Monday, August 20, 2007

It's time to call it quits

I've been blogging for over 2.5 years and as you probably have noticed, I really haven't done much in the last 2-3 months. It's about time that I give this up as the drive just isn't there anymore. I covered the last 2 Packer seasons, drafts, etc and I watched all the games thinking in my head "How can I best blog this?". It has become tiring. Now I am simply going to enjoy the games and still critique them, but I think I would be better served for a while just commenting on other Packer sites and blogs, as that is what we all crave, someone to comment on what we do.

This blog was originally started as a writing experiment and turned into a primarily WI sports (mostly Packer) site with some snippets of my life thrown in. I've met a lot of great people while doing this and found sites I never would have.

So, where should you go for great Packer info?

Brats and Beer has always been a favorite, he's a good writer and not afraid to call BS when he sees it.

Mr. Carriveau does a fantastic job over at the
Railbird Central. He's made leaps and bounds in his blog over the last 1.5 years. Proud to say I was there in the beginning for him.

The gang over at
The Frozen Tundra has carried the torch very well that I started 2 yrs ago there (where I had some of my best writings).

Check out SBNations
Acme Packing Company. It's a new guy who's just started about 2-3 months ago but he's doing a nice job.

Someday, I hope to write again when the muse strikes and hopefully one of these fine sites would allow me to join their team as my days of flying solo are at an end.

It's been a great run of over 450 posts and 75,000 visitors. I thank all of you for making this site so much fun for so long. Take care and God bless.

Monday, August 13, 2007

First preseason game in the books

The Packers played the Steelers on Saturday night. The final score really doesn't matter (we won 13-9) and all that does are injuries and several positional battles. So, here's what we learned:

  • Brandon Jackson is a rookie. He had several moments where he stood out, but this was his first "game" as a pro and had the understandable rookie moments.
  • Jones is a stud WR. He's quickly moving from being labeled a draft "reach" to a "steal".
  • Aaron Rodgers is nowhere near the bust the critics like to label him as. He looked fantastic and if he keeps this up, he's looking to be a fine successor to Favre.
  • The starting defense was awesome, especially Jenkins. He and Kampman are going to be a fantastic DE combo this year.
  • The starting offense was understandably rusty. A bit disappointing, but again, just the first pre-season game and they'll get better as they get more playing time in the preseason.
  • Blackmon is making a huge play for the nickelback spot and contributed quite well on special teams. He has really stepped up his game this year.

Most importantly, nobody got hurt in the game. Justin Harrell was exhausted at the end of the game, but he needs to get into football shape after such a long injury layoff. Plus, the Packers are thin right now with DT and he needed to play some extended time.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

47 games to go

What is with the Brewers on the road?

They are the 5th worst road team in the MLB. They have a winning percentage of 38% on the road, that's pathetic. They have lost 9 of their last 11 on the road, add in that they have lost 5 of their last 9 at home, that's 6-14 in the last 20 games and it's a sad state of affairs in Milwaukee. The worst part is, they have more road than home games to finish the season.

This has gone way beyond the Brewers not catching breaks or catching a hot team at the wrong time. This is flat out a crappy ballclub right now and has been for some time.

Sure, some may say I'm just mad after we get swept by Colorado. True, but the Crew was not even competitive in that series, not even close. They were outscored 36-10. 36-10!!!

The vaunted starting pitching staff we were supposed to have has failed us for over the past two months. Suppan (ERA 4.84/ WHIP 1.52) has been a complete bust, Bush (5.03/1.36) hasn't repeated last year's performance which likely was a fluke, Vargas (4.97/1.50) only wins because he happens to get run support, otherwise he's not much better than Bush. Cappy (4.96/1.49) has hit bottom, and our best pitcher Sheets (3.39/1.16) is on the DL for a while yet. Don't even get me started on how completely unreliable our bullpen is.

I'm making the call right now:

This team is not winning the division, nor are they making the playoffs.

There is no pitching here and at this point in the season, that's what separates the contenders from the pretenders. There is absolutely zero confidence in the Brewers dugout right now. They are hoping they can win the division, hope is not a strategy. They have to go out there and take the division. However, this team is not ready yet to do that, they don't know how.

It's another disappointing season in Milwaukee, I'm just choosing to believe it a month and a half early. I hope the Brewers prove me wrong, but I just don't see it happening.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Photo of the Day

Training camp is looking great right now, but it's camp and I won't get too worked up about it. So to pass the time, I figured some nice picures will pass the time this week until we get to the first preseason game.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

KG gone from MN

Got a comment from my NYC atty buddy Russ wondering about the KG trade. Since I live in the Twin Cities I get a front row seat for it.

The T-Wolves are a complete disaster right now and have been for several seasons. They gave stupid contracts to poor players who had some success. Those players than went on to suck horribly. However, the worst contract that was given was to the Big Ticket himself. His deal he got in 1997 for 6 yrs $126 million was worse for basketball than A-Rod's deal was for baseball. KG's deal handcuffed the Wolves for years as they simply could not sign players. Then his contract extention in 2003 which gave him over $20M/yr continued the lunacy. Sure they made trades, but eventually, those players left for more money.

The T'Wolves are rebuilding, yet again and KG simply couldn't and wouldn't go through that. He wants to win a title and Boston offers him a better chance of getting there in the weak Eastern Conference. If he, Pierce and Allen can stay healthy, Boston should run away with the Atlantic Division and be a 1 or 2 seed come playoff time. Happy days are back in Boston.

Minnesota sports fans love the big name player and essentially need it to really root for and follow a sports team. Right now, the T-Wolves don't have that and I would be surprised if they avg in the top half of attendance this coming season. This is a 20-25 win team in Minneapolis right now.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Around the NFC North Camps

Well, now that some training camps have started I thought it would be interesting to look around to see how some of our division rivals are doing:

Detroit Lions
Kitna became the laughing stock of the league by saying the Lions were going to win 10 games this season. Yes, they did draft Calvin Johnson, but he still isn't signed and per the web, he's not even close. He stays out too long and he won't get a chance to get to know a complex Mike Martz offense and will be fairly useless his rookie year. The OL still hasn't gotten any better from last season and thus no running game and poor pass protection. Poor poor Lions.

Minnesota Vikings
Well, Tarvaris Jackson is looking absolutely brutal so far. He apparently is allergic to completing passes to his own teammates. It is looking more and more like Brooks Bollinger is going to be the starting QB come opening day. If Brooks is your starter, your offense is screwed, well, same can be said of Tarvaris. RB Chester Taylor got hurt and rookie RB Adrian Peterson isn't dazzling anyone so far. The Vikes D apparently looks good, but look at what they are going up against for an offense.

Chicago Bears
The Bears get Lance Briggs back, after his proclomation that he will never play for them again. Real good chemistry there. They lose thug DT Tank Johnson for his gun charges and that leaves a big hole in the DL. They are counting on the ancient Adam Archuleta as their answer at safety. Plus, they still think Rex Grossman is their answer at QB.

Meanwhile, the Packers draft picks are playing fantastically, the OL is blocking very well and the LB and secondary have made marked improvements. So far, things are looking great.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Time to talk Packers (finally)!

It's been a real boring summer for football news, and as well it should be. The Packers moved along with mini-camps and coaches and the GM talking up players and such. We are finally within 2 days of training camp so there is something to actually discuss.

The biggest news is that RB Brandon Jackson
has finally signed and will be reporting to camp on time. This is a huge win for the Packers, and Jackson. RB's who hold out from camp come in behind the curve and just never seem to catch up, so it's almost a wasted season. Jackson can come in from the start and learn the system. We still have to get DT Justin Harrell and WR James Jones signed, but I think they will both be finished up fairly soon. The Steelers signed their pick (#15 overall) to a deal already, so the market is set for Harrell, it's just details at this point. Jones is admitedly a project, so I wasn't expecting much from him this year anyways.

Let's take a look at the roster to see what we should be looking for in camp:

With Favre returning, we are set at QB. I've heard all the negative talk about how he's fading and blah blah blah. But he's still the best QB in the division, so suck on that you fans of the rest of the NFC North.

The running game is going to be the biggest key this year. The OL all returns with Clifton reportedly in the best shape he's been in since Sapp cheap-shotted him several years ago. With a year of the zone blocking system under their belts and Colledge, Spitz, Wells and Moll all taking part in the offseason lifting program in Green Bay this offseason, look for the blocking to improve quite a bit. Last year we saw some flashes of what they can do, just need those to increase and be more consistent this season. The running back duo of Morency and Jackson should provide a surprising 1-2 punch. While both have questions around them that neither can be a featured back, but there is no expectations of that. It's a RB-by-committee approach, so they should see equal time with McCarthy going with whomever is hot that day.

The offensive line needs to improve it's pass blocking from last season, and they should. Last year there were games with 3 rookie OL in and the Packers had to use a max protect package far too often. It limited the passing game as only 2-3 receivers could go out at any given time. Easy defense for most teams (except the Vikes, they sucked at pass coverage). Again, given the former rookies now have that year under their belts and a solid offseason, they need to step it up.

The wide receivers are an uninspiring bunch after superstud Donald Driver and surprise 2nd yr man Greg Jennings. Jennings needs to build on his spectactular first half of his rookie season and be more consistant. As for the rest of the WR corps, it's a crapshoot. Jones, as I mentioned earlier, is a project and not really counted on for big things. Ferguson is a waste of a uniform, and the rest of the group hasn't really shown anything. Need to have someone step up their game and show they belong.

With the drafting of DT Justin Harrell, the Packers have one of the better DL in the NFC. After Kris Jenkins was moved to DE, the line overall excelled in stopping the run, being one of the best units in this category over the last 4 games last year. Harrell will add even more interior run-stopping ability and give us unprecidented quality depth at that position. Uber-DE Aaron Kampman should see a similar season this year as his 15.5 sack season last year. Definately the strength of the team is the front 4 (or 8 in our case)

The linebackers are an interesting group. MLB Nick Barnett is underappreciated in Packer circles with many gleefully pointing out his faults. He's been in 4 different schemes in 4 seasons, and he has thrived. Now he gets the same scheme for the first time in consecutive seasons so he should only be better and start turning into the playmaker we need him to be. AJ Hawk. He lived up to the billing last year and should be even better this year. Brady Poppinga is the interesting case study here. He's fast and has that "never ending motor", he certainly has the physical ability to play at a high level, but injuries have kept him from getting there. The constant theme with all of these guys is their less than stellar pass coverage. This is a definate area that needs to be addressed in camp.

Speaking of pass coverage, how about that elite duo of CBs Al Harris and Charles Woodson? These guys define shutdown and the team looks for them to help lead the defense. The nickle back position is a bit sketchy, but the Packers have several promising young CBs in Walker and Blackmon who look to fill this spot. The safties, *sigh*, are another story. After a brilliant rookie season, Nick Collins regressed last year. One argument for that was he had to make up for the absolute piss-poor play of Marquand Manuel. To say Manuel sucked is an insult to hookers everywhere. Many Packer fans hope that Marviel Underwood, who was outstanding last camp and preseason before being lost to injury, steps up as the starter. I am simply hoping that Manuel goes from terrible to average. That would be a big improvement. The safety position absolutely needs to improve this season or we'll be seeing a lot of the big pass plays being given up again.

Special teams
The punt and kick return units were dreadful last year and need to improve big-time this year. We were one of (if not the) worst kick return units last year. The young WRs need to step up in camp and show they have some return ability. The draft this year was geared towards getting players who were special teams standouts so let's see if that translates to better kick returns and coverages.

I fully believe that P John Ryan and K Dave Rayner will still be our starters. Both are young guys who will only get better and both have loads of potential.

There's my pre-camp thoughts on the team. We have a lot of question marks, but certainly we have some solid bases to build around. Let's hope for no major injuries and that Harrell and Jones sign soon. Go Pack!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Back from vacation

Hi all,

Haven't posted in a while as I've been on vacation in South Dakota with the wife and kids. While the drive out there really isn't all that interesting (I mean it is really, really boring), once you get to the Badlands and Black Hills, it is completely worth it.

The Badlands was awesome. I haven't been out here since I was 2, so it truly was like seeing it for the first time. Just breathtaking scenery and awe-inspiring. You feel like you are on a different planet. My kids really loved climbing around the rocks and getting "lost". We also saw a rattlesnake there, which was cool.

Definately the cutest thing we saw all trip were the prairie dogs. The kids absolutely loved them and wanted us to stop and pull over everytime we passed by one of the prairie dog towns. These towns were huge! Some of them were the size of about 10-12 football fields big. To think that these tunnels are all interconnected and that the prairie dogs know them all is amazing.

Next up was the infamous Wall Drug. You've seen the signs on the road "1365 miles to Wall Drug" out in the middle of Arizona, Texas, WV or wherever. I know I've seen bumper stickers for it on cars in Nashville. Well, it certainly was an interesting stop. We got the free ice water and the insanely good donuts. We didn't stay too long as, well, it's a store and restaurant when you get down to it. A really big and fairly interesting one.

We then spent a couple of days tenting in Custer State Park. That place is outstanding. The kids got to pan for gold, go swimming in really clear lakes (we're talking almost Boundry Waters clear), and we all went to what was my favorite part of the trip: Mount Rushmore.

I've always been impressed with this monument and the story behind it. The sculptor who started it, Gutzon Borglum had 9 different versions of the monument in mind and constantly changed his vision as the work unfolded depending on how the rock in the mountain was. He never saw it finished as he died just prior to the completion.

I took this picture moments before a hail storm hitting us here. Yep, we get there and 10 minutes later a hail storm hits with hail coming down about 1/2 inch in diameter. It was really cool and the kids absolutely loved it. They kept running out in it (along with several other kids there) to get the larger hailstones. Needless to say, we had to buy some souvenier t-shirts for them to wear.

The park is full of animals, while we were there the park had approximately 950 elk, 950 big horned sheep, 1000 prongers and 1000 buffalo. The buffalo were what the kids were most looking forward to on the trip. One evening we drove on the Wildlife Trail Loop and encountered a herd of about 150 buffalo next to and in the road, they were majestic. Buffalo of all different ages were about and the one in the picture was one of the biggest ones. He came right next to our van and I could have reached out and petted him he was so close. But, given that I don't believe in possibly provoking a 1 1/2 ton animal, I kept the window closed as he came by.

One night we drove up to a fire watch outpost on a 6000 foot hill (or would that make it a mountain?). The gravel road going up was just wide enough for 2 cars to pass by each other, and the top had just breathtaking views. It seemed as though you could see for over 100 miles. We got there just prior to sunset and the views just got better.

Later on in the trip, Adam got to dig at the Mammoth site in Hot Springs which was a very cool place. The building for the site surrounds the entire dig, so there's no slaving under the hot sun. Sweet!

We also visited the Mitchell Corn Palace which frankly was disappointing. The inside is just a meeting hall and a gym. Pfft, a bit overrated if you ask me.

Overall it was a fantastic trip and one that we likely will do again with the kids someday.

Friday, June 29, 2007

With the #6 pick in the NBA draft, the Bucks select...


In one of the more surprising moves in the Bucks and NBA history, the Bucks took Chinese PF/C Yi Jianlian (pronounced EE TEE-an-LEE-an).

Now, it has come out that Yi's agent (Dan Fegan) came right out and told the Bucks prior to the draft that Yi would not play in Milwaukee. They were so serious about this that they barred the Bucks from coming to any workouts Yi had in the states and would not allow him to have an individual workout with them.

Bucks GM Lenny Harris saw 2 things:

1 - Yi is a big time talent that could really help the Bucks.
2 - The Bucks would have an "in" into China's marketing base, population 1.5 billion. Can you say "Cha-Ching"?

Harris decided that the team needed him and the Bucks could not pass up this opportunity. Now the rumor is that Fegan is going to formally request that the Bucks trade Yi. To this I agree with how Ty over at Bucks Diary feels:

If I were Larry Harris I would absolutely and categorically refuse such a request on the spot. Harris was right to defy their original efforts to avoid a selection by the Bucks, and having done that, it is imperative now that he sticks to his guns. Giving in to the ridiculous demand at this point would do nothing but harm the Bucks and set a dangerous precedent that, once established, would damage the future interests of small market teams like Milwaukee.

Harris' message to Yi's representatives should be direct and simple: If Yi wants to play in the NBA, he must do so in Milwaukee. End of discussion. The sooner he gets that through his skull, the better for him. A protracted holdout, or a return to China, would be a seriously foolish move, as it would only serve to hurt his pocketbook and his marketability. It would cost him NBA paychecks he can never recover, and it would damage his public reputation and squander away the precious goodwill his representatives hope to cash in on through their various endorsement schemes. He has no rational choice but to play for the Bucks.

Sorry Yi, you enter the draft and take your chances on where you are picked. That's the nature of all sports in the US and you have to live with it. Now, after you're done with your Chinese team duties in Vegas and such, get your ass to Milwaukee and see for yourself how it is. You may want to stop by Summerfest. That will change your trade demands real quick.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A moment of silence

In case you have not heard, the founder of Johnsonville Brats, Ralph Stayer, has passed on. From the AP article:

Stayer's butcher shop was struggling in 1945, when he went to a picnic and saw garbage cans filled with partially eaten brats. He and his wife drew upon their Austrian and Slovenian heritage to make better-tasting bratwurst based on an old family recipe, his son said.

Stayer once said he knew the company was doing something right when a customer who had previously ordered 5 pounds of bratwurst and 30 pounds of hamburger returned six months later and ordered 30 pounds of bratwurst and 5 pounds of hamburger.

For centuries, mankind has yearned for that perfect food, that ambrosia to make their life worthwhile. Ancient Sumerians went on discovery treks for months on end to locate it, Rome tried to conquer the known world in search of it, Columbus dared sail to the edge of the world to find it. Ralph Stayer discovered it, and the world would never be the same.

Now the masses had the perfect food and world peace was that much closer to reality. Summertime picnics have become that much more enjoyable as friends and family come together knowing that with Johnsonville brats, the outing will be a joyous one. Professional sports attendence has gone up by over 100,000% since Johnsonville brats came out as tailgating has become the national pastime.

What a debt we owe to Mr. Stayer, and to show how much we appreciate his creation and to honor his legacy, we should all grill some of his delicious creations. So raise your Johnsonville brats in a toast to Ralph Stayer all you cheeseheads and say thanks to our hero.