Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Twins make one of the most important moves in recent history

The Twins right now are in the throes of a pennant race, but just today, Bill Smith made what might be the most important move since the Twins drafted Joe Mauer. Usually I am very sarcastic about everything, but today I'm being serious.
This smiling youngster is elite Dominican prospect Miguel Angel Sano, and reports everywhere are saying he has just signed with the Twins. Sano as reputedly 16 and the deal is contingent on his obtaining a work visa in the US. Sano thinks he will be in the major leagues in just two years, but at 16, I think 3-4 years might be a more appropriate estimate. He is a short stop that projects to change position, either to the outfield or third base. Scouts say that his power will be somewhere between "good" and "great". Some scouts have even gone so far as to say his skill level falls somewhere in the Evan Longoria-Alex Rodriguez range. Weighty proclamations for someone so young and unproven.
Aside from the fact that Sano appears as though he may soon be the best prospect in baseball, it signals a change in the Twins organization. Typically, if the Twins have had foreign born players break through, they have been acquisitions from another organization. On this team, Carlos Gomez came from the Mets, Francisco Liriano from the Giants and Alexi Casilla from the Angels. Justin Morneau is the most notable foreign born player on the team, and Canada hardly counts. The elite talent on the team generally comes domestically, and in some cases, from the same state.
In the past year, the Twins have tried to replenish their team internationally, with pursuit of current Braves pitcher Kenshin Kawakami most notable. Despite my gripes about the Twins, my complaints are only with game day strategy. The front under Bill Smith has proven to have a keen eye towards the future, and in a matter of a couple years, Bill Smith might be one of the most heralded general managers in the game. Miguel Angel Sano might go a long way to making that happen.

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Links of the Day 9/30/09

In case you might be looking for some tattoos, Deshawn Stevenson has some ideas.

Former Viking and Chief Tyler Thigpen was traded to the Dolphins, thanks to Chad Pennington's season ending injury. Adjust your fantasy rosters accordingly.

Famously tempermental former Twin Chuck Knoblauch in trouble forr spousal abuse


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NFL Power Rankings: Week 3

Eli and the boys in blue are back where they spent a few weeks early last season, the top of the computerized power rankings. Despite #2 Minnesota's last second win over #1 San Francisco, the formula was more impressed by the Giants shutout win over the Bucs, which caused them to leapfrog the Saints (who also won) and Vikings into the #1 spot. So far, I'd say the Giants deserve it, especially since the Vikings so far have beaten 3 times that combined to go 11-37 last year. The Vikings stay put at #2, while the Broncos, another team that hasn't beaten anyone that was even close to being good last year, move up 4 spots to #3. The Saints stayed even at #4, and the surprising 3-0 Jets move up to #5 after knocking off the free-falling Titans.

Around this time of year, the rankings really follow the standings pretty strongly. The 7 3-0 teams are in the top 7, the 9 2-1 teams follow, then you have the 9 1-2 teams, and finally the 7 0-3 teams. There is a pretty decent gap between each group of teams too. This is because the recent success stat hasn't kicked in yet since all games so far this season are recent, and the strength of schedule and divisional strength is not very well defined yet. There are also large gaps in winning percentage this early on that help split the teams more. As the season goes on, these gaps and the other stats will help the formula work its ranking magic...

The bad teams just keep getting worse. The formula must be pretty sure the Buccaneers are the 28th best team in the NFL, because that is exactly where they have been for the past 3 weeks. The Titans and Browns actually moved up this week because the Rams and Panthers were so awful that they dropped to #31 and #32, respectively.

This week's big winner was Dallas, who jumped 10 spots for whupping Carolina, while the Lions jumped 7 spots all the way to #20 for getting their first win in almost 2 years. On the flip side, the Falcons fell from #3 all the way to #15 after losing to New England, the Cardinals dropped 10 spots after being dominated at home by the Colts, and the 49ers dropped 9 spots to #10 after their narrow loss to the Vikings. Yes, the Lions are ranked above the Steelers.

Here are the complete ranks:
1. Giants - 82.28 - +4
2. Vikings - 79.38 - Even
3. Broncos - 78.82 - +4
4. Saints - 78.61 - Even
5. Jets - 77.85 - +1
6. Ravens - 77.71 - +2
7. Colts - 73.78 - +2
8. Packers - 69.85 - +3
9. Patriots - 66.34 - +1
10. 49ers - 64.16 - -9
11. Bengals - 60.86 - +2
12. Eagles - 60.19 - Even
13. Cowboys - 59.54 - +10
14. Chargers - 57.83 - +2
15. Falcons - 55.90 - -12
16. Bears - 54.85 - +6
17. Raiders - 41.85 - -3
18. Redskins - 41.78 - -1
19. Texans - 41.33 - +2
20. Lions - 41.25 - +2
21. Steelers - 40.73 - -1
22. Jaguars - 40.02 - +4
23. Bills - 39.75 - -5
24. Seahawks - 35.63 - -5
25. Cardinals - 33.66 - -10
26. Chiefs - 21.02 - +3
27. Dolphins - 18.91 - -3
28. Buccaneers - 17.76 - Even
29. Titans - 17.60 - +1
30. Browns - 15.65 - +2
31. Rams - 13.21 - -6
32. Panthers - 12.28 - -1

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Links of the Day 9/29/09

Peyton Manning is pretty good.

The Rockies' grounds crew is not so good with a rake.

How exactly have the Boilermakers done this season? I throw to an expert, Boilerdowd at Boiled Sports. Boiler Boiler Boiler Boiler.


Monday, September 28, 2009

See anything you liked this weekend? OR What the heck is wrong in the Pacific Northwest?

This blog is slowly becoming Uniwatch, but sometimes, I just can't help myself. I thought Oregon was done surprising me. They had the 80 different uniform options, and clearly, they were trying to use any of them. I was done with them. And then they decided to break out a vomit themed throwback uniform.
Gross. And apparently there are 81 possible uniforms for the Ducks. Speaking of avian football teams in the Pacific Northwest, the Seahawks decided to steal the thunder of those in Oregon, by introducing this little number.

That sound you hear is the jersey. Ir's that loud.

(Oregon photo from ESPN, Seahawks from the Chicago Tribune)


Links of the Day 9/28/09

Links from the weekend....

The Raiders continue their impressive PR campaign.

Bay Area fans are used to holding baseballs for ransom.

How many of these have you seen? Starred in?


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cheering for Patrick WIllis

Steve is pulling for former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Patrick Willis, because he is a 49er fan. I am cheering for him in the hopes that he can knock Brett Favre out for next weeks game (the season?!?!). If it happens, I'm getting a Willis jersey, end of story.

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Links of the Day 9/27/09

Just a reminder, even on this football Sunday.... hockey is almost here (4 days!)

Speaking of hockey.... I love this post.

Canadians are scary.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Position in the Spotlight: Pittsburgh

Steve and my friend AJ grew up in Detroit and now lives in Pittsburgh. A couple of months ago, he said he would enjoy writing a P.I.T.S. for those two cities. We said yes, because it's means an easy day for us. Today is Pittsburgh's turn. AJ's words are below and not in italics.

Picking the signature position for Pittsburgh is not as easy as you think. At first thought you would say it is simple, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker. But once you give it a little thought you realize that the city has a lot of really strong positions. Mike Webster, Dermontti Dawson and Jeff Hartings are three of the best centers of all time. They are three consecutive generations of NFL Hall of Famers. For a team that is thought of as a smash mouth football, they have had three Wide Receivers named as super bowl MVPs, Lynn Swann, Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes. Half of all the Super Bowl MVPs who have been wide receivers were Steelers. Since this blog has a slight Purdue slant I would be remiss not to mention the defensive backs lead by Purdue’s own Rod Woodson, with guys like Mel Blount, Carnell Lake and Troy supporting him. Oh, and they have had three really good coaches, Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin who have all won coach of the year awards and at least one Super Bowl. I would list more, but my parents were wearing diapers last time one of those guys wasn’t coaching the franchise.

While the western Pennsylvanian world revolves around football, the city of Pittsburgh will quickly rally around any team that wins. Starting Mario Lemieux and Ron Francis in the late 80’s/ early 90’s and now with Sid the Kid, Geno Malkin, and Jordan Staal you could argue that no hockey team in the last 20 years has had more talent at the center position then the Pittsburgh Penguins.

For any other city any of these positions would be the signature position. For example the Steelers have had much better coaches than Oakland, or Nashville and as good as Green Bay. And while the Browns may have had strong quarterbacks, no area in the world can compare to the quarter backs that have played high school in the Pittsburgh area, Johnny Lujack, Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly and Joe Montana are a who’s who list of great quarterbacks. While more recent stars like Gus Frerotte, Charlie Batch and Marc Bulger would make any city proud.

You could argue that the Pittsburgh area high school quarterbacks make the most impressive list, but most of them made their mark on the national sports stage after they left Pittsburgh. The Spotlight Position for Pittsburgh is still the Steelers Linebackers. Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Levon Kirkland, Joey Porter, Andy Russell, James Harrison, Larry Foote, LarMarr Woodley and James Farrior are the reason for the Steelers success. Most of these guys were not huge stars when they arrived in Pittsburgh, but they were when they left. James Harrison was an undrafted player from Akron who was cut from several teams, LarMarr Woodley fell to the second round of the draft because of his bad attitude and work ethic. Unlike most cities where the spotlight position is the spotlight position because of luck or chance, linebackers are the spot light position in Pittsburgh because that is what Pittsburgh wants its’ spotlight position to be. Pittsburgh sees it self as a city that needed hard work and grit to get everything that it has. These are the characteristics of a storybook linebacker. And that is why Pittsburgh embraces their linebackers, like not other city does to a single position.


Links of the Day 9/26/09

So wait, was Plaxico Burress wearing sweat pants or not?

Who should you be watching during today's games?

It's things like this that make me hope we destroy Notre Dame this evening.


Friday, September 25, 2009

I rarely endorse products, but....

Ladies and gentlemen, how many times have you wanted to make delectable meatballs, but simply did not want to spend time cutting up the meat or rolling it into those balls? All the time, I'll bet! I'm sure it's led to you not ever having meatballs, hasn't it? Indeed, that's the one thing that is holding me back from whipping up a batch of meatballs.
GOOD NEWS! With meatball express, you can make 9 meatballs in 9 seconds! All you have to do is flatten your ground beef, then use the Meatball Express to chop and roll up the meatballs. HOW CAN YOU GO WRONG?!
Now, buy one today, then spend the weekend eating all those meatballs you cook up. This is absolutely the best invention in the history of kitchens and cooking! AMAZING!

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Links of the Day 9/25/09

Plaxico Burress is having no problems whatsoever in prison.

Hines Ward is still ready to lay somebody out.

Should the Jaguars move? Probably. Too bad.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ten to go

These are exciting times as a sports fan in Minnesota. The Minnesota Wild pre-season games are being played, and the team has new management and coaches, and of course, new faces on the team. The Vikings have a new quarterback who’s name I just can’t seem to remember at the moment, which has caused quite a stir. The Twins are vaguely hanging onto a thread of hope that they might make the playoffs, PLUS they will be playing their final regular-season games in the Dome in a little over a week. Exciting times, indeed!*

*Err, and the Timberwolves will be starting pre-season games the day the Twins finish their regular season. However, I’m pretty sure only the die-hard Timberwolves fans really know or care about that.

I’ll be honest, baseball is the only sport which I get excited about well before it starts. I know when pitchers and catchers report. I follow off-season moves. Hockey always comes about slowly—as baseball ends, I need something to distract me. I can’t tell you much about the Wild’s offseason moves until the season is rolling along. I really can’t tell you about the Vikings’ offseason moves, other than I’ve heard mixed reviews on Favre, which means he’s probably doing an acceptable job. (I’ve heard no mixed reviews on Adrian Peterson, however. People seem pretty well set that he’s a star—which of course reminds me of a young Randy Moss, and makes me kinda nostalgic…) I probably won’t be able to tell you much about the Timberwolves unless they start to do something crazy and wild, like actually winning more than 35% of their games…

With ten games left for the Twins, and hanging on by the thinnest thread to hope of a playoff position, I’m a bit distracted right now. I don’t have time to worry about anything else. My brain is focused—as much as possible for my easily distracted nature—on baseball, and the Twins. So what are the main questions about the Twins?

Will Joe Mauer win the batting title? (Odds point to “yes”.) Will Joe Mauer win the MVP? (Answer is hazy.) Will Francisco Liriano start on Sunday, after being relegated to the bullpen after injury? (Probably.) Will Scott Baker break my heart again? (I hope not.) Is Michael Cuddyer having a crazy September? (Yes, but I knew he had it in him, even if other’s didn’t.) Should Carlos Gomez get more playing time with Cuddyer playing first base? (Yes! The Twins have a lot of fly ball pitchers, so put the best defensive outfielder on the field. He can’t do much from the bench!) Should rookies be forced to wear Teletubbies costumes? (Yes! Or anything else to amuse the fans.)

Should the Twins win? (Most definitely!)

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Links of the Day 9/24/09

Are the Patriots (and for that matter all of New England's sports teams) done?

Can you name these league leaders? Probably not!

Idaho State, you say?


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Boring doesn't mean "bad"

I'm going to do something unheard of in the world of sports blogging. I'm going to call out Peter "Gandalf" Gammons. He states in a recent article that a pair of extra playoff teams in the baseball playoffs would make September more interesting. Half naked cheerleaders would also make baseball more interesting. Why isn't that a proposal?
He gives the example of the National League wild card race, where the Rockies are 5 games in front. If there were two wild car teams, that would mean a competitive race between the Braves, Giants, Marlins and Cubs. Heck, in the American League, 4.5 games separate the Rangers, Mariners and Twins. Why? Because the bell curve of baseball records means as you go towards .500, you will find more teams. More teams are mediocre than there are good, essentially. You find more teams fighting for second because you don't have to be as good to be second as you do to be first.
The problem with this September race for the 5th spot in the playoffs is that you would have lesser teams struggling for these spots. The race would be more like the won right now in the AL Central, which is only competitive because the Tigers have collapsed; A battle to figure out who is the least bad.
Let's say we did add that 5th team to the playoffs. How would the structure work? Depending on your ideas, 1-3 teams could have a bye in the first or even second round of the playoffs. Baseball is one of few games where time off actually hurts the team. Sure one or two days of rest can help out, but time on the diamond can't be replaced. A week or two away from the game would mean tough times trying to get back in the zone. It would really be an unfavorable advantage to the wild card teams who barely made it in.
In the end, though this year's regular season is ending with a fizzle, it will make the playoffs better. We know that the 8 best teams in the league are going to be there with very few duds. The playoff series will feature excellent baseball between the elite squads of MLB, and that's what we really want.

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Links of the Day 9/23/09

Sometimes, racism is subtle. Other times it involves vampirism and puppy eating.

This could be the end for dear old Eddie Guardado.

Brandon Inge got some sweet tattoos, if you didn't notice.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NFL Power Ranks: Week 2

So a wild and crazy week 2 is in the books, and we had a gigantic shakeup in our power rankings. This is why its pretty tough to judge a season by 1 game. After 2 weeks, we have 9 2-0 teams, 14 1-1 teams, and 9 0-2 teams. Six of the top eight teams from week 1 lost in week 2, and some fell extremely far.

Now, before I reveal the new #1 ranked team, if I asked you who has the longest winning streak in the NFL since last season, including last year's playoffs, who would you guess? I doubt the San Francisco 49ers would come to mind, but they do indeed have the longest winning streak at 4 games. Yes, somehow, someway, my favorite team, the 49ers are ranked #1. The Niners got to beat up on some NFC West scum the past 2 weeks, and as a result they have the #4 ranked scoring defense in the NFL and a 2-0 record. You could definitely look down on them because of their level or competition, but they have shut down a high powered offense that played in the Super Bowl last year and a team that was everyone's favorite sleeper pick for a big rebound in 2009. Their offense is still lacking, but they managed to do just enough in week 1 and got 2 huge runs from Frank Gore in week 2. Mike Singletary has them playing hard, Patrick Willis is a beast, and they have a wonderful experienced secondary. Will the Niners stay on top? I doubt it, but it will be fun to see...

These new ranks set up our first #1 vs. #2 matchup of the season, as Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings climb all the way up to #2 after their blowout win of Detroit. The Vikings have beaten probably 2 of the worst 3 teams in the NFL so far, but this early in the season, those are the only stats we can base their rank on. Checking in at #3 is the Falcons, who got another nice win over the former #32 team, the Panthers. The Saints and their explosive offense climbed to number 4 after their blowout win of the McNabbless Eagles. The Giants win over Dallas moves them up to #5.

On the flip side of things, some of the crap is already sinking to the bottom, but there are a few surprises. The Bucs stay at #28, the Chiefs move into the bottom 5 at #29 after losing to the Raiders. Surprisingly, last year's #1 seed in the AFC, the Titans, have fallen all the way to #30 after losing a shootout to the Texans. The Panthers less disastrous loss moves them up a spot to #31 while the horrible Browns fall to #32.

There were some big gainers and losers this early in the season. The Saints rose 10 spots to #4, and the 49ers, Broncos, Vikings, and Texans rose 8 spots each. Five teams had double digit drops after losses of varying proportions. They were the Eagles (-11 to #12), Chargers (-12 to #16), Seahawks (-14 to #19), Steelers (-14 to #20) and Cowboys (-15 to #23). We'll see if some of these teams that have been expected to do well can turn things around next week.

Here are the complete ranks:
1. 49ers - 83.55 - +8
2. Vikings - 76.45 - +8
3. Falcons - 75.81 - -1
4. Saints - 74.11 - +10
5. Giants - 73.79 - +6
6. Jets - 71.61 - +1
7. Broncos - 71.37 - +8
8. Ravens - 70.89 - +5
9. Colts - 64.27 - +7
10. Patriots - 57.02 - -7
11. Packers - 56.29 - +1
12. Eagles - 55.56 - -11
13. Bengals - 54.76 - +4
14. Raiders - 54.60 - +6
15. Cardinals - 54.35 - +4
16. Chargers - 53.63 - -12
17. Redskins - 52.02 - +1
18. Bills - 51.85 - +3
19. Seahawks - 50.16 - -14
20. Steelers - 49.11 - -14
21. Texans - 47.34 - +8
22. Bears - 46.94 - Even
23. Cowboys - 44.76 - -15
24. Dolphins - 26.77 - Even
25. Rams - 24.19 - +5
26. Jaguars - 23.55 - -3
27. Lions - 22.42 - Even
28. Buccaneers - 22.26 - Even
29. Chiefs - 21.85 - -3
30. Titans - 21.05 - -5
31. Panthers - 20.40 - +1
32. Browns - 17.58 - -1

(AP Photo/Marcio Sanchez)

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Links of the Day 9/22/09

Buffalonians continue to be hooligans.

The Colts won last night, which makes me a happy camper.

If the Twins and Tigers need the Metrodome, they will play on Tuesday the 6th, because the Favrekings need the Dome.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Apparently, Oregon's mommy couldn't help get them dressed on Saturday

I've accepted the fact that the Oregon Ducks have a wide selection of jersey combos, thanks to their supporters at Nike. I even accept that they think that they really like their loud, obnoxious colors. It's taken time, but I'll even let them have their pretty glittery feathers that are somehow supposed to intimidate. This year, I've relented a little bit, because in the first two games of the season, they have had monocolor uniforms that have, admittedly, looked pretty sharp, especially when comparing them to the eyesores the Golden Gophers have been wearing.
But really, this combination totally disregards any attempt at putting together a matching ensemble. Have you ever seen a 4 year old dress themselves? What the Ducks wore against Utah is about how it usually turns out. So, really, Oregon, I was just about done with you, but you just keep pulling me back in. And yeah, the wings are still stupid.


Links of the Day 9/21/09

Happy end of the summer, everyone. *sigh*

Yes, the Yankees won a lot of World Series in the 50s. The Lions won NFL Championships in the 50s too. Who are the modern baseball powerhouses? Still the Yankees.

Get ready for your first Major League player from Andorra!

No links on this week's NFL action, but here's this about week 1.

Finally, a little self promotion... In about 14 minutes, Me and my associate writer at Victoria Weather are doing a live chat. Won't you join us?


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Broncos win!

So let's see, in week one, the Packers beat the Bears, and the Broncos beat the Bengals. In Week two, this week, the Bengals beat the Packers, which of course, means that the Broncos are at least two teams better than the Bears. It's all because of the attractive feller gracing the top of this post, obviously. Is there nothing Kyle Orton can't do?

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Links of the Day 9/20/09

People complain about the Dome, but I think the Twins will probably miss it. I probably will.

England is the place to go for your baseball news.

An old post, but here are some of the worst players in this years version of Madden.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Position in the Spotlight: San Diego

It's been a while since we've done a position in the spotlight, and it's my fault. Ryan got a little ahead of me in posting these, and he was waiting for me to catch up. Today's position in the spotlight city is San Diego, a city I went on a little vacation to about a month ago (which is when I planned to write this). San Diego might possibly be the most beautiful city in America, and is an awesome place to go for a vacation. It has mountains, beaches, and a perfect climate, so leave it to the sports gods to punish them somewhere. San Diego, despite being such a large city, does not exactly have a rich sports history. They have had the Padres since 1969, who have played in the World Series twice, but have more losing seasons than winning. The Chargers have been in San Diego since 1961. They won the AFL title in 1963 and went to the Super Bowl in 1994, but they too have had their share of disappointing seasons. San Diego actually had the NBA for a little while too when the Buffalo Braves moved to town and became the infamous Clippers. They stayed in San Diego from 1978-1984 before bolting to Los Angeles for a reason that I don't really understand (do they actually have fans, or are they just Lakers fans that can't get tickets?).

So where do we go with our position in the spotlight pick. After walking past Petco Park during a game on a beautiful night in the Gaslamp Quarter and seeing nothing but empty seats, and vaguely remembering the Padres game I went to in 1993 where Benito Santiago got a standing O (from a tiny crowd) after he was picked in the expansion draft by the Marlins, I'm going to rule out baseball. The Chargers have a lot of positions that can be chosen in my mind. They have had their share of great quarterbacks, running backs, linebackers, and coaches over the years. Even though the current Chargers offense revolves around a future hall of fame running back, I'm picking San Diego Chargers Quarterback.

The Chargers have more or less had one thing over their 50 year existence that most teams don't, consistency at quarterback. Except for some rough patches in the late 80s and late 90s, the Chargers have pretty much always known that their starter would produce. It all started with their first quarterback, recently deceased and former vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp. Picked up from the NFL scrap heap as the AFL was just getting started, Kemp was perfect for the new league full of high scoring offenses and tons of passing, leading the Chargers to losses in the AFL Championship game in each of their first 2 seasons in existence, 1960 (in Los Angeles) and 1961. After breaking his middle finger in 1962 he was waived by Sid Gillman to free up a roster spot, and he was claimed by the Bills. This left the team to rookie John Hadl, which had disastrous results.

Seeing that Hadl was not yet ready to lead the team, heading into 1963 the Chargers signed veteran Tobin Rote, who had led the Lions to the 1957 NFL title, but had been out of the NFL for a few years, to lead the team. Rote delivered, leading the team to a 11-3 record and their first and only AFL Championship. The championship made Rote the only QB to ever lead a team to both an AFL and NFL title. Rote won the AFL MVP that year as well.

In 1964, Hadl and Rote platooned at QB and led the Chargers to another AFL title game loss. This loss was especially painful because it was to former QB Jack Kemp's Buffalo Bills. In 1965, Hadl took over the starting job full time and lost once again in the AFL title game to Kemp's Bills. Hadl continued to put up huge numbers in the AFL, leading the league in yardage 3 times, touchdowns twice, and unfortunately, interceptions twice during his career with the Chargers. He also made the "pro-bowl" (AFL all-star game in the AFL) 6 times. He was traded to the Rams before the start of the 1973 season to make room for a youngster and a very old man...

The Chargers turned to rookie 3rd round draft pick Dan Fouts in 1973, but also traded for decrepit legend Johnny Unitas to split time with him. The combination of Unitas being completely washed up and Fouts being a youngster was a disaster, leading to a 2-11-1 season. The Chargers entered 1974 with Fouts still splitting time with another rookie and a new head coach. The pair put up pedestrian numbers for some below average teams over the next few seasons, but that was all about to change.

The Chargers brought in "Air" Coryell and his crazy pass-happy offense in 1978 and Fouts flourished, passing just 1 yard short of 3000 yards. The Chargers offense exploded in 1979, with Fouts throwing for over 4000 yards, breaking the single season yardage record, leading the team to a 12-4 record, and making his first pro bowl. In 1980 Fouts shattered his own record, throwing for over 4700 yards and leading the Chargers to an AFC title game loss. In 1981, Fouts did it again, breaking the yardage record for the 3rd year in a row, and losing the AFC title game to the Bengals in the Freezer Bowl. Fouts led the league in passing for a 4th time in strike-shortened 1982, but the Chargers lost once again in the playoffs. Fouts continued to put up big numbers over the next few years, despite some pretty bad seasons by the Chargers. He eventually retired after the 1987 season and was elected to the hall of fame.

After Fouts, the Chargers used a bunch of QBs under head coach Dan Henning from 1988-1991 like Mark Malone, Jim McMahon, Billy Joe Tolliver, and John Friesz. When Friesz got injured before the 1992 season, the Chargers traded for Redskins backup, Stan Humphries. Humphries made an immediate impact, leading the team to the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. Humphries' success continued in 1994 when he led the Chargers to their first and only Super Bowl appearance, which they lost to the 49ers. Humphries was forced to retire after the 1997 season after multiple concussions.

The Chargers horrible 1997 season set them up perfectly to get one of the top QBs in the 1998 draft. Either Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf. The Colts had the first pick, so the Chargers were getting whoever the Colts didn't take. Unfortunately for them, the Colts took future hall of famer/super bowl champion/multiple time MVP/record breaker Manning, and the Chargers got interception machine/childish/failure/retired Ryan Leaf. The team struggled mightily without a solid starting QB, resorting to guys like a washed up Jim Harbaugh, future XFLer Craig Whelihan, and an ancient Doug Flutie, but things started to turn around for them after a 1-15 season in 2000.

In the 2001 draft, the Chargers had the #1 pick and seemed to be a lock to draft Michael Vick with that pick. Instead, they traded down and picked LaDainian Tomlinson in the first round and record breaker from Purdue Drew Brees in the 2nd. Brees struggled adjusting to the NFL in his first 3 seasons at QB, and the Chargers were just a bad team with a good RB. The Chargers earned the #1 pick in the draft yet again in 2004 and drafted Eli Manning. When Manning (and his dad) refused to sign with the team, claiming that the franchise had no future, they traded him to the Giants for their first round QB pick, Phillip Rivers. The plan was to have Rivers sit for a while and learn under Brees in 2004, and eventually took over the team. Brees felt the heat of having a young prospect under him and exploded in 2004, throwing for over 3000 yards, 27 TDs and only 7 Ints and leading the Chargers to the playoffs for the first time since 1995. Brees had another solid season in 2005, but was allowed to leave for New Orleans (where he has now become arguably the best QB in the NFL) to make room for Rivers.

Phillip Rivers took the reigns of a talent loaded Chargers team to start the 2006 season and didn't disappoint, throwing for over 3000 yards and leading the Chargers to their best regular season record ever, 14-2. However, they lost in the first round of the playoffs. Rivers bounced back in 2007, leading the Chargers to the AFC title game before losing to the 16-0 Patriots. In 2008, he had his finest individual season yet, cracking 4000 yards and tying for the lead league in TD passes with the man he used to back up, Drew Brees, but the season ended in another playoff loss. Rivers has proven he can lead the Chargers and put up huge numbers, but can he be the first QB to lead the Chargers to a Super Bowl title?

Honorable Mention
Chargers linebacker - The Chargers had Junior Seau as their defensive leader for many, many years, and he has been succeeded by another great player, Shawne Merriman. I could have picked this, but I didn't feel like writing about Tila Tequila.
The Gwynn Family - Tony Gwynn pretty much IS the Padres history, and now his son plays for the team with some big shoes to fill
The UFC - When I was in San Diego, it was incredibly quiet around Petco Park, but the bars in the Gaslamp Quarter erupted when Anderson Silva knocked out Forrest Griffin. Cage fighting is extremely popular out west, to the point where it is almost as popular as the local teams in not-so-great sports towns.

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Links of the Day 9/19/09

It's football day, so I won't use an entire post to drop a turd in the punch bowl. The Twins aren't in it because of excellent play or astute managing. They are in it because the Tigers are 3-8 in their last 11.

Who the hell is Kerry Rhodes?

The Gophers continue their tough schedule making. Expect a bit of national TV coverage for the next decade.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Crappy players are always crappy, even against the Twins

Why does it seem like it's always mediocre middle infielders that destroy the Twins? It always seems like it's the guys like Marco Scutaro or Adam Kennedy that are the undoing of the home town heroes, doesn't it? What are Twins pitchers doing that causes these players to sneak up and wreck Minnesota's hopes and dreams? The short answer? Nothing.
Marco Scutaro, one of the players that came to mind on Notorious Players that Kill the Twins Despite Having Little By Way of Baseball Talent. Looking at his career stats in slash fashion (AVG/SLG/OPS) we see he is a .266/.385/.722 hitter over his career. Against the Twins, he obviously rakes. His career numbers against the Twins? .244/.299/.588. Kills us.
How about Adam Kennedy? He is about the same player, putting up .277/.391/.721 numbers. He batters the Twins, going .255/.359/.660. Those were two guys that immediately came to mind when thinking that they always seemed to do well against the Twins. I'm sure there are similar examples.
Wait wait, there's more! Ozzie Guillen famously wailed and gnashed his teeth about the piranhas of the Twins a few years ago. Specifically, the discussion was about Nick Punto, Luis Castillo and Jason Bartlett, because they were on base "all the time". Luis Castillo was a good hitter before he went to New York to flounder for the Mets, and he actually did excell against Chicago. He doesn't count. We're talking about otherwise poor players. That year, 2006, Jason Bartlett, hit .306 and is now in the hunt for the batting title. He decidedly doesn't suck enough to be part of this study. How about Nick Punto? Over his career, he is a .249/.326/.646 over his career. That's almost Kennedy versus the Twins territory.He steps up his game to .263/.332/.666. Aside from batting average, that is an almost indistinguishable change.
What about Lew Ford? I know Steve always hated Lew Ford because he seemingly came out of nowhere and had a knack for beating the Sox. Ford was definitely a flash in the pan, and ended up producing .272/.402/.750 career digits. Against the White Sox, he went .291/.358/.682. Again, aside from batting average, those are markedly worse numbers. (Never mind that this might be because Ron Gardenhire tends to overcoach in big games, which in his case means an emphaisis on bunting, which reduces power and on base percentage numbers, but increases batting average in quick players).
What does this all mean? It means that, for the most part, crappy players are always crappy players. If it seems like one of those mediocre middle infielders has your team's number, it's because the one or two times he is ever successful, it sticks in your craw, and is harder to forget.

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Links of the Day 9/18/09

Journey front man Steve Perry is not a Dodgers fan.

I loved NHL 09, and it sounds like NHL 10 is even better.

Jon Rauch visited the Ronald McDonald House. TC tried to heat the dog.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Video Tribute

It should be well-known by now that I don’t follow basketball. Oh, I know, I keep readers of the Victoria Times updated on the Timberwolves stats, but really, I couldn’t name any player on the team right now. With a little thought, I could probably name a few, but after that, I’d be lost. This is not to say I don’t know anything about basketball. I do know most of the rules. I was a big fan of the sport in high school, but it never moved with me to college (I didn’t go to an athletic college. I think the starting quarterback my freshman year was a freshman, who, incidentally, was also my lab partner in chemistry. That’s pretty much as close as I got to sports in college).

Mostly, I find professional basketball a little boring. Yet, I can appreciate the great players of the game. To this matter, I bring up the recent Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Michael Jordan. Watching him was impressive. The way he played was insane. There’s a reason he was the icon for basketball, and courted* by athletic companies to be a spokesmodel for their gear. Where would Nike be without him?

* Pun not initially intentional, but left in and noted when realized.

This is all a round-about way to talk about something I found disturbing. It was briefly mentioned in this article about the man, David Thompson, whom Michael Jordan chose to present him. The line that stuck out the most was: “Thompson won’t have to give a lengthy speech for Jordan; those days are over for the Hall, replaced by video tributes.”

I’d just like to say that video tributes are for television. Coming into and going out to commercial breaks is the place for a highlight video. ESPN, et al., special features are for video tributes. A ceremony is not. How many of us have been at ceremonies where you couldn’t really see? In the crowds of graduates, could you really see your brother get handed his diploma, or was it by craning your neck to look through the holes in the crowds? Leave the video tributes at for home. The Hall of Fame Induction is the place when we want to remember a great player. I’d love it even more if old teammates could share their funniest moment, or what they felt was the most defining moment in his career. I don’t want long, drawn-out speeches. I want to laugh, remember, and perhaps even learn. I saw him play for years, and while I would love to see him play again, I know I’ll get to see video highlights again.*

*Note: I’m not saying no video should be shown. While speakers are approaching the platform, having video of the player would be a nice touch.

If we’re going to do video tribute, there’s no reason for me to go. The reason to go is to see these people again, in real life, and hear them speak.

If you want to see some of Michael Jordan’s great hits, well, here they are:

There’s plenty more where that came from.

And now, Minnesota Twins’ first baseman, former MVP Justin Morneau is out for the season. Of course, since he tends to slump in September, and due to a stress fracture in his back was doing worse than usual, having him replaced isn’t the worst thing in the world. However, having the good Justin Morneau out of the line-up is pretty devastating to play-off hopes. If it weren’t for the completely inept AL Central, they would have no hope at all.

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Links of the Day 9/17/09

The old Fire Joe Morgan crew reunited at Deadspin yesterday. I missed them.

Hawaii talking smack about Washington State. Deserved smack.

Lastly, NCAA president Myles Brand passed away yesterday. He was 67.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Some schedule's were released yesterday

So the Twins released their schedule yesterday. That's exciting. Some things we learned:
- They will be opening their season in Los Angeles, against the Angels.
- The home opener will be against the Boston Red Sox on April 12th.
- The always exciting interleague games will be at home against Milwaukee, Atlanta and Colorado, while the Twins will travel to Milwaukee, Philadelphia and New York to play the Mets.
On a personal note I go to the game on my birthday, which will be that opening day game in Anaheim. So, yeah, for my birthday, I'm going to California. Not that you care.

Speaking of things you don't care about as they pertain to my travel plans. I mentioned several times about the games I go to every year. Remember how I'm going to Jonesboro to see Arkansas State play North Texas in football in November? Of course you do. Well, the second team I picked for 2009, the Illinois-Chicago basketball team, released their schedule too. As the Victoria Times tribunal already decreed, I would be going to the team's 10th game of the year. It turns out that this game will be played in Akron, Ohio versus the Akron Zips. Yes, that's their real name. And they have a kangaroo as their mascot. A female kangaroo, as it happens. Really.
So anyways, that's what I'm doing for the next few months. Going to Arkansas in November, going to Los Angeles next April. Hitting on an anthropomorphic kangaroo in Ohio in December. Your average stuff.

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Links of the day 9/16/09

The Nationals are apparently terrorists now.

In another international incident, the Blue Jays and Yankees got into a scrap last night.

The people of Buffalo are getting unruly.


NFL Power Ranks: Week 1

It's time once again to bring back the computerized NFL power rankings. For those of you who haven't seen these before, we do our NFL power rankings using a weighted formula that takes into account 7 different stats about a team: record, recent success, strength of schedule, strength of division, scoring offense, scoring defense, and the all important turnover ratio. The point of the ranks, like any power rankings, is to determine who is the best in the league right now, instead of who has been the best all season. Last year, my updated formula did a pretty good job matching real life. The Steelers came out on top at the end, and the Eagles, Falcons, and Dolphins were always ranked much higher than the subjective power rankings out there on the internet, and all 3 ended up in the playoffs, with the Eagles in the NFC championship game.

Since these rankings have no subjectivity, week 1 is always a little weird. Because no real strength of schedule or division has been established yet, teams that won by a blowout and finished the previous season relatively well ("recent success" uses some stats from the previous season for the first few weeks) end up at the top of the ranks. Last year's week 1 #1 was the Eagles and this year we have a repeat. The Eagles huge win over Carolina propelled them to the top of the initial ranks, and yes, I don't have a "Is Donovan McNabb injured?" input into the formula, so we'll see how long this lasts. The Falcons are #2, after shutting down Miami this week. The Patriots are #3 despite their narrow win. They are ranked so high in large part to the strong finish they had in 2008 despite missing the playoffs. The Chargers are #4 for basically the same reason as the Patriots, and the Seahawks are #5 after their dominating shutout of the Rams.

On the bottom side of things, the victims of 2 of the top 5 teams, the Panthers and Rams, come in at #32 and #30, respectively. The Browns are at #31 after being humbled by the Vikings. Houston is #29 after their bad loss to the Jets, and Tampa is in for a long season, coming in at #28 this week. Believe it or not, the Lions are not in the bottom 5, coming in at #27. the formula appreciated the amount of points they were able to score on the Saints in their blowout loss.

Here are the complete rankings:
1. Eagles - 83.39
2. Falcons - 73.55
3. Patriots - 72.42
4. Chargers - 70.65
5. Seahawks - 70.32
6. Steelers - 69.84
7. Jets - 69.84
8. Cowboys - 69.68
9. 49ers - 69.35
10. Vikings - 68.55
11. Giants - 68.39
12. Packers - 67.26
13. Ravens - 66.77
14. Saints - 63.06
15. Broncos - 60.97
16. Colts - 57.90
17. Bengals - 40.97
18. Redskins - 38.87
19. Cardinals - 37.58
20. Raiders - 37.26
21. Bills - 35.81
22. Bears - 33.39
23. Jaguars - 33.39
24. Dolphins - 32.42
25. Titans - 31.77
26. Chiefs - 30.81
27. Lions - 29.19
28. Buccaneers - 28.23
29. Texans - 28.06
30. Rams - 25.65
31. Browns - 23.39
32. Panthers - 22.26

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Links of the Day 9/15/09

Oh Chris Myers, you have created the best analogy a sports announcer ever has. Too bad you are inevitably getting in trouble for it.

The Rams.... are not good.

This is weird for me.


Monday, September 14, 2009

A few thoughts on NFL's week 1

Thought #1

Couldn't someone find Brett Favre a jersey that fits? The first time I think I've ever seen a football player older than 12 who wore a jersey way too big for him. I guess he really is just acting like a kid out there.
[picture from the AP]
Thought # 2
The Colts should have won by about 20 with how they outplayed Jacksonville. I'll take that away from the game instead of the fact that Anthony Gonzalez is nicked up or that they only ended up winning by 2.

Thought #3
I picked Cincinnati in a suicide pool, because New Orleans-Detroit seemed a little too easy. At least I wasn't the only one who had a coronary when this play happened.

Thought #4
Cris Collinsworth in his first game in the booth said that "Aaron Rodgers had been consistent all season" before this game. I'll say he has. Also, after watching the Costas/Leno interview, I would say there is not a chance I'm watching Jay Leno tonight. There is hilariously awkward, then there is just awkward, then there is trying too hard awkward, and laughing at it will just encourage them.

Oh yeah, and tomorrow Steve will have the first edition of the power ranks! I bet it will be the Steelers!


Links of the Day 9/14/09

Maybe next week, you can play this drinking game.

Because who would believe that anyone other than Kiko Calero would want to be Kiko Calero?

The Colts won. It wasn't anything exciting, really, but they won.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Time for the NFL Season to finally commence

Diva Favre
Add Glitter to your Photos

The NFL season begins in earnest about a half hour from now. The Vikings get to show off their new, shiny prize in Cleveland. Frankly, all the glitter in the world isn't going to make him good again. As for the rest of the games, the one I'm most concerned with is the Indy-Jacksonville game. The first step in proving Steve wrong! Go Colts!

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Links of the Day 9/13/09

Serena Williams totally flipped out at the US Open yesterday. Yikes.

The Gophers opened their new stadium last night with a win over Air Force. Of course, they needed an abomination of a uniform for some reason.

Meanwhile, Purdue didn't embarrass themselves! That's all I ask. Oregon looked better than Minnesota sartorially, actually.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Steve's Quick NFL Predictions

So living in Arizona now, it's hard to realize the NFL season has already started, and tomorrow is the first full Sunday, since it is still over 100 degrees outside every day. I'm going to make a little more detailed picks than Ryan, but I'm still going to try to keep it quick. I'm going to use the standard that on average, 6 of the previous year's playoff teams return to the playoffs, and 6 do not...

AFC East
1. Patriots
2. Dolphins
3. Jets
4. Bills

Now that Brady and the rest of the Patriots are healthy, it is time for them to rise to the top of the division once again, but their ancient defense should be a little concerning. The Dolphins face a much tougher schedule than last year, but are still better than the Jets and Bills. The Jets are going to struggle with Mark Sanchez at QB, and the Bills are going to wallow in mediocrity or worse yet again.

AFC North
1. Steelers - Home Field
2. Ravens - Wild Card
3. Bengals
4. Browns

This one is too easy. The Steelers looked primed to win their 7th Super Bowl this year. The Ravens are good enough again defensively and bring back most of their offense to make another playoff run (and they get to beat up on the AFC West). The Bengals will be a little better than last year, but will still be pretty bad. The Browns uniform color represents something else that the team resembles on the field....

AFC South
1. Titans
2. Texans - Wild Card
3. Colts
4. Jaguars

The Titans are still extremely tough defensively, and almost knocked off the defending champs in their house on Thursday night. I'm not sure if they will be as dominant as last year, but they are still well rounded enough to take the AFC South again (as long as Vince Young stays on the bench). The Texans, I think, are going to become everyone's "sexy sleeper" pick every year now that the Cardinals finally made it to the Super Bowl after 10 years of being picked to be a lot better than they were. I'm on board with the Texans this year, though. They are able to put up points, run the ball with Slaton, and have a decent D led by Mario Williams. Ryan isn't going to like me for this, but I'm predicting a Colts implosion. Their offensive fire power is starting to fade and there seems to be a lot of locker room turmoil with the new coaching staff. I just have a feeling they are bound for a 6-10 season. The Jaguars will continue to suck.

AFC West
1. Chargers - 1st Round Bye
2. Raiders
3. Chiefs
4. Broncos

Wow, what a bad division. The Chargers can sleep walk through the season and win this division. I think of the 3 bad teams, the Raiders could be the best this year, but might finish 2nd with a 5-11 record. Kansas City has some hope with a new QB, but they are still pretty miserable defensively (like the rest of the division). The Broncos looked terrible in preseason. Kyle Orton is an interception machine and their defense can't stop anyone. They might be begging for Shanahan and Cutler to come back after this season....

NFC East
1. Eagles - 1st Round Bye
2. Giants
3. Cowboys
4. Redskins

This division is always tough to predict. I think the Eagles come out on top this year, carrying the momentum of their trip to the NFC title game last year. The Giants are going to miss Plaxico Burress, and I'm predicting it could be a rough year for the Manning boys, with the Giants barely missing the playoffs. The Cowboys will be mediocre at best in their big pretty stadium, and the Redskins are another "meh" average NFC team.

NFC North
1. Bears - Home Field
2. Vikings - Wild Card
3. Packers - Wild Card
4. Lions

It's looking like the Jay Cutler acquisition was really a great move by the Bears, and they have a chance this year to have their most explosive offensive since....I don't know, the 30s? I was going to pick the Vikings to win the division originally, but I just don't trust Favre to get them there, especially now that this division has improved. The Packers looked a lot better than a 6-10 team last year, and I think they can turn it around behind some more strong play by Aaron Rodgers to sneak into the last wild card spot. The Lions will win a game or 2 this year. I'm going with 3 playoff teams from this division mostly because of scheduling. Each of the 3 good teams get to play the Lions twice, all 4 of the NFC West teams, and the Bengals and Browns. Those 8 games alone should give these teams at least 7 wins each.

NFC South
1. Saints
2. Falcons
3. Panthers
4. Buccaneers

The previous year's last place team tends to win the division the following year in the NFC South. Guess who finished last last year? Yep, the Saints. I think Drew Brees and his laser, rocket arm will start winning more games for the Saints this year along with putting up big numbers. The Falcons will still be pretty good, but like the surprising Dolphins, will have a tougher schedule to deal with this year. I still don't understand how the Panthers were 12-4 last year.... When you fire your offensive coordinator a week before the season starts, and are statring a McCown at QB, you are going to have a rough year. Welcome to last place, Tampa, and enjoy your 2010 division title.

NFC West
1. Seahawks
2. 49ers
3. Cardinals
4. Rams

You don't know how badly I wanted to pick my 49ers here, but they just aren't good enough. The Seahawks are due for a big turnaround after just about their entire team got injured last year. The 49ers are playing motivated under Mike Singletary, but just don't have the talent to get to the playoffs yet. The Cardinals are due for a collapse (considering they weren't even that good to begin with last year) because they lost the Super Bowl, and I believe Kurt Warner's pact with Satan came to an end. The Rams.....are they still in the NFL?

6 returning teams: Steelers, Ravens, Titans, Chargers, Eagles, Vikings
6 new teams: Patriots, Texans, Bears, Packers, Saints, Seahawks
6 teams getting the boot: Dolphins, Colts, Giants, Panthers, Falcons, Cardinals

Wild Card Playoffs
Titans over Ravens
Patriots over Texans
Saints over Packers
Vikings over Seahawks

Divisional Playoffs

Steelers over Titans
Patriots over Chargers
Eagles over Saints
Bears over Vikings

Conference Championships
Steelers over Patriots
Bears over Eagles

Super Bowl XLIV
Steelers over Bears

MVP - Drew Brees
Coach of the Year - Jim Mora
Offensive Rookie of the Year - Darrius Heyward-Bey
Defensive Rookie of the Year - Aaron Curry

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Links of the Day 9/12/09

The first weekend of the year entirely caked in footbally goodness! Heck, before the college games start, you could watch soccer on ESPN2!

Just a primer on tomorrow's games: The Lions are horrible, but they do have one feel good story.

Rick Reilly hosted an episode of Sportscenter. Reviews were mostly favorable.

Who is your advertising star this year? This guy.


Friday, September 11, 2009

We were all like, 'Holy s**t'

No matter where you were 8 years ago today, when you retell the story, you say something like that. Most of the stories I hear of where people were or how they heard the news of September 11th, 2001 uses a line similar line. I was sleeping in ahead of the first exam in my college career. I got a phone call from one of my roomate's high school friends. He was in a panic, telling me to turn on the news, that planes were crashing all over the place. I turned on the TV.
I was like, "holy sh*t".
Someday, September 11th will have the same meaning as April 19th or December 7th. A day that horrible history happened. To think, there are 2nd graders who weren't even born yet when the horrible day unfolded 8 years ago. Children in elementary school are in high school or are themselves just now starting college. College freshmen have been out of school for four years.
While the progression of time is helping to heal some wounds, it hasn't healed all of them. Someday, everyone will be able to go through a September 11th without recounting the day in 2001 when everything changed. We aren't there quite yet. At least I'm not.

Links of the Day 9/11/09

No link to an article really, but I'm intrigued by this picture from Deadspin. Is that Pat Listasch?

A great story about ESPN's Dick Vitale.

Oh, and the NFL Season started last night.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Childish Enthusiasm

"So, while I'm sure that the lovely Beth will have something on the Twins or baseball tomorrow, but after that? I would expect a lot more talk on other sports. It's a lot less stressful. " – Ryan, September 9, 2009 (Cupcake Day!)

I’m sure many people in the world find my child-like enthusiasm for sports a little overwhelming. However, I find the pessimists/curmudgeons following sports to be baffling. I love going to games, following sports, and following teams. I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life, so I have plenty of experience watching some really bad teams*. I can find fun in how much the team is sucking, too. In fact, I had more interest in the Timberwolves this past year than any other year, simply because their horrid play was something for the news. It was fun seeing their win percentage change--up and down--throughout the year. This was really my only interest in the Timberwolves—their win record. (I don’t only love the losers; if my favorite team wins, I’m giddy.)

* I’ve also watched a mediocre team win the World Series. I now idly wonder how today’s baseball bloggers would’ve handled the 1987 Twins.

It’s optimism that keeps me coming to games. I’m capable of being pessimistic, but generally with sarcasm. If the baseball team I’m rooting for is down by one run at the end of the first, I’ll say to a friend, “Well, that’s an insurmountable lead this late in the game.” But underneath it all, there’s hope. There’s hope that this time will be different. And that’s what finds me in my uncomfortable stadium seat until the last out of the baseball game and until the time runs out in the hockey, lacrosse, football, or basketball games. Yet, in obvious blow-out games, I’ll tell you that anything can happen (I’ve seen some amazing come-backs). I know it’s probably not going to happen, but I’m not going to miss it if it does. Even if I don’t get to see some sort of miraculous comeback, there’s always hope that I’ll see one play that I can tell children someday, “Did I ever tell you about the time when I was at a game and…” Good stories are the reason I love sports so much.

Which is not to say that it’s not about winning and losing. It’s always about winning and losing. I don’t want to go a baseball game for nine innings, and then go home with no definitive answer on who had a better game. I want to know who won. I have a huge competitive streak in me (I can get very cranky when my team loses, especially in a pathetic manner; sarcasm is my usual mode of irritation-release). But there are often times, as a fan, I have to remember that the point of watching a sport is to have fun.

So, yes, the Twins have had a very frustrating year. But I will not relinquish my tickets. I will be sitting in my seat for every home game* between now and October 4. I will cheer, be frustrated, but no matter what: I love the game. I love the flow of it, and there will always be something worth seeing—a great defensive play, a great pitching performance, a great hit, or even something so incredibly stupid and pathetic fans just have to laugh.

So, yes, even if the Twins have frustrated Ryan, and he understandably has moved on, I’ll still be following every second of this team from now until October 4. And hopefully I’ll have to miss my sister’s wedding on October 24 for the World Series.

* September 16 is still a question mark. I’ll have to see if I can get the afternoon off work.

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Links of the Day 9/10/09

The World Cup is getting closer and the US looks to be in a good spot to get in. Speaking of that, we have 11 teams already booked for South Africa.

Blah blah blah Derek Jeter.

I crack myself up, and am somewhat self aggrandizing.

Oh by the way.... FOOTBALL TONIGHT!!!


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Excuse us as we change format

In case you didn't know, tomorrow is the beginning of the NFL season, with the Steelers and Titans squaring off on NBC. Next month, we'll see the beginning of what should be an interesting NHL season in which the Wild have undergone a complete overhaul. The NBA starts in early October as well if you're into that.
Meanwhile, the Twins dropped another game yesterday in embarassing fashion. They sit at 6.5 games out. The other team that anyone here is concerned with, the White Sox, had a bit of a fire sale and is 7.5 games out. I've talked until blue in the face about how Ron Gardenhire should shoulder some of the blame for the Twins collapse, and that the Twins desperately need to keep Nick Punto out of the lineup and improve the pitching staff. I've written all of that.
Now, however, the nightmare season the Twins have had will be overshadowed by a variety of other sports. Finally! So, while I'm sure that the lovely Beth will have something on the Twins or baseball tomorrow, but after that? I would expect a lot more talk on other sports. It's a lot less stressful.


Links of the Day 9/9/09

I went to a Catholic high school, so I'm not too sure what's wrong with a coach subjecting the team to a surprise baptism.

Nope... I don't think Michael Phelps is on drugs anymore.

LD at BMR scores an "interview" with Kyle Wellwood.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Quick and Dirty NFL predictions

No lead-ins! Just lists! This is how the internet was built!!!!

AFC East
Patriots - Playoffs!

AFC North
Steelers - Playoffs!
Ravens - Playoffs!
Browns - Terrible!

AFC South
Colts - Playoffs!
Titans - Playoffs!
Jaguars - Terrible!

AFC West - Terrible!
Chargers -Playoffs!
Raiders - Terrible!
Broncos - Terrible!
Chiefs - Terrible!

NFC East
Eagles - Playoffs!
Redskins - Playoffs! Sleeper!
Cowboys - Overrated!

NFC North
Packers - Playoffs!
Vikings - Playoffs!
Lions - Terrible!

NFC South
Falcons - Playoffs!
Buccaneers - Terrible!

NFC West - Terrible!
Seahawks - Playoffs! Terrible!
Cardinals - Back to terrible!
Rams - Terrible!
49ers - Terrible!


Colts over Titans!
Steelers over Ravens!
Redskins over Seahawks!
Packers over Vikings! (Favre doesn't play!!!)

Chargers over Steelers!
Patriots over Colts!
Redskins over Eagles!
Falcons over Packers!

Chargers over Patriots!
Falcons over Eagles! STUNNER!

CHARGERS OVER FALCONS for the SUPER BOWL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MVP - Philip Rivers!
Coach of the year - Mike Smith!
Offensive Rookie of the Year - Mark Sanchez!
Defensive Rookie of the Year -Brian Orakpo!

(Total exclamation points - 76. Total legitimate analysis - 0)

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Links of the Day 9/8/09

What is with Mark May and his new glasses?

BREAKING: Joba Chamberlain to be wrapped in bubble wrap for the remainder of the season.

Miami comes back and defeats Florida State. More importantly, the next football game you will see is the NFL season opener!


Monday, September 07, 2009

The more things change...

Like Steve pointed out, even with all the changes Purdue has under gone, it's still the same crappy team. Well, I have some photographic evidence to prove it. If you woke up after a 6 year coma to see the Purdue Coach being interviewed....

Would you just assume Joe Tiller lost a little weight? Hot chocolate, that's eerie.

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Links of the Labor Day

Happy Labor Day everyone.

The US Open is still ongoing. One of the Williams sisters lost, which is a big deal, partially because it marks the return of Kim Clijsters.

Wondering who you get to watch on Sunday? This guy in New Brunswick keeps you informed!

I link to this exclusively because I am impressed that someone could this much content out of a rant on IHOP's menu.


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sometimes, Minnesota sports guys seem out of touch

In a scary incident today, Cincinnati Reds reliever Micah Owings was plunked in the head by Braves pitcher Kenshin Kawakami. Scary indeed. There were a lot of interesting things going n here. First off, Micah Owings is a relief pitcher, but is good with a bat in his hands, and was allowed to hit against Kawakami. Second, aside from some stitches, he seems to be OK. He won't travel with the team as a precaution, and because the Reds are pretty much out of it anyways.
The strangest thing for me, however, was learning this from WCCO sports anchor Mark Rosen. After showing the video, he relayed that the pitch was thrown by "Kensha Quockamee". Close. After the startling video, Rosen said that the manager, Lou Piniella assured the media that Owings was going to be OK. This was all well and good, save for the fact that Lou Piniella left the Reds after a 90-72 record. In 1992. In fact, Piniella is on his 3rd team since the Reds. The Reds are on their 8th manager since Piniella. This is why people still watch ESPN for their sports news.


Links of the Day 9/6/09

How about some all college football links?! All right then.

First, let's look at the scores of the two college teams people here care about... Minnesota and Purdue get the W's. The Purdue defense allowed 31 points, and apparently bi-curiosity at Arizona State.

BYU defeated National Title contender Oklahoma and wounded Sam Bradford in the process.

Instead of me telling you how many uniform combos the Oregon Ducks will have this year, see for yourself!


Saturday, September 05, 2009

New Coaches and Names on the Back, Same Old Purdue

So I decided to get up early this morning and flip on the Purdue game at 9 AM on Big Ten Alternate 612-1 (HD) on the old DirecTV, just to see if anything had changed from last year. Some things had, of course. Curtis Painter is out, Joey Elliott is in; Kory Sheets is out (and was unfortunately cut today by the 49ers after a great preseason), Ralph Bolden is in; Joe Tiller is out, Danny Hope is in, and a few changes were made with the assistant coaches.

So the result of all of these changes? Purdue beats Toledo 52-31. Toledo was only 3-9 last year, so its no gigantic accomplishment, but it was nice to see Purdue actually score some points again, and for a change they even did it with their running game more than their passing game.

There are still some big concerns though. Purdue's wins over bad teams over the past few years have always left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and usually its a sign of a rough season ahead. Elliott threw 3 interceptions to match his 3 touchdowns, and it seems like absolutely nothing has changed defensively. They still can't tackle and run an ultra-conservative prevent style defense on almost every down. They give the opposing quarterback as much time as he wants to find his target, which is usually some TE or guy running a slant pattern over the middle, because all the linebackers and DBs are standing 20-25 yards behind the line of scrimmage for some totally unknown reason.

So some of the faces have changed, but the result is the same. Another 3-9 or 4-8 season is on the horizon.

PS: I did a google image search for "Purdue Horrible Defense" and the picture I included was the 5th result. Arizona State girls tongue kissing.....I've had a lot to drink tonight, so you know what? it's close enough.

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Links of the Day 9/5/09

Well done, youngster.

Brad Childress almost looks.... smarter.

Who is the most talkative of all announcers? I'll give you a hint, it's the only guy that operates solo in the booth.


Friday, September 04, 2009

Thank you Oregon, the gift that keeps on giving

Yesterday, I came home to find a spike in traffic here, mostly from people searching for "stupid Oregon uniforms" or something similar and landing on one of the few posts I have had on the topic. This is still the most famous. Last night, the Ducks played wearing a cute little white ensemble with the dumb feathers on the shoulder pads.
I sort of felt bad, but not really, for making fun of Oregon so mercilessly over the years. Now, though, with LeGarrette Blount completely flipping out in last nights game against Boise State, punching a Bronco after the game, then going after the fans, I no longer have qualms about vilifying the Oregon Ducks.
In short; your sartorial sense is poor, the athletic department would rather take on insipid uniforms than say no to Nike, the players are uncontrollable psychos and as the linked post indicates, their fans don't have much better to do than comment on an irrelevant blog. Screw you, Oregon.

(The video is ESPN's, so if they decide to get it pulled from Youtube, please read the story straight from the source.)


Links of the Day 9/4/09

In case you missed it, the Mets' David Wright needed a new helmet, and... well....

Boiler up?

At least we can still make fun of Notre Dame, right up until the Irish annihilate us.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

What's up with Joe Nathan?

It comes to mind that after Joe Nathan tried to blow a save Sunday (bases loaded with no outs; to be fair one guy was on base due to a throwing error—by Joe Nathan himself. And really, the play probably could’ve been a double play with a good throw) and definitely blew a save Wednesday afternoon, many are wondering: what’s up with Joe Nathan?

Already in September, he’s given up more earned runs than he has in any given month so far in 2009. (We can hope he doesn’t break the record in October, since there are only four games in October.) Now, to be fair two of the runs charged to Nathan were base runners he left on base when he was removed from the game.

Joe Nathan has blown five saves already this year, with a month left on the season. While this seems unnaturally high, looking at stats shows that he in general blows a few saves every year. In 2006, he converted a record 36 of 38 opportunities (95%), while in 2008 he had his worst year (39 of 45, or 87%). So far this year, he’s converted 35 of 40 opportunities (88%). In fact, it’s really only been one blown save per month, except for June (provided no more are blown this month). Is this year any worse than other years? Really, it doesn’t seem like it.

Nathan’s WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) has hovered just under 1.00 since becoming a closer, with a low of .79 in 2006 (anyone surprised?) and a high of 1.02 in 2007. Presently, he’s at .98.

Statistically speaking, he’s right on par. His Eddie Guadardo-like ending on Sunday (Twins fans know what I’m talking about) and his baffling ending on Wednesday notwithstanding, there really might not be anything different this year than last year.

In conclusion, what’s up with Joe Nathan? Nothing. These things just happen.

It’s my birthday on Saturday! This is such a big event that many people in America will have the day off on Monday to recover from the weekend celebration. Enjoy!

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Links of the Day 9/3/09

And now.... something for the ladies.

Some of the possible fallout of the Disney-Marvel acquisition.

Once again, Luis Ayala making noise about lack of respect for his enormous ERA.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Jets embarrass themselves on Late Night

Nothing says fun, of course, like reflecting on John Madden's greatest hits, but did the Jets really need to do this? Dustin Keller (former Purdue grad!) was actually pretty good. Other than that... oof. And this is a team used to embarrassing themselves.

Links of the Day 9/2/09

Brian Boitano is back in the spotlight. On the Food Network, of course.

A reminder to everyone: Jay Cutler is an idiot.

In international news, the UEFA Champions League draw is complete, and has been for sometime. Sorry for not informing you.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The wild continue to make good decisions

This offseason, the Wild blew up their front office. They needed to go a new direction, and with the departure of Marian Gaborik, they needed to reload their offense. New GM Chuck Fletcher embraced the change, adding Martin Havlat, a scorer that wants to be here, engineering deals to bring about a youth movement. Now, they have revealed their third jersey, the number you see Derek Boogaard wearing. They have avoided the hideous get ups that involve so much red. Kudos to the Wild for such a successful offseason. To bring it home, they should go after Nikolai Zherdev and add another scorer, or perhaps put together some sort of trade to do so. I'm surprised at how pumped I am about hockey season. Perhaps even more than football season! (Thanks a lot, Vikings)


Links of the Day 9/1/09

Welcome to September everyone. Not too much longer before most of the links are football related.

Jim Thome traded to the Dodgers yesterday. One of the few Sox I really liked.

Meanwhile, Ozzie Guillen can;t wait to get out of the Metrodome.

Ricky Rubio is officially not coming to Minnesota this season.