The Wisconsin Sports Wank

So I woke up yesterday and my fiance' surprises me by saying she is going to the Chi for the weekend with her mother to visit relatives and is taking the kids with her, leaving me to an empty house and my own manly devices. So what did I do? Of course I plopped myself right in front of the tv and immersed myself in opening day of the college football season (very satifying btw to see Michigan lose their opener again, such angst in Ann Arbor!). And after seeing Wisconsin kick butt as expected I realized that I have been long overdue for a Wanking. Please forgive but like so many other of my fellow bloggers this is not my only gig or responsibility. But enough small talk, I'm back so let's get to it.

Packers C+.
So the Pack finished up the preseason with only win, but they did come away with some positives (and who really cares anyway it's the preseason). The Pack only won one game but were pretty much competitive in each one (except for the 49er's debacle). I believe we learned something about the charachter and talent level of AR (Aaron Rodgers). Let's face it there were a lot of reasons AR could have used to kind of sulk around and go thru the motions in training camp. I mean we went thru the whole Favre saga without hearing one negative peep from Rodgers (or really any other players on the team but still). This guy has waited around for four years to be given a chance to prove himself and then after finally getting a chance, management and his prima donna predecessor get into a little girly dance of wills that might delay his chance even longer? Anybody would be frustrated with a situation like that (think about it, if that happened at your job wouldn't you be like screw this company?) and maybe even let some of that frustration leak out. But not AR. He's shown us that he hasn't been lounging eating cheese curds for 4 years, and that he has a pretty good grasp of the offense. During live play he has shown poise and for the most part solid decision making skills. I think he has a ways to go to being called a great leader, but he has engendered confidence in his abilities and has the team solidly behind him.

The battle for a running back spot turned out to be very competitive too, with Vernand Morency and Noah Herron (guys who have been around for a while and have had their big moments)ending up as casualties. Honestly though I'm glad the talent level of the roster has risen above their abilities (I remember their college careers and was never impressed). By the way it was a cushy preseason for Ryan Grant wasn't it? He held out, got a nice new contract, showed up with an injury that is typical for an athelete who is out of shape, and played in one series all preseason. Way to milk those last 8 starts Ryan!

The complete last round of roster cuts is here. No real surprises there, a lot of those guys like Jake Allen and Deshawn Wynn (who could turn into some team's Ryan Grant someday)turned around and got signed to the practice squad.

The defensive injuries and lack of pash rush remain a constant theme, which isn't helped by Johnny Jolly getting busted trying to make sizzurp down south. For the first time in his tenure Thompson has not grabbed anyone off the last waiver wire so it looks like this is what we are going to battle with, Lord help us.

Brewers B+.
It'd be an A if they could manage to catch the Cubs who stubbornly refuse to lose all of the sudden (those 5 games left against them loom larger and larger). Currently the Crew is 5 games back in the NL Central, 5 games up on the Cards for the NL Wildcard. Brewers have been on kind of cruise control lately, gobbling up games they should win against lesser opponents (I like how the Cards are so flustered about getting owned this year by the Crew 10-5). CC Sabaithia has been on cruise control throwing shutouts and no hittlers left and right and being mentioned in Cy Young discussions. All very satisfying, I'm glad the Brewers have made me start paying attention this year. But Between the Green Pillars says these things need to happen before we start post season planning.

Speaking of post season runs Brewers Bar speculated on who might get called up in the next few weeks. We've heard a lot about Gamel and Salome over the season, it'd be interesting to see how they react to being exposed to the crucible of a pennant race on their first call up.

Ryan Braun is back in the lineup along with Ricky Weeks, who has had some injury problems but also some success as of late and this makes me wonder why Mike Rivera isn't used more often. Let's hope everybody can stay relatively healthy from here on out.

People have really been piling the criticism on The Mota (Guillermo) this season, but Tom Hardicourt says we should cut him some slack for turning his performance around late season, so we'll see. Besides he might become one of the best pitchers on the roster when Sheets and CC walk.

Let Right Field Bleachers take you down memory lane.

Not much going on in Bucks land right now. Guess were still basking in the Redeem Team accomplishment (to which Michael Redd contributed precious little). Bogut got hurt, but also had some performances worthy of a starting NBA center playing on the international level. He practically willed his team into the medal round even though his idiot coach refused to use the basic strategy of designing your team's offense around it's best player. Meanwhile Coach K used Redd in a way that insured he would be uneffective. Redd needs touches and minutes to generate the output generally associated with the starting 2-guard of the Bucks. Coming off the bench (way off) meant these were in short supply thus his subpar performance. But then if you are looking for Olympic basketball gold and Redd is one of your leading scorers on a team with Wade, LBJ, and Kobe you probably have problems.

There's not much enthusiasm going around about the Bucks offseason moves or for the outlook next season, but I think we are headed in the right direction. Obviously Hammond thinks Ramon Sessions could be a gamer and I think there could be one more trade coming down the line somewhere.

Badgers B+.
In the win against might Akron. Seriously it was good to see the Badgers on the field again after all the preseason poll posturing. They took care of business against a team that they were supposed to handle, unlike some of our Big Ten conference mates (lol, Michigan!). Allan Everidge looked pretty good in his debut, made some costly mistakes but managed the game well. P.J. Hill picked up where he left, off running over cats with his Ron Dayne impression. And it looks like highly touted freshman John Clay is living up to the hype. Playing on that level should keep us safe against Marshall and Fresno St., but when we go to Ann Arbor at the end of September they will not be the same team that lost to Utah (who are no slouches). So we need to keep improving and get rid of those niggling little mistakes.

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Black folks we got to do better

In my surfing of the internet I often come across things that make me cringe in embarrasment for my peoples, black folk (I usually try to refrain from using the word 'race' because there is no scientific basis for this concept of classifying homo sapiens), most of which could be turned into fodder for whole essays/posts regarding a wide variety of topics. But because I'm a busy guy and this blog already seeks to cover a lot of ground as it relates to 'society' and I do a barely half-assed job of that, I'm just going to try to turn them into one of those running installments that blogs often have. I always liked Charlie Murphy (ever since the K9 Posse) and his short lived tv show so I decided to jack the name because it is so appropriate for the clip below.

There's not anything intrinsically wrong with it. It's a story some news station in the Bay Area did about a new car muffler modification that is all the rage in that part of Cali now. The modification make the muffler make a noise that a lot of local residents think is annoying but the journalist who did this story manages to find some residents who don't see anything wrong with it.

I just dare you to watch without cringing.


THE Wisconsin Sports Wank

Well I know everyone is Wisconsin is feeling much better this week now that 'The Drama' involving He Who Shall Not Be Named is over and the Brewers and Pack showed that their not dead yet. Shall we . . .

Packers. C+
For their first preseason game. Pack won the battle against the Bengals first team in the first quarter, but after the starters came out the defense go notably softer except for a few bright spots like the play of Abdul Hodge. This could probably mostly be chalked up to a current rash of injuries among defensive personnel, especially along the line, but still for the last 2 or 3 quarters it seemed like Cincinnati ran up the middle at will with whoever. But I, as most fans were, was really looking to use this game to get a guage on the progress on AR (Aaron Rodgers). In my opinion he did not disappoint. He managed the game well, made mostly the correct decisions at the right times, and limited his mistakes (hell his one pick and half of his IC's were the recievers fault). I think this what we'll see a lot of with AR: nothing particulary spectacular, but solid game management. And I see us going back to the days when the stars of the team were the recievers a'la' Sterling Sharpe and James Lofton, only now it will be Jennings, Jones, and Driver. Some more random observations/thoughts:

I see some of the improvement in Brandon Jackson that has been talked about this summer. AR took his one sack thanks to Jackson's blown blocking assignment, but he made up for that with several nice runs. Showed some ability to keep his legs moving.

I was almost verklempt over the outstanding class fans showed by giving AR a standing ovation as he came under center. Maybe the national media will get the picture now that the vast majority of Packer fans are solidly behind our team no matter what.

Woodson and Harris may be getting old, but they are still the best corners on the roster.

Nick Barnett might just jump to 'elite linebacker' status this season.

If Brian Brohm had come out last year and been thrown into a starting role, I think he would be labled a bust by now (not saying he will be, just in that situation).

And the latest training camp notes.

Brewers. B+
Crew are still in 2nd place in the division 3 games back, 8-2 in the last 10 and leading the wild card standings. Brewers have done a good job bouncing back from the Cubs sweep, though it was expected considering who they've played since then (Braves, Reds, Nats). The biggest dustup lately has been the little spat between Fielder and Parra caught on national tv. Although I'm way late to the comment party on this I must say I was a little disturbed by the level of bashing Prince took in the media and blogosphere for this incident. Personally I like Fielder and the dynamic that he brings to the clubhouse. He's obviously a passionate guy who cares about winning (the kind of player that in my opinion has been missing from the roster for about 15 years before he came along). His personality might be polarizing to fans, but I think he's the kind of spark the Brewers need to be real contenders (not certain but I think they've lost like one game since the incident) and for all the talk of his diminshed production this year it doesn't look like he's doing that bad. I can do without the public complaints about his contract, but isn't that typical of a lot of pro athletes? I think this quote from the Tom Hardicourt's JS blog sums it up best: Fielder has admitted many times in the past that he has a temper but he also is considered a central part of the club, on and off the field. Players often talk about the chemistry within the clubhouse and veteran infielder Craig Counsell said he didn't expect that to be altered by the incident.
"You never want stuff like that to happen," said Counsell. "But who cares? We lost tonight. That's the worst thing that happened.

The latest reason for worry warts like me to panic is Ryan Braun's injury troubles. Needless to say the Brewers will need his bat if they want to go deep into the playoffs.

CC Sabaithia leads the leauge in complete games and Sheets just tossed a complete shutout so he's trying to keep pace, however Between the Green Pillars raises the question are we depending too much on our aces? I say that since it seems like the fan and media consesnsus is that it's a fat chance that either will be here after this season, smoke 'em while you got 'em.

Mike Rivera doesn't get much playing time behind Jason Kendall, but always seems to make the best of his chances. Even to a casual fan like me it seems like Kendall is in the downslide of his career so playing Rivera more couldn't hurt.

BrewerFan.net has an interesting retro comparison between the '92 Crew (last to seriously contend with Yount and Molitor) and this year's edition.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pleasantly surprised me the other day by dropping some knowledge on the little known fact that Milwaukee had a Negro League team.

Didn't Dick Weeks 4 hit game make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Holy cow I was just about to write that there wasn't much going on in Buck's land this week besides commentary on how Redd and Bogut are doing in the Olympics when I saw the latest post over at BrewHoop. Seems Hammond is once again making some changes to the roster, shipping out Mo Williams and Dez Mason to Cleveland and Oklahoma City respectively for Luke Ridnour, Damon Jones, and Adrian Griffin in return. I should mention that this is not official yet but I would tend to trust BrewHoops sources. Kind of makes sense, there's really not enough balls to go around to satisfy Mo's shooting jones and Adrian Griffin fills the need at the small forward position. Damon coming back to Milwaukee, I'm not so high on. It's obvious from the way he bolted after his one previous season here that he thinks he's too good a player to be here (not) and in my opinion he's not the best team guy. Hopefully he'll be used as trade bait. The Bob Boozer Jinx takes a deeper look at the trade. And the Bucks may soon have another new addition, big man Francisco Elson.

Speaking of trades have you paid attention to Yi Jianlin's performance in the Olympics so far? No doubt we got the best end of that trade.

University of Wisconsin football.
More preseason poll hype for those who get into that, blah blah blah. I'm ready for them to strap it up.

Marquette University basketball.
No news from the recruiting trail lately but Cracked Sidewalks, the premier blog for Marquette athletics, has a good preview of the upcoming Big East season.

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Pick your side now, and stick with it

So now on the heels of the unimaginable scenario we come to the inevitable decision.

Packer 'fans' choose your side now, and choose wisely for I view this as being the defining moment for the fan base of this franchise.

This situation has ripped the Packer nation asunder, turned brother against brother and thrown fellow fans into heated debates.

I won't seek to rehash the events of the past few months in this post, if you have visited this site before you know well my opinion of it.

But now that The Great One has made his bed to lie in, we fans have a choice to make: Be ye for the Packers or for The Great One.

Pick the Pack and you may forever despise Ted Thompson as the guy who drove The Great One out of town with his hubris, but ultimately you will be redeemed. For you will be standing for the legacy of the only publicly owned franchise in professional sports. For the ideal that in a team sport no one man, no matter how great, can rise above the welfare of the team. That you will not blindy sacrifice the hoped for glory of one season for the future of this franchise. Brett Favre (yes I will refer to him by name one last time) was/is a great legendary future HOF quaterback who did much to restore the Pack's standing as one of the elite teams in the NFL. But his time with us is over. And yes the Pack may stumble in the wake of his departure, but eventually they will rise again and a new star will emerge. Before Favre there was Majikowski, before him there was Starr, and in the future there will be another.

Pick The Great One and you will be bitter for the rest of your days of fandom. I read a comment on an article about the proposed trade with the Bucs where the 'fan' stated that if he were traded he would immediately abandon his allegiance to the Pack and blindly follow The Great One. I pity this commenter, but wish him all the luck in the world in following a player who clearly does not embody the principles he claimed to uphold. Yes there is plenty of blame to pass around for the situation unfolding as it has, but it's undeniable that the manipulative and selfish aspect of The Great Ones personality has been exposed.

So again choose wisely. I for one will not abandon the team I grew up rooting for and defending. In my view to do so would be to go against everthing people are saying is wrong with pro sports today, overpaid athletes with overblown egos thinking they are bigger than the game.

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A Loss in Our Community

I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere but in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel by columnist Eugene Kane, so I feel the need to try to get some exposure to this topic (even though this blog seriously lacks exposure). The board that oversees the operation of America's Black Holocaust Museum decided recently to close the institutions doors permanently due to financial difficulties in funding it's operation.

Milwaukee's population is 37% percent black, but I would venture a guess that 7 out of 10 AA's you might meet on the street would not even be aware of the fact that we have a museum dedicated to the documentation of the dangers of being black in the U.S. during the first half of this century.

The museum was founded by James Cameron, a rare survivor of an attempted lynching, who basically started the museum with his own funds with most of the exhibit consisting of his personal documentation and research:

In the early days of his museum, most exhibits were little more than scarecrow-like figures in hooded sheets. His voluminous archive of historical facts and newspaper articles about black people lynched in small southern towns or the actual bills of sale for black slaves were often displayed in random piles.

What this brother managed to do with his life is amazing to me. From staring down at a sea of hate contorted white faces eagerly anticipating your death to founding an institution that stood to teach an entire community about it's history and everything he saw in between, he truly had a remarkable life.

It's just a cliched shame that his life work will now probably fall by the wayside to be forgotton, as have so many our great institutions.

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