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WISCONSIN SPORTS BRIEFS: Wisconsinites more forgiving of Braun than rest of nation

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ESPN’s “Sports Nation” poll shows that Wisconsinites are the only ones giving Ryan Braun any benefit of the doubt in his written admission that he took banned substances.

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Seventy-three thousand U.S. sports fans have weighed in on Braun’s statement, and their general opinions of it. Fifty-nine percent said the carefully-worded apology was quote, “not good at all.” Thirty-one percent said it was a good start, but not enough, and 10-percent said what Braun did was good enough for them. In Wisconsin, 44-percent of respondents called it a good start – but every other state had the prevailing view that Braun’s written comments were not good at all. At Milwaukee downtown diners this morning, a prevailing number of Brewer fans told  a reported for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel they would like to hear Braun talk about what he did, so they can see his judge his facial emotions. One man called Braun’s statement a “lawyer-authored” response that didn’t cut it. 

The Brewers were on a plane to Cincinnati last night when the front office released Ryan Braun’s statement which admitted that he took banned substances. When they landed, the players didn’t have much to say. Manager Ron Roenicke said he wanted to digest Braun’s lengthy written statement before responding later today. Some of the players said the same. Last night was reportedly the first time they heard Braun admit using performance-enhancing drugs, even after he addressed the team a month ago when he was first suspended. The players were virtually left tongue-tied when they were hit with media inquiries the night of the suspension. Last night, the only Brewers’ response came from general manager Doug Melvin. He said Braun’s actions are most important from here on out – and he’ll be under heavy scrutiny next season to maintain his high level of production and prove that he doesn’t need PED’s to produce. Melvin said Braun would have to stay healthy and perform at a high level – and if he doesn’t, he won’t be accepted back. The GM said some people will accept Braun’s statement, and some never will – and he’ll have to prove his value as a teammate, and in the community. Braun remains under contract to Milwaukee through 2020, and will be paid at least another $117-million. 

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It seems like the last thing the Milwaukee Brewers need right now is to play a game in Cincinnati. The Brewers are 1-5 at Great American Ball Park this year – and besides preparing for a game against Reds tonight, they’re also working on their responses to suspended teammate Ryan Braun’s new PED admission. Only general manager Doug Melvin offered a reaction when the Brewers released Braun’s prepared statement last night. Even with Braun around, Milwaukee traditionally struggles in Cincinnati, winning just eight of their last 33 contests there. This year’s Brewers are in fourth place in the National League Central, 17-and-a-half games behind the third-place Reds and one game ahead of the last-place Chicago Cubs.

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Yovani Gallardo may be struggling this year, but the Brewers’ right-hander has pitched very well against Cincinnati. Gallardo has a streak of 12-and-a-third scoreless innings going into his start tonight against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. He has an ERA of 2.49 in his last eight starts against Cincy. And he gave up just three hits in six-and-a-third scoreless innings last Saturday in a win over the Reds at Miller Park. That was Gallardo’s first start since July 30th, when he went on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. He says he’s making a fresh start, after a 9-9 season with a career-high ERA of four-point-six-eight. The Reds will send right-hander Homer Bailey to the mound tonight. He had a solid outing against Milwaukee last time out, giving up a run on three hits in eight innings of a 9-to-1 victory last Sunday. Bailey struck out eight Brewers in that game, and walked one. Still, he’s only 2-7 lifetime against Milwaukee. He’s 8-10 on the year with a 3.68 ERA. 

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Teams in the Class-“A” Midwest League are about to start the second-to-last weekend of their regular season. The two Wisconsin teams are both coming off victories from last night. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers play at Clinton again tonight, on the heels of an 8-to-5 victory. The Beloit Snappers will try to win at Kane County again, as they come off a 4-nothing shutout. Also tonight, Cedar Rapids plays at Quad Cities. Burlington is at Peoria. West Michigan plays at Bowling Green. Lake County hosts Dayton. Lansing is at Great Lakes. And Fort Wayne entertains South Bend. Cedar Rapids enters the weekend with a five-and-a-half game lead in the second half over Quad Cities with Beloit 12 back, and Wisconsin 14 back. Bowling Green still leads the East by two-and-a-half games over Great Lakes. 

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The Green Bay defense expects to get some practice tonight at keeping quarterback scrambles under control. The Packers will host Seattle and their read-option quarterback Russell Wilson. The Seahawks are expected to play it safe, and not let Wilson risk a major pre-season injury by using too much of his read-option playbook. But the Packer defense can still expect Wilson to scramble at times. Stopping the quarterback run has been a major concern for Green Bay in the off-season, after San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick burned the Pack for 181 yards in last January’s playoffs. Both teams are expected to play their starters into the second half, so they can build up some endurance for the regular season that begins in 16 days. Green Bay is 1-1 during the exhibition season, while Seattle is at 2-0.

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The Packers will host Seattle tonight, at the same time that 352 Wisconsin high schools play their first football games of the season. Packers’ president Mark Murphy said he had no choice, because CBS chose the game for its first weekend of national exhibition telecasts. The Packers can set their own starting times for home exhibition games which are not shown nationally – and in 2002 and ’05, they went up against high school contests before former team president Bob Harlan did something about it in ’06. He moved a Friday night game against Tennessee to three that afternoon – and while over 69,000 still showed up, current president Mark Murphy said he saw problems with that start time. Murphy said it’s not ideal for the state TV stations to show the game at that time – and he worries about fans being able to arrive on time. Two years ago, he got heat for scheduling a pre-season game with Arizona on the opening night of high school football. He does not say if he would have moved tonight’s Seattle game had a national network not decided to show it. 

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If you’re heading to Green Bay for the Packers preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks tonight, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has a couple advisories to keep in mind. Construction on Highways 41 and 29 will slow traffic down a bit. WisDOT reminds drivers that the Highway 41 southbound Mason Street exit is closed. With detours in place, traffic is expected to be very slow. A spokesman for the department recommends taking extra time getting to the game by following all construction and traffic signs.  

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Jerry Kelly of Madison dropped to a tie for 76th today at the first-of-four PGA playoff tournaments. After two weather delays yesterday, Kelly shot an even-par 71 in his first round at the Barclays tournament in Jersey City, New Jersey. Kelly fired a one-over-72 in his second round, putting him at one-over-143 at the halfway point. That put him in 77th place early in the afternoon, one stroke below the projected cut-line to stay around for the weekend. Pewaukee native Mark Wilson was tied for 99th. He completed his first round at seven-over 78, and then bounced back in shooting four-under after 11 holes of his second round. He was at plus-three early this afternoon. 

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Four Wisconsin drivers are entered for tomorrow night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Matt Kenseth of Cambridge is sixth in the season point standings going into the Irwin Tools Night Race in Bristol, Tennessee. Paul Menard of Eau Claire is also entered for the 500-mile event, along with Travis Kvapil of Janesville and Beloit-born Danica Patrick. Qualifying was scheduled for late this afternoon. The Nationwide Series competes tonight at Bristol in the Food City-250. No Wisconsin drivers are entered. In the Camping World Truck Series, Johnny Sauter of Necedah moved up one place to ninth in the point standings. That’s after he took fourth on Wednesday night in the UNOH-250 at Bristol. Kyle Busch won the race, and Matt Crafton remains the truck series’ leader. 

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The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team is 1-1 on its exhibition tour of Canada, after winning at Ottawa University last night 101-92. Sam Dekker scored 20 points, hitting 9-of-11 shots from the floor. He also had eight rebounds, seven assists, two blocked shots, and one steal. Ben Brust scored 18, as the Badgers made 15-of-26 from three-point range. Bo Ryan’s team has three more games on its Canadian trip. Their next contest is tomorrow night in Toronto against the “A”-Game Hoops’ men’s select team. 

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Edgewood College in Madison is the pre-season favorite to win its sixth straight women’s tennis title in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference. Edgewood received 22-of-24 first-place votes in a pre-season poll from the league’s coaches and sports information directors. Edgewood went 11-0 in NACC play last season. Concordia-Mequon is picked to finish second. Conference tournament champion Wisconsin Lutheran is projected to take third, followed by Dominican and Marian.

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Amy Edmonds has been named the interim athletic director at UW-Whitewater. She’ll fill in as the school looks for a permanent AD to replace Paul Plinske. Plinske was recently named the new athletic director at Nebraska-Kearney. Edmonds has been at Whitewater since 2004. She was most recently an associate AD for compliance and student services.  

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 For the seventh time in nine years, the Milwaukee Admirals will open their American Hockey League season on the road this fall. The AHL released its schedule yesterday, and the Admirals will play their first two games at Abbotsford, British Columbia in western Canada on October 11th and 12th. Team president Jon Greenberg says starting on the road does not make much difference for an Admirals’ team that has made the playoffs in each of the last 11 years. Milwaukee’s home opener is set for October 18th against Grand Rapids. Two of the Admirals’ opponents have moved to new cities. The Houston Aeros have moved to Iowa, and the Peoria Rivermen are now in Utica, New York.

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SCOREBOARD 

In Major League Baseball… 

Washington 5, Chicago Cubs 4 in 13 innings

Chicago White Sox 4, Kansas City 3 in 12 innings

Minnesota 7, Detroit 6

In the Midwest League…

Wisconsin 8, Clinton 5

Beloit 4, Kane County 0

Burlington 5, Peoria 3 in 13 innings

Quad Cities 7, Cedar Rapids 1

Bowling Green 4, West Michigan 3

Great Lakes 2, Lansing 0

Fort Wayne 5, South Bend 2

Dayton 5, Lake County 3 

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Sean Scallon
Sean Scallon has been a reporter and Sports Editor at the Pierce County Herald newspaper in Ellsworth since 1998. He holds a bachelors degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He's also worked at newspapers in Glenwood City, Wisconsin; Marion, Illinois and Shawano, Wisconsin. Sean also works as a sports reporter for other newspapers and websites in RiverTown Multimedia from River Falls to Hudson to New Richmond and Red Wing.
(715) 273-4334
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