Our guest this week for the Thursday Q & A is Mark from The Wisconsin Sports Tap .  The Wisconsin Sports Tap is, rather like us, a site which covers all the Wisconsin teams and sports. 

So the Wisconsin Sports Tap, give us a little history of the blog and impetus for it.

Blogging was a logical step for me after having my position cut at the TV station I worked at.  Out of college at the UW-Whitewater I landed a sports reporter/play by play announcer for NBC in Duluth, MN.  Once the economy took its turn for the worse I found myself without work and without an outlet for all the random sports opinions I had.  I started with Sheffield’s House and ultimately branched out with a couple of friends who are also very good writers.

We wanted to keep it less reactionary and stay away from the “Fire Everyone” mentality, there is enough of that out there.  I have to give credit to my fellow founding member Dustin for the name, he really nailed that.

Do you find yourself focusing on any particular team or sport more than the others?

I try not to, but I’m a very baseball minded individual.  It seems like my creativity really gets going when I talk baseball and I’m ok with that.  One of our other contributors does a better job with the Packers than I do and I tend to get a bit caught up in the Badgers every year, but being from Madison I don’t mind at all.  My go to has to be the Brewers though.

What can be really enjoyable to write about are the sports people don’t hear much about, a good example is Badger hockey.  Wisconsin has one of the best hockey traditions in the entire NCAA and while people know about it, the fanbase is not what it should be.  If you go to a hockey game you will enjoy it and blogging about Bucky on ice is something I hope to improve on in the future.

One of your recurring pieces is the Brewers Farm Report.  Is it difficult to find information on the farm teams, especially the lower levels?

Finding stats is the easy part, hammering out a consistent post (as I’m sure you know) can be difficult at times.  I try to keep it to the basic info since I’m not a %100 sabermetric fan.  The available info has improved greatly over the last 2-3 seasons though, I’m continually impressed by the availability and quickness with which you can find minor league box scores and stats.

The hardest part is finding recent pictures of just about anyone, so if anyone can help us there it would be much appreciated.

What are your thoughts on the recent addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten & possible future expansion.

I was actually very surprised to see only Nebraska join.  Academically it made no sense for the Big Ten to bring in a school that didn’t meet those standards and pass on schools that did.  Nebraska as a TV market isn’t exactly jumping off the map either.  I think in the long run this is just the start and it shows that the conference is serious about expansion.

If it stays at just Nebraska it will be even more surprising though, I expect to see Missouri and likely Rutgers join before it is all said and done.  Missouri makes sense academically and gives Nebraska a natural rival while Rutgers would capture a share of the New York television market.

It should be Notre Dame but they seem to think they can stand alone, which is borderline absurd.

Wally: Agreed on all points.  I understood the reasoning for Nebraska from a purely football tradition standpoint.  I would expect by 2012 to have the Big Ten be at 16 with Notre Dame in the conference as well.

Seeing as its topical right now, have you been watching or following any of the World Cup action or do you fall into the ‘it’s not an American sport’ category?

I don’t know what’s not to love about the World Cup to be honest; it has everything that the traditional sports in this country thrive on and more.  It has the off-the-field controversy, poor officiating, questionable coaching and spectacular performances that make a game great.  Plus no commercials.

Granted I did play the game growing up, but it really is exciting.  I’ve watched as much as I have been able to and will take off work if need be to watch the Americans play.  The t-shirt has already been purchased and the jersey might soon be.  Throw in a defender from Green Bay (Jay DeMerit) and you even have a Wisconsin connection.

If you had to sum up the Brewers season so far, is it what you realistically expected or were your hopes a little higher going into the season?

My expectations were definitely higher, but I won’t say I’m overly surprised.  The real disappointment that I see is in the ineffectiveness of Prince Fielder driving in runs and the fact that Ken Macha hasn’t been fired.  What is nice to see is the two signings that I liked the least (Latroy Hawkins and Gregg Zaun) have been complete disasters to this point.  I doubt we will see Zaun again and Hawkins is a complete wild card.

To make the playoffs this year a lot had to go right and not much of it has.  There have been some pleasant surprises and seeing live young arms come out of the Minors is a refreshing change of pace.  Even in a poor season I look forward to seeing the prospects that will be coming up as the summer wears on.  You have to wonder how long until a player like Lorenzo Cain or Mark Rogers makes their appearance at the Major league level.

Wally: In addition to Cain & Rodgers I would think we would see Lawrie up as well at some point in the season.  Additionally, once and not if, Fielder is dealt they need get Gamel up and platooning at 1 st with Edmonds.

What are your expectations this year for the Packers?  A lot of main stream media people out there have them pretty highly ranked.

Minnesota still has to be the team to beat in the North, until the Packers can prove otherwise.  That said, there is plenty of reason to think that they will prove otherwise.  I’m still concerned about a couple of problem areas though, the defensive secondary hasn’t really been addressed and while I like Ryan Grant the run game still doesn’t have that home run threat you look for.

Still, as long as Aaron Rodgers stays on his feet this team has the potential to be one of the best in the league, if not the best.

Wally: You summed it up right there in regards to Rodgers staying on his feet.  Even with the deficiencies in the run game and secondary, this team should be able to put up enough points to stick with anyone this year.

The Bucks this past season far exceed anything close to how most people thought they would do.  Was last season a flash in the pan or do you think that it’s the start of something good?

It’s a step in the right direction, that’s for sure.  The main goal has to be turning your team into a consistent winner and that’s something the Bucks haven’t done since the “glory” days of Glenn Robinson, Sam Cassell and Ray Allen. Brandon Jennings is a star in the making, that much is for sure.

John Hammond is still saddled by the awful contracts that Larry Harris gave out but he learned his role well when he was in Detroit with Joe Dumars.  If they keep playing it smart the Bucks will be a perennial playoff team – which in the NBA doesn’t mean squat, but you can’t win in the playoffs if you don’t get there.

Noticed on your site you’ll be the “Unofficial Private Sports Blog of the 2017 PGA US Open Championship”, what do you have planned for the 7 years leading up to it?

We haven’t had our planning meeting yet, but I’m sure there will be some logo-less T-shirts.  Maybe we’ll host a Pro-Am featuring WST contributors and readers.  None of us are particularly good at golf, so it wouldn’t really be a “Pro-Am,” more of a “Drunk-Am.”  That’s all assuming they let us onto the golf course at some point in the next seven years which, if you’ve met any of us, might be a stretch.  But we will try, oh we will try.  I wonder if they’ll accept that as a reason to give us credentials?

Wally: You can count on a Pocket Doppler team for your Drunk-Am, drinking beer well and playing golf poorly is what we excel at.

And our advice column question – What advice would you give to sports bloggers (or bloggers in general) as it relates to starting or maintaining their blogs?

I would say don’t try to go it alone, keeping a consistent blog can be time consuming and if you try to do a daily update with anything substantial you will be spending a whole lot of your free time working on your site.  Even at WST we have a few different contributors but we go through stretches where posts are few and far between.

Besides, how can you point-counterpoint yourself? Those never turn out well.

Oh and jump on twitter.  I think the whole Wisconsin sports blog community is out there by now and if they like what they see your writing will climb quickly.

Wally: Nice point on twitter and even better one on the support the Wisconsin sports blog community gives to others.  You can follow Mark on twitter here .

…and now for the lighting round.

Your all-time favorite Wisconsin sports team based player is:

Lee Evans – Will never forget that touchdown against Ohio State.

Your favorite blog to read that is not named The Wisconsin Sports Tap is:

Miller Park Drunk … when he’s on, it’s phenomenal.

You can read our Thrusday Q & A with Miller Park Drunk here

If you didn’t blog about Wisconsin sports, you would have a blog about:

Finding the greatest Cheeseburger, so far it’s Delux Burger in Phoenix.

If you were a professional athlete, your sport & position would be:

Here’s one, the fastest man in the world, 100m dash gold medalist.

Should I ever run into you at a bar, I should buy you a _____________ for taking the time to answer these questions.

Being a Madison native, my beer of choice is Capitol Amber, I know they changed the name but screw that.  It’s Capitol Amber to me.

That’s all for this week and thanks to Mark for joining us.  Take a stroll over to Wisconsin Sports Tap and add it to your list of preferred reading as well.

If you’re a Wisconsin sports team blogger and would be interested in being a guest on the PocketDoppler.com Thursday Q & A, just let us know !


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