Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm growing a beard.

As it turns out, I have an entire week off. The week after Thanksgiving, exactly when most people want it. I'm at a loss as to what I should do. Just now, after at least 45 seconds of thought, I figured out what I need to do this week. I'm growing a beard.
Perhaps inspired by Oregon State, Fernando Pisani, or Kyle Orton, I decided that this was a necessary adventure. The thing is though, I think Kyle Orton and I already have too much in common. Went to Purdue, took a while to figure it out after we got done with school, etc. That said, I don't want my beard for the sake of having a beard, I want it to mean something. Oregon State has their beards for their run at the Rose Bowl, Pisani grew that epic red piece of majesty for the Stanley Cup Finals.
After racking my brain, I came up with a few things. So here it goes. I'm not shaving my beard until all of the following things happen.
- The Twins acquire a third baseman.
- Purdue basketball stops their winning streak that will start again this week
- Marian Gaborik plays hockey again
- The Colts are eliminated from the playoffs.
- The Victoria Times Ballhype ranking gets lower than 300 again.
With any luck, this monstrosity will be off my face no earlier than February 1st, and no later than early April.


Links of the Day 11/30/08

Left handed relief is hard to find.

Well done, Mr. Burris. You would think a wide receiver would have better hands.

Samford scores 6 points in the first half against Ohio State. In basketball.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Texas deserves the BCS more than Oklahoma

It's simple really. Texas beat Oklahoma at a neutral site. Oklahoma beat Texas Tech at home. Texas lost to Texas Tech on the road. I don't know why I haven't heard this more. It's such a simple argument. So simple, in fact, that I have nothing further to add to it.


Links of the Day 11/29/08

Things like this make it tough to hate the Tar Heels.

Tough loss for the Boilers in the NIT championship game.

That whole Black Friday thing is ridiculous.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Amateur Day

In the drinking community, the day before Thanksgiving is known as "amateur night". See, with a long weekend, relatives in town, that sort of thing, everyone decides that that is the night they are going to hit the local bar, pub or distillery. It's a mess. Lots of lightweights. People that don't know how to handle the whole binge drinking thing. Amateurs.
After driving around on Thanksgiving, to and from my parent's house about 45 minutes away, I would like to dub Thanksgiving "amateur day". No, not because people are drinking, but rather, people unaccustomed to driving are out on the interstates.
I have a commute of about 10 minutes every day, including 8 miles or so on a highway. Everyone on there understands how to do it. There are a few rules of the road that people who don't typically drive the highways with their families of 5 just didn't practice.
There are going to be people going faster than the speed limit. Almost everyone is going faster than the speed limit. Let the people going fast get in the left lane and get out of there way.
When cars are merging, let them in.
Check your mirrors.
Pay attention.
Pay attention.
Pay a-fricking-tention.

Most days, even with the traffic there was on the roads yesterday, it's not near suicide driving on a freeway, and you can get from point A to point B in a timely manner. In a two mile stretch, I wasn't allowed to merge into the exit lane; got stuck behind three cars going 63mph or less (speed limit 65) with an old couple drivind a caddy going the fastest; tried to pass a car, only to have that car try to change lanes (into me) 15 seconds later (good thing it was a three lane highway so I could get over... he never saw me. But if we had got in an accident it was all right because we were going so slow).

The moral of the story is this. Thanksgiving is such a tragic driving weekend because those driving simply don't know what they are dong. Christmas isn't so bad because people have more time off and can pace their drives. In any case, let's learn how to drive before we do so, hmm?

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Links of the Day 11/28/08

Patrick Ruesse's "Turkey of the Year" column once again proves that Patrick Ruesse doesn't really know a whole lot about sports.

Even the game that was supposed to be close yesterday wasn't.

It's Wes Walz day at Xcel for the annual Wild matinee the day after Thanksgiving.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s Thanksgiving in the US, which is where I live. I will be spending Thanksgiving in the hometown of the Victoria Times (Victoria!), which is an honor that not many will have this year (the gathering I’ll be at will include about 50; I will assume the great city of Victoria will be hosting other Thanksgiving gatherings).

I’m thankful this year for sports. They added an extra adventure to my trip to my cousin’s wedding in Texas--I was able to attend baseball games at both Minute Maid field in Houston (had I only known, the Houston Aeros, the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate, were hosting a playoff game that night. It would’ve been a tough choice!), and the Ballpark at Arlington, which I believe is actual Ameriquest Park or something like that.

I’m thankful that sports were a nice break from the four funerals (deceased aged from 20 to 85) that I attended this fall. As I wrote in May, entertainment gives our minds a chance to rest, so we may continue on. I needed that. Even though the local teams either sucked (Timberwolves) or lost in the first round of playoffs (Swarm, Wild, Twins sorta), they still offered entertainment value. (I have no idea how the Vikings did last year. Or how they’re doing this year. And I actually listen to a fair number of games.)

Sports offer secondary entertainment in the world of Fantasy Sports. My fantasy football team has spent much of the 2008 season tied for first place (currently tied for second, though). I think this is the biggest coup of them all, because I still have no idea what a tight end is. Or a linebacker. Or a wide receiver. Or…you get the point. The winning isn’t something to be thankful for, but rather the amusement factor of my team winning. As I only vaguely know one other participant in the league, I often wonder if the others know what I’m doing. The one I vaguely know probably assumes I’m only pretending I don’t know what I’m doing.

Amusingly, I know a lot about baseball, but my fantasy baseball teams seem to come in 13th place every year. We’re whimsical in our draft (and unlucky--someone calculated that stat!). It doesn’t matter how unlucky we are. We still have a lot of fun. In fact, it’s almost more fun when the team is losing, because we like to make up excuses of why.

Take a moment this Thanksgiving to be thankful for the baseball player with the most appropriate Thanksgiving name: Jimmy Gobble.

In short, we all have a lot to be thankful for, even beyond the world of sports. Even in the midst of sorrow, be thankful for the silver linings around the clouds. If there are no silver linings, get out your paint brush and some silver paint and make ‘em.

Now go eat turkey! (Eating Turkey is not a suggested activity of the Victoria Times.)

Timberwolves update: 3-10 (1-2 since last week)

I still promise to attend a Timberwolves game if they’re under 20% in the win % category in January. The lengths they’ll go through to spare me from a professional basketball game is gratifying. Thank you, Timberwolves!

Marian Gaborik Injury Status: Who?


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Enjoy Thanksgiving

Enjoy your Turkey.

If you are looking to fill up on sports today (and are from Minnesota, perhaps if you went to Purdue) before the mindless consumption of fowl tomorrow, then you have options!
On right now Purdue vs Boston College on ESPN2.
At 7 on FSN its the Timberwolves vs the Suns and on KSTC the Wild vs the Stars (bad blood!).
At 730 on the Big Ten Network, how about the Gophers versus Eastern Washington, huh? Surely, this glut of sports will prepare you for tomorrow's glut of gluttony.


Links of the Day 11/26/08

I hope you are all enjoying your pre-turkey.

With Shaun Alexander's retirement, a look at a few more retirements from teams players shouldn't have retired from.

Probably the worst decision in baseball card history.

Hey wait... That seems a little disingenuous.


NFL Power Ranks: Week 12

The Titans aren't getting a break for getting their first loss of the season this week to the Jets. The Giants rocketed past them and now have a comfortable lead on the #1 spot. The G-Men just keep rolling after getting a pretty easy win over the surprising division leading Cardinals. The team that vanquished the Titans (last week's surprise #4...guess not too much of a surprise now), the Jets, have moved into the #3 spot with their huge win coupled with Carolina's loss to Atlanta. Carolina's loss dropped them into a tie for the division lead with Tampa Bay, who despite not having any strength of schedule help this week by beating Detroit, moved into the #4 spot.

The #5 team deserves their own paragraph: The Colts. They have had the craziest up and down season in these rankings. Their bad loss to the Bears in Week 1 started them at #29. They rose to #21 in week 2, but were back down to #28 after week 4. They then got hot and got all the way up to #6 after week 6, only to get cold again and drop all the way to #22 after week 8. Now they have looked good winning 4 in a row and have climbed all the way back to #5. In a way, this doesn't bode well for them, because they could be back around #20 by week 16 if they continue this trend.

The Bottom 5 still suck. Is there much more to talk about at this point? The Raiders nice win over the awful division leading Broncos moved them up 4 spots out of the bottom 5. Of course, they are replaced by that other bay area team, the 49ers.

There were no significant gainers this week. the Colts, Falcons, Steelers, Vikings, Bills, and Raiders all gained 4 positions, all for their dominant victories in Week 12. The Eagles and Packers were the big losers. The Eagles, who have always seemed to be inflated in these ranks this year, dropped 9 spots as their statistics finally are catching up to their quality of play on the field. The Packers huge loss to the Saints dropped them 7 spots and dealt a blow to their playoff hopes.

I'm going to start giving the power rank formula predicted playoff matchups each week for the rest of the year:

1st Round Byes: #1 Giants, #4 Buccaneers
#6 Panthers @ #16 Bears
#7 Falcons @ #12 Cardinals
Top 3 out of playoffs: #13 Cowboys, #14 Redskins, #15 Saints

1st Round Byes: #2 Titans, #3 Jets
#5 Colts @ #22 Broncos
#9 Steelers @ #8 Ravens
Top 3 out of playoffs: #10 Dolphins, #11 Patriots, #20 Bills

Here are the full ranks:
1. Giants - 87.62 - +1
2. Titans - 77.93 - -1
3. Jets - 74.40 - +1
4. Buccaneers - 68.94 - +2
5. Colts - 68.28 - +4
6. Panthers - 67.73 - -3
7. Falcons - 67.71 - +4
8. Ravens - 67.63 - +2
9. Steelers - 63.61 - +4
10. Dolphins - 60.93 - -5
11. Patriots - 60.91 - +3
12. Cardinals - 60.07 - -5
13. Cowboys - 58.49 - +3
14. Redskins - 58.20 - +1
15. Saints - 57.68 - +3
16. Bears - 57.64 - +1
17. Eagles - 53.39 - -9
18. Vikings - 53.01 - +4
19. Packers - 47.22 - -7
20. Bills - 46.31- +4
21. Browns - 42.40 - -2
22. Broncos - 40.82 - -2
23. Jaguars - 39.73 - -2
24. Chargers - 37.57 - -1
25. Raiders - 34.76 - +4
26. Texans - 33.75 - -1
27. Bengals - 28.10 - -1
28. 49ers - 25.40 - -1
29. Seahawks - 20.18 - 1
30. Chiefs - 20.13 - Even
31. Rams - 14.87 - Even
32. Lions - 10.76 - Even

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Just an FYI

Steve will undoubtedly check in with power ranks this evening, but with college football on my mind, I just wanted to remind you all of the season simulation we did last year and will again do at the end of this season. I mention this because the season ending tournament, theoretically, could include the following teams:
Penn State
Ohio State
um.... North Carolina?
Ball State
Texas Tech
Utah (or Boise State)

It just so happens that every team that has put in a claim on thinking they deserve to be in it could actually be in it. (Utah and Boise State would play in the regular season). Now, Carry on.


Links of the Day 11/25/08

Emmit Smith was once a poet. He had to have been.

WASH-ington. It's WASH-ington.

45 years later, we finally know the truth behind the Kennedy assassination. It was Joe Dimaggio.


Monday, November 24, 2008

What's with Rece's ring?

Every time I watch College Gameday Final, I'm mesmerized by one thing. Where is Rece Davis' ring from? Everytime he, Lou Holtz and Mark May award their helmet stickers, I'm drawn to his enormous ring on his right hand. Sure, May and Holtz are also blessed with huge bits of bling on their hands, but they are from successes on the football field. This is what makes Davis' ring so much more noteworthy.
He lifts the helmet to tell us some schmuck from Clemson has played well on this Saturday, places the sticker on the helmet and pats it, allowing the ring to click on the helmet, taunting us. Is it from Muscle Shoals High? The University of Alabama? His first job in Flint? What IS it?! Unfortunately, the picture below seems to be our best look at it.
Does anyone know what that thing is?

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Links of the Day 11/24/08

Sorry for not telling you what to look at on the internet yesterday. Your links are back today

Northwestern is a rather poor basketball school.

The NHL is actually doing better than the NBA this season in terms of attendance. NBA failure or NHL resurgence? Yes.

Hey the Twins have a new home uniform this year. Great.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

If I were the GM: Landon Evanson

In our ongoing series, exploring what people would do if given control of their team for the offseason, I consulted Landon Evanson, the Twins writer at Bugs and Cranks and got his thoughts on the offseason. His words are below:

Twins GM Bill Smith is in an interesting position as baseball's winter kicks into full-swing. On paper, the Twins aren't that far off -- perhaps just one player away from being the clear-cut favorite to win the American League Central next season.

That said, wise decisions will only occur through long hours of deliberation because Minnesota has many options in many areas.

Here are the positions of need:

First and foremost, Michael Cuddyer will be back for the duration of '09, but it's not quite that simple. You see, with the emergence of Denard Span, the most beneficial position for Cuddyer may be a return to third base but he didn't take to the hot corner as he did right field. Then again, he's too good defensively to DH so what to do?

And at short, while Nickie Punto put up decent numbers, his bat is a liability on an everyday basis, but that doesn't mean the Twins can't get away with him playing all season long -- they just need to pick up a bat at either third or short.

Jason Kubel finally had a solid season but being that he's left-handed, and the Twins are already lefty-heavy, what do the Twins do?

And with the perceived return of Pat Neshek it seemed as though the Twins depth of bullpen and set-up spot were locked up -- but it turns out that Neshek will likely miss all of next season so -- back to the drawing board.


With Kubel's pop and the myriad of solid youngsters the Twins have up-and-down their farm system, a deal could easily be worked out with the Rockies for Garrett Atkins, a man that would solidify the third base position for the Twins for the first time since Corey Koskie's departure following the 2004 season. And why? Because Atkins has averaged 25 homers and 110 RBI with a .305 average over the past three seasons and the boy can play some defense at third (see presence on the greatest defensive team in baseball history '07). Then again, he costs money but the Twins are moving into a new park. Perhaps. Just perhaps. And with all the rumors swirling around Brian Fuentes, if the Boulders were willing to package Atkins and Fuentes that would be a mighty-fine deal for the Twins because Fuentes was content as a set-up man for Manny Corpas during the Rocktober run. But that's not happening -- the Fuentes part, anyway -- but it's still nice to think about for a minute or two. Fuentes setting up Joe Nathan? Warm fuzzies. But back to reality.

Then again, the Twins may not go the Atkins route, instead setting their sights on J.J. Hardy or Yunel Escobar. Hardy can pick it and would be the best bat Minnesota has ever had at short. Zoilo Versalles may have been sick in '65 but Hardy's production is consistent and he's only 25. Escobar would fit nicely, too because he is solid afield, hits for average and he is only 25 years old also. But if neither move were to materialize, signing Orlando Cabrera would be a welcome transaction. Not only is Cabrera a Gold Glove defender but he has helped his past three teams reach October, he's won a World Series, can hit, has a bit of pop and can steal bases. Not only that, he is capable of playing small ball if need be and he would provide a strong veteran, Latino presence for youngsters Alexi Casilla and Carlos Gomez. Oh, and one added bonus, it would be taking Cabrera away from the White Sox and beating them with their own guy. Sometimes life has its little bonuses.

The Twins will need to find a way to deal for a set-up man unless they ink Juan Cruz because no one else out there really knocks your socks off and Neshek was fantastic, so those are big shoes to fill. Then again, the Twins need to and should re-sign Senor Southpaw, Dennys Reyes.

And Punto absolutely has to return -- he is Twins Baseball personified. Punto plays hard, runs the bases well, plays small ball, makes contact, excels with the glove at numerous positions and is all about doing whatever needs doing to win a game. Playing every day he is valuable with limitations, but as a utility man he could be the best in baseball.

Long story short (many of you are probably thinking, too late) -- the Twins should deal Kubel and prospects to pick up Atkins and hopefully find a way to harness a solid set-up man in the process, which would mean Cuddyer returns to right, Span slides over to left and Delmon Young becomes the everyday DH. After that, Minnesota should sign Orlando Cabrera to play short if it is economically possible or simply re-sign Punto to play every day. So long as one more bat is added, the Twins can allow Nickie to play every day. That said, if only one man can be added, it doesn't it should be Atkins because he provides a right-handed, run-producing bat that would allow the line-up to fall as such:

LF Span
2B Casilla
C Mauer
1B Morneau
3B Atkins
RF Cuddyer
LF Young
SS Punto
CF Gomez

And you'd be hard-pressed to a find a Twins fan anywhere unhappy about that line-up. Now if only Cabrera could be slipped in there...

Bottom line, Smith is in position to make a smart deal just as the Twins may have re-emerged as the favorite in the Central -- a young, talented team that is one player away and just one season short of playing in a new ballpark. Did I mention that Minnesota's rotation is set with another year's experience under its collective belt or that Francisco Liriano will be good to go from day one this spring? Just sayin'.

This is going to be a fun winter leading up to the final campaign under the Teflon confines and you know what, with the options Smith has at his disposal, I don't think the Twins can go wrong and our long goodbye to the Metrdome should prove a fond farewell.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanks, Joe

Purdue 62, Indiana 10. It was a great way to finish a career, winning the Old Oaken Bucket for the 10th time in 12 years in front of the Boilermaker faithful on a cold day at Ross-Ade Stadium. This was the last game for Joe Tiller, and despite a pretty awful final season, he can ride off into the sunset with yet another victory over the hated Hoosiers, by the largest margin since 1893.

Purdue fans are obviously disappointed that Purdue had its worst season under Tiller this year, only finishing 4-8 and missing a bowl for only the 2nd time since he took the team over in 1997 and shocked the college football world by leading Purdue to a 8-3 record and its first bowl appearance since 1984. A lot of people felt that he may have given up on the team the past few seasons, that his loyalty to his assistant coaching staff was actually hurting more than helping, and his poor record against ranked teams and the "big boys" (Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and Notre Dame) in years when those teams weren't in the gutter, but there's no need to discuss this today. We need to remember why we are disappointed that Purdue is not going bowling this time: because Tiller made it a year in year out tradition in West Lafayette. Sure, its not like he took them to the Rose Bowl every year, but he actually made the football team consistently competitive for the first time since the days of Jack Mollenkopf.

Tiller brought the exciting spread offense from Wyoming to the Big Ten, a conference long known for its ground game. The style was openly questioned when he arrived, with many wondering if it would take hold in a cold weather conference against much more talented defenses than what he saw in the WAC. But he had a secret weapon up his sleeve, a young man named Drew Brees. In his early years at the school, backed by a tough Colletto-recruited defense, a passing attack never before seen in the Big Ten was unleashed on the conference, leading to a huge upset victory of #4 Kansas State in the 1998 Alamo Bowl, putting the program, Tiller, and Brees on the college football map. The Brees era culminated in 2000 with Purdue's first Rose Bowl appearance since 1967 when Brees led the team to 2 clutch victories over both Michigan and Ohio State.

Purdue went through a bit of a rebuilding in both 2001 and 2002 on both sides of the ball, but Tiller still managed to bring them to the Sun Bowl both seasons. He entered 2003 with an experienced Kyle Orton and an incredibly talented defense, in what I felt was his most talented team (but was lacking a natural born leader like Brees to win the conference again). Tiller's offense again allowed Orton to tear up the Big Ten, and the defense was one of the best in the nation, with 7 of them being drafted to the NFL after the season. Purdue entered 2004 with big expectations, and they delivered early in the season, reaching as high as #5 in the rankings until a heartbreaking loss to Wisconsin and an Orton injury, which derailed their season.

The Curtis Painter years weren't quite as successful for Joe, marked by Painter's inconsistent play and a crumbling defense that couldn't seem to stop anyone (but improved this season, slightly). Tiller still managed to lead the team to 2 bowl games and 3 wins over Indiana, and Painter is still one of the all-time Big Ten leaders in numerous passing categories.

So thanks for the memories and making Purdue relevant again, Joe. Your offensive style has changed the Big Ten forever, and many of your former players that were drafted are having excellent NFL careers. Hopefully your hand-picked replacement can keep the new tradition of winning at Purdue that you started alive and well. You will never be forgotten, especially by the over 50,000 Purdue Alumni that had you as their head coach for their entire time at Purdue, and I'm one of them.

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Links of the Day 11/22/08

Steve's in control today...I was asked...don't really know why..

Probably the easiest quiz ever for a hockey fan. Check out the results page after you finish though...I'm not the least beat shocked who the least guessed original 6 team is. Thanks, Wirtz's.

More game links! I stumbled upon this the other day, which I don't think I've seen anywhere online since disappeared around 2002. It might have been the most visited website by the east half of Owen Hall at Purdue in 2001. I'd call it a sports link....trying to get laid is a sport to some.

Another Tiller story I found after writing mine above.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Bidding war for Sabathia?

Last year, the Brewers acquired C.C. Sabathia from the Indians and absolutely drove him into the ground. Three days rest? Sure! 125 pitches? Not a problem! It was common knowledge that the Brewers were wearing him out, thinking they couldn't afford him. Everyone knew it. Everyone even said it.
So now the Yankees want to make him the highest paid pitcher in baseball history. That's awesome. He's probably going to go out there and tear his rotator cuff and be put on the DL for the next season. Then he'll come back and be mediocre in 2010. Then the Yankees will trade him to some other team and eat most of the salary in order to get another pitcher and he will come back and win the Cy Young. It's going to be awesome.
So, C.C, I have one question. There is only one team stupid enough to fork over all that money right now. Why haven't you taken the deal? Take the deal C.C!

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Links of the Day 11/21/08

Looks like no more shortened games in the World Series. Outstanding.

Wait, I thought we heard this several days ago? You mean there was time to convince the team that this is a bad idea?

The gentleman scoring the goals... say, doesn't he look familiar?


Thursday, November 20, 2008

I loved the game, once.

The Timberwolves, as shown in my additions to my entries, haven’t played well for a while. It’s actually gotten some fans wondering if it’s worthwhile to even watch the game anymore.

I initially thought that made no sense. I love the game of baseball. I’ve watched some horrible Twins teams through the years (particularly the early and mid 1980s). I still loved the team and the game. On the other hand, I was listening to games on the radio. When listening to the games, you make up the game in your mind. I could still love the players for their inability to get outs on the field, or produce runs at the plate. I didn’t see if they were playing well and getting beaten, so in my mind, they were.

Watching the game is different. I’ve only had season tickets to the Twins for a few years now. I’ve watched some pretty decent baseball--although there have been streaks (early 2006 for example) where it’s been a pit of despair. During those times, we’d walk into the ballpark wondering how the team was going to defeat themselves this time. I still loved going to the games, because I still loved the players. I loved the game, and the players, even when they sucked, were trying. I had hope of improvement because I’m an optimist.

But year after year of watching poor games wears on a person. If I didn’t love the team, watching them play poorly would actually be a reason not to attend games: because I love the game. If I love the game, I want to see it played right. To see it played poorly would be an insult to the game that I love, and I’m not sure I could watch it.

I can watch bad basketball. I like the game well enough, but since I’m not attached to the team, I can enjoy watching the other team play well (I hope). Since I don’t love the game (I like it, but don’t love it), I can be amused by the poor play. I wouldn’t know good football from bad football. (It’s not winning and losing. Even if your team is losing, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they’re playing poorly. The other team might be playing a little bit better.) Ditto for lacrosse. Now that I think about it, it’s probably true for basketball, too. I don’t know the game well enough to know how what’s poor play and what’s good play.

I love baseball and hockey. I know when the team is playing well, even if they’re losing, or when they’re playing poorly, even if they’re winning. It is frustrating when the team is playing poorly. I want to go down to the locker room and ask them, “So, what were you thinking out there?” I want to see the game played well.

That, to me, explains bandwagon jumpers. Teams will always have their fair share of them when a team is winning. It’s a fact of life that people like to win, so they join themselves to winners solely based on the wins. But some of those fans that show up when a team starts winning really love the game. Their love of the game kept them away from the ballpark when the team was losing. They couldn’t stand to see a game they loved disrespected with poor play.

Timberwolves update: The Timberwolves are 2-8 (20.0 win %); the Clippers are 2-9 (18.2% win % and Washington is 1-11 (11.1 win %)! The new Oklahoma formerly-Sonic are 1-11. This is all because I promised to attend a Timberwolves game if they’re under 20% in the win % category in January. The lengths they’ll go through to spare me from a professional basketball game is gratifying.

Marian Gaborik Injury Status: True.


Links of the Day 11/20/08

Funny on a variety of levels. Rompin' stompin' dynamite!

To counter the overwhelming optimisim from Rod Marinelli yesterday, here is a depressing, if horribly accurate, look at some terrible things that could await sports. And from Epic Carnival!

This is good news for the Twins, who could never hit Moose. Congrats on a great career (in case you read this)


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rod Marinelli also farts rainbows

This is Rod Marinelli. He is the head coach of the Detroit Lions. Pity Rod Marinelli if you must, but know, he doesn't need your pity. You see, he believes in his team. And he will not give up. His will is outstanding. Other fun facts about Marinelli:

- He voted for Mondale in 84

- Now that Allen Iverson is in town, calls daily and asks about practice

- Last year the Lions had a game in Green Bay against the Packers in December. He packed sunscreen

- Can't wait to see Dontrelle Willis pitch next season.

- This year, voted for Chuck Norris.

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Links of the Day 11/19/08

Mike Tice thinks he should coach in the NFL again. Let's al have a chuckle.

The Royals went out and made a trade today.

This is a really cool story about why we should lie.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NFL Power Ranks: Week 11

Unfortunately, the NFL hasn't expanded to Oregon yet so I can't inject myself into this uniform talk. But to all the new readers, welcome....and I hope you aren't Seahawks fans based on these ranks... If you are reading this for the first time, each Tuesday I post my computerized NFL power ranks created from a formula that weighs 7 attributes for each NFL Team. If you are interested in more details, use the label link at the bottom and read Week 1 from this season.

The Ten-0 Tennessee Titans remain at the top yet again, but the 9-1 Giants are slowly closing the gap. The Panthers, who are quietly 8-2, jumped two spots back to #3. The most surprising results of the week come from the AFC East, where 2 frequent members of the Bottom 5 from last year, the Jets and Dolphins, are now in the #4 and #5 spots. Somewhere, John Madden is smiling. The former #3 Ravens got a reality check against the Giants, dropping them to #10, and the Eagles' confusing tie against the Bengals dropped them from #4 to #8. However....

The tie with the Eagles was HUGE for the Bengals, who have finally climbed out of the bottom 5 despite being 1-8-1, but hey, they haven't lost since October 26. The 49ers dominating win over the helpless Rams moved them out of the bottom 5 as well, while the Rams fell all the way back to #31 after showing some promise a few weeks ago. The Niners and Bungles were replaced by the 2-8 Raiders and Seahawks in the bottom 5. This just in: Detroit still sucks.

The biggest gainers this week were the Colts, who jumped 6 spots to #9 as they finally start to look a little more like the old Colts again. Surging Miami and recovering Dallas and Denver jumped 5 spots. The biggest losers were the Ravens, who fell 7 spots to #10 after getting a beatdown from the Giants. The Falcons and Bears dropped 5 spots. The Falcons mostly due to the teams surging behind them and the Bears for getting destroyed by the Packers, putting them in a 3 way tie in the NFC North. Another interesting thing to note is that despite being 7-3, the rankings are still unimpressed by the Steelers.

Here are the full ranks:
1. Titans - 87.72 - Even
2. Giants - 86.54 - Even
3. Panthers - 76.63 - +2
4. Jets - 71.59 - +3
5. Dolphins - 68.37 - +5
6. Buccaneers - 66.11 - +2
7. Cardinals - 64.91 - +2
8. Eagles - 64.48 - -4
9. Colts - 63.04 - +6
10. Ravens - 60.74 - -7
11. Falcons - 59.92 - -5
12. Packers - 57.63 - +4
13. Steelers - 56.77 - Even
14. Patriots - 56.34 - -3
15. Redskins - 55.81 - -1
16. Cowboys - 52.74 - +5
17. Bears - 51.88 - -5
18. Saints - 51.14 - +1
19. Browns - 49.17 - +4
20. Broncos - 45.32 - +5
21. Jaguars - 44.95 - -4
22. Vikings - 43.64 - -4
23. Chargers - 39.96 - -3
24. Bills - 36.91 - -2
25. Texans - 32.82 - -1
26. Bengals - 28.70 - +4
27. 49ers - 28.47 - +4
28. Seahawks - 26.17 - -1
29. Raiders - 23.90 - -3
30. Chiefs - 23.54 - -2
31. Rams - 17.70 - -2
32. Lions - 11.14 - Even

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Links of the Day 11/18/08

Mackey Arena is not renowned for it's dining.

ESPN will be taking care of Bowl season from here on out.

Mother Nature best not be interfering with golf.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Oregon Uniform redux

Well. We've had some fun today, huh? After my post this morning got noticed by a Ducks news board, I started getting some angry comments. Then, it got picked up by a few other sites (I'd like to thank The Big Picture, Deadspin, Sparty and Friends, Awful Announcing and Fan IQ) and various commentors intermixed with the Ducks fans, and, well, hilarity ensued. First, I thought this nonsensical comment would be the most hilarious. Huge Duck? Doctor Phil?
But then this happened. An anonymous fellow reminded us of his favorite Family Guy quote. It came from the episode written by Voltaire, of course (too many fart jokes - Steve). This led to a few more comments, relaying favorite quotes from other TV shows (my favorite was this one from Andre Roussimoff). After some rehashing some favorite college memories, it deteriorated into the typical internet debate that will likely solve all of our problems and set forth foreign policy in the Obama administration.
Anyways, I feel the need to respond to these comments en masse. If you needed a response, you may find it here:

1. Yes. if that is your tradition, than yes.
2. Because I am an American in a democratic society. On this matter, it only matters so much as you read it and left a comment.
3. No, but I'm not required to wear a "uniform" either.

That being said, a common theme was that Ducks fans enjoy the changing of their uniforms. Therefore, I decided to try to identify with Ducks fans, because as Cindy Brady once said, "united we stand, and divided we fall." In this Ducksian sprit, I have amassed my substantial paint skills and put together three alternate helmets for my Purdue Boilermakers to try next year. For reference, this is what we wear presently.

So, here are the three poorly designed alterates I came up with, with a poll on the bottom for you to pick your favorite:

Helmet 1
Helmet 2
Helmet 3

If you have any other ideas, let me know in the comments (also, I want railroad tracks instead of stripes on the pants) and vote away

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Links of the Day 11/17/08

Oh good, so Obama is going to make there be a playoff. He better do it right.

The Bengals-Eagles game ended in a tie, which confuses the hell out of Donovan McNabb

It is my understanding that Beth is the only erson that doesn't swear profusely when talking about the Timberwolves.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Oregon Ducks continue to annoy

For those that don't remember, I have taken issue with the atrocious number of uniforms the University of Oregon parades out there every season. For most of this season, they have mixed and matched their previous uniform incarnations, black, green, yellow and white jerseys and pants, with green yellow and white helmets. They have managed to wear a different uniform every time they have taken the field so far this year. I wouldn't make too much of this, except for the fact, that, well.... they wore this abomination against Arizona yesterday:

Last time I made fun of Oregon for their uniform ADD, I got a lot of hate mail. But seriously, if they keep doing stuff like this, I'm left with no choice.

A few comments about this jersey:

- If there is a part of the duck to emphasize, it's not the delicate wings on the shoulder pads. Maybe the beak? Or the flipper feet?

- The silver makes it pretty

- I would much rather see all black than all yellow, so at least there's that.

Now, if you have mean things to say about me (or would like to defend Oregon), by all means, tell all the world in the comments. Or e-mail me. I would love to hear from you.

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Links of the Day 11/16/08

HHR is excited for a video game due out in the Spring. I'll give you a hint, "King Hippo".

A look at the college basketball ranks, since we've already started the season.

Remember the Sandlot? Pyle of List is sort of obsessed.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

At least we still have Indiana

Joe Tiller is preparing for a future job working the drive thru cashier at McDonald's. Before that, however, he gets one last crack at a victory. In my mind, this is the perfect send off for him. He won't get a chance to play in a bowl game, but he will get to end with a victory. He's punished for essentially quitting on the team over the past few seasons, but he will get a reward by ending with a win. Better still, he will reward loyal fans by kicking IU's butt one last time, and letting us get to the Purdue sport that really matters, basketball. Go Boilers!


Links of the Day 11/15/08

Barry Melrose was fired. This throws the entire worldview of Barry Melrose Rocks out of whack.

I don't get it. Why is making an offer to a mediocre 35 year old always the solution for the Twins?

A compelling argument for the BCS.


Friday, November 14, 2008

What happened to the Big Ten?

As anyone who follows college football knows, the Big Ten has been off this year. Well, they've been off for a few years, if you ask most people. The problem is, they haven't had a set of top flight marquee teams. Even though there are several teams that are good, and there aren't many teams that are awful, it's often labeled as a bad conference. It's considered a travesty if Ohio State makes it to the national title game, and many pundits were disgusted at Penn State's run before losing to Iowa.
With Ohio State running a freshman quarterback and Michigan being terrible, Penn State's season has been less impressive. It's been like this for several years now. Even when Ohio State won the Championship after the 2001 season, many didn't believe they belonged on the same field as Miami before the game. Two blowout losses in championship games since that win have put a greater damper on the conference.
Then, there is basketball. Typically, the conference is evenly distributed with a couple great teams, several good teams and a few bottom feeders. Generally speaking, there are 5-6 teams that make the Big Dance every year, maybe 7 on a good year. This year, however, ESPN's "bracketologist" Joe Lunardi only has 4 in his preseason predictions. Beyond that, he doesn't have a single team among his last 8 out. (Of course, he has Kansas playing Missouri in the first round. Maybe by this point, Missouri will be in the Big Ten?)
So it's not just football, it's basketball too. Both of the premiere sports in the conference are off in the Big Ten. What's the problem? As I see it, it started with perception. With both sports, the Big Ten has played a slower, plodding game. They are a running conference with strong defenses in football, and a trapping, half court style basketball conference. This worked just fine when they were able to attract top flight talent. Perception turned though, and the Big Ten was called boring, and the schools were unable to attract the talent they once were. In the beginning, the conference wasn't bad, it was just alleged that they were. After so many people said so, it became a self fulfilling prophecy.
Purdue was poised to overtake the division in football because their offense was more wide open than other schools in the conference, attracting talent from Texas and Florida, football breeding grounds. Joe Tiller became less aggressive, however, and the talent stopped coming in. Ohio State and Michigan State remain atop the basketball world because they push the ball, and Illinois will return, because that is their philosophy as well. These four schools were the exceptions that proved the rule. They scored more points, were flashier and were met with more recruiting success. It's fortunate that the coaching in the Big Ten is so skillful, otherwise the Big Ten would be completely adrift. Younger coaches may be well served to go to a more aggressive schemes if only to pull in more blue chippers.
Or maybe the problem is that young talent from California or Florida don't want to spend four years in Wisconsin or Indiana. If that's the case, then I don't know what to say.


Links of the Day 11/14/08

Fire Joe Morgan, one of my favorite sites and one of the most influential, is closing up shop.

The Fanhouse has a look at what the Twins should and will be doing this offseason.

The Twins re-signed John Gordon for the next two years. Good.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Links of the Day 11/13/08

AA takes a look at just how ESPN was stuck with the 49ers-Cardinals game on Monday

Tim Lincecum
is your NL Cy Young winner, as accurately predicted by nobody here.

"None of the beer was spilled"


Manager of the Year, Part Two

In the wee hours of the morning, Ryan posted how preposterous it was that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire got a first-place vote for Manager of the Year. This is mostly going to be devil’s advocate, because I can. I really believe that Gardy should’ve gotten second-place votes, but the {Devil} Rays’ Joe Maddon truly deserved the award he won. That said.

Maddon was a surprise to many people, but looking at his roster, there were many hints to a great team. The trade for a reportedly solid shortstop (Jason Bartlett) and a known excellent, if emotionally-challenged, pitcher (Matt Garza). A lad whom was so well-trusted to be awesome he was given a six-year contract after six days in the major leagues--the contract covers all his arbitration years, and the team has options on his first three years of free agency. This is something that’s only done with special players. Beyond that, they had some established players in Carl Crawford and Scott Kazmir. And, of course, they had Cliff Floyd. They weren’t a contending team simply because they were in the same division as the Yankees and the Red Sox, and of course they were going to win. No one looked at the Rays simply because the Rays were never competitive before.

Ron Gardenhire also brought a team wrought with youth, with a few trades made, losing a Cy Young caliber pitcher (Johan Santana) a reportedly solid shortstop (Barlett) and excellent, if emotionally-challenged, starting pitcher (Garza), while gaining two outfielders (Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez) neither of whom produced the full season (Young starting slow and picking up, Gomez starting fast and cooling off) and was slow to start hitting at all, and an adorable, but not really superb infielder (Brendan Harris). Gardy also lost the man who was supposed to be the starting shortstop (free agent Adam Everett) and the power-hitting third baseman (Mike Lamb) to injuries for more-or-less the entire year. And when they did play, their performance was much lower than expected. In a division where the Tigers were supposed to be insanely dominating, and the Indians were knocking on their door, the Twins weren’t supposed to compete. In fact, some assumed they’d be fighting with Kansas City for fourth place. (As it turns out, Kansas City won the fight for fourth place, except the fight was with the Detroit Tigers, not the Twins or even the White Sox, as some predicted). He faced having two of his better-performing starters (Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey) on the DL for

In short, both managers took fourth-place teams, and were competitive all year. The Twins were one Ji…Jim Thome home run away from being the first-place team in their division as well. That’s what pushes Maddon clearly over the edge as the manager of the year.

Was it preposterous to give Gardy a first-place vote over Maddon? Definitely. But that’s not to say that Gardy did not deserve accolades for what he did. Yet another year puts him in second place as the manager of the year.

Timberwolves update: The Timberwolves are 1-6 (14.3 win %), and there are two teams who are 1-7 (12.5 win %). Yes, folks, the L.A. Clippers have won a game! The new Oklahoma formerly-Sonic are the other 1-7 team. Washington Whatever is 1-5 (16.7 win %), so they’re aiming low, too!

Wild update: Marian Gaborik is still injured and there’s no update on his trade versus contract status. And Mikko Koivu! is still Captain.

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Who voted for Ron Gardenhire?

The AL Manager of the year award was given to Joe Maddon this year. He brought a young team to the World Series just a year after they had the worst record in the league. He did out of the American League East. He WON the AL East. No doubt, this was the managerial job of the year, perhaps even the decade. As seems fit, he got almost all the 1st place votes, save for one that went to Ron Gardenhire.
Wait, what? Gardy's job of leading a team that has been in the playoffs more often than they haven't over the past five or six years to a one game playoff -- which they lost -- did a better job than Joe Maddon in the mind of one voter? Given how bare the cupboards were in Chicago, I would argue that Gardenhire wasn't even the best manager in the DIVISION this year (Not that Ozzie Guillen is a good manager, just luckier this year).
So who could have such an opinion? Who thought the team, at the beginning of the season was so terrible that only Gardenhire's wizardry could save the squad from dispair? Who has such a Minnesota-centric view on the sports world that he failed to achnowledge the story of the year in baseball? I'm looking at you, Souhan.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Links of the Day 11/12/08

As Beth alluded to in the comments, Pat Neshek is done for 2009 as well.

So who was the worst hitter in baseball history?

Carmelo Anthony may not be voting for Obama in four years.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NFL Power Ranks: Week 10

Is 2008 the year of the Dirty Bird? It is absolutely amazing to see what the 2 dirty bird teams, the Ravens and Falcons, are doing this season. Last year, they combined to win only 9 games, but this year, they already have 12 after only 9 games. Probably the most amazing part of all is that both teams are starting rookie quarterbacks. The Ravens dominant 4th win in a row over Houston (the game that was rescheduled) moved them up 8 spots all the way to 3rd in the ranks. The Falcons' win over the Saints moved them up 2 spots to #6. Can we see 2 teams that were often in the bottom 5 last season in the top 5 together next week? We'll just have to see.

The undefeated Titans hung onto their top spot, but now their lead is much smaller over the Giants, who got a nice win at former #3 Philadelphia this week. Despite losing, the Eagles only dropped 1 spot to #4 while the Panthers dropped 1 spot to #5 despite beating the Raiders. The Steelers loss to the up and down Colts dropped them all the way down to 13th since they fell back into the 6-3 pack.

Just when it looked like the Rams were back on the track, they lose 3 in a row, capped by a 47-3 loss to the Jets. They dropped 3 spots, back into the bottom 5 at #29. The Chiefs benefited from this and their narrow loss to the Chargers to jump a spot, while the Seahawks escaped the bottom 5, mostly thanks to the Rams and not much based on anything they did. The absolutely horrible bottom 3 remained intact.

The biggest gainers this week were the Ravens, who I already mentioned, and the Jaguars big win over the Lions rose them up 6 spots as they try to get back into the wild card hunt. The biggest losers were the Steelers, who I also already mentioned, and the Bears, who dropped 6 spots. Both teams fell is far as they did this week mostly because a lot of other teams have been very hot while these 2 teams have been kind of up and down. Here are the ranks:

1. Titans - 87.54 - Even
2. Giants - 84.89 - Even
3. Ravens - 69.95 - +8
4. Eagles - 69.19 - -1
5. Panthers - 67.65 - -1
6. Falcons - 67.25 - +2
7. Jets - 65.94 - +5
8. Buccaneers - 65.61 - -1
9. Cardinals - 64.05 - Even
10. Dolphins - 63.64 - +3
11. Patriots - 63.08 - +3
12. Bears - 57.74 - -6
13. Steelers - 57.22 - -8
14. Redskins - 57.15 - -4
15. Colts - 54.65 - +3
16. Packers - 53.76 - -1
17. Jaguars - 51.89 - +6
18. Vikings - 51.85 - -2
19. Saints - 48.31 - -2
20. Chargers - 46.38 - +4
21. Cowboys - 45.52 - +1
22. Bills - 44.51 - -3
23. Browns - 40.05 - -3
24. Texans - 38.09 - -3
25. Broncos - 37.84 - Even
26. Raiders - 29.28 - +1
27. Seahawks - 26.72 - +1
28. Chiefs - 24.39 - +1
29. Rams - 23.76 - -3
30. Bengals - 21.82 - Even
31. 49ers - 18.82 - Even
32. Lions - 12.64 - Even

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Links of the Day 11/11/08

Happy Veterans Day

Nazis infiltrate a soccer game. No, this didn't happen in America.

The Lions are in need of some motivation.

What did this hit?!


Monday, November 10, 2008

If I were the GM: The Ryan edition

All right, after great posts from a few other people, it's my turn. Time to put on my General Manager pants and take the reins of this team. So. Let's do this thing.

First, let me make two things about my plan clear. I intend to meld the team into my own vision. In my mind, the problem is that the Twins don't hit for near enough power to take advantage of their speed and high average. Their strength has always been a strong farm system that produces pitchers and gifted players in the field. Now, in the majors, we need to develop some hitters. The other facet of the plan is that I will not use free agency, save for patching last minute holes or filling roster spots. That being said, here are six things I would do as the GM.

Let Nick Punto and Dennys Reyes go. Both are gifted role players. Gifted, yes. But role players. The Twins have been able to find pitchers off the scrap heap to plug into short reliever roles, even lefties, and Matt Tolbert appears ready to step in as the second coming of Nick Punto (or third coming of Denny Hocking (or fourth coming of Jeff Reboulet))

Trade for a third baseman. It sounds easy enough, right? Everyone has been saying it, pointing to guys like Garret Atkins and Hank Blalock, with Atkins the hottest rumor. Blalock was redigned by the Rangers and may be a tougher sell anyways because of cost and a history of injury. Atkins has put up good numbers, however they are much better at Coors than they are on the road. Instead of rehashing those old rumors, I would explore a trade with the Reds for their slugging, line drive hitting third baseman Edwin Encarnacion. He's only 25 years old, but had he played for the Twins, he would have led the team in homeruns. Sure, there is a park factor too in Cincinnati, however he hits line drives, and has comparable numbers away from home. He's certainly not the prototype of a Twins infielder, but with coaching, his defense and batting average will both improve. Now, the proposed trade? Well, the Reds are going to be thirsty for a veteran outfielder and youth to go along with him. Here's the blockbuster, as I proposed it in July: The Twins get Encarnacion and relief pitcher Jared Burton in exchange for Michael Cuddyer, Brian Buscher, Steven Tolleson and Steven Singleton. The number of prospects would have to be high simply because Burton and Encarnacion are cheap, young and talented.

I would dangle Joe Nathan as trade bait. Closers are overvalued, and with Nathan we could add a solid middle infielder or a few pitchers for the bullpen. Can you imagine if Johan Santana and Nathan had been packaged? The Twins could have ended up with Jose Reyes!

I would suggest to Ron Gardenhire and hitting coach Joe Vavra that with Delmon Young, Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel and even Joe Mauer and Carlos Gomez in the lineup, I expect a few more extra base hits.

I wouldn't change the pitching rotation much at all. The only thing I would consider is seeing if there is a market for Boof Bonser, but other than that, a more veteran rotation will mean more innings pitched by starters meaning fewer innings pitched by the bullpen. In the end, this means the bullpen doesn't break down over the last two months of the year. That's something I don't even have to do!

Ok, one free agent. Cliff Floyd!

In the end, the opening day lineup and rotation are as follows:

1. Denard Span RF
2. Alexei Casilla SS
3. Joe Mauer C
4 Justin Morneau 1b
5. Edwin Encarnacion 3b
6. Jason Kubel DH
7. Delmon Young LF
8. Brenan Harris 2b
9. Carlos Gomez CF

Matt Tolbert
Cliff Floyd
Mike Redmond
Jason Pridie/Matt Macri

1. Scott Baker
2. Francisco Liriano
3. Nick Blackburn
4. Kevin Slowey
5. Glenn Perkins

Jared Burton
Matt Guerrier
Craig Breslow
Jose Mijares
Pat Neshek
Jesse Crain
Joe Nathan.

Thats it. Thoughts?

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Links of the Day 11/10/08

Is the SEC better than the Big Ten? Probably. Is it crazier? Definitely.

There is a movement afoot...

Holy crap, Matt Holliday was traded to the A's!


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Tennessee Titans, Paper Tigers

The Tennessee Titans are now 9-0. Good for them. Let's take a look at their opponents.

Jacksonville: 4-5
Cincinnati: 1-8
Houston: 3-6
Minnesota: 5-4
Baltimore: 6-3
Kansas City: 1-8
Indianapolis: 5-4
Green Bay: 4-5
Chicago: 5-4

That would be 34-47, with the only real test a road game against Baltimore. Color me unimpressed. The above average team should be undefeated against that schedule. These Titans will not make it to the Super Bowl.

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Links of the Day 11/9/08

Trey Wingo, well, he's used a little understatement.

Even if the Gophers struggled yesterday, they are still a threat next year, right?

Hey the Vikings won. Way to go.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

If I Were GM: White Sox Edition

Hopefully I can give everyone a break from this heated Twins off-season talk. As the resident White Sox fan, I get to pretend to be Kenny Williams today. As you know, the White Sox are fresh off a division title and have a lot of their players locked up for several years. Their major weakness in 2008 was their strength in 2005: they couldn't manufacture runs in a traditional way. They relied way too much on the solo home run and not enough on baserunning and timely hitting. That will only get you so far. If they want to take that next step, they will need to balance their team more for 2009 and strengthen their pitching staff a little more. I'll break it down, position by position:

Catcher: Say what you want about him, but I'd take AJ Pierzynski over just about any catcher in the majors. He knows how to handle a pitching staff and call a game and his offensive skills and clutch hitting are a major help. Toby Hall's option has already been declined, so I'll just pick a backup off the free agent menu.....let's go with Brad Ausmus. I would also consider giving a young guy like Donny Lucy or Paul Phillips another chance in the majors.

1st Base: In Paul we Trust. I'd have no choice but to keep Konerko at first because his horrible season last year greatly hurt his trade value. I'll just have to hold out hope that his strong August and September could translate well to 2009.

2nd Base and Shortstop: This is where it gets more interesting, and these 2 positions are definitely tied together for the White Sox. Just like Kenny, I would let Orlando Cabrera take a hike, leaving the door open for Alexei Ramirez to take over at SS, his natural postion. Believe it or not, the Sox actually have 2 promising young prospects in their system, 2B Chris Getz, and SS Gordon Beckham. Getz is ready to play in the majors now, but Beckham was just drafted in 2008 but seems to be on the fast track. I would keep Juan Uribe as insurance in case Getz doesn't work out.

3rd Base: With Joe Crede's back completely shot, the Sox are going to have to go a different direction, and that direction could be back to the land of communism and fine cigars. This story just ran in the Chicago Sun-Times this morning. So yes, I would send Contreras and Ramirez on a recruiting trip and land Dayan Viciedo. If that doesn't work, I would take a run at Casey Blake, who has stayed healthy and put up Crede-like numbers for the past few seasons.

Outfield: Carlos Quentin was the steal of the trade season last year, and hopefully he'll keep climbing to superstar status. Jermaine Dye will also be back again in RF. That leaves the question of CF. The Sox can either hang on to Nick Swisher and give him another shot, they could go young, or they could try out the free agent and trade markets with Swisher. In their system, they have speedy Jerry Owens, so-so Brian Anderson, and surprising Dewayne Wise. They could be alright going with a combination of the 3 next season, or they could try to make another big move. I would love to see them go after a proven speedy guy that could bat leadoff consistently. There is a rumor going around that the Yankees are interested in trading Johnny Damon for Nick Swisher. I would take that deal in a heartbeat, and see if the pretty stupid Yankees management would throw in a pitching prospect as well.

Also, if Frank Thomas decides it is time to retire, I would sign him for 1 day to let him retire as a member of the Sox. Thanks for the memories, Hurt.

Starting Pitching: For some reason, it seems like a good idea to stay the hell away from starting pitching free agents. They command a ton of money and are usually pretty horrible. Luckily for the Sox, they have a decent rotation with Mark Buehrle, Jose Contreras (if he stays healthy), Gavin Floyd, and John Danks. I would try everything in my power to get rid of Javier Vazquez, who some teams are interested in for some reason, especially if I could help rebuild the shattered Sox farm system in return. That leads to a search for a 5th starter, which I wouldn't mind seeing the Sox take a chance on a youngster again, like Clayton Richard or top prospect, Aaron Poreda. I'd let them battle it out in spring training and maybe try to sign a veteran for cheap to make it a 3 way contest.

Relief Pitching: Bobby Jenks is still my closer. I don't know if the rest of the bullpen is even worth talking about. They were more or less terrible last year, and there isn't a whole lot you can do to fix it, like most teams in the majors realize. I would definitely hang on to Matt Thornton and put Clayton Richard out there if he loses the starting battle, and probably keep Linebrink and see what other youngsters impress in Arizona in March. Oh, and I would trade Octavio Dotel to the Twins. I don't care what I get in return, I would just really like to see him in a Twins uniform coming into an important close game.

So here's my starting lineup and rotation:
1. CF - Johnny Damon
2. SS - Alexei Ramirez
3. LF - Carlos Quentin
4. RF - Jermaine Dye
5. DH - Jim Thome
6. 1B - Paul Konerko
7. 3B - Dayan Viciedo/Casey Blake
8. C - A.J. Pierzynski
9. 2B - Chris Getz

SP1: Mark Buehrle
SP2: Jose Contreras
SP3: Gavin Floyd
SP4: John Danks
SP5: Aaron Poreda

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Links of the Day 11/8/08

Could the Twins trade Michael Cuddyer? Not the trade I was thinking of, but definitely something worth looking at,

The Gophers are going to for the Little Brown Jug today.

Simply because I haven't linked to this bit of awesomeness yet this season, and it's college football saturday.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Yes, it's wonderful that my high school is good at sports

I went to a private high school. My brother went to a private high school as well, though his was a new one built just down the road from where we grew up. The education was top notch, and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world. One of the most enjoyable parts of my high school experience was attending state tournaments, which were won twice by our hockey teams and our soccer teams. That's a state championship for every year I was in high school. Not bad.
In the mean time, the hockey team has since been a perennial contender in the state tournament, even being forced to move up in the class since they owned the the smaller schools. My brothers' school, being new, was not so lucky.
Kyle graduated in '04. Since that time, the team has won a state basketball tournament and is in their first state football tournament. Looking at the public school districts that my school and his would typically draw from, only one has proved to be a perennial favorite in any sport, Eden Prairie in football, and they are coached by the son of Bud Grant.
You might think that this is leading into a debate about recruiting in high school, but that's not it. Not at all. In high school, kids are there for three reasons, education, social interaction and athletics (religion gets thrown in their at some schools, of course), in that order. If you have the means to get to a school with a better reputation for any of those three things, then why not?
The problem, at least in Minnesota, is with the classification of teams in their various divisions. Schools like mine, for example, graduate 200 students or so a year, and as such, were placed in the same class as schools of similar size. The same can be said for my brother's smaller school, playing in it's smaller class.
Larger schools are assumed to be better because they have a larger talent pool and access to better facilities than their smaller counterparts. This simply isn't the case for a private school. Just think, a school like, say New London-Spicer, drawing from a couple towns of a little over 1000 people is in the same class as my brothers' a town in the Minneapolis metro, drawing from several towns of greater than 10000 people. And anyone who is the best at their sport, expecting their athletic prowess to lead to a college scholarship, could convince mommy and daddy to fork over the cash for high school.
With those kinds of numbers, it's no wonder we went to schools with such athletic success. The way to level the playing field is to make private schools play in higher classes.


Links of the Day 11/7/08

The new York Rangers are entering a moral gray area with the deceased prospect Alexei Cherapanov.

So, Jane Austen was a baseball fan?

I thought running was hard enough as it was, let alone running twice as much as you expected.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Links of the Day 11/6/08

Boiled Sports turns 2. Awww. They're all growed up!

What I want to know is what Bill James thought before the election.

For some reason, her mile time was down a bit....


World Series at a Neutral Site?

Last week, the Phillies/Rays had Game 5--which was a critical game, because either the Phillies would win the World Series or they’d go on to Game 6--postponed/suspended/delayed by rain. I forget the official call because I have a mind like a bad hockey goalie*. It was delayed by about 48 hours. This led many people saying that maybe the World Series should be played in a neutral site, like the Super Bowl (which is not necessarily neutral, from my understanding. A team could play the Super Bowl in their own stadium by making it there in a year their stadium was selected to host the superbowl). As far as I know, every other major sport plays their final championship as a series, with the games held in each team’s home field/court/ice.

As a fan of a couple of local major sports (hockey and baseball), I like the home field/ice. Playing at home does give the home team an advantage, usually, but that’s not what I’m concerned about. Every fan of every team really wants to see their team win it all--the Stanley Cup, the World Series, the Super Bowl, the NBA Championship. The season ticket holders are given first dibs to the playoff tickets. This makes sense. The fans that supported the team all year get to see the team in the playoffs, and if they make it to the ultimate game, they might get to see their team win it all. The Phillies fans have seen a lot of losses in their years as fans. But this year, they got to see a World Series win.

Now, granted, during a playoff run, there are a lot of fans that aren’t die-hard showing up. That doesn’t necessarily make them bandwagon jumpers. But the die-hard fans who sit through some pretty miserable games? I’m of the opinion that they deserve to be there as their team plays in the play-offs. Even if the winning game is on the road, the fans will still get to see at least two playoff games at home (in the first round, if the team loses, the fans may only get to see one playoff game at home, but my point stands: fans will get to see one playoff game).

Besides, neutral territory for the World Series won’t work any better than home locations, unless the World Series will only be held in locations with a roof--and we should probably take Florida and Texas teams out of the equation, because of hurricanes, as well as any northern city that is in danger of snowstorms. Even if there is a roof, if people can’t get to the game, they shouldn’t be played. Otherwise, we’re facing the same risks as the current system, in terms of bad weather. And it’s not like it can be decided the day before, because stadiums need to let employees know if they’ll need to work, and fans need to know which city to be in. Thus, to prevent as many weather conflicts as possible, we need a stadium with a roof, in a climate not likely to get snow. I’m just not willing to give all World Series to Seattle and Arizona.

Keep the playoff teams playing at home. In a one-game series, it might make sense to have a neutral site (so no one gets home-field advantage), but in a seven-game series, give them both at least two games of home field advantage. The fans deserve it, and there's no advantage to a neutral site.

*A mind like a sieve. Get it? Anyone? Sigh.

Apparently the NBA has started playing. So, we’re going to keep up with a Minnesota Timberwolves Watch again here on Thursdays, which will be suspended if the Timberwolves manage to keep above a 40% win percentage for any length of time. Fortunately for this blogger, they have a 1-3 start to the year, which puts them tied with six other teams for fourth worst, with three teams with a lower win-percentage. As there are two teams 1-2, but only the LA Clippers without a win (in five games), this race for worst in the NBA is still up in the air! Stay tuned.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I guess if Obama wants a playoff....

I've been broken. I steadfastly protested a playoff in college football, but it's becoming increasingly clear to me that it would likely be in the best interest of the league. Let's get one thing straight though, I don't like any of the proposals out there. I don't like the plus one, I don't like the four team, and I don't like President-elect Obama's eight team playoff. Why?
What many people don't like about the national championship as it stands is that it doesn't reward quality teams that don't fall in those two top slots. I don't like the idea of an eight team playoff, for example, because in some seasons, it won't go far enough, and in others it will go too far. For example, this season, if we take the top eight teams in the BCS and through them into a playoff, we would end up with Alabama, Texas Tech, Penn State, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, USC and Utah in the tournament. Three teams from the Big 12 South. Who wouldn't want that? Well, you know, besides the rest of the country. But really, those teams will have all played each other, and a winner has been decided. Like it or not, but Ball State hasn't been tested, and they find themselves undefeated. Why should they get bypassed when Oklahoma gets in?
That's all I want out of a tournament, without getting too deeply into it, (because Steve and I both have invested a lot of time in this topic before) just make sure that those that most deserve to be in a tournament that get in. In the basketball tournament, conference winners all make the tournament. In my mind, thats what we need to look at in a college football tournament, just an event that rewards teams for winning their conferences first.
As I mentioned in the parenthesees, we spent a lot of time on this last year, and we will be running the simulation based on last seasons simulation results leading into the bowl season. Just fair warning.

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Links of the Day 11/5/08

Because why wouldn't we want every ACC team in a bowl game?

Allen Iverson, more mature, is becoming more likable.

I can't tell if this is trick or treat.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

NFL Power Ranks: Week 9

On this election day, I'm sure nothing is more important to you than my computerized NFL power ranks, so I won't let you down. I waited until a little later to do these, because I had a grand idea to make this a special edition called the "power rank electoral college," where I would award the team's power ranking score to the candidate that won the state the team is in, but with a few states up for grabs, it looks like McCain is only going to win states where 8 NFL teams call home, so that's not going to work. If you look at the 2000 and 2004 maps, there were actually exactly 16 NFL teams in red states and 16 NFL teams in blue.

The Flaming Thumbtacks improved to 8-0 this week and still hold a commanding lead on the #1 spot over the Giants, whose impressive narrowed the gap a little. A pretty surprising 3rd is the 5-3 Eagles. They are there because they play in a really great division and are one of only 3 teams (along with the Titans and Giants) that are ranked in the top 10 in the league in offense, defense, and turnovers. If you couple this new #3 spot with the Phillies world series title, I think this post deserves the crazy Eagle fan picture yet again. The idle Panthers dropped to #4, and the Steelers took the Redskins spot by beating them. The Patriots dropped out after their loss to the crazy Colts.

The bottom 5 remained intact but the Bengals first win of the year leaped them over the Lions and 49ers.

There were a lot of big gains and losses this week. Atlanta, Arizona, and Baltimore all jumped 8 spots after getting big wins over bad teams, and all improved to 5-3, which helps the argument that they are all "for real." The biggest losers were New England, who fell back down to earth at the hands of the Colts. Fading Buffalo also dropped 8 spots to #19, as did never good enough to be fading Cleveland and the future definition of "collapse," the Dallas Cowboys. Once again I'll note that the AFC West leading Broncos are ranked #25. Here are the ranks....

1. Titans - 87.31 - Even
2. Giants - 80.39 - Even
3. Eagles - 71.91 - +3
4. Panthers - 70.15 - -1
5. Steelers - 68.68 - +2
6. Bears - 65.38 - +2
7. Buccaneers - 64.94 - +2
8. Falcons - 63.84 - +8
9. Cardinals - 63.05 - +8
10. Redskins - 59.23 - -6
11. Ravens - 58.92 - +8
12. Jets - 58.03 - +1
13. Dolphins - 57.15 - +2
14. Patriots - 56.44 - -9
15. Packers - 54.59 - -5
16. Vikings - 52.36 - +7
17. Saints - 52.07 - +1
18. Colts - 51.94 - +4
19. Bills - 48.05 - -8
20. Browns - 47.64 - -8
21. Texans - 46.28 - Even
22. Cowboys - 45.89 - -8
23. Jaguars - 43.35 - -3
24. Chargers - 40.23 - Even
25. Broncos - 34.39 - +1
26. Rams - 34.03 - -1
27. Raiders - 29.24 - Even
28. Seahawks - 26.73 - Even
29. Chiefs - 23.72 - Even
30. Bengals - 22.27 - +2
31. 49ers - 20.08 - -1
32. Lions - 12.58 - -1

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