Monday, December 31, 2007

The Best of The Victoria Times in 2007

Ok friends, I've done it. Below are the best and most important posts on this here blog from the past year, sorted chronologically, for your viewing enjoyment! (To your right are a couple of images Ive enjoyed this year)

January

We first hear from Beth

I wrote the longest post ever. I was about Valparaiso versus Missouri-Kansas City

February

Steve and I liveblog Temple-St.Bonaventure. It's entirely nauseating.

March

I got the March Madness


April

I met Paul Konerko

I discovered the root of the Twins injury problems


May

I took most of May off, apparently.

June

Pictures! Scary, scary pictures.

A piece I wrote on Daunte Culpepper was the first notice we really received from anyone outside of the loyal readership.

The GMs of Minnesota found themselves trapped in a blizzard. It caused Terry Ryan to retire.

July

I pointed the finger at Steve Finley. Call it the Victoria Report.

August

A terrible day in Minneapolis.

Hockey players getting in trouble.


September

Steve gets his first post in.

Best. Names. Ever.

Steve really hates Notre Dame.

October

I'm planning some peculiar vacations next year too.

Stu Scott doesn't like my style.

November

Joe Torre's hat fashion
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Beth!

For whatever reason, a lot of Googler's end up at this post.

December

For the last time, state of Oregon. I'M SORRY.

We created the Big Ten Bowl Pick'Em.

That just about does it. Hope you've enjoyed reading these, and I know I've certainly enjoyed your responses. Here's to a great '08!

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The Patriots are undefeated.

Saturday night, the Patriots went ahead and beat the Giants to finish the regular season 16-0. Bravo.
The NFL Network agreed to allow CBS and NBC to simulcast the game on their networks, which meant everyone could watch it. Again, bravo.
You know who the real winners were here? The operators of the Fox Network. Instead of airing the biggest regular season game in the history of ever, they went with regular programming. (I'm not sure if this was intentional or mandated by the NFL). That's right, friends. Fox aired COPS instead of the Patriots game. For that, Fox, I salute you. Bravo.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Audience Participation: What's your favorite blog?

In honor of Busted Coverage's blog tournament (Go MLB Trade Rumors!), I figure we had better do our best to give some other blogs accolades. What blogs do you read? Which is your absolute favorite? I have several daily reads, most of which are on the side bar there. I'm not going to wimp out and say that the Times is my favorite blog, and it's OK if I lose some friends by picking one of the excellent blogs out there that I read every day over the other ones. No. Instead, I'm going say that it's..... Um... Look! Kirk Cameron!

What about you? What's your legitimate favorite blog out there? Feel free to link in the comments.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

An update on the Bowl Pick'em Challenge


So far, with two Big Ten Bowl games having been played, we've had pretty much everyone correctly guess the winners. The common trend was that nobody really expected Central Michigan to put up much of a fight against Purdue, nor did anyone expect Michigan State to be as feisty as they were against Boston College in the Champs Sports Bowl. Paging Jim Shikenjanski, however, was only off by 1 on Michigan State's point totals, and that helped them considerably. After 2 games, the Minnesota blog takes the lead. This could be their most important football related victory since the days of Bronko Nagurski.

(The gentleman pictured above is, of course, Jim Shikenjanski, courtesy TCSportszone. Mr. Shikenjanski, your pager is vibrating)

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beth's 2007 Top Five

Every once in a while games come along that are so amazing you want to talk about them forever. The Minnesota Twins winning the division in 2006 on the last day--hours after their own game had finished, was one such game. In 2007, I attended five games that I remember quite clearly, and thus I've ordered them. Coming in sixth-tenth places are likely a couple of Wild games and Twins games that aren't quite as memorable, and thus I can't specifically remember them without looking them up. These are the Top Five Sporting Events I Attended in 2007; I remember every one--some I had to look up dates, or the exact final scores, but I remember being there.

5. Last Second Victory

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I’m sure everyone remembers this see-saw game between the Minnesota Swarm and the Arizona Sting on April 14th. If it’s slipped your mind, it was an exciting game, with the Sting leading, the Swarm tying then going ahead, then the Sting coming back to take the lead, then the Swarm coming back again and taking the lead, then the Sting tying it again in the final minutes…and the Swarm scoring in the final second—yes, the final second—of the game. The Sting protested the final goal for a couple of reasons, all of which were silly, but officials decided the Swarm scored legally, and the game was over, and the fans left over-joyed. Really, for a minor sport, it doesn't get much better than ending the season (as far as home games go) with a nail-biter like this one.

4. Santana's complete game shut-out
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On the way to the June 19th game of Minnesota Twins versus New York Mets game at Shea Stadium in New York, Twins television announcer Bert Blyleven bet Twins starting pitcher Johan Santana that he couldn’t pitch a complete game shut-out. If he did, Johan got to shave Bert’s head. Bert thought it was a safe bet--national league park, Santana hadn't pitched a complete game in a couple of years...but Bert lost and Santana got to get out the clippers before the next game. One of the more interesting things of note about the game was that Santana struck out Paul Lo Duca in the bottom of the ninth. That may not sound interesting, but it was the first strike-out Santana was involved in—he didn’t even strike out when he was at the plate. (He walked, doubled, and scored a run.) For a strike-out artist like Santana, that was surprising.

3. He Was Just Seventeen:

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There’s that wacky Johan Santana again on August 19th, up to his old tricks, this time against the Texas Rangers. He didn’t manage the complete game—Joe Nathan came in for the save—but he did pitch eight innings of two-hit, no-walk ball. Oh, and he struck out 17, but who’s counting?

2. G-G-G-G-GAborik

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Anytime your favorite hockey player manages a hat trick, it’s a pretty good night for a fan. When your favorite player decides to notch a hat trick, but then continues on and scores two more goals, and gets an assist on the only other goal your team scores…it’s a great night for a fan. On December 20th versus the New York Rangers, Marian Gaborik scored every which way—rebound, batting it in, shooting it in, break-away, power play…he was only missing the short-handed goal. Most interesting fact of the night? The game-winning goal was scored by Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Yep, five goals in a game, and the loan goal he didn’t score (he got the assist) was the game-winner. Way to be clutch…

1. Stupid Mike Sweeney

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Everything I’ve ever heard about Stupid Mike Sweeney said he’s a classy, nice guy. I don’t care. He will forever be Stupid Mike Sweeney to me. He could join the Twins, and I’d happily cheer for him and he could become one of my favorite players, but he’d still be Stupid Mike Sweeney. My favorite pitcher, Scott Baker, had a no-hitter going when Stupid Mike Sweeney came to the plate (Baker walked the first guy he faced in the ninth, breaking up the perfect game). And then Stupid Mike Sweeney comes up to bat for the first time in months—literally—and manages a bloop hit to center. Stupid Mike Sweeney. The game was indescribably intense and exciting, and we were all very sad when the perfect game, and then the no-hitter, were broken up. Baker still got the complete game shut-out, and it was still an absolutely amazing game. But…stupid Mike Sweeney!

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2008 bring as much fun and joy to all!

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We can dance!

So, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I wanted to hop in and make a couple notes before Beth posts in the morning, just because a couple things need to be said. First, Steve sent me a message quoting his dad on the topic of the Motor City Bowl. "Brock Spack = IDIOT". I don't think I can add anything.

Second, Kentucky blog Sea of Blue took Patrick Reusse to task for some incorrect wording involving a couple recruits. The problem, of course, is that it was Kentucky taking Reusse to task, and not, say, Minnesota.

Speaking of Minnesota, check out the blog "From the Barn." I know the writer, so it must be good. Right?

Lastly, Christmas morning, I took a spill on the ice and came down hard on the left side. The end result? Sprained rotator cuff. So pretty much, I'm J.C. Romero now. I can't pitch with my left hand (rimshot). Had I just done the Safety Dance, perhaps I would have been more careful.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Week 16 NFL Ranks

I hope all of the readers enjoyed a wonderful Christmas. Before I get into the Week 16 NFL power ranks, I'd just like to further elaborate on my pick of Purdue in the Motor City Bowl. I have to deal with Michiganders a lot at work, and I heard a lot of comments on how this game would be so close because of CMU's "dynamic" spread offense. I just couldn't understand this. Strategy will get you nowhere if there is a huge gap in talent like there is between these two teams. I definitely agree that Purdue's coaches lack some intelligence, but once again Purdue is passing all over Central Michigan just as they did a few months ago solely based on the fact that their players have more talent. As I type this, Purdue just took a 27-6 lead and its still in the first half.

In the NFL, as we head into this final week, we have a new team in the top 5: the Chargers. They have quietly risen among the NFL elite over the past few weeks and capitalized on the Packers blowout loss to the Bears. Even though the Colts still at #1 is probably a glaring mistake in these ranks, all 12 of the playoff teams are currently in the top 13 spots, with only Minnesota still hanging on at #12 ahead of Tampa, who had an ugly loss to San Francisco this week. The bottom 5 remained unchanged. The biggest gainers this week were the Redskins, whose win over the Vikings put them in the drivers seat for a playoff spot, and the Giants, who clinched a playoff spot with a 4th quarter surge. The biggest losers were the Vikings, who blew a chance to clinch a playoff spot and now are at the mercy of Washington having to lose to a Dallas team with nothing to play for; the Browns, who also gave up their playoff spot to the Titans and now must rely on the Colts (who also have nothing to play for) beating the Titans to get in; and the Buccaneers, who lost to the Feisty-Niners, who can now play spoilers to the Browns next week. Here are the ranks...

1. Colts - 85.39 - Even
2. Patriots - 83.83 - Even
3. Cowboys - 74.29 - +1
4. Jaguars - 74.10 - +1
5. Chargers - 67.66 - +2
6. Packers - 66.71 - -3
7. Giants - 63.77 - +5
8. Seahawks - 61.51 - +2
9. Titans - 61.15 - +4
10. Redskins - 60.48 - +6
11. Steelers - 60.45 - -2
12. Vikings - 60.23 - -6
13. Buccaneers - 55.79 - -5
14. Eagles - 54.77 - +3
15. Texans - 53.10 - Even
16. Browns - 51.93 - -5
17. Saints - 45.92 - -3
18. Bengals - 45.89 - +2
19. Cardinals - 45.74 - +3
20. Bills - 43.46 - -2
21. Bears - 43.04 - Even
22. Panthers - 42.33 - -3
23. Lions - 40.10 - +2
24. 49ers - 37.47 - +2
25. Broncos - 34.40 - -1
26. Raiders - 30.54 - -3
27. Jets - 30.03 - Even
28. Rams - 28.18 - Even
29. Ravens - 26.69 - Even
30. Chiefs - 24.76 - Even
31. Dolphins - 22.20 - Even
32. Falcons - 20.28 - Even

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!


So it's Christmas, and frankly, this means I may not post anything other than this during the day, so I wanted be sure I wished you and yours a happy Holiday, and thank you for your continued patronage. This year, because I forgot to do so earlier, I'm again making a charitable donation, 10 bucks a comment on every post from here to the end of the year, so feel free to comment away.
And since it is the Holiday season, I wanted to extend my support and condolences to two frequent targets of blogs, one of this particular blog. Two of ESPN's most prominent figures, Dick Vitale and Stuart Scott are undergoing battles with their health. Just because we bust your chops from time to time doesn't mean we think you are bad people, and you certainly don't "deserve" any illness. After all, it's not your faults that you were two figures chosen to be omnipresent by the powers that be. And since it's the holiday season, and you aren't feeling well, I figure I will compliment you both, Dick and Stu. Dick, you have some of the most unabashed passion for the game of basketball I've ever seen, and your enthusiasm is commendable. Stu, my only problem with you has been when you editorialize, but I can't argue with the fact that you are a gifted anchor, and truthfully, if you wanted to parlay your ESPN career into one in hard news, I have no doubt you would find success. Get well soon, guys.
And to each and everyone one of you, the readers, commenters, fellow bloggers, be safe out there and have a Merry Christmas.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Real men wear purple

We live in a world, ladies and gentlemen, where there were two football games on tonight, and each featured a team wearing purple.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Audience Participation: Did you see that?

Ever since the Wild's Marian Gaborik scored 5 goals against the New York Rangers, I've been a stunned, blathering idiot, which is different because I'm usually not stunned. I can't stop talking about the game to anyone who will listen. And you know what? It wasn't even the 5 goals that have me talking. It's Brent Burns destroying both Peter Prucha and Fedor Tyutin of the Rangers.


So what about you? What's the last thing you saw in a sporting event that had you talking to anyone who would listen?

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Friday, December 21, 2007

10 years ago in Slovakia...

The scene: A laboratory somewhere in Trencin, 1997.
The President of Slovakia, Mikuláš Dzurinda, is in a room with several scientists, poring over their work.

The Prez: Well, even though we requested the split from the Czech Republic, we're being embarrassed. The Czechs are blowing us away in all manner of economic and cultural advances. Tell me, you have completed our secret weapon?

Scientist: Well, after the supply problems with the first two, the failure to properly adjust the psychological parameters on versions 3-7 and the last one getting his hand stuck in the garbage disposal, I introduce to you, Agent 9!

Agent 9 stands up, trips and falls into much of Slovakia's computer equipment, electricuting him.
6 Months later.


Scientist: I introduce to you, Agent 10!

1 year later

Agent 10 lifts weights, glaring at the Czech flag, and a picture of his target, perched just below the flag.

2 years later, in New York

Scientist: Agent 10, you have a new assignment, it's in Minnesota.

Agent 10 grunts acknowledgement.

4 years later in Slovakia

Scientist: It appears that there may be a defect in Agent 10. He keeps injuring his groin. Should we recall him?

The new Prez (
Rudolf Schuster): No no, I have total faith in the plan set forth by that guy whose name I can't pronounce.

Scientist: You know, I can't pronounce his name either. He was president for like 5 years too.

3 years later (2 days ago, actually)

Scientist: All right Agent 10, you have your assignment. Can you execute the plan to embarrass the Czechs tomorrow.

Agent 10 grunts.

Last night:

Agent 10 scores 5 goals against the Rangers, embarrassing Czech hero Jaromir Jagr.

Scientist: You did it, Agent 10! you have vindicated all of Slovakia!

Agent 10: I think you guys needed a better plan.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Suspended II

In the on-going series of Beth talking about things she only marginally understands, we're back to hockey suspensions.

New York Islanders forward Chris Simon was hit with a 30-game suspension. While that's the kind of suspension that I would've liked to see the Canuck's Mathias Ohlund get for breaking Mikko Koivu's leg, I'll concede that the Ohland suspension was appropriate, as well as the Simon suspension. Ohlund, as far as I know, has never been suspended before, and has no history of breaking the legs of one of Beth's favorite players--which should be an automatic suspension, no matter what circumstances. There was no way for the league to know how long Mikko Koivu would be out, so there was no way of dictating a longer penalty based on time missed. Besides, the original guess was that Mikko Koivu would be out approximately one week. No one could've guessed it would be more than a month.

Simon was caught, in a recent game purposely stepping on the player's leg with his skate (youtube video). It's Jarko Ruutu's good fortune that he wasn't injured, and certainly he was smiled upon by lady fortune in that he was not seriously injured. This type of behavior isn't out of the norm for Simon, as he's been suspended seven times previously, in fifteen years.

Simon used to hold the league in the length of a suspension at 25 games. He now has a new record. His team is on record saying that drugs and alcohol are not part of Simon's behavioral problems. He's simply "Chris is a good, solid guy," teammate Bryan Berard said. "He does have that switch where he can snap..."

This is not something to be taken lightly. Hockey is a very intense sport--one of the reasons I like it--and there is a lot of emotion. However, people need to keep emotions in check. It seems Simon has never learned to this--there's no shame in it. People who can't do certain things, however, need to be taught them, or taught measures to deal with their problems. Hockey players cannot be dangerously attacking one another.

League disciplinarian Colin Campell is on record saying the past suspensions led to the extremity of this one. Obviously, his past suspensions haven't taught him anything, or at least, they haven't deterred him from committing these dangerous actions.

The other part of this story that is tragic to me is that the a guy in the Islanders system turned pro, possibly to join the team. Kyle Okposo left the U of MN, Twin Cities, Gopher Hockey team to play in the Islanders' system. I could wax long on the poor move for Okposo to leave his team in the middle of the season, and the poor move on the Islanders side to take a kid from his team, but that's neither here nor there. It just simply means my favorite player has left the Gophers (see this play as a point of reference as to his play).

Hey, Ryan--our Ryan--is guest-blogging at Barry Melrose Rocks (www.melroserocks.blogspot.com) today. Check it out! We here at the Victoria Times hopes that his fame won't go to his head, causing him to forget the little people.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Introducing the Victoria Times Big Ten Bowl Pick'em Challenge


It's bowl season once again, and if you remember last year at all, you know I get into them. This year, we're inviting several other blogs, namely those with an interest in Big Ten Sports, to join the party. Look around the internet at the following sites that have been invited to participate. The entries are slowly trickling in but everyone has until Saturday to get their picks in. The invitees:
Sparty MSU was the first to respond and is doing a wonderful job with their preview.
Paging Jim Shikenjanski (For my money, the best named blog in the state of Minnesota)
Boiled Sports
Mondesi's House
Hoosier Report
Illini Talk
Black Heart, Gold Pants (Iowa, for those that don't know)
Maize N Brew
MGoBlog
Lake The Posts (Northwestern)
Around the Oval (Ohio State)
Buckeye Commentary
Halftime Adjustments (Ohio State)
Black Shoe Diaries (Penn State)
There is No Name On My Jersey (Penn State)

As I said, the entries are coming in, and as I was compiling that list, I got another. Here are the rules. We're just picking the Big Ten bowl games, both the winner and the score, and we'll sort everything out by the number of correct games followed by the nearness to the correct score, if, in fact, nearness is a real word. Be sure to check out all of those sites, because if they want their picks made public, they will appear on their own site, much like the picks Steve and I will be making, which are found below. For every game, the first pick is mine, the second Steve's.

Motor City Bowl
Ryan
Purdue 38 Central Michigan 21 - I get the feeling that this is the type of game where everyone says in the first half "Wow, how is Purdue only playing in the Motor City Bowl" then in the second, we are reminded of way. But Purdue will still win.
Steve
Purdue 45, Central Michigan 17
Purdue was up 38-0 when they played earlier this year before the defense got soft and gave up some garbage time points. I expect the same to happen here.

Champs Sports
Ryan
Boston College 49, Michigan State 14
I don't remember when we've been given any evidence that Michigan State is remotely close to as talented as BC. I will say this though, MSU tends to play to their opponents skill level, so I could be totally off on this one.
Steve
Boston College 34, Michigan State 14
BC was nearly in a BCS bowl. MSU was 6th in the Big Ten

Alamo
Ryan
Penn State 24, Texas A&M 16
I like Penn State in any game where there defense is well rested (their offense has been mostly irrelevant). A&M has been mediocre all year.
Steve
Texas A&M 42, Penn State 40 (3 OT)
This is a pretty even matchup between 2 middle of the pack teams in 2 big conferences that weren't that strong this year. I think A&M takes this after Penn State misses a 2 point conversion in OT. 1 OT for every poop break that Paterno takes during the game

Insight
Ryan
Oklahoma State 30, Indiana 21
I truly know nothing about Indiana this year, aside from the fact that they were playing for the memory of their deceased coach. Last year, they would be on ESPN Plus and I could see them play a couple times a year, but this year they've always been on the Big Ten Network. I just have to go with tradition and pick IU to lose.
Steve
Oklahoma State 48, Indiana 37
This will be a shootout between 2 teams that don't really have any impressive wins. OK State wins because his coach IS A MAN......HE'S 40!!!!!!!!!!!

Outback
Ryan
Tennessee 21, Wisconsin 20
I think this will be a fantastic game between two nearly evenly matched opponents. I think I'm basing this pick on how much I like the Tennessee spirit I always see and the fact that Wisconsin is almost aggressively dull.
Steve
Tennessee 28, Wisconsin 24
On paper, Tennessee had a more impressive year, but Wisconsin historically plays tougher in bowl games so this one could be close.

Capital One
Ryan
Florida 34, Michigan 20
While I expect this game will be closer than expected, primarily because Tebow isn't a spread quarterback, I also expect Michigan to lose. They haven't got up for a big game yet this year. Why start now?
Steve
Florida 52, Michigan 20
Michigan is in for a world of hurt. This will be like the national championship game last year and UM vs. Oregon this year.

Rose
Ryan
USC 53, Illinois 10
I really don't think Illinois is all that good, merely resilient, which can only get you so far. Rashard Mendenhall is my favorite name in college football though.
Steve
USC 42, Illinois 13
BCS mismatch of the year. I'm proud of Illinois for taking Notre Dame's spot for them this year

BCS Championship
Ryan
LSU 17, Ohio State 14
Both teams have made a name for themselves on defense this year, and I fully expect this to be a low scoring affair. When LSU gets into the high scoring shootouts, they find trouble. Fortunately, Ohio State isn't a huge threat to score a ton of points.
Steve
Ohio State 24, LSU 23
Call me crazy, but the underdog was won 7 of 9 BCS title games. I think Ohio State is getting angry about getting written off, embarrassed about last year, and LSU just seems a little too shaky to trust here.

So those are our picks. We'll have a list of participants perhaps on Saturday. It should be fun

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Week 15 NFL Ranks

Here are the Week 15 NFL Ranks. The Dolphins first win of the season enabled them to crawl out of the 32 spot. The top 5 remained the same, with Dallas's loss causing them to switch spots with Green Bay and put Jacksonville right on their tails. Watch out for the Vikings, who have climbed all the way to 6th after starting the season 3-6. The 49ers win over the Bengals got them out of the bottom 5 for the first time in a while. The biggest gainers this week were the Panthers, who got a nice win over the Seahawks to snap their streak, the Chargers, who have quietly climbed to #7, and the previously mentioned 49ers. The biggest losers were the Giants and Seattle, whose losses hurt their playoff seeding. I'm interested to see how badly a playoff team that rests starters and loses will take a hit in the coming weeks...

1. Colts - 85.39 - Even
2. Patriots - 83.51 - Even
3. Packers - 74.38 - +1
4. Cowboys - 73.10 - -1
5. Jaguars - 72.45 - Even
6. Vikings - 67.37 - +1
7. Chargers - 66.40 - +4
8. Buccaneers - 62.75 - +2
9. Steelers - 60.54 - Even
10. Seahawks - 60.52 - -4
11. Browns - 57.48 - +1
12. Giants - 56.83 - -4
13. Titans - 55.27 - +1
14. Saints - 54.33 - +3
15. Texans - 53.77 - -2
16. Redskins - 53.51 - Even
17. Eagles - 47.60 - +2
18. Bills - 45.45 - -3
19. Panthers - 44.32 - +6
20. Bengals - 43.36 - -2
21. Bears - 39.97 - +1
22. Cardinals - 39.13 --2
23. Raiders - 37.40 - Even
24. Broncos - 35.99 - -3
25. Lions - 34.86 - -1
26. 49ers - 34.47 - +4
27. Jets - 29.79 - -1
28. Rams - 27.70 - -1
29. Ravens - 26.92 - -1
30. Chiefs - 26.01 - -1
31. Dolphins - 22.81 - +1
32. Falcons - 21.56 - -1

Monday, December 17, 2007

Best Of The Victoria Times

So, here's what I'm thinking. I think I'm going to be lame and give in to conformity and create a "best of" post at the end of the year. Is there anything you've really appreciated that we've done this year? Let me know in the comments, and we'll work something out by New Years Eve. I promise.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Two brief notes


In the wide world of the internet, I found two things that captured my attention. First, how about that Mitchell Report, huh? Everyone on their is a bunch of hosers! Not so, says Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke? They point out that former Pirate Kevin Young only started taking his steroids AFTER signing a huge contract with the Pirates. It's sort of admirable that Young tried to fulfull his end of the contract. Sort of.

In other news, George Parros is shaving his mustache and cutting his hair. NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Audience Participation: Who's going to jail?


This worked so smashingly the last time, we're going to keep doing it. This weeks question surrounds all the controversy swirling around sports and the particularly choice characters funneled into the Twin Cities area lately, from Sebastian Telfair to Delmon Young. Vikings safety Dwight Smith was arrested last night with some pot on him. Four gophers football players are in the midst of a rape case. Additionally, 5 former Twins were named in baseball's Mitchell Report (and yes, this is the only mention I'll have of said report. Frankly, I have nothing to add to the hubbub) Clearly, things aren't the crime free utopia we've come to know and love here in Minneapolis, and it's just a matter of time before someone does something so egregious that it will require jail time. The question is, which Minnesota related athlete will it be (those Gophers, Dominic Jones, Alex Daniels, E.J. Jones and Keith Massey do not count).
You've got Sebastian Telfair, who has a lengthy criminal record and was linked to the shooting of rapper Faboulous. Then there is the famous bat chucker Delmon Young, who clearly has some issues with his temper. Don't forget that the Wild have on their roster one of 2 players ever suspended for steroid use in Sean Hill. All good candidates, but my money is on Bryant McKinnie. He never seems to be in the right place and has seen trouble on a couple of different occasions already, including the boat fiasco of a couple years ago. Something about a young man suddenly coming into wealth while being surrounded by 54 people in the same situation just breeds trouble.

So who do you say? Who's going to the slammer? Anyonw? Sorry this is such a downer, but with the Vick thing, the Mitchell Report and now Dwight Smith, I figure this is the least depressing way to look at things. Oh well. Happy weekend!

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Friday, December 14, 2007

I am fairly confused by the busy off-season

Bill Smith went out today and proved he's no Terry Ryan. After assessing the team and seeing that we didn't really have much to offer on the left side of the infield, he went out and signed two former Astros, Adam Everett yesterday and Mike Lamb today. Wait. Two former Astros? That would explain the new logo:

This marks the first time the Twins have had an opening day third baseman who played that position the previous year in the major leagues since Corey Koskie. No. Really.
So anyways, we now have a potential new starter at left field (or DH), center field, third base, short stop and second base. I'm excited. This team may not be dynamite, but the changes will certainly captvate me. Gleeman had a good point in his post on Everett, saying that Bill Smith clearly doesn't focus on loyalty and takes risks, unlike his predecessor, traits that will likely serve him well in the long haul. In any case, my uninformed opinion has this as our batting order next year (as it stands today).
2b Harris
C Mauer
CF Young
RF Cuddyer
1b Moneau
3b Lamb
LF Monroe
DH Kubel
SS Everett

That, my friends, is a completely revamped lineup. Me likey.
By the way, I suspect Everett's mother's maiden name is Keebler. Just sayin'.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Week 14 Ranks: A New Number 1

A new number 1? Aren't the Patriots 13-0? They are, but the Colts have recovered enough to leapfrog them using my ranking method. I'll admit, I think I put too much on strength of schedule and that's something that I'll tweak for next year (unless everyone absolutely hates these ranks, then I'll just stop all together). There is some method to this madness though. The Patriots in recent weeks have played some tougher games against relatively week opponents, while the Colts are getting healthy and have been getting increasingly impressive wins. Also, keep in mind that any good power ranking should factor in recent success more than the whole season (they tell you who is the best right now). The Colts nearly beat the Pats a few weeks ago, and if they were to have a rematch, I think it would be another close game. Looking at the rest of the top 5, Dallas also fell a spot after a narrow win (should have lost if the whole fundamental of falling on the ball was actually taught in the NFL) while Green Bay and Jacksonville still fill the 4th and 5th spots, with Seattle and Minnesota (who would have thought this early in the season?) coming on strong. The bottom 5 teams remained the same, with Atlanta dropping 2 more spots all the way to 31. They join the Dolphins as the 2 bottom ranked teams that had shady college coaches bail on them in favor of SEC schools. I'm definitely looking forward to the first Saban-Petrino post game midfield meeting next year....

Saban: Hey man, nice job screwing over the Falcons
Petrino: I learned from the master. I thought it was awesome how they replaced you with a former Indiana coach and then went 0-16. The Falcons are 0-7 so far under Gerry DiNardo, so I'm hoping to follow in your footsteps.
Saban: Well I wish you the best of luck in that and in the GalleryFurniture.com bowl
Petrino: Thanks, I know you'll get even with Louisiana-Monroe this year, and if you don't, you can always leave and coach there.

This week's biggest gainers were the Redskins and Saints, who got back into the NFC playoff race after wins over fading/abandoned teams. The biggest losers were the Cardinals, who missed a key opportunity to get into playoff position (no surprise there), the Eagles, who are basically done, and the Rams, who are coming back to Earth after winning 3 of 4 much faster when tied to the dead weight that is known as Brock Berlin. On to the ranks...

1. Colts - 84.78 - +2
2. Patriots - 83.49 - -1
3. Cowboys - 79.64 - -1
4. Packers - 74.13 - Even
5. Jaguars - 70.78 - Even
6. Seahawks - 68.92 - +2
7. Vikings - 67.03 - +2
8. Giants - 64.16 - +3
9. Steelers - 62.07 - -3
10. Buccaneers - 61.32 - -3
11. Chargers - 60.27 - -1
12. Browns - 56.02 - +2
13. Texans - 51.54 - +3
14. Titans - 48.67 - +1
15. Bills - 46.56 - +4
16. Redskins - 46.46 - +8
17. Saints - 46.21 - +9
18. Bengals - 46.18 - Even
19. Eagles - 46.09 - -6
20. Cardinals - 44.99 - -8
21. Broncos - 42.49 - -1
22. Bears - 40.64 - -5
23. Raiders - 37.98 - -1
24. Lions - 36.62 - +1
25. Panthers - 36.64 - -2
26. Jets - 34.24 - +1
27. Rams - 33.48 - -6
28. Ravens - 28.49 - Even
29. Chiefs - 27.69 - +1
30. 49ers - 27.33 - +1
31. Falcons - 23.09 - -2
32. Dolphins - 15.82 - Even

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Got Money? I’ll spend it!

Alex Rodriguez signed a 10-year contract with the New York Yankees for $275 million, plus $30 million in bonus money if he meets certain home run goals. For the sake of the following inanity, let’s pretend that he doesn’t reach those goals. (Maybe he decides he wants to be a the best bunter in the majors or something.) I don’t remember exactly how much time he earned in his previous contract of $250 million, but it’s assumable that at this point, he should have enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life. Now he has an extra $275 million. Let’s help him spend it!

For the purposes of this story, he gets a discount for buying in bulk, so I don't have to figure income tax or sales tax into this.

Monopoly
Really, you can’t start a conversation about wads of money without bringing up Hasbro’s Monopoly. If A-Rod was going to go for broke, and buy Boardwalk and Park Place, he could buy them 366,666 times. And he’d still have $502 left over. But what’s the fun of having Boardwalk and Park Place if you can’t build hotels? Monopoly has a maximum of 12 hotels per game. With his salary, A-Rod could buy 21,538 games of classic Monopoly ($17.99 at Target), buy Boardwalk and Park Place on each one, and put six hotels on each property.

But let’s say he’s feeling a little more whimsical, and he’d rather play some more fun games--without worrying about buying properties and hotels? Well, he could own 15,286,270 copies of the Classic version, 15,997,673 copies of the new “Here and Now” version, or 9,181,970 copies of Yankee Monopoly (he’d have to get someone to pay him for his autograph on the way into the store--he’d be short $1.50).

iPod
A-Rod could buy iPod Shuffles ($79 each) and give one to nearly every person in Los Angeles, CA (2005 population: 3,844,829). I’m sure the 363,817 people who didn’t get one would be a bit upset, but he’s dealt with the boos of more people than that before (2006 Yankees attendance: 4,248,067).

Minimum Wage
If A-Rod decided to work a minimum wage job in New York ($7.25), he’d have to work 12,981 years to earn his wage--that’s 8-hour days, 7 days per week, no overtime pay.

If he were in Minnesota ($5.25), he’d have to work 17,926 years. If he were in New Mexico, Wyoming, or Georgia ($5.15), it would be up to 18,274 years. But it could be worse. Kansas ($2.65) would make him work 35,514 years.

Video Games
Guitar Hero has to be one of the bigger trends out there in the video game world. A-Rod’s got enough money to hold a Guitar Hero party! How many people could he invite, knowing that it’s at most a 2-person game, and he wouldn’t want anyone left sitting bored?

Well, by purchasing a PlayStation2 ($129.99), a 32” LCD television ($549.99), two wireless guitars per console ($59.99--no tripping over cords at this party!), and all four versions of the game I found (Guitar Hero - $39.99, Guitar Hero II - $49.99, Guitar Hero III - $49.99, Guitar Hero 80’s - $49.99), A-Rod could purchase enough equipment and software to throw a party for 277,800 and still have $227.98 to spend on food and drinks.
Of course, A-Rod might consider of foregoing the Guitar Hero fest and having a video game sports fest. If he were to buy The Bigs, he could buy enough equipment and copies of the game for 397,340 games to be played simultaneously! He'll have $685.97 left over to buy drinks. Someone bring the chips!

What self-respecting guy would be without tools? A-Rod needs a hammer, at least. Fortunately, he can get his very own Yankees hammer, for the low price of $27.99, but in case one gets scratched as he’s using it, he can buy 9,824,937 of them--and have $13.44 left over to buy nails!

Baseball
After playing the sport, A-Rod almost might like to attend some baseball games. Getting the most expensive tickets at Yankee Stadium ($400 for the Field Championship level), he could attend 687,500 games (8,487 seasons). If he were feeling cheap, he could attend 22,916,66 games in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium for $12 per ticket (282,921 seasons).

Then again, maybe he’s going cheap. The cheapest tickets in baseball that I know of are the Minnesota Twins Cheap Seats full season ticket package--$250, or $3.09/game. A-Rod could buy season tickets there for the next 1,100,000 years--or would be able to, if the Twins weren’t building a new stadium, so he needs to buy them for the next two seasons.

Okay, A-Rod is busy playing baseball--he doesn't have time to attend games. However, with his salary, A-Rod could pay for the 2007 salaries of the six lowest-payroll teams* in the major leagues--that's one-fifth of MLB teams, and he'd still have $37,992,621 dollars left over. To put that in perspective, the amount he'd have left over is approximately $650,000 more than the Washington Nationals paid for their players in 2007. (Also, since 2000, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have paid $229,767,201 for their players. That’s right. A-Rod could pay for eight years of Devil Rays baseball--and probably nine, if the 2008 and 2009 Rays payroll doesn’t exceed 2007's.)

*The six lowest-payroll teams are the: Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Florida Marlins, Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Colorado Rockies.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What does Stu Scott think smart means?

I've mentioned Stu Scott's 2 Way from ESPN the Magazine in the past. It's where we get to see him at his most self righteous. This week... ugh. I can't even begin to describe it. Allow me to quote.
Ed from Washington D.C. asks "Will we ever see Mike [Tyson] back in the ring?"
Stu replied (emphasis mine), "Unfortunately, Ed, probably so. Fighting is still Mike Tysons best way to make money. I think he's a smart guy, but what else could he really do but fight exhibitions?"
Really Stu? Let's forget some of the stupid things he's done, like threaten to eat our children, saying he was going to fade into Bolivian, gnawing off part of Evander Holyfield's ear, spending time in prison for rape, getting arrested 38 times before he was a teenager, dropping out of school, hiring Don King as a promoter, and getting a tattoo on his damn face. Let's forget all that. His job is to take repeated blows to the head. Even if he used to be smart (and evidence screams he wasn't) getting frequently punched in the freaking face will tend to cause some brain damage. But if you think he's a smart guy, Stu, more power too you. Perhaps you can discuss Chaucer the next time you see him.
You thought that was it? Of course not.
Pure-T (really? Pure-T?) from Queens asks "Is Dumb Isiah done? Isn't it time the Knicks got a coach who isn't a train wreck?"
Stu replied, "Dumb Isiah, huh? Have you given him an IQ test? The Knicks' problems don't start with an Isiah. They start higher up. I'm not saying the coach is blameless for the mess in New York, but the blame doesn't begin or end there."
The blame starts higher up. Like... at President of Team Operations? The guy who brought in the players the coach can't control? I don't know a whole lot about the NBA, but from what I've heard, that guy isn't doing a great job. Actually, "train wreck" pretty much describes it.
So yes, if Stu Scott ever decrees that you are intelligent, take it with a grain of salt.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What Michael Vick did right.

After my recent string of irritating a whole lot of people who didn't deserve to be irritated, I set out today to say something nice. I figured I would just open up the newspaper('s website) and say something nice about the subject of the headline. What was it? Of course, it was that Michael Vick had been sentenced to 23 months in prison for his dog fighting ring. This was going to be tough.
But you know what? It wasn't. Compare Vick to recent athletes who have been in trouble. Barry Bonds. O.J. Simpson. The Bengals. So many others. Barry Bonds has just been indicted after what's been a disgustingly long and drawn out process in which he has continued to deny steroid use even though everyone suspects that he did, and even as evidence mounts, he still won't confess. Even ballplayers who have tested positive deny their intentional use. The scandal continues.
O.J. Simpson was somehow acquitted despite the fact that the world believes he killed his ex-wife and her friend. He is persona non grata across the country, and even though he has little to lose at this point, he continues to maintain his innocence, going so far as to have the audacity to say he is looking for the real killer, even though (in my opinion) he sees him in the mirror every day.
And the Bengals, Ron Artest, all those other hooligans that perpetually find themselves in trouble never take the blame. They are all victims of the environment they were raised in. They are all living the life, they claim. Did they do anything wrong? Of course not.
So that's what Vick has done right. After initially denying everything, (which is a natural human instinct. My mom still doesn't know about a detention I got in 5th grade, and I'd thank you not to tell her), he was met by mounting evidence against him. Rather than making himself a spectacle, it appeared that he recognized the error in his ways, and has been forthright and apologetic about his culpability, which is a refreshing change of pace when considering criminals. Perhaps the personal rehabilitation began before he went to prison.
I'm not going to applaud Vick for this, because his willingness to apologize indicates there was a transgression in the first place, and this one was particularly heinous. No, instead, I will simply acknowledge that he appears to know the direction his life needs to take from here on out.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Someone said something nice about me!

Just when I thought everyone in the world hated me, Kevin at Barry Melrose Rocks called me esteemed. Esteemed! In any case, that whole post he has up there is a good example of what happens when I get time off and start shooting off e-mails, and someone has the audacity to take them seriously.
Kevin also called us an "awfully nice bunch of people" which is an assessment the state of Oregon may disagree with. He also surmised that we have cheeky and fun Minnesota accents. Well, I can safely say Steve doesn't (he's from Chicago) but hey, Beth and I might! I've never been filmed, and find myself neither cheeky or fun, so I really have no idea. Other than those quibbles, I think that post is pretty much the best thing on the internet that you don't have to pay to see.

Since I mentioned my pissing off people I have no business pissing off, I feel like I should mention something, and clarify my point regarding the whole NJIT post from a couple of days ago. In it, I stated that the NJIT decision to leap to Division 1. feel the need to clarify my point that I think the decision wasn't in the best interest for NJIT specifically, even though it tends to work out in the end for most schools., mostly because they have such a rigorous academic standards. In a liberal arts school, for whatever reason, it's easier to tuck in a joke major for the athletes. At Purdue it was Organizational Leadership Studies. Sure, if you took that in school and tried your best and worked hard at it, you would be well equipped for the real word or graduate work, however if you sloughed off, you could still get good enough grades to play football *cough*Kelly Butler*cough*. NJIT can't have that. It's going to be tough to build a strong athletic tradition if they can't recruit just any athlete as most of their competition can. There's a reason CalTech isn't playing D-1.

Ok, so that's two posts in a row on schools not named Purdue that I've got a bit of resistance on. I'm going to sit a couple college related plays out, I think.

(Pictured is Kelly Butler on the right and someone I don't know, so I will name Jethro and demand play Aqualung at my next birthday(April 5th! Don't forget!))

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Gun violence and the questions it poses.

At work today, I was discussing the rash of mass shootings with a coworker, trying to figure out exactly what was going on. We attributed it to a very American attitude of denial of responsibility, therefore, the mentally imbalanced feel the need to eliminate those that are responsible for their personal anguish. That is to say, everyone.
Of course, we're just meteorologists and not psychologists, so we are at a loss for anything but sadness after hearing of news of the Omaha mall shooting and todays two shootings in Colorado.
There was a shooting early this morning in downtown Indianapolis involving Pacers point guard Jamaal Tinsley. The equipment manager riding with him was the only one hit, and he will be fine, fortunately, but this all raises a few questions. Go ahead, read the article and come back to me.
Ok, let's discuss. First off, at least we can determine that the shooting was an act of jealousy or greed, something I can at least vaguely comprehend. But why bring 3 expensive cars to the club? With your 48 year old equipment manager? Speaking of the equipment manager, how do you go about getting shot in both elbows? Especially if you are in the a car?
Tinsley's brother took off after the shooters, but they got away, according to ESPN. Downtown Indianapolis is about 4 square blocks, for those who have never been. How does one get away? Additionally, are the Pacers involved directly or indirectly in about 75% of gun violence in the Indianapolis area? And shouldn't that have all ended with the departure of Stephen Jackson? So many questions, and so few answers. The only good answer, however, is that everyone here is OK.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Audience Participation: what team have you always hated?

I think I'm going to start up a new little feature here on Saturdays, particularly for those days when I have nothing else to particularly talk about. Here's how it will work. You'll click over to the Times and see that "Audience Participation" is the first two words of the title of the post. It's convenient, because that's what I'm calling this little feature. So, you'll see the "Audience Participation" and then you'll see a question after it. This is where you come in. You go to the comments and you answer it! I'll start in the body of the post, and then you take over from there. Sound cool? I hope so, because I've got nothing better to write about today.
So, what team do I hate, and have I always hated (thats the key, the always hated. Nobody hated the Patriots until recently)? I've always hated the Indiana Hoosiers basketball team. I've been pretty indifferent to their football team, but even before I went to Purdue, I just couldn't stand the basketball team. I didn't like the coach, Bobby Knight, I didn't like them because they played the Gophers and seemingly always beat them (I miss Jim Shikenjanski), and I didn't like their logo, which I thought looked like a pitchfork, and being a good Catholic Boy, I did not approve. What about you? What team (in any sport) have you always, always hated?

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Week 13 NFL Ranks

Well the week 13 NFL power ranks are really late, but here they are. These do not account for the Redskins win over the Bears on Thursday. This week, the Colts win over the Jags and the Cowboys win over the Packers moved both the winners up a spot, and now the Cowboys are breathing down New England's neck again. The Packers dropped to 4th and the Jaguars stayed at 5th, though the Steelers, Bucs, and Seahawks are creeping up on them. There was a big shakeup in the bottom 5 too. The Jets (yes the Jets!) and the Rams were able to crawl out, while the Ravens (who should have beat New England but didn't and have now lost 6 in a row) and the Falcons have sunk back in (I'll add the graphic later). This week's biggest gainers were the Cardinals, who beat a good Browns team, and the Rams, who have won 3 of 4 since starting 0-8. The biggest losers were the Lions, who are still in an NFC playoff spot despite now being ranked #25, and the Redskins, who are struggling with the tragic loss of Sean Taylor (and their coach pulling a Chris Webber isn't much of a help either). On to the Ranks...

1. Patriots - 82.83 - Even
2. Cowboys - 80.34 - +1
3. Colts - 80.15 - +1
4. Packers - 73.60 - -2
5. Jaguars - 69.07 - Even
6. Steelers - 68.70 - Even
7. Buccaneers - 68.63 - Even
8. Seahawks - 66.79 - Even
9. Vikings - 60.69 - +2
10. Chargers - 59.72 - +3
11. Giants - 58.99 - -2
12. Cardinals - 53.50 - +8
13. Eagles - 51.45 - -1
14. Browns - 50.28 - -4
15. Titans - 49.56 - +1
16. Texans - 47.92 - -2
17. Bears - 47.38 - -2
18. Bengals - 44.03 - +1
19. Bills - 43.33 - +4
20. Broncos - 40.65 - +2
21. Rams - 39.83 - +7
22. Raiders - 39.82 - +3
23. Panthers - 39.37 - +4
24. Redskins - 38.87 - -6
25. Lions - 38.29 - -8
26. Saints - 38.15 - -5
27. Jets - 34.28 - +4
28. Ravens - 30.84 - -2
29. Falcons - 29.90 - -5
30. Chiefs - 29.82 - -1
31. 49ers - 27.63 - -1
32. Dolphins - 16.07 - Even

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Friday, December 07, 2007

How could smart people be so dumb?


Let me tell you something about the New Jersey Institute of Technology. NJIT, would be the abbreviation. They are referred to as "New Jersey's Science and Technology University" which means students and faculty should be awfully smart. Right? It seems that way, looking at the fields of study and some of the historical achievements on their website.
It's been my experience that smart people tend to think they have it all figured out. For example, they probably thought they had the game of basketball all figured out by now. It seems pretty simple, and a lot of the game, especially in college, thrives on strategy. Surely, they could make a jump to Division 1 without a problem, right?
Wrong.
Not only are the Highlanders losing, they are losing to bad teams and losing by an awful lot. They scored 28 against Manhattan, and were outscored by 26 and 28 by Rider and Maine in two consecutive games. It's been a rough season for NJIT which joined D-1 last year. They won their first two games (against Manhattan and Rider, ironically) but proceeded to go 3-24 over the rest of the season, winning twice against Longwood, a school in which I am too classy to make an inappropriate giggle at. At least Longwood is 2-8 this year, and has played better opponents than NJIT (not that they should be happy about losing 100-49 to Indiana).
So, where did NJIT go wrong? By assuming smart people should be good at basketball. The best basketball players are going to go to schools where they can't be bothered with studying, or foolishness like that. NJIT has a history of challenging it's students to achieve, which would leave no time to dedicated basketball players to practice. Thus, the Highlanders will continue to be humiliated on the court.
Moving to Division 1 was at best, a terrible idea.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Carl Pohlad: fiscally responsible

This is a Devil's Advocate post. Whether or not I believe in what I'm writing--or how much I believe in what I'm writing--depends on my mood, the day, the time, the weather, and any other factor I deem relevant. Consider this open for discussion.

Carl Pohlad is said to be the biggest miser in major league baseball. He doesn't spend enough money on the team he owns--the Twins.

Baseball is Carl Pohlad's hobby. Yes, it's public and somewhat of a business, but nevertheless, a hobby. It's not where he makes his money, and it's not his home, his education, his family, or his food. It's not a necessity in life. Yes, the man has a ton of money, and yes, I'd love to see him spend more of it on the Twins. But we have no right to demand it.

Let's put it in perspective. If Carl Pohlad's net worth is $3.1 billion, and the Twins payroll was around $70 million last year, that would equal 1/43 of his money was spent on the Twins last year. (I know he doesn't pay the $70 million salaries--in fact, most years he claims he breaks even or loses money on the Twins, but doubtfully to the tune of $70 million. But since I don't know those figures, I have to go with what I have.)

When you consider that, then consider how much the average fan spends on the Twins each year. My total for 2007--tickets, jerseys, shirts, etc.--probably cost me 1/80 of my salary (pre-tax; note, this is not my net worth). That's half of what the Twins "cost" Pohlad. Why should I begrudge Pohlad for spending a greater amount, and a greater percentage, of money on his hobby than I spend on it?

The man is being responsible with his money. He's not spending it all for a moment of glory to have the team he owns win--that is, he's not buying a championship (which is never guaranteed anyway). I don't want another Steinbrenner, buying free agents every year. I'd like the Twins to keep star home-grown players (under which Johan Santana falls, since he came to the majors with the Twins). But with everything, there's give and take.

I still wish there were enough money to keep all the young stars.

I've got nothing. Johan Santana is still a Minnesota Twin, which is nice for me as a Twins fan. But there's nothing to talk about. Some nice trades, but the rumors are too various, and too often contradicted, to discuss intelligently. I have no problems being irrational, but I'd like to be informed.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I've figured it out...

The Vikings are 6-6 for one reason, and one reason only. SECOND STRING DEFENSIVE END RAY EDWARDS USED STEROIDS!


I can sleep better now, knowing they didn't do this on talent alone.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bill Smith is doing it his way.

All day, I was planning on either a "Johan Santana was traded" or a "for the love of Pete, trade Johan Santana already" post this evening. That was, of course, until this happened (and I'm honored just to link to Peter Gammons). Now all those teams planning to invest all those prospects in Miguel Cabrera can turn back to the Twins and Santana and try to knock Bill Smith's socks off. In a way, the Tigers did us two favors by acquiring Cabrera and Willis for 6 players (6!). First, as I mentioned, they opened up the possibility of more suitors for Santana. Second, they weakened themselves considerably in the long run, because, as I said, they traded 6 players. 6!. !.
But I digress. This is all about Santana and the Twins (oh, by the way, the Twins signed Mr. Jennie Finch, Casey Daigle to a minor league contract yesterday, meaning another decent prospect and an excuse to have a picture of Jennie Finch up on this post). I think the way Bill Smith is going about this is fantastic. He hasn't backed down, to our knowledge, from his original demands, and in the mean time, has made another huge trade. Whether or not they work out well remains to be seen, but it's an important step in the right direction in my eyes. Smith views the Twins as HIS team and will do whatever it takes to get it to line up with his vision. Terry Ryan seemed to operate to keep his job. Don't make too many big splashes, groom your prospects and don't stick your neck out. The Twins were never bad, per se, after he got them back to the playoffs, but he seemed reluctant to make the deal that would push them over the top. It drove his players and fans nuts.
Now we have Bill Smith who is operating with a strange sense of urgency, having completed two trades with another apparently on the way (Of the two most prominent on the table, I prefer the Yankees' deal for Santana. I have no idea what the big deal is with Ellsbury. The sample size is too small in the majors, and his minor league record is reminiscent of Rich Becker. Actually, Becker was a little bit better in the minors than Ellsbury, at least at triple A.). I appreciate that urgency and his blowing up the team while keeping enough talent on the roster to ensure they will be competitive. If he keeps to his plan, he will worry about the team, and make the necessary deals to keep the Twins on the right track. It's an all or nothing tactic.
It's what the Twins organization needs.

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What now about the Vikings?

On little note before I get on to this weeks NFL review. Long time center of the Minnesota Wes Walz retired recently, and I feel.... indifferent. I just wanted to mention it because he's been such a key figure for the squad since their inception. I mean, his skills were waning and he wasn't contributing as he or the team would like, and this IS Minnesota and he is a hockey player, so I don't anticipate losing him all together. I expect we'll still get a heapin' helpin' of Walzy for several years, retired or not. So I'm indifferent.

So anyways, it's time for a good old fashioned review of the NFL week that was. Let's start with the 6-6 Vikings. Wait. The what?! I need a second to digest that. Let's get back to that.

The Bears lost to the Giants in a battle of quarterbacking ineptitude. I don't know if anyone realizes this though, in his first few seasons, Peyton Manning was pretty bad as well. Not Eli bad, but he did have quite a turnaround. There is no precedent, however, to suggest that Rex Grossman can turn it around.

Speaking of the Bears, the 6-6 Vikings, sure -- Nope. Not yet. Can't do it.

I can't believe I live in a world where the Browns and Cardinals are on local TV in Minneapolis. Not only that, they played a meaningful game that came down to the wire. I don't know what to say, really. Oh, other than the fact that the Browns were robbed and Kellen Winslow was totally shoved out of bounds on that last catch. The Browns should have won.

You know what's even more amazing than seeing the Browns-Cardinals on TV? The fact that the Vikings are 6-6! They -- Good gravy this is awkward.

NBC was at a loss Sunday, not being able to show the Patriots game, as it was on ESPN. It was interesting to hear John Madden's voice again, since he was no longer kissing Tom Brady's ass the entire night. The Steelers continue to be an enigma, playing a surging Bengals team and winning by 14 a week after narrowly escaping against a winless team at home. At least that game provided us with the following clip.

You know what else is an enigma? The Vikings being 6-6. All right, I still can't do it.

I can't say anything about the Patriots - Ravens game that hasn't already been said, but I do want to note that Brian Billick is looking more and more like Craig T. Nelson every day. Coach!










OK. Now I have to say something about the Vikings. They remind me a lot of last years Bears, in that they have no passing game, they have a solid defense and a good running game. The difference is, the defense and passing game are slightly worse, but the running game is much much better. Am I saying that I think the Vikings could make it to the Super Bowl in the weak NFC this year, the answer would be.... yes?

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Well, what have I learned?

Yesterday was... interesting, to say the least. To review: I wrote a quick, stupid little post on the Oregon Ducks and their uniform combinations this season, thanks to having Nike giving them a sizable R&D bonus from Nike, as well as donations that help the school thrive. It's why they try out so many new things and wear so many different uniforms.
In any case, I decided to take a look-see at just how many uniforms they went with this year after watching them in their Civil War game against Oregon State and seeing the uniforms they had on in that game, as well as a completely different uniform in some highlights. I called it annoying, because it seems like it is. I like a little consistency in my teams' apparel, but that's just me. Perhaps I over stepped my bounds.
Duck Sports News linked to that post, and it was the busiest day ever here at the Times. We've received four hundred visitors since 6pm last night, which is about considerably more than usual, to say the least. Most of them are Oregon fans, if I'm correct in my reasoning, and a lot of them are pissed off. I was called "annoying", "whiny", and an "idiot blogger". I have no quarrels with that. I probably deserve it.
In any event, I learned a few things. First, any post could suddenly be read by hundreds of strangers, so I better be on my best behavior (even if being mean is a lot funnier).
Second, Oregon fans organize quickly if they spot something they don't like.
Third, Oregon fans are very protective of their schools quirky uniform trends.
Fourth and last, I probably shouldn't plan on visiting Eugene any time soon.
I can't wait for Beth to come in and bring a little bit of friendship and happiness back to the Times on Thursday.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

You're sure Northwestern didn't want to play in this game?


The Bowls have been scheduled, and the usual gripes about the BCS are once again falling on deaf ears, not that I care, because I like the Bowl set up as it is. But we've dealt with that over and over and over again, so I'm going to let it go this time. Instead I'm going to mention that Purdue is going to the Motor City Bowl this year, to play Central Michigan. What do Purdue writers everywhere have to say?

It's the only Bowl worse than no bowl at all - Boiled Sports

So it's come to this - Off the Tracks

Boilers breathe easy after 10th bowl bid in 11 years
- Purdue Exponent.

Wow. West Lafayette is simply radiating excitement right now. The one thing I'm dissapointed about is how little Detroit bashing there's been. it's a problem when your team has to travel north to get to their bowl game. The reward for going to the game is that you get to go home. They have to play the game indoors because of the city wide curfew. Come on people, this is Detroit! It exists to be made fun of!

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The Oregon Ducks are annoying


Nike was the preeminent athletic wear company throughout most of the 80s and 90s, latching on to Michael Jordan and riding the Bulls' wave of championships. Lately, many other companies, like adidas and Under Armour have taken over, and the split in top companies in the field has made them less omnipresent. But Nike, through their college football outlet the Oregon Ducks, would like to remind you that in fact, they are a nuisance, and for no good reason. Let's take a look at the Ducks and their Nike sponsored uniforms this year.

Game One: vs. Houston. Green on green, with a green helmet. Makes sense. It's what I think of when I think of the Ducks.

Game Two: at Michigan. White on white, with a green helmet. This is the logical road uniform. Nothing to see here. Yet.

Game Three: vs. Fresno State. Black on black with a green helmet. Those sleeves kind of throw you though, don't they?

Game Four: at Stanford. White on green, with a green helmet. So the pants are a different color. So what? Nevertheless, this is the fourth different uniform in 4 games (granted, most teams would have had two at this point.)

Game Five: vs California: Green on green with a green helmet. Hey! We've seen this uniform before! Sweet!

Game Six: vs Washington State. Yellow on yellow with a green helmet. Not only is this the most disgusting uniform I've ever seen, it's also the Ducks 5th in a mere 6 games.

Game Seven: at Washington. White on white with a white helmet. What? They can change their HELMET too? Absurd.

Game Eight: vs USC. Yellow on yellow with a green helmet. Of the uniforms to make a repeat appearance, you went with this one? Seriously? Oregon, you've smoked yourself retarded. CORRECTION: It turns out the image I had up there was from a different game. The correct combo is Green on green with green helmets. I guess with three instances of this particular uniform, it's the official uniform? CORRECTION #2: As a helpful commenter with better eyes than mine pointed out, thats black on green on green.

Game Nine: vs Arizona St. Black on yellow with a green helmet. Sure. Why not? You look like a seasick bumblebee, but might as well throw everything you've got together, huh?

Game Ten: at Arizona: White on black with a green helmet. Now you're just toying with me, aren't you? This is uniform number 9, if you're still counting.

Game Eleven: at UCLA: White on green with a white helmet. I'm almost left with nothing to say. This is actually a decent look. Don't expect to see it ever again.

Game Twelve: vs Oregon State: Yellow on green with an iridescent yellow helmet: What in the blue f**k is this?!

Thats 11 uniforms in 12 games. Any guesses as to what the Ducks will wear in El Paso when they play the Sun Bowl? I'd bet they go black on white with the iridescent yellow helmet. Guesses are encouraged in the comments.

Note: For Oregon fans who are linking over from Duck Sports News, thanks for your patronage. Just having a little fun with you guys. And as a Purdue fan, I can say, at least you guys aren't going to Detroit for a bowl game and haven't worn princess gold jerseys before. Good Luck against South Florida.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Winter weather is fun!

Since I don't want to bore anyone with three consecutive college football posts (You're getting another 2 tomorrow) I figured I would point out something that I thought was fun and a little endearing.
The Twin Cities received about 4 inches of snow yesterday, and about a half an inch of ice. It's not a terrible storm by Minneapolis standards, but if you're Sidney Rice, who has never seen snow before, it messes with your entire world view.
According to the always reliable Brian Baldinger our pall Sidney was asking around his hotel, trying to find a ride to the game today, worried he wouldn't be able to make it. Then, for the first time ever, he peeked out his window and used the remote car starter to get his car going. Ah yes. The first snowfall. Always a treat for southerners.
Hurry Sidney! It's cold out and you're wearing shorts!

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Member of Purdue club hockey team, originally from Chanhassen, killed in a car accident.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Minor Blog related issues

Commenter Rachel, whom I suspect only stops by to see if Beth has written anything, noticed that we had some problems with the sidebar. I tweaked the template a little bit, so now the columns are really narrow. Let me know if this bugs anyone.

UPDATE: I shrunk down the width of the actual posts so the e-referrer stuff doesn't get in the way. They don't let you edit that code, so I can't shrink that back any. I'll hopefully get Steve to help out and straighten things out sometime next week. He's better at HTML, and frankly, I've enjoyed one too many Coors Lights tonight. Yes. I drink Coors Light.

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Missouri, the quietest #1 ever.

I was in St. Louis a couple of weeks ago, and after the necessary trip to the Arch, we moseyed on over to the nearby riverboat Casino, in which most of the slot machines were broken. No bother. The blackjack table still worked (I won 40 bucks in one shoe). I was the only card player of the group, so the other two guys I was there with were more into slots, and, as I said, the machines there were a little below average, so we decided to take of fairly quickly.
As we were leaving, one of the employees manning the craps table called out to my friend Justin who was wearing his Texas A&M shirt saying, "Hey, Texas! Who won the Missouri game (against Kansas State that weekend)?" That's how big the Missouri Tigers are in St. Louis. They will ask people with any sort of Big 12 affiliation whether or not they knew who won a fairly meaningless game. And they will do so only by referring to the state in which you can be quickly associated with.
Fortunately for this craps dealer, we had just come from TGIFriday's and watched most of the game there. After doing a little cheer, she politely asked who won the A&M game. We had no idea. (They didn't play).
It's interesting to me that Missouri has been largely unnoticed leading up to today, despite the fact that they have blue chop talent at quarterback in Chase Daniels, have defeated several quality opponents, including Big Ten runner-up Illinois in St. Louis (something Ohio State couldn't do at home) and don't have a gimmicky style of game play.
Perhaps that's why Mizzou has flown under the radar to this point. Kansas and it's behemoth coach, Mark Mangino. Perhaps that's why Missouri hasn't caught the eye of the national media before this week. They seem to like the quirky stories, and a manatee on the sidelines is certainly quirky, rather than a surging, high quality developing story, and I can't really blame them. Kansas captured all of our hearts.
In the meantime, however, Missouri was gaining considerable steam, winning by bigger and bigger margins. If seeing Mark Mangino plastered everywhere helps Missouri beat Oklahoma tonight, I'm happy to oblige. It'll be nice to see an unconventional BCS national championship game, and this will be only the second that hasn't featured a team from either Florida or Oklahoma since the BCS came into being. So, Tigers, here's a look at Mangino. Good luck.

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