Sunday, February 28, 2010

I already miss the Olympics

Frankly, the Olympics fill me with more general emotion than any other sporting event. There is so much national pride, particularly during the opening ceremony. This is the one chance many of these athletes have to get on the international stage, so there is the relief upon 4 years of hard work becoming realized on the slopes or on the ice. The closing ceremonies are festive but at the same time melancholy, like a graduation party or the end of camp.
I totally want to do this. That said, when the 2014 Olympics roll around, I will be 30 (/dies inside) so there aren't many competitions I could participate in (although I hope Sochi has a better musical lineup than Vancouver. My goodness, Canada has some brutal musicians) I have a couple of ideas, but they all involve  my securing citizenship in another country.
1. Curling
It seems like the type of thing that you can get pretty good at with practice. It even seems like something I would enjoy and be able to participate in for years.
2. Two Man Luge
I can't imagine too many people would want to compete in this:
3. Cross country skiing
But one of the short race. I might need to get  citizenship in Burundi though, if I want to make a team.

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Links of the Day 2/28/10

Swedes, getting to the point, calling for a "kick in the balls" for cheaters.

Once again, coming through with news that broke days ago.... Cal Clutterbuck signed an extension to stay with the Wild.

ESPN is in the right, which confuses me. That said, I sure hope CBS doesn't lose the NCAA tournament.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Coming up on the Gold Medal game

 

We're coming down to the end of the Olympics, and there is one final game left for the American fans. Is it possible that the Olympics are tilted towards the home continent? Using just a few isolated examples: In 2010,  either Canada or the US will win in Vancouver. 4 years ago in Torino, it was Sweden and Finland. Salt Lake City saw Canada - US. Even the Miracle on Ice was at Lake Placid... Just something to think about, I guess.

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Links of the Day 2/27/10

Ozzie Guillen, starting a Twitter controversy. Lou Piniella is charming.

That said, all this technology is a little exhausting.

It's funny, because Mississippi is about as far from Star Wars as possible.

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Projecting the bracket

What did I do late on a Saturday night? Why, I projected the NCAA bracket, of course. Without further ado, using my own special formula, here is my projected bracket: (this projects Akron as the winner of the MAC, which means that, miraculaously, Kent State slips in as an at large) The last 8 out, in Lunardi style, were Mississippi State, Texas Tech, Illinois, Wichita State, St. Mary's, Arizona State, Charlotte and Seton Hall. Let's see if this copy paste's like I want it to. The city inside every pair of games would be where the games are played in the first 2 rounds


MIDWEST
EAST
1 Kansas
Kentucky 1
16 Jackson State/Lehigh
Robert Morris 16

Oklahoma City
Milwaukee
8 California
UTEP 8
9 UAB
Missouri 9





5 Wisconsin
Michigan State 5
12 Connecticut
Georgia Tech 12
  Spokane
Spokane  
4 Vanderbilt
BYU 4
13 Kent State
Marquette 13

 
 
3 New Mexico
Butler 3
14 Akron
Woffod 14
  San jose
San Jose  
6 Texas
Texas A&M 6
11 Cornell
UNLV 11





7 Richmond
Xavier 7
10 Florida State
Clemson 10

Buffalo
Providence
2 West Virginia
Villanova 2
15 UC Santa Barbara
Morgan State 15

WEST  
SOUTH
1 Purdue
Syracuse 1
16 Stony Brook
North Texas 16

Milwaukee
Buffalo
8 Wake Forest
Virginia Tech 8
9 Louisville
Rhode Island 9





5 Baylor
Tennessee 5
12 Florida
Old Dominion 12
  New Orleans
New Orleans  
4 Temple
Ohio State 4
13 Oakland
Murray State 13





3 Pittsburgh
Georgetown 3
14 Weber State
Sam Houston State 14
  Jacksonville
Providence  
6 Gonzaga
Northern Iowa 6
11 Dayton
Siena 11





7 Utah State
Maryland 7
10 Oklahoma State
San Diego State 10

Jacksonville
Oklahoma State
2 Duke
Kansas State 2
15 Coastal Carolina
Jacksonville 15
 

That wasn't so bad. Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Links of the Day 2/26/10

The best part of this is that the ad on the board behind the court is for something called "Conad"

Despite wha you might hear, Robbie Hummel is the THIRD best player on the Boilers, and Purdue will be OK.

A sure sign that you have a bad team: The only player you really want to keep is the kicker.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Shoot-out

The thing I learned today was that in the MLB All-Star game, the catcher is allowed limited re-entry to a game—if the current catcher is injured. Good idea, really, but I never knew that before. Of course, regular season, that’s part of the risk a manager takes, but the All-Star game, where managers want to get in as many players as possible, needs an exception. There is no reason to send a guy unfamiliar with the role in to catch.

The Canada/Switzerland Olympic hockey game went to a shoot-out of February 18, 2010. Canada, to the relief of the Canadians, won in the shoot-out. While I'm okay using the shoot-out in regular season NHL games (I don't think they use it in the playoffs), I think it's way too quirky of a format for important games.

It would be like a tie-breaker in football of kicking field goals--whoever can kick one from furthest away. Or a home run derby in baseball. Or a free-throw contest to break a tie in basketball. It's pitting one player on a team to represent the whole team...in a team sport! It’s a moment where you say “Wait…what?!”

I think in NHL playoffs, they just keep adding overtimes until one team scores. That seems reasonable. In the NFL, they’ll add one overtime in regular season (so the game may end in a tie) or keep adding overtimes until a team scores. I'm okay with sudden-death in over-time, because both teams have a fair chance at scoring. Maybe not so much in football, because your odds go up whether or not you win a coin toss, but with good defense, you should be able to prevent the other team from scoring. In the NCAA football, the rule is that each team gets the ball at the 25-yard line and they play until a winner is declared (at the 3rd OT possession, they must try for a two-point conversion rather than kicking for the extra point). Basketball keeps adding extra five-minute periods until at the end of a period, a team has won. Baseball keeps playing by the regular rules, adding extra innings, until a team wins (not fully sudden death, because of the clearly divided times for scoring; sudden death for the home team when they score, but they have a chance to make it up if the visitor scores). There are rules about how late a baseball game can be played, but it is never* put in the record book as finished until someone wins.

But the shoot-out makes no sense. You’re pitting one player to represent the team, which seems to me to go against the concept of a team. I’m okay with it deciding who gets the extra point in regular season. Fans like knowing who won and who didn’t. In the playoffs, of course, a tie won’t cut it, because you need to know who advances and who doesn’t. I don’t like leaving something like that up to the relative skills of a single player, without any help.

The shoot-out is a fun skills competition. It’s sometimes a fun change of pace during the regular season. But a team’s success in important games shouldn’t stand on the shoulders of one player.

* Unless it’s 2002, when the Commissioner declared the game a tie. Fans were not happy about that. Incidentally, it was not the first All-Star game to end in a tie. In 1961, the All-Star game ended in a tie—however, it ended because of rain, not because they ran out of players.

Timberwolves update: They have a 1-3 record since I last reported. They’re now at 14-45, or a 23.7% winning percentage. The have the worst record in the West, but New Jersey has the worst record in the NBA, 5-52, reportedly on pace for a record year.

Wild Update: The Wild have a 30-27-4 record, for a 49.2% winning percentage. The Wild Finnish representatives (Mikko Koivu, Antii Mietinen, and Niklas Backstrom) will be playing the USA for a chance to go to the Gold Medal game tomorrow at 2, because they beat the Czech team (Martin Havlat and Merek Zidlicky).

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Links of the Day 2/25/10

Some links for your Thursday...

This is an old article, but I like it for Darko Milicic's quote "I was just trying to focus on breathing so I wouldn't die". He'll fit in juuuust fine in Minnesota.

Another one from the STrib: no Dome Dogs at the new outdoor stadium. Seems logical to me.

There's always a back story, and the one for Brandon Marshall's petulant behavior is very sad.

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That was the worst scenario possible

Going into the Purdue - Minnesota game, I was looking for one of two results. Purdue wins by a lot to secure their status as a 1 seed. Minnesota edges Purdue to maybe get a shot at the tournament. Instead, Purdue eked by Minnesota, which doesn't help either team, really. And oh yeah, this.
 
Uh oh.

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Links of the Day 2/24/10

I whiffed on all my posts today... sorry. Here are Wednesday's links.

Sven Kramer just might be an enormous douche.

Nobody wants the silver medal. Platinum, sure, but not silver.

I.... don't think this is really Ozzie.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Steve's College Football Sim...Finally

Over the last 2 years, Ryan and I had a great time trying to bring some sense into college football by taking the 120 teams and splitting them up into 12 10-team conferences. We then took those new conference alignments and played out a simulation on whatifsports.com. Ryan posted the results of his sim back in January, and even though I did a sim of my own, I never got around to actually posting it on here. Well, finally, here it is. Since of course, in late February, college football is a pretty hot topic. Here are some of my top level notes, much like what Ryan did.

- Unlike Ryan, not all of my conference champions went 9-0, only 8 did, while 3 went 8-1 in conference and 1 actually went 7-2 in conference.
- My strongest conference was the Appalachian, who went 65-55 overall.
- The worst conference was the Midwest at 54-66 overall, just awful.
- 4 BCS teams didn't make the tournament, including BCS title game finalist Texas, and Georgia Tech, who finished last in their conference. The teams that made it were Florida, Alabama, Ohio State, Iowa, TCU, and Boise State.
- The only extremely surprising last place team I had in any conference was Georgia Tech
- I had 5 12-0 teams overall, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Nebraska, Alabama, and TCU
- I had 3 0-12 teams overall, Eastern Michigan, Western Kentucky, and New Mexico State

Here are the results, conference by conference by conference.

New England - Champion: Penn State
The Nittany Lions lost a non-conference game to Cincinnati and then suffered a shocking defeat at in-state rival Temple. Needing help, Boston College provided it by dispatching Rutgers in the final week of the season to send Penn State to the playoff. For finishing 10-2, they got the #8 seed.
Order of finish: Penn State, Rutgers, Boston College, Syracuse, Buffalo, UConn, Temple, Maryland, Navy, Army
Appalachian - Champion: Virginia Tech
The Hokies pulled off an undefeated season in the toughest conference in my sim, giving them the #1 seed overall in the tournament. Cincinnati also finished 11-1, while Pittsburgh and West Virginia finished 9-3. The most interesting thing in this conference is that each team had 1 less win than the team above them, and each team beat all of the teams that finished below them and lost to all of the teams that finished above them with no exceptions.
Order of Finish: Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky, Virginia, Marshall, Miami (OH)

Great Lakes - Champion: Ohio State
The Buckeyes dominated this extremely uncompetitive conference again this year, going undefeated and grabbing the 5 seed in the tourney. The 4 teams behind them all went 6-3 in conference.
Order of Finish: Ohio State, Central Michigan, Kent State, Michigan State, Michigan, Bowling Green, Toledo, Akron, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan

Tobacco Road - Champion: Tennessee
This was an extremely wild and parity filled conference. Tennessee, North Carolina, East Carolina, and Duke all finished 8-4, with the first 2 teams going 7-2 in conference and the last 2 going 6-3. Middle Tennessee and Memphis also finished 1 game back at 7-5. Duke lost to Wake Forest, North Carolina, and East Carolina. East Carolina lost to NC State, Middle Tennessee, and with all of the marbles on the line, Tennessee in the final week. North Carolina lost to East Carolina and Tennessee, and Tennessee lost to Duke and Wake Forest. Despite those 2 bad losses, Tennessee won the games they needed to win to get the tiebreaker and the conference title, and of course, they entered the tournament as the 12 seed.
Order of Finish: Tennessee, North Carolina, East Carolina, Duke, Middle Tennessee, Memphis, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, NC State, Western Kentucky

Midwest - Champion: Iowa
In a conference filled with non-conference losses, Iowa finished on top with an 8-1 conference record, 9-3 overall. Iowa only got the 11 seed for this. Some local teams of note, Minnesota went 7-5 (6-3), Purdue went 5-7 (4-5), Notre Dame went 4-8 (3-6), and Indiana was 3-9 (2-7).
Order of Finish: Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, Ball State, Notre Dame, Illinois, Indiana.

Florida - Champion: Florida
Makes sense, right? The only big surprise here was that the Gators only finished 11-1, losing a conference game to Central Florida. They earned the #7 seed in the tournament.
Order of Finish: Florida, Southern Miss, Miami (FL), Central Florida, South Florida, Troy, Florida State, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Tulane.

Great Plains - Champion: Nebraska
Nebraska's defense was out of control this year, and they cruised to a 12-0 record and the #3 seed in the tournament. They only gave up 127 points all season and took out Oklahoma to lock up the conference.
Order of Finish: Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Kansas, Iowa State, Tulsa.

Dixie - Champion: Alabama
The Crimson Tide, the real life national champs, dominated even more than Nebraska, and went 12-0 and got the #2 seed in the tournament. They got a 76-3 win over Florida State, 81-7 over Mississippi, and 69-10 over South Carolina. They outscored their regular season opponents 709-123.
Order of Finish: Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Louisiana-Monroe, Alabama-Birmingham, Clemson, South Carolina, Auburn, Georgia Tech.

Gulf Coast - Champion: TCU
This conference came down to 1 game, TCU at Texas. The horned frogs escaped Austin with a 31-26 win en route to a 12-0 season and the #4 seed in the tournament. Houston did surprisingly well too, finishing 7-2.
Order of Finish: TCU, Texas, Houston, LSU, North Texas, Rice, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M, SMU.

Mountain West - Champion: BYU
Interesting conference race, where the Cougars started the season 0-3 (losing to Texas, Arizona, and Oregon) but then went on to run the table in conference, finishing 9-0 and 9-3 overall. They grabbed the #10 seed in the tournament. Texas Tech and Air Force both went 9-3 overall, but lost to BYU in the conference.
Order of Finish: BYU, Texas Tech, Air Force, UTEP, Baylor, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, Colorado State, New Mexico State

Great Basin - Champion: Boise State
The Broncos went 9-0 in conference and 11-1 overall, only losing to TCU, who they beat in real life at the Fiesta Bowl. Oregon State, Oregon, and Utah also had strong showings, going 9-3.
Order of Finish: Boise State, Oregon State, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Utah State, Washington, UNLV, Washington State

California - Champion: USC
The Trojans, like BYU, had a rough non-conference schedule. losing to Boise State, Texas Tech, and TCU (51-0), but they then went on to run the table and win the conference title, even though Cal finished with a better overall record at 10-2. This performance got USC the 9 seed.
Order of Finish: USC, California, Arizona State, Arizona, San Diego State, Stanford, UCLA, Fresno State, San Jose State, Hawaii.

Well the tournament is set here are the results:
First Round
#8 Penn State vs. #9 USC - PSU wins 41-37. USC had the lead at half time by Penn State scored 3 TDs in the 3rd. USC fought back to take the lead in the 4th off punt and fumble returns for TDs, but Evan Royster (241 rushing yards) scored the game winning TD to give Penn State the win.
#5 Ohio State vs. #12 Tennessee - OSU wins 40-17. Tennessee tied the game up in the 3rd at 17, but Ohio State scored 23 unanswered points to cruise to the win. Terrelle Pryor had only 47 yards passing and 2 INTs, but the running game and defense of OSU put them over the top.
#6 Boise State vs. #11 Iowa - Boise wins 55-20 - Ricky Stanzi throws 4 interceptions while Kellen Moore throws 5 TDs to bury the Hawkeyes soundly.
#7 Florida vs. #10 BYU - Florida wins 29-14 - BYU took an early 14-6 lead, but Florida scored 23 unanswered points. BYU went for it on 4th down and didn't convert several times deep in Florida territory in the 2nd half instead of attempting a field goal.

Quater Finals
#1 Virginia Tech vs. #8 Penn State - PSU wins 16-7 - Evan Royster had 147 yards rushing and VT couldn't get anything going offensively all game.
#4 TCU vs. #5 Ohio State - TCU wins 16-9 - Not a whole lot of offense in this one. TCU had a 13-9 lead heading into the 4th, but Ohio State squandered all chances of tying the game repeatedly. Terrelle Pryor only had 9 yards passing.
#3 Nebraska vs. #6 Boise State - BSU wins 31-17 - Jeremy Avery runs for 198 yards and 2 TDs. Boise led the whole game, but Nebraska cut it within 7 in the 4th before Boise scored the final touchdown.
#2 Alabama vs. #7 Florida - Florida wins 28-21 - Florida jumped out to an early lead in this one, 20-0, but Alabama fought back to make it 20-14. Florida scored their 2nd and 3rd TDs on 84 and 70 yard runs by Chris Rainey and Jeffery Demps. Ingram had 147 yards and 3 TDs but it wasn't enough as Florida does what it couldn't do in real life, beat Alabama on a neutral field.

Semi-Finals
#4 TCU vs. #8 Penn State - TCU wins 17-10 - TCU defense dominates again and holds Penn State scoreless in the first half. Penn State finally broke through with a 59 yard TD run by Evan Royster, but it came after a 77 yard run by Edward Wesley that set up TCUs final touchdown.
#6 Boise State vs. #7 Florida - Florida wins 43-29 - Florida had a narrow 16-13 lead near the end of the 2nd when Tim Tebow personally blew this game open. Tebow scored on a 55 yard TD run, and after a quick punt, threw a 58 yard TD pass before the half to give Florida a 30-13 lead. Boise tried to come back in the 2nd half, but it was never really close.

The Championship Game
#4 TCU vs. #7 Florida - TCU wins 30-10 - TCU took an early 21-0 lead, capitalizing off of 2 missed Florida field goals. Jeffery Demps had a 75 yard TD run for Florida's only TD of the game, and Tim Tebow was held to only 59 yards passing and 8 yards rushing as the best defense in the nation wins their first national title since 1938 (or last year, if you go by Ryan's sim).


Like Ryan, I used the results of the last couple of years to develop new pods for non-conference games. Here they are:
Group 1: Appalachian, Great Plains, Florida, Midwest
Group 2: Dixie, Great Basin, Tobacco Road, Great Lakes
Group 3: Mountain West, California, New England, Gulf Coast

So what did I learn? These sims are time consuming, but a lot of fun! I'm looking forward to doing this again next year.

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Links of the Day 2/23/10

Joe Mauer, if he went with the mustache. It's science.

Oh Russians, it's cute how you can't accept defeat.

Unfortunately, he just means playing the position in the field, not ever reaching the base as a batter.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Jimmy Johnson, excellent at evading the truth


Sorry for putting in a video of an old guy talkng about penis pills. Steve and I were talking about this when the ad came on the other day, how former NFL coaches are showing up in strength to tell you how to medicate their junk. I think this is the most telling, however, of all the ads. Jimmy Johnson, former coach of the Miami Hurricanes and Dallas Cowboys is misrepresenting the truth, duping stupid people and all as it surrounds sex. Knock me over with a feather. If you haven't figure out EXACTLY what ExtenZe actually does versus what they claim, then read this, because I am uncomfortable saying "erection" or "boner" and having the entire internet read it.

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Links of the Day 2/22/10

Monday... Clearly I was not ready for the week.

A pretty damning piece surrounding the luge competition at Whistler.

Vernon Davis went to the Olympics! Adorably, the Canadian press call him a football "star".

I can't ever pass up a story about rhinoceroses. I don't know why. Go rhinos!

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

NFL Power Ranks: Final

Pretty amazing post by Ryan the other day, huh? I didn't even realize I almost nailed the entire NFC playoffs with my power ranks in week 7. So what does that tell us about the NFL season, at least in the NFC? Well it seems like the first 7 weeks told us just about everything that we needed to know. We saw some teams rise and fall over the following 10 weeks, but by the end of the regular season, none of it mattered, as the same teams were back to where they were in week 7.

Ryan also mentioned in his post that I haven't posted in a while. I'm hoping that changes soon. I just worked 4 weeks for the price of 3 at work, so I've been a little busy.

So lets pretend its 2 weeks ago. The Saints won in dramatic fashion to get their first Super Bowl title. In our ranks, the Saints were #1 or #2 for pretty much the entire season until they lost their last 3 heading into the playoffs, but they bounced all the way back including ousting the Colts to finish the season ranked #1 (whew!). The Colts dropped back 2 spots to #3, behind the Chargers, and 2 other teams that lost to the Saints benefited from the Saints going all the way, the Vikings and Patriots, and moved up a spot each. That's pretty much all of the movement in this final week.

So what did we learn? I think if anything, we learned that teams can get hot and cold extremely quick in the NFL, as proven by the NFC race this season and some of the early season stuff in the AFC (Broncos?). Also, some teams were devastated by consistency. The Eagles were ahead of the Cowboys almost all season, but couldn't win the division title. The same is with the 49ers and Cardinals, and the Ravens and Bengals. All in all, after doing this for 3 seasons, I think we have a good formula in place and I'll continue to use it in future seasons. Here are the finals ranks:

1. Saints - 74.73 - +1
2. Chargers - 71.39 - E
3. Colts - 70.00 - -2
4. Vikings - 65.75 - +1
5. Cowboys - 65.71 - -1
6. Texans - 65.11 - E
7. Jets - 64.74 - E
8. Packers - 63.89 - E
9. Ravens - 62.57 - E
10. Eagles - 61.95 - E
11. Patriots - 61.71 - +1
12. Falcons - 61.51 - -1
13. 49ers - 60.34 - E
14. Panthers - 65.64 - E
15. Steelers - 58.84 - E
16. Titans - 52.13 - E
17. Cardinals - 50.03 - E
18. Bengals - 48.80 - E
19. Browns - 44.97 - E
20. Bills - 44.60 - E
21. Broncos - 43.85 - E
22. Bears - 43.47 - E
23. Giants - 41.57 - E
24. Dolphins - 38.65 - E
25. Jaguars - 35.18 - E
26. Buccaneers - 32.52 - E
27. Redskins - 30.76 - E
28. Chiefs - 30.63 - E
29. Raiders - 27.79 - E
30. Seahawks - 23.59 - E
31. Lions - 15.38 - E
32. Rams - 11.07 - E

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Links of the Day 2/21/10

This is a cool story from Oregon State. Oregon is the one with all the arrested players, Oregon State is the one with the players that participate in sports merely because they love the competition.

From then on, Germany let America win all the medals.

In honor of Tiger Woods' performance on Friday, here is a look at some other uncomfortable press conferences.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

NCAA gut feelings

Lets say, for a minute, that the NCAA tournament is laid out in a similar fashion to what is seen from Joe Lunardi. Well, maybe not exactly like Joe Lunardi, but his team.

1) Ohio State is a Final Four team, thanks in large part to Evan Turner, a player that can take over a game.

2) The WAC is deceptively athletic, and it's champion will, if not win their 1st round match up, they will put quite the scare into their opponent. In Lunardi's game, it's Utah State vs Gonzaga. Sure win for USU.

3) The WCC is almost comically overrated, on that same token. Gonzaga or St. Mary's are losers waiting to happen.

4) It really depends on who Murray State plays. If they play a major conference opponent, they are done. If not, they could score an upset. IF they get in the tournament.

5) Northeastern, if they win the CAA is a good upset candidate as well, given their ability to hit from deep. Always key in the tournament.

6) Don't be fooled by middling major conference teams who have home wins against strong teams or make runs in their tournaments to get in. It happened with Georgia a few years ago. I think maybe Louisville,

Those are my 6 points to look for when filling out your brackets. Maybe I'll do a day one live blog or something.

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Links of the Day 2/20/10

Too bad Cal Ripken isn't involved in the Twins' negotiating process.

Are you stupid, Andrea Kramer?

My obsession with curling continues...

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I invite you to take a look back


I know we haven't heard from Steve lately, but I promise, he will be back. I thought that maybe, to remind you of his genius, we would take a look back at one of his posts from, oh, let's say October. It was his first week putting the projected playoff matchups, based on his rankings to that point. Here, here's the post. Check out the NFC. Better yet, let me copy and paste it:
NFC
1st Round Byes: #2 Saints, #5 Vikings
#6 Packers @ #12 Cardinals
#10 Cowboys @ #7 Eagles
Holy projection, batman!!  For those whose booze has already killed the necessary brain cells to remember back that far, the NGC shook out like this.
1st round byes: Saints and Vikings.
1st round matchups: Packers @ Cardinals and Eagles @ Cowboys.
Save for the fact that he got the site of the Eagles-Cowboys game off, he pegged the playoffs exactly. EXACTLY. In week 7. Eat your heart out, Merril Hoge.

(What does Cliff Floyd have to do with this post? Absolutely nothing)

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Links of the Day 2/19/10

Baltimore to win the AL East? What is this, 1997?

Here is an incredible shot, perhaps the shot of the year. Better yet? It features Murray State and SE Missouri State.

Someone else is smart enough to take part in the fiasco at NBC.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Joe Mauer

Rick Anderson announced that, based on his performance at the end of the year last year, Scott Baker would be Opening Day starter. Those who follow Scott Baker closely—which is probably limited to me—will recall that this is the third year in a row Mr. Baker has been designated the Opening Day starter for the Twins. Those keeping track at home will recognize that Mr. Baker has yet to make an Opening Day start for the Twins, due to injury and then illness (2008) and injury (2009). I hope his injury issues are now over, and he will be able to start Opening Day for the Twins for years to come.

Probably one of the bigger minor stories in baseball this off-season is the status of Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer. I say minor, because the story is mainly whether he’ll get a contract extension. His current contract is set to run out the end of this year. I didn’t think it was that big of a story. Certainly it bears some monitoring by the local media—teams aren’t likely to let a player like Mauer walk in free agency, not when they can get more than a couple of draft picks by trading him, so they’re likely to work out a contract before the season starts, or trade him before the season starts. So, what’s the status? Hard to say. The Twins are usually quite silent on these grounds, and Mauer’s agent is also the type to keep the battle from happening in the public sphere. Nonetheless, I know that when the Colorado paper publishes (online) a blog post dreaming about Joe Mauer, it’s bigger news than I thought.

Brent Briggeman writes “Think about it, the small-market Twins haven’t had any luck signing their hometown superstar to a long-term deal.”

He’s partially right. The Twins, despite increased revenue from being in their own stadium, are not a big market team. They will not have the resources of the Red Sox or the Yankees. However, I would argue that the new stadium does move them out of the confines of “small-market” to more of a mid-market team. They’re still going to have to watch the budget, and depend heavily on scouting and drafting (and trading the right players at the right time for the right prospects), but the days of not being able to afford much other than other team’s cast-offs are mostly over.

But the Twins haven’t always depended on rookies and cast-offs entirely.

Brad Radke stayed his entire career in Minnesota; he may not have been a super-star, but he was in the Cy Young voting and sought after by big market teams (the Red Sox reportedly made him a nice offer in 2004, the year he signed his last contract with the Twins), but chose to stay in Minnesota. That wouldn’t be done if the contracts weren’t fair. Joe Nathan is considered one of the elite closers in the league, and he’s been under contract by the Twins since he became a star. Justin Morneau won the MVP in 2006, and is under contract for what would be considered his prime years. And while it’s almost 20 years old, the Twins did keep around a pretty good center fielder by the name of Kirby Puckett. (In the 90s, they had few guys worth keeping around, so there is a dearth of superstar contracts by default.) In short, they’re pointing out that the Twins weren’t willing to pay either Johan Sanatana (who wanted to pitch in a bigger theater than Minnesota anyway) or Torii Hunter (whom the Twins did make a reasonable offer to, but the Angels made a longer one—one that many feel that the Angels may live to regret towards the end). I wouldn’t say that they haven’t had any luck signing any of their superstars. It’s just that they’ve lost two.

Secondly, the proposed offer that the writer brings up is for a top pitching prospect, a top catching prospect, and an infielder. The Twins got four prospects out of Santana—a pitcher who can only play once every five games--so I really can’t see them coming away with less prospects for Mauer—a player who can play three out of four games.

Now, it’s crazy to think that the Twins would make a trade of this caliber without a pitching prospect being included, so that part of the proposed offer makes sense (and no doubt this would also include a lower-level pitching prospect, too, because that’s often the Twins style as well). Middle infield is presently a concern for Minnesota, so that makes sense. A team can always use more catchers, although that’s not a present need of the Twins (immediate need, sure, but they have a couple of strong prospects in lower levels). But the need the Twins presently have is major-league-ready outfield prospects. I don’t know if the Rockies have any of those, but the Twins right have now have Jason Kubel as their back-up outfielder. If Denard Span ends up ill or injured, the Twins are faced with deciding between Michael Cuddyer, Delmon Young, and Nick Punto in center field—or calling up Jacque Jones. If that doesn’t scare you, you’re probably not a Twins fan.

But none of that is the main problem I see with this proposal. In the first place, Joe Mauer wants to win. He’s going to consider the team that gives him the best chance to win. The Rockies and Twins will probably have similar payrolls from here on out. If the problem the Twins might be facing is having one player eat up ¼ (or more) of their payroll and therefore not being able to surround him with other high-caliber players to support winning, the Rockies will face the same problem. The advantage of him staying in Minnesota is that his grandparents can still attend every home game; Colorado would have to bring something else to the table. (I’m not saying that Mauer will base his decision on his grandparents’ ability to watch him play, but rather all things being equal, that would be a deciding factor.)

It’s not a bad article. People like to dream. It would be fun for me to dream how Tim Lincecum could be a Twin. But that doesn’t mean it’s based in reality.

Timberwolves update: They have a 0-3 record since I last reported. They’re now at 13-42, or a 23.6% winning percentage. The have the worst record in the West, but New Jersey has the worst record in the NBA, 5-49.

Wild Update: The Wild have a 30-27-4 record, for a 49.2% winning percentage. Both their goalies are back in health! They’re now on Olympic break, and have five players in the Olympics. The Finns (Mikko Koivu, Antii Mietinen, and Niklas Backstrom) beat Belarus 5-1—Koivu had three assists. The Czechs (Martin Havlat and Merek Zidlicky) beat the Slovaks (former Wild Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra

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Links of the Day 2/18/10

It's the NBA trade deadline today. Yesterday, the Timberwolves picked up Darko Milicic.

Delicious bacon... this should go well in Wisconsin.

Again, nice work, NBC.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I want to do this

Look at her. That's Andrea Schoepp of Germany, skip of the German national curling team. She looks absolutely terrifying, and I'm sure she is, screaming at the top of her lungs in German like that. Having watched a little curling (more than a little, I guess) over the past few days, I have become mesmerized by the game. The gliding, the sliding, the gentle clink-clink-clink of the stones. I'm in.
The best part? I don't have to get in shape to do it, and I can compete until I'm 50 (or older). I think I can do it. First step: Find out who to compete for. See, the US is an established curling "powerhouse", so I need to find a country that doesn't have that curling prowess. On the other hand, I need to find a country with the means to get me to the Olympics. After about 13 minutes of thought, I have figured it out.
So, sorry America, but I am now Ryan Henning, curler for the Spanish national team. Viva Espana!

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Links of the Day 2/17/10

This is pretty cool, Negro League stats going on baseball-reference.

If hockey players can't get support from beer, then who can?

Norway certainly won something in the Olympics...... Best pants.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why do the women ALWAYS win?

Pretty much everyone is fed up with the way that NBC is handling their Olympic coverage. Why wouldn't they be? Despite all the games and events being played during normal North American schedules, NBC can't be bothered to air as many live games as possible. The greatest offense comes on the 21st when the US men's hockey team takes on Canada. For most real North American sports fans, it's the premier event of the Olympics. It's a sport fans recognize and a rivalry we can all appreciate, given that the Canadians are superior to us in this event, all while sharing a long border with the United States. Obviously, the game will be on MSNBC.
Disgusting, especially for a network who has the Olympic package under the pretense that it is a sporting event. Of course, NBC will be airing something. Figure skating! GREAT! Why are they doing this?  Because the ladies like it! And of course, if NBC knows anything, it's pleasing the various demographics. They are also good at upsetting people they have contracts with, like the NHL, who I'm sure would have appreciated a litte more attention.
NBC sucks.

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Links of the Day 2/16/10

What's wrong with baseball? Why don't we just lump all the opinions into one convenient post?

Canadian women are ferocious.

ESPN has deported their hockey department to Canada.

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Story sounds familiar

 
Let's compare the story of Chinese figure skaters Shen Xiue and Zhao Hongbo with local, recently beloved hero Brett Favre.
- Retired, then came back to compete.
- In love with themselves (Shen and Zhao are married)
- Competing well into their 30s (beyond, in Favre's case)
- Throwing is an important part of the job description
- Have been know to wear purple
- Won them most prestigious championship in their sport this year..... oh wait, no. Shen and Zhao yes, but well, you know.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Links of the Dat 2/15/10

I'm late today, but don't worry, I feel terrible about it.

I don't feel 100% the same as Dashiell Bennett, but the tape delays are unacceptable.

NBA rumors or something. I hardly care.

MLB has gone Jamaica.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

I love the Olympics

 
 When else would I care about ski jumping, which is, as it turns out, incredibly awesome? I even knew to look up a picture of Finnish legend Janne Ahonen because I was watching the event yesterday. I love the little trees on the hill. It's quirky and marvelous.

I also like the amount of patriotism it instills. I also appreciate the amount of irrational disdain it fills me with for certain countries. Like take a look at this guy, Andre Florschuetz from Germany. That guy looks like a douche! Boy, do I hate the Germans. Go America!

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Links of the Day 2/14/10

Hey, the Daytona 500 is today, for those interested.

Switzerland won the first of the gold medals at the Olympics, with a win ins ski jumping (there were a few more given yesterday too)

I ran afoul of an unknown New Yorker the other day.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Links of the Day 2/13/10

Horrible news from Vancouver, as I'm sure you heard. Georgian Luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed during a training run before the games Opening Ceremonies.

Pat Neshek gets worse mail than I do.

The Wild made a trade before the Olympic roster freeze, picking up young defenseman Cam Barker from the Blackhawks.

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Clearly, the Victoria Times is a big deal

Generally speaking, when I check my e-mail, if I get anything beyond my daily Google Calendar alerts, I'm pretty surprised, and probably more excited than I should be. I get the odd link submission about once or twice a week, and I try to work them into a LOTD post if I can. Usually when I get an e-mail from someone I don't recognize, it's spam.
Well, the rules were broken Wednesday afternoon. I got a link to a piece written by the sender, a Cam Martin. Do you recognize the name? Hopefully you will soon, because he is a new writer at ESPN, on their Page 2. Yep, I was sent a Page 2 article with the hopes I would link to it (I guess). Far be it from me to turn down ESPN.
http://espn.go.com/espn/page2/index?id=4902660
Obviously, this is a little flattering that Mr. Martin would send the link to me to get himself some publicity, but it also gives me pause. The way I see it, this could mean one of three things: 1) Mr. Martin worked his way through a specific list of blogs and eventually found ours, eager to get the word out on his new role with ESPN, 2) Mr. Martin is a regular reader here at the Times, and it would be only natural for him to send in a submission or 3) ESPN has some sort of spider that happened to come across our little corner of the internet and saw important keywords like "basketball" and "sports" and "Jeff Saturday's eyes".
Either way, ESPN in some fashion, knows who we are. *cold chill*
But nevertheless, I wish Mr. Martin the best in his endeavors at the Worldwide Leader. He is either working his but off to connect with the blogging community, or someone behind the scenes is doing it for him. Either way, it kind of suggests a sea change for the network.
Or maybe it is a robot. Almost immediately afterward, I got an e-mail from a PR firm for some sort of hockey jersey sanitary thingy.
(P.S. I have not talked to Cam Martin or anyone at ESPN. I wouldn't know what to say)

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Links of the Nick Punto Day

Today across the Minnesota Twins Blogosphere, it is Nick Punto Day. I was not invited to participate, however I am more than happy to link to a few of the Punto related posts.

Some assorted fun facts about today's hero.

Nick from Nick's Twins blog also jumps in.

Finally, the Twins Geek brings us all back down to Earth and let's us know that he has been right about Punto all along.

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Nick Punto Day

Apparently, Twins bloggers are bored with the off-season. Today has been unofficially declared
Nick Punto Day
.

There are debates as to why 2/12 was designated as this day, but some are speculating that it has something to do with his batting average. This is nonsense. He's never batted .212 in his career. In the horrific 2007 season, he batted .210, not .212. I think Wednesday would've been a much better choice, but no one asked me. (And they should. Everyone should ask me!)

It's odd that Punto has inspired such a dichotomy of emotions in Twins Territory. There are those that love him for his scrappy and sometimes inane play, and there are those that hate him passionately. For example, Nick Punto has a tendency to dive into first base, head-first, on close plays. He knows it’s wrong. He tells kids not to imitate him. Yet, he cannot stop himself from doing it. (At best, he claims it can cause chaos to confuse an umpire. At worst, other plays have imitated it.) Those who hate Nick Punto point out the fact that since you can over-run first base, diving/sliding only slows down a player, making it more likely that they’re out. Thus, he may be causing himself to get out more often by diving. Those who love Nick Punto are just amused by the effort and reckless abandonment of his own body that the play causes.

Those that love Nick Punto call out to his great defense. Those that hate him, say that he’s overrated based on his scrappiness. No one really defends his hitting, but those that love him say his glove makes up for it. Those that hate him, say that no amount of defense can make up for his horrendously poor offense.

Those that love Nick Punto, love him with great devotion. Those that hate Nick Punto, hate him with passion. But we can all come together and celebrate Nick Punto Day: by diving head first into things, and making sure we do our work aggressively and get ourselves a little dirty.

Happy Nick Punto Day!

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Glen Perkins

Jacque Jones is back! I’m a little excited about it, mostly because I know there’s very little chance of seeing him in a Twins uniform, at least before September. In fact, I think that would be the best possible scenario: for him to be a September call-up, so he could end his playing career where it started, sorta. (It’s still hard for me to grasp that I won’t be sitting the Metrodome anymore…) I’m a bit sad at the passing (passing through the system, not through life) of Jason Pridie. He wasn’t a great player by any stretch of the imagination, but the few reports of him I read seemed to imply that he was a good guy.

On the other hand, that would mean my mom would own the t-shirt of an active Twins player, which would be all wrong. See, my mom’s favorite players tend to be traded within a year of her picking them (she’s settled on Derek Jeter now, knowing that he won’t ever be a Twin to get traded and break her heart). So immediately usually after a player gets traded, we buy her a t-shirt in memory. She owns a Jason Bartlett and Jacque Jones t-shirt (we didn’t find any Garza or Tiffee shirts; although she has a Bat-girl “Terry Tiffee is my boyfriend” shirt.


I don't know how to feel about Glen Perkins, a Twins pitcher. He had a great start with the Twins, then was injured and out for most of 2008. In 2009, he pitched mediocre, at best, and after a couple of bad starts, started complaining about an injury. He ended up the year getting into a dispute that brought in the Players Assocation and filing a grievance.

On one hand, he's a frustrating player and seems a little moody. On the other hand, he's a Minnesota kid playing for his hometown team and excited about that. A couple of weeks ago, he spoke to the Minneapolis Star and Tribune about the problems.

For the first time, I felt sorry for him. He was a young kid when drafted (in his early 20's), and getting to the major leagues quickly: "I guess I really found out the hard way that it's a business," Perkins said. "I spent my life cheering for that team. I got drafted by them [in 2004] and got to the majors quick [in 2006], and two weeks later we're in the playoffs. I had a really good year in '08, and everything was rosy. You find out the hard way that it doesn't really matter." I get it. He was a kid with a dream, and a plan on how life was going to work out and everything seemed to be going his way. He was playing for his favorite team and felt sentimentally attached for that reason. He found out that the team wasn’t as sentimentally attached to him as he was to it. It's hard when dreams are crushed. I know that. He didn't plan his injury that would wreck his ability to continually pitch well. He didn't plan to end up back in the minors after he made it to the majors. It was no longer roses and sunshine. I felt sorry for him.

And then...he ruined it again. After he healed from his injuries, the Twins placed him back on the minor league team, so he wasn't with the Twins. The minor league season ends at the beginning of September, so he was home again in September when the Twins were making their run for the play-offs. The Twins were also making their last appearances in the Metrodome. Glen Perkins was off bow hunting in northern Minnesota. I'm fine with that. He couldn't be with the team, and sitting in the stands would've been hard, I'm sure. However, when the Twins invited him back for the celebration for the last scheduled regular season game in the Dome, Perkins declined. "I felt like I should be on that field," he said. "That got taken away from me, so I just wasn't going to do that."

That's where he lost me. He became a petulant little kid again, rather than a grown adult with a family (Perkins is married and has two daughters). He didn't get to do it his way, so he didn't want to do it at all. I know the lad is still young, but he's not that young (he'll turn 27 during spring training--so a few months older than Joe Mauer). I know it must be frustrating to deal with injuries and not be able to play. (I recall former Minnesota Wild Marian Gaborik saying that he didn't even watch the team when he was injured--it was too painful, because he wanted to playing so badly he couldn't stand seeing them play without him.) But when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes along, you should take it. Perkins mentioned growing up watching the Twins and cheering for them. The Twins have played in the Dome his entire life. He couldn't go to say good-bye to his first stadium—as a fan, rather than a player? If he ever gets over the hurt, he may regret this some day.

As far as I'm concerned, the Dome was my stadium, too. While it didn't open until I was six years old, I never attended a game in Metropolitan Stadium, I never watched a televised game at Metropolitan Stadium to my knowledge, and I wouldn't have known where the Twins were if I listed to radio broadcasts of games from Metropolitan Stadium.

So, while I want to cheer for him because he’s a Minnesota boy, and is living his dream, I find it hard. (I also find it hard, because I’m a huge Scott Baker fan, and Perkins threatened Baker’s position for a while. But so did Slowey (and still does), and I still love him.) Some people thrive in the pressure of playing for their hometown team, some people struggle under the pressure, and some become too complacent of things going so well. I have a feeling Perkins might fall under the “complacent” category. I’d like for him to play for his hometown team, but he may be right. It may be time for him to move on. I really hope they can work things out, from a sentimental point.

Timberwolves update: They have a 2-1 record since I last reported (and they won a game against the Boston Celtics; I know because I was visiting some friends in Fargo, and one informed me when I got there of the Timberwolves win). They’re now at 13-39, or a 25.0% winning percentage. The have the worst record in the West (although Golden State—worst sports name ever—is threatening with a 13-26 record), but New Jersey has the worst record in the NBA, 4-47.

Wild Update: The Wild have a 29-26-4 record, for a 49.2% winning percentage. They have their main goalie—Niklas Backstrom—back from illness/medical issue. “Baby Goalie” Anton Khudobin is still with the team, pending the status of back-up goalie Josh Harding’s status with a hip injury.

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Links of the Day 2/11/10

Where are you going for your sports news? Probably Yahoo, apparently.

BTW, the Wild will start their season in Helsinki next year.

Landon Evanson at B&C interviewed Jim Abbott.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Time to focus on the positive

You could say that it's a good year already for Purdue fans. I suppose that's true if you aren't a Colts fan. Back in West Lafayette, the local CBS affiliate would show Chargers games simply because of Drew Brees, favorite son of the Boilermakers. Well, I like Brees, but truth be told, I'm a Colts fan and really was never a fan of Purdue until AFTER I got there. Just because I am a fan now doesn't mean I have to adopt their history. I grew up a Gophers fan and saw Purdue nip Minnesota in pretty much every sport, every year.
Well, of course, like a good student/alumnus, I am now black and gold blooded, and their every victory brings me joy and every defeat leaves me empty. The good news is, after the Indianapolis loss, I get to turn to college basketball, which is really a truer love for me than almost any sport.
All of that is a wordy introduction into the fact that Purdue is in a virtual 4 way logjam at the top of the Big Ten. They beat Michigan State last night in East Lansing in convincing fashion. Suck it, Bennett.

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Links of the Day 2/10/10

Fine. Here's a few more notes about the Super Bowl.

Hey, the Twins have Jacque Jones back!

This is not the perfect crime.

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Why are sports such a failure out west?

For many years, the National League West was the worst in baseball. The team to win the division was barely .500 and the whole baseball establishment was critical of allowing any of them in the playoffs.
In the NFL, the AFC west was horrible, outside of the Chargers, with the imploding Broncos, the imploded Raiders and the just plain sad Chiefs. The NFC didn't fair any better, with only the Cardinals not being completely worthless. They boasted the atrocious Rams and Seahawks, as well as the merely bad 49ers.
Now the suck is spreading to PAC 10 basketball. This year, the leader in conference, California, is merely 7-4 in the conference. This is a conference that has had losses to Illinois Chicago, Portland and San Diego State. Not good, not at all.
Oregon State lost to Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Sacramento State, and the aforementioned Illinois-Chicago. Every conference has a worst team, and in most power conferences, Oregon State would be it. They are 4-6 in the Pac 10, 2 1/2 games behind Cal. Tied with Oregon for 8th. Horrible.
We are at a point where the conference will only put a team in the Big Dance that wins the end of year tournament. That's pretty unbelievable.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Links of the Day 2/9/10

Chris Berman off ESPN and on a network not nearly as many people get? I cannot see how this would be a bad thing.

Why does everyone insist on getting stupider and stupider jerseys?

Drew Brees gets all the sweet sponsor deals.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

On to the football offseason

Last night I had a dream that the Colts were involved in an offseason trade with the Chiefs. They swapped Reggie Wayne and a pick for a couple of Chiefs top draft picks. I guess in my head, that sort of makes sense. The Chiefs could use some linebackers, the Colts could use the top draft pick to nab Eric Berry, for example.  Also in the dream I was working at a gas station.
Assuming that the trade doesn't happen, who will the Colts take in the draft? Who will the Chiefs take, for that matter? Well, lucky you, I put together the Victoria Times first ever mock draft Draft Debacled. First three picks, for those interested are Jimmy Clausen, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. Check it out! Maybe it will get updated someday!

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Links of the Day 2/8/10

Former Vikings defensive crazy person (back before the team turned completely contemptible) John Randle is going to the Hall of Fame.

As many people have already noted, yesterday's game was really a Purdue Bowl.

Looking for something to do with the left over beer tonight?

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Tough break

I don't want to to tell you I told you so, but... I didn't. Well, I did if you talked to me in person, but I never wrote it up here. People told me frequently how they though the Colts would not only win, but would do so convincingly in the Super Bowl tonight. They would be stunned when I told them that I didn't think so. The Colts might win, but it certainly wouldn't be a blow out.
As it turned out, the Saints ended up winning outright. The various flaws that any analytical Colts fan saw with every game they played was still there. They couldn't play defense when they played an elite quarterback. They were lucky enough to avoid playing any really good  quarterbacks for most of the year. The best they have played, namely Tom Brady and Kurt Warner, were played at home or didn't have an elite ground game to go with them.
The Saints were able to exploit the Colts crappy defense, because they actually had an offense. When the nerves settled, they were able to pick apart the coverage linebackers (Clint Sessions was atrocious) and the cornerbacks struggled to wrap up on tackles. The offense was kept off the field for about two straight quarters because the Saints were completely able to dominate ball control.
Peyton Manning, no doubt, is the only thing keeping the Colts from being a 6-10 team. Unfortunately, this year, limited by less skilled wideouts, he has been forced to to throw into heavier coverages. That has meant a lot of interceptions, and that was the ultimate undoing tonight. Playing against an opportunistic defense only compounded the problem.
It was a wake up call to many people who thought the Colts were invincible going into the game. Hopefully it didn't give teams the blueprint for beating them the next couple of years. Oh well. I still have Purdue and the Twins. I'll get 'em eventually.

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Links of the Day 2/7/10

Super Bowl Sunday... here we go.

Bobby Kielty is trying his hand at pitching now.

8th Graders have the Vikings figured out better than the Wall Street Journal.

So Mario Lemieux is a baseball fan now?

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Haitians for Brett Favre?...and now Peyton Manning?

So last week Ryan posted a link to a story saying that the Vikings NFC Championship shirts were being shipped to Haiti to help the relief effort. That got me thinking though...knowing that they may be receiving the championship game loser shirts, should the Haitians have been backing Brett Favre and the Vikings?

Just think, the Saints' logo is the fleur-de-lis, a prominent symbol of French culture, and New Orleans is rich in creole culture, much like Haiti, which happens to be a French speaking nation. Both places also had devastating natural disasters hit them in the past 5 years.

Instead, Haiti, a country that is 95% black, gets shirts with a drawing of a blonde white guy on them....a team that plays in Minnesota, which is about as much anti-Haiti as you can get.

So, assuming they don't care about football, and that tomorrow's Super Bowl loser shirts will also be going to Haiti, I'm guessing they will be pulling hard for the Colts...that is, unless they have a thing for blue horse shoes.

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The story nobody is talking about: Jeff Saturday's eyes

Something about those baby blues.... captivating. I mean.... um.... Yay football!

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Friday, February 05, 2010

Links of the Day 2/5/10

The NBA always gets the best halftime shows.

Don't sleep on the Coyotes. HEY! YOU! Are you sleeping on the Coyotes?!

The massive NHL trades just keep on coming.

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

I just wanted to know

This is a week old, and I recognize that Patrick Reusse is an “old-school” sports reporter*, but I’m asking for clarification. Reusse wrote in column at the Star and Tribune that “…if Young were to show up with his hitter's mind as muddled as it was for nearly four months of last season”. I only ask this: what four months did Young show up with a hitter’s mind muddled?

* I’m a fan of old-school mostly. However, in this case, an old-school sports reporter is one who picks players he likes and doesn’t like, and will constantly see that player as great or horrible. There are many bloggers out there that do the same. Me? I tend to see all players as great. I recognize that the worst first baseman in the league is still a better first baseman than billions of people worldwide.

For sake of comparison, I’m going to compare Delmon Young to Michael Cuddyer. (Please note: I love Michael Cuddyer. I have loved him as a baseball player since, well, before he was declared to be the regular third baseman.) I’m going to presume Mr. Reusse would grudgingly accept that last year’s Twins’ home run leader is an okay guy. (Reusse fits the cranky old sports writer role to a tee. He will only admit a player is good when he’s phenomenal (see Mauer, Joe), and even then will point out any possible flaw in his character (“I don’t care if he’s leading the league in innings behind the plate for the last five years! He’s hurt too often!”)

Was Young’s mind muddled in April, when he’s a notorious “slow starter”? In April, Young didn’t hit well, but I wouldn’t say it was horrendous: .241/.276/.315 in 54 at-bats. Bear in mind something I don’t think the fans knew, but Young certainly did: at age 23, his mother was terminally ill, and he couldn’t be near her. So beyond his notorious poor starts, he was dealing with problems beyond baseball. And even if that was a poor performance, I don’t see Reuesse calling Michael Cuddyer to task for his “slow start”. Cuddyer’s April stats read a poor .224/.318/.316 in 76 at-bats (only beating Young in on-base percentage—and age). That’s one poor month for Delmon Young, and according to Reusse: three to go. Cuddyer: 0, Young: 1.

Now let’s look at May. Please recall that Young missed at least a week due to his mother’s death (remember, again, he’s a 23-year-old kid). In 55 at-bats, he hit .236/.288/.236. Cuddyer, on the other hand, dropped off his slow start and hit a stellar .312/.395/.651 in 109 at-bats. Of course, his mother wasn’t dying, either. That’s two poor months for Young, and by Reusse’s standards, two to go. Cuddyer: 1, Delmon: 1.

In June is when Young started to come around. With Span out with an ear infection, Young would’ve had more regular playing time. In 67 at-bats, he hit .284/.279/.388. That’s pretty good, in my opinion, for a 23-year-old not named Joe Mauer*. Cuddyer did just better than him, .278/.333/.481 in 79 at-bats. Young wins in the batting average, Cuddyer in the on-base and slugging percentage. I’ll give it to Cuddyer. Two poor months for Young, Reusse tells us there are two more coming. Cuddyer: 2, Young: 1.

* Joe Mauer, in his June at age 23, hit .452/.528/.624.

Now, onto July. Young hit a surprising .313/.343/.500 in 32 at-bats. Cuddyer, meanwhile, went .250/.318/.490 in 100 at-bats. That’s a clear-cut win for Young, leading in all three stats (including on-base percentage, which is usually Young’s weak point). Two poor months for Young, and Reusse tells us there are still two to go. Cuddyer: 2, Young: 2.

In August, Young fell back a little bit, to .262/.279/.476 in 84 at-bats (clearly, getting more playing time). Cuddyer improved a bit over July and in 102 at-bats, hit .294/.333/.520. This clearly gets handed to Cuddyer, but Young’s August was not poor. Sure, it wasn’t excellent, but it’s not like he challenged the Mendoza line. Two poor months for Young, two to go according to Ruesse. Cuddyer: 3, Young: 2.

September came along to the race to the playoffs. Delmon was up to the task, hitting .309/.326/.444 in 81 at-bats. Cuddyer was equal to the task, hitting .282/.321/.563 in 103 at-bats. This is a hard call and while my gut tells me Cuddyer won, Young did lead in two of the three stats we’re looking at, so I’ll give it to Young. Two poor months for Young, and according to Reusse, we still have two left, which is hard when there’s only one month left to play. Cuddyer: 3, Young: 3.

In October, in the few games played, Young hit .455/.500/.909 with 22 at-bats. These would’ve included the crucial games of the years while the Twins overtook the Tigers. Young was named MLB co-player of the week for the last week of the season for his performance. Cuddyer, meanwhile, was not slouching, and hit .263/.417/.684 in 19 at-bats. We can safely give this one to Young. That leaves us with Cuddyer: 3, Young: 4.

I’m not sure where Reusse got his “for nearly four months” from, because I’m only counting two. Maybe three, if you want to count August, although I’d call you crazy for that. In most months, he and Cuddyer were fairly close, stats-wise.

When it all comes down to it, Young ended his year with a .284/.308/.425 line, and Cuddyer ended the year with a .276/.342/.520 line. Cuddyer’s stat line reads better than Young’s. But Cuddyer is in what’s considered the “prime” years (27-32), and Young is young (23 for much of the year).

I know Ryan has argued in favor of Delmon Young, but it seems the guy gets the bad end of the deal so often, I think it’s time we defend him a bit. Speaking of defending, I’m not good at analyzing defense, so I have to trust the experts who’ve analyzed Young’s poor defense. But I also have to trust the experts who say that Cuddyer’s is nothing to write home about, either. Young is playing out of his natural position (right field), so we’ll give him a small break there, too.

In other words, you can believe what you want to believe about Young. But please remember that what you believe and the reality are two different things. Why, there are even some people who think that the Earth is ROUND. Crazy, crazy people out there.

Timberwolves update: They have a 2-0 record since I last reported (that’s right—they haven’t lost in a week!). They’re now at 11-38, or a 22.4% winning percentage. The have the worst record in the West, but New Jersey has the worst record in the NBA, 4-40.

Wild Update: The Wild have a 27-25-4 record, for a 48.2% winning percentage.

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Links of the Day 2/4/10

I could certainly go for an entirely revamped infield. Orlando Hudson, anyone?

The Mets are just out to torture their fans.

Indy schools are making sure that the students aren't too hung over when they come in on Monday. Tired, i mean. Tired.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Check us out on Facebook!

The Victoria Times is finally catching up with the times! No pun intended! We're now on Facebook! Social Networking baby! Now that we are all set up with our own page, you should probably post a comment on there, become a fan and, I don't know. I don't know what else to do with it, but I'm open to suggestions! I'm sure before too long there will be pictures of Beth sharing drinks and kitty care advice with Michael Cuddyer! Scandal!

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Links of the DAy 2/3/10

Michigan State lost to the Badgers. Bad news for them, good news for Purdue.

All right... .IS Dwight Freeney going to play? I finally have to ask. I thought it was a for sure yes, but now I'm getting worried.

What does Beaker from the Muppets think about the Super Bowl? I'm glad you asked.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Hoping...

There are the reports that Joe Mauer is approaching a 10 year deal with the Twins. Sure it's not signed or confirmed yet, but I have to say that the prospect of a 37 year old catcher under contract in 10 years has never sounded so good to this Twins fan.

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Links of the Day 2/2/10

This can't be real, can it?

Ugh. As much as I love the tournament, adding an extra round doesn't do much for it.

Check out the latest mock draft on Walter Football. It has the Vikings taking a corner and the Colts taking a defensive tackle.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Today in rumors.


Last night, various sources were reporting that the Big Ten had reached an agreement with Pitt to join (eventually) the conference. Never mind the fact that the rumors have been debunked since then, it's still fun to think about. The main thing to think about is what it would do to the conference.
First, Pitt is essentially the same school as Purdue. They will often be near the top of the conference, but would rarely win in either of the primary sports (football and basketball). They would automatically boos the overall strength of the conference in both sports, and that can't be a bad thing.
The thing that really peaked my interest was the idea of division in the Conference. You couldn't split it East-West because it would break up a rivalry (Purdue-Indiana, by my estimation). I thought of a possible rearrangement, preserving all of the current rivalries. Here's what I thought...
Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota in one division and Penn State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Indiana, Northwestern and Illinois in the other.
Steve and I have been at odds over this, as he thinks it would be more likely that the conference would want to jerryrig a Michigan-Ohio State conference championship every season. Given that it hasn't happened yet, it's just empty bluster and just more talk for around the water cooler.

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Links of the Day 2/1/10

Crazy trade season has begun in the NHL. Awesome, of course.

Yay football! Almost.

The apparently do not have parking brakes in Chile.

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