Before we dive into this week's notes, Scorecard pauses for a moment to reflect on the events of 10 years ago today and also, to remember how sports helped bring a sense of normalcy back to a grieving nation.
The scene at ballparks and stadiums across the country was memorable, for lack of a more fitting and appropriate term. American flags waved high, people actually sang the national anthem and the usual hatred and vitriol that fills pro sports venues was much more subdued.
For a few hours, a bruised and battered nation was able to come together and feel something other than sorry and loss again. We too often focus on the minute details of a game, of a roster but forget that, ultimately, sports are recreation, entertainment ... an emotional release.
Baseball and football and whatever else people turned to in those first few weeks after the attacks didn't bring back any lives, they didn't heal any physical or emotional wounds, but they did let us feel like ourselves again, if only for a brief moment.
There were a lot of tributes to the victims and heroes of the September 11 attacks Sunday but few, if any, were as poignant, memorable or emotional as the speech offered by the late St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster, Jack Buck, before the Cardinals hosted the Brewers on Sept. 17, 2001 – one of the first games played after the attacks.
And with that, on to the notes...
All aboard: Runaway victories against two FBS also-rans aren't enough to make a definitive case, but by all accounts, Russell Wilson's decision to come play for the Wisconsin Badgers this season could be the most fortunate turn of luck in the program's history.
The quarterback spent three seasons at North Carolina State, throwing for 8,545 yards and 76 touchdowns, and ran for another 17. He was a first team All-ACC selection as a freshman in 2008 and a second team pick last season, as a fourth year junior.
Wilson's time at N.C. State came to an end when he was released from his scholarship to play in the Colorado Rockies' minor league system. But he wanted to get back into football and in the end, chose the Badgers over an opportunity to play for Auburn, the defending national champions
At Wisconsin, where's he could very much be the final piece to a national championship puzzle, he's already thrown for 44 yards of 27 of 34 passing (79.4 percent) and five touchdowns – again, granted, the Badgers have faced two incredibly over-matched opponents.
The Badgers are still, as they have been since Barry Alvarez began the turnaround in the early '90s a smash-mouth running team (look no further than Monte Ball and James White for evidence of that theory) but they have had some solid quarterbacks over the last few seasons in Brooks Bollinger, John Stocco, Tyler Donovan and most recently, Scott Tolzien.
All of those players were good in their own respects though none of them came with the credentials or even the raw natural ability of Wilson. The run will still be the bread-and-butter of Wisconsin's offense, but no longer can opponents stack the box and take their chances against Wisconsin's ability to throw.
This is a big time move for a program that is on the rise; one that's poised to take advantage of the current state of the Big Ten (Ohio State is in trouble, Michigan is rebuilding) and separate itself from its closest competition (Michigan State and newcomer Nebraska).
Wisconsin has been knocking on the door of college football's upper echelon for much of the last decade, occasionally slipping up for a brief cup of coffee with the biggest of big boys.
Landing a player of Wilson's caliber, coupled with the additional national exposure gained by being a Big Ten favorite this season will pay dividends down the road when it comes to recruiting.
Cupcake non-conference opponents or not, Wilson has been impressive thus far. If he can keep growing, along with his teammates, this could indeed be a special season for the Badgers – one that could possibly end with a trip to the National Championship Game.
Carpenter comes clean: On Friday, Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter admitted to two St. Louis beat writers that he did, in fact, scream an obscenity at Nyjer Morgan during the Brewers' last visit to Busch Stadium.
Originally, he said that he wasn't aware of Morgan's act of tossing a mouthful of chewing tobacco in his direction until first baseman Albert Pujols get involved in the incident. A day later, he told the reporters that he wanted to clarify is role as to not "come across as a liar."
The incident was an ugly chapter in one of the most enjoyable stories of this Brewers season. The "T Plush" persona has been fun, one that's been embraced by Morgan's teammates, the fans and even the front office. But the criticism being hurled Morgan's way is deserved.
And it's what happens when you play the role of irreverent goofball, you have to take the good with the bad and in this case, Morgan's antics were bad.
It's one thing to get into a shouting match on the field. Love it or hate it, it's part of baseball. But going to twitter afterwards and stirring the pot further is a bit much. There is enough bad blood brewing (sorry for the pun) between these two franchises and Morgan, who already has a history of inciting the Cardinals took it a step too far with comments about "Alberta" and "those crying birds."
Don't look now, Nyjer, but those crying birds are gaining ground on your club ... quickly.
Tony La Russa, one of the greatest whiners and hypocrites in the history of baseball, is just as guilty in all this mess, having taken to the podium the next day to offer his advice to Morgan which could be summed up by saying "he needs to grow up."
La Russa should worry about his own club for a change, but out of everybody else's business and quite frankly, shut up. In fact, that's good advice for everybody involved in this mess: just shut up. Play baseball. Do your talking on the field.
It's in the water: Maybe it's something in the water in Columbus, Ohio, that makes jocks make poor decisions.
The latest naughty boy in the capital of Buckeye Land is Waukesha's own Paul Hamm. The former Olympic gymnast and 2004 gold medalist was arrested last week after attacking a cab driver.
Police say that Hamm, who admitted to having eight drinks, was drunk and passed out during a cab ride home. When he woke, he refused to pay the $23 fare and began hitting and kicking the driver, who called 911.
Portions of a police video of the arrest were obtained by a Columbus television station. Hamm appears visibly intoxicated and struggles to resist officers' efforts to arrest him.
Hamm has since been fired by the Ohio State University, where he worked as an assistant coach on the men's gymnastics team.
Larry King Lounge: According to ESPN.com's Henry Abbot, Bucks owner Herb Kohl is one of the owners drawing the hardest of lines during the current NBA labor war ... Tickets are still available for Wisconsin's game against Northern Illinois next Saturday at Soldier Field in Chicago ... Speaking of tickets, the Jacksonville Jaguars are helping fans keep track of which games could be blacked out with a ticket sales tracker ... For those who think Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan wastes (reporters') time with mindless, babbling responses to postgame questions, enjoy this little gem from Coastal Carolina head coach David Bennett ... Danica Patrick is a little nervous about traveling to Japan for the upcoming IndyCar race.