The View From Wisconsin
Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.
Friday, March 31, 2006
He was from "Cudahy, dere hey."
On to less important things:
- The circle is complete. Since defeating the Red Wings in the shootout at JLA on the 21st, Nashville has dropped four straight games - the last to the Wings at the GEC. In those games, the Preds have allowed 21 goals - though they have allowed fewer goals with each game. Unfortunately, the Predators have scored fewer and fewer goals with each game. This would indicate to me that they're going to get beat 3-1 by the Blues, and then blanked 2-0 by the Jackets.
- The city of San Antonio is apparently torn between two sports franchises: the Saints of the NFL, and the Marlins of MLB. The Bexar County council (San Antonio's county) apparently are discussing how to use a 1/8 of a cent sales tax to pay for a new stadium - but the question is, who would they build the stadium for? As much as south central Texas could use a MLB franchise, the Marlins don't look like they're going anywhere. Bud "War And Peace" Selig is used to taking his time with stadium deals, so don't think that the Marlins will go anywhere unless south Florida tells them to take a hike.
- We've had our share of athletes and teams doing bad stuff, but let's be honest: anyone who actually thought that lacrosse players were likely to pull a stunt like what happened with Duke University's squad would have been laughed out of the room. Either that or they would have put George Mason in the final four.
- Speaking of the Patriots: only four players in ESPN's Bracket Challenge got the final four correct - and one of them admitted that it was a mistake (he thought he was choosing George Washington University). Over in Yahoo's Challenge, no one got it right. Neither did anyone on Sportsline. If GMU wins their semifinal over Florida, there will be a LOT of screaming and cursing out there.
- George Mitchell hasn't even held the job of "independent investigator" with MLB for a few days, and he's already being raked over the coals. The argument is that he's about as independent as a plant in the lobby of MLB's headquarters in New York. He is on the board of the Disney Corporation - the parent company to ESPN - and is also a minority owner of the Boston Red Sox.
- If that ain't bad enough, Victor Conte - he of BALCO fame and just recently released from jail - is planning on presenting evidence that refutes most of what was written in Game of Shadows. His contention is that the book is essentially a "character assassination" of Bonds and himself. Not sure if that's true, since there's not much character to be assassinated with Conte.
- Two more days until Opening Day. Meanwhile, it's been 14,213 days since the Toronto Maple Leafs last won the Stanley Cup.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Let's make it two-for-two...
(And they did - thanks Jack!)
On to what's important:
- A certain blogger we all know and love recently suggested in his Blog entry for March 26 that the NHL needs to consider switching to three points for a win. This is incredibly wrong on the most basic of levels: as soon as you change the point value for a win, the game stops being about winning and starts being about something else. It doesn't matter if it's a difference in when you win - it's not about winning at any time. To paraphrase the Bard: "A win is a win is a win is a win." Either you keep the two-points-for-a-win method, or you scrap points and just go with wins.
- I've noticed something while listening to the game broadcasts of other teams for Predators games (other than the inability of announcers to pronounce the simplest of names; I didn't know that Alex Rodriguez played for the Predators - the Kings announcer kept saying "puck goes over to A-rod" every time Martin Erat touched the puck). The Preds come out with fire for the first 20 minutes of the game, and then collapse in the second. The Ducks and Kings broadcasters kept talking about how the Preds were using their speed in the first period; then they've collapsed after that point. I don't know much about coaching, but I'd start doing some changes in rolling out lines and defensive scheming if this keeps up.
- Bucky Badger is doing okay so far against Cornell - though there's no score after one. Meanwhile the BBOS (Badger Babes On Skates) are puttin' a whoopin' on the Gophers, 3-0 with about 17 minutes to go in the game. It would be great if we could pull off the double title grab, but too many things can go wrong - this I know.
…no one would be screaming bloody murder when an out-of-town announcer mispronounced the name of a player on your local sports team.
…if you would have told someone that not only would there be four NHL teams in the southeastern United States, but that one of the teams would be the defending league champions – you'd have been laughed at.
…being a fan of a major pro sports team that wasn't in your area usually meant videotaping ESPN's SportsCenter and praying that they'd post more than only the results of last night's game.
…you had to hunt around to try to find a jersey from your favorite sports team, if you weren't priviledged enough to live in the same zip code.
…the only way you found out about some up-and-coming player in a sport was either via a brief comment in SI's Faces In The Crowd or by some short mention on ESPN.
…trying to manage either NCAA brackets or a Rotisserie League team (it wasn't called "fantasy sports" back then) was a long and tedious task.
…if you ran into a pro sports player in a bar, you couldn't verify that you actually met him – nor could you tell anyone except your closest buddies, who were probably there with you.
…collecting sports memorabilia meant going to card collecting shows, shilling out some cash to get someone like Pete Rose or Brent Fullwood to scribble their autograph on a piece of paper. Game-worn stuff was nearly out of the question. And forget about caps or jerseys from 20 to 30 years before; unless you knew some obscure company based on the east coast, you'd never be able to get one.
…short of actually sitting down and watching videotapes all day, there was no way you'd be able to tell exactly why your favorite sports team was tanking in close games.
…your choices for news about your favorite team's minor league system was either USA Today or (if you could actually find it on sale anywhere) Baseball America or The Hockey News.
…you couldn't find much non-sanctioned college sports info out there, short of the local newspapers in the college towns – and even that was unreliable.
…trying to find out how a particular player did in a particular situation at a previous point in his career meant having to either drag out books or magazines, or take a trip to the library to scan the microfiche, praying you could find a boxscore.
…there was no such thing as professional women's team sports.
…by the time you heard a rumor about a player on your team, it wasn't a rumor anymore.
…people were skeptical that places like Phoenix, Arizona and Miami could sustain multiple professional sports franchises.
…a newspaper devoted entirely to sports was not just a novelty, it was unsustainable.
…if there was a player or a team in your favorite sport, located in another country, you didn't find out about their performance until months after the fact.
…the idea of a player from outside of North America playing in one of the four major pro team sports was unheard of.
…only big cities like New York, Philly and LA had "sports-talk" radio stations. Other cities had only an hour or two of some ex-jock or sportscaster doing a talk show with local fans on the station that held the broadcast rights for the team.
…if you didn't have cable, you were mostly in the dark as to what was happening in the sports world.
…if you traveled a lot, you were mostly in the dark about what happened to your team while you were gone.
…the only time you ran into idiotic fans was in the concourses of the stadiums when you were heading off to your seats.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Just off the top of my head, I came up with a list of 10 things that really should be done to the Milwaukee freeway system.
As a driver that uses the system on a regular basis, I can verify that these are definitely needed changes.
1. Construct a HOV lane on both the North-South and East-West Freeways. The HOV lane would extend in three directions – North on I-43 from the Appleton Avenue (formerly Park Freeway) exit to the Ozaukee County line; South on I-94/43 over the High-Rise Bridge to the Airport, all the way south to the Racine County line; and West on I-94 to the Waukesha County line. The HOV lane could be made reversible or even a "zipper" lane, allowing the flow of traffic to be altered during rush hours.
2. Make the section of the East-West Freeway between State Fair Park (STH-181) and the Stadium Freeway a double-decked Freeway. The bottlenecks on this stretch are horrible, especially before and after Brewers games and during the morning/afternoon rush hours. Since the lanes can't be expanded, due to the cemetary on both sides between Hawley and Miller Park, the only way to go is to stack the freeways. Have one or two lanes in each direction be exclusive "HOV" lanes, with one of the lanes being an express lane from the Zoo Interchange to the Miller Park Way exit.
3. Eliminate the exit from STH-100 Eastbound onto I-94. This on-ramp has been the cause of numerous accidents and needless merging delays onto the I-894 bypass. The single-quadrant interchange worked back in the days when there wasn't much traffic on the bypass, but this exit is just a nuisance. Route the traffic to the National Avenue exit onto I-894 instead.
4. Expand the southbound ramp from I-94 East to I-894 East/US 45 South to more than one lane. The single-lane ramp causes more merging delays as trucks slow down, not only because of the curve, but because of the resulting merging issues for National Avenue and STH 59. There just is not enough room for traffic to safely get on to the Zoo Freeway, and this change, along with the following proposal, would alter that.
5. Eliminate the onramp from I-894 East/US 45 South to National Avenue. This is another reason for the bottlenecks at the Zoo Interchange. If there was no exit at National Avenue, there would be room for traffic to merge onto I-894 from I-94. The other option would be to move the ramp to the south side of National Avenue – and that wouldn't make the problem any better. Route the National Avenue traffic down to the next exit.
6. Change the on-ramps from I-94 East to US 45 North, and I-894 West/US 45 North to I-94 West, from left side to right side ramps. This may mean construction of new bridges through the Zoo Interchange, but it will cut down on traffic issues where cars and trucks are trying to merge onto the Zoo or East-West Freeway.
7. Consider connecting the Stadium and Fond du Lac Freeways. The current level of traffic on both the Zoo Freeway and the East-West Freeway needs to be relieved in some manner. A "completion" of the Stadium Freeway to Fond du Lac Avenue would help that – and let's be honest; the section of Milwaukee that the freeway would be routed isn't exactly prime real estate at the moment. Of all the things on this list, this one's the most far-fetched, because of the cost and required real estate purchasing.
8. Make an off-ramp on the Airport Spur to the Amtrak Station on South 6th Street. If WisDOT wants people to use the Hiawatha to go to Chicago, they need to make it easy for people to do it. The way to do this is to make the station accessible from the spur.
9. Convert the Zoo Freeway to Interstate. It doesn't matter if it's renamed I-41, I-143, or I-594 – the highway between Hales Corners and the Fox Cities has been a freeway for years. It's time it finally got upgraded from being a US highway.
10. Consider electronic tolling for the HOV lanes around the system. If people want the convenience of being able to travel in the express lanes to and from downtown, have 'em pay for it. You want that trip from the country line to downtown to stay at 10 minutes all day? Get a transponder box, pay $10 a month, and you've got it. This would be easy to do in conjunction with the construction of the HOV lanes, right off the bat. I'd be against doing this for the bypass, or the Zoo Freeway - but if Milwaukee County really wants to be able to pay for these changes, this is one way to do it. Once the bonds and debt are retired on the freeway repairs, consider removing the electronic tolling.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
No, not those brackets; the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey brackets.
Wisconsin is the #1 seed, set to face Bemidji State in the first round on the road to Milwaukee. The only thing keeping the UW faithful from a trip down I-94 is either Cornell or Colorado College, in the other part of their bracket.
Meanwhile, in other things:
- There was good news and bad news last night from the GEC in Nashville. The bad news was Tomas Vokoun's shutout streak ended at 127:27. The good news was that his teammates made it up to him by scoring nine goals against Calgary - owners of the "best" defense in the NHL. All that would have been needed was an empty-netter by Paul Kariya for the double-taco goal, and all would have been right with the world.
- Like an addict, I have once again been reeled in by my one true love: Baseball cards. I have packs of Topps, Topps Heritage and Upper Deck First Pitch. And, I'm not entirely sure I like the "vintage cards" in every pack; I'm already up to my kiester in '79 Willie Montanez cards.
- I'm turning into a regular "road geek". I actually started a Wikipedia entry for STH-16 in Wisconsin. I'm a bit partial to it, since it runs only a few blocks away from my home.
- New 'puter update: I've got the GT4010 working pretty much the way I want, without a lot of the extra deadweight at the moment. My only issue right now is that my external hard drive is smaller than the HD on the computer - which may make backups problematic.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
The good news, thanks to the IRS, is that I can solve problem B while I wait (wait wait wait wait wait) for not-a-problem A to happen.
It does mean I'm not going to be getting anything new for a while, though.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
The trading deadline is 3:00 PM ET today, and everyone's favorite blogger, Eklund, has already claimed that Washington D Brendan Witt is headed to the Predators today.
Since numerous trades were accomplished overnight (including Jose Theodore and David Aebischer trading spaces in net for the Habs and Avs), I half-expected to see the trade announced this morning.
I still have the feeling that the trade isn't going to happen, but the Predators are behind the eight-ball right now.
On to other things:
- Canada beats Team USA 8-6 at the World Baseball Classic. That is just wrong. They got to the fifth inning, and there was suddenly talk about the Mercy Rule in the preliminary rounds (10 run lead after seven innings). The game was an example of what I call the "Dog Chasing Tail" syndrome: You expend so much energy just to get back to a point where you can possibly win the game, and suddenly, once you get there - you don't have anything left to actually win the game. I saw it happen Sunday between the Admirals and the Wolves; I've seen it too many times with the Predators. Now, USA has to beat the "other" USA - the Union of South Africa - just to have a shot at moving on to the next round.
- UW-Milwaukee has punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament, beating Butler for the Horizon League title. Don't hold your breath for another sweet 16 appearance, though.
Meanwhile, my Whitewater Warhawks got beat last weekend by Illinois Wesleyan - no surprise; they weren't world-beaters this year on the court - so UWM may be getting my support for the time being.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
There are all sorts of rumors floating around about the Predators and trades, most of them centering around Brendan Witt. With the injuries to Mark Eaton and Yanic Perreault, however, David Poile is caught in a position he generally doesn't like - trading from a position of weakness. In the past, when Poile is forced into a position such as this, he doesn't make any trades. That is going to hurt, especially considering that Scott Walker and Vern Fiddler are still out. Fiddler would have been the logical choice to replace Perreault, but it's more likely he would have been the designated scratch on a regular basis.
I finally sat down and read through the book, Left Behind, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. A couple of things about the book really got to me - the feeling that Rayford Steele had in discovering half his family was gone, and the absolute sinister nature of how Carpathia took power. I don't really have a desire to read the other 11 books in the series, but after completing this book, I feel like my faith has been strengthened.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
I've had this thing since November of 2002 - way back when Gateway still had "stores" that they sold their "custom made computers" from. That store is now a mini-mall with a Starbucks.
Not a bad transition for a place that used to be a car dealership; in fact, when you went into the old Gateway store, you could tell it was an old car dealership by the front lobby. The door was big enough to drive a car through.
Anyways... this thing has served me well, but it's proven to be way too buggy for my liking. Part of me suspects that the Sasser worm may have snuck on to the machine without me knowing/realizing, but I can't verify that because Norton says everything's okay. (shrug)
Leroy "Satchel" Paige always had that quote: "Don't look back, something might be gaining on you."
That may very well be the case with this old 300S.