Monday, April 30, 2007
The point is that all the Big Ten schools are facing a bit of a QB question mark. A lot of recognizable names departed this year leaving lots of holes to be filled. Thus far, only Ohio State seems to have a ready-made answer. Michigan State, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin are all still looking for Mr. Right.
As the article says " Wisconsin's Bret Bielema has the biggest decision. Senior Tyler Donovan and junior transfer Allan Evridge both looked alternately good and bad in the spring. Quarterback is one of only two holes on offense, so if Bielema makes the right choice, he could win a conference title and perhaps play for something bigger. Choose poorly, however, and the consequences could cost Wisconsin plenty."
Big Ten Spring Wrap
3. Ohio State
5. Penn State
6. Michigan State
Defensive player of the year: Jack Ikegwuonu, cornerback, Wisconsin. Everyone loves a shutdown corner, just not everybody has one. Wisconsin does in this guy, who ran down Arkansas' Darren McFadden from behind last season in the Capital One Bowl. Can you say, "closing speed"? **CuteSports adds : (Of course, he has to stop letting his brother talk him into stealing video game equipment first)
Big Ten champion: Wisconsin. The Badgers have a quarterback question between Allan Evridge and Tyler Donovan, but tailback P.J. Hill is their meal ticket. The defense is outstanding and the toughest nonconference game is Washington State in Madison. Michigan plays at Camp Randall, too, and the Wolverines must play Notre Dame. Ohio State just goes to Washington and Michigan, while Penn State plays Notre Dame. So if it comes down to who weathered the nonconference schedule unbeaten, Wisconsin is the best bet.
4. Bud Selig doesn't need to rig the 2007 season.
His beloved Brewers will make the playoffs without his help. The former Brew Crew owner still has close ties to the team and remains beloved in Milwaukee. (We remember a road trip to County Stadium in the mid-'90s, in which Selig popped his head out of the owner's box for the seventh-inning stretch, causing the assembled masses to cheer "Bud! Bud! Bud!" at the top of their cheese-clogged lungs.) So you know he has to be delighted to see the Brewers in first place in the NL Central, tied for the second-best record in the National League.
The Crew owns one of the most underrated pitching staffs in the majors, with Ben Sheets supported by a deep, talented group in Chris Capuano, David Bush (more on him in a minute), Jeff Suppan and Claudio Vargas. With Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks & Co. on board, the Brewers have a dynamic, young offense that only figures to get better. They even have an X factor on their side: Yovani Gallardo and Ryan Braun, two of the top prospects in baseball; both are terrorizing the minor leagues, and both are poised to come up and give the Brewers a big lift.
The Brewers haven't made the playoffs since 1982, by far the longest such streak of any team in the four major pro sports leagues. That streak ends this year.
6. David Bush, Jeff Francis and Erik Bedard all have ERAs of more than 6 … and we'd trade most of the pitchers in MLB to get them.
One of the theories that has gained traction in analytical circles the past few years is this: A pitcher has very little control over where a batted ball will go if it doesn't fly out of the park. The idea seems counterintuitive. How can Greg Maddux, one of the best pitchers of all time, have no more influence on what happens to a batted ball than his brother Mike? We're not quite prepared to speak in absolutes about the subject. But for the most part, major league pitchers will, over their careers, end up allowing about 30 percent of the balls hit in play against them to drop in for hits -- give or take any lucky or unlucky outliers.
We bring this up because Bush, Francis and Bedard are three excellent, under-30 pitchers who loom large in their teams' future plans, and they own ERAs of 6.09, 6.23 and 6.52 so far this season. Now here's another fun stat: Bush, Francis and Bedard are No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 in highest batting average allowed on balls in play (BABIP) this season among the 96 major league pitchers with at least 25 IP, at .407, .392 and .384. Those numbers will start dropping soon as all three pitchers revert toward the mean. What you do with this information -- go see Brewers, Rockies and Orioles games with these pitchers on the mound, acquire them on your fantasy team, make funny hats with the word BABIP on them -- is entirely up to you.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
SS Roderick Rogers signed with the Denver Broncos. He is said to be starting at safety with a possibility of moving to corner.
QB John Stocco has yet to be signed. He said he spoke with some teams during the draft, but he went undrafted and hasn't been picked up in the free agent market yet.
Let's look at the Packer's picks thus far: (and you can see JSOnline.com's info, including scouting reports, here)
Pick #16 Justin Harrell DT, Tennessee 6'4 1/2" 314lbs
This is honestly the one pick that will either prove Thompson's a genius or haunt him for the rest of his days. In a completely unscientific review, my brother who lives in Tennessee said he saw the game in which Harrell was injured and was more than impressed with him. So there you go...
Pick # 63 Brandon Jackson RB, Nebraska 5'9" 210lbs
This is the pick that's leading to varying opinions. Jackson has also had some injury issues. Stats say Played in 33 games altogether at Nebraska, carrying 291 times for 1,431 yards (4.9 average) and 14 TDs. . . . Finished with 2,328 all-purpose yards, an average of 70.6 yards per game
Clayton over at ESPN.com thinks we have gotten a good deal:
"Don't get me wrong: Jackson is a good sleeper back, better than people think. He's tough, he runs hard, and he should help. "
Pick #78 James Jones WR, San Jose State 6'1" 210lbs
Led team in receptions with 70 for 893 yards, which also ranked him 27th in nation
Pro Football Weekly: "Some teams were hoping to steal Jones late in the draft. He gained some momentum after a solid showing at post-season All-Star competition. He gradually improved as a senior and could continue to develop, showing no signs of backing down vs. better competition. He has nice size, is physical and will fight for the ball, but he was drafted sooner than expected."
Pick #89 Aaron Rouse SS, Virginia Tech 6'4" 225lbs
Picked off five passes overall, including four in 2005 when he started all 13 games for the Hokies. . . . Had 12 tackles for loss in four seasons. . . . Registered 217 tackles (93 solos) overall at Virginia Tech. . . . Also forced four fumbles and recovered one
from NFL.com's Draft Analyzer, here's Gil Brandt: "Rouse (6-4, 223; 4.46) was a former linebacker who was moved to safety. He's a straight-ahead type of runner. I'm not sure he can play safety and can turn and run to cover a receiver, despite his speed."
Pick #119 Allen Babre OT, Missouri Southern State 6'4" 295lbs
A three time Division II All-American tackle, Barbre has proved a dominant force on the offensive line. Powerfully strong and remarkably lean, he is able to control defenders at the line and drive them off the ball. Barbre plays with a mean streak, especially in the run, attacking opponents and finishing his blocks, but he is less effective during pass protection, foregoing leverage and hand technique for brute strength and power. Playing his full career in Division II, Barbre will need to prove he can match up against the top level of competition, but with his raw tools and talent, he has at least given himself an opportunity to try. (- STATS)
Pro Football Weekly says Allen Barbre fits into Green Bay's offensive scheme.
The site's analysis on the pick: "Missouri Southern OT Allen Barbre is an athletic zone blocker well-suited for the Packers' blocking game. He could provide depth as a swing tackle and has developmental potential if he can get stronger."
Pete Fiutak of collegefootballnews.com says of Allen Barbre: "Excellent combination of size, speed, athleticism and attitude. The big concern is competition playing at the D-II level and dominating. He was fantastic at the Combine and showed elite D-I type of skills, but he's still a little bit raw and has to work his way into a position."
Here's what Scouts Inc. thinks of Barbre (ESPN Insider subscription needed): "Barbre is a small-school prospect who has the natural ability to develop into a contributor at guard and/or tackle in the NFL. He is a bit undersized and has the mobility to fit a scheme such as the Colts or Broncos. That said; he needs to get stronger at the point of attack and refine his technique. Following a tremendous showing at the combine, Barbre projects as an early-Day 2 pick."
The Packers' latest pick, offensive lineman Allen Barbre (pronounced Bar-ber), isn't just a blocker.
He served as the team's gunner on punt coverage. That's the position usually reserved for cornerbacks and wide receivers. That means at 304 pounds he was lined up wide on punts and was expected to be the first player down in coverage. He finished with nine special teams tackles during his time at Missouri Southern.
Barbre, who is the first player from his school ever to be invited to the combine, is a big, physical player who finishes his blocks, according to offensive line coach James Campen.
So that's it so far. Interesting that our latest pick is the one with the most said about him.
Because, you know, they really need the help.
Also, I find it difficult to believe that Randy Moss will fit in in New England. Talk about a me player in a team environment. Randy Moss has never been known for his group mentality and no one would ever accuse him of being modest or self-effacing. Yet here he goes to a team that famously decided to forego individual introductions and run out onto the Super Bowl field as a team.
Supposedly Moss' agreement to fit into this team attitude was part of the negotiations. But if you believe that Randy Moss wholeheartedly agreed to be a team player, I've got some land in Florida to sell you...
ESPN.com article here
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Besides, the Packers haven't picked yet...
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Perennially, the Cubs are like Brewer kryptonite. It doesn’t matter how well we’re playing or how crappy they’re playing, inevitably the Cubs are able to break us down.
This year looked to be no different, since we lost 2 of 3 to them at home over Easter weekend and then started out the series yesterday by going down 4-0 in the third.
Whereas Brewer teams of the past would have been down and out for the count at this point, this year’s team rallied. And manager Ned Yost took chances. He left pitchers in longer than I would have expected and kept with some left-handed hitters in the late innings.
JJ Hardy and Prince Fielder both had home runs and in the 8th inning the Brewers tied it 4-4.
The home run gave JJ 6 for the season so far, tying him for second place in the NL with Barry Bonds.
Jaques Jones had a spectacular diving catch to his left in right field to rob the Brewers. Geoff Jenkins returned the favor in the bottom of that same inning, getting the third out on an amazing forward diving catch that saved one, if not two runs from scoring and got the Brewers out of a predicament late in the game.
By the 9th, Lou Pinella had used every available man in his dugout. The Brewers used everyone but Corey Hart.
Reliever Carlos Villanueva had some rough patches but managed to make it through 4 innings without allowing a run. He walked his first batter, but got it together and pitched half of the Brewers' 8 relief innings.
Prince Fielder hit a home run in the top of the 12th to put the Brewers ahead 5-4. It was his 5th homer of the year and the 4th time he’d hit more than one HR in a game - three of those multiple HR games have been at Wrigley
Derrick Turnbow took over the role of closer last night, since Francisco Cordero had pitched more than 60 pitches in the past two days. Turnbow got the final three outs in the bottom of the 12th for his first save of the season and first since last July 29 at Cincinnati.
From JSonline.com:"'That was just a phenomenal effort by Carlos Villanueva to pitch his heart out like he did," said Brewers manager Ned Yost, who had no bullpen pitchers and one position player (Corey Hart) left on his bench. "We were down to our last pitcher."
Villanueva entered in the bottom of the eighth after the Brewers had completed a comeback with two runs in the top of the inning."
From the ESPN.com article about the game:
The game ended on a called third strike from Derrick Turnbow to Mark DeRosa, who didn't like the call.
"Obviously if you look at the replay, the pitch is a ball," DeRosa said. "Derrick Turnbow is nasty enough, he doesn't need to be getting pitches like that. It was an obvious ball. When you get a call like that against you to end the game, it's frustrating."
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas is projected to be a top 5 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. But he doesn't plan to be there for all the hoopla. Where will he be instead? Like any good 'ole boy from Wisconsin, he'll be out fishing with his dad.
Full story here.
He was also featured in Friday's USA Today as the best offensive tackle prospect.
Read that story here.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Also, Claudio Vargas had a stellar start on Thursday for the Brewers. Offensively, we got on top early, but Vargas found himself in a jam in the fourth inning, when he walked a couple of batters and had the bases loaded with no outs. Pitching coach Mike Maddux had a talk with him and Vargas went on to retire the next 3 batters in order. In the game he racked up a career high 11 strikeouts. He's got 22 K's on the season, a full 7 more than the next closest Brewer pitcher. Impressive!
Dave Bush has shown that he's not only useful defensively. In Tuesday night's game, before the players blew it after he'd already been replaced, Dave Bush hit a two-out, two RBI double. It was all the more sweet because the Reds had intentionally walked Craig Counsell to get to Bush and he made them pay. Well done.
The offensive theatrics have been focused on a few players this season, but no one seems to be noticing J.J. Hardy. Coming back after missing most of last season, Hardy has proven himself a reliable #2 hitter. In Thursday's game he had a 2-run homer, a 2-run RBI single and a double.
On the season he's got 9 RBIs and 9 runs scored on 18 hits hitting .273.
Derrick Turnbow had his worst outing of the season on Thursday afternoon when he walked two players and then gave up hits allowing them both to score. The runs put the Pirates within striking distance. However, the Pirates scoring those runs meant we brought in closer Francisco Cordero, who proceeded to sit down the next three Pirates batters successively.
Finally, as of the end of play Thursday, the Brewers had the 3rd highest batting average in the National League and were second in slugging percentage. Of course, we are 3rd from last in the NL in team ERA.
And you thought this year's team was going to be all about pitching!
But this is getting ridiculous. Just 16 games into the season (and he only played in 12 of them) and Billy's racked up 4 errors. And frankly, the scoring folks have probably let him off easily. A few of the errors have been from an inability to judge fly balls. While this is frustrating, it's one of those growing pain things that we knew we'd see early in the season.
The problem I am having with Bill is this ridiculousness where he is incapable of transferring the ball from his glove to his hand. Despite the fact that he's playing deep in center field, every time Bill has to deal with a ball on the ground, he acts as though he's going to turn a double play. The problem is, he misses the ball completely, drops is back to the ground and often allows the runner an extra base.
I'm no baseball expert, but I know there should be no "flip" from glove to hand. Do like they taught you in little league, Billy and take the ball from the glove and throw it in. There is absolutely and literally no excuse for this to continue. I understand there may have been some days where the transition was difficult and it was a completely unconscious maneuver. But now that you've committed these errors and cost runs, the time for forgiveness has passed.
We're all thrilled that you raised your batting average over 100 points since Monday of this week. We appreciate the grand slam, followed by going 3 of 4 and scoring 2 runs on Tuesday and then going 3 of 4 with a home run and three RBIs on Wednesday.
But that certainly will not atone for the continued outfield miscues. Sure, you'd be absolutely vilified if you were making these mistakes and also hitting poorly. You found a way to fix one, now it's time to find an answer for the other.
Edit: The JS has hit on this topic, too.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Don't be jealous.
Actually, CuteSports will be attending her niece's first communion and possibly taking in a Royals game.
Now I KNOW you're jealous!!
I'll be back on Monday.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Hitting your first career Grand Slam on a 3-2 count after battling off about 4 foul tips is one way for Bill Hall to snap out of the hitting woes that have been ailing him.
Sure, we're only two weeks into the season, but Bill Hall had already been sat in Florida to try and break the cycle of his hitting slump. Hitting below .200 after hitting the first HR of the season on Opening Day, Hall just hit a no out Grand Slam to take the Brewers from a close 4-3 to breaking up open the game 8-4.
Welcome back, Billy!
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Apparently in order to cash in on our piece of the Hank Aaron/Barry Bonds hoopla, the Brewers have hired someone to determine the exact landing spot of Hank Aaron's 755th Home Run.
Where did Aaron's 755th land?File this item under the strange, but weird column.
Next Tuesday, the Milwaukee Brewers will hold a press conference to discuss arrangements to unveil a commemorative marker that would symbolize the landing location of Hank Aaron's 755th home run.
That, of course, was the last home run of Aaron's career. It happened on July 20, 1976.
The Brewers say they will call upon the services of Alan J. Horowitz, associate academic program director of civil engineering and mechanics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I'm pretty sure I know what Horowitz does for a living, but I hope it also means he's watched enough video of the home run and knows where the old County Stadium was built to make a reasoned judgment on the spot in question.
I'm thinking the landing is somewhere around the playground equipment just behind Helfaer Field. But we'll know more on Tuesday when the Brewers and Horowitz will gather at THE SPOT.
With the attention this season on Barry Bonds and his drive to pass Aaron, it's inevitable that baseball fans will relive Aaron's feat. Judging from this press conference, it appears the Brewers want to be part of the hoopla.
A plaque marking the spot will be unveiled in June.
Naysayers predicted less than 10,000 people would attend the three games total. Even at just $10 a ticket for the lower two levels, people were saying this was Bud Selig handing off to his home city.
Turns out everyone was wrong.
Over the three days, more than 52,000 people headed to Miller Park to see the first American League series to be played in Milwaukee since the Brewers headed to the National League. Breaking it down, that's 19,000, 17,000 and 16,000 people at each game, give or take a few.
There was a traffic jam to get into the Miller Park parking lots and lines were 20 deep at the ticket windows before first pitch. Ticket officials were outside with stacks of tickets in their hands attempting to get people inside more quickly.
The Brewers didn't make money off of the series. All costs were recouped (it's something like $5000 a game to light the stadium) and the profit all went back to the Indians.
This guy is selling tickets from a stack to waiting fans IN THE FOURTH INNING.
Or how the out of town fans, and the Indians players, really, really, really liked our slow-mo wave.
"When it all was finished, the team that hadn't played since the previous Wednesday pounded out 10 hits en route to a 7-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels. Yet afterward, the buzz in the Indians clubhouse wasn't Sizemore's three stolen bases or Shoppach's game-ending laser of a throw that nailed Erick Aybar attempting to steal second base.
No, the Indians wanted to talk about this crowd. And more specifically, a slow-motion wave the fans did during the seventh inning that nearly put the team in a trance. The slow-motion wave is a tradition that was started during football games at the University of Wisconsin.
"It was one of the coolest things I had ever seen," Borowski said. "I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me."
"I had never seen the slo-mo wave before," manager Eric Wedge said. "That locked me up."
For those who don't know, at Wisconsin football games we do the regular wave, the super-fast wave, the slo-mo wave and the split wave. Some bad YouTube evidence:
But aside from all the fun, games and Major League references, I was really proud to be a Milwaukeean this week. I'm not usually one to be all sappy and proud, but I don't know that this could have gone any better. The series was a PR flack's dream. Bud Selig and MLB have messed up in many occasions (hello All-Star game at Miller Park ending in a tie) but this week they proved that they do indeed get some things right.
A few weeks ago I got one that included a link to the final Ombudsman column of George Solomon. He recently stepped down and I've actually linked to a column from the new Ombud in reference to Colin Cowherd.
For reference, an Ombud is supposed to be an objective third party of sorts that works to maintain balance and good news judgment. Every major news source has one. They are paid to ask the tough questions of their staff and make sure they have integrity.
Anyway, that's all just an intro to say how I came upon this column that Solomon wrote noting the good, bad and ugly from his time at ESPN. It's unabashedly critical at times and not to overly self-indulgent.
Specifically, Solomon takes the ESPN.com column writers to task, saying:
I would suggest ESPN.com do more editing of its Page 2 columnists -- some of whom seem to shoot from the hip for the sole purpose of shooting from the hip. In the same vein, ESPN commentators, including some of the network's biggest stars on TV and radio, might be more thoughtful and less outrageous and loud in their opinions. I've always believed just because someone has the title of commentator or columnist, it doesn't mean he or she should not be held to the same journalistic standards of fairness and accuracy as everyone else on the ESPN team. I also wonder why some commentators believe viewers are interested in their political views? Also, ESPN editors should be more careful of their staffers claiming exclusive stories when these stories are not always exclusive.
That's one paragraph of Solomon's column, but it sums up neatly what is wrong with much of ESPN's content. Reporting of sports doesn't preclude you from the rules that govern journalism. Covering sports doesn't somehow mean you aren't going to be expected to have journalistic integrity.
You can make jokes about the media and journalists and bias, if you'd like. But first and foremost, I'd like someone to define this all-encompassing term of "the media." Certainly one cannot claim that the folks who work at ESPN are the same as the people on MSNBC or CNN and certainly all those folks are infinitely different from the journalists who work on your local newspaper.
Frankly, I'm not particularly sure what my point is in posting this. I just found it interesting and I think it says a lot about the state of journalism today and I thought I'd share.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
If you look closely against the green, you'll see snow. That's right, SNOW! In April. On my way into Miller Park for a baseball game. Stupid Wisconsin winter!
Our seats were great, especially for viewing the Sausage races. I actually think this guy's fat noggin is blocking the Chorizo, who was in the lead rounding behind home plate.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The way Deadspin described what happened is this: However: Today, upset with something The Big Lead had written about him (or someone, or something, imagined or otherwise), Cowherd told his listeners to unleash a DNS attack on the site. One of the tech people here at Gawker Media tells us: "When someone floods a website with so many fake hits that the servers get overloaded, the site, essentially, goes down. A programmer could write a script to load the website once a second."
Pretty childish behavior, but not all that unheard of for Cowherd. Last year he unabashedly stole content from The M-Zone, a well read Michigan blog.
In what has turned out to be her second column as the new Ombudsman for ESPN, Le Anne Schreiber, addressed Cowherd's antics. And while she does chastise the act, she all but applauds him for coming up with new and unusual douchebag-like behavior. AND if anyone does this sort of this, they will be punished. But since Cowherd's antics were the first of their kind, he's getting away with it.
From Schreiber's column:
The official response from ESPN's communication department was: "Our airwaves should not be used for this purpose. We apologize." It is the kind of bland public statement that does little to assuage the anger and distrust of ESPN's audience over an episode like this. I could not tell from that statement how seriously ESPN regarded the offense, so I contacted Traug Keller, senior vice president, ESPN Radio, to get a clearer idea of ESPN's reaction.
Keller responded immediately to my request for an on-the-record statement. "We talked to Colin Cowherd, and we talked to all our radio talent, making it clear that you cannot do this," Keller said Friday. "Our airwaves are a trust, and not to be used to hurt anyone's business. Such attacks are off limits. Zero tolerance. I can't say it any stronger."
Keller said that he had not formulated a policy about such attacks on Internet sites until now because he had never imagined the possibility of them.
Now that ESPN Radio has such a policy, I presume such attacks will be treated as an offense that warrants suspension.
So there you go. Come up with heretofor unthought of mean things and you won't get in trouble. Good thing the law doesn't work like that, hmmm?
Monday, April 09, 2007
So far I've read a lot of backlash to the move, but I actually think it's a pretty smart move. It's certainly not the first time a team has moved games. The Marlins played in Chicago when a hurricane chased them from home.
There's been a lot of snide remarks about Bud Selig bringing the teams to Milwaukee, but all sources are saying that it was the Indians' idea. Apparently the decision was between Milwaukee and Houston.
The brilliance was sparkling over on Pardon the Interruption this afternoon as Wilbon and Kornheiser called the move moronic and idiotic and said the games should just have gone to Anaheim. Of course, the Collective Bargaining Agreement requires a rest day if travel will be from coast to coast and the Indians are in Boston right now. Sorry guys, looks like a little research could have kept you from looking moronic.
From what I've read on local message boards, Milwaukee baseball fans are psyched. There's never going to be a time that we'll be able to see a Major League game for that price. Sales figures are about 10,000 tickets sold for all three games combined. Considering Thursday is a day game and the ticket situation was sketchy at best until late this afternoon, I'd say 10,000 isn't a bad sales figure for one day. The lower level seats go for around $90 just behind the dugouts and home plate, so any fan is happy to get those seats for such a bargain price.
The best caveat to this story is that Tuesday's game was supposed to be Rick Vaughn glasses giveaway night in Cleveland. Milwaukee fans are rabidly hoping the giveaway makes the move to Milwaukee as well. Could they ask for a better tie-in?
Intense snow has delayed the Indians' season thus far and they fond themselves unwilling to postpone more games. Instead, the series will be in Milwaukee tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday.
Tickets will be $10 for all seats, is the rumor so far. Though I did hear them say that prices could change if there's enough interest, which sounds really shady to me.
Full details here.
Friday, April 06, 2007
In 3 games and 11 at bats he has 5 runs, 6 hits, 2 doubles and 2 RBIs for a batting average of .545, a .727 slugging percentage and a .615 on base percentage.
And, he wears stirrups (season's too new, no photo evidence yet).
Welcome to Milwaukee Johnny, we're happy to have you!
After achieving the program’s first-ever #1 ranking, the team promptly lost to Michigan State and, it seems, the season was over from there. There was absolutely no way I saw this coming. With Coach Bo Ryan’s attitude and the ethic of this team, I would have never imagined that we would end up the joke team of this year’s tournament, early exit and all. After all the hype about maybe getting a one seed, we went and proved exactly how unworthy we were.
Add to that an extremely disappointing and not-so-mad March and I’m left feeling like one of the teams whose bubble burst come tournament time.
And I had such high hopes. College football season was nothing if not uplifting and surprising for Badger fans. We were all settled in for a nice rebuilding season full of low expectations and forgiveness. Instead Bret Bielema stepped in exactly where Barry stepped out and we had the season that few had dreamed of. To top it off, we won our second straight bowl game over an SEC opponent.
So here I am, needing some sports rehab. A fan pick-me-up. And my only option on the immediate horizon?
The Milwaukee Brewers.
Now any other season I’d make a smartass remark, preferably about how laughable a thought it would be that the Brewers could be the answer to my losing-team woes.
But this season has the makings of being so remarkably different from any season since my birth (the last time the Brewers saw a World Series)
Conversely, this season has the makings of one ginormous letdown. A letdown so big that after it’s over I could be joining the hordes of Milwaukeeans who bemoan our pitching, our injuries and our coaching, all in a time-honored and well-rehearsed play meant to make us feel better about the fact that once again our team failed to reach the potential it showed.
I’m waffling between wildly excited, cautiously optimistic and (thus far) unfounded doubt. I know cautiously optimistic is the way to go, but it’s just no fun. I want to be crazy excited. I want to be planning for the playoffs.
I do not want to be worrying about if we’re even going to finish above .500.
Besides, it’s not like any other team in the state is drumming up anything remotely related to enthusiasm.
The Packers made less moves than a nerd at the prom this off-season. Free agency hasn’t been pretty and I can’t remember a time I’ve been this defeated by a team before the season ever started. I’m not sure the Packers front office understands that Brett Favre isn’t Superman. It really doesn’t matter how good he is if he has no one to hand off to, no one to throw to and no one blocking for him.
But football season is months away and I’m too giddy about the Brewers to let that sort of things get me down.
For now I’m just excited about attending my first game tomorrow and kicking the pants off the hated Chicago Cubs.
Monday, April 02, 2007
The Brewers started the season off with a bang. Courtesy of Ben Sheets' complete game two hitter, the Brew Crew handled the LA Dodgers 7-1.
The Dodgers' only run came on the first batter of the second inning - a one-run homer by Jeff Kent. After that, Big Ben retired 22 straight Dodgers with only 3 strikeouts. It looked to be a one-hit wonder for Sheets until (very recently) ex-Brewer Brady Clark, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the 7th and stayed in right field, hit a single in the top of the 9th.
This ESPN.com recap says Sheets' performance was the best Opening Day outing of the last 15 years.
" It was the first Opening Day complete game of two hits or fewer in 15 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The last to do it had been Tom Glavine with a two-hitter for Atlanta against Houston in 1992."
But Sheets' pitching wasn't the only story of the day. The Brewers strung together hits - something they weren't able to do very often last year.
Yost changed the batting order at least twice during the game, providing different power to the lineup. The power in this lineup is unmatched in recent Brewer memory. The "weakest" part of our batting order today was Corey Hart, Craig Counsell and Geoff Jenkins, which is eons ahead of some of the combinations I can remember from last year.
And the unsuspected hero of today's offense was none other than J.J. Hardy. Hardy, fresh off missing half of last season to an ankle injury, had 3 singles, a walk and a run scored. Catcher Johnny Estrada, brought in for his ability with the bat, was 2 for 3 with a walk, two runs scored and an RBI.
Bill Hall hit the first homer of the season in the 6th inning with am opposite field line-drive.
So there you go, an amazing start to the season. One game in and the team has failed to disappoint, which is something, I think. I'm all about small victories this season. It's going to be a long few months and I'm going into it with a lot of faith. I haven't been this excited for a baseball season ever.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Less than 24 hours until opening day!!
I haven't been this excited about a baseball season ever. I'm excited for what Opening Day means in terms of the end of winter and the upcoming spring and summer. I'm excited for gameday at Miller Park and tailgating and random give-a-ways.
But mostly I'm excited for this team. We have an amazing starting rotation (all of which rests upon Ben Sheets apparently rather fragile shoulders). We have a solid defense. We have the bats of Prince Fielder, Bill Hall, Corey Hart and Johnny Estrada.
I'm more than a little nervous about the national attention and expectations this team is receiving. More than one pundit is picking us to win the NL Central, though we're not exactly talking a powerhouse division here.
But I don't think it's wrong to imagine a 90 win season and I do think that less than a .500 season will mean serious letdown. This team has been brewing (no pun intended) for a few years. We seem to have all the tools and have gotten all the tune-up we need. These guys aren't rookies anymore. It's time for them to show they're worth.