Sunday, December 31, 2006

The last post of the year

I felt it necessary to post tonight, largely because it appears that I'm snowed in, and also, to bid a fond farewell to you (for a week or so) and 2006 with a few miscellaneous bits of information/drivel.
First, as I mentioned, something has come up and I will be out of the office for a week. Thankfully, loyal commenter JustBeth has agreed to man (or woman, as the case may be) the helm for a while, while Steve might just throw in an NFL recap, but who knows, because the week was chock full of terrible games, and Steve claimed he might not even watch them.
If you must know, I have to drive down to Indianapolis tomorrow, which leaves me a little bitter, since it a) prevents me from really tieing one on tonight, b) causes me to miss the bulk of the New Years Day Bowl Action, and c) thrusts me into the weather I'm trying to avoid. But speaking of Bowl Game Action, I finished off the simulations of all the Bowl games, so Beth wouldn't have to go out and pay the 39.95 to get the a game, and perhaps the 100 bucks for an Xbox. This has been a long weekend. Here are the results. (Of games played thus far, EA has gotten 5 correct. 5. Take that in mind before wagering.)
Insight: Already played, and it featured the largest comeback in bowl history, and the eventual termination of Glen Mason. Needless to say, EA got this wrong, predicting Brian Cupito would lead the Gophers over the Red Raiders of Texas Tech 30-14.
Champs Sports: In an equally spurrious prediction, EA picked Purdue DB Brandon King to lead the Boilers over Maryland 23-3. The Purdue defense hasn't held a team to 3 points in probably 34 years.
Meineke: George Foreman says that the BC Eagles won in real life AND in the simulated version. Everyone listens to George Foreman, including simulated BC receiver Tony Gonzalez and simulated Navy LB David Mahoney, who kept it close, but not close enough, as Boston college won in imaginationville, 23-17.
Alamo: In one of the most comical sims, Drew Tate led Iowa over Texas 30-0.
I refuse to call it the Chik-fil-a Bowl: In the second shutout in a row, EA had Virginia Tech shutting out Georgia 28-0, which didn't happen so much. Although in real life, Josh Morgan DID have a decent game.
MPC: Defensive Back Joe Garcia led Nevada over Miami 27-14 on the smurf turf of Boise. I thought this was a little unfounded, but as it turns out, Nevada is giving the Hurricanes a pretty good game.
Outback: In a game I thought would be better, but probably won't be tomorrow either, Tennessee wide receiver Robert Meachem ran all over Penn State scoring three touchdowns as the Vols beat the Nittany Lions 33-7.
Cotton: In one of my traditional favorite bowls, Auburn smoked Nebraska 34-8 on the arm of Brandon Cox, who is better than Brady Quinn.
Gator: In an ugly, disgusting Gator Bowl, in which no player did anything to seperate themselves from the pack, Georgia Tech nipped West Virginia 14-6.
Capital One: In a blowout nobody probably expects, even though they probably should, John Stocco and Wisconsin trounced Arkansas 38-7.
Rose: In bowl sims I hope don't actually happen news, Chad Henne led Michigan to a 51-10 victory, even leading 42-7 at the half. I really hope Michigan doesn't do this.
Fiesta: Cinderella squad Boise State couldn't hold their own against Adrian Peterson and Oklahoma. The Sooners stymie the Broncos 24-8.
Orange: In a game that will probably be interesting for 2 quarters was interesting simulated for about 2 quarters as Louisville QB Brian Brohm thre 4 touchdown passes in a 44-20 win over Wake Forest.
Sugar: Notre Dame turned the ball over 9 times, including twice to LSU DB Daniel Francis as Fighting Irish lost 55-3. You can't turn the ball over 9 times! Especially in a dome! Later, Brady Quinn's simulated stock fell and he was drafted 18th by the simulated Bills.
International: In the best college football game played in Canada all year, Western Michigan QB and unit of ancient measure Ryan Cubit threw all sorts of touchdowns as WMU beat Cincy 49-10.
GMAC: THE Ohio University put on a shootout with Southern Miss in Mobile, with AustEn Everson and Jeremy Young putting on passing clinics. Young's clinics were a little more advanced, however, and Southern Miss won 45-28, after coming back from 14 down.
BCS Championship: Part two of the BCS' worst case scenario came to be, as Florida beat Ohio State 20-3

Lastly, my contact in Pittsburgh (what's up A.J!) left me a note regarding my post on team moves, and a glaring innacuracy on my perception of Pittsburghians. I'll let him explain.
Ryan, you're wrong about one thing in you Victoria Times Post. The city of Pittsburgh did not stand their morals or anything like that. They are still having gambling, it is just not going to be with the Isle of Capri, it is with the same guy who owns the Gary Casinos. It really wasn't the city's choice, it was the state government. The mayor and most local officials were behind Isle of Capri, basically because of the money to keep the Penns. The other proposal won because things like "better parking" and the area were the Isle of Capri was going to put their slots is basically the ghetto of Pitt and community leaders were complaining. The slot parlor that won is right next to Heinz Field and right down the road from PNC Park. The guy who won offered 7 million a year to put in a stadium for the next 40 years, which is peanuts compared to the 290 million today the Isle of Capri offered. Needless to stay the locals are upset.
So that's that. My mistake. The best to you and yours this New Years, and I'll see you in '07! Be nice to Beth!
- Ryan

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Charity

As I mentioned at the beginning of every post for a week or so, I am donating 10 dollars per comment to Sharing and Caring Hands. In total, with your help, we raised $100 dollars for charity. Congratulate yourself!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The 10 Best Team Moves of All Time.

It looks like things are coming to an end for the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Local officials voted down the Isle of Capri's slot machine liscence. In exchange, the Isle of Capri would have built the Pens a new arena. Part of me says that this is silly. Where else are you going to find private financing for a new arena? And it would have brought gambling! I understand that not everybody shares my gambling addiction, so the other part of me respects the city of Pittsburgh for not compromising their principles in order to get a quick buck.
This is a sad situation in particular, because the Penguins have a storied history in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has always loved its sports franchises, and the Penguins have a definite future on the ice. Not all of the situations are this grim, however, so lets look at the 10 best moves made in sports team moves of all time. And no, I didn't steal the idea from Scott Burnside.

10. Minneapolis Lakers -> Los Angeles: It turns out that Los Angeles is a basketball town. The Lakers have turned into one of the most successful NBA franchises in history, and don't rank higher only because they took a fairly successful frachise out of the Twin Cities, and there aren't actually lakes (save, maybe, for Toluca) in Los Angeles. It worked out OK in Minneapolis too, as the Timberwolves and a new arena were eventually inserted downtown.

9. Atlanta Flames -> Calgary: This is how hockey moves should be done. Take unpopular teams from warm climes and put them in Canada, where there are raving lunatics of fans. It makes sense, doesn't it? Calgary has loved their Flames ever since.

8. Milwaukee Braves -> Atlanta: The Braves won thirteen division championships in a row, as well as a World Series, and were home to Hank Aaron when he hit his record breaking home run. Now if we could get Atlanta to notice, this would be perfect.

7. Dallas Texans -> Kansas City: The Chiefs eventually competed in the first Super Bowl and won the fifth, giving us legendary coach Hank Stram and noble owner Lamar Hunt. Their replacement in Dallas wasn't so bad either.

6. Los Angeles Rams -> St. Louis: This proved to us two things. First, St. Louis is a hell of a sports town, and there is no reason it shouldn't be a 4 sport city. Second, Los Angeles isn't. This ended pro football in LA, and they haven't been in a hurry to get it back.

5a. Washington Senators -> Minnesota,
5b. Washington Senators -> Texas:
Perhaps I'm a little biased, but when one franchise moves to create two successful teams, that's pretty impressive. After the Senators became the Rangers, the Beltway gave up on baseball for thirty years. Makes you wonder how long the Nationals will stick around.

4, 3. Brooklyn Dodgers -> Los Angeles, New York Giants -> San Francisco: Even though it hurt deeply for the Big Apple, this was one of the best baseball moves ever made. It brought California and the West Coast instant baseball, with instant rivalries, and instant talent. It's hard to say if baseball would have been remotely as successful out west if it had been started with expansion teams. It's hard to deny that this move established the league as it is today.

2. Quebec Nordiques -> Colorado: So this doesn't exactly follow the Flames' blueprint, but Quebec was struggling to draw fans away from the beloved Montreal Canadiens, so the team packed up and moved to Colorado, a move that worked out all around. The Qubecois remain loyal to the Habs, Montreal's fan base is expanded, the NHL got in on an exploding fan base in Denver, and a new arena that also serviced the Nuggets was set up downtown. Win-win all around.

1. Baltimore Orioles -> New York: Boy, what is it about the DC-Baltimore area? Seriously though, I think the Yankees will work out fine in New York.

Did I miss any? What are your thoughts? Let me know! - Ryan

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Let's get ready to rumble!!!!!

Nothing sweeps sportswriters into a frenzy like a good brawl. There are some brawls, of course, that are more disconcerting than others, such as the one at Madison Square Garden last week, or the one in Auburn Hills a couple years back. Say, I just mentioned two basketball ones. What gives? Well, let's take a look at what leagues have the most and least despicable brawls and why.

NHL: In hockey, as any hockey fan knows, fights are fought without any emotional input. The fights are purely strategic, with the winner hoping to gain momentum for his team. Essentially, they are boxing matches on ice. There is absolutely no malice aforethought. When emotion is brought into the mix, such as frustrated scuffles at the net, or a retaliatory blindside punch, like Scott Nichol laid Jaro Svoboda out with the other night in Buffalo, the players on ice know to restrain the combatants, the fans boo culprits, and the league is one of the swiftest to condemn its athletes with suspensions. There isn't a thing that can be found that is truly reprehensible about hockey fights.

MLB: Slightly up the ladder on disgusting sporting acts are major league baseball brawls. The fights tend to be a lot of clutching and grabbing with no punches thrown usually. Again, they are the product of strategy, albeit strategy gone wrong, essentially coming to be after a pitch or two sneaks too far inside. The hit batsman is generally the only one who gets really riled up, and for the most part, combatants aren't really combatants at all. More often than not, they are pulling away the opposing team, trying to keep the fights from spreading. Again, it's one of those situations where true followers of the game know when a brawl gets out of hand, and those involve are dealt with accordingly.

NFL: First off, the majority of professional football players are truly insane, so that doesn't help. Second, the only way for a fight to make a difference, what with the pads, is to realy go hard after someone, like stomping them in the face with your cleats. The game is violence, so when a fight breaks out, it is noticed because it is more violent. Even worse, these fights are bred on emotion, not strategy, so players are liable to do anything. The saving grace is that these rumbles are well removed from the attending public.

NBA: Like the NFL, these melees are born of emotion or frustration, instantly making them more dangerous, as you are fighting on behalf of yourself, more than the team you play for. The players don't wear pads, so that makes the fights less prone to serious injury from other players. Where the danger lies, however, is in the fact that there is nothing to seperate the fans from the players. Almost all fights are bound to spill into the fans if they get even remotely wild. That is why there should be outrage when a brawl erupts in an NBA game. The fact that these athletes are demonstrating an element of their personality is secondary (as in football, as well as those brash couple in hockey and baseball), but still important to the story.

As for why ESPN seems to be on Carmelo Anthony more than Scott Nichol for their respective sucker punches, well, had you even heard of Scott Nichol OR watched a hockey game on ESPN lately? - Ryan

A fairly informationless NFL recap.

I'll be totally honest with you. Thanks to a trip to the bowling lanes and, you know, Christmas, I'm not really up on what happened in Week 16, but I'll do my best with this little review of what I did actually see.

This is how bad the Vikings-Packers game was on Thursday. I watched more of Troy-Rice in the New Orleans Bowl. It was simply an awful game, with Bryant Gumbel adding to the torture. I don't want to talk about it any more, as I'm already on the verge of tears.

It's a good thing for gamblers that the Jacksonville Jaguars aren't going to the playoffs. Sometimes, when you watch them, they look absolutely unstoppable. Their running game is very talented with Fred Taylor (who was injured against the Patriots) and Maurice Jones-Drew and their defense looks nearly impenetrable sometimes. Unless you hand it off to Laurence Maroney, I guess. But then, of course, you put them in the road whites, and they look awful. Or, you let them play at home against the Patriots. I don't get the Jags, and I'm rather pleased that they won't be entertaining us in the postseason.

I think the real reason that the Saints mopped up with the Giants was because they thought it was a home game in Giants stadium, given the scenario that played out last year. Seriously though, New Orleans has proved to us what fantasy owners have known all along. You only win if you have two really good backs. Come to think of it, Reggie Bush has never really carried the entire rushing load for his team, even in college. Hmm....

For not beating the Broncos, who didn't get in full practices due to the weather, the Bengals shouldn't get into the playoffs this year or next. That's just unacceptable. It shouldn't have come down to a missed extra point, because the Bengals should have been simply dominating Denver. Instead, they decided to botch the entire game and let Jay Cutler receive undeserved praise. I can't tell you how much this bothers me.

I was unable to see Tony Romo get completely depantsed by Philadelphia, which is too bad, because I already dislike him with alarming intensity. I was able to see New York beat Miami on Christmas, which is a lucky break, since I was tired an needed a nap. Have you ever seen commentators openly bash a winning quarterback like what was done with Chad Pennington? So the guy doesn't have the strongest arm. Wow. Just leave the guy alone already.

Monday, December 25, 2006

A short weekly review

Clearly, I am slave to routine and would feel dirty without having a weekly review. Also, I'm enormously exhausted, almost to the point that I would use phrases like "enormously exhausted." I will compromise. A weekly review, but a VERY short weekly review. Three items! No more!

ITEM ONE: Those Wild, I tell you what. I would love to say something nobody else has, but in truth, it's all been said. At home, the team is wonderful, and on the road, not so much.By a fluke in scheduling, however, the Wild are playing Detroit 3 our of 4 games (two last week, one this coming week). Detroit, on the other hand, gets three in a row against Minnesota. As an added bonus, each plays Columbus in their next game. P.S. I think realligning the NHL is a dumb idea. Maybe if they had their games on a real network ratings would be better.

ITEM TWO: Remember that "Simming all the Bowls" thing? Well, EA Sports has done an awful job with their prognostications thus far. The only game they got was Utah over Tulsa. Since then, the following games have been simmed.
In the Emerald Bowl, Chris Markey and Lorenzo Booker ran over their respective opponents as Florida State beat UCLA 24-15.
In the Independence Bowl, Alabama wiped the floor with Oklahoma State, 45-10 as Kenneth Darby ran wild for the Tide.
Nate Longshore got injured early in the Holiday Bowl, so Cal brought in Steve Levy (really?) to throw 5 interceptions. Stephen McGee was less awful for the Aggies, and Husani Sallah ran back a fumble as Texas A&M beat Cal 17-10.
In a change of pace, Rutgers turned on the offense, with Mike Teel burning Kansas State with his crisp passing. Rutgers wins 43-10.
In the Music City Bowl, the Kentucky Wildcats put up a good fight against James Davis and Clemson, but fell 38-28.
In the Sun Bowl, Chase Daniel had 4 passing TDs for Missouri and Yvenson Bernard was named Yvenson for Oregon State as the Tigers nipped the Beavers 34-24.
South Carolina won the Liberty Bowl over Houston, with wide receiver Kenny McKinley snagging 133 yards receiving, and Houston's Quinte Williams running back an interception. The score was 34-24.

ITEM THREE: As a Christmas gift to the Twin Cities, the new home of Twins baseball, KSTP AM 1500 has been playing the Twins two World Series Championships of 87 and 91. It's been a great, nostalgix listen, and it's been really fun listening to Dan Gladden hit his Grand Slam against St. Louis, or hear about the young Mike Stanton for Atlanta. It's amazing how those names and that period still resonate with me today, and I was 4 and 8 when those victories happened, respectively. It's hard to believe Minnesota hasn't had a championship in 15 years.

- Ryan

Merry Christmas

Yesterday over scrambled eggs and bacon, my dad implied that "the boys" were going somewhere. As is the case every year on Christmas Eve, I asked where it was that we were going, and why nobody bother to tell me. This year, I wanted to watch some football. I was reminded, as I have to be every year, that we were going bowling on Christmas Eve. My cluelessness is part of the tradition.
This year, my mom had to prepare for the little hellions that would be arriving at the house in under six hours, so the men of the family piled into his car and went to the bowling alley where we would play our best games of the year. That was also tradition, aided, probably, by the fact that nobody was drinking and there wasn't another soul in the lane.
I take two things away from these yearly trip to the lanes, the first being how well bowling reflects our lives. The best way to bowl is to find a rhythm. If you use your routine, you can usually bowl a consistent game. In life, things are copacetic when your routine is unbroken, and as in bowling, we're uncomfortable when the routine is broken, and our work reflects it. I think, too, that this is why there isn't as much bickering when dad tries to teach us to bowl. Just be consistent.
The second is why we undertake this activity every year. As I mentioned, later in the day, my mother's family would be invading, including one little girl in particular who was hellbent on murdering my dog. Today, we'll all go over to my uncle's, where 50 people will be packed in, drinking and yelling. The bowling is the best chance to get away from the bustle and be together as a family, not worrying about the upcoming get togethers, or drowned out by the noise of the season.
Bowling too, is a natural fit. Mine is a sporting family, and when we do things together, it invariably involves sports. We bowl together, we golf together, we attend Twins, Gophers, Wild and even the odd Vikings game together. Sports are as much a part of my clan as family dinner. I suppose that's why I take them seriously enough to write bout them, ad nauseum.
I hope that whatever your family does to celebrate the holidays is joyful and merry. - Ryan

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Reviewing my skills as a baseball prognosticator.

In the spirit of Christmas, the Victoria Times will be donating 10$ to our favorite charity for every comment on this and every post through Christmas. So comment away!

Remember April? I do. Among other things, I celebrated a birthday (and you didn't get me ANYTHING), Britney Spears still wore underwear, and people were debating who was more womanly, Adam Morrison or Joachim Noah. Also, I had my first multipart season preview, looking at the forthcoming baseball season. How did I do, anyways? Well, since I'm avoiding the prospect of making sure the placemats are just right before the relatives arrive, I've got time to review.

National League East:
The east was odd when I picked at Is It Sports last year, because Washington did better than I thought, but everyone else did about the same. This year, The Braves dropped the ball for me, with the Mets and Phillies able to move up a position better than I had expected.
National League Central:
In the Central, other than the Cardinals, it was a bit more muddled. Milwaukee wasn't quite as strong as I thought, and the Cubs were worse than I could have expected. That whole Lake Michigan scene really screwed things up for me.
National League West:
The Dodgers had stronger starting pitching than I thought, and were able to leap past the Padres and Giants into first. The Rockies and Diamondbacks flipflopped at the bottom of the division.
American League East:
I was only one game off of a perfect AL East. At the end of the season, the Blue Jays snuck past the Red Sox. What is that?!
American League Central:
I had the audacity to think the Twins would finish in second in this division, behind Cleveland. Well, the Indians stunk and the Tigers were the story of the season.
American League West:
In the west, the top two and bottom two teams were flipflopped from what I had anticipated. If the Angels had just played to their potential, I might have really had something.
Postseason: I had three of the correct teams in the National League, the Padres, Mets, and Cardinals and successfully predicted that the Mets would make it to the NLCS. I incorrectly picked them to make the World Series. The AL picture was a little less inviting. I had the Yankees and A's correctly recieving playoff births, but then I had the Yankees advancing to face the Indians. In the end, I totally whiffed on the World Series for the second year in a row. Overall, however, I did marginally better than I did with last years projections, so that's its own Christmas miracle. - Ryan

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm looking forward to a lot of crummy basketball

In the spirit of Christmas, the Victoria Times will be donating 10$ to our favorite charity for every comment on this and every post through Christmas. So comment away!

A while back, I mentioned a plan to try to visit two games selected at random per year in order to stoke my journalistic integrity, as well as my interest in pretty much all sports. I also mentioned that the games that were randomly picked for next year were Valparaiso at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and St. Bonaventure at Temple, both college basketball games. Well, assuming that you, my lovely readers, had forgotten this plan and/or don't know anything about any of the teams involved, so I'm reminding you of this plan and introduce you to the teams/games I will be attending.

Valparaiso : Located in Valparaiso, Indiana, Valpo boasts a historically talented basketball team that dominates the Mid-Continent conference. This year is not the case. Valpo has struggled thus far in it's non conference schedule, amassing a 3-6 record, with wins over Calumet College, IPFW and Niagara. Unfortunately, after starting with those three wins, they lost to three ranked teams (Marquette, Butler and Ohio State) and some less impressive teams like Evansville and Ball State. The other loss was to North Carolina State. The Crusaders' biggest problem is that they are undersized, as five of their top players in terms of minutes are guards, leaving them to rely heavily on perimeter shooting, which can be flukey for anyone.The leading scorers are Shawn Huff and Urule Igbavboa of the exotic St. Paul, Minnesota. This is a young team, so they promise to get better as time passes.

Missouri-Kansas City : The Kangaroos (really!) of Kansas City have been mostly dreadful this season, and their four wins look a lot better than they actually are. UMKC has been a perennial doormat, but this season seems even worse somehow. The D-1 opponents they have defeated are a combined 11-20 and aren't exactly marquee basketball teams. Their best win is over 3-7 Marshall. Their worst losses are to D-2 Alaska-Anchorage and then to Independents South Dakota State and Utah Valley State. They do have a little more size and a star in Quinton Day, but they have little else going for them

On appearance, UMKC seems to match up favorably against Valparaiso, but on paper, the Crusaders look as though they should crush the Kangaroos. I'm going with that thought. I'm taking the Crusaders to win in Kansas City in January.

St. Bonaventure : The Bonnies, from Olean, New York, have had a historically decent team in the A-10 conference, but a scandal brought down the progaram a few years ago and they are still struggling to bounce back. This season, they have a 3-8 record (better only than even more troubled Duquesne in the A-10), and they have wins against Central Arkansas, Central Connecticut State and Alcorn State. The rule here, is that the Bonnies can only beat you if you have a Central or a State in their name. Preferably both. They have lost to the incredibly pathetic Chicago State, Wright State and Niagara. They may not win a game in the A-10 this year, if Duquesne comes to play against them. Their leading scorer is a fellow named Zarryon Fereti, who I believe was a character from Star Wars. He is, in fact, from Australia. Another fun fact: St. Bonaventure is the patron saint of bowel disorders. No, really.

Temple : Located in Philadelphia, the Owls are playing under a new coach for the first time in decades after the retirement of John Chaney and his man-zone. The Owls started off like they had a new coach, losing to Kent State and Buffalo. Since then, the only blight on their record is a loss to Cincinnati. The leading scorer is the seasonably named Dionte Christmas, and the rest of the roster is an announcers worst nightmare. DaShone Kirkendoll. Sergio Olmos. Semaj Inge. Brian Shanahan. Wait... How did he get in there? Probably lost on a tour of campus. In any case, this a team with a wealth of talent, especially since most were recruited by Chaney.

It's a case of the mediocre verses the terrible, and since mediocre is at home, I have to go with Temple here in February.

I'm pretty stoked about these games now. How about you? - Ryan

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The TV All-Star Break

In the spirit of Christmas, the Victoria Times will be donating 10$ to our favorite charity for every comment on this and every post through Christmas. So comment away!

Everyone does their mid season review for all sorts of sports, so I don't like to flood my blog with repetitive writing (unless it's my own, of couse. Who's ready for another weekly review post?). However, I have interests outside of sports, although not many, which is why I'm single. One of those interests is, sadly, TV. So I thought, why not do a midseason review of the TV season?
I didn't want to cover the entire scope of the fall lineup, and just the new shows. Furthermore, I wanted only to look at the elite new shows of the fall season. That meant that Studio 60 just misses the cut, and we are left with my two new favorite shows. Let's figure out which show, of my two favorites, had the best first half of the TV season.

Jericho: This show drew me in mostly because I just want to know what happened. I still want to know, in a broader sense, what will happen to the whole town. In case you didn't know, Jericho is about a remote Kansas town (aren't they all?) that survives a nuclear attack on the nation. The residents are then left to figure out what happened and how they are to survive on their own. The broader events of the show are compelling, such as the supply drop from, possibly, China.
The inter town activities, the romances and what not are pretty dreadful to follow, as the writers seem more geared for political rather than personal drama. I have to say, however, that Sprague Grayden is pretty redeeming in all of those awkward, balky scenes meant to improve our relationship with townmembers, and the Hawkins family and their secrets are enough to keep me tuning in every week.

Heroes: When people hear about this show, about random people gaining superpowers and needing to save the world, it seems like this show would be perfect for the sci fi nut, but I think, instead, that this is a compelling character drama. Instead of worrying what is going to happen next (which is fairly predictable in the scheme of hero stories) we worry about character development and interaction. We have personal opinions on the characters found therein, rather than with the way the plot progresses, which is good, because it moves forward at a sometimes excruciating pace. The good news for Heroes is that this show will certainly have legs in the future, given that it is a consistent good versus evil plot.

Both of these shows are good enough to draw me in every week, but I think Heroes, because of the acting and it's future, is the winner for me for the first half of the season. - Ryan

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Weak Week

In the spirit of Christmas, the Victoria Times will be donating 10$ to our favorite charity for every comment on this and every post through Christmas. So comment away!

This was a rather timid week of NFL action. The games were good, to be fair, but in the Minneapolis area, there wasn't a whole lot for the NFL on TV. This relieves me, because I have some work to do on Victoria-Weather, and the prospect of the simmed Emerald Bowl. Not to mention the real Poinsettia Bowl. (By the way, redirects to How horrible is that? For everyone?) On with the NFL recap.

Finally Brad Childress had seen enough of Brad Johnson. He said, "Wow, Chad Pennington is at least nine times better than our quarterback. We should change it up." Well, I'm not sure he said it exactly like that. In any case, the Tavaris Jackson era has begun, and if nothing else, this means listening to AM radio for Sid Hartman and Pat Reusse trying to say "Tavaris" every week.

I've kept telling myself that Peyton Manning struggled early in his career too, despite his obvious physical ability, and that Eli would come along just fine, just like Peyton. But wow. Just wow. He got shown up by Jeff Garcia and his bloody stump for a hand. And not just that, Garcia was handing off to Brian Westbrook and throwing to, at best, Donte Stallworth. Maybe the stress is getting to Eli. Too bad he wasn't playing in a more relaxed setting, like, say, San Diego.

Speaking of San Diego, Ladanian Tomlinson is awesome. That's the profound statement I'll make on this game. But I don't want to sound hypocritical, so I'm staying off the Chargers bandwagon this year. I've always been a Bolts fan ever since Dan Henning was coach and Doug Henning was still, you know, alive. Not a huge stretch for Ryan Henning. In any case, I spit on their name and cursed Bobby Beathard to the heavens at the beginning of the season for dumping Drew Brees, so I don't feel comfortable just hopping back on the Chargers boat. I still say, though, if LT goes down, Philip Rivers doesn't quarterback his way out of a paper bag.

And speaking of the Mannings, Peyton came around. As long as the NFC South stays out of the playoffs, the Colts may be fine. And really, when you consider it, it's usually the teams with straight forward, Fred Taylor-like backs and tough, Jacksonville-like defenses that can bring down the Colts. So I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you are tough, you will beat the Colts.

I'm spent. Later, dudes. - Ryan

Monday, December 18, 2006

I Will Fight Other Bloggers.

In the spirit of Christmas, the Victoria Times will be donating 10$ to our favorite charity for every comment on this and every post through Christmas. So comment away!

I feel like things are winding down in the sports world what with Christmas rapidly approaching. That may be the case. Perhaps that's what got Carmelo Anthony so worked up. Everyone else is on vacation but him. Yeah. That's probably it. What else happened this week?

ITEM ONE: It turns out Marian Gaborik is a pretty good hockey player, if we are to glean anything from his absence. Even with Pavol Demitra and Derek Boogaard back in the lineup, Pascual Dupuis seems like our best player, and that scares me. (Not that Boogaard is necesarily a dynamo by any stretch of the imagination, but doesn't everyone on his line always seem to play better? If I punch the fine folks at I Dislike Your Favorite Team, will that mean my blog will get better? Hmmm....) Or maybe hockey players just don't like playing in Canada. But that doesn't seem right.

ITEM TWO: So the Twins have news on the pitching front. Not the good kind, of course, but the "our second best pitcher is retiring" kind. The news is, of course, that our second best pitcher is retiring. It's a good thing that we have Jason Jennings... I mean, uh... well. Scott Baker? Hey! At least we have the Jeff Cirillo and the resigning of Rondell White to look forward to, right? Watch out AL Central!

ITEM THREE: I should just point out to everyone that, at this point, Butler appears to be the best basketball school in Indiana and Drake holds the honor for Iowa. Of course, everyone saw that coming.

ITEM FOUR: Steve over at Is It Sports simmed his version of the non-Tournament for College football. A noble cause. I went out instead and bout NCAA '07 and am in the process of simming all of the actual Bowls. Not because I think you want to know whose going to win, but so that you know that I have so much time on my hands that I can play Rice versus Troy without actually playing. In any case, here are the results so far.
In the Poinsettia Bowl, Robert Merrill (who is actually hurt) had a huge game, but TCU fell short against Northern Illinois and wideout Britt Davis 37,24 in a game that was actually closer than the score indicates.
In the Las Vegas Bowl, Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon led the Ducks over BYU 44-10. That game was exactly as close as the score indicates.
The New Orleans Bowl was a heck of a defensive struggle, but Quinton Smith broke free for Rice, and they beat Troy 20-3.
In the catchy Bowl, East Carolina trounced South Florida, 37 - 14. The Pirates' Chris Johnson ran all over the Bulls.
Believe it or not, New Mexico won the New Mexico Bowl which was held in New Mexico. Kole McKarney connected with Marcus Johnson for three touchdowns as New Mexico defeated San Jose State 48-7. New Mexico. New Mexico. Marcus Vick. New Mexico.
In a game that proved Utah loves America more than Tulsa, Brett Ratliff threw three freedom touchdowns as the Utes beat the Golden Hurricanes 41-10 in the Armed Forces Bowl.
In the Hawaii Bowl, nobody really excelled. Wideout Rudy Burgess ran for a 55 yard touchdown and caught 5 passes for Arizona State, but they barely nosed Hawaii 24-16 after a thrilling comeback in a very good game. I mean, for a video game.
Quite the opposite in the Motor City Bowl as Middle Tennesee State ran and threw all over Central Michigan, winning 48-7. Eugene Gross ran for over 100 yards, scoring 2 touchdowns and even had 60 yards passing, while the actual Blue Raiders QB, Clint Marks threw for two TDs.

And that's it. Look forward to more bowl previews on Christmas. That's right. I would sink to that level. Happy Holidays. - Ryan

Sunday, December 17, 2006

In Defense of Dennis Green.

In the spirit of Christmas, the Victoria Times will be donating 10$ to our favorite charity for every comment on this and every post through Christmas. So comment away!

This Sunday, watching the Vikings flounder once again against the AFC East, all the while remaining in the hunt for a playoff spot, I thought back to a time when the Vikings were playoff contenders because they were good, not just less mediocre than everyone else. The scary thing is, the coach that manned the helm of the Vikings ship at the time is now one of the most disparaged coaches in the league.
I'm talking, of course, about Denny Green.
Surprisingly, he still remains the coach of the Cardinals, despite the best wishes of most of Arizona and the national media. But look at what he has accomplished there. Sure, he hasn't got as many wins as the Bidwells would like, but he has drafted into his organization the best receiving tandem in the NFC, a quarterback of the future, and attracted a top running back in the league. Forgive him if the defense and offensive line haven't shaped up quite yet. This is Arizona, which has sucked since they got there. Denny has only been there for a few years. The ship won't be righted overnight.
People always point to his clock management snafu in the title game against the Falcons back in 1998. Why wasn't the finger pointed at Gary Anderson, who missed the game winning field goal to the right? Why isn't it remembered, that, despite the kneel down in the first half, the Vikings were still in a position to win the game? Why do people seem to slip by the fact that, holy crap, Denny Green coached the team to the NFC Championship game? Twice! These are all questions I don't have answers to. The question I really want answered now, however, is whether or not Denny will be hired anywhere else after he gets the boot in Glendale.
I said in my post on the Vikings-Cardinals contest last month that Green simply outcoached Brad Childress, but didn't have the horses to run with the Vikings. He's one of only a few teams to coach nose to nose with Lovie Smith this year, and is pretty much the only one in the NFC to do so. (Besides John Gruden tonight, apparently).
Additionally, in Minnesota, he started the careers of two current head coaches: Brian Billick (Super Bowl) and Tony Dungy (Not too bad himself). It seems as though you would need to be a good coach to recognize good coaching, but what do I know.
So that's my defense of Denny Green. Even if he seems unhirable for many of the teams looking for a coach this offseason, he should be able to land a position as a GM, given his eye for talent, or as an offensive coordinator, given the fact that wherever he goes, offenses seem to bounce back. Say, hasn't the Vikings' offense had a bit of an off year? - Ryan

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Blame it on the Cubs

We had made so much progress since 2001. Everyone was getting competetive, the bad teams were improving, and there was a change in the World Series champion every year. The Red Sox won. The White Sox won. Even the Marlins and Diamondbacks won. Now before last season, everyone was talking up the Brewers and Pirates, and even the Royals have fielded a good team this decade. The Tigers made the Series this year!
And then this offseason happened, and it's all the Cubs fault. (A little blame can be assigned to the Red Sox too). First, the Cubs went out and hired a manager that won't mesh at all on the North Side in Lou Piniella, then went after some players to bolster the roster, so he wouldn't be reminded of why he left the Devil Rays. And the broke the bank. Alfonso Soriano got an outlandish contract to play the outfield, which isn't his normal position, save for last season in Washington. They needed to put Soriano in the outfield, because they gave Mark DeRosa double his value to play second.
And that set the market for fielders (the Red Sox did that with the pitchers by biddin 51 million dollars to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka).
So where do we stand? Gary Matthews is making ten million dollars a year. The Royals had to spend almost their entire surplus on Gil Meche. Gil Meche! And they have absolutely no wiggle room to improve any other aspect of their game. Gil Meche! That, of course, is the problem for this coming season. What will happen in the coming years?
Well, let's take a look at my favorite small market team. The Twins have four big contract players, and a fairly set in stone with a 70 million dollar pay roll (tops), and I doubt they will go too high over that in the future. Their four big contract talents don't have the contracts yet, of course. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau will be earning their pay days pretty soon, and like it or not, Johan Santana and Torii Hunter will be getting even more money in the coming years as well. Let's hypothesize. Johan Santana, as the best pitcher in baseball, will command in the neighborhood of 20 million a year. Torii Hunter, another veteran who is making 12 a year this year, will probably make 15 on his next contract, albeit for fewer years. Then you have the mystery of Morneau and Mauer. Morneau is comparable to Mark Teixeira in many ways, but we should probably mark up the contract by 25% since the market is inflated and he was an MVP. That puts Morneau at around 8 million. That would, of course, be an incredibly conservative estimate. I would say it could be nearly twice that. Joe Mauer might take the hometown discount at 10 a year. So, with those four players, the Twins will be looking at 53-60 million dollars a year alone. What does that mean for Carl Pohlad? That means that we're either stocking the roster with town ball players, or you can expect to see a couple of those guys in other uniforms. It's the sad truth.
And you can blame the Cubs. - Ryan

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

You Mean We Can Designate a Hitter?

Let's cut to the chase, get down to the nitty gritty, use another cliche that doesn't come to mind right now. There were National League teams that had better production from the designated hitter position than what the Twins had. It started with Rondell White, who couldn't muster anything resembling offense at the beginning of the season, followed by an amalgam of guys whose name began, invariably, with J. Jason Tyner was a light hitting option who took until his fiftysomethingth (that's research!) hit to get an extra base hit. That's not 50 at bats. That's 50 HITS. Not cool. Not if you want to generate offense, in any case. Jason Kubel seems like the prototypical DH, he's big, ugly, strong and he can't run. Kubel, however, never felt comfortable in the role, and all season long, we pined for Carlos Zambrano. Not for his arm, but for his bat.
The Twins have already made a couple signings in Ken Harvey and Jeff Cirillo that seem to be candidates for time spent in the DH role, but seeing as the Twins are going to bring back Rondell White to play left, Kubel will inevitably spend the most time as DH. I don't suspect that Terry Ryan has anyone on his radar to play left or DH, as he still needs another arm (Steve Trachsel and Sidney Ponson are on the radar... we're primed for 1999!) for the rotation, and he only this past week arranged for a veteran utility player in Cirillo. While I would love to see the Twins add another big bat, if they are going to take on a contract, I would much rather it be one of a pitcher. And besides, Kubel will be better this season, since his knee will be reminiscent less of a motorcycle accident.
So that's it. I'm finally done with my Twins p/review thing. Your thoughts - Ryan

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Well, This is Just Great!

At work today, when I wasn't checking in on the internet for those hot Minnesota Twins - Jeff Cirillo rumors, I was plugging in product descriptions. Everything the vendors had they described as "great." Everything was great. Great, great, great. The word has lost all meaning to me. In any case, let's look at this great weekend of NFL games, first looking at a game involving the great Vikings. (Seriously, can we buy import companies a thesaurus?)

I'm absolutely stunned that respectable sports commentators and journalists kept asking, "what came over the Vikings?! They were GREAT this weekend!" Here's a hint. They were playing the LIONS. They did the same thing to the Cardinals. They beat the Redskins too. All bad teams. The Vikings are great against the druck at the bottom of the NFC. It's that simple. Before we move on, I just want to leave you with a couple of Darren Sharper quotes from the weekend. First, in the locker room before the game. "This game is very extremely important to us." It's a good thing they won, then. And before the game, during those Fox closeups of certain players, they selected Mr. Sharper again. "I want tickets to the playoffs, that's all I want. Ask the big man up there.... Santa Claus... for tickets." Well, so far Santa's watching out for you, Darren. Santaspeed.

As someone with a vested interest in the Colts, I'm suddenly being filled with a deep sense of unease. Of course, that could just be the flu that's been going around. But you could forgive me if the Colts were making me sick. Their's is a case for having a balanced offense. Nobody respects Joseph Addai yet, and as a result, people are keying on Peyton Manning's passing game. Sure, the man can read defenses, but if he can't get the opponent to bite on the run, then he's in a lot of trouble. Of course, everyone knows you are going to throw when your defense gives up as many points as Indy's does. If the St. Louis Cardinals have taught us anything, however, this is the year Manning gets his ring.

Ok, so I was wrong on Philip Rivers. He's pretty good. It helps to have Ladanian Tomlinson and a terrific defense as well. Also, Jay Cutler sucks thus far. I was right on that one. And that's great.

So, are the Saints this good, or are the Cowboys this bad? I think it's a little of both. First, the Cowboy backers seem to insist that Tony Romo is the second coming of Johnny Unitas, if it weren't for the fact that, you know, he still hasn't proven himsef against a real defense. Secondly, the Saints are discovering that Reggie Bush is best used on swing passes and screens. He's wonderful in the open field, and anyone who knows anything about football can see that. He's not so good going inside. When Deuce McAllister inevitably leaves for greener pastures and more playing time, the NFC South will invest heavily in quick corners and outside linebackers. Just like Randy Moss' opponents added safeties and played great against him. And now look at Moss. That's you in a few years, Reggie. Great, huh?

So, what's the deal with the Rams? Stephen Jackson and the Rams offense looked great for about a quarter, but then they just sort of fell apart. Was it because the defense kept letting Rex Grossman pick them apart? The world may never know. But the Rams might have something with that Jackson character.

Boy, that was great, wasn't it? I'll be back up and blogging again tomorrow. - Ryan

Monday, December 11, 2006

In 100 Years, You're Going to Be Dead, so Live Dangerously

If you've missed me, I'm terribly sorry. I've been EXTREMELY busy getting the other site, Victoria Weather, fully operational. In any case, I've made sure to keep up with the sporting world, especially when I should be paying attention at work. Less than two weeks left! Whew.

ITEM ONE: I feel like I should mention the Twins, as this blog has been pretty Twins free lately. Well, they went out this offseason and have signed Ken Harvey, former Kansas City Royals All-Star. Unfortunately, I think he has a good shot at making the Twins roster this year. In other news, the Twins search for a new inning eating pitcher seems to be pointing them towards Steve Trachsel. For heavens sake. If they wanted to do that, they should just sing me. I'll play for the league minimum, and I won't expect to make the roster next year, so you can work me as hard as you want.

ITEM TWO: A couple of hockey related links. First, it appears that Brandon Lloyd was lost early last week (look at the game notes at the bottom). There is so much that is funny about this that I can't even begin to crack punch lines. Also, George Parros is doing his best to get the Anaheim Ducks renamed the Blue Oyster Cult.

ITEM THREE: Of course, the local hockey team was hard to follow for most of us this week. They only had one game on local TV, with a game against the faceless Blackhawks on Versus, aka, the Lance Armstrong Channel, and the other game against the 'Hawks not on TV at all. Thankfully, there was a game against the Flames that managed to weasel its way onto the airwaves. It's a good thing that hockey isn't a big deal in Minnesota. And in any case, I'm sure fans were busy watching the Browns lose to the Steelers on another network that nobody around here gets. On the plus side, Pavol Demitra is back, Mark Parrish is scoring, and the Wild are on a three game win streak before their trip to Canada.

ITEM FOUR: Speaking of obscure TV, the Gophers were tapped for the Insight Bowl against Texas Tech which will be on the NFL Network, which is seen only by Rich Eisen's family. It's too bad, not because the game will be good, but I recommend never opting out of a chance to listen to a Mike Leach (coach of the Red Raiders) sound bite. For example: Mike Leach does the weather.

ITEM FIVE: I have virtually nothing else to say, but I want you to look at the roster for Delaware State's men's basketball team. Shine. Bright. Bluntt. Roundtree. It's like they want me to go watch Shaft stoned.

And on that note, I'll be off until tomorrow - Ryan

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This Just In: Assad Abdul-Khaliq to Start for the Vikings

I may have mentioned that a couple weeks ago, during the Vikings bye week, I spent Sunday with my grandmother. Well, this week, there was a Christmas party at the place she lives, and the entire family was invited. I knew less than half of the antendees, and it was really stodgy. The thing is, I knew that this was exactly how it would play out. And I still picked it over the Vikings-Bears game. Lets move on with the recap.

As I mentioned, the Vikings against the Bears was going to be excruciating to watch, and it didn't dail in that regard. There were nearly a dozen turnovers, and the best quarterback for either side was Brooks Bollinger. Smelling effectiveness, he was quickly smote. But Brad Johnson wasn't going to be plugged back in after completing about as many passes to Bears as to Vikings. So that meant Tavaris Jackson time. I openly admitted that I was excited for the Tavaris Jackson era to begin last week. Then he fumbled. Then he said that he definitely wasn't ready to start in the NFL. So, everyone sees that Brad Johnson is awful, Brooks Bollinger is hurt, and Tavaris Jackson just doesn't want to start. That's where the Vikings are right now. Ths never would have happened if it wasn't for that whole Love Boat fiasco*. Next week, I propose that we bring back Jeff George.

*not true

Back in the day (oh, the days of 2003) Steve and I had a running joke that the NFL was turning into the WWE, what with how predictable it was becoming, citing one primary example. It's like the NFL planned for John Gruden to face the Raiders in the Super Bowl. (Given the Bucs performance lately, they didn't make it to the Big Game because of Gruden's excellent coaching.) Naturally, we tried to predict other stories that could happen, including a 4-way cage match, featuring the Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins and Giants. They were pretty ridiculous, but all together entertaining. The one thing that always sticks out in our memory was the idea of moving the Jaguars to Tehran so they could be villains. In any case, this last weekend those Tehran Jaguars body slammed the Mankind that is the Miami Dolphins through the Spanish announce table. And I wish that wasn't such an excellent analogy.

I admit, I was developing a certain respect for Tony Romo after Thanksgiving, but then it was brought up repeatedly that his success has come against terrible defenses. We learned that this was true on Sunday, after he laid an egg against a team that had an excellent defense. What is troubling for the Cowboys is that the Giants excellent defense was all hurt and on the sidelines, and Romo's throwing motion looks like he is throwing with the wrong hand. Troubling for the Giants is that a team quarterbacked by Jeff Garcia could totally wipe the floor with them right now.

Why did everyone decide this year that Mike Shanahan is a genius? At the beginning of the year, he said he was going to start Mike Bell. Now, in the midst of a playoff run, he has made a quarterback change. To Jay Cutler. I'm perplexed. Of course, Cutler performed about as well as expected on the national stage in his debut against an above average team. I will, however, say that Mike Shanahan is a genius. But only after you admit that he also experiments with mind altering chemicals.

I'm not sure what to glean from a game where Jeff Garcia gets more out of Donte Stallworth than Jake Delhomme gets out of Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson. Oh wait, I know exactly what to glean. And now I feel like I need a shower.

That's it. Ignore the help wanted posters around Winter Park. - Ryan

Monday, December 04, 2006

This Week in Pictures

Before I get into my whole nonsensical spiel, listen up. A close friend of mine, and his friend have started a weather site. It's wonderful, and I expect you to patronize it. Patronize! Now let's review the week in sports, with more links to picture than usual. Because I'm lazy.

ITEM ONE: No picture here. But I do want to address the whole BCS thing. A point has been made by a couple people lately, one by a website I wish I could remember, only because I like giving credit where credit is due, and again by Mike Gottfried, of all people. The BCS and the bowl system makes every game that much more important. I mean, can you imagine how lackluster the Michigan-Ohio State game could be if they were both already in the playoffs? This could be applied to any number of season ending rivalries, like Florida-Florida State. The conferences would lose money with an irrelevant championship game. And down the line, middling teams are still playing for a spot in a bowl game. Not bad things. As for this years game, I think Florida HAS proven themselves, whether anyone wants to believe that or not. Against a common opponent, Florida beat them (Vanderbilt) on the road. Top to bottom, the SEC was a better conference, with Michigan playing only 2 teams that were ranked at the time, while Florida played twice as many. While Florida struggled against Florida State, that's still more respectable than having tough games against Northwestern AND Ball State. So I'm ok with Florida-Ohio State. But if you want a tournament, I think Steve has the best idea.

ITEM TWO: A microcosm of the Wild's season: Two guys getting wiped out by Eric Lindros, playing in between concussions. At least Kim Johnsson is still healthy, keeping the PP huge for us.

ITEM THREE: Also from the world of hockey, I can't tell what is funniest about this picture. Is it that the last time I saw Andrew Alberts play was while he was in high school, meaning he couldn't scrap with anyone, or is it that someone I went to high school with is getting his ass kicked by a Ukranian?

ITEM FOUR: The Dan Monson era is over at Minnesota, and believe it or not, I say that was a good tenure for him. He did an excellent job reclaiming the program from the shambles it was in when he found it. Like it or not, college basketball isn't always about wins and losses. Now that it seems to be on the right track, however, those W's can come to the forefront again. Is Larry Eustachy doing anythng?

That's it. Pretty painless. - Ryan