Plenty to get to on a Monday show, and with only 35 minutes on the air, I doubt I'll get to it all. Let's start with the Minnesota Wild!
That's Jake Dowell getting the start for the Wild against the Oilers on Friday. As you probably know, Dowell is an Eau Claire native and has bounced around between Houston and the Wild all season (in fact, as I write this, he was sent back down today). While the Wild were crushed 6-1 on Friday night, they got into the playoffs with a win the next night in Colorado, and now face the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL Playoffs (all games on 1400 WBIZ). Here's another shot of Dowell in the game (I apologize for the size and blurriness; I was taking them with my phone from where I was sitting):
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The biggest story in the headlines today is about Jason Collins becoming the first openly gay player in American pro sports. The Washington Wizards center breaks a barrier that was stupid to exist from day one. Why should anyone have to hide the fact that they're gay for 34 years out of fear of repercussion? That's absurd. I'm happy that society is finally catching on and becoming more tolerant of the differences between people, but there's still a very large segment of the population that will see or hear this story and have unpleasant thoughts about Collins. It's not my place to advocate anything political; the simple fact is that sexual preference is not a reason to discriminate against anyone, and that discrimination still exists in society, ESPECIALLY in sports. So, it's great that Collins told his story, but it's really sad (and stupid) that it IS a story in 2013.
Obviously, not everyone is going to support him telling the world about his sexual preferences. In this space, however, I'll note my full support not just for pro athletes, but for college and high school athletes (and students) to be comfortable with who they are. If you're in school and are having trouble either "coming out" or are dealing with idiots after letting everyone know your sexual preferences, or maybe seeking medical/health advice, here's a great resource page with a list of organizations that can help.
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Much ink has been spilled on how the Packers, Vikings, and others drafted in the NFL Draft last week already. I'll just say this: the Packers got quantity while the Vikings went for quality, just in terms of draft position. The general theme is that the Packers are trying to stir up competition on the roster, and the Vikings are adding pieces for a title run. Questions still linger for both (Packers defense, Vikings QB), but both accomplished their goals for the most part in the NFL Draft.
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Finally, the Milwaukee Bucks. That was a fun playoff run, huh? Now we may be witnessing an absolute deconstruction of a playoff team (ha!) as Ellis, Reddick, and Jennings may be elsewhere next season. Personally--I'm all for the bottoming-out of the roster. After giving away Tobias Harris for a JJ Redick rental (stupid stupid stupid), the Bucks have one--just one--building block: Larry Sanders. Harris and Sanders are a good foundation to lay supporting players on top of. Any one of Ellis/Jennings/Redick would have been a great third option in the lineup, and the Bucks could get a lottery pick and a shot at a legitimate #1/#2 option to compliment the rest of the roster. Unfortunately, as the roster has been constructed for the past several years, it's plugging one hole in a sinking ship just to have another one open up. You can only place the cork so many times before you let the thing sink.
This NBA Draft appears to be fairly light on impact, but the Bucks have actually drafted extremely well in the mid-to-late first round (Larry Sanders, Tobias Harris, Brandon Jennings) recently. They lack depth because they were absolutely dreadful before that, and were only relevant in the mid-aughts because they got a 2nd round steal in Michael Redd. It's been a nice run draft-wise, but they'll need to crush one out of the park in order to move forward. Free agents aren't lining up for 7 months of Wisconsin winter, and the guys on the move don't sound that thrilled about the prospect of staying here.