Monthly Archives: January 2015

Travis’s Mailbag #1

Well hello there, folks. Guess what it’s a new feature of Bucky’s Beer Cheese Co. (that is the name of my blog but don’t worry it doesn’t matter), it’s Travis’s Mailbag. This new feature will appear pretty much every time I think it’s time to do one. It includes real questions from actual readers people I know. Some of the questions are about sports, some are not. I hope you like it. If you don’t, please send all complaints to a therapist, they’re awesome at listening.

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That analogy was in no way a thinly vieledexcuse to use a picture of JLaw.

What difference in performance will we see this weekend in the Green Bay offense against Seattle with three key scratches (Davante Adams, Bryan Bulaga and Eddie Lacy) from week one that are now available and playing well?

-Ian F., Kenosha, WI

Comparing the Packers offense in week one of 2014 to the Packers offense in, say, November, when the Packers averaged 39.5 points per game, is like comparing the attractiveness of pre-pixie cut1 Jennifer Lawrence to the burned side of Harvey Dent’s face. Sure, you can do it, but you shouldn’t, because you’ll only wear yourself out and honestly it’s irresponsible.

Green Bay’s offensive line in week one featured Derrick Sherrod, who might represent Ted Thompson’s greatest draft failure of his ten year run as the Packers GM, starting for the injured Bulaga; and Corey Linsley, a fourth round draft pick pressed into a starting role due to JC Tretter’s injury. The Packers were abused by Seattle’s defensive line; Sherrod posted a PFF grade of -6.4 for the game (an explanation of their grading process is here, but -6.4 was the lowest of the game, and among the lowest in the league that week) while being exposed repeatedly in pass protection by Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Linsley was also ineffective, which you might expect from a rookie playing his first meaningful snaps against the defending Super Bowl champions in the most hostile environment in the NFL.

Now, the Packers have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, with Bulaga now healthy and Linsley, with a season’s worth of experience under his very large belt, playing like one of the top centers in the league. They also have a couple more weapons in the passing game with the emergence of Adams and Richard Rodgers, and of course they have Lacy, who looked like a Trent Richardson starter kit over the first several weeks of the season but has emerged now as one of the NFL’s premier running backs.

All of this leads us here: were Aaron Rodgers healthy, there’s nothing about the Seahawks that really scares me, and I would expect a comfortable win for Green Bay. But he’s not, and the loss of his mobility is something the Packers will miss even more against Seattle’s dangerous defensive line. Rodgers will have to be much closer to 100% than he was last Sunday for the Packers to have a legitimate chance to advance past Seattle. I don’t know if they can do it THE PACKERS ARE GOING TO WIN BY 600 POINTS.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

-Megan L. (@megan_leonard), Lake Geneva, WI

First of all, we need to define some of our terms here. The woodchuck, more commonly known as the groundhog when not starring in North American tongue twisters, is a rodent that belongs to the family of large ground squirrels known as marmots. Groundhogs, common throughout North America, are excellent swimmers and burrowers in addition to their well-documented revulsion toward their own shadows and lackluster meteorological skills. To chuck, according to Webster’s dictionary, is to toss, throw or discard something.

So how much wood would a groundhog throw, if it could throw wood? When digging it’s burrow, a groundhog moves about 35 cubic feet of dirt. The wood of a sugar maple tree weighs approximately 56 pounds per cubic foot. So a woodchuck would chuck about 1960 pounds of wood, if a woodchuck only could.

Are there hats?

-Brett H. (@bhtherightway), Madison, WI

Unfortunately, there are no hats at the present time.

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Despite a passing resemblance to Number Eight, it is unlikely that Wang is a Cylon.

Will Wei-Chung Wang ever develop into the pitcher the Brewers hope he will?

-Cael K. (@calejames), East Troy, WI

That depends on what sort of pitcher the Brewers hope Wang will be. At the minimum, based on their actions to date, you have to assume that the baseline is “at least the sort of pitcher that justifies torpedoing your own bullpen in a year in which you were in first place for five months as you consistently overused young pitchers in high leverage situations, causing them to burn out in June both physically and mentally, as the team played basically a man down for four months until you were able to find a doctor to lie about a phantom injury long enough to hide him on the disabled list, thus circumventing the spirit of the Rule 5 draft process.”  In that scenario, you’re looking at Wang needing to be a Cylon specifically engineered to be the greatest baseball pitcher of all time, consistently hitting 145-150 mph on the gun and treating the inside corner of the plate like the roof of the Sistine Chapel.

Do I think Wang can be that? Not really. If anything, Cylons would have been engineered to play Pyramid, which is a boring game anyway, and he has yet to exhibit the kind of mechanics that might be able to produce those kind of eye-popping fastball speeds.

Why is purple?

-Rob Z., Waukesha, WI

Oh, we got a wise guy, eh?

What is the greatest boy band of all time?

Stephanie, C., Racine, WI

What is a boy band?

-You need a collection of boys making music (you know, because words mean things)

-No instruments. If I so much as see a guitar string, you’re out (sorry, Hanson)

-If you weren’t managed by Lou Pearlman, that’s not a good sign (if you were managed by Lou Pearlman, that’s not really great either)

-No writing your own music. Are you kidding me? Out of the question. Get real.

Fine, fine, FINE. We know what this comes down to. After the jump:

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The Backstreet Boys are the best boy band of all time. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!! Look, N*Sync was great. The video for “Bye Bye Bye” was iconic, Tearin’ Up My Heart is a dope track, and their Christmas album is as important at holiday gatherings as the the damn cheese and crackers. But we are talking about the Backstreet Boys here. Millennium is one of the greatest albums of all time, and went Platinum 13 times in the United States. THIRTEEN DAMN TIMES! They invented Diamond, a certification better than Platinum3, in Canada because the Backstreet Boys sold too many dang records. “I Want It That Way” belongs in the Library of Congress, and if you sing it in a crowded karaoke bar it will cause all ladies within earshot to fall in love with you4.

In your opinion, why, when Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Bjork worked together, did they not call Byorke or Thom Bjork or anything like that?

-Adam G. (@AmadJames), Milwaukee, WI

First of all, let’s clarify something. Nothing read here is “my opinion”; this collection of molten-hot takes is comprised entirely of verified, indisputable facts4. Now, I don’t know anything about either of these artists. The only thing I know about Radiohead is that they are Scott Tenorman’s favorite band, which means I absolutely want nothing to do with them, because Scott Tenorman sucks. The entire sum of my knowledge of Bjork and her work comes from the following classic Celebrity Jeopardy clip from SNL, which you will now watch before continuing with my mailbag (if you don’t watch it, I’ll know).

Celebrity Jeopardy - 2002-05-18 - Dave Matthews, Bjork, Sean Connery

Anyway, the answer to your question, most likely, is poor management. In the high-stakes business of Icelandic folk rock, it’s important to brand your image correctly, and this was obviously a missed opportunity.

Why isn’t Flint Flossy everyone’s favorite rapper?

-Jesse D., Whitewater, WI

It’s Flynt, Jesse, and he is. Ladies love F dot Floss, Flynt Flo double, Internatioknown, ya feel me. You know better than that. Ol’ McFlossy had a freak so E I E I E I E I OHH.

Who was your favorite obese Brewers bullpen pitcher, and why?

-Cael K. (@calejames), East Troy, WI

This one’s easy: Ray King. My boy was 6’1″ and listed at 225 pounds (yeah…naw), and the hefty lefty (h/t Jared Lorenzen) mowed fools down in his first season with the Crew in 2000. His strong debut and our shared southpaw status made Burger a fan favorite in the Sarandos household.

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The hat I’m talking about. It is real and it definitely exists.

My fun story involving Ray: my dad took me to the MLB Fan Fest when the All-Star game came to Milwaukee in 2001. We hopped in line at the Fox Sports North booth, where Ben Sheets was on hand to tape faux Sports Center-type clips with young fans along with a couple other players and the Brewers TV broadcast team. I had my hat5, signed by both Sheets and Ray King, who was at the time my favorite player. As we made our way through the line, Bill Schroeder asked me if I wanted his autograph as well. I really didn’t, but 14-year-old me had the grace to not shoot the poor guy down, so Rock signed the hat too. I then went on to make my on-screen debut. The almost certain fact that the video of me awkwardly reading a fake sports highlight clip next to Ben Sheets is going to re-surface during my wedding reception remains a constant source of anxiety for me.

What is true about you today that would make your 8-year-old self cry?

-Matt H., Salt Lake City, UT

We never get to marry Mallory Voelker. We don’t even date. However, she does invite us to play four square once in 5th grade. You’ll be shocked to learn that she knows your name, even though there’s only 25 dang kids in your class, and it will be the highlight of your time at Magee Elementary. Other things that may upset you to learn: the Brewers still haven’t won the World Series, they made a The Lion King 2 and it’s just awful, and we’re going back to school at age 27 on purpose.

What is love, and why does Haddaway keep asking that after all these years?

-Stephen J. (@johnsonsd04), Rockford, IL

Love is when her favorite girl from The Bachelor doesn’t get a rose, and she’s crying she’s so upset about it, and you pretend like that’s not absolutely insane. The reverse of this is any woman tolerating our reaction to every sports game ever. Haddaway only keeps asking that question because you keep listening to that song, which is really only acceptable if you’re watching 1990s SNL. Get your life together, son, that’s my advice to you. Start listening to better music. Like Taylor Swift.

Travis’s Mailbag was filmed in front of a live studio audience. Any rebroadcast, re-transmission or account of this mailbag without the express, written consent of the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club is strongly encouraged and appreciated.

1Pixie cuts are awful. “BUT THAT’S SEXIST WOMEN DON’T HAVE TO DO THEIR HAIR THE ‘CORRECT’ WAY JUST TO PLEASE YOU!” No you don’t that’s correct but I don’t have to like what you like. I also don’t like mayonnaise or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Please note: post-pixie cut JLaw is still an absolute smoke show.

2Yes it was.

3I don’t know if Canada invented the Diamond certification specifically for the Backstreet Boys. Probably not.

4This is not true.

5The existence of this hat does not contradict the answer to Brett’s question, in which I state that no hats exist at the current time.

The 1989 Brewers: Milwaukee Baseball According to Taylor

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This is the unedited , real, not altered in MS Paint version of Taylor’s 1989 album cover. She is actually a huge Brewers fan.*

Well you guys, it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve given you anything to read from the mind of Travis Sarandos, and I know you’ve been left wanting. Well I’m here to feed you, baby birds, and we’re going to fill a void in the sports blogging world that has too long been lacking: rabid Brewers baseball fans who are also obsessed with Taylor Swift’s fifth album, 1989. “Well Travis,” you might be thinking, “well, I’m pretty sure there’s only one person who fits that extremely specific set of variables and guess what it’s you.” And I have just one thing to say to you.

Shut up.

That’s right, we’re going to run through 1989‘s track list and find a Brewer to match up with each song. This is groundbreaking sports blog territory IMO. If that sounds like something you’re not sure you want to read then might I suggest completely altering the direction you’ve taken in your miserable life.

1) Welcome to New York – Jimmy Nelson

The lights are so bright, but they never blind me.

After putting up eye popping numbers at AAA Nashville (R.I.P) in the first part of 2014, Nelson was brought up to The Show for good in May to give Marco Estrada some time off to heal from the self-induced whiplash acquired watching a preposterous number of home runs fly over his dumb head. He failed to match the lofty expectations of fans who don’t realize how difficult it is to jump from AAA to MLB, but was effective enough to retain a spot in the rotation for most of the season as the Brewers suffered through a rash of mid-season injuries.

Nelson is currently ticketed for the bullpen in 2015 after Mike Fiers’ sizzling second half (more on that later). That’s not good enough for the Brewers’ former top prospect. With nearly a year’s worth of experience now at the MLB level, the Brewers need Nelson to start realizing his potential as a front line starter.

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We are prepared to forgive you for your past, Allen. No one is perfect.

2) Blank Space -Allen Craig 

‘Cause I got a blank space, and I’ll write your name.

The Brewers acquisition of Adam Lind from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Estrada signaled that, although the team recognized the desperate need to upgrade their production at first base, they had no intention of moving away from the platoon system they installed out of necessity when absolutely every first baseman in the organization broke down during the spring of 2012. Lind mashes right handed pitching, but carries an abyssmal .212/.257/.331 slash line against south paws.

Enter Craig, the erstwhile St. Louis Cardinal who can, in fact, hit against LHP occasionally. The Boston Red Sox are known to be actively shopping Craig, whom they acquired last season as part of the deal that sent John Lackey to the Cardinals. Now, many of you know how I feel about a man with two first names — can’t trust him. But Craig would fit in nicely in the black space in the middle of the Brewers order, and would gladly be accepted into the fold to be rehabilitated after spending years being brainwashed under the Cardinal Way.

3) Style – Carlos Gomez

And when we go crashing down, we come back every time, ‘cuz we never go out of style.

Gomez fills a role that nearly every team has: the guy who is loved dearly by his team’s fans, but everyone else’s fans can’t stand him. He’s like your loud drunk friend: you love him, but everyone else in the bar wants to fire him into the sun out of a cannon. Gomez is an absolute treat to watch as he regularly flings his body to the ground and into walls and other people in an effort to make the extraordinary play. Anyone who hates Gogo can get 100% real.

4) Out of the Woods – Ryan Braun

Are we out of the woods? Are we in the clear yet?

Boy, it’s been a rough couple of years for Ryan, huh? Three years ago, the only real knock anyone had against him was that he had his own line of Affliction t-shirts and he looked like a god dang tool in his Kwik Trip commercial. Since, he’s etched his gigantic-eyed face on the Mount Rushmore of Reviled PED Users right next to Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens, sat out a half season due to suspension, spent several weeks on the disabled list due to a series of troublesome chronic injuries, and struggled to produce at anywhere near even all-star level, let alone the eye-popping stat line that made him the controversial 2011 National League MVP.

So will we ever see anything close to the Ryan Braun of old? After going through an innovative procedure to try to correct the nerve issue plaguing his thumb that has sapped him of his power, Braun became one of the first members of Team #BSOHL for 2015 by announcing that his thumb was “100 percent” for the first time in two years. Whether or not Braun is finally out of the woods with respect to his injured thumb will be one of the biggest factors affecting the Brewers’ success in 2015.

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Why Prince. Why would you do this.

5) All You Had To Do Was Stay – Prince Fielder

Well, could have been easy, all you had to do was stay.

Well, well, well. Look who it is, look what the cat dragged in. After missing just 1 game in the five previous years combined, Fielder played in just 42 games in his debut season with Texas and was largely a disappointment when he was on the field, leading to some frustration from Rangers fans who wonder why their team traded for a 30-year-old under contract for six more years that regularly flirts with 300 lbs. The Brewers, meanwhile, have tried absolutely everything to try to replace Prince’s production since his departure 4 years ago: Corey Hart worked for a year before his body broke down, as did Mat Gamel’s (though he failed to produce at all anyway), they tried a novel approach of “how about a bunch of bad shortstops is our first baseman now” in 2013, then tried to channel 2005 with the Ren-O platoon last year. What I’m trying to say here, clearly, is all you had to do was stay, Prince. We’d have made you a king. And I bet SOMEONE in the Milwaukee locker room would have been a bro and stopped you from doing ESPN’s Body Issue.

6) Shake It Off – Troy Tulowitzki

Just think while you’ve been getting down and out about the liars and the dirty, dirty cheats of the world, you could’ve been getting down to this. sick. beat.

We’ve already re-hashed Braun’s self-inflicted tribulations today, so we won’t beat a dead horse YES WE WILL. The Brewers drafted baseball’s biggest tool with the fifth overall pick in 2005 in what may have been the most loaded draft class of all time. Who was the seventh pick that year well guess what it was Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo’s had issues throughout his career with staying on the field, but when he’s been healthy, he’s provided a corner outfield bat while being among the best defenders in the league at a premium position. It’s impossible to speculate of course, but I can guarantee the Brewers would be 3-time World Series champions had they drafted Tulo over Braun.

7) I Wish You Would – Yovani Gallardo

You always knew how to push my buttons. You give me everything and nothing.

Speaking of Braun, it boggles my mind that Yovani remains a beloved member of the Brewers after putting lives in danger when he was arrested for DUI, but Braun has been blackballed for hurting really nothing except his own reputation. There’s a lot of things we’ll forgive as a sports-loving society: DUI, manslaughter, running a dog fighting ring, domestic violence, gambling addiction, probably murdering someone, etc. But by god if you cheat by giving yourself an unfair advantage while playing a children’s game and then lie to protect yourself, well that we just can’t forgive.

Anyway, Yovani has been a frustrating player over his eight year career, showing flashes of ace-status for a while and then seemingly losing his way for months at a time. We’ll see who shows up in 2015.

8) Bad Blood – St. Louis Cardinals

Did you have to hit me where I’m weak baby I couldn’t breathe and rub it in so deep, salt in the wound like you’re laughing right at me?

The Cardinals are the worst. If the Brewers are Taylor Swift, the Cardinals are John Mayer. My second favorite baseball team in the world is whichever team is playing the dang Cardinals. Rooting for the Arizona Cardinals football team made me viscerally ill last month. I hope all the Cardinals have to go to superhell for 500 years when they die.

9) Wildest Dreams – Jim Henderson

Say you’ll see me again, even if it’s just in your wildest dreams.

The Brewers bullpen put up some incredible numbers over the first two months of 2014, then really fell off a cliff as guys like Will Smith and Tyler Thornburg started to break down from overuse due largely to Jim Henderson prolonged absence and the Brewers’ steadfast refusal to admit the Wei-Chung Wang experiment had been a colossal failure. Henderson wound end up missing the remained of the year after making just 14 disappointing appearances, following a question-filled spring that led to him shockingly ceding the closer role to K-Rod on Opening Day. Not coincidentally, the Brewers slide back to mediocrity followed the same timeline. If Henderson can come back and return to his 2013 form, it should help shore up a thin Brewers bullpen.

10) How You Get The Girl – Gilbert Lara

I want you for worse or for better, I would wait forever and ever

Before last summer, the Brewers had never spent more than $800,000 on an international signing. They nearly tripled that when they spent $3.1 million to sign Lara, No. 4 on MLB.com’s Top 30 international prospects list. It’ll be a long while before the 16-year-old power-hitting shortstop will arrive at the major league level, but he has one of the highest upsides in the Brewers’ improving farm system.

11) This Love – Jean Segura

When you’re young, you just run, but you come back to what you need.

It’s no secret young Jean struggled at the plate, producing at a rate that was troublingly more similar to the second half of his rookie year, rather than the first half that made him an all-star in 2013. So if the bat just isn’t going to be there, Jean is going to have to rely on the two tools he still has in his belt: his glove and his speed. Just run, Jean. Run, and never look back. Well, okay, you can look back. But don’t lose track of where you started. Well, okay, you can lose track of where you started. Just don’t…

…you know what? Never mind. You do you, Jean.

12) I Know Places – Jeremy Jeffress

I know places we won’t be found and they’ll be chasing their tails trying to track us down ’cause I know places we can hide.

Jeffress was once considered the top prospect in Brewers system, but he wore out his welcome when repeated failed drug tests left him one missstep away from a lifetime ban and was traded in a package to the Royals for Yuniesky Betancourt and a pitcher. He was sold to Toronto after a disappointing turn with Kansas City, and the Brewers brought him back the Blue Jays cut him last year. Jeffress shined over the last half of 2014, turning into one of Roenicke’s most dependable relievers. Now safely in MLB where they don’t test for marijuana use, Jeremy is safe from the punishment that threatened to end his career. Go ahead and toke up^, Jeremy, you’ve earned it.

13) Clean – Ron Roenicke

The drought was the very worst, when the flowers that we’d grown together died of thirst. It was months and months of back and forth…

The drought the Brewers went through in the back half of 2014 is one most die-hards won’t soon forget, as we watched a blossoming team whither and die on live TV night after night. And you know, you just never want to be that guy. If you have any sense at all, you don’t want to be the guy that’s screaming for the manager’s head when the team fails to meet expectations. So, I’m not trying to be that guy. I’m really not.

But you have a team that was 19 games over .500 with a 6.5 game lead on the rest of the division on June 28th, and then went 31-48 the rest of the way to not only blow the division but miss the playoffs by a wide margin. You have to figure out what happened and who should be held accountable. And when you take a look at what went wrong for the 2014 Brewers, the answer is, “absolutely dadgum everything.” Over the final three months of the season, the Brewers hit, pitched and fielded like a drinking team with a softball problem. They found new and exciting ways to lose games seemingly twice a week. They made the types of errors that get weeded out when games still end with Capri Suns and orange slices. So maybe Ron Roenicke is a good manager, and maybe the players just let him down. Or maybe how in the world does he still have this job? My god.

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See Taylor is a baseball fan this is not ridiculous at all.

14) Wonderland –  Mike Fiers

We found Wonderland, you and I got lost in it, and we pretended it could last forever. 

Fiers had a dream season in 2014. Pressed into the major league rotation after starting the season in AAA, he recorded a 2.13 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 71.2 innings, and was over the final two months of the season seemingly the only Brewers regular who had any interest in winning baseball games. We’ve seen this act from Fiers before though, when he burst on the scene in 2012 only to fall apart in September as major league hitters got a chance to watch film and adapt to his tendencies, a trend that continued into an injury plagued 2013 season. It’s probably silly to pretend that Fiers can produce at that level going forward, but maybe we’ve found Wonderland.

15) You Are In Love – Jonathan Lucroy

‘Cause you can hear it in the silence, you can feel it on the way home, you can see it with the lights out. you’re in love, true love.

The rest of the league found out what Brewers fans already knew during Lucroy’s breakout season in 2014: that’s he’s one of the best young catchers in baseball. What’s not to love? He led the league in doubles, setting a record for doubles by a catcher along the way, en route to a sparkling .837 OPS which earned him a fourth place finish in MVP voting. We already knew he was capable of this, of course, as Lucroy actually posted a higher OPS and slash line in his 2012 season that was cut short by a totally normal, ordinary everyday sports injury. Lucroy has swiftly filled the “face of the franchise” void vacated by Braun two years ago.

16) New Romantics – Matt Garza

We hang back, it’s all in the timing. It’s poker, he can’t see it in my face but I’m about to play by ace.

Garza’s Brewers career got off the a rough start. After a tough luck loss in his debut in which he allowed just one run on two hits over eight innings, Garza struggled mightily, and his ERA ballooned to nearly 5 at the end of May. He seemed to flip a switch as the calendar turned however, and was the Brewers best pitcher by a wide margin for two months until his yearly injury robbed the Brewers of their ace at the worst possible time. The Brewers will need June and July Matt to show up more often in 2015, and hope that their ace can stay healthy for a majority of the year.

*This is not true. It is assumed Taylor just actively roots against the favorite team of whichever Hollywood hunk she most recently engaged in a public break-up with.

^Bucky’s Beer Cheese Co. does not condone the recreational use of marijuana, which is considered a controlled substance by the state of Wisconsin. Stay in school and don’t do drugs.