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I’m back…

I’m back…

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.

See you soon Wisconsin!

#BucksDraft…

#BucksDraft…

As the 2016 NBA Draft is only a few hours away, let’s look back at the Milwaukee Bucks 1st round draft picks since 2000…

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.

BUST! (who's the guy in the background?)

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.

BUST! (the furthest thing from Yao Ming)

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.

BUST! (is he even spinning those basektballs?)

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

Reality TV…

Reality TV…

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. Open and 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!

 

The 116th U.S. Open Champion


2016 NBA Champions

SOH 14…

SOH 14…

Another school year is officially in the books…Summer of Hand 14 is finally upon us!

The following clip (from one of my all-time favorite movies) pretty much sums up how most students AND teachers looked as they left school this afternoon around 12:45.

 

 

Of course, the inspiration for the Summer of Hand came from none other than…George Louis Costanza.

 

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!

This is gonna be my time!

Long weekends…

Long weekends…

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!

BottleRock Line-up

2016 BottleRock Line-up

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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.

 

The Lumineers

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!

Comedy night…

Comedy night…

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…

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IMG_4063

 

IMG_4062

 

And the headliner…

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All, very funny comics…but none, as good as this guy!

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I just can’t stop watching these Rayovac commercials…

 

Dave Theune > Michael Jordan…

 

Golf explained…

Golf explained…

This is how golf is supposed to go…

 

But THIS is what usually happens…

 

And for most of us, this is what really happens…

 

At least it keeps these guys busy…

 

FORE!!!

 

UPDATE: Here is the former #1 player in the world…that is golf and embarrassing!

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Cubs win…

Cubs win…

Cubs win! Cubs win! Cubs win! Holy cow!

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!

 

cubs-goat

In Ted we trust…

In Ted we trust…

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.

Here are Thompson’s past draft classes and a deeper look at this year’s class.

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).

You gotta believe…

You gotta believe…

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…

Very interesting "colors" for some of the teams...

I can’t wait to see the all-yellow Packers uniforms¡

 

 

RIP Nike+ FuelBand…

RIP Nike+ FuelBand…

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…

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 8.02.02 PM

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!

 

 

Masters week…

Masters week…

Hello Friends (Jim Nantz voice)…

It’s finally here…the greatest week of golf on the PGA Tour calendar! But before we can get into all of that…we have Opening Day and the NCAA National Championship to distract us on Monday.

The Brewers…I think this clip from Major League will sum them up appropriately this year…

 

EXACTLY!

I’ll actually be surprised if the Brewers don’t get no-hit on Opening Day by Madison Bumgarner. As for my season prediction…69-93 seems pretty realistic. Milwaukee has only lost 100 games ONCE in the history of their franchise, and with so many other bad National League teams (Atlanta, Cincinnati, Colorado, and Philadelphia)…the Crew could actually push their win total into the 70’s…but of course, they are already dealing with injuries to their pitching staff. Here’s hoping they surprise us a little bit…because the football season is a LONG ways off.

The NCAA National Championship…while I predicted North Carolina to win it all…it looks like I will still finish just outside of the money in my pool. With that being said, I’ll probably pull for Villanova to win instead of a Roy Williams’ led North Carolina on Monday night. I don’t think I can stomach Williams winning another championship…especially with the NCAA currently investigating the Tar Heels. Villanova and Jay Wright are due…now go take care of business!

As for One Shining Moment…I’m glad someone came to their senses. This tournament has botched enough of their past traditions…don’t EVER mess this one up!

 

Side note…I really wish Wisconsin had won the National Championship last year (especially since I was at the game). And I must admit, it felt very strange watching the Final Four on Saturday without the Badgers in it. Here’s hoping they are back next year…and finish things off! Phoenix, anyone?!

The Masters…a tradition unlike any other…

 

I could listen to that theme song over and over…actually I did (and too many times to count)!

The 80th edition of The Masters starts on Wednesday (for TV viewing) with the Par 3 Contest and concludes on Sunday with the greatest back nine of golf…I already can’t wait to assume the position on my couch Sunday afternoon…and last year’s intro already has me super excited!

 

As for my winner…I’m going with Jason Day. Meanwhile, I’m going to waste away the rest of this day by watching the conclusion of the 1986 Masters…thanks Jack Nicklaus!

Now…I just need to find my way to The Masters one of these years…I really want to try a pimento cheese sandwich.

U.S.-AUGUSTA-GOLF-2013 MASTERS

 

MARCH MADNESS…

MARCH MADNESS…

I CANNOT stop watching this…the definition of March Madness! WOW…what a game! Thank you Bronson Koenig! Sweet Sixteen…5 out of the last 6 years! See you Friday!

On Wisconsin!

 

 

 

UPDATE: I’d be remiss, if I did not mention the previous two plays that helped set up “the shot.”

 

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MUST WATCH…Wisconsin vs Xavier Highlights courtesy of UWBadgers.com All-Access…and this is pretty cool too! #goosebumps

Last add…you can ask my wife, but my reaction was not much different than Frank Kaminsky’s reaction…actually, I was probably A LOT louder. Sorry neighbors!

 

CeEpub1VAAAyPhW

#MakeEmBelieve…

#MakeEmBelieve…

March Madness has finally arrived…and no thanks to the worst Selection Show in the history of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Who would have thought that the entire bracket would get leaked during a TWO HOUR Selection Show (ME…I totally called this)…well, apparently not the people at CBS (idiots). While most people were already throwing things at their television sets or across their living rooms…as Charles Barkley fumbled his way through his picks on the touch screen…someone “in the know” decided enough was enough…and leaked the entire bracket out before CBS was even halfway through unveiling it on live television. To that person, I say…THANK YOU! They should be promoted!

While the next three weeks are guaranteed to be absolute madness (especially with this year’s parity)…let’s look back at last year’s NCAA Tournament. A run for the Wisconsin Badgers, that was truly one for the ages…especially with all the pressure from the previous season’s Final Four trip. So, sit back and reminisce…on a tournament run that feels like it was WAY MORE than just one year ago. The following clips are guaranteed to give you goosebumps! Enjoy!

Second Round – (1) Wisconsin 86, (16) Coastal Carolina 72.

 

3rd Round – (1) Wisconsin 72, (8) Oregon 65.

 

Sweet Sixteen – (1) Wisconsin 79, (4) North Carolina 72.

 

Elite Eight – (1) Wisconsin 85, (2) Arizona 78.

 

Final Four – (1) Wisconsin 71, (1) Kentucky 64.

 

National Championship – (1) Duke 68, (1) Wisconsin 63. I was actually at this game…and I wake up almost every single day thinking about being up 9 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!

No call…Winslow clearly steps out!

Duke ball...and Winslow was clearly the last to touch it!

Duke ball…and Winslow was clearly the last to touch it! They reviewed this and still got it wrong!

 

And March Madness is never complete without “One Shining Moment.”

 

To the 2014-15 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team…thanks again for that incredible run! On Wisconsin!

T&F…

T&F…

It was the spring of 1992…that was the last spring that I did not participate in the sport of track & field as either an athlete or as a coach. Tomorrow, the track & field season begins for all high schools in the state of Wisconsin. It’s hard to believe that last year at this time, I was beginning my first season as head coach at Kewaskum High School…and what a fun season it was!

A lot has (obviously) changed between last March and today…but I have to admit, I already miss the track & field season. From the indoor meets at UW-Oshkosh to the triangulars/quadrangulars and invitationals along the way during the outdoor season…track & field is truly what spring (for me) is all about in the state of Wisconsin. The Conference meets, Regionals, and Sectionals are two of the greatest weeks of the school year…and the State Meet at UW-La Crosse, there is simply nothing like it…in the nation!

I always thought one of my greatest track & field memories would be winning a State title, but when I got into coaching and started having athletes of my own qualify for the State meet…that feeling was quickly matched, as nothing beats seeing the reaction of a high school athlete that just punched their ticket to La Crosse…a celebration I was lucky enough to witness just last year…as four hard-working individuals accomplished this unforgettable feat (I can’t wait to see what this year holds for you four).

Well, good luck to all the high school track & field athletes that begin their journeys tomorrow…especially, YOU…Kewaskum High School. I will be “tracking” your success as close as I can from California. You can and will do great things!

Go Indians!!!

 

Make memories this season!

Make memories this season!

Steph Curry…

Steph Curry…

There are simply no words for this! I mean…Steph Curry is just flat out ridiculous! Curry is a like watching a human video game…actually he’s better than the video game! But that hasn’t stopped NBA 2K16 from trying…this is almost as awesome as the real thing!

My wife and I took in last night’s game at Drake’s Dealership in Oakland…and I must say, I WAS IMPRESSED! Not only was Drake’s a really cool place to hang out, but the crowd there last night was fabulous! The fans were SO into the basketball game (I mean, this was simply game 58 of an 82-game schedule)…the atmosphere at Drake’s reminded me of all the fun we had during the last two Final Four runs by the Badgers. It was really energetic…and made me realize I need to go out for more Golden State Warriors games.

As for the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls 72-win mark…there was part of me that wanted that record to remain intact, but after last night…I realized it will probably be more fun (A LOT more fun) to watch the record go down…especially if I get the opportunity to witness more games in an atmosphere like last night (and since the Bucks are officially done).

Special shout-out…before we went to Drake’s yesterday, we took in Fieldwork Brewing Co. and The Rare Barrel…both were super! I literally can’t wait to get back to Berkeley!

In the meantime, more Curry please! MVP! MVP! MVP! GOAT?

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J-Mac and PDW…

J-Mac and PDW…

Dear ESPN,

MORE OF THIS PLEASE!!!

Jason McElwain (or J-Mac) stole our hearts way back in February of 2006 when he scored 20 points during a high school varsity basketball game. McElwain, who is autistic, was the team manager for the Greece Athena High School basketball team and was inserted into the game for the final 4 minutes and 19 seconds. McElwain wasted no time and drained six three-pointers and one two-point basket and quickly became a national sensation.

 

It’s hard to believe that moment was 10 years ago already…time truly does fly by. Well, over the weekend, ESPN did a look back at where Jason McElwain is today…and I must say, it did not disappoint. Tom Rinaldi is simply the best at this type of storytelling (he did both pieces) and Elizabeth Merrill’s story which accompanied the piece was perfect. The world needs more kids (sorry, men) like Jason McElwain and thank you ESPN for this wonderful follow-up!

Pete Weber (or PDW)…I can’t really say that I’m a huge fan of his, but I have followed the PBA Tour over the years thanks to my Dad and uncles (my wife and I even went to a live PBA Tour event at the U.S. Cellular back in the day…it was pretty cool). Being an avid bowler for the last 15 years or so, I still tune into ESPN on Sundays when bowling is televised.

With all that being said, this 30 for 30 Shorts: The Bad Boy of Bowling is fantastic! ESPN really needs to do more of this…I never would have even found this piece (if I hadn’t been sequestered to the bedroom so my wife could watch her shows in the living room), but thanks to the WatchESPN app on our Apple TV…I was able to watch this 30 for 30 Shorts (and it even made me miss bowling…a little bit).

So, to reiterate…ESPN, please find a way to put the above content on during regular programming hours. Less SportsCenter on repeat and less talking (or screaming) heads’ shows would be nice. Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

 

A loyal follower (and your target audience)

 

 

NBA All-Star Weekend…

NBA All-Star Weekend…

I love the NBA All-Star Weekend (in Toronto this year)…from the festivities on Friday and Saturday, to the game on Sunday, I love everything about this particular weekend. Back in the day, there were no Friday night events and the slam dunk contest and three-point contest actually took place on Saturday afternoon. In fact, as a kid, I can remember getting home from my YMCA basketball games and sitting down and watching both of these events live. It is probably that early love of basketball, that has hooked me to this notable weekend ever since. Now, let’s look back at some of the more memorable NBA All-Star Weekends…

The Three-Point Contest

While usually not as exciting (until recently) as the slam dunk contest, it has always been a nice little appetizer. In the beginning of the three-point contest, it was simply Larry Bird and Craig Hodges. Through the years, no one has owned the event like Bird and Hodges (although Mark Price, Jeff Hornacek, Peja Stojaković, and Jason Kapono each have had back-to-back wins)…maybe now is the time for Stephen Curry to turn this into his own personal shooting clinic. Time will tell, and Curry will have to beat his own teammate, Klay Thompson, to do it…just like last year. But my all-time favorite three-point contest moment came in 2001, when Ray Allen took home the title as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks (it was almost their year). Can Khris Middleton do that this year…good luck (because he’s gonna need it)!

The Slam Dunk Contest

Here are my top five slam dunk contests…

  • Spud Webb. It was 1986 and probably the first year that I picked up this event. At 5 feet 7 inches, Webb made us all believe that we had the chance to dunk one day.
  • Michael Jordan. Jordan’s first win in the slam dunk contest came in 1987. MJ defeated Jerome Kersey in the final that year and set the stage for the epic 1988 dual with Dominique Wilkins.
  • Dee Brown. In 1991, Brown secured his win over Shawn Kemp by doing the no-look dunk. Brown also used his Reebok Pumps to his advantage during this contest, and I remember everyone wanted to get those shoes immediately afterwards.
  • Vince Carter. The year was 2000, and probably the last slam dunk contest that was really worth watching. I know there have been some decent contests since, but what Carter did on this night was simple amazing. Every dunk kept getting better and better…no one wanted it to end.
  • Dominique Wilkins vs Michael Jordan. February 6th, 1988 (I can’t believe it has been 28 years already)…easily, the best slam dunk contest ever…and it’s not even close. The event probably should have been canceled after this.

The All-Star Game

The NBA All-Star Game is usually very entertaining (sometimes the dunks in this game are better than the ones in the slam dunk contest), with very little defense being played until late in the 4th quarter…so basically, just like every other NBA game. While there have been many highlights over the years…only ONE GAME stands out above all others for me. In the 1992 All-Star Game, Magic Johnson (in his first game back since announcing he had contracted the HIV virus and saying that this would be his last) stole the show (winning the MVP)…I will forever remember that game (Dick Enberg was on the call too). And Vanilla Ice was the halftime show!

The best NBA All-Star uniforms...please go back to these!

Circa 1980’s…the best NBA All-Star Game uniforms ever…

 

And seen again in 2003.

And seen again in 2003…please go back to these!

 

So, sit back and relax this weekend…and don’t forget to take in some of the newer NBA All-Star Weekend festivities…the Rising Stars Challenge (represent, Jabari) on Friday night and the Skills Challenge on Saturday night.

And the NBA Developmental League will be busy this weekend as well, with their Dream Factory and All-Star Game (Saturday night)…you may recognize some of these players from past NCAA tournaments (as these guys can really play).

NBA action, it’s…FANtastic! (wait, was that O.J.)

 

 

 

The Big Game…

The Big Game…

Super Bowl L (I mean 50), is SLOWLY creeping its way here. I say slowly, because living in the Bay Area has been constant Super Bowl coverage on just about every network for well over a week. Between the countdowns and the live shots from downtown San Francisco and Levi’s Stadium, I simply CANNOT take any more coverage of this game (and don’t get me started on this song). Even if the Packers were in the Super Bowl, it wouldn’t matter that much (okay, it would be slightly more tolerable)…because all the stories being told by these “reporters” are nothing new to the average sports fan…it’s all fluff!

With all that being said…I still would love to go to the game. I have never been to a Super Bowl or even lived so close to one…I feel that it is my duty to find a way into this game (as I may never have this opportunity again). So, with a budget of $500, I took to StubHub to find a single seat for the “big” game.

Absolutely…NO DICE! At last check…the lowest ticket price was…$3,000! Maybe it’s a good thing that the Packers didn’t make it to the Super Bowl. At that price, a Super Bowl ticket would have hurt the old pocket book…just a little bit.

Well, since I (obviously) can’t afford a ticket to the game…maybe I could check out a cool Super Bowl party…I’m sure that would be a lot of fun (maybe even more fun than the game itself).

Here is a list of ticket prices (according to StubHub) to Super Bowl parties being promoted (heavily) in the Bay Area:

  • Super Bowl Playboy Party with DJ Alesso ($875)
  • Maxim Super Bowl Party with A$AP Rocky and Lil Wayne ($1,080)
  • Leather and Laces Super Bowl Party ($825)
  • Rolling Stone Super Bowl Party with Avicii, Elle King, and Travis Scott ($800)

Priced out…again!

I did happen to find a couple Super Bowl parties in my price range though…

  • Live Taping of the 17th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration ($100)
  • Ne-Yo and T.I. Super Bowl Friday ($130)
  • Sean Diddy Combs Friday Super Bowl 50 Party ($100)
  • Golden Anniversary Concert with 50 Cent and more Hosted by Chris Brown ($56)
  • Super Bowl 50 Launch Party featuring Travis Scott ($56)

Do I roll the dice on one of the above events…or should I save my money for the single most affordable Super Bowl 50 ticket on StubHub…

A PARKING PASS to Super Bowl 50 ($50)!

Nothing like a Sunday drive to Santa Clara (there will still be traffic) and abiding by these rules…TAILGATING WILL NOT BE ALLOWED IN  SUPER BOWL 50 PARKING LOTS. Are you kidding me?!

As for the game itself…sports are often (usually) against me. The teams that I want to win, usually don’t win (it’s actually quite painful). In this case, the Denver defense will probably make Cam Newton do things that he hasn’t done all season long (they did it to Tom Brady…so I’m a believer), and HGH neck (I mean Peyton Manning), will do just enough to allow himself to ride off into the sunset…a two-time Super Bowl champion. Just the thought of this makes me sick…and that’s why I’m (mentally) getting myself ready now. Sports are cruel, and yet, they are still the greatest reality show on television. Broncos 24, Panthers 20.

 

 

Who’s the band…

Who’s the band…

Last Thursday, at my wife’s urging (Happy Birthday!), we saw Josh Ritter perform at The Fillmore in San Francisco. Although I didn’t know any of Josh Ritter’s songs (not really my style) going into the evening…I must admit, I had a really great time at the show and enjoyed seeing a concert in a smaller venue like the Fillmore (capacity is only 1,150 people).

The Fillmore has TONS of history behind it, but one of the aspects that I found rather interesting (and that my wife pointed out) was that the Fillmore is also well known for its concert posters by artists. Copies of the night’s poster are given to fans free of charge as they exit shows (for some reason, I didn’t take a Josh Ritter poster on my way out of the show…and my wife let me hear all about it).

A collection of all these posters (thousands) is also on display in the auditorium today…we tried to view the collection after the show, but to no avail (this will be a must on our next trip). Other quirky traditions that are carried on at the Fillmore is a large tub of free apples for concert goers positioned near the entrance along with a greeter who welcomes each guest as they enter…Welcome to the Fillmore!

While waiting for Josh Ritter to go on stage, my mind started to race. The following picture that I captured reminded me of something…

Who's the band?

Who’s the band?

Back in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s, Miller Genuine Draft had a Blind Date promotion going on in which bands that typically played in large stadiums would now perform for small audiences in intimate club settings (Large Bands – Small Clubs – Big Mystery…was the slogan). These Blind Date promotions took place in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. While MGD ran an exhaustive slate of national TV, print, and radio ads, as well as tie-ins with bars and restaurants…I can’t for the life of me (or the Internet, which I find hard to believe) find any of these ads. But the quote…who’s the band?…I remember being all over radio and television (mainly because I wanted to be one of those lucky people).

On our drive home, I got to thinking (again, scary)…was the Fillmore used for this MGD Blind Date promotion? Well, look what I found here (this time, the Internet does win)…

The Foo Fighters!

The Foo Fighters!

Yes, the Foo Fighters (relative new comers at the time) performed at the Fillmore as part of the MGD Blind Date promotion…and of course, here’s the poster from that July 18th, 1997 evening (it was a Friday). That had to be one of the coolest moments in any concert goers overall music experience (the lucky few that actually saw it)…but, as always, there is someone that is tough to please…and in this case, a Dave Matthews fan strikes again!

Other MGD Blind Date gigs that I could find (through exhaustive research) included: Bush, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Creed (come on, really?!), David Bowie (RIP), Incubus, Third Eye Blind, and Stone Temple Pilots (also RIP).

Please, Miller Genuine Draft, bring this promotion back! And an MGD sounds like the beverage of choice this evening. Cheers!