Nick's Knacks Nick's Knacks

  • The man in the mirror

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    Let me start with this. A bad call cost the Pack 1/16 of their season.  There is no denying the final play of the game.  And while one can passionately argue, as I do, that things ought not to have come to that, there is no denying that.  It happened.  It came to that.  M.D. Jennings made the play.  The call was wrong.  The Packers were robbed.

    All right, we’re all in agreement here.  But now I’m about to get religious on ya.  Stand by.

    Luke 6:42

    How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

    Today is a crossroads for the Green Bay Packers.  They can continue to play the victims, or they can look in their mirrors.

    T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton, instead of F-bombing the league via Twitter, block somebody…block anybody!  Keep #12 upright so that he might be able to make a play.  Open a hole through which Cedric Benson can ice a 12-7 victory. 

    Aaron, instead of pushing cameramen and getting in the face of a ref, don’t underthrow Greg Jennings.  Don’t overthrow Donald Driver. 

    And even in the midst of glaring ineptitude at times, we had the ball, with the lead, and the chance to get a first down and get on the plane.  Heck, Wayne had already plunged the “dagger.”  Remember the best part about signing Cedric Benson?  He was the smash-mouth back that would get those tough yards in precisely that situation.

    I recognize that I have singled out a few individuals in a team sport of many - a few plays in a game of many.  But that’s sort of the point.  Not one player on that team can say that he could not have made more plays, could not have been better, could not have won more battles down-to-down. 

    The refs blew the final call of the game, and that mistake was absolutely the difference in the outcome.  That sucks.  But there was plenty of sucking out there to go around.  The Packers put themselves in the position of having a referee’s judgment call determine the outcome of the game.  

  • Glorious oasis

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    Photo: Fuzzy Gerdes via Creative Commons

    I’ve always theorized that people tend not to be tourists in their own towns.  That is to say, the closer one lives to a landmark destination, the less likely he is to visit that place.  People who live in NY don’t go to the Statue of Liberty, for example.

    From my own experience: save one time for work, I have not visited the Packers Hall of Fame since establishing permanent residence in Green Bay.  I have been to the National Railroad Museum once, and that was for my wife’s high school reunion, so that hardly counts.  I’ve never been to Heritage Hill, outside of an interview I had to conduct with the blacksmith.  I’ve visited the NEW Zoo one time, when it first opened.   I remain a Zippin Pippin virgin.

    When I was growing up in Wauwatosa, the Mitchell Park Domes, Milwaukee County Zoo, and the Milwaukee Public Museum received similar treatment – essentially places my school took me on field trips.

    Add to that list: Mars Cheese Castle.

    Just off I-94 in Kenosha, the Mars Cheese Castle has been in business since before my grandparents were making oleo runs.  Countless times, en route to the outlet mall or Great America or a Cubs game, I would pass the Mars Cheese Castle and give it not a second thought.  It was merely something to yell aloud “MARS CHEESE CASTLE!” to mark the approximate halfway point to our usual destination.  All of that changed this weekend.

    On a trip southward for my niece’s birthday party in Gurnee, my wife and I were forced to stop at the Mars Cheese Castle to refuel our daughter.  It will undoubtedly serve as a target stop on all future trips down south. 

    Complete with a full bakery, bar/restaurant, snack counter, foodstuffs and beverages (adult and non) galore, this was indeed a castle in the medieval sense – a full-on, sustainable village.  I’m serious.  A guy could live in the Mars Cheese Castle and never want for a thing.

    The next time you are traveling to our neighbors down south, do yourself a favor and make a stop at the Mars Cheese Castle.  Too bad Highland’s Cheese Food is no longer around.  I have a feeling that place too rocked!  

  • Happy anniversary

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    Twenty years ago today, the legend of Brett Favre was born in Green Bay.  It’s funny how your mind forgets major details – like how long that drive was…Sterling’s injury…etc. 

    In the Vitrano home, our focus was squarely on the Milwaukee Brewers’ division chase, so while I recall watching and cheering, I was most concerned with how the Toronto Blue Jays were performing that afternoon – the Crew trailed the Jays by 4.5 games.

    Check out at the 4:20 mark as the camera keys in on Holmgren trying to regroup (there was :13 still left on the clock), and Favre suddenly pops in the picture, freaking out!  For all that has transpired, all the hard feelings, this is why we loved the guy.

    UPDATE: We had a chance to catch up with both Ty Detmer (literally chewing his nails at the 1:33 mark) and Kitrick Taylor on today's show.  If you missed it, hear the podcasts HERE

  • Ahoy!

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    As a youth, I had a bizarre fascination with pirates, not so much with anything related to their craft or their folklore…merely their dialect.  For some reason, folks tend to regard anything said in a pirate “accent” as humorous, regardless of how inflammatory or insensitive the remark.  It’s like, “Well, he’s not serious.  He was speaking as a pirate.”

    Perhaps Yunel Escobar should have sketched his homophobic slur in pirate-speak on his eye black.  No press conference necessary to explain that one. 

    Luckily for me, my penchant for speaking in pirate tongue (and occasionally wearing pirate gear – I did don a black costume pirate vest to Homecoming my senior year…for the dance and post-party…I wore appropriate attire for dinner) was shared by several of my closest friends.

    It was my buddy Chris West who first clued me in to the marking of September 19th as International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  We celebrated with an appearance on John Lechner’s “Late Night Diesel Powered Cinema of Laughter,” a Milwaukee area cable access TV show, powered by the musings of the real-life Van Wilder, John Lechner of Waukesha.  I appeared as a pirate.  Chris…I’m not sure.  And actually, now that I think of it, I don’t know that our appearance had anything to do with International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  I think we just went on the dude’s show (which was filmed in my other friend Sam’s basement that night) and I dressed as a pirate.  Like I said, I had a bizarre fascination.

    Anyway, each year, my friends and I exchange a few pirate pleasantries on this day.  All the while, I had assumed that we were pretty much the only ones for whom this was enjoyable.  But since coming in today, no fewer than six individuals have walked by my office and blurted out something in pirate.  I had no idea that so many were on board with this day.  It’s fantastic!

    If you have yet to board this pirate ship, you can be fully initiated HERE.  And even if you have been a player since 1995 (when this day was formed), you’ll still find this page useful. 

    Keelhaul Mullet…out. (generate your own pirate name HERE)  

  • Mooch pulls out a great reference

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    Just got off the phone with Steve Mariucci (call me Peter King), and he whipped out a fantastic reference to Andy Reid in the punt pass and kick competition from his youth.

    It’s always a sick feeling in sports when you know, just by looking at the other guys, that you’re toast. I’m pretty sure little #22 was there on December 13th, 1971. I’m also pretty sure that then 13-year-old Andy Reid actually had to borrow Les Josephson’s pants:


  • I'm not crazy!

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    I know, I know, the NFL is in full swing…who cares about the Milwaukee Brewers, right?  But c’mon, admit it.  You’ve taken a glance, if not a momentary one, at the standings over the past two weeks.  It doesn’t make you weak.  It doesn’t diminish your love for the Green Bay Packers.  Shocking as it may be to some, the two entities are not mutually exclusive.  One can actually be a fan of both teams and simultaneously root for each. 

    Now, I get it.  For many fans, over multiple decades, the Brewers existed only to bridge the gap between the NFL draft and the start of training camp.  Zoom out and examine the Milwaukee Brewers franchise as a whole, from start to present, and it’s a pretty sad evaluation.  But this is not your 1984 or ’94 or ‘04 Milwaukee Brewers.  Despite the fact that this year’s squad performed like those aforementioned well into August, there is a new reality in Brew City, and it’s got everyone taking notice.  Well, almost everyone.

    It appears T-Plush wasn’t out of his mind when, on July 31st, he Tweeted: “Where’s my Plush Nation? I’m thinking we make a run for the playoffs! Gotta Go!”

    20 games remaining and the Crew is a shocking 4 games back of a post-season berth.  Much work remains, some help must be secured.  But I believe our boys of summer can be around in early fall, and that’s not just my heart talking.  In this ultimate game of numbers, there is some statistical sanity to my faith.

    I tickled the calculator on yesterday’s show and outlined the following scenario (keep in mind this was yesterday morning):

    For the Brewers to win the second Wild Card outright:

    Milwaukee: 16-5

    Los Angeles: 11-10

    St. Louis: 10-11

    Pittsburgh: 13-9

    Philadelphia: 15-6

    I didn’t think, still don’t, that it’s silly to believe that LA and the Cards will play .500 down the stretch; I don’t think Pittsburgh will make it to 85 wins; I’m more certain that Philly won’t win 15 of their final 21.

    So why so confident the Brewers can win 16 of their final 21?  After all, this entire scenario is predicated on Milwaukee’s ability to play .762 baseball to close out the regular season.  That’s tough.  That, as stated by e-mailer Jeff, is crazy:

    “Nick, quit shoving the Milwaukee Brewers down our throats.  The Packers have a huge game against Chicago in two days and you just wasted 5 minutes on a waste of a team.  You’re (expletive) crazy if you think those losers will win 16 games.”

    But here’s the thing.  Rewind the clock to the Crew’s low point of the season: Sunday, August 19, 2012 – an 8-0 loss to Philadelphia droped the team to 54-66.  Entering play last night, 21 games had been played.  Take a stab at their record after those 21.  Yep…16-5.

    I’m not (expletive) crazy.  But this team just might be. 

    Go Brewers!

  • You’re Edith L. Byrd?

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    I have a feeling that a lot of shady types are answering that question with a resounding “Yes I am” this morning. 

    After the Giants-Cowboys game wrapped up, I switched over to watch the news, completely forgetting about the Democratic National Convention coverage.  I had no genuine interest in taking in any of it…but don’t go reading into that either way…I didn’t have much interest in taking in the RNC either.  Like most, I am past frustrated with our political climate.  But, following the Costanza logic (because it’s on TV), I decided to watch ol’ Billy Baroo (Clinton) on the podium. 

    I just happened to tune in just in time to see Edith L. Byrd, a member of the audience, defiantly shaking her Medicare card in the camera lens as Clinton waxed on the Romney/Ryan ticket’s assault on the federal health plan.

    Nice work, Edith.  Hope you have LifeLock. 

    With a simple pause of my DVR, I was able to clearly make out Edith L. Byrd’s social security number and her signature.  I’m not sure how long it takes for somebody to steal one’s identity, but I’m guessing that by the time Edith made her way to the ATM outside of Time Warner Cable arena, her account was cleaned out.

    “You’re Dr. Galazkiewicz?”

    “Yes I am!”

  • They’re not British?

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    Our conversation (just now) on the group The Cowsills, prompted us to pull up this number on YouTube and wonder aloud, are there no dentists in Rhode Island?

    This might be the worst collection of teeth in band history.  Now, I don’t buy the music for the smile, but dang…these guys are an American band, and they had some hits.  Could they not afford some orthodontia? 

    Michaels Strahan on line 2.

    And by the way, other than tapping on guitar cases, what role do the two, non guitar playing kids occupy?

  • And we’re underway

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    We’re only 24 hours away from the kickoff of NFL regular season – it’s still weird to think of the NFL starting on a Wednesday - but the boys of the NCAA got the jump, as they always do, on the meaningful gridiron action.

    Ladies and gentlemen…on your feet…for your Mississippi State Bulldogs:

    The finish was much better than the start for Mississippi State, a 56-9 thumping of Jackson State, so clearly there were many Bulldog highlights, but I’m not sure any could beat the team introduction.

  • That’s a great deal

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    Say “white rapper” and you no longer hear the ol’ rim shot like you used to.  Granted, few white artists in this arena of entertainment have had the staying power and influence of a Beastie Boys, Aesop Rock, or Eminem, but there have been plenty of hits spat from the lips of white rappers.  Vanilla Ice, Snow, Everlast, Brother Ali, Jerry Jones…

    Jerry Jones?  Oh yeah…Jerry Jones!

    Now, lost in all the heinousness of this spot is the fact that this is a fantastic deal!  Can I order the 5-Star Combo, or is that an exclusive Papa John’s of Dallas offering?

  • Job opening in LA

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    This is going to sound heartless and mean spirited, but I always chuckle a little when an intern remarks that his professional plan is to land in the play-by-play booth.  “All right.  Solid.  Let me know how that works out for you,” is my typical response.

    OK, now hear me out.

    I don’t savor the opportunity to squash dreams, and I don’t seek out an opening to assert some macho, egomaniacal, “let me tell you something about this business” stance.  It’s simply reality. A spot in the booth of a professional sports team is vacated less frequently than the Oval Office. 

    Play-by-play guys don’t retire…they die.  And when they kick it, they are replaced by retired athletes or dudes who have been schleppin’ it in the “minors” for a decade plus.  Take for example, Vin Scully.  Scully, 84, is returning to the mic behind which he has sat since the 1950’s…since before the Dodgers moved to LA.  Dude is entering year 64 in that capacity.  I hope still to be alive at 64.

    KTLA sports anchor, Rebecca Hall, rattles off an impressive list of just a handful of Scully’s eye-witness moments.  Oh, and she drops something else as well.

    WARNING: This video is uncensored and contains offensive language

    So, Scully’s seat may not be vacant any time soon, but there just might be an opening at KTLA. 


    Well, I guess this has become quite a popular vid, as Tribune has yanked it from YouTube.  So, here's the transcript:

    "So for 63 years, he's been the voice of the Dodgers, since Harry Truman was president. He's described Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Bums, the '55 champs, Don Larsen's perfect game, Sandy Koufax's four no-hitters, Fernandomania, Kirk Gibson and seven world championships. Phew. (wipes brow)  C'mon Vin, get your @#$! together! Is that all you got? ... Get your stuff together, that's what I meant to say."

  • It’s that time again

    Posted by Nick Vitrano

    You can always tell when the NFL regular season is ramping up.  The general buzz of the final pre-season slate.  The roster cuts and resulting flurry of activity on the open market, as one team scoops up the trash of another in hopes of finding treasure.  There are calculated IR and practice squad decisions made this week.  The feel good stories of the surprise roster members will be told.  The funsy time has expired, and the cloud of “for real” descends upon training camps throughout the league.

    Even the commercial world has fallen in line.  This weekend, spots, like this one, began hitting the airwaves en masse.  It's fantastic!  Interestingly enough, while the real football world is getting all serious, the arena of advertising is getting more goofy.  I think they call that creativity: