Stati-Stix

A pessimist's view of the tortured, wonderful, wacky life of the Wisconsin sports fan.

Mar 9

The Bizarro Bucks….

Seriously, what the hell is going on?

Not that I’m complaining, but the Milwaukee Bucks are…good! So much so that as I was listening to Ted Davis call the game as the Bucks creamed the Wizards in D.C. Friday night, I wasn’t the least bit surprised.

Normally, it’s a surprise when the Bucks win ANY road game. Now, I’m actually EXPECTING them to dominate poor teams on the road. I treated that game with a shrug of the shoulders. The fourth quarter was boring. And in a good way. In the kind of way where I don’t feel like I might suffer multiple heart attacks. Well, I did feel that way that night, but that’s only because I made the ill-fated decision to eat KFC. Brutal.

On a side note, after watching the Bucks sweep the Wizards in a home-and-home last week, I gotta feel like Wizards’ season-ticket holders are feeling pretty burned right now. Their idiot GM, Ernie Grunfeld (nice to see him making stupid decisions in other places than Milwaukee now) pays a max contract to a 0-guard who enjoys bringing guns to his own locker room. Then he trades half his roster for a nickel on the dollar. Right about now, Wizards fans are probably getting their forms to renew their season tickets for 2010 early. I’d pull a Lou Brown on that letter. You know, when Lou Brown is managing the Indians in spring training in the movie Major League and Roger Dorn presents him with a contract that says he doesn’t have to participate in groundball drills and Brown, without saying a word, unzips his pants, drops the contract on the ground and urinates on it. That’s what I would do to my season-ticket renewal form if I was a Wizards fan.

Then again, I attended a Timberwolves game in Minneapolis last weekend while visiting a buddy. In that game, their star forward Al Jefferson hogged the ball Vin Baker-style, complained to the refs, his coaches and sometimes nobody in particular when one of his ill-advised triple-pump fakes in traffic went begging then hustled back downcourt with the urgency of a Donovan McNabb two-minute drill. Oh, and later the same night Jefferson was arrested for DUI. Solid night, Al. As my friend remarked, “Looks like he takes too many shots off the court, too.”

Anyway, choosing between having Timberwolves season tickets right now and Wizards season tickets would be like choosing between eating a worm or eating a centipede. Not an attractive option. The Wizards’ best player is a gun-toting lunatic, and the Timberwolves’ most exciting player hated the prospect of playing for Minnesota so much he decided to stay in Europe.

But back to the Bucks. Usually, by rule of thumb, if I don’t have anything negative to say, I don’t say anything at all. So I’ve been quietly enjoying this team. After their win over the LeBron-less Cavs Saturday and Toronto’s imcomprehensible loss to the reprehensible Sixers on Sunday, the Bucks are actually the possessors of the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Repeat that sentence again. It’s early March, and everyone in Wisconsin is fired up about the Bucks. Wow.

The key, in addition to the emergence of Andrew Bogut as a dominant center, has been the acquisition of John Salmons, who has taken a ton of pressure off Brandon Jennings to score. While he struggles with his shot, Jennings can relax and be more of a facillitator while letting Salmons take on more of the outside scoring role. And if Jennings finds his shot again like he did Saturday, look out.

If I were to predict the Bucks were to make the playoffs, they wouldn’t make the playoffs. So I’m not going to say that. I’ll continue to keep my mouth shut and smile.


Feb 23

Anderson and Andersen….

So I’m flipping through the channels tonight, and I land on NFL Network. What I found could not have been a greater discovery than that collection of 32 plastic NFL mini-helmets I bought at a sporting-goods store recently (I tried to collect those damn things out of those little grocery-store vending machines when I was younger, and I wound up with like 27 Bengals helmets and not much else).

Anyway, they were airing the impeccable “America’s Game” series, which began when NFL Films put together a one-hour documentary on each of the first 40 Super Bowl champions leading up to Super Bowl XLI (then have continued doing the documentaries for each subsequent champion). The documentaries feature interviews from three members of each Super Bowl champion and focus on the storylines (many of them comedic, enlightening and surprising) woven throughout each team’s title run.

Since NFL Films is one of God’s most notable creations, the documentaries are, needless to say, phenomenal. And they are accompanied by that wonderful NFL Films music that makes you want to drop the Cheetohs, set down the beer and make a blocking sled out of your dresser.

Well, they’ve started airing new “America’s Game” documentaries called “The Missing Rings,” which document some of the best teams in NFL history to not win it all.

And which team was featured on “The Missing Rings” when I tuned in tonight? You guessed it: The 1998 Minnesota Vikings, the only team to go 15-1 and not make the Super Bowl!

Boy, was that phenomenal. Anderson misses. Andersen makes. I need not say more.


The audacity of Tiger….

Well, I got a new computer, and it’s a liberating experience.

As the era of Twitter, Facebook and blogging has grown around me, I’ve been stuck with the tools unable to take advantage of it. I feel like one of those 50-year-old guys who finally broke down and just bought an HDTV.

So this is what I’m missing. Technology. It’s a beautiful thing. Except I feel like an idiot. Here I am, all excited over being able to do things everyone else has been doing for at least a couple years now.

So give me a little time to figure it all out. I’ll catch up.

Anyway, I wanted to post some thoughts on the Tiger Woods debacle and the most ridiculously-crafted speech I’ve ever heard. But needless to say, someone more talented and with a much larger audience than myself (that’s always the case when you’re trying to be a writer) said everything I wanted to say about Tiger’s speech, only better than I could. ESPN’s Bill Simmons pretty much said everything I felt after reading Tiger’s speech (I didn’t get to listen to it live). Here’s the link to Simmons’ take:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/100219

I have a few thoughts of my own, though.

Number one, I would’ve loved to see Tiger freeze up like an iPod while his PR team frantically scurried to re-boot him.

"The manual says, ‘Unplug Tiger for 30 seconds, then plug him back in,’" Stevie Williams shouts. “‘If that doesn’t work, call tech support at 1-800-DONTDARESNAPAPHOTOOFMEWHILEIMINMYBACKSWINGORILLBRAINYOUWITHMY5IRON.’"

Of course, that didn’t happen. But what DID happen was that Tiger Woods uttered the absolute, undisputed champion of “The Dumbest Damage-Control Quote Ever” contest when he said this:

"I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me."

What? Um, Tiger, could you repeat that? Is that what you REALLY wanted to say?

Seriously, who in Tiger’s camp possibly could’ve approved him saying this ridiculous quote? How in the world could Tiger go through this process:

"You know, I need to come up with an excuse for my behavior. Hmmmm, let me think. What if I said something about how all the hard work I’ve done made me feel entitled to enjoy the fruits of my labor and have sex with many women who weren’t my wife. Yeah, I think they’ll buy that."

For one, Tiger, “hard work” is busting your ass 9-to-5 everyday, taking an hour to eat dinner and working a part-time job at night to support a family. Not playing golf. But I’ll put all that aside. I won’t get on a soap box, because I don’t think many people (me included) have a right to preach on moral authority.

But here’s the thing: What I’m sick and tired of from pro athletes is a lack of accountability. And in this speech, Tiger expressed just a riduculous lack of accountability, and that line about being able to deserve the “fruits of his labor” was the worst.

See, I get that athletes screw up. I don’t expect them to be great people. They occasionally cheat on their wives, they’re not all great husbands and fathers, they drink, they do drugs, they screw up like we all do. And once they apologize for their transgressions and start succeeding in sports again (and I’m sure Tiger will), we move on. And I’m perfectly okay with that.

But, just for once, I want to hear an athlete screw up and actually be honest about why they did it. Tiger? He blames it on being a sex addict (well, if sex is an addiction, Tiger, then I guess 99.9 percent of us men are addicts; it’s just that some of us who are married make the decision to not have sex with people other than our wives). Then, in his first press conference since the Thanksgiving incident, he expects us to understand him and forgive him because he was merely trying to “enjoy all the temptations around him.”

Geez, Tiger, you think your kids are going to buy that when you have to explain to them what you did?

I understand that Tiger apologized to his wife, made some wonderfully complimentary remarks about her, showed genuine remorse for his transgressions and seemed to understand that he let a lot of people down. That’s only part of it, though.

The whole thing made Tiger seem more disingenuous than ever. Once again, Tiger showed that damage control boils down to two things for rich and famous athletes:

1. Make everyone feel sorry for you by claiming your misbehavior was the result of something you couldn’t control. Sex addiction, anyone?

2. Claim that your lack of control over your problem was only exacerbated by a lifestyle in which normal rules don’t apply to you. “That poor Tiger,” we’re all supposed to think. “What must it be like to have beautiful women throw themselves at you wherever you go? I’m glad THOSE rules don’t apply to me.”

Follow those two rules, and you wind up with Jim Nantz swooning over you as you walk up the 18th fairway on Sunday at the Masters to an adoring gallery: “Tiger Woods has overcome it all, from sex addiction to many beautiful women throwing themselves at him to win the Masters once again.”

Pardon me while I puke.

The bottom line is, Tiger can apologize to his wife, the media, the fans, his business partners, everyone. He can rationalize his transgressions, do the nice PR thing by saying he’s going to do everything to make his marriage right again, do everything he can to make everyone else like him again.

But there’s only one person, and one person only, who these actions can’t appease: Tiger Woods.

Because is this REALLY what Tiger wants? After running all over the world and having affairs with women despite having a wife and children and not stopping his pattern of misbehavor until he was finally caught, is being the good married man the person Tiger really wants to be?

If I’m Tiger Woods, my speech last Friday would’ve been short and sweet:

"I’m sorry for cheating on my wife. What I did to her and my children was unacceptable. For that I am truly sorry, and I will do whatever I need to to make peace with my family.

"But I also have to be honest with myself. I don’t know if I want to be married, or if I ever wanted to be married. I was young and extemely wealthy, and what I did suggests that I perhaps I didn’t love my wife as much as I thought I did. Having affairs with numerous women made me wonder if I really want to be married, or if I enjoyed the sex life of a wealthy, famous, single man instead. This is a question I should’ve answered before I got married, I know. For that, I’m the most sorry. I messed up. I made a mistake. I’m human.

"I’m sorry, but at least I’m being honest. I don’t care how many people I rub the wrong way. If I’m not honest, none of what I say will ever matter again, to me or anyone else."

Now THAT’S an athlete I could forgive.


Feb 18

My computer sucks….

And I’m tired of it. I need a new one. I’ve had this one for like eight years. So I guess it doesn’t suck at all, it’s just too old.

I haven’t been posting much because I’ve had the freaking thing getting fixed by my wife’s stepdad the whole weekend, and then she needs it for work, so she’s been taking up all the computer time with our slower-than-Kurt Thomas Internet browser.

Meanwhile, I’ve been left to my own devices, watching a mixture of The Office re-runs and a true menagerie of sports that includes college hoops one moment, the Bucks getting just destroyed by the Rockets the next and an Olympic assortment of everything from hockey (LOVE Olympic hockey) to curling to downhill skiing (every time I watch that, I am just amazed by the ability of those skiers to make 45-degree turns while going 174 mph on a track that resembles that weird mixture that comprised your elementary-school lunchroom floor, whatever that stuff was).

The Olympics are always a curious event to me. For once out of every four years, we turn our attention to sports that we wouldn’t normally watch if we had a choice between that and being a Cubs fan. Yet somehow, everyone turns into an expert on all these sports when the Olympics roll around.

I was out to dinner with my wife on Saturday night, and we were having a couple cocktails at the bar waiting for our table. They had the luge on TV, and these two guys next to me were breaking it down like Dr. Jack Ramsey and Hubie Brown on a basketball game.

"Whoa, he went WAY too high up the wall!" the guy next to me exclaims.

"Yep, that’s gonna cost him time," his friend concurs.

The luge really amazes me. I mean, what’s the differene between first and 20th? Five-tenths of a second? How in the world any human being can willingly make himself go five-tenths of a second faster than another without sheer luck while careening down a chute of ice like a bullet is beyond me.

But I digress.

I wanted to post my thoughts on my favorite Olympic moment ever, and maybe the greatest moment in American sports, the 1980 “Miracle on Ice.” I also want to break down the Bucks’ acquisition of John Salmons, which I feel could be a solid move, though in the bizarre world of NBA trades, nobody quite knows what exactly the Bucks will be giving up yet. It seems to be Elson and Thomas, but it could be Warrick, which means because of salary rules the deal would have to include others if Warrick is involved. Who knows? Stay tuned….

In the meantime, this post took me 49 minutes to pull off. Let’s hope this computer thing gets solved soon.


Feb 9

If you want to be a Badger….

Then you also wanted to get kicked in the cherries tonight.

Ugh.

Trevon Hughes in the second half: 0-8 FG, 0 points, 0 assists.

Read that line again. It’s Shawn Respert-worthy. I know Trevon has made some big shots this season and he’s a tough kid who’ll probably bounce back, but that kind of a second half out of your senior PG is pretty pitiful. How many times did he drive to the hoop with his head down and wind up either flinging the ball off the backboard wildly or, as I remember one time, whipping a backwards pass to the referee? It was bad.

This loss stung, especially when coupled with Purdue’s win at Michigan State. Which meant UW would’ve been tied for first with the Boilermakers and the Crying Izzos with the most favorable remaining schedule of the three.

Instead, they’re now a game back of Chief Illiniwek, the Hacking Painters and Lupe’s Husband. Back of three teams sucks. As they say in golf, it’s not the number of shots you trail by, it’s the number of players…

Factor in the Bucks’ loss to the Pistons (Milwaukee’s 134th loss to Detroit in its last 135 tries), and it wasn’t a good night. Someone wanna explain to the Bucks that the Pistons are like 10-40 this season, not the perennial Eastern Conference power they used to be? Thank God I didn’t dig out of the snow and drive up to that game. I considered it.

Instead, I relieved my frutrations by bundling up and jogging in a blizzard. Seriously. I think I’m getting stir crazy, and sports didn’t help tonight.


Is winning the Super Bowl all about luck?

I wanted to post a few final thoughts about the Super Bowl.

After having watched the playoffs and Sunday’s somewhat entertaining game (not very entertaining, but somewhat entertaining; seriously, why doesn’t anyone throw more than 8-yard passes anymore?), I concluded that any of the 12 teams that made the playoffs this season were very capable of winning the Super Bowl, save the Bengals, who started playing like crap right around the time my Halloween pumpkins turned into an elementary-school lunchroom delicacy.

Hell, after watching Sunday’s game, I concluded that even the Packers could’ve won it all. What if Aaron Rodgers completes his miracle comeback by hitting a wide-open Greg Jennings to beat Arizona? Is there a team between them and the Lombardi Trophy they couldn’t beat?

I mean, take the Saints. To win the Super Bowl, they had to have all these things happen:

1. The Bears had to beat the Vikings in overtime on the penultimate week of the regular season to even give the Saints a shot at homefield advantage.

2. After reaching the NFC title game, the Saints needed about 15 Vikings fumbles and a patented Brett Favre throw-one-across-my-body-in-the-most-critical-moment-of-the-game passes with the Vikes on the verge of kicking the game-winning FG to get to OT, then they needed a kicker who’d made like eight field goals in his career to drill a 40-yarder to win it.

3. In the Super Bowl, they went with an incredibly risky onside kick call and needed the ball to deflect off the helmet of Hank Baskett and to bounce in such a manner that they could recover in the scrum.

4. Nursing a 7-point lead, they needed Reggie Wayne to run a bad route and Peyton Manning to emulate Favre for a pick-six that sealed the deal.

Now, I’m not saying the Saints didn’t deserve to win. Far from it. They made all the plays and none of the critical mistakes their opponents kept making. But my point is, think off all the things that had to go right for the Saints to win it all. Every little thing had to fall into place.

Winning the Super Bowl has become like winning the NCAA basketball tourney or the World Series. It’s a confluence of luck and talent.

It’s not just limited to the Saints. Last season, the Steelers needed a miracle catch in the corner of the end zone to hold off a team that just a couple weeks prior to the playoffs was beaten by approximately 127 points against a team that didn’t even make the playoffs. The season before, the Giants beat THREE heavily-favored road teams and knocked off the only 18-0 team ever thanks in large part to a play in which their QB escaped 18 times and threw a prayer to a wide receiver that played most of his career ignominiously on special teams, who somehow pinned the ball against his helmet and held on despite being physically assaulted by a safety. Prior to that, the Colts had to overcome a huge deficit against the Patriots at home in the AFC title game and had everything go right for them in doing so. Prior to that, the Steelers won three road games in the playoffs and beat Seattle in a game refereed by Franco Harris, Terry Bradshaw, Rocky Bleier, Lynn Swann and Mean Joe Greene.

Even the Patriots’ run of three titles in four years, which was remarkable, was aided by some all-time great breaks.

It’s a crapshoot these days.

Not saying that the Super Bowl champion each year doesn’t deserve it. Just that I’m not sure how often the best team ever raises the Lombardi Trophy anymore. And that’s what parity brings. A situation in which it takes as much luck as skill to navigate the minefield of the postseason. A situation in which getting the right breaks at the right times is just as significant as making the right plays at the right times.

And part of me misses the old days, I’ll admit. Part of me misses knowing Joe Montana and the mighty 49ers are going to win, because, well, they were just too darn good to be defeated.

I would argue that winning two titles for any QB or any team now in a four- or five-year span is more of an accomplishment than winning four in six years like Bradshaw did or four in four in nine years like Montana. Teams just change too quickly.

Just an observation.

Perhaps next year the Packers’ luck will carry the day. Lord knows after all the playoff misfortunes they’ve suffered in the last decade-plus, they deserve it.


Getting started…

Welcome to my blog on the wonderful world of Wisconsin sports, known as Statis-Stix.

It will be a sarcastic/cynical/philsophical/comedic blog on all things Wisconsin sports (and sports in general), but the topics may get serious sometimes. I guess whatever comes to mind.

I’ll be posting my thoughts at least once a week, probably more once I get going.