By DREW OLSON
Before we begin today, I'd like to say "Welcome" to everyone visitng for the first time and "Welcome back," to those who have visited this column before.
After a nearly six-month hiatus, the "SportsPage" column is making a comeback to ESPNWisconsin.com. The plan is for the column to appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Like many things in sports, though, that is subject ot change. The format may shift a bit, too, as we experiment with ways to deliver information, analysis and opinions in a quick, concise way that will enhance your day without keeping you away from work, Facebook, Words with Friends and other web-based diversions.
On to the topic du jour...
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is not an idiot.
I know a lot of folks who screamed at the TV on Friday and Saturday night are going to take issue with that sentence, but it's true. Roenicke isn't appreciably dumber than he was a year ago, when he had his team on the cover of Sports Illustrated and churning toward 96 victories, a division title and a berth in the National League Championship Series.
What we're seeing here is what my longtime pal Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel considers one of baseball's universal truths: bad bullpens make smart managers look stupid, popular managers get booed and bubble-dwellers head to the unemployment line (or broadcast booth).
Roenicke is in the crosshairs this weekend because he didn't send rookie Jim Henderson out to protect a lead in the ninth inning Friday. There is no guarantee that Henderson would have preserved the victory, but there is no denying that Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford combined to blow another game.
Fans are so sick of watching last year's dynamic duo turn victory into defeat that they're no longer directing anger toward the slumping pitchers, but at the manager who enabled them.
After doubling down on the "they can't suck forever" strategy, Roenicke compounded his trouble by getting a bit testy with reporters who questioned him about it the following day.
"Give me some options," the Brewers manager told reporters, according to Haudricourt. "You harp on me about this but you don't have any options for me... You tell me who you want in there."
Cue the Greek chorus: Well, how about "ANYBODY BUT THE GUYS WHO HAVE BEEN KILLING YOU FOR MONTHS?"
Rodriguez, whose career could be at an end, appears to be a lost cause. Axford, who set the franchise record last year, still has hope for a turnaround. He also leads the majors with eight blown saves.
Roenicke's defense isn't going to play well in the court of public opinion. "It's a hard thing to do when you don't have two or three guys who are throwing well," he told the scribes. "When you have two or three guys, you can cover the games that you're winning. When you don't have that many guys throwing well, you can't cover all the innings every night. That's impossible.
"Do people feel better about us blowing a game in the seventh inning or do they feel better losing in the ninth? Is there really a difference when you lose the game? To me, it's a loss."
A loss is a loss. But, a loss that looks hauntingly like nearly two dozen others takes on a different tenor. The natives are understandably restless. They are questioning the man in charge and -- soon enough if not already -- they will turn their attention to general manager Doug Melvin and even owner Mark Attanasio.
Nothing in baseball is as ugly or as frustrating as a bad bullpen. In essence, Roenicke is like the guy in the action movie standing over a ticking bomb. There is a black wire and a red wire. In order to have a chance to survive, he has to cut one of the wires. For much of the summer, every move he's made has resulted in a supersonic "BOOM!" followed by equally loud cries that he is an idiot and should be fired.
Opinion, news, notes and nonsense
** I watched "Hard Knocks" last week on HBO and could swear that Miami receiver Chad Johnson said something to a coach or team attendant that he was going to get arrested. Way to call your shot, Chad. Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, one of the true gentlemen in the league, had no choice but to release him.
** It's foolish to consider Rory McIlroy in the same class as Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus or any of the game's iconic champions. But, it's hard not to be impressed by his runaway, eight-stroke victory at the PGA Championship.
** Speaking of Tiger, he's having trouble closing lately. Maybe he should join the Brewers' bullpen.
** The gold medal game in men's basketball certainly was exciting. The emotion of the US players and Coach K seemed genuine. But, I know any of those players would rather win an NBA title than a gold medal. And, I still think it would have been a more interesting story if Spain had won gold.
** Congratulations to D-List producer, "Extra Innings" host and utility infielder Matt Salmon, who today is celebrating his sixth anniversary at 540 ESPN. While we're feeling warm and fuzzy, congratulations to Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan, who filed his final deadline column from the Olympics and is going into semi-retirement (he'll still contribute on occasional Sundays). Ryan is one of the nicest people in a business that fosters bitterness.
SportsPage Videos of the Day
Now that the Olympics are over, perhaps Usain Bolt can focus on making some more commercials. This one, filmed for ESPN's "SportsCenter" a few years back, is a classic.
Bolt authored some of the greatest moments in the Games. But, it will be hard to forget this clunker from diver Stephan Feck.
AROUND THE HORN
News and notes from other sources
After a slow start, left tackle Andrew Datko is making a camp comeback
Tom Mulhern is in the pack at media day as Montee Ball describes his mugging
Adam McCalvy of Brewers.com has the story of Yovani Gallardo's sweep-averting victory in Houston
MVT (Most Valuable Tweets)
Interesting comments from the world of Twitter
Should I write on @TJLang70 s face He's knocked out right now
If I don't grind then I don't shine....if I don't shine then I don't eat...
--@NyceNeek (Dominic James)
Mike Trout hit 23 home runs in 1,117 at-bats over four minor league seasons. He has 21 in 373 major league ABs this year.
George Michael is 49?? How old was he when he was in Wham? 9??
Three Best Old TV Shows of All Time! #Martin! #FreshPrince #FamilyMatters
VIEW FROM THE BASEMENT
What the sports bloggers are writing
Editor's note: We are always looking for interesting blog items about Wisconsin sports teams. If you have a favorite blog or come across an item we should spotlight, e-mail the address to SportsPage headquarters.
Cheesehead TV breaks down the signing of Cedric Benson
Cracked Sidewalks has a take on Marquette's "self reporting" of a violation
Reviewing the Brew looks at a bright spot for the Brewers -- Michael Fiers
BrewHoop looks back at Monta Ellis' best game with the Bucks
PHOTO OF THE DAY
(Hat tip to Deadspin.com)
LOCAL TEAMS ON TAP
PACKERS -- vs. Cleveland, 7 p.m. Thursday
BADGERS -- vs. Northern Iowa, 2:30 p.m. Sept. 1
BUCKS -- at Boston, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2.
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6 p.m -- ESPN Radio
10 p.m. -- Extra Innings
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Broadcasting in Spanish
THIS DATE IN SPORTS HISTORY (AUG. 13)
1906 - Cub's Pitcher Jack Taylor ends a string of completing 202 games (187 complete, 15 relief) by Dodgers in 3rd inning
1908 - Cy Young Day in Boston, he pitches briefly against an All-Star team
1910 - Dodgers & Pirates play to 8-8 tie, both have 38 at bats, 13 hits, 12 assists, 2 errors, 5 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 pass ball & 1 hit by pitch
1917 - Phillies steal 5 bases in an inning against Braves
1920 - 24th US Golf Open: Ted Ray shoots a 295 at Inverness Club in Ohio
1933 - 16th PGA Championship: Gene Sarazen at Blue Mound CC Milwaukee
1933 - Jacques van Egmond becomes world champion amateur cyclist
1948 - Satchel Paige at 42, pitches his 1st major league complete game
1950 - Babe Didrikson-Zaharias wins LPGA World Golf Championship
1954 - 21st NFL Chicago All-Star Game: Detroit 31, All-Stars 6 (93,470)
1961 - Louise Suggs wins LPGA Kansas City Golf Open
1972 - Marilynn Smith wins LPGA Pabst Ladies Golf Classic
1978 - Judy wins LPGA WUI Golf Classic Rankin
1988 - Boston Red Sox win AL record 24 straight home games
1988 - US beats Jamacia 5-1, in 2nd round of 1990 world soccer cup
1989 - 71st PGA Championship: Payne Stewart shoots 276 at Kemper Lakes GC Ill
1993 - Blue Jay Rickey Henderson pays Turner Ward $25,000 for his #24
1995 - 77th PGA Championship: Steve Elkington shoots a 267 at Riviera Calif
1995 - Beth Daniels wins LPGA PING Welch's Golf Championship
1995 -- Mickey Mantle, baseball great (NY Yankees), dies of cancer at 63
1996 - Tom Mees, ESPN sports anchors (NHL), drowns at 46
1997 - Boston Red Sox trade Mike Stanley back to the NY Yankees
1997 - SD Padres trade Rickey Henderson to Anaheim Angels
2007 - Phil Rizzuto, American baseball player and sportscaster dies (b. 1917)
AUG. 13 BIRTHDAYS
1912 - Ben Hogan, Dublin Tx, PGA golfer (US Open 1950, 51, 53)
1917 - Sid Gordon, American baseball player (d. 1975)
1934 - Gary Davidson, US sports league founder (ABA, WHA, WFL)
1935 - Mudcat Grant, American baseball player
1949 - Bobby Clarke, Manitoba, NHL player/coach (Phila Flyer)
1955 - Betsy King, Reading PA, LPGA golfer (1990 US Women's Open)
1958 - David W Feherty, Bangor N Ireland, PGA golfer (1994 New England-2nd)
1958 - Scott Hamilton, Toledo Ohio, figure skater (Oly-gold-1984)
1959 - Tom Niedenfuer, American baseball player
1964 - Jay Buhner, Nassau TX, outfielder (Seattle Mariners, NY Yankees)
1964 - Tom Prince, Kankakee IL, catcher (LA Dodgers)
1965 - Cris Dishman, NFL cornerback (Houston Oilers, Wash Redskins)
1965 - Mark Lemke, Utica NY, infielder (Atlanta Braves)
1966 - Glenn Donald Hamilton, NZ, beach Volleyball player (Olympics-96)
1966 - Shayne Corson, NHL forward (Team Canada Oly-1998, Montreal)
1969 - Alex Fernandez, Miami Beach FL, pitcher (Chic White Sox)
1970 - Elvis Grbac, NFL quarterback (SF 49ers, KC Chiefs)
1974 - Jarrod Washburn, American baseball player
1979 - Corey Patterson, American baseball player
1982 - Shani Davis, American speed skater
1984 - Boone Logan, American baseball player