With sincere apologies to both John Steinbeck and William Shakespeare, now is "The Winter of Our Discontent."
We have two winter pro sports teams, the Green Bay Packers and the Milwaukee Bucks (I know there are Milwaukee Admirals and Wave and the Brew City Bruisers, but they aren’t on the same planet).
These are not good times for either the Packers or Bucks, and both are suffering from the same thing: both teams have been drenched in a shower of injuries that have taken much of the talent and a lot of the heart out of both teams.
The Packers were once prohibitive favorites to win the title in the NFC North. Instead of running away with the thing, they find themselves running just to stay within hailing distance of a berth in the playoffs. If the season ended today the Packers would be packing their civvies and heading for home.
The Bucks were not favored to win their division. But, with a wholesale change of everything from coach and players to the Energee dance group, we were primed to expect a team that was exciting and relatively competitive on a slightly more frequent basis than the last couple years.
But the list of injuries for both teams is startling.
For the Packers, here’s a list off the top of my head of players who have either missed time or are out for the season. Aaron Rodgers leads the list, followed by Seneca Wallace and Bryan Bulaga, Casey Hayward, Morgan Burnett, Sam Shields, Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews, James Starks, Brad Jones, Jermichael Finley and James Jones.
For the Bucks, the list is almost equally impressive or depressive, depending on where you are coming from. Larry Sanders, Carlos Delfino, Ersan Ilyasova, Brandon Knight, Luke Ridnour, Zaza Pachulia and Caron Butler all have missed time.
Here’s what the current Packers look like. They can’t block. They can’t tackle. Their special teams are horrible. Their pass coverage is shaky in their best moments.
They have a quarterback who has not made a dent in three years in the NFL. He may have had his brief moments, but I remind Packers fans of the ONE GOOD GAME had by Matt Flynn and what kind of success he’s had after that.
They also appear to have some kind of head in the sand approach to the difficult straits they are in. Optimism not based on fact but on hope is foolish. And you get the feeling that the Packers are kind of hoping that somebody does something special. And when nothing happens, they just keep on hoping.
The injuries for the Bucks have combined with some vicious responses from the press and the public. Sanders, who was expected to be the face of this franchise, showed some questionable judgment by being caught up in a mild melee in a nightclub. But then the press hopped on a year old issue involving his care of a couple of puppies and all of a sudden a pretty nice guy started to look like as crazy man run amok.
Some people think this is a crucial year for the future of the Bucks as the team is fighting for a new arena. Common wisdom is that the Bucks need to be exciting to convince people that they need a new arena.
But let’s hope wiser heads prevail and people realize the value of just having an NBA team in the city. Nobody should make a decision on a new arena based on the success or lack of success of the team. The fact that we have a team is plenty of reason to take care of their future.
I am widely known as kind of a cynical columnist who figures people and teams get what they deserve, but in these cases I’ve got to admit that I feel a pretty high level of sympathy for both teams.
Injuries are, indeed, part of the game, but both teams seem to have been hit especially hard by them, both in quantity and the quality and importance of players lost.
So it looks like our winter is going to be long and sad and pretty much without hope, unless we get a holiday miracle.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.