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Opening Day(!!) Mailbag

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Tim Thompson
April 1, 2013

Last year on Opening Day I did a live blog about the sights, smells and sounds of the season's first game the festivities surrounding it. I'm heading up to Miller Park again for this year's opener (my 11th opening day at Miller Park) but since I am bringing along the wife, Ma and Grandpa Jim, I decided to skip the live blog. Enjoy Part 1 of the Mailbag instead!

Last month I asked readers to submit questions so that The Bullpen (responses in italics) and I would have something to do leading up to opening day. Thanks to Gazettextra.com reader "packattack" for asking enough questions to fill this entire post! Everyone else, your questions will be answered and posted soon, but for now enjoy these ...

Q: Are the Brewers and Cubs pretenders or contenders?

Good question. The optimist in me believes the Brewers are contenders. We had one of the best offenses in the game last year and there is no reason to believe they wonít duplicate that performance.

Other than closer John Axford, the Crew broomed everyone else from last year's bullpen, which led the league in blown saves (29). If that happens again we are pretenders, but I believe the 2013 bullpen will be much better than the 2012 edition.

Starting pitching is another question mark. We have Yovani Gallardo at the top and just added former Cardinals hurler Kyle Lohse to the mix. Iím excited and hope he performs like he has for the past three years. The questions begin after those two. Behind them are several young, essentially unproven pitchers who could either take us to the promised land or be our Achilles heal.

Now for the Cubs. In case you havenít noticed, outside of my fantasy players I donít spend a lot of time reading or learning about other teams. Life has me busy enough I donít need to waste more time reading about other teams, especially the Cubs. I will say that, from my limited knowledge, I donít think they have enough to compete this year but like the path they are on. I would love to see Dale Sveum have a little success down there so he can return to Milwaukee (where he belongs) once Runniní Ron is ready to call it quits.

Q: Does Greg Jennings' move to the Vikings finally make them a serious threat to win the NFC North?

Thatís a good question. I play fantasy football so I know a little about the players and teams and, again, using my limited knowledge I would say having someone to throw the ball is probably of a bit more importance than who is doing the catching. Then again, I think THIS led to one of the greatest comeback in NFL history, so what do I know? Perhaps The Bullpen can shed some light?

Ahhh, football: the season that never ends. I'm having enough difficulty transitioning my mind from college hoops to baseball, given the snow piles and northwesterly winds that seemingly do not want to leave our corner of the world. Nonetheless, my lifelong hatred for all things Minnesota Vikings-related burns strong and compels me to comment.

I like Greg Jennings, both as a player and a person. The problem is, the NFL is a business and at the end of the day fans need to realize this. Greg Jennings gave us a number of great years wearing the No. 85 green-and-gold jersey, but the cost of retaining him outweighed the benefits. The Packers have a full stable of receivers, so I don't expect any drop-off at the position in 2013.

Oh, wait; I was supposed to be talking about the Vikings. As for whether Jennings makes them a threat to win the NFC North, I think TT's QB comment is right on the money. Anything can happen in the NFL, so I suppose the stars could align and bring a division title to Minnetonka (or wherever the hell they're planning to build their new stadium). But will adding Jennings make them a threat to make the Super Bowl? Why don't you go ask Brett Favre, Darren Sharper, Ryan Longwell & Co. how the move to the 612 worked out for their title hopes.

Q: Will the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources ever use common sense regarding deer hunting and the use of bait for viewing wildlife?

That too, is an excellent question. I didnít even know this is an issue. I hunted until I was about 21, getting a few deer along the way but always had more luck bagging the spring turkeys. I obviously understand why they wouldnít allow people to bait for hunting purposes, but not allowing them to bait for viewing purposes seems a bit odd. I guess they may have some difficulty determining whether the bait is intended for viewing or hunting and are worried about a mixed message? It wouldnít be the first grossly inaccurate fear they had about a mixed message. Remember, there are other bait sources for viewing wildlife, too.

Q: Will the Packers have a for-real running game this decade?

Iím going to skip explaining my lack of knowledge on the subject yet again and let The Bullpen handle this ...

I turn 36 in April, and have been a diehard Packers fan since I was old enough to walk and talk. During that time there haven't been many (if any, at all) seasons during which the Packers featured a feared running attack.

During my lifetime, 81 players have lined up in the Green Bay backfield in at least one game. (Want to know how I figured that out? Go here.) The vast majority of the list are long-forgotten names or guys who came in with expectations that he finally was the answer to the franchise's ground-game woes. Sure, there have been a couple decent backs scattered among the list but most fizzled rather than sizzled.

Plus, during my lifetime I have had the pleasure(?) of watching three of the best running backs to ever play the game (Payton, Sanders and Peterson) go up against Green Bay twice per season. I always wished the Pack could land a game-changer like those guys. At the same time, the green-and-gold have won two Super Bowls in three tries during my lifetime, so perhaps a running game isn't the most important thing in the world?

Sorry, I got off track again. To answer your question: I sure hope so. The first step, I believe, would be to draft this guy in about a month. I would LOVE to watch him run at Lambeau in December and January for the next 6-8 seasons!

Q: Will you ever win a Pulitzer Prize, Tim?

Are bloggers eligible? If not, my guess is no. If they are eligible, I still guess itís a big, fat no. We enjoy writing for Peace & Glove to pass what little spare time we have, but something bigger than this just isn't going to happen. Iím a father, husband, employee, future full-time farmer, blogger and baseball fan. One thing I am not is a writer. On this, I believe, we all can agree. ;)

Looks like P&G could be eligible if we post/publish at least weekly.

Q: Will Pete Rose ever get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame?

I donít think so. Now if the question were, "Does he deserve to be in the hall of fame?" I would vote an overwhelming yes. I think the HOF should include Pete Rose and anyone associated with the Steroid Era -- as long as their career numbers warrant inclusion. I also believe those players should be housed in a separate wing or wall, where their plaques and accomplishments are displayed right alongside the negatives they brought to the game.

If I may add my two cents: I am just barely old enough to remember Pete Rose's playing career, but I most certainly am old enough to remember the betting scandal and all the related fallout. Say what you will about the man, what he now admits to doing, and how he has handled himself in the past 20 or so years, but what Pete Rose -- the game's all-time hit king -- has become is just plain sad. All the evidence you need is documented in this video. I hope the man gets his due before he passes on.

Q: I had fun with this; will you?

I will and I did. I hope you enjoyed the responses!



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