Friday, April 30, 2010

NHL Favorite Team Relationship Status: It's Complicated

There is only 1 sport where I actually switched my favorite team. I was born a White Sox fan. I starting liking the 49ers when they won the Super Bowl on my 2nd birthday. The Bulls won all 6 of their titles when I was between the ages of 8 and 15 (pretty impressionable), and until I decided to go to school at Purdue, I watched college sports for the fun of watching, knowing that I would figure out my favorite team as soon as I chose my college. So what's that 1 sport where I actually switched? Hockey.

Just like the Bulls, the Blackhawks rose up to be one of the top teams in the NHL right in my impressionable age wheelhouse, from about 1988-1993. They had a solid team that was fun to watch, led by guys like Jeremy Roenick, Chris Chelios, Stever Larmer, Michel Goulet, and later in their run, Tony Amonte and Gary Suter too. At Goalie, the President's trophy winning 90-91 team and the Stanley Cup finalist 91-92 team had one of the best goalies of the era, Ed Belfour. It was a great time to be a Blackhawks fan, even if they were overshadowed by the Bulls during that time.

Then, late owner "Dollar" Bill Wirtz as he was called in the Chicago papers decided he needed to pinch some pennies and made some terrible decisions. The dismantling started in about 1994, when some of the other strong contributors of the previous years' teams started to disappear. At least they had Jeremy Roenick and Ed Belfour to rebuild around right? Wrong. Roenick was traded to Phoenix just before the '96-'97 season and Belfour was traded to San Jose halfway through the '96-'97 season. Instead of rebuilding, over that time period, the Blackhawks made a lot of other questionable moves, like overpaying washed up guys and mixing them with super young guys that never seemed to pan out or were immediately sent away to another team as soon as they showed promise.

In the mean time, because I was such a fan of Roenick with the Blackhawks, I started rooting for the Coyotes too, who were just starting out in Phoenix in 1996. I liked the novelty of a team in a super hot place, their crazy uniforms, and the fact that they had a pretty solid team where the top 2 scorers were both American (Roenick and Keith Tkachuk). In the mean time, the Wirtz family was ruining the Blackhawks, and they went on a run of only 1 playoff appearance in 10 years, not to anyone's surprise. After a year or two, the Coyotes were elevated to my favorite team, almost because I didn't want the Blackhawks' plans on how to run their team to succeed.

So then I went to college. In Indiana. I basically stopped caring about hockey. After college, I lived in Hockeytown USA for a year right after the season was canceled, so I didn't follow hockey then either, and then I moved back to Indiana, where no one cares. So then I moved out to Phoenix in 2008, home of my bankrupt favorite team from what felt like a lifetime ago (even though it was only about 7 years). I was sure they were going to move away, so I didn't want to get involved with them again. I even wrote a guest post about it on Barry Melrose Rocks last year after I won their NCAA tournament pool.

So my "It's Complicated" situation started about a year ago, when I realized that the Blackhawks were actually being run seemingly well and went deep in the playoffs. I actually watched some games and found myself rooting for them again...a team I loved as a little kid but haven't rooted for in 12 years. I figured with the Coyotes moving, it would be easy to be a casual Blackhawks fan again living in a town with no hockey team. Instead, the Coyotes stayed in Phoenix and put together an incredible '09-'10 season. I even watched a few of their regular season games this year, the first time I've done that with any NHL team in almost 10 years.

When this first round of the playoffs rolled around, I noticed I was more interested in watching the Coyotes than the Blackhawks, maybe because they are local and some people occasionally actually talk about them now, or maybe its because I never really "quit" the Coyotes as my favorite team like I did the Blackhawks...I just don't know. So I think that settles it. It may only be because I live in Phoenix, but the Coyotes are my favorite NHL team and I will accept the Blackhawks back as my #2 for nostalgia sake.

Even though the Blackhawks could possibly pull what they did 15 years ago and let me down again, I think this new found love for the Coyotes is even more dangerous. They still haven't won a playoff series since 1987. They still could potentially move away. They could go back to being awful again next year because no one can seem to figure out even why they were good this year. But hey, maybe the owner of my favorite MLB and NBA teams, Jerry Reinsdorf, will buy them and become the first owner to win a title in 3 sports, and I can say I was there with them from the beginning, when the team moved to Phoenix from Winnipeg in 1996.

So since the Coyotes are gone from the playoffs this year, Go Blackhawks, but if they ever meet in the playoffs, I'm going to take the risk and root for the Coyotes. Sorry Blackhawks, you're the crazy ex-girlfriend, but we can still be friends.

Labels: , ,

Links of the Day 4/30/10

Brett Favre was a lock to come back and stay out of the headlines this offseason. His ankle thought otherwise!

Former Wild Eric Belanger is now an oral surgeon... ON HIMSELF. Not for the squeamish, I guess.

This was pretty dude, as Neil Everett might say.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

I guess I will analyze some drafts: Carolina Panthers

The Panthers had a great first pick, I guess. They sort of lucked into it, and I think Jimmy Clausen is an insufferable sack of douche, but hey, they got a highly rated quarterback with a 2nd round pick. Maybe the Matt Moore era won't be so long lived, but I think everyone would be excited if it isn't and Clausen is rocking a clipboard for many years. He was highly touted coming out of high school, but never excelled really in college. Mel Kiper talked him up as a prospect because he was coached by Charlie Weis at Notre Dame. Well that's good, because Charlie didn't really coach anyone else. Will he succeed? Well, it's certainly the right environment for him, there in Carolina, with a few good offensive players around him.
In Brandon Lafell, the Panthers also managed to nab another tool to go along with Steve Smith. If it weren't for Clausen, Matt Moore would be pretty happy with this pick. Smith has been lacking a receiving partner for years, ever since Mushin Muhammed left for Chicago. Too bad the Panthers couldn't get him back. LaFell was a good pick.
The Panthers also drafted Armanti Edwards and David Gettis as receivers, just in case Lafell doesn't work out. Of course, Edwards is more a wildcat QB/WR which NOBODY ELSE WANTED in this draft, and they probably could have nabbed him in about the 7th round. Of course, that's when they picked Tony Pike, another real QB, in case Clausen fails, I guess. They did a lot of double drafting, these Panthers, for not picking until the 2nd round.
On a different, but very similar note, they drafted three cornerbacks in the 7th round, Jordan Pugh, RJ Stanford and Robert McLain. They plan on running the half dollar defense against the Saints,I guess, with 8 DBs and three linemen.
Good thing, then, that the Panthers picked  Eric Norwood and Greg Hardy, two good defensive end, pass rusher types. One of these guys will replace Julius Peppers, and I daresay they will do a good job. Norwood could well be a stand up rush guy with Hardy being more of a down linemen. These guys are going to be valuable, and were good picks by the Panthers.
Overall, I would say the Panthers did good to make a big splash with their first pick. They really had no choice. The rest of the draft on the other hand suggested to me that the Panthers don't really have much of a true plan. Lafell, Norwood and Hardy are the most likely, I think, to make a good impact.

Labels: ,

Links of the Day 4/29/10

Nice, Ovie. But the Canadiens have the last laugh, winning the series 4-3.

This is just a violent goal celebration.

Your favorite athletes as superheroes. Why not.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I guess I will analyze some drafts: Indianapolis Colts

After going offense offense offense last year, the Colts did something that they have needed to do for years: Pick stout linebackers. I was ecstatic watching the draft, even if they picked players that weren't generally tabbed as the best available at their position.
Jerry Hughes, their first pick is a good stand up pass rusher. He was more of an outside line backer at TCU, which is something I think the Colts could use. They never blitz, the Colts, so perhaps this will indicate a change in philosophy and take some pressure off the coverage line backers, like Gary Brackett, who is tough to watch sometimes.
Pat Angerer, besides having an awesome name, is one of the best run stuffing linebackers in the draft, again filling one of the team's greatest needs. I am looking forward to Angerer shoring up the defense and making me more comfortable in late game situations.
Kevin Thomas has a perfect name for someone that will play in Indiana. He also plays a great position, corner back, where the Colts were ravaged by injury last year, and replaces some of the guys lost to free agency, like Marlin Jackson.
Jacques McLendon will eventually replace some of the older linemen for the Colts, I imagine, but there is nobody yet tabbed to take over for Jeff Saturday and his beautiful eyes.
Brody Eldrige was the second tight end at Oklahoma, and now will be the second tight end for the Colts for however long Dallas Clark is in town.
Ricardo Matthews, Kavell Conner and Ray Fisher, 7th round picks,will all supply more depth to the various components of the Colts defense, which is undersized and prone to injury. Not a bad strategy.
In the end, I was pleased with the draft, but I am surprised that the only offensive players selected were a backup guard and a backup tight end. Still, depth and competition for our defense is going to make the team stronger and a more legitimate threat to return to the Super Bowl.

Labels: , ,

Links of the Day 4/28/10

Headline writers are very lucky that Sam and Ram rhyme.

I'm just now getting to the NFL Draft part of my Google Reader. Apologies. Here is a taste of the winners/losers of the coverage. Obviously, I am one of the losers.

And finally, here is Chris Berman gesturing like a mad man


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I guess I will analyze some drafts: Minnesota Vikings

I have had a surprisingly high number of people ask me what I thought of the Vikings draft. I am not a big Vikings fan, but I am always looking for something to write about, so I am going to go ahead and analyze a few teams' drafts, but only teams that are of note around here at the Times. First the Vikings, followed by the Colts, Panthers and maybe the 49ers.
Chris Cook, their first pick in the draft is fraught with flaws, but is a position of need, and is a bigger corner, which will help against big receivers like Calvin Johnson. He had all sorts of problems though, a major leg injury, a year missed due to academic ineligibility... This could end up not working out, and Jamarca Sanford could end up as the top corner on the team in a few years.
Toby Gerhart is a fine pick. Again, he filled a need position, but the fact they traded up for him when in fact they likely could have traded down for him is surprising. He needs to be a better pass catcher than bruiser, as he is expected to fill the role of third down back rather than the workhorse.
Everson Griffen is probably the best pick in the draft. He was a first round talent, but managed to slip all the way to the 4th round. He will provide defensive line depth, especially if Ray Edwards decides to skip town for greener pastures.
Chris Degeare was all right I think they needed a more blue chip type of offensive lineman to patch holes created by free agency.
Nathan Triplett and Ryan d'Imperio were good picks, simply because with EJ Henderson coming off a major injury and Ben Leber and Chad Greenway approaching free agency, depth was needed.
Joe Webb would have been an OK pick if they wanted him for quarterback, but they don't. I don't care if Favre throws a fit, the Vikings NEED a quarterback to develop for when he's gone.
Mickey Shuler: I guess another tight end can't hurt. What, they only have three right?

All in all, it was an OK draft for the Vikes, marked more by who they didn't take than by who they did. They probably could have gone with a more reliable CB and at least one real QB, but otherwise, I think Vikings fans should be mostly ambivalent. This was not a make or break draft, for sure.

Labels: ,

Links of the Day 4/27/10

In honor of Beth... Mikko Koivu's busy offseason calendar.

I missed this during the draft.

I don't understand why any team would base their future on Brett Favre either.


Villanova: Your national Champions!

On the heels of the NCAA determining that they will only add three teams to their set up, I finally got around to finishing up my simulation of the 347 team (all of the teams, actually) basketball tournament, where seeding was based on RPI and etc. I used Whatifsports as usual, and played the first two rounds at the higher seed, with all other games at a neutral site. I already spoiled the end, but I will gladly tell you that the elite 8 consisted of Kansas, Murray State, Virginia, Florida State, Mississippi, Villanova (the eventual winner, of course), Texas and Syracuse, with Kansas, Florida State, Villanova and Texas making the final four.In the end, Villanova defeated Kansas 77-71, Never mind that this was a contest between two teams who, in the real world, both lost in the second round. Actually, none of the final four teams made it out of the second round. Syracuse was the only elite 8 team that even made it to the Sweet 16 in the real world.
To get to their national simulated championship, the Wildcats had to square off with and defeat, in order: Louisiana-Lafayette, Vermont, Illinois, Richmond, Wake Forest, Mississippi, Florida State and Kansas. That particularly grueling path saw them take on 5 teams that actually made the dance, which is certainly more than I had guessed.So congratulations Villanova, Whatifsports thinks you are good for something. Of course, this also proves that more teams in a tournament almost never means you get a better team as the champion. But let's not spoil the moment.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, April 26, 2010

Links of the Day 4/26/10

Seattle sports are being run by Microsoft. At least we don't live in a city like that. Just ask anyone at Target Field or the Target Center.

Criticism of Joe Sheehan is undeserved, uninformed.

My favorite part was when the kid was talking.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

So now what?

Well, the NFL Draft would usually have it's day two today. Instead, they had the brilliant idea to move it to a Thursday- to Friday affair, and I've written about it for the bast week or so. The Twins have already played today and there is nothing on TV. And they are playing well, which limits what I have to write about! I'm watching American Pie because the rest of the movies on are terrible. Thanks a lot, NFL, for ruining my weekend.


Links of the Day 4/25/10

Joe Morgan will be working for the Reds. Morgan + Dusty Baker can only end with a World Series.

 Florida Atlantic and Western Kentucky entertain even in rain delays.

The Nationals had more fans in Montreal.


Players I'm rooting for

The internet is so negative, and the country has just become such a cynical place, I have decided to tell you some new draftees that I like simply because they are good kids, or are people that I otherwise want to succeed in the NFL and in life.

Colt McCoy (Browns): By far the most engaging and genuine quarterbacks of the top 4. I like his personality and hope the city of Cleveland does too.

Tim Tebow (Broncos): People hate Tim Tebow not because of the man but because of the media saturation. I am one of those people that tired of the constant ESPN coddling him, but if you listen to him in interviews, you realize that he is a really good guy, if a little earnest.

Dexter McLuster (Chiefs): He was just so much fun to watch in college. I wish he had gone somewhere more in the media spotlight than Kansas City. I think if anyone ends up like Chris Johnson, it will be McLuster.
Ndamakong Suh (Lions): Has already said he is donating 2 and a half million to charity, and was far more articulate yet soft spoken than any of the other first round draftees. Pretty much the opposite of Warren Sapp.

Gerald McCoy (Buccaneers): Eminently more likable than his former Oklahoma teammate Sam Bradford. He also planned charitable activities, and was supposed to spend today at an Oklahoma City homeless shelter. He was similarly articulate, something you don't expect from a defensive tackle (see: Tony Siragusa) and was the first truly emotional player from the draft. He also had a little flair that tells me he will be in the spotlight for all the right reasons.

Eric Berry (Chiefs): I've never seen someone so arbitrarily excited to be a member of a football team. He was on the phone with someone from the Kansas City exclaiming "I'm going to be a Chief!" before the pick was announced. That sort of enthusiasm gets me every time. I wish I could be drafted.

Dez Bryant (Cowboys): Jon Gruden said that nobody was going to work harder than just about every  other prospect out there. I believe it about Dez Bryant, simply because of what he has overcome. I didn't even realize he was an academic all American last season, which is stunning given his background and frankly his interviews. Not only do I want him to succeed, I will be sorely disappointed if Dez gets in trouble off the field.

Jahvid Best (Lions): He is overcoming some concussion problems, but when healthy, Best was the most explosive running back in the draft. He could have been a top 10 pick without the head injuries. I hope he can can stay healthy, because if he can he will be so much fun to watch.

Myron Rolle (Titans): Myron Rolle is a Rhodes scholar. He took advantage of the free education at Florida State, and took challenging classes, did well in them, and ended up taking a year off to go to Oxford after he graduated from Florida State. When his playing days are over, he hopes to be a doctor. He slipped in the draft because people worried about his dedication to the game, but frankly I hope he is successful in life in whatever vocation he tries for. What a great ambassador for athletes everywhere.

Dan LeFevour (Bears): LeFevour seemed to play Purdue 6 times or so in his college career, either during the regular season or in the Motor City Bowl, and he always impressed and frightened me. After hearing him interviewed, I found him to be a lot more well spoken and intelligent than I would have ever expected. I suspect that he will be a starter a lot sooner than anyone thinks.
That draft was fun.

Labels: ,

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Links of the Day 4/24/10

Yeah, the links are late, but the blog is free.

Did Toby Gerhart fall into the 2nd round because he is white? Possible.

I wrote this many days ago, but it still makes me laugh.

Go watch this flying baseball player.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Well, that didn't go as expected

This is one reason that the draft is so compelling, and it's that it is so impossible to predict. I love envisioning a player now wearing the uniform of his new team, and you can't do that until it actually happens. As much as you watch and follow the college and pro game, you never know what's going to happen. If you look at my mock draft from the other day, you will see what I mean. I got FIVE picks right in the first round. Of 32. Ouch.


Links of the Day 4/23/10

Obviously, no live blog today. Thank goodness for that.

The last two picks yesterday were Jerry Hughes to Indianapolis and Patrick Robinson to the Saints. I was happy about the Colts' pick.

Is there a doctor on the Draft Board? Not yet. One of the other players that I would label guys I am looking forward to cheering for.

All draft, all the time! Here are some Mel Kiper fun facts!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

How about a live blog?


Links of the Day 4/22/10

In honor of Earth day, I will only be highlighting stories from Earth!

I didn't link to this yesterday, but in the world of Soccer, this is a HUGE upset. I was told before hand "I don't know how anyone can stop Barcelona"

Oh yeah, there is a draft tonight. One last look at the Walter Football draft. If I feel up to it, there may be some sort of live chat on this here site.

Looks like we're going to 68 teams.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Brett Favre is haunting my dreams

In many regards, I am a similar writer to the Pacifist Viking, in that we write succinct posts that get to the point rather quickly. Now, apparently, we are both dreaming about the Vikings during the offseason.
All the dream was was an argument with a coworker on the merits of Brett Favre. I continued to insist that the team would be good even without Favre, and if they had a decent QB they could still be elite. In fact, the team will be worse than last year, because Favre's season in 2009 could be labeled as nothing other than a fluke. He slowly came around, my subconscious coworker, but was pretty vehement before that. Also, we were watching the Colts play the Patriots on whatever TV we were watching. It was 3-2 Patriots approaching the half with the Colts setting up for a field goal. It was blocked.
Anyways, back in the real world. the Star Tribune talks about the Vikings potentially wanting Tim Tebow. Enjoy that.

Labels: ,

Links of the Day 4/21/10

Good morning. I slept like garbage. How are you?

The NFL Schedules came out yesterday, which are apparently a big deal for some people. I just wanted to know when the Rams are playing in Seattle.

As of this publish, Simone Bolelli is up 5-4 in the first set. I'll keep you posted.

Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez got nabbed for PEDs. They were to enhance something, that's for sure.


This is the coolest thing ever

I rag on ESPN a lot, but really, they do some cool stuff. I have no idea why this particular thing is so fascinating to me, but it is. It's a great way to pass the day at work is you have a couple seconds to kill. I don't know why I didn't know about this before. It's the ESPN Game feed. It's play by play for EVERY SINGLE GAME EVERYWHERE. What a world we live in. Of course, at 2am when I am posting this, there is nothing going on, but I have never been more excited about Simone Bolelli, just waiting for his match to start!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Links of the Day 4/20/10

Ooooh 4/20! I don't know what that means!

OH good, Chris Berman signed a contract extension. This will make me want to watch a lot more ESPN. All the time.

There is a blog war in Canada, and it involves a retired journalist, and the home of former guest poster Loser Domi. It's getting a little ugly.

The surest sign yet that we have advanced too far technologically.


Monday, April 19, 2010

The latest Victoria Times mock draft

This was done using ESPN's draft machine. Immediate regret? Not picking Taylor Mays for the Bengals.

Labels: ,

Links of the Day 4/19/10

Today is a scheduled off day for the Twins so Joe Mauer could celebrate his birthday at the Children's Museum.

This post, romanticizing watching baseball with a beer on the couch reminds me once again why I don't ever want to get married, even though so many people say it's awesome. I want to watch baseball, dammit All the time. Can I just get a winter marriage?

Could I earn the Presidential Certificate for the Physical Fitness Challenge nowadays?

Iceland is conspiring to allow a real live American to win today's Boston Marathon.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

I will be a fan of who ever drafts Dez Bryant

This is Dez Bryant. He is a wide receiver from Oklahoma State, who, let's just say has had some tough circumstances. His mother was 14 when he was born (his father was in his 40s), the was busted for dealing drugs. He really had no structure growing up, and it showed in his undisciplined attitude (allegedly) at Oklahoma State. He was suspended for seeking the advice of Deion Sanders, who, frankly, is as stable a father figure as poor Dez has ever had. He's trying to rebuild his image, and went through the Associated Press to rebuild his image.
Well, the AP didn't really help as much as he might have liked. (Yes, I realize this was from last month.) Labeled as irresponsible and above all a little stupid, he could have got a little [sic] help from the AP since he granted the interview. It didn't go so well. The title of the piece? "Dez Bryant: 'I ain't never got in trouble with nobody". Uh oh.
Grammarians that we all are, I have gleaned a few more of the choice quotes that the AP decided to leave unedited, and damaging to the English syntax.

- "What do this got to do with me playing football? Even if I did forget my cleats, what do that have to do with me playing football? I don't think it has anything to do with me playing football." Irresponsible and stupid. Check.

- "Y'all don't want me to go to the NFL or something?" I don't know about y'all, but I do want Dez in the NFL.

- "I haven't did anything wrong to nobody."

- "Just because I've experienced bad things, that don't make me no bad person. That don't make my mom a bad person. My mom overcame a lot of adversity just as well as I have." Just a reminder, Dez's mom was a 14 year old mother (not a judgment, just context for what he was talking about) and perhaps spoke English as a second language.

- This is about Adam "Pacman" Jones. Click the link if you don't remember all there is about Pacman. "Why down talk the man? The man did everything right. He's working out. He's doing good. What happened in the past was the past. That's just like anybody else. If they did something wrong, they would be looking for a second chance." Yep. Pacman did everything right, and is just like anyone else. Yep.

Of course, the most ironic of Dez's quotes is this: "I don't say anything wrong to nobody." My English teacher would disagree. That said, you almost have to be a fan of Dez Bryant, just because of where he came from. The mere fact that he is moving on to the NFL and isn't dead in a gutter is a success for a child born into his circumstances, and every moment he hasn't found trouble is a testament to his character. Let's hope it's stronger than the impression this article may suggest. I'll be rooting for him.
And how fun would it be if he ended up on the same team as Yodeling Cold McCoy? (Jon Gruden's QB Camp is brilliant, btw.)

Labels: ,

Links of the Day 4/18/10

Yesterday was a pretty incredible day in the sports world. Here are some examples.

There was the marathon, 20 inning game between the Cardinals and Mets.

There was Ubaldo Jimenez's no hitter.

blah blah blah NBA but did you see the dueling hat tricks in the Cup playoffs between Washington and Montreal?


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Links of the Day 4/17/10

What the Marlins needed was a team theme song sung by Creed.

Is the Contract Year thing really just a myth?

What does Joe Mauer have in common with Snoopy?


Steve's 2010 MLB Predictions

I don't know what it is with me and this time of the year when it comes to sports writing. The original Is It Sports? site died at this time of the year in 2006 when I pretty much just stopped posting new things on it, which caused Ryan to start this site. It's not like it isn't exciting time of year. You have March Madness, Spring Training, the start of the NBA and NHL playoffs, etc. In 2006, I was preparing to move to a new city, but this year, I have basically no excuse. Oh well, I'll pretend to blame the amazing Arizona spring time weather.

Speaking of Arizona spring time weather, unfortunately for me, the major league season has already started and now I am stuck with only the D-Backs playing locally instead of half of the entire sport. This year, I went to 4 spring training games. I saw my first ever tie when the White Sox played the Reds in Goodyear. I saw the Swinging' A's win twice in 3 days in Phoenix, beating the Diamondbacks and the Cubs. To finish the season, I went to my 100th ever White Sox game in Glendale against the Royals. They were winning when they had their starters in, but by the end of the game, every single player on the Sox was literally wearing a number in the 80s or 90s. I think AJ Pierzynski may have rounded up a bunch of starters and left early to go watch Wrestlemania, which was happening about 3 miles away. So it was a little disappointing to see them lose that game, but hey, its only spring.

So now, here are my picks. Hopefully I didn't gain any inside info by making them 2 weeks into the season. If I picked the current standings as my order of finish, I would probably be very, very wrong....

Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves
Florida Marlins
New York Mets
Washington Nationals

You'd have to think that the Phillies are the clear favorite to win the NL Pennant again this year. They are one of the only NL teams with an AL-caliber offense and now adding Roy Halladay to their rotation makes them even tougher to beat. The Braves, I think, have a good chance to climb to the top of the scrap heap of mediocrity in the NL and maybe steal the wild card spot. The Marlins always seem to be better than they look on paper, but usually just don't have the experience to get over the hump. The Mets are set for another disappointing season. I called their collapse in this preview last year and I'm pretty proud of it. The Nationals are....vomit inducing...but so are Philadelphia fans.

St. Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers
Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati Reds
Houston Astros
Pittsburgh Pirates

The Cardinals are one of the major bang for the buck success stories of the past decade, and I think they look solid again this year. It's obvious that Matt Holliday is an NL-only legend after returning back to his Colorado days after being traded to St. Louis this year, and the Cards pitching staff is solid, but not too flashy. The Brewers remind me of the poor man's version of the Cardinals. They have 2 big time hitters (Fielder and Braun) fill the gaps with other decent players, and have a not-so flashy but serviceable rotation (but not nearly as good as the Cards). The Cubs did basically nothing to improve their team this offseason, and they are an older team that now is just older and still not as good as the Cardinals. Third seems about right in the division. The Reds probably have the most upside of the bottom 3 teams, but will probably finish at least 15 games below .500. The Astros are getting a bad rap early this season, and they aren't very good, but they are probably still better than the Pirates, who I am sure will find a way to get into last.

San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Dodgers
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

I like the Giants this year...a lot. They have the best pitcher in baseball backed up by an above average rotation. Offensively, all they need to be is a little better than last year to make the playoffs, considering how their pitching carried them all year. Can adding Aubrey Huff and Mark DeRosa make them that little bit better? The Rockies are coming off another nice season and finally seem to have a balance between pitching and hitting. They are my pick for the NL Wild Card this year. The Dodgers are much better offensively than the Giants but their pitching scares me. Chad Billingsley is very good at being mediocre, and Vincente Padilla....really? The Padres won't be very good. Run Adrian Gonzalez, run.

New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles

The Yankees are just too good. I think we're stuck in one of those "Yankees are unstoppable, why bother even playing the season?" runs of years. How....depressing. The Red Sox are off to a slow start, but they still have what it takes to be 2nd in this division and probably win the wild card too, thanks to the rest of the AL not being so great. The Rays will probably be the Red Sox top competition for the wild card this year, but I still feel like their 2008 run was kind of a planet's aligning experience. They will need to spend some more money if they want to be competitive in this division for a prolonged period. The Blue Jays and Orioles are both not so good. I think the Orioles are relying too heavily on young players that haven't really proven themselves to be very good so far, and the Blue Jays are doing the same thing to a lesser extent. So in toss up, I take Toronto for 4th.

Minnesota Twins
Detroit Tigers
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
Cleveland Indians

I admit this year that the Twins are probably the best team in this division, and maybe they will be even more than just winning this division by default like they usually do when no one else is too good. Ergh....I guess I get to watch the Twins waste the AL Central's playoff spot yet again this October....The Tigers scarily fade every year in September, and I don't really see a reason why they won't again this year. Unlike in 2006, they won't be good enough to still make it as the wild card even after choking away the division. On to the White Sox, I'm getting a little tired of Kenny Williams just throwing together a completely random team every year and making moves for the sake of making moves. I don't think the Sox will be any more than mediocre (if even that) this year, but hey, they look somewhat impressive on paper, right? At least this year a healthy amount of their players were born in the 80s and could potentially all hit their primes together in the next 2 or 3 years. I just hope the random players thrown in with them in the future are decent and not absolutely washed up. I think the Royals are trying their best to be competitive, and could challenge the White Sox for 3rd. Are the Indians doing this on purpose to have Major League 4 based on them?

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Texas Rangers
Oakland Athletics
Seattle Mariners

I'm not going to pick against the Angels in this division until one of these other 3 teams proves to me why I should not. The Rangers were surprisingly good last year, despite having no pitching. If Rich Harden can stay healthy and Scott Feldman can develop more, along with their other developing young hitters (and Josh Hamilton and Ron Washington both stay off the crack) the Rangers could be legitimate challengers to the Angels this year. The A's have their usual group of prospects, probably good enough for 3rd. The Mariners have gotten a little bit of media love this year, but I'm not buying it. They seem to like to take the Kenny Williams philosophy of making moves to make moves but they do it significantly worse.

Phillies over Rockies
Giants over Cardinals (That pitching in a 5 game series is scary)
Yankees over Angels
Red Sox over Twins

Phillies over Giants
Yankees over Red Sox

World Series
Yankees over Phillies (yeah boring, but I think its going to happen again)

NL MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum, Giants
NL Manager of the Year (aka Steve's Kiss of Death): Bruce Bochy, Giants
NL ROY: Jason Heyward, Braves

AL MVP: Joe Mauer, Twins (The Yankees will be just too good for the media to pick one)
AL Cy Young: C. C. Sabathia, Yankees
AL Manager of the Year (aka Steve's Kiss of Death): Ron Gardenhire, Twins
AL ROY: Neftali Feliz, Rangers

Labels: ,

You're missing the point

I went to the game on Thursday, which happened to be Jackie Robinson day. On this day, as I'm sure many of you know, the players of MLB all wear #42 to honor the man who broke the racial barrier. It's a simple, understated but noticeable reminder of how fay we have come, and a sign of respect for a man who had such courage, not to mention talent. If there is any problem with the event, it's simply that it's forced upon all players, and individual players are unable to express their appreciation of their own accord on this day. How nice would it be if players could individually choose to don the 42? Of course, Orlando Hudson wore the Jackie Robinson tall socks for the game, so perhaps my point is moot.
With all that background, I sat next to a couple of knuckleheads at the game on Thursday, one of whom needed to borrow part of my personal space to accommodate his ample girth. First, they noted the retired 42 among the retired numbers. 'Who the hell was #42?" Then they noticed the batter was wearing 42. "Why the hell can he wear 42 if it's retired?" Then they noticed another Twin wearing 42 and I finally had to tell them it was Jackie Robinson day. Then they noticed the Red Sox were all wearing 42 as well.
That's when it started. "Wait, everyone in the league does this? Do they do this everywhere? That's stupid. What did he even do? He wasn't even that good. I could understand if they do it every once in a while, but every year? That's stupid. He wasn't even that important. Every year? Stupid." I didn't dare mention that we also get Martin Luther King day off every year.
Keep in mind, these chuckleheads were complaining that people were wearing a number. Once. One day a year. That's it. There was no necessary participation on their part. Really, all they had to do was show up, and say "oh, that's nice" and their requirement was over. But they wouldn't stop complaining. This is why we can't have nice things, America.

Labels: , ,

Friday, April 16, 2010

Links of the Day 4/16/10

This is something that sounds like it should be essential in everyone's home.

Brett Favre is a defiant redneck.

For those that didn't already see this, I'll spoil it for you. He went 13 over par and is tied for last.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Links of the Day 4/15/10

Sorry for the late links... I was busy at the Twins game today! 

The Seattle Mariners continue to honor long standing, mature fans.

This just makes things worse for next year at Purdue, especially if both Moore and Johnson stay in the draft.

One week to the draft, so how about the Walter Football mock? 6 rounds now!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Oh no! Rain!

Well done, Twins fans! Run and hide and make everyone laugh at us for not having a roof!


Links of the Day 4/14/10

Apparently it's OK to wear the Green Jacket away from the course.

Finally, the government is doing something I can get behind!

A little more discussion on Jajuan Johnson's potential draft status.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ah tacit racism

First it was Torii Hunter, and now it's current Twins second baseman Orlando Hudson. Something about being in a Twins uniform makes people feel comfortable talking on race relations. The outspoken Hudson made comments to Yahoo's Jeff Passan about Jermaine Dye and his current lack of a contract. If it goes as well as it did with Torii Hunter, the issue will be ignored, and Hudson will be labeled as batty.
Now, rather than make a huge elaborate argument on Hudson or Hunter's behalf, I would like to point out that segregation was ended only about 50 years ago. The fact that most, if not all of the leagues owners were alive during this period (and are white) cannot be discounted. I'm not saying everyone is racist or anything, I'm just saying that dramatic societal changes don't happen overnight, or even in 50 years. Maybe we don't think it's racism because we aren't on the other end. And because we're mostly Twins fans, who get to see Delmon Young, Denard Span and Orlando Hudson on a daily basis.

Labels: ,

Links of the Day 4/13/10

Oh, well this isn't good for Purdue. Please stay Jajuan.

The Jets acquired 12 games of Santonio Holmes.

Well good, Conan's back, but on TBS, just another place I will probably never see him.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Allow me to don my meteorologist hat

So we have a baseball game this afternoon. After a lot of hand wringing and the threat of contraction (until these heroes arrived on the Minnesota scene), the Twins intend to open their new stadium, Target Field in less than three hours.
This is an ominous looking radar image, however. Fortunately it is just an image, and not indicative of what will be going on in three hours. All those blobs f rain are moving southeast, and that big blob south of Willmar actually doesn't have any lightning associated with it. Something we don't realize in Minnesota after playing in a dome for so long... teams can play in the rain! Just so long as it isn't heavy, and there is no lightning. Sure, there might be a brief delay, but it appears as though the Twins and Red Sox will be able to get in a full game today, narrowly averting disaster.
Just like 2001.

Labels: ,

Links of the Day 4/12/10

Happy Target Field day, here's hoping for no rain delay.

Steven Stamkos became one of the youngest players to score 50 goals in a season. Take that, Crosby.

Hopefully this isn't something that happens with Twins fans and Joe Mauer down the road.

Oh yeah, Phil Mickelson won the Masters.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Are you ready?


Links of the Day 4/11/10

It's the final round of the Masters, and everyone is cheering for Lee Westwood. Who else?

An interesting look at Dontrelle Willis. My mom is a psychologist, so it's interesting to me.

Mike Modano, eyeing retirement.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Now this is a road trip

I'm sure everyone obsesses about my annual road trips and knows that my next one was to be the Colorado State Rams football team, and their 10th game of the season. All I had to do was wait on the schedule to come out. It finally did. For the second year in a row, after expecting schedules to maintain a similar format from year to year, I was surprised to see that the conferences in question changed things up. Instead of a game in Fort Collins against UNLV as I had suspected, they are on the road.
Way, way on the road.

Yeah, they are going to be in San Diego against the San Diego State Aztecs on November 6th. Whoo boy.

Labels: , ,

Links of the Day 4/10/10

First, an update to yesterday's post. According to commenter Rachel (an admitted North Dakotan) who says that the Standing Rock tribe simply didn't have a chance to vote on the UND nickname before the decision was made. Either way, people other than those who should be offended were not allowed to make the decision. Palefaces, man.

Now links.

A week into the season, here are a fw famous first pitches through history.

In case you were wondering, this is how Nike got the Earl Woods audio for their commercial.

The retiring justice John Paul Stevens actually saw Babe Ruth's called shot.


Friday, April 09, 2010

Even when they try to do something right, the NCAA is obtuse.

As you may or may not know, the NCAA has officially come down on the Fighting Sioux nickname of the University of North Dakota, decreeing it offensive to the Dakota tribe of North Dakota. I am of the camp that I have never seen the cause for offense from the above logo or the nickname, however I also believe that, since I am not a member of the tribe, my opinion doesn't matter. If they are offended, that is their right, and North Dakota should change their logo and mascot. Beyond being offensive, deciding for others what they should or should not be offended by is insulting.
Of course, it's a two way street. What do I mean? The Spirit Lake tribe has actual approved of the nickname. Essentially, the NCAA is telling the Spirit Lake Dakota what they should be offended by, which, in my mind, should be more offensive than the logo in question. Especially since the tribe isn't offended by it.
Of course, I haven't laid all the cards on the table. The Standing Rock tribe hasn't voted to approve the nickname.Why? Well, here's the Star Tribune's write up:
"...the Standing Rock tribal council has resisted calls for it to change its bylaws to allow a vote."
 That's right, the NCAA assumes the Standing Rock are offended by the logo because they haven't reformatted their system of government to discuss this relatively minor issue (in the grand scheme of things). If you recall, the United States of America recognizes the Native American tribes as sovereign nations. The NCAA has now resorted to government building to get what they want. They must be stopped.
Anyways, just to spite the NCAA, I have a proposal. UND should become the Fightin' Dakota. It could be described as a reflection of the state, all while the Spirit Lake tribe (and the Standing Rock tribe, if they get around to NCAA mandated governmental reform and vote with the Spirit Lake) can be as respected and honored as they wish, and there is nothing the NCAA can do about it. Until they decide that the name "North Dakota" is offensive.

Labels: ,

Links of the Day 4/9/10

That story from the Twins hotel I was talking about. Scandal!

Want to go to a tough hockey game? Try here.

If you're old, it's likely that you golfed well in Augusta.


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Target Field

While Ryan got to go out and see Opening Day in Los Angeles, I was stuck at home watching the game. However, while Ryan was heading out to California last weekend, I spent the weekend attending sporting events.

Friday night, I found myself watching the first MLB game—although exhibition—at Target Field in Minneapolis. I have a 40-game package of season tickets, so I sat in “my” seat. When we got to the field, it was raining, although the rain stopped just before the gates open. This meant Minnesotans got to see a site they’ve not seen in almost 30 years: a tarp being taken off the field. (My friend and I watched the process in fascination. We’re nerdy like that.)

There are plenty of reviews out there for you all to read, so I’m going to give my personal view, for a small group of people who are often ignored.

One of the things I appreciated at the Metrodome, was usually by the time we walked through the gates (and keep in mind I sat in general admission, so I was there when the gates opened, and I attended over half of the home games), the line-ups were posted. Those of us who kept score could fill out our scorecards before eating our supper (or lunch, for day games). That way, when they announced the team, we could cheer along with the crowd, rather than hastily scrawling numbers on my scorecard. This is not so at Target Field, much to our sorrow. (I asked the Twins on Twitter, and their official reason is that “sometimes we don’t get the line-ups until just before the game. I considered arguing back that they always did at the Metrodome, but I just have to accept that people aren’t going to change and move on.) I’ve noticed some stadiums do not post the line-ups pre-game, while other cities do post them. To each their own.

However, something that makes most scorekeepers happy is a “Last play:” portion of the scoreboard. In years past, the Twins had a weekday/weeknight game called Twingo, which was Bingo, except with plays on the field. Scorekeepers loved these days, because until all the prizes were awarded (usually about the fifth inning), the Twingo board would record the last play. Those who keep score are usually some pretty insane, intense fans. Even the best of us, though, will get distracted and miss a play. (And each scorekeeper has his/her own way of designating plays they didn’t see—“WW” = “Wasn’t Watching” or “DNS”= “Did Not See” or simply “?”. The scoreboard at Target Field keeps the “Last Play” showing throughout the game. So as long as the scorekeeper doesn’t miss two plays in a row (it may have happened on Saturday), the scorecards can be at least marginally accurate.

Another thing to love for the more obsessive scorecards is the pitch count. Some ballparks take the pitch count down immediately when the last out is made. As a fan, I’m watching the game, and don’t like to have to quickly look to see the pitch count. And, of course, I never remembered to look when the next inning started. Target Field has the pitch counts up for both pitches most of the time (only time they don’t is when someone is warming in the bullpen).

(That picture was taken from Section 132. The seats in The Pavilion have wood backs, and are actually quite comfortable. The drink holders are on the armrests, rather than attached to the seat in front of you. This causes the seats harder to get into for those with larger hips, and for scorekeepers, your elbow is where your drink is, so your drink will end up on the ground anyway. Once you’re sitting in your seat, however, they are quite comfortable.)

And for the traditionalists out there—like me—the Twins have always had the “Strike Out ALS” sign that keeps track of strikeouts by the Twins pitchers. This is a manual sign with tiles that need to be turned over (and turned around for strike-out looking). From what I can tell, fans in the front row in Section 332 get to turn over the signs. I’m a huge fan of manual scoreboards (I loved it at Wrigley, watching the numbers get taken out by hand. Part of me really wants the job to run the scoreboard there, but I’d probably die of heat stroke on the first warm day).

The bullpens, rather than being on the field like they were at the Metrodome, are closed off in center field. The Twins will use the back bullpen. (It’s a little sad. No longer will we see outfielders running into the bullpen to make spectacular catches. Nor will we get to make fun of the ball boy who couldn’t catch.) Really, I’m happy the guys got a proper bullpen, but I won’t deny I’ll miss all the silly quirks of having a bullpen on the field, though. Fortunately, my seats give me a good view of the bullpen so I should still be able to see the antics of bored bullpen boys. Unfortunately, it will not give me a view of the Twins dugout so I won’t get good views of the weird antics of guys in the dugout.

In total, Target Field is pretty much what all the reviews have said: a beautiful ballpark on the edge of downtown. After playing for years in a warehouse (as someone described it), the ballpark has it’s own beauty outside of the game being played there.

And above all, Twins baseball has a home to call its own. No longer must it acquiesce to the whims of football—both college and professional.

Timberwolves update: They have a 0-3 record since I last reported. They’re now at 15-63, or a 19.2% winning percentage. The have the worst record in the West, but New Jersey has the worst record in the NBA, 11-67. Shockingly, neither team will make the playoffs. Personally, I think they should hold a Loser Playoff, as the only two teams that will finish with under 20 wins.

Wild Update: The Wild have a 37-36-7 record, for a 46.3% winning percentage. They are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. They broke their record in the number of different players they had on the team this year. I’m pretty sure Todd Richards gets up every morning and prays for enough semi-healthy players to have a full roster for a game. And that’s because he depends on Greg Zanon to play, even if his ankle is broken.

Labels: , ,

Links of the Day 4/8/10

Keith Tkachuk is retiring, bringing the number of remaining NHL 94 players down 1 more.

Speaking of really old hockey players, this is a pretty cool story.

Now lets just hope that we don't have to see issues with the Minesota Twins

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

What I learned on my Spring Break

As you may have you may have inferred by the presence of guest posters on Sunday and Monday, I was on vacation, and on that vacation, I celebrated a birthday. Steve was there too. It was magical. I was in Southern California, spent some time in Anaheim, some time in Hollywood and I figure you may want to hear some of the tales of the trip. I am here to regale you, chronologically.

 - The flight in wasn't so bad. The guy sharing a row with my from Denver to Los Angeles had a waxed mustache, curled at the ends. Awesome. My rental reservation said I could either get a Kia or a Nissan hybrid. I saved 10 dollars and went with the Kia,, but I think it was lose - lose.

- I got to the hotel and ran into Steve and Mrs. Steve. There was no traffic whatsoever on the way in, but it took me about half an hour to find a parking spot in the hotel parking lot. It was a Kia, it shouldn't have been that hard to find a spot to park.

- Mrs. Steve demanded that we wake up early so we could hit Disneyland early on Saturday, and Steve and I complied. Happiest place on earth! I'm not one for roller coasters, but the Steves rather enjoyed them. Combined, I think the only ride we didn't go on was the Dumbo ride. We even went on the Winnie the Pooh ride. 

- Disneyland was fraught with hipster teenagers. If I never see another kid wearing skinny jeans and Converse shoes, it will be too soon. I feel old.

- The best ride (in my opinion) of the whole trip was the Simpsons' ride at Universal Studios. Universal Studios was also awesome because they sold beer there. 

- In case you didn't read the news, there was an earthquake near Mexicali on Sunday that was felt in Los Angeles. We were on the tram tour of Universal Studios at the time, and ironically, happened to be in the "earthquake scene" for lack of a better term during the quake. We didn't even realize that there was a quake until after the tram tour was finished, and we all got text messages, asking if we felt the quake. I was actually rather upset, because I wanted to feel it. I did feel an aftershock or two. Where? The Hollywood wax museum, after taking a picture with fake Britney Spears.

- The other cool thing about the wax museum was being able to compare my height with that of the stars. Modern celebrities are short, while stars of yore were rather tall. Charlton Heston was a mountain of a man. 

- Like I said, we never would have known there was an earthquake if we hadn't received those texts. Nobody at the park even reacted. They just took it in stride, because it was something they saw every day. Incredible. Of course, when we went to the Block at Orange that night, an outdoor mall, and there was a bit of spit coming from the sky, barely raining, all those little hipsters ran away, screaming in terror. California is a different place.

- As like any place, the Angels had a flyover during the National Anthem. Unlike most other places, the flyover wasn't done by fighters, but rather by a C-130. It wasn't able to climb and had to fly between the tall hotels opposite the 5 freeway.

- On my left at the game was a smug, douchey Twins fan that had moved to Los Angeles and was really only a Twins fan because he was from Minnesota and going to the game was something to do. He was there for about 2 minutes, and constantly asked questions, like "Is the team any good?" and "Who is Delmon Young?"

- On my right was a botoxed, young (?) Anaheim fan who knew all about the Angels (and God bless her for that) but knew very little about the Twins or Minnesota in general. Not only had she never really left California, but the only reason reason she even ever left Los Angeles County was to go to Disneyland or to come to Angels games. She was very nice though, and we chatted for the last few innings. Not only was she unaware that we had a new stadium, but she was also in the dark on the fact that we used to play indoors.
Inevitably, she asked "what they got up in Minnesota?" She had a southern accent, and I didn't understand it. I told her about the Mall of America, snow, and farms. Their version of rural in SoCal is Riverside. 
She then asked me if I went on the Tower of Terror. I did not. "Oh, my 3 year old goes on that!" Great. Then I was asked if I had been to In N Out Burger. I was informed I should have asked for the animal fries. I'll note this for the next time I go to California.

- Blah blah blah, Twins lose.

- As it turns out, I stayed in the Twins team hotel the whole time I was there. After Steve and Mrs. Steve left, I was left to my own devices, and after the game got myself some taquitos and birthday carrot cake. I'll save the most awesome story for the Stache, but I'll just say this: Jesse Crain is a cool dude, and Scott Ullger seems a lot more refined than a third base coach should be. 

- On the flight home, this from Denver to Minneapolis, I sat next to a young lady flying to Minnesota to visit her sister. She happened to have been from southern California too. She asked what they had in Minnesota, and I told her about the Mall of America, snow, and farms. She asked if I went on the Tower of Terror, and I said I didn't. She knew children that went on it. Then I was asked if I had been to In N Out Burger. I was informed I should have asked for the animal fries. Got it. She then asked if we had Chik-fil-a. Not in any part of town you would want to go to, if we do. What about Wendy's? Yes. Minnesota has Wendy's. 

All in all, it was an awesome trip. Be sure to check out the 7th Inning Stache tomorrow, because my Twins at the hotel story is flat out hilarious.

Labels: ,

Links of the Day 4/7/10

Hey! I'm back! About time I got around to writing something on the interwebs.

The Yankees continue to make everyone outside of New York love them.

David Ortiz is a gifted orator.

Even though there aren't any Minnesota teams involved this year, check out the latest/greatest Frozen Four preview.


Monday, April 05, 2010

A Birthday Visit from JR

Hey Ryan, it's your old buddy Jeremy Roenick here. A little birdie told me it was your birthday today. I want it to be a good one, so I have some ideas on how to celebrate like a champion. For example, here's what I did on my birthday last year:

First, I kicked the hot Swedish chicks out of bed. They're nice, but they can get clingy at times. Then I wiped the eyeliner and mascara off my face (to this day I don't know what happened that night, but I'm sure it was pretty wild.) After a big-ass breakfast, I called up Joe Thornton. He won't admit it, but Big Joe misses JR Time a LOT. Then I called up Daniel Carcillo, but he hung up on me. What a jerk. 

After the calls, I played a little NHL94 and made Gretzky's head bleed, because that's always fun. And "Swingers" was such a great movie. Oh well. I went on the patio, grilled some steaks and drank a lot of beer (but since you're from Minnesota, you may want to skip this step, since I think you would burst into flames upon contact with the sun.) 

It gets a bit fuzzy after that, but I know the Swedish girls came back and we had a golf cart. Then there was an awful lot of know, screw it. Here are some tits to look at:
Happy Birthday! Your buddy, JR. P.S.: Say hi to your mom for me.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Opening Night Baseball, Joe Mauer and You

The Red Sox play the Yankees tonight on ESPN2, a game which isn't going to matter all that much to anyone further west than Scranton (although both teams do have strong national followings) and it isn't going to matter a whole lot in the standings (approx. 1/162nd of the entire season). But hey, baseball is back and to you, dear Minnesotan Blog Reader, that means Twins and that Mauer guy. I'm told he's pretty good.

Being a hockey guy myself, I always enjoy taking a moment to blog about something else when given the chance. I love hockey, but I'm not a one-trick pony either. Although the actual estimate would be more like 1 3/4 tricks -- 1 trick hockey, 1/4 football, 2/4 everything else.

So getting off of that tangent, Your Minnesota Twins are set to start play at that b-e-a-utiful Target Field that we've all heard so much about. And that's a lot, coming from someone who hasn't left the state of New York in a few months. I don't know if it's the fact that it's supposed to be so absurdly awesome or the idea of building an outdoor baseball field in, if you'll excuse me, Minnesota is so completely out-of-whack to all of us who don't live near the state but still choose to judge. Although something tells me the Twins may be playing the first week of the season on the road because the folks who make the schedule may have thought "early April in Minnesota = snow," which for the record, it apparently doesn't as it's supposed to be freaking 70 degress next weekend.

But aside from the weather and the stadium there are other good reasons to be excited. This Mauer person is going to be spending the duration of his career in a Twins uni and that the Twins are favored to win the division this year. Four of out of five talking heads agree (including Gammons!) that the Twins are the favorites.

So while you're watching That Game Between Those Two Teams ESPN Never Stops Talking About (and get ready, they won't stop with that or Favre until November) be excited, Minnesota. Things are looking good for this season. It should be more interesting than this post was, anyway (I promise less parenthesis next time!). And we'll all be bored of both about halfway through.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Predictions, 2010

Ryan posted his yesterday, so here's my predictions for 2010...

Washington Nationals
Florida Marlins
New York Mets
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves

The Washington Nationals come as the surprise team in the National League. It turns out, someone in the Nationals media department managed to convince the other teams in the National League that the Nationals weren’t a real team and all games against them were exhibition games. This lead to half-hearted efforts, and some easy wins for the Nationals, who were not in on the joke. The media guy later admitted that the Nationals would’ve believed the hoax, too, if he told them.

Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals
Pittsburg Pirates
Houston Astros
Milwaukee Brewers

The Pittsburg Pirates looked in position to take over the NL Central until September 19. On Talk Like a Pirate Day, the Pirates managed to all become addicted to rum, and the AA meetings interfered with game times, leading many regulars to miss games. The Cubs

San Diego Padres
Arizona Diamondbacks
Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Dodger
San Francisco Giants

The Giants came in last place because the baseball writers hated spelling Francisco, and bribed the umpires. Other than citizens of the city, and Twins starter Francisco Liriano, no one cared much.

Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay {Devil} Rays

While everyone hoped Orioles wouldn’t come in last place, they were the surprise of the season. The Yankees, with their great offense, and good pitching, realized that when they let a player take a day off to rest that they should replace the player on the field. The games without their catcher hurt the most.

Kansas City Royals
Minnesota Twins
Cleveland Indians
Chicago White Sox
Detroit Tigers

The Royals find out that Zach Grienke isn’t really a normal human; he’s a science experiment gone terribly right. He doesn’t needs the four days of rest between starts. In fact, it’s discovered that he only needs 87 minutes, 31.5 seconds of rest between starts. This drastically changes the outlook of the Royals, who immediately replace starters 2-5 with two extra bullpen guys, and two extra batters. Grienke’s pitching allows the Royals to handily take the division with a 120-62 record. The Twins, for the third year straight, force a game 163 against the Blue Jays for the Wild Card slot. The Blue Jays, not realizing their error, picked up shortstop Adam Everett, who for the third year straight was on the losing team of Game 163. (Why aren’t the White Sox last? Because I feel generous today, and I don’t want to hear Steve to be mad at me.)


Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Oakland A’s
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Using the heat of Texas as their home-field advantage to deplete the energy of their opponents, the Rangers handily win all their home games against their division rivals, who play in more temperate climates. (The teams from the Midwest and Northeast, being used to extreme temperatures, are only mildly affected by the extreme heatwave that lasts all summer in Texas.)

NL: Nationals over the Cubs
Padres over the Marlins
Nationals over Padres
AL: Royals over the Orioles
Twins over Rangers

World Series:
Nationals versus Twins. In game seven, after the 32nd inning was finished with the 4-4 tie, fans were asked if anyone cared anymore who won (Games 1-6 all went between 13 and 21 innings). A resounding “no” came from the four fans still awake (although three of them caught naps between the 18-26th innings). A coin toss was attempted, but the coin landed on it’s side. The umpires declared the Cubs the winners and everyone went to bed happy. Except the Cubs’ fans, who were all in bed long before, and were bummed about missing their team finally winning.

April Fools! I suck at making predictions. I’m biased, and find it difficult to compare teams on paper (players, I'm good with; teams, not so much). So, like last year, I want to make insane predictions that, if they end up being true, will be a little frightening. Although it’s impossible for me to count my Twins out at all.

As an aside, and this, sadly, is not an April Fool’s joke, is one little note on my least favorite team, and the player that represents that team. Of all the things I’m thankful for is that while Derek Jeter is known as the Captain of the Yankees, he doesn’t wear a “C” on his chest, like Jason Varitek did for the Red Sox. Captains are completely unnecessary from a game perspective in baseball (clubhouse relations, they can be important, but still are not needed). (Hockey, for example, needs a captain, because the captains do have a function during the game, in talking to referees.) Anyway, on Wednesday, March 31*, 2010, the Twins were playing split squad games. Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Michael Cuddyer—players whom people would consider the leaders on the Twins—were playing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (look, it sounds better than Rays to me. Ray is a name. Rays sounds like a team made up of a bunch of guys name Ray). Some “regulars” like Denard Span, Alexi Casilla, and Delmon Young were playing against the Yankees in Tampa. Span is from Tampa. In the first at-bat of the game, he hit a line-drive foul ball into the stands—and hit his mother. He rushed to the stands and stayed until the medics came. After that, his head wasn’t in the game. In the second or third inning,
Derek Jeter pulled Span aside, and told him to go see about his mother
. Span left the game. (His mother is fine.)

My mom’s birthday! Yes, we like to tell her she was born a day early.

I don’t like the Yankees. Derek Jeter represents the Yankees. Yet, in a team where the Twins didn’t really have any of their leaders, Derek Jeter stepped up to provide some veteran leadership. For that, I tip my cap to him. This, however, does not give him permission to get any hits against the Twins.

Timberwolves update: They have a 1-2 record since I last reported. They’re now at 15-60, or a 20.0% winning percentage. The have the worst record in the West, but New Jersey has the worst record in the NBA, 10-65. While their seasons have been over for a long time, I’m sure fans are wondering when they’ll stop playing games. Or attempting to play.

Wild Update: The Wild have a 37-34-6 record, for a 48.1% winning percentage. They’re not mathematically out of the playoff picture yet, but neither are the Washington Nationals.

Labels: , , , ,

Links of the Day 4/1/10

Steve Lavin is off to St. John's. So long, Big Ten analyst. Maybe we can get someone that despises the Big Ten to do color for the games, like Bob Davie and football.

Denard Span smoked his mom with a foul ball.

Hey Butler! You still have to go to class!

And with that, I am out. See you WEDNESDAY