Afternoon State Sports Briefs: Nebraska officially joins Big TenWisconsin Sports
-- The University of Nebraska officially became a member of the Big Ten Conference today.
LINCOLN - The University of Nebraska officially became a member of the Big Ten Conference today.
The Cornhuskers are the 12th team in the league, and the first new addition since Penn State joined in 1990. Nebraska will have its first athletic competition on August 19th, when the women’s soccer team hosts North Carolina in a non-conference tilt. Wisconsin will host Nebraska’s first-ever Big Ten league game on October 1st in Madison.
For the first time, the National and American leagues will use captains to pick their fellow contestants for the All-Star Home Run Derby. And Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder has been named the National League captain for the annual slug-fest on July 11th in Phoenix. David Ortiz of Boston is the American League captain. And each will pick three teammates to round out their respective league’s roster. Major League Baseball came up with the new system for selecting players – and they chose the last two sluggers to win the Derby. Fielder won it in 2009, and Ortiz won the event last season.
The Madison Mallards go into the holiday weekend in sole possession of first place in the South Division of the Northwoods League. The Mallards helped break a three-way tie atop the division last night, with a 3-2 victory over co-leader Green Bay. Eau Claire, the third leader, lost at Battle Creek 4-1. Both those series continue tonight. Madison now has a one-game edge over Eau Claire, Green Bay, and Battle Creek. The La Crosse Loggers play at Wisconsin Rapids again tonight, on the heels of a 10-2 Loggers’ romp. The Wisconsin Woodchucks are again at Waterloo, where the ‘Chucks were crushed 12-4 last evening. Mankato still has a one-game lead in the North Division over Brainerd. Mankato plays at Thunder Bay this afternoon. Everything else is under the lights. Rochester plays at Brainerd. Duluth hosts Alexandria. And Willmar is at Saint Cloud.
In the Midwest League, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will go for their second straight victory at Cedar Rapids tonight. The Rattlers edged the Kernels 3-to-2 last evening. The Beloit Snappers will try to even their series at Kane County, on the heels of a 4-3 loss. Beloit goes into the weekend at 5-and-2 for the second half, one game behind Kane County in second place in the Western Division. Wisconsin is 3-and-4. Also tonight, Clinton plays at Quad Cities. Peoria is at Burlington. Dayton hosts Bowling Green. Lansing is at Great Lakes. Lake County is at home against South Bend. And Fort Wayne will finish a suspended game at West Michigan before playing their scheduled contest.
Don’t expect the Super Bowl champion Packers to hit the practice field before training camp – even if the NFL owners’ lockout ends in the next week-or-two. The Green Bay Press-Gazette says coach Mike McCarthy will not hold any pre-camp practices if the league allows it. Instead, it appears he’ll have class-time to make sure the players know the play-book – and to make their bodies are ready with time in the weight-room. If the lockout can end soon enough, training camp in Green Bay will begin on June 30th. That, of course, hinges on the approval of a new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and its players. In a conference call for a celebrity golf tournament, Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers said as little as he could about how he and his team might be preparing. Unlike other teams, Rodgers said the Packers have not gotten together as a full group since the Super Bowl – except for the night last month when they received their championship rings. Despite that, Rodgers says he’s been working to get himself in shape – and he insists he’ll be ready to throw when the team does get together. Rodgers will golf in the American Celebrity Championship July 15-through-17th at Lake Tahoe.
The Milwaukee Bucks are not forgetting their season-ticket holders during the NBA owners’ lockout which began late last night. The Bucks have announced what they call an “MVP Loyalty Option.” Fans who’ve paid for next season’s 41 home games can earn interest on those payments at a five-percent annual interest rate from October first until the games start being played. Fans can use the interest toward their ticket balance, next spring’s playoffs, or seats for the following season. Under a second option, the Bucks say season ticket holders can get refunds for any games that are missed, plus a one-percent annual interest rate on their paid funds. Refunds would be issued monthly under that plan. The last time the NBA had a lockout, they didn’t settle things until February of 1999 – and they settled for a 50-game season.
Two Wisconsin rowers have earned spots on Team USA for the World Under-23 Championships starting July 21st in Amsterdam. Christopher Stiles and Samuel Hoidal qualified by winning a men’s pair competition at the U.S. Under-23 championships this week in West Windsor New Jersey.