Packers. First mini camp of the season concluded last Thursday. The JS Packers blog has a good account of the particulars of the last practice. Some things that stood out to me: I like the players attitudes, especially the rookies in the two lines. There's an aggressiveness with these guys that seems to be generating some real good competition going on at almost every position (something TT was trying to ensure with his meager signings earlier in the off season). Aaron Rodgers could be the toughest of them all. He has consistently been able figuratively (and firmly) deflect that glaring spotlight he's under as Favre's successor and just go out and be himself. His self confidence will not be easily shaken and that's a personality attribute he will need to strap up with every game this season. ESPN's John Clayton agrees that Rodgers will be fine (though not exactly for the same reasons).
On the Jason Taylor rumors front it looks like the Packers were never really in the competition for his services (should he decide to play this year). Seems he already has a list of the teams that he would be will to sign with and the Pack ain't on it. I never seriously entertained the thought of him coming here so my reaction to that is . . . "meh, he's no Reggie White". But I am fearful of the fact that Green Bay is once again becoming the player's pariah NFL cities. Before Reggie White no high profile free agent would have even considered coming to Green Bay for a number of perceived reasons (not the least of which is the general perception that Green Bay, WI is not shall we say the most welcome environment for African-Americans. Though for the record I know African-Americans who live in Green Bay who feel exactly the opposite, and city has always worshipped the players) and it kind of seems like that is starting to be the case more and more now (though who knows how much the fact that TT is not big on free agency anyway plays into that). The closest thing we have had to a big name free agency signing since White was Charles Woodson and the Pack probably only looked good to him because half the league thought he was washed up.
By the way did you hear the rumor that the real reason the Pack didn't sign Daunte Culpepper before the draft was because not because the Pack passed, but that Culpepper turned down TT's offer!? What an extraordinarily poor decision by Culpepper and incredibly lucky decision for TT and the Pack. If we had picked up Culpepper I think that would have sealed the lid on the 'TT is an idiot debate' for a lot of fans. And we probably would've passed on Brian Brohm which may have turned out to be real dumb in retrospect. I think ol' Daunte just could not see himself in the Green and Gold after despising us as a Viking, perfectly understandable.
Finally, I have not said much about the whole Javon Walker thing, not wanting to get caught up in a whole kind of Malcolm X "the chickens came home to roost" deal because I don't know the man personally. But when I read Cheesehead TV's commentary I thought "this is what a lot of Packers fans really think, but are to reserved to say".
Brewers. B+ As of yesterday the Crew is firmly in 3rd place in their division, 7-3 in their last 10, playing as good as anyone right now. Of course as BrewCrewBall points out that the Crew had the exact same record this year after 75 games that they had back in 2004 and without having to look up specifics I know that year did not end well. I am going to remain optimistic though. I'm not ready to give up my new attitude towards the Brewers and return to the bitterness of pessimism yet.
Rickie Weeks, who's been out with a knee sprain, is back in the leadoff spot. Gagne will begin his rehab soon down in Nashville. He would have to return to his Dodger form though to even have a chance at getting his designated closer role back from Salomon Torres. Not even Yost is dumb enought to do that, Torres has been too good. Mike Cameron who has been out with a hyperextended big toe is back in the line up (mighty injury prone all of the sudden?). Yost must have figured out why Boston released Julian Tavarez because he's been designated for assignment to make room for David Riske.
Most Brewers fans are aware of the fact that this isn't the first time Russell Branyan has been called up or aquired by a new team and had a fast start only to eventually fizzle out. Will it be more of same this time eventually? ESPN's Eric Karabell says don't bet on it . . . yet (b\w Cute Sports).
Been a lot of speculation by ESPN about the possibility of C.C. Sabathia coming over in a trade. My initial reaction as a very casual baseball fan is that would be great. He is supposed to be 'lights out', that would surely take care of any pitching deficiencies and might even be the catalyst to a strong stretch run into the playoffs. Then I read the Brew Town Beat and came back to reality. In short for a team like the Brewers it wouldn't be worth what we would have to give up (probably one or more of the untouchables) unless we were guaranteed a ring this year.
Bucks. Well by the end of this week we should really be able to guage whether or not John Hammond is up to the task of turning this thing around. Will he trade down for some veteran talent that could also help turn the team's culture around? Will he somehow do a Houdini and trade up to capture one of the Big Three to be the cornerstone we rebuild around? Will he manage to just make a competent sound pick for good value at both spots that allows the hard core fans to still feel real optimistic about the coming season? Only time will tell, but according to Bucks beat writer Michael Hunt however the draft shakes out overhauling this team will not be easy. Only common sense, it didn't get fucked up overnight so it figures to be a long fix.
While I mention the draft can I go on record now as saying the player I am most scared of passing on in this draft is Memphis' Chris Douglas-Roberts. Just something about that part athleticism, part old-man-moves game of his that has 12 year veteran written on it. If he turns out to be a bust please call me on it, but . . . my secret hope is that people forget about him until he falls to the Bucks in the second round. The Bratwurst is back with a well researched definitive mock draft (looking more and more like Bucks will take Joe Alexander, they just had him in for another interview last week).
In my wank a couple of weeks ago I mentioned how former Bucks first rounder Ersan Ilyosava was gettin' off in the European playoffs. Well he's back stateside for the time being, working out at the Bucks practice facility since we still own his NBA rights. But if he will stick around is not certain. He stands to make a substantial amount in Europe next season and if he stays with the Bucks there's no guarantee he will break into the rotation (plus the dollar is not what it used to be) soooo . . . we'll see.
University of Wisconsin football. Fall will be here sooner than you think and UW should have a number of top performers this season. Big Ten Preseason All-Conference Team (according to Wisconsin Badger Sports).