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ALL NEW BUCKY CHANNEL - Coming Soon

The Bucky Channel is making a triumphant comeback. Stay tuned for the latest.

ALL NEW BUCKY CHANNEL - Coming Soon

The Bucky Channel is making a triumphant comeback. Stay tuned for the latest.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Three is Not The Magic Number

The third quarter did the Bucks in Friday night at the Bradley Center. Both teams started off slow shooting in the first half, and the Bucks had a 34-31 lead at half. Things at that point didn't look bad, but the third quarter was one to forget. Milwaukee was outscored 29-11 in the quarter. The worst part about all of it is Carlos Delfino scored the first hoop of the quarter 24 seconds in. For those who are not great at math that means the Bucks scored nine points in the final 11:36 of the quarter. Milwaukee didn't make another basket till the 3:39 mark.

The fourth quarter got good when the Bucks fought back to get within seven. The score was 69-62 with 4:28 left in the game, when Jerry Stackhouse tried a reverse layup, but he was "blocked" by Josh Smith. For some of the calls that were made in this game this should have been a foul. It just seemed that every time the Bucks played strong defense a weak foul was called. Milwaukee would drive, and the Hawks would block them with nothing called. The game seemed to be called one way, but that is not a good excuse. The Bucks just couldn't make a shot Friday night when they needed one.

Lets check out a few highlights from this 83-69 defeat.

* Carlos Delfino kept us in the game in the first half. He made three straight trey balls, and I really thought that might get everyone else going. He finished the game with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Too bad he couldn't have hit some triples in the second half.

* Bucks had been doing a good job on the glass, but Friday night the Hawks got the best of them. No Milwaukee player had double figure rebounds, and as a team the Hawks out rebounded us 51-42. Of those 51 rebounds the Hawks had 15 on the offensive side.

* 32.9% is what the Bucks shot from the field. That is not good at all, and it is really bad in a game 6 when you could knock out the other team. Kurt Thomas and Luke Ridnour were the only players to make 50% or better of the shots they took.

* The crowd did all it could do in this one. It was crazy how people were standing in the first quarter, as the Bucks went on a 7-0 run. It was very loud, and everyone stayed in the stadium till the final seconds.

No love for any Hawks players in this post. I'm really starting to hate all the Hawks as this series goes on. The Bucks will have to play them one more time in Atlanta Sunday at 12:00. The game will be on ABC, and the good Bucks team better show up. If I was told before the series that Milwaukee would be playing game 7, I would have been shocked. If Milwaukee did show one thing tonight it was, you win as a team and you lose as a team. It is not worth giving up now. This team still has a shot to make it to the second round, lets hope that happens.

(Editor's note from Bear - One of the most interesting points of the night was when Jerry Stackhouse sang the National Anthem... not only the crowd cheer and whistl after every line of the song, Ive never heard a louder crowd just after he finished. It was a sight to see and feeling to experience.)

Bucks please win game 7....

It's Not Getting Any Better

Well, let me be quite frank with you. Doug Davis pitched four innings, and Jeff Suppan pitched four innings. How do you think the Brewers did?

The end result of course was another loss for the Milwaukee Brewers, as the Padres scored nine runs in the fourth and fifth innings to get the 9-0 victory. Things were actually going alright for Doug Davis until that fourth inning, when he gave gave up four runs. As of right now, Doug Davis has just not been a good free agent acquisition, and it's getting worse every start. What's worse than that is that the man to relieve him was the one, the only, Jeff Suppan.

Suppan's performance wasn't much better, as he allowed three earned runs himself. Soup has been getting a lot of work lately, which is a direct result of how poorly our pitching staff has been doing in the last few games. Basically, if Jeff Suppan is going to be the garbage pitcher than the less work the better. But for that to happen, the Brewers actually have to play decent baseball. And that's just not happening right now.

I'm going on a mini-vacation over the weekend, so I'm going to try not to stress out about the Brewers too much at this current time. Posting here will be light over the next couple of days, with the exception of Gweeds checking in on the Bucks, which really should be our only priority right now, because what they are doing is incredible. So check back through the weekend for that, and then be sure to head back here on Sunday night for a complete recap of this Brewers series and much much more.

For the five of you still reading this blog, that is. JK LOL.

POTG: I don't know, Braun?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Evans Wins Rookie of the Year

Everyone knew Tyreke Evans would win the NBA Rookie of the Year because of his stats, but if you go by whose team did the best, than our Brandon Jennings would be your man. I can't take away any credit from Tyreke Evans who played a hell of a season. He averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.3 rebounds a game. The guy is going to be a monster for this Kings team, they just need a big man to go with him. Just think how scary Oklahoma City would have been if they had taken Evans. His team however had a rough year as they finished last in the West's Pacific Division with a 25-57 record. They picked up Carl Landry at the trade deadline, but still need a big center if this team ever wants to go somewhere.

Stephen Curry took second place to Evans. I question this one a little, because his style of play he only fits with a few teams. But he got drafted by the Warriors, which is a great fit for him. Still, this team was a wreck this year. They had people hurt all the time, so Curry was able to do whatever he wanted. He had some awesome games, but he played all 48 minutes most of the time so its hard not too. If he was on an organized team I don't think his stats would be as good.

And then we get to Brandon Jennings. Bucks Jesus took third place, and judging from these playoffs I'm not exactly not sure why, but he did. Jennings found about not winning the award before game five, and that motivated him to come one firing. Jennings said after the game, "That's why the quick 12 points was in effect, and the big free throws down the stretch, to prove I was capable of helping this team win." He also talked about how Tyreke had an awesome season, but he had to get ready for game six so his team could move on in the playoffs. Some people may see this as him being cocky, but it is true Milwaukee is one win away from the second round. Evans meanwhile has been probably golfing or something for the past two weeks, in between when he's not watching BJ3 in the playoffs.

ESPN had their own picks about who should win the award. My new two favorite people on ESPN are Jalen Rose and Chris Broussard who both picked Jennings as the winner. My guess is they felt the same way I did, and you should get more votes based on how your team did. With Evans stats I find it hard not to pick him, but Jennings should have taken second if not win this thing. Third is a joke, but like Brandon said who cares. Lets instead worry about the Hawks in game 6 of the Playoffs. That's right Evans and Curry I said PLAYOFFS. Reminder Game 6 is Friday night at the Bradley Center on ESPN, or else if you have tickets I may run into you. FEAR THE DEER!!!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Road Sweet Road

No John, it's true. The Milwaukee Bucks are only one game away from the second round of the playoffs. I know I'm surprised too, but this is not a fairytale. I have to say Wednesday night's playoff game between the Bucks and the Hawks was one of the best NBA games I have seen in awhile. Both teams played awesome defense, so it would come down to who could make big shots. Well Delfino wins the award for that Wednesday night. With 1:15 left in the game, a Delfino three put the Bucks up four. From there they would make the free throws it took to get the 97-81 victory on the road.

Brandon Jennings said that to be a good team you must win on the road. Well he put his game were his mouth was in the first quarter Wednesday. With the Bucks starting slow Jennings decided to take the quarter over on his own. He scored 12 straight Bucks points in the the quarter, and finished the quarter with 14 points. The Bucks led by one at the end of the first quarter. In every game in this series whoever leads after the first have won the game, and that was no exception in game five.

The second and third quarters were not good for the Bucks on the offensive side of the ball. It was a little because the Bucks were just taking bad shots, but it was also Milwaukee not getting generous rolls off the rim. It seemed the Hawks were rattling in shots, but every shot the Bucks took would go half way down then bounce out. Luck was not on their side during these two quarters, and the Hawks took advantage of it. The Bucks trailed 69-61 after three quarters, and things didn't look good for the Bucks. If they were going to win they had to have a huge fourth quarter.

Well, a huge fourth quarter is exactly what the Bucks had. It wasn't a huge quarter from start to finish but it was a huge quarter from about the 4:09 mark to the end of the game. After the Hawks took a nine lead with 4:09 left Skiles called a timeout. In the huddle he told the guys "We're still in this, and we haven't played our best ball yet". Boy was he right, because this team played with a lot of heart down the stretch. Salmons scored 7 of the Bucks next 13 points, as they went on a 13-0 run after that Skiles timeout. How this guy not win coach of the year I will never know. He did however put belief into this team, and the team gave the fans a reason to believe. You know the rest as the Bucks would go onto win 91-87, and take a 3-2 series lead.

* Brandon Jennings is the fuel to this fire, I really believe that. He got off to that hot start in the first quarter to help out the team when they couldn't get a jump shot to drop. Also late in the game he made his four final free throws to clinch the win. A rookie at the line in a swing game, and he knocks them down like he has done this before, are you kidding me? This guy is awesome. He finished the game with 25 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Another solid playoff game for this young buck, pretty good for a guy in only his fifth career playoff game.

* Luke Ridnour makes big shots. Period. He doesn't score in bunches so you may not notice his shots, but whenever the Bucks go cold for a bit he always seems to make a shot. He finished with 15 points, and 4 steals. He was 5-7 from the field, 1-1 from three point, and 4-4 from the line. As you can see when he does shoot it usually is a good shot.

* Ersan Ilyasova played a huge role late with his hustle down low. He made the basket to put the Bucks up 83-82, before Delfino hit the three to put them up for good. The only reason Delfino got a chance to make that three is because Ilyasova got the offensive rebound. He didn't do this all game I'm not sure why, but he came through in the clutch when the Bucks really needed him. He had seven rebounds for the game, four of them coming on the offensive side.

* Joe Johnson didn't put up his normal numbers Wednesday, and John Salmons had a lot to do with that. Salmons had a rough night shooting too, but he really worked hard on Johnson. He was in his face most of the night as Johnson was not getting good looks. That frustrated Johnson, which led to him getting his sixth foul when he was calling for a charge. It's always nice when he is not in the game.

* Al Horford was huge for the Hawks in game five. He finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and a late three pointer. He did bank in his three pointer, but that put some pressure on the Bucks late. Good thing Jennings made the free throws so that Horford's three didn't help the Hawks make a comeback. Horford also worked Thomas and Gadzuric out of the game with foul trouble.

Now these two teams head back to the Bradley Center Friday night at 6:00 central time. The Bucks will be looking to close out the Hawks. My guess is the Bradley Center will be louder than ever as this is a huge game for the Bucks. Milwaukee needs to just play their game, and go out to get the job done. I really feel that this team has a great chance to end this series Friday night. Only time will tell, but this team could be a huge surprise in the 2010 playoffs.

Hoffman Blows.... Another Save

Oh, shit.

Just one day after I defended keeping Trevor Hoffman as our closer, he went ahead and blew another save on Wednesday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It really is unfortunate to see that after how badly we've owned the Pirates lately, it's Trevor Hoffman that allows them to take two out of three in Milwaukee. For the first time in awhile, the Pirates took a series from the Crew after winning 6-5 in fourteen innings.

This was a game that looked like it was going to get ugly early, as Chris Narveson gave up three runs on two homers in the first innings. But he settled down quickly in his first start this season, as he ended up going five total innings and striking out six batters. The Pirates wouldn't be able to score on him anytime after the first inning, nor could they score of any of the relievers for that matter. Well, at least not until the 9th inning. But I digress.

The Brewers were already facing a 3-0 deficit before they got to the plate, but quickly turned things into a tie game with a two run shot by Carlos Gomez. Ryan Braun would later score on a wild pitch that inning, and then Corey Hart added a fourth inning home run. The Brewers had a 4-3 lead for the majority of this game, and then when the 9th came around, it was Trevor Time.

Hoffman must have thought that his role was to recreate Tuesday night's performance, because he once again gave up a home run to Ryan Doumit. After that happened, this game was all but over. They officially played a few more innings just for shits and giggles, but we all knew at that point that Pittsburgh would come out on top and that they did, winning 6-5.

This is a team right now that just can not get things figured out. We've had problems hitting, we've had problems with our starting pitching, but right now for the most part those are two things I'm okay with. The problem right now falls on our bullpen for two reasons. One is still the fate of Jeff Suppan. This game went deep enough that Macha actually burned through all of his relievers but Suppan, and he almost had to put him in during a meaningful situation, which is not at all the reason he went to the bullpen. This whole let's hide Suppan in the bullpen and pretend he's not here strategy needs to be fixed before it bites us in the ass.

The more pressing issue though of course is Trevor Hoffman, and if he struggles I'm not really sure if anyone else can step up and be the closer for this team. Todd Coffey has been a popular suggestion, maybe even Carlos Villanueva, but I think both of those pitchers are better suited for the roles that they are currently in and would only be short-term solutions at best.

It's sad, really. Right before our eyes we're seeing Trevor Hoffman fall from grace. Hopefully it's just not as bad as a certain Trevor before him...



POTG: Chris Narveson

Welcome to Atlanta where the players play and where Jermaine Dupri is a terrible rapper.

Getting Some Love on Yahoo! Sports

This post is nothing more than a quick self-gratification, because do you recognize the two guys at the top right of the picture? It's none other than myself and TBC "staff member" Bear, as we partook in the playoff game at the Bradley Center on Monday night. Little did we know at the time, but we got a little love on Yahoo! Sports. We are so unrecognizable that this probably was a waste of your time, but hey, if you look closely enough you can also see Nick Barnett in this picture!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pirates Get Their Revenge

Well we might as well get it out of the way right away - Trevor Hoffman blew another save. It's his third blown save of the year, and this was the ugliest one yet. Hoffman came into the game against the Pirates on Tuesday Night with a 3-2 lead, one that evaporated in mere seconds as Ronny Cedeno of all people hit a game-tying home run. And just to make sure that the Brewers didn't have a realistic shot and winning this game, Hoffman loaded up the bases and then gave up a grand slam to Ryan Doumit. Pirates 7, Brewers 3, and the embarrassment of getting crushed by Milwaukee ended just like that.

Maybe that's all the Pirates needed to beat the Brewers this season was to face Trevor Hoffman. In all of the Brewers previous wins against Pittsburgh this season, Hoffman never had to go for the save because the Brewers were up more than comfortably. Then the night that they finally need Trevor Time, he gives up the victory immediately. It's his third blown save of the season, and now the backlash is raining down upon him.

Booing the closer in Milwaukee has become commonplace over the last few years, what with the likes of Derrick Turnbow and Eric Gagne passing through the town. But I'm worried that some people are going to give up on Hoffman far too soon, and judging by the Facebook statuses of many of you that's already taken place.

Here's the thing, it's a major bummer that Hoffman has given up three saves already this season, I get that. But I have a hard time immediately throwing Hoffman under the bus when we're still in April. Clearly, these kind of performances aren't what we've come to expect out of Trevor Hoffman, but I just don't have it in me to sit here and attack him. I don't know though, maybe it's because we've been disappointed by our closers before, but I'd still like to give him a few more chances before we get in panic mode. Plus, if he wasn't our closer, seriously, I mean we have like no other options.

Other than that, it wasn't a bad performance from the Brewers, who got a pretty decent outing out of Randy Wolf. Wolf went eight strong innings, giving up ten hits but managing that to just two runs. Wolf did a great job of getting out of jams when he did create them, and he also got some very solid defense out of Ryan Braun who has been picking up his defensive game lately. The way Braunie has performed both offensively and defensively, you'd have to think he's a top candidate for NL Candidate of the Month.

Even though the Brewers didn't dominate offensively, they should have had enough runs to get the victory before the Hoffman implosion. The Crew got a very nice offensive performance out of Randy Wolf, and also a home run each from George Kottaras and Prince Fielder. Sadly though, it wasn't enough, and the Brewers drop to 9-11 on the young season. They'll have a chance to win the series on Wednesday afternoon with the first pitch scheduled for 12:10pm. Chris Narveson will be on the bump for his first start of the year. Here's hoping if he does put in a nice outing, the bullpen, especially Hoffman, is able to save him.

Bob Uecker to the DL

I've always been amazed at how a guy like Bob Uecker, someone who is so strongly recognized nationally, has chosen to stay in Milwaukee throughout his career. Even if you know nothing about baseball or the Brewers, you know who Bob Uecker is. However, not everyone is as lucky as we are to be able to listen to his voice while enjoying a perfect Wisconsin summer evening. For the next couple of months however, that is not going to be the case.

Uecker will be sidelined for the next 10-12 weeks as he'll be recovering from the heart surgery he will be undergoing on Friday morning. A heart murmur was detected in Mr. Baseball last September, but it only recently came to the point where something needed to be done about it, as the diagnosis is now a leaking aortic valve.

Uecker made the announcement on Tuesday morning, in a press conference that was attended by a handful of current Brewers players. Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Trevor Hoffman, Casey McGehee, Craig Counsell, Jim Edmonds, and Ken Macha were all in attendance, something which to me shows how Bob Uecker is more than just a radio announcer and is actually a part of this team. Good luck obviously to Bob Uecker and to a speedy recovery.

Uecker did do the announcing for Tuesday night and is going to do the work on Wednesday as well. After that, Corey Provus will take over as the play-by-play announcer for the full nine innings of work. That's a relief to those of us who thought Davey Nelson would actually be calling innings when it was announced that he would be working radio broadcasts in the interim. Nelson will solely be doing the color commentary though, and again Provus will take care of the actual announcing.

Again though, best of luck to Uecks and we hope to hear you again soon.

Don't Mess With Bango

Monday was the first time I've ever been able to attend an NBA Playoff game, and I have to say that I don't know if I could have had a better time. The atmosphere pre/during/post game was unreal, unlike anything I've ever seen at the Bradley Center. And the game itself wasn't bad either, always nice to see the home team even up the series. The one thing I wanted to pass along however was this video of Bango that they showed during a timeout. It was a little funnier the first time I saw it (with 17,000 other people and after a few beers), but it's worth sharing here. This is Bango, the best mascot in the NBA.

Home Sweet Home

Milwaukee needed to win both home games to get back in their playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, and that is what they did. The problem in the first two games in Atlanta was they got away from team basketball. Good thing they have a coach like Skiles to make them realize that they need to pass more to create better shots. The series has been all about who wins the first quarter. Well nothing different Monday night as Carlos Delfino put the first quarter in his hands. He scored 13 points, and had a nice dish to Gadzuric for an and one with 44 seconds left. That really got the Bradley Center rocking early.

The second quarter was back and forth, but the Bucks were able to take a four point lead into halftime. The third quarter is when things got good again for the Bucks. Seven different Bucks scored in the quarter as Milwaukee outscored Atlanta 31-24. Seven people scoring in the quarter means one thing and one thing only and that is teamwork. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is the best at cutting to the hole on this team. In the third he played his best basketball of this series, scoring seven of his ten points. Another guy who played his best game of the season is Dan Gadzuric, who made a huge layup at the buzzer to give the Bucks a 85-74 lead after three quarters.

Twelve minutes away from possibly winning game four I was a little nervous, but my boy Jerry Stackhouse from UNC made a nice jumper to start the quarter. Its nice to have a veteran like Stackhouse make a big shot and take some of the pressure off the other guys. The first hoop of the final quarter is always the hardest. The Bucks did run into a road block in the fourth quarter after Gadzuric made a jumper the Bucks went cold for four minutes. Good thing the Hawks didn't catch fire during the Bucks cold streak. The Bucks made 11-12 from the free throw line in the final 1:28 to seal the deal.

Lets check out some highlights from this huge 111-104 Bucks Win!

* Brandon Jennings looked like a seven year pro on the court Monday. This might really be the start of something special with this kid. After the game he talked about how he is still not satisfied with how they played. He isn't giving in to winning a few games at home, he knows they need to go on the road and steal a game form the Hawks. For the game Jennings finished with 23 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds.

* John Salmons and Carlos Delfino also played huge roles for the Bucks. They finished with a combined 44 points, with each of them scoring 22, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. These are two guys that need to pick up some scoring with Bogut out, and they did just that Monday.

* Talk about the team effort as five players scored in double figures for the Bucks. As for the Hawks they only had four who scored in double figures. For a team like Milwaukee having everyone pitch in is key if they want to get victories like they did Monday night.

* Jerry Stackhouse told Josh Smith a very good Restaurant to go to in Milwaukee. Smith went and said he would give it a 5 out of 5, which are kind words for someone who said there is nothing to do in Brew City. After eating a supposedly great meal Smith went out and did work on the Bucks. He kept the Hawks in it as much as he could, but he did have some mental problems that may have cost him. It seemed the Bucks fans got into his head a few times with their constant booing every time he had the ball and that threw his game off a little bit.

* The Bucks were plus ten on made free throws. If you have watched this team all season you know that they don't get the line much, but Monday they went to the hoop strong. Also the Hawks only had two blocks for the game. Blocks are what killed the Bucks in the first two games of this series.

And now we move on to the biggest game of this series, which will be Wednesday in Atlanta at 7:00 central time. This series is going to start fresh for both teams. It will now be a best of three series, with the Hawks getting two home games if you needed a reminder. I know all these stats out there about how the Hawks are just awful on the road in the playoffs, but this Bucks team was very off game one and game two was close. Milwaukee should be able to go Atlanta and put up a good fight. If the Bucks could pull out this game Wednesday I really see this team moving on. Like Jennings said on his Facebook status (go ahead make fun of me for a Facebook reference) "We're not a good playoff team till we win a game on the road." What can I say he has a great point, lets home they are a good playoff team come this time Wednesday night.

Brewers 51, Pirates 4

No, the MLB won't let the Brewers play the Pirates 162 times this season, but at least Milwaukee is taking advantage of the opportunities they do have against Pittsburgh. It's insane to me how the Brewers can roll over the Pirates for three straight days, then get steamrolled by the Cubs in a similar fashion over the weekend, but then come right back on Monday and beat the Pirates 17-3. It's almost unheard of, but in their four games against the Pirates this season the Brewers have outscored the Bucs 51-4.

For the most part, it was two unlikely heroes at the plate that did most of the scoring for Milwaukee. When he wasn't busy shutting down the Pirates offense, Yovani Gallardo was busy knocking in runs for Milwaukee. Gallardo went 2-for-2 from the plate with a two-RBI double in the second inning and also hit an RBI single in the third. Add that to six innings of pitching in which he gave up two runs (none earned) and struck out four batters and you have yourself Monday's Player of the Game.

The other unlikely hero was the streaky Gregg Zaun. It took him more than a week to finally get his first hit, but on Monday he collected four of them. Zaun finished with two doubles, three runs, and a very impressive five RBI. Not a bad night to have him on your fantasy team for the 3% of America that has him.

The Brewers continued to pour it on after that, highlighted by a nine-run 8th inning which saw Alcides Escobar's first home run of the season as well as a Casey McGehee Grand Slam. In a way, it's almost kind of frustrating to see the Brewers capable of putting up this many runs when they were at such a premium during the Cubs series. Still, it's kind of funny.

The one thing that is not funny was the appearance of Jeff Suppan in the 9th inning. Moved to the bullpen over the weekend, Suppan has been relegated to garbage time and he can't even get that right, giving up a run in his one inning of work. If we seriously want to pay this guy $12 million to pitch only when we are up 15+ runs then whatever, but I think we'd be much better off cutting him now and calling Stetter back up. Although I do kind of want to see Suppan start a game against the Pirates, maybe that would finally even up the playing field.

The Dream is Over

We here at The Bucky Channel have waited all season long to watch our new favorite hockey team, the Buffalo Sabres, do some damage in the postseason. With the Sabres getting the three seed in the East, we figured we were in for at least a month's worth of playoff hockey, hopefully more. But before we could really fully get behind this team, their season was over. Just like that.

You know, one of the biggest reasons we tried to get into hockey was because that usually in April we're left with little to cheer for. The Brewers are usually struggling to start the season, and the Bucks are nowhere to be found in the playoff race. But ironically enough, the year that we tried to get into hockey, basketball took center stage. Our new team's season was on the line but we were of no support, as we were actually at an actual playoff game, that of the Milwaukee Bucks.

And while the Bucks game's was quite amazing to be at in person, we're still a little sad tonight as the Sabres were upset by the Boston Bruins to lose the series four games to two. The final in game six was 4-3 in favor of Buffalo, and while it was a tight game the Sabres were just never able to get a lead. Ultimately, Boston is one hell of a place to play a hockey game if you're the away team, and the hostile environment coupled with a nearly series long injury to Thomas Vanek left the Sabres on the losing end.

Still, even though our team is out of the race it was a lot of fun finally getting into hockey this season, and now I can say I'm actually intrigued about how the whole Stanley Cup Playoffs will shake down. We're already looking forward to next year, when we plan on watching even more games and giving you even less coverage.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Karma Gets Back at Brewers

It was all gumdrops and sugarplums for the Brewers when they beat up on the Pirates last week, but they were definitely feeling the opposite effects of that series when they took on the Cubs at Miller Park. After beating the Pirates by a total of 36-1 in three games, the Cubs returned the favor by outscoring the Brewers 24-5 over the weekend. The Brewers have now lost five of six to the Cubs on the young season, and it's become apparent that the Brewers don't have what it takes to compete with quality opponents, and least not with this pitching staff.

Dave Bush has actually been one of the guys that I thought was pitching well before Sunday, but he gave up home run after home run to the Cubs in the final game of the series. Bush ended up going just 3 2/3 innings, allowing ten hits, four homers, and nine runs (seven earned) in the process. It was a very awful performance from Bush, one that he better get over quickly.

For a while, it looked like Macha was just going to let Bush cook out there, mainly because he didn't have a lot of options to go to in the bullpen. He finally gave in and trotted Claudio Vargas out there, and he struggled as well. Coffey, Hawkins, Villanueva, and Hoffman all got some work in as well, but after depleting the bullpen today Yovani Gallardo better be ready to go more than five innings on Monday .

And Monday actually can't some soon enough for the Brewers, because as fate would have they're right back up against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hopefully having beat them up pretty good last week, the Brewers have the confidence to play like the team they can play like, instead of just showing up to the party expecting to lose as it appears they did against the Cubs.

POTG: Joe Inglett gets in it a pinch hitting performance in which he also took over for Rickie Weeks, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.

John Hammond Wins an Award

Take that Oklahoma City. You may have got the coach of the year, but John Hammond beat you out for Executive of the Year. Hammond received 12 first place votes, while OKC executive Sam Presti only got nine of them. Hammond really deserves this award with what he did to this team. He made some key trades in the off season. He traded Amir Johnson who we had for like a month for Carlos Delfino. Delfino ended up starting when Redd went down.

He took a huge chance in the draft by taking Jennings. I didn't think so, but nine other GM's felt that Jennings was too much of a risk. The Bucks need a point guard so that made it a little easier, out there were still good guards on the board. In the midseason he went out to get John Salmons, who carried this team into the playoffs. He didn't just make one big move, he made many solid moves.

He took a team coming off a 34 win season, and made them a team that would win 46 games. They also had injuries that they had to deal with, but he added depth to the bench. The Stackhouse signing was huge to give this team a mentor. He did a good job of starting with the center he had in Andrew Bogut, and putting a playoff team around him. I can't wait to see what he does this offseason to make this team a contender in the East.

Suppan One Step Closer to Getting Cut

Even though the Brewers are in the middle of getting shelled by the Cubs right now, there is a silver lining to today's events. It appears that Jeff Suppan - after only just two starts - has been moved out of the starting rotation and will be replaced by Chris Narveson. I think this move is almost the complete opposite of the Carlos Zambrano move. The Cubs moved Zambrano to the pen because they needed help, the Brewers moved Suppan into a relief role because they need to stash him somewhere.

To me, this is just one step closer to the eventual releasing of Jeff Suppan, which I predict should happen sometime in the middle of the season, similar to how the Crew released Bill Hall mid-summer despite his heavy contract. With Suppan moving into the bullpen, the Brewers now only have one left-hander in a relief role, and that is Manny Parra. In a perfect world, the Brewers would cut Suppan and bring lefty Mitch Stetter back up, but this organization is trying to save face by keeping Suppan as long as possible. I'm not sure how long they can really afford that though if they want to contend, especially with how the Brewers are currently playing right now (as of this post, Milwaukee is losing to Chicago 9-0 in the fourth inning).

I understand that Doug Melvin wants to have a little pride in this situation, but at some point you have to cut bait. Hopefully that happens sooner rather than later.

Three is a Magic Number

Simply put, the Bucks did work on the Hawks in game three at the Bradley Center. They finally played Bucks basketball Saturday night to get a much needed win in their series against the Atlanta Hawks, and this series is still in reach if they can play well Monday night. They had been coming out flat early in the first two games, but Saturday night they decided to set the tone right away. Brandon Jennings played a huge role in that, because he made three tray balls in the first quarter. John Salmons also started making his turn around jumper again to get the Bucks out to a 36-19 lead after one.

The Bucks didn't shoot well at all in the second quarter, but they played great defense to keep a lead. This was the first time in the series that the Bucks seemed to be challenging Hawk shots. They also limited the offensive rebounds Saturday night. The Hawks love to do two things, run the fast break also get offense rebounds, and it was good to see the Bucks hold strong. The Bucks only scored 16 points in the second quarter, but still had a 52-40 lead at halftime.

Milwaukee used the tray ball in the third quarter to continue to build up the lead. Milwaukee was 4-8 from downtown in the third quarter. Carlos Delfino, who was cold in the first half, made two huge threes that really got this team going. He also gave the fans something to get loud about, which they did very well. I have to say that the "Red Out" failed, but Squad 6 together with all the other fans were very loud. They really played a role in being the sixth man for the Bucks Saturday.

You could definitely see the crowd having a positive affect on the Bucks too. With 1:36 left in the third quarter Jennings stole the ball from Mike Bibby. He was going to go for a lay up when he decided at the last second that he would pass it behind his back to Stackhouse for the slam. This really gave the Bucks everything they needed to put the Hawks away for good.

The fourth quarter was just an offensive bench scoring fest. This gave the starters a chance to sit and enjoy the a good view from the bench. Also a few of the bench players were making sweet plays which led to Jennings and the crew to be dancing on the sideline. Andrew Bogut was also getting in on Squad 6 chants. If this isn't a TEAM I don't know what is. They don't do anything over the top to offend the other team, but they do have fun.

Lets check out some highlights from the 107-89 beat down the Bucks put on the Hawks.

* Brandon Jennings and John Salmons must lead this team with Bogut out. That is what they did Saturday night. Combined they finished 35 points, 12 assists, and 4 steals. If these two can play well everyone else seems to play better too.

* All five Bucks starters were plus in the +/- category. That is never a bad thing when your starters are on the court being productive.

* The Bucks held the Hawks to 13 fast break points. That is something the Hawks can hurt other teams with when they turn turnovers into points. The Bucks were a little careless with the ball at times, but did a good job of keeping those fast break points down.

* Both teams had five blocks. In the first two games it seemed that the Bucks were getting blocked every shot. Milwaukee seemed to go to the hole stronger Saturday night.

* The Bucks got the line 16 times which is not a huge number, but when you make 15 of those shots that is huge. That means when they got to the line they took advantage of it.

* Every Buck that got into the game scored except Charlie Bell. Ha, go figure. Charlie Bell playing well is like saying Jeff Suppan is going to pitch a gem.

* Josh Smith made fun of Milwaukee, well at least the night life. Now he is not someone that I'm going to praise on this site anymore. Way to go Smith. I really liked you too, until you went all Agent 0 on Milwaukee.

The Bucks are back at it Monday night in the Bradley Center. The boss of the Bucky Channel and former writer Bear are going to the game. They are both undefeated going to Bucks games this year so lets hope they can keep it up. Tip is 7:30 Central time, and the game will only be on FSN unless you do have NBA TV. The Bucks need to tie this series up at two, and this will be a series again. With the way they played on Saturday, I think they might be able to do it.

Extreme Rules Predictions

Yeah, we're still doing this. I do have to say though that ever since I got into wrestling this is the pay-per-view I'm looking forward to the least. Maybe it's because of the lack of belts being defended, maybe it's because it's the pay-per-view after Wrestlemania, maybe it's because I'm just not that in to wrestling anymore. I highly doubt that last option though. Here's my predictions for tonight's pay-per-view.

Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk - It's a rematch of their match at Wrestlemania, and the same rules basically apply. If Mysterio loses, he has to join Punk's Straight Edge Society, a group of three people that preach a straight-edge lifestyle. If Punk loses though, he has to shave his hair (high stakes here people). I think CM Punk wins here for two reasons. The first being that Mysterio won the first time, and this would tie their series at even. The second is because Mysterio joining Punk's stable is a heck of a lot better of a storyline than Punk getting a haircut.

JTG vs. Shad Gaspard in a strap match - Never heard of either of these guys? It's okay, not many people have. For the last three plus years, they've been a tag team together known as Cryme Tyme, but they recently split up with Shad taking on the role of the heel. Problem is, nobody seems to care, something that couldn't be more evident than when they get together in front of a live crowd. I don't care about this match at all, but I'll take Shad for the victory, only because it looks like this spilt was more about his push than it was about JTG's.

A Random Women's Title Match - At this point, nobody seems to care about the Women's division, so what's the point. The problem is that there are about twelve Diva's in the WWE right now. Of those twelve, about eight of them are there because they are hot and the other four actually can wrestle. From what I've read, everyone wants to get behind the women like they did in the past, it's just that there are no compelling storylines anymore. I say they need to go back to one belt between the two shows and put more focus into the division.

The other problem with this pay-per-view is that as of now, three belts aren't being defended - The United States Championship, the Intercontinental Championship, and the Unified Tag Team Championships. Not having them present on a pay-per-view makes the titles look weak, and that is a problem the WWE definitely needs to fix going forward in 2010.

Triple H vs. Sheamus in a street fight - These two are very good friends outside of the ring, so look for Triple H to finally put his buddy over in their newly established feud. I thought that maybe Triple H would give one to Sheamus at Wrestlemania, but that was not the case. Still, I see Sheamus getting the nod here at the feud being extended.

Edge vs. Chris Jericho in a cage match - This could very well be the match that steals the show, but it's also another rematch from Wrestlemania. It's actually a very similar card in that regard. And again, because Jericho won round one, I see this round going to Edge to further lengthened this feud as well. These guys work very well together and it's smart to keep them feuding for a little longer, so I'll take Edge to win this one.

Jack Swagger vs. Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship - It's been very interesting what the WWE is doing with Jack Swagger. Since he cashed in the Money in the Bank contract on Chris Jericho to win the belt, he's wreslted in four matches. He lost to Randy Orton, lost to John Morrison, and lost to The Undertaker. On one hand, it's pretty big for Swagger that he's wrestling these guys in the first place, but on the other hand if you have the belt you look weaker by losing these matches. However, Swagger did win that other match that he wrestled, which actually was a title match between him, Jericho, and Edge. I'm not sure what the WWE is trying to accomplish with this, but if Swagger is the type of champion that loses all the time unless the belt is on the line, then I'm on board for that. I pick Swagger to retain.

John Cena vs. Batista in a Last Man Standing Match for the WWE Championship - The WWE really needs to find a way for John Cena to be relevant without being in the title picture. I understand his appeal and all, but Cena holding is belt is blocking too many other deserving people from a shot at the title. I like that Swagger cashed in his contract successfully, but there was no way that was going to be against Cena, because the WWE has to "protect" him. That's where a lot of the Cena resentment comes into play. As for this match, I believe Batista is taking some time off this summer, so yeah, look for Cena to retain.

Cubs Take Another Series

Of the Brewers nine losses this season, four of those have already come by the hands of the Chicago Cubs. On that same token, of the Cubs eight wins this season, four of those of come against the Milwaukee Brewers. All that I know so far is I'm about as sick of the Cubs right now as the Pirates have to be of the Brew Crew.

The Cubs continued their dominance on Saturday night with a 5-1 victory over the Crew, mainly because of their pitching. Ted Lilly put the Brewers on lockdown allowing just three hits in six innings, but the story you'll see in the headlines will focus on Carlos Zambrano. Big Z came out of the bullpen for the first time in something like eight years and pitched a solid 1 1/3 innings. He did give up a run, but I guess the Cubs can justify that because he also chipped in with an RBI while at the plate. Either way, the Brewers got rocked for the second time in two nights, and it was largely due to the Cubs pitching.

That's a sad fact to acknowledge, because Doug Davis actually pitched halfway decent on Saturday night. Dougie ended up going 6 1/3 innings while striking out six batters (although it took him about three hours to do it, with how slow he pitches). There was a spot in the third inning where he ended up loading the bases and then got behind a batter with a 3-0 count, but he was somehow able to work out of it, which was quite impressive. I don't expect the world from Doug Davis, but it's nice to see him pitch a little better than he has been of late.

Even still, the Brewers once again did not do much offensively to put up a fight. It wasn't until Corey Hart hit an RBI single to left in the eighth inning that the Brewers were finally able to get on the board, and by then it was far too little too late. The Brewers better reclaim their bats on Sunday if they are to get a win in this series, but so far Milwaukee has won the last game of every series so that's at least something to be positive about. Dave Bush will take the bump against Randy Wells, with first pitch at 1:05pm.

POTG: Let's give it to Davis, why the hell not.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Packers Keep Adding Depth on Day Three

Don't be too angry, Ted, you had yourself a pretty successful draft this weekend. It wasn't your most flashy of drafts, but it didn't need to be. Thompson put together a very decent Class of 2010, most of whom will be used primarily in backup roles this season, but could possibly step in next year if some of the veterans don't step up this season. It wasn't a perfect draft - I would have liked to see at least one cornerback taken - but it was very solid. Since I'm admittedly very bad at college football, I don't know much about these guys that Thompson took. So instead of me trying to fake my way through this, we'll use the synopsis from NFL.com to learn a little more about the new "Packer People".

Round 5 - Pick 23 - Andrew Quarless - TE - Penn State

After three years of inconsistency and off-the-field issues, Quarless finished off his senior year with 41 receptions and an excellent Bowl game against LSU where he caught a team-high eight passes. Quarless had two issues with underage drinking, one in 2008 where he was charged for DUI and one in 2007. He is a good sized TE with athleticism and body control going for him but needs to learn to take care of business in the offseason if he wants to impress coaches at the next level. He does not block as strong as someone his size should and is not very aggressive when blocking in line.

Round 5 - Pick 38 - Marshall Newhouse - OT - TCU

Newhouse comes from a strong football family but does not show the kind of instincts and mental awareness than you'd expect from someone with that kind of background. As long as the defensive front plays pretty vanilla in terms of stunts and twists, he shows no hesitations or indecision, but he can be late to react and adjust when he sees something for the first time. He shows good initial quickness and speed but struggles when he has to adjust on the move or react to counter moves. He was a quality starter at left tackle for the past three years at TCU but will probably find a better fit inside at guard at the next level.

Round 6 - Pick 24 - James Starks - RB - Buffalo

Starks missed the 2009 season after undergoing surgery to repair his shoulder. He is a converted running back and had consecutive thousand yard seasons in 2007 and 2008. He has a little wiggle to him as he hits the hole and can veer off course after getting to the second level to make the first man miss but is not a top cut-back runner. He has a good burst through the hole and shows the speed to take it all the way once he gets to the open field.

Round 7 - Pick 23 - C.J. Wilson - DE - East Carolina

Wilson has been a durable active defender for the Pirates over the past two seasons. He has good edge quickness and speed to close to the quarterback as a pass rusher. He is an instinctive player who feels pad pressure well to maintain his gap responsibility. Questions remain about his ability to be an effective coverage defender on zone blitzes or if he can project to outside linebacker due to his lack of great lateral agility and quickness. Wilson should be able to give a team good depth with his natural strength, toughness and intangibles as a 4-3 defensive end.

So there you have it, some recaps about our draft picks that I did not write at all. I hope this doesn't count as plagiarism, I mean I did credit NFL.com, didn't I? I'm safe, right? Oh well, Go Pack.

NFL Draft Includes Two Badgers

While it's nowhere near as impressive as having three players from your school drafted within the first four picks such as Oklahoma, it was still nice to see two Badgers get the call to the NFL during the draft weekend. Sure, there could be a few more guys get the call as free agents, but it's always a lot cooler to hear your name called on draft day, at least I would assume.

Both of the Badgers that did get the call went in the fourth round, with the first one being tight end Garrett Graham. Graham will be joining former Badger Owen Daniels as a member of the Houston Texans, as he was selected with the 118th pick in the draft. Graham could emerge to be a pretty solid red zone threat for Houston, and I like the pick for them, although I'm not sure how much time he will see right away if Owen Daniels does fully recover from his injury. I do expect a good professional career for Graham though.

The next Badger was selected just twelve picks later, as O'Brien Schofield is now a member of the Arizona Cardinals. Schofield did injure his knee in the Senior Bowl and will be out until training camp, but he could be a very valuable player for the Cards. I don't expect either of these guys to be superstars, but they should be solid role players on their respective teams for years to come.

And that will probably be our last Badger football post until August.

Cubs Crash Milwaukee's Party

You had to figure that after the Brewers scored 36 runs in three games against the Pirates that they would had a hard time producing runs against the Cubs, and that is exactly what happened on Friday night at Miller Park. The Brewers were only able to score just one run to the Cubs' eight, but I think we all know what the problem was in this game. I don't care how many runs the Brewers would have put on up Friday, because Jeff Suppan would have found a way to blow the game. Is that unfair to say? You've seen him pitch for the last three years, you tell me.

Suppan went just 4 1/3 innings in this game, giving up ten hits and six runs (five earned) in that time frame. As unimpressive as that line is, I think at this point the Brewers lose as soon as Suppan takes the mound. You can almost feel the mental deflation of the players and the crowd as soon as Suppan steps out on the field. Apparently the Brewers are having internal discussions about his role on the team, and I think now would be a great time for another fake injury to put him on the DL. At this point, I seriously think we as fans need to stop attending games where Jeff Suppan is the starting pitcher.

On the opposite side of the pitching box score, it was another game in which Ryan Dempster owned the Milwaukee Brewers. He and Carlos Marmol combined to give up just the one run, which was a Craig Counsell RBI double (although he was later called out at third on the same play). It was just one of those games that you have to forget about quickly and move on, but then again that's become the mantra of any Jeff Suppan pitched game.

Player of the Game: I'm going to give this again to Manny Parra, who has been pitching very well out of the bullpen. If someone does replace Suppan, I almost don't want it to be Parra because of how well he's adapted to the bullpen role. Parra pitched two innings in this game, allowing no hits and striking out four batters. Nice work.

Where is Michael Redd?

The Bucks have returned back to Milwaukee tonight for game three of their series against the Atlanta Hawks, the first time that the Bradley Center has seen a playoff game since the middle of last decade. But our poster boy during that playoff drought won't be in attendance, and I don't think that could be any more fitting. Bucks GM John Hammond has confirmed that Michael Redd won't be back in Milwaukee for the playoffs, instead he'll be home rehabbing back in Columbus, Ohio.

I have been an advocate of getting rid of Michael Redd since well before I started this blog, and I think this season is a perfect indication of why the Bucks are better without him. But it still is a very telling sign that he won't even make it back to watch his team - because remember, he is still on this roster - especially as they are in the playoffs. My biggest gripe on Mike Redd since he's been here is that he's never really been a team guy, and that he has always been in it for himself. I think this just proves that notion.

If he's not going to bother coming back for the playoffs, then don't bother ever coming back at all.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Packers Add Two on Defense

We touched on it after day one of the draft, but it's starting to seem like there is a definite pattern to Ted Thompson's draft style. In the first round, he'll likely take the guy that seems like the obvious choice, and there's nothing wrong with that (we're excluding Justin Harrell here). But get him to the second round, and Ted quickly shoots off the board to take someone we've never heard of. This year, that someone would be Mike Neal.

Everything I've read so far about Neal actually does have good things to say about the defensive tackle Purdue, expect for one glaring trait. Apparently, Neal is a guy that is often referred to as inconsistent, someone who routinely takes plays off, and for the most part is out of shape. Regardless, I don't think Ted takes a guy that like this high if he knows that they can't change some of those bad habits. Still, I don't mind the pick here. It looks like Neal is a guy that plays very powerful and is quite quick for his size, and will be included in our upfront rotation as a defensive end. The Packers defensive line coach Mike Trgovac had a few other things to say about him, you can check that out at JSOnline.com.

After the Neal selection, the Packers were scheduled to have one more pick on Friday night, one they ended up selecting 15 picks earlier than they were supposed to. With that selection, the Packers selected Georgia Tech safety Morgan Burnett, and I think this was another strong selection as well. Scouts were split on this guy also, but you'll pretty much have that for anyone drafted in the second and third round. The good things about this guy is that he has the tool set of a first-round safety, he has great cover ability, and some scouts even call him an "enigma". Of course, I got all that information from JSOnline.com as well, so let's give Greg A. Bedard some more love and check out his interview with Burnett.

By trading up, the Packers will have round four off before they pick again in the fifth round. I've been pretty happy with the draft so far as a whole. Nothing too flashy, and I'm not sure that any of these picks will even end up starting by the end of the year. But the Packers are getting depth at the positions they need it most, and I'm very happy about that. I would like to see them round this out with some more depth on the defensive side, especially cornerback, and then top it off with a late round quarterback or running back.

Sabres Stay Alive

Two days after I write a sob article about how the Buffalo Sabres series is all but over, they come back to beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Friday night to force a game six. Didn't see a minute of it though, because the NHL isn't popular enough to have all of their postseason games televised on national TV. That's okay, one less thing I have to write about tonight.

March Madness Adds Three (Not 31) Teams

I don't think anyone outside of the NCAA Tournament committee was interested in seeing 96 teams compete as part of the annual March Madness, and for the time being it looks like the rest of us got our wish. It's almost absurd to think that the field of 65 should be expanded at all, especially after last year which was one of the most diluted tournament fields in history. But the tournament still will be expanded a bit, although by just three teams.

I really couldn't have imagined a tournament that would have included 96 teams, as it would have taken a lot of the allure away from the tournament. Plus, it's a lot easier to call in sick on a Thursday and Friday than it is to call in sick for the whole week, which the expanded tournament would have forced many of us to do.

The extra three teams will presumably all take part in play-in games, as there will now be four play-in games over all, which is fine with me. CBS will retain the rights to the tournament in a join agreement that will also add some games on Turner Sports, which means every game will be shown live in its entirety for the first time ever. They are paying a hefty price though, as they are forking over $10.8 billion to keep the rights to the tournament until 2024.

There is one negative to this news, however, as it looks like I'm going to owe $50 to Bear. I believe our bet was that the NCAA would expand the tournament to 96 teams within the next five years, but I'm hoping we just bet that they would expand it so that I technically would win. Either way, it adds to the stupid bets that I've made over the years, such as $100 that Craig Nall would one day win an NFL MVP award, and the $200 I bet when I was in junior high declaring that I would be the starting goaltender for the USA in this year's World Cup.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Brian Bulaga in the Deep Blue Sea

I swear to God I've seen this guy as the stereotypical dumb farmboy offensive lineman in every football movie that's come out in the last ten years, but either way, you can now typecast him as a Green Bay Packer. Taken with the 23rd pick in the first round, it seemed pretty obvious that the offensive tackle from Iowa would be Ted Thompson's pick. For a general manager that is known for taking guys that nobody has heard of, more often than not he's used his first round pick to take the obvious choice (Aaron Rodgers, A.J. Hawk, B.J. Raji).

I've read a few mixed things about Bulaga so far. Some say that he was projected to go higher and is a great value pick. Some say that what you see with him is what you get, and that he doesn't have a lot of upside. Some have said that this is our offensive linemen for the next ten years. And some have said that we should have drafted Dez Bryant (nope). I would just say that this was the safe play, it's a good play. The Packers desperately need any help they can get on the offensive line, and even if this guy doesn't start right away, he'll definitely have a positive impact on lowering the amount of times Aaron Rodgers gets sacks. The Packers were in a position where they could have gone a number of ways, but ultimately, I think this was the right pick.

Nice work Ted. Remember when people tried to chase you out of town? I love you. Two other things I need to address about the draft real quickly:

* My cable company does not currently carry the NFL Network, and it's never been more of an issue than tonight. ESPN's coverage of the draft is so bad right now, I can't even explain it. I understand that there will be mistakes when you work in live television, especially during an event that can be as crazy as the NFL Draft. But to cover these for twenty years and then deliver a choppy performance like they are is unacceptable if you're the Leader. There have been more than a few times where Chris Berman was about five seconds away from another YouTube-type explosion, and it's painful to watch.

* Tim Tebow to the Broncos at 25? Wow. Not sure what's going on with that franchise, or what they are going to do at that position. This is a team that has a guy in Kyle Orton, who contrary to popular believe, does not suck. In addition to that, they went out and traded for Brady Quinn this offseason, who is still developing. I'm not sure what their plans are for Tebow, but I'm definitely feeling for Jimmy Clausen right now.

Brewers Win..... By Twenty

I don't even know where to begin with this game. I really don't. I guess if I had to sum up the Brewers 20-0 nothing victory against the Pirates on Thursday with one moment, it would be the following: With the Brewers up 19-0, the Pirates fans that for some reason were still in attendance decided to change their tune. No longer where they Pirates fans, but they were fans of seeing twenty runs scored in a game. But when Ken Macha sent Manny Parra up to the mound to bat, those left at PNC Park did nothing but boo and yell "put in a pinch hitter!" Parra though, perhaps encouraged by the Pittsburgh faithful, hit an RBI single to give the Brewers a 20-0 lead, much to the delight of those in attendance.

It was just that surreal of a game Thursday afternoon, as everything went the Brewers way, and really that was the case for the entire series in which they outscored Pittsburgh 36-1. Thursday's performance helped the Brewers set a few franchise records as well, including most consecutive games with an 8-0 lead (four), largest margin of victory in a shutout (breaking the previous record of 18), and largest margin of victory (tied the record with twenty). It only took one run to win the game, but the Brewers put up twenty, and they're now 8-7 on the young season, winners of four straight.

As for the statistical highlights, where do I begin? Let's roll through some numbers. Rickie Weeks was 3-for-7 with four runs. Carlos Gomez was 2-for-5 with three runs. Ryan Braun hit a home run in consecutive days and finished with five RBI. Prince Fielder hit his first home run of the season and had three RBI. Casey McGehee only had one hit, but that extended his hitting streak to eleven games. Jim Edmonds went 4-for-6 with a home run, three RBI and two runs. Craig Counsell came in as a defensive replacement but went 2-for-3 with two RBI. George Kottaras even had a home run. That's a lot to take in, but that's what happens when you put up twenty runs.

As nice as the twenty runs were, it definitely did overshadow yet another solid performance from the Brewers starting pitching staff. Thursday's star was Randy Wolf as he went six innings and allowing just six hits. He also struck out three batters, and yes, did some work at the plate too with two hits and two runs of his own. All of the players mentioned were worthy of our Player of the Game award, but it's too close too call. We're going to defer to FSN Wisconsin and go with their choice, Jim Edmonds.

What else can you really say about this team right now? Sure, it was the Pittsburgh Pirates, not the best team in the league, but you can't argue against the fact that the Brewers are clicking right now. Clicking both offensively and defensively, with the pitching staff being overshadowed by how hot the bats have been. Granted, not every game is going to be as easy as 20-0, but let's enjoy this one while we can, and then get ready for a three game set at home against the Cubbies.

Happy Earth Day, Pittsburgh.

Scott Skiles is My Coach of The Year

I don't get a say in the Coach of the Year voting so Scott Skiles didn't win this year, but he did take second place. He lost to a great coach in Scott Brooks who is currently guiding the Oklahoma City Thunder through the playoffs. The only thing about Brooks is he has the future of the NBA on his team in Kevin Durant. He also has a point guard that could be the next walking triple double in Russell Westbrook. Not to say he isn't doing anything to earn the award, but he does have some top names working for him which makes it easier for him.

Scott Skiles on the other hand did something that no one thought this team could do. He took a Bucks team that was projected to take last in the whole Eastern Conference and made them a playoff team. He was given a gifted point guard to work with this season, but other than that he worked with what he had. He started getting Bogut into the star roll last season, and that really bloomed this season. He lost Richard Jefferson, and replaced him with a guy that played in Europe last year named Carlos Delfino. He taught this team how to play together, work hard, and most importantly have fun playing the game.

The Bucks lost a lot of people to injuries this season. Michael Redd was their top scorer before he went down for the year. Bogut got hurt missed a few games during the regular season with his back. He missed the end of the regular season which cost this team from getting the 5 seed. Brandon Jennings and Luke Ridnour were the only players to play all 82 games. He didn't have one player average more than 20 points a game. This team is the definition of a team, and only one man should get credit for that. That would be the head coach Scott Skiles, that is why he is my coach of the year.

This Hockey Thing Isn't Working Out Too Well

Of all the hockey teams we could have picked this year to root for, it was the Buffalo Sabres that seemed like the natural choice. I've kind of always got the sense that they were the Milwaukee Brewers of the NHL. Both franchises have been around since the 1970's, they are both smaller market clubs, both have them have contested for a championship but have never won one, and both teams have a similar color scheme (they even both had a period in the mid-90's where they switched to different colors which are barely recognized by the fans). Sure, when we decided to get into hockey we could have gotten on the bandwagon of a team like the Red Wings or Penguins, but the Sabres just felt like our hockey team.

That's whats making this series against the Bruins so painful, as the Sabres are now down 3-1 to Boston after losing 3-2 in double overtime on Wednesday night. It's not just that they are losing, it's how the Sabres are losing. All season long, Buffalo has been 30-0-0 when leading after two periods. Well, in games three and four they lead after two periods, and then blew the lead both times. Wednesday night's game was even more heartbreaking, as the Bruins finally scored the game winning goal after they were awarded a power play. The power play being because the Sabres had too many men on the ice.

I really could leash into a long article about why we root for sports in the first place. Why we get our hopes up when we know that 99.9% percent of the time they are going to be crushed. I mean, how many times in the last decade did you and I think that the Packers were Super Bowl bound, only to see those hopes and dreams fade away? How euphoric was Milwaukee after CC Sabathia lead us to the playoffs, only to be chased out by the Phillies in the Wild Card round? How great was it to finally see the Bucks put something together this season before losing Andrew Bogut to a season ending injury? That's kind of what's happening with the Sabres right now. They played well all season, grabbed the three seed in the East, and now are giving games away when it matters.

Sure, the series is not over quite yet, and the Sabres still have a good enough team to put three games together. But as sad as it might be, the fact that the Sabres are a franchise with a diehard fanbase that rarely ever gets a return on their investment, makes me realize that they are my team after all.

Welcome to The Bucky Channel, Sabres fans. We're just as much as a sports blog as we are a support group.

Milwaukee Keeps On Rolling

This is the kind of baseball that I could get used to. The Brewers are doing it all right now, dominating offensively and finally getting decent performances out of their starting pitchers, and that was on display Wednesday night as Milwaukee cruised to an 8-0 victory over the Pirates.

By adding eight runs on Wednesday, the Brewers have now scored 27 times over their last three games. My favorite part of this is that they aren't just doing it one single way. Sure, they are still using the long ball, as Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks, and Jody Gerut all scored that way on Wednesday. But they are also using small ball to score runs too, especially thanks to the speed of Alcides Escobar and Carlos Gomez as those two continue to turn routine outs into base hits. It really has been the perfect blend of offense over the last few days, and that's good to see.

You can say that Ryan Braun has been the leader of that offensive charge, and he continued his recent outburst on Wednesday night going 3-for-4 with that aforementioned home run. But as far as a player of the game nominee, we're going to suggest Alcides Escobar. Eski did something I don't recall ever seeing before by hitting two triples in the same game, and he turned both of those triples into runs (although if you're paying close enough attention, it is true that both of his triples were cashed in via the long ball). In addition to the offense though, he had one of his sharpest defensive games to date, and for that I'll bestow him the honor.

On any other day the POTG would have gone to Yovani Gallardo, who finally had the line we've been paying him to have. Yovani got his first win of the season, giving up just three hits along the way, while also striking out seven. But Gallardo did only go five innings, and I'm going to hold that against him, at least as far as the POTG standings go. But seriously, who gives a damn about by nonsensical player of the game awards if Gallardo is tossing ten strikeouts per game. Ah, screw it. I've changed my mind. Gallardo gets the POTG.

Still, I'd much rather debate who our player of the game is because multiple guys had great games, instead of the alternative. And with the way Milwaukee is playing, that's a trend that hopes to continue. The Pirates have actually been playing decent ball this season, but Milwaukee just seems to have their number recently. For that reason, this series couldn't have come at a better time as it seems the Pirates are helping us find out what kind of team we have, one that right now looks like it could put up a pretty impressive campaign.

I'm sorry I said you were a fudge packer and that you had Seaman on your back.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Josh Smith Owns Bucks Tuesday Night

This picture above shows everyone thinking of a way to slow down Josh Smith. Well no one could think of a way Tuesday night in Atlanta. The guy just did everything to help the Hawks win. He blocked shots, stole balls, dunked on everyone, got crazy rebounds, and assisted many Hawks hoops. You hear all the talk about Joe Johnson being a fee agent, and if he leaves Atlanta this team won't be good anymore. My ass. Don't get me wrong Joe Johnson is a stud, but Smith just loves playing the game and he made a bigger impact on this team tonight.

This game was different from the first game of the series, at least in the first half. The Bucks were actually in this game at halftime. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute came out on fire for the Bucks as he scored eight of the first ten points for the Bucks. Things were looking good, until the Hawks got up 21-12, the same thing they did Saturday night. Well, the Bucks learned their lesson not to get behind early again as they went on a nice 8-0 run to get right back into the game. With 41 seconds left the Bucks trailed 20-22, before playing the worst final 41 seconds ever. Josh Smith scored six points in the final 32 seconds to give Atlanta a 28-20 lead after one.

So far in this series, Milwaukee has been giving up too many scoring runs to the Hawks, who are a team that loves to run. They need to limit the fast break points if they want to win any games in this series. The Hawks have a good half court offense, but they really love to run with this small line up. Al Horford is like a power forward so they really don't start a center. That is another reason I don't really think Kurt Thomas is the best man for the Bucks. I thought I would never say this but maybe Gadzuric would be the best start for the Bucks. Still, Milwaukee played a solid second quarter, and were only down by six at halftime.

The third quarter is when things got out of hand. The game of runs hurt the Bucks again as the Hawks started the second half on a 12-2 run. The Bucks just could not catch a break in the third, as they had shots rim out, and they didn't get any loose balls. It seemed that every ball would some how, some way, end up in the Hawks hands. Atlanta took a 14 point lead into the fourth, and this game looked all but over.

The Bucks cut the lead down to eight with 8:15 left in the quarter, so the Hawks took a timeout. The game never got closer than that the rest of the way. The Bucks did outscore the Hawks in the fourth, but that wasn't enough as the Hawks held on for the 96-86 win. So down 2-0 in the series the Bucks will have to get things going Saturday night if they want to put up a fight.

Ersan Ilyasova had a nice game for the Bucks with 13 points and 15 rebounds. The only problem is while he had a double double at half, he didn't do much in the second half of the game. He needs to be more consistent through out the whole game. Jerry Stackhouse also had 15 points off the bench to keep the Bucks in the game.

As far as the Hawks side of the box score, well it all came from the starters. I talked about Smith who had 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 9 assists. Joe Johnson had 27 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds. Those were the top two guys, but the three other starters Horford, Bibby, and Williams all scored in double figures too.

The series is on its way to Milwaukee Saturday night as the Bucks look to turn things around. It doesn't look good right now if your a Bucks fan, but anything could happen. Saturday nights game will be on ESPN at 6:00 Central time.

Bats Stay Hot Against Pirates

After putting up a ten spot in the first inning against the Nationals on Sunday afternoon, you'd be fair to wonder if the Brewers had anything left in those bats of theirs. The Pittsburgh Pirates found out the hard way that the Brewers weren't done swinging just yet. Milwaukee put up seven runs in the first three innings, doing most of the work the hard way - RBI singles, walks, and sac flys, much different than relying on the long ball as they've done so often. They did get a solo shot from Corey Hart later to put the exclamation point on an 8-1 victory in PNC Park.

As impressive as they were at the plate on Monday Night, the Brewers Player of the Game award for tonight has go to Dave Bush. Finally, finally!, a starting pitcher delivered a performance that we can actually be proud of. Bush went seven innings giving up just three hits and striking out too. Bush has actually been pitching the best of all our starters this season, and this game helped him lower his ERA to 2.41. We all know it's rare for Bush to have anything sub-.400, so this is nice to see. It's the first time this season we've given a starting pitcher the POTG honor, which is way too late in the season for that to happen. Nice job, Dave.

Because of the Bucks taking over FSN Wisconsin, much of Wisconsin was unable to see this game, and it's really a shame. In the last two games, the Brewers have put up eighteen runs. On Sunday, opposing starter pitcher Jason Marquis didn't even record an out, and on Monday the Brewers chased Charlie Morton out of the game after one inning. Now if we can just get a few more performances like this from our staff, this could actually be a decent season. Oh, how we dream.

The Packers Schedule is Finally Here

How is it that the NFL can make the most mundane parts of their league almost as exciting as the games themselves? The NFL Draft has turned into a national holiday, the glorified practice that is the Combine has become a big deal, and the releasing of the schedule is met with great anticipation as well. It's crazy to watch all day long as bits by bits of the schedule continue to be released, but the full thing is finally here.

We've been waiting for months to find out when the Packers would either play the Patriots or the Falcons, because our fourth annual Packers game road trip will be taking us to one of those locations. It looks like the Falcons will be in late November, while the Patriots are a Sunday Night game in late December. All I can say is, Boston baby. Here's the schedule, soak it in.

Sun. Sept. 12 @ Philadelphia - 3:15pm (Fox)

Sun. Sept. 19 vs. Buffalo - Noon (CBS)

Mon. Sept. 27 @ Chicago Bears - 7:30pm (ESPN)

Sun. Oct. 3 vs. Detroit - Noon (Fox)

Sun. Oct. 10 @ Washington - Noon (Fox)

Sun. Oct. 17 @ Miami Dolphins - Noon (CBS)

Sun. Oct. 24 vs. Minnesota - 7:20pm (NBC)

Sun. Oct. 31 @ New York Jets - Noon (Fox)

Sun. Nov. 7 vs. Dallas - 7:20pm (NBC)

Sun. Nov. 14 BYE WEEK

Sun. Nov. 21 @ Minnesota Vikings - Noon (Fox)

Sun. Nov. 28 @ Atlanta Falcons - Noon (Fox)

Sun. Dec. 5 vs. San Francisco - Noon (Fox)

Sun. Dec. 12 @ Detroit - Noon (Fox)

Sun. Dec. 19 @ New England Patriots - 7:20pm (NBC)

Sun. Dec. 26 vs. New York Giants - 3:15pm (Fox)

Sun. Jan. 2 vs. Chicago Bears - Noon (Fox)

Now, to enhance your schedule browsing. NFL.com has a pretty neat interactive schedule, which is technology that this blog is about two Powerball jackpots away from, so check that out. Using that tool, you can check out the week by week schedule as well. Also, Greg A. Bedard over at JSOnline did a nice job compiling a primer of our opponents, so get on that too.

Now we gotta go check out some Brewers baseball and Bucks playoffs, and then get ourselves ready for the NFL Draft this weekend. Man oh man do I love April, and I didn't even mention the WWE pay-per-view this weekend!

Where to Watch the Brewers Tonight

With the Bucks/Hawks Game 2 being shown on FSN Wisconsin tonight (and deservedly show), the Brewers have been bumped from their regular broadcast home. But if you'd prefer to watch the Crew take on Pittsburgh, or want utilize your second living room television like we're going too, you still can. The game will be one WMLW 41 in the Milwaukee area, and then on alternate channels throughout the state, according to foxsportswisconsin.com. The alternative channels are:

Time Warner: Channel 310
Charter Communications: Channel 88 (was still black as of 6:13pm)
Direct TV: Channel 657
DISH Network: Channel 475

I'm unsure about if you can still catch the game on some of the smaller cable outlets in Wisconsin, and I believe that U-Verse does carry WMLW in more places than just Milwaukee, but I could be mistaken.

With these two games and the releasing of the Packers schedule tonight, there is a lot going on in Wisconsin sports. Check back here late tonight and early tomorrow morning for recaps and analysis. I'm serious, we could use the traffic!

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