It feels weird trying to write this column on the homepage, it really does. For almost two years, "Winks Thinks" was a staple of the SportsBubbler website, a domain that has now switched to "The Fan Cave" on JSOnline. It's no SportsBubbler, but my website is continually linked there so I'm not complaining. Still, the days of the Bubbler and the Daily Drink will always be missed, as will the thousands of readers that I'll likely lose with this column being only on The Bucky Channel.
Still, I'm appreciative as always for any of you that have decided to try to find this column, or any of you that still like to visit and skim our site every now and again. I'm even thankful for the guy who posted that our site "jumped the shark" in one of our latest Bucks articles, even though I can't think of why he would write that especially since that phrase itself has become a little lame. So here we go, and let's try to see what WT looks like on The Bucky Channel's cluttered homepage instead of the easy-to-read SportsBubbler layout.
Speaking of those Milwaukee Bucks, they haven't been getting a lot of attention in the Thinks column, frankly because I've been too consumed ripping on Central Wisconsin or obsessing about Brett Favre to leave any room for them. Plus, Gweeds has been doing a nice job with the recaps here on the main page, and besides trying to unsuccessfully spread the nickname of "Bucks Jesus" for Brandon Jennings I really didn't have much more to contribute. Feeling as if I was doing wrong by the Bucks by not giving them the love they deserved, the Bucky Channel crew decided to head down to their game against the Pacers last weekend, where coincidentally it was Bucks Jesus Bobblehead night.
I gotta say, overall the Bucks are delivering an entertaining product right now. At 24-27 heading into the All-Star break, they still aren't playing winning basketball but they are right in contention for a playoff appearance. Sure, some people subscribe to the argument that the Bucks should just tank and get a lottery pick because even if they made the playoffs, they'd likely get swept out of the first round by the Cavs anyway. But I think that this is a team that needs to get into the playoffs, even if it is just for a few games. This Bucks team has some good pieces in place to contend in the years to come - Bogut, Jennings, Mbah a Moute - and these guys need playoff experience right now. Having another losing season is going to do nothing to forward this team's progress, and that's really what it's all about for them right now.
At one game back, you certainly get the feeling by attending a game that maybe the playoffs aren't so unrealistic after all. Like any city, Milwaukee is dying to support a winner. Sure, this team can draw 10,000 fans on any given night no matter how poorly they might be playing, but if you want to pack the Bradley Center night after night, all you have to do is give us a winning program. The Brewers are a great example of how much support you can get if you decide to legitimately start contending for a playoff appearances. Not every franchise can get sellouts week after week like the Packers do in the NFL. If you want to draw fans, you have to be a winner.
The game we attended on Saturday was the Bucks' third sellout of the season, a fact I'll admit was aided quite heavily by the fact that free bobbleheads came with the ticket. But it was also a Saturday night and the Bucks were putting together and impressive home winning streak, and that helped draw fans as much as some little plastic toy. I have to say, the bobblehead is what got me to buy these tickets initially three months ago, but I don't see any reason why I wouldn't have wanted to go even if there was no freebie. The Bucks are playing good basketball right now (for the most part, cough cough Tuesday's loss to the Pistons), and they are a fun team to watch.
In addition to the game, we were given a few extra perks, some which were pretty neat and some which were, well, not so neat. Our ticket package included the chance to sit near the court for pregame warmups, as well as to attempt a free throw on the court after the game. I have to admit, when I was first told that we were going to be able to do these two things, I assumed that it would be a very intimate setting. Nah. Nearly 1,000 people showed up for the pregame warmups, and by the time we got there Luke Ridnour was on the microphone praying to the Lord for Michael Redd's injury to heal. Needless to say, we found something else to do before the game pretty quickly.
The free throw thing didn't go well either, as I swear half of the attendance that night had tickets for it. The lines to get on the court were extending from the floor all the way out to the concourse in four or five different places, something we didn't realize until we had already gotten to the floor. Thing was, we were in the wrong line, as we were actually in a line to leave the arena somehow. Since the guys and gals that work as ushers at the Bradley Center are some of the strictest people on earth, we were unable to sweet talk anyone into letting us cut in line.
Not that I'm going to call anyone a slacker or anything, but I don't think anyone takes their job as seriously as stadium ushers, no matter what the setting. I commend them for doing the job, but I'd like to see them loosen up a bit and not check my ticket with five minutes left in the fourth quarter when I'm trying to sneak down into the lower deck (that wasn't the case last weekend, but rarely do I buy a Bucks ticket for more than $25 so I'm quite familiar with the process of trying to sneak into the better seats). Still, I realize they are just doing their job, so who am I to complain. Except I will freely bitch about the ticket ushers at Miller Park, because those people were born with sticks up their asses (yep, I can drop some swear words in Winks Thinks now. See? Asses. Tits. Shit. Sigh, I guess it's not that cool. Lets move on.)
Our ticket package did have one intimate feature to it though, and that was a VIP party before the game. I'm not sure what room it was called, but you know when you're on the first level of the Bradley Center and you see the blocked off room and think, "I wonder how I can get in there?" It was that room. With our buddy Mick being a season ticket holder, we were able to get into a party that was intended to honor some of the longer season ticket holders. There were fans there that have been buying tickets since late 1960's, which judging on the Bucks history seems like a bit of a waste of money. All of these people definitely had money though, so it probably doesn't matter (something else they all had - an affinity for Brian Winters. Seriously, more than one of the ticket holders mentioned him in the little speeches they gave, as if he was the greatest player to ever wear a Bucks uniform. Guess I missed out on that time, but it was a little creepy.)
The highlight of said party was without question the appearance by Bucks GM John Hammond. Hammond gave a little spiel and then answered a good 10-15 minutes worth of questions, and I have to say that he impressed the hell out of me. I would figure Hammond would give a boring little synopsis and try to say all the right things, but he was actually very passionate about his plans for the team. Overall, he said he likes where the team is heading, and that they are trying to win immediately but also trying not to hemorrhage their future by doing so. He appeared very optimistic about the teams finances, saying that when the new CBA goes into affect the Bucks are going to be in a good position to sign some salary cap casualties elsewhere. Hammond basically told us never to expect Joe Alexander to appear in a Bucks uniform again, and told us that he'd like to find a larger guard that can be more effective on the wing (we took this to mean Rudy Gay, someone we've been wanting the Bucks to get for some time now).
Like I said, I was blown away honestly by his deliverance. Hammond's biggest thing he kept telling us was to just be patient, and we'll soon see a perennial playoff contender. The odd thing was he said it with a tone that was borderline "I know something you don't and it's going to be awesome when you find out" or "Please, please, please, Mr. Kohl, please please let me keep my job." I really couldn't tell if he thought we were going to be contenders for years to come or if he was begging for another paycheck, I don't know. Regardless, I want to believe that he knows what he's doing, so I'm going to go with the former for now.
Other than that, the weekend was pretty good. Minus the parts where I had an extreme attack of bloatedness and the part where I got my ass (swear word alert!) handed to me at Potawotomi again. The game of course was the highlight, and it's always fun to watch a Bucks victory especially when you're part of a packed house. With the optimism of John Hammond and the impressive play I saw on the court, I don't think we're too far away from those days becoming more common.
In other news, I gotta say I thought I'd be more excited about the Winter Olympics than I seem to be. Maybe it's because I don't want to see promo after promo for Jay Leno going back to The Tonight Show, I don't know, but I'm just not that interested. Sure, I'll watch, but as I've gotten older the Olympics seem less important to me, and I really have no reason to back that up. Of course, this is the Winter Olympics we're talking about, which don't garner as much attention as the Summer versions anyway, but still.
I do remember the distinct morning when I saw the report that the Winter and Summer Olympics were no longer going to be held during the same year, and I remember running up the stairs to wake my dad up and tell him the news. I don't know why, but for some reason I just thought this was the biggest news ever. I think when my dad didn't really seem to care - then again, I did wake him up for literally no reason - that's maybe when I started to lose interest in the Olympics a little bit. Or maybe it's the fact that I just don't give two shits about figure skating, and besides the obvious rooting for America I really don't have any vested interest in this thing (one exception: Sabres' goalie Ryan Miller starting for Team USA).
One person I'm being told to care about is this Lindsey Vonn, apparently she's a skier of some kind. She appears to be the person we're being marketed to, because she's good, but more importantly she's hot. Believe me or not, but I've never really been too persuaded to watch certain shows, movies, or athletic events because the chicks in them are hot. A buddy of mine said he used to watch "The O.C." because the chicks were hot, when we both knew that we were really just were sensitive dudes that watched it because we loved the drama. Just as no one is going to be watching Lindsey Vonn because she's hot, but because it's the Winter Olympics and there is nothing else on.
The thing that irritates me is that now we're being told she might not even participate because apparently she's hurt. Apparently she's going all Dan O'Brien on us and not even going to let us buy into the hype as she might not even be there. I don't believe for one minute that she's seriously injured. She may be dinged up, but there's no way she's not participating in the Olympics. Just the hype machine at work once again trying to get us to buy into watching the games. Lame.
Winter Olympics I'll be watching: Hockey, Bobsled/Luge, Speed Skating, and that one thing where they ski and then shoot at targets periodically.
Winter Olympics I'll wont be watching: Opening/Closing ceremonies, figure skating of any kind no matter how much Bear tries to get me to follow his boy Johnny Weir, Lindsey Vonn related activities, any even that's also in the X Games.
You know what else sucks? This eighth season of 24. Jack Bauer's adventures used to be the one show I cared about every week, but watching it this season as felt more like a chore. My dad hasn't watched an episode yet and I told him that he could literally watch next week's show and be caught up. All you need to know is that Jack got dragged back into duty, Renee showed up on suicide watch, their is your normal boring political subplot as well as an annoying CTU personal storyline which is going nowhere. Other than the fact that we learned Jack can speak German, literally nothing has happened. Hell, there was an episode a few weeks back where Jack did nothing but sit in a car the entire time. It's just sad to see a once great franchise not realize when it's past it's prime and would be better suited if it just hung it up already. Sound familiar? (hint: Winks Thinks).
See you on Wing Street...