Consider this the "mega-blog post" of all blog posts because there's A LOT to get to. I've finally come to the realization that this will be my last post ever. No, I'm not willingly quitting the blog. I'm accepting its fate. Just take a look at what I have on my plate this weekend.
12:00 AM - My 22nd birthday
1:07 PM - Arizona Diamondbacks @ Milwaukee Brewers, Game 1 NLDS
7:00 PM - #8 Nebraska Cornhuskers @ #7 Wisconsin Badgers
8:00 AM - 10:00 AM - Recover, get picked up by from Oshkosh by Mommy
12:00 PM - Round up the troops for Game 2 of the NLDS
1:30 PM - 3:00ish PM - Tailgate the s*** out of the Miller Park parking lot
3:15 PM - Denver Broncos @ Green Bay Packers
3:37 PM - Arizona Diamondbacks @ Milwaukee Brewers, Game 2 NLDS
Uh huh. Yeah. This one's gonna be a doozy. Before I look ahead to what's about to completely rock my world and probably change the course of my life forever, I'd like to recap what happened in the past even though it's impossible to change. I'll start with the Wisconsin Badgers' final pre-conference tuneup against poor old South Dakota. The Coyotes (pronounced "kai-otes") I'm sure were paid a whole lot of green to march into the vice grip of Camp Randall Stadium and to be perfectly honest, I don't recall exactly what the final score was. What I do remember is Russell Wilson and Nick Toon hooking up over and over and over and me beginning to think that Toon has the makeup of a pro wide receiver. I know it was against South Dakota, but there's no question Wilson has found his favorite target with Jared Abbrederis being a solid number two option and tight end Jacob Pedersen eating up the redzone. This is probably the most I've ever talked about the air attack of the Badgers. Don't worry. Montee Ball is still there. James White is still there. The run game is still the bread and butter for this offense.
The Badgers now face their first test of the season, and oh, what a test it is. Nebraska makes its Big Ten conference play debut and no way was the Big Ten going to allow the Cornhuskers to play the Indiana Hoosiers back in Lincoln to help them get acclimated with their new conference. Hell no. You guys get to play a night game...in Madison...against a top ten team...with College Gameday in town. Have fun with that. In all seriousness, though, this game is going to take a four quarter effort from the Badgers offense and most importantly, their defense, in order to escape with a victory. The number one unit for Wisconsin hasn't given up much this season as far as points are concerned and kind of have that bend-but-don't-break mentality...that phrase is really starting to become cliche, but I'm too lazy to think of a better descriptor. Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how the D handles Nebraska's Taylor Martinez, a sophomore dual-threat quarterback. There's no denying that the Huskers can put points on the board, but their defense has been unimpressive and with the second most efficient passer in the nation and one of the best running back duos there is, Wisconsin should be able to exploit this weakness. Sure, it's hard to gauge just how impressive the Badgers are from top to bottom because they haven't played anyone yet, but what about Nebraska? Their most difficult opponent to date has been a home date with middle of the Pac-10 team Washington (see what I did there?) and they gave up 38 points to the Huskies. The most Wisky gave up thus far is 17 to UNLV with most of those points coming in garbage time. I think the Badgers have the edge on offense, on defense and in location. Looking forward to watching the game on my couch enjoying a few cold ones, although I do envy those who will be in the house at the game that has produced the most coveted ticket in Wisconsin's history. Go Bucky.
In case you forgot (which I'm sure you didn't...just needed a transition), the Chicago Bears foolishly believed that they would be able to knock off the Packers in Soldier Field for the second straight year in week 3, but the Packers would have nothing of it. They took care of Da Bears 27-17 in a game that was never really all that close. Green Bay never relinquished their lead after Aaron Rodgers found Greg Jennings what seemed like 15 times on the first drive, leading to a touchdown catch by Jermichael Finley. I'm not going to give a play-by-play because I know everyone saw this one, but I would like to point out a couple of performances that shouldn't go unnoticed. First of all, I understand that Finley's performance didn't exactly fly under the radar, but did you notice how he was getting his scores? The Bears' secondary was so afraid of Rodgers throwing up the fade in the corner of the endzone to Sirmichael that they forget he can just cut inside on a slant and find himself wide open. Man, talk about a dilemma for future opposing defenses. Are they really going to have to focus two guys on our tight end to avoid him beating us? Probably, and I don't know why more teams do it. After all, Finley is the Packers' only real threat through the air and...wait a minute...you're telling me Green Bay has five wide receivers that are good enough to start for any other team in the National Football League? Oooooo. That sucks, rest of league. Good luck with that one. And if that's not enough, Ryan Grant is kind of starting to rekindle that old flame inside as he rushed 17 times for a convincing 92 yards, although he did suffer a bruised kidney and could be held out of the Broncos game as a precautionary measure. That's fine by me, because James Starks can then take over and maybe we would even get to see a little of the rookie, Alex Green. I mean, c'mon, let's be real...it's the Denver Broncos coming into town. I think we'll survive. The only downer about the weekend I'm about to experience is that I'll miss the Packers' game in its entirety because of the scheduled time of Game 2 that I HAVE to attend. But I think I'll get over it. I mean, c'mon, let's be real...it's the Denver Broncos coming into town. Quick shout-outs to Morgan Burnett (2 picks against the Bears, you the man Morgan), and injured Packers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (glad the knee injury isn't anything serious, get well soon), defensive end Mike Neal (take it slow, buddy) and linebacker Frank Zombo (apparently 100 percent now). Go Pack.
Get this, everybody. It'll be October 1st on Saturday, and the Brewers will still be the talk of the state; at least in my mind. Why's that? Well, the Milwaukee Brewers have stolen the hearts of Wisconsin because of their potent 1-2 punch in the middle of the lineup, an outspoken and fiery competitor who gives the best interview in sports...other than the mustache aficionado John Axford, a team that set the franchise record in wins with a 96-66 record and obtained home field advantage in the first round. But most importantly, we're here today because of a competent starting rotation and a bullpen with defined roles. I remember 2008 quite vividly, and I'm in the same boat as many when I say that I was just happy that the Brewers reached the playoffs. Whatever happened after that was gravy. I'm embarrassed to an extent to admit that, but...it was the Brewers in the POSTSEASON. It hadn't happened before in my lifetime...by a long shot. What I will always remember most about the Brewers' first playoff appearance in 26 years is Ryan Braun's game clinching go-ahead 2-run homer in the bottom of the 8th against the rival-Chicago Cubs, then watching the New York Mets fall to the Florida Marlins to give the Brewers the NL Wild Card position. The champagne started to flow, hilarity ensued and tears flowed from my eyes. Seriously. Don't judge. Three years later, albeit about a week earlier than in '08, Braun once again stepped to the plate in a 1-1 ball game with a chance to clinch a playoff berth and what happened? Of course. Braun bashed one out to deep center for a 3-run homer and the Brewers were NL Central Divison champs. All that was left to do was root for the Braves to hold onto the Wild Card position (they didn't...that honor belongs to the hated Fightin' LaRussas) and cling onto the number two seed so that the Crew had home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Despite the best efforts of the baseball gods, Milwaukee earned the two seed and will host the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Divisional Series beginning on Saturday.
I'm not sure if anyone wanted that two seed worse than I did. In case you weren't aware, I was randomly selected out of over 190,000 entries to have the OPPORTUNITY to purchase postseason tickets to a Brewers' home playoff game. When I opened my email last Saturday and saw the "NLDS Ticket Opportunity: Congratulations" subject heading, I went completely bonkers, immediately texted longtime friend/fellow sports enthusiast/friend of the blog Kyle and we held about a 15 minute conversation screaming "Oh my GOD" back and forth to each other. There was nearly an identical conversation that took place last Friday night (good song) after the Beer Makers clinched a playoff spot. The email told me to follow a link and enter a code on Tuesday, beginning as early as 9 AM. I got in the waiting room. I was selected instantly. I nabbed those left field bleacher seats. The only aspect that poked at me was that I bought tickets for the 2nd home game rather than the first. Why? Because two of the people I would be bringing with me to the game go to Madison and the first home game was potentially going to fall on October 1st (enough said). So what was the problem? Well, what if the Brewers hadn't gotten the two seed? They would be on the road the first two games, then return to Miller Park for game three. It would've been unlikely to happen, but what if the Brewers got swept in three? I'd be stuck with tickets for game four. No playoffs for me. Someone would surely die. Thank goodness for the will of the Crew and the managerial skills of Ron Roenicke to help lead Milwaukee to that coveted two seed and restore comfort to my insides.
So it'll be 17-game winner Yovani Gallardo, the Brewers unprecedented ace no matter what you tell me, against 21-game winner Ian Kennedy, a former Yankees reject who appears to have rejuvenated his career. Arizona is just as hot if not hotter than the Brewers and won the season series over Milwaukee, 4-3. It's all out the window now. Playoff baseball is a totally different monster. Now we wait for the Crew to announce their playoff roster on Saturday morning as well as the game 2 starter, who we can only hope is Zack Greinke. If you don't hope it's Greinke, here's why you should: the Zack Attack is 11-0 at Miller Park this season and the Brewers are 15-0 when he starts at home. 15-0! Holy, man. I know it would be his second start on three days rest, but he didn't go as deep into the game on Wednesday as he could have and my feeling is that he will be able to talk his way into a start on Sunday. Grienke at home >>>>>>>>>>>>> Greinke on the road. 'Nough said. Go Crew.
On a lighter note, I went to see the movie "Moneyball" a few hours ago and it basically rocked my socks off. For a baseball nerd like me and a stats nerd like me, I was hooked from the very beginning and the emotional roller coaster that Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill lead me on helped me forget that it was over two hours long. Every single minute of that movie was worth it. I hate to hype up a film and cause anyone who plans on seeing it to have high expectations going in, but it's that good. Then again, that's just me talking. I HIGHLY recommend it, baseball fan or not. It goes beyond baseball and that's what helps make this film so special.
Well, guys...it's been nice knowing ya. I hope the state of Wisconsin has braced itself for what's about to take place this weekend, because I have. That's for damn sure.