Monthly Archives: March 2015

A poem for Larry Sanders

Good afternoon folks. Well today as I was browing through twitter dot com, I saw the following tweet from Jon Bois:

Intrigued, I clicked the link. If you’re unsure as to why I was intrigued, that means you don’t read Jon Bois on SB Nation and you don’t follow Jon on Twitter, which in turn means every choice you’ve made in your life up until this moment has been an incorrect one, and I demand you stop reading this and immediately read the following three things instead, written by Jon:

1) Breaking Madden, a series in which Jon puts the Madden video game through a whole mess of hilarious nonsense, featuring the exploits of Touchdown Tom Brady, BEEFTANK, and a host of other real and fictional football players.

2) The Tim Tebow Chronicles: A Three Million Yard Football Odyssey, a story in six parts about Tim’s adventures in the CFL.

3) NBA Y2K, which is basically an NBA themed clone of the Breaking Madden series, and the impetus of this post.

Anyway. If you click the link in Jon’s tweet (you don’t have to if you don’t want, but you should if you do want to), you’ll see that he’s asking for folks to send him “a poem about an NBA player that has disappointed you.” I chose Larry Sanders, and chose to craft my poem in the style of a Shakesperean sonnet, complete with the rhyming scheme and Iambic pentameter therein prescribed. I hope that you like it.

For Milwaukee did Larry Sanders play,
Nigh seven foot, possessed of lanky arms.
Beloved was he, and made he Bucks fans gay,
Though unto men at nightclubs he caused harm.
But oh! He chose to leave the old hard wood
behind, his mind was in another place,
And never shall the Blocktopus make good
on his contract, nor will he LeBron face.
Now doth he tary and ne’er to return,
Maybe smokin’ doobies, but maybe not.
With untold millions that he did not earn
goes he now, and prepares his Pockets-Hot.
    Methinks we shall not see his face again,
    but hope do I he gains a mind more sane.

First enjoy the ride, then MEET THE WILDCATS

CA0vQbGWgAAOrWLBefore we dive into Wisconsin’s next opponent, who we certainly hope is the first of two consecutive Wildcats, let’s just take a moment to step back and really enjoy what’s happening right now. Are you ready? 3, 2, 1…

Wow.

The Badgers are back in the Elite 8 for the second consecutive year, a feat never before accomplished by Wisconsin since the tournament’s expansion to 64 teams in 1985. Prior to last year, they hadn’t gotten this far since 2005. So, win or lose on Saturday, this has been incredible, and I want you to enjoy it. Because this is sports, and sports is supposed to be fun. Of course we want more, but let’s not forget to enjoy the ride.

Obviously, this is by far the most talented Badgers roster in the expansion era. But more than that…this team is fun. You love them. I love them. Frank, Sam, Nigel…they’re not only bright stars and locks to be first round picks (but maybe, just maybe, not until 2016, in the case of Sam and Nigel), they’re characters. Just, just LOOK at this:

Are you kidding me Nigel? This is the 100% most endearing moment in sports history (no that is not hyperbole). Nigel is just like us! He thinks girls are pretty too! He accidentally tells an entire room and, subsequently, the entire nation about it too! He has to bury his face in his hands in embarrassment too! I LOVE you Nigel. Never, ever change. How about Sam and Frank, you following them on Twitter? How about the rest of the team? WHY THE HECK NOT!?

I think it’s good to be reminded that these guys are just kids. They’re 19, 20, 21 years old, and they are out there on the big stage, and rather than letting the pressure crush them, they’re out there having the time of their lives. I love this team, so much. Thank you, the 2015 Wisconsin Badgers Men’s Basketball team.

Now then, on with it.

#2 Arizona Wildcats62627
34-3 (16-2, 1st in Pac-12)

How did they get here?
Arizona blew through their half of the West bracket with relative ease, cruising past #15 Texas Southern and #10 Ohio St. with 21 and 15 point wins, respectively. Xavier gave them a bit of a scare, keeping up with the ‘Cats in what was a one possession game throughout until about two minutes left, when Arizona pulled away slightly for an eight point win.

Arizona earned the automatic bid from the Pac-12 as a result of winning their conference tournament, which was of course a mere formality. The Wildcats were a top-10 team throughout the season. None of the three teams that beat them this season had winning conference records, so they are obviously very bad and vastly overrated.

Who is their best player?
Freshman forward Stanley Johnson is the guy whose name is on the marquee. But Arizona is very similar to Wisconsin and Kentucky in that their entire starting five is strong. T.J. McConnell is very good at basketball. Brandon Ashley is very good at basketball. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is very good at basketball. Kaleb Tarczewski is very good at basketball. No one in their starting lineup averages less than nine points per game. Additionally, none of them are as good at basketball as Frank Kaminsky III.

Can the Wildcats beat Wisconsin?
Yeah, sure they could. But they just better not.

Just exactly WHAT is happening in that picture up there, Trav?
Oh, I’ll feed you, baby birds. That photo was taken during the 2006 marriage renewal of vows ceremony undertaken by U of A’s mascots, Wilbur and Wilma. They were first married in 1986, just eight months after they met at Wilma’s debut — you don’t usually expect a marriage that is rushed like that to work out, but damn it if they aren’t still going strong 28 years later. Wilbur mainly handles men’s basketball and football, and is normally found wearing the uniform of whichever sport he is actively supporting. Wilma’s main focuses are women’s basketball and volleyball, but she pretty much only wears her cheerleading outfit, because Arizona is filled with old white men who remain unaware that some women like and participate in sports.

What is the best case scenario?
A repeat of last year’s Elite Eight meeting between these two schools when the seeds were flipped, a back-and-forth thriller that the Badgers won in overtime. That game too was in California, though in that case the home-court advantage held by Arizona was actually fair, given the seeding. Kaminsky put up 28 and 11 in the Badgers’ 64-63 OT win last year, but the Badgers will need to have great games from all their stars; both of these teams are improved over last year.

What is the worst case scenario?
Up two with 4.9 remaining in the game, Kaminsky steps to the line to shoot two and seal the game. Both shots miss, with the second agonizingly circling the rim twice before falling off. McConnell grabs the rebound and outlets to Johnson, who darts past half court and sinks a 35-foot prayer with Gasser’s hand down his throat. Wisconsin sports fans are left picking up the pieces as certain victory is replaced with agonizing defeat for the third time in 12 months.

MEET THE TAR HEELS

North Carolina Central v North Carolina

Hey don’t cry, little buddy. The Sweet 16 is still pretty great.

#4 North Carolina Tar Heels
26-11 (11-7, 5th in ACC)

How did they get here?
North Carolina survived a massive scare from Ivy League darling #13 Harvard in the opening round, 67-65. The Tar Heels blew a 16-point second half lead in that game, as the Crimson missed a pretty good look as time expired that would have A) given them the one point win and B) been really awesome. They played a back-and-forth game with Arkansas for most of the way on Saturday until pulling away with about 10 minutes to play.

UNC received an at-large bid to the tournament after being bounced from the ACC tournament by eventual champion Notre Dame, 90-82.

Who is their best player?
Junior guard Marcus Paige forms one half of a talented UNC backcourt along with Menomonee Falls’ own J.P. Tokoto, also a junior. Paige was on the preseason Wooden Award watch list, but missed the mid-season cut when he got worse at pretty much everything after a breakout sophomore season. He still leads the Tar Heels in every major category other than rebounds and field goal percentage, so he hasn’t been disappointing enough to not be the team’s best player, which I suppose is all the more disappointing for Tar Heels fans. But who cares about them, most of them think N*Sync was better than the Backstreet Boys and that yellow is the best flavor of Starbursts.

Can the Tar Heels beat Wisconsin?
Probably not. The Tar Heels are big, and score a lot of points from the free throw line: they rank 26th in Division I in free throw attempts (21.5 per game). Unfortunately for UNC, Wisconsin doesn’t really ever foul anyone: their 10.9 FT attempts allowed per game is so much better than the rest of Division I that the difference between the Badgers and 2nd place San Diego St. is equal to the difference between 2nd and 19th place on that list. That’s bonkers.

The Tar Heels also won’t be able to use their size to bully the Badgers as they have done to smaller teams throughout the year, which is especially true now that starting center Kennedy Meeks is likely to miss Thursday’s game after an injury sustained against Arkansas. UNC can’t shoot threes and the Badgers don’t turn the ball over or foul, so if they get behind, the Tar Heels will basically just be praying Wisconsin goes cold.

Just what the heck is a Tar Heel anyway, huh?
“Tar Heel” is a nickname given to the state of North Carolina and it’s inhabitants that originated around the time of the Civil War. It was originally meant as a pejorative term, but North Carolinians co-opted the term and made it a source of pride, not unlike the way Packers fans hijacked “cheesehead” for their own.

Why are folks from North Carolina called Tar Heels? Well they’ve got a whole mess of tar-producing pine trees in North Carolina, that might be it. Or it might refer to any of a number of stories of legend concerning North Carolina’s involvement in the Civil War. Nobody is really sure and who cares anyway, it’s a stupid nickname and why the heck is their mascot a ram? A ram doesn’t even have any dang heels you jabronis.

What is the best case scenario?
The Badgers clog up the inside in the absence of Meeks and force the Tar Heels to bomb away from outside, where they rank 316th in the nation with 4.6 three point field goals made per game. Wisconsin builds a house with the bricks the Tar Heels lay all night, which they subsequently donate to a needy family living in the poorer part of Los Angeles. Traevon Jackson returns and plays 17 useful minutes, mostly in garbage time as the Badgers mop up a 17 point win.

What is the worst case scenario?
The Badgers three losses this year have come in rather fluky scenarios: Duke shot 65% and 58% from the 3-point line, in their win; Rutgers caught them without Kaminsky and Jackson, who sustained the foot injury that has kept him out for the past two months in that game; and Maryland rode a ridiculous performance from Dez Wells to wins. In this week’s episode, the Badgers follow the same plan as above, but instead of having a nice laugh at Paige doinking threes off the back of the rim, Wisconsin is shocked as UNC makes it rain, shoots over 50% from beyond the arc, and shoots the Badgers out of the tournament. Sam Dekker declares for the draft, and Nigel Hayes joins him.

MEET THE DUCKS

#8 Oregon Ducks brought to you by NikeTMducks
26-9 (13-5, 3rd in Pac-12)

How did they get here?
Oregon out-shot #9 Oklahoma State on Thursday to earn a 79-73 win. They received an at-large bid after being turned into foie gras by Arizona in the Pac-12 title game, 80-52. Oregon was 0-3 against the Wildcats this season and lost those games by an average of 27 points, so that’s pretty funny. They have won 12 of their last 14 games, including a pair of wins over Utah.

Who is their best player?
Senior guard Joseph Young was the Pac-12 Player of the Year, and while that was the subject of some debate, he still most likely the Ducks’ best player. He played all 40 minutes in the Ducks’ opening round win, scoring 27 points including a 15-3 run he went on by himself to end the first half, because teammates are for turbo-nerds. He has missed one free throw this month.

Can the Ducks beat Wisconsin?
Probably not. The Ducks have only two rotation players taller than 6’6″, which is going to be a huge problem, because they’ll have to figure out a way to stop 7’0″ Frank Kaminsky, and The Tank will have at least three inches on anyone that tries to check him. The only team Oregon has faced this year with a talent level that compares to WIsconsin is Arizona, and we covered the results of those games previously.

Is that Donald Freaking Duck?
Yup it sure is. Oregon has had a handshake agreement with Disney since the 1940s to use the exuberant little water foul as their mascot. The reason they did this is because Oregon is filled with very weird people that don’t know how to develop a brand very well, and when they tried to make up their own mascot they came up with this:

1551561

What is the best case scenario?
The Badgers don’t allow Joe Young to get any kind of rhythm going and Kaminsky continues to avoid foul trouble and dominates the game as Wisconsin opens up a sizable lead early that never drops  below double digits after halftime.

What is the worst case scenario?
The Badgers’ shots won’t fall and Young goes off for 40 in a performance that mirrors the game Maryland’s Dez Wells dropped on the Badgers in one of their three losses. Disaster strikes as the Badgers’ dream season ends in Omaha when Keonig’s game-tying three bounces off the back of the rim. Sam Dekker elects to forgo his senior season and enters the NBA draft.

MEET THE CHANTICLEERS

chauncey2

Paint me like one of your French Girls

#16 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
24-9 (12-6, 3rd in Big South)

How did they get here?
Coastal won the Big South tournament as a three seed. Nobody in the Big South is very good, so who cares anyway. A couple of years ago everyone got all excited about Winthrop but they only won one dang game as an #11 seed and it was and still is the only time the Big South ever won a game in the tournament, unless you count the First Four which I definitely do not.

Who is their best player?
Senior guard Warren Gillis leads the Chanticleers in points and assists and is second in minutes per game, so I guess he’s probably their best player. If you want to keep an eye out for him, he’s #0, which coincidentally is the percentage chance that CCU will win this game.

Can the Chanticleers beat Wisconsin?
No.

What the heck is a Chanticleer anyway?
It’s a god danged rooster.

What is the best case scenario?
The Badgers stretch out a 30 point lead at half time and Zac Showalter gets to play some significant minutes in the second half because dang it, he’s earned it. The lead becomes so insurmountable that Bo lets Trae Jackson have a couple minutes even though they said he wasn’t going to play, and he looks good to go.

What is the worst case scenario?
The Badgers have another day where they only play well in the second half, and Coastal takes a small lead into the locker room, like they did last year against Virginia. The Badgers get it together in the second half and only win by 20.

Fun Bracket Facts with Travis

Hey there loyal friends of Bucky’s Beer Cheese Co., guess what time it is, that’s right it’s March Madness time. It’s time once again to watch in awe as the world’s greatest basketball-playing indentured servants perform on the big stage for our delight and amusement while very old white men make a lot of money. “Well when you put it like that it kind of puts a damper on our enjoyment of the tournament, Travis” well it should, folks aren’t being treated fairly and not all of these guys are going to go to the NBA, so we just have to keep it in mind while we drink a lot of beers and watch basketball games. Thinking about how bad a problem is is the 2015 version of helping to fix a problem.

Anyway that’s out of the way, so we just better get down to business. “Well you know Travis, I haven’t watched a lot of NCAA basketball this year, I just don’t know much about the players and teams, how can I hope to compete in this year’s office bracket pool?” Well don’t you worry about that, I’m here to help with some #BracketFacts that will help you to beat “Susan in Accounting who only picks based on Mascots” [1]. And who knows? We might just have a few laughs along the way. Everything that follows is 100% true and nothing is made up by me at all.

MIDWESTselena-taylor-at-a-football-game-4

  • Many Badgers fans were relieved when Wisconsin received a #1 seed and avoided being stuck in undefeated Kentucky’s Midwest bracket. I remain disappointed however, as I was hoping the Badgers might be able to avoid Kentucky’s whole half of the bracket, or even avoid their tournament entirely. Unfortunately the Badgers were not invited to the NIT, which would likely have been a much more winnable tournament for them.
  • Because they were selected into #1 Kentucky’s bracket, many of the teams in the Midwest seeded five or lower have chosen not to participate in the tournament this year, opting instead to plan a vacation together to Six Flags over Texas. Curiously, the #11 Texas Longhorns still plan make the trip up to Pittsburgh for their opening round game, where they will face #6 Butler’s co-ed intramural basketball champions.
  • Because the tournament starts on St. Patrick’s Day, #3 Notre Dame is expected to benefit from a significant supernatural boost which should help them easily reach the second weekend. Also working in Notre Dame’s favor is the support of Taylor Swift, official singer-songwriter of Bucky’s Beer Cheese Co., whose brother Austin attends school there as a junior. The support of Taylor and St. Patrick is expected to help the Fighting Irish force Kentucky to use their starters for at least the entire first half in order to maintain a double digit scoring margin.

Who will win the Midwest? Despite the aid of two deities, the Irish will not be able to overcome the Kentucky Wildcats, who will have all five of the best basketball players in the building in almost every game they play.

Upset Special: The #2 Kansas Jayhawks have been ducking them for years, but they won’t be able to avoid the #7 Wichita St. Shockers should both teams advance to the second round (only #15 Texas Southern and Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers stand in the way, so no worries there, folks). I expect the criminally under-seeded Shockers to pull off the mild upset over their in-state rivals and crown themselves the kings of the most homophobic state of all time.

1740491EAST

  • It is commonly known that a 16 seed has never defeated a 1 seed. One reason for this is that top seeded teams are often very good at basketball and have a lot of future NBA players on their rosters, while 16 seeds are usually not very good at all. Could this be the year that a #1 finally falls? No, Villanova seems like they are pretty good and no one has heard of the #16 Lafayette Leopards.
  • If you didn’t catch the America East tournament final on Saturday morning, you missed the best game of Championship Week: #14 Albany drilled a desperation three off of a tipped rebound with 1.6 seconds remaining to give the Great Danes their first lead of the half and the victory over Stony Brook, who had led by seven with less than two minutes to play. That’s not enough for you? Try this on for size: the game winner was the only three pointer the Great Danes made all day (they went 1-10), and the kid who sank it, Junior Peter Hooley, missed eight games in January and February to be with his mother, who passed away from cancer in Australia. March is magic, y’all.
  • One fun fact about this bracket is that there will not be any upsets at all, and all the higher seeded teams will win all the games. The NCAA has set the East bracket up as it’s control group as it monitors several experiments going on in the Midwest, West and South.

Who will win the East? The #2 Virginia Cavaliers will win the East. This is not considered an upset because I am the writer and I get to make up the rules whenever I want.

Upset Special: Unfortunately there will be no upsets in the East bracket.

Sam Dekker, LaQuinton Ross, Shannon ScottWEST

  • Lots of folks have pointed out that our #1 Wisconsin Badgers are set up for a FInal Four rematch with Kentucky, should the Badgers manage to get that far. Those folks have also pointed out that three of the four teams the Badgers beat on their Final Four run are all back in Wisconsin’s region: a rematch with #8 Oregon is possible in round two, and either #2 Arizona or #3 Baylor will most likely be waiting for them in the Elite Eight. One thing no one is talking about? The long-standing rivalry between the Badgers and their first round opponent, #16 Coastal Carolina, which dates back to 1991. Throw out the records when these teams meet: both of their previous meetings were decided by less than 40 points.
  • One intriguing match-up in the first round is between #4 North Carolina, currently in the midst of an academic fraud scandal that has mysteriously (read: not at all mysteriously) resulted in no sanctions against its high profile basketball team, and #13 Harvard, a school that angers the NCAA brass by attempting to care more about education than sport. The difference in skill level on the basketball court is nearly as large as the gap in the educations the basketball players at these institutions receive, so unfortunately the Tar Heels will win by a lot of points.
  • Y’all remember Kevin Ware, the former Louisville guard who decided that his tibia would better serve him if it were outside of his body in a 2013 Elite Eight game vs. Duke? Well he’s back, this time with #14 Georgia State (coincidentally, his coach suffered a torn Achilles during the celebration of the team’s Sun Belt tournament final win). If you’re interested in seeing him in action, I hope that you are free during the Panthers’ game against #3 Baylor, because their team is not very good and they will definitely not win.

Who will win the West? Get ultimately real the Wisconsin Badgers are going to beat all the teams by 30 points, including the teams they do not play.

Upset Special: The #11 BYU Cougars should dispatch #11 Ole Miss easily in their First Four game, then will defeat #6 Xavier as well in a match-up of Christian traditions whose ideologies seems strange and hypocritical to outsiders. Hooray!

NCAA Basketball: Preseason-Livingstone at DukeEAST

  • If you root for Duke that is okay, because everyone is entitled to do whatever they want, so what, but you should understand that everyone around you and everyone that you know thinks that you are a bad person, and also you will probably get stung by a wasp this summer, and you are the reason that Brussels sprouts taste like that.
  • Some people were very upset that #11 UCLA not only received a tournament bid, but avoided the First Four entirely. A lot of folks are supposing that the NCAA did this because UCLA has a lot more fans and will draw a much larger TV audience for their first round game in which they will lose by a whole bunch of points to #6 Southern Methodist. The real reason UCLA earned the bid is because the tournament committee consulted Susan from Accounting, and together they agreed that a Bruin would totally beat up Colorado St.’s Rams and Temple’s Owls, probably at the same time if they wanted. It should also be noted that #14 Alabama Birmingham’s nickname is the Blazers, which is represented by fire-breathing dragon — they should be Susan’s pick this year
  • A person I know attended #3 Iowa State, so I hope that they will emerge from this bracket, but they will not.

Who will win the East? Even though no one will like it, Duke will win the East. Everyone who has a conscious will be sad about it, but sometimes we all have to suffer through adversity, for without pain there can be no pleasure.

Upset Special: I would like to see the #13 Eastern Washington Eagles beat #4 Georgetown, mostly because of this article from SB Nation. I think they will be able to do it because the Hoyas are not very good and they will probably lose. I also think #12 Stephen F. Austin can knock off #5 Utah, resulting in TOTAL BRACKET COLLAPSE which is my very favorite thing.

WHO WILL WIN THE WHOLE DANG THING?

Well there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there? I can’t give away all the secrets, or you’ll all just tie me when I have a perfect bracket. If you want to find out who I think will win all the games, you’ll just have to join the official Bracket Challenge of Bucky’s Beer Cheese Co., which you can do here. You are allowed to join this group up to two times. You can also see how you stack up against Susan from Accounting, who has entered the contest herself. If you are the winner, you will win a Carlos Gomez Gold Glove bobble head! Wow that sure is a good deal. If you are dead last, you will be forced to spend an entire Saturday evening hanging out with me and doing things that I think are fun. Sucks to be you!

Footnotes:

1. This joke courtesy of every person who has ever talked about an NCAA tournament office bracket pool ever. If Susan doesn’t know squat about basketball, how the hell does she know what Coastal Carolina’s mascot is!?! Susan is a ringer trying to act like she’s clueless. I’m fucking on to you, Susan. “I just think a Wildcat would beat all those other mascots, that’s why I picked Kentucky” bullshit Susan, a Mountaineer would kill a Wildcat every time, they do that shit every day and you know it Susan, you know all about Willie Cauley-Stein.[back]

The Belt-O-Meter: Three Brewers Breakout Candidates

If you’re a fantasy baseball player or a fan of the San Francisco Giants (and why the hell wouldn’t you be? they win constantly), you may have noticed something strange over the past five years concerning a certain alliterative first baseman. To wit:

2011

Rant Sports: “Who Will Be The [sic] MLB’s 2011 Breakout Rookie?” (March 31, 2011)

2012

The Press Democrat: “Giants Breakout Pick for 2012: Brandon Belt”  (April 5, 2012)
Baseball Prospectus: “14 Choices for 2012 Breakout Players” (February 29, 2012)
SB Nation: “Predicting Breakouts With Spring Training” (March 29, 2012)

2013

CBS Sacramento: “Giants’ Brandon Belt Seems Primed for Breakout Season” (March 27, 2013)
SB Nation: “2013 Power Breakout Candidates” (March 30, 2013)
Sports Illustrated: “Reading Into Spring Training Statistics: Expect Big Things from Belt, Moustakas” (March 29, 2013)
Bleacher Report: “San Francisco Giants: Brandon Belt Poised for a Breakout 2013 Season” (November 16, 2012)

2014

Sporting News: “Highlight These 1B Breakouts in Your 2014 Fantasy Baseball Rankings” (February 24, 2014)
Fangraphs: “Is Brandon Belt Due For a Breakout?” (April 1, 2014)
SF Giants Rumors: “Brandon Belt Will Have a Breakout Season, and This is Why” (January 20, 2014)
The Baseball Haven: “2014 Breakout Candidates” (December 28, 2013)
ESPN: “Brandon Belt: Batting Title Contender?” (March 10, 2014)
Fansided: “San Francisco Giants: Who’s Poised for Breakout Year?” (February 6, 2014)

2015

SF Gate: “Shea: Belt Hopes to Provide Healthy Dose of Power” (February 7, 2015)
San Francisco Chronicle: “Belt is Preparing for Breakout 2015” (February 27, 2015)
Fansided: “Brandon Belt Should Enjoy Breakout Season in 2015” (February 11, 2015)
Fantasy Sports Locker Room: “The Price is Right: The Brandon Belt Breakout is Upon Us in 2015” (February 24, 2015)
ESPN: “Is Brandon Belt Ready to Bust Out in 2015?” (March 7, 2015)
Bloguin: “Ten Players Ready to Make The Leap in 2015” (February 27, 2015)

BRANDON BELT IS ETERNALLY BREAKING OUT. The 2015 list will grow as we move closer to Opening Day — A Google search for “Brandon Belt breakout” returns 188,000 results. The twitter dot com search for “Brandon Belt breakout” is pretty fun as well. In honor of the crowned king of the Breakout Year, I’ll be rating this year’s breakout candidates for the Brewers on my brand new Belt-O-Meter™ of Breakout Year potential (scale: 0-5 Belts).

4f177a49_mlbam1. Jimmy Nelson, SP

Nelson had been penciled in as the Brewers’ swingman and first man up in the event of an injury to one of the starting pitchers for 2015 until the February trade of Yovani Gallardo to the Rangers thrust him into the Opening Day rotation. The whiplash-inducing struggles of Marco Estrada, who was also traded in the off-season, in 2014 led to a lot of Brewers fans clamoring for Nelson to be promoted early last year, and the Brewers eventually obliged, though Nelson generally failed to impress after dominating at AAA Nashville. However, Nelson has generally taken about a year to get acclimated to a new level throughout his professional career. Nelson was basically unhittable with the Sounds, being named the PCL Pitcher of the Year despite making only 16 starts. The Brewers’ rotation is incredibly thin, especially when considering Matt Garza’s annual trip to the DL — they’re counting on Nelson making a impact in 2015.

Belt-O-Meter:
belt  belt  belt  belt

47033146_mlbam2. Wily Peralta, SP

Peralta is neck-and-neck with Ryan Braun for Most Important Brewer as far as the Crew’s 2015 fortunes are concerned. While the focus on Braun will be on whether he can finally return to MVP form with a supposedly healthy thumb, the Brewers are basically asking Wily to flash signs that he’ll be able to bust out of the scouts’ consensus that he has a ceiling as a No. 3 pitcher. The Brewers lack a true ace, and most consider the year Wily had last year, when he posted a 17-11 record with a 3.53 ERA, to be pretty close to as good at the 25-year-old right hander is going to get. The Brewers have some potential high-end pitching talent working in the lower levels of their system, but their AAA team is staffed mostly by minor-league lifers and future relievers. To compete in the next couple of years, the Brewers are going to need Peralta to make another leap to something close to a franchise pitcher. Is that realistic, or have we already seen Wily’s ceiling?

Belt-O-Meter:
belt  belt

ph_6083493. Corey Knebel, RP

Knebel, who came over as part of the package the Brewers received for Gallardo, will most likely start the season at AAA Colorado Springs following the acquisition of Francisco Rodriguez (barf) and the steadily improving health of Tyler Thornburg and Jim Henderson. That should in no way be an indictment against his talent, however, as there’s a very good possibility the 23-year-old is the best reliever in the organization right now, according to @D_J_Harvey at Brew Crew Ball. Knebel projects as a potential high-end closer, and he’ll likely be one of the first injury replacement call-ups this year if he doesn’t break camp with the big league club. BBC Co. endorses the idea that Knebel will negate the need to pick up K-Rod’s option in 2017, thus releasing Milwaukee from it’s six-year fever dream.

Belt-O-Meter:
beltbeltbeltbelt

Meet Your 2015 Brewers- A BBC Co. Exclusive

Well, well, well. Look what we have here. That’s right it’s me, Travis, and guess what? I’ve got it. I can’t tell you how but I have acquired a document that outlines definitively who will make the Milwaukee Brewers 2015 Opening Day roster and starting lineup and well, against my better judgment I am going to share it with you. That’s right, here today, just five games into the Cactus League schedule, I am here to share with you what the Brewers will look like when they take on the Colorado Rockies at 1:10 pm on April 6th.

STARTING LINEUP
CF Carlos Gomez
C Jonathan Lucroy
RF Ryan Braun
3B Aramis Ramirez
1B Adam Lind
LF Khris Davis
SS Jean Segura
2B Hector Gomez
P Kyle Lohse

-Gomez is the obvious choice for the lead-off spot, despite the fire takes of jabronis with 24 Twitter dot com followers who don’t understand how baseball works:

I legitimately saw tweets like this in response to the Brewers posted lineups every single day Gomez was in the lead-off spot where he belongs. SMH
-Braun, the Brewers’ lone representative on the 2015 BSOHL team, reclaims the three hole for now, until his no-longer-filled-with-steroids body breaks down again and he spends all of June on the DL.
-Scooter is relegated to backup duty, as the Rockies’ most likely opening day starter is lefty Jorge De La Rosa. Runnin’ Ron has insisted he means to give Scooter and fellow lefty Adam Lind a shot to play everyday, despite the fact that neither has ever hit against lefties ever, at any level of their professional careers. Adam Lind will get the start anyway because he’s the Brewers’ big off-season acquisition and this is Opening Day, but Scooter owns a career OPS of .291 against LHP. TWO NINETY ONE. Scooter will remain the business end of the platoon at the keystone.
-Kyle Lohse will start on Opening Day for the first time since 2012, when he took the ball for the Cardinals following an injury to Chris Carpenter (I am currently checking to see if I have won the prize for being the 1,000,000th person to type the phrase “injury to Chris Carpenter). Some people think Wily Peralta should start on Opening Day. Some people are also idiots.

BENCH
OF Gerado Parra
C Martin Maldonado
1B/3B Luis Jimenez
2B Scooter Gennett
OF Shane Peterson

-Hector Gomez will be the backup at SS and 2B, but as mentioned previously will get the start on Opening Day
-I foresee Parra forcing his way into something close to a 50/50 split with Khris Davis in LF during the rare instances he’s not starting in right due to a Braun injury.

STARTING ROTATION
SP Kyle Lohse
SP Matt Garza
SP Wily Peralta
SP Mike Fiers
SP Jimmy Nelson

-This starting rotation isn’t very good. Sorry about that.
-There’s nothing anyone can do about it and the Brewers are probably going to lose some games because of it.
-The Brewers have said they will be stretching Tyler Thornburg out to provide depth for a suddenly paper-thin starting pitcher stable. IMO he’s more valuable as a reliever, but we shall see.

BULLPEN
CL Jonathan Broxton
RP Francisco Rodriguez
RP Will Smith
RP Neal Cotts
RP Jeremy Jeffress
RP Brandon Kintzler
RP Tyler Thornburg

-This is probably the position the Brewers are deepest at. Newcomers Corey Knebel, Chris Perez and Dontrelle Willis (lol) provide valuable depth, and erstwhile closer Jim Henderson, who appears on track to potentially be healthy for Opening Day, may find there’s not even a spot available for him.
-K-Rod is not listed as the closer because I hate him.

#SeeUApril6

The Only 50 Shades of Grey Recap You Need

God bless you, Derek, you wonderful bastard. Stay tuned for the review of 50 Shades Darker, coming soon.