6.30.2008

Weekly Wisconsin Sports Wank


Bucks. B-
Just above average performance for the Bucks during and leading up to the draft (let's hope they're not done dealing yet) in my opinion. Understand that the Bucks ultimately come up winners no matter how you slice it just for making Bobby Simmons and his cumbersome contract go away and actually getting a veteran All-Star who has been to the Finals in return (some say Jefferson's game is clearly in decline but only time will tell). Simmons was really the one piece that you had to figure was going to be the hardest to budge if any blowing up of the roster was going to take place. But now that he's gone and we have a mini logjam in the frontcourt positions with Alexander, Villanueva, Bogut, Jefferson, Dez Mase, Jake Voskuhl, plus a guy named Gadzuric (who's being paid starter money remember) it's looking like the door might be wide open for everyone not named Michael Redd. Which, if that is the case, is fine with me. Why? Because my earlier support for a Redd trade was based on my opinion that he is not the kind of player you build a championship team around, he has to play the Scottie Pippen role. So I figured he would be the best chance the Bucks would have to land the type of player that you could build something around. But now it looks as if their strategy has changed, from trying to build a team on the 'traditional' Kobe model (i.e. one star player with complimentary personnel) to more of a 'five-really-good-guys-on-the-floor-at-the-same-time' model a 'la the Pistons. Redd would be good for that. But wait, you say, the impetus for Detroit's championship push was their defense, something Redd (and this team in general) has sucked at. That's where Skiles comes in! Wow I've actually written that out and it still makes sense, cool.

As I've said before I like the pick of Alexander, would have preferred Love but that was going to be a long shot. The second pick the Bucks completely botched. There were so many other more talented players available at that point: DJ White, Chris Douglas Roberts (will be better defensively than people think), and the infamous Richard Hendrix to name a few. High motor, athletic, defensive minded guys can be important pieces to a championship team but I would say you don't need more than one or two. We already have two, Gadzuric and Michael Ruffin, and really Des Mason too. So maybe one or all of those guys will be leaving soon. But I just hate that the Bucks passed up either Hendrix or CDR. I think at least one of those guys will end up making teams very sorry that they passed on them.

But in the final analysis the Bucks did get what they needed most out of this draft, change.

Packers.
So with training camp about a month away, the Pack is currently carrying 77 players under contract on their roster. NFL rules only allow for 80 players under contract on the roster. They haven't signed any of their draft picks or Ryan Grant yet. So unless there is some new math the league is going by there is going to be some snipping going on soon. Probably won't be any surprises though there could be some shakeups in the receiving core where rookie Jake Allen really turned heads during the first minicamp. One guy who doesn't figure on getting cut anytime soon (yet) is Charles Woodson. He has appeared to be more inspired this offseason than in the past, attending more voluntary workouts and looking more spry and healthy in general after admitting the knee injury he suffered early in last year's schedule was more of a problem for him than he let on. Some people have even suggested a return to his Pro Bowl form would not be surprising. Now Al Harris might be a different story.

Packers attended a workout session recently given by former Detroit Lion RB Kevin Jones who looked pretty good according to various reports. While Detroit let him go for a reason (mostly injury history) he probably would be an upgrade over every back currently on the roster (so that doesn't include Grant). He's a strong runner who has the ability to help stretch the field in the passing game as well as take it between the tackles and has reportedly always had a good work ethic. All around he sounds like a TT type of guy given the price is right.

Coach McCarthy has taken a page from Brett Favre's media relations guide commenting that this years roster "is the best it's looked since I've been here as far as the names and the talent and the type of people on the board". Most people's general reaction to that statement might be be something like "how could he say that? Favre's gone." But this might actually be the most talented team overall that the Pack has fielded in sometime, on both sides of the ball not just top heavy on the offense. The year before last Brett had some people calling him senile because he suggested that year's edition was the most talented team he had ever been a part of in Green Bay, took the team another year to prove him right. I bet this year's team responds to their leaders challenge (that's what it is) even quicker.

Speaking of Favre, The Frozen Tundra has the definitive commentary on the legacy of Brett Favre (and even addresses the interceptions issue for all you haters).

Brewers. C+
Brewers are still in third place in the Central, still around 5 games back, only .500 in the last 10 games though. So now the consensus seems to be that if the Crew is really going to make a run at this 'playing in October' thing they will need to make a run for some starting pitching help. Of course there is endless speculation about the C.C. Sabaithia trade, but the decisions management makes during the next few months could be setting the tone for the future of this franchise. There's not a whole lot of money to go around in small market Milwaukee, but there are several core players on this team who will be demanding it soon. Sheets is up and the end of the season and so far the media vibe is that the chances of Milwaukee being able to resign him (for a reasonable price) are slim to none. Some of our current core guys', like Fielder, contracts will be up in the next few seasons and will most likely be due for huge paydays that the Brewers can't dish out. We have great talent in the farm system to compensate for some of that but a trade for Sabaithia would most likely involve that top tier talent. Can the Brewers afford to give the future away for right now?

Well there will probably not be any pitching relief (ha) coming in the form of Eric Gagne. He's barely getting through his rehab in Nashville. And with Torres doing well in his absence people are wondering just how he will be used when he returns. Invested big in him this summer so I feel like he needs to earn his keep. You know backup bat-boy, hold the spitting can for the chewing tobacco, keep score for the dugout card games, something.
Ben Sheets has been pretty good this year and Brewer Fanatics are saying he is a mortal lock to start the All-Star game, which is pretty cool to a casual baseball fan even though this might be his last season in the pinstripes.

And the Brewers already have two more locks for the All-Star game . . . the All-Star Futures game to be exact where Mat Gamel and Matt LaPorta will be representing.

University of Wisconsin football.
The time is fast approaching when a new wave of UW freshman will be exposed to the rich traditions of fall Saturdays at Camp Randall Stadium. Badgercentric welcomes all the new incoming Badger recruits.


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6.26.2008

Bucks Draft Gadzuric Again


So we knew something would happen tonight, but did we as Bucks fans expect this exactly? So much for Yi being the only untouchable player on the roster. Like the commenter on the Brew Hoop post, my first reaction to news of the trade was "Whaaaaa!!!???". But the more I consider it, the more I guess this could be good for both teams. Unloading Simmons was going to be a chore so Hammonds deserves props for just doing that so deftly. Though if Yi blossoms to anywhere near his projected potential we might have just got screwed for a still young but injury prone (?) veteran All-Star forward. But Jefferson does fit Skiles's style of running and playing defense.

Now about the draft. Small moment of hope when I saw Westbrook taken at 4. Perhaps Kevin Love will fall to the 8th spot?? Yeah fate killed all that on the next pick. So the Bucks ended up doing what everyone had thought they would, taking Alexander. I have no problem with that. I fact I think he, Jefferson, and Bogut will make a better-than-you-think frontcourt. Problem I have is drafting Dan Gadzuric Jr. in Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. ESPN's draft commentator (I think it was Bilas) summed up Mbah a Moute's specs as: good length, good motor, good rebounder, good defender, good conditioning, negligible offensive skills. WTF. We already have a guy like that, signed to a huge overinflated salary, also from UCLA who basically sits on the bench until garbage time, if he even plays then. Yeah every championship team needs a hardnose, scrappy player like that but damn do we need two? (Who's gonna take Gads in a trade? Isaiah isn't an option anymore) isn't that like a waste of at least one roster spot? But the real reason that the pick galled me is the player who was still glaringly available that the Bucks passed on: Chris Douglas-Roberts. I said in my last wank that he's just one of those players you get a gut feeling about, you know he will be a succesful NBA player but it's hard to guage if he will be succesful like say Rob Horry or just be a good solid player but never really dominate and take his team to a higher leverl like say Antwan Jamison. You just know if he's available you should take him. The Bucks will regret this pick when they get knocked out of the playoffs (making the playoffs not a given, I know) by a Nets team with some good young talent led by Douglas-Roberts. I see a lot of Paul Pierce in his game (another guy whose potential was kinda questioned when he came out even though he was a high pick) and we know how he turned out.


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6.23.2008

Weekly Wisconsin Sports Wank


Packers.
First mini camp of the season concluded last Thursday. The JS Packers blog has a good account of the particulars of the last practice. Some things that stood out to me: I like the players attitudes, especially the rookies in the two lines. There's an aggressiveness with these guys that seems to be generating some real good competition going on at almost every position (something TT was trying to ensure with his meager signings earlier in the off season). Rodgers could be the toughest of them all. He has consistently been able figuratively (and firmly) deflect that glaring spotlight he's under as Favre's successor and just go out and be himself. His self confidence will not be easily shaken and that's a personality attribute he will need to strap up with every game this season. ESPN's John Clayton agrees that Rodgers will be fine (though not exactly for the same reasons).

On the Jason Taylor rumors front it looks like the Packers were never really in the competition for his services (should he decide to play this year). Seems he already has a list of the teams that he would be will to sign with and the Pack ain't on it. I never seriously entertained the thought of him coming here so my reaction to that is . . . "meh, he's no Reggie White". But I am fearful of the fact that Green Bay is once again becoming the player's pariah NFL cities. Before Reggie White no high profile free agent would have even considered coming to Green Bay for a number of perceived reasons (not the least of which is the general perception that Green Bay, WI is not shall we say the most welcome environment for African-Americans. Though for the record I know African-Americans who live in Green Bay who feel exactly the opposite, and city has always worshipped the players) and it kind of seems like that is starting to be the case more and more now (though who knows how much the fact that TT is not big on free agency anyway plays into that). The closest thing we have had to a big name free agency signing since White was Charles Woodson and the Pack probably only looked good to him because half the league thought he was washed up.

By the way did you hear the rumor that the real reason the Pack didn't sign Duante Culpepper before the draft was because not because the Pack passed, but that Culpepper turned down TT's offer!? What an extraordinarily poor decision by Culpepper and incredibly lucky decision for TT and the Pack. If we had picked up Culpepper I think that would have sealed the lid on the 'TT is an idiot debate' for a lot of fans. And we probably would've passed on Brohm which may have turned out to be real dumb in retrospect. I think ol' Duante just could not see himself in the Green and Gold after despising us as a Viking, perfectly understandable.

Finally, I have not said much about the whole Javon Walker thing, not wanting to get caught up in a whole kind of Malcolm X "the chickens came home to roost" deal because I don't know the man personally. But when I read Cheesehead TV's commentary I thought "this is what a lot of Packers fans really think, but are to reserved to say".

Brewers. B+
As of yesterday the Crew is firmly in 3rd place in their division, 7-3 in their last 10, playing as good as anyone right now. Of course as BrewCrewBall points out that the Crew had the exact same record this year after 75 games that they had back in 2004 and without having to look up specifics I know that year did not end well. I am going to remain optimistic though. I'm not ready to give up my new attitude towards the Brewers and return to the bitterness of pessimism yet.

Rickie Weeks, who's been out with a knee sprain, is back in the leadoff spot. Gagne will begin his rehab soon down in Nashville. He would have to return to his Dodger form though to even have a chance at getting his designated closer role back from Salomon Torres. Not even Yost is dumb enought to do that, Torres has been too good. Mike Cameron who has been out with a hyperextended big toe is back in the line up (mighty injury prone all of the sudden?). Yost must have figured out why Boston released Julian Tavarez because he's been designated for assignment to make room for David Riske.

Most Brewers fans are aware of the fact that this isn't the first time Russell Branyan has been called up or aquired by a new team and had a fast start only to eventually fizzle out. Will it be more of same this time eventually? ESPN's Eric Karabell says don't bet on it . . . yet (b\w Cute Sports).

Been a lot of speculation by ESPN about the possibility of C.C. Sabaithia coming over in a trade. My initial reaction as a very casual baseball fan is that would be great. He is supposed to be 'lights out', that would surely take care of any pitching deficiencies and might even be the catalyst to a strong stretch run into the playoffs. Then I read the Brew Town Beat and came back to reality. In short for a team like the Brewers it wouldn't be worth what we would have to give up (probably one or more of the untouchables) unless we were guaranteed a ring this year.

Bucks.
Well by the end of this week we should really be able to guage whether or not John Hammond is up to the task of turning this thing around. Will he trade down for some veteran talent that could also help turn the team's culture around? Will he somehow do a Houdini and trade up to capture one of the Big Three to be the cornerstone we rebuild around? Will he manage to just make a competent sound pick for good value at both spots that allows the hard core fans to still feel real optimistic about the coming season? Only time will tell, but according to Bucks beat writer Michael Hunt however the draft shakes out overhauling this team will not be easy. Only common sense, it didn't get fucked up overnight so it figures to be a long fix.

While I mention the draft can I go on record now as saying the player I am most scared of passing on in this draft is Memphis's Chris Douglas-Roberts. Just something about that part athleticism, part old-man-moves game of his that has 12 year veteran written on it. If he turns out to be a bust please call me on it, but . . . my secret hope is that people forget about him until he falls to the Bucks in the second round. The Bratwurst is back with a well researched definitive mock draft (looking more and more like Bucks will take Joe Alexander, they just had him in for another interview last week).

In my wank a couple of weeks ago I mentioned how former Bucks first rounder Ersan Ilyosava was gettin' off in the European playoffs. Well he's back stateside for the time being, working out at the Bucks practice facility since we still own his NBA rights. But if he will stick around is not certain. He stands to make a substantial amount in Europe next season and if he stays with the Bucks there's no guarantee he will break into the rotation (plus the dollar is not what it used to be) soooo . . . we'll see.

University of Wisconsin football.
Fall will be here sooner than you think and UW should have a number of top performers this season. Big Ten Preseason All-Conference Team (according to Wisconsin Badger Sports).


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6.19.2008

Sam and Ray


I am way late with this congratulatory posting on the Boston Celtics winning the NBA championship the other night, but I guess I wanted to take some time to reflect.

Even though I grew up hating the Celtics and loving Magic's Lakers (I really claim no absolute loyalties to any but Wisconsin sports teams) I found myself very pleased with the Celtic's victory for a number of reasons.

First and most obvious (and popular) I hate Kobe. Ever since that cocky little kid came into the league pretending to be like Mike (everything from his speech mannerisms to his body movements on the court) he's just irritated me. Plus I'm naturally drawn to underdogs. I loved seeing the look on his face when he realized that all the work he put in this season would be for naught.

Second, it made my heart swell to see KG finally get a ring. Sounds kinda gay but whatever, that's real. He has always been the epitome and the standard of professionalism for NBA players. Never ever have you heard a peep about off-court issues involving him. He has always given 110% even though up to this point in his career he has always been on mediocre teams that had glaring weaknesses. Never a hint of complaint, never laid down ultimatums to management or pulled any other "spoiled star player" type stunts. As a public figure he has always been an excellent role model. Simple justice demanded that KG get a ring at some point, so seeing him hug Bill Russell in jubilation, well, you didn't have to be a die hard Boston fan to feel the lump in your throat.

But the guys I was most happy for on that team were Sam Cassell and Ray Allen.

The Bucks drafted Ray and from day one he proved that move to be a smart one. When Sam joined Ray and "Big Dog" Glenn Robinson they led us to the brink of a Finals appearance in 2001 before we fell a jump shot short to the Sixers. The team was effectively disbanded and rebuilt a few years later but people in Milwaukee never forgot what a stand up guy Ray was. He did a lot of charity work in the community while he was here and wasn't ashamed to let people know that he thought Milwaukee was a great city. He's been under appreciated his whole career despite having put up HOF worthy numbers and having one of the prettiest shots in league history. Now maybe he will get the props he deserves.

Sam I Am? I've just always liked his game, since he and Charlie Ward guided that unheralded mid '90's Florida State team to a surprising little tourney run. Then he came into the league firing and collected himself a ring with the Clutch City Rockets (along with Rob Horry) while making some key contributions. His is a different brand of cockiness. A kind of unshaken confidence that is catching instead of just being a big turnoff.

So congrats guys. I wish you could have taken the Bucks on that ride, but I guess it just wasn't our time. Couldn't have happened to a better group of players.

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6.16.2008

Weekly Wisconsin Sports Wank


Brewers. C+
Crew is holding position in 3rd place in the central, 5-5 in their last ten. You know I only really started paying real close attention to how the Brewers are playing when I started this blog, specifically when I started this running weekly rant/roundup so about a year now, and I must say it's like keeping up with a soap opera sometimes.

Russell Branyan, who got called up recently originally to platoon at 3rd base with Bill Hall, has been playing pretty good since getting here, especially defensively. On the other hand Hall since being reduced to sharing playing time has thrown a temper tantrum, demanded to be traded, and has been given the opportunity to set himself up at 2nd but has been unable to take advantage so far (3 errors in his first 2 games so kind of an understatement). If Branyan keeps his quality of play up and the Brewers begin to turn it around in the standings he might even become this season's fan hero like Hall did last season. Soap-opera like irony.

A big deal has been made of the fact that the Brewers already had 19 of their 54 draft picks signed five days after the draft was finished. I don't really know how many players the average club is usually faced with signing after a draft, but that has to be amazing in any sport and is one of those tell-tale benchmark signs that this team has really turned the corner in terms of reinventing their culture. They might also get a little haterism too for giving a high school pitcher drafted in the second round out of Tennessee $900,000 and paying for his college education. Apparently that's a little steep for his draft position and gives players drafted higher a tiny bit of leverage (btw check out the real haterism referenced in that link, Milwaukee's own version of the Buzz Bissinger vs blogosphere battle between a Brewers beat writer and Crew bloggers). Having lived in TN for 10 years though my attention was peaked by the fact that the pitcher is out of Marshall County, TN (Lewisburg to be exact) an area I'm quite familiar with (nothing like the hospitality of fine southern women). And my insight on that would be I pretty much guarantee he will spend all his time perfecting his game and turn into a major stud because, well, there's not much else to do down there.

In farm system news there are several prospects who have been tearing it up lately, but it doesn't look like there will be any more callups for the moment, at least not for Mat Gamel or Matt LaPorta two of the hottest prospects. This is a sign of progress also, that the Brewers can afford to let their talent marinate and get just the right seasoning (sorry I've been grilling a lot lately) in the minors because we have enough talent upstairs already. They don't need to get baptized under fire like Weeks, Fielder, and Braun (might have actually hindered Weeks in his case).

But for a casual fan like me the true litmus test of the Brewer's arrival will be when we can advance to a post season berth, Cute Sports throws a little luck their way.

Bucks.
Scott Skiles hit the ground running after being named the new Buck's head coach earlier this year putting together a solid staff and is now showing some more signs that he is up to the mammoth task of turning this team around. He's showing that he can take criticism and turn it into a positive. According to rumor and innuendo one of the main reasons Skiles wore out his welcome in Chicago was an inability to communicate consistently with his players. Well Skiles is trying his hardest not to let that happen here. He's already made efforts to firmly establish the line of communications with his current players calling them, going to see them, getting their input on the problems from last season, etc. If there's one thing Skiles always was as a player and coach it was a hard worker.

I knew it. As soon as I started to take half a shine to the thought of a Yi-Kevin Love-Villanueva rotation in the frontcourt Love's draft stock begins to rise so high that he probably will not be working out for the lowly Bucks before the draft (a slight shift from his prior "I'll play for anybody" attitude so maybe it's for the best) so I'm starting to think maybe Joe Alexander is the way to go. He too has said specifically that would not mind the competition in Milwaukee and his game reportedly has a grittiness to it that the Bucks sorely lack (messed up the whole team by trying to get it from Anthony Mason back in the day, but Alexander is not the stagnant black hole on offense that Mason was). But could the 8 spot be too high for a guy who might otherwise slip into the second round?

The Bucks will take a look at some lesser known guards in the next workout session among them Tennessee State's Bruce Price (my alma mater). Although Price is from my alma mater I can't hype him up in good conscience. Though he was a good player by Ohio Valley Conference standards he has some glaring holes in his game. The JS Bucks blog has a list of who will be in attendance.

Basketball Prospectus has an interesting article about draft sleepers, past blunders, and reminds you that the Bucks could have selected Carlos Boozer instead of Marcus Haislip in 2002 (I remember I thought that was an excellent pick because I though Boozer would be a bust like Trajan Langdon. . .and I hate Duke).

Packers.
Justin Harrell is officially turning into a bust. The former first round draft pick is under critical observation again after showing up to camp out of shape and now he's go a problem with his hamstring I think. TT really whiffed on that guy, I would love to hear the real rationale behind that pick in a couple of years (after he, TT, or both are long gone). But can you really be a bust when there was no real hype or great expectations surrounding you? When it just so happened some idiot thought you were good but really should have waited a couple of rounds to get you? Talk about setting someone up for failure.

KGB makes the Forbes list . . . for Best Paid Benchwarmers woo hoo!! All the mediocre players that go drafted low and free agents signers should be taking a page from KGB's book. Work hard to maximize your few strengths as a player. If you get a little notoriety do not get the big head. Stick with the team that drafted you if you can. Eventually you too can carve out a niche for yourself that your team needs you in, you can cash in on that bigger-than-it-should be second contract and when your natural skills start to fade and you too can accept being cut knowing you stuck around longer than you should have. I am being slightly sarcastic though. In his prime KGB brought great balance to the D line and was always very good at his specialty: rushing the passer.

And finally because there are far too few reports on the good things black athletes do.

Marquette University men's basketball.
Got another recruit today. Former Bay View High School standout Dwight Buycks will be joining the Warriors next season at the PG spot. Young Dwight was planning to be a state traitor and play for Bradley coming out of high school when academic issues led him to go the JUCO route. Now he sites playing close to home as the main reason he turned down advances from Illinois, Memphis, Tennessee (so glad), and Kentucky. Welcome home, son.


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6.13.2008

For my peoples in the Dirty Bend

The redneck Democrats in Tennessee who pass for respected politicians are trying to subtley distance themselves from Barack Obama's candidacy. Having lived down there for 10 years it's not really surprising to me that they would not only have but openly express viewpoints like this. They are probably still trying to wrap their minds around the fact that a black man is very close to being the next leader of this country.

Caught between the rock of their predominantly bigoted constituency and the hard place of their inbred bigoted values Tennessee politicians have no choice but to offer up quotes like this.

Yeah, race is no longer a problem in America (please read with extreme sarcasm).

And if you are confounded by the article don't forget to check out the reader comments. True class of the South right there (more sarcasm).


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True Colors


They are really showing as we enter the home stretch of this election cycle. There is a black man running for the presidency of these United States as the nominee of one of the dominant political parties in our country, and the undercover, in the closet white bigots are figuratively running for their lives.

You know they say their haterism of Obama doesn't come from his ethnic origin, in fact they will accuse you of reverse racism if they even think you may be implying that about them. They say they are against Obama because he doesn't have enough experience (even though it is about the same amount that W. and HillBilly had). They say he is the one who has injected this campaign with it's racial undertones to try to spin it in his favor (even though Obama has never really mentioned race as a real issue except to answer questions posed to him on the subject or respond to the various race-baiting techniques that have been thrown at him). They say that they are Americans for America and that they will put all of their efforts into defending this country and it's way of life (even though from the tone of their arguments you get the feeling that if you are not a 'white American' they are not fighting for you).

But then they show their true colors by engineering sites like this where their racist, privileged attitudes damn near overflow the page borders. This site actually has the gall to try to portray Obama as the prejudiced elitist and then in the same breath link to filth like this (they even have a section with all the popular racist jokes about the 'O' man). The site has had a good number of hits for being recently established to and you can tell that more than casual effort was put into constructing it so this isn't some isolated bigot who happens to have some tech skills, it definitely represents a demographic.

The hypocrisy of this type of individual just continues to amaze me. They trip all over themselves to try and perpetuate the belief that America is being held hostage by reverse racism from lazy blacks, but they can't help but showcase those racist attitudes by their behavior, demeanor, and commentary. Fascinating. As one fellow black blogger I read regularly has said "Would those same people be so upset if it had been John Edwards beating Clinton? Or would they just have accepted it with an "Aw shucks" and ponied up behind their party?". Me thinks you know the answer to that one.

Many props to the Field Negro, who put us all up on this site.

And if after hitting the links above you need something to remove the taste, Obama's got your back.

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6.10.2008

Weekly Wisconsin Sports Wank


Bucks
Bucks are just beginning to wind down the pre-draft workout formalities before they pull the trigger on a player they hope will be a building block (if not cornerstone) in the future of this franchise in a couple of weeks. Brew Hoop has the skinny on how last weeks workouts went. I'm still sold on the suggestion of Alabama's Richard Hendrix, but I am beginning to be more and more intrigued by Kevin Love. I guess it's all the good things I'm hearing about him: high basketball IQ, has trimmed down since the season and revealed some explosiveness. If he's still there it would be hard to justify passing him up, Bucks Diary agrees. Hammonds has been quoted as saying the Bucks would be pleased if any of the guys in last week's workout (Joe Alexander, Donte Green, Anthony Randolph) were still available at the 8th spot as if that would be great luck, but buzz on the street is that at least two of those guys should be available. Could Hammonds be using his best poker face to mask his tell on the player the Bucks really want?
So if you are a Bucks fan (or maybe a Cavs fan) we have been discussing for weeks the rumors and possibilities of Mike Redd going over to Cleveland in a trade. Still no definite news on that but there has been report of another interesting trade scenario. ESPN's Chad Ford has reported on the rumor that Golden State is still trying to pry Yi out of our grasp and are willing to give up Brandan Wright and a first round pick to do so. This is probably not a good idea in the long run for the Bucks for a variety of reasons; some of which are that if Redd does get traded Yi will become by default the main face of the franchise and possibly the most talented player, and Kohl is still looking for someone to sell the team to (who will keep it in Milwaukee) it certainly would look more attractive if it had a readily marketable face, and the team needs the extra influx of Chinese cashflow Yi brings. Plus if Yi blew up on the West Coast our fan base would not be able to handle another Dirk for Tractor Traylor type of bungle. (Ok maybe just I couldn't handle it).

Brewers.C+
MLB draft was last week and the Crew's first pick was Brett Lawrie, a native Canadian who is supposed to be the best prospect from up north since Larry Walker. I haven't seen any draft grades but from reading around it looks like they were able to load up on some good talented prospects, including the son of Lenny Dykstra. Brewer's bloggers are right, they do have a strange penchant for picking up offspring of former big leaguers. At least they are picking the right players like Tony Gwynn and Cecil Fielder and not say Dale Sveum's kid. Brewer's Nation has a good listing of the picks and how they project, while Chuckie Hacks has some slightly more humorous anecdotes on the the picks and the MJS Brewers blog offers a little more insight on the Brewers decision making process.
Latest new trade rumor is the Crew is interested in swapping Rickie Weeks for the Orioles Brian Roberts. From what I've read Roberts is just as if not slightly more skilled than Weeks so except for the contract considerations (Roberts will be a free agent after the season, Weeks is signed for like the next 3-4 years) it seems like a good trade (AGM guys correct me if I'm wrong). Weeks I can stand to see go. While he is talented I'd say he's not indispensable, especially if we can somehow wrangle some pitching talent in the deal.
Brewer's GM Doug Melvin has an idea that will revolutionize pitching. . . if nobody denounces it as crazy and idiotic. It is simply put to reverse the current conventional pitching strategies. You want your best pitcher available to be pitching the most important innings right? So start them later. Let a middle 'reliever' start the first few innings then hand the ball to your ace in say the 4th when the outcome of the game is really starting to be decided. Makes sense to me. When I read this the analogy that immediately came to mind was how ESPN's TMQ has been admonishing NFL and college football coaches for years for not going for it more in 4th down situations rather than automatically punting (because the average NFL play yields about 4 yards). This could be the same kind of right-in-front-of-your-face common sense, Doug Melvin could become the Bill Belichick of the MLB. OK, I'm reaching but you get the idea. And I hope they give this serious consideration before some other team hears about it, tries it, and has some success and then tries to act like they came up with it because people are barely aware that we have a baseball team.
And as always a lot of Brewers fans think Ned Yost is an idiot.

Packers.
Not a whole lot of fresh news circulating in the days before training camp. Some Packer sites are reporting that the Pack has cut ties with T Joe Toledo who they picked up in a trade last year (though I have not seen this among the Transactions listed on their official site). I always like his name though it's apparent that he was not a standout on the field, when he touched it.
Remember Abdul Hodge? Drafted same year as A.J. Hawk, played next to Hawk at OSU? Well seems like he is making good progress coming back after battling injuries in both of his knees. Back when they were both still at Ohio State there used to be speculation that Hodge would turn out to be just as good a pro, if not better, than Hawk. And he showed some flashes of that here before he caught the injury bug. I hope he can get back on that track now that it seems the major injuries are behind him.
Remember Deshawn Wynn? The rookie running back out of Florida who tantalized Packer fans with an inconsistent smattering of big plays before he too caught the injury bug? Well he's on the recovery road also and reportedly has had a very good showing at the mini-camps thus far. But the biggest barrier to Deshawn's return to the field and playing time will most likely be mental, not physical. According to his coaches Wynn's biggest obstacles are his immaturity coupled with his inconsistent work ethic. He got a rep for being content to make a few big flashy plays and taking it easy the rest of the game. Lack of consistent effort will get you nowhere in this league.

University of Wisconsin.
Shots out to the UW Mens Rowing team who just won the 2008 National Championship!!



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6.05.2008

At Home vs. Abroad

I saw this article yesterday on my iGoogle homepage under the day's top stories, clicked on it and got a surprisingly good read from The Washington Post. It's all about other countries reactions to Obama securing the Democratic Party's nomination for President of the United States. The stated reactions are interesting (especially how Kenyan's are so enthused), but what most interested me were the posts in the comments section for the article. That's always were you find the raw underbelly of American society exposed: racists, liberals, conservatives, naysayers, well-wishers, and plain old haters all under the same cyber-roof.

I wasn't surprised by the nature of the comments, most of which are in the vein of 'who cares what the world thinks, America is the shiznit!', on the contrary they just served to continue to validate my personal viewpoint.

A lot of Americans out there want to be neo-colonialists and isolationists at the same time. They rail against the opinions of countries whose "asses we have to save" not realizing that the world does not picture the U.S. as the hero on the white horse anymore. They look at us as the warmongers who will go wherever and fuck with whoever we want to for whatever reason that seems good to our leaders. With the state of the economy and the fast falling value of the dollar America more than anytime in history may soon have to ask for help from some of these countries whose opinions on our politics are so despised (oh and how they would turn that around on the 'O' man if he got elected wouldn't they? "He's turned this country into a beggar nation!!"). America's lack of self awareness will surely be it's downfall.

I also found the reactions from Israel and China humorous. It's no secret (or maybe it is, oops) that the U.S. sticks so close to Israel because they think that it will benefit them in God's eyes when the big judgment day comes (too bad the ethnic group known as the Jews today are not the original descendants of Jacob). So they probably are not feeling good about the prospects of a guy who is not going to blindly go along with their government's policies and actually wants to (gulp) practice some diplomacy with their enemies becoming the next president. The relationship with their staunchest ally would be strained. China is worried that someone smarter than Bush who might actually try to do something about their huge trade surplus might be in office.

But all of this is really mute. Obama will not receive the majority of the vote (I doubt it will even be close). The Republican party will unleash a supremely sneaky smear campaign the likes of which have never been equaled in American politics, the media will pick it right up, and white people will be able to stop worrying about "being pushed to the back of the bus".

P.S. sorry for not providing the link when I originally posted this. It's active now.

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6.01.2008

Weekly Wisconsin Sports Wank


Let the wanking resume. . .

Brewers. C+
They're 7 games back, but they've won seven of the last 10 no longer dead last in the NL Central. Been a whole lot 'o roster moves since I last wanked, where to begin? Well Bill Hall's been demoted to platooning with Russell Branyan who got called up (again) last week (I'll speak more on that in a minute), with Gagne on the DL the Brewers have been trying Salomon Torres as the closer with good results so far, (he's got 5 saves now), and the Brewers picked up Red Sox castoff (but ring holder) Julian Tavarez. By the way Gagne is so done it is not even humorous anymore. I mean how much more obvious could it be that an individual player was on steroids at some point? His body is all of the sudden just trying to break down right after he was named in the Mitchell Report and the league got tougher testing policies? Let me not rant and speculate too wild before Buzz Bissinger forces me to put my dick in his mouth. And plus I digress.
I must also comment about the irony of Bill Hall's situation. Last season he was the man, the guy who always came thru in the clutch. So popular with the fans that he appeared on the episode of "The Young and the Restless" with the two other Brewers. Now he's the poster boy for everything that has gone wrong and been underachieved this season. And now he's platooning with Branyan? . . .I'm not sure about his contract situation, but if it's close to being up he might just be up (outta here).
One thing I love about the Brewers organization is the deep talent they have managed to develop in their farm system. All the current big dogs on the roster were carefully brought along through it, and it seems to have contributed to their success in The Show. So it tickles me to realize the MLB draft is a week away and the Brewers have 6 of the first 62 picks. Brewers Fanatic has the prediction of who we'll take first.

Packers.
Major issues with Ryan Grant and the Packers. Well maybe not major, he just won't sign his tender offer for the standard 1st year player amount ($370,000), says he has to do what is right for him in his situation. Which is all fair and good. Players, even second year players, do it all the time when they have an above average season in the year when it just so happens that their contract is up. I'm all for good players maximizing their contracts especially in the NFL where your career could end suddenly and out of nowhere, especially at the running back position where even the most sturdy only average 9 good years (the case of Eddie George is a perfect example). But you also have to consider the other factors that will go into you getting that fat contract that will really set you for life. Like the team you are looking to get that contract from. The Pack has shown a tendency to take care of their consistent performers, but they won't get into contract disputes. You were a fan favorite because of you're hard work and determination background but now you pissed half of us off. Man I hope he's not letting his agent jerk him around because the agent will always have a job, Grant on the other hand . . .
On a totally different vibe my prayers go out for Aaron Kampman and his family who were victims of the tornadoes that swept through Iowa last week. Reading that account of how his family is dealing with their loss, I understand where Kampman gets his toughness on the field.
KGB had arthroscopic knee surgery and will be out until at least training camp. It's probable that KGB is in his last days of his career also. Not a bad one altogether, and he managed to get his fat contract.
Been seeing enough Jason Taylor innuendo lately to want to comment on it. It seems to be originating from fan desire to see Taylor in green and gold rather than any actual talk between the two teams regarding a deal. But when I did take some time to think about it a bit I was reminded of a similar case: the Reggie White signing. The move that really pushed the Pack to 2 Super Bowls. Think about it. Both were/are on the tail end of their careers (but still skilled) looking at the last chance to get a ring. Reggie was a free agent, Taylor's is not but everyone knows (or assumes) he would really like to be traded to a contender. No one really thought/thinks there was a chance in hell that either of them would want to play in Green Bay. That being said it's not in TT's MO to make a move like that, even if Justin Harrell is beginning to take on Fridge-like dimensions.

Bucks.
NBA lottery teams will soon start bringing in the players on their boards for workouts and the Bucks are no exception. BrewHoop gives the rundown on who will be first up. You can't always decipher who a team is going to pick based on workouts though (remember Yi?). I would be nervous about the Bucks picking any one of those guys. After the Big Two (hold the Mayo! ha ha yeah you liked that) the sureness factor really drops off. One guy I just have a feeling about though is Kevin Love. Doesn't have anything to do with the fact that he said "he would love to come to Milwaukee" he just has that star crossed Rob Horry-type career look. Not going to beat you athletically necessarily but will find a way to outsmart you. Never can have too many of them on a championship team. No trade moves as of yet but the Redd to Cleveland rumors are still running. Seems there are some Bucks fans who do not this is a good idea at all but The Bob Boozer Jinx seeks to put all their fears to rest.
You may have heard of David Stern's comments over the weekend regarding the future of the Bradley Center. The Commish does not forsee a Seattle type situation here but acknowledges that something will need to happen in the next say five years. If you're wondering just how strapped for cash the Senator's team is MJS has an interesting discussion about the Bucks revenue.

Marquette.
After not being invited to an NBA pre-draft camp guard Jerel McNeal came crawling back to school for his senior season. Just kidding glad to have him back. Sorry for the news on his NBA prospects though. It doesn't look like many teams are checking for him, even after the standout tournament performance. This will give him one more year to really get it together. And thanks to Marquette we have once again managed to retain our best in-state talent at a state school. Touted Madison area 6'-6" high school recruit Jeronne Maymon has committed to MU. He will give them some athleticism on the wing, something sorely missing from the Crean teams. Now we just need to work on keeping Racine's Jamil Wilson in state.


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