The Race for 8th: The Bull vs. The Beer

Way back in the day,  when you could only watch the NBA on Sunday at noon on CBS, I vaguely remember the games being sponsored “in part by” the beer brands Schlitz Malt Liquor and Old Milwaukee.  That may or may not be a “misremembering” on my part.  Because my memory makes sense in one way, but not in another.

It makes  sense because Schlitz Brewing Company produced both beverages.  And I distinctly remember what in retrospect were probably vaguely racist Schlitz malt liquor commercials (internal corporate memoranda later showed the spots were in fact directly aimed at urban African-American males… hard to tell by this spot) featuring pool playing African Americans, a heavy R&B beat, a wall crashing bull, and the punch line “…the Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull!”.

My memory doesn’t make sense because of the Old Milwaukee part.  Why in hell would Schlitz have bothered advertising that swill brand?  Either you’re a college kid and you drink it by the case (and take a plumber’s wrench into the dorm bathroom with you afterward) or you don’t drink it at all.  What good would advertising be to that kind of brand?  But I’m almost certain I remember it being an NBA sponsor.

I bring all this up only because in my 3-year-old brain I recall thinking that somehow Schlitz Malt Liquor, with its bull mascot, was the beer of the Chicago Bulls, and that Old Milwaukee, with its name, must have somehow been the beer of the Milwaukee Bucks, and that the whole dual sponsorship was a play on the rivalry between the teams (don’t ask my reasoning because I have no idea).

The Bulls vs.  The Bucks

Well, the rivalry is finally back…. or at least it can legitimately be called a rivalry again (because if you think about it, the two teams haven’t been at the same competitive level at the same time since the late Kareem/Norm Van Lier era).

And most metricians believe the rivalry will have an impact on the Eastern Conference postseason.  The emerging consensus among “playoff probability” projectionists is that all the Eastern Conference playoff spots are sewn up except the 8th and final spot and that one of two teams will certainly earn it:  either the Milwaukee Bucks or the Chicago Bulls.

On Coolstandings.com, the Bucks are given a 66.5% chance of earning the spot and are projected to finish the season with 39.8 wins.  Meanwhile the Bulls are given a 50.6% chance of earning the spot and are projected to finish with 39.0 wins.  The next closest team above the two is Charlotte, and they are considered a lock with a 91.0% chance of making the playoffs, while the next closest team below the two is Philadelphia and they are given no shot at all with a 1.7% chance of making the playoffs.

Similar story on Basketball-Reference.com’s “Playoff Forecast” page.  There the Bucks are given a 59.2% chance of making the playoffs while the Bulls are given a 52.2% chance.  The next closest team above the two is the Miami Heat, a virtual lock at 94.2%, and the closest team below the two is once again the hopeless Philadelphia Sixers, this time with a miniscule 0.2% chance of making the postseason.

So its going to be the Beer or it’ll be the Bull.  An old school playoff race, with the winner earning a public flogging from the Cavs and the loser earning another humiliating and this time almost certainly useless spot on the loser panel that gathers every spring in Secaucus, New Jersey.

If nothing else, the second half of the 2009-10 season should be interesting for NBA fans residing in and around the I-94 corridor.

Update:  Old Milwaukee beer did in fact air commercials at one time.  Here’s one from YouTube… and it features Wally Cleaver! (“Gee Wally, why do your farts smell so bad?”)  Who were they kidding with that cheesey spot?  I love the line in the commercial that suggests that Old Milwaukee is the beer to get “when you have to buy the beer”.  That’s right… because its cheap!!

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2 Responses to “The Race for 8th: The Bull vs. The Beer”

  1. Houston Says:

    I don’t accept that it’s between the Bucks and Bulls for the 8th spot. Why is Miami so safe with their 1 game lead? Did anyone watch the two consecutive games in which the Bucks blew out the Heaters? All it takes is a Dwayne Wade twisted ankle and that team goes on an extended losing streak.

    • tywill33 Says:

      No, I’m just saying that’s what the “Monte Carlo” projections are saying… I agree with you that Miami is a bit shaky. But their models think Miami is somehow solid.

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