Saturday, January 31, 2009

Steve's Super Bowl Pick

Watch the video above if you dare, for it is the hell raising shriek of the mighty Cardinal as he prepares to go into battle. It seems fitting that the least threatening mascot in the NFL is paired with a team that could possibly be the least successful in the history of sports. Even though the Cards are a division rival of my favorite team (the 49ers), they have been significant to me for 2 reasons this year. First, their roots are in the south side of Chicago, where they played their home games at Comiskey Park until they moved to St. Louis in 1960. Because of this they were my dad's favorite team as a kid (then he switched to the Raiders). Second, I moved to Arizona this fall and have nothing against supporting any of the 4 home town teams (but only the Coyotes have a chance to become my favorite in any of those sports).

All of the experts out there are going with the Steelers to win this game, and it makes a ton of sense. The Cardinals would be the worst team record-wise to ever win the Super Bowl if they pull off the upset tomorrow, and the Steelers have history, experience, and the stronger AFC background going for them as well. But in a season where Tom Brady gets knocked out in week 1, Brett Favre plays for the Jets, the Dolphins and Falcons make the playoffs, and Mike Singletary moons his team at half time, doesn't it sorta just make sense that an ancient Kurt Warner would lead the Arizona Cardinals to a default (because everyone else was awful) division title and then miraculously carry them to their first ever Super Bowl win? I think so too. Sorry Steelers, if this was a normal season, I'd be on your side. I'm not even all that impressed with the Steelers this season either. They seemed like a 2nd class team all year that could hardly ever get anything going offensively. I think they were probably the 4th best team in the AFC this year (behind Indy, Tennessee, and New England) and got lucky with matchups in the playoffs. No matter who wins, this Super Bowl champ may be remembered as the team that deserved the title the least, but I don't think the fans in Pittsburgh or Arizona will care.

Cardinals 34, Steelers 24


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Links of the Day 1/31/09

If you aren't a football fan, here are a few alternatives. Of course, if you don't plan on watching the game, you probably aren't reading this blog.

Scientists learn things so you don't have to.

Bud Selig is a man of ideas.

Also, since I forgot in my Match game Part 2 post of a couple days ago... the blank in the Travis Henry line would suitably be filled with "meeting" or "making love to"


Friday, January 30, 2009

These two guys are going to help shape baseball?

Over the past couple of weeks, we've been presented with news of players testifying against former teammates. These men will help mold our historical perspective on the late 80s and 90s. One is a pitcher, one a catcher. The pitcher will testify against Clemens, because he trained with he and Pettite. This pitcher was C.J. Nitkowski, he of the 5.37 lifetime ERA.
The catcher will be testifying against Barry Bonds. This catcher, Bobby Estalella will be most remembered for testifying againts Barry Bonds, probably not his career .216 average.
But these two mediocre players are going to be involved in defining the legacy of two of the greatest players of all time.

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Links of the Day 1/30/09

A surprisingly thorough Super Bowl prediction.

There are still rumors about free agents the Twins won't sign.

Also, the Wild made a trade, acquiring Dan Fritsche from the Rangers.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Can't they wear matching shoes?

Hey, the Super Bowl is coming up! There are some great commercials, if you manage to sit through the football game that breaks up the advertisement time. It’s possible. (I kid. I’ve only watched the Super Bowl once, and was equally interested in the game and the ads.) Consider this my Super Bowl article.

Remember how I said I won my fantasy football league despite knowing nothing about football. I have friends who are similar to me--we like sports, but football is a weak spot in our knowledge. My friend Cathleen called a couple of months ago. She said, “Did you know the kicker in football wears two different shoes?” I had no idea. She was watching a game with her boyfriend, and noticed that his shoes were two different colors.

Now, while I didn’t know why a kicker would wear two different shoes, I could imagine that there would be a very good reason for it. I had no problem with needing a specialized shoe for the kicking foot. The question I had--and still have--is why they can’t at least look similar. Can’t both shoes be made to be the same color and pattern? Walk into a shoe store--even a specialized athletic shoe store--and look at all the different patterns and designs and styles. You cannot tell me that shoe manufacturers couldn’t sell pairs of shoes, with one kicking shoe and one normal shoe. I simply refuse to believe it. Brief internet research shows that it’s the “style” of kickers to do this. Well, yes, but three-foot bouffant hair styles were once fashion, too, until people realized they were ridiculous.

Incidentally, the kickers two shoes are different because of cleats. (Or so brief internet research has shown). The foot that’s planted has cleats, to keep the kicker from slipping falling over. The foot that kicks does not have cleats, so the shoe slides across the grass (or artificial turf, as the case may be) to increase speed for kicking. That makes sense to me, and as I initially stated, I have no problem with this. Just wear matching shoes.

Super Bowl prediction: I don’t know a lot about football, but I do know that it’s the Cardinals (formerly of St. Louis) versus the Steelers (of Pittsburgh, where the Penguins and Pirates play). But I can tell you with 100% certainty which team will win: the team that scores the most points.

Timberwolves update: 16-28 (3-1 since last time, 12-13 since McHale). Basketball owners may want to note that McHale is doing better as a coach than he was as a general manager.

Marian Gaborik Injury Status: My fruit snacks today were evenly balanced in color, which was aesthetically pleasing. Also, there’s nothing to report on Mr. Injury.

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Links of the Day 1/29/09

Andy Roddick, the only male tennis player most of you have heard of, gets bounced in the Australian Open.

This.... this is scary. I have to admit I'm not a big fan of fish to begin with.

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers will figure out TV. Eventually.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What is a Boilermaker?

Everyone I talk to about college sports asks the same thing: What is a Boilermaker, exactly? Well, the easy answer is that it is one who makes boilers. It's a gritty, factory position that reflects the hardworking principles that Purdue University would like to reflect. Of course, at the time the name came to be, it was a derogatory remark by a sports writer for an opposing school who didn't like the prospect of butting heads with a bunch of burly blue collar athletes, but the name stuck and was adopted lovingly by the Purdue faithful.
Of course, now it's getting a new definition as something that destroys Badgers.

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Tyrese Rice will have more Final Four teams than anyone.

Well, thank goodness for this.

An acrobat falls to his death performing before a golf tournament.


Match Game part 2

Now, let's trn to the panel and see what they have to say for the "correct" answers to Monday's post.

1. Ego (nice Beth!)

2. Moustache

3. Dives into first, bunts (its a funny word), hustles, sucks... The panel was divided

4. Shoot commercials

5. Birds nests, rubber cement (again, panel was divided)

6. NJIT, Detroit Lions, the Vikings, pick your favorite terrible team.

7. Ranting, Typing, Annoying. All good.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Links of the Day 1/27/09

Tom Brady seems to have things in order

Casting has begun for the Super Bowl 43 movie.

BREAKING: CC Sabathia traded to the Brewers!


Monday, January 26, 2009

The Victoria Times Match Game!

With sports generally at a stand still (even if you enjoy the NBA or NHL) for the next couple of months, it's time to find our own diversions. Lately, I have been waking up at around 830 or so, watching an hour of Sportscenter as I work out, watching The Price is Right and another hour of Sportscenter while I write for you rubes, then flipping it over to the Game Show Network. Card Sharks, The Match Game, and Family Feud all come on before I go to work. I wish I were Richard Dawson. That guy had it all figured out.
Anyways, for those who haven't seen it, The Match Game is the best. Without going into detail, I thought it might be fun if we set up a version of the Match Game here at the Times. Without further ado, (and fill in the blanks in the comments) to the game.

- Marian Gaborik missed another practice. This time, it wasn't his groin, it was his [blank].

- Brock Spack was told that he wasn't a very good defensive coordinator. "Defensive coordinator?! I thought I was the [blank] coordinator!"

- Joe Crede was in talks with the Twins, but was worried about playing with Nick Punto. "I'm not used to playing with guys who [blank]"

- After an offseason marred by two surgeries, Peyton Manning will change things up in 2009. Instead, he will [blank]

- Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald were chatting before the Super Bowl. It turns out, instead of gel or hairspray, they both put [blank] in their hair.

- With 9 kids already, it's no wonder Travis Henry was [blank]ing a school teacher.

- Dumb Dora was so dumb (how dumb was she?!?), she actually thought the [blank] had a chance to win the championship.

- I wouldn't really call what Ryan does at the Victoria Times "writing". It's more like [blank]ing.


Links of the Day 1/26/09

So, the All-Star game was pretty good.

HHR interviews the guy who invented instant replay. He's 75, so the fact that he knows what the internet is is a pretty good accomplishment.

Crime in Chicago so high because the police can only work weekends, evenings (and only until 10 on school nights)


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Michael Jordan's son earns scholarship

Thank goodness for this. I would hate for a young man, the son of mere multi-millionaires, to have to pay a dime for college. I mean, I did, but my parents aren't famous. The best part? Junior Jordan will be able to use his college degree to net himself a high paying job, or perhaps he will just continue to reap the benefits of his father's success. It's all right though, because I haven't earned as much money as I spent in tuition either. So I guess we have that in common.
Illinois sucks.


Links of the Day 1/25/09

Seriously, who steals a dog? I mean, aside from criminals in Mark Trail.

The Twins continue their pursuit of Joe Crede or Eric Gagne.

It's awesome whenever Notre Dame loses, but their loss last night to UCONN was especially sweet.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Denny Green is a better coach than Bill Belichick

I know it sounds crazy, but if you look only at one rubric, Denny Green is far and away a better coach than Belichick. Green has developed perhaps the strongest branch of the Bill Walsh coaching tree (hard to believe on its own) while Belichick is the strongest branch of the Bill Parcells tree.
Beyond that, however, the offshoots of the Denny Green tree have proven to be the strongest of any coach that has served in the past 10 years or so (excluding Parcells). For comparison, look at some of the coaches under the Belichick tree:
Eric Mangini
Romeo Crennel
Charlie Weis
Nick Saban.

A lot of college coaches. Now, take a look at the guys that can trace their roots back to Denny:
Brian Billick
Tony Dungy
Mike Tomlin
Lovie Smith
Mike Smith
Mike Singletary

Those were the good ones. Sure he had some stinkers, like Rod Marinelli or Mike Tice, but overall, I think Denny Green can make a case as being one of the greatest mentors the NFL has ever seen. Just pray he doesn't coach your team in the final two minutes of a key game.

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Links of the Day 1/24/09

The parade of fired NFL coaches carries on.

It is pretty funny that they had Bobby Knight on the Purdue game

Unlike this guy, US Air has problems with the water hazards.


Friday, January 23, 2009

A few thoughts on the Purdue-Minnesota game

I was able to get tickets to the Purdue-Minnesota game yesterday (obstructed view!) so I thought I would share a few of my thoughts. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera (although I wouldn't have got much, what with the pole in my way. Anyways, some thoughts.

- Whenever I have been to Purdue-Minnesota games in the past, I end up rooting for the road team, simply because the home crowd ends up acting like such jerks. The "you're a pussy" chant after Marcus Green was injured was disgusting.

- The Gophers are a much bigger and more athletic, but they simply couldn't handle the jump shooting bigs of Purdue. There was no excuse, because of Minnesota's size and strength, for Purdue outrebounding Minnesota. More than anything, I think the work on the glass was a bigger factor than Purdue's shooting or even the Boiler defense, because Minnesota was very good on the interior defense for most of the game.

- Watching him on TV, I never really haven't seen Robbie Hummel as a fun player to watch. He doesn't move fluidly, he has an ugly shot, and he isn't a particularly gifted ball handler. I thought maybe watching him in person finally would tell me how he's so successful. Nope.

- Jajuan Johnson, on the other hand, is quite a treat. Have you ever seen a giraffe running? Nothing looks right, it all looks slow motion, but then you realize that because it's so lanky, it's actually moving quite quickly and, upon further review, its actually quite beautiful to watch. That is Jajuan Johnson. The Jaraffe, as I believe he should be called.

- Colton Iverson reminds me of Kris Humphries. No, that is not a good thing.

- The Minnesota back court is infinitely better than Purdue's but again, Purdue's ability to work their bigs to the perimeter makes up for this. For whatever reason, maybe the lack of dominant interior players, Minnesota didn't really even try to get it down low.

- Nemanja Calasan and Lewis Jackson have a strange relationship. Calasan went out of his way to congratulate Jackson, pat him on the back, encourage him when things go awry. Jackson seemed to resent this.

- Chris Kramer hit the floor at least once a minute. You would think someone as stocky as he wouldn't get knocked over so much.

- The officiating was brutal on both sides of the game. So at least it was fair.

- The Gophers didn't really have anyone try to step up. Al Nolan played all right, but he didn't get his team into the game.

- Purdue travels way too much.

- Holly Rowe is, as Bob Whitfield might say, thick in the britches. It was, however, funny to see her try to peer in the huddles during timeouts.

- I got to see Bob Knight! He was across the court, but still.

- Tubby Smith is going to fall off his stool one day, and it will be too bad. It's been good having him in the Big Ten.

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Links of the Day 1/23/09

Ron McCormick was never considered for the Jets head coaching position.

Yes! Self referential! One of my posts yesterday at BMR. If you aren't reading BMR every day, what's wrong with you?

No Timberwolf could find their way to the all-star game if you gave them a map. They'll try though.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Bat Rules

Back on September 11, 2008, I wrote about aluminum bats, and the potential than they were more lethal because of the bat speed and so forth. This concerned many officials because of the injury potential at the speedier baseballs hit, giving those in the ball’s path less time to react. At the time, I didn’t discuss the issue in major league baseball: maple bats versus ash bats. It seemed to many that the new maple bats were breaking--shattering, actually--at a higher rate than the traditional ash bats. The splintering caused sharp-edged pieces of wood to fly in many directions, endangering players and fans. MLB has taken care of the issue. They commissioned a study of scientists on maple bats, and believe hitting on the edge grain rather than the face grain of maple bats. (And if you’re like me, you’re wondering what the difference is. This Wikipedia article might help you. Good luck.)

While I would’ve been more likely to place merit on the large-barreled, thin-handled bats being a culprit in breaking, apparently the researchers were able to dismiss that theory. Whether they did it on tests, or just ignored it isn’t reported, although with most geeks I know, they would insist on tests. And as the researchers were less interested in bats breaking and more interested in the shattering of bats, I imagine that the issue is still open in the breaking of bats. It’s something else to be considered, at any rate.

I’m a big fan of tradition, so it should come as no surprise that I prefer ash bats over maple. However, if maple bats are either proved to be as safe as ash bats, or their manufacturing off-sets the issue, I would see no reason to not include them. I don’t think MLB has enough information to ban maple bats, yet, but I definitely think that scientists need to be working on the issue. While safety is important, life is dangerous in general. Not every injury can be prevented without compromising enjoyment. If we wanted safety, we’d be wrapping all the players and fans in bubblewrap, and frankly, I would hate to see the awkward bumblings of players wrapped in bubblewrap--and would hate to try to enjoy an outdoor game in summer whilst wrapped in bubblewrap myself.

However, I will never be in favor of metal bats in the major leagues. I only grudgingly allow it in non-professional ball because of the cost issue. There’s something very solid about hearing a baseball hit a wooden bat, that the tinkle of a baseball hitting an aluminum bat just doesn’t bring.

Timberwolves update: 13-27 (2-1 since last time, 9-12 since McHale). Their win percentage is over 30% and there are SIX teams worse than the T-Wolves out there.

Marian Gaborik Injury Status: It’s the NHL All-Star Break.

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Links of the Day 1/22/08

This is great. I wish Bill Smith was as approachable as Cardinals GM John Mozeliak.

Does this sign, found by Hugging Harold Reynolds, remind you of anything?

How prestigious is YOUR school? What? Nobody cares? Oh.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

NFL Power Ranks: Conference Championships

So now here we heading to the Super Bowl. On one side, we have a team that is going for its unprecedented 6th Super Bowl win, and on the other, we have a team that is quite possibly the least successful in sports history. So how did the ranks shake out? Well, the ranks got both picks wrong last week, making this upset filled playoffs record 4-6. My puppy also missed both games last week, but I think I misinterpreted him. Maybe he attacks the helmet of the loser, so he lets the winning helmet get away unscathed. This week, the dog picked the Cardinals helmet, which means he's picking the Steelers.

The Ravens loss and the Steelers win a sloppy game kind of screwed up the ranks heading into the Super Bowl. The Patriots, a team that missed the playoffs, are now #1 (but I still think had they made the playoffs, they would be in the Super Bowl instead of Pittsburgh), while the Ravens held onto 2nd over the team they lost to, the Steelers, who are in 3rd. The Cardinals win, moved them up to 6th, which isn't bad for a team that finished 9-7.

I can now say with confidence that if the Steelers end up winning the Super Bowl, they will finish #1 in the ranks, and all will be well. If the Cardinals win, they could climb probably only as high as 4th or 5th, which I think would be appropriate because it definitely won't feel like the best team in the league won it this year.

Here are the ranks:
1. Patriots - 73.37 - +1
2. Ravens - 71.43 - -1
3. Steelers - 71.40 - +2
4. Colts - 71.16 - -1
5. Eagles - 68.90 - -1
6. Cardinals - 66.69 - +5
7. Dolphins - 65.53 - -1
8. Titans - 62.99 - Even
9. Giants - 62.99 - -2 (3rd decimal place tiebreaker)
10. Falcons - 62.80 - -1
11. Panthers - 62.11 - -1
12. Bears - 59.30 - Even
13. Chargers - 57.22 - Even
14. Saints - 51.98 - Even
15. Vikings - 50.99 - Even
16. Jets - 49.66 - Even
17. Texans - 49.28 - Even
18. Buccaneers - 46.60 - Even
19. Redskins - 46.19 - Even
20. Packers - 44.30 - Even
21. Cowboys - 43.10 - Even
22. 49ers - 42.44 - +1
23. Bengals - 42.21 - -1
24. Bills - 39.64 - Even
25. Raiders - 36.70 - Even
26. Broncos - 34.45 - +1
27. Jaguars - 34.20 - -1
28. Seahawks - 32.32 - Even
29. Browns - 31.96 - Even
30. Chiefs - 22.19 - Even
31. Rams - 16.31 - Even
32. Lions - 11.50 - Even

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Links of the Day 1/21/09

The re-signing of Jason Kubel is official. Some day I'll be GM.

The Dodgers are simply way too expensive this year.

Jonathan Papelbon looks... different.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Think about this...

With Barack Obama's inauguration (right now!) today, it gives us time for reflection on where we are and how far we've come. This is a sports blog, and I am in no good position to remark on this. Think about this, however... the first time he makes a call to a champion's locker as president, it could be to the Arizona Cardinals. The times, they are a-changin'.


Links of the Day 1/20/09

Willis McGahee is apparently OK even after getting destroyed on Sunday.

As I may have mentioned previously, the Wild are boring. Boring but winning.

I am frightened by # 8.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Why do Minnesota sports have to be so BORING?!

In Minnesota, we've been blessed with decent sports franchises, generally getting a team into the postseason every year, be it the Twins or the Vikings or Wild or the Timberwolves (though not lately). Usually, there is one winner somewhere in Minnesota. Even when they are winning, however, the teams are grueling to watch. What does Minnesota have against offense?
The Twins, for example, have emerged as a perennial threat to win the AL Central, thanks to quality pitching and defense. They tend to score runs by accident and prefer it when less than 5 runs a game are scored. Perhaps they worry about paying the price of a baseball if it were to go over the fence?
The Vikings too, would prefer to run the ball and let their defense take over. The component they need, a fgood passing attack, is ignored so the team can add yet another defensive back, because they would prefer that there not be any passing whatsoever in the Dome. Which is awesome, because they always need to worry about the elements affecting their passing game.
The Wild employ the game killing trap defense that slows opposition attacks down while at the same time limits their opportunity to break out on the rush. It should say something that even without their franchise's all time goal leader, they haven't really had a setback in overall team production.
When you get right down to it, the most exciting team to watch might be the Wolves, because at least the opposition can put up 120 points a game. Too bad the NBA sucks.


Links of the Day 1/19/09

One of the most sickening hits I've ever seen. Much like this collision, Pittsburgh won the game as well.

Purdue was the best team in college football last year!

Someone should tell Anquan Boldin that his team just made the Super Bowl.


Sunday, January 18, 2009


if 5 years ago, someone told you we would live in a world in which the Red Sox and White Sox have won World Series, the Devil Rays have gone to the World Series, and the Arizona Cardinals are in the Super Bowl. Wow.

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Links of the Day 1/18/09

Baseball changes tiebreaking rule, whiny White Sox writer blames Minnesota.

I don't listen to ESPN radio, but, well....great?

A Providence player's brother would like a word with the officials.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Links of the Day 1/17/09

A preview of tomorrow's games, brought to you by the always hilarious Sports Hernia.

I don't know if I'm totally equipped to comment on this.

John Gruden, canned.


Jake Picks the Winners

Who is Jake? Is he a new writer on the Times? Actually, he is my 8 week-old golden retriever puppy that we picked up last Saturday. When we got home with him, the Ravens-Titans game was on and he seemed to stop and stare whenever Joe Flacco was on TV for some reason. Maybe he knows they are both young or something.... Anyways, I have these little plastic mini NFL helmets so I decided to go with the very scientific method of letting Jake pick the winners of the conference championship games and the Super Bowl by seeing which helmet he ran to and licked first. So here's how it went...

Ravens vs. Steelers - Jake walked up, looked at both helmets for a split second, then decided to lick the Ravens helmet. Jake's pick: Ravens in a close one

Eagles vs. Cardinals - I thought Jake might have a preference for his home state's team, especially with a tasty red bird on the helmet. But he completely ignored the Cardinals helmet and darted straight towards the Eagles. Jake's pick: Eagles in a blowout

Super Bowl: Ravens vs. Eagles - Since he picked both of these helmets once each, I had no idea how this would go, but he stayed true to the first team he saw on TV and went towards the Ravens helmet. Jake's pick: Ravens

So there we have it. I'm curious to see how his picks go, since they line up exactly with my much more scientific power ranks. If he does well, I'll be sure to see what he thinks before I head up to Vegas next time.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

A couple close shaves.

Fortunately, last night I was working and didn't have a heart attack watching Purdue and Minnesota playing on the road against Northwestern and Wisconsin respectively. Both games came down to the wire, and both ended with victories for the team I was pulling for. Thank goodness.
I think it taught us something about both teams though (and maybe not. Like I said, I missed the games). Purdue still expects to roll inferior opponents, but in the Big Ten, there are no such teams this year. Minnesota, on the other hand, has struggled against the top tier opponents they have faced, and perhaps came out flat because of nerves in Madison against the Badgers. Fortunately, both teams have the talent to overcome rocky starts this season.
Furthermore, they are lucky to have coaches that so well fit the demeanor of their teams. In the case of the Boilers, Matt Painter is a young coach with a lot of spirit, needed to light a fire under the lackadaisical Purdue team. On the other hand, a calmer, experienced Tubby Smith helped the Gophers relax and play their game. After so many disappointing basketball seasons from a personal perspective, this season is shaping up to be my favorite in a while.
(It's Friday, so I wrote about happy things instead of things that are pissing me off, like the Colts being out of the playoffs, the Twins already being mathematically eliminated from post season contention and the Wild are meagerly holding on to the last playoff spot in the West.)

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Links of the Day 1/16/09

Yes! Alex Trebek! Nice!

The Twins took a gander at Eric Gagne. For Minnesota fans, it's "Goneyay" not "Gagknee" as we may be used to.

That pilot from the US Air incident yesterday? Yeah, he went to Purdue. Boiler Up!


Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's all my fault

This post was written weeks ago, but due to the holidays and the death of Carl Pohlad, this kept getting pushed back. I hope the link still works and the information is still accurate.

There have been six coaching firings in the NBA so far this year, which seems an exorbitant amount. Head coach Kevin McHale blames bloggers:

"I think you're going to see more and more shorter term stuff in our league," he said. "Just because the access now, there's so much media availability and everything else. There's just so many bloggers; everybody's got an opinion. There's all kinds of stuff going on. Sometimes that starts forming the opinion of people in front offices, too, and owner. It's been kind of a crazy year so far."

As a blogger, and even one who does a weekly Timberwolves update on a sports-related blog, I guess I should apologize to all these head coaches.

Except McHale's ranting right there really reminds me of the drunk homeless guy. Rambling all over, and blaming problems on random things. I'd be willing to bet (if I had been invited to Vegas for the Winter Meetings) there are more baseball bloggers than bloggers for any other sport. I don't recall that many managers being fired. The most maligned Minnesota Twins player in 2007, without argument, was Nick Punto (and for good reason: he hit very poorly and injury wasn’t announced until too late for redemption), and the hatred carried through to 2008 (even though he played quite well). This didn’t stop him from getting an $8 million contract in the off-season, and multiple teams courting him (reportedly).

In short, I think that the problem isn’t the blogs in the NBA. If blogs truly are to blame, rather than, y’know, losing, then the problem is with peer pressure. If the general managers can be so influenced by blogs to not pay attention to what needs to be done, then they’re not really looking for what’s best for the team. On a certain level, the general managers (and owners) need to listen to the fans because fans are what the game is all about. On another level, fans shouldn’t make all the decisions. (For further argument on that, see the selections for the all-star games .) A general manager should be paying enough attention to know where the problems lie. If it’s with the head coach, then he needs a new head coach. (Incidentally, it doesn’t mean the head coach is bad. He may be very well, but he just might not be the best fit for his particular team.)

General managers should read blogs. They should pay attention to what the fans are saying. But they should only take that advice for what it’s worth: it’s free advice, and that’s cheap. They need to have the ability to analyze the information from all sources, including watching the games themselves.

Dear me, if the Twins were to suddenly start listening to my wild ranting about what should be done with the team, there would be something very wrong.

Timberwolves update: 11-26 (1-1 since last time, 7-11 since McHale). Their win percentage is nearly 30%, so it seems I can avoid a professional basketball game this year. There are five teams worse than the T-Wolves out there.

Marian Gaborik Injury Status: I don’t know who he is, so I’ll mention that Ron Gardenhire seems to believe that Scott Baker will be opening day starter. I sincerely hope so.

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Links fo the Day 1/15/09

With Sam Bradford staying in school, now what for the Lions?

Worst bus ride ever. (It was to a basketball game! Sports!)

Football in Pittsburgh is very important.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Don't worry Bert

Bert Blyleven was upset, and vocalized his dissatisfaction at once again being left out of the Hall of Fame. I'm not hear to argue whether or not he should be included in the Hall (I think he should), but to provide two bits of consolation for Bert.
First, the angle of being so close for so long, and still being left out seems to have worked well for Jim Rice. Bert gets an added advantage of being on TV every day (at least in the Twin Cities), staying in the public eye until next year's vote. Hopefully, voters and writers will be swayed by the constant attention.
Secondly, if there is a year to get, next year is the year. Look at the names added to the ballot: Fred McGriff, Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Robin Ventura.... Not exactly a list of shoe ins. Compared to this list, you will look like a sure fire Hall of Famer. (Alomar and Larkin will eventually get in too). So hang in there, Bert. You're in some day.


Links of the Day 1/14/09

Eddy Curry has done almost everything wrong in this one story.

I'm rooting for the Ravens and RoboFlaccoCop on a Unicorn.

The Mets discuss their AWESOME new uniform patch.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NFL Power Ranks: Divisional Playoffs

Well we're down to the final 4 for the season, and they are currently ranked #s 1, 4, 5, and 11. The Ravens opened up a bigger lead this week and are looking pretty strong heading into Pittsburgh for the AFC title game. The rankings correctly predicted 3 out of 4 of the games this past week, with only the Cardinals sneaking through the cracks in the formula. How are the Cardinals still in this? As you might know, I recently moved to Arizona and everyone is in a state of shock over this team. The prospects of making it to the Super Bowl seem almost surreal. The Cards jumped 3 spots this week but are still 1 behind the team they beat, Carolina, who fell 7 spots for playing just about as bad as any NFL team all season. My #1 team after week 1, the Eagles, pulled off the offset over the Giants and now are only behind Baltimore and eliminated New England and Indianapolis. Now that the ranks are an even 4-4, let's have them predict this Sunday's title games.

#1 Ravens over #5 Steelers
#4 Eagles over #11 Cardinals

Eagles-Ravens Super Bowl? Who woulda thunk it....

1. Ravens - 78.39 - Even
2. Patriots - 73.35 - Even
3. Colts - 70.85 - +2
4. Eagles - 70.34 - +2
5. Steelers - 70.01 - +2
6. Dolphins - 65.57 - +4
7. Giants - 63.85 - +1
8. Titans - 63.03 - -4
9. Falcons - 62.81 - +2
10. Panthers - 62.09 - -7
11. Cardinals - 60.55 - +3
12. Bears - 59.02 - Even
13. Chargers - 57.20 - -4
14. Saints - 51.98 - -1
15. Vikings - 50.67 - Even
16. Jets - 49.65 - Even
17. Texans - 49.30 - Even
18. Buccaneers - 46.30 - Even
19. Redskins - 46.39 - Even
20. Packers - 44.95 - Even
21. Cowboys - 43.30 - Even
22. Bengals - 42.27 - +1
23. 49ers - 42.27 - -1 (not an exact tie)
24. Bills - 39.62 - Even
25. Raiders - 36.73 - Even
26. Jaguars - 34.22 - Even
27. Broncos - 34.12 - Even
28. Seahawks - 32.15 - Even
29. Browns - 32.01 - Even
30. Chiefs - 22.19 - Even
31. Rams - 16.14 - Even
32. Lions - 11.50 - Even

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Links of the Day 1/13/09

Myron Rolle is smarter than you or me.

So I guess, contrary to my opinion, the Twins won't be trading Kubel.

As I'm sure we all suspected, Spain is the Philadelphia of Europe.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Good for you, Tony

Tony Dungy is retiring, which I can't fault him for. He says he has a greater calling, and I absolutely believe him. Good luck and Godspeed.

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Links of the Day 1/12/09

Tim Tebow has decided against becoming a third string tight end, and will instead remain the 1st string QB at Florida.

Huge win for Purdue. Is it so much to ask that they keep this up for the rest of the season?

This weekend in pictures.


The Birds are taking over

Those images just SCREAM playoff football!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Links of the Day 1/11/09

Before today's game Eagles-Giants, I suggest we consult this camel.

Yesterday, for those that don't recall, the Ravens upended the Titans.

Also, the Cardinals defeated the Carolina Panthers.


A Note to Adam "Pacman" Jones

Regarding your interview with Stephen A. Smith: I wish to race you. I do not know how to contact you. Please e-mail me or leave a comment below so we may arrange such an encounter. Thank you.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

What the College Football Season really taught us.

Despite what Josh Elliot or Jay Mariotti or even Barack Obama want to tell you, the NCAA season did not prove that we need a tournament for Division 1 college football. You see, that argument has already been proven. The people want a champion crowned by on the field performance rather than see two teams placed a game based on the whims of a few people and polls.
No, what this football season taught us is that we aren't ready for a playoff yet. Not until we figure out a fair way to do it. The most common belief is that we should be angling for an 8 team tournament, using the top 8 teams in the BCS. This would mean Texas Tech, for example, would be in the tournament.The same Texas Tech who lost in the cotton Bowl to Mississippi, ranked #25. It would mean that Ohio State who (admit it) played Texas tough, would be out.
The second most popular idea would be to allow the 6 conference champions of the BCS conferences in, while also including two "wild card teams". If we did this, our tournament would include; Oklahoma, Florida, USC, Penn State, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, Texas and Alabama. No Utah. No Boise State.
Here's what we learned about college football this year. The problem isn't that we don't have a playoff in place, it's that we don't have a fair way to crown a national champion. By throwing in a playoff, we're really just putting a band aid on the wound. It's still a problem, but it looks OK and makes us feel better about ourselves, but we're still covering up the problem instead of fixing it.
If we're going to institute a playoff system, let's go the extra mile and make sure that teams play their way into the tournament, rather than get themselves voted into the tournament. If we're going to have a tournament, it's paramount that we need to get rid of the polls.
The fairest way to institute a tournament is to allow conference champions, all 11, into the tournament, as is done in the college basketball tournament. Make sure we have the best teams from each of these individual subsets, and don't discriminate against conferences like the WAC or Mountain West before the season even starts. And don't tell me an 11 team tournament won't work. The Big Ten does it every year in basketball. Don't tell my byes won't work. They do it every year in the NFL. If either of these are seriously issues, we can expand it to a 16 team tournament and have 5 wild cards. At least then we'll know we have the best team in the tournament somewhere.
For those who are so vocal about creating a playoff, I hope you get your wish, but please, if you do get your wish, make sure you do it right.


Links of the Day 1/10/09

Is T-Jack a complete failure? Let's not say so quite yet.

I don't care for the NBA, but the Wire is outstanding.

Oh, right. There is some football this weekend.


Friday, January 09, 2009

NFL Power Ranks: Wild Card Playoffs

I'm going to keep this week's power ranks short and sweet, just in time for tomorrow's games. The Colts elimination last week knocked them out of the top spot, leaving the disaster scenario of New England moving into the top spot...but luckily it didn't happen. The Ravens' impressive win at Miami allowed them to leap all the way up to the top spot (the top 7 are all extremely close) for the first time this season. New England remained at #2 while Carolina moved to #3 and Tennessee to #4. The Dolphins were the big losers this week, dropping from #3 all the way to #10. Interestingly, the strength of schedule changes allowed the 49ers and Bengals to switch positions this week as well.

So this week's playoff predictions are (the ranks were only 1-3) last week:
#1 Ravens over #4 Titans
#3 Panthers over #14 Cardinals
#6 Eagles over #8 Giants
#7 Steelers over #9 Chargers

The Full Ranks:
1. Ravens - 72.56 - +4
2. Patriots - 72.37 - Even
3. Panthers - 72.08 - +1
4. Titans - 71.05 - +2
5. Colts - 70.43 - -4
6. Eagles - 68.97 - +2
7. Steelers - 68.43 - Even
8. Giants - 65.71 - +1
9. Chargers - 65.29 - +1
10. Dolphins - 65.23 - -7
11. Falcons - 62.69 - Even
12. Bears - 59.06 - Even
13. Saints - 52.22 - +1
14. Cardinals - 51.71 - +1
15. Vikings - 50.08 - -2
16. Jets - 49.04 - Even
17. Texans - 48.84 - Even
18. Buccaneers - 46.84 - Even
19. Redskins - 45.74 - Even
20. Packers - 44.68 - Even
21. Cowboys - 42.65 - Even
22. 49ers - 42.08 - +1
23. Bengals - 42.04 - -1
24. Bills - 39.63 - Even
25. Raiders - 36.20 - Even
26. Jaguars - 34.41 - Even
27. Broncos - 33.94 - Even
28. Seahawks - 31.96 - Even
29. Browns - 31.78 - Even
30. Chiefs - 22.68 - Even
31. Rams - 15.96 - Even
32. Lions - 11.56 - Even

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Links of the Day 1/9/08

Florida Gators win, contrary to what the Victoria Times sims would lead one to believe.

I'll never understand the NBA.

In the war of man vs. beast, pandas are on the side of "beast".


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Links of the Day 1/8/09

Niklas Backstrom, all-star.

Pacman Jones was cut, and apparently, it's ESPN's fault.

Awesome statue related vandalism.


Wrapping Things Up

With the death of Carl Pohlad earlier this week, I was looking back through the Victoria times to find this this post.

I don’t think Carl Pohlad was evil. I didn’t hate him. While my arguments in that post might not be the arguments I would use to say that he wasn’t evil, I believe he did try to do things for the state of Minnesota and Twins baseball. While people like to complain about him being a miser, it behooves me to remind you that the first player to earn :gasp: $3 million per year was Kirby Puckett. Who played for the Twins. Under Carl Pohlad. Mr. Pohlad was willing to spend money when he knew a player was very special. Yes, Johan Santana was very special, too, but a pitcher contributes less to the overall success of a team (he only plays in 1/5 of the games), and the contract he demanded--and got--is risky. I hope the man plays all the year, healthily, but the fact is that this is very uncertain, especially with pitchers. One of the GMs for the Twins (I believe Terry Ryan) said that Pohlad never denied him when he would ask for the payroll to be increased--but it was a level of trust that Pohlad valued. The GM knew Pohlad would give him what he needed, so he didn’t abuse it; he only asked when there was a situation that was vital. Pohlad was responsible both to his wallet, but he was also responsible for the team. I send my sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Pohlad. I’m grateful for all he did.

As I searched for the particular article, I found a few other posts that needed wrapping up.

To start with, I said in early September I complained about Yahoo’s poor auto-drafting skills. My offense was respectable, but my defense was a debacle. I said that it was a good thing that I didn’t plan on winning. I would check on the team most weeks to make sure the guys in the line-up were playing. In the league of eight, we came in fifth in total points, but the league was head-to-head, and we came in first in the coveted wins. We faced good team in their down weeks, a bit of luck that continued through the playoffs to the eventual championship win. My apologies to Yahoo auto-draft. I only dropped a few players, but for the most part, the team stayed with the players it gave me in the victory. My life is such that it didn’t surprise me at all that the only time in my life I’ve known good luck is playing fantasy football--a sport that I don’t really know.

Then, in April, I made a bunch of predictions, so I’m going to take a look back and see how I did.
  • I'm putting on the record that Justin Morneau does not hit any home runs in April. He'll pick up in June, and in July he'll be back to the guy we thought we were getting four years ago. But not until then.
    Um, yeah. He hit six home runs in April, but ended the year with “only” 23--still enough to lead the Twins, but very reminiscent of those years from 1987 to 2006 when no Twin hit 30 home runs.
  • The Royals, to the surprise of everyone except me, will finish the year in second place in the American Central. I've felt they've been on the verge of good-ness for a couple of years now, but never quite pulled it together, but this will be the year.
    It’s fashionable to make fun of the Royals, but they will break out. It didn’t happen in 2008, so we’ll wait for 2009. They made great strides in 2008 by not coming in last place.
  • I'm not sure which of the Tigers and Indians will find themselves in first, but the other will be in third.
    Hey, the Indians came in third! I got half of my prediction right! I just couldn’t fathom that the two well-stocked teams would flutter through the year. I could not have imagined on April 3 that the Tigers would be in last place at the end of the year. I still can’t believe it.
  • The Twins and White Sox will battle for last. The Twins will be as frustrating as the pitching and hitting will not come together on the same days. Expect many more days when the Twins will lose 0-1 or 9-11.
    The White Sox and Twins did battle for position at the end of the year, but at the other end of the rankings. The Twins young pitching staff (and Livan) managed to keep the team in order, and the Twins offense managed to keep the games competitive. The White Sox won the one-game playoff game.
  • At least four guys will make major league debuts for the Twins by August 31--we've got Bass and Tolbert already!
    Making their major league debuts before August 31: Matt Tolbert, Brian Bass, Denard Span, Matt Macri, Bobby Korecky, and Randy Ruiz. That’s six! (September call-up debuts included Jose Mijares and Jason Pridie.)
  • At least eight guys will make starts in the pitching rotation for the Twins by the end of the year.
    Fail. Only seven guys started for the Twins: Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, Livan Hernandez, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser.
  • Scott Baker will pitch a gem and lose, and pitch horribly and win.
    One of his worst starts of the year with a win happened twice, where he gave up three runs in five innings. He had his obligatory eight inning/two-hit/one-run loss. Incidentally, his ERA in games he won was 3.60, and in losses was 2.60 (no decisions, which he had many, was 4.09).
  • Carlos Gomez, who should wear tall socks, will not, or at least will not at any game I attend.
    He did wear tall socks with some frequency towards the end of the year. I was delighted.
  • In April, Matt Tolbert will have a higher batting average than any other infielder.
    Matt Tolbert had the highest batting average of any Twin in April (.300).
  • The Twins will have a higher win percentage than the Timberwolves.
    I don’t remember what the Twins or Timberwolves records were in 2008, but I can tell you this: the Twins definitely did better. I know the Timberwolves were not above 50%, and the Twins were.

Finally, the first Minnesota Swarm lacrosse game is Saturday night against the San Jose Stealth. Come out and support the un-defeated Swarm (who won last Saturday against the Portland Lumberjax, 11-7).

Timberwolves update: 10-25 (6-4 since last time, 6-10 since McHale)

It looks like the Timberwolves are generous enough to make sure that I don’t have to attend a game. Their win percentage is almost 30%! There are five teams worse than the T-Wolves out there.

Marian Gaborik Injury Status/Prediction: If he plays again for the Wild, it will be less than ten games. He had hip surgery Monday, January 5, and will going through at least ten weeks of re-hab/conditioning before he plays again.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Steve's 2008 NCAA Simulation

With the national title game tomorrow, I figured I'd sneak in the results of my sim of the new conferences that we established last year. I'll refer you over to Ryan's post on Saturday for the introduction and get straight to the results. We combined to do 1 sim last year so the winners Ryan mentioned from last year are the same for me, so I'll leave them out.

New England: 2008 Winner: Penn State
Penn State had their way with this conference, but were not quite as dominant for me as they were for Ryan. They won a nail biter over Boston College to clinch the conference title and lost by 1 point to real life conference rival Michigan State in a non-conference game, finishing 11-1. As a conference, New England was exactly .500, with Navy also finishing in 3rd place for me. Penn State, who beat Syracuse 83-14, will be seeded #9 in the tournament
Order of finish: Penn State, UCONN, Navy, Boston College, Buffalo, Rutgers, Maryland, Temple, Army, Syracuse.

Appalachian: 2008 Winner: Cincinnati
My sims also demonstrated a preference for Big East teams over the ACC in this conference, but Cincinnati's 46-10 win over West Virginia turned out to be the tiebreaker as both teams finished with an 8-1 record in conference. What was Cincy's only loss? To Ohio, of course.(?!) Somehow, Ohio finished 3rd in this conference with an 8-4 overall record. The conference finished 2 games over .500 which gave Cincy the 7 seed.
Order of finish: Cincinnati, West Virginia, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Kentucky, Marshall, Virginia, Louisville, Miami (OH)

Great Lakes: 2008 Winner: Akron
Whaaa? By far the weirdest of all weird simulations. Somehow, someway, Akron went 8-1 in conference and 10-2 overall, losing to Kentucky non-conference and Ohio State in conference. Despite beating the conference champs, Ohio State finished third with a 7-2 record in conference and only 8-4 overall. They lost to Wake Forest and Boston College out of conference and in conference they got upset at Bowling Green and in the final game of the season, at Western Michigan, which not only gave Akron the conference title but also 8-1 Western Michigan 2nd place. The conference finished 3 games below .500, which gave Akron, one of only 2 10-2 teams to win a conference, the 12th seed.
Order of finish: Akron, Western Michigan, Ohio State, Bowling Green, Michigan State, Michigan, Central Michigan, Toledo, Kent State, Eastern Michigan

Tobacco Road: 2008 Winner: North Carolina
Much like the ACC this year, this conference was pretty competitive. North Carolina and Wake Forest both finished 8-1 in conference, with UNC winning their head to head matchup. In a pretty bizzare twist, North Carolina's only conference loss was to 3-9 Memphis, which was their only conference win (oh, and Memphis lost to TOLEDO 72-7). Surprisingly, Middle Tennessee finished 3rd. The conference was 1 game above .500, and as the only other 10-2 team to win, North Carolina got the 11th seed.
Order of finish: North Carolina, Wake Forest, Middle Tennessee State, East Carolina, Tennessee, NC State, Vanderbilt, Duke, Western Kentucky, Memphis.

Midwest: 2008 Winner: Iowa
In rather shocking fashion, Iowa rolled through this conference and a very tough non conference schedule (at Missouri and vs. Georgia) to become my first 12-0 team. In what turned out to be a pretty top-heavy conference, Wisconsin and Ball State also got 10 wins. The non conference games made the middle of the pack look pretty messed up in the final standings, as 4th place Northwestern was 0-3 out of conference to finish 5-7 and 8th place Minnesota was 3-0 out of conference to finish 6-6. Northern Illinois is the first of 3 0-12 teams. The conference was .500, earning Iowa the 4th seed.
Order of finish: Iowa, Wisconsin, Ball State, Northwestern, Illinois, Notre Dame, Purdue, Minnesota, Indiana, Northern Illinois

Florida: 2008 Winner: Florida
For the second year, the Gators dominated their namesake conference. Unlike in Ryan's sim, they lost their huge non-conference game with Oklahoma. Troy also finished 2nd for me, going 10-2 overall. The conference was 1 game above .500, giving Florida the 8th seed.
Order of finish: Florida, Troy, Florida State, Florida Atlantic, Southern Mississippi, Miami (FL), South Florida, Central Florida, Tulane, Florida International

Great Plains: 2008 Winner: Oklahoma
Oklahoma rolled through this conference to a 12-0 record. Tulsa finished a solid 2nd. Kansas State went 0-12. Not much else to discuss here... The conference finished 2 games below .500, which gave the Sooners the 5th seed.
Order of finish: Oklahoma, Tulsa, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas State, Arkansas, Nebraska, Iowa State, Kansas State

Dixie: 2008 Winner: Clemson
I was definitely surprised here, as Clemson left a trail of destruction and finished 12-0. Their only close game was a narrow win at Alabama. Ole Miss also put up a strong showing, finishing 11-1 and only lost to Clemson. Georgia was big disappointment, finishing only 6-6. The conference was 1 game over .500, which earned Clemson the 3rd seed.
Order of finish: Clemson, Ole Miss, Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, UAB, Louisiana-Monroe, Mississippi State

Gulf Coast: 2008 Winner: TCU
Whatifsports seems to love TCU this year, and they blew out just about everyone in their path for a dominant 12-0 finish, winning 5 by shutout. They won the conference by 2 games, as Houston beat Texas, LaTech and LSU beat Houston, Texas destroyed LaTech, and Texas and LaTech beat LSU. Everyone else pretty much sucked, and SMU was 0-12. This was the weakest conference of all, finishing 4 games under .500, so TCU got the 6th seed.
Order of finish: TCU, Texas, Louisiana Tech, Houston, LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Rice, Texas A&M, North Texas, SMU

Mountain West: 2008 Winner: Texas Tech
The Red Raiders managed to be on the winning end of all 12 of their shootouts, going undefeated. Surprisingly, BYU, New Mexico, and Baylor all finished the year 9-3, while everyone else was fighting to stay away from the bottom. This was my strongest conference, finishing 4 games over .500, which gave Texas Tech the #1 seed in the tournament.
Order of finish: Texas Tech, BYU, Baylor, New Mexico, Air Force, Colorado, Wyoming, UTEP, Colorado State, New Mexico State

Great Basin: 2008 Winner: Boise State
The Broncos dominated this conference, going 9-0 but lost to Texas Tech non-conference. I was surprised by Boise's strength, considering they had to face Utah, Oregon, and Oregon State. Well, it turned out OSU fell flat on their face, only finishing 4-5, while Nevada finished 3rd at 7-2. Washington and Washington State were both 2-10, but Washington was winless in conference but managed to sneak out 2 non-conference wins, while WSU got punished non-conference but beat Washington and UNLV in conference play. The conference finished 1 game under .500, giving Boise the 10th seed.
Order of finish: Boise State, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Oregon State, Utah State, Idaho, Washington State, UNLV, Washington

California: 2008 Winner: USC
USC was absolutely incredible. They outscored their opponents 711-19, which included 8 shutouts and only allowing 1 TD all season to Cal. They also beat San Diego State 111-0 and Fresno State 90-3 (hey at least they were 1 of 4 teams to score on them). Arizona had a nice showing, finishing 9-3 and in 2nd. The conference was only 1 game over .500, giving USC the #2 seed.
Order of finish: USC, Arizona, California, Arizona State, Stanford, San Jose State, UCLA, Fresno State, Hawaii, San Diego State

First Round of Tournament:
#8 Florida 31, #9 Penn State, 24: Penn State took a 10 point lead into the 4th quarter the Gators scored 17 in the 4th to get the comeback win.
#5 Oklahoma 52, #12 Akron, 37: Akron's cinderella season comes to an end, thanks to a strong running game for the Sooners.
#6 TCU 38, #11 North Carolina 14: TCU's running attack and defense dominate again, but Cameron Sexton was able to get a little done throwing the ball.
#10 Boise State 27, #7 Cincinnati 17: In a semi-upset, Boise State led a pretty evenly matched game to get the win.

2nd Round of Tournament:
#8 Florida 21, #1 Texas Tech 3: In a surprising defensive game, the Gators shut down Graham Harrell to move to the semi-finals.
#4 Iowa 24, #5 Oklahoma 22: The Sooners had no answer for Shonn Greene, who had 228 yards and 2 TDs in a shocking win that spoils a semi-final real life BCS Championship matchup.
#6 TCU 18, #3 Clemson 16: Clemson took a 16-0 lead into the 4th, but Frogs scored a TD and missed a 2 pointer, returned a punt for a TD with an extra point, kicked a field goal to tie it, then won by scoring on a safety with 1:13 to go in the game.
#2 USC 21, #10 Boise State 7: Boise State actually scored a TD on USC and didn't allow 70 points...that's almost like a win.

Semi-Finals: #8 Florida 52, #4 Iowa 13: Florida runs all over Iowa for 442 yards. How did Iowa get this far again?
#2 USC 27, #6 TCU 2: The Trojans contine to roll as they put up a pretty big number on TCU, but TCU's defense still had a little to show with a safety being their only points scored.

National Championship: #2 USC 20, #8 Florida 15: The Men of Troy are your national champs. Somewhere, Mark May is smiling. This was a pretty good game though. Florida took a 9-7 lead into the 4th quarter but Damian Williams caught a TD pass to put USC up 14-9. Florida quickly retaliated with a 74 yard run by Jeffery Demps but they missed to a 2 point conversion to take a 15-14 lead. On the following drive, Mark Sanchez marched USC down for another TD, scored by Joe McKnight. They missed the 2 point conversion but held off Tim Tebow for the final 6 minutes to get the win.
Lessons Learned:
1. Whatifsports must have been created by TCU and Iowa grads.
2. USC may very well have been the best team in the country this year...sadly, they don't get a chance to prove it.
3. It was interesting that Florida made it back to the national title game despite having 1 loss (to Oklahoma) just like in real life. It's too bad they didn't get a chance at revenge in the playoffs.
4. This is a pretty awesome way to structure a college football season and should be done immediately

I'll probably structure next year's schedule for my sim based on my results so our 2 sims next year should be even more interesting with teams playing different schedules.


Links of the Day 1/7/09

In addition to the points laid out by TBL, I would have to mention two other things. Failing the ability to get a DL, nab an MLB, and if Tony Dungy wants to retire, heavens, the man has earned it.

Michael Phelps and Warren Sapp frolic in a pool.

Bruce Ciskie says Jacques Lemaire is the best coach in the league.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

JC Romero suspended

Former Twins pitcher J.C. Romero, now of the Phillies, was suspended for the first 50 games of the season after he tested positive for a banned substance. This specific instance raises particular issues.
First, as Twins fans are probably saying everywhere, he obviously wasn't using PEDs while he was in Minnesota. Sure could have used them.
Second, the andro detected in his system was from a supplement purchased at his local GNC. The Players Union apparently had this on the list of allowed supplements, and Romero was confused and took them. It doesn't sound like Romero was doing anything wrong and was a victim of misinformation, rather than trying to cheat his way to success. Should he be suspended?
Absolutely. If this was a problem, a widespread problem, why were he and Sergio Mitre the first to be suspended for this? Romero and Mitre, depite all the evidence that they were mislead, were exceptionally careless. Either they were the only players in the league to think of using this supplement, or they were the only ones to try it without vetting it with people more knowledgeable then they. If they are this reckless, they need to be reprimanded, and reprimanded severely so they and the rest of baseball gets the hint. You have to be in this for yourself.

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Links of the Day 1/6/09

Pittsburgh is the #1 team in all the land.

Why isn't anyone doing this for the Twins?

Well, Texas nipped the Buckeyes, but it was certainly a lot closer than expected.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Carl Pohlad has died

Twins owner Carl Pohlad passed away this afternoon. I find it distasteful to speak ill of the dead, and there has been plenty of ill spoken about him in life, so instead, I will focus on the good things he has left the Twins fans.
First, he brought two World Series titles to Minnesota, the only world championships Minnesota has seen in professional sports since the Minneapolis Lakers. Second, he has maintained the services of Minnesota heroes Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Brad Radke and Joe Mauer through their entire careers. Thirdly, despite his previous intentions in 1997 and 2001 to move or contract the Twins, with the construction of the new stadium, he will have ensured that the Twins will be in Minnesota for many years to come.
RIP Mr. Pohlad. Go Twins.


Links of the Day 1/5/09

This would almost definitely make me still not watch the NBA.

Not sure how you all feel about Jay Mariotti, but here's a review of his debut at AOL.

I'm calling it now. Ohio State over Texas.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

BREAKING: Twins have a player named Maurer

According to Yahoo!, the Twins' Maurer had some minor surgery
(He sort of looks like Bill Cowher, or was in Toto)

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Brad Childress will coach the Vikings to victory...

just as soon as someone listens to him

(Eagles 38-Vikings 10)

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Links of the Day 1/4/09

Stupid Colts. Stupid Rivers. Stupid Sproles. Another tick against the beard.

Alexander Semin was somehow the winner of this fight.

Illinois State is surprisingly undefeated.


Saturday, January 03, 2009

The 2008 NCAA simulation

Everyone has been focused on NCAA football lately, with the bowl season in full force. With the results being rather curious, with the Pac-10 dominating, the Big 12 south looking less impressive and the Big 10 mostly not even showing up, we're learning a few things. First and foremost, we're learning that even after the rankings are in, we're not really sure who is good and who isn't until teams start playing outside their conference for real.
Last year, Steve and I determined that the only fair way to decide a tournament field is to reward conference champions with berths in the post season tournament. No wild cards, because they have proved nothing. No 8 team tournament, because that unfairly leaves 3 teams out. Really, Florida has proven only that they are the best team in the SEC, not the country. That was determined by voters. What's to say they would succeed playing Pac-10 teams? Only popular opinion, not head to head matchups determined that they would.
Next, we acknowledged that all conferences are not created equally. The Big Ten can beat up annually on the MAC, the SEC on the Sun Belt and the Big 12 on Conference USA, for example. Therefore, we rearranged all 120 teams into 12 10 team conferences based solely on geography. For those who don't remember, here is a look at the map with the 12 conferences.
Lastly, we took the new conferences and simulated an entire season. We seeded the winners of the conferences in a 12 team tournament, with seeds based on records and BCS ranking. #1 seed Ohio State defeated #7 seed USC to win the championship. Actual BCS champion LSU was left home, having lost to Texas in the regular season.
This year, we determined that our sim needed to exclude BCS rankings entirely. To do this, we added a non conference schedule based on "pods" that were created from groups of 4 conferences. For example, Iowa finished 4th in the Midwest conference that year, and their conference pod included the Plains, Florida and Dixie conferences. Finishing 4th in those conferences last sim were Missouri, Central Florida and Georgia, respectively. These 4 teams, then, would play each other in their non conference schedule. Additionally, conference schedules were created in order for a balanced schedule, and were generic across the board, depending on the finish the previous season. For example, Iowa would play at home versus the # 1, 3, 6, 8, and 10 teams from the previous season, and go on the road to #2, 5, 7, 9, which is what every 4 seed would do.
Now, tiebreakers for conference seeding were determined thusly: Overall record, conference strength (i.e. the overall record of conference, which is dependent on their play against non conference opponents. This makes essentially every early season game meaningful.), non conference weight (i.e. whether a team played a 1st, 2nd place etc. schedule) and finally, point differential. In conference, winners were determined by conference record, with overall record the first tie breaker, followed by head to head and point differential.
That being said, here's how the sim, using, shook out. There were quite a few surprises.

New England: Last year's winner: Boston College.
This year: Penn State. Penn State dominated for the entire year, going 12-0 and never really being challenged. As a conference, New England was 2 games above .500, with Navy's 3rd place finish among the surprises. Penn State earned a third seed in the tournament.
Order of finish: Penn State, Maryland, Navy, UCONN, Rutgers, Boston College, Buffalo, Temple, Army, Syracuse.

Appalachian: Last year's winner: Virginia Tech
This year: West Virginia. The sims demonstrated a preference for Big East teams over the ACC in this conference, with West Virginia, Cincinnati and Pitt all finishing ahead of Virginia and Virginia Tech. West Virginia's only conference loss was a home game to Pitt, but both Cincy and Pitt dropped two games, which allowed the Mountaineers to enter the post season. A finish 2 games over .500 allowed them to earn the 9 seed.
Order of finish: West Virginia, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Ohio, Kentucky, Louisville, Marshall, Miami (OH)

Great Lakes: Last year's winner: Ohio State
This year: Ohio State. The Buckeyes went unchallenged again in this, the weakest of the 12 conferences this season. They lost the season opener at Wake Forest, but went on to win the remaining 11 games to pick up the 8th seed. Michigan embarrassed themselves, finishing 8th. The conference finished 6 games below .500.
Order of finish: Ohio State, Western Michigan, Michigan State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Akron, Toledo, Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State.

Tobacco Road: Last year's winner: Wake Forest
This year: Tennessee. By far the most competitive, Tobacco Road saw it's top 4 teams finish 7-2. Wake Forest lost 2 non conference games and was eliminated, while Tennessee emerged as the team with the best point differential, compared with East Carolina and North Carolina. Quite a different turn of events as what actually happened for the Volunteers, thanks to some fortuitous scheduling. The Vols earned the 11 seed as the conference was 2 games above .500.
Order of finish: Tennessee: East Carolina, North Carolina, Wake Forest, NC State, Duke, Middle Tennessee State, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky.

Midwest: Last year's winner: Purdue
This year: Iowa. The conference had several matchup problems with non conference opponents and ended up flipped almost completely upside down, with Purdue at the bottom at the end of this season. It was another competitive set, with a three way tie for second at 6-3, but Iowa pulled away and went undefeated in conference. They earned the 7th seed for the tournament. Notre Dame, for those interested, finished in 6th and will play Florida International next season. The conference was three games under .500.
Order of finish: Iowa, Illinois, Ball State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Indiana, Northern Illinois, Purdue.

Florida: Last year's winner: Florida
This year: Florida. For the second year, the Gators dominated their namesake conference. Not only that, but they had a big non-conference win, on the road against Oklahoma. They couldn't dominate teams as thoroughly as the #1 seed, however with a record 2 games above .500, the Gators nabbed the second seed overall. Troy was this years surprise conference team, finishing 2nd.
Order of finish: Florida, Troy, South Florida, Florida State, Miami (FL), Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Central Florida, Southern Miss, Tulane.

Great Plains: Last year's winner: Oklahoma
This year: Missouri. One of the three biggest surprises of the sim had Oklahoma's road loss to the Tiger's tilt the conference in Missouri's favor. The conference as a whole finished 2 games below .500, thanks to a few fairly terrible teams, and Missouri ended up with 10 seed.
Order of finish: Missouri, Oklahoma, Tulsa, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas State, Arkansas, Iowa State, Kansas State

Dixie: Last year's winner: Auburn
This year: Alabama. The Dixie was as true to life as any conference. Mississippi was surprisingly strong, Alabama earned the championship with tough defense, Auburn's offense was frustrating and Georgia failed to live up to expectations. Overall, this was the strongest of all conferences at 3 games above .500, and Alabama was the highest seeded team with a loss, netting the 5th seed.
Order of finish: Alabama, Clemson, Ole Miss, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Mississippi State, South Carolina, UAB, Louisiana-Monroe.

Gulf Coast: Last year's winner: Texas
This year: TCU. In a conference we expected to essentially alternate between Texas and LSU annually, things didn't quite work out that way. The Horned Frogs upset the Longhorns in Austin, and in turn Texas lost a tough road game at Houston and ended up finishing third behind those teams. LSU was fifth in an off year. The Horned Frogs were undefeated, but the conference was weak, finishing a game below .500, and they ended up with the 4th seed. SMU is the only team in the country that has finished last two years in a row.
Order of finish: TCU, Houston, Texas, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Rice, Louisiana-Lafayette, Texas A&M, North Texas, SMU

Mountain West: Last year's winner: Wyoming
This year: BYU. For the second year in a row, the Mountain west brings us the 12 seed. The travel did Texas Tech in, apparently, finishing 6-3 in conference, while the two teams ahead of them, BYU and Air Force had one more win. BYU was unimpressive in their non-conference schedule, losing to TCU and playing mediocre Arizona State and Washington State. The conference was 2 games below .500.
Order of finish: BYU, Air Force, Texas Tech, New Mexico, Baylor, New Mexico State, Colorado State, Wyoming, UTEP, Colorado

Great Basin: Last year's winner: Oregon State
This year: Boise State. Going in, this was one of the more interesting conferences. Utah, Boise State and Pac-10 contender Oregon State all called it home, with the Oregon Ducks lurking in the background. Utah didn't match up well against Boise and stumbled in Reno against Nevada, while the Beavers were tripped up three times against Oregon, Utah and Boise. The Broncos only had one loss, losing to Oregon, and they ended up with a 6th seed, and the conference ended a game above .500.
Order of finish: Boise State, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Oregon State, Utah State, UNLV, Idaho, Washington, Washington State.

California: Last year's winner: USC
This year: USC. The Trojans earned the top seed by thoroughly dominating everyone they played. There was very little drama in the conference, with the Trojans not allowing a single touchdown all season. UCLA, hilariously, ended up dead last. The conference was 2 games above .500.
Order of finish: USC, Arizona, California, Stanford, Hawaii, Arizona State, San Jose State, Fresno State, San Diego State, UCLA.

In the first round of the tournament then, we had #8 Ohio State vs #9 West Virginia. Ohio State won, despite Pat White's 3 touchdowns, 34-24
#5 Alabama defeated #12 BYU 30-13 behind a huge ground game from Glen Coffee.
#6 Boise State won against #11 Tennessee thanks to their ground assault as well. Jeremy Avery led the Broncos to a 34-17 victory.
In the only upset of the first round, #10 Missouri defeated #7 Iowa in a rematch. Derrick Washington led the way to a 28-23 victory.

The Elite Eight, as it were, started with a rematch of last years Championship Game, as #1 USC avenged last years loss against Ohio State, 36-13, despite Beanie Wells running for over 200 yards.
One of the surprise teams in the final 8, #4 TCU was able to put together a solid defensive effort and 1 touchdown run from Aaron Brown, as the Horned Frogs defeated Alabama 12-6.
#3 Penn State kicked off their post season with a win against Boise State, 30-13, thanks to a huge day from Evan Royster.
#2 Florida got all they could handle from Missouri, but Tim Tebow and the Gators prevailed, 34-27.

Our final four was set. The first game saw an upset, as TCU continued to be defensive stalwarts, while scoring only the second touch down of the season on the Trojans, a late Jai Cavness run that earned TCU a trip to the national title game with a 10-6 victory.
In the other semifinal, New England champ Penn State followed 4 Evan Royster touchdowns to a 35-23 upset of Florida, setting up a 3-4 matchup for the national title.

The championship game was hard fought as well. Darryl Clark had a good day, throwing for a touchdown and 174 yards, which was impressive considering the defense he was facing, while the Horned Frogs continued to spread the ball around, with no back earning more than 70 yards. In the end, it was TCU's stalwart defense that led to their 20-10 championship victory.
(Photo from

Now, what have we learned? I think two things were learned, and sorry, TCU, it's not that you were the best team this season.
First: So much of college football is dependent on good scheduling. Had Oklahoma been scheduled at Missouri this year, would they have been able to pull off the victory? Had TCU avoided Oklahoma or a road game at Utah, would they have been a BCS team? Sure, a lot of it's about getting it done on the field, but many teams have advantageous schedules.
Second: A tournament, even if done properly, may make it LESS likely that the best teams in the country make it to the championship game, thanks to upsets in the tournament and that above mentioned disadvantageous scheduling.

Either way, it was a lot of fun to do and see what would happen. I know Steve is in the process of simming his way through the season as well, and may end up having a similar post down the road. If you would like to know exactly how your team did, leave me a a comment or e-mail and I'll let you know. Thanks for reading!

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