Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ryan's NFL Preview: NFC West

The NFC West is arguably the worst division in football. It's a solid argument, but I can't think of a division much worse than this one. Maybe the NFC North, NFC South or AFC West. OK, so I can think of a few.

Seattle Seahawks: It says something about a division if a balding quarterback and Add Imagea wide receiving corps featuring Nate Burleson and a lot of question marks is predicted by everyone to win the division. Handily. The Seahawks do have a good defense and operate the vaunted two back system. Maybe Julius Jones steps it up when he's out of the spotlight from Dallas. I don't think this is a team that will contend for the Super Bowl, but they will absolutely be in the playoffs. Also, Mike Holmgren still looks like a walrus.

Saint Louis Rams: The Rams are going to get off to a really bad start, especially if they have the injury problems they did last year. Steven Jackson's hold out will only slow him down. The defense isn't very good. All that said, the Rams will be able to score points, especially if guys stay out of the training room. I can't see the squad being nearly as miserable as they were last year, especially when they can get healthy against the likes of San Francisco and Arizona.

San Francisco 49ers: It's really a crapshoot, figuring out which team will get second in the West this year. Heh. Crap. How accurate. The 49ers will have one of the best defenses in the league, led by Nate Clements and Patrick Willis, but the offense, Frank Gore or not, will be rather awful. If it weren't for the Bears and Texans, the 49ers would be far and away the worst offense in the league.

Arizona Cardinals: So let's see, Kurt "Fumbles" Warner as been named the starter for week one. How bad must Matt Leinart be? No wonder Anquan Boldin wants out. By the end of the year, J.J. Arrington might be the featured back instead of the aging Edgerrin James. A Swiss cheese defene will only exasperate problems. Knowshon Moreno could be a Cardinal next year!


Steve's NFL Preview: NFC West

Probably the least contested division in football history, the NFC West, will continue the trend this season. In the 1970's, it was dominated by the Rams while the Falcons, Saints, and 49ers were awful. In the 1980's, it was dominated by the 49ers dynasty despite the Rams still being a decent team, just not at the Niners level. In the 1990's, it was dominated by the 49ers again because everyone else sucked, and after a few years of Rams dominance, it is being dominated by the Seahawks. Seattle is far from a dominant team, but just like in the 70's and 90's, no one else is good enough to challenge them.

1. Seattle Seahawks - I thinking Seattle has a 9-7 division winning season in their future, and that is probably all they need. Matt Hasselbeck is not very flashy but seems to get the job done, and the running game has more of a plan this year with Julius Jones now that Alexander is gone. Their defense is stingy, unlike all of their other division foes. In a wide open NFC, Seattle could easily be in the NFC title game if their D tightens up in January.

2. Arizona Cardinals - For I think the 10th year in a row, the entire world is on the Arizona Cardinals bandwagon, and I still don't understand why. Was the Jake Plummer led 9-7 season and playoff win over the Cowboys in 1998 so incredible that they deserve the love they get every preseason? Since then, the Cards are 49-95, seems like the same old team for me. The completely in the gutter 49ers are actually 57-87 over the same time frame. Luckily for them, they have 2 terrible teams in their division so 2nd place and another missed playoff season seems to be the story again this season. If they can actually make the playoffs, Matt Leinart will have a real reason to party.

3. San Francisco 49ers - This is a tough call, since the Rams had a boatload of injuries last year. I think the 49ers could get a Martzian boost this season and be competitive with teams with bad defenses. It looks like they finally gave up on Alex Smith in favor of a lesser known QB from a small college program in California....kind of like Jeff Garcia. This isn't saying much at all, but they had the 2nd best defense in the division last season. The offense was the major problem, and I think Martz could be good for 1 or 2 more wins, leaving them still under .500, but maybe less of a joke.

4. St. Louis Rams - The Rams could easily wind up in 3rd in this division if they stay healthier than last year. The Greatest Show on Turf closed its doors a long time ago but their offense will probably perform better than last season if the injury luck is more in their favor. Their defense has always been incredibly weak, and I'm not sure if adding Chris Long is going to drastically turn things around, especially with 3 teams in their division now seemingly more capable of putting up points than last year.

Links of the Day 8/31/08

Hey, Josh Zerkle agrees with me! He doesn't think a college football tournament would solve anything either. Zerkle!

Joe Nathan has looked shaky lately. Should we be scared?

The New Orleans Saints, fearing Hurricane Gustav, are spending the week in Indianapolis.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ryan's NFL Preview: AFC East

Our AFC East preview, thankfully, falls on the first Saturday of college football season. This, of course, means as little attention as possible to the Patriots and the New York Interception Machine. Excellent.

New England Patriots: I don't quite understand why people are jumping off the Patriots bandwagon (and by jumping off the bandwagon, I mean not picking them to have another dominant season). I certainly don't think they'll make another run at perfection, but frankly, this is still a 12-13 win team, especially in the weak AFC east. The scary thing about the Pats is, despite their aging defense, they seem to know how to draft, and will likely patch their wholes just fine.

Buffalo Bills: Trent Edwards is still raw at quarterback, but he has Lee Evans and big rookie James Hardy to help him along. If Marshawn Lynch can keep himself healthy and out of trouble in the mean streets of Buffalo, the ground game should take some of the pressure off of Edwards as well. The defense isn't so great, however, and that's definitely going to hold the team back. Best case scenario, they are the best team in New York this year. Worst case scenario, they are the best AFC team in New York this year.

New York Jets: A geriatric quarterback who almost stayed retired isn't going to be an answer to any questions for the Jets, except "who will lead the team in turnovers?". The Jets have a passable defense that will keep some games interesting, but there is no running game and the receivers are rather pedestrian. Look for them to be heralded as the best 2-7 team ever by many in the media by week 10.

Miami Dolphins: Still bad. But after Ronnie Brown blows out his knee again, at least he can treat the pain with Ricky Williams' special "medicine"


Steve's NFL Preview: AFC East

The overriding story here is the Patriots, who finished 16-0 but lost the Super Bowl. But the acquisition of Brett Favre has really been the story of this preseason, even though he is 38 years old and the Jets were 4-12 last year. Meanwhile, former Jets QB Chad Pennington went to the Dolphins (poor guy). On to the picks:

1. New England Patriots - I understand that a Super Bowl loss in recent years has usually meant not making the playoffs the following year, but I don't see that happening here. What I am surprised about is I hardly hear anyone picking them to make it back to the Super Bowl, even though they have the EASIEST schedule in the NFL and are returning a lot of their team from last year. Sure the defense is getting older, and I think that could be a big concern for them, but they only have a few serious road blocks in the way from another 16-0 year.

2. New York Jets - I'd hate to jump on the Jets bandwagon, but I think they have a legit shot at a 7-9 or 8-8 season this year, but probably not the playoffs. It's pretty interesting if you look at the points scored and allowed compared to the 7-9 Bills from last year. The Jets scored 268 and allowed 355 while Buffalo scored 252 and allowed 354. It really shows that both teams got killed a lot but Buffalo got some breaks while the Jets didn't. Will the Jets get those breaks this year? Maybe, with Favre, but he could also lose some games with bad interceptions. The Jets did make some nice improvements on defense though, enough to sneak past the mediocre Bills.

3. Buffalo Bills - In a league where mediocrity is king, the Bills fall into that category, but like I said in the Jets post, I think their record last year was a bit inflated. Fortunately for them, they might not sink too far because the AFC East gets to play the two weak western divisions. The Bills will need to get something going with the passing game and have Marshawn Lynch continue to impress if they want to compete this year.

4. Miami Dolphins - After finishing 1-15, you'd have to think all they can do is go up this year. They'll still be pretty horrible, getting a QB that was benched by the Jets and relying on the injury/pot-smoking-prone RBs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. At least this year with games against Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, San Francisco, and St. Louis, they can prove, without question, that they are the worst team in the NFL.

Links of the Day 8/30/08

In honor of the beginning of college football season, I'm just going to send you off to a few of my favorite college football blogs.

Boiled Sports (Purdue, of course. And they're off this week).

Rocky Top Talk (Tennessee).

Every Day Should be Saturday
(All of CFB).

And of course, the Pam Ward Chronicles and the Hugh Johnson Project, always entertaining.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Steve's NFL Preview: AFC South

Ahh, the NFL. A league where a team from St. Louis can play in the West while a team from Dallas can play in the East. According to the NFL, Indianapolis is in the "south." I live in Indy and all I have to say is if the south has the blizzards and below zero days that I've seen here, I don't want to know what the "north" is like. Maybe when they did the 2002 realignment they were just thrown off by Peyton's accent or the fact that Indiana hasn't voted for a Democrat in a presidential election since 1964. On to the picks....

1. Indianapolis Colts - Who else? I'm not about to go against a team that has won at least 12 games 5 years in a row just because their Hall of Fame QB hasn't been seen this preaseason. I think the only thing that could stop them from taking the division would be is Manning's knee injury becomes as suspicious as Marvin Harrison's from last year and we just never see him on the field. Yes, the Jim Sorgi/Quinn Gray/Jared Lorenzen era has some of the locals frightened, but at least some have been distraction by the new Lucas Oil Field.....uh I mean Stadium.

2. Tennessee Titans - I don't really like or trust Vince Young, they have terrible receivers, and their running game isn't very good either (unless my fantasy sleeper, Chris Johnson, has a great year), but I absolutely love Tennessee's schedule this season, and their dominating defense. I love it so much that I think they will edge out Jacksonville for 2nd even though Jacksonville is a better team. They don't play any road games outside of their division against teams that had winning records last year, and they get to face the Steelers, Browns, Vikings, Packers, and the Brett Favre interception machine at home.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars - The Jaguars return with the same strong running game and defense of last year, and maybe their tight game with New England will make them even more battle ready this season. I think they will be in the playoffs for sure as a wild card, but I still think its an uphill battle to steal the division from Indy, which will probably lead to another close divisional playoff loss in January. Even as the 6th seed in playoffs, they are more than capable of knocking off a division winner on the road.

4. Houston Texans - The Texans played a lot of close games last year, most of them shootouts with one of the many bad teams that they had on their schedule. They did take care of business against most of them though, and finished with the first .500 season in their history. It's too bad that they play in an absolutely loaded division though, because they probably could fight for 2nd place in a lot of other divisions.

Ryan's NFL Preview: AFC South

Unlike the previous two divisions we've covered, the South is clearly the cream of the crop in the NFL, even with a down year expected from the Colts.

Jacksonville Jaguars: I'm not so sure that Jacksonville is the most talented team in the division, but with Marvin Harrison and Peyton Manning coming back from injuries, they are liable to get off to a slow start, and Jacksonville has the talent to overtake the Colts to nab themselves home field for the playoffs, essentially on the backs of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew and a reliable defense, with or without Derrick Harvey. Their biggest problem is going to be quarterback, where David Garrard is still mediocre. His wideouts aren't going to give him much to work with either.

Indianapolis Colts: While geographically and climatically, Indianapolis isn't in the south, there is a certain element in that state that certainly thinks they are. That's good enough, I suppose. The Colts, too, will once again be good enough, but I worry that this might be the year that injuries plague the team and keep them out of the top spot in the division. Good mojo and a fairly easy schedule will mean the Colts will still easily make the playoffs, however. Lastly, Tony Dungy is a wonderful man with a strong handshake.

Tennessee Titans: Any team that has 15 potential running backs is going to be all right by my book. Vince Young will continue to be limited by poor decision making and receivers like Roydell Williams and Justin McCareins, but is athletic enough to make a play or two happen. I'm not sold on the defense yet, but a weak schedule to start the season will put them in the conversation, definitely.

Houston Texans: I said it at the time, and I'll say it again. The Texans sure look smart, having rafted Mario Williams. Despite the team's potentially abysmal offense, It's hard to believe that Reggie Bush or Vince Young would have helped as much as Mario Williams is helping turn around the defense. Too bad this talented young team is still a small fish in an ocean of sharks. Nailed that metaphor.


Links of the Day 8/29/08

Kid falls out of the stands, Mike Pelfrey comes to his rescue. Thank goodness for Mike Pelfrey.

This is just wrong... Hilarious, but wrong.

Joe Tiller may be overestimating things a bit.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Links of the Day 8/28/08

This was a crappy promotion...

Karl Malone's kid is playing football in Buffalo. (What is it with those guys and being the only black guy for miles?) Also, he's the lowest rated player on Madden.

Fabrice Santoro is a baby. Yes. I just typed "Fabrice Santoro".


Parents Dominating Kids’ Play

I was on my high school newspaper staff, holding four different editor jobs. I was never a staff writer. As such, I only vaguely had to be concerned that there was nothing in there that could get us in trouble. I knew you could tell the truth, and omit enough details to get the readers up in arms about an issue that didn't exist. I never did it, but I was well aware that it could be done.

That brings us to this story found in numerous places (I originally read it on Yahoo! Sports). The story says that a little 9-year-old boy was told he couldn’t pitch anymore, because he was overpowering in his league. He throws harder and better than any other pitcher. His coach on Will Power Fitness refused to stop him from pitching, and the opponent forfeited, and now the team is banned from playing. The parents are now suing. The boy, Jericho Scott, is quoted as saying he just wants to play ball. His mother is indignant: "I think it's discouraging when you're telling a 9-year-old you're too good at something. The whole objective in life is to find something you're good at and stick with it. I'd rather he spend all his time on the baseball field than idolizing someone standing on the street corner."

As the writer intended, I was indignant. A boy shouldn’t be told he can’t do something because he’s too good. The league suggested moving up a level, or switching positions. I have two issues with that: if a boy has been playing with a team all season, likely he’s built up camaraderie with his teammates and friends; beyond that, moving him up a level will put him with older kids, whom he probably isn’t socially ready to deal with. Secondly, why make a kid switch to a different position? You don’t see the CEO of a pharmaceutical company coming out of his office and saying, “I’m sorry, Linda, but you’ve cured too many diseases and you’re showing up your co-workers. You’ll need to switch to receptionist now.” It was all wrong. It was parents getting too involved and too focused on winning and being sore losers because some kid was better than theirs.

And then an ESPN columnist dug into the story, and reported back. It turns out that the kid played in a higher league when he wasn’t playing for this younger league. The higher level has teams of kids from 9-13 (and Scott turned 10 this week, so he’s not out of his age group). On that team, he’s the number four pitcher; good enough to be on the team, but not dominating to the level of Cy Young, as he was in the lower league. Even more suspect is that Scott hasn’t played on Will Power Fitness all year. He joined the team, along with an all-star from the higher level league, mid-year. If Scott had joined the lower-level team to play short-stop, because he sucked at fielding, that would be a legitimate move. But he joined a development team to play a position at which he was already developed.

The issue is still about parents being too involved. They think young Scott is a victim because he’s not allowed to play on a team for the sole sake of being the best and winning. In short, his parents are teaching him to be a bully. If you’re better at something than most kids your age, make sure you rub it in!

The story originally was definitely meant to make us feel sorry for the poor abused kid. The details come out, and we discover that we were only told half the story. The lesson here is to know the full story. And this isn’t my final opinion, because we might find out more details that explains this situation to turn the lower-level league back to the bad guys.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ryan's NFL Preview: AFC North

Back in the days of yore, this was consistently, easily the worst division in football. It appears that we may be headed that way once again.

Baltimore Ravens: Could this potentially be a mistake on my part? Absolutely. They don't really have a quarterback (although doesn't Joe Flacco sound like the kind of name of a guy who will be in the first round of the playoffs every year, but never really make a run at anything? Sort of like Bernie Kosar, really.) but unlike the rest of the division, they have a reliable defense and a passable running game. Clearly, this isn't a team that's going to set the world on fire, but I think the two games against last place teams will help the Ravens get over the hump compared to the other team that isn't quite as bad this year.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger is overrated, lets make that very clear. He may have been talented at one point, but he's not quite there anymore, probably due to the massive head injury sustained a couple years ago. I also worry about their running game. I think teams have figured out Willie Parker and will eventually break him. Rashard Mendenhall seems to be fumble prone. The defense is all right with a defensive coordinator as coach, and they are the most talented team in the division all around, but a very difficult schedule will keep them out of the playoffs.
Cleveland Browns: Let's review: Quarterback - concussed. Backup quarterback - wildly overrated, even as a back up. Running back: old. Receivers - inconsistent. Offensive line - porous. Defense - porouser. Tell me again why people are on their bandwagon? Is it simply because they are better than the Bengals?
Cincinnati Bengals: Both the top receivers have lingering injuries. One of the receivers and the starting running back have attitude problems, and the Bengals are actively shopping the running back, Rudi Johnson. Then there is the whole problem that half the team is facing some sort of indictment. I don't care how good Carson Palmer is, there is no way he can compete surrounded by this crap.


Links of the day 8/27/08

If Kissing Suzy Kolber deems something inappropriate, than it's definitely inappropriate.

Whether you agree with this (most major league front offices) or not (Bert Blyleven), you have to agree that this is pretty funny.

Old time pitcher Ray Caldwell was more legend than man.


Steve's NFL Preview: AFC North

The AFC North got a little interesting last season. The so-called favorites, the Ravens, fell flat on their face and finished in last which allowed the Steelers to reclaim the division crown. However, the big story last year was the Browns, who had an insane offensive explosion lead by Derek Anderson of all people and only missed the playoffs because the Colts laid down for the Titans to end the season. The Browns come into this season with high expectations, but I'm far from ready to jump on their bandwagon....

1. Pittsburgh Steelers - I'm going to be boring and predictable again here and go with the Steelers to win this division again. They are clearly on a lower tier than New England, Indy, and San Diego, but that could be enough to win this division. All 4 of the AFC North teams have a beastly schedule this year, squaring off with the AFC South and NFC East, probably the 2 best divisions in football, and the Steelers also have to face New England and San Diego. It's a good thing they have their 3 division rivals to beat up on....

2. Cleveland Browns - I was tempted to put the Bengals here, but I'm not sure whose defense is more atrocious. The Browns are lucky enough to play in the same division as the confused Ravens and incarcerated Bengals, so they get the nod. I think its a long shot that their offense will be as strong as last season, and yes, their defense is horrible. Take a look at their schedule this year....they could easily start 1-6. I'm thinking they finish 6-10, 8-8 tops and miss the playoffs.

3. Cincinnati Bengals - I think the Bungles are in for another season of controversy, disappointments, and arrests, and if the ownership has any sense, it could cost Marvin Lewis his job. They finally cut ties with Chris Henry as a sign of maybe toughening up against their criminals, but now Chad Johnson is turning a little more into T.O. every day.

4. Baltimore Ravens - This team had a first round bye in the playoffs in 2006? For as vaunted as the Ravens defense has been this decade, let's face it, last year they were very average if not terrible. Now they are just another year older. Their offense is also as pathetic as its been for the past 10 years. I'm guessing that all 3 of their QB's, Kyle Boller, Troy Smith, and Joe Flacco will see significant playing time this year while throwing to their aging receivers. With the AFC North's brutal schedule, add the Ravens to Dolphins, Raiders, Chiefs, Falcons, 49ers, and Rams as the teams fighting for the first overall pick of 2009.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ryan's NFL Preview: AFC West

I let Steve go first this year, just because he actually has a life to schedule himself around, but I don't. Of course, had I know we were going to start by making the exact same prediction, I might have posted mine first. Let's travel to the AFC West which, in my opinion, is even worse than people realize.

San Diego Chargers: People seem to think the Chargers are going to be the class of the AFC this year, which to me seems inexplicable. Aren't they basically the AFC version of the Vikings, except with a half retarded quarterback (best picture ever) and receivers that aren't afraid of the ball? What's worse, the Chargers rely on just Ladanian Tomlinson out of the backfield with Darren Sproles as the back up. Really, they are just one hit to Tomlinson's knee away from misery. Their defense is shaky, given the injury to Shawne Merriman. Oh, and they are coached by Norv Turner. In the end, I don't think they can win this division, unless the other three teams really suck. Oh. They do. Of course, some people think the Vikings have what it takes to win the NFC too.

Denver Broncos: Mike Shanahan can't really do anything but coach the running game. He'll do that again this year, to the benefit of Selvin Young. Other than that...Hey look! Barack Obama's in town!

Oakland Raiders: Of the two really, really, really bad teams in the AFC West, the Raiders are the one stocked with the raw talent at skill positions. They have picked a QB in Jamarcus Russell and a RB in Darren McFadden the past two drafts, and still have last season's leading rusher Justin Fargus. If they could just get a wide receiver that wants to play, they could be a serious threat this year. Well, a threat to .500, anyways.

Kansas City Chiefs: We see it all the time. Defenses are overmatched by a particular teams strongest skill, so they go into the draft and free agency looking for players will help prevent that guy from hurting you. It happened with the Colts, and now teams in the AFC South are stocking up on their secondaries, just trying to catch up. The Chiefs nabbed Glenn Dorsey in the draft this year, a great between the tackles run stopper. Should be awesome against... the Broncos. Oh, and the Chiefs. I bet that defense looks awesome in practice.


Links of the Day 8/26/08

Since we're doing the NFL previews for the next couple of weeks, if things come up, say, the Twins making inexcusable roster moves, I'll mention them in the links. It's all well and good that we reacquired Eddie Guardado. It will be strange to see him in the pen again, but he's been the best arm the Rangers had in their bullpen all season. Of course, that's like saying someone is the prettiest girl at an all girls school. Guardado started the season very well, but as of late is seeing his numbers climb into dangerous Brian Bass like strata. He did well last night, and hopefully being paired with Rick Anderson and other pitchers that can go further than 3 batters will straighten him out. The problem I have is with cutting Mike Lamb. If you are looking to improve the bullpen, how does getting rid of a third baseman help that? I understand that roster space is tight in the infield, but with Cuddyer a question mark and nobody really established as a potential back up first basemen for Morneau, how can you get rid of him? Is it the bat? Because when Gardy would actually let him play, he's hitting .333 in the second half. Heck, if you take out the awful start and an even worse June (which still leaves three months) he's hitting .296. He's had 2 slumps, lost his job, but has been very solid off the bench for an anemic offense. Again, he had a couple slumps, and now that he is coming out of it, the Twins decide to cut him instead of one of the God-awful arms in the bullpen. Nobody will miss Boof Bonser. There were these statements, in which Ron Gardenhire questioned Lamb's energy that give some indication of why he was cut. I wouldn't have had much energy either if I was losing to an obviously inferior player. But at least Lamb is taking it pretty well.

In other poor baseball related decision making news... Oh Charlie.

In other pitchers I wouldn't mind seeing in the Twins bullpen news.

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Steve's NFL Preview: AFC West

Much like the extended daily division by division predictions we did for baseball back in March, Ryan and I decided to make predictions for the NFL. Since I'm starting my predictions a day early, Ryan also asked me to do an intro, so I imagine the schedule will look like this, assuming we skip Thursdays:
AFC West - Tuesday, 8/26
AFC North - Wednesday 8/27
AFC South - Friday 8/29
AFC East - Saturday 8/30
NFC West - Sunday 8/31
NFC North - Monday 9/1
NFC South - Tuesday 9/2
NFC East - Wednesday 9/3
Playoffs and Awards - Friday 9/5

Without further ado, here's the "easy" AFC West:
1. San Diego Chargers - Besides possibly New England in the East, this is probably the easiest division winner pick this season. Not because LT is done pouting, Gates is completely healthy, and Rivers stopped being an ass (none of these things have happened), but because their competition is pretty atrocious yet again. The question of course here is can they finally make it to the Super Bowl? I think how they do in Week 6 at home against New England can be a telling sign, since they apparently own the Colts already.

2. Denver Broncos - The Broncos are coming into this season again staring mediocrity in the face. They are most likely better than the rebuilding (is it ok to call it that?) Raiders and Chiefs, but they are again having to rely on a sub-par QB, a decent running game, and a mediocre to bad defense. The ray of hope this year for the Broncos is their schedule, who get to play the weak (outside of New England) AFC East and weak NFC South, and a favorable late season stretch run where they play all 4 of the 4-12 teams from last season in a row. Can they steal a wild card? We'll see.

3. Oakland Raiders - The Raiders seem to be heading slightly more in the right direction than the Chiefs, but not by much. Two years ago, the Raiders surprisingly dominant defense flew under the radar, but they were cursed with possibly the worst offense of all time. Last year, they showed signs of life with their running game but their defense was lacking. Their success this season will rely a lot on continuing their above average running game with Justin Fargas and explosive newcomer Darren McFadden (who apparently goes by "Run DMC"...yep he's a Raider), but they will also need to sure up their defense and get some sort of production out of JaMarcus Russell, who will be the starter this year. I think with some pieces falling into place, they can be last year's Vikings, but they could also easily be last year's Dolphins.

4. Kansas City Chiefs - Brodie Croyle, Crodie Broyle, whatever his name is this is going to be a loooong season in Kansas City. After starting the season last year 4-3, they dropped the last 9 in a row in a rebuilding year reality check. If Larry Johnson stays healthy this year he could possibly cover up for Brodie's bungles. Losing Jared Allen and drafting Glenn Dorsey is just another sign of a youth movement in place, and sooner than later, Tony Gonzalez will show himself the door too.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Newfangled "Grocery store" introduced to Victoria

Victoria, population 4000 something, has rumbled through the 20th and beginning of the 21st century with no means of purchasing real food. Sure, you could get a big bag of Doritos or maybe some strawberry milk at the Holiday station, but there was no way to find some healthy nutrition in which to feed your family. You had to go 10 miles away just to get a damn cantaloupe.
Not anymore. That's right friends and readers from Victoria, we're getting a grocery store. Sure it's small and independently owned and is being put into a lumber supply company, but it's going to be right there for us. All that fresh produce! Just watch out for wood screws.
Heady times in Victoria. Heady times.


Links of the Day 8/25/08

J.T. O'Sullivan the next in a long line of acronymed athletes.

Next thing you know, Hawai'i is going to want to be a state too.

If you're a Twin, it's good to be compared to Harmon Killebrew.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Well, that wasn't so bad

The Olympics are over, and while some may point to all the scandals and things that went wrong. There was of course, the tragedy on the 9th, in which Minnesotan Todd Bachman was murdered. There was the Opening Ceremonies, in which both the fireworks and the Chinese anthem were faked. There was the gymnastics scandal. There were all the protesters that were silenced by being sent off to work camps if they even thought about protesting.
But really, compared to the worst case scenarios that were bandied about, things could certainly have been a lot worse. For example, with the undercurrent of terrorism through the world today, the Beijing games, held in a secular nation that is nearly as hated as the United States by some fundamentalists, were a huge target. That there was only one violent death, committed by a madman and not an act of terror is certainly a tribute to Chinese paranoia and state security.
Both incidents at the Opening Ceremonies weren't well kept secrets. Even though these incidents were objectionable, especially by Western eyes, the Chinese have been surprisingly willing to cop to these stories. During the ceremony, NBC even said that the fireworks leading into the stadium were faked.
The common theory now with He Kexin is that the documents that were uncovered by Stryde Hax were the forgery, and in fact, she had cheated by entering a town competition saying she was younger than she was. In any event, there is always some speculation in every Olympiad that there is an athlete juicing or cheating in some way. Even if Kexin is cheating, the only thing that makes this different is her appearance in a prominent sport for the host country,
The greatest concern for many was that one of the various protest groups would lead to a major confrontation with the Chinese government during the games, and that the Chinese security would visit crushing vengeance upon them. While the means in which they prevented these protests (sending people away for a month) are objectionable, it may have prevented a bloodbath for the world to see.
Yes, there were a lot of problems with these Olympics. Yes, China's totalitatian regime was apparent. But all told, it definitely could have been a lot worse. Frankly, the 29th Olympiad was the San Francisco Giants of all Olympics.


Links of the Day 8/24/08

The Pacifist Viking, always looking out for others, has a recommendation for the Cardinals.

People seem to be pleased with how the US acquitted itself in Olympic basketball.

A cool story from ESPN about Matt Cerda, perhaps the most famous of Danny Almonte's strikeout victims.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ref takes a Tae-Kwon-Do kick to the face

I know I linked to this earlier today, but really, I want this image on my main page.

(Photo by Jung Yeon-Je, Getty Images)


Links of the Day 8/23/08

Say what you will about Delmon Young throwing a bat, this is much, much worse. And awesome only because of the excellent photography.

Adam Everett of your Minnestoa Twins.

This is one of my favorite sights in a while.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Holy crap, college football

In all the Olympic hijinks and baseball discussions, it's been lost on the masses that hey, the college football season is less than a week away. I really can't wait for months of people talking about Dan Shanoff talking about Tim Tebow. Mostly, I'm ready for real football and not speculation on various quarterbacks' bursa sacs, neck beards or commitments to Green Bay.
Instead, even after the various football games are played, people still will speculate on who the est teams are and who got jobbed in the rankings. Rankings, to me, especially ones appearing this early in the season, are the primary, easiest to fix problem in the game today. Voters are obviously going to have their respective biases whether or not there are polls early in the season, but if there aren't any polls until the first BCS standings come out, it would avoid some of the groupthink that puts Ohio State, for example, at the top of the polls every year.
Whether or not we go to a playoff format, polls will always be the problem. Just as they keep teams out of the championship game in the present format. The only realy way to give everyone what they want is to do a dramatic overhaul of college football, and not just the way the championships are sorted out. Getting rid of the polls, however, would be a good start.
On that note, enjoy your 4+ months of Pam Ward!


Links of the Day 8/22/08

I like fantasy sports. I happen to be in about 19 fantasy football leagues this fall. But this... this is to far.

As long as we're talking about fishing...

And boom goes the dynamite. If you remember that reference, you'll be happy to know that Brian Collins, featured in the video, is safely hired away from Pacers games.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Links of the Day 8/21/08

Just a reminder... I wrote elsewhere today, and will continue to in the future.

NFL union chief Gene Upshaw passed away today. He was very good about getting football to the fans, not so much about getting money to his players. Rest in peace.

Mmm... Popcorn.



I know this was a long time ago, but remember back when the snow was on the ground and we were wearing winter coats up here in Minnesota? No? Um, well, anyway, six months ago, we were discussing the Twins starting rotation. Back on February 21 I wrote that I didn’t see Bass being a starting pitcher, but if he made it to the majors, it would be in long relief. And so that happened. However, he didn’t seem to make it as a long reliever, either, but was recently optioned to the Twins AAA team. Because he’s out of options--and obviously cleared waivers--he has 72 hours to decide whether or not to accept the assignment. Last reports had him unsure of what he was going to choose.

Now, on one hand, it did seem odd to many people that Bass was the one optioned. The bullpen has been struggling a bit--Guerrier can’t seem to get people out at the rate he’s shown the last year and a half--so getting rid of one bullpen member before a long road trip (14 games in 15 days, all on the road) seems crazier. Even crazier than my run-on sentence there. But it does make sense. Lately, it takes a dire situation for Bass to appear on the mound. The team has to be losing by a great number of runs, or literally have no other bullpen pitchers left. (Last week, towards the end of the game, starter Scott Baker ran down to the bullpen when there was only Bass left. I would not have been surprised to see Baker brought in before Bass. Bass did pitch, incidentally, and did fine.) Granted, his overall stats were not significantly worse than any of the other relievers, Joe Nathan and Jesse Crain excepting, there’s less of a history. The Twins have seen Boof Bonser do very well at the major league level. Matt Guerrier has been a solid bullpen arm for two years now. Dennys Reyes, while both have some very nerve-wrecking outings, have two advantages: some very good innings, and they’re left-handed. Bass clearly was the odd-man out.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see another bullpen pitcher called to the Twins during the road trip--even before the September 1st roster expansion. It’s possible the starting pitching can hold their own and keep the bullpen load manageable, but that’s a very optimistic view--a bit too much for my optimism, too. Sure, two of the teams the Twins face on the road trip aren’t very good (Seattle and Oakland), but we’ve seen Seattle beat us up. It won’t be a cakewalk. (Why do we still use the term cakewalk? Has anyone taken part in a cakewalk in the last century?)

At any rate, I expect the disappearance of Bass from the bullpen to be transparent. He was so rarely used that his inning could easily be eaten by another pitcher, or shared. (He’s pitched 7 2/3 innings since the all-star break.)

This isn’t to say I don’t feel bad for the man. He was given opportunities, and had plenty of good outings, but because his bad ones were so much more memorable than the good, he sadly needed to go. If the Twins were in a rebuilding year, like they were supposed to be, he would’ve been given more opportunities to play, and possibly would’ve been doing better. But in a playoff race, a team can’t afford to put an unproven pitcher out there often as he needs to be.

It’s my little sister’s 23rd birthday tomorrow. Happy Birthday, Wee Sister! I feel old.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Read Me!

As I may have mentioned a little while ago, I've got a new gig. I'm going to be contributing at Barry Melrose Rocks on Thursdays while Beth takes care of things here. Kevin, head honcho at BMR will in turn be coaching the Edmonton Oilers on Thursdays while Craig MacTavish runs the African nation of Gabon for one day a week. Meanwhile, Gabonese president Omar Bongo will fill in as chief zoologist at the zoo in Vienna, Austria. Meanwhile, regular zoologist Harald Schwammer will tend to Thomas Q. Crabtree's humidor on Thursday's so Mr. Crabtree can work for Beth at Real Job Inc. It's all very circuitous.
My duties at BMR include writing something hockeyesque on Thursdays, and never, ever using Microsoft Paint to copy and paste a blog hetter ever again. So come and read me! READ ME!

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Links of the Day 8/20/08

The umps aren't fans of the idea of instant reply. Why would they be? You go, umps.

Hideki Irabu, the Fat Toad, makes an appearance in the news again, though not for anything good. My favorite part of this is that he's in an Expos uniform in the picture.

If you've read any sports blogs or watched ESPN in the past few months, undoubtedly, you've heard of John Challis. Unfortunately, he passed away yesterday.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thomas Q Crabtree's counterpoint

Did anyone read yesterday's asinine and poorly written post? I was hoping to lure someone into calling it asinine (not necessarily poorly written), because today, I planned on writing an AHA! type of gotcha post. So, I'm going to pretend that Thomas Q. Crabtree posted a comment that called my post yesterday asinine.
Well, Mr. Crabtree, I would like to thank you for reading and commenting, you have earned a special spot in my heart. Secondly, I agree with your point that adjusting the baseball schedule in September to avoid the Gulf Coast is stupid. You addressed several points, as follows.
First, what happens if a Gulf Coast team, like the Marlins or Rays this year, are in the hunt for the playoffs? It will certainly interrupt any momentum that team has. Of course, it will give these teams an advantage, because they will have more early home games, and maybe they will be more inclined to improve their team and either waste payroll or have more momentum than other teams in their division leading into September.
Your second point, Tommy Q, that hurricane season goes into October, and would you play all the World Series games on the road? also rings true. That would just be silly.
Lastly, you stated in your brilliant bit of commentary, that it would be obtuse to reschedule something simply on the offchance a meteorological happenstance would occur and interrupt the season. Agreed. Typically, one tropical storm or hurricane will hit Florida a year, and when it does, it lasts for 1-3 days. Why bother tweaking the schedule just for that? Also, good use of the word obtuse.
Well, now, here's why I hoodwinked you all (well, the six of you that read it, anyways. Hi, mom!). See, my post yesterday carried many of the same arguments pundits have for avoiding Northern climates in the early season due to cold, and slightly modified version of the arguments moving baseball away from the Gulf Coast in September hold water here as well.
Reversed from what what would happen to a team playing on the road in September, the team playing on the road in April would probably see their season derailed before it started. How would a young team like the Twins, or a newly thrown together team like the White Sox hold together if they started the year with a 14 game road trip? The Tigers, despite themselves, would be running away with the division right now. And then, when the teams are struggling in late July, they would sell their expensive players and would forever be like, well, the Pirates.
Secondly, if you weren't aware, in mid to late October, places like Minneapolis and Detroit and Cleveland can get mighty chilly. Does this mean they shouldn't be allowed to host playoff games? Absolutely not.
Thirdly and almost lastly, while the average of one hurricane makes landfall annually in Florida alone, let alone in the Texas coast or even riding up the Mississippi towards St. Louis or into the Mid-Atlantic at D.C. or Baltimore, a researcher from Western Kentucky wrote last year that a string of "Miserable Baseball Weather" days occured once every 2 years in the worst offending cities (of course, this researcher came to a different conclusion than I did, and I actually think it would be counter productive, forcing more important baseball to be played later in the year). So really, people who want baseball schedules tweaked to avoid something more anomalous than a hurricane? Really?
Things you didn't mention, T-Crab, was the financial advantages. First, how will warm weather cliimates feel about having more home games when school is in session? In smaller, warmer markets, thats revenue out the window. Additionally, will fans be as keen on coming out to the normally popular home openers of teams that are already 4-10? 1-2 is one thing, but that is a team that's already a loser in many fans' eyes.
Again, thanks for your comment, Mr. Crabtree, you have broadened all of our horizons.


Links of the Day 8/19/08

An interview with former defensive back Tim Hauck. He is the reason (and not cocaine) that Michael Irvin retired.

Nothing says Olympics like peeing on the medal stand.

Michigan runing back Kevin Grady was exhaustively drunk recently. Unless Mickey Mouse IS a dog.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Baseball should not be played in Florida in September

We're watching Tropical Storm Fay move into southern Florida today, and evacuations are presently underway for non residents. Fortunately, the Florida Marlins are playing in San Francisco, so none of the games will have to be postponed. This time.
Every year, sometimes more than once, a tropical storm or hurricane will make landfall in Florida, many times making it impossible to play baseball in Miami or making it unsafe to travel in Tampa. Instead of having to rework the schedule around something that you know is going to happen anyways, why not just schedule all of Florida and Tampa's game on the road in September? Even teams like the Astros should consider locking into a road heavy schedule late in the season. I don't understand why nobody has presented this idea before. To me, it seems dumb that this isn't even on the table.


Links of the Day 8/18/08

Why, this isn't 5 parts at all. In fact, it's just 5 different plans!

Someday, this will be me.

Good luck and best wishes go to Bears fans everywhere...


Sunday, August 17, 2008

This bugs me

OK, so maybe a little pun there. But this post from Bugs and Cranks irritates me, partly because I respectfully disagree with part of it, but also because it's mostly accurate. In discussing Nick Punto, the author Landon Evanson, describes Punto as "invaluable", and further alleges that when Alexi Casilla back from injury, a move of Punto to short will make the team better defensively.
The assertion that Punto is invaluable is purely subjective. In one line of thought, the spark he brings as a bat off the bench or on the basepaths had roused the team from slumps many times. Just look at the favorable numbers he put up early in the season. On the other end of the spectrum, his drain offensively during regular playing time (such as his .204 average in the past 4 weeks since becoming the every day 2b) is excruciating. I fall under the "Nick Punto is excruciating" category, but again, it's a subjective measure, so I can't fault Mr. Evanson for his points there. I do disagree with the idea that the Twins will improve defensively if Punto plays every day at short when Casilla returns. The player that has played short with Casilla out has been Adam Everett, widely regarded as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. Over the last few years, when given regular playing time have acquitted themselves comparably at the plate, so that's no excuse either. If the Twins are looking to optimize the defense, they would be best served by having Everett play short and Casilla at second. If they are looking to maximize what little offense they can, they would play Brenden Harris at short with Brian Buscher at third. Punto would be relegated to his optimal position, Triple A utility player.
I do agree with the assertion that Nick Punto is Twins Baseball. He plays fundamentally sound baseball, he hustles and he equates luck with skill. He slides into first one time and is safe, and suddenly, it's the best idea in the world. The Twins are hitting almost .40 better with runners in scoring position and attribute that to being 'clutch', somehow better in stressful situations than usual, and not that there is a shift in the infield, Carlos Gomez isn't trying to bunt or that they are simply lucky.
Watching the Twins bullpen flounder against the hapless Mariners tells me that the Twins need to figure out how to score runs in bunches and rely on things like tangible skill and not playing Nick Punto Baseball.

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Links of the Day 8/17/08

Michael Phelps is a strong swimmer.

Tom Bergeron
will never think highly of the Twin Cities ever again.

A great take on the Hall of Fame, and one whose opinion I happen to share. It's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Best Players.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Victoria Times Mailbag

The Victoria Times, as most of you are unaware, has an e-mail address, and even though none of you ever want to drop us a line, sometimes we get e-mail. Somehow, the Times has been added to the "Let's Golf Asia" newsletter. This week? Tagaytay, who's slogan is "Probably the most pleasant city in Asia". A ringing endorsement. For the record, I think that maybe Augusta, Maine should use this, except for New England.
The real question, of course, is why are we getting these? Every once in a while, we'll link to a golf scoreboard during one of the majors, and it's not very often we chat about the comings and goings of Bhutan. Does this have something to do with the fact that we're permitted reading in China?
I guess I don't have an answer to this, so I suppose the only thing to say now is, I suppose, if you're in Indonesia, try out Bandung?


Links of the Day 8/16/08

A pretty good take on that whole Spanish team picture from the Olympics from True Hoop.

The EPL started it's season today, if you're into that sort of thing.

Darryl on the Office is portrayed as a clean cut guy that Michael thinks is a gangster and has connections on the street just because he is black. Michael's ignorance is funny. That being said, the guy who plays Darryl was recently arrested for drugs.


Teddy Atlas is furious

One of the things I have come to appreciate with the Olympics is the 2AM boxing on CNBC. I have no idea why, but it's been on every night. I'm taken in every time. I think it's a combination of two factors. First, the live scoring is easier on fans who don't like things simply "judged" like figure skating (although, admittedly, I've come to dislike gymnastics a lot less) and the fact that many countries we're not used to seeing, like the Congo, or Mauritius (I ain't callin' no grown man Mauritius!)
The fun part too, is that the sport is so inherently flawed, and it amuses me to no end how worked up Teddy Atlas gets about this. First, the boxing is terrible. There's a lot of grabbing and flailing, and frankly, it's very clear that most of these guys are never going pro. Teddy keeps discussing what the boxer needs to do strategically, then the two lunge at each other and slap furiously. It's great.
Second, the tournaments are completely unseeded. This has the Big Lead up in arms to the point they are using MatLab. It means that many otf the top fighters are having to face each other, which in turn is preventing some of the better fighters from getting to medal rounds. If this was a winner take all tournament, sure, things would be OK. But it isn't, so it's not.
Lastly, the scoring is ridciulous! Points are awarded when three out of five judges agree that the white part of the boxers glove has connected with the head or body of a boxer. Right. Try to get three people to instantaneously agree on something like that. It just doesn't work out so well. It's led to what may typically be deemed the weaker fighter to win, just because his solid hits were more noticeable than the punches of a stronger fighter. Talk about shenanigans. That being said, I just watched Somjit Jongjohur of Thailand absolutely dominate in a bout with Samir Mammadov of Azerbaijan. It wasn't because Jongjohur was necessarily a a better fighter, rather because he was older and understood what types of blows had a better chance of being scored.
Perhaps it's time for Americans to realize that perhaps these games aren't exactly what we play in the States. In the meantime, however, I'm all for Teddy Atlas continuing his nightly diatribes.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Links of the Day 8/15/08

MC Hammer is going to be in ESPN Monday Night Football commercials. MC Hammer. Awesome.

Swedes are, of course, known for their fiery tempers.

In other Olympics news....


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Links of the Day 8/14/08

Pac-Man Jones, still making it rain, this time with silver iodide. (May not be true)

Redskins fans everywhere wish Rulon Gardner would have gone ahead and dropped Tiki right here.

All Chad Johnson, all the time...


Miss Manners

In my life, I’ve been a guest in other team’s ballparks, and I’ve been a host to fans of other team’s in my ballpark. These aren’t official titles. I’ve never walked into the Metrodome with a Ranger’s fan, as a true host, but as someone who is at “home” in my team’s ballpark, ‘host’ seems the best word for it. Thus, I’d like to take this moment to remind people how to act. It’s written in the perspective of baseball, but could easily be translated to any other sport--and any other level of any sport, from little league to major leagues.

You wouldn’t walk into a house for the first time and say, “That’s one ugly choice of color for the walls!” Even if the host has chosen puke green and complimented it with bright pink, etiquette reminds you to just keep your mouth shut. You don’t mention how ugly or untalented or obnoxious the kids are. Sure, if it’s your best friend, you’d probably say something, but if it’s someone you’ve just met…well, Miss Manners reminds you to be polite. Just tolerate it, and don’t come back if you don’t like it.

It all comes down to respect. Respect the other team, respect yourself, and have a good time.

Therefore, there’s no reason to walk into a different team’s ballpark and say how ugly it is, or how bad the home team is. Appreciate the differences from your own preferred ballpark, and appreciate the fact that the other team is a professional team on the same level as your own. When another team shows up in your ballpark, bringing along their fans, appreciate the effort and passion those fans have for their team that brings them from afar. They love their team as much as you love yours.

It doesn’t matter if your team is much better than the opponent. In fact, that’s all the more reason to be respectful. In Kansas City last weekend, some drunk Twins fans were insulting the Kansas City Royals players for no reason. “Alex Gordon? No one’s ever heard of him!” Now, from a Yankees fan, that would at least be justified, because usually everyone has heard of every member of their team (although, to be fair, this week in Minneapolis there were a few names in the line-up I had never heard of before). But, seriously, how many people outside of Twins Territory have heard of Kevin Slowey, who was the pitcher for the Twins that night? It’s not a fair argument to tell the Royals that no one has ever heard of their player when your own line-up isn’t filled with marquee players. Respect that they are professional ballplayers. (By the way, I would’ve been in favor of some Royals fans taunted back, jovially, that no one had heard of Kevin Slowey. As long as it’s kept in the spirit of good fun, it’s all good.)

This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. In the four years I’ve been going to Kansas City, every time I’ve run into Royals’ fans who are polite and knowledgeable. This year’s favorite “taunt” to Twins fans was: “When are you guys going to start spending a lot of money on your team so we have an excuse?” It led to intelligent conversations about things like history, scouting, and luck. We’ve made friendly bets with Royals fans (Wee Sister won a hot dog once, because Pat Neshek’s first pitch at Kauffman was a strike). When we went to check into our hotel, we told the guy we had reservations. He looked at our Twins shirts, laughed, and teased, “Not in those shirts, you don’t!”

Don’t be the obnoxious guest, that when you leave the hosts say, “I hope they never come back!” And don’t be the host that the guests leave and say, “I’m never going there again!” It should be a joy to be a guest in another ballpark. Each one is unique and offers its own quirks, amenities, and style. They should all be appreciated and enjoyed and respected. It takes two sides for the respect. Uphold your end of it, no matter what the other side tries.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Victoria Times Diet: Go ahead and try it at home

The Wall Street Journal has an article today, running down Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps' daily diet. I thought it might be interesting and informative to see what a meteorologist and contributor to 4 blogs eats a day. Fortunately, I know one such person that fits that description (me, for those who haven't caught up).

Breakfast: Breakfast comes before noon. I'm not usually up until 1130, and I generally get a tummy ache if I eat anything before 900AM anyways.

Lunch: I'm usually late for work as it is, and I don't get to eat until like 500pm. By the time I do eat, it's usually a turkey sandwich with cheese and ranch on honey wheat, some yogurt and a Pepsi. If I'm running behind on the way to work, replace the sandwich with a Bowl Appetit. Don't worry though, if I get hungry before my lunch break, I get something out of the vending machine. Usually a bag of Combos. Pizza is the best.

Dinner: Chicken, usually, if there is any in the freezer, or Jose Ole Taquitos. Half a bag of KC Masterpiece chips. More Pepsi.

Just as a side note, Michael Phelps is an inch taller than me, and outweighs me only by 10 pounds. I have the physique of an Olympian with 1/8th the calories!

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Links of the Day 8/13/08

It's an always entertaining look at what baseball players would be doing if it weren't for baseball from Bugs and Cranks.

Chad Johnson, crazier than we imagined. Actually, make that Chad Ocho Cinco.

Having an important bowl game in Washington sounds like an awesome idea.


The Vikings can do no wrong

At the beginning of the season, everyone had predicted the Twins to have a subpar year, nothing special. For the past several years, actually, it seems that most have thought poorly of the Twins chances, especially those in Minnesota. Even after it was clear the Twins would be in the post season, most everyone says things like "big deal, they can't win in the playoffs", Granted, they weren't so good in the playoff series, but isn't the major part of success getting to the playoffs? After that, there is a lot more luck involved in getting through a short series than there is through a long season. Note that St. Louis won the World Series after barely finishing over .500 in 2005.
In the NFL, it takes a greater degree of team wide talent and a little less luck. It's usually teams with three or four losses all season that end up deep in the playoffs and in the Super Bowl. The prevailing hype is that the Vikings are a dark horse for Super Bowl contention, and Minnesota fans seem to think they are a lock for the big game. Last year, the team went 8-8, earning 8 wins because of a fantastic defense and losing 8 games because of an absolutely terrible offense. Yes, the Vikings should end up in the playoffs this year, but how can anyone, let alone multiple people say that this team, a team that has done nothing to address their core problems (passing game, receiving corps, quarterback)* is going to be so much better than they are going to win the Super Bowl this year? I think we're going to learn that the Vikings are pretenders by week 2.
The problem I have, though, is with Minnesotans. Why do so many drink the Kool-Aid on the Vikings? What have they ever done? They were mediocre last year and have never won anything. They've only been to the playoffs in a league where 12/32 teams make the playoffs once since 2000. The Twins have missed the playoffs twice in that same time in a league in which only 8/30 teams make the playoffs, yet are doubted annually. I don't get it.

* Yes, the Vikings signed Bernard Berrian. Yes, he is a "deep threat". Deep threats are only effective if you have an underneath threat and good hands. Berrian has neither. Ask Bears fans. The Bears even opted for Devin Hester, a corner back, to take his place.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Links of the Day 8/12/08

A little Milli Vanilli action at the Opening Ceremonies. With a 6 year old.

Mushin Muhammed says that Chicago is the place where wide receivers go to die. Awesome, then, that the Vikings signed Bernard Berrian for 6 years.

Also, this movie should be protested because it looks absolutely terrible.


Monday, August 11, 2008

An Announcement

Barry Melrose Rocks has issued the following statement.

A familiar face to all of you, Ryan Henning from the Victoria Times will be joining us on a regular basis beginning on the 21st. Ryan will be filing reports from his parents' basement in Minnesota every Thursday. We can only hope that he will also be unshaven and in only his underwear, so as to dutifully live up to the blogger stereotype.

Yes, it's true. On Thursday's, when Beth is here, providing insight and spelling-error free posts, I'll be bringing down the collective quality of BMR. And for the record, I do not live in my parents' basement. I have a room above their garage.


Links of the Day 8/11/08

Hey, that theme song sounds really familiar!

Spain is a whole lot of classy.

I'm going to be lucky to be ambulatory (look it up) at 50.


The growth of Delmon Young

I thought Zach Greinke was a dead man on Saturday.
Let's set the table. Delmon Young had hit a bomb to left-center. Two innings later, Jason Kubel led the inning off with a triple. Delmon Young came up and with the first pitch, Zach Greinke threw at his head. No doubt it was intentional, given what had already happened in the game, and the fact that Greinke is having a suspension reviewed for throwing at Nick Swisher in his previous start. And then, there was DY's history with reacting to personal affronts.
All that said, imagine my surprise when after all that, this was as far as things got. Perhaps its the soothing influence that is Ron Gardenhire, mellowing Young out. Probably not.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Links of the Day 8/10/08

Tough day if you are a White Sox fan. Fortunately, I am not.

Forced to play real basketball instead of the NBA, the US team proves they can do it.

Live TV! It could go much worse, I suppose.


The Earth is a beautiful tapestry

I know much has been made about the glory and splendor of the Opening Ceremony, but for me, the image that will stay with me is Kurt Couto, hurdler for Mozambique. He was honored by his countrymen and made flag bearer for his nation. The reason that Mr. Couto is stuck in my memory is because holy crap look at the unibrow.
Don't they have tweezers in Mozambique?


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Links of the Day 8/9/08

Tragic news from Beijing as Todd Bachman, CEO of Minneapolis institution Bachman's was murdered in Beijing.

In other sad news, Bernie Mac died of pneumonia. He was 50 years old.

Funk Flex, wearing the green and white #4 before Brett Favre.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Olympic excitement

I've made no attempt to hide the fact that I love the Olympics. There's many reasons for this. I like raw competition, and that is what the Olympics are all about. You can't tell me that a weightlifter from Nauru is there looking for an endorsement deal.
I like seeing all the different people of the world in competition. Perhaps I'm naive, but I would otherwise have no idea what someone from Uzbekistan would look like.
I like watching the variety of sports that I wouldn't otherwise watch. Badminton for a couple of times a year is freakishly amazing.
I like the rivalries between nations, and that their competition has the background of current events. Perhaps a Tae kwon do match between a Georgian and a Russian will take on a little extra meaning today.
I like the awkward matchups between nations in head to head competitions. Do people from St. Kitt's and Nevis trash talk Filipinos before their boxing match?
I like the Sports Illustrated medal predictions. I personally think that Frank Schleck, cyclist from Luxembourg is a little underrated.
I like that China is hosting the games. At the very best, the outside scrutiny will help the typically insular nation change for the better. At the least, they won't and there will once again be a foil to the ambitions of Western nations at the Games.
I like that I will be able to watch some competitions live at 2 in the morning, when I'm up anyways.
I like that I can't really provide any insight to the Games and can only enjoy watching them.


Links of the Day 8/08/08

No lie, I woke up this morning at 8:08. Amazingly coincidental, yes, but also a lot earlier than I can typically get up on my own.

The White Sox contacted one of Jim Thome's friends to talk to Mark Buehrle.

Look! Look how happy Brett Favre is to be in New York!

In the midst of all this Olympic hullabaloo, we're forgetting the PGA Championship! Jeev Milkha Singh is tied for the lead, people!


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Links of the Day 8/7/08

100 millions dollars! How awesome would it be to see the 2nd coming of Jordan playing in Greece?

This didn't take long.

Lastly, I only link to this, because I wanted to mention that Steve replicated the image in this post in 11 minutes. He said it only took that long because he talked to his wife. (Steve's version is seen below)


Should MLB allow trades to include draft picks?

Should MLB allow trades to include draft picks?

Many sports allow professional teams to trade draft picks. The worst team can trade for a decent player by allowing a better team to take their number one draft pick. Major League baseball, however, doesn’t allow this to happen. There are gentlemen’s agreements, but if someone reneges on it, there’s nothing that can be done. For example of a gentleman’s agreement, it’s wrong to say the Twins took Johan Santana in the Rule 5 pick in 1999. The Twins took Jarrod Camp, for the Marlins, with the agreement that the Marlins would take Johan Santana, and they’d make the trade of the players (with the Twins getting cash compensation as well). The Marlins could’ve easily decided upon picking Santana that they wanted to keep him, and there’s nothing the Twins could’ve done. I imagine things like this happen on occasion in the actual draft in June, although I haven’t heard of any examples. Most teams want the best player they can get. The rules of the Rule 5 draft make things a little murkier.

But the question comes up: should MLB allow teams to include draft picks in their trade?

Personally, I’m glad they don’t. Hooray for other sports--most of them having salary caps--for making it work, but I just don’t see it working favorably in baseball the way things are set up right now. The difference between MLB and the other professional sports is the deep level of lower-level franchises. I’ll be honest. I don’t know how many minor-league levels other sports have. I think hockey only has one that’s affiliated with teams, and then there are other independent hockey leagues. Football players are often developed in college programs. Baseball has six levels of minor leagues. For example, the Twins have six minor league teams across five levels (no Short-Season A [but very few teams do], but two rookie-level teams).

Because of the depth of the minor league teams, every single organization has a responsibility to fill rosters at every level, and to develop players at every level. Smaller market teams will put more stock in their minor league system, while larger-market teams are more likely to trade their minor league players, knowing they can afford a free agent pick if their short at a position. However, this is why it’s important to both small- and large-market teams to develop minor league players. The large-market team needs attractive minor-league players to attract the small-market team in a trade for a star player. The small-market team needs attractive minor league players to fill in when they lose star players in trades or in free agency. Both markets have a responsibility to their fan base to develop their minor-league team, even if it’s for entirely different reasons.

This is why I’m glad they can’t trade draft picks. A small-market team who trades their draft picks away to get a few good players in a year when they’re making a run at the playoffs can hurt their team’s long-term future.

In a round-about way, draft picks are traded. By signing a high-level free agent player, a team will forfeit either a first- or second-round pick. But for the magnitude of the number of rounds in the draft, and the diamonds in the rough that come out of lower-level rounds every year, losing at most two picks is hardly going to affect an organization (NBA has 2 rounds/60 picks; NFL has 7 rounds/256 picks; NHL has 7 rounds/210 picks; MLB has 60 rounds/1,502 picks). However, this is why trading draft picks doesn’t work as well for baseball. A savvy general manager would simply trade away his top two picks, and go on to sign top free agents. You can’t lose draft picks you don’t have.

Other sports have set themselves up to allow the trading of draft picks. Baseball has not. As such, baseball organizations need to keep their draft picks, to keep their minor league systems stocked for the future. It’s not in the interest of anyone in baseball to have a team fail, and a losing team will fail if no hope is ever offered. As long as a team drafts well, there is hope for the future. With no draft picks, there would be no hope for the long-term future.

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My friend Anthony excitedly told me this evening that Brett Favre was being traded to the Jets. My immediate reaction was "New York. Great." My secondary reaction involved a lot more expletives. First, the only place he really could have gone to receive all the attention he is currently getting through the entire course of the year was New York. Fantastic. He's now in the media capital of the world, even closer to his buddies in Bristol. Oh! And we get to watch 2 epic Tom Brady versus Brett Favre match ups this year! I won't ever tire of hearing about those!
That is, of course, the other issue I have. Here in Minnesota, we're going to be saddled with Jets games every week. That is seriously going to piss me off when it starts taking away Colts games. I should have known though, that this was going to end with me as pissed off as possible.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Links of the Day 8/6/08

The Olympics have already started, and the U.S.A. is off to a bit of a rough start.

Chicago fans are moderately excited that Kyle Orton is going to be starting for the Bears. Purdue fans bite their tongue.

Brett Favre and Rachel Nichols have been spending too much time together.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Major Leaguers not demonstrating their toughness

Major League Baseball players are often criticized for not being as tough as other athletes. I mean, you look at Matt Stairs and realize that you don't necessarily have to be a premier athlete to be a baseball player. But ballplayers have always asserted that they were just as tough as other athletes.
This past week has done nothing to reinforce that opinion. There have been to incidents that have lead to an uproar, suspensions, fines, that sort of thing. Clearly, they must have been crazy to get that sort of attention, right? Well, maybe not. The first was this incident. If they weren't careful, a fight might have broken out. All we learned is that A.J. Pierzynski is an excellent hugger.
Then there was the slap fight between Prince Fielder and Manny Parra. This is apparently some sort of big deal., likely because Prince Fielder fights like a girl. Now, seriously MLB, I'm not a proponent of violence, but if your going to get in fights, please, stop embarrassing yourself. Please?