Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kenny Pettway to Solve All Defensive Line Problems

It's a little blurry, but we couldn't find a better picture of him, unless you count the ones where he's the car with now paralyzed Richard Collier. But this is our temporary answer to the Cullen Jenkins injury, and we hope he can make an impact.

As you can tell, Pettway comes to us from the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he was cut when the team brought their roster down to 53. Apparently, the Packers have had their eye on him since then, and were forced to pull the trigger (ooh... shouldn't use those words with the Collier reference).

More on the Pettway signing can be found at the JS Online Packer Blog.

I Agree, This Looks Pretty Funny

I just wanted to pass along along the sneak peak of "Mayne Street", a new series of webisodes premiering on ESPN.com come November 11th. It's worth a quick glance, especially the cameo appearance by Scott Van Pelt. We're looking forward to it.

(h/t Awful Announcing)

Nelson Over Dillon On 25 Man Roster

The 25 man roster has been set, and it's Brad Nelson that earns that spot that was up for grabs. Sort of a surprise that he was picked over Joe Dillon, but Sveum likes Nelson's power and his experience in the outfield. I don't really disagree with that at all. The other big news is that Ben Sheets, who was still a question mark, also did not make the initial roster. Here's what the Crew is going with as they try to bring home a ring:

Pitchers (12) - RHP Dave Bush, RHP Eric Gagne, RHP Yovani Gallardo, RHP Seth McClung, RHP Guillermo Mota, LHP Manny Parra, LHP CC Sabathia, LHP Brian Shouse, LHP Mitch Stetter, RHP Jeff Suppan, RHP Salomon Torres, RHP Carlos Villanueva

Catchers (2) - Jason Kendall, Mike Rivera

Infielders (7) - Craig Counsell, Ray Durham, Prince Fielder, Bill Hall, J.J. Hardy, Brad Nelson, Rickie Weeks

Outfielders (4) - Ryan Braun, Mike Cameron, Tony Gwynn Jr., Corey Hart

Just because someone may have not have made the playoff roster doesn't mean you won't see them, however. MLB rules allow for six players to suit up as extras in the dugout during the playoffs. For the Brewers, they are RHP Ben Sheets, OF Gabe Kapler, 3B Russell Branyan, C Vinny Rottino, RHP David Riske, and UTIL Joe Dillon.

Guys like Alcides Escobar, Tim Dillard, and Mark DeFelice will also travel with the team, just not in uniform. Todd Coffey decided to ask to join the Brewers for the playoffs even though he is ineligible to play, and his wish was granted.

Meanwhile, Angel Salome has traveled to Arizona for fall ball, and Mike Lamb chose to go home to his wife, who is expecting.

And as reader Jonk pointed out, this is the roster for the NLDS. Should the Brewers advance, changes could be made at that time.

Twenty-three hours until first pitch.

Another Major Injury Hurts Packers

While the exact status of Al Harris' spleen injury is still unknown, the situation regarding defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins is a little more clear. Jenkins has been placed on the Injured Reserve, which as you know, ends his season. It was a torn pectoral muscle that did the damage for Jenkins season.

That means the Packers are now without two of their mainstays on defense for the time being. Expect Michael Montgomery to fill Jenkins' spot in the starting lineup. You know, if the Brewers weren't on the forefront of everyone's minds right now, we might be getting a little panicky about what's happening up in Green Bay.

Some good news though this week, is that Aaron Rodgers only has a sprained shoulder, and will be able to go this week against Atlanta.

Familiar Lineup For Game One

It's going to be a familiar lineup for Dale Sveum as his Milwaukee Brewers take on the Philadelphia Phillies in Game One of the NLDS. They're going against the young stud lefty Cole Hamels, and the first pitch is scheduled for 2pm tomorrow. So facing a lefty, this is what Sveum has put together:

1. Mike Cameron CF
2. Bill Hall 3B
3. Ryan Braun LF
4. Prince Fielder 1B
5. J.J. Hardy SS
6. Corey Hart RF
7. Rickie Weeks 2B
8. Jason Kendall C
9. Yovani Gallardo RHP

Nothing too surprising there, although it would be nice if Corey Hart could actually do something in this series. We're still awaiting the word on the official 25 man roster, and we'll put that up when we get it.

Also, don't forget, if you have any thoughts on what it means to have the Brewers go to the playoffs for the first time in 26 years, I'll publish them. If you write a blog or have a link, I'll include that too. Send any thoughts to winks@thebuckychannel.com. It doesn't have to be long, just a few quick words.

(Thanks to Surviving Grady for the picture)

Monday, September 29, 2008

TBC's Player of the Game: Regular Season Standings

We realize we've yet to give out our Player of the Game awards for the weekend series against the Cubs, so here they are. On Friday, we're going to give it to Seth McClung for his four innings of relief work. Saturday, Prince picks up the nod in the loss. Sunday, as huge as Ryan Braun's home run was, we have to give it to CC Sabathia. With that, here are your final TBC Brewers Player of the Game Standings:

19 - Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder

12 - Mike Cameron

11 - J.J. Hardy, Ben Sheets

9 - CC Sabathia

8 - Bill Hall, Corey Hart

7 - Manny Parra, Gabe Kapler, Rickie Weeks

6 - Seth McClung

5 - Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush

4 - Jason Kendall

3 - Russell Branyan, Craig Counsell, Ray Durham

2 - Mitch Stetter, David Riske, Carlos Villanueva, Eric Gagne

1 - Tony Gwynn Jr., Yovani Gallardo, Joe Dillon, Salomon Torres, Brian Shouse, Mike Rivera

As you can see, it took a complete team effort to get here. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder definitely had a huge impact on this season, especially in that final week. I think you have to give the actual Brewers MVP award though to CC Sabathia, who has made the most impact per games played (no stats to back that up, just trust me).

We'll keep the standings up in the sidebar, as we'll continue the award through the playoffs.

Your Turn: Brewers Postseason Appearance

You've already listened to my take on the Brewers' making the playoffs for the first time since 1982, but this isn't just about me. As the players said at the rally themselves, we the fans have become the "10th man", and were a big part of the reason they won the Wild Card. Whether that's true or not, I'm not sure, but I like to think it is.

Personally, I think this is the greatest thing ever, but I want to hear from you. What does the Brewers making the playoffs mean to you? Are you satisfied with a playoff birth, or are you thirsty to pop champagne after a World Series win? I want you to send me your thoughts, whether it's a couple sentences, or a few thoughts, and I'll post them throughout the day. The email address is, as always, winks@thebuckychannel.com , and I look forward to reading them (Bear, you want to share your take at all? I mean you are the co-writer of this thing!)

In the meantime, you can read some of your fellow fans feeling on the playoff birth. My buddy Chris sent me this link from Right Field Bleachers, and it's worth a read. Also, James over at Fear the Beer has a pretty solid recap of the Brewers season.

Two days until Game One.

I Still Can Not Believe This

If you weren't in love with this team before, there's absolutely no way you can't be in love with them now. I'm watching the FSN broadcast of the postseason rally right now, and this is incredible. Now, I have no idea how this team is going to do in the playoffs, but I couldn't be more excited for the rise.

From Salomon Torres playing to the crowd, to Mike Cameron admitting he came here because we knocked his Padres out of the playoffs, to Jason Kendall getting applause because he said he drank a couple of beers today, watching this post-season send-off has been absolutely surreal.

Not to mention, Robin Yount just admitted he was hungover.

Some things I wanted to pass along as the Brewers board the plane to Philadelphia:

Haudricourt looks at the potential 25 man roster for the playoffs.

It appears Yovani Gallardo is going to get the start for Game One on Wednesday afternoon, which Sveum confirmed on the FSN broadcast. CC Sabathia said at the rally he'd be ready to go on Thursday, which would again be just three days rest. Still no official word however.

If you still haven't heard Uecker's call, just follow the first link over at the Daily Drink.

Brian Anderson will stay with the Brewers for the call on TBS. Good luck trying to appear neutral, Brian.

Here's the schedule for the series against the Phillies (all games on TBS):

Wed Oct 1st - @ Philadelphia - 2pm

Thur Oct 2nd - @ Philadelphia - 5pm

Sat Oct 4th - @ Milwaukee - 5pm

Sun Oct 5th - @ Milwaukee - TBA, if necessary

Tue Oct 7th - @ Philadelphia - TBA, if necessary

I still can't believe this, really. Stay with The Bucky Channel all week for Brewers news and insight. We'll have our final TBC Player of the Game standings up shortly, and more updates and we get them.

Also, we'll be at the weekend games, so hopefully I'll be able to pop some pictures up here Sunday night. We'll be tailgating for sure, so make sure you find us and we'll share a brew.

Suddenly, It Wasn't That Bad of a Weekend After All (Or, How The Brewers Made the Playoffs)

If I had to break it down, I would say that I write this blog for three reasons. The largest reason I write this is for you guys, my readers. You're the people that come here when you get the chance, to either browse some postings and/or participate in the discussion. A second reason is because I've also wanted someone from a radio station to view the site and add me as their guest interviewee, but that hasn't happened yet. Perhaps the one reason that keeps me going even in the dark times however, is that this serves as my diary.

I like the fact that I have an outlet to let all my feelings, emotions, and expressions out. I like the fact that people have the chance to then view and participate with those thoughts. After the Packers lost the NFC Championship Game, the first thing I did was sit down at the computer and put my feelings into print, because I always wanted to be able to relive what that was like.

That's what I'm doing this weekend. Up until around 4pm on Sunday, this was shaping up to be one of the worst weekends in Wisconsin sports history. Not only that, I was having just a terrible weekend in general. In order to explain to you how much it meant to me that the Brewers clinched a playoff spot today, I have to describe to you the whole weekend. All the posts I missed this weekend will be covered in this article. It's probably going to be a long one, and I'm writing it after a bottle of champagne, but I hope you stick around.

If you want to skim it, that's fine. Feel free. I'm doing this because whenever the Brewers let me down again, whether it's in the near future or a long time from now, I want to remind myself of the one day they made everything right in the world.

We start with Friday. It's a decent enough day, although I'm a little bored. The plans for the weekend call for me traveling back to La Crosse with a few buddies for the annual Oktoberfest celebration. Now, I haven't been to La Crosse in two weeks, which is a big deal for me, because the last day I was in the city was the last day I worked as a television reporter there. I didn't really say goodbye to people like I should have, so this was going to be my going away party. That, and I wanted to show off my new beard (it's hard to grow facial hard as a tv reporter, and I love having facial hair).

Friday was good, for the most part. The Brewers got big peformances out of Jeff Suppan, Seth McClung, and Rickie Weeks as they beat the Cubs 5-1. While I never made it to the Oktoberfest fest grounds, I did have a good time in downtown La Crosse and was able to see a lot of old friends. So far, so good.

As soon as I woke up Saturday, however, I knew things were not going to go my way. The biggest problem facing me was my health. Not only was a stuck with a headache from the night prior, but for some reason, I had the worst allergy attack I've ever had in this lifetime. All I wanted to do was nap, but I had made the three hour drive to be with friends and have a good time, so I attempted to carry on.

Staying alert definitely proved to be a struggle though, so we headed back to a friends house to watch the Brewers possibly clinch their first playoff birth in 26 years. Unfortunately, the Mets had beat the Marlins 2-0, so the best the Brewers could do was pick up a victory against the Cubs and then try again on Sunday. While the Crew had plenty of chances, they ultimately lost to the Cubbies in demoralizing fashion, 7-3.

It was a tough loss to take, but as a Wisconsin fan, you're trained to try to look for the positives. My buddies and I figured we could find solace in the Wisconsin Badgers, who were leading Michigan 19-0 the last time we had checked in on the action. When we turned back to ABC after the Brewers lost, we caught the tail end of the touchdown that gave the Wolverines the lead. We stayed with the game until the heartbreaking finish, when the Badgers had a 2 point conversion negated by a penalty, and then couldn't convert their second try. They lost the game 27-25, and things were suddenly getting worse at rapid speed.

Now, I have no idea who this girl is, but I posted it to call you out for skimming this posting. Anyway, after the Badger loss, we decided it was time to rejoin the Oktoberfest celebration, and forget our troubles of being a Wisconsin sports fan for the day. I was starting to conquer my allergies as well, so things were on the up and up.

When we arrived at the Oktoberfest grounds, things weren't as fun as we imagined. I was with two of my buddies, who I'll call Woos and Bear (who you may remember before he mysteriously quit contributing to this blog). We weren't having fun at the fairgrounds, mainly because it was a "been there, done that" sort of thing. If you've never been to the celebration, I recommend going, it's a fun time. But if you go once, there's really no need to go again. The same bands play the same songs for the same people, year after year. That, and a town that usually sells everything on the cheap (I know, I lived there for six years) suddenly jacks up there prices to take advantage of the out of towners.

After many tries and many "C'mon, we can have fun!"'s, we decided it was best to go home. Forget about the day, and start anew on Sunday.

It seemed like a good idea, until we actually made the trip back to Fond du Lac and found ourselves in front of two tv's. One had the Packers game on, the other was switching between the Brewers game and the Mets contest. After talking big about how I was going to watch the Packers, I ended up watching only about seven minutes of the game, as I was locked in on the Crew. Big game for the Brewers not withstanding, I couldn't believe I allowed myself to pay that little attention to Packers game. In fact, I'm sure at least one of your friends told you how Sunday was "the best Packers loss day ever", or something to that extent.

What I did see of the Packers game though wasn't pretty. The Packers played poorly throughout the contest, as they loss to the Buccaneers 30-21. Besides the turnovers, the defense played pretty poorly, as it seems they are having a difficult time stopping anyone on third downs. Perhaps more disappointing was Ryan Grant's 15 attempts for 20 carries performance, which also included a touchdown that was returned for an interception. Way to totally under performance after signing a big contact Ryan. Like nobody saw that one coming.

In addition to that, it wasn't a good day for Aaron Rodgers, although I don't put all the blame on him today. Granted, I may again be accused of "drinking the Kool-Aid", which I'll accept. I just thing the offensive line played poorly, the receivers couldn't catch the ball, and McCarthy once again showed some conservative play-calling. But that is all in addition to the poor performance from Rodgers.

I'm not leaving the Rodgers bandwagon anytime soon, but it was discouraging to see him rough up his shoulder. I have to be honest, this was not the situation I wanted to see Matt Flynn get his first NFL snaps in. Rodgers may have a separated shoulder, but they can just pop that back in, I hope. Still, it didn't help for all the Ted Thompson haters that Brett Favre threw a personal best six touchdown passes today (Fine, I'll admit. It was a good performance. But, on the other hand, the Cardinals defense is terrible, and the Jets barely tried to run the ball. These are just some of the facts I hope you consider before you start saying things like "Favre is way better than Rodgers". Please. Consider these things.)

With all those things happening, it's easy to see I was NOT having a good weekend. And with the Brewers struggling to find any offense with the Cubs, and the Mets coming back against the Marlins, more heartbreak looked to be just around the corner.

But then, with one swing of the bat, everything changed.

I can't remember a time where I've screamed louder for a longer period of time than when Ryan Braun cracked a two run shot over the fence to put Milwaukee up 3-1. Granted, there was still an inning to go, and the Mets still had some fight in them, but I could feel the playoffs coming. I was nervous, and unsure at times, but at that moment, when that ball cleared the fence, it started to become clear that the Brewers were going to make the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. The first time in my lifetime.

You know, even as I just wrote that sentence at 2:03am on Monday morning, I still can't believe that it's true. The Brewers are in the playoffs. Say that out loud, if you would. It's unbelievable.

Why is it so unbelievable? Because we're talking about the Milwaukee Brewers here. We're talking about a team I have been rooting for ever since I first understood what sports were. A team that I saw fall just short of the AL East pennant in 1992. A team that I had a hard time loving because of my hatred towards baseball after the strike. A team that I fell back in love with in the late 1990's, even though that logo was so atrocious. A team that gave us a 100 plus loss season when I did come back around.

A team that gave us Jeffrey Hammonds, Jose Hernandez, and Nick Neugebauer. A team that continued to disappoint us even while trying to rebuild. A team that blew a 24-10 start in the 2007 season. A team that blew the Wild Card lead to the Phillies just two short weeks ago, and seemed destined to collapse. A team I thought was done.

But this was also a team that wasn't going to let Milwaukee down, as easy as that might have been. This was a team that saw CC Sabathia go on three days rest for the third straight game, and gave an unbelievable performance. This was a team that had fought back from certain doom, and stayed alive until the final day. This was a team that wasn't going to quit, no matter what the odds.

When the Brewers turned the final double play of their 2008 season, you could see the relief radiate off the Brewers faces. It was the same relief you could probably see on the person next to you, either at your house, or at the bar.

You see, this was a terrible weekend. Nothing went right. Everyone in this state, from the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan, needed something to pick them up from the lows their teams had given them. In the end, it was the one team that has been so good at disappointing us for all of these years that came through. The team that finally got the monkey off their back. The words you never thought you'd say again, if you ever had the chance to before.

The Milwaukee Brewers were going to the postseason.

That alone, makes this the best weekend ever.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Before My Thoughts... Here are Some Videos

I have an extensive recap of the entire weekend coming up, but before I get in to that, I wanted to pass along two videos to keep this party going. First, via Awful Announcing, here are the best moments of Sunday afternoon.

In all honesty, I think the greatest scenario for the Brewers would be knocking off the Phillies (who swept us two weeks ago), a series victory over the Cubs (the rivals), and beating the Red Sox in the World Series (who swept us in May when things were getting ugly). For the next video, because we're "Going Back to Philly", here's a sampling from the gang from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.



Badgers lose, Packers blow one, Brewers struggle on Saturday, and Oktoberfest sucked, but none of that matters anymore. The Brewers just won the Wild Card.

Much more coming on the matter... but please go out and celebrate this.

See you when you're back.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Bucky Five: Packers at Buccaneers Preview

5. Corner Coverage

With Al Harris out for an undetermined amount of time, the Pack need Tramon Williams to step up big time. McCarthy was pleased with the way he stepped in last week, minus the bomb to Miles Austin that made the Dallas receiver a national star. That can't happen again. Jarrett Bush will also need to step up, as he'll see a lot more time on the field as well. The Buccaneers probably won't be a pass-happy as they were last week against Chicago, but we need to shut them down when they do try to go through the air.

4. Stop the Run? Can't Stop the Run!

Granted, Marion Barber (III) is one of the best backs in the game, and Felix Jones has really emerged as a playmaker this season, but the Packers can't make up any excuses about giving up more than 200 yards on the ground last week. The Bucs combo of Earnest Graham / Warrick Dunn isn't quite Barber / Jones, but if our defensive line plays like trash again it will be.

3. On the Other Side of the Ball...

The Packers running game desperately needs to get their act together. Ryan Grant should be ready to go this week, and Packers fans need to see him produce, quickly. If you're going to talk to talk, Ryan, you have to walk the walk. Or run the ball, I guess. Scott Wells will be back in the starting lineup this week, so that should help pave some holes for number 25.

2. A Wisconsin Sports Fans Dilemma

Now that I think about it, this really should be it's own post. Brace yourself, Wisconsin fans, because something we've often dreamed about might actually happen this weekend. Come Sunday at 1pm, the Packers could be playing opposite meaningful September baseball from the Brewers. If neither the Crew or the Mets collapse before Sunday, it's going to be a tough decision for fans in Wisconsin as to which of their beloved teams they will pay more attention too. Personally, I'll probably have the TV on the Packer game for the majority, while flipping to the Brewers in between the commercials. I'll also have the game up on MLB.com, of course. But you never know, if the Packers game is decided, and the Brewers are locked in a tight one during the 5th inning, then we'll be all Brewers. It's a tough decision to make, but a good problem to have.

1. Bounce Back vs. Bucs?

Even though it's by a small margin on most sites, the Packers are the underdog this weekend in Tampa. After last week's loss, the Packers need to show the NFL world that they still remain one of the league's best teams, and a victory against the upstart Bucs would help. When the season started and we saw Minnesota, Detroit, Dallas, and Tampa Bay on the schedule, I think many of us would have been realistically happy with 2-2. I say that'd be unacceptable. Let's get the victory, and do it quickly, so I can watch the Brewers.

Prediction: Green Bay 27, Tampa Bay 23

Friday, September 26, 2008

Keep Your Eye on Hardy This Weekend

This image may be one of the last moments that J.J. Hardy will be on the field for the Brewers this season. Apparently, he hurt his hand during the celebration after Ryan Braun's game winning grand slam on Thursday night. If this is true, and the Brewers are still mum about it, he would be out for the season in the lamest injury (non-Ben Sheets) ever.

So, keep your eye out for that.

Update: Hardy is in the lineup tonight against the Cubs. Thank God. There's only so much Craig Counsell a man can take.

NFL Picks: Week Four

So, I've been pretty bad at this, haven't I? So bad that one of the commenters told me to stick to baseball last week. That's unfortunate, because I've always considered football my specialty. To put some spin on this, I'm not doing that bad with the picks. My problem is I'm putting too many points on the games that I'm losing.

I really don't know what strategy to take anymore. Last week, one of my buddies decided to just pick all the home teams, and rank them in order by how they appeared on the website. Guess what? He finished at the top of the standings.

I'm not ready to take that route yet, but I am determined to turn this thing around. However, I'm a little scared because this seems like a really "easy" week.

1 point - Cincinnati over Cleveland

Both of these AFC North opponents are vastly failing to live up to expectations, especially the Cleveland Browns. While I don't think Derek Anderson is the problem, expect to see him get benched this week in a Browns loss. I am excited for this game however, because I'm starting Carson Palmer, Chris Perry, and Jamal Lewis. You know they're bound to finally have a good fantasy week as they finally face each other's defenses.

2 points - Green Bay over Tampa Bay

I've been putting too many points on the Packers so far, which hasn't been all that bad as of yet. Even though I think the Packers will come out cruising after last week's loss to Dallas, something about playing in Tampa scares me.

3 points - Arizona over New York Jets

I've hearby declared I will pick against the Jets every week as long as Brett Favre is quarterback. It's not because I'm still anti-Favre, it's because he is really, really old. And he plays really, really old. It's starting to look like he's regretting this little comeback of his, too.

4 points - Philadelphia over Chicago

This is a Bears team that turned a lot of heads after their victory over Indianapolis on opening weekend. Since then, however, they have been a major disappointment. The Bears just can't seem to close out games, but that won't be a problem this week. That's because the Bears won't have a lead late into the game to blow. This one is going to be all Eagles.

5 points - Minnesota over Tennessee

I'm buying Tennessee, I am. It's just that Minnesota always seems to win the games they shouldn't, and they lose the games they should. So that's what I'm expecting to happen here.

6 points - Pittsburgh over Baltimore

I haven't really seen this Ravens team in action yet, so I'm looking forward to Monday night. That being said, I have seen this Pittsburgh team, and even though they got hammered by the Eagles last week, I still expect them to come out on top here.

7 points - Carolina over Atlanta

Atlanta is a nice little story. Carolina is a good football team. Case closed.

8 points - Jacksonville over Houston

I've talked about this before, but it's worth mentioning again. Three or four years ago I was looking for a second back for my fantasy team in the fourth round. I had it narrowed down to Thomas Jones, or Houston's Stacey Mack. I went with Mack, and he was garbage. Jones, on the other hand, saw his numbers explode. The next year I wanted to prove that Houston could produce a capable running back, so I took Dominic Davis (Williams). He was a colossal disappointment. This year I took Ahman Green, and he's barely played. For some reason I keep taking Houston running backs and they keep letting me down.

Something tells me though that this Steve Slaton is the real deal, but that's probably only because I play against him this week.

9 points - New Orleans over San Francisco

The Saints let me down a couple of weeks ago when I put 15 points on them to beat the Redskins. Now the Saints are 1-2, and I don't see them starting 1-3. No matter how much better the Niners might be with JTOS under center.

10 points - Buffalo over St. Louis

Don't ever scare me like that again Buffalo! I had 16 points on them last week, and they needed a late field goal just to get past the Raiders. I'm still on the Bills bandwagon though, especially against the St. Louis Rams. Although Trent Green is finally getting the start for the Rams he should have got seven years ago!

11 points - Dallas over Washington

After last week's Packers loss, I tried to convince myself that the Packers just played a lousy game, and that Dallas was overrated. Wrong. Dallas is officially the best team in the National Football League, there's no denying that.

12 points - San Diego over Oakland

While I wasn't impressed with the Chargers efforts to blow the game late last week, that performance against the Jets was more of what I expected to see from San Diego. Expect a big win this week.

13 points - Denver over Kansas City

I'm still not sold on this Broncos team (they could easily be 1-2), but the Chiefs are terrible. Thirteen points terrible.

I'm Officially Speechless

I'm speechless for two reasons, and the first of those reasons might cause me to have a hard time writing this post. I mean, just look at those abs! Damn, Braun is stacked. I love women as much as the next guy but Christ, that's impressive.

Deep breath.

Reason number two is the more heterosexual reason, and that is that these Brewers are definitely keeping things interesting. Cheered on by rabid fans waving white Brewers towels, including the 5,000 that were there on Eric Gagne's dime, the Brewers were able to knock off the Pirates 5-1. I know it's still September, and I have no experience to go off of, but that sure felt like playoff baseball.

Before I touch on the late game heroics, I need to mention the pitching. How about the effort from Yovani Gallardo, making his first start since May 1st? Four innings, three hits, one run, and seven K's. Not bad for someone who has two major knee surgeries this season alone. When he exited, the bullpen came through via Villaneuva, Gagne, Mota, Shouse, Torres, Coffey, and Stetter.

Now here at the homestead, we had some issues with the cable tonight. Our picture froze right after Cameron struck out in the bottom of the tenth. We were forced to crowd in the living room, turn on the radio, and stare at the frozen Cameron screen.

When Ryan Braun was up with the bases loaded, we figured we might as well start the eleventh inning. Braun has been a godsend this year (seriously, look at those abs!), but one thing he hasn't been is clutch. But as soon as we heard Jim Powell's voice begin to elevate, we knew that baby was gone, and Ryan Braun had just hit a game winning grand slam.

And magically, that's when the TV unfroze, and we got to see it for ourselves.

Now unfortunately, the Mets were able to beat the Cubs split squad team so the Wild Card race is still tied. Things might be more interesting this weekend, as weather is supposed to be a problem for both the Mets and the Phillies on the East Coast. But the Brewers can't worry about that. They have three games against the Cubs this weekend at Miller Park, and they need every one of them.

Now I'll be headed back to La Crosse for the weekend to not only attend the Oktoberfest celebration, but also be watching the games. So it seems that when the next Brewers post appears on this website, we'll already know the postseason fate of Milwaukee.

Here's to hoping it's a good one.

Box Score.

TBC's Player of the Game: Ryan Braun takes back first place!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Winks Thinks at the Drink

After years of searching, I've finally found an appropriate use for the title "Winks Thinks". Starting today, and continuing every Thursday (for the most part), I'll be contributing to the Daily Drink over at the SportsBubbler. Each week, I'll post 20 or so ideas that I wasn't able to squeeze in here at The Bucky Channel. Consider this my way of politely asking you to head over to the Drink and check it out.

How Are We Still In This Thing?

I gotta admit, I thought we were done. I really did. After that Phillies series, I thought we were dead meat and the playoff drought was going to reach an unbearable 27 years.

Now? After a 4-1 win over the Pirates, and a Mets collapse against the Cubs on Wednesday? I'm still not convinced the Brewers are going to get in, I won't let myself think that until their tickets have actually been punched. But I'm feeling a hell of a lot better than I did two weeks ago. Even two days ago.

On short rest, Sabathia somehow was able to go seven innings, gave up just one run off four hits, and somehow found it in him to strike out 11 batters. Hats off to Dale Sveum for pulling the trigger in his quest not to give Jeff Suppan another start this season, and hats off to Sabathia for delivering.

Offensively, the credit goes once again to Prince Fielder, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games with his RBI single in the 4th. From there, let's give some credit to Paul Maholm. By walking two runners home with the bases loaded in the 4th, Maholm pulled a Yancy Thigpen by became yet another native from the 'Burgh to help a team from Wisconsin on their quest to the playoffs.

Elsewhere, Gagne pushed his ERA down to 5.56(!) with a scoreless 8th, and Torres earned his 28th save of the season. Torres did give up a solo shot to Adam LaRoche however in the 9th, and I'm getting a little worried about him at the back end of the bullpen. But that's for another day.

Now, with the win under their belts, it was up to the Chicago Cubs to deliver and knock off the Mets. When that game got to the 9th inning, they were tied 6-6. Bear and I were sure that the Cubs were going to tank the game, because they probably had no desire to take the game into extras. Our thoughts were confirmed when Ryan Theriot held on to the ball for a suspiciously long time before trying to get the lead off runner out at 3rd.

It didn't matter though, as the Mets blew it, leaving a runner on 3rd base for 5 straight innings. The Brewers won, the Cubs came through, and once again the Brewers are in a position to win the Wild Card.

Box Score.

TBC's Player of the Game: CC you in October.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Bucky Five: Brewers' Pitching Woes

With CC Sabathia getting the nod tonight on three days rest for the second straight start, we thought we'd take a look on the problems and issues facing the Brewers' pitching staff as they head into the homestretch.

1. Can Sabathia Do This Alone?

Sabathia was brilliant in his first two months as a Brewer, but he's since gone 0-2 in his last two appearances. Because Sveum is going with the "best available" mentality, Sabathia is going to have to carry the workload down the stretch. He'll start again tonight against Pittsburgh, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Brewers threw him on Sunday, if they were still alive in the race. Sabathia has no problem with the strategy, saying he's "doing this to get into the playoffs." SimonOnSports takes a closer look at Sabathia, and if he's clutch or not.

2. The Return of Yovani

We mentioned yesterday, albeit briefly, that Yovani Gallardo has been activated and is cleared to pitch for the Brewers. Just how much he'll pitch, however, remains to be seen. He hasn't had any work with the bat or running the bases, so starting is probably out of the question. Assuming he does make an appearance in this final week, expect it to be in the middle to late innings, sort of in the role Carlos Villaneuva has been occupying this season. Ideally, you'd like to let him throw an inning late in a game where the Brewers have a big lead, just to get his feet wet.


3. Coffey, Gagne, Mota, Torres

We've often harped on Ned Yost for being set in his ways, but it appears Dale Sveum is even more stubborn that than. He's rolled out the Coffey, Gagne, Mota, Torres bullpen more than a few times since he's taken over the post. This means two things. 1) Sveum feels the most comfortable with these veterans going forward. 2) The starters are having a problem going more than five innings. This group of guys is fine with me, as long as Mota and Torres stop blowing leads like they've been doing more lately.

4. Speaking of Those Starters....

Absolutely horrible. Suppan hasn't been pitching well, Bush is doing just as much as he can, McClung is still getting used to pitching relevant innings again, Parra's arm is toast, and Sheets has another injury. The strength for the Brewers at the beginning of the season is now one of their biggest question marks. Claudio Vargas anyone? (I kid, I kid)

5. Does Any of This Matter?

As a Brewers fan, all I ever wanted from this team was to make the playoffs. That's it. I didn't expect a title, a pennant, a ring. I just wanted one lousy little playoff appearance in my life time. Sveum seems to recognize this, and is doing whatever he can to get the Brewers to the second season. Now, let's say they do make the playoffs. With Sabathia going so often on short rest, and many of the younger pitching arms burnt out, would the Brewers even have decent arms to throw for them? Or would Yovani Gallardo's injury turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as he comes back and leads the team to the World Series? At this point, I don't really care. I just want to get there.

These Are Pretty

Hey look, alternate red Bucks jerseys! The much rumored third Bucks jersey was finally unveiled Tuesday, and will be ready for the Bucks to wear next season. From Bucks.com:

The alternate jersey, designed by the Bucks, the NBA and Adidas, will be worn as many as 15 times and utilize the same classic trim, waistband and short taping as the title team, but with a unique reversal of the original color scheme. All of the colors have been revised with Bucks deep red serving as the body of the uniform, replacing forest green. In addition, the Bucks new word mark and number font, introduced in 2006 as part of a new logo and uniform launch, is utilized.
Not much else to add on the matter, except for the fact that I'm ordering a red Bogut jersey right after I'm done posting this.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Prince Saves The Season For Another Day

With the Cubs unable to beat the Mets on consecutive nights, the Brewers had no option but to beat the Pirates on Tuesday night to keep their playoff hopes alive. For much of the game, it looked like that wasn't going to be the case. When the Brewers did take the lead in the 7th, Guillermo Mota decided to give up a two run home run. But when the Crew was down 5-4 in the 8th, that's when the Brewers decided to do something they haven't done much as of late.

The Brewers delivered in the clutch!

In the 8th inning, it was Jason Kendall, doubling in J.J. Hardy to tie the game at five. Then, in the bottom of 9th, the one person who is actually playing well in the month of September came through once again for the Brewers. Prince Fielder sent the 36,612 fans home happy with a two run blast to keep the Crew one game back in the Wild Card chase.

Milwaukee has five games to go, and they remain one back from the Mets as they try to re-earn the playoff birth they previously have given away. It's absolutely imperative the Brewers win every game they can, and let the Cubs and Marlins determine the fate of the Mets. At this point, that's really all you can ask for.

Box Score.

TBC's Player of the Game: Prince Fielder

(And oh, by the way, Gallardo has been cleared to pitch again)

Too Bad the BCS Doesn't Start This Weekend

There are six computer formulas used when determining the BCS standings for college football. One of those computers belongs to a man named Wes Colley. Guess who's playing for the national championship right now, according to Colley's rankings?

The Wisconsin Badgers. Against the Utah Utes.

Sounds a little absurd, doesn't it? Currently, the Badgers are ranked 8th in the AP Poll, and 9th in the USA Today edition. The Utes are ranked 17th in both polls heading into the weekend. Now clearly, this is Exhibit A why the standings aren't really compiled until the 8th week of the season.

Chris Dufresne of the LA Times takes a look at the rest of the BCS absurdity.

Rattlers, Brewers, Announce Four Year Partnership

All I can say is, it's about time. The two greatest baseball institutions in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, have announced a four year partnership between the two clubs today. The Rattlers will be the Low Class-A affiliate of the Crew, a spot previously held by the West Virginia Power. SportsBubbler, which has been tracking this story for weeks, has the full announcement, which includes this bite from Doug Melvin.

“We are eager and looking for this to be a long term relationship with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and are excited to have a minor league affiliate closer to home,” said Melvin. “The premier facilities and Brewers fan base in Appleton combined with the proximity to Milwaukee provides a great opportunity for us and it gives our players an excellent and competitive environment to further their development.”

One of the sites you need to immediately get yourself familiar with in response to this agreement is Rattler Radio. That's where we got the picture from this morning, and that's also where you can find some of the most in-depth Rattler news around. One interesting nugget from the site this morning is that Melvin said it's a good possibility you'll see Brewers do their rehab stints with the Rattlers, because of the proximity of the two clubs.

This is a win-win for baseball in Wisconsin, and for both clubs. The schedule for next season is out already, so plan your trips accordingly.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Actually, Favre Did Give Me an Autograph Once

One of my favorite things about running a blog is that it's a great chance to go back and forth with others about our differing opinions, on something we both follow. Normally, when people do attack my opinions or believes, I respond in kind within the comments of an original post. It's something I encourage, and dealing with differing opinions is something I can take, unlike some people. But I thought I'd give my response to 'antonio' it's own post.

Here's what I said in this week's Bucky Five:

Oh, Aaron. I still love you. Actually, Rodgers didn't even play that bad. He threw for almost 300 yards, and didn't turn the ball over. But not all of his passes were on target, and his only touchdown was on a one yard sneak that was for the most part uncontested. He didn't look like the same quarterback that he was in the previous two games, and he struggled when he had to rollout to his left.

I then went on to say if the Packers did still have Favre, the Packers would more likely be 1-2 right now than 2-1. What I failed to say is that where Rodgers took some sacks, Favre would have likely heaved those up for interceptions. I only say this because that is what we've seen before. Here's antonio's reply:

Um, did you you see the same game I did? Rodgers was consistently overthrowing receivers basically the entire 2nd half. That "almost 300 yards" came in at garbage time.

Did Favre not sign an autograph of yours or something? You do not know how Favre would look with the receivers on this team vs. who the Jets have. Oh, actually you do, career best year last year. You just want him to suck, so, bad. Every post is the same. Rodgers is great, Favre sucks...blah, blah, blah. Sixteen years he fought his a-- off for the team. Keep drinking the kool-aid, Winks, it will sustain you through the Neil O'Donnell era here.

Pretty strong words from a guy who I'm guessing was either wearing a Favre Jets jersey or a Brett the Jet shirt at the time. Pretty strong words from a guy who's likely to be that annoying fan at your favorite bar tonight every time the cameras land on Brett Favre.

To respond, you're damn right I'm drinking the Kool-Aid on the Aaron Rodgers era. But it's not because I blindly following whatever Ted Thompson does, it's because I honestly feel Rodgers is a very capable, and very good quarterback in the league.

If you've watched the same games that I've had, there's no doubting that Rodgers was near flawless in his first two games, but did struggle against a tougher defense on Monday night. I have all the confidence in the world in Aaron Rodgers, and judging my his poise, his confidence, and his play, there is no one else I'd rather have following the footsteps of Brett Favre.

As for Brett Favre, I will admit that I am rooting against him. I'm sorry, I don't want him to make the playoffs, even if it gives the Packers a better draft pick. I want Favre to go to New York and realized he made a mistake, and then come back to Green Bay and be welcomed with open arms when the Packers invite all the alumni back like they did last night.

Why do I feel this way? It's quite simple, Favre held the Packers hostage year after year, and eventually became bigger than the team. At some point, as it is with any relationship, you have to decide if the negatives outweigh the positives. In this case, Ted felt like Favre's melodrama was becoming a distraction, and therefore shipped him out of town to the Jets.

Yes, he did work his ass off for this team for 16 years, but that doesn't give you immunity to do anything you want to in this league. That's the most absurd argument I've heard through this entire thing. As a general manager, you do whatever you can for your team to put them into a position to win. In this case, that was promoting Aaron Rodgers to be the Packers starter. So far, I'd say it hasn't been a bad move at all.

And to answer your question, I met Brett Favre when I was twelve years old. Not only did he sign an autograph for me, he signed two of them (you were only supposed to get one, but I wanted one for my brother). He was very nice and gracious, and I'll always look at my one-time hero in a positive light.

With the exception of this year, of course.

(p.s. Neil O'Donnell's career stats include a Pro Bowl selection, a Super Bowl appearance, and the lowest interception percentage in the history of the league. Just saying.)

Al Harris's Season Might Be Over

So this better not be true. According to Mike Lombardi of the National Football Post, Packers cornerback Al Harris could miss the remainder of the season with a ruptured spleen, which he suffered in Sunday night's loss to the Cowboys. It looks like he's seeking a second opinion before we know for sure.

If this is true, Tramon Williams would likely be the starter opposite Woodson. It's not the best news I've heard today, that's for sure.

(Thanks to reader Jonk for the tip.)

Tonight's Mets Game Will Decide Our Fate

After everything that is happened this year, it's come down to this: We have to root for the Cubs. We knew all year long our enemies to the south would play a big role in our postseason chances, but not like this. Not only do the Brewers face them in their final three game set, but the Cubs have four games this week against the Mets. Games which could suddenly determine our fate.

Right now the Brewers are 1 1/2 games behind the Mets, after another disappointing Milwaukee weekend. I can't believe after how poorly they've played the Brewers still have a chance for this thing, and that's saying something about how the Mets haven't been able to seal the deal either.

The Mets and Cubs square off tonight at 6:10 central time. If the Mets win, the Brewers will be two games back, with each team having six to play. Those aren't very good odds. If the Mets lose tonight, however, then the Brewers are just one game back of the Wild Card, and there chances are suddenly much, much, better.

Even though most of us seem to have already given up on the Brewers 1) because of their collapse and 2) its football season, they still have a chance play October baseball. We'll know better for sure after tonight, just how close that dream could be to becoming a reality.

As for the Brewers, we don't have any recaps for the games this weekend, although I will say this. Being in Chicago the day the Cubs clinched the Central was unbearable. Even though I was at a Wisconsin themed bar (It was Will's Northwoods Inn, and if anyone knows who was crowned the Muskie Queen, please let me know), there were still Cubs fans everywhere. But we do have our players of the game for the weekend.

Friday - Reds 11, Brewers 2 - Mike Cameron

Saturday - Reds 4, Brewers 3 - Rickie Weeks

Sunday - Brewers 8, Reds 1 - Prince Fielder

And for those of you wondering, yes, that was Gabe Kapler at last night's Packers game. Among many others.

The Bucky Five: Cowboys 27, Packers 16

Well, that could have gone better. Pretty tough game all around for the Packers tonight in front of a national audience, but I'm not too stressed out about it. The NFC North is pretty bad right now, and the Cowboys are a good team, so this loss doesn't hurt too bad. Plus, it's so early in the season, this was a good way for the Packers to find out what they are doing wrong and what can be fixed. Here's the five biggest things I took away from the game.

1. A Tale of Two Halves

In each of the Packers three games, they have played much differently in the second half as they did in the first. I feel like they are more aggressive, they pass more, and they take more chances in the first half. Then in the second half, lead or no lead, they tend to slow things down and try to force the running game. I personally would have liked to see a little more aggressive play calling in the second half.

2. Nowhere to Run

The Packers' running game is a little suspect right now, and minus one run against the Vikings, I have not been impressed with Ryan Grant. Maybe the reason his agent wanted Grant to hold out so bad for more money is because he knew he'd be exposed this season. I still think Grant is a good back though, but he's got to start making a bigger impact, and holding on to the football. I know he's a little banged up, and he never really had a pre-season, but I think we need to see a big week from Grant next week.

3. Giving Up the Big Play

That was the problem on defense in this game. The Packers gave up 217 yards on the ground to the Cowboys on Sunday, 60 of those being on a scamper from Felix Jones. We also made Miles Austin look like a bona fide star, as he had 2 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. The defense also had a hard time stopping Dallas on 3rd down, and that's ultimately how the Cowboys won this game, at least on that side of the ball.

4. Field Goals Aren't Going to Cut It

If the Packers score a touchdown on anyone of those drives they had to settle for a field goal on, this is a completely different game. The Packers were in the Red Zone on every one of those drives, but just couldn't punch it in.

5. Rodgers Struggles

Oh, Aaron. I still love you. Actually, Rodgers didn't even play that bad. He threw for almost 300 yards, and didn't turn the ball over. But not all of his passes were on target, and his only touchdown was on a one yard sneak that was for the most part uncontested. He didn't look like the same quarterback that he was in the previous two games, and he struggled when he had to rollout to his left.

I still think we made the right decision going forward with Rodgers, and that will never change. With Favre, I say we're 1-2 at this point. The best part about Rodgers is he doesn't make the dumb mistakes that Favre made because Favre thought he was invincible. Still, the one thing Rodgers hasn't been able to do so far is brought the Packers back from a tough deficit (I'm not counting the 1 point comeback against the Lions, that was courtesy of Chuck Woodson). But I'm confident he'll be able to do that, and that this loss won't throw this Packers team off track one bit.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Enjoy Your Weekend, My Friends

Like the Great Chicago Fire of 100 some years ago, I'm rolling into the Windy City this weekend ready to take over (what, too soon?) With the Badgers off, the Brewers struggling, and the Packers not playing until Sunday night, I figured this was as good of a weekend as any to go hang out in the Second City.

So hopefully this weekend goes a little better than my last trip there, and I have some good stories for you when I get back on Sunday.

The Bucky Five: Cowboys at Packers

Still trying to figure out how this became the definitive photograph of Aaron Rodgers' young career, but whatever. Here are five things to watch for during Sunday night's game against the Cowboys.

5. Home Field Advantage.

This could really be one of the league's best rivalries over the next couple years, if both teams continue to compete. It's still a shame they didn't get to match up in the NFC Championship game last year, but that was only because the Giants had to ruin everything for a two month stretch there.

Despite the many losses to the Cowboys over the years, one thing the Packers have not done is lost to the Cowboys at Lambeau Field. They are 5-0 against them at home over the years, and I think that's a trend that will continue. If the Cowboys truly are the class of the NFC, the Packers are right there behind them, and do have the homefield advantage.

4. Everybody Loves Aaron.

I guess all you have to do in this league is have two good games back-to-back and everyone loves you. But you can't argue one bit with the way Rodgers has played so far, and I'm not the only Packers fans who wonders what our record would be if we still have Favre. Seriously, did you see how OLD he looked on Sunday?

You know that things are going your way when the biggest Packer Hater around, ESPN's Tom Jackson, has already anointed Aaron Rodgers as his early season MVP. Rodgers played well against the Cowboys last year, but as the analysts will tell you, that's because the Boys had anticipated for Brett Favre. But as we've seen, Rodgers plays like Favre minus two categories. 1) He's mobile. 2) He's good.

3. Welcome Homo, Romo

Sorry, that was stupid. And probably a tad offensive. But it's homecoming weekend for Romo, who attended high school in Burlington (special shout-outs to Phil Dinges and Andy Overturf are necessary here). I don't remember where I read it, but apparently this homecoming isn't that big of a deal for Romo, who says he's only been to Lambeau twice (once for a pre-season game as a fan, once as the 3rd string QB). Out of all the great athletes that have come out of Wisconsin, I can honestly say I feel least connected towards Romo. I don't know, I just feel like he's not a true Wisconsinite. He never seems to embrace us in interviews, and didn't really spend too much of his life here, anyways.

But the point of this point is that we need to pressure him to win.

2. Defense wins Championships (and Week 3 matchups).

We already know what both offenses bring to the table. We saw the Cowboys D get torched by the Eagles on Monday night, and we saw the Packers struggle against Calvin Johnson for awhile on Sunday. The key to this game isn't going to be into the much-hyped battle between the QB's, it's going to be between the defenses. Frankly, I think ours it better. So I hate to be all Emmitt Smith about this, but really, who ever scores the most points is going to win this game.

1. See You in January.

Some people say it's a shame such a good matchup has to take place so early in the season, but I say what better way to gauge where your team is at than playing a fellow Super Bowl contender in week three? Sunday Night, under the lights, at Lambeau, all day to tailgate, what's not to like about this? It will be a great tune-up for when the Packers invite the Cowboys back in January, for the NFC Championship.

Unless the Giants ruin things again.

How Bad Am I Taking This Brewers Collapse? I Couldn't Even Watch "Major League" Today.

Things were going fine until the heard the voice of Bob Uecker as Harry Doyle. Seriously, the moment I heard Ueck's voice, I had to change the channel. No longer does Uecker's voice remind me of the great lines from Major League. From yesterday on, I'll always hear the disappointment in his voice when I heard him say "And Soto just hit a home run".

I was talking to my brother yesterday, and he expressed his sentiment to me about how bad he feels for Mr. Baseball. This guy has been watching some pretty shit teams come through County Stadium and Miller Park, and just when he thinks he's going to the playoffs to call the Brewers for the first time in a generation, they start to pull this crap.

Hopefully art can imitate life, and the Brewers can pull off an improbable run similar to that Indians team from so long ago.

Winks Thinks: NFL Picks Week 3

After the terror that was my week one picks, in which it appeared that I knew absolutely nothing about football, I rebounded some with my week two selections. But this season has still thrown me some curveballs, as I decide whether to pick with my heart, or my brain. For this week, let's no with neither, and make the picks with no regard for anything.

P.S. You probably shouldn't use this picks to wager in anyway, whatsoever.

1 point - Cleveland over Baltimore

Baltimore is coming off an unexpected bye week, Cleveland is coming off under performing for two straight weeks. With big things expected from the Browns this season, I can't forsee the Browns starting 0-3. However, I have zero confidence in this fact, so I've only given one point to the new Browns over the old Browns.

2 points - Arizona over Washington

On the same token, can Arizona really start 3-0? I'm picking them because I think they can, and because I'm quite pissed at the Redskins right now. After playing awful in week one against the Giants, the Redskins ruined my 15 point prediction by beating the Saints last week. So, I'm not picking them out of spite.

3 points - Green Bay over Dallas

I honestly think the Packers are going to win this one. It's in Lambeau, under the lights, and the Packers are playing well. The Dallas defense did not look good last week, and I think there are plenty of ways the Packers can exploit that. All Aaron Rodgers needs to do is continue to play the way he's been playing, and the Packers will regain their thrown as NFC favorites.

4 points - Pittsburgh over Philadelphia

All signs point to an Eagles victory this week, so I'm taking the Steelers. Again, don't use these for betting purposes.

5 points - Detroit over San Francisco

We're a Jon Kitna implosion away from the Packers and Lions both being 1-1 right now, remember that. So there is some talent there. That, and San Francisco is an absolute train wreck.

6 points - Chicago over Tampa Bay

I really thought the Bears were going to beat the Panthers last week, and so did the Bears. At least until the 4th quarter, when they decided to give the game away. Tampa Bay has been playing well, but I still don't have much faith in that team. I say Bears by a field goal.

7 points - Minnesota over Carolina

I'm inexplicably high on the NFC North this week. But then again, I've always been inexplicably high on Gus Frerrote.

8 points - Seattle over St. Louis

Seattle should probably be rated higher this week, but that is a team extremely burdened by injures. Still, they are playing the Rams, who have looked nothing short of awful this season. So let's give this one to Seattle.

9 points - Denver over New Orleans

The Broncos are the darlings of the league right now after their improbable victory over the Chargers last week. By the way, I feel bad for Ed Hochuli as much as the next guy, but let's try to move on from his bad call last week, can we? Every day this week there has been a new headline about how bad Hochs feels about his mistake. On Wednesday it was "Hochuli apologizes for blown call". Thursday it was "Hochuli apologizes to Chargers fans". Today, it's "Hochuli feels devastated". I mean, aren't those all the same story. Let's let bygones be bygones and focus on the real issue here: The over-inflation of Denver and Jay Cutler's value because they benefited from a bad call then went for two on national television".

10 points - Atlanta over Kansas City

I can't believe that I gave 10 points to Atlanta either, but that's how bad I think Kansas City is. Tyler Thigpen vs. Matt Ryan. Are tickets still available?

11 points - Indianapolis over Jacksonville

Jacksonville has been one of the bigger disappointments this season, starting 0-2 after projected to contend for the AFC South. Some people predicted them to take the division crown, even storming ahead of the Colts. I don't see that happening, and I don't see the Colts losing this week. They seem to have finally found their focus in the second half of their game against Minnesota last week, a game in which they had absolutely no business winning. But they did, and I see them taking the victory here.

12 points - San Diego over New York Jets

I know Favre has normally been good on Monday Nights, but I didn't have a dream that he would be injured in this week's game for no reason. And yes, I actually did have that dream. But I've been having weird dreams lately in general. Anyway, this Chargers team is too good start 0-3.

13 points - Tennessee over Houston

Someone tell me again why I drafted Ahman Green for my fantasy team. I still haven't figured that one out.

14 points - New England over Miami

On the other hand, I feel pretty good about my Wes Welker pick, as he has become the security blanket for Matt Cassell. I don't think Cassell will turn out to be that bad of a quarterback, and he could probably start for a good chunk of the other teams in this league. But the Patriots aren't going to be anywhere close to where they were last year when they blew out teams by 40 some points. They will, however, continue to find ways to win. After all, these are the Patriots we're talking about.

15 points - New York Giants over Cincinnati Bengals

One more fantasy note. Carson Palmer is single-handedly killing my season. As much as I've tried to pretend the Bengals can turn it around, they can't. They are terrible. So you gotta go with the defending Super Bowl champions on this one.

16 points - Buffalo over Oakland

For some reason, I'm inexplicably on the Bills bandwagon this year.

Fly, Prince, Fly

Dan Walsh of the SportsBubbler sent this picture over to us this morning, and we thought we'd pass it along. This is apparently before Tuesday night's game against the Cubs, and after fans were heckling him by calling him "Cecil". Kind of a prick move by the Chicago fans, but I'd probably do it to him if he were a Cub.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Think The Dream Is Over

That one hurt.

I don't know where you go from here, really. We've had some ups and downs this season. We had the terror that was the Boston series, followed by the the post-All Star break dominance. We lost Yovani Gallardo, but we gained the best mid-season acquisition ever in CC Sabathia. We contended for the NL Central and the Wild Card for most of the season, but now we find ourselves 1 1/2 games back with 9 games to play, and things don't look good.

We all saw the scene today. 9th inning. Wrigley Field. The Brewers with a 6-2 lead, looking to win another series on the Cubs' home turf this year. But then Geovany Soto cracked a three run homer, and the 2008 Brewers season was officially over.

Alright, there are still 9 games left, that is true. But I just don't feel like this team is capable of doing it anymore. We've already blew the giant lead in the Wild Card. The Cubs are uncatchable, and will probably represent the NL in the World Series. The Phillies are playing great baseball, and the Mets are determined not to miss the playoffs after what happened to them last year. Meanwhile, the Brewers are struggling with confidence and direction, no matter what Dale Sveum might bring to the table.

Don't get me wrong, Sveum's done a decent job so far re-energizing this team. But numbers tell the story, and the Crew is 1-2 under his watch. On a side note, he seems to be just as formulaic as Ned, if not more so. He's gone with the same lineup for the past three days. He uses the same relievers in the same innings (Coffey 6th, Gagne 7th, Mota 8th, Torres 9th), and he pinch hits with the same guys (Nelson, Lamb). It's all fine and dandy, but again they are 1-2.

Thing is, I don't know what can be done to fix this team anymore. It's become difficult for us to watch, difficult for me to write about, difficult for you to read about. It's almost as if we're better off just having this season end and thinking about next year. That is, until you remember we'll probably lose CC and the injury bug that is Ben Sheets, and who knows who will make up that staff next year.

I'm sorry guys, but today's loss was just too much stomach, and I don't think we're going to break our 26 year playoff drought.

But here's to hoping the Brewers can do enough in the next 9 days to prove me wrong.

Box Score.

TBC's Player of the Game: Ray Durham

Brian Anderson Going National!

We thought it was a big deal earlier in the season when Bill Schroeder lent his voice to a FOX Saturday baseball broadcast, but his "partner" Brian Anderson, has just one upped him. Anderson will be one of the four play-by-play guys to be used on the TBS playoffs broadcasts, but it is unknown at this time who he'll work with, and of course, which game he will call.

If the Brewers do make the playoffs, it looks like Anderson will have to spend time away from his beloved team, as TBS has the ALCS this season. He still would have the chance to call some NLDS games though I'd imagine. Either way, this is a big step for Brian Anderson who has improved tremendously over the last two years, and is becoming one of the best young broadcasters around.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Are These Sudden Feelings?

What am I feeling right now? Is it hope? Optimistism? Could it actually be faith in these Brewers? That remains to be seen, but for now the Brewers keep pace in the Wild Card race with a 6-2 win over the Cubs. And that keeps them 1/2 a game back out of the playoffs, as the Mets and the Phillies also won tonight. But at this point, I'll take it.

The Brewers did it tonight with two innings of three runs a piece. Things started right away in the first, when Dale's new lineup was able convert three runs via a Prince Fielder double. In the seventh, two of the Brewers coldest hitters in J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart were able to help extend the Crew's lead.

There was one major blemish on tonight's victory however, as Ben Sheets had to leave the game after just two innings. We've seen this before, so we tend not to worry and just think he'll be fine for his next start. But, some are speculating he could be out for the season.

When Sheets left tonight, we were told it was right forearm tightness, but Sheets said otherwise after the victory. He says he's had an ailing elbow that has bothered him for awhile now, and even received a shot for it not too long ago.

With the Sheets injury, coupled with a nice little victory, I'm not sure what I'm feeling. But at least it's not despair.

Not yet, anyway.

Box Score.

TBC's Player of the Game: Prince Fielder

Who's Already Looking Ahead to '09?

If the 2009 Brewers season is going to turn out anything like this one, well then maybe I'll just skip a year. But for those of you that won't be giving up on the Brew, I've received a copy. And what kind of person would I be if I didn't pass along the highlights of said schedule to you. Here they are, courtesy of a Brewers press release.

The season starts later this year, which means every team will then be able to play into October (which seems unlikely for the Crew this year). Opening Day is Tuesday, April 7 against San Francisco at AT&T Park at 3:05 p.m. CT. The Miller Park Home Opener is scheduled for Friday, April 10 at 3:05 p.m. as the Chicago Cubs visit Miller Park .

In Interleague action, Milwaukee will host their neighbors to the south, the Chicago White Sox (June 12 – 14), as well as the Minnesota Twins (June 23 – 25). The Brewers road action against the American League will include stops in Minnesota (May 22 – 24), Cleveland (June 15 - 17) and Detroit (June 19 – 21).

The Brewers longest homestand will be its final one of the season, a 10-game slate September 18 – 27 with three games against Houston (September 18 – 20), three against the Cubs (September 21 – 23) and four versus Philadelphia (September 24 – 27). The Brewers will also host one nine-game homestand with three each against Minnesota (June 23 – 25), San Francisco (June 26 – 28) and the New York Mets (June 29 – July 1).

The Brewers first home series will include an Easter Sunday game on April 12 against the Cubs. The Brewers will also play host to the Cubs on another holiday – Mother’s Day – on Sunday, May 10. On Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, the Brewers will host St. Louis at 1:05 p.m., and Labor Day, Monday, September 7, will be marked at Miller Park against the Cardinals at 1:05 p.m.

Home game times will remain the same for the 2009 season. Weekday night games will begin at 7:05 p.m. while weekday day games will start at 12:05 p.m. in April and May (excluding Opening Day) and 1:05 p.m. in June, July, August and September. Saturday games will start at 6:05 p.m. All Sunday home games are scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m. (except for April 12 which is 3:05 p.m.).

Need more? Check out the full schedule here.

Do These Teams Even Know The Wild Card Is An Option?

You've probably heard people openly wonder if anyone wants to win the NL Wild Card, but I'm starting to wonder if they even know winning it will get them into the playoffs. These teams are playing like they are already out of the race, and the National League is just one giant choke job right now. Leading that pack, of course, are the Milwaukee Brewers.

Not even a managerial switch could turn the Brewers' ship around, although Sveum is right when he says the team showed signs of life. Althought by team, I hope he's referring to Prince Fielder's bat, and nothing else. The big man hit two home runs in Tuesday night's loss to the Cubs, but struck out looking to end the game on a called strike three. The Brewers lost again, this time by a score of 5-4 to the Cubs.

With the loss last night, the Phillies win, and the Mets loss, the Brewers are now 1/2 games behind the Mets for the Wild Card. Or as Yahoo!'s Tim Brown refers to it, the "Mild Card Race". He's right too, as the Brewers have now lost five straight games. Other contenders such as the Mets and the Astros have lost three straight. And if anyone is still counting the Cardinals, well, they've lost six straight.

On the other hand, the NL West leading Dodgers have been playing quite well, and the Cubs and Phillies have each put together a nice string of wins themselves. So whoever wins the Wild Card, likely by default, will probably exit in the NLDS anyway, at this point.

Personally, I don't know what's going to happen. All it's going to take is a four game win streak by any of this teams and this thing is over. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that's something Milwaukee is capable of doing anymore.

Box Score.

TBC's Player of the Game: Prince Fielder

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Leading Off For the Milwaukee Brewers... Mike Cameron?

While there are many reasons against a lineup right this, I'm all for it. Something needs to be done, and this is a good start. Here's the first version of "Sveum's Starters" (I'll think of a better name, that's just not as catchy as "Ned's Nine").

CF Mike Cameron
2B Ray Durham
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Corey Hart
3B Craig Counsell
C Jason Kendall
P CC Sabathia

First pitch against the Cubs is just a few hours away, 7:05pm.

God Speed, Dale.

Riske Out For Season

Is that David Riske trying to steal the headlines on the day Dale Sveum is set to make his MLB managing debut? Why yes, it is! Riske is making news today because he's done for the season, as he's undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow. The surgery is set for sometime next week.

In 45 appearances this season, Riske was 1-2 with a 5.31 ERA. He's in the first year of a three-year, $13 million contract, but just hasn't been the pitcher the Brewers thought he would be this season. Which is odd, because he's been the exact pitcher us fans knew he would be. High expectations, high contracts, mediocre results. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008 Milwaukee Brewers bullpen!

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