MADISON – This is where I started my weekend sports journey, in our state’s capitol, trying to navigate around the downtown area to Camp Randall Stadium for the Badgers vs. Indiana game, Oct. 15. The weekend included another trip to Lambeau Field to check out the Green Bay Packers and St. Louis Rams the next day. Since that game was a noon start, I had time to make it to Miller Park for Game 6 of the NLCS. That game had a 7:05 start time. Either the Crew would force a Game 7 or bow out to the other St. Louis team, the Cardinals.
Russell Wilson’s rapid rise as the Wisconsin quarterback is well-known. I don’t think the Badgers ever had a quarterback that was a passing and running threat. This guy is here only for one season because that’s all he has left. It was a great move on coach Bret Bielema’s behalf to get him to Madison. Wilson played QB for three years at North Carolina State.
What fascinated me was that Wilson caught a halfback option pass from running back Monte Ball for a touchdown. They fooled the Hoosiers on that play because he was all alone at their 10. Then he jogged to the end zone. Nobody covered him. Wilson is the real deal, so NFL teams should give him a shot. It doesn’t matter that he’s 5-foot-11. Doug Flutie was shorter than that, and he played in the NFL.
The Badgers rolled to a 38-7 halftime lead. It was 52-7 after three quarters. Before the fourth quarter began, they played House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” which is a staple in arenas and stadiums around the country. The press box shook like it was an earthquake because every one of the 80,732 fans jumped up and down. So we felt this vibration from the fans below and there was nothing we could do about it.
Wisconsin scored seven more points and won, 59-7. They’re now 6-0.
Wilson explained the trick play that caught the Indiana defense off-guard. “We ran (the play in practice) all week,” he said. “We probably was 10-for-10 (in executing the play) during the week. Our offensive line did a great job of giving Monte enough time. We came down with it. We got a big touchdown there. And that was big for us. He came over to the sideline, and I said, ‘Monte, that was rough.’ He goes, ‘Man, now I see how hard it is for you. It’s a lot harder to throw the ball in a game.’ ”
In Green Bay, Oct. 16, it was the second straight week that the fans had to go through electronic screening before entering the gates. Most of them will say that the fans at Lambeau are well-behaved and shouldn’t be subject to an extensive search. Since the NFL had a couple of incidents at two venues with a man bringing a Taser gun in one stadium and using it and fans fighting in a parking lot at another stadium, they didn’t want to take any chances. Sorry, rules are rules.
Aaron Rodgers dismantled the Rams. He threw the ball around to his receivers. Is there any stopping this guy at all? He manages to roll along, even if Brett Favre refuses to give him the proper respect. Favre is an idiot anyway. The Packers won, 24-3. Green Bay is the only undefeated team in the NFL at 6-0 because the Detroit Lions lost to San Francisco.
It was off to Miller Park from Lambeau Field. The Brewers were in a do-or-die situation. They had to win to force Game 7 or their season was over. So, did I get to the park just to see Shaun Marcum give up four runs in the first inning? It was time to get that bum out the game.
Chris Narveson came in the game in the second inning. He gave up a homer to Albert Pujols. Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks and Jonathan Lucroy helped close the deficit to 5-4 in the bottom of the second. And from there, it fell apart for the Brewers.
Did Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke get it in his head to at least walk Pujols and David Freese? No. Pujols and Freese killed the Brewers in this series. The St. Louis lead was 9-4 in the third. The Crew didn’t have time to turn it around. It might be the last time we see Prince Fielder in a Milwaukee uniform unless he has a change of heart. Can you imagine the Cardinals bringing out the T-shirts that said, “NL Champions” and popping champagne in the visitor’s clubhouse and going to the World Series as the wild-card team?
For all the effort that the Brewers put into trying to come back, it wasn’t meant to be. The Cards won, 12-6. Freese was the NLCS MVP. Did Roenicke choose the right pitcher for Game 6? “It was the right decision (to start Marcum),” he said. “I’m not second-guessing anything. It was the right decision.”
Fielder, if it’s indeed his last year here, reflected on his time as a Brewer. “I had a couple of clear the throat moments, but it was all right,” he said. “I love these guys. I have been playing with most of them since I was 18. This organization has been great to me. It’s been good.”
There will be some new faces on the ballclub next year. Whatever thoughts that general manager Doug Melvin may have in putting together another team that he expects to contend for the playoffs has already evaporated. The playoff run was fun while it lasted.
Some people aren’t interested in watching a Texas-St Louis World Series. Don’t be surprised if the TV ratings are low.
I drove about 150 miles round trip (to Madison and back) one day and 250 miles round trip (to Green Bay and back) the next day to just to see if the three teams in the Wisconsin Sports Trifecta could keep up their ends of the deals. Sadly, one team couldn’t.