This morning’s post is a tad late as I was a guest of my nephew Wally at last night’s Bucks game in Milwaukee. Many thanks to Wally’s friends John & Darcy for arranging the outing.

We learned a number of things over the course of the last week in sports.

The Milwaukee Bucks were able to feast on the bottom feeders of the league, winning 3 straight games since starting center Andrew Bogut went down for the season. In his absence erstwhile replacement Kurt Thomas averaged 32 minutes and just over 10 rebounds in the wins over Chicago, New Jersey and Philadelphia. As expected, the Bucks have become even more of a perimeter team with guard Luke Ridnour and forward Ersan Ilyasova picking up some of the scoring slack off the bench.

I was going to write that their first real test would come last night against the Boston Celtics at the Bradley Center. But that was mitigated somewhat when Boston coach Doc Rivers decided to hold forward Kevin Garnett out of the game in order to rest him for the playoffs. And before some questionable officiating turned the game into a farce. Really, how can you award possession to the Celtics after a Boston player dribbles the ball 3 feet out of bounds?! Or call a foul on the Bucks Jerry Stackhouse after Paul Pierce practically runs him over?!

After watching these two teams play last night, one thing is for certain. If they meet in the playoffs, the gloves are going to come off.
************************************************************************************************
It’s a long season, but the first week of the Milwaukee Brewers 2010 campaign provided some clues as to what we can expect from them this year.

If we didn’t know already, we learned why GM Doug Melvin acquired starting pitchers Randy Wolf and Doug Davis and also why he felt compelled to beef up his relief corps. Neither Wolf nor Davis pitched particularly well in their initial starts for the Crew, but they kept them in the game long enough for the offense to grind out wins. Unfortunately, manager Ken Macha has had to make liberal use of his bullpen, using 6 relievers in Davis’ start and 4 in Friday night’s loss to the Cards. With projected 5th starter Jeff Suppan returning from the disabled list next week, it is expected that Milwaukee will send down Carlos Villanueva; the only pitcher with a minor league option remaining. Since that move will thin out the bullpen, the starters will need to eat up more innings as the season moves along. If history is any indication, the effectiveness of Suppan and righthander Dave Bush will hold the keys to the Brewers’ success this season.

The Brewers appear to have traded offense for defense by dealing J.J. Hardy for Carlos Gomez. While Hardy is off to a fine start in the Twin Cities, it has already become apparent Carlos Gomez’ speed is an asset to the Brewers. He can certainly close off some of the gaps in center field and he scored what should have been the winning run Friday night on a Prince Fielder grounder to third base. Of course, it would be nice if Gomez could get on base consistently to take further advantage of that speed.

As for Hardy’s replacement Alcides Escobar, the early returns have been favorable. My impression of the rookie shortstop was always that of a player who could make the spectacular play but mess up the routine one. Clearly, he has more range than Hardy. Perhaps experience and the tutelage of bench coach Willie Randolph will make him more of a steady defensive hand.

From what I’ve seen, it’s not difficult to figure out why Macha has favored veteran Jim Edmonds over Corey Hart for most of the playing time in right field. Unlike Hart, Edmonds rarely gets himself out. Even though he got jammed on a pitch Friday night, Edmonds still managed to hit a dribbler that advanced the runners. Those are the kind of plays that can make the difference between winning and losing over the course of a season.

BREWERS PREDICTION OF THE WEEK: Third baseman Casey McGehee will make the Cubs regret letting him go in their series this week.
************************************************************************************************
Speaking of the Brewers, owner Mark Attanasio got into a little public war of words with New York Yankees president Randy Levine. Levine accused Attanasio of “whining” after Attanasio was quoted in a USA Today story about the difficulties of signing first baseman Prince Fielder given the major disparities in payroll among major league clubs. Levine went on to lament how teams use the “hundreds of millions” of dollars that the Yankees put into the revenue sharing pool, implying that the Brewers were pocketing that money instead of using it to improve the team. This conveniently ignores the fact that Attanasio has nearly quadrupled Milwaukee’s payroll since he took over the franchise.

As I understand it, the revenue sharing pool in baseball is funded by a ‘luxury tax’ that is triggered when a team’s payroll goes beyond a specific threshold, so maybe Levine should stop his whining. If the Yankees don’t want to support smaller markets, all they have to do is reduce their payroll.

Is it any wonder why I hate the Yankees?
************************************************************************************************
A lot of people were wondering how Tiger Woods would fare in his return to competitive golf this week at the Masters. If there was any rust on Woods’ game, it was scraped off quickly as he climbed the leaderboard with his best opening round ever at Augusta. At this point, we shouldn’t be surprised by anything Woods does on a golf course. His entire career from day one has been calculated and programmed. If only he had shown such care with his personal life………..

Meanwhile, Edgerton’s Steve Stricker wasn’t as fortunate. After last year’s top ten finish, I had hoped that Stricker could challenge this time for his first major title. For some reason, he typically hasn’t fared well at Augusta. Maybe the stuffy scene down there is a little too much for a down to earth guy like Stricker. Of course, it’s all relative and Stricker knows better than anyone what it means to struggle on tour. His showing at the Masters is only disappointing in light of his recent superior play.

On the other hand, it was nice to see his Madison neighbor Jerry Kelly ‘go low’ with a round of 67 yesterday.
*********************************************************************************************
The current search for a replacement for departed UW-Green Bay basketball coach Tod Kowalczyk could have a major impact on two of Wisconsin’s Division I programs. One of the finalists for the position is Greg Gard, a longtime assistant under Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan. Reportedly, Gard has been involved in all aspects of the Badgers program from recruiting to scouting and game planning. If Gard takes over the Phoenix program, it will be interesting to see the effect it has in both Green Bay and Madison.

Unfortunately the next UWGB coach doesn’t figure to stay there as long as the underappreciated Kowalczyk. Given the limitations of the program, the new coach will either struggle to win and be dismissed or else will shortly receive a more lucrative offer from another school.
***********************************************************************************************
Finally, congratulations to Blake Geoffrion of the UW Badgers’ hockey team. Geoffrion won the prestigious Hobey Baker award. Considering the long and hallowed tradition of hockey at Wisconsin, it’s hard to believe they didn’t have a Baker award winner before now. Unfortunately, the Badgers came up short in their bid for a 7th NCAA title, losing 5-0 to a quicker Boston College team in the championship game.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

  • Chris

    “…the revenue sharing pool in baseball is funded by a ‘luxury tax’ that is triggered when a team’s payroll goes beyond a specific threshold, so maybe Levine should stop his whining. If the Yankees don’t want to support smaller markets, all they have to do is reduce their payroll.”

    No, it’s no mystery why you — and any right-thinking baseball fan — hates the Yankees.