1.31.2008

Can you spare a moment?

We all know there is an election looming on the horizon and have heard plenty about the main issues that will be discussed (Iraq, economy, education, etc). But there is one issue that has not received all that much attention from the media: the state of poverty in this country. And I'm not just talking about the homeless brother living under a freeway viaduct, I'm talking about the family with 2+ kids where both parents work 2 jobs and are barely making ends meet.

By way of blogs Mirror On America and Racialicious comes word that Stanford University is publishing a new magazine on social issues called Pathways, the first issue of which contains an article in which each of the three front running Democratic hopefuls provide documentation on their plans for fighting the war on poverty in this country (Racialicious and their commenters provides an excellent breakdown of the main points of each plan). John Edwards has been focusing on this issue for a while now but both Obama and Clinton have good ideas. A good read if you are not too busy drinking W's kool-aid.

Weekly Wisconsin Sports Wank 1/31


Packers.
Since their season is over I will gradually be talking less about the Pack in the coming weeks . . . except to rebutt people who can't keep our name out of their filthy mouths. Yeah Randy Moss I'm talking about you assmunch. If you are a fan living in Wisconsin you may have already heard what I'm talking about (by way of Brats & Beer) or it may have been lost to you amidst all the other SB hype but Randy Moss has verbally mooned Packers fans, again.

According to Moss, when asked by a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter about how he almost ended up in Green Bay last summer (yes this is still talked about in Wisconsin), Moss claimed it was a done deal until Ted Thompson started talking about all these stipulations about his behaviour. As if he was some guy whose skills were widely considered to be on the decline, had been in trouble on and off the field throughout his career, and was reputed to be a pariah in the lockeroom or something like that! So when he puts it like that I see why someone like him might not have been the best fit up in Green Bay. Besides I think we managed to do pretty well in the passing department this season without him.

Bucks. C+
Bucks are still starting Royal Ivey so nuff said. The C+ is for effort which I think is at least average, even thought the guys at The Bratwurst might diagree. All Star voting has come to a close and it's not terribly surprising that there are no Bucks on the roster although Yi did make the rookie game. One Buck who could have been considered this season (if it was the players that decided and not fans) was Andrew Bogut. As I noted in last week's wank his play has improved substantially this season and may be keeping Larry Harris in a job. But really he's going to have to keep that up for at least another season to gain any kind of recognition. Especially if the Bucks fail to improve their play. Was talking to a friend of mine today who drew up an interesting comparison between the Bucks and Bulls. He said they reminded him of the Bulls in that they have good talent but it just doesn't seem to be meshing right somehow, and how he wouldn't be surprised to start hearing rumors about a major trade involving seemingly untouchable Michael Redd. I question how much we could get for Redd and would it end up benefitting us more than whatever team he could get sent too.

University of Wisconsin men's basketball. B+
Pending tonight's showdown with Indiana. Last week's loss to a better-than-you-think Purdue team in Lafayette was all skeptics needed to label the Badgers as pretenders. A win here would go a ways in refuting that analysis. At least Dickie V respects what Bo Ryan has accomplished in his stint with the program, though coming from Dickie V I'm not sure if this is good or jinxy. All Ryan has done is win, one of the most underrated coaches and programs in the country. Badgers are still ranked #13 in the AP.
Update: Oh fuck yeah a 62-49 shellacking of Indiana!!?? The fuck is you talkin' bout TheSportsBlog!

Marquette University men's basketball. C+
After back to back road losses to Louisville and UConn Marquette has bounced back with home wins against Depaul and South Florida. Now come some real tests at home when Cincinnati, Louisville, and Notre Dame come to visit the next three games. Win those three and they are in good shape heading down the stretch towards March. On a side note I wonder if Memphis would still be undefeated right now if Marquette, Cincinnati, and Louisville were still in Conference USA. Some intersting updates on the incoming class from Cracked Sidewalks.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. B+
I purposely have not mentioned the Panthers much this season because I have not expected much from them. But at 7-3 in conference play they are 3rd in the Horizon Leauge, led by 12th ranked Butler, and 12-8 overall. Much more than I expected. Perhaps they can finish strong enough to earn an automatic NCAA post season bid with a Horizon tournament run, but I would settle for a NIT bid too.

Brewers.
Not too much happening of late since the Mike Cameron trade. Team news right now is centering around Ryan Braun and Bill Hall changing positions. Speaking of Braun most people might not think that the Brewers have ever had a Rookie of the Year winner before, but we have. Can you name him?

Awsome Babeee!!

Rare praise for Wisconsin's basketball program from Dickie V. of all people at ESPN.com. Enjoy this while you can Badger fans. Weekly Wank coming tomorrow.

1.27.2008

Beginning of the End for the Big Ten?


Two big losses Saturday for two highly ranked Big 10 teams, one of them unfortunately Wisconsin.

The 11th ranked Badgers took a respectable (but damaging to their national image) loss on the road at Purdue and 7th ranked Indiana fell victim at home to an off game by super frosh Eric Gordon and a supreme effort by a suddenly resurgent UConn team.

Bad news also because this will give the sports talking heads their cue to start going on their perennial propaganda campaign against the Big Ten saying that it is way overrated and maybe should even be considered a step below some of the mid-major conferences like the Horizon League. They usually cite a lack of wins against top level competition (like always losing the Big 10-ACC challenge) or the conference's record in the tournament as examples (I'm too lazy to look it up now, but I would bet that there has been a Big Ten team in at least the Final 8 of every tournament over the past decade).

I'm not going to try to refute that because ultimately the track record does speak for itself. Even though there has been a Big Ten national champion in football and basketball (and hockey for those who care) there has also been a lot of major chokery by it's teams of recent.

I think the loss of respect has really heightened lately due to Ohio State's recent record in championship games. They have now lost in the last three major college championship games: 2006 football, 2007 basketball, and 2007 football. Of course some people might look at that and say 'wow, they may not have won but their program is on the level where they are playing for the national championship in each of the major sports every year'. Shiit not the national media. Let them tell it Ohio State only showed why there should never be a Big Ten team playing for a football championship. There are only two (three at the most) teams that could ever be considered as elite and two of those teams always have to be Michigan and Ohio State. Those two teams are always padding their records with a weak non-conference schedule and the benefit of only having to play the other conference weaklings to achieve an unbeaten or one loss record.

There's been a real trend since the beginning of the decade that has seen a great reduction in the amount of national respect that the once unrivaled Big Ten conference recieves. Will this trend ultimately result in some kind of demotion? Kicked out of the BCS? Will the selection committee start to grant fewer and fewer at-large bids to where only the conference tourney champ gets in? Something that extreme may be unlikely but I say it may not be unrealistic.

1.24.2008

You can tell a lot about a man by the way he checks the ball

This link is to an interesting read by a S.L. Price at SI.com about a pick up game with presidential hopeful Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Some thoughtful insights into his competitve and athletic traits that could be revealing something about his personal character in a 'sports is a metaphor for life' kind of way.

Oohhh, he was only bluffing!


Surfing the web when I ran across this amusing anectdotal story about some statements Saddam Hussein allegdedly made while in U.S. custody after his capture. Saddam said that he was trying to bluff the U.S. with the whole 'weapons of mass destruction' thing and that he was really just trying to maintain a strong image so his country would not be vunerable to attack from their neighbor Iran.

A plausible enough story on the surface. But there seems to be something just a little out of place with this story. With W's final term mercifully nearing it's last days you know he is still trying to do major damage control to boost his public image, putting more of a positive spin on his historical legacy. Hell he's even talking about giving money back to the average consumer again. So maybe there's an ulterior motive to disseminating this information. Like maybe trying to play up the fact that Saddam was very thorough and clever in his deception and the United States could not help but be fooled into thinking that Iraq had weapons with U.S. mainland striking capabilities. I also love the part that was casually referenced at the end about how Saddam assured the interrogator that he would have restarted Iraq's WMD program once the international focus was off if he had had a chance. I'm just saying real convenient that this comes out now.

1.20.2008

Let Me Be The First


Let me be the first to congratulate the New York football Giants on a well earned victory this Sunday afternoon over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, and for not messing up a game that was practically handed to them thanks to the inexplicably inept play of the Green Bay offense/defense. Good luck and I hope you play with that same fire when you take on the Patriots, anything to keep them from winning it. If you think the media makes a big deal out of Brett Farve, you haven't seen the tip of the iceberg with Brady.

Anyway as a fanatical but at the same time realistic Packer fan I have to say thank you to the 2007 edition of my favorite team. When the season started I was just hoping we could win a few games this year, maybe beat Chicago at home and be competitive in most games. Never in my wildest of optimistic scenarios did I imagine I would have the opportunity to still be cheering the Pack on in January. You guys (along with last season's Brewers before they collasped) brought the sports excitement and enthusiasm back to Wisconsin.

Who would have thought, Packer fan's, that after a summer of disappointments over not getting Randy Moss and the job performance of Ted Thompson in general that we would end up having the season we did. And with an excellent chance of being very good again next year.

Yeah it sucks losing like we did, at home in a game of this magnitude but the Pack has brought me too much joy this year for me to end it on a sour note. Good job guys, let's get ready for next year!!

Weekly Wisconsin Sports Wank 1/21


Marquette University men's basketball. C+.
Marquette has pretty much been exposed this last week. First the loss Thursday at Louisville, then they go to UConn and get their lack of an inside game exploited. At the beginning of the season it seemed that Marquette could go as far as their three talented guards could take them, like when Villanova made that run the other year with Lowry, Foye, and someone else. But Crean has not recruited a lot of quality at the inside positions since he's been at Marquette and it is starting to show. Now that Dominic James is game to game with an injured wrist and the Warriors are not hitting from outside on a consistent anymore, more opponents are looking to exploit those inside deficiencies. Lazar Haywood (forward, best post threat) is a good Alondo Tucker tweener type player but he's only going to be so effective when they have to play teams like Georgetown or Louisville. AP voters have picked up on this too and dropped Marquette to #21 in the latest poll. If the guards don't suddenly get hot or if one of the interior guys like Ousmane Barro doesn't develop a more effective game they might start dropping a lot of games in the Big East.

University of Wisconsin men's basketball. B+
'Sconsin still rolling haven't lost a game since falling to Marquette at home in December. A 6-0 start to the Big Ten schedule is a pretty nice cushion. True tests coming up are a trip to Purdue this Saturday and a visit from Indiana and Eric Gordon at the Kohl Center on the 31st. Marcus Landry continues to develop his game but I am concerned that Brian Butch seems to be in danger of regressing. He doesn't seem to be aggresivley looking for his game like in the beginning of the season. Concerning because teams that go far during tournament time always have that second or third option when the main guy isn't producing and Butch has to fill that role for this team.

Packers. A+
It's taken me until yesterday really to get over Sunday's loss. Funny too how the general public in Wisconsin (at least Milwaukee) reacted to it. From the media angle there was the obligatory post game wrap-up and coverage on the news the morning after but that was it. Amongst my friends who are Packer fans it was like an unspoken understanding that there was no real desire or need to discuss what happened. What a great season though. Sure they laid a giant turd at home in the NFC championship game but I prefer to look at this from a seasonal perspective rather than just the last game played. Who would have thought at the beginning of this season that the Pack would be one game away from playing in another Super Bowl. Wisconsin was pretty much disgusted in September with how Randy Moss got away and the job performance of Ted Thompson. We expected nothing, less than nothing. We didn't care if it was Favre's last year or not. All it seemed we had to look forward to was a seriouly unproven Aaron Rodgers and more high draft picks for Thompson to squander on players like Ahmad Carrol. So on the season as a whole I gotta give them the highest grade as this year's most overachieving team.

Bucks. D+
Something positive for the Bucks this week? The play of Andrew Bogut continues to improve. He's shooting 61.1% from the field since the beginning of January good for second best in the leauge. The Bucks though continue to dwell in deep in the conference standings at the 11 spot, 4-6 in their last 10. They just got pasted by the Suns Tuesday when Nash posted his season high of 37 (the Bucks are always good for individual player to get their season and career highs on, for example Karl Malone, David Robinson, and I think Vince Carter). Anyway since I couldn't think of another way to work this link in, I think this guy's intelligence is comparable to Larry Harris.

Brewers. C+
Brewers just signed a 32-year old switch hitting infielder who's upside is supposed to be that he is really versatile. Yeeaah. They have also managed to avoid arbitration with one of their bullpen anchors Chris Capuano. Dave Bush and J. J. Hardy left to sign. So the Crew is doing a pretty good job of keeping their core together and shoring up a couple of weaknesses just like Doug Melvin claimed the strategy was.

1.16.2008

Weekly Wisconsin Sports Wank 1/16


Packers. A+
After probably the best playoff game ever played in Lambeau Field besides the Ice Bowl. Ryan Grant let his rawness and inexperience show right away with two early fumbles but then proceeded to rack up over 200 yards in a rout. So pleasing to silence all those Seahawk fans who were deluded enough to think that they could casually stroll in to Green Bay and win no problem. Each team stuck to following its current trend. Seattle's running game continued to be dormant and Matt Hasselbeck continued to prove why we didn't mind trading him for Ahman Green. Green Bay's running game continued to improve (along with offensive line play) and they continued to consistenly make big plays when they needed to. And to think I was worried. But the G-Men do worry me, even though we beat them pretty easy in the 2nd week.

I think Strahan has at least one more Hall of Fame dominant performance in him and next week could be the game where he unleashes it. Putting consistent pressure on Farve is a key objective if you plan on beating the Pack and I think Strahan is still capable of taking over a game. That I think is the only real way that the Pack is ever close to losing Sunday. The Giants are without their best 3 corners against one of the top passing offenses in the league. Unless everyone has a giant simultaneous brain fart I think I can start bumping Public Enemy's "When I Get to Arizona".

Brewers. Cautious B+
The Brewers seem to just be trying not to fuck up the progress we've made by just addressing some minor concerns like replacing some pitching and shoring up the defense. But they keep adding these players tainted with the stain of the 'steroids era': Guillermo Mota? Didn't he serve the longest drug related suspension in MLB history or something like that? Mike Cameron can't even play the first 25 games this season because of testing positive a second time for PED's. Eric Gagne has been named in the Mitchell report. I hope this doesn't somehow throw the good karma we have been having out of whack. This current version of the Brewers was built the hard way, developed thru the farm system, with guys that management thought embodied the blue collar work ethic of this town, not slackers who might give in temptation to cut corners. But at least we did not overpay for any of these guys.

Bucks. D+
After winning 3 in a row against Charlotte, Philly, and Miami the Bucks went out west and got swept by the class of the conference LA, Utah, and Phoenix (even with Redd back from an injury). One positive aspect of the Bucks that I have observed this season has been the progression of Andrew Bogut. His game has improved much over the summer on both ends of the floor. His numbers are up and so, it seems, is his intensity. And he's averaging a double double over the last 5 games. I'm not saying he's the next Olajuwon just glad he is developing into a solid starter, but damn imagine if we had had the foresight to draft Andrew Bynum that year (went 10th).

University of Wisconsin men's basketball. B+
Still cruising along, 4-0 so far in Big Ten play(No. 17 , AP Poll). Seems like they are really starting to be able to turn the screws on teams they should beat. The Big Ten is a weak conference though. There is tremendous drop off in quality after the top three teams. I fear this play against mediocre competition may come back to haunt the Badgers come tournament time, even though they have showed what they are capable of dispatching Texas in Austin earlier this season.

On another note I've been wondering lately: is the Big Ten in danger of becoming totally irrelevant as a sports conference. It seems like every year they lose more respect, especially with Ohio State getting blown out in the BCS title game two years in a row. Could they ever be stripped of their power conference status? I think this calls for a seperate post to delve into this . . . to be continued.

Marquette University men's basketball. B+
Thursday's game at Louisville will be a good measure of how good this team really is. they are still ranked 13th in the AP and stand at 3rd in the Big East so far, but if they can go into the house that Denny Crum built and beat a so far inconsistent but talented Cardinals team that is now back at full strength with Padgett and Palacios that will be impressive. The Warriors will have to pick up on their rebounding and inside play to get this one.

1.08.2008

Weekly Wisconsin Sports Wank 1/9

Packers. Incomplete.
Let's see how the 2007 playoff edition of the Pack performs before we give them a grade. But as I've said before I can't be too negative cuz making it to the playoffs is in itself a giant acheivment for this team. I just hope we can get to the championship game with Dallas and finally beat those bastards in Texas. But this week's game with the Seahawks has my full attention. Holmgren is always dangerous in the playoffs and knows Brett well. And their roster is full of players with playoff experience unlike the Pack. I think we can pull this off though. Give us the ball, we're gonna score.

Bucks. D+
How about them Bucks? The Bucks suck just like I thought they would. Michael Redd is on the injured list again so that makes them even suckier (they did beat the Sixers last night though that's not saying much). I hope his body isn't going to break down from the added strain of his Team USA duties this past year. So they are right on course for the O.J. Mayo-Mike Beasley-Derrick Rose-Eric Gordon lottery show. I can't even seriously critique their play right now so for the rest of the season I just might concentrate on our chances of getting the #1 pick, how soon before Krysto gets the axe, campaining to get Dan Gadzuric to go back to the way he pronounced his name in college.

Brewers. C+?
Beyond picking up Gagne they have been relatively quiet this offseason, although they are supposedly looking into acquiring Mike Cameron. Now I admittedly am only a very casual baseball fan but even I know this would have been a better move say 8-10 years ago. The main piece the Crew is looking to add is a left-handed leftfielder, Cameron plays center and is right handed and plays center, plus he's 35 (although I've heard he's a good lockeroom guy), plus doesn't he have to serve some suspension at the beginning of the season? C'mon Melvin we are right on the cusp of finally doing great things in the summer in Milwaukee besides watching guys in meat costumes race around the field. Don't eff it up!

UW men's basketball. B+
Ranked 21st in the latest AP poll (thank God the only one that counts in college basketball) and won their Big 10 openers against Iowa and Michigan. First real test won't come until the end of the month when Indiana comes to the Kohl Center. Still not sure on where this team stands when it comes to intestinal fortitude but the win over Texas is still a nice indication and we are seeing more of their our players demonstrating their capability to step up.

Marquette men's basketball. B+
After getting ambushed by West Virginia thanks to Bob Huggins totally outcoaching Tom Crean (payback for how we dominated Cincy our last years in Conference USA) the Warriors managed to avoid another upset bid by a Seton Hall team that I bet will be in the tournament. James was injured on a flagrant undercut foul but appeared to be ok as the game went on. It appears that Marquette might not be cognizant of the fact that they are not sneaking up on people anymore that they are getting every teams best effort now that they are recognized as national heavyweights. I trust Crean will get the message across somehow and their effort on the floor will improve.

Well Lookee Here

Read this the other day over on ArmchairGM where I occasionally post (those guys are hardcore sports fan bloggers. I don't have the time to keep up with them like I want to). Guess who expressed an interest in returning to the suddenly better-than-people-thought-they-would-be Packers . . . one Javon Walker!! Fuck yeah the same guy who bitched his way into Ted Thompson trading him to the Broncos after the Packers wouldn't redo his contract after a Pro Bowl season (which was followed by a season he spent on the IR after the first game).

He's basically turned out to be one of those real talented injury prone players (like Tracy McGrady) who can't stay on the field. When he was totally healthy he could do some damage, he didn't get the Pro Bowl bid for nothing. Put I think his self image is a bit over inflated, as you could maybe tell from his website. So now he's doing the same thing in Denver. Actually it's a little bit different. The Broncos are looking to cut his salary in light of his durability (2 mostly injury filled seasons) and off course he's balking at this. But the kicker is in one of his comments he actually said that maybe he should go back to Green Bay because they "made him the player he is". This after trying to taunt the Pack last year when Denver went to the playoffs and Green Bay had a dismal 4 win season.

Walker has since played down that comment but that's alright, Ted Thompson would never bring that punk back and we don't need him.

Yo Javon, you probably don't recall but when you still had your old website with the Packers theme I left a comment for you basically saying you would regret your decision. It's nice to be right.

1.03.2008

Actual useful info from Wendy Williams


Just heard this the other day and forgot about it until today and just had to immediately post on it since I have not seen this info on any other major sports blog.

Wendy Williams (for those of you who don't know) is an African-American radio personality mainly popular in the New York market but can be heard nationally. Her schtick is having all the inside information on the juiciest celebrity gossip (mostly focusing on black celebrities) which she dispenses liberally during her syndicated radio spots. As a source of information she is semi-credible, but has been known to have been the first to air out a few major rumors that turned out to be true.

Anyway I happened to be listening to the local radio station the other day when her spot came on and I was tuning her out as usual when she mentioned the name of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor. She sent shouts out to his family during the holiday season, especially in light of what she claimed to be the behind the scene story of how the whole home invasion incident came about.

Apparently Taylor has a sister who also resided at his home in Miami. The sister loved to brag around town about her famous brother and his wealth, even throwing a lavish party at the house while Taylor was out of town. This supposedly is how the four suspects that have been charged in the case came to know about the location Taylor's house and decided they might benefit from robbing it.

Interesting to me because if this is true it just validates what everyone who was supposed to be closest to the man has been saying. He'd been in some trouble in the past but was in the process of changing his life around. A lot of initial media coverage took the tone of "the cocks coming home to roost". From this account it would seem that this incident was not a result of any action he took, direct or indirect, just a very unfortunate set of circumstances and an admonishment to people in all walks of life to be cautious of who you socialize with.