By Drew Olson Special to Published Aug 11, 2007 at 5:41 AM Photography: Allen Fredrickson

Welcome to Saturday Scorecard, a popular sports venue without personal seat licenses. With the pennant race, Packers, Badgers and PGA to keep us occupied, we'll get right to the good stuff.

Dugout view: While many Brewers fans blame manager Ned Yost for the team's lengthy slump, a surprisingly sizable contingent also wants to hold the skipper accountable for high gas prices, global warming and the unsatisfying ending of "The Sopranos."

Phil Garner knows the drill.

Two years ago, the Astros manager was second-, third- and
fourth-guessed on a daily basis as he led his team to its first World Series. With the Brewers in Houston this weekend, we figured it was a good idea to ask Garner his thoughts on criticism, the role of managers and other topics.

"Unfortunately, you have to turn a deaf ear to it," Garner said of the second-guessing. "Ned's a good manager. He's pulled the ballclub together. A lot of times, you have to be a little bit lucky. You have to do things right and you have to be a little bit lucky, too.

"Most of the time, managers don't lose the pennant. Neither do we win the pennant, even though we get our names associated with that some times."

When Garner explains it, the key to managerial success seems simple.

"The players have to play," he said. "Sometimes, players run out of gas. As Reggie Jackson said one time, it's not a baseball season, it's an endurance contest.

"That's what happens. It becomes, ‘Who can survive in the last six weeks of the season?' Part of what happens when you have a lot of young players is they fatigue and they don't know how to get through the season."

But what about the nightly chess match? How much impact can
managers have during the course of a 162-game season?

"We actually talk about that a lot among ourselves," Garner
said. "(Former Pirates manager) Chuck Tanner used to tell me it was 10 games; you can affect five games on the positive side and five games on the negative side. That's the most I've heard. Some guys will even say it's even less.

"The bottom line is, I think in modern-day baseball the manager of some ballclubs can have a little bit less of an impact and some can have a little bit more.

"It depends on what kind of egos you have on your ballclub. If you have whoppin' egos and guys that just want to over-run your ballclub, then a good manager, one that's a strong-willed manager, that can keep the players in line ends up being bigger force but from a psychological standpoint rather than from a tactical standpoint. A poor manager can let a ballclub get away from him in a sense because the players just run him over.

"I think that's where it's changed. It used to be, when I first came into the game, if a manager said ‘Drop down and give me 20 pushups,' you didn't ask why, you just did it.

"Today, that has changed. Perhaps the actual bringing in the pitchers, pinch-hitting and that sort of stuff has not changed that much, but I think the psychology of the players has."

Road woes: The Brewers' road struggles (22-35) have been well documented this season, the Astros have been worse (20-38).

Asked why teams struggle away from home, Garner said "I cannot put my finger on it. I just wish I knew what to do about it. We obviously have been horrible on the road.

"Baseball is sort of geared somewhat toward the home team
because you get the last at-bat and things are in your favor. There should be a slight difference between your home record and your road record, but not 20-38, for crying out loud. That's horrible. We have been horrible on the road. It's just two different ballclubs."

Playing a hunch: With Tony Graffanino out for the season with the knee injury, the Brewers recalled Rickie Weeks from Class AAA Nashville. Yost inserted Weeks into the leadoff spot, moved Corey Hart to No. 2 and had J.J. Hardy hit eighth.

How did it work?

Hardy snapped a homerless drought, Weeks walked four times and scored the winning run on Hart's triple in the top of the 11th.

Opening night: Packers coach Mike McCarthy will never admit it, but tonight's exhibition opener in Pittsburgh is not "just another game." McCarthy, a native of Steel City, will have a lot of family and friends in the stands and even more questions to answer on the field.

Things to watch tonight include the play of running backs Brandon Jackson and Noah Herron, the kicking battle between Dave Rayner and Mason Crosby, the play of the backup defensive backs and the Packers' ability to control the blitz.

Crunch time: The hottest team in baseball is playing to extend its season this weekend.

The Madison Mallards, who saw their 15-game winning streak end with a 6-5 loss to visiting Duluth Friday night at Warner Park (aka the Duck Pond), need to win their next two games against Eau Claire in order to qualify for the playoffs.

No matter what happens, it's been a thrilling couple of weeks for the seven-year-old franchise, which welcomed its millionth fan to the ballpark on Friday.

A bigger pool: Some of the more interesting numbers to emerge from Barry Bonds' assault on the all-time home run record: Babe Ruth hit his 714 homers off 216 different pitchers. Hank Aaron hit 755 homers off 310 pitchers. Bonds has hit 758 off 447 different pitchers.

Obviously, expansion is the primary cause for inflation in this case. Most baseball people feel that the hitter holds the advantage in multiple-matchup situations.

Eye of the Tiger: Is it just us, or does Eldrick look like he's on a mission? A second-round 63 (how did that penultimate putt lip out?) Friday at sweltering Southern Hills put him in prime position to avoid going 0 for the majors this season. He has held or shared the 36-hole lead in seven major tournaments. He's won them all.

Three-peat: Congratulations to Couri Insurance, which won its third straight All-City Softball Tournament championship with a 19-8 victory over Shirts and Logos Friday night at Sijan Field.

Drew Olson Special to

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 Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.