The Voice: Enjoy the ride, Wisconsin sports fans

The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgLast week during a commercial break on the Barry Alvarez radio show, the University of Wisconsin's director of athletics had a big grin and said, "Isn't it fun when you win?"  

All I could do was smile and nod -- and remember to way it was in the late 1980s. Back then I was doing morning sports updates for WTSO Radio, which in those days was a country music station.  It seemed every Monday the weekend recaps centered on how the Badgers lost on Saturday, and how the Packers lost on Sunday.  

As for interest in the Brewers, that generally faded by about the end of July.  Beyond the greatness of Robin Yount and Paul Molitor, and the occasional streak, the highlights were few and far between.

It is a good thing our radio station played a lot of Garth Brooks and Randy Travis tunes.  Had WTSO been a sports talk station in those times, there would have been very little to chat about.  A show once a week was about all anyone, hosts or listeners, could tolerate.

Oh, my how things have changed, and what a stretch this is for Cheesehead Nation.

The defending Super Bowl champion Packers remain unbeaten.  Aaron Rodgers might be the best player in the NFL.  The Wisconsin Badgers are unbeaten and ranked fourth.  Russell Wilson might be the best player in the Big Ten, and he appears to be a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.  The Milwaukee Brewers are NL Central Division champions, and currently are battling rival St. Louis for the right to advance to the World Series.  Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are top MVP candidates.

There is all of that, plus, could we have had better weather around here the past 10 days or so?  I mean, if this is what heaven is like, sign me up.

Who knows how these stories will end, but I would suggest -- at least for now -- this state is the envy of most sports enthusiasts in the country.

Other places have had multiple champions, and I certainly am not assuming that it will happen in Wisconsin, but what is going on now seemed so unlikely in the late 1980s and early '90s.  The mere suggestion of this type of stretch would get you laughed out of the room.

Alvarez often tells the story of coaching his first game in 1990. On the bus ride from the team hotel to the stadium, he has said "You could fire a cannon down the street and not hit anyone."  He was right.  It was all he and his staff could do to create any excitement with a fan base that was staying away in droves.

The once proud Packers franchise fell on hard times, as Lindy Infante's team finished 4-12 in 1988.  The following year was much better, but they fell just short of a playoff berth.  The next two years produced a 10-22 record.  A college-aged Packers fan today cannot relate to such futility.

As the NLCS progresses, no doubt there will be some tense moments that will have Brewers fans biting their finger nails.  

Perhaps one week, the Packers will need a late fourth-quarter drive to win a game.

As for the Badgers, do not expect them to win by 30-plus points a week. In time, they too will have a couple of those down-to-the-wire affairs that will keep you glued to your TVs and radios.  

Enjoy every second of it. As a fan, there will be moments that might make your stomach do flip-flops, but this is only because your teams are playing on big stages.

There are those who say this is as good as it gets. Right now, that is true. Then again, it is possible -- I repeat, possible -- that the best could get even better.

As Barry would say "Isn't this fun?"
ON WISCONSIN