The View From Wisconsin
Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
That is 25 years, 11 months and 12 days. A person could be born, graduate from high school, go to college, graduate from there, get married, get a job and have a couple of kids over that span of time.
Since then, 16 major league baseball teams have moved into new stadiums, two others have had their parks drastically renovated, two more are closing their stadiums this year, and one - well, one left the place they played back then for greener pastures.
There were more teams in the AL than NL, each had only two divisions, only four teams made the playoffs, and you played a best-of-five to win the league title.
Back then, Harry Caray had just finished his first year as the Cubs' broadcaster, after coming over from the White Sox; the Red Sox had some guy with a funny name managing them; and the Angels were hoping that Reggie Jackson could get them over the top.
The Phillies had missed the playoffs for only the second time in seven years; and the Dodgers were the defending World Series champions (though they missed the playoffs by a single game). Saint Petersburg was the home of the Cardinals' Florida State League affiliate. The Tampa Tarpons, who played at Al Lang Field, lost the 1982 FSL pennant to the Fort Lauderdale Yankees.
Joe Carter was still a minor leaguer, as was Darryl Strawberry; Orel Hershiser had yet to pitch in the majors. Dale Sveum was the first-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Oh, and the Brewers themselves have switched leagues, suffered through years and years and years and YEARS of frustration.
And now, it's finally here: Milwaukee Brewers playoff game number 18 - Milwaukee at Philadelphia.
Philadelphia; they know something about "suffering." It was 9,449 days between their 1950 World Series appearance and their NLCS game in 1976. Before that, it was 12,775 between their 1950 World Series appearance and their previous one - back in 1915.
Still - 9,478 days.
And I don't want this to be over anytime soon - nor do I want it to be 9,478 days before the next one.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Go 'Crew. Phillies SUCK.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Now, we have to win and hope the Mets lose their finale at Shea - or it won't be their finale at Shea.
Monday, September 22, 2008
To "get Favred" is the ultimate description of a team that has a player that is head-and-shoulders better than pretty much everyone else on the field - except that this player just can't get everything to go right for him for an entire game. When he's good, he's pretty damn good. When he's bad, he blows incredible chunks.
The problem is, we had a team there for a few years in the 1990's that managed (for the most part) to get past the "blow chunks" part of Favre enough to win at least one title. And that made the "blow chunks" tolerable. Unfortunately, as he got older, the "blow chunks" side cost us more games than us in the stands would like to admit. Ted Thompson, however, realized that the "blow chunks" side would do us more harm than good in the future - and that was what got him on the way out of town to NYC.
So, to all of you who are J-E-T-S JETS! JETS! JETS! fans - yes, this means you too, Greenie - welcome to the wonderful world of being "Favred". Get used to it; unless he finally decides he's had enough of this expletive-deleted, you're headed for 14 more weeks of it.
Labels: Brett Favre New York Jets
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Back in 1908, the Brooklyn Dodgers and Saint Louis Cardinals had a futility race to see who could lose more games. They both ended up with 27 losses, but the Bums had only played 33 games compared to the Redbirds' 34. The Cards ended up 50 games behind the Cubs in the final standings, locking the basement door behind them. Neither team was in a playoff race (the Bums were 24 games back on September 1st as it was).
If the Crew blows the rest of the season, they will have a 4-26 record - easily the worst record and biggest collapse in major league history.
And I can't see any way of it not happening.
EDIT: Brewers lose 4-3; Sabathia now 9-2 with two losses in his last two starts with the Brewers. Sigh.
Labels: Milwaukee Brewers
- Teams in small markets will, in all likelihood, never have the largest payrolls in any of the four team sports. No one who is a fan of a small-market team in MLB, the NHL or the NBA should expect to have the highest paid player in their sport playing for their team anytime soon.
- A bad baseball team is the hardest of all team sports to turn around. For example, look at how difficult it has been for the Baltimore Orioles to recover from poor management and ownership indifference. Turnarounds in MLB are difficult because of the way the sport includes and develops new players – through a large and complex minor league system that makes success harder as the player progresses. The next hardest is the NHL (which is the only other team sport to have a minor league system), then the NBA, and then the NFL.
- There are three main factors, universal to all pro team sports, that affect franchise movement: Facilities, finances and ownership. A major shift in any one of the three areas can trigger franchise movement, though all three factors are interdependent. The first of the three areas to generate trouble is that of facilities (arenas, ballparks, stadiums). The mainstream media tends to confuse "finances" for "attendance"; finances are more equivalent to revenues (of which attendance is a large factor in some sports). If there is drastic instability in all three areas – such as what happened with the Seattle Supersonics – then the team is as good as gone. Unfortunately, the three factors are not easily seen until after the fact.
- Salary caps are good ideas for team sports – in theory. As good as the idea of a salary cap is to team sports, it's virtually impossible to get it to work in the real world. The reason for this is simple: there is no honor among thieves. All of the major pro sports teams have only themselves as the bottom line, and therefore are always looking for a way to get around the rules to their advantage. Thus, show me a salary cap and I'll show you at least five ways of getting around it.
- Players do not make good owners. In general, if players are inclined to become team owners, your sport is not in good health. Players do not generally make very good owners (just as most owners do not make very good players – or coaches).
- The Designated Hitter is not going to go away. There may be talk of abolishing it, even if MLBPA says they don't mind it going away. However, there are too many financial reasons why there should be a DH rule. In fact, it is more likely that the rule will be changed, within a generation, to apply to all of baseball. The first step to the DH becoming the law of the land may very well happen by mandating it for interleague play. This argument can also be made for the three-point shot in basketball, the shootout in hockey, and the use of instant replay in football.
- Artificial turf won't be disappearing anytime soon, either. Though there has been limited success in growing grass indoors, there will come a point in time when it will be cheaper to put a safer, realistic, life-like surface down instead of constantly replacing dead or dying grass. As technology has improved "artificial" surfaces, it will be more appealing to use them. (Ice hockey, however, is still unlikely to follow this trend.)
- It is only a matter of time before advertisements appear on player uniforms. Revenue streams will be such a large part of a franchise's continued success that this one won't be ignored in North America much longer. Don't anticipate seeing the Addidas logo overshadow the NY and the pinstripes, however. Teams will not be renamed for a sponsor, like the New York Red Bulls were in MLS.
- Ticket prices will continue to rise until they meet demand. And when demand is met, teams will start moving in to smaller facilities to increase demand before deciding to lower ticket prices. Oh, and variable rate ticket pricing – based on opponents and/or days of the week – will more than likely be the norm within a decade.
- The Internet has had a dramatic impact on how fans follow and support their teams. A fan of the Miami Dolphins can follow his team's exploits in Anchorage, Alaska – and the growth of fantasy sports makes fans more knowledgeable about players on teams other than his or her hometown teams. In fact, the Internet makes it possible for people outside North America to follow a major league team – and to be relatively knowledgeable about their team (and players) at the same time.
- Women's pro sports leagues cannot survive in the long term. Anyone who anticipates women's professional team sports, or women playing in existing male leagues, lasting for more than a short period of time is dreaming. Yes, people like Lorena Ochoa, Candace Parker, Danica Patrick and Diana Taurisi are admirable in their performances. However, few people actually want to pay money to go see them play on a continuing basis. Danica, of course, is a special case, as she is "playing with the boys". However, I doubt that a racing series comprised of strictly female drivers would be financially viable at any time in the future.
- Viable alternatives to the existing major sports leagues are highly unlikely – thanks to Vince McMahon. The failure of the XFL basically ended any and all serious attempts at creating viable alternatives to the existing major pro leagues (MLB, NFL and NBA). The reason, of course, is that all of the major TV networks saw how the league's ratings eroded so quickly, making the televising of any similar endeavor seem suicidal. There is the exception of leagues outside of North America (such as the Russian Super League of hockey, or the Japanese Major Leagues); however, their popularity within the United States is unlikely to surpass that of the existing major leagues.
- No non-Major League team sport will retain its popularity for as long as the "Big Three" of baseball, basketball and football. As popular as NASCAR and golf are now, the cycle of popularity will eventually swing away from those sports to either the three sports that were first turned pro in the US, or to other sports.
- The only way that any Major League sport will go out of business is if people stop coming to games. The "SEW" principle is the primary reason why baseball came back from the strike, the NFL survived the player strike in the 1980's, and basketball has weathered its labor strife: if you decide to stop going to games, someone else will buy your ticket and go. Until such time as people decide, en masse, to stop going to games, there will be an NFL, an NBA, MLB – and even a NHL.
- No professional sports league is completely safe from losing an entire season to a labor dispute. The NHL might be the poster child of how not to do it, but the NFL could just as easily lose an entire season due to egos, stubbornness, and the sports mentality of "winning is everything". All of that could mean more than just losing the Super Bowl, World Series or NBA Championship – or even the Stanley Cup Finals (again).
- Money can't buy you championships. However, put the money in the hands of people who know your sport, and it can move mountains. The equation is essentially money plus knowledge of the sport (plus pure dumb luck) equals success. This explains the New York Yankees as much as it does the New York Rangers.
- The National Football League is in a class by itself in comparison to all other team sports in North America. No other team sport should even think about comparing itself to the NFL, whether it is for a salary cap, revenue sharing or other forms of business operations. The NFL is so unique as a sport that it is on a level that no other sport, save perhaps baseball in the first half of the 20th Century, has ever achieved in its existence in North America. There are so many exceptions and "onlies" surrounding their operations that it would be pointless for any other league of any other sport to try to be like them – completely. In fact, there is only one other professional sport globally that can compete with the impact that the NFL has on the US and North America – and that is major professional "futball" leagues across the globe.
- ESPN should be careful that they do not allow the "E" in their name to outweigh the "S". As the so-called "Worldwide Leader In Sports" tries more original programming and movies, they are moving dangerously away from being a Sports network towards an Entertainment network. They should remember that the four major sports are the reason why they exist in the first place – or they won't make it to their 50th anniversary.
- Gambling will destroy a sport if it is allowed to permeate the game. The primary reason why players, owners, coaches and officials gambling on their sport is bad for the game is very simple: their own self interest of their wagers overrules the interest of their team or their sport. Even if a player is betting on his own team, it overrules the concept of being a "team player" because the player is trying to win more than just a game. Thus, it is for this reason and this reason alone that any athlete, official, owner or manager who is caught gambling on his sport should be suspended from the game indefinitely. The absolute worst thing for a sport is for their officials/referees/umpires to be "on the take". If the officiating is questioned because of gambling, the entire sport could be on the verge of collapse.
- The law of averages suggest that even the worst team in a given sport will eventually win a championship. Someday, the Arizona Cardinals will win the Super Bowl; the Memphis Grizzlies will win the NBA title; the Phoenix Coyotes will win the Stanley Cup, and the Tampa Bay Rays will win the World Series. It might not happen in our lifetimes, nor may it happen while the team is playing where they are now – but, all other things being equal, it should happen. It actually takes more talent (in a backwards kind of way) to not win championships than it does to win them – which makes the 100-year drought of the Chicago Cubs all that much more impressive.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Sheets is likely out, and it wouldn't surprise me if he needed surgery during the off-season. The only positive out of that is that we won't need to re-sign him for much next year. (What, you think another team is insane enough to sign him away from us?)
Of course, we probably won't ever see CC Sabathia in Brewer togs ever again. Damn shame, too.
And Prince... well, he's going to probably BMWC and end up somewhere else.
Next year, I'm calling it now: we won't break 75 wins.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
That's it in a nutshell.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Now, don't get me wrong - I'm thinking they needed to do this, since you can't go 3-11 in the heat of the pennant race without someone taking the fall. However, I think there's that part of me that says, "Why didn't they do this back in May?"
The Brewers and Phillies are now tied for the NL Wild Card lead - the NL Central? Forget it; the tragic number is 6 for the Crew with an eight game lead for the Cubs and only 12 to go in the season.
The talk is swirling around this move - was it Attanasio's call? Melvin's? Why Sveum and not Simmons (who is now being paid to be an "advance scout" - in other words, getting paid to sit on your butt and watch MLB Extra Innings) - or someone else? What's up with Yount suddenly becoming a bench coach? Is Sveum keeping the seat warm for the other Melvin (Bob)? Is this going to be the biggest mistake the Brewers have made since they signed Eric Gagne?
The only way this situation is a win for the Brewers is if the team goes on to get the Wild Card and they at least win the LDS. Anything else and Melvin might be joining Yost in the unemployment line.
What's worse for Yost is, this was an awful day to be fired from your job, in terms of finances. Hopefully he didn't have any of his portfolio through Lehman Brothers.
Friday, September 12, 2008
- Seven out of the last ten seasons, the Brewers have performed worse after July 1st than they did prior to then. The three times they improved, they only did so by no better than three games over their July 1st record.
- Four of the seven times they played worse after the first half, they did so by six or more games. In 2004, they dropped by 11 games.
- The Crew has a .465 winning percentage (through Thursday's game) in September/October regular season games.
- 21 times out of the 38 seasons the Crew has called Milwaukee home, they have played sub-.500 ball after August 31st.
- Five of those sub-.500 years happened within the last seven seasons (2005 and 2007 were the only two times they finished above .500, both in September and on the season).
- Though the Brewers posted the third best April-August record in franchise history this year (behind 1979 and 1982), they are currently on a pace to post the third worst September/October record in franchise history (ahead of 1976 and 1995).
- Though the Crew is 23-17 this season against their four remaining opponents, they are 168-180 (through last season) vs. their opponents at the locations they are scheduled to face them (CB Park, Wrigley, GABP, and Miller Park).
Labels: Milwaukee Brewers
Thursday, September 11, 2008
1. For the last two years - and, for that matter, almost from the moment after the Supreme Court handed down Bush vs. Gore (2000) - the Democrats have believed that this election was "theirs to lose." When you believe that, you get into a mindset that all you have to do is show up, play not to lose, and in the end you'll be handed the White House on a silver platter. We all know about "playing not to lose" around here, and where that gets you.
2. The very process of selecting their candidates essentially torpedoed the candidate with the best chance of winning the overall election. Look back at some of the polls back in January: Hillary was head-and-shoulders ahead of McCain, Huckabee or Romney in practically any head-to-head poll. The long, drawn-out and extremely complicated delegate selection process of the Democratic Party essentially prevented the party from getting behind a candidate early enough to focus on winning the election. It's more or less like the team that plays three straight seven-game playoff series, only to get swept in the finals. Or, more accurately, the team that fights down to the wire to make the playoffs, then runs out of gas and gets swept in the first round.
3. The Democrats have fallen into the "Cult of Personality" around Obama. Since 1963, the Dems have been longing for another charismatic Kennedy-ish standard bearer. Each time one has come up, they've either crashed and burned (RFK, Carter, Gore, Kerry) or have been incredibly ineffective (Wallace, Mondale, Dukakis). That doesn't stop them from trying to make their choice into the Second Coming, though. They've built up the aura around Obama so much, they think that the average voter would feel stupid not to vote for him.
4. The Democrats believe that the conditions that gave them the White House in 1992. "It's the Economy, Stupid" was the rallying cry of the Clinton campaign in '92, and that tied with what was known as "Bush Fatigue" even then is what the Dems believe was how they got the presidency from Bush 41. The problem is, the economy back then was nothing like what it is today - positively or negatively. And, in essence, the American People did decide to "fire" George H. W. Bush - but they believed that their only option was to put a moderate-sounding Clinton in his place. This is the biggest difference between '92 and '08: instead of choosing between keeping Bush and not keeping Bush, the electorate has the option of choosing alternative one and alternative two. Both, in the minds of most voters, are "not Bush" - no matter how much the Obama campaign tries to paint the GOP as "McSame".
5. The Democrats - regularly, repeatedly and without regard to reality - underestimate the American people. The Dems consistently believe that anyone who is a GOP backer is nothing more than a lie-spewing drone who isn't "enlightened" enough to see things "as they really are". What's worse, they don't treat their own base very well either; they basically just "assume" that they'll get the women's vote, the black vote, the environmentalist vote. They don't celebrate or appreciate them - they just take their money and run. And, when they're trying to get elected, they turn their backs on these people because they know they can't get the undecideds to vote for them because of their extreme viewpoints. When they lose elections in areas that they "think" are solidly pro-Democrat, they start arguing about voter fraud and other irregularities - because they can't believe that the American people just do NOT want what they're trying to sell them.
You can talk all you want about where you want to put the lipstick, but in the end, a pig is a pig and a pit bull is a pit bull. And the American people prefer dogs to pigs.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Monday, September 01, 2008
I am truly sorry, but there is only one ballpark in the nation (okay, possibly two) where that play would have been called an error:
Miller Park (and possibly Jacobs Field).
Don't Yost and company have better things to do? Like, say, try to gain more ground on the Cubs (and stay ahead of the Saint Louis Cardinals)?