In case there remained any doubt about which team reigns over Wisconsin in October, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Bob Wolfley erased it on his SportsDay blog Monday.
Over what many are calling the most spectacular sports weekend in the state, ever, over twice as many Milwaukee households watched the heavily favored Green Bay Packers play a non-conference game against the Denver Broncos than tuned in to see either of the Milwaukee Brewers first-round playoff games.
The Packers captivated 395,713 households in the Milwaukee market on Sunday afternoon while the Brewers game, which started 45 minutes later, drew 184,242. By the time Zach Greinke was taking the mound in the first inning, the Packers were up 21-3. That's a stark difference even when taking into account that the Brewers played on cable network TBS, which is available in 80% of those households, while the Packers game was on CBS.
Hardcore fans pay attention to both teams, of course, but the Packers continue to have a much stronger pull on casual sports fans in this state. That's a significant shift from a generation ago, when postseason baseball nudged football aside for a few weeks each autumn. And if the hometown nine was involved, baseball dominated not just the sports page, but everyday society.
I was a junior in a suburban Twin Cities high school during the Twins' 1987 World Series championship run, and baseball was all anyone wanted to talk about. I vividly remember recounting Kirby Puckett's heroics from the night before with strangers in line at the grocery store and exchanging tips about which stores still had American League champions sweatshirts in stock.
But today in Wisconsin, in the midst of a rare and promising Brewers playoff run, green football jerseys outnumber blue baseball garb two-to-one at my son's middle school, and Aaron Rodgers' championship belt gesture is far more familiar than Nyjer Morgan's "Beast Mode" pose.
Why? It has to have something to do with former Brewers owner - and current Major League Baseball commissioner - Bud Selig's less-than-competitive guidance of the club during the '90s, when the Brewers managed just one winning season (92-70 in 1992). A full generation of adults in this state grew accustomed to baseball irrelevance that coincided with a lengthy run of success by not just the Packers, but the major revenue programs at the University of Wisconsin.
And it might just be that sports fans around here have grown fat and happy on a steady diet of winning teams. Why should the baseball playoffs be worth getting all fired up about when the Packers have made the playoffs three of the last five years, the Badgers have appeared in bowl games nine years straight and the Wisconsin men's basketball team last missed the NCAA tournament in 1998?
Exercise caution here, complacent fans. Do not take any of this success for granted. Consider my native state of Minnesota, home to the once-mighty Twins and Vikings, both of which are now examples of ineptitude and pathos. Take a moment to consider that Russell Wilson is a senior, Prince Fielder is on his way out of Milwaukee, and the Indianapolis Colts, currently 0-4, are demonstrating what can happen to a top NFL organization when its superstar quarterback is sidelined with an injury.
My recommendation is to not just enjoy the current state of sports fandom around here, but wallow in it. Install a second TV in your living room to avoid having to choose between games in the future, and don't balk at wearing your Brewers cap, your Packers jersey and your Badgers sweatpants simultaneously. Blue, green and red may never again look so good together.