Editor on Duty: Thom Gerretsen (715) 389-2373
Next to a Super Bowl title, division supremacy is king in the N-F-L. And that could be an issue for the Green Bay Packers if they don't get off to a fast start this season. The newly-released schedule has the Packers playing all three of their N-F-C North Division opponents in a stretch of only 12 days starting in Week-Three. They're at Detroit September 21st, at Chicago on the 28th, and at home against Minnesota on Thursday night October second. The Lions and Vikings have new coaches, which creates even more uncertainty for coach Mike McCarthy as the Packers go for their third straight Norris title. McCarthy says he relishes the challenge. He says division games always carry more importance, no matter when they're played. The Packers won't have to worry about an early bye, unlike a year ago when they played every weekend for four months including the playoffs. This year's bye is on November second, right at the halfway point of the season. McCarthy calls that ideal.
The W-C-H-A will soon have a new commissioner for its women's hockey programs. Aaron Kemp has been named to replace Sara Martin, who's about to retire after serving as the only top official for a league that began in 1999. The 38-year-old Kemp has signed a four-year contract, and will move to Minnesota's Twin Cities where the league offices are about to relocate. They've been headquartered in Madison. Kemp has been at Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania since 2008. He was promoted to the senior associate athletic director's post three years ago. Kemp has also been an executive committee member in two other conferences, and he remains on the N-C-A-A hockey rules committee. The leadership change affects the Wisconsin Badgers, whose women's program remains in the W-C-H-A. The Badger men helped start a new Big Ten hockey circuit this past season.
The Milwaukee Brewers are off today, after improving to 7-and-5 at home with a three-run victory over San Diego last night. The Brewers hope to beef up their Miller Park record this weekend against the Chicago Cubs, who have the National League's second-worst overall mark. The Cubbies are 7-and-13 after they blew a ninth-inning lead yesterday and lost to Arizona in a game that celebrated the 100th birthday of Wrigley Field. Chicago will enter Miller Park with a 2-and-6 road record. The Brewers continue to have the Majors' best overall mark at 16-and-6, thanks in part to a generally solid bullpen that has only imploded once this season. That was last Thursday night, when Pittsburgh scored nine times in the final two innings after Yovani Gallardo left. With the exception of that meltdown, the Brewers have out-scored their opponents 22-to-5 from the eighth inning on. Closer Francisco Rodriguez is 9-for-9 in save chances so far.
In the Midwest League, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will go for a split of their four-game series at Burlington today. The Bees won their first two games before the Rattlers broke through with a 6-to-4 victory last night. Today's first pitch is at 11:30 from Burlington Iowa. Meanwhile, the Beloit Snappers are at Kane County tonight, where the Snappers lost 10-to-4 last evening. Kane County is going for a split, after Beloit won the first two games of that set.
In golf, both of Wisconsin's P-G-A regulars are in New Orleans for the Zurich Classic. Pewaukee native Mark Wilson began his opening round at mid-morning. Jerry Kelly of Madison is due to tee off during the noon hour. Kelly won this tournament in 2009. The senior P-G-A Champions Tour is off this weekend.