Friday, May 13, 2005

Nobody Wants to be in My Pants Right Now

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" by Ryan. Ryan and I talk about Juan Rincon doing roids.

Been an interesting week here in West Lafayette. I’m now pretty much officially a meteorologist. Well, an unemployed meteorologist, in any event. That means I’m now a real adult, and I’m not sure the world is ready for that. Also assailing my former innocence, a Minnesota Twin was suspended for a positive test. Growing up, I wasn’t used to the scandal that surrounded sports teams, because generally, I was a baseball fan, and the Twins kept their noses clean, we didn’t have a basketball team, and the Vikings were flat out mediocre.

Then we got the Timberwolves, with J.R. Rider and his problems which included drugs and a well placed boot to the back of a hostess. Then we got Randy Moss, and I think I may have mentioned him in passing. The Twins, on the other hand, were the golden children of professional sports, even in the spotless Twin Cities landscape. Sure there were rumblings about Kirby Puckett and his problems with infidelity, but we treated that like the cousin who got arrested for buggery. We just don’t talk about it. But then Juan Rincon, famous for his brilliant middle relief, having had an appearance in the ALDS that inspired the quote serving as the title of this post, and being a Jon Lovitz impersonator.

We, the people of Minnesota, couldn’t ignore this problem, so I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about it. But what to talk about? Steve and I had the following conversation a couple days ago. The issue wasn’t the facts. Those were irreversible. Rincon tested positive, the advertised suspension is ten days. There is, however, the much publicized race issue, which we discussed at length. I’ll make a few comments at the end.

Ryan: I was thinking of whipping something up on Juan Rincon.
Steve: Are you buying the Latin player excuse?
Steve: That's the biggest load of b.s. I ever heard if you ask me.
Ryan: Why?
Steve: How hard is it to understand that they will get in trouble for using illegal substances?
Ryan: That’s not the issue.
Steve: What do you think it is then?
Ryan: The issue is knowing what is illegal, what substances are in certain products, and what is and is not legal in Venezuela, where Juan is from and plays winter ball. More than half the s*** that’s illegal here is OTC there, and the clubhouse trainers don’t stop and ask players if they would like to not take whatever is in the syringe… Could be cortizone, could be andro
Steve: I just think that if this is going to be a big deal now, they would at least think to be more careful wherever they are.
Ryan: All this s*** got listed on January 15th, that’s when things were changed here, they were already playing in Venezuela.
Ryan: Should he be suspended? Yes, he tested positive and if something illegal is in his system then for fairness he should sit.
Steve: Fine with me.
Ryan: But I think this should also be a wake up call that the list of what is banned should be more easily accessible, because from what I understand, American players don’t have a list of what is and is not legal and there is nothing in MLB clubhouses that says what is illegal.... I haven’t been able to find a list online either.
Steve: Yeah I don't really know.
Steve: I think pretty much whatever is illegal in America is illegal in baseball now.
Ryan: In American baseball.
Steve: But that's what all these guys are playing.
Ryan: Not in the winter
Steve: You can get a list of banned substances by the US government I'm sure.
Steve: That's what these guys' agents should be doing for them.
Ryan: I mean, have you seen Juan Rincon? Anything he is taking is supplied by a trainer to ease soreness.
Ryan: That’s what the union should be doing for their players.
Ryan: Either way, it hasn’t happened.
Steve: Yeah someone should be.
Steve: But that applies to everyone, not just non-English speaking players.
Ryan: Yep.
Ryan: But non English players don’t tend to play overseas over the offseason.
Steve: There are actually a lot of young players that play in Mexican leagues and stuff in the offseason.
Steve: There are Arizona winter leagues too, but some go to the Caribbean or Mexico for better competition.
Ryan: I assure you if you are Juan Baseball Player and you provide your Dominican trainer with a list of what’s banned in America, he will laugh politely and say, but you are in Santo Domingo.
Ryan: And Mexico has good regulations compared to the rest of Central America.
Steve: Yeah but I would shoot right back, but if you give me this, “I'm screwed when I go back to America.”
Ryan: It’s the Dominican and South America that are the problems
Steve: I just think these players need to take more responsibility and ask questions before they take a pill or injection, regardless of where they are.
Ryan: Right, but the trainer’s job is to get you back out to play for their team, not for the Twins, in this case. And besides, like I said, these games were being played before January 15th, and there would clearly be something in his system during spring training. If they tested everyone, I’m sure that every team would have a player suspended.
Steve: Well yeah, I'm not arguing that.
Steve: I can see that.
Steve: I don't want this language barrier thing to be the excuse for years to come.
Ryan: I know, but what I’m saying is, the list changed after they took this stuff, in a foreign country where regulations are different, and now the players are going to check in the future, but players like Sanchez and Rincon couldn’t do anything.
Ryan: A)I think initial language problems should already be solved and B)I think the problem is ethnic and not language based. A matter of where you spend your off season.
Steve: Well that's the breaks, I guess.
Steve: Not much more to say about that.
Steve: Hopefully they'll be more careful.
Ryan: Yeah, someone had to go down, sucks that it was on my team, and it sucks that a genuinely good guy gets his reputation sullied. But not much you can do.
Steve: It’s not like they got banned for life or anything.
Ryan: No.
Steve: I think a lot of people will forget Rincon too.
Steve: Sanchez is the 1st, so he's probably stuck with that.
Ryan: I don’t think they will in Chicago or if we play someone in the playoffs
Steve: Yeah but people wear "Jeter has AIDS" shirts too.
Steve: He's gonna get booed in Chicago or the playoffs anyways.

The thing, I think, that Steve and I agree on, is that without question, a positive test should lead to a suspension. I think though, that there are enough problems that MLB should consider holding off on instating the more severe punishments until they are certain there is no unintentional bias in the plan.

Eventually what the league may want to do is follow the NFL plan. Not the steroid plan, but their system of minor leagues. MLB should franchise offseason international teams in South and Central America, maybe eventually even in East Asia, so the American regulations can be applied to winter ball, instead of the foreign laws.

Sadly, this may be my last tangent for a while, as I’m headed home for a few weeks, what with the crappy dial-up and parents who don’t seem to think I deserve leisure time. But I digress. If I’m not posting for a while, I wish you all a happy May. - Ryan

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Saturday, May 07, 2005

Improvements to Is It Sports? And Other Random Stuff

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" by Steve. We had 500 hits on the old site! It's nice to see how far we've come. I think you can add about 2 zeros onto that number for the Victoria Times. Another Ironic thing about this post is that I mention having a greater selection of girls in the real world, and then I went on to meet my wife at Purdue of all places 6 months later when I came back to school for a visit with my some of my friends still there.

As you can see we made some changes to the Is It Sports? page to celebrate its 4 month anniversary today. We did the unthinkable and actually have so many posts on this site now that the main page has gotten overloaded and hard to find what you are looking for. To remedy this, we now have only the 5 most recent posts on the main page and the rest are archived by category below. We also have our nifty new internal search engine, which took me hours to figure out, courtesy of This way you can find a particular article on the site just by searching for any word that appears in it. You can also find out things like how many times we’ve said things like “in the junk” (3 times). The search engine gets a visit from the indexing spider every Sunday morning, so it will automatically stay up to date with the new posts. Enjoy and thanks for the support! Over 500 hits 4 months is pretty good for a modest geocities site.

On to the random stuff...

How ‘bout them White Sox?!? The wins just keep piling up and as of right now they have a 21-7 record and by far the best record in the majors. Wow. It makes my crazy homer pick in the season preview look pretty good right now. As Ryan said in his last post about baseball, sure, the pitching is pitching out of its mind right now, but they are also winning with almost nothing happening in the hitting category. Despite his 7 home runs, Paul Konerko is batting under .200 and Jermaine Dye hasn’t gotten it together at all this season. Tadahito Iguchi is leading the team in average, so hopefully he can keep it up. The Sox have been very good, however, at grinding out runs when it counts. Carl Everett and Juan Uribe lead the majors in sacrifice flies and the hit and runs and stolen bases they frequently use are producing runs despite the lack of singles. If you look at the White Sox history though, all of their best teams besides the 2000 division champs have played this way, so maybe history is repeating itself. The 1906 team wasn’t called the Hitless Wonders, the 1959 team wasn’t called the Go-Go Sox, and the 1983 team wasn’t called the Winning Ugly White Sox for nothing.

Da Bulls!...are on the brink of elimination, and I really regret not talking about them more on here during the remarkable season they had. It’s amazing how a team so young and with so much raw talent was able to put it all together after a rough start to the season and grab the 4th seed in the playoffs. That’s all I’ll say about them for now, but expect a 2004-2005 season tribute to the Baby Bulls from me after the playoffs are over.

My time here at Purdue has come to an end, and I don’t really know what to think of it yet. I took my last final on Tuesday, and now I just have to wait to get my grades and then later my diploma next week, making me a full fledged Mechanical Engineer. Now I have to go out in the real world and start working…which led me to think…what’s better? Purdue or the Real World? Here are the pros and cons of both:

Pros: 1. Only a few hours of class a day 2. Surrounded by lots of good friends your age 3. Using reruns of Walker, Texas Ranger on TV as an excuse to get drunk 4.Being able to walk pretty much anywhere at any time safely 5. All of the fun parties, inside jokes, and traditions 6. Purdue’s Football team
Cons: 1. Lots of homework 2. Tests that make you feel like you haven’t learned anything 3. Bad Girl to Guy ratio, mostly only crazy girls left to pick from 4. Having to walk pretty much everywhere because parking sucks 5. Lafayette Drivers 6. Purdue’s Basketball team

Real World
Pros: 1. You get paid 2. No homework 3. 50-50 ratio, possibly decent girls available 4. Ample parking 5. New work friends and fellow apartment residents to meet 6. In my case, since I’m moving to Detroit, pro sports
Cons: 1. You have to work 8 hours a day 2. No summer vacation 3. All of your college friends are still in school or spread out across the country 4. More responsibilities to worry about 5. You could be half the age of your coworkers 6. The pro sports are Detroit pro sports.

So when it comes down to it, it’s kind of a wash. In college you have less responsibility and you can have more fun, but it has to come to an end sometime. For a goal driven person like me, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get paid for my work and to find at least a half sane woman to start a family with one day, but I’ll always look back fondly at my days at Purdue. It was an experience that I wouldn't have traded for anything. Boiler Up! - Steve

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Friday, May 06, 2005

The 2005 NFL Draft: In-Depth Sick/Drunk Coverage

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" 2 weeks after the NFL draft. Ryan is in black, and Steve is in red. Some of our opinions weren't that far off. We knew Troy Williamson and Cedric Benson might not work out, and we were a little skeptical on Alex Smith...

“Grand Prix” is the biggest party weekend of the year here at Purdue, and Saturday morning brings “breakfast club” in which the bars open early, and all people intending to drink show up there at seven in the morning with costumes on. Really, it’s one of the stupidest ideas ever in the history of college. I was supposed to head up there this morning, but a particularly fast moving and angry stomach virus (I don’t believe it’s either A.J. Pierzynski or Randy Moss that made me ill) had other plans, so here I am, recapping the draft. We can have fun here too, right?

I'm also adding in my 2 cents about the draft 2 weeks later as I am just reading what Ryan wrote and finally posting it now. On draft day, while my dad was donning the silver and black and working the Raiders table in New York, I was donning the blue paint suit costume and matching goggles while drinking screw drivers at Jake's (a bar) and AJ's apartment, where I also (sort of) watched the draft on TV.

San Francisco selects Alex Smith, Utah
I have mixed feelings about this pick. On the one hand, San Francisco is awful. I would think in their shoes, you would go ahead and pick the best available player. According to no one is Alex Smith the best available player, and not even in the top 5 if you talk to some scouts. Also, if you draft a quarterback, especially one who is only 20, you want someone to help them grow as a player, a veteran influence. Tim Rattay is not a veteran influence.

On the other hand, I like the pick, especially for the 49ers. San Francisco has a history of cerebral quarterbacks with Montana and Young, and Alex Smith may just be one of the brainiest guys in a very long time. Eventually, Smith will be a good fit in San Francisco.

Also, everyone knows that Leinart is coming out next year and will be the number 1 pick. Not picking a quarterback is like the management saying “yes we have needs everywhere, but we don’t really expect to improve at all next year, so we will get a top flight QB next year.” So, as a draft choice, this was…necessary.

I'm a little conflicted about Smith as well. I think Rattay isn't all that bad, but he is so injury prone that having Smith is about 1000 times better than having Ken Dorsey on the field. The Niners need a lot of help on D, and that will take numerous draft picks, free agent signings, and coaching to turn things around. Because of their salary cap issues, they probably won't be able to do this until 2008, so might as well try to improve the offense right now. On the other hand, the Niners will probably be the worst team in the NFL again this year, so they will probably be able to pick Leinart with the inevitable first pick that they will have again next year, but I guess he can always get hurt or something, so might as well take what you can now.

Miami selects Ronnie Brown, Auburn
How often does it happen that Miami makes a pick before someone from U. Miami gets picked? I’m not sure about this choice either. Ronnie Brown split time with Cadillac Williams and now he’s going to be playing more downs in more games. I worry about how much wear and tear he can take. At the same time, you have to trust Nick Saban’s eye for talent, as he saw this guy in person. Will stamina be an issue?

I like this pick a lot for Miami. That's all I got

Cleveland selects Braylon Edwards, Michigan
I really wish the Vikings had moved up to grab Edwards, and they may end up taking Mike Williams later, which would be equally fantastic. Having played Edwards in the Big Ten, I’ve seen him and Steve Breaston tear apart Purdue so I know the talent he has. He has a good head on his shoulders and will do well in Cleveland, unless they never bring in a quarterback, which of course, is always possible, especially in those Ohio teams. Nevertheless, this is the first pick I’ve really liked.

Unrelated, Romeo Crennel looks a lot like Denny Green, and if he can pick offensive players like Denny, Cleveland will be sitting pretty for years to come.

Big Ten wide receivers worry me a lot. The conference seems to be a step slower than a few others in the NCAA, and it leads to guys like the undrafted (but record breaking) Taylor Stubblefield to have great careers. I was almost certain the Bears would wind up with him, because they love taking Big Ten underachievers (see David Terrell, Curtis Enis, Anthony Thomas, etc.). I think the Browns would have been better off with Aaron Rodgers, because I have no idea who their QB is now.

Chicago selects Cedric Benson, Texas
It appears nature has dealt another cruel blow to the Bears. They did not have a running back, absolutely a huge problem. But they also didn’t get an opportunity to see that Rex Grossman is really not all that talented. Now they will have a grinder to keep the ball moving down the field. Of course, this means that the Bears seem to be content with Grossman running things, no matter what.

I do like this pick though, Benson seems pretty overwhelmed by being drafted. He’s going to be a hard worker, and he’ll endear himself well to the residents of Chicago. In his interview he was the most honest player I’ve seen in years, and his answers were some of the deepest I’ve ever heard.

Also, this is a huge favor to the Vikings, because I know Red McCombs wanted Benson, despite the fact that he has four running backs that can go for 100 yards in any game. Now, hopefully Cadillac gets selected quickly.

The Bears dodged a bullet by not winding up with Edwards, so they take probably the 3rd best running back in the draft Benson. Sure he's good so he'll help, but I don't think he's quite as good as Cadillac, but I guess we'll find out soon enough. The Bears eventually drafted Kyle Orton from Purdue much later in the draft, and knowing the Bears, he'll be starting for them soon over Grossman. The Bears have a storied history of really dumb draft picks, so I'm skeptical about Benson's future in the NFL.

Tampa Bay selects Carnell Williams, Auburn
And there goes Cadillac. I’m very pleased. I have the same problem with this pick as I did with Brown. I think it will take some time before he gets his legs under him. Tampa, which is another team lacking in passing talent will need to rely on him to run the ball, and I’m not so sure he can handle it.

I just wanted make another mention about the interviews. This was the first pick that wasn’t in the green room, so he wasn’t interviewed. Someone who was interviewed was Braylon Edwards. He sounded like he’s been planning that interview his whole life, and new exactly the right things to say. Going by these interviews, I say Benson and Edwards are locks to be big time players in the league.

Great pick for Tampa. I like Cadillac a lot (and not just because he's named after a GM car). He might get a little frustrated playing for the pass happy Jon Gruden, but I hope he's ready to catch some west coast offense passes.

Tennessee selects Adam Jones, West Virginia
Pac-Man might be one of the best nicknames in the history of the league. Just by appearances, however, he looks like the dumbest person selected in the draft up until now. As Kevin and I agreed, he looked a lot like L’il John, and visually had that kind of swagger, If history has proven anything, however, its that arrogant CB’s are some of the best out there.

I just remember thinking how awesome it will be to have this guy around the NFL for the next 10 years. Pac-Man...ha

Minnesota selects Troy Williamson, South Carolina
How can something so obvious be screwed up this bad. They need a receiver to play opposite Burleson, to replace Randy Moss. So what do they do? They pick some guy I’ve never heard of, when Mike Williams is still on the board. They got the right idea, but they just didn’t pull it out. This selection just leaves me speechless. When I think of something to say, I’ll let you know.

I can't believe they didn't take Williams. Totally stunned. I remember on draft day laughing about how angry Ryan must have been at the moment Troy's name was called. Who knows, maybe this guy will turn out to be pretty good, but how can you just leave Mike Williams sitting there?!?! Especially after trading Randy Moss for this pick!

Arizona selects Antrel Rolle, Miami
This was a good pick. The Cardinals had a glaring need on defense and they filled it with one of the best corner backs available. Kiper thought that Rolle would go to Tennessee instead of Pacman. I really think that that Denny Green is back to working his magic on draft day. If the Cards can play some more defense with existing players, they could sneak up on some people next year.

Hey, Miami finally gets someone selected, too, so now the draft has officially started.

So Rolle goes to the new look Cardinals (and as in new look, I mean Arena League style). Poor guy. But maybe with his help, they can finally get over the hump and finally beat those 49ers this year.

Washington selects Carlos Rogers, Auburn
Fred Smoot, thankfully, is playing in Minnesota next season, so the ‘Skins needed a cornerback to play opposite Shawn Springs. Joe Gibbs is clearly back in charge for the Redskins again, otherwise Daniel Snyder would have picked Mike Williams, the sexiest player left at this point.

Detroit selects Mike Williams, USC
I don’t get it. This is the third year in a row that the Lions have grabbed a wide receiver. Someone has to be getting traded out of that threesome, and I really hope that the Lions get someone good. If someone doesn’t get dealt, this may have been one of the biggest wasted picks of all time, and its hard to say that with such a talented player.

Williams is very very good, but why Detroit? They already drafted 2 top wideouts the last 2 years. Are they just trying to prove that Joey Harrington is the worst quarterback of all time now? I mean, I guess if he can't win with these guys, he probably is. AJ, the only Lions fan I have ever met, and that's after actually living in Detroit for 3 months too, was completely shocked by this pick as well.

Dallas selects Demarcus Ware, Troy
You absolutely have to be confident before you make a choice like this. Nobody watches games from Troy, Alabama, and Troy doesn’t play very talented teams. I don’t know much about him, but he had to have had brilliant work outs to be selected this high in the draft, the first end selected overall. Parcells has shown an eye for talent throughout his career, so we’ll see.

I drove through Troy, Alabama on my way to Panama City on spring break. Wow...the only way I knew I was in a college down was because of Trojans logo I saw every now and then. Dallas has a history of good scouting though, so I won't doubt them on this one. I wrote Ware's name on my roomate Jimmy's face, because he was passed out by this point, to let him know who his favorite team picked.

San Diego selects Shawne Merriman, Maryland
I had guessed that Merriman would go to the Lions two picks prior, but they decided to go a different route that made absolutely no sense. The Chargers have to be ecstatic that he fell to them. It has to be nice that their team matured so much last year that they were able to patch holes instead of build a new boat. They got the player they wanted using the Giants pick they acquired when they forfeited the prima donna, Eli Manning. Perhaps there is karma after all in the NFL draft.

I don't remember this pick, I think I passed out by this point too.

New Orleans selects Jammal Brown, Oklahoma
The Saints moved up to pick the guy they wanted, making sure that he didn’t go to the Panthers, who had the next pick. From what I’ve heard, this seems like a good choice. It always seems as thought it’s easier to find offensive linemen, like their talent is easier to transfer from college to the pros. Duce McCallister will love having this strong run-blocker in front of him.

same as above

Carolina selects Thomas Davis, Georgia
Carolina takes second place in the Jammal Brown sweepstakes, picking up Davis, a good looking tackler can play safety or linebacker. Tory Holt hopes he plays safety, but others say he harkens back to Derrick Brooks. Either way, he will be a good fit with the Panthers, who could use a little help in coverage, either from a safety or a cover linebacker.

I think at this point now I was watching the Pistons-76ers game. The Sixers were winning at the time, so I decided to call up AJ and trash talk him over it, which wound up being a hilarious voice mail. For some reason, he had left his own apartment and Jimmy and I were still there.

Kansas City selects Derrick Johnson, Texas
Johnson has a bad reputation as a poor tackler. The Kansas City Chiefs have a bad reputation as poor tacklers. This is a perfect fit. The thing is though, the Chiefs are picking up a lot of talented defensive players and Kendrell Bell will be well served by having Johnson playing on the outside, and the Chiefs will benefit from a new defensive player.

Johnson was supposed to be a top 10 pick, so the Chiefs had a solid player fall to them. Will he stop the defense from giving up 49 points a game? Probably not, but its a start.

All right, I’m not going to lie to you. My mom called and we talked for a little too long. I missed a good chunk of the first round, so that’s all I really have to say.. It’s not like I’m Mel Kiper or something - Ryan

I don't remember much of the first round after that either. It sucks being hung over at like 5 in the afternoon. Happy Grand Prix! - Steve

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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Ryan and Joel's Spring Break Road Trip: Day 7

Originally posted on "Is It Sports" by Ryan. This is the final part of Ryan's Spring Break Road Trip posts.

Day 7 Little Rock, AR – Gallatin, TN

I figured if I’m writing about a Spring Break Road Trip, I should get it done before I graduate, at least. Give me a break though, I’ve had a lot of stuff going on, what with graduating from a Big Ten University and all. Anyways, look at most of our posts. You can call us a lot of things, but punctual is not one of them.

Before we took off towards Tennessee, we stopped in downtown Little Rock to see the Presidential Library. Unlike his own hometown and the women he let in the White House, the Library was incredibly attractive. Joel just wanted to see the replica Oval Office. It cost seven dollars. We turned around.

As we made our way towards Memphis, we ran low on fuel, and much like in Texas, all the gas stations were prepay. If I may briefly rant, I have to say prepaid gas stations are one of the most ridiculous concepts instituted by the clearly intellectual minds of convenience store management. Some day, station owners will learn that the video camera installed in the awning is a much wiser investment than making someone come inside and guessing how much gas they will need, especially when someone starts going to the station down the street where they TRUST their customers.

But I digress.

We eventually buckled to the whims of ExxonMobil and fueled before making the rest of the trip to Memphis. When we go there, we hopped out along the Mississippi River and took a stroll through downtown to Beale Street. If you don’t know, Beale is a street known for its jazz history, home to legends like B.B. King and the like. The celebrations there get to be not unlike Bourbon Street in New Orleans. We got there on St. Patrick’s Day, so it would have been a big party night, but we arrived at noon and had to settle for lunch.

The place we stopped at, Alfred’s was obviously a jazz place, with large screens and a stage and pictures of people like Eric Clapton and others who had performed there. Most importantly we got our first taste of the NCAA tournament. Alabama versus Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It wasn’t exactly the two teams we really wanted to see, but it beat watching the local noontime news.

After the trip to Alfred’s we took a look around town, saw the Pyramid (what goes on there anymore?) and the FedEx Arena, home of Memphis basketball of all types. Definitely a Pantheon moment in my life, that’s for sure. Truth is, Memphis seemed like a nice town, but it also seemed like the town that I wouldn’t want to spend much time in after dark.

We moved off to Nashville through the remarkably hilly Tennessee. Quite the contrast to the flatness we had been subjected to for the first part of the trip. Not being country fans, we just found a hotel after getting off the freeway, which was in the midst of rush hour/just arriving tournament fan traffic. We found, again, a Comfort Inn in the northern suburb of Gallatin. After arriving, we decided we needed to go out at least once on this trip, and after asking the very pregnant, very toothless woman behind the desk, she directed us to a shopping area.

We stopped in at a restaurant/sports bar named Rafferty’s and kept an eye on the basketball games in the bar. The hostess led us into the bar and flirted with me a little, telling the bartender that I went to her school. “Wouldn’t that suck?” she tittered. Whatever. A girl talked to me of her own accord. She was probably 18.

I feel disgusting.

The bar though, had the standard three groups of people you’ll find at any non-college bar. They are as follows:

1. The Giggly Single Office Girls. They were a cause for debate between myself and Joel. Were they attractive? Where they worth the time to say hi to? We decided that yes, they were attractive if we were five years older, and no, they shouldn’t be approached, as the Mudslides they had been working on since well before we got there were doing their job and the giggling, now incessant, was annoying. This happens at pretty much every bar I’ve been to.

2. The Regulars. Clearly, this was a pair of guys that knew each other and had probably known each other for some time. They had each elected different paths in life and was secretly jealous of the other. As a result, they tried to talk up their own lives to cover for their own perceived shortfalls. The funny thing was, one was a business type, the other the contractor type. I couldn’t imagine what they possibly had to talk about, so they started yakking about the staff, who they also knew. I’m sure they had the internal debate Joel and I did in the previous paragraph. The difference is, I’m assuming they thought those girls were worth it.

3. The Ugly Lovebirds. These two were all over each other. You’ll find these two at any bar you go to, and you’ll be grossed out. You won’t mind that Mr. Bird is all hands, but you will mind that Ms. Bird weighs 250 pounds and is very visibly wearing a thong. We only assumed it was Mr. Bird’s hands going up the back of her shirt, but she blocked any sightlines we could have had. Most couples, believe it or not, have a situation where one member is more attractive than the other, be it slightly or greatly, and no matter what gender you are, you can always tell which way the tables are turned. With the Ugly Lovebirds, both are so far away from attractive that it doesn’t matter either way.

There you have it. That was Joel and my trip. It was a blast, no matter what you think, or how poorly I conveyed it. Yeah, there was the whole trip from Nashville to Lafayette, but really, I’ve written about that before, when we all went to Louisville. From now on, I promise to mostly write about sports again. - Ryan

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Monday, May 02, 2005

Title These Kind of Articles Contest

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" by Ryan. These columns filled with random thoughts would eventually be called, "The Junk."

Star Tribune writer Sid Hartman’s column is basically a mishmash of stories in which he pretends to know everyone involved and mostly doesn’t tell you anything. The bad news is, I really don’t have an idea for an entire, lengthy post, and I didn’t feel up to writing about Day 7, so just like Sid, here comes a whole lot of garbled crap that’s on my mind. Seeing, also, that this is the second time I’ve done this, I should probably come up with a clever name for this type of column. I’ll probably use the first idea you guys give me.

- Some thoughts on the Twins and the A.L. Central up until now. The things the Twins are having problems with are things Ron Gardenhire tries to eliminate, like fielding. I can’t imagine we will have the problems we’ve been having so far with that. Michael Cuddyer still needs to transition to third, and Jason Bartlett is a rookie. Bartlett seems to have snapped out of it, and whatever Cuddyer’s problems are, if they persist, he can be replaced by Terry Tiffee who is only being held to the minors because Terry Ryan felt the need to keep a third catcher, Corky “Corky” Miller due to Joe Mauer’s shake knee. The biggest complaint now about Cuddyer is his rampant insistence on not hitting with runners in scoring position.

That was, also, a huge problem early in the season, particularly during the series in Chicago. We kept loading the bases with less than two outs and not scoring. We see, to have overcome that problem in no small part due to Justin Morneau, the best hitter in baseball that nobody has ever heard of, and the impending nightmare of the AL Central. What happens when the Twins start to hit the longball? During the anemic stretch, Morneau was on the DL with a concussion after being drilled by Ron Villone in the second game of the season. Since he has returned in late April, Morneau is hitting over .400 with a couple of homers. Add that to the fact that Jacque Jones is still batting above .350 and Lew Ford has started to come around, the Twins lineup seems to be in good shape, at least until you get to the 8 and 9 hitters (often Cuddyer and Luis “Mascara” Rivas).

The Twins pitching staff appears to be talented, if not solid. Santana and Radke are always reliable, except when they don’t get any run support, and Carlos Silva has been a gem, again, when he wasn’t on the disabled list. Joe Mays appears to be healthy after missing the past two seasons. Nobody expects him to return to all-star form, but it would be nice to se Joe return to serviceable 4th starter form. The fifth starter Kyle “I would be clubhouse poison too, if anyone paid attention to me” Lohse sports a silly goatee, a closet full of potential and a head full of problems. If he ever sees that potential, he will be like Jon Garland was in Chicago in April. We’ll all say “finally” and still pensively hold our breaths waiting for another breakdown.

As for the rest of the AL Central, particularly the White Sox, I can only base it on what I’ve seen. Every run the White Sox score is valid. Their lineup is stacked and well balanced, for the most part, and I think their pitchers can know they need to hold the opponent under four runs every night and stand a good chance of winning. The problem, then, with the White Sox isn’t their hitting. Mark Buehrle has always scared me. He will absolutely win his twenty this year. Freddy Garcia is a solid #2, and would be the ace in three rotations in his own division. Jose Contreras and Orlando Hernandez have been exceptionally fortunate. As I mentioned earlier, the Twins showed impeccable skill in not scoring with the bases drunk, but they didn’t get those bases loaded of their own prerogative. Contreras and Hernandez put those runners there due to a scary lack of control. Eventually, they are going to face teams that aren’t slumping or aren’t the Detroit Tigers, and then it’s all over for them. There is a reason neither is pitching in New York anymore. I mean come on, they kept Kevin Brown.

As for the rest of the league, I have a few words of advice. Don’t let Brian Roberts fool you, Baltimore. Don’t you remember the lessons you learned from Brady Anderson? And Philadelphia, don’t let Pat Burrell fool you either. Don’t you remember the lessons you learned from… Pat Burrell? And as for New York, this little April doldrums thing might not be a fluke. Ask the 2004 Mariners what the problem might be.

- So, on my NCAA March Madness game for Xbox, there is a feature in dynasty mode which can cause you to be forced to change conferences. As a result, after season one, I got a two messages. The first “The Big Ten has voted Purdue out of the conference” and “Welcome to Conference USA!” Apparently Cincinnati was a better fit for the Big Ten. But then that got me in a “what if?” situation. I realized it made great sense for both conferences, if you ignore the fact that C-USA is getting obliterated this season.

For Conference USA, you bring in a solid football team with a good fan base. The Boilers play Notre Dame every year, so that’s automatic publicity for the conference, and the other bonus would be a legitimate spoiler to Louisville or TCU or whatever hack team was trying to run the table. As for basketball, every legitimate conference should try for a school from either Indiana or North Carolina. Seriously, the Pac-10 should try to add Valparaiso sometime soon.

For the Big Ten, it makes sense mostly for basketball. Sure it’s a power basketball conference already, with schools like Illinois and Michigan State, but the problem is with the intensity. In the past decade or so, for various reasons, the Big Ten lost Gene Keady, Judd Heathcote, Bobby Knight, and Clem Haskins. Adding Bob Huggins to the mix would bring back a crazy-as-hell coach to a lifeless Tom Izzo conference and put a face, an angry, red, yelling face, to the competition. As for all other spots, who wouldn’t want an in-state rivalry between TOSU and Cincy?

- Other video game news, in one of the most ironic signings ever in a video game, the Detroit Pistons signed free agent Stephen Jackson on my copy of NBA Live.

- I am painfully excited by the prospects of this season in Minnesota. No more headcase wide receiver, but a questionable draft pick by Mikey Tice. The defense is dramatically improved, so no more cold sweats when the opposing quarterback sets up in the shotgun. One of two great things could happen this year. The Vikings could win the 12 games their talent suggest, or equally satisfying, Troy Williamson falls flat on his face and Tice gets ushered out by armed security guards

All right, I can’t think of anything else. I do, however, think the NHL strike will get resolved very soon. Cite me as a source if it happens. And I’m done – Ryan

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