Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Links of the Day 9/30/08

Too bad I can't watch this tonight. Or good thing, because my head would probably explode. Go Twins.

In New York, it's already time for trading! Or, talking about trading, anyways


I'm sure the bear just wanted to come in and use the restroom. Why did this guy have to shoot it? Was it because he was black? Racist.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Wade Phillips, Gangster

It used to be that federal agents would show up at Texas Stadium because they heard that there may be cocaine being smuggled through Dallas. Now it's coach Wade Phillips that is dabbling in the illegal activity. Take a look at the evidence.See that hanging out of Phillips' pocket? The back right pocket? It appears as Wade may be a high ranking member of the Bloods. The time spent in southern California the past few years seems to have rubbed off on him. And he has to be high ranking, because check this out:
Jim Zorn (AKA Z Murdah) flew all the way in from DC to pay his respects. He is seen here talking to quarterback Jason Campbell, perhaps about the dangers of Folk Nation. More on this as details warrant.

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Links of the Day 9/29/08

If you are a Twins fan, Rays fan or especially a White Sox fan, you'll be watching this game. Maybe not if you are Tigers fan.

John Higgins has been chosen to throw out the first pitch for the Rays in the playoffs. You may remember him from the documentary,"Magnum P.I."

It's taken me until now to come out and say anything about that disgusting game on Saturday. Well, I guess I still can't say anything.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Links of the Day 9/28/08

Apparently it's already been confirmed; the Dodgers are going to the World Series.

Speaking of confirmed, confirming who will win the AL Central is stressful. In case you haven't read around these parts.

Even rarer than the white receiver, ESPN's Jemele Hill looks at the white tailback.

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Steve and Ryan at the Victoria Times Picnic


Clearly, we've worked out our differences. I'm in the bear costume. (Thanks to Hugging Harold Reynolds for finding the picture)

Negativity is No Fun

So my post the other day sucked. After reading it again, I worded it so poorly that I just decided to delete it. After thinking more about what I wrote (lesson learned: don't blog angry), my logic was just wrong. I'm less of a baseball fan today than I was a few years ago because I have a pretty full career and family schedule these days, not the other way around. Just think, if you sit and watch every single one of your team's games during the season, you are dedicating around 500 hours a year (over 20 solid days) to baseball fandom. I still love my White Sox win or lose, and in reality I watch them when I can, but now that I'm not a college kid anymore, family and career come first.

Outside of Ryan's fiery response to me, we talked about how it's funny that our angry rants always seem to get more hits than any other type of post we write, unless it's about Erin Andrews, of course. The post I wrote unfortunately was the post that pushed the Victoria Times over the 30,000 hit mark all time (thanks to everyone for checking us out). It made me realize that negativity and hatred are pretty strong on the internet, whether it be Boston fans claiming Jeter has AIDS, racist websites, blogs talking about how our president is an evil oil obsessed tyrant, and other blogs that talk about how our Democrats are tree hugging Commies that want to take your guns away. None of this is healthy discussion, but it sure gets attention.

One reason why Ryan wanted me to write here was to be the "bad guy" that rips on the Twins, but it's actually harder than it seems. So since I'm taking a grassroots approach to fighting internet negativity starting today, I'm going to reword my attacks on them as compliments. Let's see how it works: The Twins have a lot of home grown talent, and they handle their payroll in a very intelligent way. In fact, they will once again be very high on my bang for the buck ratings this year. They always have a great minor leaguer up their sleeves, and I think their lack of big names can cause arrogant teams like the White Sox to take them lightly. Their style of play is frustrating for the opposing fans to watch, but it's effective. As Ryan said, taking that page out of the Twins playbook is what helped the White Sox so much in 2005 (along with unbelievably good pitching). Another thing I admire about the Twins is that guys like Delmon Young can go there and behave, leading to good team chemistry and a happy clubhouse, while high paid teams sometimes have horrible chemistry and are very outspoken in a bad way. I really only dislike the Twins because they are usually standing in the way of my favorite team from making the playoffs. Other than that, their lack of power hitters and personalities for most of my life have made them pretty uninteresting to me. And if they have fun personalities, blame ESPN, FOX, and TBS for not telling me about them, because I don't live in Minnesota.

Let's try to give compliments to teams that I could never root for: Notre Dame had a nice win today over Purdue, and an impressive history. Once Michigan figures out the spread offense, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Here's the hardest one: If the Cubs win the World Series this year, they will definitely deserve it, because they look like they are the best team.

I want to take more of an objective approach towards sports, and just enjoy the games and of course, the stats, and not let sports get me so frustrated. I grew up loving the 49ers, still do, but I actually enjoy the NFL more since they started to suck about 9 years ago. It gave me a chance to appreciate the talent on other teams, and enjoy watching all the games, instead of worrying if they would be a threat to the Niners. I can honestly say I don't hate any NFL teams anymore, and that makes watching more fun because I'm not disappointed if a team I hate wins. A Niners win brightens my day, but even if they lose, I had a great day watching football.

I think the approach I have toward the NFL is the approach that more hardcore sports fans and angry blog readers should take, and I'm going to try to apply it over to baseball and college football (already do it for the NBA and NHL). Hopefully it will at least lead to some better posts.

One more note: Screw you, Cubs. I can have 1 team that I love to hate, right?

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

In response to Steve's Twin bashing

The other day, Steve whined for an entire post. Baseball's not fun because my team was too good a few years ago, wah wah wah. That sort of thing. He said he didn't know if he even wanted the Sox in the playoffs this year because they would just lose. But he didn't want the Twins there either, and he spent the rest of the post on an anti-Twins screed that really didn't follow his main point at all. However, in the spirit of generally apathy towards my home team (the Twins have been AWFUL when not playing the White Sox this month) and animosity towards the opposition, I have chosen to address the comments he made against the Twins.

They had no reason to be in first as long as they were, but what really frustrates me is losing the division to the Twins, who I like to call "Team Boredom."

Catchy.

I hate the Twins because they never make you feel like they were the better team when they beat your team. They've had a nice run this decade with a bunch of no-name bland slap hitters that get a bunch of weakly hit singles to produce their runs.

I'm assuming that the no name slap hitters that he is referring to are Joe Mauer, Delmon Young and Michael Cuddyer. Two former #1 draft picks, a former winner of the batting title (and probably the winner this year as well) and Cuddyer, who has been in the league for about 5-6 years now . Also ironic, when the White Sox won their title, that was the year they added a couple of slap hitters at the top of the order, getting rid of Carlos Lee in the process.

They always find a way to win bunting for singles on their terrible plastic turf

Don't worry, this irritates me to no end as well. Both the constant bunting and the plastic turf. But hopefully in two years, Nick Punto will be gone and we'll have that new stadium.

while some pitcher that they just called up from the minors holds your team to 7 scoreless innings with an 85 mph fastball

Like... Santana? Liriano? They didn't throw that slowly, so I guess I'm confused. And for the record, this year, the only starter that was in the minors for the bulk of last year was Nick Blackburn. Baker, Slowey, Liriano and Perkins had spent quite a bit of time in the bigs, actually. But I know Steve follows baseball and must be exaggerating, right?

I would have been much happier to see the Tigers or Indians stealing the division from the White Sox instead of the Twins this year for that reason

After watching the Twins the past couple of weeks, I find it hard to disagree. Actually, no I don't.

The White Sox losing the Central is also a loss for the fans of other non-playoff teams, who won't have a chance to pull for future hall of famers and all around good guys Jim Thome and Ken Griffey Jr. to get their first World Series ring

No no, the joy in this is that non-playoff teams get to watch Ozzie Guillen implode. I'm guessing that there are just as many fans out there that want to see Griffey win a ring as there are that want to ensure that arrogant pricks like A.J. Pierzynski never smell the postseason again. This is why people don't mind the Twins. Even Delmon Young, one of the more notorious bad boys in baseball as recently as last year has got his act together and is working dilligently and quietly to help the Twins out.

Here's hoping for a Twins-Cubs World Series.

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Links of the Day 9/27/08

The Rams are in disarray. There's no other way to say it.

Believe it or not, I'm pulling for the Yankees and Mike Mussina today. If it comes down to getting a 20 win season, then I hope he gets his 20th to get in the Hall of Fame. Anyone who has owned the Twins like he has deserves to get in.

Ole Miss upsets Florida, devastating Dan Shanoff.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Links of the Day 9/26/08

Any time anyone uses MATLAB in a post, I can't help but give them props.

Oh yeah, holy crap the USC Trojans lost.

Athens, Georgia is short on gas. Good thing they don't have a ton of people showing up this weekend.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

UCONN changes nickname to "Raccoons"


Hoping to intimidate Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, the University of Connecticut has announced plans to rename their women's basketball team the "Fightin' Raccoons".

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Links of the Day 9/25/08

Could we see the Winter Classic at Target Field in 2011?

It's tough right now for Twins, White Sox and I think especially Mets fans right now.

This is a lot of basketball, right here.

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Sometimes life isn’t fair…and sometimes it is

I don’t know if Roger Clemens did steroids. Just like I don’t know if OJ Simpson killed his ex-wife or if Barry Bonds did steroids. There’s evidence, but from my following of the cases (not in-depth) there’s not enough. It’s frustrating, but it’s the way our legal system rightfully works. We’re innocent until proven guilty, as a precaution against innocent people who were in the wrong spot at the wrong time paying for a crime they could’ve committed, but didn’t. So, I don’t know that Roger Clemens used steroids; I just think he did. And I’m not alone.

Roger Clemens was “snubbed” by the Yankees in their final tribute to Yankee Stadium--did you know that the Yankees are moving to a new stadium, and that this year was the last year they’d play in this stadium? In July, the All Star Game was at Yankee Stadium for the last time ever. It’s true! I digress.

For the final celebration, the Yankees invited back so many of their people from the years past. Joe Torre wasn’t there, but that could be written off because he’s busy managing a team in contention for the playoffs. Roger Clemens wasn’t there, and, reportedly, he was heartbroken. The Yankees were afraid the boos over his behavior in regards to the steroids issue would put a damper on what should be a celebrated day.

I’m sure Clemens wanted to be there. And he could’ve been, in either of two ways: he could’ve admitted to steroids, or at least admitted to relationships with people who took steroids. He may be innocent of steroid abuse, but he certainly has taken a childish way of denying it, and has had a disaster of publish relations recently beyond the steroids (although, to be fair, I doubt you could find a single baseball player who hasn’t had at least one affair). Chuck Knoblach, Andy Pettite, and Jason Giambi were all acknowledged at Yankee Stadium, despite their imperfect past. All three of them admitted, and apologized for, their steroid use.

What happened is that Clemens allegedly did something wrong, and is paying for his crime. His superstar status did let him completely get away with the crime (if one was committed). It sucks, yes. But it’s part of life. Sometimes, life is fair.

Clemens may be innocent, and a victim of being in the wrong place. However, even if he didn’t actually use steroids, he was near them, and he should’ve been up-front about that. Even if he chose not to use them, his wife did, so he had a working relationship with a provider.

If Clemens is found to be a victim of bad circumstances, I only hope the Yankees apologize. But this much is a lesson: be careful with whom you associate. By your wife taking steroids, it makes people much more suspicious of your behavior.

By the way, Roger. You could’ve been at Yankee Stadium for that last game. No one was stopping you from buying a ticket and attending. I’m sure that tickets were hard to find. You made a lot of money in your career; you could’ve found someone willing to sell the ticket for an unreasonably high price.

Not to get political, but with $700 billion bailout of the finance industry, you could take that money and pay every member of every team’s 40-man roster--plus 15 other people on each team--career salaries of A-Rod. Now that’s a lot of money.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jason Kubel?

If someone had told me Jason Kubel would have been keying the offense to vital late season victories at the beginning of the year, I would have called that person crazy. After all, he was most notable before this season for running 13 minute miles and looking like Jack Black's ugly younger brother. But here we are. Go Twins.

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I'm bad at fantasy sports

As I alluded to yesterday, I had the big fantasy hockey draft last night. I think it went all right for the most part. I had the first pick in the draft, was all ready to go, then got distracted at the last moment and missed making my pick to start things off, much to the laughs of everyone else there.
I ended up with Alexander Ovechkin, Rick Nash and Olli Jokinen as my top three picks, as well as nabbing notables like Brian Campbell and Minnesota Wild right wing Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Not bad.
And then I drafted Marcel Hossa. He may have a good season, but it's not going to be in this country. Crap. Earl Sleek can't stop laughing at how stupid I am, I'm sure.

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Links of the Day 9/24/08

It's been a very long time since the Yankees missed the playoffs.

The Lions finally woke up and canned Matt Millen. Unfortunately, they did it about 4 years too late.

The Rays have no idea what to do for the first pitch of the playoffs.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The pressure is on


So tonight I am entering in the live draft for my fantasy hockey league, put together by Kevin, the headmaster at BMR. It includes notable hockey blogs like Scotty Hockey, Pensblog, Off Wing Opinion, Battle of California, Carolina on Ice, and Loser Domi. So I don't get destroyed, I'm making sure to do some research before I head into battle this season. Dino Ciccarelli still plays, right? (Wish me luck)

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Links of the Day 9/23/08

Everyone except for one man thinks Matt Millen should be fired. To bad that one man is the owner of the Lions.

It's a 4 letter word, New York fans. Get it right.

Rich Rodriguez is currently ruining two college football programs.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

NFL Power Ranks: Week 3

Another wild week in the NFL is in the books, and the biggest ranking swings this week in both a positive and negative direction centered around one game: the Dolphins shocking rout of the Patriots in New England. The Patties dropped 12 spots, from #4 all the way to #16, while the Dolphins rose 9 spots, from #27 to #18. Are the Dolphins really the 18th best team in the NFL? Probably not, but the Patriots could be the 16th best team especially since Randy Moss is about to go on a long vacation and the defense is finally starting to show their bitterness over losing the Super Bowl....Super Bowl XX to the Bears, that is.

The NFC East has been extremely impressive so far this season, as many had predicted. The 4 teams are all in the top 8 spots and the division is 8-0 in games against non-division opponents. The Cowboys, Giants, and Eagles have all shown they have top offenses while the Redskins, Eagles, and Giants have top defenses. The Redskins also lead the NFL in turnover ratio.

The defending Super Bowl champ Giants still hold a commanding lead on the #1 spot despite a narrow win over the Bengals this week, while the surprising Bills are #2, the defensive beast Titans are #3, and the Cowboys and Eagles are #4 and #5. Seattle and Minnesota crawled out of the bottom 5 this week by getting their first wins. Replacing them are absolutely miserable Cleveland and Houston (but they had a hurricane and are at least only 0-2). Here are the ranks:

1. Giants - 85.45 - Even
2. Bills - 76.61 - +3
3. Titans - 75.59 - +3
4. Cowboys - 75.57 - +7
5. Eagles - 74.75 - +5
6. Broncos - 73.76 - +3
7. Ravens - 68.94 - +5
8. Redskins - 68.60 - +5
9. Cardinals - 67.76 - -7
10. Falcons - 65.73 - +7
11. Panthers - 59.10 - -8
12. Packers - 58.56 - -5
13. Buccaneers - 58.44 - +2
14. Steelers - 56.16 - -6
15. 49ers - 52.47 - +4
16. Patriots - 50.18 - -12
17. Bears - 48.06 - -3
18. Dolphins - 44.96 - +9
19. Chargers - 44.68 - +5
20. Saints - 42.58 - -2
21. Jaguars - 41.29 - +5
22. Vikings - 40.80 - +6
23. Raiders - 39.52 - -3
24. Jets - 37.24 - -8
25. Seahawks - 34.86 - +6
26. Colts - 30.08 - -5
27. Bengals - 26.03 - -4
28. Browns - 22.99 - -6
29. Texans - 20.88 - -4
30. Chiefs - 16.31 - -1
31. Lions - 13.36 - -1
32. Rams - 12.90 - Even

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Links of the Day 9/22/08

It might just be me talking, but Al Davis might be losing it. Lane Kiffin is getting canned today.

Sad news for Gophers coach Tubby Smith, as his nephew was killed in a Boston area stabbing.

Count me among those that didn't start Ronnie Brown. Oh, and hey! The Patriots lost!

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Does anyone want the Big Ten?


I asked this exact same question last year, and gave the division to the Buckeyes. I was right. It's tough to assess teams before games are even played, so now that the preseason is over, I feel more comfortable giving you my predictions on how the division will play out this year.

1. Penn State: I know they have been playing cupcakes so far, but even then, they are making sure to take care of business, something that can't be said for other teams in the conference. Additionally, for the first time since Kerry Collins, the Nittany Lions appear to have a quarterback capable of completing a forward pass. They should be tough to beat.

2. Wisconsin: As usual, the Badgers aren't terribly impressive, even when they win. They rely on a strong ground game, but I wonder, if a team that can put up a lot of points, like Penn State and Illinois does so early, the Badgers are sunk. Fortunately, there are few dynamic offenses in the Big 10 this year.

3. Ohio State: Ohio State has been playing down to their opponents so far this season, allowing Ohio and Troy to hang around a lot longer than they should. Should Terrelle Pryor develop into a legitimate quarterback, maybe they will make some strides, but I think right now that this team isn't of the caliber that they have been in recent seasons.

4. Michigan State: The Spartans are battle tested and have a talented running back in Javon Ringer. It's a lot easier to rely on a strong ground game, as they have less frequent off days. Also working to their advantage is a very soft schedule, especially at the start of the year, which will only serve to provide some momentum for when the tough part of the schedule kicks in.

5. Iowa: Every time I watch the Hawkeyes, I'm impressed by how athletic they are. We keep hearing that Kirk Ferentz is an excellent coach, so lets see what he can do with the Hawkeyes in a week conference this year.

6. Illinois: I think the effect of Rashard Mendenhall's departure is greater than anyone anticipated. Now, with Mendenhall fumbling his way through Pittsburgh, Juice Williams is left to head the Illini attack, and I don't think he's capable of getting this team to be better than middle of the pack.

7. Minnesota: The Gophers are actually improving as the season goes on. Their defense, while not great, is bolstered by the addition of some JuCo transfers. The real story will be their offense, as Adam Weber has really matured over the offseason and might be one of the top quarterbacks in the conference. They only need 2 more wins to get to a bowl game, but they could win 4 more games before the season is through.

8. Purdue: The Boilers looked terrible in their two wins and only played for one half against Oregon. They have no defense, but their offense seems well enough. This will lead to some very high scoring games, but I don't think the Boilermakers have the stomach to eke any of these games out.

9. Michigan: I can't get over just how bad the Wolverines are. Appalachian State last year was a champion, so there is some silver lining in losing to them, and Oregon was a ranked opponent. This year, losses to Utah and Notre Dame demonstrate just how bad the Wolverines are. A team that can't score points can't win games.

10. Northwestern: All is not lost for the Wildcats, even if they finish near the bottom of the conference. They just need two more victories to become bowl eligible, and I think it could certainly happen (Purdue, at Indiana).

11. Indiana: I don't care how good Kellen Lewis is. Antawn Randle El was good too, and the Hoosiers didn't do anything then either. As they proved against Ball State, the Hoosiers are mostly devoid of talent.

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Links of the Day 9/21/08

The first day of Fall is also the last day of Yankee Stadium. Life will go on, unless you are a flying insect or deciduous tree.

It's Notre Dame week, and Purdue couldn't be more ready.

If you see some 3 year olds using the word "persistent" over and over, this is why.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Revolutionizing sports in Minnestoa


Sports in Minnesota are getting an overhaul over the next couple of seasons. Two teams, the Minnesota Gophers football team and the Minnesota Twins will be getting new stadiums. The Gophers begin play in TCF Bank stadium next season. It will be the first stadium built for a Big Ten team since, well, the Metrodome. TCF will be the newest stadium in the conference by 49 years when it opens. It will also be the smallest stadium in the Big Ten, despite Minnesota being one of the largest schools in the country. They may actually have some sellouts, especially if the Gophers continue to improve.
In other news, the Twins have announced a name to their new stadium. Despite my wish that local cereal giant General Mills would get naming rights so we could call it Lucky Charms Field or at the very least the Cereal Bowl (along with the Trix Track. I had it all planned out), they went with one of the two major retailers in the city, Target. It's pretty underwhelming, having a Target Field when we already have a Target Center where the Timberwolves play. Better than having it named after a cell phone company, I suppose.
Speaking of the Timberwolves, they have made some changes as well. Deciding that their logo didn't look quite stupid enough, they went ahead and tweaked it. Going for the Phantom of the Opera look for the theater community, I suppose. Compounding the problem, they have also chosen to wear uniforms that appear to have pine trees stabbing them in the armpits. Ridiculous. Additionally, I like that one of the commenters appreciated that the Wolves were "repping their city" by putting Minnesota on the jersey. Right.
Even if I'm not a fan of all the teams in the area, I think it improves the quality of life for the area, having sports teams, and having those in charge investing so much time and effort into them, even if it results in some ugly uniforms and boring stadium names.

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Four reasons the White Sox will end up in the playoffs


The Twins and White Sox, the teams of choice for the writers here, are in the throes of a playoff chase. All through the beginning of this decade, there was a lot of talk between Steve and I, Sox and Twins fans. This year, for various reasons, the banter just hasn't been there. The primary reason is that in years past, we believed ours were the more worthy playoff team. This year we keep arguing over why our team will not be making the playoffs. With about 10 games left on the season, let's run down why it will be the White Sox winning the division.

- The Twins starters are pitching fewer innings than the bullpen. About a month ago, the bullpen up and imploded. They couldn't hold leads and teams like the Mariners were coming back and bringing about heartbreaking losses. Well, of late, the young Twins starters have found a way to prevent the bullpen from blowing late leads by just going ahead and falling behind early and getting pulled in the first 4 innings.

- The White Sox hit home runs. Homers are the most reliable way to have runs scored, so even when the team is slumping, they can still score a few runs every series. When the Twins slump, they try bunting. Bunting really doesn't work if the guy behind you can't get a hit, and especially if the guy ahead of you isn't on base and ESPECIALLY if you're Mike Redmond. The Sox, despite their pitching woes, are the more capable team when it comes to scoring runs, which may keep them afloat.

- The Sox have an ace in the hole. They have been playing without MVP candidate Carlos Quentin for the past couple of weeks, and there is still the chance he will return, which, of course, would provide the Sox a kick in the pants. The Twins had their ace in the hole, Michael Cuddyer, return a couple days ago. Turns out, he's a little rusty, as though he hasn't played at all this year.

- The Sox are up 2 1/2 games. The Twins have to lose three fewer games than the Sox for the rest of the year if they want any hope. Even if the Sox go 4-5 over the rest of their season, the Twins would need to finish 6-2 to even tie. Good luck.

If there is anything we can take from this season as Twins fans, it's that we know that our core is talented enough to make strong runs through the season, and now we know our weaknesses for next year.

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Links of the Day 9/20/08

Heroin? I would have thought NASCAR would have meth problems.

Tough times for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker severely injured in a plane crash.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

BREAKING NEWS


According to ESPN, Frank Thomas has aged 39 years, changed his number to 0 and now plays for the Cubs. More on this as details warrant.

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Links of the Day 9/19/08

The Big Picture is doing their "Would You Do" tournament again. They wanted me to let you know.

It doesn't happen very often, but Mark Cuban came out looking like the rational, well spoken one in this exchange. Kudos to him, but seriously, there are some messed up people in the world.

Speaking of messed up people, Matthew Barnaby is taking care of the ESPN hockey analysis now.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Links of the Day 9/18/08

Ron Gardenhire gets ready to go to Tampa.

Quarterbacks getting starts this week are fantastically mediocre.

Do you know Zach Hample? Yankees fans everywhere do now.

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The best hitters fail 7 out of 10 times

We’ve all heard the saying that the best hitters in baseball fail seven out of ten times. I’d like to take a moment to discuss failure.

That 30% success ratio is wrong. Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves has a .365 batting average. Rounding properly, he’d be closer to four out of ten than three out of ten. And when you consider the number of walks (and hit-by-pitches), that number--the on-base percentage (OBP)--is up to .467--closer to five out of ten than four out of ten. And when you consider that OBP includes sacrifice flies (but not sacrifice bunts) as a valid plate appearance where the player doesn’t get on base--thus fails--and that Chipper Jones has four sacrifice flies. Well, he’s closer to succeeding 50% of the time than 30% of the time. (The American league leader is Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer at .413.)

Also, there are “sacrifice plays” that aren’t officially sacrifices. If your team has a guy on second base, and you’re at the plate, you want to hit the ball to the first base side of the field--the runner has a better chance of advancing than if you hit it between second base and third base. If you ground out to second (a 4-3 play), the runner usually advances. Technically, the result is the same as the guy who lays a bunt down the third base line--you’re out, but the runner is on third base. However, the guy that laid down the bunt doesn’t get charged with an at-bat--either for batting average or on-base percentage. It seems unfair, but the guy laying down a sacrifice bunt is only hoping he’ll reach base, but accepts the fact that he’ll probably be out. The guy grounding out to second had no intention of being out; he was just insisting that his hit was towards right field. (I really can’t comprehend how guys can choose where to hit. Then again, I can’t comprehend how they can hit the ball three out of ten times. I consider myself lucky if I get a hit three out of one thousand times…)

Hitters are allowed to fail. That doesn’t mean that we’re all okay if we only do well 40% of the time--or are average if we do well 30% of the time. The “three out of ten” only applies to one position in the American League: the DH. If a team had an outfielder that only caught three out of ten fly balls, well, you’d have a problem. Imagine if a shortstop only fielded three out of ten ground balls that came his way. If a guy on a team has a fielding percentage under .900, it probably means he’s had limited opportunities, and made an error. Most people would be happy with a success rate in life of over 90%.

Moving along, pitchers aren’t happy if they’re only succeeding 60% of the time--that is, allowing 40% of their base-runners on base. Of course, they usually hover around allowing 35% of base runners to reach base, so about a 65% rate of success. Also, it’s considered ideal to throw two strikes to every ball, or a 67% rate. Those numbers might not scream success in the real world, but still better than the old adage of 30%.

The reality is, succeeding 30% of the time depends on what you’re doing. If you’re hitting home runs in 30% of your at-bats…feel free to play for my teams! But in general, 30% isn’t good enough.

Wow. This guy clearly blew a call--like Jeff Kellogg did last night calling Twins third baseman Brendan Harris out at second base--but owned up to it. Of course, the NFL actually punished him for his poor call, which really did cost his team the game. Did Kellogg’s call cost the Twins the game? There’s no way of knowing.

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The Fantasy Football Superfecta


For anyone who is having a bad start to their fantasy football season, I assure you, it can't even compare to mine. I started the draft, nabbing a quarterback, the best available in one Tom Brady. We all know what happened to him. Thanks Bernard Pollard!
This league was a 14 team league, so there wasn't a whole lot available by the time we were drafting our second quarterbacks of the draft. I got in there and nabbed Vince Young as my back up. He's usually good for one or two games a year where he just lights up the opposition. If you time it right, he can really pay off. I've learned that in previous seasons. Of course, this only works if he ever plays football again.
Like I said, this was a 14 team league, which left me with few options. I picked up Joe Flacco and Jamarcus Russell, opting against Kyle Orton and Chad Pennington, because Kyle Orton pretty much ruined college for me, and I have a stronger arm than Pennington. I still wanted a QB that was a little bit more high scoring than that, so I put it out there that I needed a QB, any QB that played professional football regularly. The only person to bite was the guy with Tarvaris Jackson.
Against the Texans, I opted to start Joe Flacco, particularly since the trade hadn't quite gone through yet. Then this happened. That's right, I couldn't start my quarterback because of a freaking hurricane. And it was my third quarterback, no less. I swapped in Russell Saturday night, and went off to the Colts-Vikings game.
At the game, I caught an atrocious performance from T-Jack, all while Anthony Gonzalez, third receiver for the Colts, tore up the Vikings D. I came home to find that the trade had gone through on Sunday morning, and I hadn't in fact, played Russell, but had instead left the QB spot empty. Worse still, I had traded Gonzalez along with Russell in the trade that brought Jackson to my team.
And just today, we all found out that Jackson has been benched. For the season.
And in case you were wondering, my running backs are Larry Johnson and Ronnie Brown, so it doesn't get any better there either.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Links of the Day 9/17/08

No matter where Dan Shanoff goes, he'll always hate the Big Ten and Pac Ten.

This is not good. Half of the Indy defense is out now.

Peter King and his revisionist history. Of course, everyone knows that Brett Favre is the greatest of all time

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Oh College Gameday, so much to love

Have you seen the new Gameday commercial? If not, you can find it here.

There's so much with this little ad:

For the ladies, we have Kirk Herbstreit in his PJ's.
We have Lee Corso showing the same situational awareness that he had at Indiana.
Lastly and most importantly. Chris Fowler likes to "sink his own battleship". Who doesn't? Life's tough on the road

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Links of the Day 9/16/08

Francisco Rodriguez for MVP? I say now, but the Big Picture says yes.

Um.... Go Cowboys?

Who is doing the least to earn their money in sports? Phil Mickelson.

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NFL Power Ranks: Week 2

The Eagles were just one more lead change away Monday night from remaining in first in the computerized power ranks, but now, this early in the season, they dropped down to number 10 behind the undefeated teams, except for one. It was the team they lost to, Dallas. So why are they ahead? It's kind of an odd situation. The Eagles have a better momentum score than Dallas extending into last season, and the Eagles strength of schedule is better because they lost to Dallas, a still undefeated team. That's the problem with evaluating strength of schedule this early in the year, but it will begin to become more of a legit factor as the weeks go on. Also, the Eagles are ahead of Dallas in scoring, defense, and turnovers (they won the turnover battle on Monday).

That leaves the door open for last week's #2 team and defending Super Bowl champs, the Giants, to grab the top spot in the ranks after following the Eagles with a stomping of the pathetic Rams, who expectantly fell to #32 after the Raiders (#20) got their first win of the season over Kansas City (#29). The Cardinals moved all the way up to #2 after getting their 2nd dominant win over a bad team, while the Cardiac Cats moved to #3, the Patriots sneak into #4, and the surprising Bills are #5. The Colts quickly got out of the bottom 5 and placed this week's victim, Minnesota, in their place. The Lions are the new #30 after almost beating Green Bay and somehow getting blown out in a span of about 5 minutes. Also, for I think the first time ever, neither Bay Area team is in the bottom 5, while 2 projected division winners fill those spots. Here are the ranks, with their change from last week:

1. Giants - 87.02 - +1
2. Cardinals - 81.77 - +10
3. Panthers - 75.32 - +2
4. Patriots - 72.98 - +2
5. Bills - 72.98 - -1
6. Titans - 72.23 - +8
7. Packers - 70.73 - +1
8. Steelers - 69.14 - +2
9. Broncos - 67.50 - +6
10. Eagles - 67.26 - -9
11. Cowboys - 67.02 - -2
12. Ravens - 62.69 - +4
13. Redskins - 61.85 - +4
14. Bears - 60.97 - -11
15. Buccaneers - 53.79 - +7
16. Jets - 51.05 - -5
17. Falcons - 50.16 - -10
18. Saints - 45.08 - -5
19. 49ers - 41.53 - +9
20. Raiders - 35.97 - +12
21. Colts - 35.53 - +8
22. Browns - 33.98 - -2
23. Bengals - 33.33 - -5
24. Chargers - 31.45 - -3
25. Texans - 30.13 - +2
26. Jaguars - 29.65 - Even
27. Dolphins - 25.00 - -8
28. Vikings - 24.52 - -5
29. Chiefs - 22.66 - -4
30. Lions - 22.42 - -6
31. Seahawks - 20.48 - -1
32. Rams - 14.52 - -1

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Links of the Day 9/15/08

First off, I want to direct you to Beth's post from a couple weeks ago, as there was a comment from Mike May of "Don't Take My Bat Away" asserting the values of metal bats.

Oh, Carlos Zambrano threw a no-no.

A few hijinks in Denver have left some San Diegans a little miffed.

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Colts-Vikings rundown

I would love to say that my trip to the Metrodome was exciting tonight, but frankly, that game was miserable for at least three quarters. Even when the Colts started doing something, it was nothing but reviews and timeouts. It was plodding and slow. But the Colts won, and we learned something, or, at the very least, had some things reaffirmed for us.

- The Vikings cannot pass. At all. It got to the point where I was praying we would see Tarvaris Jackson would drop back to throw, because I knew that meant the Colts would be getting the ball soon, or the Vikings were held to a field goal. It started with a few drops, especially by Visanthe Shiancoe and Bernard Berrian, but then it became clear that Jackson has no idea what he's doing back there. I actually heard a ton of fans in purple lamenting the fact they didn't get Brett Facre. Incredible.

- It's a really good thing that Anthony Gonzalez is coming into his own, because Marvin Harrison is pretty rickity. Harrison is, of course, the second oldest wide out in the league behind Joey Galloway, so it was time to move on. Harrison could legitimately be described as the third receiver.

- The wheel/out routes were open all day, and I would have loved to see more of those routes run.

- Peyton Manning is still quite slow. With the injuries to the offensive line, it could be a recipe for disaster. Credit Manning for being able to avoid most sacks by areading the defense anf getting the ball out quickly.

- Brad Childress should not be a head coach. Run between the tackles often against the Colts, mix in a few play action passes, and blitz. I figured this out, why didn't he?

This was the perfect example of a game where you could say the officiating was bad (and it was) but they, the Vikings, shouldn't have put themselves in a position to los it. (Photo from the Star Tribune

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Links of the Day 9/14/08


Today's links have been canceled. Instead, I will be going to the Colts-Vikings game. Go Colts!

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Twins are still in contention?


We haven't taken the time to look at the Twins here lately in the past couple of weeks, so let's see how they've done in the past 28 days, shall we? In the past 28 days, they have:

- Gone 13-13
- Had a team ERA of 3.39
- Allowed 14 unearned runs
- Featured a 6.23 ERA in September from the bullpen
- Scored 5.6 runs a game
- Batted .296

At the beginning of the season, the Twins seemed to be extraordinarily lucky, winning games despite not having an equitable advantage in terms of runs scored. Now, they are scoring more runs than their opponents and it is only worked out to a .500 record recently. Of course, that's a lot better than it seems for many Twins fans, as the losses have been excruciating late inning extravaganzas (as evidenced by the bullpen ERA), and the White Sox have been hanging out just out of our grasp. Also painful have been those losses to inferior opponents.
The fact is, the Twins ARE playing better ball as a team, but luck has turned against them. With Michael Cuddyer coming back, the outfield will improve, with Denard Span shifting to center and Carlos Gomez becoming a back up. We just need to get some better work out of the bullpen, or at the very least, give them more wiggle room.

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Links of the Day 9/13/08

With Purdue playing Oregon today, I think it's time to go ahead and revisit one of my favorite posts of all time here at the Times. It's how I made friends!

How about an actual preview of the game, huh?

For whatever reason, even thought they suck, ESPN can't stop talking about Notre Dame and Michigan.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Links of the Day 9/12/08

Quite the at bat for this guy. Nice job by the ump though, not being fooled.

I can't get over how much bigger Maria Sharapova is than Nastia Liukin.

This jives nicely with the Raiders already being proven as the worst team in the NFL.

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The Computerized Power Ranks are Back

Each week last NFL season, whether you liked it or not, I brought you my computerized NFL power rankings. I think last year's system that I came up with would have been good in normal circumstances, but the NFL threw me a few curveballs. First, we had a 16-0 regular season team, but they played in a division so awful (and strength of division counted for more than it should have) that they spent most of the season 2nd in the power ranks behind the Colts (who were in a very strong division). Then, hoping that the Super Bowl champ would at least pop up at the #1 spot to end the season, the Giants shocked the world by beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl (who had finally made it to #1 by that point). The Giants wound up finishing in 3rd, which isn't bad for a team that only finished the season 10-6.

This year, I made some tweaks and I have no idea how they will work out, but basically it goes like this, without giving away too much of my secret formula. Half of the weight is based on direct results on the field, meaning overall record and momentum (recent record), and the other half of the weight is based on categories that help to explain that record: strength of schedule, strength of division, points scored average, points allowed average, and turnover ratio.

After the first week of the season, and with an impressive win, the Philadelphia Eagles hold a commanding lead on the #1 spot in my power rankings. They were also helped by my momentum rating, which for a few weeks will dip into last season, where they finished strong. I'm not sure if much else can be interpreted from the rankings other than some teams that won big are near the top, and it could be a long year for the NFC West. Here are the ranks:

1. Eagles - 86.13
2. Giants - 76.45
3. Bears - 75.16
4. Bills - 73.06
5. Panthers - 72.42
6. Patriots - 72.42
7. Falcons - 71.94
8. Packers - 71.29
9. Cowboys - 70.65
10. Steelers - 70.16
11. Jets - 69.35
12. Cardinals - 69.19
13. Saints - 68.39
14. Titans - 68.23
15. Broncos - 66.13
16. Ravens - 65.65
17. Redskins - 45.81
18. Bengals - 39.52
19. Dolphins - 39.19
20. Browns - 37.90
21. Chargers - 36.13
22. Buccaneers - 35.48
23. Vikings - 31.61
24. Lions - 30.65
25. Chiefs - 27.10
26. Jaguars - 26.29
27. Texans - 26.13
28. 49ers - 26.13
29. Colts - 22.42
30. Seahawks - 18.87
31. Rams - 17.10
32. Raiders - 16.45

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Links of the Day 9/11/08

Seven years later, it's still hard to just type 9/11 without at least mentioning it. God bless America.

An important game coming up for both NFL teams that affect my life.

A little update on the worlds favorite drunken high jumper.

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Breaking the Bats and the Spirit

There are so many technological advances in the world. Baseball bats were being broken so often, parents couldn’t afford them for their kids, so aluminum bats were invented. Then the problem came: the ball hit off the bat so much harder and faster, kids were getting injured on line-drives (mostly the vulnerable pitchers).

People argued about what should be done. Obviously, parents wouldn’t be able to afford new bats when their children broke them. Wood bats can cost well over $100 each. And yet, the aluminum bats were putting their children at risk of serious injury.

With all the technology, I’ve always wondered why scientists hadn’t found a metal bat that wasn’t’ quite as responsive as the present ones—metal bats that more mimicked wood bats. It seemed like a good solution: safer for the children, but also not overwhelming for parents. The cheaper a sport is, the easier it is for parents to let their children play. (For example, hockey and football require safety equipment, some parents are forced to keep their children from playing.)

Someone, however, has approached the solution differently. Rather than coming up with a new metal bat, Ward Dill came up with a new way to make wood bats. The bats are made of wedges of wood, glued under pressure, and are guaranteed for a year. The bats act like wood bats because they are wood bats. And, they won’t shatter like many wooden bats, which are also a danger.

I strongly hope that non-professional players adopt these new bats—and whatever else scientists come up with to improve conditions for cost-effectiveness and safety for those playing. (Admittedly, these bats are still very expensive, but they are guaranteed for a year, and would be safer. Also, presumably, in time, these could become cheaper.)

I purposely said “non-professional”. I hope professional athletes continue with the traditional wooden bats. To me, it’s part of the game. How many times is the groan from the crowd when a guy weakly grounds—or flies—out because his bat broke? It’s frustrating, but so is the umpire calling a guy out on a stolen base when he was safe. Bats have always broken. Now, there’s debates about types of wood used and sizes of handles, and that should be researched. Bats should break on occasion. It’s the nature of the game, but if there is proof about the variables, then these should be addressed.

Then again, I don't take change well. I don't want instant replay, either.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What's In a Name (Change)?

As Ryan wrote yesterday, Chad Johnson legally changed his name to Chad Ocho Cinco last week, and the sports websites like yahoo are finally starting to recognize the change, but others, like ESPN, haven't. Sports broadcasters also seem to be pretty uncomfortable referring to him as Chad Ocho Cinco with a straight face, preferring to just call him Chad or by his old name. My question here is why is everyone being so hesitant? I understand the situation with the name on the back involving Reebok selling replica jerseys, and that's fine and can wait until next year. But the man is absolutely insane enough to legally change his name to a really goofy nickname, that's what he should be called. There are precedents that have been set related to this over the years, and it has always ended the same way, with the player being recognized by his new name.

Two very high profile athletes from the 60's to the 80's changed their names after already acheiving a level of fame with their previous name after converting to Islam. They are Cassius Clay and Lew Alcindor, now known as Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. More recently, former LSU star Chris Jackson changed his name to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. All three of these men changed their names for religious reasons and after that point were rarely referred to by their pervious names. Basically the name changes were acknowledged and respected. (Side Note: Shareef Abdur-Rahim was actually born with that name)

Legal name changes haven't always been for religious reasons though. In the 80's an NBA player named Lloyd Bernard Free legally changed his first name to a shortened version of his nickname, "All-World." Yep, he changed his name to World B. Free. Nothing religious about that, just a lot of fun, and it was recognized. Also, another NBA player played his entire career as Brian Williams, until the summer before his final year where he changed his name to Bison Dele to honor his Native American and African American heritage. It took a while for some announcers to get used to since they were so used to calling him Brian Williams, but again, it was accepted as his legal name. Sadly and kind of oddly, Dele mysteriously disappeared a few years later, likely killed by his brother Kevin Williams (who renamed himself Miles Dabord).

So Chad's name change to Ocho Cinco is probably just a cry for attention, but its not that dissimilar from what Bison Dele and World B. Free did. But just like those athletes, he decided to officially change his name to something completely wacky, and it should be respected in the media and by his league. Some people are concerned that he did this just so he could have Ocho Cinco written on his back, and that could lead to other stars legally changing their names. But seriously, are that many other players crazy enough to do it. Again, there are precedents here. In the NBA, guys like Pete Maravich actually had the name "Pistol" on his back without making it part of his legal name, and in the XFL, players were allowed to put whatever they wanted on their backs (Remember Rod "He Hate Me" Smart?), but most just opted for their last name. Maybe the NFL and the media should lighten up and just enjoy the fact that one of their most talented players is giving their league some attention and giving the writers more stories to write.

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Links of the Day 9/10/08

Honoring 20 years since they were last truly relevant. What they didn't mention is if the statue shouts at you that Notre Dame will win 11 games this year while spitting on you as you walk by.

WOOOOOOO!!!! I wonder if he hit him with a chair and put him in the figure four leglock, then strutted around the apartment.

Is he sick, or is he just ronery?

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hilarious or Stupid?


I still can't decide. Discuss in the comments

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Links of the Day 9/9/08

Vince Wilfork, delusional. Funny how it's only Patriots claiming the hit on Brady was dirty.

Writing about the Rays is even more depressing than writing about the Twins.

Mostly, I like the title to this...

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Monday, September 08, 2008

What the hell was that?

The Colts opened a new stadium this year, Lucas Oil Stadium, which the denizens of Indianapolis are ecstatic about. It's a fantastic stadium (for Indianapolis) and they have a pretty decent team to fill it. They were lobbed a softball in week one in the Chicago Bears who were pretty awful last year.
And they blew it. What?! To this guy?Pathetic. But the good news is, they know this was pathetic, and they know exactly what their problems were. They were threefold, which is good, because that's as far as I can count.

1) Peyton Manning was not up to speed. He hasn't practiced much and didn't play at all in the preseason after offseason surgery to remove an infected bursa sac. I'm not sure what a bursa sac is, but apparently you don't want one of them in your knee. But after a couple full weeks of practice, he should be back up and ready to go. I hope.
2) Without Jeff Saturday, the offensive line is not so good. There is no timetable for his return, unfortunately, but perhaps with a little more playing time, the line can hold together and prevent any ferocious pass rush. Or maybe the Bears really were that good with their blitz.
3) The run defense is abysmal. I don't know what to say about all this. Usually it's not a problem because opponents need to play catch up throwing the ball. At least the Colts don't play anyone with a good ground game any time soon.... oh.... wait.

Hopefully Manning can shake it off and turn it around so the onus isn't on the run defense next week here in Minnesota.

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Links of the Day 9/8/08

Nice work Bernard Pollard!

Bernard, you have a bounty to collect.

I loved the Panthers' tight end in Clerks 2.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Football!

Two things that I think have been established about me. I'm Catholic and I'm in Minnesota. These are going to be the only two things that will possibly put a damper on my opening weekend festivities.
As with any Catholic, many of my decisions are based on guilt, so, despite not having been to church in about three weeks, I decided to go this morning. Naturally, this was the week the priest decided to hit us with 45 minute, almost directionless homily. If I wanted that, I would become Episcopalian. Naturally, since I could only wake up in time for the 1100 o'clock service, I endd up being late for kick off.
Then, being in Minnesota we get to relive the Brett Favre experience on CBS, then go to the one conference team that isn't playing tonight or tomorrow night. Yeah, that's the Lions. At the Falcons. On opening day. And the Lions are even worse than advertised.
But I'm not going to let anything spoil my excitement. Football!

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Links of the Day 9/7/08

Frankly, I'm glad he's doing this to the Bowie Baysox and not the Twins. Not like the Twins need the help. Ugh.

Holy crap! Does this mean the Gophers are better than Pitt?

Eastern Carolina
?

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Getting set for an awesome football weekend

For me, the college football season finally, officially gets underway today, one day ahead of the real NFL season. If only the NFL season could start the way Purdue's season will start: with a cupcake. Mmm, cupcakes. Yes, Purdue is starting the year with what is widely regarded as one of the easiest opponents of any team in Division 1 in Northern Colorado.
Now, if only my Colts could start the season like that, with an opponent that they will assuredly beat, one that is clearly not of the same level as them. Oh wait, they ARE!

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Links of the Day 9/6

About fricking time the Twins came home. And if the Twins don't make it to the playoffs, I'm voting Democrat.

Well, this was dumb. Way to go Carlos Quentin!

Oh good, another Bigfoot hoax.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Ryan's NFL Preview: Awards and Predictions

The good news is, this is the last NFL predictions post for about a year! The bad news is I have to think of new topics to entertain the masses. Fortunately I'll be kicking around some NHL Preview material over at BMR.

I said a lot of things in the team by team previews, but looking at how the playoffs played out for me, well, I lied on some stuff. You'll see why.

NFL MVP - Tony Romo, Cowboys - Let's see... The non-Dallas teams I have in the final 4, the Patriots, Jaguars and Seahawks (sorry to ruin it for you) are rather team oriented or don't have any big time stars. The Cowboys operate a two back system, and as Steve said, wideouts just don't win the MVP. That leaves Romo. Congratulations, you're the MVP by default!

Coach of the Year - John Harbaugh, Ravens - I picked the Ravens to win the divison. I'm sort of obliged, aren't I?
Offensive Player of the Year - Tom Brady, Patriots - He has a lot of good receivers. (Analysis!)
Defensive Player of the Year - Lofa Totupu, Seahwaks - Marking the first time anyone named Lofa has won anything. He will bring pride to the entire Totupu clan.

Comeback Player of the Year - Adam Jones, Cowboys - Would the NFL allow this to happen? Almost certainly not. If they don't, mark me down for Kurt Warner.

Walter Payton Man of the Year - Reggie Bush, Saints - Let's see, Bush has a marketable name and face, and he lives in an impoverished city where he workse with charitable organizations and has appeared in ads encouraging children to excersize. Also, he is with Kim Kardashian, so thanks for falling on that grenade. I believe he also single handedly prevented Gustav from destroying New Orleans.

Postseason Predictions:
AFC Playoff teams: 1. Patriots 2. Chargers 3. Jaguars 4. Ravens 5. Colts 6. Steelers
NFC Playoff teams: 1. Seahawks 2. Cowboys 3. Saints 4. Vikings 5. Eagles 6. Giants
Wild Card Playoffs:
Jaguars over Steelers: A vicious defense will lead to a lot of dropped balls over the middle, ending the Steelers' playoff run early.
Colts over Ravens: Come on. they're still the Ravens.
Saints over Giants: As a throwback to '05, this Saints home game will be played in New York.
Eagles over Vikings: In case you haven't caught on, I think the Vikings are wildly overrated.

Divisional Playoffs:
Patriots over Colts: If you need me this week, I'll be sticking a fork in the toaster.
Jaguars over Chargers: The Jags are simply a better team than the Chargers, especially after Shawne Merriman's knee explodes.
Seahawks over Eagles: If the Seahawks are going to slip up at home in the playoffs, it's going to be this game. 53 year old Matt Hasselbeck will probably be a little stiff, not playing for so long.
Cowboys over Saints: I don't think the Saints are equipped to win big road games.
Conference Championships:
Jaguars over Patriots: New England realizes suddenly that the average age of the linebacking corps is 65.
Seahawks over Cowboys: Can you believe it's been 3 years since we've had a team clad in dark turquoise in the big game?
Super Bowl XLII:
Jaguars over Seahawks: Finally, the Jaguars shake off their reputation as postseason chokers, and David Garrard becomes a household name outside of Jacksonville. Then the Jags promptly move to Los Angeles. I can't believe I picked this Super Bowl either.

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Steve's NFL Preview: Playoffs and Awards

Now that I summed up all the divisions, its time to take on the awards and playoff predictions...which is always pretty much a crap shoot, but here goes....

NFL MVP - Adrian Peterson, Vikings - Peterson could have very realistically won this award last year, had Tom Brady not had the record breaking season. Only QBs and RBs have won this award every year since 1987 (Jerry Rice) so its a pretty safe bet to got with a running back here. I see the Vikings winning the NFC North with a total lack of a passing game, having to rely a lot on Peterson, giving him the MVP.

Coach of the Year - Mike McCarthy, Packers - This usually goes to a surprising team's coach, and looking back at my picks, I definitely didn't pick many surprises this year. I could see McCarthy getting it by leading the Packers to a wild card spot with Aaron Rodgers for keeping the team togehter during the Favre saga.

Offensive Player of the Year - Tom Brady, Patriots - I think Brady has another great season and wins this again, but his efforts don't earn him the MVP

Defensive Player of the Year - DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys - I see the Cowboys dominating the NFC this year, and if DeMarcus Ware can put up 14 sacks again in the tough NFC East, he gets the nod.

Comeback Player of the Year - Isaac Bruce, 49ers - I'm not sure if this counts or not, but Bruce hasn't been in the news for a few years. Now, he is reunited with the man that made him a star, Mike Martz, on a team where even at age 35, he probably is the most talented WR. This could be a nice year that puts the cap on a hall of fame career.

Walter Payton Man of the Year - Jason Witten, Cowboys - I asked Ryan if he wanted to do this one too, since it's always fun to speculate who will do the most humanitarian work over the course of a season. Reggie Bush has been doing a lot of stuff like this lately, and I know Ryan wants to pick him, so I turned to the United Way website to find 4 videos of player helping kids. They were of Alex Smith of the 49ers, Brian Waters of the Chiefs, Jason Witten of the Cowboys, and Mike McKenzie of the Saints. Since this is an award for talent and humanitarian work, it eliminates Smith immediately, Waters is an unloved OL, and McKenzie has scary dreads, so I'm going with Witten.

Postseason Predictions
AFC Playoff Teams: 1. Chargers 2. Patriots 3. Colts 4. Steelers 5. Titans 6. Jaguars
NFC Playoff Teams: 1. Cowboys 2. Seahawks 3. Vikings 4. Saints 5. Giants 6. Packers

Wild Card Playoffs
Jaguars over Colts: The Jags stun the Colts on the Oil Field, Hoosiers forced to think about Matt Painter and Roy Hibbert
Steelers over Titans: Two similar strong defensive teams meet, but the Steelers pass attack and better running game makes the difference
Vikings over Packers: The Vikings defense shuts down the run and gives Aaron Rodgers nightmares for months
Giants over Saints: The Giants are going to have trouble putting pressure on Brees, but the Saints are due for an inconsistent game.

Divisional Playoffs
Jaguars over Chargers: The Chargers get an easy schedule wake up call from the Jags, blowing their chance to defeat the Patriots at home for the 2nd time in a year
Patriots over Steelers: I can see the Steelers trash talking the Patriots again like last year, the the Patriots finally going full speed and dominating them
Cowboys over Giants: In a rematch of last year, the Cowboys finally shake the demons and knock off the banged up and not nearly as hot Giants
Seahawks over Vikings: I really don't think Seattle is that great, but I can't imagine Tarvaris Jackson winning a road playoff game, especially in the home of the 12th man.

Conference Championships
Patriots over Jaguars: Just like last year, when San Diego came in extremely banged up, the Patriots luck out again by hosting the 6th seed for a trip to the Super Bowl. The Pats cash in.
Cowboys over Seahawks: Seattle puts up a surprising fight, but the Cowboys have just too much talent

Super Bowl XLIII
Patriots over Cowboys: Some history will be made here. The Patriots get their 4th Super Bowl title, putting them in the 60's Packers, 70's Steelers, 80's 49ers, 90's Cowboys discussion, while the Cowboys are denied a chance to win their record setting 6th Super Bowl in franchise history. As much as I'd hate to see this happen, because I've grown to hate the Patriots a lot over the past years, I'm also going to predict one bright spot to this. This will be the end of the Patriots dynasty. The defensive age will reach critical mass in 2009, maybe Brady gets hurt, maybe Belichick retires.....I just have a feeling after this season they sink back to a mediocre or perenial playoff loser.

Hopefully my picks turn out a little better than my atrocious baseball ones. It's kind of funny to see how baseball seems to have more parity than football these days, despite having a salary cap.

Links of the Day 9/5/08

Daunte Culpepper retires, depresses everyone. (Perhaps this is a time to look back at how Culpepper fell from grace.)

This is not unlike my recent attempts to complete the high jump, but for different reasons (I suck).

I'm not sure what one would purchase at a philosophy store, actually...

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Links of the Day 9/4/08

Terrance Newman of the Dallas Cowboys doesn't do so well on rides.

Alex Rodriguez becomes the first player to have a homerun reviewed by instant replay.... or was it?!

Manny Ramirez, translator.

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Yahoo! Auto-draft sucks. I think.

I'm part of a fantasy football league through Yahoo! Sports. I'm sure you all remember my compelling football articles throughout the past year, with all my football knowledge, so you know I'm going to absolutely kill my fellow fantasy football players... Or not. On a good day, I could probably name ten professional football teams. My biggest accomplishment last year was winning one week, but it was a bit of a fluke. I have no idea how points are calculated. I know nothing.

The league was an auto-draft league. Sure, I could set draft preferences, but I don't know that I could name ten football players, and if I could, they certainly wouldn't be any good, since I live in Minnesota, and that means the players I overhear mentioned are probably Vikings. So, I let Yahoo! take care of drafting my team.

My Offense, according to trends, is actually pretty good. The trend is what percentage of fantasy teams have picked up a guy. I've got Peyton Manning as my quarterback, and needless to say, he's owned at 100%. He's one of the two Manning Brothers. The lowest percetage owned on my offense starting line-up is 95% owned (some guy named Hines Ward who plays for the Pittsburgh...Penguins*). On the bench, 68% is the lowest number in the percentage owned category (some guy named Ted Ginn, Jr., of the Miami Dolphins--whom I shall henceforth call Tony Gwynn, Jr.). On my bench the lowest percentage owned is 68%, and there five guys on the offense bench. It should be noted, that I'm only guessing that "WR" is "wide receiver" and "RB" is "running back." I have no idea what "W/T" is--"weight-lifter/tap-dancer"? I know the QB--quarterback--position.

My kicker, Rob Bironas (of the Tennessee Somethings--Titans, perhaps), is 91% owned. His back-up is less popular at 57% owned, but how often are kickers used in the game? No, seriously, how often are they? Is having a good kicker vital to fantasy football? I have no idea! I'm pretending they don't.

But here's where Yahoo sports failed me. My one "D" position is filled by a guy who's 97% owned--hey! I've heard the name Jared Allen before! Oh, he plays for the Vikings, that's why. The next highest percentage is 61%--Terrenece Newman of the Dallas Cheerleaders--who is a "DB" (Defenesive Back, I presume). My two DL (Disabled List? Defensive Linemen?) guys are 11% and 14% owned. I have on guy on my bench, but he's at 0% owned. The only good point about my Defense is that I've got a guy named "Chike Okeafor", of the Arizona Something (Cardinals, I think. If I recall, they moved from St. Louis and weren't creative enough to come up with their own name).

The disparity between the popularity of my offense and defense makes me think that perhaps Yahoo auto-draft isn't set up well. It seems that rather than filling each position, and then coming back and filling the bench, they simply filled the offense, the bench for the offense, and then the kicker, and by the time they got to the defense, there was no one left. My guess is the other fantasy football owners in my league probably set up their draft to get all the positions filled with good guys, before letting auto-draft fill in the cracks.

It's a good think I wasn't planning on winning.

Oh, if anyone knows any defensive football players who are probably flying under the radar, I've got two empty bench spots open.

*One of my friends is a huge hockey fan. During baseball season, whenever she sees "PIT" she always thinks of the Penguins, leading to the great text message: "...the Yankees beat the Penguins". And after a few minutes of thought, I remembered that Pittsburgh has the Steelers. Right?

I had a better idea for a post planned for today, but I managed to leave my flash drive at home this morning and I can't remember what it was.

In other news: Today I found out that Rod Barajas and Randy Choate share my birth day. Ryan Spillborghs shares my birthday!

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Ryan's NFL Preview: NFC East

This division gets almost no publicity, so it'll be tough to dig up any pertinent information on these teams. That's what took me so long to get a post up today. That and 18 holes of golf.

Dallas Cowboys: I'm not sold on the Cowboys being a juggernaut, but Terrell Owens continues to be better than I ever think. If Patrick Crayton steps up to become the 'Boys' second receiver and Felix Jones is an adequate secondary back, Tony Romo (who is wildly overrated) will be fine. The defense is good as well, which it always seems to be. I don't know that they have the overwhelming talent everyone else does, and this will be a contentious division. And hey, who ate all the popcorn?
Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles are pretty much the same team they always are, except this time around they have a good ground game outside of Donovan McNabb. They have a good secondary, but I don't lknow how they are going to stop the run (Chris Gocong? Stewart Bradley? Former Twins pitcher Joe Mays?) I would lament the lack of a quality receiver, but it's never been a problem in the past, and apparently Desean Jackson is impressing. Barring a McNabb injury, the Eagles are probably a playoff team.

New York Giants: The Giants certainly played well in their last game. Unfortunately, this is still the same 9-7 team it was last year, only with a dramatically weakened defense and a suddenly confident Eli Manning. Expect more interceptions out of Manning and a struggle to reach .500, especially with this incredibly challenging division. Fortunately, every other team that could contend for the final wild card spot is terrible, so they could find their way into the playoffs again.

Washington Redskins: It's a pretty common theme this year in the NFL, of teams going out and improving parts of the roster that don't need the improvement. The Redskins have gone out and improved their defense, but their offense looks to be problematic at the very least. Any exposed weakness like this is going to be good enough to send a team to the bottom of the division. The Redskins may end up as the best 5-11 team ever.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Steve's NFL Preview: NFC East

I guess we're saving the best division for last. I would say the NFC East has a slight advantage over the AFC South just because all 4 of these teams have a realistic chance of making the playoffs, with 2 very capable of making the Super Bowl, while in the AFC South, you probably have 3 of 4 with shots at the playoffs with 2 capable of making it the Super Bowl. Also, just like the AFC South last year (and my prediction this year) I wouldn't be too surprised to see the NFC East have both wild cards.

1. Dallas Cowboys - The Cowboys looked like the class of the NFC last year until the Giants got hot at the end of the season and knocked them out of the playoffs. I don't see any reason why they would take too far of a step back this year, and that's why I think they'll take the division title again in 2008. The only concern I see is possibly at wide receiver, where their corps is just another year older. Julius Jones was replaced by Felix Jones at RB, and just because Jerry loves his Joneses, he added Adam "Don't call me Pac-Man" Jones. Jerry, whatever you do, DO NOT let Michael Irvin show Pac-man around Dallas.

2. New York Giants - Will the masters of maybe the greatest upset in NFL history be able to repeat their greatness? I think it could be a challenge. I have this feeling that they caught lightning in a bottle last year at just the right time, and they can't count on a run like that again this year. A large part of the Giants success, especially in the playoffs and the Super Bowl was their suffocating pass rush. Now that Michael Strahan is retired and Osi Umenyiora is out for the season, they probably won't have that asset. I still think the Giants could very well be the 2nd best team in the NFC and will definitely pick up at least a wild card spot.

3. Philadelphia Eagles - Last year, the Eagles started off pretty poorly but won their last 3 in a row to finish 8-8. They wound up having just a 2-7 record against playoff teams but were 6-1 against non-playoff teams, which is a good explanation as to why they finished where they did. This year if they followed the same trend, they could possibly go 9-7 or 10-6 with the help of their last place schedule and grab the last playoff spot. I think they could realistically start the year 5-2, which could prevent the yearly Donovan McNabb "no one likes me and I'm different because I'm black" sob story distraction that has successfully derailed the team the past few years. I fully expect that to happen sometime later in the season though.

4. Washington Redskins - The best last place team in the league this year. The Redskins are actually a pretty decent team, especially if they can get a little more production out of Jason Campbell this year. It can't make any 'Skins fan feel real comfortable that they had the ancient Todd Collins carry the team to the playoffs last year while their QB of the future was out with an injury. Despite all of this, I think the Redskins are probably looking at an 8-8 or 9-7 season that could set them up for a nice easy schedule in 2009.