaint said Mischler came home Saturday from hunting and became angry with his 22-year-old daughter for letting the goats out and making a mess. While she was talking on the phone to her mother, authorities said, he told her to tell his wife to bring home some beer, but his wife refused.He then threatened to shoot the goats, according to the complaint. After his wife arrived home, she and the daughter heard four gunshots and went outside and found one of the two goats with its entrails hanging out, authorities said. They said that goat had to be killed later by a sheriff's deputy. Mischler posted a $1,000 cash bond set by Circuit Judge Raymond Huber and was released.

Monday, November 19, 2007

New BCS - Wisconsin is #21

1. LSU
2. Kansas
3. West Virginia
4. Missouri
5. Ohio State
6. Arizona State
7. Georgia
8. VA Tech
9. Oregon
10. Oklahoma
11. USC
12. Florida
13. Texas
14. Boston College
15. Hawaii
16. Virginia
17. Illinois
18. Tennessee
19. Boise State.
20. UConn
21. Wisconsin
22. Clemson
23. South Florida
24. Cincinnati
25. BYU

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Woo Hoo

No Sunday posts today because in just 15 minutes I'm out the door to spend my day at Lambeau.

I'll be back with pictures next week.


GO Pack GO!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Well that's one way to make sure you don't get fired

Rumor has it that Monday will bring the retirement of Michigan coach Lloyd Carr.

This article says he was mum on the topic at Saturday's game against Ohio State, despite thoughts that he might announce his intentions prior to the game in order to rile up his team.

Carr has lost 6 of the last 7 to the Buckeyes and today's loss marks the first time in the history of the match-up that either team has lost 5 straight times.

Many have called for Carr's head this season since the Michigan loss to App. State. and there wasn't much talk (if any) of a Carr retirement prior to the disappointing season.

I suppose a coach like Lloyd Carr wants to save as much face as possible - which is understandable. However, he's getting a bum wrap. There's no way Carr is responsible for the teams downturn this season.

Iowa State vs. Colorado (or "Holy crap, they won!)

So I was in Ames, Iowa last weekend visiting a friend and we headed out to the Iowa State/Colorado game. Check another stadium off the list. Here's our day in pictures.




We got there just as the buses pulled up to unload the teams. The band plays and the fans line up and the team walks through that "tunnel" into the locker room.


































































So my experience is all with Wisconsin, where I'm sure things were like this during the lean years, but I was fascinated to see that you could buy tickets on the day of the game. Also, that you can't use a credit card, but can use a check. They're so trusting in Iowa.










My favorite fan












I thought the cyclones surrounding the bottom of the flag poles was a cool touch













Heading in













Jack Trice Stadium



























First running onto the field for warm ups












Iowa band geeks lining up














Colorado heading to the field











Right before the game













Halftime show















These are the hill seats, which I though were pretty cool, though a bit expensive











After beating the Buffaloes, the Cyclones fans stormed the field












Christine made me take a pic of the final score as proof














Now I don't want to sound too snobby here, but at Iowa State, they open the gate so that you can "storm" the field. This would never, EVER happen in Madison. Ever! They put up security to prevent this very event



Links

There were Wisconsin links aplenty on SI.com this week.


This is a video link of there traveling tailgate guy who was in Madison for the Michigan game.

This is a look at guys who's draft stock is rising and falling and it feature Jack Ikegwuonu

This is from SIoncampus.com and is a profile of one of the Badger cheerleaders

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Badger fight

So fighting in college hockey is pretty much non-existent. It's bad sportsmanship and basically goes against what all programs say they're trying to teach. There may be some pushing and shoving, especially in big rivalries, but the refs are in the middle of it so quick, it never turns into anything.

Except for last Saturday night, when North Dakota and Wisconsin got into a major fight at the end of their game. We're talking major brawl. We're talking I read somewhere (though I can't video evidence) that the coaches needed to be separated.

Apparently this fight was brewing, involving various incidents leading up to the actual fight including a UND player slashing the Bucky Badger mascot as he left the ice before the game.

Here's a YouTube of the fight:




The result was mostly a lot of penalties and the ND player who went after Bucky has been ordered by the WCHA to write a letter of apology to Bucky.

And from USCHO.com:

When the fight was finally broken up, the five North Dakota skaters, Chay Genoway, Zach Jones, Kaip, Derrick LaPoint and Matt Watkins, and the Wisconsin skaters, Kyle Klubertanz, Brendan Smith, Ben Street, Podge Turnbull and Turris, were escorted from the ice, as 122 penalty minutes were given out.

Things even got testy after the conclusion of the game, as North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol and Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves had to be separated by referees Jon Campion and Derek Shepherd.

“From the bench, the whole thing bothered me how it unfolded and carried on,” Eaves said. “I was just disappointed and I expressed it to him. How often do you see that in college hockey?”

Barry Bonds indicted

Barry Bonds was indicted today on counts of perjury and obstructing justice by a Federal Grand jury.

Shortly after the indictment, Bonds' personal trainer was let out of jail, where he'd spent much of the past year for refusing to testify against Bonds.

There's a lot of unanswered questions here and clearly this will take a few days to fully break and play out, but of course there's lots of info out there already.

I'll admit I've always been a Bonds hater, so this comes as no surprise and it makes me very, very happy. But I haven't been able to read up on this too much, so I'm going to keep my happy,happy,joy,joy glee dance under wraps til we know more information.

From Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN.com:

It's safe to say that the government wouldn't have waited this long to indict Bonds unless it was certain it had enough for a conviction or a plea bargain. That doesn't guarantee the feds will get either one, but generally speaking, you don't go after the game's home run leader and his considerable legal team without a certain degree of confidence...

Bonds perpetrated a fraud. Government prosecutors don't necessarily care that he perpetrated that fraud against Major League Baseball and its customers. They care that he didn't (allegedly) tell the truth to a grand jury. The rest is icing on Bud Selig's cake.

This is a sort of step-by-step breakdown of what has happened and includes this interesting bit of info:

Are there any surprises in the indictment?

Most of the material in the indictment is familiar to anyone who has followed the BALCO investigation, but there is one surprise. The surprise is that, according to the indictment, during the criminal investigation evidence was obtained, including positive tests for steroids and other performance-enhancing substances for Bonds and other professional athletes. When asked about it in front of the grand jury, Bonds denied a positive test. It will be one of the most difficult charges for Bonds to deny. He will be scientifically connected to a positive test with DNA and other techniques.


This is SI.com's step-by-step breakdown

Here's the AP news story on the indictment

Monday, November 12, 2007

Congratulations Ryan Braun!


Ryan Braun was named the N.L. Rookie of the Year today!!!!

In the closest vote in the NL since they adopted the new voting system, Braun edged Troy Tulowitski 128 points to 126.

from MilwaukeeBrewers.com
"Braun's offensive numbers made a compelling case. He batted .324 and led NL rookies with 34 home runs and a .634 slugging percentage, breaking the Major League rookie record set by Mark McGwire, who slugged .618 for Oakland in 1987. Braun drove in 97 runs and stole 15 bases.

He ranked in the top four among NL rookies in average, slugging percentage, extra-base hits, RBIs, runs, total bases, triples, multi-hit games, hits, batting average, stolen bases and on-base percentage.

Imagine if he had played all season.

Braun didn't make his big league debut until May 25, when he was promoted from Triple-A Nashville to spark a Brewers offense that was slumping on a West Coast road trip. Braun played in 113 games and made 112 starts at third base. "

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Excuses, excuses


I'll be the first to admit that I've been a bit of a bloggin' slacker this season. The past few weeks have been especially rough, as my truck gave up the ghost and I've been relegated to taking the bus to and from work. That means I left the house at 7 am and returned sometimes around 6 pm (on a good day). The bus makes me motion sick, so I was in no mood to come home and sit in front of the computer screen.

Alas, that's all over because on Monday night I purchased a 2007 Ford Focus ZX3. It's cute and extremely gas efficient and most importantly cheap and it's mine, all mine. The picture is a reasonable facsimile, since they already took my car off their website. My car is "toreador red" which means it's maroon.

Today I woke up extremely sick, with a temp of 101 and the cold to end all colds. We feared strep, but it looks like I'm just getting hit real bad with the cold going around.

On Friday, I'm heading to Ames, Iowa for the weekend. I know, I know, what could I possibly be doing in Ames? Well I'm going to visit a friend, but the bonus is that we'll be attending the Iowa State/Colorado game Saturday morning. I'll be knocking another stadium off the list!

Anyway, that being said, I look to return next week in full force. With any luck (yeah right) these catastrophes are behind me.

Monday, November 05, 2007

New BCS

1. Ohio State
2. LSU
3. Oregon
4. Kansas
5. Oklahoma
6. Missouri
7. West Virginia
8. Boston College
9. Arizona State
10. Georgia
11. Virginia Tech
12. Michigan
13. UConn
14. Texas
15. Florida
16. Hawaii
17. USC
18. Auburn
19. Virginia
20. Boise State
21. Clemson
22. Alabama
23. Penn State
24. Tennessee
25. Kentucky.

How about them Packers?

Yesterday's win at Arrowhead was the final notch in one more record for Brett Favre. Kansas City was the one other team in the NFL that Favre had yet to beat. By winning, he joins Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, who both achieved the feat last week, as the only QBs to beat every other team. Congrats, Brett!

It was sometimes ugly, sometimes heart stopping and sometimes spectacular, but yesterday's win solidified the Packers as a solid contender for the NFC crown this year. Only New England, having beat Indy to maintain their perfect record, has a better record than the Pack right now.

We're sitting pretty on top of the NFC North.

Greg Jennings proved that he's Favre's go-to guy. Jennings was on the receiving end of Favre's last few TDs to break the record, he was the game-winner in OT last week and he came up with 2 TDs yesterday, including a 60-yard strike in the 4th quarter that gave the Packers the lead.

Despite the numerous penalties (will McCarthy ever address this?), the defense really stepped up yesterday. They kept KC in check the entire first half and came up with two game-changing 2nd half interceptions.

Sure, the Badgers have really disappointed this season, but the Packers have more than picked up the slack for Wisconsin football fans.

It's always wonderful when your team does well, but there's some extra added excitement when the team performs above expectations. All of this is just like a bonus for Packer fans. It's completely unexpected and altogether wonderful.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Geoff Junkins: No longer a Brewer (also, CoCo filed for free agency)

The Brewers finally did what we all figured would happen and declined the $9 million dollar option on Geoff Junkins today.

This article has some interesting quotes, but the most important detail is buried way at the bottom.
From ESPN.com
MILWAUKEE -- Geoff Jenkins enjoyed a solid year as the Milwaukee Brewers stayed in playoff contention for most of the season.

Now they're moving on without him.

The Brewers said Tuesday they've declined a $9 million option for Jenkins, parting ways with the veteran left fielder who has played his entire career in Milwaukee.

"I don't think there's going to be any shortage of opportunity for him once he hits the free-agent market," agent Damon Lapa said.

A message left with the 33-year-old Jenkins was not immediately returned.

Jenkins was nicknamed "The Glue" by young teammates like Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks as Jenkins stuck around for several miserable years waiting for them to develop. Jenkins was called up midseason in 1998 and was the longest tenured Brewer.

From 1999 on, the Brewers went 525-811 and had four years of at least 94 losses. Milwaukee had its first winning season since 1992 this year, holding an 8½-game lead in the NL Central in June before sliding to 83-79.

"It's going to be an interesting opportunity for Geoff, because you've got to realize he's been in the big leagues for nine-plus years, but this is really the first time he's ever been a free agent," Lapa said.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said he told Jenkins on Tuesday that they appreciated his efforts and thought he should pursue a multiyear deal with another organization.

"It's sort of bittersweet because he's played a big part of his career when the team wasn't very good and now that the team's getting a little bit better, it's the time that we're going to be parting ways," Melvin said.

Jenkins, who played at Southern California and was drafted in the first round in 1995, isn't committed to returning to the West Coast, instead looking for "a competitive team, an opportunity to win, a good organization," Lapa said.

"As far as narrowing his targets, Geoff's going into free agency with an open mind," Lapa said.

Jenkins was emotional in the clubhouse at the end the 2006 season, believing that the team would trade him in the final year of a three-year, $23 million extension and bitter after he was benched for a prolonged period.

Instead, he became a father in January and returned with a renewed enthusiasm in the final guaranteed year of his contract. Part of a platoon with Kevin Mench, Jenkins hit .255 with 21 homers and 64 RBIs in 132 games.

The move to decline the option was hardly a surprise to anyone, including Jenkins.

Brewers manager Ned Yost replaced him in the ninth inning of his final game in Milwaukee, and Jenkins received a warm ovation from fans.

"It's happy and sad all at once," Jenkins said afterward. "I have no regrets. I had a wonderful time here. I've played with a ton of great teammates. That's what I will miss the most."

Lapa said Melvin told him Monday that Jenkins would not be retained.

Jenkins earned a $1 million buyout after reaching certain thresholds for plate appearances. Jenkins, a career .277 hitter, had 212 homers with the Brewers, second-most on the club's list behind Robin Yount's 251.

"Based on the free-agent landscape, there's very few left-handed power hitters on the market this season," Lapa said. "As far as corner outfielders with left-handed pop, scarcity is obviously a thing that generally benefits the player."

Melvin said the Brewers hadn't decided how to fill the void in left field. Gabe Gross, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Joe Dillon could get a shot at the job.

Milwaukee also hired Ted Simmons as bench coach Tuesday and moved Dale Sveum back to third-base coach. Sveum replaces Nick Leyva, who was let go at the end of the season. Melvin declined comment about Jenkins during a conference call introducing Simmons.

It's the professional coaching debut for the 58-year-old Simmons, who was well-liked as a player in Milwaukee and a key member of the Brewers' last postseason team in 1982.

Simmons had been in the front offices of St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and San Diego from 1988-2007 in a variety of roles after a 21-year playing career in St. Louis, Milwaukee and Atlanta.

He was an eight-time All-Star and hit .285 with 248 home runs and 1,389 RBIs in 2,456 career games.

The Brewers also announced relievers Francisco Cordero, Ray King and Scott Linebrink, third baseman Corey Koskie and catcher Damian Miller filed for free agency.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun Honored

Prince Fielder was the NL recipient of the Hank Aaron award and the Players' Choice Award for most outstanding NL player this week.

The Hank Aaron Award is voted on by the fans and honors the top offensive player in each league. Alex Rodriguez won the AL award.

From Reuters.com:
Nearly 400,000 votes were cast at MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball, and Commissioner Bud Selig announced the winners on Sunday.

Fielder received 16 percent of the NL fan votes. The first baseman led the National League with 50 home runs and drove in 119 runs for the Brewers.
Rodriguez was absent from the ceremony held before Sunday's Game Four of the World Series, but Aaron had special praise for Fielder.

"I'd like to thank Prince Fielder and congratulate him on his outstanding year for winning this award," Aaron said.

"And I want to thank him again for playing in a city which I hold very dear to my heart, and that's Milwaukee," added the Hall of Fame slugger, who played most of his career with the Milwaukee Braves.

...

The Players' Choice awards were voted on in September.

from MilwaukeeBrewers.com:

Fielder beat out fellow finalists Matt Holliday of the Rockies and David Wright of the Mets to win the Players Choice Award for most outstanding player in the NL. The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez won the award in the American League after a vote of Major Leaguers in September.

"That's an awesome feeling, knowing that the guys you play against every day respect how you play and how you go out there and give 100 percent," Fielder told Yahoo.com, which announced the results on a webcast.

"The whole year I kind of surprised myself," Fielder said on the webcast. "Growing up, you never say you are going to hit 50 home runs or be in a pennant race or anything like this. This whole year was great all-around in terms of my season and the team's."

...

A few days later it was announced the Ryan Braun was chosen as the Players' Choice NL Rookie of the Year

From MilwaukeeBrewers.com:

The 23-year-old did not debut until late May but nonetheless led big league rookies with 34 home runs, a .324 batting average and a .634 slugging percentage. On Thursday, he won the Players Choice Award for most outstanding rookie in the National League, decided by a vote of his peers.

"It really wasn't easy," Braun told Yahoo.com in a webcast announcing the award. "I came up, tried to make adjustments as quickly as possible, and as long as I was able to do that, I was able to find some success."

"To me, there's nothing more meaningful than being awarded for something like this and recognized by your peers," Braun said. "It's very special to me and something I take great pride in."

"The most impressive thing was how quickly he adapted from being that new guy," Yahoo baseball analyst Tony Gwynn said in the webcast. "Things seemed to happen quite easy for him. ... The most amazing thing is that he accumulated these numbers in about four months."

Boston's Dustin Pedroia was named the top rookie in the American League.

Both Pedroia and Braun will get to make a donation to the charity of their choice courtesy of the Major League Baseball Players Association. Braun said he wanted to use the money for the Milwaukee Boys and Girls Club or the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, two causes supported by Brewers Charities.

Badgers break into BCS top 25

After a command performance yesterday that no one got to see (damn you Big Ten Network!!) the Badgers edged their way back into rankings and showed up at 21 on this week's BCS standings.

1. Ohio State
2. Boston College
3. LSU
4. Arizona State
5. Oregon
6. Oklahoma
7. West Virginia
8. Kansas
9. Missouri
10. Georgia
11. Virginia Tech
12. Michigan
13. UConn
14. Hawaii
15. Texas
16. Auburn
17. Alabama
18. South Florida
19. USC
20. Florida
21. Wisconsin
22. Boise State
23. Virginia
24. Wake Forest
25. Clemson

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Marquette is preseason #12

The ESPN/USA Today poll was released and Marquette is riding high in the #12 spot.

1. UNC
2. UCLA
3. Memphis
4. Kansas
5. Georgetown
6. Louisville
7. Tennessee
8. Michigan State
9. Indiana
10. Washington State
11. Duke
12. Marquette
13. Oregon
14. Gonzaga
15. Texas A & M
16. Texas
17. Arizona
18. USC
19. Arkansas
20. Pittsburgh
21. Stanford
22. Kentucky
23. S. Illinois
24. North Carolina State
25. Villanova


Wisconsin didn't crack the top 25, but did receive 21 votes.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Very, very interesting stuff

INDIANAPOLIS -- Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have been rivals on the field for years.

Now the two Super Bowl MVPs could be taking their competition into the NFL record book.

A week before the Colts and Patriots face each other in that highly anticipated showdown, Manning and Brady have a chance to set up the perfect matchup with an almost perfect scenario this weekend: If each wins, and keeps his respective team unbeaten, the NFL says they will become the first quarterbacks in league history to defeat 31 teams.

"I think it's better for a quarterback to do it than a coach," said Tony Dungy, the league's first coach to beat all 32 teams. "You only play those NFC teams once every four years, so that's tough to do."

It's so difficult that even the NFL's record-setting ironman, Brett Favre, has yet to achieve the milestone. Aside from his own Packers, Favre has never beaten Kansas City, Green Bay's opponent next week.

Some might even joke that Manning, Brady and Favre will have beaten all 32 teams, since each could be accused of beating their own occasionally with mistakes.

The greater challenge is simply getting enough chances at each opponent.

Brady, for instance, has faced Washington, this week's opponent, only once in 7½ seasons. He threw three interceptions in a 16-13 loss in September 2003.

"Personally, I don't look at it like that. I think this team faces challenges each and every week," Brady said. "It'd be great to put our best game out there against Washington this week."

Manning, who has been in the league two years longer than Brady, has faced Carolina twice. The two-time league MVP lost 27-19 as a rookie, and again 23-20 in overtime four years ago at the RCA Dome.

Manning will be making the first trip of his 10-year career to Carolina, and have a chance to accomplish the feat first because the Colts game starts three hours earlier than the Patriots game.

"I hadn't really thought a whole lot about that," Manning said of the milestone. "We certainly want to get a win because it's like they said in 'Bull Durham,' it's better than losing."

The statistic can be a bit misleading since many ex-quarterbacks played in a league with fewer teams. The NFL expanded to 30 when Carolina and Jacksonville were added in 1995, went to 31 with the new Cleveland Browns in 1999 and eventually to 32 with Houston in 2002.

Scheduling changes also have made it more difficult. Before 2002, teams played one division from the opposite conference every three years; now it's every four years.

So if Manning or Brady fail Sunday, they won't get another shot at Carolina or Washington until they're in their mid-30s. At age 38, Favre may not get another chance at the Chiefs.

Yet Manning, Brady and Favre have survived in this fickle environment where quarterbacks are constantly scrutinized and sometimes replaced because of injuries or slumps. Favre has started an NFL-record 243 consecutive regular-season games, while Manning is second at 150 and Brady's streak is at 101. Those are the three longest active marks in the league.

What the trio has done best, though, is perform consistently well long enough to give themselves a chance to beat every team in the league except one -- the one they play for.

"He's going to have a tough time beating the Colts," Dungy said of Manning, who signed a seven-year, $98 million contract in March 2004.

Of course, milestones and records are about as much an issue to Brady and Manning as next week's game. They couldn't care less about the buildup.

But they wouldn't mind making a little history first.

"I think Marvin [Harrison] and I are the only two guys left from that [Carolina] game in '98," Manning said. "Coach [John] Fox always has that team ready and it's going to be a tough place to play. That's what we're focused on, Carolina, this week."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

Monday, October 22, 2007

On homegrown talent

Cultivating success

Next round of Brewers talent is working its way up

By RICK BRAUN
rbraun@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Oct. 9, 2007
The entire infield, their beThe entire infield, their best outfielder and two of their best starting pitchers down the stretch.
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Yes, the Milwaukee Brewers spent the 2007 season reaping the fruits of their farm system.

Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, J.J. Hardy, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, Yovani Gallardo and Carlos Villanueva all made huge contributions to the Brewers' first winning season in 15 years. And all will be counted on heavily in 2008 to push the Brewers into the playoffs.

Of those seven, six were drafted by the Brewers under the direction of Jack Zduriencik, the director of amateur scouting. Villanueva was acquired in a 2004 trade when he was in Class A ball and came through the Brewers' system.

And now the question remains: Who will be the next gems?

"I think we're pretty happy with our minor-league system right now," said Zduriencik. "Any time you take as many players as we have in the last year or two and bring them to the big leagues, there's going to be a little void.

"But some of the kids like the shortstop (Alcides) Escobar we're quite high on. Manny Parra got his feet wet in the big leagues and he's a guy I think we're going to see a lot of in Milwaukee. And we're counting on Matt LaPorta to be somewhat of a fast-track type guy and we've been real happy with some of the reviews on him.

"You look at our minor-league system and there were some terrific things. Mat Gamel in A ball had a 33-game hitting streak. I think there are kids there that you're going to see in a relatively short period of time and they're going to add to what we have here already."

Five Brewers farm teams reached post-season play, with only the Arizona rookie team not posting a winning record.

Entering the season, the Brewers had four players on the Top 100 Prospects list produced by Baseball Prospectus.

Braun was No. 12 and Gallardo was No. 14.

Pitcher Will Inman, who was traded to the San Diego Padres in July as part of a three-prospect package for setup man Scott Linebrink, was at No. 75.

And at No. 87 was the Brewers' top pick in the 2006 draft, pitcher Jeremy Jeffress.

Just 20, Jeffress was coming along very well and putting up solid numbers at Class A West Virginia. But at the end of August, the Brewers learned that Jeffress was given a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a "drug of abuse," reported to be marijuana.

How Jeffress handles his suspension is likely to determine which direction his career takes.

LaPorta was the Brewers' first-round pick this June out of Florida. A first baseman in college, LaPorta was moved to left field and started out with the Helena Brewers rookie team in the Pioneer League. He homered in his first at-bat and played just seven games there, hitting two homers, before being moved up to the Class A West Virginia Power.

LaPorta played 23 games for the Power, hitting .318 with 10 homers and 27 RBI in just 88 at-bats.

The Brewers won't rush him, but, as Zduriencik said, they hope LaPorta can make his way to the majors quickly. He will be 23 by the time spring training opens, only about two months younger than Braun was when he went to spring training this past year.

Escobar started the season at Class A Brevard County and hit .325 in 63 games. That earned him a promotion to Class AA Huntsville, where he hit .283 in 62 games. Escobar also was rated as the Brewers' Best Defensive Infielding Prospect by Baseball America.

Parra, a left-handed pitcher, was named the Brewers' minor league pitcher of the year, even though he was with the Brewers from July 16 on, posting a 0-1 record with a 3.76 ERA in nine outings covering 26 1/3 innings.

While Parra was the pitcher of the year, third baseman Taylor Green was the Brewers' minor league player of the year.

Drafted in the 25th round in 2005, Green didn't sign until May of 2006. Playing for West Virginia, Green hit .327 with 14 homers and 86 RBI in 111 games.

That was a major step forward, after Green hit just .231 for Helena in rookie ball in 2006. Better yet, he's a left-handed bat.

That 2005 draft appears to have been a very good one for the Brewers, as far as third basemen go.

Along with Braun and Green, third baseman Mat Gamel also was taken in that draft in the fourth round.

Gamel, 22, hit .300 at Class A Brevard County. There is, however, one area that Gamel obviously needs to work on. He made a whopping 55 errors in 128 games.

The 2007 Brewers were built mainly through the draft and the minor league system. For the Brewers to take their 2007 success to the next level, they'll have to continue to get key players from their system.

"The plan we laid out was a pretty good plan," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "I said to Jack a few years ago when Hardy and Prince Fielder were high school drafts, I said, 'Jack, we need to focus on some college guys so they can catch up and play with Hardy and Fielder.' Those guys were Braun and Weeks.

"If we'd have gone two high school guys they wouldn't be here with those guys. So we put a plan in place, we stayed with it, we were patient with it, and it all came to fruition here at this point."

The next step is to keep the waves coming. They may not be as big as the most recent one, but they probably won't have to be.