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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wisconsin's biggest sports story in 2013

Wisconsin was filled with many positive and some negative sports stories throughout 2013, but most people can agree that Ryan Braun's suspension and Aaron Rodgers' injury were the two biggest ones. Now the question is which one of these was the biggest story?

You can make an argument for either one of them, but Braun being suspended for Performance Enhancing Drugs is the bigger story.  While Rodgers' injury affected him and the entire team, as the Packers only went 2-4-1 without him, they still have a chance to win a Super Bowl.  Plus the injury only affects the organization this season.

While on the other hand Braun's suspension does not last just this year, the effects will carry on for the years to come.  You can say what you want about Braun, but his suspension will live with him throughout the rest of his career.  It just does not affect him though; it affects many more including the Brewers organization who have to deal with all the bad PR surrounding him.  Brewers' fans have also felt betrayed by Braun as he admitted that he never used PEDs.

2013 has been a roller coaster year, as there have been many great sports stories, but also some negative ones too.  Unfortunately the biggest story was Ryan Braun's suspension because of the impact it had on so many people.  Lets just hope 2014 is a better sports year, filled with a couple of championships.

Aaron Rodgers addresses rumor that he's gay

Where will Masahiro Tanaka land?

Talented starting pitchers are always sought after on the free agent market, and this offseason with the lack of quality pitching, Masahiro Tanaka will cash in big time.  Now the question is, which team will step up to the plate to sign the 25-year-old Japanese sensation?

There are a handful of teams who are believed to be seriously interested, and of course the high spending New York Yankees are the favorite to land the righties services; but just because the Yanks are the favorite, doesn't mean they will end up landing him.  Instead the Seattle Mariners will be the lucky organization to sign the young pitching star.

The Mariners have a huge presence in Japan due to their owner being Nintendo of America, and Ichiro Suzuki spending the majority of his career with them.  Plus with Hisashi Iwakuma, a former teammate of Tanaka, there is now a bigger connection.  Due to these connections and a comfort level with the organization, it will put the Mariners ahead of the other teams trying to land Tanaka.

Seattle has already signed the top bat on the market, and time will tell if they can add Tanaka to their already solid pitching staff.  Jack Zduriecik has shown that he wants to build a competitive team, and if he can get upper management to approve this move, it will take their ball club to the next level.  

Monday, December 30, 2013

Luke Fischer is transferring from Indiana

Indiana freshman, Luke Fischer, has made a decision that has shocked everyone around college basketball.  A former Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Wisconsin, and a top-100 recruit coming out of high school, Fischer has decided to transfer to another school.

Fischer, a 6-foot-11 center, was expected to make an impact with the departure of Cody Zeller to the NBA, but in the Hoosiers 13 games he received little opportunities, only averaging 10 minutes per game.

Indiana's head coach Tom Crean said that Fischer is looking for a different fit for him, and it was later reported by JP Cadorin from Time Warner Cable that he was supposedly home sick.

It should not surprise many people that he is home sick especially for being so far away from home because many college students have trouble adjusting to the different environment of college.  If he is truly home sick, it could be interesting to see what program he decides to transfer to as it would most likely be a program in Wisconsin.

The decision just came out today about Fischer deciding to transfer, but when he choses his new team, it will change that program, as he is one of the more talented freshman big men in the country.  And who knows, what if he choses the Milwaukee Panthers?

Aaron Rodgers To Randall Cobb To Win The NFC North

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Packers vs. Bears: Preview and prediction

It comes down to just one game.  One more win and you are in the playoffs.  This is the situation the Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) and Chicago Bears (8-7) will be in as they square off this afternoon for the NFC North division crown.

In the first meeting between these two teams earlier this season at Lambeau Field, the Chicago Bears where able to grab the 27-20 victory, as Aaron Rodgers left the game early with a broken collarbone.

Without Rodgers the Packers have struggled to play consistent football going 2-4-1, causing many people to believe the Green and Gold would be out of the playoff picture by the time A-Rod got back onto the field.  Fortunately for the Packers, the Bears have not played much better either going 3-4, giving them a chance to win the division in the final week of the regular season.  

Now with Rodgers back, the Pack have a chance.  Both teams' defenses have struggled, and in fact the Bears defense has been even worse as they allowed 54 points to Philly a week ago.  The running game will be key for both teams as it is expected to be a cold and windy day down in the Windy City, but the difference in today's game will be Rodgers.

Everyone can agree that he will be the best player on the field, and when it comes down to it, quarterbacks are the reason teams win games.  As long as the offensive line can hold a block for three seconds, Rodgers should do just fine.  Plus whom would you rather have throwing the ball late in a big game situation, Aaron Rodgers or Jay Cutler?  The answer is Rodgers, unless you are a clueless Bears fan.

This game could go either way, but Aaron Rodgers and Co. will be too much for the Bears to handle, as they will win this game 34-31 to keep their season alive.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Michael Young is a perfect fit at first base

Finding someone to play first base for the 2014 season has been atop the Milwaukee Brewers shopping list since the beginning of the offseason, and it is now time for the Brewers to finally check it off their list.  While they have explored options including resigning Corey Hart or trading for Ike Davis, nothing has happened yet.  One solution could be veteran infielder Michael Young.

The 14-year veteran is 37 years old, and although his great years are behind him, he still has enough left in the tank to be a solid contributor next season.  Young split last season with the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers showing his ability to still hit for average and get on base (.279/.335/.395).  While Young has played on the left side of the infield for most of his career, he has experience playing anywhere in the infield including first base.

Bringing in Young would not only fill their opening at first, but it would also allow the Brewers to give Hunter Morris more at-bats and time to develop in Triple-A.  He would also be a great clubhouse guy, who could teach the young Brewer hitters a few things about being successful big league hitters.

In this stage of Young's career he can still be a solid contributor, while playing on a short term deal for an affordable price.  He solves the Brewers first base issue for the short-term while the Brewers wait for their young first base prospects to be major league ready.  Signing Young makes so much sense, that the Brewers need to make sure that he is wearing their jersey next season.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The 3rd Man In Sounds Off: Tanaka isn't worth huge money

In baseball pitching wins championships.  While it sounds cliche it is true.  If you look around the major leagues, all the great franchises have great pitching.  This causes talented pitchers to be coveted and overvalued when they hit the open market, and Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka is the latest example of this.

After months of speculation the 25-year-old phenom has officially been posted, and is expected to land a long-term deal that pays him at least $17 million per season, along with the $20 million release fee the team that signs him has to pay.

Last season the righty completely dominated in Japan going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 212 innings, and in his seven years playing professionally he has gone 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA, while averaging almost a strikeout per inning.

Although those are impressive numbers, he has thrown more innings at a young age than anyone in baseball has in the past 35 years, as he has pitched in 1,315 innings throughout his young career.  Japanese pitchers are also know for having bigger workloads, and after a few seasons performing in the major leagues they tend to break down.  In fact out of the 11 Japanese born pitchers who have made 25 MLB starts, only Hideo Nomo and Hiroki Kuroda were able to reach that number three or more times.

These two statistics alone are reasons to be concerned, plus he has never faced a lineup anywhere near the level he will be facing in the majors on a consistent bases.

Signing any pitcher is a risk, but Tanaka seems to have more question marks surrounding him than most others usually do.  While signing a top of the rotation pitcher to a huge deal is not uncommon in today's age, signing someone who has no MLB experience and some miles on his shoulder is.  Baseball is a game of risks, but signing Tanaka to a major deal worth at least $17 million per season is a risk that will never live up to the reward.  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Red Sox sign submarine-style pitcher

When it comes to taking chances on Japanese players, the Boston Red Sox are notorious for doing so, as they have had five different Japanese pitchers pitch for them over the years.  So seeing the Red Sox going out and signing a Japanese pitcher is not uncommon, but when they sign a pitcher that has a delivery like Shunsuke Watanabe, it surprises some people.

(Watanable delivery in slow motion)

Watanable, 37, signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox last week, after spending 13 seasons with the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league.  Mostly as a starter the submarine-style pitcher posted a career record of 87-82 with a 3.65 ERA and 846 strikeouts in 255 games, 244 of them as starts.

He will report to minor league camp this spring, and will work as a reliever the Red Sox reported. Although people should not expect him to break camp on the major league roster, if he performs well in the minors, there is a good chance fans could see him in midsummer.

It is rare to see a pitcher with a submarine delivery, and hopefully Watanable will appear in at least one game with the Red Sox next season because if he does, he will go down as having the most unorthodox delivery baseball has ever seen.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Jesse Crain is worth the risk

First base is a glaring question mark for the Milwaukee Brewers right now, causing the bullpen holes to go under the radar, but they are just as important.  Jim Henderson, Brandon Kintzler and Tom Gorzelanny are the only relief pitchers guaranteed a spot for next season; otherwise the Brewers have a handful of players who have struggled to produce consistently at the major league level.

Veteran righty, Jesse Crain would be a great fit for the Milwaukee Brewers.  An All-Star a year ago, he missed the final three months of the season with a shoulder injury, but when he was healthy he had a 0.74 ERA in 36.2 innings while striking out 46 batters.

Assuming he is healthy and the Brewers could sign him to a contract with a small base salary, that is incentives based would be one of the biggest steals on the free agent market as he was having a career year until he got hurt last season.  

The Milwaukee Brewers have vacant spots in their bullpen, and signing Crain would solidify one of those spots.  He has had successes over his nine-year career pitching in late inning situations, and he would bring experience to a young Brewers bullpen.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Top 4 prospects for the Bucks in 2014 NBA Draft

It continues to be an awful season for the Milwaukee Bucks as they are the worst team in the NBA with a 5-20 record.  While the franchise might be disappointed with the Bucks success so far, fans on the other hand are happy.  With one of the deepest drafts expected to take place in 2014, this is a perfect time for them to be struggling.

Last week I gave the top four prospects that the Bucks should select in the 2014 NBA Draft if they receive one of the top picks, and now it is time to see if those four players still remain in the top four.  

1. Jabari Parker - SF - Duke: Jabari Parker has earned the right to be the top prospect the last two weeks, as he as been the most dominating player in college basketball this season.  He is a great scorer and in his two games this past week he showed it averaging 22 points per contest while shooting an average of 56 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the arc.  

In his game against UCLA he did it all scoring 23 points while grabbing 10 rebounds and recording five assists.  His stock continues to remain high, and if he continues to produce the way he has in the first five weeks of the season, he will be the most sought after prospect in the upcoming draft.  

2. Andrew Wiggins - SG - Kansas: Andrew Wiggins only played in one game this week, and he would have been better off just sitting on the bench.  While Wiggins possess all the tools to make him a great NBA player, he has not proved that in his first 10 games this season.  

His performance has been up and down all season, and on Saturday night he was really struggling to do anything against New Mexico at home.  In 28 minutes of action he made only three of his 11 shots from the field scoring a total of 11 points, while securing four boards and recording four personal fouls.  

Wiggins' stock is falling as he has not performed to the level many people thought coming into the season.  Although he remains the number two overall prospect for the Bucks, if he continues to struggle offensively like he did this week, you will see him fall in the rankings.  

3. Joel Embiid - C - Kansas: The Milwaukee Bucks already have Larry Sanders projected as their starting center for the seasons to come, but his lack of performance and off the court issues have caused people to be concerned.  While drafting a center might not fill a need as of now, Embiid continues to put his name in the conversation with his consistent high level of play.  

In his lone game against New Mexico he played in 25 minutes while shooting 83.3 percent (5-6) from the floor and 80 percent (8-10) from the charity strip for a total of 18 points.  He also added six rebounds, four blocks and three steals for an all around great performance.  

While he needs to add more strength to his frame, and could use more in game experience, his stock continues to rise after another outstanding performance.  

4. Marcus Smart - PG - Oklahoma State: Marcus Smart returned for his sophomore season to improve his game, after last year when he could have been a top three pick in the draft.  This decision has hurt Smart so far because he has not taken his game to the next step like many people thought he would.  

This week he played in two home games against non-conference opponents, Louisiana Tech and Delaware State, and had two awful showings.  In the two contests he averaged about 30 minutes of action while scoring 10.5 points per game on 46.2 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from distance.  He did record at least three rebounds, assists and steals in each game, but he turned the ball over a combined eight times in the two games.  

Smart stock is falling after last week when he ranked as the third best prospect for Milwaukee, and while he would make a lot of sense for them, he has not been performing up to the level that a top pick should be playing at.  

Prospects on the outside looking in: Dante Exum - PG - Australia; Zach LaVine - PG - UCLA

The 2014 NBA Draft is still a long ways away, but as of now Jabari Parker is the player that is the most deserving of being selected number one, while Andrew Wiggins' stock continues to fall.  It will be another interesting week of college basketball, and make sure to check back next week to see if Joel Embiid is able to overtake Wiggins for the number two spot and if Marcus Smart falls out of the rankings.    

The 3rd Man In Sounds Off: Brewers should trade Braun

It was a disastrous season for the Milwaukee Brewers a year ago as their face of their franchise, Ryan Braun, missed 101 games throughout the 162 game schedule.  Braun was on the shelf for 36 games due to injuries, and then missed the final 65 games for using Performance Enhancing Drugs.

Doug Melvin has said that Braun is not available for trade, but I think they need to rethink this.  With the Brewers years away from being a competitive ball club, trading Braun would be the solution to rebuilding one of the worst farm systems in all of baseball.  Braun definitely has trade value if the Brewers put him on the block even with seven-years, $113 million remaining left on his deal, and with the controversy surrounding his PED use.

While he still has to prove that he can be a productive player, he is in the prime of his career, and Braun said that he used the banned substance only at the end of the 2011 season to help with the injury, meaning we should all expect him to return to his MVP level of production.

With this free agent class only having one superstar available, and many teams needing a big bat, teams would have lined up to give Melvin their offers.  Plus as we have seen this offseason, players who have been cracked with using PEDs, have not seen their value decrease at all.  

Braun is one of the most affordable superstars in all of baseball, and while he brings some negative attention to the franchise, he still possesses great value.  Milwaukee is making a huge mistake by not dealing Braun to rebuild their farm system for the future, and this could be a decision that affects them long term with all four NL Central teams continuing to get better.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Top 4 prospects for the Bucks in 2014 NBA Draft

It is a great time to be a Milwaukee Bucks fan as the team has struggled to begin the season sitting near the bottom of the NBA with a 5-17 record, and appear be one of the lucky teams who will get one of the top picks in the deep 2014 NBA Draft.  The Bucks are in need of a young, talented player to build their franchise around, and in this draft that looks possible with many potential stars projected to be available.  Here are the rankings for the top players that the Bucks should take if they do receive one of the top picks in the 2014 NBA Draft:

1. Jabari Parker - SF - Duke: Jabari Parker has been the best player in college basketball so far this season.  In almost every game this year, he has clearly been the best and most dynamic player on the court.  Although he isn't a great athlete, he is very skilled and can score from anywhere on the floor.  Through nine games this season he is averaging 22.1 points per game, while shooting 54.8 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from behind the arc.  He is also averaging nearly eight rebounds per game.

Not only are the Bucks looking for an electric scorer, they are also looking for someone to build the franchise around.  Parker is a high character guy, who is an exceptional basketball talent, and would be deserving of being selected near the top of the draft.

2. Andrew Wiggins - SG - Kansas: Andrew Wiggins is an incredible athlete, and has the most potential in the upcoming draft, but he has not stood out so far this season.  Although he is only a freshman, he was the most talked about player entering the season, and he has not lived up to all the attention he received.  He is averaging 16.4 points per game, while making 50.5 percent of his shots and 36.7 percent of his attempts from three-point territory, but he has only dominated in only one game this season.

Wiggins can play multiple positions on the floor and is very talented, but right now he has not done anything to set himself apart from all the other talented players in college basketball.

3. Marcus Smart - PG - Oklahoma State:  Marcus Smart would be the perfect point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks. He is capable of playing both the one and two, but whatever position he plays, he will produce.  The sophomore guard chose to return to Stillwater after last year to improve his game, and it has looked like it was a good decision.  He is averaging 19.7 points per game, while holding a 46.3 shooting percentage and making 34.6 percent of his long-range attempts.  All three statistics are an improvement from last season.

Smart is a strong, physical player who plays good defense, and is a born leader.  He is another high character guy who brings a lot of energy and competitiveness to the court, and is someone teams can build their franchise around.

4. Joel Embiid - C - Kansas: The seven foot freshman is a raw, freaky big man that possess tons of upside along with his 7'-5" wingspan.  Although he does need more game experience, and could add more strength, the sky is the limit.  Per game Embiid is averaging 8.9 points, while grabbing 6.6 rebounds, and blocking 2.2 shots in only 20 minutes of action.

This would be a surprising move for the Bucks since they need a scorer, and locked up the dysfunctional Larry Sanders this past offseason.  But Embiid is nothing like Sanders because he has more potential and is a harder worker.  Embiid's stock is rising, and while he would not fill a need, his potential maybe to much for the Bucks to pass on if they are unable to select the three players above.

Final thoughts: 

While the 2014 NBA Draft is still many months away, it is never too early to look into the future.  With the way the Bucks have been playing this season, do not be surprised if they end up with one of the top three picks in the draft. As of now these four players should be atop the Bucks draft board because they have shown that they are capable of being very talented NBA players that could help a struggling Bucks franchise.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Anaheim Ducks call up David Steckel

According to a source close to the family, David Steckel has been called up to the Anaheim Ducks for the injured Mathieu Perreault, who will miss time due to a lower-body injury.

After getting off to a fast start with 13 points in his first 14 games, the 25-year-old forward has struggled with only two points in the 14 games since.

Due to his injury, Steckel will take his spot on the roster, and will suit up for their game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night.  The former first round pick has spent the beginning part of the season in the AHL with the Iowa Wild and Norfolk Admirals scoring three goals while recording three assist for six points.

With his call up to the NHL, he will provide the Ducks with experience.  In his career he has been known for being a solid and reliable faceoff man, with a 58.3 percent career faceoff success rate.

While Steckel might not be a well-known name, his experience in faceoffs in big games will be a huge addition to the Ducks as they try to continue to stay near the top in the Western Conference.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The 3rd Man In Sounds Off: Bucks make $44 million mistake

Nothing seems to be going right for the Milwaukee Bucks as they sit in the basement of the NBA with a 2-13 record, while the face of the franchise sits at the end of the bench in street clothes.  Before the season began the Bucks decided to give Larry Sanders a $44 million extension, which begins next season, and this decision could not look any worse.

Although Sanders averaged a near double-double last season (9.8 PTS and 9.5 TRB), he has not produced anywhere near those numbers.  In fact he has been more productive at the local tavern then he has been on the court, as he has only played in three games due to missing time because of a bar fight.

After this incident he was required to have surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, and will miss a total of six weeks to recover.  Not only has he had off the court problems, but also before the injury he complained publicly about the lack of minutes he was receiving.

Although he does some positive things on the court, his technical fouls and actions off the court will always cause everyone to wonder if the Bucks made the wrong decision locking Sanders up to a big deal.

While a Dennis Rodman personality could create some excitement among fans, he does not have the personality to be a leader on a young, rebuilding Milwaukee Bucks team.  It is early but already Larry Sanders has shown that the Bucks made a huge $44 million mistake.

What are your thoughts on Larry Sanders? Did the Bucks make a huge mistake? Leave your thoughts below.  

Greatest ending in College Football history

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The 3rd Man In Sounds Off: Matthews not worth the money

In the offseason the Green Bay Packers made a move that will affect their salary cap and roster for the years to come.  They signed linebacker Clay Matthews to a five year, $66 million contract extension, making him the highest paid linebacker in NFL history!

While he is an excellent pass rusher, he is only an average player against the run, and can be a liability in pass coverage.  He deserved a new contract, but for a guy who misses games each season due to injuries, is not worth anywhere near the money he was given.  

Matthews has missed nine games over his five year NFL career, and when he has been absent, it hardly has affected the Packers at all.  In those nine games the Packers are 6-3, and have allowed about 22 points per game.  

Matthews is a good player, but he is not great, and he is definitely not worth anywhere near the amount of money the Packers are paying him.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Birds versus the Beards

Ten years ago the the St. Louis Cardinals faced the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, but since then a lot has changed.  Players and coaches have come and gone, each franchise has gone through its ups and downs, and this time around the Cardinals will be facing "The Beards" and not "The Idiots."

One thing that hasn't changed is that both teams are incredibly tough to beat and are hungry for a ring.  This will make for another great and competitive series with either team having the potential to win.

Both teams have had impressive runs through the postseason knocking off two tough teams.  The Red Sox were able to beat the Tampa Bay Rays and Detroit Tigers, while the Cardinals were able to get past the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers.

The main reason for both of these teams having so much success is that they have made the plays when they need to, their pitching has been exceptional, and they have had a little luck on their side.  This series could go either way, but the home field advantage for the Red Sox will be the difference.

Although most of the players on both sides are not the same from when these two teams met in the 2004 World Series, the results will be the same.  While the Red Sox will not sweep the Cardinals like they did in 2004, they will win the World Series in seven games, their third in the last ten years.

Who are you picking to win?  Leave your thoughts below.  
Please follow me on Twitter @DanZielinski3

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cubs will win it all soon

Remember the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series?  Let me guess, you don't?  That is because it has been 105 years since the Cubs won it all.  In fact, they haven't even been to the Series since 1945.  The closes the Cubbies ever came to returning to the World Series was in 2003, when they were only one win away.

Ever since that controversial 2003 National League Championship Series, it has not been very pretty for the Cubs, besides when they won back-to-back division crowns in 2007 and 2008.  Unfortunately in both trips to the playoffs, they were never able to get out of the first round.

The Cubs are now in rebuilding mode, but better days are ahead, as management has done an exceptional job rebuilding their farm system in just a short time.  Now they have a solid farm system, with many young prospects expected to be part of the Cubs core for the years to come.

According to, the Cubs have five players ranked in the top 100 prospects.  These five players are shortstop Javier Baez (9th), outfielders Albert Almora (21st) and Jorge Soler (25th), and third basemen Kris Bryant (35th) and Mike Olt (57th).  All of these players are expected to be in the majors within the next two to three years, along with some young, talented pitching prospects.

If most of their talented prospects are able to find success in the majors, along with some veteran pieces, the Cubs could realistically be World Series contenders.  Theo Epstein, President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs, was the General Manager of the Red Sox in 2004 when they broke their 86 year drought of winning a World Series, and was with them when they won it all again in 2007.

The reason they were able to do this was because of their player development, and ability to acquire veteran players to fill out their roster.  This is exactly what the Cubs are doing and will be doing within the next couple seasons.

The sky is the limit for the Cubs, with their wealth of talent, young prospects.  This team can be competitive within the next few seasons.  As long as they have some luck on their side, they will finally break there over century long World Series title drought by 2018.

What are your thoughts of the Chicago Cubs?  Can they win a World Series by 2018?  Leave your thoughts below.  

Follow me on Twitter @DanZielinski3

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Who's on first?

After a disappointing season, the Milwaukee Brewers will have many questions entering the offseason.  First base was a revolving door for the Brewers, who used seven different players at that position, and finding someone to play there consistently, will be important.  

Brewers' management will have to decide if they want to bring back Corey Hart or promote slugging prospect, Hunter Morris.  Corey Hart was suppose to be the team's everyday first baseman this season, but he never stepped foot onto the field, due to two knees surgeries.  In Hart's nine seasons with the Brewers, he has been a solid contributor, averaging 17 home runs and 54 RBI's with a .276 average in 105 games.  Ever since he became an everyday player in 2007, he has averaged 139 games per season, and has been a two time All-Star.  

The other option the Brewers have is prospect Hunter Morris.  The slugging prospect had a good season this year, while he did not hit for a high average (.247), he did possess a lot of power.  In 134 games, he hit 24 home runs and drove in 74 RBI's.  The one negative Morris presents is his strikeout to walk ratio.  He struck out a 122 times compared to only 43 walks.  While this is something he will have to improve on, he is only 25 years old and possess good upside.  

This will not be an easy decision for Melvin and Co. to make, but they need to think about the future.  Hunter Morris is the best option for the Brewers going forward.  While he is not an established big leaguer like Hart, he possesses the potential of being a good Major League player.  The Brewers will not be a competitive team next year, so why pay a veteran more money to be in the way of their future?  It is time for the Brewers to move on from Hart and give the starting first base job to Hunter Morris.  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Get ready for the struggles

Remember when the Milwaukee Brewers won the National League Central Division crown, and were two wins away from making it to the World Series?  That was only two years ago, but the Brewers have gone from one of the best teams in baseball to one of the worst.

The 2013 season has come to a close and the Brewers finished with a disappointing 74-88 record, but their record was the least of their problems.  The Brewers struggled with injuries throughout the entire season, and lost Ryan Braun to a 65 game suspension for his connection to the Biogenesis Clinic in Miami.  While all teams have to face adversity over the course of a 162 game schedule, the Brewers never found away to overcome them.  This is what sets the mediocre teams apart from the best teams in baseball.

The main reason why the Brewers were unable to overcome their difficulties was because of the lack of quality prospects in the farm system.  While Khris Davis, Scooter Gennett and Tyler Thornburg all did a good job of filling in when needed, these three players, and frankly all the prospects that are within three years of playing in the majors, have no star potential.

In order to be successful each season you have to be able to develop young players.  While not every one of them will be a star, you need to at least have a few of them with the potential to be one.  The blame for the lack of development and poor evaluation of players in the draft has to be placed on Doug Melvin.  While he is not a scout, he is the one who hired all of them and makes the final decisions on the players.

With the lack of quality prospects, it will hurt the Brewers success over the next three to five years.  While the Brewers did trade some of their best prospects away in trades, the Brewers have hardly done anything to improve their system.  This season they should have traded away numerous veteran to get pieces to build for the future, but Melvin decided not too.

This poor judgment and lack of ability to restock the farm system will cost the Brewers and should cost Melvin his job.  He has made many poor decisions over the course of his tenure, and while the Brewers did have some success, it does not balance out all of the disappointing seasons.

The Brewers have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, and with none of their prospect possessing huge upside, it will not get any better.  This will hurt the Brewers success at the major league level for the years to come, and Doug Melvin should be blamed and loose his job because of this.

It has only been two years since the Brewers came two wins away from making it to the World Series, and now they have become one of the worst teams in baseball.  Being a small market team, the Brewers need to draft well and be able to develop prospects.  This has not happened recently, and because of this, the Brewers will not be competitive for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

No need for change

With two weeks left in the regular season, the hunt for October is in full swing, and numerous teams are hoping to add at least one more game to their schedule.  The second Wild Card allows another team to have a shot at winning it all, which has created additional buzz and excitement, but not all of the buzz has been positive.

"I hate it," Nationals manager Davey Johnson told USA Today a year ago when asked about the Wild Card format.

Not only has Davey Johnson been critical of the Wild Card format, where the two Wild Card teams face off in a one game playoff series, but players have also voiced their displeasure.

"Hopefully, that's one of the things they'll change," Pirates All-Star relief pitcher Mark Melancon told the Boston Globe.

While some managers and players might not be in favor of the current format, I love it.  It puts an emphasis on winning your division, while rewarding the division winners with an extra day to prepare and allow them to set their pitching rotation for their first series.

This format also creates additional excitement to the end of the season.  Right now in the American League there is six teams within 3 1/2 games of each other for their right to extend their season by just one day.  In the National League, the Central is going to come down to the final days of the season with the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds all competing to win the divisional crown.

If it was not for the one game Wild Card playoff series, there would be little importance on winning your division.  Instead, it would be a best two out of three series, causing division winner to have to wait an extra two to four days just to play their first playoff game.  This would cause teams to play for the Wild Card spots instead of their division, which would eliminate the excitement of division races that come down to the wire like we have this season in the NL Central.

Although some people might not be in favor of the current Wild Card playoff format, it is the best thing for baseball.  It creates excitement with multiple teams competing to the end for the possibility to extend their season by just one game.  The hunt for October is an exciting time in baseball, and with the current playoff format it adds even more.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Must win game for the Packers

Could the season be over already after Week 2?  The Washington Redskins will head to Lambeau Field on Sunday to take on the Green Bay Packers in what will be a crucial game for both teams.  Although it is only Week 2, this will be a must win game for the Packers who look to avoid starting the season 0-2.

It was a closely contested four quarters of football last week against the San Francisco 49ers, but the Packers could not hold the lead late and lost 34-28.  The defense did an excellent job limiting the 49ers to only 90 yards on the ground, but they allowed Colin Kaepernick to throw all over them.  In 39 passing attempts, he through for 412 yards with three touchdowns.

Not only did the defense struggle, but the Packers running game did as well.  This offseason the Packers said they were going to be more committed to the run, and drafted Eddie Lacy to be the guy to lead their rushing attack.  In only 19 carries the Packers running backs only rushed for 63 yards.  This was a major disappointment, and needs to improve quickly if the Packers want to win.

Speaking of winning, the Packers need to win this week if they want to make the playoffs.  While it is only Week 2, Green Bay has never made the playoffs after they started the season 0-2.  Not only has the Packers struggled when they got off to a 0-2 start, but the entire NFL has as well. Since 1990, when the current playoff system went into effect, teams who started 0-2 have only made the playoffs 12 percent of the time.  These numbers are not in the Packers favor, and with a team who struggles to run the ball, and plays below average defense, it will be a major concern if they Packers cannot secure a victory at home.

The Packers come into Sunday's matchup between the Redskins needing to get a win to avoid a 0-2 start.  Their running game and defense needs to be improved from last week in order to even have a chance at securing the "W" at home.  Expect this game to come down to the wire with both teams trying to avoid an 0-2 start, but the Packers will have the advantage playing at home.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Defense has to be improved

Is this the game the Green Bay Packers finally slow down Colin Kaepernick?  The Green Bay Packers open the 2013-14 NFL season against the San Francisco 49ers for a second consecutive season, but unlike last year, the Packers will have to face dual threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick.  It was not until the playoffs that the Packers got their first taste of Kaepernick, and boy was it a disaster.

Kaepernick had a mind-blowing game with 263 yards passing for two touchdowns and one interception, while rushing for an additional 181 yards and two touchdowns.  The Packers defense looked terrible, and it will have to improve against the 49ers this season if they want a chance to win.  

The Packers defense will be the key to the Packers success against the 49ers.  They have had months to prepare for the 49ers offense, and they need to come out early and quiet all the critics.  In order for the Packers to do this, they need to play smart, by not playing to aggressively and force the 49ers to throw the ball early.  

The 49ers and Packers are two of the best teams in the NFL, and it will not be an easy game for either side to start the season.  Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers ran all over the Packers defense in the playoffs a season ago, and things will have to be different this time around if the Packers want to win.    

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Packers are in Trouble if Rodgers Goes Down

Finding the right backup quarterback problem has been a problem for the Packers ever since they let Matt Flynn sign with another team during the 2012 offseason.  Entering last season Graham Harrell was the number two quarterback, but everyone knew the Packers would be in trouble if Aaron Rodgers got hurt.  This offseason the Packers made it know that the backup quarterback spot would be up for grabs with Harrell and B.J. Coleman vying for the spot, until August 5th when the Packers surprisingly signed Vince Young.

With the signing, and the struggles of the other two QB's, Young was looked at as the favorite to win the job, even with his lack of experience in the Packers offense.  The Packers would then go on to cut Harrell after the third preseason game, almost guarantying Young the job, until this morning when the Packers shocked the world by cutting him.

B.J. Coleman is now the only quarterback listed on the depth chart behind Rodgers, and the Packers are in trouble.  While Young struggled at times throughout the preseason, he looked better than Coleman.  Coleman had a miserable 49.6 quarterback rating with a 41.2 percent completion percentage in 34 attempts.  While Coleman does have some potential, he has not been impressive this preseason to make anyone believe that he is capable of making a spot start in the NFL.

Vince Young was the best option for the Packers, even with his lack of knowledge in the Packers offense.  While B.J. Coleman appears to be the Packers guy, do not be surprised if a quality backup quarterback comes available that they pick him up.  Coleman possess some potential but he is not capable of being a backup quarterback in the NFL this season.  The Packers still have not found a solid backup quarterback and if Rodgers is injured this season, they are in big trouble.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rookies Key to Success

You always expected a high draft pick to become a star in the NFL, but there is always a chance they do not pan out.  The Green Bay Packers will need two of their rookies, who have an enormous amount of potential, to be key contributors this season if they want to win another Super Bowl.  Eddie Lacy and Datone Jones may not develop into stars this season, but they need to be solid contributors in order for the Packers to be successful.  

Eddie Lacy was drafted this offseason to help improve the running game, and so far in camp he looks like the real deal.  Many people have already been extremely impressed with his ability and size causing him to receive comparisons to a young Steven Jackson.  As long as he is able to remain on the field, he will be a difference maker in the Packers offense.  They have been looking for a guy to become their every down back and Eddie Lacy is that guy.  With an improved running attack, lead by Lacy, the Packers offense and team will be even tougher to beat.  While their offense will continue to be one of the best in the NFL, their defense needs to improve from last year.  

The Packers have had trouble finding another pass rusher in recent years to complement Clay Matthews, but this offseason they might have found the right guy in Datone Jones.  While an ankle injury has caused him to miss practice time this Preseason, he will be a key to the Packers success this season.  He was drafted in the first round by the Pack in this past NFL Draft, and he has huge expectations to be a difference maker at defensive end.  If Jones and former first round pick Nick Perry can remain healthy, they should both instantly improve the Packers pass rush and defense. 

Eddie Lacy and Datone Jones were both high draft picks for the Green Bay Packers for a reason, and this season they need to be key contributors to the team in order for the Packers to have any chance of winning another Super Bowl.  While it will not be easy for these two rookies, they need to play to their strengths and be healthy in order to help the Packers win.  

UW-Milwaukee: Baseball needs permanent home

This past College Baseball season was a successful one for the Milwaukee Panthers. While they were unable to secure a NCAA tournament berth, the Panthers won the Horizon League regular season championship, along with four of the five regular season awards, going an impressive 28-19 overall and 14-7 in conference. This was very impressive for the Panthers, who are the only Division I college baseball program in the state of Wisconsin, but if you look at their facilities, you would never realize it.

Henry Aaron Field, home of the Panthers, is a glorified high school baseball diamond that is not suitable for a college baseball program. While it should not matter as long as you have a field to call home, it does make a huge impact on the Panthers’ baseball program. Even though the Panthers have been able to be a competitive program throughout the years, “The Hank” makes it even harder to lure some of the top high school players in the state.
As head coach Scott Doffek said, “Athletes, recruits they buy with their eyes.”
Facilities are usually high on top high school recruits’ priorities, and it is hard to convince players to play for the Panthers when they have a baseball facility that is not typical for a D-I program. This causes the Panthers to lose out on many of the top prospects in the state of Wisconsin, ultimately hurting the overall success of the program. Not only is it hard to sell recruits on playing at Henry Aaron Field, but it also has a poor playing surface.
Wisconsin is not the best place to play baseball in the early spring due to frequent inclement weather, and with Henry Aaron Field being all natural grass and dirt, the Panthers struggle with rainouts. Just this past season good old Mother Nature threw the Panthers a curveball with a whopping 13 games postponed or cancelled due to the weather. Not only do the Panthers play at Henry Aaron Field, but the Milwaukee School of Engineering does as well. Henry Aaron Field also holds numerous tournaments and high school games throughout the summer, causing the field to be overused and in poor condition by the end of the summer. Field turf would be a solution to this problem whether they renovate Henry Aaron Field or build a new baseball facility.
The ability to persuade recruits to play at Henry Aaron Field and the current playing surface are two of the major issues the Panthers face, but another negative is the distance from campus.
“The fact that the field is a 15 minute drive from campus makes it hard for students to come watch games. An on-campus field would be great for building an overall fan bases, especially our student fan base,” said Panther sophomore pitcher Jake Tuttle.
While there is no guarantee that the students would support an on-campus stadium, it would create a better atmosphere for the baseball program. The players would also be able to train on it easier without having to leave campus or do drills on the basketball courts. Although Henry Aaron Field is not that far away, an on-campus stadium would be easily accessible to the players and hopefully allow more students to come and support the team.
Though there are numerous negatives about playing home games at Henry Aaron Field, there is one positive about it – home field advantage.
“There’s a reason we went undefeated at The Hank last year. Teams hate playing here because they know we’re always going to bring our A-game to The Hank and I love that about our field,” said Tuttle.
Even though the Panthers still have to execute the game in order to win, they are use to training on it on a regular basis, helping them to be comfortable with the poor playing conditions. Henry Aaron Field is not “jaw dropping” like many other baseball facilities, causing the other teams to possibly loose a little focus.
As Tuttle said, “You can tell when we play an opposing team at The Hank, they just don’t want to be there. Its hard to put aside everything going on around The Hank and focus solely on the game if you don’t play here regularly and that’s why we are able to play so well here.”
Whether it is the other team losing focus or them just not able to adjust to the poor playing surface, there is one thing no one can deny and that is the Panthers great success at home.
The Panthers have had great success at Henry Aaron Field, but it needs many changes and upgrades done to it to make it a quality D-I baseball facility. While this could still be possible, building a new facility would be a more likely and a better option for the program.
As Coach Doffek said, “We’ve got to be creative on what we do, and it needs to happen really quickly.”
According to Doffek, the Panthers have been looking for years at many different sites and options, and came really close to pulling the trigger, and one of the options that was being discussed was Miller Park.
Even though playing at Miller Park would improve recruiting and instantly give Milwaukee an elite baseball complex, it will never happen. Scheduling around the Brewers schedule would be a major difficulty along with the Brewers wanting to preserve their field for their own use. Playing at Miller Park would be an amazing opportunity for the Panthers, but it is not the best option. The Panthers could not use Miller Park as they please, and it would be a major cost for a facility that they cannot call their own.
Building a state-of-the-art baseball complex relatively close to campus is the ideal solution. If and when the Panthers take the route of building a new baseball facility, they should develop a first rate facility that meets their needs and enhances the Milwaukee Baseball program.
Kapco Park is a beautiful field with a great baseball atmosphere. It has FieldTurf, creating a great surface to play on, with a minor league baseball look to it. Kapco Park has a large seating capacity, approximately 1,500 seats, with various seating areas throughout the facility including reserved seats, fan decks, and general admission seating. It also is a fan friendly stadium with concession stands and permanent restrooms.
Second basemen Michael Porcaro said, “If we’re going to get a new field we need turf. Our weather is terrible up here obviously, so turf would be the smart route.”
Porcaro is exactly right. The Panthers will always have a problem with the weather, but one way to get around it, would be FieldTurf. This would allow the Panthers to play and train on it anytime throughout the year, when snow is not present. Besides the weather, the field turf would create a better overall playing surface with a smooth infield and outfield, no matter how much the field is used. Playing baseball in a northern climate, the Panthers need to play at a facility that has field turf, which would allow the Panthers to play on it 24/7 with the surface remaining the same no matter how much use the field receives.
Along with field turf, the Panthers would need exceptional dugouts, a functional scoreboard, a concession stand, permanent restrooms, a press box, and plenty of room for fans. This would instantly make it one of the top baseball facilities in the Horizon League.
Having a state-of-the-art facility would instantly make a tremendous difference on recruiting. The coaches have been able to recruit quality student athletes with the current lack of facilities, just imagine if they could finally sell recruits on their facilities.
“I think you would see less guys leaving the state of Wisconsin to go D-I. And who knows? Maybe you would start seeing kids from other states besides Illinois come to Milwaukee. But without a doubt it would have a positive impact,” said Porcaro.
Currently you see some top tier recruits go out of state because other big D-I schools have better facilities. With a new facility the Panthers could have a better chance at landing more top players locally and nationally, because they already have been successful, they just need the facilities to take the program to the next level.
Not only would a new facility improve recruiting, but the university could also profit off of the field. A new stadium could provide additional revenues by renting out the field, concession stands during games, along with youth and coaching camps.
The only downside of constructing a new facility is that with little land available near campus, the Panthers would most likely have to build away from campus. The goal is always to get a big student fan base at each game, but it will be difficult if the field is off campus to entice students to come to games. While in a perfect world the Panthers would love to build a facility on-campus, realistically they will have to play away from home.
The Milwaukee Panthers need to get the ball rolling on a new baseball facility. New Director of Athletics, Amanda Braun, is committed to improving the athletic facilities, and she has acknowledged that the baseball program’s facilities need to be improved. While no timetable has been set on when a new facility will be built, it needs to be a priority.
The Milwaukee Panthers have looked at different options in the past and have been close to deciding on one, but the constant change of Director of Athletics over the last five years has hurt the progress of a new baseball facility. With Amanda Braun now in charge, we can be confident that she will be working on improving and building a new facility for the baseball program.
Success has not been the problem for the Panthers baseball team, but the lack of facilities. Being the only Division I baseball program in the state of Wisconsin, the Panthers deserve better facilities than Henry Aaron Field. Once this happens, it will make a tremendous impact on recruiting, along with bringing in additional revenue for the university, and changing the overall image of the Milwaukee Panthers baseball program.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

DuJuan Harris Will Not Be the Starter Week 1

Every year in Training Camp there are numerous position battles, and this year the Green Bay Packers starting running back position has been one of the competitive battles in camp.  Veterans running backs Alex Green, James Starks and DuJuan Harris, along with rookies Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin are all vying for roster spots and most importantly, the starting job.  

DuJuan Harris was recently taken of the PUP list, and it already appears that he is the starter, for now.

"I'm excited to see when DuJuan Harris come back, because I view him as our starter," Mike McCathy told USA TODAY Sports last Thursday.  "I want him to get back in there and earn it like he did all of last year.  He made an impact in our offense."

McCarthy is correct in saying that he made an impact last year in the Packers offense, with 157 yards and two touchdowns in the final four games of the regular season.  He also recorded 100 yards rushing and receiving combined with one touchdown, but this season the Packers have a better option on the roster.  

The Packers best option at running back is the Alabama product, Eddie Lacy.  While Lacy is a big, physical back, who excels at running the ball down the defense's throat, he also has excellent breakaway speed and pass blocking ability.  He is exactly what the Packers need, and he can make a significant deference for the Packers offense. 

DuJuan Harris is a solid running back, but the Packers drafted Eddie Lacy in the second round to be the starting running back this season.  Lacy provides the Packers with the best opportunity to win at the running back position, and he will be the starter Week One.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Packers, Vince Young Agree to a One-Year Deal

Entering Training Camp the Green Bay Packers had uncertainties at multiple positions, but one of their biggest question marks was the backup quarterback position.  Second year quarterback B.J. Coleman and incumbent Graham Harrell were vying for the backup job, until their disappointing performances during the team scrimmage on Saturday night.  This raised even more question marks on whether either of them could truly be a solid backup quarterback in the NFL, causing the Packers to sign free agent quarterback Vince Young.

Vince Young is a mobile quarterback who has had previous success in the NFL as a starter.  Already 30 years old, Young was drafted third overall by the Tennessee Titans in 2006, but he has not played in the NFL since 2011 with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Young's mobility and success as a starter in the NFL is what really intrigued the Packers.  Even though he will only be the backup quarterback and may never see the field as a Packer, he can help them prepare for mobile quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III.

The Green Bay Packers needed to find a solid number two quarterback, just in case Aaron Rodgers would ever have to miss a game, and they found their guy in Vince Young.  Young provides them with experience and mobility to prepare their defense for other mobile quarterback.  This signing was a low risk move for the Packers and it will pay off well in the long run, even if he does not step onto the field.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Heated QB Battle in Madison

Football season is here!  With the Wisconsin Badgers already practicing, there will be some position battles to keep your eyes on.  The most heated and interesting battle for the Wisconsin Badgers at fall camp will the quarterback position, with three men vying for the starting job - Joel Stave, Curt Phillips and Tanner McEvoy.

Joel Stave and Curt Phillips both started for the Badgers last season, but the biggest uncertainty will be Tanner McEvoy.  McEvoy was Gary Anderson's first big recruit as the new head coach of the Badgers, and he is a dual-threat quarterback, unlike the other two.  This gives him the edge over Stave and Phillips because Anderson is known for running the spread offense with the run option.

While Coach Anderson will take his time choosing a starter, it will ultimately be Tanner McEvoy starting under center week one against the University of Massachusetts.  He is exactly who the Badgers need to run their offense, and he gives them the best chance of winning with his dual-threat ability.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Brewers Beat Marlins 2-0

After four days off for the All-Star Game festivities, the second half of the Major League Baseball season is here.  While it was only four games, both the Brewers and Marlins offenses were sluggish out of the gate. 

It was a pitching dual through the first three innings with both pitchers only surrendering three hits apiece.  The Brewers had an opportunity to score in the bottom of the first inning.  With one out, Jean Segura started the inning with an infield base hit.  Ryan Braun then came to the plate, only to popup to shortstop, Adeiny Hechavarria for the second out of the inning.  Jonathon Lucroy drew a walk, and then the Brewers perfected a double steal, with Segura making it to third and Lucroy taking second.   With two outs in the inning, the Brewers tried to get on top early, but All-Star Carlos Gomez grounded out to third, to end the threat.

The Miami Marlins would come back in the top of the second inning to get two, two out base hits, only to strand the runners on first and second.  Jeff Bianchi of the Brewers did get a base hit to left with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but would remain at first to end the second. 

In the third, the Miami Marlins went a quiet 1-2-3, with Kyle Lohse striking out two batters.  Norichika Aoki did his job for the Brewers by leading off the inning with a base on balls.  The Brewers tried to rally again with two men out, when Lucroy singled to center, but they failed to score after the lead of walk.

For a second consecutive inning, the Marlins went down in order, and it was not until the Brewers came up when we would finally saw some scoring.  Leading off in the bottom of the fourth inning, Juan Francisco broke the zero, zero tie by hitting an opposite field homerun off Justin Turner, his 12th of the season.  Rickie Weeks then followed with a walk, and would steal second base with one out recorded by Bianchi.  Pitcher, Kyle Lohse then hit a weak foul ball right to the third basemen, Polacido Polanco, for the second out.  Aoki would then walk for a second consecutive at-bat, but Jean Segura grounded out to end the scoring threat. 

Kyle Lohse was cruising threw the first four innings, keeping the Marlins bats relatively quiet.  Lohse would get into some trouble early in the fifth when Hechavarria would single to right, and advance to second on a rare error by Aoki.  After his hit, Lohse would not allow him to score, striking out two and getting pitcher Justin Turner to hit a weak ground ball to shortstop.  The Brewers were finally able to do some damage with two outs in the inning, with Carlos Gomez crushing a ball down the left field line for his 15th homerun of the season.  This gave the Brewers a 2-0 lead after five.

Logan Morrison hit a two out double in the top of the sixth inning, but the Marlins failed to continue the two out rally.  Rickie Weeks did lead of the bottom of the frame by reaching on a hit by pitch for the Brewers.  The Marlins then made a pithing change by bringing in right-hander Ryan Webb for Justin Turner.  Webb would finish off the inning by pitching a clean sixth, to keep the score at 2-0 Brewers. 

Kyle Lohse’s night was over.  After six strong innings of shut out baseball, John Axford came in out of the bullpen in relief.  It would be a quiet game the rest of the way, with both teams using two more relief pitchers each to get the job done.  Francisco Rodriguez closed it out in the ninth inning to record his 10th save of the season, giving the Brewers the win, and improving their record to 39-56.  Kyle Lohse would pick up the win with Justin Turner being saddled with the loss.  The final score was the Brewers two and the Marlins zero. 

As Ron Roenicke would say after the game, “We played good baseball tonight, we pitched well, got a couple of base hits, defensively I thought we played a nice job, but whether we get back to .500 or not, we have to really play well there is no doubt about it, we have to play really good baseball…”

The Brewers pitching staff pitched nine strong innings of shut out baseball, and helped the Brewers start off the second half of the season on a positive note.  The usual stars did not lead the offense with Aramis Ramirez on the disabled list and Ryan Braun going zero for three, instead Carlos Gomez and Juan Francisco’s homeruns made the difference in tonight’s game.  Time will tell if the Brewers can get back to .500 ball, but tonight they started off on the right foot, with their excellent pitching and solid offensive performance.   

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Brandon Jennings is Not Worth the Hassle

From Compton, California, an athletic six foot one point guard, Brandon Jennings has all of the tools and potential to be great, but he has never lived up to those expectations in the NBA.  Though he experienced success early on in his basketball career, it has not transferred into the pro game, and now he has also been reported to be a cancer in the locker room.  This brings up the question whether or not the Milwaukee Bucks should resign Brandon Jennings?

Brandon Jennings grew up always being the best player on the court.  In high school he transferred to the powerhouse Oak Hill Academy after his sophomore season, and over the course of his two seasons there he become one of the best know high school prospects in the country.

In his senior season he averaged 32.7 points and 7.4 assists, while leading his team to a 41-1 record.  His stellar performance earned him some of high school basketball’s most significant awards, including the 2008 Naismith Prep Player of the Year Award, 2007-08 Gatorade Player of the Year in Virginia, 2008 Parade Magazine Player of the Year and 2008 EA Sports Player of the Year.  His outstanding performance made him the number one ranked high school prospect in the class of 2008 by ESPN.

In the summer of 2006 Jennings had chosen to attend the University of Southern California, but within the following year he changed his mind and instead decided to join the University of Arizona.  While this was no surprise since Arizona had great basketball tradition and proven success throughout the years, his next announcement would shock college basketball.

In June 2008, Jennings announced that he was thinking of becoming the first American player to skip college and play basketball professionally overseas.  His dreams became reality on July 16, 2008 when he signed a contract to play with Lottomatica Roma of the Italian Lega A, and later a contract with Under Armor to play in the Euroleague.  He claimed that this was his best route to gain experience and money until he was eligible to enter the NBA Draft.

Brandon Jennings struggled overseas.  He averaged less than 10 points per game, while only adding a couple of rebounds, assists and steals in each contest with both teams he played for.  His time spent overseas, was a disaster.  He was unable to carry his success from the high school game into the pros, ultimately questioning whether or not he could be successful in the NBA.

The 2009 NBA Draft, ended up becoming a success for Jennings.  Although he was not the top overall pick, he was still a lottery pick, being selected tenth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks.

In his rookie season, Jennings took Milwaukee by surprise.  During his NBA regular season debut on October 30 Jennings was just shy of a triple-double, scoring 17 points with nine rebounds and assists in 34 minutes.  While his debut was impressive, scoring 55 points against the Golden State Warriors on November 14, had to be his biggest accomplishment of his rookie season.  He went on to lead the Milwaukee Bucks into the playoffs as the sixth seed.  Even though the playoffs did not go the way the Bucks had hoped, the future was bright for the young star.

His sophomore season did not go as planned.  While he did record his first career triple double on October 30, 2010, he was forced to miss 19 games in late December, through the end of January due to a left foot injury.  While his stats remained similar to his rookie season, he did struggle shooting from behind the arc shooting a dismal 32 percent compared to his 37 percent the year before.  The Bucks failed to make the postseason, but the expectations were still high for Jennings.

The lockout shortened season, 2011-12, was the best season of his young career.  He started all 66 games while recording career highs in points (19.1), steals (1.6), field goal percentage (.418) and minutes per game (35.3).  While Jennings had the best season of his pro career, the Bucks missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season, and were still waiting for him to have that break out season; everyone knew he was capable of.

The Milwaukee Bucks made the playoffs in 2012-13, even though they had a record below .500, but it was not because of Brandon Jennings.  He experienced a disappointing season after the 2011-12 season where he experience career highs in almost everything, causing many people to believe that this would finally be Jennings breakout year.  He averaged only 17.5 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game.  Not only was he disappointing on the court, but people close to the team speculated that he was a poor locker room guy.

Brandon Jennings is now a restricted free agent and currently has not received an offer from any team.  The Milwaukee Bucks have made it known that Jennings is not their first choice.  Earlier in the offseason the Bucks made an offer that was later matched by the Atlanta Hawks to point guard, Jeff Teague.  They also drafted point guard Nate Wolters and acquired point guard Luke Ridnour from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Bucks are still waiting for Jennings to have a break out season and if he is truly a cancer in the locker room, it is neither worth the time nor money to bring him back.  This upcoming year will be a rebuilding season for the Bucks, and it is time to let the young guys play and develop.  While Jennings is full of talent, his performance and attitude throughout his short career, show no signs of him ever becoming a franchise point guard.

Although Jennings has all the talent to become an elite point guard, he has been unable to reach his potential.  With Jennings poor attitude and struggles on the court it would benefit both the Bucks and Jennings to let him move onto another team, and try to reach his potential with them.