Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Most Random Post To Date.

OK, here's the plan. As soon as the song playing in my headphones is over (Treble Charger, if you were wondering) I will take them off and look at Sportscenter, because I don't have anything in particular to write about today, so I'm going to consult ESPN, as they CLEARLY know what the public wants. Whatever they have on the screen, I will try to spit out at least three quality, insightful paragraphs on the subject. Aaaaannnnd....It's a Volkswagon commercial.
I suppose I could write about cars for a little bit. Or Germany. Or commercials. I'm going to go with an assimilation of each of those three, somehow, I think.Let's talk about German cars! There are three major lines that I can think of, and they fit into neat little categories. Volkswagon - affordable sedan, Mercedes - luxury sedan, Porsche - sports car.
All three of these cars have something in common. They're all totally unnecessary. Back in the 80s, Americans everywhere worried that the Japanese were going to start producing products more efficiently, both in terms of expense and time. Then two things happened for American auto makers. First, there was a wave of patriotism and pride in the purchase of American made cars, and secondly, the U.S. manufacturers sought ways to emulate Japanese methods, and as a result, the American automotive industry adapted.
So then what did the Germans do? Well, they couldn't rely on their status as being American, obviously, so they were left to adapt, but then, they didn't. They went the other way. They advertised their meticulousness. They talked about how long it took to manufacture their cars. So the supply went down and the price went up. What the hell? How is that a good business plan? Now only rich people want a German car.
If you are fiscally responsible and want to buy a foreign car, why can you replace that "affordable sedan", the Volkswagon, with a Honda? Why not get a Lexus (made by Toyota!) instead of the Mercedes? Get a Mazda Miata or a Mitsubishi Spider instead of the Porsche? I don't get the Germans.
And that does it. That was more difficult than I expected it to be. Kind of terrible, but I liked the challenge. And we all found out that I am strongly against German cars. So that was fun. - Ryan

Thursday, May 25, 2006

We're getting stadiums!

The University of Minnesota is getting a stadium on the U campus, and the Twins are going to be getting an open air stadium near the Target Center. Like the Target Center, the Gophers stadium has sold its naming rights, in their case, to TCF bank, and the edifice will be called, uniquely, TCF Bank Stadium. So that leaves the question on what to call the Twins ball park. Well, thankfully, I have some ideas for local companies.
Best Buy could further their local influence and plug their favorite product and call it the Best Buy Extended Warranty Ballpark.
General Mills has several options. Some of my favorites are Betty Crocker Stadium, Green Giant Field, Pillsbury Park, Lucky Charms Field, Wheaties Stadium, Count Chocula Colloseum, and Haagen Dazs Frozen Field.
Another good choice would be Hormel, and though Spam Field would instill fear in our opponents' hearts, I think a more noble name would be Jennie-Orena.
3m also has some pretty good options, though I'm partial to Post-it Park or Scotch Stadium.
I would love The St. Paul to stick it to the Angels and call the stadium The St. Paul Stadium of Minneapolis.
But really, in truth, I think the best idea is to just call the stadium the FingerHut.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


As my friend Joel and I made our way through the heartland of the country last March, we passed through the heart of Oklahoma. The goal of our trip was a visit to the meteorological hotbed of Norman, but my aunt lived a couple of hours to the southwest in Lawton, so I gave her a call to see if she wanted to meet us in Oklahoma City, or somewhere nearby. After a game of phone tag, we decided that she wouldn't be able to make the trip to Oklahoma City, and we didn't want to lose 4 hours of our eventual trip to Dallas and beyond.
"I understand, I wouldn't have changed my plans either, but thanks for thinking of me," Margaret assured us.
Sadly, Margaret passed away this morning. Coupled with the passing of my cousin's husband, Pete, this has been a trying time for my family, but as I believe Margaret and Pete would have wanted, the family and myself with continue plugging away. We don't want to change our plans for life, despite the tragedies that have befallen us. But we will always think of them.

If you wish to pay your respects, please do so by donating to the American Cancer Society or Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

(The Times will be off until Thursday)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I returned to my computer this evening and found this message from my buddy Steve. "Mighty Ducks, Oilers, Hurricanes, Sabres...........ok." The first Stanley Cup Playoffs since the lockout has certainly turned heads. Well, it's turned the heads of those who actually have OLN. Speaking of, is there anyone with OLN that will take me in this month?
Well, who is going to bring home Lord Stanley's Cup this year? I'm sure the common belief is that Ilya Bryzgalov and Ryan Miller, two hot goalies will cary the Ducks and Sabres to the finals. I say au contraire! Typically, a hot goalie can get you only so far. Just ask Jean Sebastian Giguere. In the finals, it comes down to the skill players, the forwards. So who has the top forwards out there? Who will it be? Let's take a look.
Carolina - Chalk full of good talent, young and old. They have young guys, like Eric Staal, Erik Cole, and Justin Williams. Then there are good veterans, like big defensive forward Corey Stillman and proven clutch vets Rod Brind'Amour, Doug Weight and Ray Whitney. This is a seriously potent team, offensively, and Ryan Miller better prepare himself.
Buffalo - They rely on a roster full of Buffalo lifers, meaning few of them have even sniffed the Cup before. Chris Drury is really the only postseason veteran on the roster. Maxim Afinogenov, J.P. Dumont and Jason Pominville are the most capable scorers on the team, whileTim Connelly and Ales Kotalik figure to see some action as well.
Anaheim - The Ducks offensive roster does not look promising. There is a reason they were a low seed in the playoffs, and it could come back to haunt them against Edmonton. They only have two good viable scorers in Teemu Selanne, who is growing old but is still quick, and Andy McDonald. They're next leading scorer, Jeff Lupul has 30 fewer points. Anaheim needs Bryzgalov to stay hot.
Edmonton - The Oilers are a great example of what was supposed to happen with the restructured finances in the NHL, signing Chris Pronger, a strong, skilled defender, and acquiring Sergei Samsonov at the trade deadline. They already have playmaker Ales Hemsky up and coming and leading the team in points, and youngster Jarret Stoll, Shawn Horcoff and captain Ryan Smyth buoy this team.
In case you couldn't tell from my assessment, I like the Hurricanes and the Oilers to advance, with Carolina taking the cup back to Raleigh, as strange as that sounds. But clearly, I have no idea what's going on in the NHL this season, if my previous posts are any indication. - Ryan

Soccer. Wait, come back and read this!

I don't know if it's been mentioned anywhere in the sports world, but soccer is a popular sport in every country but here. I like soccer, as long as it's European or International soccer, because American Soccer is esentially what Latvian basketball is to the NBA: a facsimile of the same game, but not nearly as good.
The thing I like so much is the passion. Imagine huge stadiums across this country for one sport where all the fans were as passionate as Browns fans in the NFL, or Red Sox fans in baseball. A sport where people wager body parts on victories. Loyalty in European soccer is assumed. There is always something to play for in the matches, whether it's a championship or to avoid relegation, so the fans never stray from their team.
Then, of course, there is the athleticism. In every sport in the United States, there are pauses. Soccer matches have to be aired commercial free, since there is so little stoppage. It's just constant, dogged work. And the matches are so important to the fans and the countries in which they air that forty five minutes of commercial free television doesn't sound unreasonable.
Soccer is coming to the forefront, with the UEFA Championns League finals, and then, next month, the beginning of the month, The World Cup begins, and I feel like I know far too little. If the game was more easy for me to understand or track, I would certainly love to do so in not World Cup years. Assuming I don't make any European or South American friends any time in the next year or so, I don't think I'll have to many more soccer posts for a while. But there will be some, because this is my blog, dammit. - Ryan

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Reasons I love the AL Central

There are exactly two reasons why I love the Central. First, the Twins call it home. Second, 4 of my 5 least favorite teams (the Yankees being the fifth) reside in the division. Now, that's pretty concise, and I think I get my point across. No? OK, then here are three reasons I hate each of the other four teams in the division.
Chicago White Sox
Mark Buehrle - Never mind that he's been a menace to Twins hitters, and even when he isn't he still manages to get a win. The thing I can't stand about him are his media blurbs and his constant, smug expression. He just looks like a douchebag.
Jim Thome -Anyone who plays for two teams in the Central gets on my list of most hated players, especially when they kill the Twins.
The inferiority complex - Whenever the White Sox aren't having a magical season, or aren't in first place, they get snippy. They take shots at teams they can't beat, like "We're better than they are, despite the fact we're 12 games out." You know, stuff like that. Also, you have to acknowledge that this whole "rivalry series" thing in interleague play is mostly their fault. I brought up this topic over at Is It Sports about a year ago. The way I see it, only about three teams care about these "rivalries", the Mets, the Yankees, and the White Sox. The Cubs gain nothing from this, as their fan base doesn't care about the Sox, and they sell out every game anyways. The White Sox sell out games against the Cubs, whereas they struggle to do that every night otherwise, even with a world series ring. Really, the Chicago series isn't so much about a rivalry as the Sox trying to get a little attention in their own town. If you ask the Cubs who their rival is, they will all say St. Louis. So let's have better games and no inane interleague series. Please?
Cleveland Indians
The pitching staff - They get frustrated and play target practice with the Torii Hunter's rib cage.
The farm system - How do they keep coming up with these players that are virtually all the same, except at different positions. Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta, etc. I couldn't pick any of these guys out of a lineup, but I know the name, and they kick ass in fantasy sports.
The "history" - Carlos Baerga, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Charles Nagy, Dave Burba, Omar Vizquel, Paul Sorrento.....
Detroit Tigers
Magglio Ordonez - See the comment on Jim Thome
Ivan Rodriguez - His name is Pudge and he looks like Punch's evil twin. His evil twin who has a funny shaped head and lives in lower Michigan, not Southern California.
The Ugliness- The Tigers have one of the most bland, ugly uniforms in sports. They play in one of the most bland and ugly cities in America. They have a history of bland, ugly players. They play in bland, ugly stadiums. They are bland and ugly, those Tigers.
Kansas City Royals
Kaufmann Stadium - Ooooh! It has waterfalls! Well, so does Zimbabwe, but they don't deserve a baseball team either. And if the stadium is such a big draw, and Kansas City is a baseball town, why can't they draw more fans than the St. Paul Saints?
The uniform - The Royals introduced the blight that is the sleeveless vest. Enough said.
Runelvys and Ambiorix - Oh no. Wait. I hate these as Scrabble trays.

So that's why I love the AL Central. - Ryan

Sunday, May 14, 2006

An update on something important only to me.

The title is a little bit of a misnomer, because at least one person cares about my fantasy teams. She said so in my comments. Thus, I am writing a post on them. Let's take a peeksee at the two teams I'm fielding, first with Gassner's All-Stars.
My assesment of the team was flat out wrong. The right side of my infield, Darrin Erstad and Orlando Hudson, were pretty nasty. Hudson couldn't hit, and Erstad is on the disabled list. When your saviors are Mike Lowell and Phil Nevin, you are either the Texas Rangers or a beleaguered fantasy team. Nevin and Lowell have, however brought me out of last place, and I'm sitting pretty in thirteenth (of eighteen). After my abysmal first couple of weeks, I'm actually beating the first place team, thanks to Nevin, Lowell and my best pick up, Waney Rodriguez. That's right, my best pick up is named Waney.
Overall, the best performers are Mike Mussina (won't last), Rodriguez, Roy Halladay, Derick Turnbow and on offense, Miguel Cabrera, the only player ranked in the top 100 that I have on my team on offense. That's pretty bad news for me, and I'm not entirely sure what I can do about it. I'm sure having Griffey back from injury can't hurt, and Kevin Mench and Grady Sizemore are getting better. Hopefully one of my other guys can get hot, but when Damian Miller is my catcher, I'm not sure that's very likely. Right now though, I'm going to ride the upward surge of this team, riding the back of my pitching staff.
VictoriaTimes, in my other league, is faring much better, to start. They are in first place after a quick start, but I feel they are fading fast. My team was hit by the injury bug early, as I lost Julio Lugo and Coco Crisp, but somehow, my team persevered. Garret Atkins has been a revelation at third, and Nick Swisher has been a godsend. The guy that helped me at the beginning of the year, Greg Maddux, is seeming more like a forty year old lately, and my pitching stats are feeling the effect. Thankfully, I have Jon Lieber, John Glavine, and Dontrelle Willis to pick up the slack when they get going.
My goal with this team is to trade away Mark Teixeira. I need pitching, and I have Prince Fielder just waiting to step in and play every day. Actually, with Jason Duchscherer going on the DL recently, I REALLY need pitching. Crisp will eventually come back, and I may not have a place to put him, so I might be trading him for a pitcher too. The outlook for these guys is actually pretty good, so I'm excited about their chances. I just hope that the Times can stay on top and the All-Stars keep swinging a hot bat. Until next time - Ryan

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Blog News/Notes

Just a couple of tidbits on the blog thus far.

- Chicks dig the Times. Judging from the comments so far, I have received but one that I can safely say is from a male. All the rest are from women. What did I do to get such a following? I have absolutely no idea. I'll take it, though. For once in my life, girls like me.

- If I ever make it big, and get an ad out there, I want my slogan to be "Get with the Times, man". Why I told anyone else that, I'll never know.

- I've discovered through Google that the name of the paper in Victoria, British Columbia is the Time-Colonist. So, when you Google "Victoria Times" You find out all you need to know about Vancouver Island. But if you know what to look for, I'm in there.

- Lastly, contact me if you have any ideas for posts. I'm willing to take submissions or work with your ideas. I'm all about appeasing the masses (or dozens, whatever) And if you read this blog, I have no doubt that you know how to get in touch with me.

That's all for today - Ryan

Around Town

And now, dear friends, it's time to do what I love best. Make fun of the local newspaper, and by extension, my own home town. So lets take a look at what is making headlines in what may be the worst paper in Carver County, shall we?
Well, the cover story is about a woman who runs the "Victoria Care Center". I can't really make fun of this article, because I would be an evil person for making light of a place that takes care of old folks, but I do have one thing to point out. The house in question in this article is along the trail I walk my dog. Over the past 10 years, it has got about 6 new additions and really looks like the worlds worst Transformer. Turns out there WAS more than meets the eye.
So, moving on to letters to the editor. I'm honestly appalled. The editor will take no letters and use them as news, as she should. She's relegated a death of a young man in a car accident to a letter to the editor! Really classy. I might start using your real name! Speaking of, her fake name right now is Celine Dion, just so I have someone to direct my annoyance at.
So then the next letters are one from her daughter and then one asking a direct question, to which she doesn't actually give an answer too. And wasn't really important for anyone to read because the event in question happened a month ago. Perhaps a print version of the Times is in the works, seeing as I kinda have more journalistic integrity, and this is a blog and I just typed the word "kinda".
OK then. That's enough berating Ms. Dion for right now. Let's poke through the news from the City Hall, the only real news available in the paper. An old building downtown was recently purchased and the antique store downtown is getting moved out, while the name of the building will now be the Notermann Building after undergoing a remodeling of the exterior. Now, I ask you, nay I beg you to tell me how on earth we aim to remain a kitschy, backwards, outdated town if we don't have a single antique store. This is an important, weighty matter that I don't think should be discounted. Oh, and in the picture of the computer image of what the building will look like, they have a pick-up parked out front. Yep, that's Victoria for you.
All right, moving on. Something about expenditures. Just typing that made me bored. However, the next brief was about Volksfest. "Volksfest?" I said aloud, startling the dog. "I hope there are Beetle's and Passat's and... Oh," I continued talking to nobody in particular (I'm insane). Turns out it's just some festival downtown Victoria. If there is anything this town needs, it's another liquor outlet. Oh well, better than looking at a Touareg for an afternoon.
So, the next article, it's a long thing on redeveloping downtown as proposed by Celine Dion all-star, former mayor, Mary Meuwisson (pronounced not at all how it looks). Meuwisson barked up this tree for 8 years as mayor, but now she's really got a plan cooking. She already owns property downtown and seems to want to but the rest of it. The best part is how she drops some owners of property into casual conversation. Craig Lynn owner of Schmitty's is on board with the plan. And Rich Gannon wants to own property downtown. And I want to build this building here. Wait... Rich Gannon? THAT Rich Gannon? In fact, yes, she was talking about THAT Rich Gannon. He owns a building on Quamoclit Street. Quamoclit. Just let that sink in. One minute, he's bringing the Raiders to the Super Bowl, the next, he's got a building on an incredibly dirty sounding road. And Celine usually reverts to calling people in the article by their first name. Rich Gannon kept getting called Rich Gannon. He's a big deal. I almost got his autograph once downtown, but as he was giving my hat back, Dexter Jackson intercepted it.
I was struggling to think of a good Dexter Jackson joke, and that's the best I could come up with. I'm disappointed too.
Speaking of disappointing, the news from City Hall continued. Carver Park (a highlight of my childhood) and Victoria swapped 14 acres with each other. It would have been nice to see a graphic or something, because I have no idea where or what they are talking about. They being Celine Dion.
In the next brief, there is another outstanding highlight of what goes on at City Hall. To quote Mayor Jerry Bohn on the topic of a dog park, "We haven't [been told] what the Park is going to do." I'll tell you what a dog park is going to do. It's going to serve as a toilet. Dogs will poop there. Now let's move on.
There were consecutive articles on feasibility studies for paving gravel roads. One of them was this weird alley near my house that I've walked by a couple times in the past couple days. I realized that in my twenty years of living in Victoria, I've NEVER been on that road. My personal goal over the coming weeks is to take that alley and see where it goes. Wish me luck.
And that wraps up out look at the local new headlines. Perhaps someday I'll have a scoop or an interview or something. Doubtful. - Ryan

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Prairie Home Companion

Last night, Brian Williams and NBC Nightly News were in Minneapolis. Why? Was there a plane crash? A riot? A tragic natural disaster? A political convention? No no. There was something clearly more important. There was a movie premier, and there were celebrities in town. Real live celebrities!
At the big movie premier, they had a high school marching band and a parade of horse drawn carriages to the theater. The local NBC network spent at least a third of their broadcast covering the travails of Meryl Streep and Garrison Keillor.
And the perception of Minneapolis took at least two steps back.
The Twin Cities have slowly been cultivating the image of an artisic, scholarly, advanced city in the past several decades, and this movie was going to be a symbol that Minneapolis and St. Paul were ready to step into the elite cities of American culture, but instead, how does the local media react?
"YYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHAW! Them's movie stars over thar! They's gonna be in the movies! We're gon' be in the movies! Woohoo!"
It's just one movie. Settle down. You're making me a little sick.
Excuse me, but I have to go back to my shack and whip up a batch of moonshine.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

This Will Only Hurt A Little

It's time for a monthly checkup on the Twins. We'll look at a few players doing well, and then a few players doing not so well. Lastly, I'll give them a prescription for the next month or so.
The Good News -
Francisco Liriano - The Twins were right not to give in and deal this kid who is the best long reliever on the team has right now. While the rest of the pen has been shaky to say the very least, bringing in Liriano gives the Twins hope. A) that the bleeding will stop in the given game, and B) the Twins have an ace for the future. Coupled with Johan Santana and Scott Baker, the Twins shouldn't fade to far anytime soon.
Luis Castillo - After some struggles early in the field, Castillo is doing what the team wants. He's getting on base in front of Joe Mauer, flashing some glove, and stealing bases. Acquiring Castillo is one of Terry Ryan's best moves as a GM, if April is any indication.
Juan Castro - There were many murmurs and lamentations when Jason Bartlett was sent down at the beginning of the season, but Castro is doing exactly what the Twins ask of him, providing veteran leadership, fielding well, and in general, playing smart baseball. When he gets an extra base hit here or there, it's a bonus.
The Bad News -
Carlos Silva - Silva excells, typically by throwing strikes and inducing ground balls. So far, he is struggling by throwing strikes and inducing heartburn. His sinker isn't working yet, and he's getting lit up.
Brad Radke - I've recently heard Radke called a poor man's Greg Maddux. He does rely on expert control, much like Maddux, and he has just won games for the Twins for about a decade. One thing Radke and Maddux apparently do not share is career longevity. Radke has looked spent for the first month of the year.
Rondell White - He's a solid .290 guy who should hit about 25 homeruns a year. The only problem is that he's swinging the stick at about .135 with no homers so far. The good news is that there is nothing left but to improve, and I expect he will.
Prognosis -
The problems the Twins are having right now fall mostly on the shoulders of the starting pitchers, although Santana and Baker are shaping up. If Radke (I'm worried), Silva (I'm not worried), and Kyle Lohse (He will, and then he won't, and then he will again) shape up, there isn't much cause for concern. There is more offensive potential on this team than there has been for many years. The biggest concern now is the rest of the teams in the division, who are clearly stepping up to the plate this season.
Prescription -
The Twins need to keep Liriano in the bullpen, as hard as it is to hear that, until the pen gets straightened out. With the way they are getting worn down, they need all the live arms they can get. When Silva inevitably regains form, then it will be time to tinker with the rotation. When Lohse gets hot, it's time to trade him at peak value for a 1b that can crush the ball. While Morneau is the face of the future, at this point, he's not getting the job done and could use a better mentor to learn from than, well, Doug Mientkiewicz, his most recent teacher.
Also, they need to get the right field situation squared away. We started the year with Kubel and his gimpy knee, and now we are toying with Michael Cuddyer and Lew Ford, both capable fielders and hitters. If I had my choice, I would jettison Ford and see what we get for him in conjunction with Lohse.
All right. That wasn't so bad was it? Be back next month for another check up! - Dr. Ryan.

A Tale of Two Teams

I have a pair of NFL teams that I follow, the number reduced from three after San Diego management screwed up their quarterback situation. The two teams I follow, the Colts and the Vikings, are a pair of teams in different stages, and doing things at different skill levels. This year, the Colts seemed to a bit better job making their draft selections.
In the first round, Indianapolis was looking to draft a top flight running back to help replace Edgerrin James, now a Cardinal. Clearly, Reggie Bush wouldn't be available, and they weren't going to sacrifice anything to move up that far, so they were waiting on Laurence Moroney, until he got selected by the Colts' foil, the Patriots. Well, I'm sure they thought, at least Deangelo Williams was still available. Until he got drafted by the Panthers at 27. Instead of panicking, the Colts looked to the next best available halfback, who happened to be LSU's Joseph Addai. They didn't need a superstar at any other position, and they weren't about to give up picks to move up later, so this choice made sense. Addai, who may not be as talented as the Colts would have hoped, will have a chance to improve, as there will be virtually no pressure on him in the Peyton Manning led offense. Also, he has Dominic Rhodes to step in and ease the workload when necessary.
The next to choices the Colts made were athletic defensive players, the type Tony Dungy and the Colts have proven to appreciate. Tim Jennings and Freddie Keiaho will be able to buoy an improved special teams unit and will bring some versatility to their future defensive schemes.. Late round picks are always a crapshoot, but they filled holes in the depth chart instead of taking gambles just for gambling's sake. That is the sign of a contented team that knows what they need to do.
Then you have the Vikings, who clearly don't. I almost started to respect the organization after their pick of talented, needed linebacker Chad Greenway and cornerback Cedric Griffin, but then, well, their draft choices stopped making sense. First, they drafted a completely unnecessary center in Ryan Cook. What, an all pro who isn't taller than the QB isn't enough for you Coach Childress? You need a mediocre-should-have-been-a-fifth-rounder center picked here when a decent quarterback in Brodie Croyle is still out there? Well, luckily for him, Croyle was still on the board when his third round pick came up.
And he went with South Alabama's Tavaris Jackson. Even he didn't expect that. With 4 picks in the first 3 rounds, the Vikings snared 2 bona fide projects when really, they need guys that can help now or at least, very soon. Jackson won't be ready for a long time, and we plain don't need Ryan Cook. The final pick that didn't make sense was Ray Edwards, defensive end from my alma mater, Purdue. It isn't so much that defensive end is a deep position in Minnesota (it is) but that he has some known character and motivational problems. Now, after last year, is that what we want? Of all the people from Purdue to select, I don't believe Edwards was the right one.
So that's my draft report. The Colts get a solid B, while the Vikings will receive a C - from me this year. - Ryan