Topic one: Shawn Alexander Breaks His Foot, Is the Madden Curse Real?
Nate Smidt: Alright, personally, I don't believe in curses or anything like that, but there is something fishy about it, whether it is injury or poor seasons. This season, it is Shaun Alexander. He only broke his foot and will only be out two weeks. Depending on how the rest of the season goes for him (injury and stats), then he can be judged. If he has a poor season stats-wise though, it may not just be the Madden Curse, but the “Newly-Signed Contract Curse”.
Matt Capristo: Well, I was born a New York Yankees fan so I believe in curses. I still believe in the curse of the Bambino and I believe in the Madden Curse. It is a fact that since they started to put players on the cover of Madden, he has either suffered a serious injury or has had a significant drop in production. Eddie George, in 2001, is the only person to ever avoid the curse.
NS: This is where you're wrong, Mr. Italian Stallion. On the cover of Madden 2000, Dorsey Levens graced the cover for some editions of the game. Also, in Madden 2005, Ray Lewis was on the cover and the only thing that didn’t happen was that he didn’t have an INT that year, yet he still raged on for 147 tackles.
MC: Dorsey Levens was never considered a cover player, however. In the case of Ray Lewis, it was the only time before and since in his career that he never got an interception. In the career of a future Hall-of-Famer, the fact that the only year he does not record an interception is the same year he appears on the cover of Madden – coincidence? I don't think so. I'll agree that compared to say Donovan McNabb who had a horrendous season with a serious leg injury and the T.O. incident, Ray Lewis got off lightly – but he was still affected by the curse.
NS: Didn't record an interception, yet still made it to the Pro Bowl. But what about John Madden? He’s been on 11 covers of Madden. Does he have some sort of immunity? How old is he now, 85? Why hasn't he had a heart attack yet? If anything he's gained popularity from the covers and the game.
MC: People have asked that about Madden long before he started coming out in these video games. The answer is simple: John Madden is an immortal. No matter how many brats he allegedly stuffs every time he visits Green Bay (it's rumored he eats 6 and a half) he will never die. He will outlive Summerall, Michaels and anybody else he works with. Madden will never die.
NS: Chuck Norris-esque. I guess we will have to wait and see Shaun Alexander’s production this year, and then I think the curse can be measured. But with the slow production of ALL running backs in the NFL this year, Shaun Alexander can still top the list of rushing yards this season.
Topic 2: Brewers Chances Next Season
MC: I'm proud to say that I went to well over 30 Brewers games this season. A season that started with such promise, ended last week at a disappointing 75-87. Nine games out of appearing close to anything that would even resemble a post-season. The biggest problems they had this year were serious injuries to key players, poor pitching, an inconsistent offense and a horrendous road record of 27-54, one of the worst in the majors. They have some key free agents they need to sign including the big closer Francisco Cordero, Damian Miller and Tony Graffanino. Graffanino, in the last quarter of the season, was the most productive Brewer hitting almost .300. The Brewers are still a young team and that won't change next season. I guess all we can do is say the same thing we do every season, “Better luck next year”.
NS: The problem is with the MLB. No small market teams can ever compete with the likes of the Yankees, Mets, Sox, both White and Red and the Dodgers. Every year for the past 5 or 6 years, it has always been "Well, the Brewers are young, they'll develop." Then, when it comes to a player’s break-out year, they can’t hold onto them the next off-season because the Yankees snag them off the market with an $80 million deal. Just like the situation with Carlos Lee – the Brewers big hitter – they knew they couldn't hold him in Milwaukee next season so they had to get at least something for him (since the season was a lost cause right at the trade deadline anyways). They are in such a rut. They're like that NBA team stuck at 35-47 every single season. Sitting right at number 12, 13 and 14 on the draft lottery, they can’t win or lose to get a number one college prospect or sign a big free agent to get to the playoffs. Better luck next season? More like better luck next decade.
MC: I agree with you to a point. It's a general rule that small market teams can not compete with bigger market teams like New York and LA. But there are also the exceptions: Oakland isn't considered a big city market. They dump their star players every year like it’s trash day, but year after year you can find them in the hunt for the playoffs. Minnesota, another small market team, is in the playoffs fairly often and won a tough AL Central this season. And in baseball, trades don’t work like in the NBA or in the NFL. You give away the best of your best and fill up the rest of your holes in order to make a playoff run. Carlos Lee was the best of a very good outfield for the Brewers and in return they got two of the free agents I was talking about that need to be resigned (Cordero and Graffanino). The best part about a baseball trade is, for the most part, all players involved are to be free agents that off-season. If the Brewers really wanted to, they could make a run at Carlos Lee in the off-season. The thing that would stop them is money. That is where I agree with you, we won't spend as much money as an LA or a New York.
Topic 3: Spectacular Saturday: worth going to see?
MC: I work at all the Panther Basketball games so I will be there. Even if I wasn't, of course, I would be going to this. I couldn't tell you all the classes I took last year, but I remember vividly every single game played at Klotsche or at the Cell. It is by far the biggest event at UWM, and let’s face it: I’m curious especially about the men's team this year. Seven players who saw a majority of playing time this past season graduated and there are a lot of questions about who is going to be replacing them. Especially, a freshman Ryan Thorton from Illinois. I’ve heard rumors about this kid. He's 6'7", 185 pounds and has a reputation for being a sniper from behind the arc, shooting 44% in high school.
NS: I, as well, am very excited for this event. In high school, my senior year, our team was full of question marks: a lot of new players, only one returner, nobody expected anything from us. Yet, we still pulled out 2nd in the conference – the second toughest in the state. That’s how I see the UWM men's basketball this season: a whole lot of new faces to dominate the Horizon League again. One player I’m excited to watch is Ricky Franklin, a 6'1" guard from Riverside in Milwaukee. I watched him his senior year in high school. He was playing my high school, first game of the season. The game went into double overtime, and even though my high school prevailed, Ricky was out there shaking hands, and smiling after a long, hard fought game through two overtimes. I never saw Ricky take a seat once, the kid has the energy level of the Red Bull man. Watch for him to do some damage this year. Also, brand new 6'9" transfer, Sam Mauldin should do some damage on the inside for us. It may be a quiet 12 points and 10 rebounds, but a very necessary 12 points and 10 rebounds a game he should put up with the rest of the UWM squad being under 6'7".
MC: And with only 3 seniors this year, next year there will be much more experience on the team. They will be back to dominating the Horizon League, and turning heads at the big dance.
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