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Outside and Inside, Our Cups Runneth Over

Sep. 15, 2010
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A gorgeous Sunday offered the next-to-last chance to enjoy daytime baseball at Miller Park this year. But a couple of hours later, a rather significant NFL game would beckon from TV screens. It was a time to declare priorities, and the Observers didn't hesitate when they conferred by phone.

Sunday, 10 a.m.

Frank: I'll swing by a little before noon and we'll catch the good ol’ 90 bus to the ballyard.

Artie: Huh? You gotta be nuts! The game starts at 3:15.

Frank: Nah, 1:10 as usual.

Artie: You don't get it. The game, the only one that matters today. They kick off at 3:15.

Frank: I get the feeling you don't mean the Brewers.

Artie: Brewers? I don't need to watch no stinkin' Brewers, except when the noon football games are in commercial. Which, I agree, provides ample opportunity—but only until the Packers start their season in Philly.

Frank: But you can tape the first half—my DVR is all set—and the Brewers should be done in time to get you home for the second half. With luck and a nimble finger on the remote, you can see all the first-half action in about five minutes.

Artie: You really don't get it. This is the Packers, and starting a Super Bowl season! I've got my pre-game ritual—tape the ankles, make sure the cup is adjusted...

Frank: Um, you use a cup?

Artie: Sure. The bourbon goes from bottle to cup to me. And that cup's got to be right where I need it.

Frank: And you're not kidding about the ankles?

Artie: If I leap up to do a touchdown dance, I don't want to turn an ankle. Then what use would I be to the team?

Frank: I'm pretty sure you're with Al Harris on the PUP list—physically unable to perform. And only Harris will be back soon.

Artie: I've been proudly PUP for about four decades. In fact, I told the Packers they better transfer me to "PUP emeritus" status.

Frank: But come on, no Miller Park on this terrific day? You could see six innings and take a cab home for the kickoff. This is baseball, man!

Artie: But not good baseball. I should invest the cost of a cab ride while reminding myself that the Brew Crew fell way short of expectations?

Frank: But with Yovani Gallardo pitching, there's a good chance you can see them humiliate the Cubs.

Artie: The Cubs humiliate themselves just walking on the field. Besides, if I stay home maybe I'll see the Bears humiliated by the Lions. Jeez, think about what Flatlanders put themselves through. If my choice today was the Cubs or Bears, I think I'd fill my cup with hemlock.

Frank: Bottom line, baseball and I are on our own.

Artie: Now you get it. Unless the Brewers make up a dozen games on Cincinnati in the next hour, I'm anchored to the couch.

Frank: We'll swap reports later.

Sunday, 7 p.m.

Artie: Hello, and if this is about some candidate in the primary being a total jerk, you know what you can do with your... Oh, it's you!

Frank: Just like I said, you could have had a nice time at the ballpark and still seen most of the Packers' game live. And you would have gotten another cup for your bourbon, a Potawatomi casino giveaway. The time of game at Miller Park: A crisp 2 hours, 32 minutes.

Artie: Based on the previous two games, the Brewers must have gotten shut out for the third straight time, ain’a?

Frank: You don't know?

Artie: I was so invested in wanting the Bears to lose that I completely blanked on baseball.

Frank: Seems like you should have been rewarded, but the Lions got jobbed by some rule about the "process" of catching a pass that denied a winning TD.

Artie: Just ridiculous. Calvin Johnson caught that pass! I thought the rule was that when you're in the end zone with control of the ball—play over, touchdown.

Frank: But the league and even the Detroit coach said the ruling was right. Apparently a catch isn't just a catch; it's a journey.

Artie: This was just like when the Bears went 13-3 a few years back. They always won on lucky breaks. But what happened with the Brew Crew?

Frank: This time it was the Cubs who couldn't score. The Brewers managed six hits—their total from the previous two games—and two runs.

Artie: Some barrage.

Frank: Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel has called the Brewers "Team Extreme," and it sure applies on offense. They're among the league leaders in many categories, but they've been shut out 13 times—tied for second-most in the league—and been one-runned 12 times.

Artie: And those games seem to come in bunches.

Frank: Shut out three times in four games in San Diego, two runs in a three-game sweep by Houston, and now this. But they've also scored 17 runs twice, as well as 18 and 20.

Artie: When your team ERA is close to 5, the offense better be more consistent.

Frank: Anyway, when the Packers started, the Brewers were in the eighth inning. I got home halfway through the second quarter, and I apparently didn't miss much because it was 3-3.

Artie: The way it started I thought, "Here we go again." Aaron Rodgers was sacked three times in the first quarter. The first half was definitely a struggle, but there were good signs. Tramon Williams filling in for Harris at cornerback—this will go fine. And the team drawing all the penalties was not the Pack!

Frank: You mean Mike McCarthy really did get that fixed?

Artie: Now he's got to fix Ryan Grant's ankle. But they scored 10 points to close the half—Mason Crosby with a team-record 56-yard field goal!—and took control.

Frank: They also answered your worries about kick-returning—or Jordy Nelson did—with three long ones.

Artie: That 51-yarder put them in prime position after the Eagles got as close as 20-10.

Frank: When the TD pass fell into Greg Jennings' hands to restore a 17-point lead, I decided the fourth quarter would be academic. So I went outside again for a little pleasure reading and some sipping from my Potawatomi cup.

Artie: Bourbon?

Frank: A distant cousin, let's say.

Artie: Meanwhile, I was doing the heavy lifting inside, literally. I decided I could fill my bucket and mop the kitchen floor with the game in the background.

Frank: Then I come back upstairs and find that they had to stop Philly on fourth down to seal a 27-20 win. What happened?

Artie: With Kevin Kolb getting concussed and Michael Vick taking over, it messed up the defensive game-planning.

Frank: Everybody knows Vick is a threat as a runner.

Artie: I had faith that he still wasn't much of a thrower, but this time he was. But it was a really good sign that the Pack was able to withstand that. Clay Matthews, what a game he had! A couple of sacks, lots of tackles... I wouldn't be surprised if he follows Charles Woodson as NFL defensive player of the year.

Frank: And with that long hair, he should get a shampoo commercial like that Polamalu guy in Pittsburgh. So in terms of optimism, your cup is half full?

Artie: A road win against a good team? It's overflowing! In fact, I'm kicking myself that I didn't predict they'd go 16-0! And how ’bout the Vikings’ loss to the Saints? Hey, Brett Favre may be 40 going on 41, but he played like 60. And…

Frank: Take it easy. Remember, it's a long…

Artie: I'd like to talk more, but I've got plans. The Pack won in Philly for the first time since 1962. It's a sign that I've got to get to Potawatomi, where I haven't won since… ever. Clearly, this is my time!

Frank: Maybe they have a cup left over from the ballpark to hold your quarters.

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