Yes. In September 2002, Doug took over as the GM of one of the worst franchises in the league; a team that hadn’t had a winning record in a decade and had just lost over 100 games for the first and only time in team history. In the space of three years, Melvin turned a team that was a league-wide laughingstock into, if not a perennial contender, at least a team that was regularly playing meaningful baseball after the All-Star break. The Brewers have posted winning records in five of the past eight years, a feat accomplished only nine times in 34 years of existence prior to his arrival.
Certainly, there have been questionable moves: signing Jeff Suppan, adding Nelson Cruz and Michael Brantley as throw-ins in larger deals, hiring Ken Macha, everything about Bill Hall. But there are also moves that he took a lot of heat for that made him look like a dang genius: trading James Jerry Hardy for Carlos Gomez (and then extending him), Ryan Braun’s first extension, signing Norichika Aoki (and then dealing him for Will Smith). Doug’s job is secure in Milwaukee. Ron Roenicke, on the other hand, may not make it to the All-Star break.
What’s the best food happy hour on Wednesdays in Milwaukee?
Brad, Milwaukee, WI
Ugly’s Pub on Old World Third.
Tailgating is so fun. How can we make watching baseball more entertaining?
Holly, Madison, WI
I come from a place of already thinking that baseball is fun to watch, but I understand the needs of the masses as well and people, I am here to help. Here are some things you can do to make your time watching the national pastime more engaging:
- If you love tailgating well guess what, the fun doesn’t have to stop once you hit the turnstiles! Many ballparks have food and/or drink available for purchase for $1-$30 dollars per item. Wishing you could toss the old bean bags around inside the stadium? Well you just better not, there’s a lot of people in there and someone might get hurt.
- One thing you can do to really kick up your enjoyment of baseball up a notch is to go back in time to when you are five and leave your family behind and get raised by my dad instead. My dad loves baseball and I bet he could instill the same love in you, if you’d just let him.
- You can try a little bit of friendly wagering with your fellow fans! “Say, chap, I forecast that our local baseball squadron will successfully tally a run in this very inning. What say you to a little bet? I’ve a sixpence that says the old boys will be able to do it.”
- You can pretend that the offensive team knows the baseball is a bomb while the defense has no stinkin’ idea, and then marvel at the fact that those dummies keep running straight toward it while the offense keeps obviously trying to get the dang thing as far away from them as possible. Stand up and yell, “KABOOM!” every time the ball is caught to let everyone know that the center fielder is now ‘dead’, and must be replaced.
Negative seven. As in the Bucks, after the deadline deal that sent Knight to the Suns, finished the season seven games behind the Bucks as constructed prior to the trade: they were 30-23 at the time of the trade and finished the year 11-18, failing to finish above .500 for the fifth consecutive year. In the short term, this trade was disastrous. It made them a worse team on the basketball court, as Knight represented the only legitimate scoring threat on a nightly basis; certainly Giannis and Middleton have their big games, but neither is anything close consistent. It completely disrupted their rhythm and spacing as teams no longer had to worry about a point guard who could shoot; defenses collapsed to the lane and Giannis was unable to find any real estate to work his magic. From a fan goodwill standpoint, it couldn’t have come at a worse time; with a huge push for a new arena underway and the Bucks coming off a 9-1 stretch, the city was absolutely buzzing with excitement about the NBA. Then the trade, the Bucks lost six of seven, MCW looked lost, and the excitement was gone, the Bucks drowned out by the Badgers tournament run and Brewers spring training; it was just more of the same from a team that has won two playoff series since 1989 (both in the same year). Prior to the trade, the Bucks were a major upset threat in the East, but that is likely no longer the case.
That said, the idea that perhaps some of MCW’s shortcomings in Philadelphia might be corrected simply by getting onto a better team with more weapons proved correct. No longer the lone scoring option, Carter-Williams saw significant bumps to his effective shooting percentage as he was able to be more selective with his shots: though his three-point shooting percentage continues to plummet, he cut his attempts to just 1.1 per game (he averaged 3.0 three point attempts with Philly this season). His per-36 assist numbers fell, and if he’s not going to be able to shoot from outside, he’s going to have to provide more scoring chances for his teammates. But going forward, there’s hope that although it shot their exciting 2014-15 season to hell, the trade could provide future dividends.
Is it still acceptable to have Blurred Lines as my ringtone?
Andrew, Madison, WI
The fact that you’re asking me this question mean you already know the answer, Andrew. Do the right thing.
What’s the deal with airplane food?
Nicholas, Milwaukee, WI
There are NO deals on airplane food, no sir. That stuff’s expensive as all get out! But if you’re really hankerin’ for a pre-packaged sandwich on your flight, you better come correct with the plastic, because most airlines no longer accept cash for on-board transactions. Imagine that! Not accepting cold hard cash as a form of legal tender. What is the world coming to? I’ll tell you what, it’s all going to hell in a hand basket. You better just pack up your valuables and head for the hills, because this society is falling apart.
Will you marry my mom so she isn’t ‘illegal’ anymore?
Mellie, Milwaukee, WI
No, I would only ever marry for love and I’ve never met your mom, though I’m sure she’s a lovely woman. Also, I’m kind of seeing someone at the moment, and she might not like it if I was married. I could ask her about it though. Don’t they let folks take a test about who were the presidents and where is New Jersey or whatever to become a citizen? Maybe she could sign up for that test. Or maybe we could all just relax and let people live where they want who cares.
We have previously covered what defines a boy band, so let’s take a look back at that to begin (excerpted from Travis’s Mailbag #1):
- 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.
Unfortunately, 98 Degrees was adamant that they wrote much of their own material. Because of this, 98 Degrees does not qualify as a boy band. However, even allowing it for the sake of argument, their best song, “The Hardest Thing”, isn’t fit to lick to boots of Millennium or No Strings Attached.
Absolutely not. You don’t see me strollin’ around the city rocking nothing but my dang Jockey’s, do you? Put some damn pants on. I have previously discussed this issue with others, but feel it’s important enough to have it written here: if you are wearing leggings like they’re just regular old pants, you are not adequately covered on your bottom.
Will Wisconsin make the Sweet 16 next year?
Kevin, Madison, WI
It’s hard to answer a question like this, since we have no idea what the bracket will look like, and what sort of match-ups the Badgers will face, so we’d have to forecast not only how well the Badgers will play but where they and every other team would be seeded, and which teams would go where. Rather, we can more easily answer, “Will the Badgers be one of the best 16 teams in the country next year?” To which we can safely answer yes. The Badgers will have a tremendous amount of talent and production to replace, perhaps more than Bo Ryan has ever had to previously. But to repeat a bunch of facts that you’ve heard a thousand times: The Badgers have never finished lower than fourth or failed to advance to the NCAA tournament under Ryan, and have advanced to the tournament’s second weekend in four of the past five years. A solid core of Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig and Vitto Brown should be enough to keep them among the country’s elite teams; count on all of them to make big leaps going into their junior seasons, as almost all of Ryan’s kids do.
Is it acceptable that I listen to Creed even though I’m an atheist?
Mellie, Milwaukee, WI
No, it is 100% not acceptable that you listen to Creed, though it has nothing to do with your belief (or lack thereof) in Christ or in any other deity. It is unacceptable because Creed makes really bad music, and you should listen to better music. Here is a short list of bands that are better than Creed:
1. The Silver Lining – This is a three-piece band I formed with my friends Sven and Jordan in college. We had one original song and we also did a pretty good cover of “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears. We once played a show for up to three people. It was approximately seven minutes long.
2. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem – Pictured to the right.
3. Pink Floyd – Just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it’s not true.
4. CrossRoad – My mom’s Christian praise band, which plays every other Sunday at Bethlehem Lutheran Church and is currently seeking a drummer.
5. The Chuck E. Cheese’s Animatronic House Band
Or you could just listen to Taylor Swift, the official singer-songwriter of Bucky’s Beer Cheese Co., and have done with it.
Why does everyone hate Nickleback?
-Mellie, Milwaukee, WI
I think it’s about time we sit you down and have a musical intervention.
It’s fine. I would have preferred, if they were going to re-brand, that they rewind the clock and bring back the sweater buck, but the trend in sports logos is to make your animals meaner looking and more polygonal; the sweater buck just isn’t cut out for the harsher times. I wish they’d used a bit more blue; we’ll have to see what the jerseys look like, but from Jabari’s hint at the unveiling, it sounds like there’s only going to be a touch of it. Perhaps an alternate blue jersey somewhere down the line? I could get down with that.
Speaking of the unveiling, what in the world was that? The painters were cool but man, just stick a DJ up there or something! That dude squeaking away during “Uptown Funk” reminded me of every karaoke night where some jabroni goes up there trying to bite off more than he can chew, a feeling that was solidified when they immediately followed with “Don’t Stop Believin'”. #OwnTheFuture? That song is 34 years old.
I get why they did it now: new owners, a new arena (pretty please??), a new team identity that comes with a return to relevance. I just feel bad for all the people that dropped big money on brand new Jabari and Giannis gear that’s now obsolete 3-5 months later. This is why I always try to stick with buying retro gear when making purchases; that stuff never goes out of style.
What’s with LAX?
Chuck, Milwaukee, WI
I know, right?
Do you think Martin Guptill is overrated or do you think he’s New Zealand’s only hope of making the Cricket World Cup this year? With his salary alone they could get 2-3 top notch players, and their at bats wouldn’t be so one hit focused. New Zealand is never going to get above their 5th place international ranking and catch powerhouses like South Africa and Pakistan if they don’t start playing team oriented cricket.
-Greg and Ryan, Denton TX and Greenfield, WI
The New Zealand national cricket team had their most successful showing ever at the 2015 Cricket World Cup, finishing as the runner-up to rival Australia in heartbreaking fashion at the event the two counties co-hosted in March. They should have no trouble qualifying to the next Cricket World Cup in 2019, and they’ll hope to build on the progress they made this year.
While Guptill, ranked 22nd in the world among batsmen, is certainly a key component of the All Blacks’ success, he’s certainly not their only hope. Thought Guptill and fellow top-order batsman Ross Taylor, both 31, may not be with the team in 2019, 24-year-old phenom Kane Williamson may already be the best player on the Kiwis’ national team, and he’ll be joined by all-rounder Corey Anderson, also just 24.
Of course, player salaries don’t enter into the equation of the make-up of the national team. To keep pace with Pakistan and South Africa, not to mention the hated Australians, New Zealand will need to continue to develop young players domestically through youth programs designed to find the next diamond in the rough.
#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.
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.
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.
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:
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).
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.
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.