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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014

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How would the Crew look with a couple do-overs?
How would the Crew look with a couple do-overs?

The "What if?" Brewers

With the current state of the Milwaukee Brewers, who now resemble their Triple A Nashville Sounds team more than a collection of Major Leaguers, I thought it might be entertaining and amusing to dial up some Brew Crew players from yesteryear who could certainly help the team if they were still, indeed, in the organization.

This isn't an exercise to call out general manager Doug Melvin for moving a chess piece then wishing he didn't take his fingers off for a snap-back retreat. Let's just have some fun and conjure up thoughts of what a baseball team in Milwaukee might look like had they stood pat with certain players, and the digits they are compiling with their current clubs translated to similar numbers with the Brewers.

Nelson Cruz

How terrific would Cruz look in the Brewers outfield the last handful of seasons? Imagine Braun in left, Hart in center and Cruz in right. We have to imagine it because Cruz was dealt to Texas in the six-player Carlos Lee deal in 2006 when it became apparent Lee would not sign a long-term deal to stay in Milwaukee. The Brewers got Francisco Cordero, who didn't stick around as a closer for very long, plus Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix, while the Rangers got an eventual All Star in Cruz, who tore it up in the 2011 post-season.

Brett Lawrie

To borrow the popular "you have to give up something to get something" slogan, a desperate and pitching-thin Brewers team parted with their former top draft pick to get Shaun Marcum in return from Toronto. Without Marcum, perhaps the Brewers never have made it to the post-season in 2011. But how would Lawrie look at third base right now? A terrific and gifted young player with a fiery attitude, Lawrie has been compared to Ryan Braun for his upside ability. Two Brauns on the same team? Wishful thinking.

Alcides Escobar

Same formula here as the Marcum-Lawrie deal, because to acquire Zack Greinke from Kansas City, the Brewers had to part with four prospects, including Milwaukee's starting shortstop. Ou…

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When Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson led the Bucks to the franchise's first and only NBA World Championship in 1971, I saw it play out.
When Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson led the Bucks to the franchise's first and only NBA World Championship in 1971, I saw it play out.

Time marches "fourth"

Yesterday – Sunday, March 4 – marked 50 years on this planet for me.

Daunting to imagine. Impossible to grasp. How did five decades whiz by and not allow me to slam on the brakes and soak in countless life moments gone in a blur?

Birthdays bring about not only that gaze into what lies ahead, but an annual reflection and flush of the brain cells. For someone who grew up with a sports love affair, playing it, reading about it, reporting on it, walking, talking and writing about it, flashbacks often conjure up an athletic theme.

I share a March 4 birthday with such sports standouts as Knute Rockne, "Badger" Bob Johnson, Landon Donovan and Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini. In 1990, I'll never erase watching former Loyola Marymount basketball star Hank Gathers crumble to the court in cardiac arrest.

Life and death reminders.

Brett Favre's career with the Green Bay Packers ended on March 4, 2008 – in some ways, a death blow that some fans will never accept, even with the emergence of his successor, Aaron Rodgers.

When you've been doing this birthday bit 50 times, watched up to three generations participate in the same sport, it will stagger and humble you. I've called ballgames with vivid memories of watching a player's father in action. I've stopped dead in my tracks reading over a Brookfield Central game program and spotted the son of a high school classmate of mine.

It can't be ... we were just in homeroom making fun of the morning announcements!

Sports are a great connector and reminder not only of the event itself, but of the surroundings and time capsule moments in our lifetime. Drift back to the event, and the final outcome is now hazily irrelevant. But the vibe and feel of it ... it lingers forever.

Take the Milwaukee Bucks. Young hoopsters probably have no idea what a local championship-caliber team is like in NBA circles. When Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson led the Bucks to the franchise's first and only NBA World Championship in 1971, I saw it play out …

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The number of opening-round blowouts should be cause for concern for the WIAA.
The number of opening-round blowouts should be cause for concern for the WIAA.

Brainstorming: Let's blow away the blowouts

The WIAA girl's high school basketball postseason got underway Tuesday night, and some of the scores were downright ridiculously lopsided. A handful of teams throughout the state didn't even crack double digits on the scoreboard ... a couple winners hit the century mark. 

Here is an area sampling of tilted scores:

Kettle Moraine 41, Waukesha North 15
Brookfield Central 85, Milwaukee Pulaski 8
Rufus King 77, Milwaukee Reagan 19
DSHA 68, Milwaukee South 21
Pius XI 76, Bay View 4
New Berlin West 77, St. Joan Antida 17
Grafton 63, Young Coggs Prep 14
Central Wisconsin Christian 73, University Lake School 12

This is what happens when the brackets bulge, when the whole association expands to include private schools, and the consensus is that everybody should experience playoff basketball.

So tell me, what kind of taste do you have in your mouth all summer long if you are one of the young girls playing for Bay View?

I'm not here to call anyone out. I'm not saying the winning teams stepped on the gas and should have let up.

Sometimes, you can throw your entire JV roster out there, and still get the same outcome. And if you play your bench warmers extended minutes, do you huddle them up and tell them not to shoot?

Of course not. It is what it is.

I offer one solution that will never happen: cut back the brackets and set criteria for making it into the postseason. But we all know once you've included every single team, there is no way the WIAA will slam on the brakes, back it up and limit the number of participants who play in March.

The boys first round games had a fair share of out of this world first round scores. Germantown rolled up 122 against Milwaukee Madison, Whitefish Bay Dominican tallied 106 in a coast over Milwaukee Career Academy. No finger pointing here -- the match-ups were lousy the second they jumped it up at center court.

This is why I cringe every time the idea is floated out there to ex…

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It was strange to see Ben Sheets in an Oakland uniform giving up a hit to a Brewer wearing his old No. 15.
It was strange to see Ben Sheets in an Oakland uniform giving up a hit to a Brewer wearing his old No. 15.

Brainstorming: Tidbits from the weekend in sports

Here are some sports morsels that may have flown under the radar last week. The big-ticket events get all the props and love. But let us dig deeper to unearth some tasty tidbits that might make you say, "really?"

They might also make you ask, "who cares?"

But here goes ...

Wasn't it ironic that pitcher Ben Sheets, in his Oakland spring training debut against his former team, gave up a first-inning RBI single to the Brewers veteran Jim Edmonds, who just happens to be wearing Sheets' old number, 15?

I realize 20 victories in college hoops isn't what it used to be, but how about all four Division 1 college basketball teams in the state chalking up 20-plus? Wisconsin and Marquette were joined by both Horizon League entries UW-Milwaukee and UW-Green Bay. The Phoenix (21-12) finished third in the league, while the Panthers (20-14) were fourth and pushed No. 11 Butler deep into the second half of their tournament semifinal at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

In Kevin Bacon-esque fashion, a couple moves made by the Miami Dolphins come back with ties to the Packers. The Fish signed free agent linebacker Karlos Dansby, who had the fumble recovery and touchdown in overtime in Arizona's 51-45 wild card playoff game victory over Green Bay. Miami also resigned quarterback Chad Pennington to a one-year deal. The former Jets signal caller took his tools to South Florida two years ago when Brett Favre arrived in New York from Green Bay. Pennington will now back up starter Chad Henne, who was drafted by Miami in the second round in 2008, one selection after the Packers took quarterback Brian Brohm.

There were some "ginormous" numbers last week on the local prep basketball courts. Germantown scored 122 in an opening-round rout over Milwaukee Madison. Whitefish Bay Dominican posted 106 in a win over Milwaukee Career Academy. Cedarburg senior Chip Rank, who is a Northern Iowa recruit, notched a school-record 47 in a playoff triumph over Homestead. And in a game tha…

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