Thursday, June 29, 2006

Women in Sports

Last week, I took a potshot at the WNBA that I was surprised I didn't get nasty comments about. That means one of three things. 1) Nobody read the post. 2) My reader's blindly follow my lead, or 3) Nobody felt that my comment was out of line. I suspect it's the first one, but here is why I was't out of line. Any league of any sport or competition that is exclusionary is not using the entire talent pool available and is, therefore, an inferior sport to a league that does. In this case, the WNBA does not allow men to compete and is there for inferior to the NBA, which has no such exclusions for women, if they were to make a team. It's the same reason that the NCAA (which doesn't allow professionals) is inferior to the NBA and the reason why both Major League Baseball in the beginning of the 20th century and the Negro Leagues were inferior to the league as we have it now, as those leagues were exclusive based on race. I understand that the exclusions placed on the WNBA are to foster better competition for an entire gender, but pretending as though the talent pool is comparable is rather foolish.
That being said, I don't believe that team sports as they are are a safe place for women and men to cohabitate yet. It has nothing to do with the existing talent of female basketball, baseball/softball players or any other competitors in team sports that both genders participate in, but rather the men. I would wonder if if the male sexual ego or chivalry would interfere with normal clubhouse relationships. Then it seems a logical question of whether or not competetiveness and sportsmanship would be affected if the closely associated ego and chivalry were set aside. That's not to say that women and men don't have a place in competition with each other. In individual sports, there is already the talent available for both genders to compete with one another.
Michelle Wie is currently receiving a lot of press for attempting to qualify for men's events. The criticism is that she hasn't won yet in the women's game, an argument I have troubles with. Why didn't we say that to Tiger Woods in regards to Pro-Am tours? Because Woods, at a young age, was capable of competing with the elite, the professionals. Wie has proved herself worthy of the challenge. She certainly isn't better than many tour professionals. Yet. However she is only 17 and if she wants to play on the PGA tour with regularity, the route should be via historically male tournaments. The problem is the lure of cash in the LPGA. Annika Sorenstam proved that she can be competitive with the men in her one foray into a PGA event, but has decided she would rather stick to the women's game, as she stood to take in more cash that way.
Golf isn't the only sport where this an issue. In their prime, Venus and Serena Williams could definitely have made there way through a few rounds of several men's tournaments. They played the game the same strong, powerful way. But they made millions instead playing with the WTA. If the money wasn't there in the women's game, would the Williams' have tried to compete in some ATP events? We may never know, but I would love to see it.
The point is, I would love to see some women golfers compete with the men. I think the talent, particularly the young talent, is available for women to make noise in the PGA. Just because women and men may not mix in a team atmosphere doesn't mean the same is true for an individual competition. Besides, I'm all for anything that makes traditional golfers uncomfortable. - Ryan

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Voice of Reason

As I mentioned a couple days ago, Ozzie Guillen, manager of the White Sox, called Chicago Sun-Times columnist an offensive term relating to homosexuals. He was ordered to go to sensitivity training, but he said he doesn't think he'll go. Guillen has been getting nothing but criticism from the press and your average fan (as long as said fan doesn't live in southside Chicago or northwest Indiana). But now Guillen has some support. Read to this quote. "This is a free country. If [Guillen] wants to use a lewd term, he should be able to use a lewd term. Can't you use a lewd term in America if you want?" Of course! Ozzie Guillen should be able to say whatever he wants with no repercussions! We all should! (For the record, I think all Danes should go back to their own country. All they're good for are pastries anyways. Flippin' Danes.*) It's the American way!
For the record, the above quote is from John Rocker, beacon of understanding, reason, and all that is good in baseball. In case you hadn't heard, John Rocker has also "said he would never play for a New York team because he didn't want to ride a train "next to some queer with AIDS". He also bashed immigrants, saying "How the hell did they get in this country?" He also called a black teammate a "fat monkey," spit on a toll machine and mocked Asian women." (Thanks to ESPN) But of course, Rocker had every right to do that. - Ryan

(*I love Denmark and the Danes. Most of this article was sarcasm)

The Offseason

I was watching the World Cup match between Portugal and the Netherlands, which was one of the ugliest matches in terms of officiating I've seen in any sport, at any level, including the intramural basketball games staffed by a girl who was afraid to say anything and a guy named Juan who was unfamiliar with the game of basketball. It was made worse by the Dutch team who took every opportunity to whine about the officiating and looked like the Icelandic team in Mighty Ducks 2 (It's knuckle puck time!). And that got me thinking. It was the NHL draft yesterday! Not only that, there were three important trades recently for the NHL's Northwest division. Let's review.
First, let's look my team, the Wild, made a trade that was totally unexpected on my end. They dealt the 17th overall pick in the draft as well as hot prospect Patrick O'Sullivan to the Los Angeles Kings for scorer Pavol Demitra. Demitra is, without a doubt, an elite scorer, and a high priced one a that. To me, this signals any combination of four things.
1) The Wild want to win now.
2) The Wild are willing to loosen their purse strings.
3) The Wild believe their system is deep enough that they can afford to trade away someone like O'Sullivan, regarded as a top prospect.
4) GM Doug Risebrough has no idea what he's doing.
The fear is that Demitra may not be willing to stay in Minnesota, although with the new salary cap, Demitra will be hard pressed to find a better deal outside of St. Paul. The greater fear is that O'Sullivan will turn into a league altering force in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, the Northwest needs to take notice, because Minnesota is now clearly willing to sacrafice a part of their future for a more successful present.
The second trade of import to the Northwest is the trade between the Canucks and the Florida Panthers, which involved Alex Auld, Bryan Allen, and Todd Bertuzzi going to Florida for Roberto Luongo and Lukas Krajicek. Initially, it appears that the Panthers are winning out, as the drop off between Luongo in net to Auld will not be nearly as drastic as the loss of a bruising forward like Bertuzzi will be for the Canucks. But then you look and see that the Canucks have a glut of goaltenders, including one of the best in the league now starting in Luongo. Dan Cloutier looks like the odd man out, as both Luongo and Mika Noronen are talented and more recently acquired. What they lost in Bertuzzi, the Canucks can make up for by trading one of their talented goalies, which are the most valued commodity in hockey.
The trade that really scares me, however, is the one between the Calgary Flames and the Colorado Avalanche which sent forward Alex Tanguay to the Flames in exchange for defenseman Jordan Leopold. Both teams traded from a strength and received a top flight supplement for areas they needed the help. For the Avs, pairing Leopold with Jean Michel Liles must be a tantalizing future, and the Flames must be chomping at the bit to put Jarome Iginla on the same line.
Surely, the Northwest division has taken steps to improve. Ironically, the Oilers, Western Conference Champions, have the roughest offseason to look forward too now, what with Chris Pronger requesting a trade. Well, at least the Oilers only have a few months of down time. The Dutch national team has to wait for four more years. - Ryan

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Getting Things Off My Chest.

I don't really have anything I need to ramble on about today, just a few I one liners I need to get off my chest.

Speaking of chest, I have one name for you. Phil Mickelson.

If I hear one more "Going, Going, Ghana" or "Ghana in 60 Seconds" type of pun, I'm going to scream.

I don't like to talk about the NBA, but I would like to congratulate the Heat on their title. If it's any consolation to Stan Van Gundy, the Knicks head coaching job should be available in about 5 months.

Pavel Datsyuk won the NHL's Lady Byng Trophy. For those who don't know, the Lady Byng is awarded to the NHL's biggest wuss. (And no, that's not the word I wanted to use)

DJ Gallo is on my new crap (again, not the word I was looking for) list. Here's why. OK, so he's right, but why did he have to go and bring it up that my two schools suck at sports?

The best part of the whole Ozzie Guillen/Jay Mariotti fued was Ozzie trying to appologize by saying he identified with homosexuals, and as an example, he said he went to WNBA games. When did the stereotype start that homosexuals liked inferior basketball? Can you find a disproportionate number of gays at Penn State games?

And clearly, Ozzie deosn't know what he's talking about. There's plenty of fault to find in Jay Mariotti without making up stuff about his sexuality.

Twins GM Terry Ryan was recently quoted in the Star Tribune mentioning that he didn't think that the free agency market is no place to find talent. I agree. Look at those disasters in Detroit and Queens.

They had the American Idol winner on Leno tonight. I had no idea Adam Arkin could sing like that.

Francisco Liriano's plus mine equals Roger Clemens' age. Just thought you should know that.

The Cleveland Browns have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Now that I have that out of my system and have successfully transformed into Bill Scheft, I'm out. Until tomorrow - Ryan

Monday, June 19, 2006

Game 7

Just real quick, I don't want to bore anyone with a long post like my novel from the last one, I want to talk about how things are going to go down tonight in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Carolina is going to win, with a score of 5-2. I have $1.20 riding on the Hurricanes. Here are three reasons why the 'Canes will win this one.
1. Offense. Edmonton has mediocre forwards who have stepped up the past couple of games. Fernando Pisani, Raffi Torres and Ales Hemsky aren't yet great players. If they were, the Oilers would have been higher than the 8th seed in the West. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, can rely on Eric Cole, Doug Weight, Mark Recchi, Eric Staal, Rod Brind'amour, and Mark Cullen, many proven veterans with playoff experience are mixed with those young skaters.
2. Goaltending. Cam Ward has been stalwart in net for the 'Canes for the playoffs, and Martin Gerber is waiting in the wings. Dwayne Roloson had had Ward's role for the Oilers. The only problem is Roloson's season ended during game one. The Oilers now are relying on Jussi Markkanen with Ty Conklin as a shaky back-up.
3. Home ice. The last team to win on the road in a major competetive sport in a Game 7 of a championship series was the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Orioles in 1979.

5-2. You heard it here first. - Ryan

Friday, June 16, 2006

Game Log 6/16

I used to do these with Steve over at IIS, and I've been meaning to do one of these for a while here at the Times. So now that I have the time and there is a Twins game on TV, I'm going to do one right now. And begin.
6:07 - Bert Blyleven and Dick Bremer are announcing from PNC Park in Pittsburgh. It's historic rivals the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Minnesota Twins!
6:08 - With the game underway, Luis Castillo immediately grounds out to young pitcher Ian Snell. Hey, I have him on my fantasy team!
6:09 - Snell strikes out Nick Punto. Good for my fantasy team, bad for the Twins.
6:11 - Joe Mauer grounds out. We're having some problems with the video feed. Apparently "cable" hasn't quite reached Pittsburgh yet. (What? It was invented there?!)
6:14 - Phenom Francisco Liriano is on the hill for the Twins. It is illegal to say his full name without adding the "Phenom" part, so he shall be known as PFL from this moment forward.
6:16 - Two strikeouts and poof, we're done with the first. PFL is cruising.
6:19 - The red-hot Michael Cuddyer is up. Wait, red hot and batting .259? Oh right, the Twins are 31-34. Anyways, he grounds out.
6:22 - With Torii Hunter batting some weird green thing just walked behind him. What the heck was that? A mascot? Shouldn't the Pirates mascot be a, you know, pirate? It must have spooked Hunter, because my man Snelly struck him out.
6:24 - Shouldn't girls that work at a salon have attractive haircuts? Especially ones that won big at Grand Casino?
6:26 - Our first hit is a double by Latin singing sensation Freddy Sanchez.
6:27 - Curt Wilson is rocking a Mike Schmidt inspired fair-haired moustache. Moustache statistics need to be kept track of so I can be made aware of them.
6:28 - Between Wilson's 'stache and the thunder, tonight has taken a creepy turn. Unphased, PFL strikes Creepy Stache out.
6:30 - Hey! I have Liriano on my team too! PFL struck out the side and has 5 in the game. Pitchers duel! Please?
6:33 - After hitting 3 homers in the series with Boston, Jason Kubel will not be allowed off the plane in Logan. For his own safety.
6:36 - I forgot to set my fantasy teams tonight! Crap!
6:37 - Crisis averted. Both Liriano and Snell are in the lineup. Speaking of PFL, Snelly just struck him out. I forgot, no DH today! Free strikeouts for everyone!
6:39 - Jason Bartlett, lone Twins baserunner is thrown out trying to steal. So we still have a shutout. Woohoo!
6:44 - PFL walked Snelly. Which reminds me, I had a Coach Snell who kind of lingered at my high school. I guess he had a mail order bride. That's all.
6:45 - The Pirates DO have a pirate mascot. Why on EARTH would the Pirates need two mascots?
6:49 - I'd just like to thank the Giants and Marlins for Liriano and Johan Santana.
6:50 - Jack "I'm the one without the Creepy Stache" Wilson hits a two run homer off of PFL.
6:54 - Anthony Edwards is at the game! Wait.... no, just some ugly guy.
6:57 - Three minute half inning. That sums up the Twins so far.
7:00 - Jason Bay is up right now. The Pirates have so much young talent, why aren't they better? I have never been able to figure these guys out.
7:04 - After Latin singin sensation Freddy Sanchez is retired, its time for Creepy Stache. I think I could really get behind the Pirates. Creepy Stache and Sanchez, as well as Bay, strike out, giving PFL 8 in 4 innings.
7:08 - Time to take a quick dinner break. Keep me posted.
7:26 - Back from dinner, and nothing has changed. Except the strikeout totals, which keep adding up. 9 for PFL and 6 for Snelly.
7:28 - PFL gets his 10th and I feel delirious. Oh... wait... he just through a ball into the outfield. How do pitchers do that? Throw a gem of a game and then butcher a flip to first?
7:29 - Dick and Bert are discussing helmets, particularly newer ones, with the vents on top, which raises the question. Why?
7:32 - 5 hits total in this game. That's only 5 more than I have tonight.
7:35 - A nice shot of Pittsburgh from inside the stadium. Boy, wouldn't outdoor baseball in Minneapolis be great? Especially on a night like this? Or in April, early May or September? Yeah! Great! Outdoor baseball has no possible drawbacks!
7:36 - Snelly has now reached, "Hey, maybe we should find out about this guy" status for FSN. It's the 7th, and we finally get his career history. It's short.
7:39 - Punto walks and Joe "Baby Jesus" Mauer singles. Two base runners! Get inside Snelly's head! Start the "Pitcher's got a big butt" cheer from Rookie of the Year! Any thing!
7:41 - Red Hot Cuddyer doubles! Punto scores! The chant works, and appernetly Snelly isself conscious! In other words, a man with a long white beard is outside building a boat of some kind.
7:42 - It's a Damaso Marte sighting!
7:43 - Morneau with the sac-fly, proving that the Twins have the better Canadian.
7:45 - Hunter singles, Red Hot scores and the Twins have taken the lead! All right now, let's take out Snelly.
7:49 - Jason Kubel looks like a retarded Jack Black.
7:50 - Marte is still a bastard.
7:51 - The cable blinked out for a second and I had a coronary.
7:55 - Latin singing sensation Freddy Sanchez gets his second hit. Sanchez OWNS Liriano.
7:59 - Two men on for pinch hitter... Joe Randa? The Bucs are an all star team for mediocre players.
8:02 - In a jam, PFL strikes out his 11th. I love that guy.
8:08 - Nick Punto still hasn't got the memo. "Don't slide into 1st base!" Nick Punto slid into first base.
8:12 - Mauer doubled, but Red Hot Cuddyer grounded out. When is the part where the Twins score 76 runs?
8:17 - The biggest dissappointment of this game so far is that it has been moving along so quickly. Bert Blyleven hasn't been able to go off on his insane tangents.
8:19 - Juan Rincon, in for PFL, is picking up where Liriano left off, striking out the first two batters. It's fun watching other teams flounder at the plate.
8:24 - Mike Gonzalez, Bucs closer looks filthy. Too bad he won't be getting a save in this game. In other news, Joe Nathan will be getting a save. Nathan is also on my fantasy team.
8:27 - Torii Hunter nails the 2nd base ump with a line drive. Base hit! Bruise!
8:33 - Luis Castillo is up with the bases juiced. With the way things have been going, I'd be dissappointed with anything but a grand slam.
8:34 - Castillo struck out. But Nick "STOP SLIDING INTO FIRST!" Punto has a chance.
8:35 - It appears that the Twins snuck in a 4th run while I wasn't paying attention. I suck at these game logs.
8:37 - Punto goes down, so Nathan is going to step in to get the save. And after loading the bases and all, maybe Gonzalez wasn't as filthy as I thought.
8:41 - Nathan gets the first two outs of the 9th, and I am quivering with anticipation as Creepy Stache steps up to the plate.
8:42 - Torii Hunter snags it, Twins win! That's 5 in a row. How 'bout them Twins, eh?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Queen City.

I know my readers. Both of you. And I know that you want to read about what affects you, what you care about, and for the most part, I ignore that. I write about what I care about. Well, not today. Today I'm going to be selfless and write about something that has been requested several times (mostly when said requester is severely impaired). Finally today I am going to talk about the Bengals, and Cincinnati sports in general.
Let's start with the in general part. In general, Cincinnati's time in the forefront of sports seems to have been about 15-25 years ago, when Chris Sabo led the Reds to the World Series and Boomer Esiason was winning AFC titles with the Bengals. The University of Cincinnati consistently found its way into the the NCAA tournament. All through the 80's the Reds had superstars like Pete Rose and Joe Morgan, while the Bengals had scene stealers like Icky Woods. But then, sadly, the nineties came and screwed everything up. The Reds stopped being shoe-ins for the post season, although Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin certainly grabbed their share of headlines. And the Bengals. Well. Fortunately, the Bearcats were still there, still screwing up in the second round of the tournament every year.
But things are better again in Cincy, and let's start with the Reds. Their annual problem was their pitching staff, which never seemed to be able to keep the ball in the park in recent years. Earlier this decade, Elmer Dessens was the ace of the staff. Even when the Reds were winning their titles, they rode the starts of guys like Mke Morgan and Pete Schourek. Long gone are the days of Jose Rijo. However, with the emergence of Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo, their ample cache of sluggers finally has a complement, and the Reds are in control of their Wild Card destiny.
People are worried about the Bengals, though, what with Carson Palmer's injury in the playoffs. However, one needs to look at their division to realize that the Bengals will be ok. First there are the Browns, one of the ugliest teams in the league right now. The Ravens just traded for Steve McNair, who at this point is being held together with Elmer's glue and hope. And the collective will of Ohio just sent Ben Roethlisberger headfirst into a sedan in Pittsburgh. Even if Big Ben does recover, the Steelers have the loss of Jerome Bettis and Antwaan Randle El to contend with. Sure, the Bengals could worry about their QB situation if Palmer is less than 100%, but they need to remember an importan fact. They still have the same important components that made John Kitna look like an acceptable option at the helm a couple years ago.
So in short, things are looking pretty good in Cincinnati - Ryan

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Making Fun of the Local Paper

Once again, I feel it is my patriotic duty to follow the first ammendment, free speech, and make fun of the local newspaper. Perhaps in its own small way, this levity will provide with a better understanding of what actually is going on in town. (Hint, it isn't the trite B.S. found in the local paper.) Let's begin.
First order of business is the letters to the editor, since that is usually where I can find the real news. And right away, I found it! Jackpot! The first article lambasts the editor for not printing someones name that was included in a rather unsettling letter about a councilperson. You mean, the editor shied away from hard-hitting journalism? Knck me over with a feather! In any case, the letter alledged that said councilmember suggested that the letter writer move to Chanhassen or, worse yet, Waconia if she didn't like the way things were run in Victoria. Needless to say, Kim Roden will not be getting my vote in November, if she's on the ballot and I vote.
The rest of the letters to the editor either shouldn't be printed (like billing requests) and there are repeated, if not mangled repeats of the same letter. Shouldn't the editor catch this stuff? Also, there is a letter saying that a well known member of town was involved in a motorcycle. I doubt this made the rest of the paper anywhere. Also, there are the typical letters that ask specific questions without any answer. There is one letter that expresses an opinion, (in this case on illegal immigration). For the most part, it seems more like a cheap campaign ad for Mark Kennedy. Needless to say, he's not getting my vote either.
Looking at the local news from city hall, it seems pretty boring, for the most part. No Rich Gannon mentions. (They were all intercepted by Dexter Jackson). There is a long section on pay equity, but that's all I know about it because I fell asleep reading it. Also, Victoria is opposed to allowing bigger trucks on local roads. Way to take a stand, Victoria.
The longest section is on a proposed dog park in town. Our beloved editor takes the opinion that Highway 5 and Park drive is the most dangerous in Victoria and maybe even in Carver County. Wrong and doubly wrong. I can't name a single accident from that intersection, but I CAN name several at the west intersection of County Road 11 and Highway 5. Furthermore, it's pretty much common knowledge that the intersection of 212 and 284 in Cologne is far and away the most dangerous in Carver County. So yes, more cars will make the road more dangerous, but no, it is not currently the most dangerous in the city. So why is she making stuff up? Because her opinion is being used to prevent the construction of the dog park, which by the way she as a member of the neighborhood in question is opposed to. By the way, if the intersection is so dangerous, how come the editor hasn't ever been involved in an accident there, as the self proclaimed longest tenured tax payer in the neighborhood? Just sloppy, self-serving journalism all around there. If you want to write your opinion somewhere, for the love of pete, don't pretend like it's fact. (By the way, everyone knows everything here is pretty much all opinion, right?)
That's all I really feel the need to get worked up about in this edition. Don't worry though, I'll be back next month with more. - Ryan

Saturday, June 10, 2006

RIP Walter J. Henning