Brewers. C+ Crew is holding position in 3rd place in the central, 5-5 in their last ten. You know I only really started paying real close attention to how the Brewers are playing when I started this blog, specifically when I started this running weekly rant/roundup so about a year now, and I must say it's like keeping up with a soap opera sometimes.
Russell Branyan, who got called up recently originally to platoon at 3rd base with Bill Hall, has been playing pretty good since getting here, especially defensively. On the other hand Hall since being reduced to sharing playing time has thrown a temper tantrum, demanded to be traded, and has been given the opportunity to set himself up at 2nd but has been unable to take advantage so far (3 errors in his first 2 games so kind of an understatement). If Branyan keeps his quality of play up and the Brewers begin to turn it around in the standings he might even become this season's fan hero like Hall did last season. Soap-opera like irony.
A big deal has been made of the fact that the Brewers already had 19 of their 54 draft picks signed five days after the draft was finished. I don't really know how many players the average club is usually faced with signing after a draft, but that has to be amazing in any sport and is one of those tell-tale benchmark signs that this team has really turned the corner in terms of reinventing their culture. They might also get a little haterism too for giving a high school pitcher drafted in the second round out of Tennessee $900,000 and paying for his college education. Apparently that's a little steep for his draft position and gives players drafted higher a tiny bit of leverage (btw check out the real haterism referenced in that link, Milwaukee's own version of the Buzz Bissinger vs blogosphere battle between a Brewers beat writer and Crew bloggers). Having lived in TN for 10 years though my attention was peaked by the fact that the pitcher is out of Marshall County, TN (Lewisburg to be exact) an area I'm quite familiar with (nothing like the hospitality of fine southern women). And my insight on that would be I pretty much guarantee he will spend all his time perfecting his game and turn into a major stud because, well, there's not much else to do down there.
In farm system news there are several prospects who have been tearing it up lately, but it doesn't look like there will be any more callups for the moment, at least not for Mat Gamel or Matt LaPorta two of the hottest prospects. This is a sign of progress also, that the Brewers can afford to let their talent marinate and get just the right seasoning (sorry I've been grilling a lot lately) in the minors because we have enough talent upstairs already. They don't need to get baptized under fire like Weeks, Fielder, and Braun (might have actually hindered Weeks in his case).
But for a casual fan like me the true litmus test of the Brewer's arrival will be when we can advance to a post season berth, Cute Sports throws a little luck their way.
Bucks. Scott Skiles hit the ground running after being named the new Buck's head coach earlier this year putting together a solid staff and is now showing some more signs that he is up to the mammoth task of turning this team around. He's showing that he can take criticism and turn it into a positive. According to rumor and innuendo one of the main reasons Skiles wore out his welcome in Chicago was an inability to communicate consistently with his players. Well Skiles is trying his hardest not to let that happen here. He's already made efforts to firmly establish the line of communications with his current players calling them, going to see them, getting their input on the problems from last season, etc. If there's one thing Skiles always was as a player and coach it was a hard worker.
I knew it. As soon as I started to take half a shine to the thought of a Yi-Kevin Love-Villanueva rotation in the frontcourt Love's draft stock begins to rise so high that he probably will not be working out for the lowly Bucks before the draft (a slight shift from his prior "I'll play for anybody" attitude so maybe it's for the best) so I'm starting to think maybe Joe Alexander is the way to go. He too has said specifically that would not mind the competition in Milwaukee and his game reportedly has a grittiness to it that the Bucks sorely lack (messed up the whole team by trying to get it from Anthony Mason back in the day, but Alexander is not the stagnant black hole on offense that Mason was). But could the 8 spot be too high for a guy who might otherwise slip into the second round?
The Bucks will take a look at some lesser known guards in the next workout session among them Tennessee State's Bruce Price (my alma mater). Although Price is from my alma mater I can't hype him up in good conscience. Though he was a good player by Ohio Valley Conference standards he has some glaring holes in his game. The JS Bucks blog has a list of who will be in attendance.
Basketball Prospectus has an interesting article about draft sleepers, past blunders, and reminds you that the Bucks could have selected Carlos Boozer instead of Marcus Haislip in 2002 (I remember I thought that was an excellent pick because I though Boozer would be a bust like Trajan Langdon. . .and I hate Duke).
Packers. Justin Harrell is officially turning into a bust. The former first round draft pick is under critical observation again after showing up to camp out of shape and now he's go a problem with his hamstring I think. TT really whiffed on that guy, I would love to hear the real rationale behind that pick in a couple of years (after he, TT, or both are long gone). But can you really be a bust when there was no real hype or great expectations surrounding you? When it just so happened some idiot thought you were good but really should have waited a couple of rounds to get you? Talk about setting someone up for failure.
KGB makes the Forbes list . . . for Best Paid Benchwarmers woo hoo!! All the mediocre players that go drafted low and free agents signers should be taking a page from KGB's book. Work hard to maximize your few strengths as a player. If you get a little notoriety do not get the big head. Stick with the team that drafted you if you can. Eventually you too can carve out a niche for yourself that your team needs you in, you can cash in on that bigger-than-it-should be second contract and when your natural skills start to fade and you too can accept being cut knowing you stuck around longer than you should have. I am being slightly sarcastic though. In his prime KGB brought great balance to the D line and was always very good at his specialty: rushing the passer.
And finally because there are far too few reports on the good things black athletes do.
Marquette University men's basketball. Got another recruit today. Former Bay View High School standout Dwight Buycks will be joining the Warriors next season at the PG spot. Young Dwight was planning to be a state traitor and play for Bradley coming out of high school when academic issues led him to go the JUCO route. Now he sites playing close to home as the main reason he turned down advances from Illinois, Memphis, Tennessee (so glad), and Kentucky. Welcome home, son.