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.
Hey there loyal friends of Bucky’s Beer Cheese Co., guess what time it is, that’s right it’s March Madness time. It’s time once again to watch in awe as the world’s greatest basketball-playing indentured servants perform on the big stage for our delight and amusement while very old white men make a lot of money. “Well when you put it like that it kind of puts a damper on our enjoyment of the tournament, Travis” well it should, folks aren’t being treated fairly and not all of these guys are going to go to the NBA, so we just have to keep it in mind while we drink a lot of beers and watch basketball games. Thinking about how bad a problem is is the 2015 version of helping to fix a problem.
Anyway that’s out of the way, so we just better get down to business. “Well you know Travis, I haven’t watched a lot of NCAA basketball this year, I just don’t know much about the players and teams, how can I hope to compete in this year’s office bracket pool?” Well don’t you worry about that, I’m here to help with some #BracketFacts that will help you to beat “Susan in Accounting who only picks based on Mascots” . And who knows? We might just have a few laughs along the way. Everything that follows is 100% true and nothing is made up by me at all.
- Many Badgers fans were relieved when Wisconsin received a #1 seed and avoided being stuck in undefeated Kentucky’s Midwest bracket. I remain disappointed however, as I was hoping the Badgers might be able to avoid Kentucky’s whole half of the bracket, or even avoid their tournament entirely. Unfortunately the Badgers were not invited to the NIT, which would likely have been a much more winnable tournament for them.
- Because they were selected into #1 Kentucky’s bracket, many of the teams in the Midwest seeded five or lower have chosen not to participate in the tournament this year, opting instead to plan a vacation together to Six Flags over Texas. Curiously, the #11 Texas Longhorns still plan make the trip up to Pittsburgh for their opening round game, where they will face #6 Butler’s co-ed intramural basketball champions.
- Because the tournament starts on St. Patrick’s Day, #3 Notre Dame is expected to benefit from a significant supernatural boost which should help them easily reach the second weekend. Also working in Notre Dame’s favor is the support of Taylor Swift, official singer-songwriter of Bucky’s Beer Cheese Co., whose brother Austin attends school there as a junior. The support of Taylor and St. Patrick is expected to help the Fighting Irish force Kentucky to use their starters for at least the entire first half in order to maintain a double digit scoring margin.
Who will win the Midwest? Despite the aid of two deities, the Irish will not be able to overcome the Kentucky Wildcats, who will have all five of the best basketball players in the building in almost every game they play.
Upset Special: The #2 Kansas Jayhawks have been ducking them for years, but they won’t be able to avoid the #7 Wichita St. Shockers should both teams advance to the second round (only #15 Texas Southern and Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers stand in the way, so no worries there, folks). I expect the criminally under-seeded Shockers to pull off the mild upset over their in-state rivals and crown themselves the kings of the most homophobic state of all time.
- It is commonly known that a 16 seed has never defeated a 1 seed. One reason for this is that top seeded teams are often very good at basketball and have a lot of future NBA players on their rosters, while 16 seeds are usually not very good at all. Could this be the year that a #1 finally falls? No, Villanova seems like they are pretty good and no one has heard of the #16 Lafayette Leopards.
- If you didn’t catch the America East tournament final on Saturday morning, you missed the best game of Championship Week: #14 Albany drilled a desperation three off of a tipped rebound with 1.6 seconds remaining to give the Great Danes their first lead of the half and the victory over Stony Brook, who had led by seven with less than two minutes to play. That’s not enough for you? Try this on for size: the game winner was the only three pointer the Great Danes made all day (they went 1-10), and the kid who sank it, Junior Peter Hooley, missed eight games in January and February to be with his mother, who passed away from cancer in Australia. March is magic, y’all.
- One fun fact about this bracket is that there will not be any upsets at all, and all the higher seeded teams will win all the games. The NCAA has set the East bracket up as it’s control group as it monitors several experiments going on in the Midwest, West and South.
Who will win the East? The #2 Virginia Cavaliers will win the East. This is not considered an upset because I am the writer and I get to make up the rules whenever I want.
Upset Special: Unfortunately there will be no upsets in the East bracket.
- Lots of folks have pointed out that our #1 Wisconsin Badgers are set up for a FInal Four rematch with Kentucky, should the Badgers manage to get that far. Those folks have also pointed out that three of the four teams the Badgers beat on their Final Four run are all back in Wisconsin’s region: a rematch with #8 Oregon is possible in round two, and either #2 Arizona or #3 Baylor will most likely be waiting for them in the Elite Eight. One thing no one is talking about? The long-standing rivalry between the Badgers and their first round opponent, #16 Coastal Carolina, which dates back to 1991. Throw out the records when these teams meet: both of their previous meetings were decided by less than 40 points.
- One intriguing match-up in the first round is between #4 North Carolina, currently in the midst of an academic fraud scandal that has mysteriously (read: not at all mysteriously) resulted in no sanctions against its high profile basketball team, and #13 Harvard, a school that angers the NCAA brass by attempting to care more about education than sport. The difference in skill level on the basketball court is nearly as large as the gap in the educations the basketball players at these institutions receive, so unfortunately the Tar Heels will win by a lot of points.
- Y’all remember Kevin Ware, the former Louisville guard who decided that his tibia would better serve him if it were outside of his body in a 2013 Elite Eight game vs. Duke? Well he’s back, this time with #14 Georgia State (coincidentally, his coach suffered a torn Achilles during the celebration of the team’s Sun Belt tournament final win). If you’re interested in seeing him in action, I hope that you are free during the Panthers’ game against #3 Baylor, because their team is not very good and they will definitely not win.
Who will win the West? Get ultimately real the Wisconsin Badgers are going to beat all the teams by 30 points, including the teams they do not play.
Upset Special: The #11 BYU Cougars should dispatch #11 Ole Miss easily in their First Four game, then will defeat #6 Xavier as well in a match-up of Christian traditions whose ideologies seems strange and hypocritical to outsiders. Hooray!
- If you root for Duke that is okay, because everyone is entitled to do whatever they want, so what, but you should understand that everyone around you and everyone that you know thinks that you are a bad person, and also you will probably get stung by a wasp this summer, and you are the reason that Brussels sprouts taste like that.
- Some people were very upset that #11 UCLA not only received a tournament bid, but avoided the First Four entirely. A lot of folks are supposing that the NCAA did this because UCLA has a lot more fans and will draw a much larger TV audience for their first round game in which they will lose by a whole bunch of points to #6 Southern Methodist. The real reason UCLA earned the bid is because the tournament committee consulted Susan from Accounting, and together they agreed that a Bruin would totally beat up Colorado St.’s Rams and Temple’s Owls, probably at the same time if they wanted. It should also be noted that #14 Alabama Birmingham’s nickname is the Blazers, which is represented by fire-breathing dragon — they should be Susan’s pick this year
- A person I know attended #3 Iowa State, so I hope that they will emerge from this bracket, but they will not.
Who will win the East? Even though no one will like it, Duke will win the East. Everyone who has a conscious will be sad about it, but sometimes we all have to suffer through adversity, for without pain there can be no pleasure.
Upset Special: I would like to see the #13 Eastern Washington Eagles beat #4 Georgetown, mostly because of this article from SB Nation. I think they will be able to do it because the Hoyas are not very good and they will probably lose. I also think #12 Stephen F. Austin can knock off #5 Utah, resulting in TOTAL BRACKET COLLAPSE which is my very favorite thing.
WHO WILL WIN THE WHOLE DANG THING?
Well there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there? I can’t give away all the secrets, or you’ll all just tie me when I have a perfect bracket. If you want to find out who I think will win all the games, you’ll just have to join the official Bracket Challenge of Bucky’s Beer Cheese Co., which you can do here. You are allowed to join this group up to two times. You can also see how you stack up against Susan from Accounting, who has entered the contest herself. If you are the winner, you will win a Carlos Gomez Gold Glove bobble head! Wow that sure is a good deal. If you are dead last, you will be forced to spend an entire Saturday evening hanging out with me and doing things that I think are fun. Sucks to be you!
1. This joke courtesy of every person who has ever talked about an NCAA tournament office bracket pool ever. If Susan doesn’t know squat about basketball, how the hell does she know what Coastal Carolina’s mascot is!?! Susan is a ringer trying to act like she’s clueless. I’m fucking on to you, Susan. “I just think a Wildcat would beat all those other mascots, that’s why I picked Kentucky” bullshit Susan, a Mountaineer would kill a Wildcat every time, they do that shit every day and you know it Susan, you know all about Willie Cauley-Stein.[back]
Three and a half years ago, a clerical error sent New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers despite a no-trade clause in his contract that barred him from being sent to Milwaukee. Today, the 33-year-old Venezuelan signed with the Brewers as a free agent for the fourth consecutive year (despite being traded to the Orioles at the 2013 trade deadline). Rodriguez and Brewers GM Doug Melvin have become baseball’s Sarah and Stephan (This reference means nothing to you if you’re not familiar with at least the last half-decade of my love life, so don’t think about it too hard): the couple that keeps hooking back up no matter how many times it doesn’t work out, and no matter what any of their friends say. This tweet, which features some truly flawless Photoshop work, about sums up the complicated relationship between Doug and K-Rod:
Let’s run K-Rod Part IV through the Pro/Con machine:
Pro: Fransisco Rodriguez is a good baseball player, was the best relief pitcher left on the free agent market and makes the Brewers better at baseball.
Con: Francisco Rodriguez is not a very good human person. He beats up his significant others, he beats up his significant others’ family members, and he escapes punishment when his victims conveniently wind up in South America.
Pro: K-Rod immediately replaces Ryan Braun as the worst person in the Brewers organization, because beating folks up is worse than cheating at a children’s game. This frees Braun up to worry about his thumb and how he’s going to get Kwik Trip to resign him as a spokesperson.
Pro: His 2 year/$13 million deal is probably a bit below market for someone with his overall track record and veteran status.
Con: While K-Rod has been very effective over the season’s first few months during his apparently indefinite Brewers tenure, he’s shown a marked decrease in effectiveness in each of the past two years as the season dragged on, including a home run rate that has doubled in the second half:
Pro: This signing eliminates the possibility of the Brewers trading away any of their assets for the right to pay Jonathan Papelbon $26 million over the next two seasons.
Con: Papelbon is a better pitcher than K-Rod.
On the plus side, the two year deal saves us all the trouble of “will they, won’t they” this time next spring. #Brewers
— RD Topp (@RDTopp) February 26, 2015
Pro: The Brewers already have scoreboard graphics for K-Rod’s entrance, so they won’t need to spend any money on making up something for Jonathan Broxton, who will be pushed to a setup role.
Con: Broxton’s walk-up song is Black friggin’ Sabbath, and K-Rod’s is unintelligible Puerto Rican reggaeton.
Pro: This signing gives the Brewers four pitchers with closing experience: K-Rod, Broxton, Jim Henderson (still on his way back from the shoulder injury that sidelined him for most of 2014) and former Indians closer Chris Perez, who was signed to a minor league contract earlier this month.
Con: It is 2015 and “closer”, a made-up completely fictional non-position, is still a thing professional baseball managers care about.
Pro: “Thirty Pitches of Terror” is a fun nickname, and K-Rod can turn even the most boring three-run saves into a roller coaster of suspense, which is great for television ratings.
Con: That pro was actually a con.
Here’s hoping the Brewers have this in their playlist when it comes time to make a decision about K-Rod’s club option year in 2017:
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.
Well you guys, it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve given you anything to read from the mind of Travis Sarandos, and I know you’ve been left wanting. Well I’m here to feed you, baby birds, and we’re going to fill a void in the sports blogging world that has too long been lacking: rabid Brewers baseball fans who are also obsessed with Taylor Swift’s fifth album, 1989. “Well Travis,” you might be thinking, “well, I’m pretty sure there’s only one person who fits that extremely specific set of variables and guess what it’s you.” And I have just one thing to say to you.
That’s right, we’re going to run through 1989‘s track list and find a Brewer to match up with each song. This is groundbreaking sports blog territory IMO. If that sounds like something you’re not sure you want to read then might I suggest completely altering the direction you’ve taken in your miserable life.
1) Welcome to New York – Jimmy Nelson
The lights are so bright, but they never blind me.
After putting up eye popping numbers at AAA Nashville (R.I.P) in the first part of 2014, Nelson was brought up to The Show for good in May to give Marco Estrada some time off to heal from the self-induced whiplash acquired watching a preposterous number of home runs fly over his dumb head. He failed to match the lofty expectations of fans who don’t realize how difficult it is to jump from AAA to MLB, but was effective enough to retain a spot in the rotation for most of the season as the Brewers suffered through a rash of mid-season injuries.
Nelson is currently ticketed for the bullpen in 2015 after Mike Fiers’ sizzling second half (more on that later). That’s not good enough for the Brewers’ former top prospect. With nearly a year’s worth of experience now at the MLB level, the Brewers need Nelson to start realizing his potential as a front line starter.
2) Blank Space -Allen Craig
‘Cause I got a blank space, and I’ll write your name.
The Brewers acquisition of Adam Lind from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Estrada signaled that, although the team recognized the desperate need to upgrade their production at first base, they had no intention of moving away from the platoon system they installed out of necessity when absolutely every first baseman in the organization broke down during the spring of 2012. Lind mashes right handed pitching, but carries an abyssmal .212/.257/.331 slash line against south paws.
Enter Craig, the erstwhile St. Louis Cardinal who can, in fact, hit against LHP occasionally. The Boston Red Sox are known to be actively shopping Craig, whom they acquired last season as part of the deal that sent John Lackey to the Cardinals. Now, many of you know how I feel about a man with two first names — can’t trust him. But Craig would fit in nicely in the black space in the middle of the Brewers order, and would gladly be accepted into the fold to be rehabilitated after spending years being brainwashed under the Cardinal Way.
3) Style – Carlos Gomez
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time, ‘cuz we never go out of style.
Gomez fills a role that nearly every team has: the guy who is loved dearly by his team’s fans, but everyone else’s fans can’t stand him. He’s like your loud drunk friend: you love him, but everyone else in the bar wants to fire him into the sun out of a cannon. Gomez is an absolute treat to watch as he regularly flings his body to the ground and into walls and other people in an effort to make the extraordinary play. Anyone who hates Gogo can get 100% real.
4) Out of the Woods – Ryan Braun
Are we out of the woods? Are we in the clear yet?
Boy, it’s been a rough couple of years for Ryan, huh? Three years ago, the only real knock anyone had against him was that he had his own line of Affliction t-shirts and he looked like a god dang tool in his Kwik Trip commercial. Since, he’s etched his gigantic-eyed face on the Mount Rushmore of Reviled PED Users right next to Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens, sat out a half season due to suspension, spent several weeks on the disabled list due to a series of troublesome chronic injuries, and struggled to produce at anywhere near even all-star level, let alone the eye-popping stat line that made him the controversial 2011 National League MVP.
So will we ever see anything close to the Ryan Braun of old? After going through an innovative procedure to try to correct the nerve issue plaguing his thumb that has sapped him of his power, Braun became one of the first members of Team #BSOHL for 2015 by announcing that his thumb was “100 percent” for the first time in two years. Whether or not Braun is finally out of the woods with respect to his injured thumb will be one of the biggest factors affecting the Brewers’ success in 2015.
5) All You Had To Do Was Stay – Prince Fielder
Well, could have been easy, all you had to do was stay.
Well, well, well. Look who it is, look what the cat dragged in. After missing just 1 game in the five previous years combined, Fielder played in just 42 games in his debut season with Texas and was largely a disappointment when he was on the field, leading to some frustration from Rangers fans who wonder why their team traded for a 30-year-old under contract for six more years that regularly flirts with 300 lbs. The Brewers, meanwhile, have tried absolutely everything to try to replace Prince’s production since his departure 4 years ago: Corey Hart worked for a year before his body broke down, as did Mat Gamel’s (though he failed to produce at all anyway), they tried a novel approach of “how about a bunch of bad shortstops is our first baseman now” in 2013, then tried to channel 2005 with the Ren-O platoon last year. What I’m trying to say here, clearly, is all you had to do was stay, Prince. We’d have made you a king. And I bet SOMEONE in the Milwaukee locker room would have been a bro and stopped you from doing ESPN’s Body Issue.
6) Shake It Off – Troy Tulowitzki
Just think while you’ve been getting down and out about the liars and the dirty, dirty cheats of the world, you could’ve been getting down to this. sick. beat.
We’ve already re-hashed Braun’s self-inflicted tribulations today, so we won’t beat a dead horse YES WE WILL. The Brewers drafted baseball’s biggest tool with the fifth overall pick in 2005 in what may have been the most loaded draft class of all time. Who was the seventh pick that year well guess what it was Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo’s had issues throughout his career with staying on the field, but when he’s been healthy, he’s provided a corner outfield bat while being among the best defenders in the league at a premium position. It’s impossible to speculate of course, but I can guarantee the Brewers would be 3-time World Series champions had they drafted Tulo over Braun.
7) I Wish You Would – Yovani Gallardo
You always knew how to push my buttons. You give me everything and nothing.
Speaking of Braun, it boggles my mind that Yovani remains a beloved member of the Brewers after putting lives in danger when he was arrested for DUI, but Braun has been blackballed for hurting really nothing except his own reputation. There’s a lot of things we’ll forgive as a sports-loving society: DUI, manslaughter, running a dog fighting ring, domestic violence, gambling addiction, probably murdering someone, etc. But by god if you cheat by giving yourself an unfair advantage while playing a children’s game and then lie to protect yourself, well that we just can’t forgive.
Anyway, Yovani has been a frustrating player over his eight year career, showing flashes of ace-status for a while and then seemingly losing his way for months at a time. We’ll see who shows up in 2015.
8) Bad Blood – St. Louis Cardinals
Did you have to hit me where I’m weak baby I couldn’t breathe and rub it in so deep, salt in the wound like you’re laughing right at me?
The Cardinals are the worst. If the Brewers are Taylor Swift, the Cardinals are John Mayer. My second favorite baseball team in the world is whichever team is playing the dang Cardinals. Rooting for the Arizona Cardinals football team made me viscerally ill last month. I hope all the Cardinals have to go to superhell for 500 years when they die.
9) Wildest Dreams – Jim Henderson
Say you’ll see me again, even if it’s just in your wildest dreams.
The Brewers bullpen put up some incredible numbers over the first two months of 2014, then really fell off a cliff as guys like Will Smith and Tyler Thornburg started to break down from overuse due largely to Jim Henderson prolonged absence and the Brewers’ steadfast refusal to admit the Wei-Chung Wang experiment had been a colossal failure. Henderson wound end up missing the remained of the year after making just 14 disappointing appearances, following a question-filled spring that led to him shockingly ceding the closer role to K-Rod on Opening Day. Not coincidentally, the Brewers slide back to mediocrity followed the same timeline. If Henderson can come back and return to his 2013 form, it should help shore up a thin Brewers bullpen.
10) How You Get The Girl – Gilbert Lara
I want you for worse or for better, I would wait forever and ever
Before last summer, the Brewers had never spent more than $800,000 on an international signing. They nearly tripled that when they spent $3.1 million to sign Lara, No. 4 on MLB.com’s Top 30 international prospects list. It’ll be a long while before the 16-year-old power-hitting shortstop will arrive at the major league level, but he has one of the highest upsides in the Brewers’ improving farm system.
11) This Love – Jean Segura
When you’re young, you just run, but you come back to what you need.
It’s no secret young Jean struggled at the plate, producing at a rate that was troublingly more similar to the second half of his rookie year, rather than the first half that made him an all-star in 2013. So if the bat just isn’t going to be there, Jean is going to have to rely on the two tools he still has in his belt: his glove and his speed. Just run, Jean. Run, and never look back. Well, okay, you can look back. But don’t lose track of where you started. Well, okay, you can lose track of where you started. Just don’t…
…you know what? Never mind. You do you, Jean.
12) I Know Places – Jeremy Jeffress
I know places we won’t be found and they’ll be chasing their tails trying to track us down ’cause I know places we can hide.
Jeffress was once considered the top prospect in Brewers system, but he wore out his welcome when repeated failed drug tests left him one missstep away from a lifetime ban and was traded in a package to the Royals for Yuniesky Betancourt and a pitcher. He was sold to Toronto after a disappointing turn with Kansas City, and the Brewers brought him back the Blue Jays cut him last year. Jeffress shined over the last half of 2014, turning into one of Roenicke’s most dependable relievers. Now safely in MLB where they don’t test for marijuana use, Jeremy is safe from the punishment that threatened to end his career. Go ahead and toke up^, Jeremy, you’ve earned it.
13) Clean – Ron Roenicke
The drought was the very worst, when the flowers that we’d grown together died of thirst. It was months and months of back and forth…
The drought the Brewers went through in the back half of 2014 is one most die-hards won’t soon forget, as we watched a blossoming team whither and die on live TV night after night. And you know, you just never want to be that guy. If you have any sense at all, you don’t want to be the guy that’s screaming for the manager’s head when the team fails to meet expectations. So, I’m not trying to be that guy. I’m really not.
But you have a team that was 19 games over .500 with a 6.5 game lead on the rest of the division on June 28th, and then went 31-48 the rest of the way to not only blow the division but miss the playoffs by a wide margin. You have to figure out what happened and who should be held accountable. And when you take a look at what went wrong for the 2014 Brewers, the answer is, “absolutely dadgum everything.” Over the final three months of the season, the Brewers hit, pitched and fielded like a drinking team with a softball problem. They found new and exciting ways to lose games seemingly twice a week. They made the types of errors that get weeded out when games still end with Capri Suns and orange slices. So maybe Ron Roenicke is a good manager, and maybe the players just let him down. Or maybe how in the world does he still have this job? My god.
14) Wonderland – Mike Fiers
We found Wonderland, you and I got lost in it, and we pretended it could last forever.
Fiers had a dream season in 2014. Pressed into the major league rotation after starting the season in AAA, he recorded a 2.13 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 71.2 innings, and was over the final two months of the season seemingly the only Brewers regular who had any interest in winning baseball games. We’ve seen this act from Fiers before though, when he burst on the scene in 2012 only to fall apart in September as major league hitters got a chance to watch film and adapt to his tendencies, a trend that continued into an injury plagued 2013 season. It’s probably silly to pretend that Fiers can produce at that level going forward, but maybe we’ve found Wonderland.
15) You Are In Love – Jonathan Lucroy
‘Cause you can hear it in the silence, you can feel it on the way home, you can see it with the lights out. you’re in love, true love.
The rest of the league found out what Brewers fans already knew during Lucroy’s breakout season in 2014: that’s he’s one of the best young catchers in baseball. What’s not to love? He led the league in doubles, setting a record for doubles by a catcher along the way, en route to a sparkling .837 OPS which earned him a fourth place finish in MVP voting. We already knew he was capable of this, of course, as Lucroy actually posted a higher OPS and slash line in his 2012 season that was cut short by a totally normal, ordinary everyday sports injury. Lucroy has swiftly filled the “face of the franchise” void vacated by Braun two years ago.
16) New Romantics – Matt Garza
We hang back, it’s all in the timing. It’s poker, he can’t see it in my face but I’m about to play by ace.
Garza’s Brewers career got off the a rough start. After a tough luck loss in his debut in which he allowed just one run on two hits over eight innings, Garza struggled mightily, and his ERA ballooned to nearly 5 at the end of May. He seemed to flip a switch as the calendar turned however, and was the Brewers best pitcher by a wide margin for two months until his yearly injury robbed the Brewers of their ace at the worst possible time. The Brewers will need June and July Matt to show up more often in 2015, and hope that their ace can stay healthy for a majority of the year.
*This is not true. It is assumed Taylor just actively roots against the favorite team of whichever Hollywood hunk she most recently engaged in a public break-up with.
^Bucky’s Beer Cheese Co. does not condone the recreational use of marijuana, which is considered a controlled substance by the state of Wisconsin. Stay in school and don’t do drugs.