The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Droughts in Baseball

The Milwaukee Brewers have the second longest drought between playoff appearances among current major league franchises. The team with the longest current drought, of course, is the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals franchise, which hasn't played a post season game since 1981.

The five longest playoff appearance "droughts:
  1. Washington/Montreal, 26 seasons
  2. Milwaukee, 25 seasons
  3. Kansas City, 22 seasons
  4. Pittsburgh, 15 seasons
  5. Toronto, 14 seasons
Philadelphia is on the verge of breaking its tie with the Blue Jays for fifth - if, of course, they can hold off the Mets this weekend.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, of course, don't quite count, since they've never hosted a post-season game in their franchise history (and, at the rate they're going, they never will).

As for League Pennant droughts:
  1. Chicago Cubs, 62 seasons
  2. Texas Rangers (fka Washington Senators), 46 years (longest w/o a World Series appearance as a franchise)
  3. Seattle Mariners, 30 seasons (no pennants)
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates, 28 seasons
  5. Washington Nationals (fka Montreal Expos), 26 seasons (no pennants)
And, of course, the World Championship droughts (for teams that have actually won a World Series):
  1. Chicago Cubs, 99 seasons
  2. Cleveland Indians, 59 seasons
  3. San Francisco (then New York) Giants, 53 seasons
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates, 28 seasons
  5. Philadelphia Phillies, 27 seasons
This begs for a "futility index" - a measure of the absolute frustration of the fans of a particular team, when it comes to years between post-season success. For our purposes, this would be three points for each year since the last playoff appearance, two for each year since last league title, and one point for each year since their last world championship banner. Teams that haven't won any of those are only counted back to their first year in the majors (thankfully).

And the "futility index" top ten:
  1. Chicago Cubs, 223 points
  2. Washington Nationals, 168 points
  3. Milwaukee Brewers, 163 points
  4. Texas Rangers, 162 points
  5. Kansas City Royals, 132 points
  6. Pittsburgh Pirates, 129 points
  7. Seattle Mariners, 108 points
  8. Baltimore Orioles, 102 points
  9. Cleveland Indians, 97 points
  10. Philadelphia Phillies, 97 points*
  11. Cincinnati Reds, 87 points
* - Should the Phillies win the Eastern Division title, their Futility score will drop to 55 points, and the Reds will move into 10th.

Friday, September 28, 2007

It's Over

It's officially over.

The Milwaukee Brewers have been eliminated from the Central Division pennant race, losing to the San Diego Padres for the fifth consecutive time this season at Miller Park.

The Northsiders have won their second Central Division championship.

This hurts immensely.

The Biggest Flop

For all the talk of Billy Goats and curses coming from the North side of Chicago, there's not much talk about a monumental choke-job in progress in the Menomonee River valley.

It's odd when you think of it, but the Brewers got off to the franchise's best start at 24-10 back in May. Since that time, they've gone 57-68, which is the worst "finish" to a season in franchise history. It tops the 1975 team, that started 24-10 and ended with a 68-win season (and Del Crandall being shown the door).

It's not quite as bad if you look back just to July 1st, but even if the Crew were to win out over the weekend against the Padres (about as likely as me winning the lottery), it would still rank as one of the six worst records over the last three months of the season in franchise history.

Three of those, by the way, have come since the Brewers switched to the NL: in 1998, their first season in the Senior Circuit, they went from a .538 record on the first of July to 74 wins on the season. In 2001, they were a game under .500 at 39-40; they finished with 68 wins. In 2004, Yost's first season, the Crew had the exact same record they posted in 1975 on the first of July (41-34). They finished with one fewer win than 29 years earlier.

The only other monumental collapse was the 1977 team, which saw Alex Grammas' squad go from a game under .500 (37-38) to win only 30 more games on the season. Grammas lost his job, as did GM Jim Baumer. Bud Selig turned around and hired some guy named Harry Dalton, who in turn hired the old pitching coach of the Baltimore Orioles, George Bamberger. We know what happened next.

The signs basically point to two things for me: one, this team ain't gonna do it this year. Two, this team is on the cusp of greatness. Within a couple of years, this team's core group of players could possibly dominate the NL Central (and, with a little luck, maybe a bit more than that).

But a spade is a spade, and this is a monumental choke job. Is someone to blame for this fiasco? Well, the conventional wisdom will suggest that the anomaly was the beginning of the season, not the end - which I can definitely believe. However, there are some players that should consider finding jobs elsewhere - and that Melvin and company should consider divesting themselves of their salary - before this team advances to greater heights.

Meanwhile, you have to wonder - are the Brewers cursed? Because this is a collapse job that a Cub fan would empathize with - if it wasn't the Cubs benefiting from it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Zero Vanilla Coke

Since I have been on a diet plan and lost all sorts of weight, I will admit that I have relied heavily on diet soda to get me through cravings for food. In its own way, Diet Coke and other diet soft drinks have essentially gotten me through a lot of rough spots - especially working on third shift.

Most of the time, I drank Diet Mountain Dew Code Red or Diet Pepsi, for the "sweetness" factor. Then, about two years ago, Coca-Cola came out with an amazing drink: Coca-Cola Zero. Coke Zero was a first for me when I tried it, because of one very simple factor: it tasted like regular Coke.

A lot of people shrug at this point, because they don't see the problem. For someone like me, who has routinely shunned drinking Diet Coke because of its notorious aftertaste, this was a godsend. Of course, Coke has made up for this a bit with Diet Coke Plus, but that's another story altogether.

After the product was out for a year, Coke decided to branch out into flavored versions of CZ - as they had with their main brand. Cherry Coke got a partner in Diet Cherry Coke and Cherry Coke Zero; and the re-released Vanilla Coke had its tag-along partner in Vanilla Coke Zero.

Now, maybe this is saying something about my Midwestern, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant middle-aged status, but Vanilla Coke Zero was just about the perfect drink for me. It had enough of a flavor as to be easily drinkable; it was, of course, a diet drink (no calories); and it had the taste of Coke.

You will notice, however, that I refer to it in the past tense. There's a reason: about two weeks ago, I noticed that VCZ had stopped appearing on the shelves of my local convenience stores, in the cases next to the other 20-ounce bottles. This didn't completely bother me, as I knew that it wasn't all that common of a drink. There were, after all, about two other "new" sodas that Coke had come out with (Diet Coke Plus, for one) in recent days, and there was a new push with the newly-redesigned contour bottle for Coke Classic and Coke Zero.

The problem was, there were now visible gaps in the case, next to where you'd expect VCZ to be (right next to Vanilla Coke). I started asking around to various retailers, about what was up with Vanilla Coke Zero - joking a bit about "they get ya addicted to something, then yank it off the shelves." As the days went on, it was apparent that it wasn't a retailer issue - it was an issue on Coke's side.

I called Coke's distribution company for the Midwest, and they explained what was going on: when a product isn't selling well in a particular format (2-liter, 1-liter, 20 ounce, cans, etc.), they will stop producing it and only produce it in a format in which it does sell. Apparently, Vanilla Coke Zero has been selling poorly in the 20-ounce bottle market and has been doing better in the 12-pack 12-ounce cans. So, simple economics - no more 20-ounce bottles of VCZ.

Now that I look back, I can see how it happened: there were a lot of coupons and discounts for VCZ out there over the summer, and I suspect that Coke didn't like how the drink performed with the coupons (the number of coupons that were redeemed probably didn't reach their expectations). If this is the case, I think Coke might be a bit short-sighted in their marketing plans. They should have left VCZ out there through, say, November and gotten retail numbers for product amounts, and then decided whether or not to pull it from the shelves.

Of course, it could be something as simple as the new contour bottle; they might not have geared up enough production of the new bottles to accommodate another Coke product like VCZ. If this is the case, I hope they re-introduce VCZ next year or next spring.

Until then, I'm stuck drinking it out of cans.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Careers And You

Borrowed from Rhonda over at blogalicious:

Go to
Put in username “nycareers” and password “landmark”.
Take their “Career Matchmaker” test.
Post the top 10 results.

1. Archivist
2. Rehabilitation Counselor (pretty close to what I do already)
3. Certified Public Accountant
4. Psychologist
5. Postal Clerk
6. Customs Broker
7. Criminal Lawyer
8. Home Inspector
9. Civil Litigator
10. Lawyer

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Last One Standings

The NL Central will, more than likely, be won by a team with 83 or fewer wins. This is sad. All three teams at the top lost their games last night, meaning the Brewers, Cubs and Cardinals are still in exactly the same place they were yesterday. Except, of course, that the Cardinals now have the HGH scandal hanging over their heads. And the Brewers and Cubs have bullpens that are made of kindling, not firemen.

Finally took the copy of EZ Antivirus off the wife's laptop yesterday. Amazingly, the computer is working even better than it was previously. I think CA's security suite of programs and Zone Alarm do not get along with each other, which was causing a lot of the problem.

Bucky Badger gets to play on national TV tonight... if you can call being on Versus "National". Okay, okay, that's a potshot at a network that carries my favorite sports league, but hey, shot was there, had to take it, right? Hopefully we can figure out how to play without our "home game only" backfield. Mr. Clay, it's time you show your stuff out there.

Random bits: I came across an interesting site via Newsweek, called It computes a "score", on a scale of 0-100, of how easy it would be for you to walk from that address to necessary shopping, restaurants, school or other places life might require you. My home came in at 40, which was okay - but don't go selling the car... I'm interested in reading On The Road by Jack Kerouac. I read a brief excerpt a few weeks back, and I'm thinking I may need to check it out at the library this week... I've got to track down a couple of song lyrics, because it's driving me nuts as to what exactly the lead singer of Republica is singing in "Baby I'm Ready To Go".

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I've reached a milestone of sorts today, though my body was screaming at me last night because of it.

Yesterday, I did some biking on my new Revive cycle (see the previous post on that). My knees didn't care much for the ride, because I'm sitting at a different angle. Which means, of course, that my legs are actually doing more work than they were with my mountain bike.

It has paid off, though, all this biking and such. I weighed myself this morning, and it came up to 159.5 pounds.

Way, way, wayyyyy back in June of 2006, I was tilting the scales at well over 260 pounds. That means, in 14 months, I've managed to shed 100 lbs.

I'm only 15 lbs. away from my "goal weight" of 145 pounds - which puts me on the high side of a "normal" weight for someone 5'4". I'm averaging about 13.6 pounds lost per month, which means that (hopefully) sometime before the end of October, I'll be at 145.

This has really made my day, and it makes the aches worth it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Wii Revive

I am now a very pleased member of the Wii Nation. I went out and got a Nintendo Wii console Saturday - not intentionally, mind you. I was looking at something else at yon Best Buy in Delafield, and made a comment to one of the blue-shirted gentlemen that I'd been anticipating Nintendo releasing a few more Wii consoles to stores, but was under the impression they wouldn't be in stock for some time. He then said the words that would dent my credit card: "Oh, but we do have some. Right here," as he points one out and I pick it up and carry it on out the door.

I've gone out and gotten the old-school controller, and the LAN adapter (so I can go online - no, I'm NOT blogging this using that stupid keyboard), and today I went out and got the Wii points card at Wallyworld so I could get the 'net browser and classic Ice Hockey for the virtual console. I'm not sure if I want to get a GameCube controller, because I'm not sure I'm going to be so gung-ho for games like that in the near future. I am, however, getting into the Wii Sports and the baseball game - the "Home Run Derby" is definitely my game.

I also dropped serious change on another product today: a new bike. My old one was giving me fits, mostly due to it being slightly out of alignment (or so I perceived). I was intent on finishing the length of the Lake Country Recreational Trail today, so I rode my old Wal-Mart special mountain-style bike from the Delafield side back East. I had issues at the hilly part just beyond WIS 83, so I wandered back. When I did, I realized the Lake Country Trail went right past the Wheel & Sprocket store on County C in downtown Delafield. I stopped in, had the gentleman look at my bike... and fell in love with this bike by Giant Bicycle called the Revive. It's not quite a recumbent bike, and it's not quite a recreational bike; it's what's termed a "hybrid" bike. It has an upright, adjustable seat, adjustable handlebars, and a luggage rack. Very cool, and very usable. It helped that it was a "closeout" model, which means the W&S guys were selling it for half the MSRP of $700.

I'll have to report back after using both of these things for a while. I'm sure I'll be using the Wii a bit more, now that it's September.