WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Final preseason game for Packers tonight
GREEN BAY - Ted Thompson makes the final calls, but Green Bay Packers' coach Mike McCarthy will also have a big say on who makes the regular season roster.
Players on the bubble will have one final chance to impress the top brass tonight, when the Packers host Kansas City in their final exhibition game. At least some jobs are on the line, as the Packers must cut their 75-player roster down to 53 by 5 p.m. Saturday. Not all NFL general managers have strong relationships with their head coaches -- but by all accounts, Packers' GM Thompson and McCarthy work very well together. Thompson said he spoke with McCarthy yesterday morning, and affirmed that they must do what's in the best interest of both the Packers and the players. The GM said he and McCarthy are as objective as possible about their evaluations -- and they don't get into who a particular coach or scout likes. The Packers open their regular season a week from tonight at Seattle.
Milwaukee Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke is normally calm-and-collected with reporters. But he lashed out at plate umpire Mark Ripperger, right after the Brewers lost at San Diego last night 3-2 in ten innings. Roenicke said the umpire was calling strikes off the plate all night, and he called two balls in the same location in the ninth inning just before Padres' catcher Rene Rivera tied the game with a homer. When that happened, Roenicke gave Ripperger a piece of his mind, and was ejected for it. Afterward, he told reporters, "He is terrible behind home plate. He calls pitches that aren't even close. The catcher sets up six inches off the plate and he calls them strikes." The 34-year-old Ripperger was called up from Triple-"A" this season, and he's not a full-time Major League umpire. Brewers-Dot-Com said crew chief Ted Barrett chose to respond to Roenicke's comments in part of Ripperger's inexperience. Barrett said he understands that tempers get heated in "pennant-race baseball," and the Major League's Zone Evaluation System would provide a full report on Ripperger's performance by early next week. From there, he said the crew would learn from it, and work on getting calls right. The Brewers remain a game-and-a-half ahead of second-place Saint Louis in the National League Central. The Crew is off today, and will play at San Francisco tomorrow night.
CBS Sports says the Milwaukee Brewers tried but failed to acquire Colorado first baseman Justin Morneau this month. The Brewers reportedly put in a claim for the former All-Star, after the Rockies put him on waivers. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports said the Brewers offered what he called "unknown players" to get Morneau -- but the Rockies did not believe it was enough, and they pulled Morneau off waivers and kept him. The Brewers have been using veterans Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay at first base this season -- and although both have had their moments, Milwaukee still has the Majors' fourth-lowest on-base plus slugging-percentage at that position, at .670. The waiver process is supposed to be confidential, and Brewers GM Doug Melvin did not comment on the report about seeking Morneau. Melvin notes that the Brewers can only take advantage of a small number of waiver claims anyway. That's because they're awarded to teams with the lowest records first, and all teams in the player's own league must refuse to make a waiver claim before a team in the other league can make a claim. The Brewers are off today, and will play at San Francisco tomorrow night.
The University of Wisconsin football team had one final practice in Madison today, before taking off for Houston where they'll play LSU on Saturday night. The Badgers were ranked 14th in the pre-season AP poll, and the Tigers were ranked 13th - so it will be one of the stronger games on the weekend college football schedule.
In the Midwest League, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have a two-game lead for the final Western Division playoff spot with four games left. The Rattlers are scheduled to host Burlington again tonight, after the Bees took a 1-0 game last night. Sean Newcomb, this year's first-round draft choice for the Angels of Anaheim, struck out ten Timber Rattlers in four innings while giving up just two singles. Seventeen Wisconsin players struck out in all. Wisconsin is now 34-31 for the second half, two games up on Peoria and Quad Cities for the final post-season slot in the West. The last-place Beloit Snappers are playing out the string. They're at Peoria tonight, where the Snappers lost 4-2 last evening.
Madison golfer Jerry Kelly is getting ready for his second PGA playoff tournament, the Deutsche Bank Championship tomorrow through Labor Day near Boston. Kelly has a tee time just before the noon hour with Will MacKenzie and Kevin Chappell. Kelly is 60th in the Fed-Ex Cup season point standings. He needs to remain in the Top-70 after this weekend in order to advance to the third Fed-Ex Cup tournament at Chicago. The Top-30 after that square off at the playoff finale next week, the Tour Championship. On the senior Champions Tour, Rhinelander native Dan Forsman will play at the Shaw Charity Classic in Canada. The 54-hole tournament runs from tomorrow through Sunday in Calgary, Alberta.