Advent Calendar of Hotness: Day 21

Unfortunately for me, there is a bit of a dearth of yumminess on the Brewers. Its such a shame, really. But one of the completely underrated cuties is backup catcher George Kottaras.

Honestly, the absolute best thing about Kottaras is his accent. He’s Canadian and while he’s been playing in the MLB and minors for awhile, every once in awhile the Canada comes out it and its great. You can hear some of it when he answers the second question in this video

He’s also of Greek descent and is fluent in Greek – so there’s always that chance he’ll whisper sweet nothings in your ear and take you for fabulous vacations on Crete.

And if that doesn’t do it for you, Kottaras hit one of just two cycles in Major League Baseball this season.

Follow the jump to peak in on this Canadian cutie

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Advent Calendar of Hotness: Day 13

Continuing on my second year football men trend, I accidentally stumbled on this adorable gem in my photo research for yesterday’s ACoH Ryan Mathews.  I have to be honest – I’m not really a Broncos fan, so I sadly missed wide receiver Mr. Eric Decker up until now.  If you’re familiar, you will certainly enjoy the abundance of photos I have collected.  If you aren’t familiar yet, just thank me later ;)

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Random Things I’ve Learned By Listening to Playoff Baseball on the Radio

As I may have mentioned once or twice before, I don’t have cable, and though my boyfriend has been happy (or at least pretends he’s happy) to let me watch the Cardinals games on his TV, for many of the other games I’ve been listening to the radio feeds through MLB.com.  It’s been quite some time since I’ve listened to baseball on the radio on a regular basis, and even longer since I listened to any baseball on the radio that involved non-Cardinals announcers.  It’s quite instructive. Some things I’ve learned:

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Happy Fan Time

The Milwaukee Brewers open the NLDS at home this weekend, with games 1 and 2 on Saturday and Sunday. The #7 Wisconsin Badgers open Big Ten play Saturday night against newbies Nebraska and the defending National Champion Green Bay Packers take on Denver on Sunday.

Unless you live in Boston or New York, you’ve probably never experience the Happy Fan Dance that I’ve practically mastered in the past few days.

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Every. Game. Counts. (A Regular Season Wrap Up and Playoff Preview)

Let’s just put aside the fact that I had an actual rooting interest last night — everything that happened in baseball over the last 24 hours makes my brain scream this song:

As someone who has spent the last two weeks watching the Cardinals wait until the last inning to win or lose what seemed like 95% of their games, one of the most surreal things about last night was that St. Louis was the only team that got their game settled right out of the gate, batting around in the first inning and scoring five runs before recording a single out.  Which left me free to enjoy the one day MLB.tv subscription I paid 3.99 for Tuesday night as a mostly impartial fan (possibly the best 4 bucks I’ve ever spent, even if I couldn’t get the Rays-Yankees because of blackout restrictions, and had to switch to the Phillies-Braves radio feeds for the latter innings because of too much traffic on the video feed (and my crappy bandwidth).  At one point, I had three GTalk conversations going and was on the phone to my parents; 99.5 % of the discussion revolved around baseball (I did manage to discuss Christmas arrangements with my folks.  I’m not totally obsessed.)

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When is it ok to panic?

Why is it that baseball slumps always seem worse than slumps in every other sport? Is it the daily losing that gets to our psyche? That daily reminder of suckitude that doesn’t allow you to forget about the losing?

Baseball has the longest season and therefore stretches of losing have less of an impact than in other sports, yet I never take a string of losses so hard as when my baseball team does it.

The Brewers are in the midst of a 1-8 stretch. Picked to possibly win the division this year, Brewers’ fans hopes were high heading in to the season. DL stints for Corey Hart and new acquisition Zach Greinke meant we had to temper expectations a little in April, but now we’re heading towards mid-May, the Brewers bats have been silent, and as a fan I’m starting to get depressed.

I haven’t reached the level of some fans, who’ve already given up on the season and are asking when the team will start putting Prince Fielder on the block and become sellers.

However, I’m also not in the “it’s only May” and “every team goes through this” group either. The awful defense and lack of hitting are real concerns.

It’s mid-May and the Brewers are in fifth place and 5.5 games back of division-leadingSt. Louis, who they just lost two of three to. I’m starting to panic. This was supposed to be an “all-in” season. Management mortgaged the future, traded away a bunch of prospects and basically made the push to win now or forever hold their peace. And yet, here we stand.

Even last week’s return from the DL of Greinke was ruined by shoddy defense.

I figure there’s got to be something I (or Brewers fans) in general can do to bust the slump. I haven’t watched a full nine innings in about 10 days because I get disgusted by the fourth inning and turn it off in favor of season 4 of The West Wing on DVD.

We’re going to the game tonight for Greinke’sMilwaukeedebut. Do I need to wear a tinfoil hat? Dress like Bernie Brewer? Pray to Jobu over a dead chicken (or bucket of KFC)? Perform a no errors dance in the parking lot near the Hank Aaron statue?

Am I too far off? Is it to early to contemplate panic? 87 or so wins is probably going to take the NL Central this season, but in order to make that pace, the Brewers have to win about 60% of the rest of their games – something they haven’t come close to doing so far.

So Ladies… when do you panic? And what are you favorite slump-busting traditions?

Brewers sign Braun thorugh 2020 – too much?

The Brewers yesterday added five years to Ryan Braun’s contract, putting him under club control til 2020. He had already signed a contract in May 2008 that had him in Milwaukee til 2015. The new contract keeps him in Milwaukee until he’s 36.

The deal in 2008 was and is the biggest contract for a player with less than one year of Major League service.

The new deal is worth $105 million for five years, with a mutual option for a sixth year. It is the biggest deal in Brewers’ history.

Including 2011, that means Braun will be making $145.5 million for 10 years.

The deal including $10 million in signing bonuses and though the details were not dicussed, also allows the club to defer some of the money, leaving them some wiggle room for signing free agents as they may need.

The deal is reportedly for $19 million in ’16, ’17 and ’18, $18 million in 2019 and $16 million in 2020. The mutual option for 2021 is reportedly worth up to $20 million. There is a $4 million dollar buyout and the deal includes a no-trade clause.

Over the course of the whole ten year contract Braun is earning an average of $21 million per year, which is the second-highest ever salary for an outfielder, says ESPN’s Buster Olney. Olney also reports that this deal makes Braun one of just seven ever players to be signed through age 36 while spending their entire career with their original team. The others are Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Ryan Howard, Chipper Jones and Todd Helton.

Troy Tulowitsky, who was the runner up to Braun in the 2007 Rookie of the Year voting, is the only other major leaguer signed through the 2020 season.

But what do we think about signing a player for the majority of their major league career?

Though the contract does include deferred payments meant to help the club, it does tie up a lot of money for a small-market club for the next ten years. It could handcuff the Brewers in future negotiations.

The Brewers are taking the risk that Braun not only maintains the kind of offensive output he’s known for, but doesn’t get injured – for the next ten years.

The timing is interesting, because while Braun is having his hottest start to the season, 2010 was by far his worst year statistically in the majors. It’s calculated risk, but risk nontheless. They have secured one piece of the puzzle and cemented him as the cornerstone of the franchise. They now know exactly where they stand financially as the continue to try to field a team around him.

Does the benefit a small-market team gains in marketing a “face of the franchise,” outweigh the possible downfalls of such a long contract?

Milwaukee (and Wisconsin) like their icons. People love Robin Yount and the fact that he spent his whole career in a Brewer uniform. Brett Favre was a god. There hasn’t been an annointed Brewer for a very long time. After years of losing, the franchise has a new owner and appears to be committed to placing a winning product on the field every season.

But are those off-field reasons enough to justify locking a player up for 10 years?

The same questions were raised when the Rockies extended Tulowitzki – who was under contract thorough 2014 at the time they added six years to his deal.