By Drew Olson Special to Published Sep 22, 2007 at 5:39 AM

Welcome to Saturday Scorecard in the midst of what could be one of the more exciting sports weekends in Wisconsin history.

The Brewers are in the pennant race and will be playing Atlanta this afternoon on national TV.

The Badgers host Iowa in the Big Ten opener on national TV tonight at Camp Randall Stadium.

The Packers are unbeaten and face San Diego in a game that will be seen by much of the country on CBS.

Here are some things to consider before you hit the couch / tailgate / stadium.

Call to arms: Ben Sheets has been with the Brewers for seven seasons. He's been the team's best pitcher almost from the instant he walked through the clubhouse door. He is a two-time all-star and a no-brainer starter for opening day. He's also been hampered by some of the more bizarre injuries to hit the franchise since David Nilsson's Ross River Fever and Curt Leskanic's bout of elephantitis.

But, you already know all that.

Here is the question: What is Sheets' most memorable Milwaukee moment to date?

Was it the 18-strikeout game against Atlanta?

Was it the night the he flirted with a no-hitter in Anaheim?

Was it the complete game he threw on opening day this year against Los Angeles?

Or, was it the afternoon that he popped out of the dugout, an Olympic gold medal draped around his neck, and created a thunderous ovation during the final game at County Stadium?

Whichever moment you choose, wouldn't it be great if it were surpassed by a superlative performance against Atlanta Sunday afternoon at Turner Field or against San Diego Friday night at Miller Park?

The Brewers have nine games left in the season. They trail Chicago by 1-½ games in the National League Central. At this point, the standings, schedule and intangibles favor the Cubs. At the think tank known as Baseball Prospectus the mathematicians / sabermatricians estimate Milwaukee's chance of winning the division at about 25 percent.

Without Sheets, the odds will dip even lower.

Sheets, who has a strained left hamstring, is considered doubtful to take the mound on Sunday.

Here is hoping that he does.

The Brewers less-than-mediocre performance during most of Sheets' career -- coupled with a string of maladies that ranges from vestibular neuritis to microscopic lumbar discectomy to a sprained middle finger -- has overshadowed the fact that Sheets, when healthy, is an elite major-league pitcher.

Brewers fans underestimate Sheets' value because of the injuries. Detractors draw comparisons to Teddy Higuera, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, while supporters point to players like Paul Molitor, Chris Carpenter and others who have overcome injury.

Many fans would like the team to trade him, a notion that seems preposterous given the dearth of pitching in the free agent and trade markets.

Sheets doesn't need to pitch two of the final nine games in order to display bravery, justify his contract, cement his position as a staff "ace," or prove his value to the team (that was established when the club staggered during his absence).

He needs to pitch because the Brewers need him. Willis Reed limped onto the court at Madison Square Garden and lifted his team to a championship. Curt Schilling pitched with blood pooling in his sock and the Red Sox snapped a curse.

Sheets' return could have the same impact on the Brewers.

In an interview with the Journal Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt, Sheets made it seem as though the selfless act of pitching through the pain would actually be a selfish pursuit.

"If I feel like I can help the team, I'm going to go out there," he said. "But, I'm not going to go out there just for the sake of going out there. This team has done too much for somebody to put themselves before the team. If you're going to go out there and go three (innings) and give up 10 (runs), why pitch? To me, it's dumb if you can't perform."

"The season's too long for somebody to be a hero. We need heroes but we need performance, too. This game's hard enough when you're 100 percent, which is very few times during the year, actually."

Sheets raises valid points. Left unspoken is the fact that if he goes out and favors his hamstring, he could end up injuring his elbow or shoulder.

The risks are there. But, so is the potential reward. If Sheets pitches through the pain and the Brewers overtake the Cubs, he will simultaneously silence his critics and carve out a place among the heroes of Wisconsin sports history.

He can't do either of those things from the dugout.

Quick hits: Pewaukee football player Alex Birch reportedly will apologize to New Berlin Eisenhower coach Clint Grochowski. The two were linked in the news when Grochowski pushed Birch to the ground on the sideline. The shove came after Birch's helmet, either intentionally or unintentionally, hit Grochowski in the head. Grochowski was suspended for two games, a penalty that probably was stiffened when Birch's father pursued criminal charges (which were subsequently dropped). You just wish the sides had apologized on the field immediately after the incident... Will Charlie Bell be happy with the Bucks this season? To quote Terrell Owens' publicist, he has 18.5 million reasons to be happy... Look for the Badgers' game against Iowa to be close in the fourth quarter. It could come down to a field goal.

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.