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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.

Pre-Season 5 Game of Thrones Power Rankings

If you’ve followed me here from my old site on blogger.com, you may remember my Game of Thrones Power Rankings posts of which I did maybe two or three. Folks seemed to like them okay. They featured mostly randomly assigned ranks to characters appearing in that week’s episode. I implied that a full ranking of all Game of Thrones characters existed and was definitely real. But guess what, it wasn’t. It didn’t exist.

Wasn’t. Didn’t. PAST TENSE.

To get you ready for the new season starting Sunday, I present, not humbly, the definitive ranking of every Game of Thrones character. As always, we start with the In Memoriam, as with a notable exception, the dead hold no power. Obviously, if you haven’t gotten yourself completely caught up with the first four seasons, then spoiler alert. I shouldn’t have to say that, because 100% obviously, but someone will get mad if I don’t. Use your judgment, folks.

The Dead

147. Old Nan
146. Septa Mordane
145. Biter
144. Polliver
143. Lommy Greenhands
142. Craster

141. Alton Lannister
Affiliation: House Lannister
Manner of death: Beaten to death by his own cousin, Jaime, to aid in the latter’s escape from Riverrun’s dungeons. The dang idiot though he and Jaime were gonna be besties.

Game of Thrones - A Golden Crown

Viserys Targaryen’s manner of death is pictured.

140. Viserys Targaryen
139. Rast

138. Karl Tanner
Affiliation: The Betrayers
Manner of death: Jon Snow gives him a nice long iron tongue while he’s distracted by one of Craster’s daughter-wives.

137. Qotho
136. The Spice King
135. Ros
134. Black Loren
133. Dagmer

132. Kraznys mo Nakloz
Afilliation: The Good Masters of Astapor
Manner of death: Roasted by one of the dragons he had just received as payment for his Unsullied slave warriors. It was pretty funny.

131. Ser Amory Lorch
130. Ser Wendel Manderly

129. Ser Rickard Karstark

128. Will
Affiliation: Night’s Watch
Manner of death: Beheaded by Eddard Stark for desertion after fleeing The Wall when his fellow rangers were murdered by a White Walker. Ned didn’t believe him, literally the only time throughout the entire show that Ned didn’t take someone’s word at face value, and of course it was the only time anyone said something to him that was 100% honest.

127. Irri
126. Rakharo
125. Maester Luwin
124. Maester Cressin
123. Ser Dontos Hollard

122. Locke
Affiliation: House Bolton
Manner of death: Neck snapped nearly clean off by Bran Stark, warging through Hodor’s body, during the second battle at Craster’s Keep. Any time someone affiliated with the Boltons dies horribly, you have to love that.

121. Mirri Maz Duur
120. Ser Jory Cassel
119. Ser Rodrik Cassel
118. Hoster Tully

117. Shae
Affiliation: House Lannister
Manner of death: Strangled to death with her own necklace by Tyrion after he found her in his father’s bed.

116. Talisa Stark
115. Matthos Seaworth
114. Lysa Arryn

113. Pyat Pree
Affiliation: The Thirteen
Manner of death: Like so many others in Essos that have crossed her, set aflame by Daenerys’ dragons.

lol

lol

112. Joffrey ‘Baratheon’

111. Pyp
110. Grenn
Afilliation: Night’s Watch
Manner of Death: A shaft through the throat from Ygritte’s bow and bludgeoned to death by Mag the Mighty, respectively, during the Battle of Castle Black.

109. Magnar of Thenn
108. Mag the Mighty
107. Qhorin Halfhand

106. Yoren

105. Jojen Reed
Affiliation: House Stark
Manner of Death: Stabbed by a White Walker, mercy killed by his sister, Meera, with a cut across the throat, and then blasted by a fireball from Leaf, the child of the forest, just to be damn sure.

104. Ygritte
103. Joer Mormont
102. Renly Baratheon
101. Khal Drogo

100. Catelyn Stark
99. Robb Stark
Affiliation: House Stark
Manner of death: I don’t wanna talk about it.

98. Robert Baratheon
97. Oberyn Martell
96. Eddard Stark

95. Tywin Lannister
Affiliation: House Lannister
Manner of death: Crowbow’d by his son while enjoying a nice post-coital two-sie because he wouldn’t stop calling folks whores.

The Ambiguously Extant

94. Doreah
93. Xaro Xhoan Daxos

Affiliation: The Thirteen of Qarth
When last we left them: Locked inside Xaro’s vault by Daenerys and presumably left there to rot after the former betrayed the Mother of Dragons to the latter. Both begged uselessly for their pitiful lives. Both should have been summarily ignited by dragon fire, but instead we don’t have a body and can therefore not be sure of their demise.

92. Benjen Stark
Afillition: Night’s Watch
When last we left him: Benjen has been missing since the outset of the series, having gone on a ranging beyond the wall and never returned. He almost certainly dead except then why the heck do they keep talking about him then?

91. Orell
Affiliation: Wildlings
When last we left him: His human body has been dispatched with, but he warged into an eagle and lives (well, kinda) to fight on.

90. Syrio Forrel

89. The Mountain That Rides
Affiliation: House Lannister
When last we left him: Mortally wounded by the Red Viper during Tyrion’s trial by combat, Cersei tasked the dubiously moral former Maester Qyburn with maintaining the body of Ser Gregor, no matter the cost.

88. The Hound

The Not Dead Just Yet

87. Janos Slynt
Affiliation: Night’s Watch
While Sam Tarly, some ladies and a couple of pre-teens were out fighting for their lives against the Wildlings, Janos spent the Battle of Caslte Black locked in the pantry with Gilly. He’s only ranked this high because those are the rules so I have to.

86. Roslin Tully-Frey
85. Edmure Tully

84. Hot Pie
Affiliation: No one cares
Makes a mean wolf-shaped loaf of bread, though.

It's been a rough couple of months for Theon

It’s been a rough couple of months for Theon

83. Reek
82. Fat Walda Bolton
81. Rickon Stark
80. Lancel Lannister
79. The High Septon
78. Selyse Baratheon
77. Shireeen Baratheon

76. Ser Jorah Mormont
Affiliation: House Targaryen (disowned)
Well, how the heck do you like that? He was promised a pardon for his crimes if he spied on Daenerys a little bit, but then decided he liked her more and became her staunchest friend and ally (and was friendzoned hard and repeatedly). Then when she finds out about all this, instead of rewarding him for changing sides and risking everything for her, she banishes him. Women, I tell you. Who needs ’em, amirite?

75. Illyrio Mopatis
74. Ser Illyn Payne

73. Myrcella ‘Baratheon’
Affiliation: House Lannister
We should expect to see a lot more of Cersei and Jaime’s only daughter this season as we finally see Dorne, where the young princess was sent by Tyrion to save her from her mother.

72. Gilly
71. Lame Lothar
70. Black Walder Rivers

69. Lord o’ Bones
Nice.

68. Hallyne
67. Hizdahr zo Loraq
66. Ser Meryn Trant

65. Tormund Giantsbane
Affiliation: WIldlings
His side lost at the Conflict at The Wall, but did anyone deal out more raw damage during the Battle of Castle Black? Picked up an entire bucket of EXP, probably leveled up twice.

64. Kovarro
63. Gendry
62. Anguy the Archer
61. Grand Maester Pycelle
60. Olyvar

59. Sweet Robin Arryn
Affiliation: House Arryn
A slightly less intelligent and slightly more pliable Joffrey clone, he may have a chance to be a productive member of Westerosi society with his mother out of the picture.

The GOAT of horrified screams.

The GOAT of horrified screams.

58. Ellaria Sand
57. Salladhor Sahn
56. Mance Rayder

55. Olly
Affiliation: Night’s Watch
This would be the amateur archer that killed Ygritte. He sucks and we hate him for it.

54. Othell Yarwick

53. Vance Corbray
52. Anya Waynwood
51. Yohn Royce
Affiliation: House Arryn
The three members of the tribunal who ruled on the matter of Lysa’s murder fell for Sansa’s nonsense hook, line and sinker.

Screw you, Walder Frey

Screw you, Walder Frey

50. Walder Frey
49. Myranda
48. Bronn

47. Hodor
Affiliation: Hodor
Hodor. Hodor hodor hodor, hodor. Hodor! HODOR! Hodor hodor hodor hodor.

46. Kevan Lannister
45. Ser Loras Tyrell
44. Maester Aemon
43. Quaithe
42. Meera Reed

41. Thoros of Myr
40. Beric Doncarrion
Affiliation: Brotherhood Without Banners
Though neither the Old Gods nor the New seem to wield any real influence over the events of the world, the Lord of Light works real magic through his followers. Quaithe, the Asshai’i shadowbinder, Melisandre and Thoros of Myr are all able to do fantastic works in his name, the latter having brought Beric, the Lightning Lord, back from the dead several times.

39. Osha
38. Greatjon Umber

37. Leaf, Child of the Forest
36. The Three-Eyed Raven
Affiliation: The Old Gods
Bran has finally reached his destination, although the triumph is lessened by the death of Jojen. We don’t really know what sort of power these two possess, but one of them can shoot fireballs out of her dang hands.

35. Dolorous Edd
34. Podrick Payne
33. Davos Seaworth

32. The Blackfish
Affiliation: House Tully
Having left the reception to relieve himself at an extremely opportune time, it would seen that Ser Brynden Tully escaped the massacre at the Red Wedding. His whereabouts are unknown to us, but he likely holds Riverrun against the Bolton’s in the name of the slain King in the North.

Grey Worm has absolutely zero chill

Grey Worm has absolutely zero chill

31. Barristan Selmy
30. Samwell Tarly
29. Grey Worm
28. Alliser Thorne

27. ‘Jaqen H’ghar’
Affiliation: Faceless Men of Braavos
Since he’s a face-changer, we could have been seeing him all along and would have no idea, and of course Jaqen isn’t his name, but it’s the only real way to identify him at this point. A popular fan theory that Jaqen and Syrio Forrel are the same man means we may have listed him twice, though I doubt the likelihood of that. Braavos is where Arya is headed now.

26. Asha Greyjoy
25. Balon Greyjoy
24. Daario Naharis

23. Missandei
Affiliation: House Targaryen
Daenerys’ handmaiden managed to sexually arouse Grey Worm, who does not have any sexual organs. It’s a crime that she’s not number one on this list.

22. Mace Tyrell

It's gettin' real weird at the Eyrie

It’s gettin’ real weird at the Eyrie

21. Sansa Stark
Affiliation: House Baelish
Just what in the blue hell is running through this misguided girl’s head? Did she just give me the “do me” eyes to Littlefinger? What in the WORLD are you doing, child? You need R’ihlor, girl. Get your dang head on straight.

20. Brienne of Tarth
19. Bran Stark
18. Qyburn
17. Arya Stark
16. Jon Snow
15. Ramsay Bolton

14. Cersei Lannister
13. Jaime Lannister
Affiliation: House Lannister
Really hard to say where Jaime will go from here when he finds out that the brother he just set free, as his first act, murdered his father. Cersei would be in the top ten, but she thinks she is number one, and her hubris drops her here.

#TommenFace

#TommenFace

12. Tommen ‘Baratheon’
11. Roose Bolton
10. Margaery Tyrell
9. Stannis Baratheon
8. Olenna Redwyne

7. Tycho Nestoris
Affiliation: The Iron Bank
Most would agree that prior to his untimely death, Tywin Lannister occupied the number one spot on these rankings; mostly because I am the only person who has any say over such things. There was only one entity that Tywin feared: Tycho and the Iron Bank. He refused to lend money to Stannis when he came asking; had he done so, season four would have ended with Stannis using the stuffed corpse of Cersei Lannister as the Iron Throne’s footrest.

6. Petyr Baelish

5. The White Walkers
Affiliation: The Great Other
They can only really be killed by obsidian, or “dragon glass,” and as far as anyone knows the only piece of it is a dagger that belongs to Sam Tarly. That, or you can learn to shoot fireballs out of your hands like Leaf, but that’s it. So that’s not great.

4. Melisandre
3. Varys

2. Tyrion Lannister
Affiliation: His own dang self
Yeah, he’s a fugitive who is basically on the run from everyone in the entire world. But he just killed the most powerful man in the world. For one week, he deserves this spot at the top.

As if there was any doubt.

As if there was any doubt.

1. Daenerys Targaryen
Affiliation: House Targaryen
She has lost track of one of her dragons after he set a child on fire for no dang reason, and was forced to chain up the other two as a result. This leaves her in control of two incapacitated dragons, which remains infinitely more dragons than everyone else combined. She’s undefeated, but she’ll regret dismissing her biggest and oldest supporter in Ser Jorah — he’d abandoned a chance to return to his old life with a full pardon without about three weeks of meeting her.

Travis’s Mailbag #1

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

jlaw

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

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

-Ian F., Kenosha, WI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are there hats?

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

Unfortunately, there are no hats at the present time.

Wei+Chung+Wang+Milwaukee+Brewers+Photo+Day+0JUlREp1ykVl

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

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

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

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

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

Why is purple?

-Rob Z., Waukesha, WI

Oh, we got a wise guy, eh?

What is the greatest boy band of all time?

Stephanie, C., Racine, WI

What is a boy band?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Jesse D., Whitewater, WI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Matt H., Salt Lake City, UT

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

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

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

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

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

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

2Yes it was.

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

4This is not true.

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

Fun Christmas Trivia with Travis

Well the holidays can be a real stressful time, huh? Long trips, planning events and dealing with extended family can be a tall task, not to mention the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping and maintaining your budget (and your waistline! wink wink) as we head into a new year. Boy, wouldn’t it be nice to take a step back for a minute, relax* and think about some fun Christmas trivia?

Well I’m here to help, pals. With the holiday spirit in mind I, your intermittent Wisconsin sports and entertainment blogger, have compiled a couple of amusing Christmas-themed facts, which you can use to impress your friends at your next ugly sweater party. Ho ho ho!

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Gingerbread is a below average treat.

1) Gingerbread isn’t that good. On a desserts scale of 1-10, where one is black licorice and ten is Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake (the indisputable king of cakes and of sweets in general), gingerbread cookies are about a three. If you are at a Christmas party with a dessert table, the gingerbread cookies are almost certainly in the bottom half of your available options.

2) ‘Xmas’ is not a mean-spirited abbreviation of Christmas invented by the secular world to insult Christians and “take the Christ out of Christmas.” The X comes from the first letter of the Greek word for Christ, ‘chi’, which is represented by a symbol very similar to the letter X. If you are a Christian who is offended by Xmas you should not be, and if you are a non-Christian who intends offense by it, you are doing a very bad job and should explore other options. For instance, you could try not being a dick.

3) The best Christmas movie is Elf. Other Christmas movies that are good include Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown, Home Alone, Dr. Suess’ How The Grinch Stole Chirstmas! (1966 animated version only), National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Mickey’s Christmas Carol. The preceding list is not comprehensive.

4) Die Hard would be on the preceding list if it were a Christmas movie, but it is not.

5) The answer to “Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie?” is yes.

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This is not a magical “consent not required” plant.

6) If you kiss an unwilling member of the opposite sex but you held mistletoe above their head first, you have still committed fourth degree sexual assault. If you do this to your spouse or significant other, you have committed being adorable, and it is advised that your partner put a ring on it, should they have failed to do so previously.

7) The Best Christmas song is “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. This is tied to the fact that Elf is the best Christmas movie. It is strongly advised to maintain a cohesive Christmas entertainment experience.

8) It is appropriate to listen to Christmas music at any time from December 23-December 26, and at any and all holiday themed events and gatherings during the months of December and January. It is not advisable to play Christmas music at any other time.

9) If you are a non-Christian who is offended when a stranger wishes you a “Merry Christmas” while you are out in public during the Christmas season, an appropriate response would be for you to shut up.

10) The year that a child transitions from being disappointed about receiving clothes for Christmas (As opposed to toys, not nothing. Be grateful, kids.) to being glad is one of the earliest indicators of the onset of adulthood, and should be met with praise.

11) The celebration of Christmas on December 25th likely has it’s origins in pagan holidays celebrating the winter solstice. The actual birth of Christ was probably closer to nobody cares at all, just eat the damn cookies.

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Santa was invented in the 1930s by Coca-Cola to sell soda or he really exists if there are children present.^

12) Santa Claus does not exist, except in our collective imaginations. The men dressed as Santa Claus at malls and at holiday events are paid actors or volunteers. However, it is strictly forbidden to reveal this fact to any child under the age of 12. To do so, even accidentally, is tantamount to child abuse. It is best to pretend that Santa Claus is real if you even suspect there might be a child within a two mile radius.

13) The correct main dish for Christmas dinner is glazed ham. The turkey was for Thanksgiving, and you should be saving your steak and shrimp for next week’s New Year’s Day party. If you are a vegetarian, you are not a vegetarian on Christmas.

14) The earliest you are allowed to put up Christmas lights and decorations is the day after Thanksgiving. They may remain up until you damn well feel like taking them down because it’s really cold outside and you’re kind of tired, so everyone just chill out already. In colder climates, it is permissible to simply wait until Easter rolls around and replace all decorations at that time, however lights may not be activated after the new year.

15) Although poinsettias have a bad rap, they are in fact only mildly toxic to household pets and contact with the traditional Christmastime plant rarely requires medical attention. Also, just don’t put your plants on the floor and train your pets to stay off of tables and you won’t have a problem, will you? Don’t be lazy pet owner.

*Relax used with permission of Aaron Rodgers, Jason Wilde and 540 ESPN

^Neither of these claims is true (unless there are children present)

Eating Utensil Power Rankings

1) Fork

The clear gold standard in the eating utensil world is the fork, a true all star that is an absolute necessity at any civilized place setting. Not only is it’s skewering ability top-notch with it’s 3-4 prongs, it can also function as a rough replacement for a knife or spoon in most occasions, making it’s versatility second to none. If you need proof, go buy a combo-pack of plastic utensils for your next picnic, business lunch or other community event at which food will be served. I guarantee you’ll be left with 48 spoons, 38 knives and 2 forks some weirdo probably used and then replaced.

2) Steak Knife

While the side of your fork can handle a lot, sometimes your need something sharp and serrated. The classic knife-and-fork combo comes in with the two top spots on our list, which should come as a surprise to no one. Of course, most of the time, the steak knife is completely dependent on the fork to even work properly, giving it a slight bump down and showing just how wide the gap is between the fork and the rest of the field.

3) Chopsticks

The fork of the Asian world can’t be ignored in the world of eating utensils, even if it’s use in the United States is limited to Chinese takeout and really, really cool hipsters. It’s entirely possible it deserves a spot closer to the legendary fork, but I have never been able to figure out how to use them properly and, while chopsticks are certainly an effective and elegant method for delivering food from your bowl or plate to your mouth, I’m of the opinion that accessibility and ease of use factor in to these rankings. It should be noted also that the laws governing the etiquette of chopstick use are long, convoluted and at times contradictory, so if you find yourself at a traditional Asian dinner, there’s a pretty decent chance you’ll at some point end up accidentally offending someone.

4) Skewer

The skewer is basically just one chopstick that’s had it’s point whittled to a more deadly point to make stabbing and stacking your food easier. It is of note that while chopsticks could theoretically be used as a skewer in a pinch, the practice is generally frowned upon as at best rude and at worst symbolic of death. Skewers are a staple of any legitimate barbeque, and if you happen to find one loaded with nothing but vegetables, do your friends and family a favor and throw some steak on that bad boy.

5) Spork

Veterans of Yum! restaurants KFC and Taco Bell are very familiar with the spork, popular among weird high school dorks who play Magic: The Gathering and wearing black t-shirts from Hot Topic (read: me 12 years ago). Odd teenage obsessions aside, the spork is actually a fairly useful utensil, though it’s ability to skewer with its stubby little prongs is limited at best.

6) Tongs

While usually not used to actually transport food from your plate to your mouth, tongs are nonetheless an absolutely indispensable eating utensil, especially when grilling outdoors. You could use a fork to move meat onto and off of the grill, and turn sausages for maximum flavor, but you run the risk of losing valuable juices, and dripping onto your coals, which can hamper your ability to cook going forward. If you’re not using tongs to grill, you’re wrong.

7) Spoon

This ranking may be lower than you’d expect for one of the three staples of western cutlery, but let’s be honest about it. The spoon is pretty useless. Unless you’re getting down with some soup or delicious, delicious chili, everyone the spoon can do a fork can do just as well. Like the crab cracker below, the spoon is essential at times, but it’s lack of versatility hurts its ranking.

8) Crab Cracker

This ranking reflects the lack of versatility the crab cracker brings to the table, as it really serves only to…well, crack crabs. In that endeavor, however, it is uniquely suited to thrive, and any attempt to get inside a crab or lobster’s shell to get at the delicious meat inside is sure to be made significantly more difficult should you find yourself lacking this unique utensil.

9) Butter Knife

There’s really very little reason for the butter knife to exist, as all of its uses are performed very capably by other utensils with more versatility. There is nothing a butter knife does that a steak knife doesn’t do better, including cutting through butter, which makes this utensil both useless and poorly named.

10)  Sporf

Used primarily by the thru-hiker community and probably other nerds, the sporf supposedly combined the features of a fork, spoon and knife into one utensil. An ambitious attempt on someone’s part to really streamline the Western cutlery game, in practice it probably doesn’t do anything particularly well, and looks like a potential injury hazard as well. I would recommend avoiding it unless you plan on taking on the Appalachian Trail.

11) Trongs

Trongs, pictured to the right, are the solution to a non-problem, protecting your fingers from the dangers of barbeque and buffalo sauce while eating ribs and chicken wings. The diabolical creators of this preposterous device live only to cut into the the profits of our country’s many fine wet-nap producers, and I for one won’t stand for it. Anyone caught using trongs without a valid medical excuse should be put on trial for crimes against humanity. Are you kidding me? Get real with this stuff.