Brewers kick off season and rising stars get a taste of the big leagues

Written by admin   // April 7, 2011   // 0 Comments

by Troy Sparks

There is a big, brand new scoreboard, new carpet in the press dining room, a new sound system, a new manager and a bigger payroll; whoop-de-doo.

I want to know if the off-season improvements help the Milwaukee Brewers make the playoffs.

The Miller Park scoreboard really looks like a hi-def, state of the art screen. It will never top the scoreboard I saw at Cowboys Stadium when I was at the Super Bowl.

Since the Brewers began their 2011 season on the road, I wasn’t able to check them out until they returned home against the Atlanta Braves. Selected minor league players from the club’s farm system played in the Rising Stars game, Apr. 2. A total of 37 players from the blue and white teams showcased their talents in front of 11,312 fans.

It was weird trying to watch that game with only two umpires working it. However, the players who participated in the exhibition game are about four or five years away from getting a real shot at the majors.

If some of the players in the organization tear it up in single-A or double-A, it could be a curse. Around here, the best farm players have been used as trade bait to get expensive major league veterans.

When the hometown club has a payroll of over $88 million, there better be some miracles this year. They don’t need to turn water into wine like Jesus did, but a lot of Brewer fans will be happy if principal owner Mark Attanasio gets a return on his investment for the off-season acquisitions.

Prince Fielder will make $15.5 million this year, which is his final year, and then he will seek greener pastures. Zack Grienke was supposed to be the Opening Day starting pitcher, but he broke some ribs playing basketball during a break in spring training. He should’ve known that a skinny guy like him can’t expect to go down the lane without getting hacked by a bigger guy. It made me wonder if they were playing ball in a gym or outside on concrete. Now his $13.5 million butt is sitting on the disabled list. These two guys with their salaries alone probably made the price of concessions go up.

Do any of the minor league players in the organization have a future in Milwaukee? Right now it’s hard to tell. Each position on the parent club are at least two deep, so I would say that the players I saw at the Rising Stars game got a taste of what it was like playing in a major league park, just in case they never set foot in another big league stadium again.

Are Bucks Packing It In?

Before the Bucks and Philadelphia game, Apr. 2, I looked at the media game notes and something stood out: Six of the 10 Eastern Conference teams, including the 76ers, have asterisks next to their names, meaning they clinched playoff spots. The bottom five teams have an “X” next to their names because they have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The Bucks were in the 10th spot behind Charlotte, who was ninth. Both teams were trying to catch Indiana for the eighth and final spot. New York is in the No. 7 spot. Milwaukee checked in at four games behind the Pacers and had a chance to beat them on the road, Apr. 1, before losing by a point. It might be too little too late.

To be fair to the hometown team, things just didn’t work out the way it was expected. The guys will take their lumps this season and leave it all out on the floor.

The Truth About Big-Time College Athletics

While we watched the Final Four participants on TV, some of us don’t need to guess who benefitted from all that money the NCAA made during the three weeks they ran the tournament. We talk about protecting the kids. But here’s what is wrong with that picture: The kids who are playing on the court in the tourney aren’t cashing in.

I watched “Real Sports” on HBO recently. They talked about the corruption in college athletics. Former Div. 1 football and basketball players admitted they took money from boosters for their accomplishments on the field or on the court.

Somewhere in the National Letter of Intent, the student-athlete must agree to let the school they sign with use their name and image any way they see fit, before receiving a scholarship. They can do nothing about it, even after they leave school.

Ex-UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon said he didn’t know what he was signing at the time. Why did he sue the NCAA and drag the case to court? The former national player of the year saw his image on a college basketball video game he and his friend played and wondered how much money EA Sports made from selling that game and why they didn’t ask for his permission to use his likeness. O’Bannon didn’t make any money off the deal.

O’Bannon is the lone voice for hundreds of former college athletes who are afraid to talk about it in public. If he loses in court, he may be blackballed, and it’s a possibility that he might lose his job as a car salesman in Las Vegas.

Coaches get rich and the institutions profit from the talents of football and basketball players. The argument from the NCAA is that money from those two sports help support the other non-revenue sports (track, volleyball, tennis, gymnastics, etc.), and that’s why the players shouldn’t get paid.

One basketball player said that the student-athletes are not there to graduate, but to take some easy classes to stay eligible and make money for the school they represent.

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