Saturday, July 31, 2010
Show of hands…who doesn’t point the finger at someone else when there’s an argument, accident or even disastrous oil spill? It’s their fault, he did it, she started it, not me. In almost every situation, we seek a way to take the spotlight off ourselves. Me? When I’m having a rough day, Jeffrey Suppan is my punching bag. When I need someone to lay blame on, it’s that man. The Brewers’ woes, Jeff Suppan’s fault. Financial problems, Suppan’s fault. Dead car battery, Suppan’s fault…Death of a pet, Suppan!
Rather than continue to toss darts at his picture or burn my Suppan jersey (yes I actually bought one), I’ve been considering treatment for my undeniable and blatant hatred. I would like to completely let go of this disdain, but it’s a daily struggle. Thankfully the Brewers’ higher-ups have finally filed Suppan’s “get the F out” papers. For 31 innings pitched and a svelte 7.84 earned run average, Jeff Suppan earned (stole) the entire $14.5 million his contract promised him in 2010. Suppan is gone though; it’s time move on. So who can be our scapegoat? Who is that one person we can unite behind as the sole cause for every single trouble in our daily lives?
Michael Redd’s knees
Michael Redd has been a member of the Milwaukee Bucks for all 10 of his NBA seasons, and as far as we know, he’s been a comendable athlete in the Milwaukee organization. For the past 5 summers, he has hosted the Michael Redd basketball camp for Ohio-area youth. He has participated in charity events including the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, the House of Need and the YMCA, among others. During Thanksgiving a couple years past, Redd spent his day donating 300+ turkeys to families in need. Dang it…Despite his paper-thin knees, missed games (seasons) and 2010 salary of $17 mil per, I can’t hate this guy. I want to hate you Michael, but you deserve better. Where’s the “dislike” button?
Purely hypothetical. John Clay is, by many, a clear Heisman candidate this coming season. If Clay can follow up his 2009 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year award, 1,517 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns with similar numbers, the Badgers have a chance to be very good in 2010. Elite good. NBC Sports has already entrenched Wisconsin as #10 in their preseason rankings. Scott Tolzien should be more mature than last year, especially with Lance Kendricks returning as a target. The entire offensive line will be back as well. On the other side of the ball, the defense ranked #1 in the Big Ten in rushing yards given up per game with only 88.2 Yes, there is little reason to believe this 10-3 squad won’t be a Big Ten title contender in 2010. But…
John Clay is coming off troublesome ankle surgeries, and he has always struggled to keep his weight down. He is listed at 6’1” 248, although his weight hit at least 260 a year ago. That’s the type of back John Clay his. He runs hard and heavy, seemingly looking to take off the head of anyone in his path. Clay helped lead the Badgers to the #1 ranked rushing game in the Big Ten last season, and the expectations have only grown since. The hype is building, and no other player holds the fate of the Badgers’ success on their shoulders like Johnny Clay.
He has the chance to surpass 2,000 yards rushing and establish himself as one of the Wisconsin greats. High praise sure, but the chance is there. He has the chance to parlay 2010 into becoming a draft prospect and extending the Wisconsin Badger brand further into the NFL. Can his already top-heavy body carry those expectations? If Clay shows up in the fall, out of shape and unconditioned, the Badgers will fail. If the “lazy” tag continues to be applied next to Clay’s name, his NFL future will fall apart. The fate of Badger Nation rests on his legs, and whether justifiably so or not, the Badgers’ failures will be his. The blame, his.
I think we may have a leader in the clubhouse. Johnny Jolly was a model of consistency on the Packers’ defensive line during the 2009 season. He flashed brilliancy at times with plays a man that big should not dream of making. Last year was Jolly’s best season yet, and he compiled very respectable numbers, including 39 total tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception and 10 pass deflections. The stats aren’t overwhelming, but Jolly was a mainstay on Green Bay’s line. On top of that, Jolly’s 6′ 3” 325 pound frame is only 27 years old and seemingly in its prime.
However, Jolly was recently suspended indefinitely for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Apparently possession and use of illegal prescription Codeine syrup is not okay with commissioner Roger Goodell. Also, according to Greg Bedard’s report, Jolly is still facing charges for buying, selling, funding, transporting and aiding…(deep breath)…in the buying, selling, funding and transportation of illegal drugs including cocaine and marijuana in Harris County in 2008. That’s all? Johnny Jolly’s future in the Green and Gold looks to be in doubt, and the defense will almost assuredly take a hit without his presence. He has let down his teammates, coaches and many fans. Perhaps I’ve found a winner.
I’m grasping at air. Sigh, slow day. Thankfully the weekend is within reach, and the Green Bay Packers’ Training Camp begins tomorrow. And lucky for Wisconsinites, we really don’t possess too many despised professional personalities. There isn’t a Dan Gilbert, Carlos Zambrano or JarMarcus Russel. For the most part, there isn’t a universally hated athlete or coach. Of course Jarrett Bush, Ken Macha and even Ted Thompson could be thrown into the mix, depending on personal opinion, but I’m not sure the discord is strong enough. I’m sure I have missed the most obvious of nominees, so if you have any who’s and why’s lay them on me. I need someone to blame!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
In America's wide world of sports, especially Packer Nation, the NFL reigns supreme. The NFL is a monopoly, with houses and hotels on every street. The NFL runs the playground and bullies the smaller kids. The NFL drives a Hummer, with all other sports stuck in clown cars. The NFL is king, and everything else is merely a temporary distraction.
2010 has been filled with thrilling sports’ headlines. The Yankees are attempting to repeat, and Kobe’s Lakers already have. Tiger Woods is struggling to control his putter, eh hem, and seeking to regain his former dominance. And the 2010 World Cup has made its glorious return, with team U.S.A. set to spring board our country into international “futbol” relevancy.
Oh come on. Admit it, you couldn’t name a third of the starting lineup from the U.S. squad, let alone the champion Dutch. Or was it Spain who won the Cup? Brazil? Exactly. The only memorable World Cup moments that have any hope of surviving the summer sun are Landon Donovan’s game winning goal and those God-awful vuvuzelas. Even the former will fade to obscurity with the first sniff of training camp.
But wait, this is the summer of Lebron! James flipped the sports’ world on its head when Jim Gray, who set Journalism back at least a decade, asked Lebron “do you still bite your nails?” Please. “The Decision” was a farce. Even King James himself, the super hero who vaulted the Cavalier franchise to nearly double its former net worth, is reduced to court jester when rumors circulate about JaMarcus Russel toasting “purple drank” glasses with (sigh) Johnny Jolly. If a report surfaces about #4 slinging Nerf balls to the locals down in Hattiesburg, the sports’ ticker blows up. An undrafted free agent could sneeze, and we would sprint to the nearest computer, television or radio to learn whether or not he reached the tissue box in time.
But John Isner battled through an 11 hour tennis match! Who? But Northern Iowa upset overall No. 1 seed Kansas, and Butler shocked their way into the NCAA Tournament championship game! Sorry, you lost me at “busted bracket.” But NASCAR! (giggle) They all fail in comparison.
Our local Wisconsin sports though, they are on par with the NFL. Really? Let’s be honest with each other. Milwaukee is home to two franchises with incredibly bright futures (too generous I know). The ride Johnny Salmons, Andrew Bogut and friends took us on this past season was a blast. Even being under .500, the potential of the Brewers' core is undeniable. But anyone who wouldn’t bolt from the 9th inning of any 1-1 ball game to catch a glimpse of Jarrett Bush, even him, running laps around the Don Hutson Center is a bold-faced liar. I love the Brewers, the Bucks and even our home grown PGA member Steve Stricker, but the Packers completely dwarf their instate neighbors.
Maybe it’s ignorance or narrow-mindedness. Maybe being bathed in Green and Gold as a child has skewed my fanhood to an epic homerism. Or, maybe I am just desperate for the mind-bending adrenaline rush that is the NFL season. That first update on Mason Crosby’s newfound accuracy (let’s hope), that first glimpse of 4th stringers fighting for their NFL lives during the preseason, that first sack, interception, touchdown and “W” are all enchanting moments impossible to duplicate. Heck I’m even excited to learn what color pen Mike McCarthy will be sporting in his baseball cap this year. Sports in general are great, but there is no rival to the National Football League.
For now I’ll wave my American Flag celebrating the U.S. soccer team. I’ll enjoy the banter regarding Lebron James and whether or not “South Beach” was the correct choice. I’ll probably even flip on the golf channel to see John Daly’s latest wardrobe choice. And of course I’ll faithfully follow both Milwaukee franchises, but the second Mike McCarthy and company are back in business, all else will cease to exist.
My anticipation for the 2010 season has reached a breaking point, and my optimism is probably unfounded. I’m not sure if Jermichael Finley can achieve elite status this season. I have no idea if Clay Matthews can match his stellar rookie campaign. My guess is as good as yours whether or not Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers can establish themselves as legitimate Superbowl contenders. But there is one thing I know for a fact…I am sure as heck ready to enjoy the ride and find out!
(Cue the Monday Night Football intro)