And a few "worsts"
Best Former Milwaukee Admiral Who Has Gone On To Greatness:
During three seasons in Milwaukee, goalie Pekka Rinne became a two-time American Hockey League All-Star and led the team to a trio of playoff appearances. The Finland native has played parts of 11 seasons for the NHL’s Nashville Predators and led the team to its first-ever Stanley Cup finals this past season. He also ranked as the all-time greatest Admiral in a poll of fans, former coaches and players. “He also might have been the nicest and most generous with his time of any player we’ve ever had,” Admirals spokesman Charlie Larson says.
Most Interesting New Player:
Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers
Who can resist a 6-feet 6-inch, 275-pound man with a penchant for inspiring kids? We’d like to give new Packers tight end Martellus Bennett a collective fist bump. Yes, he’s expected to make major on-field contributions. But off the field, he marches to the beat of his own whimsical drum. At one of his first practices, Bennett doled out copies of his new comic book “Towel Boy” and revealed plans for a team book club. He operates a side business called Imagination Agency that inspires creativity in children, and he wants to produce animated films when his football days are over. Described as the “creative director of awesomeness” on his Twitter profile, Bennett’s tweets run from charmingly descriptive to intensely reflective.
Best place to watch a Packers game*:
Linneman’s Riverwest Inn
Owner Jim Linneman puts a 106-inch TV on the music venue’s stage and Milwaukee Alderman Nik Kovac (passionate fan and host of Riverwest Radio’s “Packerverse” call-in show) and (usually) poet Keith Gaustad sit next to it with mics, providing play-by-play, color – and a good deal more snark than you get on TV. This happens several times a season (including October 8 vs. Dallas) so call Linneman’s at 414-263-9844 to see if it’s on.
Best (and Worst!) Recreation Innovation:
The Paddle Tavern
After six or seven years of Pedal Taverns plying the streets of the Third Ward and Walker’s Point carrying groups of rowdy carousers, a new outfit has begun doing the same on the river this year. Minus: The boats don’t have much exercise value, as pedal-pushers are helped along by a 20-horsepower motor. Major plus: At least it gets some screaming party people off the streets.
Milwaukee Community Sailing Center
With a fleet of about 60 boats and more than 650 members, the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center is a hub of maritime activity in Veteran’s Park. Members have access to the fleet, at no charge, once they demonstrate basic sailing skills and earn a rating, for the all-inclusive price of $360 a year. Sailing classes, including for kids, are offered. Those with disabilities and children from financially challenged families can get free weekly boat rides.
Best New Indoor Sports Venue:
After operating a rock-climbing gym in Brookfield for about two decades, Adventure Rock opened a much larger second facility on North Commerce Street in Milwaukee in June 2016. Its 43-foot ceilings accommodate 18,000 square feet of climbing walls. “It never feels crowded, even when the gym is jumping,” general manager Craig Burzynski says. The unique development includes the Mandel Group’s 46-unit, upscale Belay apartments.
Best Bike Gear on the Fly:
Outside the Colectivo Café on South Kinnickinnic Avenue, a colorful vending machine operated by volunteer-run bike repair shop Vulture Space offers inner tubes of various sizes, patch kits, valve caps, lights and even a collection of stickers. Items range from $1 to $5. “It’s the only resource of its kind in the city, and Colectivo is the most bike-friendly cafe I’ve come across,” Vulture Space’s founder and executive director Evan Pack says. Vulture Space has purchased a second vending machine that will be installed at a yet-to-be-determined spot.
BEST OF BASEBALL
Best Sports Story, Team Division:
Our team surprised and thrilled us during the first half of the season, blasting home runs in bunches (talking about you, Eric Thames) and ending up in first place at the All-Star break, five and a half games ahead of the underperforming world-champion Chicago Cubs. Perhaps, we thought, General Manager David Stearns had not doomed us to years of losing after he traded away our best players to rebuild the team from the ground up.
Worst Sports Story, Team Division:
Or maybe we were doomed after all. After the break, the Brewers forgot how to score runs (and the Cubs remembered). Within 10 days, the Milwaukee lead was gone. By August 10, the Crew was trailing the Cubs and tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for second place, with the fourth-place Pirates breathing down their necks.
We write this in late August, so there’s no way of knowing how the season will end. The team has shown a little life lately, and they just took two out of three in Los Angeles, where teams generally go to die. Doom, hope, doom, hope – we just can’t stand it.
Check out all of this year’s winners!