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Five Thoughts: Please Help Build Milwaukee’s New Arena

Voting on the Wisconsin State Budget takes place this month, which is normally something that ranks between “What occurred on this week’s episode of The Bachelorette?” and “How many strands of hair does my friend Jon have on his head well let’s count ’em and find out” on my List of Things I Care To Devote My Attention to. The state budgeting process is both boring and complicated, so it’s something I don’t really understand and don’t care to learn about, and politics in general only serves to make folks mad or depressed so why bother getting worked up anyway.

This year, however, we’ve got something to talk about. The push to get approval for public funding for a new Milwaukee arena that will house the Bucks is nearing a crucial point as the NBA’s deadline of 2017 to either put the Bucks up in nicer digs or lose them forever rushes ever closer. There’s all sorts of fiscal policy, politic-y type of nonsense surrounding the issue, and if you want to read about all that in depth from a bunch of sportswriters and bloggers who have a highly questionable grasp on it themselves, you can find it elsewhere. Here I’m just presenting five common sense arguments in support of the plan, and before you place me on one side or another of any political spectrum, you should know that it absolutely horrifies me to be on the same side as Scott Walker on any issue more complicated than, “Should I wear shoes today?”

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Unf so pretty I want it

1) If you are a taxpayer outside of Milwaukee County and are opposed to the Bucks arena on principle because “Why the heck should I have to help pay for it?” well, just stop it. Under the currently proposed plan, the state’s portion of the bill would cost taxpayers about $4 million dollars per year, while the state would collect at least $6.5 million dollars per year in tax revenue from NBA players (h/t Wisconsin State Journal); keep in mind that that figure is literally certain to go up, since the average salary for a big four professional sports league has decreased exactly zero times, and NBA salaries in particular are set to explode when their new TV deal kicks in after next season. That revenue will be gone if this arena deal is not approved — there is no alternative under which the state could retain that revenue while refusing to support the arena funding plan.

2) If your main argument is “Well, the Bucks owners should just pay for the arena themselves, they’re all billionaires and they can afford it, so just what the heck’s going on here anyway, guys?” then well, you’re right they could afford it, and that would be swell if they’d pay for it all, but they aren’t going to and that’s that. Is it silly that we have to help line billionaires’ pockets with our tax money? Sure it is. But we do that on an hourly basis in every facet of our lives every single day anyway for things that are a lot less cool than a brand new sports and entertainment district which would serve as the home for a group of 12 of the best basketball players on planet Earth. If you’re intent on making sure none of your tax money goes to greedy billionaires who shouldn’t need your help to subsidize their businesses, well I hope you’ve taken some survivalist courses at the Y because it looks like you’re headed to Montana to find a piece of land in the woods where you’ll just have to hope that no one finds you to collect their 14.5% of the rabbits y’all trapped for dinner. Get real, people.

3) In truth, we should be glad that Mark Lasry, Wes Edens and Senator Kohl have offered to contribute as much as they have to the building of a new arena for the city of Milwaukee. Kansas City, Seattle and Las Vegas are all in an absolute lather to acquire a major league sports team, and one of those three cities would almost certainly be the landing spot for the Bucks should they fail to find a new Milwaukee home. Kansas City has already built their arena (one that was almost entirely publicly funded), and Seattle and Las Vegas are set to break ground on theirs in the very near future. The fact is that the city of Milwaukee has absolutely no leverage in this supposed battle against the bully NBA and it’s billionaire owners, and yet the Bucks’ new and former owners have given a ton of ground anyway.

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Build it for HER

4) One thing that a lot of people seem to be unable to grasp is that this is not the “Bucks new arena”. This is Milwaukee’s new arenaThe Bucks will use it 43 to 59 times every year (hopefully skewing toward the high side of that scale). This leaves around 300 other days during which the Bucks will not be occupying the space, and Milwaukee can make money off of its investment. Marquette’s men’s basketball team will likely lose a lot of games in it, and will pay rent to do so. The Admirals will likely move in, and will pay rent to do so. Y’all like the NCAA men’s basketball tournament? The Bradley Center has hosted first and second round games a bunch of times; how about we bring a regional final to the Brew City? UFC and WWE and the WBA and other acronyms for folks punching other folks in the head will bring their events; Anna and Elsa will come through with Disney on Ice; maybe Taylor Swift will come to town. TAYLOR SWIFT Y’ALL. You think the #1989WorldTour would have skipped past Milwaukee if we had a shiny new arena for her to be the damn queen in?

5) Having things costs money. You don’t buy a nice couch for your living room because it makes fiscal sense and the debt incurred by the purchase of the couch will be more than offset by the revenue generated from the people who are going to use your new couch. You buy a nice couch because living rooms should have couches and having a nice looking spot to sit down and watch a basketball game (on your nice television which you also didn’t buy because it was a sound financial decision) is really nice. You buy a nice couch because when folks come over to your house they expect there to be a couch there because you’ve always had a couch before, and if there isn’t a couch they’ll start to wonder just what the heck kind of dummy would have a living room with no couch in it. They probably won’t want to come visit anymore since it’s boring at your house without a couch, and they’ll wonder why anyone would want to live in a house with no couch in it.

Look you guys, we can all make all the arguments for and against this dumb hyper-political state budget plan that we want. Ultimately, I don’t care about any of that nonsense. It boils down to one simple truth for me: I don’t want to lose my basketball team. Not now, after suffering through a lifetime in which I’ve experienced three playoff series wins, two of which came in the same year and the third having occurred while I was still in diapers. Not now, when it seems the Bucks finally have some sense of direction, and finally seem to have a core worth getting excited about for the first time since the Bucks passed on their current coach to take Glenn Robinson in 1994. Not now, when I can finally proudly say that, “My favorite NBA team is the Milwaukee Bucks.” Build the arena. Vote yes. #SaveOurBucks

NostraTravis’s Pretty Good NFL Draft Blog

Who is that?

Woah, who the heck is that?

It’s me, NostraTravis. Here to tell you about which players are going to go where in the NFL draft today, tomorrow, this weekend, and throughout the seven-week long odyssey that is the National Football League’s Fourth Annual Acquisition of Additional Human Sacrifice Volunteers (“It’s a BloodBath!”TM).

Nah, not really. I’m not going to do that. There’s a million folks who are doing that already. I mean that literally — there are 1.27 million different mock drafts available on websites such as: google.com, sports.com, nfldraft.com, whotheheckisgonnagetdrafted.com, pornhub.com, football.com, footballers.com, pigskinsRus.com, and many others. So we’re not going to do that, because even I, the great NostraTravis, don’t really know, and who the heck even cares anyway. I wasn’t going to do anything at all for the draft because I try to avoid the waves of NFL coverage after the Super Bowl until at least August if I can, but there was some popular demand, and dang it friends I am a man of the people.

Instead, we’re going to talk about a couple of the guys that I sure hope the Packers can draft tonight, and maybe a few later this weekend that might be neat. But first! A list of players the Packers will definitely not draft tonight:

  • Jameis Winston – Winston will be drafted before it is the Packers turn, and anyway they already have a quarterback who’s pretty good, maybe you’ve heard of him, his name is Aaron. Idiot. Surprised you didn’t know that.
  • Cleatus – Cleatus is the football robot that began it’s rise to power in 2005 and now runs all of Fox Sports programming with an iron (literally) fist. It is widely rumored that Terry Bradshaw talks like that now because Cleatus punched him in the head, causing severe brain damange. Cleatus is not eligible for the NFL Draft, because he is not a human being.
  • Melvin Gordon III – Stop being silly.
  • Shane “Footsteps” Falco – Footsteps is a great young quarterback who had an incredible performance in the Sugar Bowl. However, he is also a fictional character, and as such is not eligible for this year’s draft.
  • Jake Kumerow – The former UW-Whitewater standout wide receiver is a pretty good football player, but he is not a first round talent. It would be quite a stretch if Ted Thompson were to select him with the 30th overall pick.

FINE we’ll do some real actual #analysis, you big babies. Fine, are you happy? The Packers most glaring needs are on the defensive side of the ball, as they had an exodus of sorts on that side of the ball. At inside linebacker, the Packers lost A.J. Hawk, Jamari Lattimore and Brad Jones (the latter is addition by subtraction, of course), and at cornerback, the Packers will move on without Tramon Williams and Davon House; all five of those players left through free agency/were cut. That leaves them perilously thin at both positions, especially ILB, where their best player is 2013 fourth-round pick Sam Barrington (assuming Clay Matthews shifts back to the outside).

While ILB is Green Bay’s primary position of need, that’s a position where talent can generally still be found on days two and three. By contrast, the elite secondary players are going to fly off the shelves early; last year’s first round saw nine defensive backs selected, including our very own Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Assuming Thompson doesn’t just decide to trade out of the first round altogether (a rather hefty assumption),  here’s a couple of guys he might target tonight:

Jalen Collins, CB, LSU

There’s little doubt about Collins talent: he’s rated at the 5th cornerback in the draft by ESPN. However, it was revealed just a few days ago that Collins had failed “multiple” drug tests at LSU (not that the NCAA would give a rip about that as long as he didn’t sign his name on the joints before he inhaled them). Or course, Thompson has a history of not worrying too much about off-the-field issues; he brought Johnny Jolly back after his stint in jail, resigned Letroy Guion after his arrest this off-season, and drafted Colt Lyerla last year (the latter may have given him some pause, however).

Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut

You may remember Jones as the fellow who broke not only the combine record, but the world record as well, in the broad jump back in February. If broad jumping were worth any points in the NFL, Jones would probably be one of the first players drafted tonight, but it’s not. It does speak to his athleticism however. Considered more of a third day prior to the combine, Jones rocketed up to possible first round territory with his performance there.

Eric Rowe, CB, Utah

Rather than pretending I know much of anything about Rowe, I’ll just point you to Acme Packing Co., where Evan Western (@TexWestern) posted a piece about him yesterday morning.

Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota

A little bit outside the box here, as Williams fits neither position of greatest need and the Packers just spent a third round pick on Richard Rodgers last year, who showed flashes of ability. But Williams is the best tight end in this class by a significant margin, and Rodgers (Aaron, that is) an the Packers offense struggled mightily at the beginning of last season as the Packers desperately sought a tight end who could make some plays offensively.

Anyway, I want to just quick close by saying that if you spend this evening watching the draft instead of Bucks-Bulls game six, what in the entire world is wrong with you? Get your head on straight. The best way to follow the draft is to check the internet when it is over because there is zero benefit to watching Kiper and McShay drone on about who cares what, and don’t even get me started on Chris Berman. Go Bucks. Fear The Dear.

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Travis’s Mailbag #2

Doug-MelvinDo you think the Brewers will extend Doug Melvin’s contract after this season?
Cael, East Troy, WI

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.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Denver NuggetsHow much better is Michael Carter Williams than Brandon Knight?
Michael (not Mr. Carter-Williams), Milwaukee, WI

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.

98-degrees-2013-650-430Why doesn’t 98 Degrees get more credit as a boy band?
Holly, Madison, WI

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.

leggingsAre leggings like legit pants?
Mellie, Milwaukee, WI

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:

"THE MUPPETS"..Ph: John E. Barrett..© 2011 Disney1. 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.

milwaukee_bucks_logo_primary_detailThe Bucks new logo: Yay or Nay?
Kevin, Madison, WI

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?

A cricket

A cricket

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.

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.

Top 5 best and worst Wisconsin sports moments of the last 25 years

de8a9-download5Following the US Men’s National Team’s thrilling victory over Ghana on Monday, I’m in the mood to rank the five best and worst sports moments I’ve experienced in my life. These are all going to be single moments, rather than entire games or seasons that were amazing, which is why you won’t find the either of the Packers’ Super Bowl wins, the Badgers’ Final Four runs/Rose Bowl championships, etc. here. Also, this suffers from an inevitable recency effect, as the memory of huge moments fades over time. Deal with it. We’ll start with the bad, to send you out on a high note.

Top Five Sports Heart-breakers

Shameful mention: Shaun Marcum announced as Game 6 starter in 2011 NLCS, Kirk Cousin’s hail mary beats No. 6 Wisconsin, Ray Allen misses the tip-in to win in Philly in the game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals

5) 4th and 26

Date: January 11, 2004

Location: My parent’s living room

This play was so painful it has its own Wikipedia page. After their thrilling overtime victory over Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks a week earlier, the Packers were one play away from a berth in the NFC Championship. Two incompletions, a penalty and a sack left the Eagles facing, well, you know what, with 1:18 left and no timeouts remaining on their own 25 yard line, trailing 17-14. The probability of a loss for the Packers was just slightly higher than the likelihood of Lance Armstrong winning another Sportsman of the Year award. Instead, Nick Barnett blew his coverage, Darren Sharper blew his coverage, Bhawoh Jue blew his coverage, and the Eagles were able to tie. Moments later, a Brett Favre overtime interception (stay tuned for more!) set up David Akers for the game winner.

4) The Catch II

Date: January 3, 1999

Location: Hannah Spear’s birthday party

This would have been heartbreaking in it’s own right: On 3rd and 3 from the Packers’ 25 with eight seconds left and the Packers leading 27-23, Steve Young fired a strike to Terrell Owens to give the 49ers a miracle win after Favre had lead the team on what seemed to be the game-winning drive moments earlier as the Packers sought their third straight Super Bowl appearance (*huff huff huff* how about THAT sentence?). What made it even more painful was that replays clearly showed that Jerry Rice had fumbled four plays earlier in a play that the referees missed (replay review would come to the NFL the following season). Adding to the heartache, this would be Reggie White’s final game as a Packer, as he retired following the season (and then came back to play for the Panthers). I cried in my parents’ room for an hour after this game.

041cc-aaron-harrison-3-against-wisconsin

Can you not

3) Aaron Harrison’s trey ends the Badgers’ title hopes

Date: April 5, 2014

Location: Replay Sports Bar

I’m still not over this. The building was absolutely rocking with about 300 of my closest friends living and dying on every shot. The collective “oof” when Harrison’s shot went in with 5.7 seconds to give Kentucky an improbable victory was palpable and awful. Even with all that time left on the clock, it just felt like the Badgers’ luck had finally run out, and indeed it had as Traevon Jackson’s prayer clanged off the rim as time expired. This game felt like a battle for the NCAA’s soul, with Bo Ryan and his scrappy team of four-year, team-oriented grinders fighting on the side of good against Calipari’s definitely-not-paid-yet, five-star McDonald’s All-American one-and-dones. As with Butler facing Duke in the championship game just a couple years earlier, it seemed like everyone in the country outside of Lexington was a Badger fan that day. And once again, the evil empire won the day.

2) Favre’s final pass as a Packer intercepted in the NFC Championship

Date: January 20, 2008

Location: E. Harmony Apartment in Whitewater

Playing in their first NFC championship game since 1998, the Packers seemed to be charmed and destined for a Super Bowl appearance in what was widely speculated to be Brett Favre’s last year (lol), After a wild, see-saw game, the teams headed to overtime after Lawrence Tynes missed the potential game winner from 36 yards out with four seconds to play, his second miss of the game. At this point, I’m already an absolute train wreck. When Favre threw the second pass of the overtime period right into Corey Webster’s chest near the home team’s sideline, I had to leave the living room and could only listen, lying face down on my extra-long twin size bed furnished by DLK Enterprises (UW-Whitewater s/o), as the game once again hung on the wildly inaccurate leg of Tynes. Shortly after he connected from 47 yards to put the Giants in the Super Bowl, my roommate and best friend Derek watched me pour the first alcoholic beverage I ever imbibed, the first of three I took before 21st birthday. It was a shot of UV Pink, and it tasted like heartbreak.

644e9-hailmar21) The Fail Mary

Date: September 24, 2012

Location: Mad Dog’s Sports Bar and Grill

Bugger that and bugger you, Seattle.

Top Five Best Sports Moments:

Honorable Mention: Ben Brust’s miracle trey sends the Badgers to OT vs. Michigan (right), Desmond Howard’s kickoff return in Super Bowl XXXI, Ron Dayne breaks the NCAA career rushing record

5) Ryan Braun’s extra innings grand slam beats the Pirates

Date: September 25, 2008

Location: Miller Park Terrace Level

Locked in a tie with the Mets for the Wild Card lead with three games to play, the Brewers were tied at one with the Pirates, a team they’d beaten 12 out of 13 times in 2008, heading into extra frames. Tensions in the stands were high with the left field scoreboard already flashing the NYM 7, CHC 6 final. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the tenth, Ryan Braun drilled the 2-2 pitch into the Brewers bullpen, keeping the Brewers abreast of New York and sending 43,000 fans into delirium. This of course came two days after Prince Fielder’s own walk-off two-run shot against Pittsburgh, and three days before, well, stay tuned.

4 Graham Zusi and John Brooks shock Ghana

Date: June 16, 2014

Location: Jack’s American Pub

You’ve just seen it, so I won’t bore you with a recap. If you’re not aware, you don’t care anyway. The beautiful corner from one substitute to the second-touch header of the other to finally exorcise the Ghana demons just minutes after Ghana had equalized was one of the greatest moments in recent USMNT history. The bar was jam packed wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, and the the jubilation that occurred after the goal was amazing to be a part of. How much it will mean in the grand scheme of the tournament remains to be seen, but Brooks’ reaction says it all: “OH MY GOD!!!!! Oh my God….oh…my god…I need to lie down.”

3) Rodgers to Cobb puts the Packers in the playoffs

Date: December 29, 2013

Location: Shorewood Apartment

After suffering though two months of bad quarterbacks for the first time in my life, Aaron Rodgers made his triumphant return against the team that knocked him out in a winner-take-all NFC North championship game against the Bears. The lead changed hands four times, and with the Packers trailing by one with 6:24 remaining, the quarterback led the Packers on a game-winning drive that included two fourth down conversions, none bigger than the 48-yard strike to Randall Cobb, who himself had missed the previous 11 games, on 4th and 8 with 38 seconds to play. I watched this at home with some of my best friends, which is really how I should watch all important sporting events, because I don’t do losing in public all that well.

2) Wes Helms and Ryan Braun put the Brewers in the playoffs for the first time in 26 years

Date: September 28, 2008

Location: My cousin Jessica’s birthday party in Racine

The Brewers’ first potential playoff appearance since losing the 1982 World Series to the hateful Cardinals hung in the balance on the season’s final day, with the Brewers, hosting the Cubs, tied for the wild card lead with the Mets, hosting the Marlins. Both games started at approximately the same due to an hour long rain delay at Shea (lol rain delays), and both entered the eighth inning tied. Completely isolated in the corner watching this game on the tiny TV I was allowed to use while the rest of the family watched the Packers lose to Tampa Bay (probably Aaron Rodgers worst game of his career, incidentally), I was an absolute nervous wreck. In the bottom of the eighth, Ryan Braun drilled the first pitch he saw into the left field bleachers, giving the Brewers a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish. Moments later, FSN North cut away to Shea as former Brewer and confirmed terrible third baseman Wes Helms became a Milwaukee hero when he ripped a pinch hit home run, the first of a back-to-back pair with Dan Uggla, to give the Marlins a 4-2 lead in the eighth that also became the final. The Brewers ended their regular season with a nifty double play, the Mets completed their second consecutive September collapse, and playoff baseball returned to Milwaukee for the first time since the Reagan administration.

1) Tony Plush’s extra innings walk-off sends the Brewers to the NLCS

Date: (2011)

Location: Miller Park Terrace Level

After both teams held serve at home, the Brewers and Diamondbacks returned to The Keg for a decisive game five. The D-Backs struck first, scoring in the third, but the Brewers tallied in the 4th and 6th to carry a 1-run lead into the ninth, when John Axford served up three straight hits, including a Willie Bloomquist bunt single that tied the game. With the jam-packed stadium holding it’s breath on every pitch, Carlos Gomez laced a one out single to left, stole second on the 1-1 pitch to Nyjer Morgan, who then just tickled it into the outfield, scoring Gomez and sending 44,000 screaming fans into a sustained fit of delirium that lasted for well over a half-hour before we started to clear the seating bowl. In season full of Plushdamental moments, this one topped them all.