Friday, July 31, 2009

Welcome to the Deadline

Hi everyone. This is a live blog. As the day progresses and I hear news and notes or just have something to say, I'll say it. IT's not exactly something to sit around at the computer constantly, so I wouldn't exactly count on me breaking news for you, but I will maybe make a joke or two about Jason Stark and how I miss the moustache. So please, stay tuned.

8:44 - The Twins are apparently making steady progress for Orlando Cabrera. My letter to Bill Smith did not work. Also, the first official transaction of the day? Jose Lobaton getting claimed off waivers by the Rays! Look out for Tampa!

9:26 - Just got back from a run. Any news? No. Just a couple rumors on MLBTR about the Marlins. Heath Bell or Nick Johnson. This year's deadline can only be better than last year's, though, when it was Ken Griffey and... ???

9:57 - Not getting any updates on anything from anywhere. I'm switching it over to Price is Right. How hauntingly appropriate

10:09 - A girl, Bethany, totally just freaked out about getting to spin the wheel after she lost a hot tub, like she didn't realize everyone who gets on stage gets to spin the wheel. Don't you even watch this show?!
Still no news from the trade market.

10:28 - In the longest piece of written journalism ever written, Jarrod Washburn has been traded to the Tigers. No need to follow the link though, this post is longer than the article.

11:22 - It occurs to me that the Tigers making a deal probably compells the Twins to make a move as well. Dammit. Less than 4 hours to go, though, and no more deals since Washburn, who was traded for someone named Mauricio Robles and another guy. The other guy is the better prospect, but he isn't named Mauricio.

11:35 - Apparently, the Rangers, who were the last good hope to get him, are out on Roy Halladay. I bet we still hear a bunch of rumors about him.

11:45 - La Velle coming through with some good news! The Twins will not give up Danny Valencia for Cabrera. Excellent stuff. The Deadline can't come soon enough.

11:59 - Of course, that doesn't mean the Twins WON'T get Cabrera. Stupid Oakland. Don't GMs read deranged letters from fans?!

12:10 - And it's a done deal. The Twins have made a deadline deal, giving up something called Tyler Ladendorf. I can honestly say I've never heard of him. Welcome to the Twins, O-Cab.

12:22 - Ladendorf, as it turns out, is also a shortstop. And this guy says he was the 33rd ranked prospect, so I guess the trade couldn't have been THAT bad. Also, in late breaking Twitter news, some guy named Vinny was traded for some guy named Claudio.

12:53 - I was just reminded that last year, Manny Ramirez was also traded right at the deadline. Duh.... Anyways, the Twins are getting cash from the A's to help pay for O-Cab's salary. You know what? Since the cat's out of the bag, let's deal for a pitcher!

12:56 - Welcome back to the Victoria Times Twitter Tracker. According to this tweet that was twate, by twitterer Bob Nightengale, the Indians are about to trade Victor Martinez to the Bo-Sox.

1:18 - You know, if Victor Martinez is going to the Red Sox, that might be the end of any Mauer envy out of the Red Sox. Might be. Let's hope.

2:11 - Wow, incredible lull an hour up to the deadline. I took a shower, played some Tiger Woods... Nothing. I'm going to go to the bank. Will anything happen in the mean time:?!? (Open ended questions are the ticket to live blog gold)

2:18 - Whoa, hey, deals! Jerry Hairston traded to the Yankees for depth and Adam LaRoche, traded again. He's going back the Braves, where he started his career. Also, Harold Reynolds, now on the MLB Network is an idiot, at least when it comes to the trade deadline. He doesn't understand why teams don't get major league players and keep getting minor leaguers. I wondered the same thing. When I was 8.

2:21 - Joe Beimel to the Rockies. Pitchers do well in Colorado. Good fit. (sarcasm)

3:15 - Ran som errands, came back, and I'm happy to report a few trades! Casey Kotchman went to Boston for LaRoche, which is sort of a big deal. The Twins may yet get Jon Rauch for the bullpen. The Marlins nabbed Nick Johnson. The Blue Jays and Red exchanged third basemen Scott Rolen and Edwin Encarnacion. I really liked Encarnacion.

3:22 - I was just driving around, as I said, and came across this fellow motorist.
Apologies for having it all tilty. South Carolina seems fun

3:28 - Um... what? Peavy to the White Sox again? Baffling.

3:32 - Wow. Sounds like the real deal. I think of the teams in the Central, the White Sox win. That said, I am officially calling this live blog..... OVAH! Thanks to the both of you for joining me!


Thursday, July 30, 2009


I still recall the game I went to, almost two years ago. Minnesota Twins pitcher Scott Baker took a perfect game against the Kansas City Royals into the ninth inning, before he walked John Buck and then the moment earned Mike Sweeney a new nickname* when he singled to center field. But for the first 8 innings, it was magical.

*"Stupid Mike Sweeney!". We like Mike Sweeney, but crushed our hopes of seeing a no-hitter. It's an endearing nickname.

As most people are aware, the Twins and Chicago White Sox are pretty bitter rivals. Thus, Victoria Times writer Steve hates the Twins, and I hate the White Sox. Fact of life.

Nevertheless on Tuesday night at the Metrodome, I watched Buehrle attempt to make history by being the first pitcher to pitch back-to-back perfect games. Alas, little Alexi Casilla thwarted those plans by walking. Since Buehrle had not had to pitch from the stretch for 45 consecutive batters, it seems to frazzle him a bit, and the Twins took advantage and went on to score 5 runs in the next 2/3 of an inning before Buehrle was removed from the game. To be fair, one of the hits in the seventh inning should’ve been a double play. As fans of baseball, we were stunned when the second baseman broke for the bag, rather than fielding the slow ground ball hit between first and second. In the sixth inning, Joe Mauer’s ground-rule double probably should’ve been caught. Incidentally, that’s the only misplay that the White Sox are allowed to blame on the Metrodome’s weirdness.

As an aside, I think the White Sox have a mental block in regards to the Metrodome (I understand. The Twins have one in Yankee Stadium, and kinda against the Yankees in general). Many of the problems the White Sox (mostly Ozzie Guillen) blame on the Metrodome happen anywhere. Buehrle complained about the bloop hits. Bloop hits happen anywhere. Balls fall in between fielders no matter what stadium you’re playing in. The Metrodome might have a slight advantage on ground balls moving faster through the infield, but that can work against them too (the Twins are pros at hitting into double-plays. Inning-ending, rally-killing double plays are a specialty). (Another aside: My friend and I wondered why the Twins didn’t try bunting earlier in the game. Sure, Buehrle is a good fielder, but they weren’t getting on base anyway.) The poor fielding Monday night were on throws and catches. There’s not much artificial turf can do about that, as far as I’m concerned. (In fact, I could argue that it would make it easier, because there are much fewer weird bounces on uniform surfaces.)

Back on topic, I was ecstatic when the perfect game was broken up, and even happier when the no-hitter was removed from the equation. There was relief when the shut-out was eliminated, too.

And when Buehrle was removed in the seventh inning, I stood to applaud him. I know there were plenty of people applauding in sarcasm—a “Thanks for the runs!” tribute—but mine was sincere. I never cheer when an opponent leaves, even if he’s given us ten runs. In fact, I’m disappointed, ‘cause I’d rather he stay in the game and give up more runs. Buehrle deserved praise; he put himself in the recordbooks. He retired 45 consecutive batters. He was masterful. As a fan of the sport, I have to honor that, sworn enemy or not. Players don’t often get standing ovations in their opponents stadiums, but sometimes, life calls for it.

I tip my cap to Mark Buehrle. It wasn’t easy what he did. It was magical.
He may play for an evil team, but that was impressive.

(I take great joy in the fact that Scott Baker, a long-time favorite of mine, had a better box score line than Buehrle—not to take anything away from Buehrle, though. )

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Links of the Day 7/30/09

There were a handful of trades yesterday, most notably Cliff Lee getting traded to the Phillies. Keep it here tomorrow for the trade deadline live blog, starting whenever I wake up and ending whenever I feel like it!

Cycling fight! Watch the words and spandex fly!

Who doesn't love celebrity match making?


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A letter to Bill Smith

I wrote the following letter to Bill Smith, Twins GM, earlier this morning.

Hello, Mr. Smith, my name is Ryan Henning, lifetime Twins fan. i wanted to say that, from the outset of your tenure as General Manager, I have been a huge supporter of the team you are trying to build, and am praying that as the trade deadline approaches, you continue to mold the team to the squad YOU want. I understand that members of the team and even the manager have made it known that they would like to see you make a roster move in the coming days.
I implore you not to.
True, a trade may allow the Twins to win the Central division, but I feel there are too many holes on the roster that you can't fix this team without severely hampering the squad in coming years. Furthermore, I believe that, the acquisition of a middle infielder will not help as much as the addition of a starting pitcher, which runs contrary to popular opinion. Starters that can get deeper into the game will strrengthen the bullpen, and perhaps the offense will not need to be improved.
Additionally, the middle infield is not necessarily supposed to be an offensive juggernaut. The outfield is. Michael Cuddyer has seen a return to form this year, and Denard Span is as pure a center fielder as the Twins have ever had, Torii Hunter notwitshanding. That said, Delmon Young has gotten stronger as the season progressed, following the unfortunate passing of his mother. I cannot fathom why his playing time is being reduced. I know the excuse is that Carlos Gomez is a faster player and a better fielder, however, if he cannot get on base, speed doesn't matter, and if the pitching staff can't keep the game within 5 runs, his glove is irrelevant as well. Mr. Young is hitting .310 this month, but has only been in 10 games.
Judging by your history in your brief tenure, I feel that you are in agreement with me on at least a few points that I have made. Despite some of the results of your trades, I feel that you made intelligent moves. Unfortunately, the manager, Mr. Gardenhire, has a history with talented but discontented players leaving and meeting success in a different uniform, and of promoting "Small Ball" a fundamentally flawed offensive strategy, and one definitely not suited for the roster you have assembled. It is certainly not your fault that Mr. Gardenhire did not adapt to his roster.
Again, I wanted to express my support for your tenure as general manager, and request again that no roster moves be made with the dawning of the trade deadline. Thank you for your time. Go Twins!

- Ryan Henning

**In the interest of full disclosure, I do run a website at
, and will print my own letter, but will not print any response without your express conset. This letter was written as a fan, not as a blogger. Thank you again for your time.**

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Links of the Day 7/29/09

Who even eats at Golden Corral anymore?

Will the ACC ever be good again?

As usual, the Browns look like crap.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

In which Ryan does his happy dance

Brett Favre isn't coming to Minnesota! I don't have to hear about the Vikings on every channel, even when they aren't playing!
I am not a Vikings fan, and often take glee in their failings. That said, it's bad enough that I have to hear about them on the local channels, but at least this takes them out of the headlines on the national news for a while.
I promise you, my next football post will be about a team I actually like. Go Colts!


Links of the Day 7/28/09

If Brett Favre doesn't work out for the Vikings...

Drew Brees: Accessory to a glamor shot.

Those Olympic full body swim suits are no more.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Rickey Henderson, Wordsmith

I'm sure you saw all sorts of news headlines, telling you that Rickey "stole" the spotlight at yesterday's Hall of Fame induction. He did, I suppose. My favored line? "My mother chose-ed baseball for me. I guess Mom... really do knows best." Ah Rickey.

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Links of the Day 7/27/09

The Cabrera to the Twins rumors persist, unfortunately.

Nice work, stupid. A failure in thievery.

Be sure to watch the baseball game tonight. Surely, you will see something new from the announcing team.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Position in the Spotlight: St. Louis

Let me start this off with a huge disclaimer, this position in the spotlight stop is by far the hardest one I have attempted so far. We struggled a little with some of our past cities due to a lack of history, but trying to find a position for St. Louis is pretty much the exact opposite situation. It's easy to narrow things down. St. Louis is a baseball town, quite possibly the most dedicated baseball town in the country, so sorry, Rams and Blues, you aren't getting talked about here. Since they first became a serious contender back in 1926, the Cards have won 17 NL Pennants and 10 World Series titles, beating the mighty Yankees in 1926, winning 2 more in the 1930's, being the team of the 40's (or at least the team of World War II), winning 3 more, 2 more in 60's, 1982, and most recently, their improbable 2006 world title after playing so poorly in the regular season compared to their 2004 and 2005 teams.

So the problem I have with picking a position for St. Louis is that they have had too many good players at too many positions. In the Cardinals organization, you can make a strong case for 1B, 2B, SS, LF, SP and manager as the most important position in franchise history. So, I'm going to go with a bit of a cop-out, instead of picking the usual defensive position for the position in the spotlight, I'm going with an offensive position, St. Louis Cardinals #3 Hitter.

Let's head way back in time to 1920's to get this started. The Cardinals #3 hitter from 1916 to 1926 was the legendary hall of famer, Rogers Hornsby. Hornsby was an absolute offensive beast, hitting over .400 3 times (.424 in 1924!) in career, winning 2 MVPs (1 with the Cubs, and probably would have had more if the award existed early in his career), and leading the league in HR twice and RBI 4 times. Hornsby won the triple crown 2 times, hitting .401 with 42 HR and 152 RBI in 1922 and .403 with 39 HR and 143 RBI in 1925. Babe who? Hornsby helped lead the Cardinals to their first world title in 1926. Hornsby was traded to the New York Giants after 1926 after he demanded and was denied a 5-year $50,000 contract. Just think about much would a 2 time triple crown winner that hits over .400 for a world champion team make today?

Hornsby wasn't traded for nothing, as the Cardinals acquired hall of famer Frankie Frisch and immediately inserted him in the #3 spot in the batting order. Frisch brought the Cardinals speed and a high batting average, but not the power numbers that Hornsby had. Frisch helped lead the Cardinals back to the World Series 4 times, winning in 1931 and 1934. He also won the MVP in 1931.

After Frisch retired, the 3rd spot in the lineup was taken over by yet another hall of famer, Enos Slaughter. Slaughter was a 10-time all-star and helped lead the Cardinals to their 4th World Series title in 1942 before leaving for 3 years to go fight in World War II. He returned in 1946 just in time to grab another World Series ring with the Cards.

The man that replaced Slaughter in the 3rd spot in the lineup is quite possibly the most famous Cardinal of all-time, hall of famer Stan Musial. Musial was a 3-time MVP, a 20-time all-star, and led the league in countless statistical categories over his career. He helped lead the Cardinals to 4 World Series, winning 3 of them in 1942, 1944, and 1946.

The 3rd spot in the lineup was a moving position throughout most of the 50's and early 60's, but it was traded off between a bunch of great players. First you had Musial, who was discussed above, and then you had Red Schoendienst, yet another hall of famer who played 2B for the Cards from 1945-1956, and again from 1961-1963, and also Bill White, who played for the Cards from 1959-1965, who was a 5-time all-star and 6-time gold glove winner. Surrounded by other youngsters at the time Lou Brock and Curt Flood, along with recent acquisition Dick Groat, the Cardinals won another world series in 1964, the year after both Musial and Schoendienst retired.

Before the 1967 season, the Cardinals acquired Mr. 61 himself, Roger Maris, who was on his last legs, and inserted him 3rd in the lineup. The solid Cardinals won yet another World Series title in 1967, and went back to the World Series and lost to Detroit in 1968.

Throughout the 70's and early 80's, the #3 spot in the order was tossed around between a few different people, including 1971 MVP Joe Torre, Tim McCarver, and Keith Hernandez. Hernandez was the #3 hitter in 1982, when the Cardinals won another World Series. In the modern dead ball era known as the mid-80s, Tom Herr batted 3rd in the lineup, and the Cardinals went back to the World Series in 1985 and 1987. The Cardinals, who were already experiencing a large power vacuum during this time, resorted to having great players, but not neccesarily the kind of skills you look for in a #3 hitter, hitting 3rd, such as Willie McGee, hall of famer Ozzie Smith, and Terry Pendleton. That all changed half way through 1997.

In the late 90's, the #3 hitter on the Cardinals was America's position in the spotlight, as Mark McGwire blasted a ton of home runs, breaking Roger Maris's record by hitting 70 in 1998, and then again hitting 65 in 1999. McGwire finished his career with 583 HR, and was a 12-time all-star. His numbers today though are seen as tainted by the steroid era.

After McGwire retired, the #3 spot was filled in by J.D. Drew and borderline hall of famer Jim Edmonds, who was another great 5-tool player. The cleanup hitter during those years would eventually ascend to the #3 spot in the order, and become St. Louis's new object of affection, Albert Pujols. So far, at only age 29, Albert Pujols has put up some impressive numbers. He is a 2 time MVP, 8 time all-star, has a career .334 batting average, and 353 HR. He also has a great shot at winning the triple crown this season. Pujols has also led the Cardinals to 2 World Series, winning in 2006.

Pujols looks to be the #3 hitter in St. Louis for quite some time, and it looks like the prestige of this position is now back after some down years in the 70's and 80's.

Honorable Mention: St. Louis Cardinals Manager - The Cards have had some great managers over the years too: player managers Rogers Hornsby and Frankie Frisch, Billy Southworth, Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog, Joe Torre, and Tony LaRussa

St. Lous Rams Running Back - The Rams offense has revolved around its running back since moving to St. Louis, from Jerome Bettis to Lawrence Phillips (before he went crazy) to Marshall Faulk and now to Stephen Jackson.


Links of the Day 7/26/09

The Tour de France is over. Alberto Contador is your winner.

Another former champion boxer was murdered, this time Vernon Forrest in Atlanta.

How about a rapping Ron Artest in China? Why not.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

This is not the year

Let's make something clear. I want the Twins to win. Also, I am a realist. I realize that this version of the Twins is not the same World Series caliber team it could have been the past few years. When studs Torii Hunter and Johan Santana were around, the Twins could have had one or two players added. They didn't of course, and the Twins didn't make it past the ALDS more than once.
Now we have an itchier trigger finger in Bill Smith, something that we could have used earlier in the decade. We also have an inferior team. Back then, I felt the extra piece could take us the extra mile. Now, I don't think there is a single component they could add that would turn this team around. There are a few things the team could do within the organization that would benefit the team this year and could get them above .500.
- Wait for Kevin Slowey to come back. Right now the biggest problem with the Twins is the starting rotation. Sure, the bullpen is struggling, but so would any that has to pitch 4-5 innings a game. The starters need to start getting deeper into the games. Veteran pitchers mean deeper starts. Deeper starts mean less bullpen.
- Send down Carlos Gomez, call up Danny Valencia. The Twins need to realize that they don't have the aged outfielders like they did before. If they want Young and Gomez to develop, they each need regular playing time. Young has been in the bigs longer than Gomez and languishes when he is not in the lineup. In the lineup, he has been just as solid as any hitter. It's his fielding that suffers. He isn't getting better on the bench. Gomez, on the other hand, is young. His fielding is splendid, but he is still a streaky hitter. Most of those streaks are bad streaks. His good streaks demonstrate his talent. He needs to find himself. In the mean time, Valencia would be another infielder that the Twins obviously need. Oh, and he is absolutely raking right now in Rochester.
- Realize that if the pitching staff is giving up ore than 10 runs a game, defense doesn't matter. The lineup needs to maximize the offense. And not the manufactured offense. The extra base hit, score 12 runs in a game offense. I'm talking moving Mauer to the 2 spot, play Harris instead of Casilla and teach Valencia SS to have his bat in the lineup.
And of course, whatever they do, the Twins should not sacrifice anything for short term fixes this season of all seasons.

Well shoot.


Links of the Day 7/25/09

Kyle Farnsworth is getting along with the rest of his bullpen.

Vicente Padilla.... has swine flu?

This is a problem.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Links of the Day 7/24/09

Mark Buehrle had a pretty good game last night.

I believe this could be addressed from any desperate fans out there.

The man who was involved in the Marvin Harrison shooting was shot again, this time 7 times. Last check, he was in critical condition.


Holy Crap! Is Buehrle Headed for the Hall?

My plan for my weekly post coming into Thursday was to do our next Position in the Spotlight city, St. Louis (look for it on Sunday). As a White Sox fan, the events of Thursday definitely changed my mind. In case you haven't heard, Mark Buehrle became only the 18th player in major league history to pitch a perfect game, as the Sox beat the Rays 5-0. Something that makes it even better is that the Sox are now in a virtual tie for first with the Tigers in the AL Central (silly percentage points).

Today's feat got me thinking Mark Buehrle quietly building an extremely strong case to be a hall of famer some day? He's only 30 right now, so he is probably a little more than half way through his career barring injury or early retirement (which he has hinted at). But let's take a look at the resume he has put together so far in his first 9 years in the majors.

Buehrle has never been dominant in any statistical category, other than time elapsed between pitches, which doesn't mean a whole lot, but he has already accomplished a lot of things that even the most dominant statistical pitchers long for. He has now thrown 2 no-hitters, including the perfect game, he was the ace of a World Series winning team, and he has made the All-Star game 4 times so far in his 9 years, and started the game for the AL in 2005. Another amazing thing about his 2 no-hitters is that when he pitched his first one 2 years ago, he only walked 1 batter on the Rangers (Sammy Sosa) and then immediately picked him off of 1st base, which means he only faced 27 batters in that game as well. This is probably the closest anyone has ever gotten to pitching 2 perfect games in a career. He also faced the minimum 27 batters in a game in 2004, where he gave up 2 hits but another batter later grounded into a double play that inning, which makes him the only pitcher ever to face the minimum 27 batters in a game 3 times.

Statistically, he has a respectable career ERA of 3.78, which isn't bad for the steroid era, and 133 career wins, averaging 15 a season (he already has 11 in 2009). That's a pretty good amount of wins for a 30 year-old, and if he can keep up that pace for 8 more years, he'll have 250 wins. Ten more years puts him at 280 at 40 years old. Of course anything can happen, but has been a workhorse over the years, pitching over 200 innings every year so far in his career.

Back on the intangibles side, he still has some opportunities on the horizon. With the White Sox, he plays for a well paid team in a pretty weak division, so he has the potential to add to his 3 playoff appearances. This perfect game might also boost his popularity more among the sports writers and around the league, which could lead to some more love from the Cy Young voters (here's hoping Halladay gets traded to the NL next week) and more All-Star selections by the managers. I guess now that he has done it twice, there's always a chance he might throw a 3rd no-hitter down the line....

This can all be discussed again 15 years from now. For now, we'll see if Buehrle can carry his team back to the playoffs again, and I'll definitely be watching to see what happens next in his unpredictable career.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009


I’m on the DL. I’m questionable. I’m on the IR. Whatever you want to call it, I managed to astutely slice open the fingers on my left hand, requiring a trip to urgent care for six stitches and a tetanus shot. I can still type—fortunately—but it’s just not as easy as it normally is.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig brought up the fact that players who are suspended get to spend time in the minors, re-habbing, if you will, for their return to their major league team. He wanted to eliminate that. Now, I don’t often agree with Bud Selig. I don’t think he does a good job with costumer service—I have no idea how the players feel about him, and have no way of finding out. (They’re probably not going to admit if they hate him, which makes it hard to tell if they’re telling the truth when they say they like him.) However, on this case, I agree.

A player who is suspended does get punished: he doesn’t get paid his salary for the duration of his suspension. And yet, he’s able to get back into game condition from the time he finishes his suspension. He doesn’t come back to the team as if he’s been gone for 50 (or whatever) days. He comes back with his timing down for hitting or his control of his pitches in game situations. With players who make insane salaries, the punishment of pay is less of a punishment as it is a slap. Sure, they miss it, but it’s not like a huge loss to their fortunes, unless they’re been excessively undisciplined in their spending.

I’m well in favor of the suspended player being replaced on the team. (Part of me wonders how much it would affect the teammates if the player either had to be released/exposed to waivers when suspended—or else be left a member of the active roster. I would like to think that players would be more responsible about not taking steroids/abusing drugs because they’d not only hurt themselves, but their teams. However, most guys who behave poorly will still assume they won’t get caught. And I hate the concept of punishing other people for another’s sins.) But I do think that before a player can play in the minors on a suspension-related issue, he should go through the same process as if he had been sent down to the minors: exposed to waivers. This makes it more difficult for the player to get back into the game—which is the exact sort of punishment that’s going to annoy him the most. These guys are competitors. They don’t want to sit on the bench. And if they don’t have the time to get back into game condition in the minors, it will be harder for them to get into games in the majors.

Because of human nature, the odds of stopping steroid abuse are very low (science will keep working on both sides: creating steroids that aren’t detectable, and creating tests to detect them). Thus, it’s likely there will always be players getting caught. There should be a plan to deal with them—the stricter the punishment, the more of a deterrent it will be. But it will never be 100%.

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Links of the Day 7/23/09

Your Ben Roethlisberger update.

Who is winning it all in college football this year? Let's ask Vegas.

A 12 year old is playing pro soccer in Bolivia. He would still own Landon Donovan.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Position in the Spotlight: Tampa

If Tampa of the 80s amd most of the 90s was known for anything, it was as an area for good sports to go to die. The Buccaneers never won and wore Creamsicle Orange. The Devil Rays wore teal and and were awful. The Lightning were a laughing stock as well, and in many ways, they weren't even the best hockey team in Florida. Up until about 10 years ago, Tampa sports were awful.
The last city that had such a brief history of success was Nashville. Even so, there's was a problem with brevity. They didn't have enough historical context. It's very clear that their glory position was going to be more apparent in the next 10 years or so. In Tampa, however, pro sports have been around long enough that you have to think a position would have emerged by now.
The franchises, however, even after they came into their own on the field, saw their greatest success as complete team units. That being said, I can't pick any single visible position that contains any extra pressure. I can say, without equivocation, however, that the change from doormat to perennial contender for all three of these franchises began with a change in their attitude and their image. Yes, the Position in the Spotlight for Tampa is the Tampa area Front Offices, namely, the marketing departments.
The Buccaneers were stuck with the Creamsicle orange uniforms and players like Trent Dilfer all the way through 1996. They didn't win very much either, earning a winless season in 1976. Before the jersey change, they had two seasons with more than 7 wins. Immediately following the change in image, the Buccaneers went 10-6 and made the playoffs. By the 2002 season, the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl. Since, it's been a surprise if they weren't a success, rather than if they were.

The team now known as the Rays came into being as the Devil Rays, a technicolor monstrosity that featured high priced and ineffective veterins, as weill as losing season after losing season. Last year, they dropped the "Devil" cleaned up the uniform and made it to the World Series.
The Lightning didn't have a drastic overhaul in their image. If anything, this underscores the fact that it really wasn't the change in image that changed the fate of sports in Tampa, but rather the change in strategy. Collectively, the teams started drafting better, hiring better coaches, and making better free agency decisions. A more effective organization, Tampa proved, was the key to overall success for winning teams.

Honorable Mention:
Buccaneers Head Coach: The tide turned with Tony Dungy. John Gruden was essentially traded for, and he led the team to their Super Bowl victory. Now, Raheem Morris has a the eyes looking at him.
Rays Manager: The first big name hire at manager was Lou Piniella, one of the most famous in baseball. It was Joe Maddon, however, who guided this team to the World Series.
People named Vinny: Vinny Testaverde was the only good player the Bucs had for in their first 20 years. His talent was lost in a sea of orange mediocrity. Vinny Lecavalier was the first stud the Lightning had. He preceded Marty St. Louis and the awaited Steven Stamkos as prolific scorers for the Lightning.


Links of the Day 7/22/09

Yeah, this sounds awful.

Don't expect to hear about the Ben Roethlisberger case on ESPN. Not unless he gets in more trouble, anyways.

Speaking of ESPN. Thanks dudes!


It happens all the time

Pitchers sometimes have bad games and give up 10 run leads. Sometimes, umpires blow important calls at the ends of games. People make mistakes. Neither of these things really upset me about the game Monday night against Oakland. Sure, this was all frustrating as hell, but it didn't make me angry. These things happen all the time.
What doesn't happen all the time is an apparent Manager of the Year candidate sending someone who hasn't bunted (Mike Redmond) in 3 years to the plate with 6 outs left to the plate to sacrifice someone over. Let's see, 27 runs already, right? You had already blown a 10 run lead, right? Personally, I would try to go for the gusto, scoring as many runs as possible without sacrificing any outs. Given the same number of outs (had the Twins scored), I wouldn't trust my pitching staff to hold the A's scoreless over two innings. If I were to try to execute such a strategy, however, I certainly would have tried to do so with someone actually capable of performing the task in question.
In case you don't remember, after flailing in his attempts at a bunt and a hit and run, Redmond was down in the count and had to take a defensive swing to prevent a strikeout. Instead he grounded into a double play. As much as the pitching staff and the umpire's call at the end of the game affected the game, don't pretend that bad decision making from Gady didn't have a role in that atrocity last night.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Links of the Day 7/21/09

The Timberwolves continue to revamp their roster.

Big Ben might be in trouble. Sounds sketchy to me, and hopefully it's not true.

Troy Tulowitzki
kind of looks like the bastard child of Shia Lebeouf and Vanilla Ice.


Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm about to sound very old.

Back in my younger days, when I was still in school, teachers would always tell me that I had a gift for writing. After reading this blog for three years or so, I can imagine why you might be surprised. I thought that maybe someday, my gift for the written word would put me in a place of prominence, either as a writer or in business. Alas, instead technology is dumbing down the English language. Instead of appreciating my brilliance, people just decided to get stupider.
Enough. I understand that with text messaging, it behooves us to shorten what we say. That's cool. Still and all, there are a couple of phrases or acronyms that are unnecessary to be texted, and have somehow crept into the lexicon of today's youth. They need to be stopped. The three that immediately come to mind:
"FTW" - If you don't know, this means "For the Win". That's right, someone took the phrase from Hollywood Squares and made it an acronym and put it in everyday use. What bothers me further is that the people that did this were probably only familiar with the Whoopi Goldberg/Bruce Vilanch version of the game. Awful.
"Fail" - When anything goes wrong for anyone, someone has to shout it. It's stupid and I hate it. Bring something new and constructive to the table.
"ROFLCOPTER" - I don't even know what this means. If you put it in a comment, send me an e-mail with it, or say it out loud, I will punch you in the head. If I don't know you, I will do my best to find your IP, figure out who you are, come to you, and punch you in the head.

I'm sure you have more ideas. The internet is full many bad things. Perhaps we can begin to fight back, one grammatical battle at a time.


Links of the Day 7/20/09

The Twins are going back to their goofy name strategy, signing Mark Grudzielanek. Book your World Series tickets now.

The Legend debates the merits of each football conference, based solely on style. WE all agree that Oregon's uniforms are ridiculous.

Amen, J Money, Amen.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Don't act like we don't know what you're trying to pull

Don't for a second think that we don't know what you're up to Alberto Alburquerque. Yeah, your name is hilarious, and you play for the Tulsa Drillers, which is also amusing in it's own right, but you know what? I'm standing up for the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
You spelled the city wrong, Alberto! It's Albuquerque, not Alburquerque! It's one thing to use a city's name for comedic purposes, but come on, at least take the time to get it right!

What? What's that? There is a place called Alburquerque? Oh. Well that place looks pretty cool, actually.


Links of the Day 7/19/09

A spectator was killed at the Tour de France. Horrible, of course.

Maybe it's good this video hit the internet, so everyone knows that the pervert who shot it is out there, and can be flushed out. Let's hope he is captured quickly.

There is someone out there that is now the one who clogged the toilet in space. I would have thought it impossible with freeze dried food.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Chucky sees another ghost!

[In Arlington after the game, Carlos Gomes is watching TV. The commercials come on...]



Links of the Day 7/18/09

Is there anything that would be more embarrassing than getting chased down by a fat guy in flip flops? Maybe if you got arrested afterward.

Tiger Woods was less good than usual.

The Tour de France: Now with gun violence!


Friday, July 17, 2009

How About This Stimulus?

The ceremonial first pitch at the all-star game got me thinking....since our buddy Barack likes to hand out a bunch of free money to people that don't necessarily deserve it, how about giving the White Sox a nice, mid-season bailout, maybe giving them enough money to trade for and then sign Roy Halladay to a long term deal? That's one stimulus package that could actually turn something around.

Photo Credit: Jeff Roberson, Associated Press / July 14, 2009

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Links of the Day 7/17/09

Golf in the UK is quite the drama. My favorite part is that I get to link to the Times of London.

I'm just glad I haven't been the victim of any hawk attacks. In my own backyard, even!

Zimbabwe goes out of it's way to screw Malaysia. It's soccer!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Links of the Day 7/16/09

Beth just mentioned this in her post this morning, but it's a good read, and worthy of a second link.

Last night was not the night to be watching sports.

Jeremy Mayfield has gone off the meth infused deep end. By the way, I'm surprised there haven't been many NASCAR/Meth jokes, given the fan base and the stereotypes. Get on the, bloggers.


Oh, Canada...I'm sorry!

As I was half-alert watching the pre-game of Major League Baseball’s All-Star game on Tuesday, I was a little surprised when the Star-Spangled Banner was sang, but O Canada wasn’t. I know that at most sporting events, O Canada isn’t played/sang unless the team is playing a Canadian team. But this is the All-Star Game. A player from the Toronto Blue Jays was starting pitching for the American League and another was at second base. Where was O Canada? I mean, it’s not like Toronto is going to skip the Star-Spangled Banner when the All-Star game is played there again. (Cheryl Crow was on hand to sing the Star-Spangled Banner live.)

I later learned that O Canada was played—and I mean played. They had a recorded version and played that. It wasn’t even televised for those of us at home, which is a pity, because its’ a beautiful song. (That’s even worse than playing a tape-recorded version. Fox should share some blame, along with the organizers of the All-Star game.)

This lack of performance strikes me as the result one of three things: either they couldn’t find someone who was willing to sing, they didn’t care, or they completed missed the boat and forgot about it, grabbing a recording at the last minute. Knowing the number of people who would adore to perform in front of a large, captive crowd, I don’t believe they couldn’t find anyone to sing O Canada. It’s not even like they would’ve had to memorize the lyrics. President Barak Obama was there, so they could’ve just used the teleprompters! I don’t believe they dropped the ball and waited until the last minute. The Cardinals, being in the National League, haven’t had to regularly face a Canadian team since the Expos moved to Washington in 2005. If they kept a tape around for games against the Expos (first of all, shame on them!), I just can’t believe they could find it immediately. It would’ve been easier to just grab someone from the stands to sing O Canada.

I think it was all sorts of failure to not perform the Canadian national anthem with the honor that the United States national anthem was afforded. There were two players from a Canadian team (and two Canadians, although that doesn’t matter because there are so many nationalities on the team. The important fact is that there is a team playing in Canada. Trivia: there was also a guy born in Germany—Edwin Jackson; also, two players were born in Minnesota).

One of the Canadians, Justin Morneau, was not impressed. He accurately pointed out that the reverse happening in Canada would probably cause a mild uproar (not his exact words. He just said it wouldn’t go over too well).

So, California Angels. I understand the next All-Star game will be held in your ballpark. I hope you correct this error.

And since I love crazy contracts, here are two articles on some crazy NBA contract additions. This pleases me, but not as much as it could be. I give it to the Oakland A’s for adding provisions in their contracts about growing mustaches. That’s the kinda of silliness I like!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The slowest night of the year... Let's talk about me!

As everyone knows, there is nothing going on in the sports world tonight. Expect a whole lot of half season recaps on Sportscenter, a My Wish segment and maybe something on the NHL schedule release. Maybe.
Well, with all the free time, was able to check in on my potential trips. If you'll recall, I'm waiting for the University of Illinois-Chicago to release their schedule so I can see what game #10 will be, and then I will go to it. Some of their schedule was revealed a week and a half ago. Well, in a way. 9 of the opponents were revealed. I'm pulling for the 9th game being the home game against Oregon State, I think. We'll see, I guess, when the official final schedule is revealed.
Speaking of official, final schedules. Remember when I said that I was going to Bowling Green to watch Arkansas State and Western Kentucky play a little bit of football? Probably not. Wellllll..... not so much. It turns out, Arkansas State had to rejigger their schedule a little bit to fit Louisville on there. Important non conference money, you see. Well, in order to do that, the Red Wolves will now be playing North Texas in their 10th game of the season, a home game. I'll be headed to that game instead.
So Louisville has gone in there and screwed everything up for me, and now I will be headed to Jonesboro instead of Bowling Green in November. This is almost as drastic a schedule change as when I was in Europe and learned that I would be going to Innsbruck instead of Milan the next day. Almost.

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Links of the Day 7/15/09

The All-Star Game was yesterday. AL wins 4-3, and at least one person enjoyed it. I was at work.

Of Mice and Men goes hand in hand with hockey.

What do those poor, underprivileged athletes get from the ESPY's?


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Obligatory All-Star Game Post

If you have been poking around the blogosphere or checking out your local sports columnist to see what they've had to say about the All-Star Game, you'll note that almost universally, they claim the game would be better if it didn't count. Why? They say because it's unfair. It allows people that won't even compete in the World Series have a say in who gets home field advantage, and it may promote injury if, God forbid, the players in the game actually put forth and effort.
Now seriously, do you think it's any more or less fair to base it on a team's record over the course of the season? A team plays 18 games across league lines against a grand total of 5 teams. I think it's kind of hard to say whether or not one team for a given league is better than a team from the other league until they play each other for a while, like in the World Series.
As for this business about players not involved in the World Series getting to aid in deciding who will get home field advantage? Last I checked, the Red Sox get to pound the Orioles about 20 times a year (as many times, if not more, than they play the entire National League). Some of those times are in September, when the late season call ups get perhaps their only shots in the Major Leagues. Don't they have a say in who get's homefield as well, playing the sacrificial lambs at the feet of the Red Sox? I am much more comfortable with the best players from each league involved in this process than some triple A call ups.
As for the injury thing, well, yeah. They happen. They also happen in rec softball. At Real Job Inc, every year for the past three, someone has broke a bone so bad playing softball that it required surgery. I can't remember the last time such an injury happened in the All-Star Game, but if it did, I would feel much more comfortable if they were actually playing for something than if they weren't.
I know I'm in the minority and will probably be shouted down but if anything, I strive to be different here at the Victoria Times. Or something.

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Links of the Day 7/14/09

You would think the lesson would be learned after one or two, right?

Jacques Lemaire was retired for almost 3 months or so.

What? Really?! Omar is awesome!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Which league will win the Home Run Derby?

Tonight, the Home Run Derby is coming our way. For the second year in a row, miraculously, there is a Twin involved. Joe Mauer is swinging for the AL. Justin Morneau won it all last year, despite Josh Hamilton's huge first round. This year, Mauer is surrounded by fellow ALers Carlos Pena of the Rays, Nelson Cruz of the Rangers and Brandon Inge of the Tigers. Wow. I'm mostly surprised they are all even in the game. Mauer and Inge are having anomolous seasons as it stands with their home run totals. Inge has 21, only his second time reaching 20 homers. He is 32. Mauer has his career high already with 15. For his part, Pena is leading the leading the league in home runs, and Cruz (unbelievably, the second Nelson Cruz in the history of the league) is definitely in his breakout season, getting a chance to play every day for the first time.
The point is, the AL isn't exactly blowing my mind with their skill players. For their part, the National League is bringing Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez. Congratulations on the Home Run Derby, National League!

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Links of the Day 7/13/09

Sort of like Wally the Beerman, if Wally could carry a tune.

I never really even played Mega Man, but this made me laugh anyways.

In case you forgot, Ichiro is still really good.


The Twins heading into the Break

Ah, the All-Star Break, bane of the sports blogging world. What do you write about with about 4 days without real sports? What's that you say, go talk to my family? About what? Sports? No, I will instead remind you of the league leader in an important category for the Twins. no, not Joe Mauer and his batting average, Nick Punto in head first slides or R.A. Dickey in beard awesomeness. No no. There is another one of import.
Carlos Gomez... Leading the league in smiles!


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Links of the Day 7/12/09

Brock Lesnar beat Frank Mir in one of the classiest, most civilized competitions on the planet.

Another athlete, former boxing champ Arturo Gatti, was found murdered. We're going to have knock this off.

The Twins rumor this season will be Freddy Sanchez. Won't happen, of course.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Frankie and Chucky see a ghost

[At the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee....]

Carlos Gomez: I'm a little scared, staying in this hotel room all by myself. Maybe I'll listen to the Wiggles on my iPod! (puts ear plugs in ears)

CG - GAAAAAA!!!! Voices!!!!!!! (throws iPod to the ground)

CG - The sheer terror has made me all sweaty! I need a shower! (Showers while singing the Alphabet Song) A B C A R L O S! Now I know my ABC's! (Hops out of the shower... The broken iPod is spouting off static)

CG - GAAAAA! My iPod is possessed! (runs out of the room half naked. Francisco Liriano is in the hall) Frankie! I think my room is haunted!

FL - Really? What happened, Chucky?

CG - Well, I put my head phones in, and then I heard voices, so I threw the iPod down really hard, and when I came out of the shower later, it wasn't working right!

FL - Oh wow, it really does sound like you have a ghost!

CG - Do you want to hang out with me? Maybe we can keep the ghost away.

FL - Sure! We'll be like Scooby Doo!

[Back in the room, Chucky and Franky play jacks for hours on end)

[There is a knock on the door]

Voice on the other side: What are you two doin' up so late?!

(Franky and Chucky look at each other, afraid)

[the door swings open]

Ron Gardenhire: I said, what are you two kids doing up so late?!

FL/CG: G-g-g-g-GHOST!!!!

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Links of the Day 7/11/09

Stealing is bad, even if it is from Tom Brady.

This is an odd couple.... of couples.

Oh good, a page to track the trade deadline news. It will be good when I live blog the deadline on the 31st. Tbat's right! Live blog!


Friday, July 10, 2009

Twitter: Ruining America

You ever hear something that just ruins your day? Well, I found out that Shaun Phillips, former Purdue classmate of mine, current Charger, and an all around cool guy is on Twitter. Lots of athletes are on Twitter of course, but not all of them are on there CONSTANTLY. Moreover, not many of them seem to be BFFs with the Kardashians. My world is crushed.

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Links of the Day 7/10/09

David Cone may not be the best character witness..... for anyone.

The Flyin' Hawaiian, Shane Victorino, and um.... Brandon Inge... make the All - Star Game

I'm mostly just hoping this story was left over from the 1950's, but alas, it is not.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Links of the Day 7/9/09

They found Bartolo Colon, thank goodness.

Colin Montgomerie
, fighting pirates in his own way.

This is the type of thing that probably only happens in the Midwest.


Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?

Saku Koivu & Mikko Koivu

Many female Wild fans were saddened to learn that Saku Koivu signed a contract with the Anaheim Ducks. I’m sure many of the male fans are saddened, too, but females will mention the fact that besides being an incredible hockey player, Saku is incredibly hot.*

*I'm making Ryan reconsider his idea of having a female presence on his site, one sentence at a time! I should clarify here that I don’t watch sports for cute guys. I’ve had favorite players who were not attractive. However, I will admit that I consider attractiveness of some players as an added bonus.

Wild fans were looking forward to Saku Koivu joining the team not only because he is a great hockey player with a well-established career, but he’s also the big brother of the Wild’s oft-Captain (and guy with the best name in professional sports), Mikko Koivu. The boys are nine years apart in age, and haven’t had many opportunities to play with each other, and only limited opportunities against each other. Having brothers, I know I’d have a hard time playing against them. I’m competitive enough that I want to win. But I’m sympathetic enough that I wouldn’t want my brothers to lose. A bit of a dilemma, really.

Yet, Saku Koivu chose to take a smaller contract from Anaheim. It seems crazy, since he’s getting older, so the risks of injury being career-ending are greater. He’s not playing with his brother. Moving from the western conference to the eastern conference means he’ll face off against his brother more often. Thinking about the ramifications, though, it makes perfect sense. And Saku thought about it:

“I kind of felt that Minnesota’s Mikko’s place at this point. I wanted him to have his own privacy in a way and make his own name and career. And I just felt there were too many risks for us as brothers and as family members to join on the same team and kind of compete for the same ice time.

“I think Mikko was really excited about the possibility for us playing on the same team and I can’t deny, if you really think about the possibilities and only the positive side, it would have been a pretty exciting thing. But I looked at it in, I guess, a more negative way and I was thinking, ‘what if this happens or what if things won’t work out?’ And right now, we have such a great relationship and I was too afraid to challenge that. You never know what is going to happen. For me, this was a safer option and I felt myself, I felt more comfortable.

“When I spoke to Mikko today, he understood totally. I guess I looked at things as more of an older brother and I wanted to protect him in a way and I felt there were too many risks for me to sign there.”

The risks of playing together included the fact that the Wild have become Mikko’s team. Even though Marian Gaborik was the longest-established player on the team, and even if he had been healthy all year (ha!), it still would’ve been Mikko’s team. From reports, both Brothers Koivu are natural leaders. Things easily could’ve come to a head as the Elder had to submit to the Younger—and perhaps the Younger would have a hard time not acquiescing to the Elder.

But the real issue is what would happen if Saku had a bad year. Presumably, Mikko would be Captain at some point (and if the captaincy isn’t rotating with the loss of Jacques Lemaire, Mikko is a strong candidate to be named Captain). How would the younger brother deal with his leadership role with his older brother struggling (and even vice versa would be a bit of a struggle).

So, while it’s sad that Saku Koivu won’t be playing with his brother in Minnesota, it makes perfect sense. Plus, now his kids are close to DisneyLand. I wonder if he would consider that a good thing, or if he’ll rue that decision.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Position in the Spotlight: Denver

A Denver area legend retired yesterday. Joe Sakic, one of the three Hall of Fame players that was part of the Avalanche's glory days of the mid 90s. Patrick Roy, Peter Forsberg and Sakic were the core of a team that dominated the NHL for about a dozen years. Of course, the Avs have only been in Colorado since 1995. The baseball team in town, the Rockies, have only been around since 1993, and I have a serious problem with basing a town's history on Dante Bichette. The two teams that have been there for longer are the NBA franchise, the Nuggets, and the NFL squad, the Broncos. Before Carmelo Anthony came to town, the best player in Nuggets history might have been Robert Pack.
This means, of course, that we have to turn our attention to the Broncos. Their history centers around one player in particular, the starting quarterback for 15 years and winner of Denvers two non Cup championships, John Elway. Ever since his departure, every Bronco QB since has been held up to Elway's standard, and frankly, have not measured up. That doesn't mean there isn't undue pressure.
Elway, of course, had an incredible career, third all time in yards and 5th in touchdown passes. More notably, he took the Broncos to 5 Super Bowls. Of course, he lost in his first threee attempts, but managed to win a pair in the mid to late 90s. In a city that has a history of developing superstars (Elway, Sakic, Anthony, for example), Elway's surely shines the brightest.
Perhaps the greatest effect Elway left on the franchise is that every quarterback since has been held to his standard, and every QB previously has essentially been forgotten. Quick, everyone outside the city of Denver, name the first quarterback to take the Broncos to the Super Bowl.
I'm going to guess you had to look it up. Not many people remember Craig Morton. What people do remember is what failures, comparitively, all the quarterbacks since have been miserable failures. Brian Griese, Jake Plummer, Jay Cutler. It didn't help that these QBs aren't blessed with the highest mental fortitude, because the pressure they felt was incredible.
There aren't many positions that receive the attention based on one person, but Denver and John Elway have certainly earned this acclaim.

Honorable Mention
Colorado Avalanche Captain: Joe Sakic will undoubtedly leave some big skates to feed.
Colorado Rockies First Baseman: The first player added to the Rockies was Andres Gallaraga. Since, the Rockies have only had one regular 1b, prennial all-star Todd Helton
Broncos Running Back: How much of this position is due to the scheme, and how much is due to the talent of the running backs?


Links of the Day 7/8/09

Sarah Palin may not have been put in the game often when the opponent was using the press.

Thomas Jones must by his cars based on color...

Joe Sakic has retired. The Avs are going to be really bad next year.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Let's get this over with.

This NFL off season, the Indianapolis Colts have....
- Let go of a future Hall of Fame receiver Marvin Harrison.
- Saw future Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy retire.
- Promoted Jim Caldwell to head coach, and tried to create a seamless transition between coaching regimes.
- Failed to create a seamless transition between coaching regimes.
- Saw their offensive coaching staff retire.
- Had their star quarterback express displeasure with the coaching situation.
- Are heading into the next season with a myriad of problems

That's a busy offseason if you ask me. Why do I bring it up? Because you haven't heard about any of it, because of this guy:

Even the death of a better, less annoying quarterback in a horrifying but grotesquely interesting homicide wasn't able to keep Favre out of the headlines. If he signs with the Vikings, I am never coming back to rooting for them.

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Links of the Day 7/7/09

Tiger Woods is quite the comedian.

Is Nomar a Hall of Fame candidate?

Who says sportswriters are sexist?!


Monday, July 06, 2009

It's easier to be angry about the Twins

I promised an angry screed last week against the Wild, but as it turns out, I just can't get angry about them. Why? Because the Wild organization was struggling because of problems that have already been flushed out. The Twins could be staring a problem with the front office or management for years and would fail to address it, simply waiting for the problem to retire. Just think. When was the last time a member of the Twins organization was fired? Bill Smith could have a debilitating stroke (God forbid) and still be the GM for another 15 tears. It's easy to sit hear and helplessly gnash my teeth.
The Wild, however, seem to have flushed their system. We are left with nothing but hope. Jacques Lemaire, who was a good coach, but his cloying defensive style drove away offensive players? Gone. Marian Gaborik, who simply didn't want to be here and was a constant resident of the injury report? Gone. The worst offender, GM Doug Risebrough who couldn't pull the trigger a trade to shed the team of Gaborik, instead giving away draft picks and had the audacity to say that Minnesotans simply had high expectations that were to high? Gone.
In their stead, Todd Richards, the new head coach will bring a refreshingly aggressive palying style from San Jose. Martin Havlat, the new star acquisition, lamented the lack of loyalty from his old team, the Blackhawks, and signed on to be with the team for 6 years. Chuck Fletcher, the new GM has aggressively pursued free agents, adding Havlat and bolstering the defense with Greg Zanon and Shane Hnidy. He is still in the market for Saku Koivu, and has made it apparent that he is willing to swing a big deal for another scorer. It's clear that he realizes that Minnesota's expectations are right where they should be.
So, the moral of this story? The angry hockey screed this week is canceled. Instead, I wait with hopeful anticipation for the beginning of the season.

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Links of the Day 7/6/09

As usual, I'm behind on this.... Ricky Rubio will stay in Spain for a couple years.

I sort of wish there were more details on this story.

Why keep linking to funny sites when CNN did it for me?


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Steve McNair, the last of his kind?

By now, we've heard about Steve McNair, and how his life came tragically to an end. I won't talk about his character, and what a great family man he was, or what a great representative he was for the city of Nashville. Frankly, I can't.
During his playing days with the Titans, my Indianapolis Colts played McNair twice a year. His scrambling skill, coupled with his ability to get his ball to his receivers though they weren't terribly talented was always a back breaker. In the early part of the decade, the Titans were the thorn in the Colts' side. I hated Steve McNair.
That was the thing about McNair. If you liked his playing style, or were a Titans fan, you loved him. If you liked the pocket passer or ever had to beat him, you hated him. It was very hard to like Steve McNair, but at the same time, it was very hard to dislike him either. He was perhaps the last prominent football player without context in the NFL.
This day in age, we get to see most skill position players play out their college days, and often get to see them even get recruited out of high school. Steve McNair went to tiny Alcorn State, and didn't really arrive in the public spotlight until the draft approached. It's hard to say he was an underdog either, because he was picked third overall. You had no reason to root for or against him, unless you were cheering for the Oilers/Titans, or the team they were playing.
Brett Favre had a similar background, coming from small town Mississippi to become a career long, gritty quarterback. Somehow, however, the media took to Favre, and came to enjoy covering him, interviewing him at every opportunity. He even had a cameo in There's Something Abount Mary. Favre became well known, but for various reasons, became less and less likeable. McNair, for whatever reason, never became the media darling.
Now with his horrible passing, the details of his life, both the good and the bad, are being disseminated to the masses, really for the first time. Sure, there is reminiscing on his wonderful NFL career, but really, for the first time we are hearing from his family, finding out about his life after the NFL. Only now, in death, are we able to figure if we like or dislike Steve McNair.
McNair in life, unlike so many players this day in age appeared to us simply as a professional football player. With the media able to permeate everything this day in age, is such an eventuality possible anymore? Maybe Joe Flacco, small school (Delaware), first round pick, thus far fairly awkward socially, is the next Steve McNair. If he is, we can only hope his life doesn't end so tragically.


Links of the Day 7/5/09

In a great match, Roger Federer wins his 15th Grand Slam title over American Andy Roddick.

Chicago's hosing of Martin Havlat was to Minnesota's benefit.

It seems like this happens every year, and I don't know why.


Saturday, July 04, 2009

Bad news for the Twins

The Twins were up late last night, playing 16 innings against the Tigers. It was bad enough that they lost, but they have to play again at 3pm. Making matters worst, Kevin Slowey, the starter for the game, was placed on the DL. Happy 4th!
OK OK, here's some positivity. We have the All-Star Break coming up, so Slowey will get better and the team will be back to normal. Also, the Twins called up Anthony Swarzak, who happens to be about the best prospect the Twins have right now. I think we're going to be just fine. Enjoy some parades and fireworks!


Links of the Independence Day

Be careful on the roads today.

I saw this as it happened, and I still don't understand it.

The Tour de France begins today. But you knew that. Here's some help on those jerseys.


Friday, July 03, 2009

The Passing of a True Legend

There was a lot of death in the news last week, and by the title of my post, you would probably assume that I am going to be talking about Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, or Ed McMahon. But it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to talk about any of those 3 on a sports blog. We lost another not quite as big name that recently had some ties to the world of sports, loud-mouthed TV pitchman Billy Mays. I never really quite understood how someone like him got on TV, with his style of shouting to sell cleaning products, but I guess his voice definitely got everyone's attention....

I would say that I was probably in the boat of never wanting to buy any of his products because of his pitch style and general cheesy feeling to his commercials. That was the case until a few months ago, when he started to appear in the absolutely hilarious ESPN 360 commercials, where he basically was mocking his own style. Those commercials and his goofy antics on the sidelines during the bowl games gave me a different impression of the guy....that he understood his style was annoying but must have been effective. I started to watch his Pitchmen show on Discovery mostly because it came on after Mythbusters, and I never knew how involved he was in actually meeting with inventors and doing the market research to make sure the products worked. In the end, he wound up making a lot of people with great ideas (and himself) millions of dollars, and from the show it seemed like he was a really great guy.

So R.I.P Billy. I'm not going to miss you waking me up at 1 AM to buy OxiClean when I fall asleep with the TV on, but I'll definitely miss the ESPN 360 commercials and the Pitchmen show.

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Links of the Day 7/3/09

Killer Bees indeed.

This might be the best website ever...

Federer in the Wimbledon finals, making this just like every other Wimbledon final from the past decade.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

Links of the Day 7/2/09

As Beth mentioned earlier today, the Wild said farewell to Marian Gaborik, but late last night, they added Martin Havlat with a 6 year deal.

Citi Field is in one of the scarier boroughs of New York.

This seems like the type of thing that wouldn't fly in the US.


A Farewell to Injuries

I had a tendency to refer to former Minnesota Wild wing Marian Gaborik in uncomplimentary terms often enough (the word “Delicate” was often used). The guy simply didn’t stay healthy. I have pretty poor health (nothing serious, fortunately), but at least I can show up for work almost every day. Sure, my co-workers hate to listen to me coughing, but if I stayed home every time I got a cough, I’d miss about two months every year. My job doesn’t require me to be healthy, unlike someone in the entertainment industry, like a singer, actor, or athlete. They need to be healthy to perform. If they’re not healthy, they tend to fade away.

That being said, Marian Gaborik was one of my favorite hockey players to watch when he was healthy. The boy has amazing talents on the ice. He’s exciting to watch, because he can do things that seem impossible—and make them seem effortless. Every good athlete does this, sure. The first Wild game I attended, and the third hockey game I’d attended in my life, Marian Gaborik got a hat trick. I didn’t know much about hockey, but I knew what a hat trick was, and I knew how rare and special they were. It made the game that much more exciting. (I later learned it was the first ever hat trick by a Minnesota Wild player, too!) Things like that make a player a special memory.

And that’s all Marian Gaborik will become. He has now signed a 5-year contract with the New York Rangers. (Really, Gaby, couldn’t you sign with the Islanders, so I could watch you and my former favorite Gopher, Kyle Okposo?!) While I adore Mikko Koivu, has been healthy (Mattias Ohlund breaking his leg excepting), it’s hard to forget your first favorite player. The guy who made the game special to you by making your first game special.

I wish him well, but I shall always be sad that I don’t get to see him regularly. Of course, with his injuries, it’s not like I ever did.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

What are the Twins doing?!

(I will have a much, much angrier screed on the Wild later this week)

It's been widely reported that Delmon Young is "exceptionally available" because Ron Gardenhire is exceptionally stupid a terrible manager, prefers Denard Span and Carlos Gomez. I've made my peace with the fact that the Twins don't like Young, because he is still a developing young hitter who takes about a month and a half to get going, but he doesn't smile and isn't a gold glove outfielder. They would rather build the team around Denard Span, a slap hitter who has already maximized his potential, or Carlos Gomez who can't hit outside of spurts, but smiles a lot and runs really fast. Whatever.
So, here's the thing. They want to trade Young, and I would be surprised if they don't before the trade deadline. What I really don't understand is why they aren't playing him. Young is finally coming around after the death of his mother, and has started hitting, both for power and for average. Not only would his presence in the lineup help the team now, but it would drive up his trade value, so the Twins could actually get a component they need instead of some crap middle reliever, which they will probably trade for straight up.
The only reason I can think that Young isn't in the line up on a daily basis is that Ron Gardenhire is petty and is too dumb to look at things like "numbers" or "strategy" especially when it doesn't involve bunting, So, because he wants his guys in the lineup and has no perspective on the future of the team, he continues to drive it into the ground. Ron Gardenhire is a terrible manager and deserves to be fired for his inability to bring this superfluously talented team to the fullness of their ability.
Wow. That came out of nowhere.

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Links of the Day 7/1/09

Unbelievable. It's already July

The NHL Free agency period begins today.

For that matter, so did the NBA's.

Lucky day for this kid. Not sure if that luck is good or bad.