Archive for July, 2007

Eleven Thoughts On My Eleventh Anniversary
July 27, 2007

In honor of my eleventh wedding anniversary today, here’s eleven things I’m thinking about:

1. Barring some sort of definitive evidence that shows that Michael Vick had nothing to do with and no knowledge of the dogfighting that was taking place on his property, I don’t see Vick ever playing professional football again. I think he’ll be banned by NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell. I know we’re supposed to believe in “innocent until proven guilty,” but it’s not a stretch to believe that Vick had at least knowledge of this activity. He’s a bad dude. What’s tragically unfortunate here is not Vick’s future — he’s already made more money than 99.99% of the population will make in their lifetimes and no way will he serve any jail time over this — but that we are again seeing support and condemnation of Vick divided along racial lines. Nothing has changed since O.J, and it’s a damn shame.

2. Packers training camp begins Saturday. Unless you’re drinking the crazy Kool-Aid that Jon Kitna is serving up (I think the Texans will win the Super Bowl before the Lions win 10 games in one season), you have to like the Packers going into the season. The Bears, who stupidly let Thomas Jones go to the Jets, won’t be as good. The Vikings, with Tavaris Jackson at quarterback, will struggle again on offense and won’t be as good on defense following the loss of their coordinator. The only team in the division I see as improving is the Packers. They certainly have a shot to win what will likely again be the weakest division in the weakest conference.

3. Forget about the road woes of the Brewers for a second and how they are in real danger of losing their first-place position in the NL Central not in late August like I predicted but THIS WEEKEND. Let’s focus for a second on Ryan Braun. Who doesn’t love this guy? .525 against left-handers? A .676 slugging percentage? Plus he has a great nickname, “The Hebrew Hammer.” Superstar in the making.

4. I have no problem with the Big Ten adding a twelfth team, but I do have a problem with the conference wanting to do so to blatantly accommodate the Big Ten Network. Maybe I’m being naive, but do we really want television to dictate something as important as the expansion of the storied Big Ten? Hasn’t TV done enough (interminable timeouts, World Series and NBA playoff games starting after kids have already gone to bed) to screw up sports?

5. Big Brother 8. Hey, I didn’t say everything would be sports-related. I guess at this point I’m pulling for Dustin, the shoe salesman from Chicago. I liked Dick for a while, but now he’s being too much of an insecure bully. Plus Dustin lists the Shelley Long disaster Troop Beverly Hills as one of his favorite films. Gotta love that.

6. No way should Badger coach Bret Bielema sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at Wrigley Field on Monday as he is scheduled to do. Bielema obviously doesn’t represent the Brewers, but it’s not too great a leap from Bucky to Bernie, and most Brewer fans hate the Cubs. Usually it’s because the Cubs suck some of the Brewer fan base away, but this year — with the Cubs slowly but surely chipping away on the Brewers’ NL Central lead — the rivalry is intensified. Bielema should stay away, and the Brewers should give him incentive to do so. Maybe he could run in the sausage race or slide down Bernie’s slide. Or go on a date with Ryan Braun (see number 3).

7. You know who likes Michael Vick right now? NBA commissioner David Stern. Commish should send Vick a nice bouquet of roses (which reminds me . . . ). I won’t say that the Vick dogfighting story is making the Tim Donaghy gambling scandal go away, but it is stealing headlines. Maybe the NBA could market itself as a cleaner alternative to the NFL: “Hey, sure our referees are corrupt, but at least our players don’t electrocute dogs.” It could work.

8. A reminder to ESPN not to get too worked up about Major League Soccer. Sure your coverage of David Beckham’s first game became your most-viewed soccer telecast ever, with 1.5 million total viewers. Sounds impressive until you realize that the season premiere of the VH1 reality series Hogan Knows Best starring washed-up former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan scored 1.6 million viewers. And Hulk Hogan isn’t even expected to single-handedly save an entire sport.

9. If The View adds the intolerable Whoopi Goldberg to its panel, forget it. I will watch The Price Is Right instead any day of the week. Drew Carey’s not a bad choice for that show. He’s funny and he’s hosted before. But isn’t it weird that out of a largely forgettable sitcom — The Drew Carey Show — came two stars — Carey and Craig Ferguson — who have been awarded very profitable franchises on the CBS network?

10. Barry Bonds and Bob Costas are going at it. I love that Bonds feels the need to go after Costas, calling him a “little midget man who knows (nothing) about baseball.” (Well, he did write at least one book about the sport, Barry.) I’ve loved Costas since his appearance on the third anniversary of Late Night with David Letterman, during which he helped welcome to the world the official “Late Night Baby.” Check it out. Someone’s probably posted it on YouTube. Anyway, I’m on Costas’s side all the way on this one.

11. Some people say I don’t mention NASCAR or golf enough in my blog. So this one’s for those readers. I just mentioned them both. Hope this suffices.

Bonds, Aaron, Vick, and Those Cowards at ESPN
July 20, 2007

So Barry Lamar Bonds is bringing his MHP (Most Hated Player) show to Wisconsin this weekend for a three game series with your NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers. What was a couple of days ago a big deal (think Spice Girls reunion if you have a longing for 90s nostalgia) suddenly became a much more ginormous deal (think Husker Du reunion if you grew up in the 1980s in Minneapolis) after Bonds hit two home runs Thursday in a loss (of course) to the Cubs to close to within two homers of tying Hank Aaron’s record of 755 HRs

If Bonds were to tie or break Aaron’s record at Miller Park this weekend, the historic event would carry even extra weight given the fact that it was at Milwaukee’s County Stadium that Hank Aaron — then playing for the Brewers — hit his 755th and last home run in 1976.

But ticket holders for any of the three games this weekend shouldn’t get their hopes up, nor should fans hoping to witness history take out a second mortgage on their home to purchase tickets for any of the games. Bonds is not going to break or even tie the record this weekend.

Bonds cares about Bonds. He doesn’t care about what Hank Aaron thinks, what commissioner Bud Selig thinks, or what the fans think. But he isn’t stupid nor does he lack self-awareness. He knows that Hank Aaron thinks he’s the biggest load of pond scum since Ike Turner. He knows that Bud Selig wishes he would vanish faster than Katrina and the Waves. And he knows that the fans that attend MLB games in every ballpark in the country think Bonds breaking Aaron’s home run record is the worst thing to happen to baseball since the strike in 1994.

Well, every ballpark in the country except one. Because sports fans in San Francisco — in a classic case of an “us against them” mentality — have embraced Bonds. And why not? The Giants have the worst record in the National League and aren’t going anywhere. The 49ers haven’t turned in a winning season since Ally McBeal was the hottest thing on television. Even the city’s United Soccer League’s Premier Development League team has been eliminated from the playoffs this season.

So Bonds and the Giants will do whatever it takes to prevent Bonds from breaking Aaron’s home run record this weekend in Milwaukee. I look for Bonds to sit out most of the weekend with the probable exception of Saturday’s game (FOX picked it up, and even though it’s scheduled for only 9% of the country, that’s still more exposure than the spotlight-lovin‘ Bonds gets for a regular-season game).

The fact that Milwaukee won’t be home to baseball history this weekend is just fine by me. No matter what the numbers say, Aaron will always be the Home Run King to me. I don’t want to see another number 755 hit here.

Quick takes . . .

Lest you think ESPN isn’t in the business of coddling the athletes that provide the network its only reason for existence (sorry, I don’t see the network surviving on “Dream Job” or “Around the Horn”), take a look at the jokes that ESPN cut out of host Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue from this year’s ESPY Award show. Certainly nothing offensive, just jokes poking fun at sports stars — Michael Vick, Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant — that more than have it coming. Nice to know ESPN is so sensitive to Michael Vick’s feelings.

Speaking of Michael Vick, he needs to be suspended. The NFL has set a precedent with its treatment of “Pacman” Jones, it needs to do the same to Vick or new commissioner Roger Goddell runs the risk of being accused of treating the league’s “star” players differently and completely destroying the credibility he has so far earned. Even though I usually find the group to be completely annoying (remember how they wanted to change the name of the “Packers” because of the name’s meat-packing connotations?), here I agree with PETA 100 percent. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Burger King.

Just Like The Spice Girls, I Have Returned
July 13, 2007

Well, it’s been a month. No, not a month since the last time I attended a dogfight at Michael’s Vick’s place, but a month since I last posted a blog.

How can someone go an entire month between blog postings? Shouldn’t a blog be updated on a regular basis, kind of like Adam “PacmanJones’s police blotter?

Well, I was away for a little while. No, not like Paris Hilton went away for a little while. My wife and I welcomed a baby daughter on June 18. So we’ve been distracted, but in a very positive way.

If you’re a sports fan, having a newborn in the house is a mixed blessing. Yes, you’re sleep deprived and you’re cranky and your fingers almost always smell like poop (sorry, but it’s true). But you’re home. You can almost always have the game on. Sure it’s muted, but who wants to hear Bill “Check Out My Good Feet Orthodics” Schroeder anyway?

Anyway, good to be back on the blog. Tell your friends, neighbors, and clergy.

I wanted to mention something right away — baseball fans in general and Brewer fans specifically should head down to the Wisconsin Historical Museum at 30 North Carroll Street in Madison between July 17 and December 2 for a fascinating exhibit they will have going on called World Series Wisconsin. The exhibition marks not only the 25th anniversary of the Brewers winning the AL pennant but also the 50th anniversary of the Milwaukee Braves winning the World Series. We had a couple of guests from the museum appear on a WISC-TV show I produce (For the Record; no, I don’t just write blogs for a living!) and they brought along several very cool artifacts that will be on display at the Museum, many more of which will be on hand at the exhibit. Check it out. There will also be a fundraiser on Sunday, July 22, that will provide attendees the opportunity to meet a couple of players from teams past. Check out www.wisconsinhistory.org/museum for all of the details.

The hook for the exhibit is that “every 25 years the World Series comes to Wisconsin,” which of course implies that in 2007 the fall classic (well, at least games three through five thanks to the National League’s continued incompetence in the All-Star Game) will set up shop at Miller Park. Anybody who read my previous blog entry a month ago knows that on June 13 I thought there was a better chance of Star Jones appearing on the cover of Maxim Magazine than of the Brewers winning the NL pennant in 2007. But then the Brewers went on a stretch where they won 11 of 14, which I was happy about, except for the fact that I knew that last blog entry of mine was just sitting out there on the “information superhighway” (as the kids call it) making me look stupid while I was on paternity leave and busy trying to figure out how to keep a six-day-old baby quiet so I could watch Seinfeld DVDs.

But right now I don’t feel quite so stupid. The Brewers finished the first half of the season on a 3-7 run, losing three straight series to the Cubs, Pirates, and the Nationals. Their lead in the NL Central is now less — 4.5 games over the Cubs — than it was when I told Brewer fans to “panic” on June 13, when they had a 5.5 game cushion over Chicago. The Brewers have lost more road games than any team in the NL except the Astros, Reds, and Giants. Bill Hall, who had settled in quite nicely in center field, is on the DL with a high ankle sprain, the type of injury known to keep athletes sidelined for as many as six weeks. Rickie Weeks can’t seem to shake a nagging wrist injury and has recorded eight hits in his last 53 at bats. Chris Capuano hasn’t recorded a win since May 7 and now boasts an ERA of 4.78. At least that’s slightly better than Jeff Suppan, who now has an ERA of 5.00. Not quite what the Brewers expected when they signed the former Cardinal to a 4-year, $42-million contract last off season.

So does all of this mean that I still think the Brewers will miss the postseason? Despite having MVP candidate Prince Fielder, Rookie of the Year candidate Ryan Braun, Ben Sheets staying healthy, and Francisco Cordero leading the majors in saves?

Yes, I guess it does.

Although I give the Brewers a much better chance of winning the World Series than I do of David Beckham’s signing with the Los Angeles Galaxy having any appreciable impact on the popularity of soccer in the United States.

Here’s how I see it: I see the Brewers hanging on to first place for about another month. I see a nine-game road trip at the end of August with Arizona, San Francisco — a team that will feel the weight of the world lifted off of it once Bonds passes Aaron, which he will have done by then — and yes, the Cubs, as the point when the Brewers will find themselves in second place, where they will likely finish the season. It will be a disappointing ending, yes, but not a surprise to fans paying close attention.

I know Brewers fans are sick of hearing this, but experience (this is still a very young team), and in particular experience being in a division race and being so close to the postseason — will aid this group of players immeasurably. Here are the words no one wants to hear but which I will say anyway: Wait ’til next year. At least this time those words mean something.