On January 26, 1997, the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XXXI. That championship was the very first title, in my lifetime, for one of the local teams (Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Wisconsin Badgers) that I grew up rooting for. I had waited just over 19 years to witness my first championship, and it seemed, at the time, that the Packers were a dynasty in the making. And then, BALL KICK, something that has happened over and over and over in my “adult” life…instead of celebrating championships, I end up witnessing ball busting heartbreak. With that, I bring you…The 11-ish (10 wasn’t enough) Biggest Ball Kicks since Super Bowl XXXI:
1. Super Bowl XXXII. Packers (24) vs Broncos (31). Easily the number one moment on this list. After breezing through the regular season and playoffs, the Packers entered Super Bowl XXXII as double digit favorites to repeat as NFL champions…as the NFC had won 13 straight Super Bowls. Instead, Terrell Davis gashed the Packers defense for 157 yards and three touchdowns and was named the game’s MVP. I still get sick seeing the above image of John Elway helicoptoring through the air.
2. 2015 NCAA Championship. Wisconsin (63) vs Duke (68). This is from an earlier post. I was actually at this game…and I wake up almost every single day thinking about being up nine points in the second half. I’m not sure Wisconsin will ever be in that position again during my lifetime…but if they are, you can guarantee I’ll be there to watch. And don’t think I’ve forgotten about these two calls…#DuckFuke
No call…Winslow clearly steps out!
Duke ball…and Winslow was clearly the last to touch it!
3. 2014 NFC Championship. Packers (22) vs Seahawks (28) OT. An all-time Puddy performance for former head coach Mike McCarthy…he should have been fired after this game! The Packers led 16-0 at halftime and 19-7 with under three minutes left in the game. The above play will forever stand out, but there were multiple mistakes made by the Packers in this debacle.
4. 2018 NLCS Game 7. Brewers (1) vs Dodgers (5). Again, I was at this game…tickets courtesy of manager Craig Counsell (which we had to pay face value for). The Crew took a 1-0 lead on a Christian Yelich home run in the first inning and we were dancing in the aisles. A two-run dinger by Cody Bellinger in the 2nd inning and a Yasiel Puig three-run shot in the 6th were more than enough runs for the Dodgers as the Brewers failed to score after the Yelich homer. It was a quiet ride home from Miller Park…no words were spoken.
5. 2019 Eastern Conference Finals. Bucks (2) vs Raptors (4). After the Bucks took a 2-0 lead in the series, I went ahead and purchased a flight to Oakland. At that time, it looked like the Bucks were well on their way to facing the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals (the plan was to see Game 4 at Oracle and fly home for Game 5 in Milwaukee). After losing Game 3 of the series in double overtime on the road (a game Giannis fouled out), I was still convinced the Bucks would close this one out and head to the Finals, but it wasn’t meant to be and the final three games of the series were a slow death for this loyal Bucks fan. Note: I did attend the Bucks 108-100 Game 1 win at the Fiserv Forum.
6. 2001 Eastern Conference Finals. Bucks (3) vs 76ers (4). This was David Stern’s NBA…no one wanted the Bucks in the Finals versus the Los Angeles Lakers. The NBA preferred an Allen Iverson led Philadelphia 76ers team. The Bucks won Game 6 at the Bradley Center behind Ray Allen’s 41 points to force Game 7 in Philly. In Game 6, Scott Williams was charged with a flagrant foul, but not thrown out of the game. The league later suspended Williams for Game 7, a game the Bucks lost 108-91. In the series, the Sixers finished with advantages of 186-120 in free throws, 12-3 in technicals, and 5-0 in flagrant fouls. Only time has, slightly, healed this wound.
7a. 2007 NFC Championship. Packers (20) vs Giants (23) OT. A game I could have attended, but with a game time temperature of -1 degrees and a windchill of -23, plus the fact that I was coming off my 30th birthday surprise party, I chose to pass on this one. And what did I miss…nothing but Brett Favre’s last pass as a Green Bay Packer, which was intercepted on the second play of overtime and helped set up Lawrence Tynes game winning field goal. It was also the first NFL/NFC Championship game loss at home for the Packers.
7b. 2020 NFC Championship. Packers (26) vs Buccaneers (31). Aaron Rodgers went 33 of 48 for 346 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, but fell to 1-4 in NFC Championship games as the starting quarterback. I really feel for Rodgers (the clear MVP of the league), not only does he have to provide all the offense for this team year in and year out (with little help coming from the draft and free agency), but he has to constantly cover up the mistakes on defense and special teams…especially in these conference championship games. The Packers have really wasted the talents of Rodgers and now go into an offseason filled with questions. There are no absolutes in the NFL…except for Tom Brady apparently. F him!
8. 2011 NLCS Game 6. Brewers (6) vs Cardinals (12). I had tickets to Game 7 of this series so I was really hoping that the Brewers could pull out Game 6 at Miller Park. Well, Ron Roenicke decided to trot Shaun Marcum out for Game 6…and was that a mistake! Marcum was gassed heading into this game (as evidenced by his 8.18 ERA in his previous six starts) and series MVP David Freese made him pay by hitting a three-run blast in the first inning as the Cardinals jumped out to 4-0 lead. Marcum was pulled after the 1st, and the Crew tried to make a game of it, but ultimately three errors did not help their cause on this particular day.
9. 2019 NL Wild Card Game. Brewers (3) vs Nationals (4). The Brewers got out to a 3-0 lead as Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run home run in the 1st inning and Eric Thames added a solo shot in the 2nd and the Crew had Max Scherzer on the ropes early. Brandon Woodruff went a solid four innings as the initial out getter (allowing one run on a Trea Turner homer) and Brent Suter and Drew Pomeranz kept Washington off the board after that, sending the game to Josh Hader in the 8th for a two-inning save. Hader, who was 2nd in the NL with 37 saves, struggled with his command from the onset. After a very questionable hit by pitch (replay failed again as the ball clearly hit the knob of the bat), Hader allowed a broken bat single and a walk to load the bases. Juan Soto laced a two-run single to right field, but Trent Grisham (playing in place of the injured Christian Yelich) badly misplayed the ball to allow the eventual winning run to cross the plate. *The Nationals would go on to win the 2019 World Series, four games to three, over the Houston Astros.
Sidenote: Just two games earlier, in Game 161 of the season (a game that included possibly the catch of the year from Lorenzo Cain), Hader gave up a game tying home run with two outs in the 9th as the Brewers lost to Colorado 3-2 in 10 innings, preventing Milwaukee from catching St. Louis atop the Central Division. The game was not without controversy as Cain was injured sliding into home when Rockies catcher Tony Wolters blocked the plate in the top of the 9th (again, replay did not overturn the call). Game 162 of the season would not matter much as the Cardinals would go on to blast the Cubs 9-0 to claim the Central Division crown. The Crew would finish two games back of St. Louis and concluded the month of September with a 20-7 mark and a 13-5 record without the injured Yelich.
10. 2011 NFC Divisional Round. Packers (20) vs Giants (37). Just another game that I was at. I also had NFC Championship game tickets (see above) had the Packers (15-1) been able to get past the Giants. I’ll forever remember watching Packers’ receivers drop eight passes from Aaron Rodgers and the Giants connecting on a Hail Mary to end the first half…it happened right in front of us (and Charles Woodson) in the north end zone. As New York took a 30-13 lead in the 4th quarter, I couldn’t believe how many Packers fans were heading for the exits. We stayed (till the end) and watched the New York fans take over the seats behind the Giants’ bench…embarrassing effort by Packers fans on this day.
11. 2011 Rose Bowl. Wisconsin (19) vs TCU (21). Guess what, I was at this game. As I look back at this contest, I’ll always remember the dropped passes, the six penalties on the nation’s least-penalized team, Phillip Welch missing a 39-yard field goal in the second quarter, and (usually aggressive) Bret Bielema’s decision to settle for a field goal late in the first half. The #unbielemable hashtag was coined later after this game when Big Game Bret decided to go with a shotgun formation on the game tying two-point attempt, after the Badgers had just run the ball down the Horned Frog’s throat on the previous drive. The rest is history…as Wisconsin would lose the next two Rose Bowl games (2012 – Oregon 45, Wisconsin 38 and 2013 – Stanford 20, Wisconsin 14), even Barry Alvarez couldn’t salvage a win in the last one, as #unbielemable left for Arkansas. Good riddance!
January 1st, 2020: Welcome to the next decade, Wisconsin drops the 2020 Rose Bowl to Oregon 28-27, and now becomes the Buffalo Bills by losing four straight in Pasadena. The Badgers had their chances in this game, but four turnovers, nine penalties, and a missed field goal proved costly. A controversial offensive pass interference call on Wisconsin will be remembered in this one, as the refs and replay continue to get in the way of themselves in these type of big games.
MORE ball kick moments that just missed out on making the top 11-ish. (These events are in order by date).
1998 NFC Wild Card. Packers (27) vs 49ers (30). The game is often referred to as The Catch II, but I’ll always remember that Jerry Rice fumbled.
Ray Rhodes hired as Packers Head Coach (1999). The “Dark Year” as some of my friends call it. At least Ron Wolf knew he made a mistake and canned Rhodes immediately after his one season as head coach.
2000 Final Four. Wisconsin (41) vs Michigan State (53). The Spartans led 19-17 at the half. Michigan State beat Wisconsin four times that season.
2003 NFC Divisional Round. Packers (17) vs Eagles (20) OT. 4th and 26…do I really need to say more? Years later, I got to see LeRoy Butler break down that play in an all-school assembly.
Brett Favre retiring…and then unretiring (2008). Seeing Favre playing for the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings still seems odd. It took me awhile to get over this.
2009 NFC Wild Card. Packers (45) vs Cardinals (51) OT. Joe Buck with the call, “Rodgers, gets a hand to the face…the ball is out.” Karlos Dansby would scoop up the fumble and run it in for the winning score. There was no flag on the play.
September 24, 2012 (Week 3). Packers (12) vs Seahawks (14). Simply known as the Fail Mary game. Just another Roger Goodell mistake. The real referees were back the following week thanks to this travesty.
2013 NFC Wild Card. Packers (20) vs 49ers (23). The 8-7-1 Packers lose one of the coldest games in NFL playoff history as Phil Dawson drills a 33-yard field goal as time expired.
2014 Final Four. Wisconsin (73) vs Kentucky (74). Aaron Harrison drills a deep three-pointer over Josh Gasser to send Kentucky to the title game in the closing seconds of the game.
2014 Brewers. A 20-7 start allowed Milwaukee to stay atop the NL Central for five months, but was wasted by a 9-22 record down the stretch as the Crew fails to make the playoffs, finishing with an 82-80 record.
2015 NFC Divisional Round. Packers (20) vs Cardinals (26) OT. Aaron Rodgers completes TWO Hail Mary’s to Jeff Janis in this game…the final one forcing OT. Then the coin DOES NOT flip before overtime and the Packers offense would never see the ball as Larry Fitzgerald takes over.
2016 Sweet Sixteen. Wisconsin (56) vs Notre Dame (61). The Irish score the game’s final eight points as the Badgers cannot buy a bucket, or call, down the stretch.
2017 Sweet Sixteen. Wisconsin (83) vs Florida (84) OT. Zak Showalter hits a running three-pointer to force overtime (does the belt to a courtside Aaron Rodgers in the Garden). But, in overtime, Florida’s Chris Chiozza (I’ll never forget that name) drives the length of the court in four seconds and hits his own running three-pointer for the win.
2017 Big Ten Championship. Wisconsin (21) vs Ohio State (27). The 12-0 Badgers miss out on an opportunity to play in the College Football Playoff. The turf also literally fell apart in this game.
The Badgers, having dealt with the Howard Moore family car accident, Micah Potter’s eligibility, and Kobe King’s transfer, found a way to win a share of the Big Ten regular season championship, and looked poised to make a run in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments before their season was canceled due to the coronavirus (at least we will always have this).
The Bucks had a league best 53-12 record when the NBA suspended the season on March 11th after Rudy Goebert tested positive for COVID-19. Milwaukee was never the same team when their season resumed on July 31st in the Bubble at the ESPN Wild World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. The Bucks went 3-5 in the seeding round of games, beat the Orlando Magic (4-1) in their first round series, but were eliminated by the 5th seeded Miami Heat in the conference semifinals after a controversial Game 2 ending and Giannis playing through an injured ankle in Games 3 and 4…ultimately having to sit out Game 5 due to that injury.
2021 NLDS. Despite winning 95 games and the National League Central Division by five games, the Brewers lost to the Atlanta Braves in four games. Milwaukee won Game 1 of the series thanks to a Rowdy Tellez two-run home run, but went the next 22 innings without scoring a run. The Brewers lost Games 2 and 3 by identical scores of 3-0, as they were shutout in back to back games for the first time all season. Milwaukee finally scored some runs in Game 4, but with the game tied at 4 in the 8th inning, Josh Hader served up a solo home run to Freddie Freeman as Atlanta took a 5-4 lead. In the top of the 9th, former MVP Christian Yelich struck out looking on just three pitches to “fittingly” end the game and the season for the Brewers. For the series, Yelich was 3 for 15 with no extra base hits or RBIs and eight strikeouts. The series was also without 2020 Rookie of the Year, Devin Williams, who injured his hand after punching a wall hours after clinching the NL Central crown.
It wasn’t all Yelich’s fault, as the Brewers put up the following offensive numbers for the NLDS:
.192 batting average (24 for 125)
6 runs, 5 extra-base hits (three doubles and two home runs – both by Tellez)
It had been 3,817 days since the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV. At times, it felt like a Championship would never happen again for any of the teams that I grew up watching. I have witnessed so many ball kicks since February 6, 2011, and too many of them in person!
During Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rookie season, I attended 26 home games. The Bucks were so bad that season (they won only 15 games and I saw seven of those wins), that they offered a Black Friday special where you could attend the remaining home games for only $99, TOTAL! My friend Robin and I jumped on that deal and saw some of the worst basketball the city of Milwaukee has ever seen. The highlight of those 26 games was seeing a Coolio concert at halftime and the numerous fan giveaways…so many posters!
Great decorations for a classroom…I should have kept them.
So to be at Game 6 of the NBA Finals (thank you Justin and my wife for helping me pull the trigger on tickets), and see the Bucks raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy on their home court, is definitely the greatest sports moment that I have ever witnessed. As I sent out the tweet, “WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” tears of joy streamed down my face, the same tears I had on that February night back in 2011.
Sports are such an emotional ride, but when your team comes out on top, there is no greater thrill. Again, a huge THANK YOU to the Milwaukee Bucks…your 2021 NBA CHAMPIONS!!!
Matching shirts…and we bought even more matching shirts later!
NUTS!!! Brandon Jennings and the moment you knew it was really going to happen…IN YOUR LIFE!
MVP! MVP! MVP!
UPDATE… I still cannot believe I saw an actual victory parade in the streets of Milwaukee…and I cannot believe I saw Matzek in that parade (actually, that part I can believe).
Not the best seat in the house, but I was there…WHAT. A. RIDE.
We have finally reached the end of my completed Topps baseball card sets (hopefully you didn’t miss out on the ‘87, ‘88, ‘89, and ‘90 editions). We have also reached the final week without baseball…as a week from tomorrow, the 60 game regular season begins! So with that, I introduce to you, the 1991 Topps Future Stars ranked (my final edition)…
6. Lance Dickson was selected by the Chicago Cubs with the 23rd overall pick in the 1990 Major League Baseball Draft. Dickson pitched in 11 minor league games (going 7-3 with a 0.94 ERA while recording 111 strikeouts in just 76.1 innings) before being called up by the Cubs. Dickson lasted only three games with the Cubs before being sent back down to the minors, and never made his way back to the majors. Dickson’s career numbers are:
Win-loss record: 0-3
5. Tim McIntosh was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the third round (61st pick) of the 1986 MLB Draft. McIntosh was the 1986 Cape Cod Baseball League batting champ (.392 average). McIntosh spent five years (71 games) in the majors, playing for the Brewers, Expos, and Yankees. McIntosh’s career numbers are:
Batting average: .179
Home runs: 2
4. Brian Barnes was selected by the Montreal Expos in the fourth round (97th pick) of the 1989 MLB Draft. Barnes pitched for the Expos, Indians, and Dodgers during his five years in the big leagues. Barnes’ career numbers are:
Win-loss record: 14-22
3. Rich Garces was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Minnesota Twins in 1987. Garces pitched for the Twins, Marlins, Cubs, and Red Sox during his 10 year major league career. Garces was one of the American League’s top set-up men during his time in Boston. Garces career numbers are:
Win-loss record: 23-10
2. Greg Colbrunn was selected by the Montreal Expos in the sixth round (148th pick) of the 1987 MLB Draft. Colbrunn played for seven different organizations (Expos, Marlins, Twins, Braves, Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Mariners) during his 13 years in the big leagues. Colbrunn batted .344 during nine postseason series appearances and was a World Series Champion with Arizona in 2001. Colbrunn’s career numbers are:
Batting average: .289
Home runs: 98
1. Jose Offerman was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1986. Offerman, who homered in his first MLB at-bat, spent 15 years in the majors, playing for the Dodgers, Royals, Red Sox, Mariners, Twins, Phillies, and Mets. Offerman was an All-Star with the Dodgers in 1995 and the Red Sox in 1999. Offerman’s career numbers are:
Batting average: .273
Home runs: 57
Bonus – #1 Draft Picks: Just like in 1990, Topps made cards for the top 10 draft picks (pick #2 has no card…more on that later) from the previous year’s MLB draft (’90). Here are those cards, and that players’ career major league numbers…
1st pick – Chipper Jones (Atlanta Braves)
19 year career with the Braves.
Batting average: .303
Home runs: 468
2nd pick – Tony Clark (Detroit Tigers)
Topps did not make a card for Clark due to his college basketball career at the University of Arizona and San Diego State. Clark is now the current executive director for the MLB Players Association.
3rd pick – Mike Lieberthal (Philadelphia Phillies)
14 year career with the Phillies and Dodgers.
Batting average: .274
Home runs: 150
4th pick – Alex Fernandez (Chicago White Sox)
10 year career with the White Sox and Marlins
Win-loss record: 107-87
5th pick– Kurt Miller (Pittsburgh Pirates)
5 year career with the Marlins and Cubs
Win-loss record: 2-7
6th pick– Marc Newfield (Seattle Mariners)
6 year career with the Mariners, Padres, and Brewers.
Batting average: .249
Home runs: 22
7th pick– Dan Wilson (Cincinnati Reds)
14 year career with the Reds and Mariners.
Batting average: .262
Home runs: 88
8th pick– Tim Costo (Cleveland Indians)
2 year career with the Reds.
Batting average: .224
Home runs: 3
9th pick– Ronnie Walden (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Did not pitch in the majors.
10th pick– Carl Everett (New York Yankees)
14 year career with the Marlins, Mets, Astros, Red Sox, Rangers, White Sox, Expos, and Mariners.
Batting average: .271
Home runs: 202
11th pick– Shane Andrews (Montreal Expos)
7 year career with the Expos, Cubs, and Red Sox.
Batting average: .220
Home runs: 86
And that is the rankings of the 1991 Topps Future Stars and #1 Draft Picks. Again, some hits, some misses, and plenty of stories to go around with each card…especially the #1 Draft Picks (all but Walden appeared in the majors). And that is it, I have finally run out of completed Topps baseball card sets. It is now time for some real baseball…LET’S GO BREWERS!
You’re not sick of this yet…are you?! Hopefully you didn’t miss out on the ‘87, ‘88, and ‘89 editions. Real baseball games are less than two weeks away…barring any setbacks. So with that, I introduce to you, the 1990 Topps Future Stars ranked…
5.Alex Sanchez was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays with the 17th overall pick in the 1987 Major League Baseball Draft. Sanchez was named Pitcher of the Year for the International League in 1989 while a member of the Syracuse Chiefs. Sanchez’s big league career would last just 11.2 innings and his career numbers are:
Win-loss record: 0-1
4. Eric Anthony was selected by the Houston Astros in the 34th round (795th pick) of the 1986 MLB Draft. Anthony was named the Southern League MVP while playing for the Columbus Mudcats in 1989. Anthony spent time with five different clubs (Astros, Mariners, Reds, Rockies, and Dodgers) during his nine seasons in the majors and his career numbers are:
Batting average: .231
Home runs: 78
3. Mark Gardner was selected by the Montreal Expos in the 8th round (192nd pick) of the 1985 MLB Draft. Gardner pitched in 345 games for the Expos, Royals, Marlins, and Giants during his 13 year career in the bigs. Gardner was used as a starter and as a long reliever and his career numbers are:
Win-loss record: 99-93
2. Todd Zeile was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2nd round (55th pick) of the 1986 MLB Draft. Zeile broke into the majors as a catcher, but eventually moved to third/first base. Zeile played for 11 different organizations (Cardinals, Cubs, Phillies, Orioles, Dodgers, Marlins, Rangers, Mets, Rockies, Yankees, and Expos) during his 16 year career. Only five players have played for more teams than Zeile and his career numbers are:
Batting average: .265
Home runs: 253
1. Greg Vaughn was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers with the 4th overall pick in the 1986 MLB Draft (Secondary Phase). Vaughn was a four time All-Star (1993, 1996, 1998, and 2001) and won the Silver Slugger Award in 1998. Vaughn played for the Brewers, Padres, Reds, Devil Rays, and Rockies during his 15 seasons in the majors. Greg is a cousin to fellow major leaguers Jerry Royster and Mo Vaughn and his career numbers are:
Batting average: .242
Home runs: 355
Bonus – #1 Draft Picks: Just like in 1989, Topps made cards for the top 10 draft picks (picks #10 and #11 did not sign – hence no cards) from the previous year’s MLB draft (’89). Here are those cards, and that players’ career major league numbers…
1st pick – Ben McDonald (Baltimore Orioles)
9 year career with the Orioles and Brewers.
Win-loss record: 78-70
2nd pick – Tyler Houston (Atlanta Braves)
8 year career with the Braves, Cubs, Indians, Brewers, Dodgers and Phillies.
Batting average: .265
Home runs: 63
3rd pick – Roger Salkeld (Seattle Mariners)
3 year career with the Mariners and Reds.
Win-loss record: 10-10
4th pick – Jeff Jackson (Philadelphia Phillies)
Did not play in the majors
5th pick – Donald Harris (Texas Rangers)
3 year career with the Rangers
Batting average: .204
Home runs: 2
6th pick – Paul Coleman (St. Louis Cardinals)
Did not play in the majors
7th pick – Frank Thomas (Chicago White Sox)
19 year career with the White Sox, Athletics, and Blue Jays
Batting average: .301
Home runs: 521
8th pick – Earl Cunningham (Chicago Cubs)
Did not play in the majors
9th pick – Kyle Abbott (California Angels)
4 year career with the Angels and Phillies.
Win-loss record: 4-17
10th pick – Charles Johnson (Montreal Expos)
Topps did not make a card for Johnson as he did not sign with Montreal. Johnson decided to enroll at the University of Miami instead.
11th pick – Calvin Murray (Cleveland Indians)
Topps did not make a card for Murray as he did not sign with Cleveland. Murray decided to enroll at the University of Texas instead.Calvin is also the uncle of Kyler Murray.
12th pick – Jeff Juden (Houston Astros)
8 year career with the Astros, Phillies, Giants, Expos, Indians, Brewers, Angels, and Yankees.
Win-loss record: 27-32
And that is the rankings of the 1990 Topps Future Stars and #1 Draft Picks. Again, some hits, some misses, and plenty of stories to go around with each card…especially the #1 Draft Picks that didn’t sign. Stay tuned for the 1991 Topps Future Stars and #1 Draft Picks…the final edition of my completed Topps sets!
Spring Training 2.0 is almost underway…baseball is coming back! You know what else is coming back…the Future Star? Wait, what happened to the Future Stars (see ‘87 and ‘88)? Apparently, in 1989, Topps decided to label these cards as Future Star instead of Future Stars. And just like in 1988, Topps assigned only five players as Future Star(s) in their 1989 baseball card set. So with that, I introduce to you, the 1989 Topps Future Star(s) ranked…
5. Steve Searcy was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the third round (80th pick) of the 1985 Major League Baseball Draft. At the 1987 trade deadline, the Tigers, looking for a veteran arm, opted to trade John Smolz (for Doyle Alexander) instead of Searcy, to the Atlanta Braves. Searcy was named the International League Pitcher of the Year in 1988, and was a late season call up by Detroit. Searcy spent five injury riddled seasons in the majors playing for the Tigers and Phillies. Searcy’s career numbers are:
Win-loss record: 6-13
4. Mike Harkey was selected by the Chicago Cubs with the fourth overall pick in the 1987 MLB Draft. Harkey dealt with shoulder and arm injuries early in his Cubs career and even injured his knee attempting a cartwheel during pregame warm-ups in 1992. Harkey spent most of his eight seasons in the bigs with the Cubs, but also pitched for the Rockies, Athletics, Angels, and Dodgers. Harkey’s career numbers are:
Win-loss record: 36-36
3. Gregg Jefferies was selected by the New York Mets with the 20th overall pick in the 1985 MLB Draft. Jefferies was named the Minor League Player of the Year in 1986 and 1987, and was called up by the Mets at the age of 19. Along with the Mets, Jefferies spent his 14 year playing career with the Royals, Cardinals, Phillies, Angels, and Tigers. Jefferies appeared in back to back All-Star Games as a member of the Cardinals in 1993 and 1994. Jefferies career numbers are:
Batting average: .289
Home runs: 126
2. Sandy Alomar Jr. was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the San Diego Padres in 1983. Alomar Jr. spent 20 seasons in the majors, playing for the Padres, Indians, White Sox, Rockies, Rangers, Dodgers, and Mets. In 1990, Alomar Jr. was named the American League Rookie of the Year with the Indians, won the Gold Glove Award, and became the first rookie catcher to start in an All-Star Game. Alomar Jr. would play in five more All-Star Games during his time in Cleveland (winning MVP honors at the 1997 game). Alomar Jr.’s career numbers are:
Batting average: .273
Home runs: 112
1. Gary Sheffield was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers with the sixth overall pick in the 1986 MLB Draft. Sheffield spent his 22 year major league career playing for the Brewers, Padres, Marlins, Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, Tigers, and Mets. Sheffield was a nine time All-Star, five time Silver Slugger Award winner, won the National League batting title in 1992, and was a World Series Champion with the Marlins in 1997. Sheffield used steroids and his career numbers are:
Batting average: .292
Home runs: 509
Bonus – #1 Draft Pick: In 1989, for the first time ever, Topps made cards for the top 10 draft picks from the previous year’s MLB draft (1988). Here are those cards, and that players’ career major league numbers…
1st pick – Andy Benes (San Diego Padres)
14 year career with the Padres, Mariners, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks.
Win-loss record: 155-139
2nd pick – Mark Lewis (Cleveland Indians)
11 year career with the Indians, Reds, Tigers, Giants, Phillies, and Orioles.
Batting average: .263
Home runs: 48
3rd pick – Steve Avery (Atlanta Braves)
11 year career with the Braves, Red Sox, Reds, and Tigers.
Win-loss record: 96-83
4th pick – Gregg Olson (Baltimore Orioles)
14 year career with the Orioles, Braves, Indians, Royals, Tigers, Astros, Twins, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers.
Win-loss record: 40-39
5th pick – Bill Bene (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Did not pitch in the majors.
6th pick – Monty Fariss (Texas Rangers)
3 year career with the Rangers and Marlins.
Batting average: .217
Home runs: 4
7th pick – Willie Ansley (Houston Astros)
Did not play in the majors.
8th pick – Jim Abbott (California Angels)
10 year career with the Angels, Yankees, White Sox, and Brewers.
Win-loss record: 87-108
9th pick – Ty Griffin (Chicago Cubs)
Did not play in the majors.
10th pick – Robin Ventura (Chicago White Sox)
16 year career with the White Sox, Mets, Yankees, and Dodgers.
Batting average: .267
Home runs: 294
And that is the rankings of the 1989 Topps Future Star(s) and #1 Draft Picks. Again, some hits, some misses, and plenty of stories to go around with each card…especially the #1 Draft Picks. Stay tuned for the 1990 Topps Future Stars and #1 Draft Picks!
Baseball is back…I could not be more excited! And you know what else is back, the Future Stars…this time, the 1988 Edition (please tell me you did not miss out on the 1987 Future Stars). In 1988, Topps assigned the following five players as Future Stars in their baseball card set. I introduce to you, the 1988 Topps Future Stars ranked…
5. Joey Meyer was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the fifth round (132nd pick) of the 1983 Major League Baseball Draft. In 1984, Meyer hit 30 home runs in just 475 at bats, earning Midwest League MVP for the Beloit Snappers. And in 1987, Meyer would hit 29 home runs in only 79 games with the Denver Zephyrs as one of those homers measured 582 feet…the longest in professional history. Meyer would only spend two seasons in the majors with Milwaukee as he struck out a whopping 124 times in 156 games. Meyer’s career numbers are:
Batting average: .251
Home runs: 18
4. Mike Campbell was selected by the Seattle Mariners with the 7th pick in the first round of the 1985 MLB Draft. Campbell was named the Pacific Coast League MVP (1987) before making his major league debut with Seattle later that season. Campbell also pitched in the big leagues with the Rangers, Padres, and Cubs over his six year career. Campbell was actually traded to the Montreal Expos along with Mark Langston in a five player deal in which the Mariners received Randy Johnson, Brian Holman and Gene Harris. Campbell’s career numbers are:
Win-loss record: 12-19
3. Jose Lind was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1982. Lind played for three ball clubs (Pirates, Royals, and Angels) during his nine year playing career. Lind won a Gold Glove at second base in 1992, breaking Ryne Sandberg’s nine straight Gold Glove Awards at that position. Lind’s career numbers are:
Batting average: .254
Home runs: 9
2. Kevin Elster was selected by the New York Mets in the second round of the 1984 MLB free agent draft. Elster was known for his glove and broke a 42 year old record by playing in 88 straight games at shortstop without committing an error (Cal Ripken Jr. would break that record in 1990, playing in 95 errorless games). Elster would go on to play for five more organizations (Yankees, Phillies, Rangers, Pirates, and Dodgers) over his 13 year big league career. Elster was a World Series Champion as a member of the 1986 Mets and won the 1996 Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year award while playing for the Rangers. Elster’s career numbers are:
Batting average: .228
Home runs: 88
1. Al Leiter was selected by the New York Yankees in the second round (50th pick) of the 1984 MLB Draft. Leiter pitched for the Yankees, Blue Jays, Marlins, and Mets over his 19 year career in the majors. Leiter was an All-Star in 1996 for the Marlins and in 2000 for the Mets. Leiter was a three time World Series Champion (1992 and 1993 with the Blue Jays and 1997 with the Marlins) and pitched the first no-hitter in Marlins history on May 11, 1996 against the Rockies. Leiter also received the Roberto Clemente Award in 2000. Leiter’s career numbers are:
Win-loss record: 162-132
This is not Al Leiter. Topps made this error card and later corrected it with the real Al Leiter (see above). This card is actually Steve George. George never made it to the big leagues…but here are his minor league numbers across six seasons:
Win-loss record: 35-42
And that is the rankings of the 1988 Topps Future Stars. Again, some hits, some misses, and plenty of stories to go around with each card…especially Al Leiter. Stay tuned for the 1989 Topps Future Star(s) plus #1 Draft Picks!
During this pandemic, I have spent a considerable amount of time looking at my old baseball card collections. On Twitter, I was sharing #aBreweraday for several weeks until I finally ran out of completed Topps sets.
So with no baseball yet on the horizon, a friend of mine has tasked me to rank all the Future Stars in my completed Topps sets. Topps assigned the following six players as Future Stars in their 1987 set (my first complete set). I introduce to you, the 1987 Topps Future Stars ranked…
6.Tim Pyznarski was selected by the Oakland Athletics with the 15th pick in the first round of the 1981 Major League Baseball Draft. After being named The Sporting News & Topps 1986 Minor League Player of the Year, Pyznarski played just 15 games in the majors for the San Diego Padres. Pyznarski’s career numbers are:
Batting average: .238
Home runs: 0
5.Pat Dodson was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the sixth round (153rd pick) of the 1980 MLB Draft. Dodson was an International League MVP in the minors, but appeared in only 52 games over three seasons with the Red Sox. Dodson’s career numbers are:
Batting average: .202
Home runs: 4
4.Dave Magadan was selected by the New York Mets in the second round (32nd pick) of the 1983 MLB Draft. Magadan played for seven different clubs (Mets, Marlins, Mariners, Astros, Cubs, Athletics, and Padres) over his 16 year career. Magadan’s career numbers are:
Batting average: .288
Home runs: 42
3. Bo Jackson was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the fourth round (105th pick) of the 1986 MLB Draft. Jackson spent eight years in the majors, playing for the Royals, White Sox, and Angels. Jackson was named to his only All-Star team in 1989 as a member of the Royals. Jackson’s baseball career was hampered by a hip injury that he sustained while playing football for the Los Angeles Raiders in 1991. Jackson’s career numbers are:
Batting average: .250
Home runs: 141
2. B.J. Surhoff was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers with the first overall pick of the 1985 MLB Draft. Surhoff spent 19 years in the big leagues, playing for Milwaukee, Baltimore, and Atlanta. Surhoff was named to his lone All-Star team in 1999 as a member of the Orioles. Surhoff’s career numbers are:
Batting average: .282
Home runs: 188
1. Rafeal Palmeiro was selected by the Chicago Cubs with the 22nd pick in the first round of the 1985 MLB Draft. Palmeiro played for three different organizations (Cubs, Rangers, Orioles) during his 20 year career. Palmeiro was a four time All-Star, three time Gold Glove Award winner, and two time Silver Slugger Award winner. Palmeiro’s career numbers, tainted by the use of steroids, are:
Batting average: .288
Home runs: 569
And that is the rankings of the 1987 Topps Future Stars. Some hits, some misses, and plenty of stories to go around with each card. Stay tuned for the 1988 Topps Future Stars!
Cue Bruce! With no sports to watch for the foreseeable future (I’m dying here), I thought I would put together a list of memorable Wisconsin sports moments…and don’t worry, there are no ball kicks on this list. Only full games made this list…no condensed versions here, because let’s be honest, we have time on our side right now. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy those glory days! Events are in chronological order.
These were just some of the great moments in Wisconsin sports history that I was able to find on YouTube (full games). If Wisconsin moments don’t quite do it for you, check out MLB, NHL Network, and NBA TV as they are showing many classic games now. Update: the NFL too!
All aboard the Cleveland Browns bandwagon! No, I have not changed allegiances (although Cleveland could be referred to as Green Bay East), but I do have a rooting interest in the Browns, as a good friend of mine is a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan…can you imagine the misery of all that! Last season, I hosted a Browns watch party in Week 3, and we witnessed something that had not happened in 635 days…a WIN! It was an epic Thursday night as Baker Mayfield took over for a concussed Tyrod Taylor and led the Browns to victory. Cleveland was transformed, as some may say, as Mayfield became the team’s starting QB moving forward. With some notable offseason additions, the Browns now have a target on their backs (when is the last time that was said), so here is my educated guess on how things will play out in 2019. Bring on the watch parties!
Week 1 – Tennessee Titans…The Titans are coming off a 9-7 season in which they just missed the playoffs by losing at home in Week 17 vs the Indianapolis Colts…that should never happen and the hangover continues in Week 1 at the Dawg Pound. WIN
Week 2 – at New York Jets (MNF)…The Jets were the opponent when the Browns snapped their 19-game winless streak. New York will be looking for revenge at home and this one will be on MNF, but the Jets now have Adam Gase and his crazy eyes at the helm. WIN
Week 3 – Los Angeles Rams (SNF)…Cleveland faces the Rams at just the right time as Los Angeles will be coming off a big game in Week 2 vs the New Orleans Saints (thanks for this PI fiasco), but the Rams are the defending NFC Champions and playing on SNF will actually benefit them coming from the West Coast. LOSS
Week 4 – at Baltimore Ravens…Joe Flacco is gone to the Denver Broncos, and will Lamar Jackson still be upright in Week 4…this game will be ugly and probably end up in overtime (we are talking about the Browns, remember). Insert Browns kicker misses FG wide left for the win. TIE
Week 5 – at San Francisco 49ers (MNF)…The 49ers were bad last year without Jimmy Garoppolo and this will already be Cleveland’s third primetime game…San Francisco will be coming off an early Week 4 bye and this will be more of an offensive battle than most believe…oh yeah, Jimmy’s ready! LOSS
Week 6 – Seattle Seahawks…The Seahawks will have 10 days to prepare for this game as they host the Rams in Week 5 on TNF…Russell Wilson may not survive that matchup or this one vs the Browns D. WIN
Week 7 – BYE
Week 8 – at New England Patriots…Just when everyone starts to think that Cleveland is a contender in the AFC, they get humbled by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in Foxborough (the Patriots will even be on a short week as they play at the Jets on MNF in Week 7). Gronk is probably out of retirement for this one as well. LOSS
Week 9 – at Denver Broncos…Flacco is 17-3 vs the Browns…make it 18-3. LOSS
Week 10 – Buffalo Bills…The return of Kareem Hunt for Cleveland (gulp)…Josh Allen will be exposed in this one and Cole Beasley is sure to leave this game with a concussion…looking forward to seeing Frank Gore rock that Bills #20 jersey¡ WIN
Week 11 – Pittsburgh Steelers (TNF)…The Browns were made for TNF…or did the league create TNF because of them? Either way, this one is bound to be a slugfest and guaranteed to end in overtime. I hope Cleveland has their kicker situation figured out by this game. WIN
Week 12 – Miami Dolphins…There is no way that Ryan Fitzpatrick (Fitzmagic) is still starting in Week 12…right?! That leaves Josh Rosen…poor Josh Rosen…this one is going to be ugly! WIN
Week 13 – at Pittsburgh Steelers…We’re on to Cincinnati. LOSS
Week 14 – Cincinnati Bengals…Dalton, Andy. WIN
Week 15 – at Arizona Cardinals…The Cardinals were brutal last year (but got Puddy fired) and they will be brutal this year…Kliff Kingsbury is their new head coach…he went 35-40 at Texas Tech…by Week 15, Kyler Murray will wish he had stuck with baseball. WIN
Week 16 – Baltimore Ravens…Remember that Week 4 tie…well, this one comes down to the kicker again…insert Browns kicker slides the game winning FG just inside the left upright for the win (oh, the humanity). WIN
Week 17 – at Cincinnati Bengals…See Week 14. WIN
Final Record: 10-5-1, 1st in AFC North.
My Green Bay Packers welcome the Matt LaFleur era to 1265 Lombardi Avenue. MLF becomes the 15th head coach of the Packers and now has the task of leading Green Bay back to the Super Bowl. In 2018, the Packers suffered back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1990-91 (and missed the postseason in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2005-06). A healthy Aaron Rodgers (currently dealing with back issues) will again determine how Green Bay fares this season. Will the Packers finally have an offense that doesn’t rely heavily upon Rodgers scrambling, will the defense finally step up and take some pressure off the offense, and will the special teams unit finally be held accountable for all their mistakes? Puddy is gone, and Green Bay is ready to win (some have said), but have the Packers wasted too many seasons of another future HOF QB. Let’s take a look.
Week 1 – at Chicago Bears (TNF)…The kickoff to the 100th season of the NFL (#thisleague). The Bears were 12-4 last season, and history says they will have a drop off this year. Khalil Mack and the D (minus HHCD) are one of the best in the business. Can Mitchell Trubisky manage this one enough so that it doesn’t come down to the Bears kicker (double doink)? LOSS
Week 2 – Minnesota Vikings…This game last year was marred by a ridiculous Clay Matthews roughing the passer call. This year’s edition will end in a controversial pass interference call against the Packers secondary…and #thisleague will change the PI rule following the outcome of this game. LOSS
Week 3 – Denver Broncos…Denver has been looking for a QB since Peyton Manning retired. Flacco is not the answer (especially when he is not playing against Cleveland). WIN
Week 4 – Philadelphia Eagles (TNF)…Keeping Carson Wentz healthy will be the key to the Eagles success this season…Big Dick Nick (Foles) is no longer around to bail Philly out. This one is bound to be another classic TNF shootout. LOSS
Week 5 – at Dallas Cowboys…The last two times the Packers played at AT&T Stadium, they came away with epic, come from behind wins…and that was with Puddy! Ezekiel Elliott (Zeke who?) is currently holding out, Dak Prescott wants a contract extension for $40 million a year, and Jason Garrett is still the Cowboys HC. WIN
Week 6 – Detroit Lions (MNF)…Remember when Green Bay owned Detroit…especially at Lambeau Field. It’s time for that to start back up again. WIN
Week 7 – Oakland Raiders…Will Antonio Brown find a helmet by this game? I will be attending this game and the Packers never lose regular season games when I attend. WIN
Week 8 – at Kansas City Chiefs (SNF)…Can Patrick Mahomes put together another MVP season and can Tyreek Hill keep his hands to himself all season? The Packers have struggled at Arrowhead Stadium…winning there only twice in franchise history. LOSS
Week 9 – at Los Angeles Chargers…Both teams will be coming off tough road games in Week 8 (Chargers at Chicago)…usually advantage home team, but there will be a lot of Green Bay fans at 27,000 seat Dignity Health Sports Park. LA is going to miss Derwin James this year and they better pay Melvin Gordon III if they want to win this one. LOSS
Week 10 – Carolina Panthers…The Panthers finished 1-7 during the second half of the season last year as Cam Newton’s shoulder was completely wrecked (again). Riverboat Ron (Rivera) will likely take a chance in this one…only to cost his team the game. WIN
Week 11 – BYE
Week 12 – at San Francisco 49ers…If Puddy can go 9-4 (including Ty Montgomery’s mishap last year) following the bye week, MLF can win this one with an extra week to prepare. WIN
Week 13 – at New York Giants…Whether it’s Eli Manning or Daniel Jones…it won’t matter. WIN
Week 14 – Washington Redskins…Adrian Peterson is not going to rush for 120 yards and two touchdowns in this one (especially if Trent Williams is still holding out). By Week 14, who knows which QB (Case Keenum, Colt McCoy, or Dwayne Haskins) will be under center. WIN
Week 15 – Chicago Bears…The Bears will go through more kickers than the Browns this season…and it’s going to hurt them in this one (double doink). WIN
Week 16 – at Minnesota Vikings (MNF)…Still stinging from that Week 2 loss at Lambeau, the Packers secondary plays overly aggressive and it burns them again…as Adam Thielen has a field day. LOSS
Week 17 – at Detroit Lions…Green Bay will need this win to make the playoffs and Detroit will be staring another 6-10 season in the face. Rodgers won’t let the Packers stay home for a third straight postseason. WIN
Final Record: 10-6, (tie) 1st in NFC North.
Super Bowl LIV (Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL): New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Rams. Everyone loves a rematch, right?! Well, how about three rematches! The Patriots and Rams will meet again in the big game after New England knocks off Kansas City and Los Angeles holds off New Orleans in the AFC and NFC Championships for the second straight year (with games in NE and LA). The Super Bowl rematch is much closer this time and comes down to a kicker. Stephen Gostkowski hits the game winner as time expires and Belichick and Brady get their 7th Super Bowl rings…and both finally retire (along with Gronk again) following the game…the entire league rejoices! Patriots 24, Rams 21.
On March 18th, 1995, Michael Jordan sent the above fax in response to questions about his future career plans…it simply said, “I’m back.”
Jordan, who retired from the NBA in October of 1993, was playing minor league baseball for the Birmingham Barons in March of 1995 when he decided to quit baseball (somewhat due to the ongoing Major League Baseball strike) and make his return to the NBA. In MJ’s first game back (wearing number 45) he scored 19 points as the Bulls lost to the Indiana Pacers 103-96 (I can still remember racing home from the WIAA State Basketball Tournament to watch that game).
Jordan would lead Chicago to a 13-4 record over the final 17 games (highlighted by a game-winning shot against the Atlanta Hawks in just his fourth game back and a 55 point effort in the very next game against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden) and helped the Bulls advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic.
Did you know…at the end of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Orlando’s Nick Anderson stripped Jordan from behind, leading to the game-winning basket for the Magic. Anderson would later comment that Jordan “didn’t look like the old Michael Jordan” and that “No. 45 doesn’t explode like No. 23 used to.” Jordan then returned to wearing his old number in Game 2, and scored 38 points in a Bulls win. The Bulls were fined $30,000 for the game…$25,000 for failing to report the impromptu number change to the NBA and $5,000 for Jordan wearing different shoes.
Orlando would go on to win that series in six games, despite MJ averaging 31 points per game. Losing that series only motivated Jordan and the Bulls, as Chicago would win the next three NBA Championships (their second three-peat of the decade). Jordan would retire again on January 13th, 1999…only to return on September 25, 2001 as a member of the Washington Wizards. Jordan’s final NBA game would come on April 16th, 2003 in Philadelphia.
On July 11th, 2014, LeBron James announced, via an essay he co-wrote with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, that he was modifying his own career plans…the essay was titled, “I’m coming home.”
James, who was a free agent in the summer of 2010, announced on a live ESPN special (The Decision) that he was taking his talents to South Beach and would become a member of the Miami Heat (I remember watching that “special” at Leff’s Lucky Town). LeBron joined fellow free agents Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami and they would become known as the “Big Three.”
In his first season with Miami, James led the Heat to the NBA Finals, only to lose to the Dallas Mavericks in six games. The following season, James led Miami to their second-ever championship and his first championship when they beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. LeBron and the Heat would go on to win their second straight NBA title when they defeated the San Antonio Spurs in seven games the next year. In his final season in Miami, James led the Heat to the Finals again, only to lose the Spurs in five games. That would be LeBron’s last game in Miami, as he opted out of his contract with the Heat and announced his return to Cleveland.
In LeBron’s first season back with Cleveland, he led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals (his fifth straight Finals appearance) where Cleveland lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games. James averaged 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game for the series, as Cleveland played without starters Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. Just months ago, down three games to one in the Finals to that same Warriors team, LeBron helped mount an epic comeback and lead Cleveland (Believeland) to the city’s first professional sports title in 52 years, as James became the first player in league history to lead both teams in all five statistical categories for a playoff round, as James was named the unanimous Finals MVP.
So with ALL that being said…on this day, August 1st, 2016, Clara and I would like to announce that WE will be coming back home. I know, not as exciting as the Jordan and James announcements of their return to their respective cities/teams, but exciting news for our friends and family back in Wisconsin (we hope). We also can’t guarantee any championships upon our return…but there is always hope (Go Pack Go)!
Last July, we moved out to California, and while our stay here has been fun (and ending shorter than expected), it is time to make the change (again). In California, we were able to experience many new opportunities and explore many new places, all while enjoying a pretty successful stay in the process.
We will miss being that much closer to Theune…as a 4+ hour car ride (as long as there is no traffic) definitely beats a 4+ hour flight (and all the airport fun that goes along with that). We enjoyed hanging out with Dave (we love L.A.) and having him come visit us this past year…and we will always have a spare bedroom waiting for him when he visits Wisconsin.
What we are going to miss the most about California will be our friends Grant and Megan, and their children, Tristan and Addie (they’ve grown so much over the past year)…and not to be forgotten, their dog Gilly (the best dog around). While it would have been nice to move to Napa and be even closer to them, that just wasn’t in the cards (and no, I’m not talking about Hand and Foot). I know that we won’t be able to hang out as much in the coming year(s), but the friendship that we forged over the past year, will only make the times that we do get together in the future, all the more special. Besides, December will be here before you know it (flight booked)!
Leaving California friends behind will be tough, but we definitely won’t miss all the traffic (more on that here) and the ridiculous cost of living in the Bay Area…especially in terms of housing (as the median home price in Livermore is only $700,000). Just look at all these new homes going up in Livermore…and they’re going up everywhere! We thought traffic was bad now…just wait! I’m glad we won’t have to experience that.
So, as we pack things up over the next two weeks, we look forward to our return to Wisconsin (I hope this is our last move ever). It will be nice to be close to family and friends once again. I’m already looking forward to hanging with friends at the Wisconsin vs LSU game at Lambeau Field on September 3rd. Go Badgers!
As for our Wisconsin plans, Clara and I are closing in on a home in Whitefish Bay (thank you Closing Time)…we will refer to it as the house that Gallo bought or the San Lorenzo House (and yes, the Rau’s are only 1.1 miles away and Draft & Vessel is only 0.9 miles away). As for our jobs, I accepted a teaching position at John Long Middle School in the Grafton School District (thanks Deering) and Clara will go back to working for herself and doing a lot of consulting work for different wineries (Gallo included). So in a year, it has pretty much come full circle for the two of us, and to quote LeBron James, we are ready to accept the challenge.
On August 12th or 13th…we will be coming home. With an ETA of…August 15th or 16th.
2000 – Jason Collier (15th) Georgia Tech. Collier was traded with a future 1st round pick to Houston for Joel Przybilla (9th overall). The 2000 draft was flat out terrible as Kenyon Martin (who played for the Bucks late in his career), Jamaal Magloire (more on him later), and Michael Redd (who the Bucks drafted in the 2nd round with the 43rd pick) would become the only All-Stars out of this draft. 2001 – No 1st round pick (traded to Houston as part of the Przybilla deal). 2002 – Marcus Haislip (13th) Tennessee. If the Bucks were looking for a power forward, they should have selected Carlos Boozer, who went in the 2nd round (35th pick) to Cleveland. The Bucks were actually rumored to be interested in signing Boozer (a free-agent) last December when they were looking for a veteran presence, but no deal was ever made.
Haislip – BUST! (BTW…who’s the guy sitting in the background?)
2003 – T.J. Ford (8th) Texas. Injuries limited Ford’s time in Milwaukee. Of the point guards drafted behind Ford, only Mo Williams would ever go on to become an All-Star. Williams actually played for the Bucks from 2004-08, and just won his first championship with Cleveland. 2004 – No 1st round pick (traded to Denver in 2001 along with Scott Williams so the Bucks could make room for Anthony Mason…one of the worst decisions the organization has ever made). 2005 – Andrew Bogut (1st) Utah. Solid pick. Injuries derailed his time with the Bucks…and this really hurt! Was traded to Golden State during 2011-12 season. Bogut won a title with Golden State last season. Imagine if Milwaukee had selected Chris Paul with this pick instead…just imagine! 2006 – No 1st round pick (traded to New Orleans/Oklahoma City along with Desmond Mason and cash in exchange for Jamaal Magliore…full circle here!). 2007 – Yi Jianlian (6th) Guangdong Southern Tigers (China). AWFUL! Joakim Noah (9th to Chicago) should have been the pick, but the Bucks were scared off when Noah said he’d never play in Milwaukee. Marc Gasol taken 48th in the 2nd round was the only other player in this draft taken after Noah that would go on to become an All-Star.
Yi – BUST! (The furthest thing from Yao Ming.)
2008 – Joe Alexander (8th) West Virginia. ANOTHER swing and a miss! Brook Lopez (10th), Roy Hibbert (17th), DeAndre Jordan (35th), or Goran Dragic (45th) would have been MUCH better selections.
Alexander – BUST! (Is he even spinning those basketballs?)
2009 – Brandon Jennings (10th) Lottomatica Roma (Italy). Jennings’ career started out well for the Bucks, but he was eventually traded to Detroit in 2013. A deal that saw Milwaukee get Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton…and Vyacheslav Kravtsov? Point guards selected after Jennings that became All-Stars were Jrue Holiday (17th) and Jeff Teague (19th). The Bucks actually signed Teague to an offer sheet in 2013, but Atlanta matched it. 2010 – Larry Sanders (15th) VCU. Sanders seemed to be a steal at 15…until 2013, when he signed a four-year $44 million contract. Everything went downhill from there. Sanders is currently out of the league…and Milwaukee is still paying him. 2011 – Jimmer Fredette (10th) BYU. Traded to the Kings on draft night in a three-team deal as the Bucks ended up with Beno Udrich from the Kings and Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston and the draft rights to 19th pick Tobias Harris from the Bobcats. I wish the Bucks had just stayed at 10 and drafted Klay Thompson (11th), Kawhi Leonard (15th), or Jimmy Butler (30th). Huge miss here! 2012 – John Henson (14th) North Carolina. Decent pick, but would have preferred Draymond Green, who went in the 2nd round at pick 35 to Golden State. 2013 – Giannis Antetokounmpo (15th) Filathlitikos B.C. (Greece). HOME RUN! No complaints. Giannis likely would go #1 overall if that draft was done over. 2014 – Jabari Parker (2nd) Duke. Again, no complaints. Parker should be even better next season now that he is fully recovered from his ACL injury. 2015 – Rashad Vaughn (17th) UNLV. Still too early to tell. 2016 – We shall find out very soon (hearing many different names at the 10th selection), but looking at the past history, you quickly come to realize that…NOTHING IS GUARANTEED! So, good luck tonight Milwaukee! #OwnTheFuture
It has been said that sports are the greatest reality television show there is…and I could not agree more. Who would have thought that Dustin Johnson would win the U.S. Openand the Cleveland Cavaliers would defeat the Golden State Warriors (at Oracle) in Game 7 of the NBA Finals on the very same day. Well, it happened, and I couldn’t help but feel happy for each of them. Johnson and Cleveland each avenged past history and finally finished things off. Sports are so unpredictable, but as long as you’re in contention, you’ll always have a chance. As fans, that’s all you can really ask for…especially when it happens to your guy or your team. So, kudos to DJ and all of Believeland! I already can’t wait for that next sports moment, as it’s bound to be memorable…and quite possibly something (new) we have never seen before. I just love sports!
So, while reading a book (from beginning to end…in that order) and Frisbee golf sound like really great ideas…I’m off to L.A. (because I love L.A.) to see the one and only Dave Theune (I can’t wait to see his show)…we’re also gonna purchase Blink 182 tickets…top priority of this summer!
Some weekends are better than others…and long weekends are simply the best! This past weekend was one of the most fun times I have had yet, here in California.
On Saturday and Sunday we attended BottleRock in Napa…and it did not disappoint. Saturday’s highlights from BottleRock were clearly Death Cab For Cutie and Florence + the Machine. Death Cab was very solid, but Florence stole the evening. Her energy during the show was fabulous (while her outfit was interesting)…but she had the stamina of a distance runner with all of her running around on stage. It was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a very long time…I was impressed!
2016 BottleRock Line-up
Death Cab For Cutie
Florence + the Machine
Sunday’s highlights from BottleRock were The Lumineers and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Lumineers were very good, but the Chili Peppers were AMAZING! I can’t believe that was my first time seeing them live in concert. They had so much fun on stage and brought tons of energy (and I did lots of jumping)…I already can’t wait to go see them again.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Then something called GAME 7 happened on Monday…and I was there (thanks Grant)! What. An. Experience. Another sports bucket list item fulfilled. I wish all Monday’s were like that…and I wish the Bucks would be that good just once in my lifetime.
Steph Curry after his 3-point dagger late in the 4th quarter (it was pandemonium in the Oracle)
2016 Western Conference Champions
It was quite the weekend indeed…definitely the first taste of summer! And then reality hit today…70 minutes to get to work this morning (there were two accidents…it’s like everyone forgot how to drive over the weekend) and another 70 minutes plus on the way home…and not to mention 100 degree temperatures today as well. So while it said Tuesday, it still felt like a Monday. But the good thing is…the weekend is already only three days away…and we’ve got more things to go do and see!
Last night, Clara and I took in a stand up comedy show in Oakland (unfortunately, we didn’t see Jerry Seinfeld). I had been craving to see some stand up comedy since we stumbled upon a random show while visiting New Bohemia Brewing Company in early February. So this past week, we scoured the Internet, looking for something up and coming (i.e. affordable) in the Bay Area.
We came across, Critical Hit! Stand Up Comedy Show…and it fulfilled all of our requirements. When you advertise your show for $5 admission, free pizza and candy, and BYOB…how can you go wrong?! The guy that sat next to us actually brought in a full bottle of Bulleit Bourbon…and put quite the dent in it during the show! As for the location of the show, it took place in a games and hobbies store named It’s Your Move. Quite interesting indeed, but it worked very well.
Outside of all the Nazi references early on…there just happened to be an attendee in the audience who claimed to have lost a close family member (a mother?) during The Holocaust (yeah, that was an awkward moment when the individual spoke up about it…and yet that individual stayed for the entire show…even more strange), it was a great show and an even greater find for only five bucks! I would definitely go back again as the comics were all very good and had a great variety of jokes.
Now, a little bit about the comics themselves…
And the headliner…
All, very funny comics…but none, as good as this guy!
I just can’t stop watching these Rayovac commercials…
The Chicago Cubs won their seventh straight game on Sunday (in walk-off fashion) as Javier Baez hit a solo home run in the bottom of the 13th inning to give the Cubs a 4-3 victory over the Washington Nationals…completing a four-game sweep over the NL East leading Nationals. In the process, the Cubs improved their record to 24-6…the best 30-game start since the 1984 Detroit Tigers started 26-4. It is also Chicago’s best start since 1907…the year they won their first World Series title.
To the 2016 Chicago Cubs…PLEASE DO NOT STOP WINNING! As a matter of fact…I hope the Cubs break the 2001 Seattle Mariners 162-game MLB record of 116-46 and while they are at it…take down their own 1906 Cubs club record of 116-36, which is not only tied with Seattle for most wins, but is also the best winning percentage for a single season in MLB history (by the way, neither team went on to win the World Series).
As the wins keep piling up…I cannot wait to see how large that Chicago Cubs bandwagon will get by the end of this summer. It is going to make their inevitable collapse, all the more enjoyable! So, enjoy it now Cubs fans…because come October, you will be back to being those “Lovable Losers!” And just imagine if the Cubs lose in the World Series to the “South Siders” (the White Sox currently have the best record in the AL) of all teams (that happened in 1906). I do not think you could ask for a more fitting outcome…unless something like this would happen again. Until then, go Cubs…and go whoever they are playing against come October!
The 2016 NFL Draft (otherwise known as Christmas to Ted Thompson) came and went this past weekend (and I’m still not sure I like this Thursday through Saturday format). So, will the Packers 2016 draft class be a success…only time will tell. But what is certain, this draft class was like no other under Thompson…a blend of brains and brawn.
Kenny Clark (DT) – UCLA (Round 1, Pick 27). A classic Thompson selection. NO ONE had the Packers taking Clark in any of the mock drafts that I read. While there were definitely other “names” available at this pick, Clark does fill a need created by the abrupt “retirement” of B.J. Raji. Hopefully Clark can step in and play from day one…something some of Thompson’s past 1st round selections have struggled to do.
Via Bleacher Report…Clark is a film junkie who anticipates the snap count, diagnoses blocking schemes and out-thinks his blockers. Those skills don’t translate as well to the NFL as you might expect: Pro blockers are less predictable and more likely to grind a lot of film themselves than guys in the Pac-12. Still, Clark should excel at the smaller tasks of defensive line play: sniffing out screens, cleaning up sacks after the quarterback is flushed from the pocket, and so on. You can tell why the Packers like Clark: He’s like a giant Ted Thompson. That said, there are other defensive tackles on the board with higher upside than Clark. Grade: C+
Jason Spriggs (T) – Indiana (Round 2, Pick 48) trade with Colts. I really liked this pick. Last season, due to injuries, the offensive line was a complete disaster (I mean, the Packers played Josh Sitton at left tackle for a game). Green Bay rectified that problem for the short-term with this selection, and for the long-term, if Bryan Bulaga fails to stay healthy (again) or if they lose David Bakhtiari to free agency after the season.
Bleacher Report…If you compare all left tackles to Walter Jones or Orlando Pace, Spriggs is not the ideal prototype for the position. There are also zero ideal prototypes playing in the NFL right now according to that standard (which seems to be the one scouting reports have used for at least a decade). Spriggs has the athleticism, technique and attitude to start and be effective. If Spriggs develops quickly, we will never have to watch Don Barclay play tackle again in relief of a Packers starter. Everyone except Dwight Freeney can now rejoice. Grade: A-
Kyler Fackrell (LB) – Utah State (Round 3, Pick 88). While not an inside linebacker, Fackrell does fill a position of need in the linebacker corps. Let’s see if this Gary Andersen recruit has what it takes to play at the next level. Bye-bye Mike Neal?
Bleacher Report…A multidimensional edge defender who had some dominant games against quality opponents (he set up his own picnic area in the Boise State backfield last year) while also dropping into coverage effectively. Fackrell tore an ACL in 2014, and like many of this year’s outside linebacker prospects, he has a limited power game. Fackrell could move inside in Green Bay’s 3-4 scheme. He’s suited to a multidimensional role. Fackrell has a higher upside than teammate Vigil, taken a selection ago by the Bengals. Grade: B+
*Did you know…Of the 53 players on the Packers 2015 opening roster, 19 were drafted in the 4th round or later…including four of five starting offensive linemen.
Blake Martinez (LB) – Stanford (Round 4, Pick 131). An inside linebacker! Martinez has to be better than Sam Barrington and Jake Ryan, right? Well, he can’t be worse. Seems like a real solid addition.
Bleacher Report…Martinez is smart, rangy and productive, having registered 240 tackles and four interceptions in two seasons as a starter for the Cardinal. He’s a Cover 2 type best suited to play behind two thick slabs of defensive tackle, diagnose the play and flow to the ball. The Packers don’t play a Cover 2, of course, but they are looking for inside linebackers who excel in coverage. Martinez and third-round pick Kyler Fackrell are two different types of inside linebackers, which may be precisely the point. Grade: B
Todd McShay’s “best pick”…This is more about the big picture. The Packers have made it clear they’re going to move pass-rusher Clay Matthews back to outside linebacker, where he’s far more valuable. So they needed to find a guy like Martinez, who could compete for the starting job at inside linebacker. A highly productive two-year starter at Stanford, Martinez is laterally quick and a very solid tackler.
Dean Lowry (DE) – Northwestern (Round 4, Pick 137). All I know is that Lowry is a true 5-technique end and Green Bay hasn’t had one of those in awhile.
Bleacher Report…A high-energy-system fit in the Packers’ 3-4 defense. May be a little reach-y here. Pick: C-
Trevor Davis (WR) – California (Round 5, Pick 163). This pick was a head scratcher for me…I didn’t think the Packers needed a wideout. If Davis can produce in camp, it likely means Jared Abbrederis or the People’s Champion, Jeff Janis’ days are numbered.
Bleacher Report…Fast, skinny return man and deep threat, Davis returned two kicks for touchdowns in 2014. With a lot of work, he could be a productive boundary receiver. Grade: C
Kyle Murphy (T) – Stanford (Round 6, Pick 200). More offensive line depth…not a bad value pick in the 6th round. Bye-bye Don Barclay?
Bleacher Report…Murphy is your standard-issue Stanford lineman. He’s bright, reasonably quick and effective on pull-and-trap blocks. His technique is OK, but top-notch defenders will either overpower or slip past him. Murphy can succeed in a zone-stretch system as a guard or right tackle or in an offense full of pull-and-trap concepts. But he may max out as a multiposition sub like Cameron Fleming, the former Cardinal lineman the Patriots keep inserting all over the line with marginal success. He’s a good value in this slot, and as mentioned earlier, every Packers lineman drafted decreases the likelihood of future Don Barclay misadventures. Grade: B
All in all, I felt the Packers had a pretty solid draft. Nothing flashy, just your typical best available player that fills a need…so basically, Ted Thompson’s perfect draft. Also, not picking in the 7th round, allowed Thompson to start working the phones for undrafted free agents…don’t be surprised if one of these undrafted players (Geronimo Allison, WR, Illinois; Beniquez Brown, LB, Mississippi State; Kentrell Brice, DB, Louisiana Tech; Brandon Burks, RB, Troy; Joe Callahan, QB, Wesley College; Makinton Dorleant, CB, Northern Iowa; Brandon Gatewood, CB, Alcorn State; Reggie Gilbert, DL, Arizona; David Grinnage, TE, NC State; Josh Hawkins, CB, East Carolina; Don Jackson, RB, Nevada; Josh James, OT, Carroll (MT) College; Randall Jette, CB, UMass; Tyler Kuder, DL, Idaho State; Peter Mortell, P, Minnesota; Manoa Pikula, LB, BYU; Brian Price, DT, UTSA; Devonte Robinson, WR Utah State; Herb Waters, WR, Miami) grabs a roster spot.
Bleacher Report…A ho-hum draft in Green Bay. Right need, wrong player, as Kenny Clark seemed more like a second-round value. Jason Spriggs in the second round was a silly steal. The rest of picks were for depth purposes. Overall grade: B
Mel Kiper…When B.J. Raji said he wouldn’t be playing in 2016, getting an interior presence on the defensive line became a big priority, and Kenny Clark is a good player. Clark offers some of what they lost because he can anchor and be an effective run-stuffer. He can also play in any system and is a good option for a creative coordinator. The Packers don’t have a hole, per se, on the O-line, but the unit was all over the place last season, and Jason Spriggs is an impressive athlete at the tackle position. He needs seasoning, but the value is fine. The next two picks are all about making sure Clay Matthews doesn’t have to be Superman. Kyler Fackrell is a useful edge defender with some pass-rush ability, and Blake Martinez is an inside linebacker who has a good feel for coverage. Dean Lowry can crack the rotation on the D-line, and Kyle Murphy is a decent bet to make late because he could jump into either tackle spot in a pinch. I think this was a solid draft, with needs clearly targeted. Overall grade: B
Again, only time will tell if this draft class rises above those expectations or becomes a complete dud like the 2011 class. So, let’s file this one away and review it a year or two from now…that should be guaranteed fun.
Update…I almost forgot to include Bob McGinn’s assessment (a must if we are talking about discussing this draft at a later date).
Last Thursday, the NFL released the 2016 regular-season schedule. Somehow this release has generated so much attention from us, the fans, that ESPN had to run a two-hour schedule show and the NFL Network chose to spend three hours dedicated to just this release. I guess the NFL needs to find (positive) ways to stay in the news leading up to the NFL Draft (which is only 10 days away).
While the Green Bay Packers schedule definitely has it’s quirks next season…it is never too early to make some predictions on the 2016 season.
Week 1 – at Jacksonville: It may be hot and humid for this one, but the Jaguars will struggle to solve Aaron Rodgers and the passing game…you can bet Rodgers and Jordy Nelson will have something to prove from the outset of this game. WIN.
Week 2 – at Minnesota (SNF): Minnesota opens their new stadium in prime time…SO WHAT! Adrian Peterson is one year older (and still fumbles) and Teddy Bridgewater will struggle to make passes down the field in this one. WIN.
Week 3 – Detroit: Green Bay’s home opener. No more Calvin Johnson for Detroit means there is ZERO chance the Lions win back-to-back games at Lambeau Field. Let a new Packers winning streak begin. WIN.
Week 4 – Bye Week: Way too early for the bye week. Thanks NFL¡
Week 5 – New York Giants (SNF): For some reason, the Giants are always a tough opponent for the Packers. This one will be close, but Eli Manning throws a late pick (shocking) that seals it for Green Bay. WIN.
Week 6 – Dallas: Tony Romo will likely be hurt for this one. If Romo is upright, this could be a very good game…until Romo repeats what Eli did the previous week. Green Bay’s defense will be ranked first in the NFL at this point in the season. WIN.
Week 7 – Chicago (TNF): Jay Cutler is still the quarterback for Chicago, right? And (last year) the Bears beat the Packers at Lambeau on Thanksgiving night when Brett Favre’s number was retired…this one could get ugly as Green Bay will have payback on their minds. WIN.
Week 8 – at Atlanta: After all that home cooking, the Packers are back on the road. Green Bay will have 10 days to prepare for Matt Ryan and the Falcons…again, the Packers defense will be the number one unit in the NFL at this stage. Eli, Romo, Cutler, and Ryan…you can see the trend. WIN.
Week 9 – Indianapolis: Andrew Luck will likely be back to his old self and the Colts offense could be scary, but last time I checked, Indy has NO defense. WIN.
Week 10 – at Tennessee: The Titans will probably have fired Mike Mularkey by this point and Marcus Mariota will likely be injured. WIN.
Week 11 – at Washington (SNF): See last year’s playoff win at FedEx Field. Kirk Cousins will likely not be the Kirk Cousins that he was over the final eight games of last season either. WIN.
Week 12 – at Philadelphia (MNF): Last game of a three-game road stretch. Chip Kelly is gone, but Sam Bradford remains…unless Chase Daniel wins the job. Doug Pederson is the new head coach and knows a lot about Green Bay, but the last time we saw him in a big game… WIN.
Week 13 – Houston: My only fear is J.J. Watt…and it’s a real fear! Brock Osweiler is the new quarterback for the Texans and let’s just say the top ranked Packers defense is going to have a big day against him. WIN.
Week 14 – Seattle: Green Bay is due! And I’m still done with Russell Wilson. WIN.
Week 15 – at Chicago: If Jay Cutler is still the starting quarterback at this point…I think you know the answer. If he is not…the answer is the same. WIN.
Week 16 – Minnesota: The Vikings will go down the toilet after the week 2 loss to the Packers and will likely be playing out the stretch at this point…Bridgewater continues to prove that he isn’t a capable NFL quarterback and Peterson just can’t stop fumbling. WIN.
Week 17 – at Detroit: Well, the Packers aren’t getting to this point…only to lose at Detroit on New Year’s Day. Packers fans will be hungover for this one, but Rodgers and company will only need to play the first half as Matt Stafford continues to throw to the wrong team. WIN.
So there you have it…16-0!
I mean, it’s April 17th…and I just can’t see them losing a single game at this point. Barring an unexpected injury…why can’t this happen? And if does…I’ll say, I told you so. And if it doesn’t…no one will even remember. But thanks for reading anyway.
More: Color Rush…it’s back and look what got leaked out today. This should be interesting…
I can’t wait to see the all-yellow Packers uniforms¡
After 4,710,354 NikeFuel points, my Nike+ FuelBand has finally stopped working. It was a rather impressive run (as I only had to replace my FuelBand once…compared to my wife replacing her’s about four times). I purchased my FuelBand back in February of 2012 through a special online release. This product seemed to be the perfect tool in tracking my physical activity each and every day (plus I’m a total nerd when comes to technology like this). At the time, it seemed like a can’t miss product that Nike and Apple had collaborated on…
But there were flaws…and they became evident soon after my wife purchased a FuelBand for herself a couple of months down the road. We noticed when the two of us would go for a walk or run together, at the conclusion, she would have almost twice as much NikeFuel as myself. We would go for 25-30 mile bike rides at a pretty good clip and still not come close to achieving our daily activity goals as had we walked or ran 2-4 miles instead. And the most obvious flaw, I would golf 18 holes and use a cart (so, basically minimal walking) and end up with WAY more NikeFuel than I ever had before on a given day.
And then last summer, this arrived in my inbox…
You can read the full settlement here. And yes, I’m still waiting for that $25 gift card.
So now that my arm feels completely naked without my FuelBand (and not to mention a massive tan line), I had to move on and find a different fitness tracker (call me a sucker, but I love keeping track of this type of stuff). After a little bit of research, I settled on the Fitbit Blaze (bonus points as I can use it for our insurance plan to save on our premium). After just a few days of wearing it, I am already thoroughly impressed…as I’ve noticed a big difference between the Blaze and the FuelBand. Here’s hoping the Blaze lasts as long or longer than my FuelBand…time will tell, but you can bet, I’ll be tracking it!