They say that there is supposed to be a grace period after one of your favorite teams wins a championship. By that logic, because the Packers won the Super just two short months ago I should be able to brush off any shortcomings of the other teams that I root for, at least for a short period of time. Thing about that is, I'm having a hard time subscribing to that theory. Yes, the Packers won the Super Bowl and it was one of the greatest five days of my life, but that doesn't excuse the heartaching losses we've been witnessing as a state lately.
The Badgers and Golden Eagles awesome runs to the Sweet Sixteen? Yeah, those were great but I still can't get the taste of the Badgers heartbreaking loss to a mid-major out of my mouth, and that Marquette clobbering at the hands of North Carolina is still a tough pill to swallow. The Bucks? Don't get me started (don't even get me started!) on how disappointing this supposed playoff run has been, and their loss the other night to the Bobcats was nothing short of embarrassing. Yes, we as Wisconsin fans found huge success with a Super Bowl victory this season, but elsewhere it seems that our other favorite teams are having a hard time following that success.
Now for me to say all of this and then talk depressingly about the Brewers would be a little silly, because the Brewers on Thursday loss just one game out of a 162-game season, this one a 7-6 heartbreaker to the Reds thanks to a game winning bomb from Ramon Hernandez. But even though it counts just as much in the standings as every other game does, there is a little more weight to the games played on Opening Day. This was the game that we've been waiting for since last Fall. How would the new manager run this team? How would the new guys contribute on defense? What would the new lineup look like? My workplace during this game was euphoric when Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez hit back-to-back homers to kick off the season. There's no doubt that we'd be celebrating back-to-back home runs no matter what the game, but because it happened on Opening Day it just felt a little more special.
For that same reason, losing on Opening Day feels a little worse than it really is. Most of which has to do with the fact that the Brewers seemed to be in control of this game throughout eight and one half innings, only to fall apart when John Axford went for the save. I've been quietly worried about Axamaphone all through Spring, but I still had enough confidence in him to close this one out. It's funny how after one blown save we're already hearing comparisons to Trevor Hoffman of last year and Derrick Turnbow of years past, and how people are already calling for Zach Braddock or Takashi Saito to be the closer. But I think that this is the attitude Wisconsin fans have taken since the Super Bowl victory. Just because we won one championship doesn't mean we're fine with settling for the next few years; we want to see more of these titles come back home. Does that make us snobby? Does that make us crass? Is it fair to the teams we root for? I'm not sure I can answer those questions at this time.
The thing is, it gets hard to keep a baseball season in perspective. Opening Day seems more important than the other 161. A tough loss is going to be tougher on you individually if you attend the game than if it occurred while you weren't able to catch it at work. Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. I think one of the things that did happen to us as Wisconsin fans in the last few months is that we've been conditioned to think that every game needs to have do-or-die implications. The Packers needed to win or go home for six straight weeks. Then we followed our college hoops teams through the one-and-done tournament format. And all of these Bucks games recently have felt like must wins. While Thursday was a devastating loss to witness for Brewers fans, we need to remember that it's not going to be do-or-die for this team for quite awhile. Let's make sure we sit back, enjoy that baseball has finally returned, and watch this team come together and hopefully deliver the kind of season we as Wisconsin sports fans are starting to grow fond of.
Baby lock them doors and turn the lights down low.
POTG: Rickie Weeks (1)
The league name is "The Bucky Channel" and the password is "beatbucky".
Search for and join it here.
The draft is set for 9 PM (ET) / 8 PM (CT) SUNDAY, APRIL 3.
Top finisher(s) get prizes...so what are you waiting for?!!??!?
American League MVP
James: Carl Crawford (Red Sox)
Gweedo: Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox)
Wegs: Joe Mauer (Twins)
National League MVP
Gweedo: Prince Fielder (Brewers)
Wegs: Carlos Gonzales (Rockies)
Gweedo: Justin Verlander (Tigers)
Wegs: Brett Anderson (Athletics)
Turtle: Francisco Liriano (Twins)
Winks: Felix Hernandez (Mariners)
National League Cy Young
Gweedo: Roy Halladay (Phillies)
Wegs: Roy Halladay (Phillies)
Turtle: Josh Johnson (Marlins)
American League Manager of the Year
James: Terry Francona (Red Sox)
Gweedo: Ozzie Guillen (White Sox)
Wegs: Bob Geren (Athletics)
Turtle: Mike Scioscia (Angels)
Gweedo: Bud Black (Padres)
Wegs: Fredi Gonzalez (Braves)
Turtle: Mike Quade (Cubs)
Winks: Ron Roenicke (Brewers)
James: Red Sox over Phillies
Gweedo: Red Sox over Phillies
Wegs: Red Sox over Rockies
Turtle: Phillies over Twins
The Red Sox and Phillies are wicked FACKED!
I couldn't give the Yankees a playoff spot with this rotation. They'll have to trade for AT LEAST one arm and even that won't guarantee the Wild Card for them...plus Alex Rodriguez is King Douche.
I don't think that the Brewers get the Wild Card this year. Either they are going to be the team that we are hoping they are, or they're going to get lost in the shuffle. Therefore, because I'm a homer, they have to win the Central to make the playoffs. I'm high-ish on the Braves, so they get the Wild Card spot.
And there you have it, now, shoot holes in it and tell us how ridiculous or overly conservative it is or how we're nay-sayers or how much you like my hair cut.
James: Phillies over Giants | Braves over Brewers
Gweedo: Phillies over Brewers | Cardinals over Padres
Wegs: Rockies over Braves | Brewers over Phillies
Turtle: Phillies over Brewers | Rockies over Cardinals
Winks: Brewers over Braves | Phillies over Rockies
James: Phillies over Braves
Gweedo: Phillies over Cardinals
Wegs: Rockies over Brewers
Turtle: Phillies over Rockies
Winks: Phillies over Brewers
Stay tuned for the World Series and Post-Season Awards predictions as well as some Miscellaneous Observations.
The start of the 2011 regular season is right around the corner. No more of the scrubs on the base paths...unless you're talking about the Pirates. March 31 will be here in a couple days and as such, we at The Bucky Channel have decided to embarrass ourselves and summon our inner Nostradamuses (Nostradami?) and give you our takes on the pending season.
Stay tuned for the National League
If the Milwaukee Bucks were my favorite team out of all of my favorite teams, I would be heartbroken right now. If the Green Bay Packers hadn't won the Super two months ago, I might be in disarray. If I didn't already think that the season was over about two weeks ago, I would be devastated by what occurred on Monday night in Charlotte. But thankfully, I've come to know that when I watch this 2010-2011 Bucks team in action, I am watching a team that just isn't destined to make the playoffs. In fact, I am watching a team that appears to be going out of their way not too.
Take the final three minutes of the Bucks game against Charlotte. The two teams were facing off just a couple of games behind the Indiana Pacers in the backpedaling race for the Eastern Conference's eighth seed, and the Bucks had led throughout pretty much the entire contest. But just as it always seems to happen this season, the Bucks had a hard time maintaining a lead in the games' final minutes. Charlotte scored the next seven points of the game, and in two minutes and forty-nine seconds, the Bucks had scored zero. Charlotte found themselves up one point with eleven seconds to go, and they had the basketball.
The Bobcats needed the win as bad as the Bucks did, but they do tried to give the game away by throwing away an inbound pass. Brandon Jennings somehow ended up stealing the inbound in what was a fluid motion of grabbing the ball, seemingly falling to the ground, but then emerging back on his feet and he drove to the hoop for the game winning lay-up. Problem was, he missed. But then another miracle! Keyon Dooling got the rebound, kicked it out to Jennings who chucked up the game winning shot and then... another miss! But then another last chance as Carlos Delfino went for the tip in with under a second left... but the ball couldn't agree with the rim and none of the Bucks final three shots went through the net. The Bucks left Charlotte empty handed, and when you couple that loss with the Pacers improbable win against the Celtics on Monday night, that all but sealed the Bucks as a 2011 lottery team.
Honestly, if this team was the number one priority of mine - if they took over my life the way that the Packers do every year, I'd be a wreck right now. The way that this Bucks team is losing is disgraceful, but it's downright laughable at times. Again, it's like they go out of their way to lose. Regrettably, I let myself get emotionally involved in the Bucks game on Saturday night against the Bulls, and was heartbroken to see them blow yet another game in the final minutes. I was actually at my girlfriend's house at the time, and she saw a side of me that night that she hadn't seen before - an irrational anger towards something I shouldn't be caring that much about.
Why do I want the Bucks to make the playoffs so bad in the first place? To watch them get swept by the Chicago Bulls as they have the four times that they've played them already this season? I don't know, I can't explain it really, but the Bucks are a team I like and I want to see them succeed. I know that an NBA Championship is unlikely for a long time for this franchise, and even a playoff series win seems years away, but I just want them to get that chance. Part of me knowing that they won't succeed is taking some of the sting out of watching them lose the way that they have been, but it still hurts. Without that humility, my pain watching this team could be a lot worse.
We'll probably be doing it through the WWL's website with a live draft on Thursday (March 31) evening. Leave a message in the comments, send us a message or leave a comment on Facebook or send an email.
We want you...to kick our asses!
The Bucky Channel swag and prizes will be available.
The 2011 Final Four is set at (4) Kentucy vs. (3) Connecticut and (11) Virginia Commonwealth vs. (8) Butler. Take that Jay Bilas. Actually, we all need to shut-up because NO ONE had anything close to this result on the right hand side of the bracket...well, perhaps a few secretaries in Richmond.
On a side note, I have more than a few friends who are VCU graduates...the text message quantity and quality is getting close to over-bearing but they put up with the Super Bowl talk (which is on-going, thank you) so I'll forgive them.
- James maintains with 67 points thanks to 38 correct but he's done
- Sherry sticks at 64 off 34 and is done as well
- Nick is cemented with his 60 off 38
- Kyle is done with 59 off 38 and Tiffany jumps up and finishes at 59 off 33
- Bart sticks around with his 57 off 34 but is still alive thanks to his UConn choice
- Joe is also done at 56 off 34
- Elliot, Patrick, Justin & Stanley share this spot with 55 points and have are cashed out
I'm not looking forward to hearing all the "OHMIGOD, VCU made it?!??!" or "OHMIGOD, Butler did it again?!???!" talk this week. It's like Super Bowl week all over, only we're not going to be enjoying it as much...well, not as many of us.
With the recent trade of Dickerson and the acquisition of Morgan, the Brewers opening day 25 man roster is finally being pieced together. Notably a lot different than what I predicted. So lets take a gander.
1B - Prince Fielder
2B - Rickie Weeks
3B - Casey McGehee
SS - Yuniesky Betancourt
IF - Erick Almonte
IF - Craig Counsell
OF - Ryan Braun
OF - Carlos Gomez
OF - Mark Kotsay
OF - Nyjer Morgan
OF - Jeremy Reed
C - George Kottaras
C - Wil Nieves
SP - Yovani Gallardo
SP - Shaun Marcum
SP - Randy Wolf
SP - Chris Narveson
LR - Sergio Mitre
P - Kameron Loe
P - Zack Braddock
P - Mitch Stetter
P - Takashi Saito
P - Sean Green
P - Brandon Kintzler
CL - John Axford
Now it is still up in the air whether newly acquired Sergio Mitre will be the Brewers fifth starter. If not, Marco Estrada would make the necessary starts until Greinkes return, or his own demise. Which in that case you would have to assume Brandon Kintzler would be optioned to AAA. It will be interesting to see what Roenicke does once LaTroy Hawkins returns from the DL.
On the offensive side there are a few surprises, but they aren't big. Newly acquired Nyjer Morgan took one of the two spots of Boggs and Reed. I thought the defense of Boggs would win out over the offense of Reed, but clearly I was wrong as Reed grabbed the final spot today. Also Luis Cruz cleared waivers, sending him to AAA Nashville giving Erick Almonte his first ever opening day club spot. You have to assume when Hart comes back healthy Reed will be heading south anyhow, along with Nieves once Lucroy returns.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Twitter is the answer: @WiscSportsTalk @JamesSmizek
Anyone that put together a prediction for the Brewers 25-man roster earlier this Spring is going to have at least two of those predictions turn out to be wrong, as Doug Melvin has traded for two guys that I didn't even know were ever even on his radar. First, Melvin shipped outfielder Chris Dickerson to the Yankees for reliever Sergio Mitre. Then on Sunday morning Melvin dipped back into his minor league pool and sent Cutter Dykstra to the Nationals for Nyjer Morgan. The moves are clearly in response to some of the injuries the Brewers will have to start the season (Zach Greinke, Corey Hart, etc...), as well as our general manager's desire to put the best team on the field that he can.
I know the general feeling is to maybe ease off on the postseason talk because of the injuries that are going to hamper the Brewers in the early part of the season, and it seems Melvin is trying to get as much depth as he can in that locker room to make sure the Brewers aren't playing catchup to start the year. You'll hear no complaining from me in response to the moves, and honestly I can't remember the last time a Brewers GM was this aggressive right before the start of the season (which starts on Thursday, OMG!) Even with the moves, it appears that Carlos Gomez will still be the starting centerfielder, although I'd wager that a platoon between him and Morgan is the most likely outcome. Mitre figures to take up a bullpen spot for the entire season, barring injury.
Saturday's games finally significantly jumbled the leaderboard....ugh...I mean YAY...
- James takes his anticipated spot at the top with 67 points off 38 correct
- Sherry vaults into second with 64 points off 37 correct
- Nick drops to third and still has 60 off 38
- Kyle takes his spot with 59 off 38
- Bart climbs thanks to his 57 off 34
- Joe jumps as well thanks to his 56 off 34
- Elliot, Patrick, Justin & Stanley share this spot with 55 points
Upsets and unfortunate results marked Friday's results. Marquette got schooled, Ohio State got bounced and VCU slipped on Cinderella's stank-ass shoes.
Again, the leader board didn't move a lot but James is certainly poised to claim the number 1 slot. Unfortunately for him, this contest only runs through the Sweet Sixteen as no one really cares what happens from now on, right? Ah, screw it, I'm not prize eligible anyway so we'll keep it going a little while longer.
Leaderboard through the Round of Sixteen
- Me...for now with 60 points off 38 correct...Kansas is my only horse left
- James & Kyle with 59 points...both have more than 1 team left
- Sherry with 56 off 36
- Elliot, Justin & Stanley with 55 off 36
- Craig & Tyler with 54 off 36
The Badgers are out, Marquette is out but the tournament is turning out to be more competitive than I had anticipated. This weekend's game should hold true to this trend.
The games start with (8) Butler taking on (2) Florida at 4:30 PM (ET) and will continue with (5) Arizona matching-up against (3) Connecticut at 7:05 PM (ET).
Either way, I'm proud of what Marquette has done with season with the kids they have from junior colleges. I'm also very excited about the season UNC had after going to the NIT last year. Both teams had great seasons, and one of them will get to play again Sunday. Who will it be? I don't know, but either way I'll have a team I enjoy watching in the Elite Eight.
Quick projections on the the other games:
Ohio State 84 Kentucky 70. Because Ohio State is a really good team.
Kansas 70 Richmond 63. But I really want Richmond to win this game.
Florida State 65 VCU 62. Both these teams have shocked everyone so far, and congrats to either team that continues to shock the basketball world.
Ugh...Bucky...another ugly showing in the Sweet Sixteen. Definitely a disappointing end to another exciting season for Bo's Brood. Ice cold shooting and tough Butler defense spelled doom for Skonnie. Even with the furious, late comeback, the first 30 minutes was the real killer. Leuer fouled out with 3 points...that pretty much says it all right there.
In other news, Duke was bitch-slapped by Arizona. Not many saw that coming as after the final came in, the standings didn't move a lot. Speaking of which...let's take a look...
- Me...still...with 52 points off 36 correct picks
- James, Kyle and Stanley with 51 points off 35, 36 and 35 picks respectively
- Craig with 50 off 35
- Sherry with 48 off 34
- Elliott and Justin with 47 off 34
Well, still a lot of games remaining folk...still anyone's game.
We can all be thankful we have the Badgers tonight, and then Marquette to watch Friday night. At least we know there is some decent basketball being played in this state. As for the Bucks, they are back at it against the Knicks on Friday night at 6:30 central time. The Knicks are sitting in the 7th seed right now, but are also having a hard time winning games. I feel like I have seen a team get new players, and have a hard time learning to play together before. Shades of the Miami Heat if you ask me. But don't let their struggles fool you, the Knicks will be a team to be wrecking with come playoff time. And the way it's going right now it doesn't look like that is something the Bucks will have to worry about.
On Thursday it's Sweet Sixteen time, as one of the most entertaining tournaments in years continues (speaking of sweet how cool is that picture?). To kick it off the first of the eight games between Thursday/Friday is UConn vs SDSU. I couldn't think of another way to start off these eight great match ups then with a 2 vs. 3 matchup. Let's preview the matchups for Thursday nights (start times are Central):
SDSU's game on the other hand will be in the hands of Kawhi Leonard. The 6-foot-7 forward should be able to work down low on UConn. He had a rough night shooting against Temple in the "third round", as he was 6-14 from the field. Leonard had a double double in the second round against Northern Colorado, as he finished with 21 points, and 10 rebounds.
Who am I going to go with Thursday for the first game? This probably shouldn't be the deciding factor but because I need UConn for a pool, but I have to go with my boy Kemba Walker. Another factor is how bad SDSU played when they had chances to put away Temple late in the third round. What could keep them from winning? Not shooting the ball well, and not boxing out. SDSU loves to beat teams up on the boards, and UConn has had a few games this year where they shoot like the Bucks. And if you've read any of my Bucks posts you know that the Bucks shoot like crap. Lets go with UConn 75, SDSU 67.
#2 Florida vs #3 BYU - (Florida -3) - 6:27pm
Florida has made things look easy so far in this tournament, but so has BYU. BYU is ranked #10 in the nation in free throw percentage, while on the other hand Florida is ranked #237. Florida has to have an advantage in the front court with Brandon Davies suspended because he got laid, which I still can't believe he was suspended for the season for that. Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin should be able to work hard in the low post, with the lack of height of BYU.
Who am I going to take to win? Florida and the big men will be too much for BYU and the Jimmer show Thursday night. What will keep Florida from winning? If the Gators shoot awful from the line, or if Fredette has a huge game and goes off for 50 plus. I just think Florida might be able to own the offensive glass, and that will force Jimmer to almost be perfect shooting. I see this game as high scoring affair, but when one guy has to score 60% of the points it takes a toll on him. Let's go with Florida 80, BYU 69. Gus Johnson is doing the game, so it could be closer than that, because Gus Johnson games always seem to be close for some reason.
#2 Duke vs #5 Arizona - (Duke -8.5) - approx. 8:45pm
Arizona will look for Derrick Williams to carry the load for them. Duke has some bodies to play against him, so someone else may have to step up for the Wildcats. They'll also need to make three pointers, because we all know Duke will make their fair share. You also can't let Duke get out and run against you, so Arizona has to keep from turning over the ball. If they turn it over a lot, this one could be a huge blowout for Duke.
Who am I going to go with to win? I have to take Duke with this one, because I think Arizona's luck has run out. They have yet to beat a team with ease, and Duke is not the opponent that is going to give them an easy victory. What will have to happen for Arizona to win? Duke has to shoot awful from outside, and Arizona has to shoot the lights out from deep. I'm going to say Duke 83, Arizona 67, because Duke has to many big guys to match up with Williams.
#4 Wisconsin vs #8 Butler - (Wisconsin -5) - approx 8:57pm
During the regular season, Wisconsin turned into the Jordan Taylor show, with Jon Leuer as the sidekick. But now it seems that anyone can step up at anytime for this team. Case in point - Mike Bruesewitz was the key factor against Kansas State. Four players scored in double figures in that game, and if that continues this team could be well on its way to match up in the finals. I'm not a huge fan of watching Wisconsin games, but I have to say the game against K-State was one of the better basketball games I have seen in a long time. I see that happening again on Thursday night if both teams play like they can. Look for Josh Gasser to be an X-factor for the Badgers in this game. He is just an under the radar guy that makes plays when you need one.
Butler on the other hand is a definition of a team with heart. They don't blow you out of the water or play very flashy, but they find ways to win games. Butler is like Arizona in that they have won both games so far by a combined three points. I just think that this is how Butler wins games, and they'll have to do it again Thursday to get to the Elite Eight. Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard are the heart and soul of this Butler team. If they play hard, the guys around them seem to step up their game knowing that the two leaders they have are worth fighting for. This team is almost like the movie Robin Hood, in that the other players behind Mack and Howard believe they can win too.
Who am I going to go with to win? This is tough, but Wisconsin will find a way to pull it out. I think Butler's dream ride won't go as far as last season. Wisconsin has too many players that can make a big shot, or get a big stop when needed. What would keep Wisconsin from winning? Relying too much on the three ball. That has what cost this team a few wins this season is when they don't work down low, and they end up jacking a lot of threes. Also if Butler can stay out of foul trouble and keep Wisconsin off the line, that may spell doom for the Badgers. Wisconsin shoots the best free throw percentage in the nation, so a way to beat them is keep them off the line. Butler can't afford dumb fouls. Let's say Wisconsin 65 Butler 62. I think the Badgers make free throws down the stretch to help them hold off Butler, or Gasser makes a three at the horn, and Gus Johnson again has a call no one will ever forget.
Those are just a few things to keep your eye on Thursday night, but overall I really feel you will be in for four good games. And with this crappy weather we are getting in Wisconsin, I couldn't think of a better way to spend a Thursday night than having a Captain and Coke, and watching some great basketball.
Also, just to set the record straight, the prizes will not be claimed by The Bucky Channel contributors. In other words, the highest scoring reader gets the swag. Sorry fellas, you'll have to do laundry a day earlier.
The leaderboard through Round 3:
- Me with 44 points off 34 correct picks
- Six (Kyle, E, James, Justin, Stanley & Brent) are hugging my ass with 43 points from between 32 and 34 correct picks
The fun starts up again on Thursday at 7:15 PM ET with what should be a very intriguing game between (2) San Diego State vs. (3) Connecticut. However, it really gets going around 10 PM ET when (4) Wisconsin matches up against (8) Butler.
About two weeks ago, fellow staff writer Gweeds declared on this very blog that the Bucks season was over, and I whole-heartily agreed with him. Andrew Bogut was playing terrible, injuries were getting in the way of a consistent lineup, and the Bucks were losing some very winnable games. In a season where Milwaukee was expected to realistically compete for as high as a four seed, any record below .500 was unacceptable.
Even if you look at the standings at this very moment, you will see that the Bucks record is awful. They are 28-41, which includes a 9-24 clip on the road. But even though the Eastern Conference has improved dramatically in the past year, it's still top heavy. What that means for the Bucks is that even though they are 13 games under .500, they are still very much alive for the Conference's eighth seed. As it stands right now, the Indiana Pacers have the eight seed at 30-40, with the Bucks and the Charlotte Bobcats still alive, each a game and a half back.
The Bucks started playing well right after Gweeds proclaimed that the season was over, rolling out wins against Washington, Cleveland, and Philadelphia. But then they hit a dangerous part of their schedule, losing consecutively to Boston, Atlanta, and Orlando. This past weekend though we've seen a bit of a resurgence in Bucks basketball, as Milwaukee beat the Nets on Friday night 110-95, and then knocked off the Knicks on Sunday 100-95.
The biggest thing I've taken away from the last two games is how short Scott Skiles bench has become. Against the Nets, the five starters (Jennings, Bogut, Delfino, Mbah a Moute, and Salmons) all played at least 32 minutes and the four reserves that did get in (Sanders, Boykins, Brockman, and Dooling) only contributed for 15 points. On Sunday however the disparity in playing time was even greater, as every one of those Bucks starters went for at least forty minutes. Larry Sanders had two points off of the bench, and he was the reserve's leading scorer. Granted, Ilyasova, Maggette, and CDR are all injured right now, so it appears that for now Skiles is going with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it method". It'll be interesting to see how he works the other guys back into the rotation when they are healthy.
In their most recent game, the contest against the Knicks, the starters played so well together that the need for substitutions was limited. Brandon Jennings was one assist away from a triple double as he had nine dimes, eleven points, and eleven rebounds. Carlos Delfino led the way in scoring with 30 points, and he was also big on the defensive end with eleven boards. It seems like the Bucks are finally starting to click on the floor together, at least these five guys anyway.
So Milwaukee is a game and a half back, and they have 13 games remaining on the schedule. They'll play both Charlotte and Indiana in that span, so wins in those two games are vital. Other potential wins I have include against Sacramento, Toronto (twice), Philly, Cleveland and Detroit. The likely losses are going to come against Chicago, Orlando, Miami, Oklahoma City, and then at New York. If they go according to script, the Bucks would go 8-5 in their next couple of weeks which I think will be enough to get them in. Anything less than that will probably be for naught.
The question I'm sure many people will ask then is, "Do we even want the Bucks to make the playoffs?" I've been saying all along that the answer should be yes. At this point, the lottery means nothing to me, because the odds of getting a top pick are so small because of the fact that the Bucks are on that playoff bound / just missed the postseason border. So I say why not make an effort to get to the playoffs, and keep building towards the future. If we get there and get swept by a team like Chicago, then oh well. But records reset when the postseason starts, and anything can happen. We'll see in the next thirteen games if the Bucks are a good enough team to even get there.
Pittsburgh's loss hurt more than a few entries and even virtually decimated others. Other than that game, there were no other real shockers. Lots of great games though and while the outcomes may not be surprising, the way they were achieved have folks rethinking their Elite Eight picks and worrying about games they hadn't planned on worrying about.
The leader board through Saturday looked like this:
- ME with 38 points on 31 correct choices
- Three share second place with 37 points (Kyle with 31 correct choices and E and Stanley with 30 correct)
With Bucky having moved on to the Sweet Sixteen with their nail-biter over Kansas State Saturday night, we now look forward to (11) Marquette's match-up against (3) Syracuse around 7:40 PM (EST)/6:40 PM (CST) Sunday on truTV.
Go Golden Eagles...or not, depending on how your bracket looks, right?
How "Sweet" it is.
Finding the "Sweet" shot/block
The "Sweet" Taste of Victory
Return to "Sweetness"
Anyway you write it, and no matter how cliched, the bottom line is very satisfying. The Wisconsin Badgers are going to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008, once again at the expense of Kansas State.
A couple big plays that no one has really made note of after the game:
- Taylor's great steal with the score tied that led to the Bruesewitz 3
- The turnover by Jacob Pullen on a run out in the last 20 seconds and Wisconsin only up by one point. I was expecting a foul or a score, but he lost the ball on a combined defensive effort of Bruesewitz and Jarmusz. From there it was all free throws.
It wasn't pretty. It wasn't our best by any means, but we live to play another day. It's the sign of a good team when you don't play your best and you still win. That was the case last night.
There is no reason why Wisconsin cannot make it to the Final Four. We might even be the favorites in New Orleans. That being said, I have to maintain a bit of my Badger Basketball pessimism that I've had for most of the year. Be wary of Butler. This game looks a lot like our 2008 Sweet 16 matchup against Davidson. We will be the favorites, against a strong upstart team. Luckily, Butler does not have Steph Curry.
Oh, and props to Jacob Pullen and Frank Martin for defending him at the post game press conference. Check it out if you haven't already.
And I'll leave you with his Bo Ryan quote from the post game press conference as well.
If you don't turn the ball over a lot, if you get to the free throw line and make your free throws and you work hard on defense and you take good shots ....If you wanna call that Wisconsin Basketball, Amen!
Just what is/are "logistics"?
Merriam-Webster defines it two ways:
- the aspect of military science dealing with the procurement, maintenance, and transportation of military matériel, facilities, and personnel
- the handling of the details of an operation
Up yours UPS...I plan to use FedEx as much as possible now.
Take "logistics" and shove it up your marketing department's collective ass.
Oh and...SA-WEEEEEET SIXTEEEEEN! Bucky moves on despite a ice cold Jordan Taylor, two bloody Badgers (Leuer and Nankivil) and a lot of fouls against them. Bring on the BUTLER BULLDOGS!!!
On Sunday Marquette will face a fellow Big East team Syracuse at 6:45pm Milwaukee time. Marquette beat them in the regular season the one time they met, but it was at the Bradley Center. This time it will be at a neutral site, so anything can happen. Syracuse took down Indiana State by 17 Friday night, and they also looked good. If Marquette can play like they did against Xavier they have a chance to steal this one. It won't be easy, but hey that is why they call it March Madness. You never know who is going to come to play, regardless of what they may have been seeded.
Anyway, we've got Round 2 in the books and no one was wise enough to pick Morehead State. The good thing though is that everyone was wise enough to leave Louisville out of the Final Four...except a guy from my office. Poor bastard.
The leader board through Round 2 is as follows:
- Kyle is in the house with 25 correct picks
- Seven others (Craig, Ian, Michael, Nick, Sherry, Todd & Tyler) share the second spot with 24 correct picks
The fun starts back up at 12:15 (EST)/11:15 (CST) today with the Battle of the Backwoods, (5) West Virginia vs. (4) Kentucky.
For those of you wondering, (4) Wisconsin plays (5) Kansas State around 8:40 (EST)/7:40 (CST) tonight (Saturday) on TNT and (11) Marquette plays (3) Syracuse around 7:40 (EST)/6:40 (CST) tomorrow (Sunday) on truTV.
This is how the 4 seed is supposed to operate against the 13th seed. Kentucky and Louisville take note.
Wisconsin defeated Belmont 72-58. It was a typical first round NCAA match where the lower seed sticks around long enough to make the higher seed nervous, but in the end, the higher seed wins comfortably due to its superior size, strength, and experience. This was last night's game in a nutshell.
The stats will point to Leuer and Taylor as the big time players, but it was very much a team effort. Bruesewitz and Berggren came up huge off the bench and Ryan Evans had a few big plays in the first half when the game was still even. In the end, this was what you like to see in the NCAA. Your team gets some pressure, but fights through and comes out on top without any doubts.
Saturday - Wisconsin vs. Kansas St 7:40pm CST
The Badgers have advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for five straight years, but in 3 of the previous four, they did not make it past the second round. The time the did was at the expense of Michael Beasley led Kansas State in 2008. Let's do it again.
A few things to worry about from last night's game that could hurt us against K-State:
* Jon Leuer was a bit soft, losing the ball several times at the top of the key and in the post. He has got to get on the block and play like a big man.
* Turnovers - 12 of them. That is odd.
* Our 3rd and 4th best players Josh Gasser and Keaton Nankivil were pretty much non-existent.
* Reliance on the 3 ball. (surprise, surprise)
K-State is a good team, but a beatable team. They have a great player in Jacob Pullen, but I think J-Taylor can cancel him out. They have some strong big men, which could trouble the Badgers. This game will come down to the usual, though, will Wisconsin make its shots. That will be the decider.
One thing is for sure, we're going to see lots of camera shots of angry coaches!
This includes YOU!
It's easy, just sign up here, enter the password (bucky) and beat us.
On the line are not just bragging rights...you could be one of the first sporting new "The Bucky Channel" swag.
We will be updating the progress as the tournament goes along.
We look forward to learning from you guys and gals.
Time for a quick Bucky Channel NCAA tournament preview. Barring a Packers Superbowl, this is the most exciting sports time of the year. When else to you get to watch sports at work? 48 games in 4 days! Oh, and I'm purposefully omitting the bastard-child "First Four". Tomorrow is the beginning of the tournament and the 1st Round.
Let's take a quick look at the chances of our two state teams.
Lots of people are talking about how Belmont plays a very fast up-tempo game, plays 11 players, and presses the ball whenever possible. I don't think this will be the problem for Wisconsin. We have played up-tempo teams before and come out fine. The problem will be if this up-tempo, pressing style leads to open shots for Belmont. That has been the undoing of Badger teams in 2 of the previous 3 tournament losses (Davidson and Cornell). They can't allow that early shooting momentum to build this time.
People are also talking about momentum being a factor as Wisconsin has played beyond poorly in their last two games, but that will be a non-issue. Bo Ryan will have these boys ready. In the end tomorrow's game and the tournament will come down to the things the rest of the season has: Can they get Jon Leuer going on the block (thus opening up the 3 pointers)? Can they find a third scorer? A yes to these questions will propel Bucky to the second weekend.
Marquette - I think Marquette and Xavier have been under seeded. I'm sure Marquette would rather face any of the other 6 seeds, but unfortunately, they are all from the Big East. Xavier always brings it in March, but Marquette has a chance to be last year's Washington. They have played with the big boys - beating several top seeded teams - Syracuse, Notre Dame, Uconn, and West Virginia. The problem with Marquette is you know what you are going to get - slashing, fast tempo, lots of three pointers. Xavier should be able to force MU into a half court game, but if the 3's are raining and the Big Men Gardener and Otule are playing well, Marquette can advance.
A few other thoughts:
- I really have no clue how to fill out the brackets this year. Anything can happen. Just look at the 4 seeds - Kentucky, Louisville, Wisconsin, and Texas. Any of these teams could make the Final Four or lose in the first round.
- A few potential match ups which immediately caught my eye: Notre Dame/Purdue (Sweet 16), Texas/Arizona (2nd Round), BYU/St. John's or Gonzaga (2nd Round), Villanova/ George Mason, Old Dominion/Butler
- How 'bout those UAB Blazers?
- Florida a 2 seed?
- Glad to have truTV HD.
Enjoy the next few days folks.
Caught the tail end of an interview Roger Goodell did with ESPN's Adam Schefter on Tuesday night, and it appears that the NFL commissioner is finding plenty of other things to do besides negotiating lately. As in, falling asleep in tanning beds. That has to be the only explanation for his new look, as it appears that his new one dollar salary was still enough to buy those new goggles of his.
If you're going to go out and buy a baseball publication this Spring looking for Brewers analysis and projections, I would recommend looking no further than the Maple Street Press Brewers Annual 2011. Instead of buying a national publication with two or three pages devoted to Milwaukee, the Brewers Annual 2011 has 128 pages devoted to nothing but the Brewers. From statistical breakdowns on every starter, in-depth profiles of Brewers new and old, and a comprehensive look at Milwaukee's rivals in the NL Central, the Brewers Annual 2011 has you covered for everything Milwaukee in 2011.
I was sent an advance copy of the publication a few weeks ago by the editor of the magazine, Brian Carriveau, and I'm proud to say that I've now covered every inch of the annual and couldn't be more ready for the season to begin (I didn't have to skip through advertisements either, as there's not a single ad in the magazine - it's all Brewers). As editor, Carriveau not only writes a few of the pieces you'll find in the Annual, but he also recruited some of the brightest Brewer minds in the state to contribute to the cause. You'll find analysis and projections from the writers of Brew Crew Ball, Brewers Bar, MLB.com, Bernie's Crew, and Rattler Radio, all delivering some unique perspective on the upcoming Brewers campaign.
One of my favorite articles in the Annual is Drew Olsen's piece on Ron Roenicke, which can largely be attributed to the fact that I still know very little about Roenicke. But that's the thing about this Annual, is that there is a place to find out more about not only our new manager, but also about Bob Uecker's recovery, the up and coming prospects that we still do have left in our system, and other profiles about guys like John Axford, Rickie Weeks, and Ryan Braun. Instead of having to comb through eight or nine different publications to find articles and analysis half this good, you can find it all in the Maple Street Press Brewers Annual 2011. It's a recommended read for any Brewers fan.
The Maple Street Press is available at newstands throughout Wisconsin as well as at maplestreetpress.com.
I'm not sure exactly why this song was ever written, why this video was ever made, or what this girl is trying to pull off. But whether those involved intended to or not, they have found a way to create the worst song in the history of music. Without spoiling anything, I'll let you have a listen:
OMG right! I mean, you know any song that includes the lyrics "Yesterday was Thursday. Today it is Friday. We we we so excited, we gonna have a ball today. Tomorrow is Saturday, and Sunday comes afterwards..." is going to be dreadful, but I'm having a hard time trying to figure out if this thing is real or not. The song shot to 6.5 million YouTube views in just five days with thanks to comedian Daniel Tosh's blog, Twitter, and Facebook, but the comments have been lambasting here to the point where the singer, Rebecca Black, should be embarrassed to ever show her face again. Or was the point not to create a hit, but to in fact create a video so bad that it turned her from just another face in the crowd to teenage superstar? Honestly, the song is a bit catchy, but the writing is just so dreadful that the song is more depressing than anything else. What do you think? Worst song ever, or genius comedic marketing maneuver?
Is YouTube Sensation Rebecca Black's "Friday" The Worst Song Ever? (Video Ga Ga)
Rebecca Black's YouTube Video: Do You Understand the Friday Hype? (OK! Magazine)
I feel every year I make this post somewhere on the internet and come seasons end I look back at it, and it just proves one thing to me, I, James Smizek, am a god damn wizard. I mean really, my words are gold, solid gold, Cash-4-Gold get fifty dollars for grandma's earrings gold. But I mean, you don't have to take my word for it, but you know what my word was good for? Pissing my pants for the Brewers. Yeah, that's right. I know somewhere there is a person reading this laughing, knowing they did the same. Peeyourpantsforthebrewers.com was the greatest thing to happen in 2008 and the second they clinched the playoff birth you know where I was? On my front step, hands in the air, screaming, piss just running down my leg. Yeah America, I just admitted it. Why do I tell you this? Why? Really? One word. Loyalty. (we should clear something up for a few who are confused. Peeyourpantsforthebrewers.com was a website where you pledge to piss your pants if the Brewers made the playoffs. I'm no hack.)
So after that brash introduction based off self confidence and good intuition, I think we are set to begin on how I see the 2011 affair to end up. But first, lets criticize 2010 some more. Hopes were high in 2010, for reasons I am not sure why yet. I don't know if people were still riding high off of 2008, or if they thought Randy Wolf was the answer, but there was a lot of confidence in this team last year. On paper nothing really stood out to me. Macha was back with that old, well, old look to him, Gregg Zaun was supposedly our prayer from the catching gods, Manny Parra was finally going to have his breakout year, and Jim Edmonds was going to be the veteran leader to the World Series. You read these now and you just feel completely silly.
After April in 2010 you had to be having second thoughts considering the Brewers lost seven of their last eight games to finish the month with a 9–14 record. Braun was sitting at .355 and McGehee at .305 but the mighty hammer in Fielder was cold at .244 and had a home run drought of fifty some at-bats. Suppan got pulled as a starter after just two starts, and then the Crew saw themselves fall victim to a nine game losing streak in May. I really find no reason to review the rest of the season, because I know you know that I know that we both know how it ended.
But 2010 was not a absolute loss, a lot actually came out of it. The firing of Ken Macha, the emergence of young arms in Axford and Braddock, and just the enough amount of experience to ship Escobar and Cain out the door. Have you been living under a rock? If so, I'll fill you in on what came out of Escobar and Cain in a little bit, as I write this all I can say is it involves a basketball (and maybe 20 wins and a Cy Young winner..).
So starts 2011, the off-season started with priority number one, find a new Manager. The rumor mill was running at full efficiency when it came to this topic. First it was Bob Melvin, then it was Bobby Valentine, then it was the man meant to be in Ron Roenicke. The former Bench coach from the Angels joined the Brewers as Skipper for 2011 and for the first time in a long time, I was happy with our Manager. Along with the hiring of Roenicke also came the notable hiring of Rick Kranitz as the pitching coach, and Jerry Narron as bench coach.
Alright, so coaching, check. But there were so many questions, how would we clean up our rotation? Would our bullpen be enough to hold a lead? Would Fielder get traded? One of the questions would get a partial answer come December 5th as the Milwaukee Brewers acquired RHP Shaun Marcum from Toronto in exchange for 2B Brett Lawrie.
Marcum returned from Tommy John surgery in 2009 to go 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA in 31 starts in 2010. He was the Blue Jays Opening Day starter made 20 quality starts and held opponents to a .242 batting average. He led Toronto starters in ERA and ranked second on the staff with career highs in starts and innings pitched (195.1). He tossed at least six innings in 23 of his 31 starts. As a control pitcher, Marcum ranked fourth in the American League with just 2.0 walks per 9.0 innings. Definitely a bright spot for the Brewers in regards to 2011, but still at this point, it just was not enough. But don't worry Brewers fans, Christmas came early for us all.
I will never forgot December 19, 2010. I was sitting at work, in a co-workers desk in the newsroom, and slowly rumors starting creeping their ways on to Twitter. I told our Sports Anchor Ryan Rodig about them and he immediately shot down the thought. "No way" he said, he couldn't face the fact of the source, Jim Breen, from Bernies Crew. BerniesCrew played it perfectly, never said anything false, but hinted just enough that something was in the works. Some said it was a done deal, others said that it would be finalized in the morning, but all the rumors pointed at one thing, Zack Greinke, 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner, would be suiting up for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011.
I woke up early the next morning, just to check my Twitter and see if Greinke was really coming to the Brewers. To my shock, amazment, excitement, joy, it was true, though it came at a steep price. The Brewers parted ways with Shortstop Alcides Escobar, Center-fielder Lorenzo Cain, and pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress. In return the Royals sent Greinke, Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, and 2 million dollars to the Brewers.
In just the span of two weeks the Brewers had added two number one starters from their respected teams in 2010 in Marcum and Greinke. A rotation that was once lead by Gallardo and Wolf was now in a whole different level of awesome. For the first time since the second half of 2008 Brewers fan actually had something to look forward too from their starting arms and no more than three weeks later, the Brewers added that final piece to the bullpen.
On January 11th the Brewers signed RHP Takashi Saito to round out the bullpen. After spending three seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers (much of it as a closer) Saito spent the past two seasons as a set-up man in Boston and then Atlanta. Regardless of his role, he has been dominant over those five seasons. In fact, he is just one of six relievers in baseball to throw at least 250 innings with an ERA below 2.25 since 2006.
On paper at this point things were slowly starting to come together. It was becoming clear that the Brewers were going to hold on the Fielder and that the club was essentially "all-in" for 2011. A few more signings completed the off-season in RHP Sean Green, the resigning of Counsell, and the signing of IF/OF utility man Mark Kotsay (other notables included: OF Jeremy Reed, OF Brandon Boggs, and C Wil Nieves). Things indeed were falling into place.
So here we sit now, March 14th, and whats the word of the day? Injuries. Of course you're going to have them, but some hurt more than others. Here is a run down of the current injured list:
OF - Corey Hart - Oblique Injury - Two Weeks to a Month
P - Zack Greinke - Broken Rib - Around a Month
CF - Carlos Gomez - Stiff Back - Day-to-day
LF - Ryan Braun - Strained Rib Cage Muscle - Day-to-day
2B - Rickie Weeks - Groin - Day-to-day
SS- Yuniesky Betancourt - Strained Quad - Day-today
C - Johnathon Lucroy - Broken Pinkie - Up to Three More Weeks
Now, I know day-to-day injuries aren't the end of the world, but if not treated correctly it can lead to much worse things. Hart is expected to start swinging again soon and should be ready by opening day, Greinke will start the year on the DL and is expected to miss his first three starts. The worst part of Greinke's injury how it happened. Greinke suffered a hairline fracture in one rib and a bruise in another when he fell to the ground on his left side after grabbing a rebound, yes a rebound, as in playing Basketball. Definitely not the way you want to see your star acquisition go down.
So currently, sitting March 14th, here is how I expect things to look on March 31st.
1B - Prince Fielder
2B - Rickie Weeks
3B - Casey McGehee
SS - Yuniesky Betancourt
LF - Ryan Braun
CF - Carlos Gomez
RF- Mark Kotsay/Corey Hart (pending health)
C - George Kottaras
UTIL - Craig Counsell
UTIL - Mark Kotsay
OF - Chris Dickerson
OF - Brandon Boggs
C - Wil Nieves (until Lucroy is healthy)
Opening Day Lineup:
2B - Rickie Weeks
CF - Carlos Gomez
LF - Ryan Braun
1B - Prince Fielder
3B - Casey McGehee
RF - Mark Kotsay
SS - Yuniesky Betancourt
C - George Kottaras
P - Yovani Gallardo
Obviously things will change once Zack Greinke makes his return sometime in late April, I would expect Rogers to be optioned to AAA, assuming he wins the 5 spot in the rotation. Lets cross our fingers for that, I want the Parra experience to be over. In the case Rogers wins the 5 spot and performs, I would feel completely comfortable with him in a long relief role in the bullpen, but once again, Manny Parra acts as the proverbial cockblock, for lack of a better term.
Now on to the fun part, my loose ended projections. I slap no guarantees on these, what I will reassure you of, is at seasons end, a few of them will be somewhat close, see what I just did there? I opened it all up for success.
Basic Season Stat Projections:
Starting Pitchers and Closer (Based on IP, Record, ERA, and K's)
Yovani Gallardo - 220 IP, 18-10, 3.55 ERA, 230 K
Shaun Marcum - 199 IP, 13-10, 4.06 ERA, 120 K
Randy Wolf - 180 IP, 12-10, 4.25 ERA, 142 K
Chris Narveson - 169 IP, 10-12, 4.66 ERA, 158 K
John Axford - 61 IP, 3.10 ERA, 92 K's, 38 Saves
Starting Position players and Reserves (Based on AVG, HR, and RBI)
1B - Prince Fielder - .277 Avg, 39 HR, 106 RBI
2B - Rickie Weeks - .268 Avg, 24 HR, 79 RBI
3B - Casey McGehee - .281 Avg, 26 HR, 101 RBI
SS - Yuniesky Betancourt - .248 Avg, 15 HR, 61 RBI
LF - Ryan Braun - .301 Avg, 43 HR, 138 RBI
CF - Carlos Gomez - .257 Avg, 8 HR, 49 RBI
RF- Corey Hart - .266 Avg, 27 HR, 91 RBI
C - George Kottaras - .231 Avg, 9 HR, 47 RBI
C - Johnathon Lucroy - .257 Avg, 11 HR, 58 RBI
IF/OF - Mark Kotsay - .240 Avg, 6 HR, 33 RBI
IF - Craig Counsell - .266 Avg, 2 HR, 25 RBI
OF - Chris Dickerson - .249 Avg, 4 HR, 41 RBI
Super early prediction: 88-74
NL Central/NL Wild Card Contenders.
There you go America, World, whoever reads this blog and took the time out to read my rambling. I, as you, very much look forward to the 2011 campaign, and look forward to poppin' out some stories for all of you. Strap in, could be a season to remember.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Twitter is the answer: @WiscSportsTalk @JamesSmizek
I highly recommend checking out NFL Predictions and out Free College Football Picks from the legendary National Sports Advisors as well as updated daily NFL Odds and College Football Odds this football season. NSAwins.com posts updated 2013 Super Bowl Futures Odds and Super Bowl Betting Props in addition to BCS Championship Odds and College Bowl Odds throughout the season. Also be sure to get Free NFL Picks and the best Sportsbook Reviews daily from NSAwins.com.
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