Bucks, Brewers Set To (Shudder) Eclipse Packers?

While the Packers will probably always reign supreme in the hearts and minds of Wisconsin sports fans, it’s not totally insane to imagine the balance shifting more toward the Bucks and Brewers over the next couple of seasons.

Despite the Bucks losing to the Pistons in five games in this week’s opening round playoff series, the team has an exciting nucleus of young players that will only get better in what — if you take out the Pistons team that just whipped Milwaukee by 29 points — is proving to be a more wide-open Eastern Conference than many people (myself included) expected.

The real shame of this year’s Eastern Conference playoffs is not that the Bucks lost to the Pistons, but that Milwaukee didn’t play well enough toward the end of the season to avoid having to play Detroit in the first round. One look at the difficulties that Miami is having with Chicago, that the Nets are having with the Pacers, or even that the Cavaliers are having with the Wizards, and it’s not hard to imagine that had the Bucks drawn a higher seed, they would still be playing and playing with a real hope of advancing. Next year they won’t run into the top seed in the first round and they’ll advance.

Granted it’s only May, but the Brewers are more than hanging tough in a division that’s turning out to be one of the toughest — if not the toughest — in baseball. I’m still not predicting any World Series rings in the near future, but like the Bucks, the Brewers have a solid core group of everyday players — Fielder, Weeks, Hardy — who look to be around for a while. Right now, with the combo of the younger players and Carlos Lee, Geoff Jenkins, and Bill Hall, the Brewers are at the very least competitive and fun to watch.

Competitive and fun to watch: Don’t know if we’ll be able to say that about the Packers anytime soon. Maybe if the Bears stink next year (when was the last time they were good two years straight?), the Vikings continue their dysfunctionality (firing the personnel director? Was their draft that bad?), and the Lions play like, well, the Lions, the Packers can win the division at 8-8 or 9-7. That’s a lot of ifs, but the future of the team will look even murkier next year after Favre departs.

But take heart, Wisconsin pro sports fan and let me be one of the first to say what you might be hearing more than you think over the next few years: “The Packers lost again? Well, we still have the Bucks and Brewers.”

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