By Drew Olson Special to Published Oct 14, 2006 at 5:45 AM
Points to ponder during a Packers-free weekend:

Sour note: Hazing and sexual harassment should not be tolerated in any environment, but here is hoping that folks don’t come down too hard on the University of Wisconsin marching band in the light of news reports this week.

In an episode that evoked images of "Animal House" and prompted several news outlets to use still images from "American Pie" alongside its news stories, the band was placed on probation (not double-secret probation) by Chancellor John Wiley as punishment for a reported series of lewd acts and other misconduct during a recent bus trip to Michigan.

Among other things, band members are said to have shaved one student’s head, forced others to dance seminude and required female members to kiss each other in order to gain entrance into a bus bathroom.

"From reports we have received, it has become increasingly clear that certain types of sexualized and hazing behavior are an ingrained part of the band's culture,'' Wiley said in a statement. "We will not provide an ongoing venue for this inappropriate and demeaning behavior.''

That’s an understandable position for an administrator to take. The band, like the football team, represents the university and must be accountable for its bad behavior. But, anyone who condemns the band members without pointing out the long list of recent transgressions by some of the university’s football players opens themselves up to criticism.

On the flip side, ask yourself this: how would the coverage / penalties been received had these hazing rituals and lewd acts involved members of the football team? How big would the media frenzy be if a band member got in a fight at a block party, was caught speeding with marijuana in the car or was found to have "borrowed" a fellow student’s moped without permission?

It's hard to think of this episode without being reminded of Otter’s classic speech from "Animal House."

"You can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg - isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!"

Go East, young men: Milwaukee left-hander Chris Capuano and shortstop Bill Hall were chosen to represent the Brewers and Major League Baseball on a trip to Japan next month for the "All-Star Series 2006," a best-of-five competition that pits 24 major-leaguers against Japanese stars.

MLB couldn’t have found two better representatives.

Capuano, who struggled a bit after making the all-star team this summer, spent part of his season trying to learn Japanese from teammate Tomo Ohka. He will not be the kind of guy who sits in his room and plays video games overseas. He’s taking his father along for the trip and he’ll be out experiencing the culture and serving as an ambassador for his sport and his franchise. Ditto for Hall, who experienced a breakthrough season at the plate (35 homers, 85 RBI) and has been active with a number of charities since he arrived in Milwaukee.

Capuano will likely start the games and throw about 75 pitches per outing. Hall is listed as an infielder / outfielder on the MLB roster, and that versatility could come into play next spring as the Brewers decide where to play him..

Both Capuano and Hall are eligible for salary arbitration this winter and will soon be able to afford plenty of trips to exotic lands. They’re getting paid for this trip, and they deserve it. It’s a nice reward for two young players who have shown themselves to be solid citizens. Former Brewers first baseman Lyle Overbay also will take part.

"I've heard that it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Japan this way, and it's a real honor," Capuano told after the selection. "I didn't see any downside to it. It's a second chance to finish on a high note and take something positive into the offseason."

Bargain hunting: Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, who has had success dumpster-diving for players in the past (Scott Podsednik, Doug Davis, Dan Kolb, Derrick Turnbow), was talking several weeks ago about the team’s lack of a "breakthrough" player this season.

Maybe J.D. Closser can fill the bill.

The Brewers claimed the catcher off waivers from Colorado on Friday and expect the switch-hitter to compete for a job during spring training.

Mr. Admiral: The Admirals honored former player, coach and general manager Phil Wittliff on Friday night. Wittliff retired this summer after 34 years with the organization. Nobody has done more for a franchise or hockey in Milwaukee than Wittliff. The Admirals already retired his jersey No. 9 and the rink is named after Jane Pettit. There has to be something else the Admirals can do to pay tribute. If you think of anything, feel free to use the Talkback feature at the end of this story to make your suggestion.

Sneak preview: The Bucks hit the court for an exhibition game tonight against Dallas. Other than seeing how the new uniforms look in action, it’ll be interesting to see how newcomer Charlie Villaneuva fits into the mix. The injury to Andrew Bogut will hurt the Bucks out of the gate this season. And, it could be tough for a bit when Bogut returns (remember how Joe Smith’s return from injury threw the rotations out of whack last year?). On balance, though, the Bucks seem to have a good chance to make the playoffs and possibly win a series. Nobody seemed certain of that at this point last year.

Local angle: The tragic death of Yankees pitcher Corey Lidle was a huge story this week, with virtually every angle covered. Even so, not many people realize Lidle spent time in the Brewers’ system. The Brewers got him off in 1993 and traded him to New York for Kelly Stinnett during the winter meetings in 1996. Lidle, who wasn’t regarded as a major prospect, pitched one inning in a "replacement" spring game in 1995 and was held out of the MLB licensing agreement afterward.

Current Brewers catcher Damian Miller is one of only a handful of replacement players still active in the pro ranks. The Brewers have employed a handful, including Joel Adamson, Angel Echevarria, Keith Osik, Bronswell Patrick, Joel Slusarski and Brian Tollberg (minor leagues only) and Chuck Smith (released in training camp).

Others include Brian Daubach, Brendan Donnelly, Matt Herges, Frank Menechino, Lou Merloni, Kevin Millar and Chris Truby.

Poll position: NBC15 in Madison had an interesting online poll the other day. They asked "Who is the greatest UW hockey goalie of all-time?"
The choices (Julian Barretta, Kirk Daubenspeck, Duane Derksen, Brian Elliott and Graham Melanson) were as interesting as some of the omissions (Mike Richter, Curtis Joseph, Jim Carey).

The best choice, though, was the last:  "All of the above because of Bill Howard."

Howard, the longtime goalie coach, is one of the underappreciated sports figures in the state.

Eagles nest: Who is the top returning scorer in the Big East? Give yourself a hand if you said Marquette sophomore Dominic James (15 points last season). James and fellow sophs Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews will be asked to carry a heavy load this year now that Steve Novak has headed to the NBA.

Novak was the best "safety net" in college basketball last season. Every time the Golden Eagles’ offense melted down during a possession, they’d find a way to get him a ball and watch him drain a three-pointer. That’s going to be hard to replace, but coach Tom Crean’s squad will try to turn up the tempo. At media day this week, Crean talked about improving the team’s points scored per game without sacrificing defense.

Coming Monday: Look for another excerpt of Tom Kertscher’s book "Brett Favre: A Packer Fan’s Tribute," to appear in the sports section on Monday. Kertscher will sign copies of the book from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. today at Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop in Brookfield.
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.