Friday, October 31, 2008

Free Agents for the Twins to review


The MLB free agency period begins on the 14th. MLBtraderumors has a list of the free agent class. I am here to break it down for Twins fans and label the guys form it would be worth the Twins while to take a look at. I understand that sometimes it doesn't work out and free agents can't be signed, but these are the guys to take a run at.

Hank Blalock
Sean Casey
Rafael Furcal
Felipe Lopez
Casey Blake
Mike Lamb
Milton Bradley
Cliff Floyd
Sergio Mitre
LaTroy HawkinsAdd Image

Its a short list, and some of those names (Lamb and Hawkins) are probably unpalatable for Twins fans, but really, there are very few worthwhile free agents if you are a Twins fan or executive.
One last thing. DO NOT SIGH NICK PUNTO. DO NOT SIGN DAVID ECKSTEIN.

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Links of the Day 10/31/08

Mike Singletary is coaching his pants off.

The Vikes are awfully dysfunctional.

A forecast for the Cocktail Party tomorrow in Jacksonville.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Links of the Day 10/30/08

Something about this NFL season doesn't seem quite right.

Riots touch us all.

So that's what Vandersteegs were doing...

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Oh, Brother.

Last January, I had the privilege to attend a “Wild Unplugged” event. Two members of the Minnesota Wild appeared at a local eating establishment, and fielded questions from the fans. At that event, Branko Radivojevic and Mikko Koivu (who undisputedly has the “Most fun to say” name in the NHL) took the stage. Someone asked them whom they would pick, out of anyone in the NHL, to play for the Wild. Radivojevic picked Sidney Crosby. Mikko immediately picked his big brother, a guy you may have heard of: Montreal Canadiens’ Captain Saku Koivu.

Tonight, in St. Paul, the Brothers Koivu will appear in the same NHL arena at the same time--just on different teams--when the Montreal Candiens face the Minnesota Wild. Both brothers will also wear the letter “C” on their chests, designating them as captains of their respective teams. This is the first time brothers have been captains of their respective teams since 1987, so it’s nothing to sneeze at. (This was not known until the season begin, because the Wild name a new captain every month; although Koivu the Younger is the permanent Alternate Captain for the year.) They’re brothers; they’re both excellent hockey players, and have the leadership skills to be captains of a professional team.

But the Brothers Koivu didn’t grow up playing hockey together all the time. Saku is eight and a half years older than Mikko; Mikko was 10 when his big brother was drafted, and 11 when Saku left home to start his professional career. As adults, they’ve played on the same teams in Finland, but obviously never in the NHL. They play in different divisions and under different systems but I decided to compare their first three NHL seasons (note: NHL rules have changed through the years, which could affect same stats).

Saku was 20 when he made his NHL debut, while Mikko was 22 (when Mikko was 21, the NHL was in a lockout, so it’s hard to say whether he would’ve made his debut or not). In their first three years, they played nearly an equal number of games (201 for Saku, 203 for Mikko). Saku holds the edge in most categories: goals by 14, assists by 27, points by 41 (easy math!), power-play goals by 1, power-play assists by 10, short-handed goals and assists by 3 and 1 respectively, and game-winning goals by 4. Mikko leads his big brother, through the first three years, in points by 2 (+10), and penalty minutes by 14. Saku was the better player--possibly--through the first three years. Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate stats such as “minutes played” and as in most sports, defensive stats are hard to find, usually because they’re harder to calculate.

As for their leadership, Saku was named captain in his fifth year, while Mikko was named captain in his fourth. Again, that’s not a comparable fact, because Mikko was older entering the NHL. Even more important is the timing. The Canadiens name captains for the year, where the Wild name captains by the month (it does not have to change. Reports are surfacing that Mikko will hold the captaincy of the Wild in November as well). There would be more chances for Mikko to be named Captain than for Saku.

Tonight: Brother versus Brother. More importantly, which brother will Mr. and Mrs. Koivu be rooting for in St. Paul? It should be noted that Saku was in St. Paul last night to go out to dinner with his parents. Mikko was in Dallas playing in a hockey game.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Phillies win!


Congratulations to the Phillies on their World Series title. As for the rest of us, revert to hating the Phanatic.

(There will be no links today. I just moved, and I don't have the energy)

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Links of the Day 10/28/08

Game 5, postponed last night, is going to be suspended until at least Wednesday.

Psh. Someone call me when Jesse Ventura runs for office.

Roy Williams did some solid Halloweening.

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NFL Power Ranks: Week 8

Besides the Titans and Giants, it just seems like no one wants to be in the top 5. Teams that made appearances or flirted with it for the past few weeks have dropped down, only to be replaced by other teams that have flirted with the top 5. I guess now we'll just sit back and watch the teams that got bounced down the ranks this week make a comeback.

The Steelers, Bucs, and Bills all got knocked down this week with losses to the very good Giants, the shaky Cowboys, and the below average Dolphins. The new #3 is a former #3 and #4, the Panthers. The new #4 is a team that spent 3 weeks in a row in the top 5, the Redskins, only to fall out after a loss to the Rams and a bad win over the now not so bad looking Browns. The new #5 is now the new AFC East co-leader, and a former #4, the Patriots, who have shown some life on offense but still aren't the team they were last year. The Titans hold a nearly 10 point lead over the Giants, while the Giants hold a nearly 10 point lead over the Panthers, so they should both be in the top 5 for a long time.

I can't talk about the bottom 5 without discussing the just awful AFC West. The 4 teams are now ranked 24, 26, 27, and 29. Even though the Broncos are in first place at 4-3, they have only won 1 of thier last 4 games, and are near the bottom of the league in turnovers and defense. The actual teams in the bottom 5 didn't change this week, but the positions did. Some fiestier play by the Lions coupled with some horrible play by the Bengals have switched the 2 winless teams, while the 49ers are gradually sinker closer to those teams despite having 2 wins. The Seahawks are still in the bottom 5 despite winning....over the awful 49ers, but the win was enough for them to pass Kansas City for 28th.

The biggest gainers this week were Cleveland, who are now ranked #12 after playing much better the past few weeks, jumping 8 spots, and Dallas, who got a win over the #3 team to probably delay thier inevitable collapse. The biggest losers wer Jacksonville and San Diego, 2 playoff teams from last year that just can't get it together, both dropping 8 spots. Also, the Colts and Falcons dropped 7 spots. The Colts have gone for 28th, to 6th, back to 22nd in just 5 weeks.

Here are the ranks....

1. Titans - 87.14 - Even
2. Giants - 77.37 - Even
3. Panthers - 67.93 - +4
4. Redskins - 67.01 - +2
5. Patriots - 66.36 - +6
6. Eagles - 65.95 - +4
7. Steelers - 64.97 - -3
8. Bears - 64.49 - Even
9. Buccaneers - 61.30 - -6
10. Packers - 57.94 - +3
11. Bills - 57.54 - -6
12. Browns - 55.73 - +8
13. Jets - 55.14 - +4
14. Cowboys - 54.67 - +7
15. Dolphins - 54.35 - +4
16. Falcons - 54.23 - -7
17. Cardinals - 52.94 - -3
18. Saints - 52.20 - Even
19. Ravens - 49.24 - +4
20. Jaguars - 49.10 - -8
21. Texans - 48.39 - +4
22. Colts - 48.37 - -7
23. Vikings - 43.91 - -1
24. Chargers - 41.47 - -8
25. Rams - 37.24 - +1
26. Broncos - 37.05 - -2
27. Raiders - 30.95 - Even
28. Seahawks - 28.92 - +1
29. Chiefs - 27.80 - -1
30. 49ers - 19.61 - Even
31. Lions - 13.60 - +1
32. Bengals - 12.93 - -1

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Monday, October 27, 2008

The Rays have to dig deep


Carl Crawford: We've got to dig deep, B.J.
B.J. Upton: Yep, gotta dig deep.
CC: I think we can do this though. We're undefeated in games that Cliffy plays.
CC: Aw sh-t.

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Links of the Day 10/27/08

Joe Morgan might be bumped from the Sunday night baseball telecasts.

Can you believe people picked this team as a sleeper for the Super Bowl this year? The wheels are coming completely off.

I also think that there are just too few Condoleeza's in professional sports.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

About the Nittany Lions


Yesterday, the Penn State Nittany Lions nosed past the Ohio State Buckeyes. It was the Lions last real test for the remainder of the season, and with an undefeated record have a good chance at playing in the national title game should the Texas Longhorns or Alabama Crimson Tide stumble along the way. This has provided much angst for the critics of the Big Ten.
Here are the facts, though. Penn State can't dictate whether or not their opponents are any good, especially their conference rivals, and even major conference opponents like Oregon State or Syracuse, who were scheduled several years ago. Speaking of Oregon State, if you don't recall, they were the only team to beat USC, the team that whupped Ohio State.
Let's not let that slip by either. Yes, the Buckeyes were destroyed by USC, and yes the Lions only squeaked by the Buckeyes, but you can't discount the effect of playing at home and playing on the road. Purdue, for example, has lost by 25 at Northwestern, and then came home and held Penn State to what had been their lowest point total of the season. Northwestern then went on the road and lost to Indiana. USC, of course, lost in Corvallis. The circuitous point I'm trying to make here is that of course the Ohio State game was close. It was in Columbus. Also, the Lions did it without their starting quarterback!
If Alabama and Texas pass all their tests, then absolutely, they should in the national title game. The consensus is that their conferences are a more difficult, and by that measure, they are more deserving of a shot at the title. But if either school stumbles along the way, fails a test, then we should give the opportunity to Penn State to play in that national title. Penn State shouldn't be punished for the crimes of their conference.

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Links of the Day 10/26/08

The Phillies took game 2, and it was nothing like you would expect.

Also, this is by far the image of the Series. Go Rays!

Now, make sure if you want to send the Times an e-mail, you are physically capable of doing so.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Victoria Times Medical Minute


I understand that the NFL locker room is an unsanitary place, and the violent game that football is lends to open sores, surgeries and things like that, but the latest leaguewide staph outbreak seems a little ridiculous. No, not ridiculous in the "it's horrible that so many people are getting staph" but in the "people seem to almost be giddy to have gotten staph."
First, it was Kellen Winslow upset that nobody in the Cleveland Browns organization was bragging about his staph. Next, the reports were out, telling us how courageous Tom Brady was, contending with his staph. Not to be outdone, Peyton Manning came out the other day to say "Oh yeah?! I had the staph too!" Have some class guys, nobody likes a guy who brags about his staph.
But seriously, the good news is that the staph was discovered quickly, as there are certain strains that can prove fatal, such as MRSA. I suppose this is one of those stories that makes me glad to not be a professional athlete.

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Links of the Day 10/25/08

Manny Legace will not be voting for McCain/Palin.

Could we see a rain delay or postponement for the World Series?

It appears there is some sort of steroid scandal now in the NFL.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Breaking down the World Series, statistically

I'm not sure why this hasn't been mentioned in the wide array of statistical analysis on this years World Series (for example, the Phillies are 1/28 with runners in scoring position). In my mind, this is the only stat that matters.

In games that Cliff Floyd plays, the Rays are 1-0. When he doesn't, the Rays are 0-1. Coincidence? Absolutely not.

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Links of the Day 10/24/08

Billy Beane, in charge of the nation's health care? Hey, why not.

I wouldn't link to this story if it weren't for the fact that Sage Steele said "blunts" on Sports center this morning.

Oh, also, the Rays won Game 2.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Links of the Day 10/23/08

The Phillies, they have won game 1.

Apparently, girls can't play football. It's in the Bible.

What do Brock Lesnar and Miggy Tejada have in common?

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Barry Bonds

Pretty much the players' union says that teams acted in concert against Barry Bonds by not signing an agreement. Most people know Barry Bonds case: he's been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs while it was illegal in baseball. He's denied it, but there seems to be circumstantial evidence that he did it--probably not enough to convict him, but similar to the way a parent knows a child is lying, most people believe Bonds is probably lying, too. There's just too much that sounds too fishy in his case. Moving on.

From the article:
"There were numerous things that occurred that made me believe that the clubs were acting in concert," Bonds’ agent, Jeff Borris, said Thursday. "When I testify as a witness in the case, I will delineate each and every one of them."
...
"Bonds was indicted last Nov. 15 on charges related to 2003 grand jury testimony during which he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs...Bonds pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of making false declarations to a federal grand jury and one count of obstruction of justice, and his trial is scheduled to start March 2."
...
Weiner said the section that had been violated was Article XX (e) of the collective bargaining agreement, which states, in part: “Players shall not act in concert with other players and clubs shall not act in concert with other clubs.” Weiner would not say how long the agreement runs to allow the union to file a grievance.

Baseball attorneys repeatedly have denied that teams acted in concert against Bonds.
….
"I am convinced based on MLB’s actions in 2008 that they will never let him wear a major league uniform ever again," he said.


I’m pretty sure they’ll never let Barry wear a uniform again. Even if he is innocent (and I’m not ruling it out), his reputation has taken such a hit that, in people’s perceptions, he’ll never be clean again. This is something a lot of teams can’t afford. Small-market teams, like the Tampa Bay {Devil} Rays, Kansas City Royals, etc., try to keep a clean and family-friendly atmosphere on their teams. They don’t want to have to force parents to explain to six-year-old Timmy that the “awesome player who hits millions of home runs every game” may have cheated. Timmy will hear it on the news when watching the game, and ask questions. They’ll push Timmy towards less-complex sports, like hockey where the naughty boys who fight get a time-out, of football, where if they’re too mean, they get sent back to where they started and have to do it all over and be nicer (hey, that’s how I’d explain a penalty to a six-year-old).

Larger-market teams, like the New York Yankees have often taken media hits for “buying” the best players, and may not want to take that risk. It’s one thing to lure Roger Clemens out of retirement before his reputation took a hit. It’s another thing to sign Barry Bonds after his reputation has taken a hit. It’s one thing to have Jason Giambi, who admitted taking steroids--honesty goes a long way in fans’ minds--but another to have someone whom everyone “knows” took them, but refuses to admit it.

If you want to know why I suspect that Bonds took steroids, see this article from ESPN in 2004. Bonds personal trainer, Greg Anderson, was the one who supplied Giambi (and his brother Jeremy) with steroids. I just find it beyond believable that Anderson would not also work to convince Bonds to take steroids. If Bonds didn’t want to take steroids, it strikes me that he would’ve worked with a trainer not involved in steroids. Unless they all are, in which case, we have a huge problem.

Just like Giambi said, without implicating Bonds: "You know, I assumed because he's Barry's trainer -- you know, Barry -- but he never said one time, 'This is what Barry's taking, this is what Barry's doing.' He never gave up another name that he was dealing with or doing anything with."

Here’s where it gets a little tricky.

Giambi said Anderson described "the cream" and "the clear" as "an alternative to steroids, but it doesn't show on a steroid test."

"And he started talking about that it would raise your testosterone levels, you know, which would basically make it a steroid ... or maybe he said it's an alternative of taking an injectable steroid. That might be a better way to put it," he said.

It could be that Bonds was naïve (stupid?) enough to not realize what Giambi did: these were not an alternative to a steroid, they were a steroid of a different feather. In which case he’s denying taking steroids because he doesn’t want to admit that he was duped.

Anyway, back to the point, I don’t think the owners acted in concert, necessarily. Even if they did, I think it was just a matter of a situation they were all faced with. If they didn’t talk to each other, like they claim, it’s a very reasonable that all 30 owners/owner groups/general managers came up with the same conclusion: they didn’t want to deal with the media frenzy that Barry Bonds would bring to their team.

World Series prediction? Well, here's the unscientific discussion: The Devil Rays have three former Twins on their roster, including the guy with the best name ever for a pitcher: Grant Balfour. The Phillies have one former Twins, who made 100% of Twins fans cringe in fear when he took the mound. The Rays have Mohawks, which are hideous in general. The Phillies have rubber ducks, which are cute. The Phillies also helped the Grounds Crew with the tarp in '07, so they're endeared to me, but they also beat the Mets, whom I'm fond of. Both the Rays and the Phillies mascots are scary. The tie-breaker goes to the Rays, who avearge 6.48 letters per last name, compared to the Phillies 5.84.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why I hate country music

They have been playing a lot of country at work lately, and I haven't fully expressed my disdain for this as I would have liked there, and really, for the world, I figured I would go ahead and lay out the three primary reasons I do not like this particular brand of music.

- It is driven by singing and lyrics. Most other genres have an element of instrumentation, either performed or synthesized. I don't know that I can think of one good country guitar riff, just pained, bellowing singing with a not so subtle accent.

- There hasn't been anything revolutionary over the course of the past 10 years. Country just seems to have a sameness to it. Hip hop, Rock, Pop all of this sounds different than it did 10 years ago. Country? Not so much.

- I don't like fiddles.

So, to tie this into sports, at the top is the logo for the Stetson University Hatters, and also, my prediction for the World Series: Philly in 6.

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Links of the Day 10/22/08

A microcosm of the Pirates existence for the past 20 years, all in a brief spot from Apple.

The Big Picture continues to be excited about the Rays trip to the World Series.

The angry T is chock full of prop bets.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

If I were the GM : Anthony Dunkel

I branched out to the rest of the Victoria Enterprises community, and Anthony Dunkel, one of the meteorologists at Victoria-Weather, agreed to submit his ideas on what his team, the Chicago Cubs. His words are below the Cubs logo.


Well considering [Ryan] Dempster and [Kerry] Wood are free agents and were 2 of our best pitchers all year, we have to resign them. I’m sure neither of them would want to go anywhere, especially Wood, so I don’t think it’ll be overly hard in getting them to resign. Otherwise, I’m not really sure I’d want to change anything from what we had last year.
I’d rather talk about why we started Fukudome in both games 1 and 2 when he’d been so awful down the stretch the last 2 months and Reed Johnson was performing very well. Need to score runs to win games, and ‘dome wasn’t going to be knocking any of them in. And also about starting Dempster over Zambrano for game 1. Granted Dempster was the more consistent pitcher during the season and excellent at home, but Zambrano has been our club ace for the last few seasons and can get up for a big game. and we needed to keep the crowd into it for Game 1, which Zambrano could do.

So not a whole lot for the Cubs to look forward to, it sounds.

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Links of the Day 10/21/08

Marian Gaborik could be hitting the road before too long.

It's pretty clear why Mike Nolan was let go.

The mean streets of rural Nebraska have corrupted young Joba Chamberlain.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

NFL Power Ranks: Week 7

Week 7 was the week of the high scoring blowout, and the Cardinals (now #1 in the league in scoring average) didn't even play. Some of the results were pretty shocking. Green Bay beating the former #6 Colts by 20? New England over Denver 41-7? Dallas getting destroyed by the Rams?!?! And who would have thought that the Bears and Vikings would combine to score 89 points? That just goes to show you that the NFL is completely insane. The only constant is the Kerry Collins led Tennessee Titans....

The Titans, the only undefeated team, still hold a very comfortable lead in the ranks. The Giants and Buccaneers both beat bad NFC West teams, but the Giants win was enough to leap over the Bucs for #2, while the Bucs are now #3. The Redskins took a small step back after their ugly win over Cleveland, falling to #6, allowing the Steelers to move up to #4, and to quote Chris Berman, "Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills," who moved into #5 after an impressive win over San Diego.

The Rams and Raiders escaped the bottom 5 with their wins this week. They didn't move too far up the ranks, but their point totals give them a lot of breathing room over the new bottom 5, who will probably be hanging out there for a while. The Chiefs make a grand return to the bottom 5 after a pathetic showing vs. the Titans, and the now Samurai Mike led 49ers sink all the way to #30 after losing their 4th in a row. Seattle, Cincy, and Detroit's awful seasons continue.

The biggest gainers this week were Green Bay, jumping 9 spots after a huge win over Indy, Chicago, who jumped 8 spots after their crazy shootout (they could easily be 7-0), and New England, who also jumped 8 spots after their huge win tonight. The biggest losers were the Colts, falling 9 spots after rising 15 last week. Since I'm a controls engineer, its like the sports equivalent of overshoot correction. Also, the Cowboys fell 9 spots as they rapidly unravel. Something else to note is that NFC West leader Denver is now ranked 24th.

1. Titans - 86.74 - Even
2. Giants - 73.37 - +1
3. Buccaneers - 71.34 - -1
4. Steelers - 70.88 - +1
5. Bills - 68.55 - +3
6. Redskins - 66.47 - -2
7. Panthers - 65.45 - +6
8. Bears - 65.22 - +8
9. Falcons - 65.01 - -2
10. Eagles - 62.74 - Even
11. Patriots - 59.92 - +8
12. Jaguars - 59.02 - -1
13. Packers - 58.57 - +9
14. Cardinals - 55.65 - Even
15. Colts - 51.75 - -9
16. Chargers - 49.90 - -7
17. Jets - 49.35 - -2
18. Saints - 49.16 - -1
19. Dolphins - 48.04 - -1
20. Browns - 46.90 - +1
21. Cowboys - 45.59 - -9
22. Vikings - 42.44 - +1
23. Ravens - 40.98 - +1
24. Broncos - 38.49 - -4
25. Texans - 38.16 - +1
26. Rams - 37.90 - +3
27. Raiders - 34.18 - +1
28. Chiefs - 27.02 - -1
29. Seahawks - 23.63 - +1
30. 49ers - 23.16 - -5
31. Bengals - 15.41 - Even
32. Lions - 13.13 - Even

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Links of the Day 10/20/08

Mike Alsott had his number retired by the Tampa Bay Bucs. Whoever that is.

This video is amazing. That ref has good tackling form.

"Brad Childress" has a blog.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cliff Floyd is in the World Series!

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Technical Difficulties at Victoria Enterprises

At around 2 this morning, one of the computers we use here for the Times and Victoria-Weather took a shart, not unlike Purdue yesterday or the Colts today. In any case, the other computer, not this one, obviously, housed a lot of our files for longer term projects. Right now, we're in the process of harvesting the hard drive from the old computer, and if that works, great, you shouldn't see any problems. If not? I may need some time away to fix some stuff. Or break some stuff because of rage. But hopefully not. Thanks for reading.

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Links of the Day 10/19/08

Some minor difficulties during the baseball game last night, not the least of which that the Red Sox won again.

A few Twins rumors extracted from the Pioneer Press.

The Boikermakers were pathetic yesterday, even worse than I could have imagined.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Who is Antti Miettinen?


The Wild are three games into the season, and I keep hearing the same question over and over. Where did Antti Miettinen come from (it usually takes the asker 3-4 times to get "Miettinen" right)? It's a legitimate question, the guy leads the teams in goals scored already, with 5, which is actually tied for second in the league. Well, let's run through a few Antti Miettinen fun facts.

- Originally from Finland.

- Played in Dallas the last few years, where he tended to get 10-15 goals a season. Before that, he played with European powerhouse HPK, scoring around 25 goals a season.

- According to Wikipedia, he has two brothers, a sister and a cat. No word on the name or breed of the cat.

- Sort of looks like that guy who builds houses on "Extreme Makeover"

- Second Antti in Minnesota Wild history, after Antti Laaksonen

Now that you know a thing or two about Antti Miettinen, I have no doubt that he will become your favorite player.

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Links of the Day 10/18/08

It always strikes me as odd when the talking heads are busted for things like this. Makes them seem a little hypocritical, no?

I'm confused by the Brewers' managerial decisions.

This is too bad. College basketball's tallest player is probably done with basketball after having part of his foot amputated.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Make or Break

Tomorrow's (or today's, depending on the time zone), game at Northwestern is a game that will define the rest of the season for Purdue fans. Thus far in the season, the Boilermakers had far too many problems in their wins over Northern Colorado and Central Michigan, were a disaster against Notre Dame, blew a game against Oregon (who is from a conference that traditionally plays poorly this side of the Rockies) but conversely, learned to play defense against the two top teams in the conference, Ohio State and Penn State.
This game in Evanston will certainly be a challenge, albeit not quite like the one provided by Penn State or Ohio State, but rather a winnable challenge. While the Boilermakers have showed some promise in the last two weeks, most of the Gold and Black faithful recognize this as a classic let down game. Even though this particular squad is nowhere near the one from 2004, this has the hallmarks of the Northwestern game that year, with two very tough match ups leading into the road trip to Evanston. It didn't go so well.
The stakes that year, actually, were less than what they are this year. In 2004, there were still a couple winnable games left on the schedule, and the record was 5-2, which meant only one more win was needed to be bowl eligible. This year, the Boilers come into the game 2-4, needing 4 more wins to be bowl eligible for Joe Tiller's last season at the helm. The only way this appears possible is with wins in their three remaining home games (which won't be a cakewalk, with Minnesota feisty this year and Purdue capable of losing to Michigan no matter how bad they are) and one on the road. Northwestern this week looks to be the only winnable game, with back to back trips to Michigan State and Iowa.
I said in the opening paragraph that this will define what happens for the remainder of the season for Purdue fans. If Purdue wins, it will keep heart rates high, as there will still be something riding on the season, even if it is one last trip to Detroit for the Motor City Bowl for Joe Tiller. If Northwestern wins, it means that the remainder of the season will be enjoyed purely because football is a fun game. Also, Joe Tiller's career could potentially end with a win over Indiana, which would suit me just fine.
Mostly, though, it's just depressing that a game against Northwestern could make or break the season, and really, it could go either way.

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Links of the Day 10/17/08

The NFL is for pansies, just ask Troy Polamalu.

I like what Jay Cutler has to say about Philip Rivers. I can't say I disagree.

In case you didn't watch any baseball yesterday...

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Links of the Day 10/16/08

The Phillies are going the World Series! Ironically, neither Jimmy Rollins or Ryan Howard deserve the MVP this year. Also, nice job ESPN experts!

I noticed this and was also annoyed. Come on ESPN, help us out a little bit.

Gardenhire looks to be extended. Take that for what it's worth.

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If I Ran the Circus

A little over a week ago, Ryan posed a question to all of us:
what would you do if you were GM?
I’m indecisive, and way too nice of a person to be a GM, so it’s a good thing I can write about this from the comfort (?) of my office.

I don’t know where to go, so I’m just going to break it down position by position. And for whatever reason, I'm able to analyze pitchers the best, because there are more concrete stats (fielding stats are difficult, and for non-pitchers, defense is important to me).

Catcher
We really need an upgrade here. Our starting catcher is Joe Mauer, and, as everyone knows, among catchers, his batting average and on-base-percentage was leading. But what really matters, above all else, is that he only hit nine home runs. Expensive singles hitter is all he is. Oh, sorry. I’m still making fun of the fan I overheard talking early in the 2008 season. With Redmond backing Mauer up, it would be hard to upgrade at this position.

First Baseman
The Twins really didn’t have a back-up first baseman. This really didn’t become an issue because Justin Morneau didn’t get hurt. He’s also early in his six-year contract, so there’s not much of a reason to get concerned about this position. His defense, from my view, never really seemed to get worse, but his hitting tapered off in September. I think it would behoove the Twins to make sure they have a quality back-up. Fortunately, Cuddyer should be healthy in 2009, and also under contract, so there is a viable option there. As there’s a back-up for Cuddyer in right field, this would not be an issue.

Second Base
Gotta say, I’m happy with Alexi Casilla there. After his injury, he seemed a bit too anxious to be back, or possibly it was the wear of the long season. The kid is the fifth youngest on the 40-man roster, so age and maturity may help him concentrate more. I’m still in favor of trusting him for the year, as long as there is a quality utility player.

Shortstop
Nick Punto held that position this year, but most by default. These are the 2008 Twins shortstops, in order of games played: Punto, Brendan Harris (who also had the second-most starts at second base, and third-most at third base), Adam Everett, Matt Tolbert, and Alexi Casilla. As right now our only options are Punto and Tolbert, I would not mind if the Twins picked up/traded for a quality shortstop, defensively. Punto had a great 2008 (it’s true!), but his career stats should make anyone a little hesitant to right his name in ink for the season. That being said, if there’s no reasonable option, Punto could hold down the position, as they bring value defensively.

Third Base
Like shortstop, if we find a reasonable option--in terms of cost, whether free agent or trade--I’d like that. However, I don’t see a Brian Buscher/Brendan Harris tandem at third the worst thing in the world. Neither are power-hitting third baseman, but meh. I’ve been a Twins fan for over 20 years. I’m not sure what the team would do with power. They’ve won a World Series with power (1987) and without (1991). Besides, Brendan Harris is the only player, other than Neshek, whom I have hope of seeing tall socks on a player. Call me shallow if you like, but these things do count! (A friend and I were once going to set up a fantasy team based entirely on guys who wore tall socks. But we didn’t.)

Utility Infielders
Here’s where it’s tricky. I have room for one utility infielder in my roster (if you consider the Harris/Buscher tandem at third as solid, and not Harris as a utility player). Cuddyer counts as an outfielder, but he could fill in at first, and Ron Gardenhire expressed a desire to see spend time practicing at first. If you consider Harris a utility player, between Tolbert, Punto, and Harris, one of ‘em won’t be on the roster. (If a third baseman is picked up, Buscher won’t make the team, either.) If a shortstop is picked up, I would like to see Punto and Harris as the utility players.

Outfield
There’s Michael Cuddyer, Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, Delmon Young, and Jason Kubel. Six outfielders is ridiculous, with a capital I, so we’ll list Kubel as the Designated Hitter. It still seems a bit much, but Cuddyer is under contract and a clubhouse leader (something that can’t be ignored), and Span proved his ability to hit, run, and play defensively, and Gomez and Young are the two youngest guys on the 40-man roster. (Although that will change in the off-season, I’m certain; there are guys who will be removed, and kids put on.) I’d like to see Span rotating through the outfield, giving the other guys days off (so Span would play often). I like Span’s defense; certainly better than Cuddyer in right, but I like Cuddyer’s arm in right field, and if he hits for power, that would be the moment that pushes him over the edge. The Twins need right-handed hitters. The outfield is over-crowded, so a trade there might not be the worst thing--unfortunately, the only one who’s not young is also mentioned as a clubhouse leader and role model for the very young clubhouse. This makes a trade much more difficult.

The Starters
Twinsgeek posted an article entitled: "Q&A: A Veteran Starting Pitcher". Someone asked if the Twins would sign on a veteran pitcher this off-season. It was pointed out that they've historically done this every year (prompting someone to ask, "The real question is, will the Rockies again pick up the failed vet after the Twins release him mid-season?" because they've picked up Ramon Ortiz and Livan Hernandez the past two years). Back in 2003 they picked up Kenny Rogers--no, not that one, this one--for a left-handed starter, despite the fact that they had a left-handed kid in the bullpen who started 14 games in 2002, with a 7-4 record, 3.13 ERA. Hindsight shows it was a good move to bring in a veteran, because the kid never really did much because in 2003: he only went 12-3 in 18 starts (45 total games) with 3.07 ERA. That started his all-too-brief Twins career that only consisted of two unanimous Cy Young awards and pitching Triple Crown in ‘06; the Twins traded him in January 2008.

2008’s pitching staff was quite young, but not overly so. The elder member of the five is Scott Baker, who turned 27 in September. But is he that young? Johan Santana was 27 the year he won his second Cy Young. Granted, he wasn't the youngest member of the pitching rotation (Brad Radke, Kyle Lohse, and Mike Smith were older. Smith only pitched one game in August, so discount him if you like). Nick Blackburn is only five months younger than Baker. Francisco Liriano is a year younger Baker and Glen Perkins is only a year and a half younger than Baker. (Kevin Slowey is the baby, over two and a half years younger than Baker.) If these five start the season next year, the "baby" of the rotation would be just under 25, and the "old man" would be 27. That's not veteran by any means, but the Twins wouldn't be throwing toddlers on the mound. They've all been playing the game a long time.

Three of the members of the 2008 rotation (Baker, Liriano, and Slowey) turned in ERAs under 4.00--according to Yahoo Sports, the league average was 4.32. Blackburn’s 4.05 fits under the league average, and Perkins 4.41 is just over. This makes their total ERA 3.96 for 2008, in 753 innings (If your starting pitchers are all going six innings, that would be 972 innings; recall that Perkins and Liriano had 160 minor league innings last year, too). For young guys, who presumably will improve, this is a very encouraging sign.

If reasonable trades for third baseman or shortstops needed to include a quality pitcher, I’d be grudgingly willing to let go of either Perkins or Blackburn. Let me stress for the right deal. (Of the other three, only for an absolutely insane offer: the Mets offer us Jose Reyes and David Wright for Slowey, it would hurt, but I’d do it. Baker won’t be discussed, because he’s mine!) To fill in the extra role, I’d be okay with a decent (not suspect) veteran signing. Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, Brian Duensing, Anthony Swarzak, or Boof Bonser might be able to fill the role, but the thought makes me a tad bit queasy. I’d prefer them in the background in case (knock on wood) we need them to replace an injured starter.

Bullpen
Here’s where things get tricky. Joe Nathan is the closer. That’s done. Pat Neshek will be back--no, really, he will! (I hope.) Jesse Crain will be back, and his second year from surgery (and a contract year, if my math is right), he should be more of the solid pitcher we saw earlier in his career. Boof Bonser and Philip Humber (out of options) seem like reasonable choices for the bullpen--although, if either of them have good trade value, it should be done. For lefties, it’s time to say good-bye to Reyes, with a friendly hug for filling his position so well. For lefty relievers, Craig Breslow is intriguing. From watching him, he’s not that dominant, not that overpowering…but he was also someone who got the job done, and usually without huge panics. Add to that list Jose Mijares, who by all rights shouldn’t have been a September call-up. Last winter, he broke his shoulder in a car accident. Many of us felt that if he made it to his 2007 level--AA (he did play a few games at AAA, but not a significant number)--we would consider it an astounding success. Instead, he came back even better, flying through rookie league, high A, and settling in at AA for eleven games before his September call-up. I say, give the boy a shot as a second lefty. And finally, Matt Guerrier. I say keep him for another year. If Guerrier goes, and there’s not a decent reliever out there, that’s the place for Bobby Korecky, but that’s for sentimental reasons, but Julio DePaula is also an option.

Conclusion
Here is the conclusion of the whole matter: If a reasonable option (in price or trade value, defense, and offense) can be found at short and/or third, jump at the chance. The rotation is fine, although one piece could be traded for the right deal. A few members of the bullpen could be traded (specifically Humber and Bonser) for reasonable offers, and Breslow, for the right offer. If a trade can be worked in the outfield, it should be done, and another infielder should be added.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

If I were the GM: Al

If I were the GM is going to be a semiregular piece for as long as I feel like it through the offseason.
I posed this question to my coworker Al (bringing out the heavy hitters!), who is a Twins fan. His thoughts on what the Twins should do are below:

I look to add another consistent power hitter, while keeping the batting order, for the most part, in place. We have some young talent that showed this year. Delmon was a little disappointing this year but he will turn it around. I didn’t like the rumors that we were looking to deal him. Upgrade the bullpen by getting rid of Matt Guerrier (9-17 career, 5.19 ERA this year, 3 saves over his five year career) and Craig Breslow (0-4 career and really doesn’t have anything special). I might also consider adding a veteran starting pitcher depending on who is out there. It would have to be someone good and reliable to make it worth our while because we have some good talent in that position too.


Thanks Al! I'll be publishing more of these over the coming days, so drop me an e-mail (thevictimes[at]gmail.com) and we'll include what you would do if you were the GM, and of course, we'll be including some other folks from the internet! In the comments, go ahead and let Al know what you you think, agree, disagree, etc.

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Links of the Day 10/15/08

Pete Rose... what a saint.

Perhaps it's time for Brandon Stokely to sit a few plays out.

I'm a little scared of Pittsburgh.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Links of the Day 10/14/08

The tragic death of a 19 year old New York Rangers prospect has the hockey world rattled. (In less important hockey news, my old schoolmate Andrew Alberts was traded to Philadelphia)

Vitali Klitschko actually beats the piss INTO people

Brad Childress still can't express human emotion.

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NFL Power Ranks: Week 6

This week saw a pretty incredible stumble by the NFC East, and the beginnings of a rise of the AFC South. The Giants incredible blowout loss last night to the Browns wasn't even the most surprising upset involving a NFC East team. The previously #31 ranked Rams got their first win in #3 Washington. The Cowboys also got beat in Arizona, and the Eagles got a win in San Francisco but were losing in the 4th quarter. These games obviously had an impact on the top and bottom 5.

The Giants first loss cost them the #1 spot, moving the idle and undefeated Titans to the top spot. The Giants were also passed by Tampa Bay, who destroyed previously #4 ranked Carolina. The Giants didn't fall too far, just down to #3, and surprisingly, the Redskins upset only cost them 1 spot, moving down to #4. The idle Steelers moved into the #5 spot after the Cowboys loss.

St. Louis's win jumped them 2 spots to #29, passing the winless Bengals (#31) and the just awful Seahawks (#30). Houston's first win of the year over Miami moved them out of the bottom 5, replaced by the Raiders after their blowout loss in New Orleans.

The Colts had the biggest single week ranking jump since I started doing these ranks, rising 15 spots from #21 all the way to #6. Why? The Colts finally looked like the team that has been a contender for the last 9 years this week, and their offensive and defensive ranks improved dramatically in their domination of Baltimore. San Diego and Jacksonville each jumped 8 spots for getting a blowout win over the defending AFC Champs and winning at first place Denver, respectively. The biggest losers this week were the losers of the San Diego and Jacksoville games, New England and Denver, each dropping 10 spots. Despite being 4-2 and in first place, the Broncos are ranked #20 because of their horrible defense and turnover ratios. They have also so far had a pretty weak schedule in a weak division. The Panthers also dropped 9 spots when the Bucs made them look like pretenders (at least for this week). On to the ranks...

1. Titans - 84.71 - +1
2. Buccaneers - 70.93 - +6
3. Giants - 70.04 - -2
4. Redskins - 68.34 - -1
5. Steelers - 66.37 - +1
6. Colts - 65.17 - +15
7. Falcons - 64.16 - +4
8. Bills - 63.80 - -1
9. Chargers - 62.41 - +8
10. Eagles - 61.61 - +6
11. Jaguars - 58.95 - +8
12. Cowboys - 58.47 - -7
13. Panthers - 57.46 - -9
14. Cardinals - 56.97 - -1
15. Jets - 55.21 - Even
16. Bears - 54.47 - -4
17. Saints - 53.75 - +6
18. Dolphins - 53.56 - -4
19. Patriots - 50.43 - -10
20. Broncos - 49.85 - -10
21. Browns - 49.09 - +4
22. Packers - 47.23 - Even
23. Vikings - 43.62 - -3
24. Ravens - 36.62 - -6
25. 49ers - 30.62 - -1
26. Texans - 29.45 - +3
27. Chiefs - 28.62 - Even
28. Raiders - 28.36 - -2
29. Rams - 24.90 - +2
30. Seahawks - 24.23 - -2
31. Bengals - 16.91 - -1
32. Lions - 10.90 - Even

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Cliff Floyd continues to grab headlines


This has been a fairly interesting postseason, from the Brewers reaching the playoffs for the first time in 25 years to the rumble last night between Philadelphia and Los Angeles. It almost takes the attention for the Victoria Times staff away from Cliff Floyd. Look! He's in a verbal spat with David Ortiz!
"I'm telling you, I saw faces different tonight than what I saw in the regular season." Ortiz noted.
"If we lose, we lose because we didn't perform. Not one person out here is scared," Rays DH and semi-Papi Cliff Floyd said before Game 2 on Saturday at the Trop. "Scared of what? We weren't supposed to do nothing, remember?"
Wow! None of that made any sense! The article goes on.
"I haven't studied nobody's face the whole damn season - my whole career. The only person I try to study is the pitcher."
He added, "I can tell you one thing, and this is from the bottom of my heart - we were expletive ready to play yesterday. We just got beat - by a good team and a good pitcher. Period."
The best part is that the way this was written, it appears that Cliffy actually said "expletive". More on this as it develops, particularly if I ever figure out what the big deal is.

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Links of the day 10/13/08

Sometimes the most entertaining part of a video game is the glitches. I particularly enjoyed the flying, possessed safety.

Tony Romo, out for a month.

The seeming lack of motivation at Clemson would fit in just fine at Purdue.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

What is Chris Berman's fascination with Christopher Columbus?

It seems that every time Chris Berman has been on ESPN this week, he makes sure to mention that this was Columbus Day weekend, making him the only person in the world who cared that this was Columbus Day weekend. I am absolutely baffled as to why he feels the need to keep bringing this up. It's weird even by Berman's standards. Some ideas as to why he latched on to Columbus.

- They share the same first name.

- They have a similar career arc: Take a hair brained scheme that, in retrospect, seems rather fundamental and ride it's success. Later in life, be remembered for being an insufferable prick.

- Young Chris Berman sported the same haircut as Chris Columbus.

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Links of the Day 10/12/08

The Wild win their first game of the season against Boston. If you were curious, here's what Kevin and I and Kevin's cat had to say about the upcoming season.

Again, speaking of the the NHL, the Wild get to play the guys wearing this jersey next.

The Gophers get the surprise victory over Illinois yesterday. That's called an "upset".

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Don't Fret Charlie....


There's absolutely no shame in losing to both Michigan State and North Carolina. Tom Izzo and Roy Williams are 2 of the best coaches in college and oh....wait....this is football. At least you'll get another chance to prove yourself against Jim Boeheim later this year....oops my mistake again. Nice schedule, enjoy your Gator Bowl ass-kicking.

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Links of the Day 10/11/08

Since Ryan is at a wedding today for one of his friends and commissioner of fantasy sports leagues that I like to dominate, I'm taking care of the links. Now that I live in Arizona (and thanks to the magic of the timestamp), it's still the 11th here...

Holy Toledo! Does Purdue have a chance to beat Michigan this year? Probably not...

Thanks, Ambiorix, really appreciated. AJ Pierzynski can send you a lovely fruit basket.

This global warming thing is out of control...

Since I typed the Weis thing first, this post is actually the 900th in the site's history. Thanks for reading.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Thank you, Star Tribune

I am back home for a couple days for a friends' wedding (which means that I actually am blogging from my mother's basement tonight!) One of the benefits to this is that I am treated to the morning paper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Of course, they had this giant picture on the front page of the sports section:
Gross. Just what I want to see with my waffles in the morning. In all seriousness though, it was associated with a piece by Jim Souhan, investigating the increasingly violent game that is professional fooball.

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Links of the Day 10/10/08

I would have thought, of all the Twin Cities radio personalities, I would have thought it Tom Bernard that would say this.

There seems to be an alarming trend of fatal car accidents in the Dominican Republic involving major league athletes.

Forbes runs down the 10 most likely franchises to move. Avert your eyes, Vikings fans.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

NFL Power Ranks: Week 5

Another week, another dominant performance by the New York Football Giants. Their impressive win over Seattle this week vaulted them to an even higher score and gave them a little more breathing room over 5-0 Tennessee. Buffalo's drubbing in Arizona knocked them out of the #2 spot down to #7, and which allowed Washington, Carolina, and Dallas to move up after Tampa's close loss to the Broncos.

The bottom 4 remained unchanged, with the Lions falling even deeper into the pits, now with a score below 10 for the first time in the short history of my computerized power rankings. The Colts crazy comeback win over Houston allowed them to escape the bottom 5, being replaced by listless Seattle.

The big gainers this week were Arizona and New England, who jumped 8 and 7 spots respectively. Arizona got that big win over undefeated Buffalo while New England finally showed some life on offense as they beat the 49ers. The biggest losers were the former #1 Eagles who dropped 8 spots when they fell deeper into last in the powerful NFC East, and New Orleans, who dropped 11 spots after losing to Minnesota at home. New Orleans is looking like the Arizona of last year....a very up and down team that hovers around the 50-point total and in turn jumps a lot of teams and falls behind a lot of teams depending on what they do. Here are the complete ranks:

1. Giants - 88.40 - Even
2. Titans - 83.73 - +1
3. Redskins - 81.01 - +1
4. Panthers - 71.76 - +2
5. Cowboys - 68.15 - +2
6. Steelers - 65.89 - +3
7. Bills - 65.08 - -5
8. Buccaneers - 62.13 - -3
9. Patriots - 61.35 - +7
10. Broncos - 60.97 - +1
11. Falcons - 58.75 - +3
12. Bears - 58.58 - +6
13. Cardinals - 56.18 - +8
14 (tie). Dolphins - 55.64 - +6
14 (tie). Jets - 55.64 - -1
16. Eagles - 55.55 - -8
17. Chargers - 52.42 - -2
18. Ravens - 49.94 - -8
19. Jaguars - 48.36 - Even
20. Vikings - 48.05 - +7
21. Colts - 46.08 - +7
22. Packers - 44.55 - -5
23. Saints - 41.36 - -11
24. 49ers - 40.76 - -2
25. Browns - 34.77 - -1
26. Raiders - 34.33 - -3
27. Chiefs - 30.50 - -2
28. Seahawks - 27.60 - -2
29. Texans - 17.23 - Even
30. Bengals - 16.37 - Even
31. Rams - 11.85 - Even
32. Lions - 9.69 - Even

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Links of the Day 10/09/08

The NHL season kicks off in earnest this evening. Put on your drinking caps.

Charles Rogers sucked, even for the Lions, and now he has to pay for it.

Mike Redmond: extended.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

If you were the GM


Now that the Twins season is over, it's time to think about the offseason. Over the next month or so, I'll be running a few opinions on what Bill Smith should do this offseason (or Kenny Williams, if Steve is so inclined). Who will I be getting these opinions from? Well, I've asked some of the more preeminent Twins bloggers if they would chip in, and hopefully Beth will add her two cents (I certainly will opine on the subject... constantly), but really, I want to hear from you, the reader as well. Up in the top corner is an e-mail address that you should drop me a line at, let me know what you think, and I'll include as many of your opinions on the matter as possible. If you need any help on the matter, check out the Twins Geek cheat sheet or MLB Trade Rumors offseason outlook. Look forward to hearing from you!

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Links of the Day 10/08/08

Who are the scariest defenders in the league? I like the inclusion of Pacman Jones, frankly.

Gregg Popovich is frightening enough to possibly compel me to watch the NBA.

What's the deal with the big head on wide receivers lately?

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Dear Cleveland Browns


In the AFC North, you are the only team that is close to likable. The Steelers are simply to dominant and smug for me to care about. The Bengals wear orange, frankly, so the prison guards can keep an eye on them. The Ravens have Ray Lewis and are generally unwatchable. The Browns have their flaws, like Kellen Winslow Jr. an ugly color scheme and a complete lack of football talent, but frankly, they are the most likable team, as I said, in the AFC North. That's why I'm writing you. Don't ruin it. Don't start Brady Quinn. At least not until next year, please. Please.

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Links 10/07/08

The Dugout provides it's insight as to what was going on behind the scenes for the Cubs this postseason.

The Vikings won last night, and PV is happy.

You know, those '01 Twins aren't so bad after all. Too bad they now play for other teams.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Doing anything October 14th?


I don't know if you've heard (and why wouldn't you have, it was reported in a newspaper from the Zambia) but the aliens, they are coming to Alabama a week from Wednesday! It was first reported by Blossom Goodchild and Mike Quinsey, both psychos psychics, one in Australia, the other here in the States. Apparently, the Federation of Light will be stopping by to let us know what's up, or, at least that's what their emissary from Sirius (I wonder if he's met the Mad Dog yet) SaLuSa had to say to Quinsey. They will be here, according to Goodchild, to help us move to a higher vibration of love. No word if said vibrations take AA or AAA batteries. In all seriousness, I didn't believe any of this until they started name dropping. SaLuSa? Seriously! This is big news. I just hope it doesn't preempt Criminal Minds or take any attention away from Columbus-San Jose. Should be a big game.

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Links of the Day 10/06/08

In case you missed any NFL action yesterday, this is the best few minutes of it.

Alex Rodriguez might have too much money.

It's things like this that make me happy that Sid Hartman is senile. I hope he's wrong.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ryan's Random Road tRips (c)

As you may recall, every year I take a couple trips to watch some sort of sporting event. Failing that, I will at least go out of my way to keep tabs on the game via the internet or, you know, something. Two years ago, when I got this party started, the games I monitored (since I couldn't attend) were a basketball tilt between Valparaiso and Missouri-Kansas City and a grudge match (not really) featuring St. Bonaventure and Temple. I didn't get a chance to attend, because it was mostly a hairbrained scheme that wasn't really all that well thought out.
This year, I put a little more thought into things, and I actually made it to my games, both, again, basketball. This February, I went to Monroe, Louisiana for a game between Denver and Louisiana-Monroe, and in March, I drove to Montgomery, Alabama for a the regular season finale for both teams, between Jackson State and Alabama State.
Well, it's that time again, and it was time to pick my games for 2009. As it stands, I end up knowing about half the story. I'll explain in a moment. The first team that I came up with was:
The University of Illinois-Chicago basketball team. The game that came up was the 10th of the season which will fall sometime in December next year. Were it any later, I would be going early next year, in this season. All very technical. This coming season, in case you were wondering, UIC plays at Toledo in game 10. The Flames are a Horizon league team, not that it matters, because game 10 will undoubtedly be a non conference tilt.
The second team that came up was:
the Arkansas State football team. Yes! It took 6 tries, but I'm going to a football game! I will be attending the 11th game of the season for the Red Wolves. This year, that would have pit them against North Texas. Usually, you could just switch the home/away for the teams, (which would mean my game is going to be North Texas at Arkansas State), however with Western Kentucky joining the Sun Belt for football next year, that may stir the pot. Oh, and by the way, the Red Wolves will be playing at Louisiana-Monroe next year. How odd would that be?
As always, I'll keep you updated when I learn anything new!

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Links of the Day 10/05/08

Maybe it's not so much a curse as it is a "thing we should have seen coming, regardless of the teams involved"

Boiler Up!


In honor of the NHL getting started yesterday (holy crap), here is a look at Philly goalie Marty Biron's sweet, Jason-like mask.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

This is a long season


On College Game Day this morning, they were talking about how good Notre Dame looked last week. Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit made a point of saying that Purdue just wasn't any good. Among the worst defenses in the country. Notre Dame's only test this year was Michigan State. I would be upset, but they were absolutely correct. *sigh*

Links of the Day 10-04/08

OJ did it.

The Pens are getting the season started in Stockholm, naturally.

I didn't know about this until Bugs and Cranks directed me to it, but apparently all of Rays nation isn't getting along. Who knew?

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Links of the Day 10/03/08

It's one thing to screw up on the Fukudome thing in Oklahoma, but really... Illinois?

I had not heard about this, and frankly, I am mortified.

Hockey starts tomorrow! Wait... what?

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Nothing.

Earlier (this week or last week; time is kinda fuzzy right now), Steve posted how baseball just wasn't fun, because he enjoys home runs and big stars, rather than solid base hits and running out ground balls. He deleted the article, so I can't link to it. As it is, his White Sox beat the Twins in a one-game play-off because of a solo home run, so his entry was moot. He’ll get to see his old, future hall-of-famers in the playoffs, while the energetic children go home.

It was very sad evening for me as a Twins fan. It was also perspective. As I wrote back in May, entertainment gives our minds a chance to rest, to get ready for whatever usually occupies our minds.

It also gives us perspective. This week I needed baseball for a distraction, but was also reminded how insignificant sports were. I'm a day late on my usual posting because yesterday I was too busy to write. In short, I was attending a funeral. The circumstances of the death and age of the deceased made it tragic and shocking. For a couple of days, though--Sunday through Tuesday evening--I was able to have short breaks in time where I could take a break from the reality of what was going on and focus on something entirely unrelated to the situation going on around me.

There was perspective. It’s hard to care about a loss of a game when there’s something so much bigger going on. I miss the distraction of baseball when I need it most, but the loss of the distraction is so minor compared to the loss of a loved one. (To be clear, I love the sport of baseball on its own. I’ve watched teams I don’t care about play baseball before, but I prefer that to be live. Watching on TV means I only get to see what the media wants me to see, which is usually close-ups of where the action is currently taking place. I want more than that: I want to know where the centerfielder is positioned. I want to see who’s backing up places at other bases than the one currently in question. I want to see how the third baseman is positioning himself to be ready for both a bunt and a ground ball in case there’s a double-play opportunity. I want to see the entire game. Because I watch “my” team live so often, I don’t always need to see the entire field to know what they’re doing, so it’s easier to watch them on TV. This is also why I don’t mind sitting in upper levels at sporting events. It gives an overview of the whole game.)

Anyway, the Twins season is over, hockey doesn’t start for another week, and it’s been a tough week personally. I’ve really got nothing to say about sports other than it still provides an escape, and sometimes life provides you with perspective.

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MLB Playoff Predictions


No real predictions here, because the Rays are going to win the World Series. Cliffy has decreed it! All Hail Cliffy!

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Links of the Day 10/02/08

Ken Rosenthal is everywhere.

Oh Cubs fans... poor, poor Cubs fans.

The biggest news is that Boomer's real name is Norman.

(Edited because I'm dumb)

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

NFL Power Ranks: Week 4

Week 4 of the NFL season is in the books, and a few interesting things happened in this first true bye week of the season. The Bears win over the Eagles was the first out of division loss for an NFC East team this season. That didn't hurt their standing much though, as all 4 teams are still part of the top 8 teams. The Giants still hold the number 1 spot, but the dominant Bills and Titans are gaining ground on them. The Redskins' win this week in Dallas vaulted them all the way up to the #4 spot, and Tampa's nice win over Green Bay moved them 8 spots all the way to 5th and into a tie with Carolina in the surprisingly strong NFC South.

On the downside of things, the Bengals miserable season continues. They dropped down to 30th after losing to the Browns, who moved out of the bottom 5. The Chiefs' shocking upset of the Broncos also moved them out of the bottom 5, dropping the idle Colts back to 28th. The Rams and Lions are just awful, and even though the Lions didn't even play this week and the Rams got blown out again, the Rams got a nice strength of schedule bump by playing 4-0 Buffalo, while the Lions' 3 opponents this season all lost this week.

The crazy 56-35 Cardinals-Jets game this week had a huge impact on the ranks. The Jets jumped 11 spots all the way to #13, while the Cards dropped 12 spots all the way to #21. Other big gainers this week are Tampa and New Orleans while the 49ers dropped 7 spots to put the NFC West even deeper in the dumps. Here are the ranks:

1. Giants - 84.94 - Even
2. Bills - 83.43 - Even
3. Titans - 83.33 - Even
4. Redskins - 74.23 - +4
5. Buccaneers - 68.53 - +8
6. Panthers - 66.62 - +5
7. Cowboys - 65.91 - -3
8. Eagles - 64.05 - -3
9. Steelers - 64.01 - +5
10. Ravens - 61.35 - -3
11. Broncos - 57.81 - -5
12. Saints - 56.29 - +8
13. Jets - 55.89 - +11
14. Falcons - 55.41 - -4
15. Chargers - 54.60 - +4
16. Patriots - 53.69 - Even
17. Packers - 51.78 - -5
18. Bears - 51.63 - -1
19. Jaguars - 51.63 - +2
20. Dolphins - 45.47 - -2
21. Cardinals - 44.37 - -12
22. 49ers - 43.78 - -7
23. Raiders - 34.66 - Even
24. Browns - 34.43 - +4
25. Chiefs - 34.15 - +5
26. Seahawks - 33.51 - -1
27. Vikings - 33.30 - -5
28. Colts - 32.55 - -2
29. Texans - 22.98 - Even
30. Bengals - 15.42 - -3
31. Rams - 12.21 - +1
32. Lions - 10.95 - -1

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Links of the Day 10/1/08

Hollis Thomas loves him some Spongebob. Who doesn't though?

No word on whether or not it's better to not slide at all where first base is concerned. (Don't slide into first. Unless you play for the Sox next year)

This was sort of inevitable.

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Intriguing Possible World Series Matchups

So, 2 days later than expected, the field is set for the 2008 MLB playoffs. With 4 teams in each league, there are 16 possible matchups we can see in this year's World Series. Not all matchups are created equal though, so I'm going to rank all 16 matchups by level of intrigue. My apologies in advance to Phillies and Brewers fans:

1. Red Sox vs. Dodgers - Two big markets with big followings taking each other on. Joe Torre leading the Dodgers to the World Series in the same year that the Yankees miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993 will give the Steinbrenner family fits. But the biggest subplot here will be Manny Ramirez returning to Boston, who he greatly disrespected this season. This would also be Torre's first crack at Boston in the playoffs since the Yankees choked away a 3-0 lead in 2004.

2. White Sox vs. Cubs - Sure, no one may care about this outside of Chicago, but the city would literally rip apart if these 2 teams ever faced each other in a World Series again (the Sox beat the Cubs in 1906). Fans of both teams actually don't want to see this matchup happen because they don't want their team to be the team that loses to their hated cross-town rival.

3. Red Sox vs. Cubs - the two historically "cursed" teams with large national followings going at it. The funny part here is the Cubs are looking to break 100 years of losing while the Red Sox are trying to establish a dynasty by winning 3 championships in 5 years.

4. Angels vs. Dodgers - Could tear the city apart just like Chicago, but only until the 7th inning when the war gets taken to the streets....as the fans fight to get home. This matchup could lead to some negative happenings as well. Last time 2 California teams from the same metro area played, there was a gigantic earthquake. Also, we could see increased bloods vs. crips violence.

5. Angels vs. Cubs - The 2 top seeds and probably most deserving World Series teams battle things out. Add in the whole Cubs curse story, and you got yourself the #5 most interesting series.

6. Rays vs. Brewers - The ultimate low budget World Series. Two very small market teams with not all that great fan bases (sorry Brewers fans, they call your place Wrigley North for a reason) prove that you don't need to spend $100 million to win a World Series. TV ratings will be lower than the Emmys

7. Rays vs. Cubs - The gigantic underdog of 2008 vs. the gigantic underdog of the past 100 years. This would be an appropriate way for the Cubs to finally win a World Series, especially with a sweep, since with the current alignment, this is as close as we can get to the fictional 2015 World Series in Back to the Future 2.

8. White Sox vs. Phillies - These guys both like to hit a lot of home runs and play in two very homer friendly parks. If you hate pitching, this is the World Series for you.

9. White Sox vs. Brewers - Mike Cameron can get revenge for being traded for both Paul Konerko and Ken Griffey Jr. during his career. But in all seriousness, it would be funny in an agonizing way for Cubs fans to have 2 teams 90 miles apart playing each other in a World Series where both team busses would pass by Wrigley Field on the way to the games.

10. Red Sox vs. Phillies - This could be another offensively charged series, with Philly's left handed power trying to twist balls around Pesky's pole.

11. Rays vs. Dodgers - Joe Torre looks at Tampa in confusion, "Hey didn't I beat you guys non-stop for 10 years?" then has a chance to become the first manager to lose a World Series to 3 different 1990's expansion teams.

12. White Sox vs. Dodgers - Older White Sox fans will like this matchup, since it is a rematch of the last World Series the White Sox lost, in 1959. Hopefully no games will need to be played in the LA Colliseum this time, though a spilled beer on Ken Griffey Jr. would be pretty funny.

13. Red Sox vs. Brewers - Interesting series for really old Braves fans, since these cities were the team's first 2 homes before moving to Atlanta. C.C. Sabathia gets another crack at knocking out the Red Sox after he lost 2 games to them during last year's ALCS.

14. Angels vs. Phillies - Don't adjust the color on your TV's, there will be red everywhere. Should be a fun series to watch, just not quite as interesting.

15. Rays vs. Phillies - 1 combined World Series title in over 140 combined years of baseball, most by the Phillies. I am a little excited to see a Cliff Floyd vs. Jamie Moyer matchup in the 2008 World Series.

16. Angels vs. Brewers - The top seed in the AL vs. the bottom seed in the NL. If anything, people in LA might learn what state Milwaukee is in, and where that state is located.

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Twins Lose


I believe this game illustrated for the entire world what the Twins strengths, historically, have been, and where they fail. Let's be diplomatic and talk about what the Twins have historically owed their success to. It's pitching. It has always been pitching. If you look at any season that the Twins have been remotely successful, their pitching has been dominant, with typically at least two fantastic starters and a solid bullpen. The Twins stayed in the game tonight because of the outstanding outing from Nick Blackburn and the continued dominance of young Jose Mijares.
Where they failed was on offense. The White Sox score their runs with home runs (see, Jim Thome) while the Twins make their way with a series of base hits. The White Sox, then, are more offensively capable in big game situations. Think about it. The Sox have abut five or six guys that could hit a home run at the drop of a hat. The Twins had two players with more than 20 this year. In fact, Justin Morneau, the team leader in home runs, would have been fifth on the Sox. The Sox need but one player to have a good time at the plate in order to get a run or two in a close game. The Twins offense, predicated on "small ball" need a string of good at bats in order to score runs. In big games, you can hope for one guy to come through for you, but do you really want to have to rely on several players to come through in the clutch?
The solution isn't as many people seem to indicate, a new free agent. The components are all there. Joe Mauer, Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez, Jason Kubel and even Justin Morneau are all more capable of at least 10 more home runs in a season. A healthy Michael Cuddyer should be good for 20 or so as well. The Twins coaching staff should be on the hook, trying to improve this facet of the game so we don't have to rely on slap hitters and luck in the coming seasons.

Congratulations to the White Sox

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