Over the course of a month many things can happen in the world of sports. Some things are crammed down your throat (see Terrell Owens, pictured above) and other things just sort of morph right in front of your eyes (see the 2005 Green Bay Packers). What we take from these events -- or on the other hand, what we choose to ignore -- is what makes us true sports fans.
The Fall of the Packers
What the current version of the Green Bay Packers shows us is that the NFL and its parody-laden salary cap is a very cruel place. A few years of personnel mistakes, a few injuries, a few key free agent losses and your team can go from division champions to 2-14 doormats.
Eventually, Mike Sherman the Coach will be fired because of Mike Sherman the General Manager. It may not be this year because if Favre wants him to stay, Ted Thompson might be held at gun point to bring Sherman back for one more year.
In past columns I have called for Sherman's head many of times and that was when he was winning. Now I believe that he is doing it with smoke and mirrors, because he hasn't lost his team -- they still play hard for him and no matter what his record is this year he has been impressive as a leader. Not even Lombardi could win with the 2005 version of the Rhein Fire.
The Bush Division
The only solace in this whole season is that there is a bright, shiny Christmas present waiting for the team that doesn't screw up their season by winning in December. Reggie Bush looks like and has that "Lebron-like" feel as the next great NFL superstar. In the world of failed can't misses he looks like a can't miss. Plus if you are going to have a season from hell, do it in a year where the first pick is a dynamic player, not an Alex Smith.
While keeping track of the Reggie Bush sweepstakes I found myself this past Sunday rooting for the Texans, who are in first place of the Bush division one game ahead of the Packers and others. In the midst of one of the greatest back door covers in NFL history the Rams recovered an on-side kick with less that 30 seconds left and down three points. The kick was recovered by Torry Holt, undeniably the Rams best player.
It wasn't surprising that Holt, the veteran leader and multi-time pro bowler was out there on special team giving it his all for his team, but when Holt recovered the ball he ran right past Andre Johnson who had his helmet in his hands watching his team give the game away from the sidelines. Do the Texans have 11 players with better hands than their top receiver? Does Andre Johnson not want to give it all up for his team? Or do the Texans want to keep their stranglehold on first place in the Bush Division. (Can't wait for Jan. 2 -- Texans at 49ers)
Stotts Struggling with Rotations
One of the questions posed in my last column was whether or not the Bucks were too deep for their own good? While on Tuesday their depth garnered them a victory over the Mavericks, it has been somewhat of a detriment so far this season. No team can win with an 11-man rotation. Yes, there are only a certain amount of minutes in a game, but it showed Tuesday that Andrew Bogut and Bobby Simmons need to become more of a focal point in the Bucks offense.
Both players play already substantial minutes, but they also need to have the ball go through them more. It may not be beneficial for Michael Redd to average 25-plus points per game and dominate the ball. In fact, the last player to average over 25 points per night was Marques Johnson who was then subsequently told by Don Nelson to spread the wealth because it will make the team better.
In order for the Bucks to win they will need to have Simmons, Bogut and T. J. Ford become more aggressive on the offensive end. Their offensive flow on Tuesday seemed to be much better without the ball going through Redd.
In no way am I saying that the Bucks are better without Redd, they just need others to be more aggressive on the offensive end to take the next step. For example, the Pistons shut down the Bucks last Saturday simply by stopping Redd. Some players will have to swallow their pride for the sake of the team, because continuity will be the key to the Bucks success.
Before I get too negative about the Bucks, they did just have a 7-6 month of November while getting acclimated with Jamal Magloire and against a brutal schedule. Things lighten up a bit in December and the Bucks will have to take advantage
Hot Stove Heating Up
Nothing makes me happier than baseball talk in the month of December. The Brewers held their first annual Winter Showcase on Thursday in the .300 club at Miller Park. This is just another in the long line of fabulous changes instituted by Brewers' owner Mark Attanasio.
The showcase, which was televised by FSN North and featured a few prominent Brewers, lit the hot stove and unveiled the new Sunday jersey in which the return of the ball and glove logo has finally made its triumphant return. (OMC should take some credit for this decision.)
The Brewer who stood out from the pack in attendance was Lyle Overbay. It just seemed odd to see Overbay participating in this event when the main topic as far as baseball goes is when General Manager Doug Melvin is going to pull the trigger on a trade for Overbay. It kind of felt like the Jeffrey Hammonds bobble head night a few days after the Brewers has released him.
On the Overbay trade front there have been a few rumors, but nothing substantial. Now that the White Sox have re-signed Paul Konerko and the Mets have acquired Carlos Delgado the market has taken shape for who is in the need for a first baseman.
Some of the rumors have been that Boston was dangling Matt Clement, a rumor that leaves me with that lukewarm feeling. Others have Overbay going to the Toronto Blue Jays for a young hard-throwing Dustin McGowan, but Melvin stated that the Jays said McGowan was untouchable. Another suitor may be the Los Angeles Angels, who recently lost out on Konerko.
It is still my belief that Melvin will use one of the Brewers upper-level prospects to package with Overbay to get a player that is not only young, but will be able to contribute to the team immediately. It may come at the high price of a Nelson Cruz or Dave Krynzel, but that is what it might take to get a gem in return. As we have said before -- In Doug We Trust.
Another team from Wisconsin making waves -- but not so much in the press -- is the top-ranked Wisconsin Badgers hockey team. After completing the sweep last weekend in Michigan against the Wolverines and Michigan State, the Badgers have taken over the no. 1 ranking in the land. No rest for the weary because this weekend the Badgers take their top ranking and 11-1-2 record to St. Paul for a showdown with the rival Minnesota Gophers.
Mike Eaves has his club playing well early, but rings are not one in November. Much credit should go to Eaves who has quietly rebuilt Badger hockey back into a powerhouse.
The Future of Badgers Football
Much has been made of the coaching changes that are taking place in Madison. All the needs to be said about the future of the Wisconsin Badgers is that Brett Bielema is a solid defensive mind and is a fantastic recruiter with ties in Florida that the Badgers have never had.
Besides that point, the future of the Badgers relies on keeping Johnny Clay in state. Clay is the real deal. He is 6'2", 220 lbs. and runs like the wind. Comments that Clay may be the best player ever to come through Wisconsin may not be far off base. Clay is a must for Bielema who needs to make a splash to bridge the gap from the Alvarez era by keeping the states's top players in state.
All is all, November was solid sports month, but in the grand scheme of things it is only a precursor to December. With the bowl season coming up, the NFL playoff push beginning, the MLB winter meetings, and the NBA and College Basketball entering the meat of their schedule (cue the Christmas music)... "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"