I was one excited sports fan Saturday…knowing I was about to begin two straight afternoons on the couch watching sports on a big screen HD TV. In addition, with my lovely fiancee out of town, I was once again supreme dictator of the remote control–which meant non-stop flipping between channels without retribution.
Saturday started well enough, as Wisconsin got out to a 19-0 halftime lead at Michigan. I held off on any cell phone or text message taunting of Wolverines fan Doug Michaels. knowing full well that there was still another half of football to play. Michigan looked as offensively inept as any college football team I’d ever seen, and kept giving the Badgers ridiculously good field position–yet Wisconsin had only cashed in those gifts for 19 points.
During timeouts and breaks in the action, I’d flip over to the Cubs-Brewers game at Miller Park, and things were not going well for the home team. Waching Milwaukee hitters flail away at the lollypop offerings of Chicago starter Ted Lilly, reminded me of a quote from former Twin Gary Gaetti: "It’s hard to field the ball with both hands wrapped around your throat." Having tried to play the game of baseball in such a fashion, I know all too well the feeling–whether it’s fielding, hitting, throwing…whatever.
So…I switched back to the Badgers…just in time to draw the conclusion that Michigan’s offensive ineptitude must be contagious. Normally, I’m a fan of what UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst does, but I began to wonder, when Wisconsin became stagnant right around the time that Michigan woke up with two touchdowns. Still, even with the momentum meter pointing the opposite way, the Badgers had a 19-14 lead. At this point, I prayed for a return to Barry Alvarez-style grind it out football: pound away with the running game, try to win the field position battle, and hang on with the defense. So what’s Chryst calling on the Badgers first play after Michigan’s second touchdown? A slant pattern left! I screamed at the TV for Allan Evridge not to throw the ball, but my plea from my lower level rec room in Eau Claire was not heard all the way in Ann Arbor. It would have been bad enough for Evridge to throw into double or triple coverage…but there were four blue winged helmets surrounding the Wisconsin receiver, and two more Michiganders in the vicinity. Touchdown Michigan….which meant another rendition of "Hail To The Victors" by the Michigan band–which seemingly, only knows two songs: that one, and the Star-Spangled Banner.
With that game going down the tubes, I needed to see what the Brewers were doing. Shock of all shocks, they’ve begun to rally. Now I’m flipping channels after every play in the football game and after every pitch in the baseball game. Right around the time Steven Threet, the lead-footed Michigan quarterback broke loose on a long run, I had a sinking feeling him my stomach….which only got worse when I flipped to the Brewers game, and saw Kosuke Fukudome of the Cubs circling the bases after a 2-run 9th inning homer…it wasn’t over in Yogi Berra terms, but it was over.
Back to the Badgers…at that point, I’m reminded again about the difference between being a working member of the media and being a non-working member of the media. The former may be disappointed that the team isn’t doing well, but win or lose, there’s a job to do and a deadline to meet. The latter can only curse and plead….
Maybe the pleading helped. Passes from Allan Evridge actually started winding up in the hands of guys wearing white jerseys. An amazing pitch and catch to David Gilreath with time running out got the Badgers within 2 points. I danced on the sofa when the 2-point conversion worked….then fell to the floor when a penalty flag hit the field. Illegal man downfield? From the 2 1/2 yard line? How in the world does that happen? The Badgers take another shot, the Evridge pass is incomplete and the game ends. I am furious, especially since I knew a text message from Doug Michaels was going to be on its way…at 7:09 PM, it arrived: "HAIL 2 THE VICTORS!"
After all that, I wasn’t optimistic when Sunday started. Some queasy feeling inside was telling me this was going to be one of the worst sports weekends in Wisconsin’s recent memory. Once again, I rode the football roller coaster: up when an Aaron Rodgers TD pass gave the Packers a 1st-quarter lead, down when Ryan Grant coughed up the football and it wound up as a Bucs touchdown.
My first flip to the Brewers game was great timing (sarcasm) –a ground ball through Prince Fielder kept an inning going, and the Cubs wound up scoring. Bad defense by Milwaukee….combined with a non-existent offense…once again, the Brewers look like they’re swinging 60-ounce bats…good thing Sabathia is keeping Milwaukee in the game.
Back to the NFL. Rodgers scrambles, lunges forward. Rodgers throws a TD pass and then runs off the field in obvious pain…eventually, there’s a replay which showed the aforementioned scrambling and lunging led to some sort of a right shoulder injury. I cringe, mainly because I know at that moment, the Rodgers-McCarthy-Thompson haters and Favre lovers are spewing venom posting on Packers message boards. Rodgers returns, takes a vicious blind-side hit and tosses another interception. Game over.
I flipped back to the Brewers, expecting more doom. Except, Milwaukee finds a way to load the bases in the 7th inning, and scores the tying run on a walk. I began to pace. WIll this team get a clutch hit? No, a ground ball ends the inning.
C-C Sabathia pitches a scoreless 8th. In New York, former Brewer Wes Helms hits a homer to put the Marlins ahead of the Mets. Maybe it’s happening. Maybe not…Dale Sveum doesn’t pinch hit for Sabathia in the bottom of the inning. One out. Good thing the Brewers fired Ned Yost, to implement that strategy. But then, Ray Durham singles. Ryan Braun comes to the plate…promptly hits a 2-run homer. It is happening…great strategy, Sveum. Forget the bullpen, let the big lefty win it. He does. The Brewers are playoff-bound. My only regret is that I didn’t hear the Bob Uecker call of the Braun HR and the game ending double play on the radio–but later that night, I found the audio clips online, and only listened to them about five or six times.
I have no grand conclusions from this weekend, no great insight as to what’s next for the Badgers, Packers, and Brewers. All I know is, this past weekend there was only a certain amount of sports karma for the teams of this state….and it sure seems like it all went to the Milwaukee Brewers.
It was about time.
Posted under Hometown Sports
This post was written by bbradovich on September 29, 2008