Welcome to Saturday Scorecard, where we savor the spring but are contractually obligated to remind you that the Packers play their first exhibition game 13 weeks from tonight (Aug. 11 at Pittsburgh).
Now, on to the good stuff:
Coming to a head: Among the primary reasons for the Brewers' journey from doormats to darlings in the baseball world are the steady, studied leadership of general manager Doug Melvin and the calm, reasoned approach of field manager Ned Yost.
Those qualities were on display again this week.
Instead of playing "follow the leader" and banning beer from the clubhouse like several other teams did in the wake of St. Louis reliever Josh Hancock's death in a drunk-driving accident, Melvin and Yost studied the situation and chose not to address a problem that doesn't exist.
Before the angry e-mails begin, let's make two points perfectly clear:
Point One: Drunk driving IS a significant problem in American society. People who drive under the influence of alcohol recklessly endanger innocent citizens and their actions lead to far too many accidents, injuries and deaths. I don't know if the problem will ever be eradicated, but efforts to educate and legislate are commendable.
Point Two: Banning beer in major-league clubhouses will not have a significant impact on the battle to prevent drunk-driving accidents.
In separate editorials this week, writers from the Wisconsin State Journal and La Crosse Tribune called upon the Brewers to stop making beer available for players after games. While I understand their position, particularly in light of Hancock's death and the coverage surrounding it, I cannot fathom how they avoid taking the next logical step.
When it comes to drinking and driving, if the Brewers cannot trust the judgment of 35 or 40 employees in a controlled situation in their clubhouse, why do they routinely do so for tens of thousands of fans on a given night at Miller Park?
Anyone who watched fans stagger and weave through the concourses at opening day last month had to be more worried about cars leaving the general parking lots than the player's lot. That begs a question; several, actually. (Pardon us for a moment while we channel Eric Stratton from "Animal House.")
How do you present the argument that beer should be removed from the clubhouse without proposing that it be banned at the concession stands? If beer has no place in the clubhouse or in the stands, isn't it also wrong for teams to play in stadiums named for breweries? What about the ads on the scoreboards and in the programs and the commercials that air constantly during the television broadcasts? While we're at it, what about the local club's nickname? Maybe Mark Attansio should dump "Brewers" for something less objectionable, like "Gold."
OK, that last one was a reach. But, the crux of our case today is this: removing beer from big-league clubhouses in hopes of curtailing drunk driving is like strip-searching blue-haired grandmothers as a way to thwart terrorism at airports.
It's all symbolic hooey.
At this point in the discussion, reasonable people will begin talking about things like moral responsibility, legal liability and work place decorum. A common argument is this one: What other company routinely furnishes beer for employees at the end of the work day? I counter that by asking: How many companies provide catered meals for employees after every shift?
Can we all just agree that a professional baseball team is not like an insurance office, an auto body shop or a clothing store? I mean, how many companies pay their average employee more than $2 million per year? How often do you finish work, eat dinner with co-workers in your underwear and take a communal shower?
Life is different in a major-league clubhouse, and it's a safe bet that neither of the aforementioned editorial authors from Madison and La Crosse has ventured into one recently, if at all.
There may have been a time when post-game clubhouses morphed into makeshift saloons, with players pounding beers and playing cards into the wee hours. That time has passed. Over the past 12 years -- between spring training, regular season and playoffs -- I have covered roughly 1,500 major-league games and made roughly 1,500 trips to the clubhouse for post-game interviews.
It is my experience that players today are every bit as likely to reach for a protein shake as a cold beer. Many players and coaches will enjoy a beer (and maybe two) with the post-game meal. Some may have a beer while waiting for the parking lots to empty. Some don't have any at all. (Reporters who attended what turned out to be Josh Hancock's final game indicated that the right-hander did not consume any beer in the clubhouse before heading to a restaurant / bar a few blocks away).
There are exceptions, of course, but within 60 minutes after the final out, most players have completed their required treatment / workouts, dined, showered and left the clubhouse. By the 90-minute mark, the only people left are the batboys who are finishing the laundry and vacuuming the carpet.
That doesn't leave a lot of time for beer drinking. Contrary to popular belief, the beer in the clubhouse is not "free." Just like the pre-game snack, the post-game buffet, the shaving cream in the bathroom and the shampoo in the shower, it is covered by a player's clubhouse dues, which average about $50 per day.
If I had to guess, I'd say that the Brewers polish off about two cases of beer on an average night. That doesn't seem excessive for a clubhouse comprised of at least 25 players, a manager, six or seven coaches, a handful of trainers, team attendants and maybe even a broadcaster or two. Consumption may increase slightly on the road, where players are less likely to have family and friends waiting outside the clubhouse and seldom if ever use personal vehicles.
Bottom line: Major-league players have handled the responsibility of having beer in the clubhouse for generations. To think that they are suddenly incapable of doing so because of Josh Hancock's fatal mistake would be a knee-jerk solution to a problem that isn't really a problem.
If baseball teams want to use a clubhouse ban to send a message about the dangers of drunk driving, that is their right. But, as a representative from Mothers Against Drunk Driving pointed out, they shouldn't do it without examining their policies concerning alcohol consumption by fans.
In the pink: Six Brewers players will swing pink bats on Sunday as Major League Baseball and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation seek to raise awareness about breast cancer. The players slated to take part include Craig Counsell, Johnny Estrada, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, Geoff Jenkins and Bill Hall.
It was last Mother's Day that Hall used a pink bat to hit a game-inning homer in the 10th inning against the Mets at Miller Park. Hall's mother, Vergie, was in the stands that afternoon.
Attanasio later bought the bat during an online auction, spending more than $25,000, which was forwarded to the charity.
Author, author: Packers chairman and CEO Bob Harlan's autobiography, "Green and Golden Moments," is available in bookstores and will be excerpted in the Journal Sentinel print edition sports page on Sunday. Harlan, who will retire at the end of the month, wrote the book with former Journal Sentinel columnist Dale Hofmann. The 280-page hardcover will feature stories from Harlan's 36 years with the club, with an emphasis on the 18 years that he was in charge. During the latter period, the Packers went to the playoffs 10 times, visited two Super Bowls and renovated Lambeau Field.
Harlan and Hofmann will do a handful of book signings in the coming days.
On ice: Raise your hand if you knew that Detroit and Anaheim (West) and Buffalo and Ottawa (East) represent the last four teams still alive in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
I haven't seen a single game this spring and I blame ESPN. Back when the ‘Worldwide Leader' carried the action, you couldn't help falling into an exciting overtime period. This year, I can't even find the channel (Versus) that televises the games.
Ticket talk: The Admirals announced their ticket prices for 2007-'08 and lower-level seats are available for $15, $17 and $20. (The more expensive seats put you in the front row). You get a discount on that price and other perks if you purchase season tickets. The Admirals' Web site is www.milwaukeeadmirals.com. The phone number is (414) 227-0550.
Keynote address: Milwaukee Mile chairman Craig Stoehr will speak at the Sports Facilities & Franchises conference May 22-23 in New Orleans. Stoehr and his investment group is about to unveil a hotel and retail real estate development for the land adjacent to the south turn along Greenfield, Ave.
Stoehr will speak about "The Rise of Mixed-Use Urban Developments." The conference is being presented by Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily.
Technology talk: The days of forgetting your tickets to the big game could be over. The Oakland A's are about to institute a system where fans can download tickets to a Blackberry or cellphone and have an usher use another hand-held device to scan the bar code on the ticket and allow admission.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.