Brewers' Hader can't get any better than that

Sitting in front of the TV with thousands of other viewers on Saturday night, I watched lefty Josh Hader strike out the side in the ninth inning to preserve the Milwaukee Brewers' 4-2 victory over the the St. Louis Cardinals in Miller Park.
No big deal, right?
Well, Hader performed what is called an "immaculate inning." He threw a minimum nine pitches, all strikes.
Tyler O’Neill was the only Card to put any wood on the ball, fouling off Hader's first pitch. Then it was lights out. The next eight pitches were also strikes that no one could touch, including the last one at 98 mph. Hader's slowest pitch was his first (95 mph) that O'Neill fouled off. Hader's second pitch hit 96 mph, then six straight at 97 mph before the 98 mph heater that Yairo Ozuna flailed at out of the strike zone.
It simply doesn't, or can't, get any better than that.
Hader's heroics, thanks to an over-the-wall catch by centerfielder Lorenzo Cain to save a Brewers' victory in the opener on Thursday, are breath-taking.
For the record, Hader struck out seven of the nine batters he faced in three innings of relief work in the season-opening series. He threw only 30 pitches (all fastballs) and Cardinal batters swung 22 times, whiffing on 18 strikes. They made contact four times, putting only two in play.
The good news is Hader still hasn't shown his slider or the change-up he is working on.
While Major League Baseball continues searching for ways to speed up games, Hader is certainly doing his part.

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Should I or shouldn't I pick the Badgers?

Here it is. Wednesday and I still haven't completed my bracket for the NCAA basketball tournament.
For some odd reason, "March Madness" hasn't caught up with me quite yet. Oh, it will very soon as it always does, but I just haven't caught the fever yet.
One reason may be my thoughts about the University of Wisconsin Badgers. I have watched them on TV almost every game this season. They don't seem to be playing any better. In fact, they seem to be playing worse than earlier in the season.
I want to think the Badgers are good enough to make a moderate run in the tourney... at least for a couple of games, but I also feel they are definitely in the category for a possible "one and done," outcome, too.
We all realize Ethan Happ is the straw that stirs the drink for Greg Gard's Badgers, but he has been missing way too many shots in the paint as of late. He just isn't finishing under the basket. It's easy to see that bruising Big Ten defenders have physically taken their toll on Happ, who incidentally must put on more several more pounds to have any chance of surviving the NBA grind... if he makes it that far.
Meanwhile, Oregon, the Badgers' opening round opponent on Friday, is no slouch with four starters at 6-foot-9. Toss in a 6-10 sub and they could cause Happ fits anytime he touches the ball, which leads us to the next challenge.
If the Ducks collapse around Happ, he must kick the ball out to the perimeter like he usually does. However, the Badgers have been horrible from 3-point territory of late, having made only 29 percent in their last 11 games.
The 12th seeded Ducks (23-12) and riding an eight-game winning streak, rely on a 2-3 matchup defense, which could also rattle the fifth-seeded Badgers (23-10).
The more I think about the matchup, the more I believe the Badgers are a "one and done" team.
Gosh, I hope not. But I think I'll wait a little longer before making my pick.

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Boy, does that old cap bring back memories

What's in a cap?
If it's mine, it's probably a lunkhead.
Seriously, I have gone through hundreds of caps in my 72 years, but none like the one I bought in 1982. It is my most treasured cap from all those that have gone to Goodwill, or by the wayside.
I was sports editor back then and was covering the 1982 World Series. I covered all seven games between the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals.
The final game was the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Arriving at the ballpark that afternoon, I stopped by one of the shops in Busch Stadium and bought a Cardinals' baseball cap.
Why? Because, thanks to my Onalaska buddies, Dave and Gary Skogen, I have been a Cards' fan ever since the old Milwaukee Braves won the 1957 World Series. It was the same year I started hanging around with the Skogen baseball boys, who remain die-hard Cardinals' fans to this day. The Braves eventually left Milwaukee for Atlanta in 1966, which cemented my allegiance to the Cardinals even more.
This cap is special. It is made from beautiful red corduroy. It is just what I wanted to remember from the 1982 World Series.
I placed the cap in my briefcase and proceeded up to the press box, not telling anyone about my purchase. After all, we were ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY OBJECTIVE sports writers during working hours, not sports fans.
To make a long story short, the Cards won the game, 6-3, for the World Series title. The Brewers, despite a spectacular season, have not appeared in another World Series.
Watching Gorman Thomas strike out to end the game, I quickly stuffed my note pad, scorebook and game stats in my briefcase, and raced to an elevator. There was only one other person in the elevator. When he turned around, it was "The Silver Fox," "The Duke of Flatbush," Duke Snider, the Hall of Famer for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. We chatted briefly as we descended to the bowels of Busch Stadium.
Finishing my interviews in both dressing rooms, I hurried back to the hotel to write my story, transmit it back to the sports department before final deadline and settle in for a late room-service meal.
As I waited for my food, I called the airport, and then my better half back in La Crosse, telling her my next day's flight was expected to be on schedule.
Realizing Kathy and our only son at the time, Jon, my parents, her entire side of the family, as well as most of my friends were Brewers fans, I told her I was sorry the Brewers didn't win.
Kathy's reply: "Why don't you just stay down there!"
Boy, that old cap Cardinals' holds memories.

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La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway gearing up for another season

I once thought I was pretty good at marketing. That was before I met Chuck Deery (pictured), longtime manager of the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem, WI, 32 years ago.
Chuck is a mastermind when it comes to marketing and promotion. While stock car racing interest nationwide has dipped for several years, Chuck and his crew continue to find ways to buck the trend and put on a good show every Saturday night.
Weather hasn't cooperated very well the past couple of years, but that can only be helped by warm temperatures, clear skies and no rain.
Chuck remains proactive to drive attendance and interest in local racing. Look what he has planned this month.
As March begins, and after a record-setting month of snow in February, race fans and race teams are looking forward to warmer weather and some racing functions in March.  
One of the functions to attend in March is a race teams "Smoker."   The "smoker" is a social event to raise funding for this year's racing season. Smokers are fun events and if you have an opportunity to make it to one, please do. The teams appreciate it.   
Other activities in March include the God's Country Racing Association Custom Auto Show. It is March 8-10, in the La Crosse Center main arena. The show features classic, muscle and custom cars of the past. The speedway will have a booth there, stop by and say hello and pick up a schedule, a poster, some stickers or just chat about racing. On Sunday, March 17, we will also be at the "Celebrate West Salem" event in the West Salem High School gymnasium. This event features businesses that are located in West Salem and are a part of the West Salem Business Association. Anyone is welcome to attend, as there will be entertainment, displays and businesses exhibiting their products and services. West Salem has a lot to offer!  Stop on by for a schedule or poster as well.
Sunday March 24, is the annual Driver Orientation meeting, the first official gathering of staff and drivers for 2019. The event is at  Stoney Creek Inn, approximately 5 miles west of the speedway.  Doors open at 11 a.m., with the meeting at noon. Memberships, registration, pit parking, season pit passes and more can be taken care of at the meeting. We strongly recommend that you attend the meeting if you plan to race this year.  
Any new procedures will be discussed at the meeting. If you need registration forms, please go to the LFS DRIVERS' PAGE and you can download the forms you need, print them out and deliver to the track or bring them to the meeting. The 2019 car number renewals
are due March 26.
If you're thinking about advertising at the track this season - don't wait! Please contact us as soon as possible as opportunities are limited and filling up, but there are some still available for your business! You can be a part of the fun with a billboard, sign on the concrete wall, or event promotion, sponsorship or something else!  We are producing a souvenir program this year. It is cheap, easy to do and effective marketing!
Super Fan admission cards are now available! Each card has 12 admissions.
Use the admissions as you see fit - one each Saturday or on one night with 11 of your friends! Cards will only be available until April 10. You will save at least $36 with one of these cards. Call the speedway or stop by to get yours today.
Super Fan admission cards are just $120. Treat yourself or someone with this great deal, plus, we will throw in a couple beverage coupons for good measure! Get yours today.
This special is only being sold through the speedway's facebook page.
Fan promotional nights, online and direct mail coupons, as well as other fan favorite novelty events will be available all season long.  For more information about the 2019 season or La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway, visit the website at www.lacrossespeedway.com, or call the office at 608-786-1525.

'Brewers Crib Crew' ushers in another baseball season

You have to hand it to the Milwaukee Brewers marketing department.
The Brewers, fresh off a banner year in 2018, are expected to build upon their success on the field. They are also building upon their fan base with a cute promotion for a different age demographic.
The Brewers are beginning something extra special for their tiniest  fans with the introduction of the "Brewers Crib Crew," presented by Aurora Health Care. This exclusive membership is for all newborn members of the Brew Crew.
According to a Brewers media release this week, "For $25, each Crib Crew membership comes chock-full of everything needed to welcome a brand-new Brewers fan into the world. That includes a variety of one-of-a-kind wearables and other freebies - such as a bandana bib, a pair of onesies, a reversible bucket hat, month stickers and a special birth announcement card. Each membership also includes two ticket vouchers for a 2019 home game, perfect for bringing a baby to Miller Park for the very first time."
The media release went on to say, "Whether buying this special membership for your very own little one, or as a baby shower gift, the Brewers Crib Crew is a can't miss way to introduce the Brew Crew to the little slugger in your life."
I tip my cap to the Brewers once again It's a grand slam home run in my book.
To learn more about the Crib Crew and lock in your membership, visit brewers.com/CribCrew today

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