Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday 9-26

Some short takes on sports today:

Eric Gagne is making it very difficult to boo him nowadays. The whipping boy of the Brewers porous bullpen has been public enemy number one after blowing several games early in the season--while making a team-record ten-million dollars this year. But yesterday, Gagne won over many fans by purchasing five-thousand tickets for last night's game--then giving them away to fans for free. While the 50-thousand dollars it probably cost him to buy all of those tickets is pocket change for someone making ten-million dollars--it's still a very laudable act. Then Gagne goes out and pitches a scoreless inning of relief (after entering the game to a standing ovation). How are you supposed to boo a guy that comes through for the fans like that? We may actually miss his ten-million dollar butt next year.

CC Sabathia may not make ten-million dollars, but he is earning every single penny the Brewers are paying him this season. CC is in the final year of a contract the Crew acquired from Cleveland in his mid-season trade--and will likely get somewhere around 20-million a season on the free agent market this winter. But the Big Guy is putting all of that cash at risk by buying into Dale Sveum's "Desperation Rotation" strategy and agreeing to pitch on only three day's rest the last two weeks of the season. CC's agent has reportedly told the team to stop treating his star client like a rented mule--but Sabathia has told him to shut up, because he wants to make the playoffs with the Brewers. I think the Brewers should demand a federal bailout program to keep CC in the fold for another few years. It would do us here in Wisconsin more good than bailing out AIG.

Finally, it's unfortunate the Brewers won't be able to play at "home" for the final three games of their playoff push. A trip to "Wrigley Field North" this weekend to take on the Cubs will probably keep them from making the post-season. I hope the Brewer fans who sold their tickets to the Northside Numbskulls can sleep okay knowing they gave up their team's home field advantage for a bag full of gold coins. Maybe Eric Gagne can buy back all of those tickets and give them away to real fans.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday 9-22

Just a few notes from the Cowboys-Packers game at Lambeau last night.

I couldn't believe how many Cowboys fans there where at the game last night. As I was walking in the parking lot there were a couple of tailgate parties featuring only fans wearing the blue star on all of their clothing. I also noticed quite a few Tony Romo jerseys in the stands all night. Does the "Golden Boy" have that many friends and family members coming to the game? Just how do visiting team fans get so many tickets from "loyal" Packers fans?

Can we officially bury the "mystique" of Lambeau Field as a difficult place to win on the road? I thought it was dead when Michael Vick and the Falcons came in and won in the playoffs a few years ago. Then the Giants win in the bitter cold and the Cowboys get their first "W" ever in Green Bay. Maybe they made the place "too nice" during the renovations.

I was glad to hear the "Bring Brett Back" crowd dominating the call-ins during the post-game shows. They all agreed, the Pack would have scored at least 35-points if "Favre was quarterback tonight". Never mind the fact that Favre would have been sacked eight or ten times--and would have been picked at least two or three trying to force passes in to covered receivers.

How good is Jason Witten at tight end? Big one-on-one blocks during several long runs and one of the Cowboys touchdowns--a handful of clutch catches on third downs to keep the sticks moving--no showboating after a catch. If anyone plans to get me a Festivus gift this year, I'll take an authentic "road" jersey with number 82 and "Witten" on the back.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday 9-16

I'm sure some of you are expecting me to gloat today about the firing of Brewers Manager Ned Yost. I'm not going to do that. Nobody should celebrate someone else losing a job. I think even the most ardent Ned-hater didn't really want him to fail--because that meant the team as a whole had to fail. I thought it was too late in the season for a change at the helm to actually work--because your only managerial options would come from the same coaching staff that didn't have the team ready play in any of these games in September. And that is what we are getting in interim Manager Dale Sveum.

I find it interesting that General Manager Doug Melvin admitted the Ned firing is an act of desperation--looking for something to shock the team back in to playing winning baseball. I think the same thing could have been accomplished by cutting Eric Gagne, or designating Rickie Weeks for re-assignment or announcing that Jeff Suppan will not start another game this year. I also get the feeling that the decision (or order) to let Ned go came right from owner Mark Attanasio--who has dumped a lot of money into a team that may be flushing it all down the toilet this month.

So what difference will Dale Sveum make on the final two weeks of the season? I guess we will find out tonight in Chicago. If Rickie Weeks swings at the first pitch he sees and pops out--then nothing is going to change. The same applies if Prince Fielder drops the first throw to first base that comes in below his knees--or if Mike Cameron strikes out three times or if Jason Kendall grounds into a pair of double plays with men in scoring position and one out.

The one good thing about this week's decision is that it finally sends a message to the young stars on this team that losing will not be tolerated in any way. Gone are the days of "we competed hard and things just didn't go our way tonight"--or celebraing a winning record like its just as good as a playoff berth.

I still don't think the Brewers recover to make the playoffs. The fatal flaws in personnel are still there--and can't be addressed until the off-season. They would include: finding a leadoff man who can get on base consistantly, a better grasp of the fundamentals like catching the ball, throwing the ball on target and not running into outs on the basepaths. A pitching coach that teaches pitchers to pound the strike zone instead of trying to nibble around the corners until you fall behind in the count and have to lay one down the middle that average hitters club 500-feet for game-changing home runs. A lights out closer and some reliable set-up men would also go along way toward fixing this year's problems.

There may not be hope for this year--but 2009 at Miller Park is already looking brighter.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday 9-8

The Green Bay Packers kick off their first post-Brett Favre season tonight. Here are my game-by-game predictions for the year:

Week 1 at home against Minnesota. Despite all of the concerns about starting an untested Aaron Rodgers the Packers still win this one tonight. Let's not forget that the Vikings are starting an injured Tavaris Jackson at quarterback.

Week 2 at Detroit. The Lions looked as pathetic as ever in getting run over by the Atlanta Falcons yesterday. I'll take the Packers in this one as well to move them to 2-0.

Week 3 versus Dallas. Here's where the Packers find out just how far they are from the elite teams in the NFL as the 'Boys roll into Lambeau and just destroy them. I'll even give you a score on this one: 38-10.

Week 4 at Tampa Bay. Panic sets in in Titletown as the Packers lose two in a row. Even with Brett Favre, the Pack has never played well at the "New Sombrero".

Week 5 versus Atlanta. The Packers get back on the winning track by crushing a pathetic Falcons team with a rookie quarterback and weak defense.

Week 6 at Seattle. This is Mike Holmgren's final season with the Seahawks--and they give him a measure of revenge against his former employer.

Week 7 at home against Indianapolis. Some might think there is hope--since the Colts lost to the clueless Bears at home last night. But I think that was due more to the rustiness of Peyton Manning--who missed the entire pre-season due to minor elbow surgery. Peyton will be up to full speed by this time and the Colts will roll the Pack. That puts Green Bay at 3-4 heading into the bye--probably good enough for second place in the NFC North--just a game behind the Vikings.

Week 9 at Tennessee. Panic begins to set in at 1265 Lombardi Avenue as the Pack loses again to fall to 3-5. Tennessee is just too tough at home.

Week 10 at Minnesota. By this time, Tavaris Jackson will be hurt again and who knows who will be starting for the Vikes. Adrian Peterson will likely be hurt as well. Plus, you won't have the Brett Favre Metrodome Curse hanging over the Pack this time so Green Bay gets a must win on the road.

Week 11 back home against Chicago. Last night notwithstanding, the Bears stink and should be fighting with Detroit for last place by this time. Packers win at home to get back to .500.

Week 12 at New Orleans. If the city of Nawlins is still above water by this time, the Packers should make it three in a row by knocking off the Saints.

Week 13 at home against Carolina. I had this in the Packers win column before the Panthers went on the road to beat San Diego yesterday--without Steve Smith. Now, I'm not so sure. I'll still buy into the Lambeau Mystique and give Green Bay the win in this one.

Week 14 at home against Houston. The Texans stink--so make it five in a row for the Pack. That sould probably move them ahead of the sinking Vikings for first place in the North.

Week 15 at Jacksonville. The winning streak ends here as the Jags pound the Pack into submission.

Week 16 at Chicago. The Bears will be starting their four different quarterback of the season by this time and should be in shambles. The Pack wins this one easily and solidifies its playoff position.

Week 17 at home against Detroit. You really think the Lions are going to win an outdoor game in late December? The Packers win to finish the regular season at 10 and 6--good enough to win the NFC North by a game over the Vikes.

Playoffs: The Packers lose another home playoff game to the Defending Super Bowl Champion Giants. Fans are comforted by knowing the Jets--with Brett Favre--didn't even get within five games of making the playoffs in the AFC.

I should point out all of these predictions are based on Aaron Rodgers defying the odds and actually staying healthy through the entire season. If he goes down on the fourth snap of game one the Pack will be lucky to win four games.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wednesday 9-03

Back in April, I set out a list of goals for the summer--a set of "resolutions" if you will that I was finally going to meet. Today, I'll see how well I did.

The first resolution was to play 60-rounds of golf. According to the Wisconsin State Golf Association's handicap index site, I have recorded 43-rounds so far this season. Obviously, I need to pick up the pace here in September and October.

The second resolution was to put the top down on my Jeep Wrangler as much as possible. I know I haven't met that one. Too much rain in June, too many days with valuables in the back (golf clubs) the rest of the time. I've got the windows out right now--so that's pretty close.

I resolved to put a thousand miles on the bike this summer. I have to admit I'm at least 900-miles short of that goal. I guess we should have moved farther away from work. And everytime I went up north, I golfed instead of trail riding.

I resolved to make as many meals as possible on the grill. That one I think I met. Consider that I fired up the Char-Broil to make three hot dogs last night.

I didn't quite meet the next reolution--not to get a sock tan or a farmer tan. As my wife will attest, you could call me "Boots"--given my lilly white feet. And my nice tan ends at the shoulders. They just don't let you go around shirtless and shoeless at the golf course.

I didn't spend any more time than usual at the parents' cabin. Too many weekend golf tournaments. Four-dollar a gallon gas didn't help either. With high school football on Friday nights and Badger games on Saturday--I won't be making any more trips up there this year.

My final resolution was a success. Not once this summer did I complain about it being too hot. Of course, this week was the first time we saw the high side of 90 all summer--so that one was easier than usual.

Hopefully you can look back at your summer and not have to wish you had done more to enjoy it.