Just last night I was reminded of just how bad it had gotten and just how sick I had become...
3-6. 3-7, 3-7, 1-6. Those are the scores of each game in the Brewers-Phillies series. It’s not as if the Brewers were really close, and frankly, it’s difficult to imagine a team playing more poorly. They’re still not hitting, but the pitching collapsed as well. Some (myself included) were worried that Manny Parra would hit the rookie wall (yes, fine, he’s not technically a rookie), and he smacked into it like a bug into a windshield. Not moving Sabathia to this series really looks bad in retrospect.
They still have a chance of course, but the schedule is now very difficult, with 6 games remaining against the Cubs who would like nothing better than to put the Brewers away. The best thing the Brewers have going for them is that they need only catch the Phillies (with whom they are currently tied) OR the Mets (who are one game ahead of both teams and have their own 4-game series against the Cubs still on the docket). If the Brewers are going to make the playoffs, some drastic changes are necessary.
First of all, they have to put a better lineup out there and throw caution and defense to the wind. The offensive black holes at 3rd, 2nd, and catcher are allowing teams to pitch around Braun and Fielder and making life miserable for them. It’s easy to get through the Brewers' lineup without putting guys on for Braun and Fielder, and if you put Braun and Fielder on, there’s no one to drive them in. The Brewers enjoyed their best offense of the season when Bill Hall and Russell Branyan were platooning at third, partially because they had another legit bat in the lineup, and partially because pitchers could not simply play cautious through the middle of the order knowing that Jason Kendall or Bill Hall v. a righty would be there to bail them out.
It’s time for Gamel and Salome to get a shot. It’s time to see if Joe Dillon can recapture some of his OBP magic from earlier this year. It’s time so give up on “experience” (meaning “old players who are lousy at baseball, like Craig Counsell”), and go with talent. It might not work, but it probably can’t get worse.
Beating The Lions Is Still Victory
Aaron Rodgers impressed again with another efficient (nay, spectacular) performance, in which he showed great mobility, accuracy on the run, and good decision-making. Conservative play-calling and some of the most atrocious tackling I’ve ever scene allowed the Lions to get back in the game, but fortunately the legendary Kitna-to-Woodson combination came alive and the Pack were able hold on.
Two big issues spring immediately to mind. First, Mike McCarthy has to stop being so conservative with early leads. Granted, this strategy might work if Ryan Grant was completely healthy, but until then, no lead is safe.
Second, the Packer secondary is going to struggle with top WRs all year. Al Harris really is a shell of his former self (although he did make a few nice plays in zone) and can’t cover anyone one-on-one. Both he and Woodson got away with a lot of contact that was flagged last year, and both men were also toasted by Calvin Johnson. I’m not really sure that there is a solution to this problem, but it is a problem.
The Badgers Hold On
I thought the Badgers actually dominated their Saturday night/Sunday morning tilt with Fresno State, and just got a few unlucky breaks in the Red Zone and on special teams. A few things
1. I think that John Clay is better than PJ Hill right now.
2. When Freson State’s receiver fumbled in the second half (#18), and the call was overturned to an incomplete pass using instant replay I just could not believe it. Not only was there no indisputable visual evidence to overturn that call, I thought the replay unambiguously confirmed that it was a fumble. Terrible call.
3. Where was Travis Beckum all game?
4. Bill Rentmeester’s run to finish off the game was an amazing display of power. Wisconsin’s fullbacks are consistently underrated. But I suppose all fullbacks are. Except Mike Alstott.
5. Make no mistake about it, Fresno State is a very good team, and this was an impressive win, on the road, in the middle of the night.
Things That Suck
Ohio State. Wow. Maybe USC is that good, and maybe missing Beanie Wells hurts that much, but this was ugly. It really is tough to be a Big 10 defender. At least Wisconsin showed up.
Michigan and UCLA. UCLA got whipped by a bunch of Mormons. Michigan got whipped by a what I still think is a terrible Notre Dame (Our Lady of Bullshit Officiating) team.
The Kansas City Chiefs. How will this team win a game?
Things that Blow
Ed Hochuli, too quickly.
Today’s HOTD is brought to you by…
A good Bloody Mary, the perfect cure for a weekend full of beer.
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