Welcome to Saturday Scorecard, where we promise to fill your tank with sports notes for less than $3.45 per gallon.
Welcome back: Jeff Cirillo signed a one-year contract with Minnesota back on Dec. 13, but it took until Friday night for the veteran infielder to say goodbye to the Brewers and officially become a Twin.
Before we discuss how it happened, a little background is in order:
A day before Minnesota's traveling party arrived in Milwaukee for their annual interleague series at Miller Park, Cirillo joked with broadcasters Bert Blyleven and Dan Gladden about the ovation he was expecting upon his return.
"The game time is listed at 7:05, but they might have to allow an extra five minutes for the ovation," said Cirillo, who was a fan favorite during two stints with Milwaukee.
Seven hours before the first pitch from Brewers lefty Chris Capuano Friday night at Miller Park, Cirillo - who knew he was making his first start of the season at third base -- ate a turkey and avocado sandwich for lunch and joked about hitting a home run against his former teammates.
"It'd be great if I could go deep and maybe smack Prince (Fielder) on the ass going around first base," Cirillo said. "That would be awesome. The problem is, I'm not sure if I can even hit a homer now."
Despite a healthy number of Twins fans in the sellout crowd of 44,759, the ovation never materialized. Some fans even booed Cirillo when he was introduced before his first at-bat. "That shocked me," Cirillo said.
What happened next socked just about everyone, including Cirillo.
After knocking in a run against Capuano in the third inning with his first triple since 2001, Cirillo came up in the seventh and ripped a 3-2 pitch from Carlos Villanueva over the wall in left-center for a two-run homer that helped the visitors take a 8-1 victory.
"This is his ballpark. He proved it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Cirillo. "He had a good ballgame here. He had a big pick-me-up triple. I didn't think Jeff Cirillo would get a triple, but, he got a triple and then puts one in the seats, too, so it was a very good night for him..
"I know he's very, very excited and so are we."
Cirillo, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery this spring and missed nearly three weeks ("Two weeks, five days," he said. "I want that on the record.") said he experienced "mixed emotions" during the game.
"I have a lot of fond memories here," he said. "It was weird, to tell you the truth. I really didn't talk to many people today. I was more worried about getting through the game. I hadn't played third all year. I was a little nervous."
The nerves didn't show. Cirillo spent time before the game giving teammates what he termed "excellent scouting reports" on Brewers' personnel. On the first pitch of his first at-bat, Cirillo ripped an inside fastball for Capuano near the left-field tarp. "I knew he was going to go in there," said Cirillo, who ended up flying out to centerfielder Bill Hall, his former teammate and close friend. "The rest of the game, he was away, away, away and then he tried to come in. For some reason, everybody on our team saw his changeup really well tonight."
In his second at-bat, Cirillo drove the ball over Hall's head. It struck the wall halfway up and caromed away from Hall, allowing Cirillo to mark his first triple since Sept. 28, 2001.
"I really didn't want to go (to third)," Cirillo said. "I just kind of had to. My legs felt horrible for like two innings after that. They just felt like Jell-O. But the knee was fine. I was pulling a train when I got around second base."
Torii Hunter followed Cirillo's triple with a grand slam that pushed the Twins' lead to 5-1 and a verbal shot for his teammate.
"Jeff Cirillo will get another triple in 2010, when he's in the Senior League," Hunter said.
"No way," Cirillo said. "I'm coming back as a pitcher."
When Cirillo led off the fifth, he noted that Hall was in a different spot. "It was good to see Billy back up," he said. After grounding out to J.J. Hardy, Cirillo jogged across the middle of the field and discreetly smacked Capuano on the backside.
In the seventh inning, Cirillo lined a pitch from Villanueva over the outstretched glove of leftfielder Geoff Jenkins, one of his closest friends in baseball.
"Jenkins was trying to rob me," said Cirillo, who roomed with Jenkins' brother when the two played at USC. "I mean, jeez. I can't tell you how many times I've spent in his room watching a movie or working on his swing or whatever and he's going to try to rob the old man out there (and) steal my glory?"
There was no stealing Cirillo's glory on Saturday. The only damper on his evening was that it came at the expense of his former club, which he has trouble following on highlight shows and box scores.
"For myself, personally, I really have to kind of let go of the Brewers and not really watch what they do and kind of root from afar," he said. "It really doesn't do me a service here. Playing them, I think, was a good thing. Competition sometimes brings out the best in you. You know those guys and you see them and you've got to beat them, so there is no thinking about what the Brewers are doing and how well they are playing and a ‘what-if?' type of a deal. I'm here to help win the division for this team and get on a roll."
Weeks sidelined: Brewers manager Ned Yost seemed a bit perturbed Friday during his pre-game meeting with reporters and two factors may have been at play.
Yost was questioned about his decision to use Gabe Gross as the rightfielder / leadoff hitter rather than Tony Gwynn, Jr. That probably irked Yost, who likes to "play the hot hand," was rewarding Gross for a two-homer performance on Thursday afternoon in Philadelphia. (Not many first-place managers like to be second-guessed about their lineup during hte third week of May).
More important, Yost may have been worried about second baseman Rickie Weeks, who sat out with a sore right wrist. Weeks, who has struggled at the plate of late, underwent surgery in August to repair a loose tendon. Apparently, doctors expected him to experience sporadic inflammation and soreness.
Favre speaks: Packers quarterback Brett Favre, whose strange soap opera captivated the Wisconsin sporting public all week, held a press conference Friday on the opening day of a minicamp that he wasn't planning to attend. Asked if he was frustrated by recent events -- the refusal to trade for Randy Moss -- Favre launched into the following answer, which included the real reason for his reluctance to attend the minicamp. (You may want to grab a sandwich at this point).
"You know, I think I get over things fairly quickly. I mean, I expressed how I felt and it's over and done with. I had a good talk with Mike and Ted this week. You know, we don't always agree and not just with Ted (Thompson, the general manager) and Mike (Sherman, the coach). We're all that way. But we have a good working relationship. We're able to talk about things. Ultimately, it comes down to me wanting to play and help this team win. That's the one thing I can control and, by being here, that's what I'm doing. The teammates that I've played with last year and in previous years are important to me."
"The team aspect is very important to me. I've always said that. I'd like to think that I'm not only a good teammate, but a great leader. That's what it ultimately came down to. Agreeing with one's philosophy or this or that really doesn't matter. What matters is I'm the quarterback for this team until they tell me different. I enjoy doing it. What's done is done. It's over with. It really is more of a non-issue than it's been made out to be. There's been a lot of statements made by a lot of people that are untrue, which is the case in a lot of situations."
"But, I don't think anyone can question my leadership and determination to win, and that hasn't changed. I know at times people want to do that. And had I not shown up, it becomes even a bigger issue. To be totally honest with you, at 17 years I just really didn't want to come. I'd like to tell you something different, tell you something to sell papers and (get) people to watch your TV programs. But they're kind of boring, to be honest with you. And that's being honest with you. Especially knowing that they're going to limit what I do, understandably so. Sometimes I go, 'I don't really want to be there just to stand around,' but I know that's important and I'm going to try to some things this weekend. I wish I could give you more."
Pomp and circumstance: At least two of local graduation ceremonies will have a sports flavor.
Brewers owner Mark Attanasio will speak to graduates at Cardinal Stritch College. Former Sports Illustrated columnist Steve Rushin, who graduated from Marquette in 1988, will deliver the commencement address at his alma mater.
"Just when you thought you were out, they pull you back in," Rushin said this week. "Maybe they're having me as a cautionary tale. This could happen to you..."
Rushin said he was somewhat stunned when the invitation arrived. "I thought it had been misaddressed. I thought when they asked me to deliver it, they actually wanted me to actually deliver it to somebody better than me."
Asked if he was nervous, Rushin said: "The problem is, it's indoors. If it were outdoors, I could explain away my flop sweat to the heat of a southern college. The flop sweat will be strictly from nerves."
When Rushin graduated, the featured speaker was William Rehnquist, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court but the ceremonies were in direct conflict with a playoff game between his beloved Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks.
"I remember not wanting to attend," he said. "It was going into the fourth quarter."
Though he got used to cranking out columns on a weekly deadline, Rushin is finding that writing a speech two months in advance can be difficult.
"As with most of my schoolwork at Marquette, I will still be finishing it at 3 o'clock in the morning Saturday," he said. "But, I have started."
Nice gesture: Houston Texans defensive back Jason Simmons is our favorite NFL player this week.
Since the Texans entered the league in 2002, Simmons has worn the number 30. Former Packers running back Ahman Green, who wore the number in Green Bay, wanted to wear it with the Texans as well.
In most cases like this, the guy holding rights to the number will ask for a Rolex, a car, cash or some other payment in order to give it up. Green, who signed a four-year, $23 million contract, certainly has deep pockets.
But, Simmons wasn't interested in personal gain. He requested that Green make a down payment on a home for a single parent.
"It's just been on my mind to go out and help a family in need," Simmons said. "I just understand that it's not all about money. In my life, I never want to get caught up in just money because it can ruin you."
Green agreed and details are being worked out. Simmons is wearing No. 22. It's nice to read an off-season story about NFL players that doesn't involve law enforcement authorities.
Congratulations to both Simmons and Green.
Welcome to the big time: Packers rookie Brandon Jackson got a quick lesson in the way the NFL works this week.
"This is a rock. This is a hard place. Don't bother choosing. We'll do that for you."
Jackson was invited to attend a rookie weekend in Los Angeles, where the NFL trots young players before sponsors and shoots pictures for trading card companies.
Jackson and his agent told the Players Association and the NFL management council that he wanted to attend the Packers' mini-camp. The crazy kid had the notion that meeting his veteran teammates and being around his coaches was a good idea for a young player.
The NFL told him he had to go to L.A. If he blew it off, he was barred from attending the Packers' minicamp.
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.