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Radio Joe Zenzola


Isn't it better to be the underdog?

We were fooled by the Packers last season. A 15-1 record should automatically punch you a ticket to the Super Bowl. The Packers had it made in the shade, not to mention playing a dysfunctional Giants team at Lambeau Field. Our expectations as media and fans alike were all the same – the Packers are too good to be knocked out this early in the playoffs. This team was destined for their second straight Super Bowl without a shadow of a doubt. Did it happen? There’s no point in answering that question…That season stabbed us in the hearts.
When we raise the bar so high on a team, we expect perfection. As the season comes to fruition and our team leads in the standings, we’re convinced even further that we can taste a championship.
The wool was pulled over our eyes, so to speak. Yes, we knew the Packers’ defense suck, considering losing only one game a year ago. But with an overstocked, high-powered offense, led by one of the best quarterbacks in the league, how can you not pick against them? Then, when those high expectations burned down in flames last season, Wisconsinites were enraged! We begin over-analyzing, blaming, defaming, and criticizing everybody from the GM to the waterboy. What does that gain? It doesn’t make us better fans; rather, it gives us a reality check.
It scares the hell out of me when my favorite team is almost too good. I was worried when the Packers were 15-1 with a first round bye. My expectation was this – if they don’t win the Super Bowl, this season was a failure. And sure enough, it was. Winning the NFC North doesn’t cut it.
You can’t stay perfect forever, and for the Packers, their close to perfect season came to an end at an unexpected time against an unexpected foe. The Giants were the underdogs, and they came on top.
Two years ago, though, the Packers were the underdogs. To recap, the Packers needed to win their final two games of the season just to get into that final wild card spot. Then, they had to go on the road against Philly, Atlanta, and Chicago just to get to Dallas for the Super Bowl. How high were the expectations then in the Philly game? Most believed the Packers didn’t stand a chance.
Known as the magic carpet ride, the Packers defeated the NFC’s best, silenced critics around the country, and earned their first Super Bowl in 14 years. What were Packers’ fans thinking during this amazing run? Most fans would not have been upset if the Packers fell in the playoffs, just for the simple reason that it was near impossible to beat three straight teams to get to the Super Bowl. For the record, nothing is impossible.
Had the Packers not made the Super Bowl in 2011, fans might have been upset with the season as a whole, instead of losing in the playoffs. Most fans and media would have had the “Go get ‘em again next season” attitude. At least that would stir up some optimism.
Now, I want to transition to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Is this really happening? Two and a half games back? If you thought the Packers’ run was close to impossible, this run by the Brewers could be historic. Thank you, Mr. Selig for this second wild card spot. While I believe the two wild card spots should duke it out in a three game series, instead of a one game sudden death, this format makes September more exciting than ever.
The Brewers are clearly the underdogs in this whole thing, and we as fans/media are savoring the moment. No matter what happens to the Brew Crew in the next two weeks, one thing is for certain…We will not be embarrassed. Unlike the Packers 15-1 embarrassment, anything goes for this Brewers team. Whether they make the postseason or not, we will have enjoyed the run, considering being 13 games back well over a month ago.
In short, we hate our team more when the expectations are so high and they fail (even if they do win their division. Division titles, I’m sorry, aren’t good enough).
We love our team when they defy the odds and pull off the unthinkable, even though we know their expectations of becoming champions are slim to none.
As the old cliché saying goes, ‘It’s not over until it’s over.’ The Brewers have a lot in front of them. Theoretically, they could tie with more than one team for that final wild card spot at the end of the season, defeat them, then battle the Braves, beat them, and then go on the road against the Nationals for the NLDS.
Talk about it being a true underdog! Besides, being the underdog makes a better story, and ESPN will gobble it up.
Enjoy the run the Brewers are making…at this point, we can’t be upset with what this team has, or what Doug Melvin has done. Save that for next season. The Brewers have resurrected from the dead and are ready to make a statement in the National League.
My point is this…Be careful what you wish for when you’re team acts like they’re unstoppable. Don’t be fooled; otherwise, you’re about to have a rude awakening.

It’s better to be the underdog, than the favorite. I rest my case.
Going into the 2012-2013 season, I wonder where the Bucks fall into all of this…haha
Follow me on Twitter @RadioJoeZenzola
Until next time, Milwaukee…

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Locations : AtlantaChicagoDallasMilwaukeePhilly
People : Doug MelvinSelig

09/18/2012 3:09PM
Isn't better to be the underdog?
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