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Familiar faces. Kind of.
Familiar faces. Kind of.

Who are these guys?

Here I am, in the Miller Park press box, just like Opening Day last year, and every year since the early 2000s (and before that, I sat in the stands as a fan).

Now I’m watching the seats start to fill up, as Robb Edwards announces this very new Brewers team. People are clapping, of course, but of the 44,000 people in attendance, not many know who these guys are.

Consider this: After Ryan Bryan, the longest-tenured player on the Brewers is Wily Peralta. For position players … it’s Hernan Perez.

There are nine players playing their first opening day.

Sitting next to me is my old friend, Mario Ziino, who has worked for the Brewers in several capacities since 1978.

I ask him if this kind of Brewers rebuilding is unprecedented in the team’s history. He says yes.

"It’s phenomenal," he says, shaking his head.

But think about it. The Brewers lost 89 games in 2016, finishing 30.5 behind the Cubs. Then they got rid of Chris Carter, Martin Maldonado and Tyler Thornburg.

Is there anywhere to go but up?

For me, a fan who’s been pretty die-hard since 1994 – one who went to 18 consecutive spring trainings – I took a little break from following the team last year. It was kind of nice, actually. I had an unusual amount of time on my hands during the 162 games I’d otherwise be watching or listening to.

But now, it’s a fresh start. The Brewers had a winning record in the Cactus League (and that matters more than you think). Will they win more games than last year? Mario says he doesn’t know. "It’ll be tough. Everything is going to predicate on the pitching."

But does it matter? This is baseball, and it’s back.

Now … a polite smattering of applause for Eric Thames. It’s almost a little funny. The seats are filled, and it’s pretty quiet.

Hey, winter is over. Baseball will hold our hands for the next six months. Let’s not overthink it, and just enjoy it for what it is.

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What could this possibly mean??
What could this possibly mean??

5 weird things I saw in Vegas

I've been to Las Vegas more times than I can count, and I've seen my share of crazy Vegas stuff (I’m talking about you, Hangover Doctor). But on this winter’s trip, I went in with a new attitude: no work, only play and a let-it-come-to-you attitude I’ve never tried in Sin City.

I guess by making this list, I’m technically doing a little work after this vacation, but it’s fun to think back on the weird Vegas stuff I saw. Obviously, this city is meant for weirdness, and you can find it in hundreds of different ways. Here’s just a little of what I saw:

1. Secret pizza

Don't see the secret pizza? That's because it doesn't have sign. Go here and turn left, then right into that unmarked hallway with the records on it.

Hidden in a hallway by Marquee at the Cosmopolitan, you can find a secret pizza restaurant. Since it has no actual name or sign, look for the long lines at weird hours – it’s open about 18 hours a day. In fact, I ordered some secret pizza a few years ago around 4 a.m. (kinda hazy memory), and this year I wanted to go back. The big pieces are sold by the slice, and even when the line is somewhat short, it takes a pretty long time. Don’t even bother trying to find a seat, because there aren’t any. I guess it’s not much of a secret anymore, but it kind of is, right? It’s definitely weird.

2. Titanic-themed slot machines

I don’t know, it seems a little weird to name a slot machine after a tragedy that claimed the lives of 1,517 people. Technically, the slot machine is referring to the movie, and yes, the sinking took place 100 years ago, but it feels pretty morbid to cheer when you spin up three icebergs. What’s next, a Pearl Harbor Day slot? Too soon?

2. High-end boutiques that stay open really late

(PHOTO: Wynn Las Vegas)

It’s 11 p.m. on a Sunday night, and you’re ambling through the Wynn or Caesar’s Palace after playing some Titanic slots and drinking free mini cocktails. Seems like the perfect time to buy a $16,000 Pa…

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Entertaining and crude, and a little confusing.

Listen to the Packers-Cowboys game called by drunk, NSFW Australians

I don’t entirely know what we’re watching here, but I do know it’s funny and extremely inappropriate.

I guess these mock commentators – named Azzarati and Peter Prostate – started calling games last year. All I know is that they are more entertaining than Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Give this a listen, but probably not at work.

It's not that hard to separate the real from the fake if you slow down and pay attention.
It's not that hard to separate the real from the fake if you slow down and pay attention.

Let's talk about "fake news"

I’m very concerned about the problem of "fake news" and what it means for journalists, politicians and the media-consuming public.

But, really, this isn’t a new concern of mine. For many years, I’ve battled with the concept that the internet is always right.

Increasingly so, it isn’t. Actually, it’s wrong an awful lot.

In 1998, when Jeff Sherman and I launched OnMilwaukee.com, we chose a digital platform not just because we had a crystal ball for the future of media. We also couldn’t afford to print a magazine and city guide; at the time, it was much cheaper to build a website.

Of course, the opposite is now true for us. Our infrastructure, from servers to programmers to designers to bandwidth, is a tremendous expense for our company. At our scale, it would’ve been much cheaper to print OnMilwaukee on newsprint.

However, this was back in the Internet stone age – we built OnMilwaukee from the ground up, before WordPress and other templatized options made it easier to publish something professional-looking. In fact, even as we grow revenue and readership, people still often compare us both to one-person and 1,000-person operations, because the perception is that all online media is basically the same.

That would be like comparing a major daily newspaper to a photocopied neighborhood newsletter. They’re obviously nothing alike.

However, the problem of fake news takes advantage of this perception of homogeneity. At OnMilwaukee, we hire professional journalists and insist on integrity and quality. We don’t always get it right, and while some assume we have a secret politicized agenda, I can tell you honestly that we do the best we can to present well-written, legitimate lifestyle news. We fact check and follow the rules like we learned in journalism school.

Not everybody does.

Some news organizations find themselves too short-staffed to do the great work they used to (see: the Journal Sentinel). Others assume that "first" trumps "best" (see: …

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