Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What seems to be the problem?

Much has been made of the Twins pitching problems, particularly with Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn, who seem to be serving up a lot of gopher balls and have struggled epically. I thought the problem might be a home/away issue, and as it turns out it was, but for three different reasons. All three have put up much better numbers at home than on the road, and I thought I would like to explain why.

Scott Baker: Baker has always been a fly ball pitcher, and Target Field has been a Godsend for him. His home run total is 15 on the season, with 10 of those coming on the road. He is 5-1 at home and a much better pitcher overall. In addition, his flyball BAbip (Batting Average for balls in play, a good metric of how lucky a pitcher has been) is below .200 at Target Field. On the road, many of those fly balls that would be innocuous fly outs are leaving the park.

Kevin Slowey: Slowey's is perhaps the most unfortunate case. His control and home run totals are practically the same at home and on the road. The number that climbs is his BAbip, which goes from .295, at home which is still a hair higher than should be expected, to .352 on the road.  The funny part for Slowey is that he is also a flyball pitcher, but has allowed more homers at home than on the road, despite the fortuitous park, so the climb in ERA can almost entirely be pinned on luck and the fact that the defense doesn't get to as many balls when he pitches. He could stand to strikeout more guys on the road, that would help, or he could hope his fielders get to more balls behind him.

Nick Blackburn: There is no real explanation for Blackburn's collapse on the road, aside from the fact that he might be a headcase. He loses all semblance of control on the road, fails to strike anyone out, walks too many batters. He isn't a power pitcher, so those strikeouts are rare, and at home, so too are the walks. On the road, he walks more than he strikes out. His auxillary stats, the BAbip, the home runs, everything is also up, but everything stems from his lack of control.

I think the universal problem across the board is the higher BAbip, which is higher for all the Twins pitchers, but inexplicably so on the road vs at home. Liriano would have similarly poor stats, it appears, if he didn't strikeout so many people, and he is more a groundball pitcher. Carl Pavano seems to be the only pitcher getting any defensive support, so it IS there. This is reflective of the defense, which was a strength of the organization for many years.

Just think, as recently as last year, the Twins were lamenting the fact that these pitchers were ravaged by injury, and when they were healthy, they were quite reliable. If the problem is defense this year, the solution isn't to get another big ticket pitcher, because he will likely be ineffective for the price we pay. Baker is still a very good pitcher at home, but can't relax on the road, because the ball tends to carry further on the road. Slowey needs to keep on trucking. That luck will eventually turn around to his favor. Attacking hitters on the road won't hurt. If anyone needs to be dropped it's Blackburn. A mature pitcher shouldn't see such a horrendous drop on the road. Time needs to be spent figuring out what is wrong with him, and it might be in his head.

The Twins, if they want to address the rotation would be best served improving the defense. This is best done by
A) Getting JJ Hardy back
B) Moving Punto back the 3b,
C) Moving Cuddyer back to right
D) Keeping Kubel on the bench
I know it hasn't been discussed, but Kubel is the poorest fit on this team, no matter how much people like him. I like him too, but the roster is well stocked with lefty power hitters, and he is a bad fielder. If he could be packaged with Wilson Ramos for a pitcher instead of Slowey or Blackburn, I think that helps the team infinitely more in the short and long term, as the defense improves, and perhaps we put another groundball pitcher in the rotation.


Links of the Day 6/30/10

Oh look, Canadians are as entitled as we are.

Justin Morneau is in the Bieb's wolfpack.

He the supplemental draft is on the 15th. Are you excited for it? Of course you are.


Cooking with Ryan: Hashbrown casserole

 My mom's side of the family is extraordinarily Scandinavian, and as such, they enjoy their potatoes. I have a whole new respect for their dedication to getting after a boring food. Now, I love my potatoes and starches, but I'm not sure I ever want to peel a potato again. And then shredding the potato for use in the hashbrowns? Oh yes, I made this from scratch, friends. Recognize my domesticity. 
I actually really enjoyed the veggies that went along with it. They were just nuked in Italian dressing, dill and pepper, but they were pretty good. I love me a good radish. The best part was the recipe called for the veggies to be "cooked to perfection". In this case, that meant 2 minutes in the microwave, I guess. Otherwise, this seems like a completely asinine instruction. It's on a lot of menus too, as though a restaurant would admit that they were "cooked to mediocre", or "cooked to adhere to the health code". 
My favorite part of the whole experience was the shopping for ingredients I didn't have, namely the veggies. I got checked out, and the guy behind me had 6 frozen pizzas and about 3 rolls of Pillsbury something or other. I felt like an adult. 
Other than that though, the experience was pretty nondescript. Potatoes aren't fun for cooking, and also, important lesson, the inside of an onion is rather warm.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Links of the Day 6/29/10

A nice look at the 3-4 vs 4-3 defensive schemes, and why Washington's conversion will be a disaster.

When mascot promotions go wrong.... then come back to be right.

In the wake of the Zambrano and Upton incidents, With Leather looks at other angry athletes.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Now let's test your soccer fanhood

Regardless of whether you like the game of soccer, you have to respect the overall organization and the competition engendered by it's tournament and league structure. There are the national teams that play for continental cups and in perhaps the most widely beloved international athletic competition in the world, the World Cup.
Then there is the club competitions. This is definitely where soccer shows its skill in organizing itself. Well, they do in Europe anyways, because in the States, we have tried to set it up like other sports leagues, and it doesn't quite work out as well. Over in Europe though, it's a complicated weave of thousands of teams, and yet it functions almost seamlessly. Like I said, you have to respect their level of organization.
First you have the relegation and promotion, so the top teams are competing with each other, and there is a legitimate punishment for not putting a competitive team on the pitch. I've covered it many times here, but I still remain impressed that the system remains in place, because in the United States, there is simply too much money invested for this to work. But there is so much money invested in European soccer, and somehow it works over there.
What I am really impressed by, and what inspired this post is their international club team competitions. Imagine, for example, if the winner of the Super Bowl played the winner of Canada's Grey Cup. Well, try to figure that out with the best teams of 54 countries and turning into a year long affair. That's what the Champions League is. I don't care to get into the intricacies of how it is set up, because it's insanely complicated for me to spell out. There are three qualifying rounds, a playoff, a group stage, a knockout phase followed by the championship game. There is a list of all the teams that are involved and where they enter the tournament (it's seeded according to both their team rating and the rating of their league), just to show you that the best teams of the best leagues are all put into this tournament, as well as the champions of lesser leagues. Like I said, very complicated, but if you follow it, you see that it's all very seamless.
Well, the first qualifying round begins tomorrow. Just 4 teams begin in that first round, playing to join 34 other teams. It begins with the first leg of a pairing of FC Santa Coloma in Andorra and Birkirkara from Malta. I obviously won't be digging deep into the Champions League, because I don't understand all the strategy of soccer and we don't receive good coverage of foreign leagues. The fun thing, I think, is just seeing how well such a competition is set up. If only sports in America were as well organized.

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Links of the Day 6/28/10

Hard not to root for Daniel Nava. I'm glad Boston finally has a scrappy little white guy to get behind.

BJ Upton and Evan Longoria are cranky.

Raccoons will one day bring civilization to it's knees. They are looking through our trash for our bank information, people.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

What Should We Take Away from the White Sox Interleague Dominance?

The White Sox finally had their 11 game winning streak broken today at the hands of the hated cross-town rival Cubs, but they also finished up their interleague schedule for 2010. They finished the season an impressive 15-3, only 1 game shy of the all-time interleague record. Also, their interleague dominance this year helped move them from a disappointing season and definite trade deadline seller to right in the heart of the AL Central title race.

So what should we take away from this? I think this season can finish 1 of 2 ways for the White Sox, and there is an interesting precedent that was set for one of the scenarios just a few years ago...

First, let's look at the negative side of this. Before Interleague play started on May 21, the White Sox were in sorry shape, stuck in 4th place with a 16-24 record, 7.5 games back, and seen as a dysfunctional team that had a collection of random disappointing players and a manger and GM that didn't get along. Winning helps solve a lot of these problems, and as mentioned above, they got a lot of wins thanks to interleague play over the past month. The big question is can the winning continue? Thanks to the NL being absolutely awful, the White Sox benefited from a very easy schedule over the past month. They took 2/3 from Florida at home (35-40), 4/6 vs the Cubs (33-42), and swept Pittsburgh (25-49), Washington (33-43), and Atlanta (44-32). They also only went 8-8 against AL teams between the Florida and first Cubs series. You can make the argument that Atlanta was the only really good NL team they faced this year, and they were actually pretty hot themselves when they ran into the Sox buzzsaw. The Sox are now 39-35 and only 1.5 games out of first, but we have to keep in mind that they are 24-32 against the AL, who they will now have to face for their remaining 88 games this year. If they continue their vs.-AL pace for the rest of the season, they'll only finish 77-85 this year.

But....remember how I mentioned above that they were 1 game short of the best interleague record ever? Well, one team that holds that record is none other than the 2006 Twins. In 2006, before interleague play started, the Twins were a very similar 17-24, sitting in 4th place and 10.5 games behind the Tigers, who, along with the White Sox, had an incredible start to the season. The Twins went 16-2 in interleague play and (with some AL games mixed in between as well) were 45-35 by the time interleague play ended on July 2nd. Unlike the White Sox this year, the Twins incredible turn around didn't put them in division contention. They only picked up a half game on Detroit during that stretch. The rules were a little different though. On July 2nd, 2006, Detroit and Chicago had the 2 best records in the majors and both teams had a much better winning percentage than anyone currently in the majors has in 2010. The Twins didn't cool off when AL play resumed though. The momentum that they gained in interleague play carried them through July, August, and September, and they were eventually able to steal away the AL Central title from a fading Detroit on the last day of the season.

So, will the White Sox come back to reality when they face the AL or will they keep their momentum going like the 2006 Twins? One thing in the White Sox favor is that the 2010 Twins and Tigers aren't nearly as good as the 2006 Tigers and White Sox, so they don't need to have the kind of final 3 months that the Twins had to win the division. One piece of relief for Twins fans if the 2nd analogy holds up is that the 2006 Twins were swept in the ALDS while the Tigers, who blew the division, went all the way to the World Series as the Wild Card. But, it's also highly unlikely that the wild card will come from the AL Central this year. And the 2010 Tigers? If they take on the 2006 White Sox role, they should prepare to be disappointed....and they don't even have the fact that they are the defending World Series champs to fall back on...

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Links of the Day 6/27/10

I don't know much about the NBA. but I do appreciate a good take down of Jim Souhan and find IDYFT fast becoming my favorite blog.

Manny Ramirez satire is still funny.

The problem is, if sportscasters didn't have cliches, they would have nothing to say.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Admittedly, this is not Favre's fault

The annoying thing about the past two years was that he claimed to retire, then weaseled his way out of town and tried to force his way into others. He spent a lot of his time playing the media until he got what he wanted, and was a drama queen the whole way.
This offseason, he's not trying to pull anything on anyone. I think everyone in the world expects him to return. He had the ankle surgery, he hasn't filed for retirement or whined about not being a starter after jerking around a team for year. He hasn't done all the things in an offseason that make everyone hate him. He just can't say he is coming back yet because he's old and can't take training camp. He's got a gentleman's agreement with the Vikings that will help him be healthy and help the Vikings not be terrible.
Seeing as everyone acknowledges this and its a mere formality back, and recognizing that he can't come out and SAY that he has decided, anyone that would interview him trying to get an answer would be an asinine grab for attention. I'm looking at you, Biloxi Sun Herald. You know what you did.


Links of the Day 6/26/10

With last night's NHL draft, the Wild picked up a Finn named Mikael Granlund. Not as fun as Mikko Koivu, right Beth?

A nice look back at a 12 player trade from the mid 90s. 12 players!

Perhaps the most doomed marriage to ever grace the courthouses of Chicago.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Cooking with Ryan: Chili and corn muffins

Yeah, that's not the chili that I made, if you couldn't tell because of the good lighting and overall palatable nature of the photograph. I took a picture of it, with a couple the cornbread muffins I baked, but for whatever reason, the image wasn't saved. Too bad, because it was probably my most successful dish in my little journey so far.
Why? There are a few reasons, because I certainly had a couple of mistakes along the way. The biggest reason that I think that it worked is that the sauce was complex and rich, but at the same time, red pepper covers up a lot of mistakes. Seriously, I was sweating as I ate it because it was so hot. Well, hot for my Norwegian blood. Second, I think I have learned patience. Just keep plugging away at the recipe and it will eventually work itself out. But dang, that was some spicy chili. Last, I am finally good at cutting stuff. You should have seen me go through those peppers.
What were my mistakes?  Well, the cornbread muffins weren't great. They tasted a little eggy, which my cooking type friends are flabbergasted by. This might be me, because baking is such an exact art where measurements are so important, and I'm just not used to it. I mean, who buys flour? Really? Also, I forgot that, oh yeah, my lid was on that hot pan, and I grabbed it to put on the skillet (this was skillet chili) and I burned my left thumb. Also, my skillet was just barely large enough to fit all the ingredients in. You better believe there was some spillage. Cooking is not as fun when you have to clean up afterwards.
Now, the question everyone must be asking. How many alarms was the chili? I would say 2. Two alarm chili. Very tasty. The secret ingredient is ketchup!


Links of the day 6/25/10

The NBA season is over for me after last night's draft. If you enjoy such things, here is David Kahn's evaluation on the matter.

Yaaaay America!

Enjoy your vuvuzelas on Youtube.


Breaking Down American World Cup Fandom

The US won in dramatic fashion to advance to the elimination round of the World Cup, and America seems....mildly interested. It's pretty well known that America has never been too attached to soccer, and definitely not as rabidly as many other countries throughout the world. Like our measurement system, we pretty much have our own sports and don't really care how much they are liked outside of the country. A few weeks ago, Ryan linked to a post that showed that 1 in 3 Americans weren't really sure what the World Cup is. I found the link to the raw data even more interesting. So, purely for the sake of having some fun, I think we can take these numbers and categorize Americans into 6 groups of World Cup fans, from least interested to most interested.
Note: Click the link above to see the raw numbers discussed below

Group A - No Idea What the World Cup Is - 34% - Is it really possible that 34% of America does not know what the World Cup is? I know soccer isn't super popular, but we have about 100 million people in this country that do not know that soccer is played in the World Cup. I kind of wonder who these people are. I know there are plenty of non-sports fans, but the news that this is going on stretches far beyond the sports pages. I guess its safe to say that 100 million people do not even attempt to keep up on news. Maybe this survey was actually taken by Jay Leno when filming a Jaywalking skit or at a nursing home. The funny thing is there is a good chance some in this group fell into the "somewhat likely" category to watch the US in the World Cup Finals. Bandwagon least it will be easy to learn the basic rules of the sport....

Group B - Know What It Is, Could Care Less - 11% - This group encompasses the rest of the group that was following World Cup news "Not at All" or "Not Sure" (how can you be not sure?). They also are probably solidly in the "Not Very Likely" category to watch the World Cup. This group pretty much sees soccer as a pansy sport for foreigners and wants nothing to do with it. They don't understand the game, and don't want to. The closest that they will get to watching soccer is the San Antonio Spurs.

Group C - Mildly Interested - 19% - Put me in this category. This group makes up about half of the "Not Very Closely" news following group, and are probably "somewhat likely" to watch the US in the final. We understand that soccer is boring...and foreign, and don't really understand the appeal of watching guys stand around for 87 minutes for 3 minutes of action and a potential 0-0 tie, but we like sports. and competition. and like rooting against countries like France. We basically follow the Cup through Sportscenter and the internet, but wouldn't last very long watching an actual game. This small level of being informed works well in the office for conversations with people in Groups E and F.

Group D - Any Excuse to Drink Fans - 17% - This is the other part of the 36% that have "Not Very Closely" been following the news, but are "Very Likely" to watch the US in the Finals. Why are they very likely? Because its an excuse to drink! I've seen shots on TV during the US games showing fans dressed up like crazy in a bar at 7 AM watching the game, but really, why are they actually there? These aren't the true fans from Group F. They just know its a weekday morning and they can use this as an excuse to get drunk and think its fun to dress up like the "real" fans of other countries that they see on TV. For example, in college, you go to a toga party, you wear a toga. You don't wear it because you are a fan of Greek history or culture, you wear it because its more fun to drink wearing a costume, and everyone else is wearing one too. (For example, Purdue's Breakfast Club). These are the same people that may be of German decent but will wear green on St. Patty's, a sombrero on Cinco De Mayo, and plenty of beads on Mardi Gras all in the name of drinking and having a good time. More power to them! (But Group E and F, you aren't allowed to use them as examples that soccer is really popular in America, they won't watch another game for 4 years).

Group E - The .EDU Guys - 11% - Named after the group of "football" fans that like to annoy Colin Cowherd via e-mail (who are a little out of touch with the real world as college employees). This is the 11% that has "somewhat closely" followed World Cup news, but mostly for the touchy feely stories and not so much for the sport itself. You know the type...they don't really like sports, but love soccer because it is loved outside of America, and according to them, since just about anywhere else is more cultured and therefore better than America, soccer must be great. They have the backpacking slideshows and bumper stickers to prove it. This is the group most likely to actually to travel to South Africa for the World Cup because they are on the wealthier side, but some might be too busy seeing Mandela's prison cell or visiting a small impoverished village just to feel guilty about themselves to actually attend a game.

Group F - The Legit Fans - 8% - I think its interesting that only 8% were following World Cup news Very Closely. If you are a hardcore soccer fan, how can you not get excited for the World Cup? This leads me to believe that 8% or less of America are legit soccer fans. I guess I don't understand how you could be, but I'm sure this group is broken down into smaller sub-groups. You have people that played it past childhood that enjoy watching; people that actually just like it, maybe for the same reason people like baseball's slow pace; people that enjoy the international appeal of it (but from a sporting side, not a .edu guy point of view); people not born in America; children of people not born in America; etc. This small group really does love their soccer though and this is the month they've been waiting for for 4 years. Good for them.

So excluding the 45% of America in Groups A and B who don't know and/or don't care about the World Cup (yes, lets just ignore almost 150 million people) the World Cup has something for everyone. Competitions to follow, the ability to make better friends with 19% of your coworkers, binge drinking, dressing up in fun costumes, pretending to be intelligent and cultured, and of course, the actual game of soccer. Writing this actually got me more excited about the World Cup. Maybe this weekend I'll hit up the bars at 7 AM, watch 5 minutes of a game, and graduate to Group D!

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Links of the Day 6/24/10

Golden Tate has his first endorsement. Or something.

Also a tough tennis task associated with a 138 game 5th set... live blogging the madness!

Prince Fielder was a little grumpy yesterday. Now if the Twins could only get a little fire in their belly.


Who are the sports friends in Minnesota?

I had about a bajillion ideas for a post today, but this is the one I settled on. I had all these ideas that were so negative, but one of those negative ideas leads back to the one I went with today. I had been noticing a trend among local teams that I will probably get into later, but I recognized that the teams probably aren't working in conjunction with each other But what teams DO get along? How do teams feel about the other home town teams? I'm going to go in descending order of how well the teams coexist.
Let's start with the obvious buddies. I think the Timberwolves and Twins are going to get along famously. Their arenas are right next door, so the success of one will likely call attention to the success of the other. I've already seen Crunch standing outside the Target Center after Twins games are over. Long the outcast of Minnesota sports, the Timberwolves will benefit from the success of the Twins. The Twins would be wise to return the adulation. Just look at Cleveland, where the Cavaliers and Indians play right next door. When the Indians were successful, they didn't do much for the Cavs, and now the Indians are in the tank and haven't been able to get any help from the Lebron James fueled popularity across the street.
The Wild and Twins are also buddies. Twins players and personnel have encouraged the team to drop the puck on multiple occasions at XCel. Heck, the Twins even borrowed the Wild's idea for logo design. These two teams definitely share a good deal of mutual respect, but I'm not sure coexisting is the right word. They enjoy each other, as is often the case with northern baseball teams and their hockey counterparts.
The Wild and Timberwolves are apples and oranges. They play at the same time of year, but they don't really share a similar fan base. The demographic is just completely different. If the Wild are going to help a fledgling Minnesota franchise, it will be lacrosse's Swarm, and if the Wolves will, it will be the WNBA Lynx. I think the Wild and Wolves share a mutual ambivalence.
The Vikings are a different story. They are all business, just like every other team in the NFL. This isn't about the Vikings, this is more about the NFL when I say, the Vikings don't like the Wolves, they don't like the Wild and the Wolves and Wild return the disdain. Oh, sure, you may see Crunch at a Vikings game or something, but truly, the Vikings see the Wolves as competition, just like the Wild. The Wolves need all the help they can get in terms of publicity though so they are more willing to suck up to the Vikes. If it were up to the NFL, however, the NBA and NHL would shrivel and die. Until February, at least.
The Twins and Vikings probably have the most contentious relationship. It all comes back to the stadium issue. The Twins were playing in a football stadium and are owned by Minnesota owners. The Minnesota Gophers were a state run institution that could use their football money to bolster their facilities and reduce the necessary taxpayer contributions to that school. The Vikings are owned by out of state owners and playing a in a stadium designed for football and doesn't cost a thing to the taxpayer. The Vikings have always been the lowest priority for a new stadium, and now we are in a recession. Somehow, this is the Twins' fault, and the Vikings organization openly resents the Twins. Remember last years game 163? The Vikings and Twins have long had an understanding that the Twins post season took precedence at the Dome, but this time, Zygi Wilf refused to move a game against the Pakcers, and forced the Twins into an awful situation that required them to win their game and play in New York early the next day. It's very possible that the Vikings cost the Twins their post season last year. How would things have been different if the Twins were refreshed and ready for game 1?
It's interesting to think about, especially since so many fans don't care about the upper level machinations of the teams. We all just want to pretend every team in our town gets along so well, but it's not always the case.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Links of the Day 6/23/10

Excellent read on the French and their mentality while following their national soccer team. Oddly, this is how I am with Purdue football.

The most incredible thing, in my mind, about the marathon Isner-Mahut match at Wimbledon, which is still in a tie break at 59-59 is that it has not been suspended because of darkness... TWICE

Have you looked at the MLB leaderboard lately?


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's the NHL Offseason too!

The Timberwolves aren't the only bad team in the Twin Cities this offseason. Oh no, the Wild were downright atrocious last year as well. A lot of that had to do with a tough time adjusting to life without Marian Gaborik and life without Jacques Lemaire. A bigger part still was the season long injury troubles of Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who had post-concussion syndrome.
Well, last year, they tried to create a more up tempo attack, which was tough without Gaborik and flew in the face of what they had tried their first 10 years. They didn't have a pivot other than Mikko Koivu with Bouchard on the bench, and their best scorers, like Martin Havlat, were in a lurch without someone in the middle to get them the puck.
There is a lot of work for this team to do, and they don't have the flexibility, really, to do much with it. They have a strong set of blueliners, actually, and with the acquisition of Cam Barker, they have an influx of under contract, young talent, and they may trade from that position of strength to acquire a solid threat up the middle. They also have several talented wingers, though they seem to skew for the rough and tumble enforcer types, like Clutterbuck, Boogaard and now they traded for San Jose's Brad Staubitz. Perhaps that simply means they don't intend to retain Boogaard.
There has been the rumor that the Wild were looking at acquiring Nathan Horton from Florida, but it appears instead he will be traded to Boston. There was also the suggestion the team should look at Tomas Plekanec who excelled for the Canadiens this year, adding him as a free agent. Alas, it now seems the Habs will keep him. What then, for the Wild? Why is it so difficult for this town to add big name free agents, especially when hockey is concerned?
For a city with a fanbase as rabid as the one in Saint Paul, things HAVE to get better. The way things are looking right now, however, it appears that that may take some time.


Links of the Day 6/22/10

This is the wordiest no comment I've ever seen.

Oh yeah...Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland won the US Open in a mostly unconvincing fashion.

Commenters are a funny lot.


Monday, June 21, 2010

The NBA Draft is on Thursday

The NBA Draft is the first and last time I care about the NBA all season, because the NBA is fixed. Even so, I find the draft to be wildly entertaining. It's sort of like graduating high school for me. All my friends are off to exciting new schools and lives away from how I knew them in school. These college athletes are part f the most entertaining spectacle in sports, the NCAA Tournament, and they play a decidedly more strategic and watchable brand of basketball, and now they are moving on to their professional careers and the subsequent millions. The NBA is boring and I won't ever see them play again. In that same vein, I haven't had a meaningful conversation with anyone I went to high school with in probably 2 years. But I know that Jon went to Marquette!
I hope the Timberwolves get some good guys for the community, because they won't ever contend for an NBA crown (fixed, remember?) and might make it a little interesting in town, like when Garnett was with the T-Wolves. I'd like Evan Turner, because he seems like he would be fun to have in town, but I don't really know what the Wolves need or want. I do know they probably shouldn't get a point guard, but then, at least people would be talking about the team, right?


Links of the Day 6/21/10

Once again, the Portuguese are the ones who get to do what the rest of the world has tried to do for decades. Thank you, Portugal.

Speaking of sports that are especially popular in Europe, Wimbledon started today.

Here is video of the rioting in Los Angeles. No word on whether this was sports related.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's Sunday, here's a baby doing the Samba

I wish I could play what just happened on ESPN for you. In an interview with a French journalist regarding the fiasco involving the the French national team, the journalist decided to relay exactly what French striker Nicolas Anelka said to incite the fury. "He said, 'you can go to f* yourself and called him a son of a bitch," the journalist relayed. Bob Ley handled it like a pro, but later Alexi Lalas said what we were all thinking "It's funny because it's the French." Brilliant. Perhaps the seminal moment of the World Cup.
Anyways,  here is a baby dancing the Samba. I'm mostly impressed with the way his attention was captured for 3 minutes. H/T With Leather

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Links of the Day 6/20/10

Summer starts tomorrow. Don't get caught unprepared.

Jamie Moyer is an amazing old man.

These guys have certainly earned it.

In perhaps the upset of the World Cup, New Zealand drew with Italy. Two thoughts: Why did every Kiwi in the stands feel the need to take off their shirt and twirl it in there air? Do they have Petey Pablo in Auckland? Also, did you know that everyone in New Zealand is a bit pudgy? And also, who is "enjoying the atmosphere" more this Italian fan or Getty photographer Christof Koepsel?


Saturday, June 19, 2010

What do the Twins need?

The Twins, at present, find themselves but a half game in front of the Tigers in the American League Central. This can be attributed to many things: bad pitching, bad managing, a lack of depth and most importantly, injuries and the hot streak put together by the Tigers. Seeing as the Twins can't do anything about those two key factors, the injuries and the Tigers, we can only look at the first three options. Many, including the Twins front office don't share the "bad managing" opinion, so we are left with these two problem areas to address: bad pitching and a lack of depth.
The pitching, for the most part, isn't AS bad as everyone thinks. They are 8th in the majors in ERA, and Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn are the two starters with ERAs above 4. Baker, if his last start is an indication, is coming around. Blackburn signed a contract extension, and it's unlikely any moves involving him will be made. The strange hing about all of this is that there haven't been any major injuries on the rotation freeing up a spot. The only way a move gets made is if there is an injury, or if Blackburn goes down with an "injury".
Even if that happens, what do they do? The case has been made that the Twins need a legitimate ace, and not another third starter. The best two on the market are going to be Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. Lee would be here for three months. Would you want to give up Wilson Ramos for three months of Cliff Lee? Furthermore, there was a proposal on local radio today positing a Slowey/Ramos swap for Lee, which is the most absurd piece of garbage I have heard. Essentially, you are swapping one of the better pitchers in the rotation and the most valuable trading trip for 1 or 2 extra wins. Lee would replace Slowey in the rotation, a net gain of maybe a win or two as I mentioned, and the glaring Blackburn shaped hole would still be there. Add to that the fact that we would be left without Ramos, Slowey and probably Lee for next season. Roy Oswalt would like a contract extension if he gets traded. That in itself is prohibitive. It would all but ensure Carl Pavano and Michael Cuddyer's departure, due to a lack of funds. Great, now Kubel is playing the field, and we're STILL short a man in the bull pen.And that's without discussing who the Astros might want.
The best fit for the Twins might be the Orioles' Jeremy Guthrie, a good young pitcher with a couple of years left. That would certainly entice the Twins to part with some of their top prospects... but the O's have Matt Wieters, and Ramos would be blocked there too. I think that yes, the Twins should try to bolster their rotation, however I think they have their hands tied.
The bullpen is another issue. They will be getting Clay Condrey back eventually, and there are always arms available to pick up an inning or two at the end of games around this time of year. Last year, the Twins picked up Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay, with season saving results. I would be surprised if the Twins didn't manage to add an arm from a team falling apart down the stretch again this year. The Star Tribune has mentioned Michael Wuertz of Oakland as a potential fit. Relatively speaking, bullpen trades are easy.
So too is infield depth. With the injuries to Hudson and Hardy, the stream of crap coming into the lineup from Alexi Casilla to Matt Tolbert to Nick Punto to the not yet ready Trevor Plouffe has been unbearable. It's compounded, of course, by the fact that Gardenhire will always put one of them in the 2 spot when Hudson isn't in the lineup. There are a lot of candidates to take over in the middle infield, and a handful of them are pushed around every summer. With the Cubs looking ready to blow things up, how would Ryan Theriot look in a Twins uniform? I think he would make a good addition, especially if we assume that Danny Valencia will take over at third.
Expect a few trades from the Twins this offseason, as there are some holes that are more easily fixed in the middle of the season. I bet they will make a move for a third baseman, despite the lack of a true need, especially if Mike Lowell is the only option there. Just don't expect a blockbuster this year.

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Links of the Day 6/19/10

What the hell, how about some NFL power ranks?

Well this isn't all that surprising, because I think North Korea frowns on people leaving North Korea.

I still defend my vote for Taylor Teagarden.


How to divide the conferences

Now that the Big Ten has it's 12, decisions need to be made on what to do with dividing the conferences. There is worry about preserving rivalries and even more about making a conference title game watchable. They don't want another Big 12 situation, where the North was always subpar compared to the South. There is worry that combining the likes of Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State will make for a lopsided split.
I have news for those that worry, however. It's not that bad. Sure, Michigan and Penn State were forces about 20 years ago, but since the BCS was introduced, those two schools have 6 appearances (Ohio State had 8 by themselves... putting them anywhere makes this lopsided).
If you look at what is widely regarded as a geographic split, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Indiana in the east, Wisconsin, Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska in the west. If you want to go at this by appearances in BCS games, then that is 15 to 8, East. The Star Tribune printed Glen Mason's competitive balance version which was Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan State, Michigan and Nebraska and Purdue, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Illinois, Penn State and Ohio State. For those that are keeping score, that is 9-14, in favor of the Ohio State division.
It seems like a lot of unnecessary gnashing of teeth, splitting teams up, if that's all the gain you get. Just go west to east. It's not going to be the same as the Big 12, where there were two legitimate powers in Oklahoma and Texas in the south. There is only one real power any more in the Big Ten, and Ohio State is going to continue destroying the Big Ten for the foreseeable future.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Links of the Day 6/18/10

The US played a must win game against Slovenia this morning, and they won! Well, not if the referee has anything to say about it.

Blah blah blah Lakers who cares, etc.

ESPN sort of got their butt kicked on the whole realignment thing. I'm surprised it was never a lead story on Sportscenter.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Old men and baseball

It might not seem like a big deal, but it kinda is. The Twins, in the 22nd round, drafted a high school shortstop named Dillon Moyer. The kid has some good stock, because just a month ago, Dillon's father, Jamie, pitched a no-hitter.

Jamie Moyer debuted in the majors before my sister's first birthday; he was drafted a year before she was born. My sister is now married. My grandfather could've read about him in the newspaper (there was no internet back then, kids). Grandpa died almost twenty years ago. (How's this for trivia: Grandpa saw Satchel Paige pitch in North Dakota in the 1930s. Satchel Paige was the oldest rookie to play in the major leagues (age: 42).)

There's something about a player like this that fascinates me. He's not a hard-throwing starting pitcher, although I'd imagine to pitch into your late 40's, you need to be more than a hard-thrower (err, based on Mariano Rivera, maybe not...but he's a relief pitcher, not a starter). He's what's known as a finesse pitcher--his fastball tops out in the low 80s. That's not very fast. It's a reminder that you don't have to blow it by 'em to get outs. You just have to be smarter than the other person. A proper mixing of pitches can keep hitters enough off-balance to get the outs. Many pitchers can get by with this for short periods, but it takes some talent to sustain this for decades--as Moyer has done. In fact, Moyer is the only pitcher to throw a shut-out in four different decades.

Will Moyer ever face his son? That would require him to pitch for at least a couple more years. There's also no saying Dillon will sign with the the Twins (he has signed a commitment to play at Cal-Irvine). But best-case scenario is probably that he signs with the Twins, comes up as a rookie in four years (age 22), Moyer would have to pitch until he's 51. Normally, I'd say that's not going to happen, but I also wouldn't think a guy would throw a no-hitter at age 47. So, anything can happen. And I'd like to see it.

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Site Updates: IE Has Me Stumped

As you can see, Ryan and I made some visual improvements to the site over the past few days. Both of us use Firefox as our browser on our computers and the changes look great on it. The collapsible archive list is working, the columns are sized just right, etc. I also happen to own an iPhone, where my browser is Safari. Again, the changes look great, and if you turn the phone on its side, the site looks great and is easy to read in landscape mode. Since Ryan and I are polar opposites in many ways, he has a Droid, and according to him, the site looks fine on his browser too.

So that brings us to Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, I decided to see how the site looked on it today, and realized that we have some sort of "can't load page" thing in the side bar and the collapsible archive update doesn't work. After playing with it for a while, I'm stumped. I have no idea how to fix it for IE. I even played around with another blog template and got the archives to work, but if I copy the exact html code into this site's template, it still won't work. Also, if I blow away the code that is setting that "page can't be loaded" strange box, it screws up the formatting completely on IE (and has absolutely no effect on firefox). Both of these things use java scripts, which apparently don't work the same (and seem to be extremely inconsistent) on Internet Explorer. The fact that the site looks exactly the same and the way I want it to look on 3 different browsers on 3 different types of devices, makes me think this is an IE issue or my coding isn't flexible enough for all browsers.

At least I was able to reach a happy compromise that the site is still readable on all just doesn't look as pretty on Internet Explorer...The archive thing is a bell and whistle so on IE it looks the same as it used to before the updates (a gigantic list of months) and the random "can't load page" box is annoying, but thanks to the archive issue, is pretty far down the page.

If anyone has any suggestions on how to fix it, let us know!

Hmm...I just realized that we haven't had a sports related post since Sunday (assuming Sid Hartman is not a sports guy...I have no idea). A sports related post is coming your way tomorrow!

Links of the Day 6/17/10

Just a reminder.... Carl Pavano has a mustache.

Oh Legos. This reminds me of Bat-Girl.

England V America continues unabated.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cooking with Ryan: Nacho Bean Soup

I made several crucial errors when making my soup. First, the recipe called for canned diced tomatoes. Of course, I didn't see the "canned" in there, so I bought a tomato that I cut up myself. My tomato dicing skills are still subpar. I put in too many beans, not wanting to waste a quarter can of pinto beans. The soup was brought to a boil a little too quickly, before I got the onions in there and subsequently boiled too long before I turned the heat down. It also called for crushed nacho flavored chips, and I think I put in too many. All of this lead to a thicker than desired soup, but the flavor wasn't too bad, actually.
The biggest problem, though, was with my pot. The handle on the lid was cracked, and I didn't think anything of it until the whole assembly crumbled while I was cooking. Every time I tried to pick up the lid, then, it would spin into the soup and generally make a fantastic mess. Worse still, the screw is definitely parked some where at the bottom of the pot. If we are going for flavor, then I will say this dish was OK. If we are going for proper execution, then this was a miserable failure.
I baked some frozen garlic bread along with it, though, and that went pretty well.
(I'll update with a picture when it finally gets sent. Having some Droid problems, apparently.)
 [UPDATE and here is the picture. It tastes better than it looks]


Links of the Day 6/16/10

Well, after I went to bed last night, Steve went in and kept working and fixed our archives and pushed some stuff around on the sidebar. Now our site looks fantastic, if you ask me.

Patrick Kane won't let a parade stop him from drinking.

I don't think I will ever get into the NBA.

I can't believe I haven't mentioned this yet, but hey, the Big 12 was saved!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Some minor tweaks and improvements

As you may have noticed, the site looks a little different. We cleaned up some sidebar links and added some new ones and generally made everything look nicer over there. If you have anything you think should make an appearance on ye olde sidebar, please, let me know.
Most noticeably, we now have a Victoria Times background that lightens things up and gets rid of the dirty brown flowers. If nothing else, we made it more sanitary.
I was going to completely blow things up, but I think the changes Steve and I have made this evening look pretty good, and I'm not sure what else could be done. If you do have any suggestions, please send me an e-mail. We do want to get those archives tidied up, but other than that, I think we will mostly be good to go. But like I said, let me know if you have any ideas.


Links of the Day 6/15/10

Look! No more flowers in the background! More on that later.

North Korea is a nation full of lunatics. Or rather, a nation with one lunatic who speaks for everyone.

Dear Minnesota, this is what it looks like when someone wins something. *sigh*

I said git! Git!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Sid Hartman is freaking old

I was just reading the Star Tribune this morning, and I noticed a column and noticed that Sid Hartman's page three article was about how he appreciated all his friends as he came into his career. I decided to take a quick peek at it  (I don't think anyone reads his columns with much interest expecting to find anything of substance any more) and saw that he was writing this brief memoir because he just celebrated his 90th birthday.
Holy crap.
The thing about Sid is that he keeps popping up on radio and TV, and for my entire life, he has always been the token mumbling nonsensical old guy. He used to be a bit more fiery, but only in a cranky grandpa way. For people like our parents, Sid was the out of touch sportswriter who was too war weary to have fun with sports anymore.
Well, now Sid is 90 and still going strong, and certainly old enough to make our parents feel young to this date. If anything, I think that proves that he loves sports and loves writing about them. Here's hoping I can still be that passionate about something in 63 years.

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Links of the Day 6/14/10

Stephen Strasburg was good, but who else has been highly hyped before their debut? Bryce Harper is next...

Say what you will, but Diego Maradona and Argentina won their opening match, at least.

The World Cup isn't just for soccer anymore!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

: - O

There are no words. There simply are no words.


Links of the Day 6/13/10

Other things that make Jeremy Roenick cry. It appears the Pensblog does not care for Jeremy Roenick.

The Stanley Cup finale did the best any Cup game has done since 1974. That's a long time.

Dick Vitale took one in the gut at a recent Tampa Bay Rays game.


Some stats ARE overrated

As everyone knows, I am a big fan of stats, but only so they tell you about performance and how they might perform in the future. I am not really a fan of stats for stats sake, ones that are merely accomplishments and not really telling, like pitching wins or RBIs. Fortunately for us, Ron Gardenhire doesn't either, and he pulled Francisco Liriano before he could get his complete game Friday night.
Say what you will about Ron Gardenhire, and Lord knows I have, but he has an excellent track record of protecting his young pitchers. Anyone who is upset that Liriano didn't get his complete game isn't looking at the big picture (or simply has him on their fantasy team). Liriano had 107 pitches in 8 innings which is on the high end for any pitcher. The other, more important issue is that Liriano has an extensive history of arm injuries. You simply can't push him. Had he gone the full 9 and ended up with elbow problems again, Gardenhire would have been crucified. I admit that I am not his biggest fan, but in this instance, I am completely willing to admit that made the right decision.
Now if only we could work on his penchant for putting the worst hitter in the lineup in front of Joe Mauer.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Links of the Day 6/12/10

Thank goodness for the World Cup... something on TV in the morning for Saturday and Sunday when we are without the Price is Right.

Speaking of the World Cup... USA tied England. They say that you are most likely to get draws in the first game of the Cup as teams feel themselves out. So this is good that we faced the premier team of the group early on.

Children in Philadelphia, such charming little cherubs.

When the US isn't playing, who should you root for in the World Cup?


It's official

Now the Big Ten will have to modify their logo again, what with the addition of a new school. I bet this is what they go with. My change is so subtle, I bet you can't even find it!
In other Nebraska related news, this happened.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Links of the Day 6/11/10

Happy World Cup everyone. Something to capture my attention in the morning, that's for sure.

The Dodgers used to employ Rasputin, apparently.

This would be a hilarious class, and I sort of want to take it.

Jon Daly remains classy.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Big Ten expansion from the perspective of this Purdue fan

Here were the two things that I was most concerned with as it came down to what appears to be a now inevitable realignment of the conferences in college athletics.
First, I was worried that Purdue fans' interests would not be met. Expansion is great for the big teams of the conference, the Michigans and Ohio States of the world, because they are contenders every year, and their schedule got tougher and more exciting if they suddenly add a school like Nebraska every once in a while. Additionally, they are near each other geographically, so any divisional split, they are going to stay together and continue playing each other every year. Purdue is, admittedly, an also ran. They have had one really good run in the past 50 years, and were awful before that and aren't very good now. They needed things to break right to be at the top of the conference before, and with more elite programs possibly joining the fold, that will be much more difficult to do. The only thing that we will have going for us will be our annual game against Indiana. Of course, if the expansion is heavy on the east side of the conference, especially, say two from the Big East and Notre Dame, plus Nebraska and Missouri, then the conference will almost certainly be split through Indiana, putting Purdue in the west, and Indiana in the east, or vice versa. If this happens, we will have a non competitive team playing against teams we could care less about. It would be disheartening.
The other thing I worry about is the stability of the NCAA. There was speculation that a rise in "super conferences" would spell doom for the NCAA, as the components would be more powerful than the whole. This would be a possibility if the schools in the power conferences didn't want to share their post season earnings with the smaller schools as they do now. I like small college games, because I can enjoy the game for it's own sake, and anything they accomplishment, like a trip to the Liberty Bowl or something, is enjoyed by the student body. More than that, I wondered and worried what the change in conference alignment might mean for the NCAA basketball tournament. I like college basketball much more than football, believe it or not, and I would hate for the best sporting championship in the States to be destroyed because of a completely different sport.
As luck would have it, things have been developing so it's more palatable for Purdue. If Nebraska is the choice at the exclusion of all other teams, then the divisions will line up so that Indiana and Purdue, the only conference football rival either truly cares about, will remain in the same division. Additionally, the Pac 10 sounds like their merger would almost be an association than anything. They want two BCS berths in lieu of a championship game, so its almost as though the deal is only for TV (and for Arizona to play Texas or some such). As a result, it's the original Pac 8 and the new 8. If they divide their power, then perhaps the NCAA will be saved.
Here's hoping.


Links of the Day 6/10/10

Wow, already June 10th. I better pay my electric bill.

As Steve mentioned last night, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup! Jeremy Roenick got a little emotional because of it. I love hockey.

USC is in trouble. Not just because they now have to worry about losing to Texas and Oklahoma.

I like it when bloggers find holes in professional writers' articles. I think most would suggest that simply saying "I don't care for soccer" and being done with it would be AOK


Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Chalk up another one for Chicago! When I was born in 1983, Chicago was in the midst of a 20-year championship drought that lasted 2 more years. Now, in my lifetime, 4 out of 5 of Chicago's teams have brought home a championship, and since the Bulls won 6, that's 9 total! Congrats to everyone in my home town. I haven't been the best Blackhawk fan over the past 10 years or so, but I'm damn proud of them and my city tonight. I'm especially happy for my dad, who is a lifelong fan and has waited 49 years to see them hoist the Stanley Cup again (although the White Sox winning in 2005 was way more exciting for both of us).

So....that 5th team that hasn't won one? You know who you are....102 years, and now a 77 year gap between the Cubs last championship and any other team in Chicago....


Links of the Day 6/9/10

 Could the Timberwolves be signing a big free agent this offseason? Not Lebron, obv.

 Why would someone with the munchies at 3am go someplace called Top Pot? In Seattle?

Could Belgium be the next Big 12 Conference? What an odd concept.


You're making Joe Mauer look bad!

As I mentioned last month, local radio boob Tom Barnard and his asinine crony Bob Sansavere are saddened by the mere silver slugger performance of all-star superhuman Joe Mauer this season because his RBI total is on the low end this year. Of course, your RBI totals are only as good as your opportunities, and with Orlando Hudson off to the DL, those are going to be fewer.
Now, Matt Tolbert, you are apparently the new guy to occupy the second spot in the line up (though you may be best served at the bottom of the order) so it's on you to make Mauer look good. You need to be on base so Joe can drive you in and Barnard doesn't form a mob to drive the best player on the team out of town for not putting together a silly overrated state!
In all my criticisms of Ron Gardenhire, though, I have to say that he tends to get the most out of terrible players, so maybe you will work out just fine.




GAAAH!!!! butatthefirstsignoftalentfromacrappyplayerheputsthatplayerinthelineupeverydaybecauseheovervalueshustleanditdragsdowntheteaman OH MY GOD GARDY PUT SOMEONE WHO WILL BE ON BASE AT THE TOP OF THE ORDER AND NOT MATT FREAKING TOLBERT!!!! NICK PUNTO IS A BETTER OPTION THAN HIM!
/ passes out

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Links of hte Day 6/8/10

Despite soccer being the world's most popular sport, the top player in the world wouldn't even crack the top 25 in baseball salaries. In addition, Kelvin freaking Hayden!

Well done, kid with a beer. You really know how to paint the town.

More interesting than the zone defense, I guess.


Monday, June 07, 2010

Thats a lot of second baseman

It doesn't have anything to do with anything, maybe just demonstrating the brittle nature of middle infielders, or how hard it is to find stability there, because there were some good players in there... but wow. What am I talking about? Well, me and a coworker wondered how many players have played second for the Twins since 2000, at least an inning. How many do you think? A dozen? 15?
How about 27? Here are some players you may have forgotten from that list.
Alex Prieto.
Augie Ojeda
Jason Maxwell
Warren Morris
Brent Abernathy
Again, not really making a point here, just "wow, we have had a lot of second basemen."

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Links of the Day 6/7/10

Apologies for the late links today, there appears to be an issue with Blogger. Also, apologies for still being on Blogger.

The Big Ten isn’t saying anything on the whole expansion thing. They are going to be left adding Wyoming and Rutgers at this pace. 

Chicago beat the Blackhawks last night, and are now a game from the promised land.

Mascot problems in Toronto.


Sunday, June 06, 2010

The inevitable fate of college football

The Big Ten wanted to expand, allegedly all the way to 16. The Pac 10 is now responding by trying to add most of the Big 12. In response, the SEC, Mountain West and ACC will probably dismantle some other conferences in an effort to strengthen their conference and market share.
Let's just take this to the logical conclusion. Eventually, we'll have these 5 super conferences jockeying for position, all with small conferences remaining left out. One enterprising conference will realize that having some bottom feeders will make the existing members look even stronger in bids to make national title games, and will start absorbing the MAC, WAC, Sun Belt and Conference USA.
Realizing how much money is available to a conference that stretches coast to coast, these super conferences will begin to merge, and eventually we will have 1 120 team "Mega Conference" that will be called something pithy, like the National Collegiate Athletic Association or something. Of course, a conference that unwieldy will need to be broken up into divisions, like something around the Great Lakes including, say, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Purdue, Indiana, Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. MAYBE Penn State. That would be a pretty good group of big name schools those 10 (or 11).
This is where we're headed people, like it or not.

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Links of the Day 6/6/10

1 out of 3 Americans doesn't know what the World Cup is. If I had to guess among Victoria Times writers, I would guess out 1 is Steve.

Lebron James is the Cleveland version of Brett Favre.

The further dumbening of America.


Saturday, June 05, 2010

Cooking with Ryan: Bolognese

This is actually the second time I've made this dish, but I was able to make a couple of tweaks. The first time, I used spaghetti, and this time my friend who gave me the recipe suggested I use a heartier noodle, like bowtie. That would have been great, but I already had shells from last weeks escapades.
The other change was that I left out the celery for the simple reason that I didn't notice it among the ingredients this time. Oops. Anyways, the sauce is excellent because of the way the meat is treated, infused with garlic and onions, which are two of my favorites and one of the big reasons why nobody ever wants to kiss me.  /remembers to get a piece of Trident
Anyways, this is a dish, now that I have made it twice and done so successfully that makes me feel like I can cook. I would definitely serve it to any  guests that would let me know that they are coming. Lord knows I shouldn't eat as much of it as I did.


Links of the Day 6/5/10

John Wooden, basketball legend, has passed away.

Who is excited for enormous, overbearing conferences? Not Me!

All right, stupidity, you win.


Friday, June 04, 2010

Browner Pastures

Joey Browner was a very good safety for the Vikings back in the 80s. In my formative years, before the Vikings made themselves completely unlikeable (thanks mostly to out of state ownership, political bullying, and a recently unpalatable hubris) , Browner was one of my favorite players. As it turns out, we now live in the same town, Eagan, Minnesota (The name of this blog has been a misnomer for about 3 years now).
Well, Browner is running for mayor. Lets run down the facts.
- He tried to run for city council but filed late, then sued the city because the instructions on filing were vague.
- Browner lost the law suit, and the judge ordered Browner to pay the city 510 dollars in legal expenses.
- Browner has not paid those legal expenses.
- He filed at the last minute. At least those instructions were less vague this time.
- He has a website.
- The website does not work.

Like I have said many a time here at the Times, I try to avoid politics. I cannot stay quiet on this matter, however. I am not voting for Joey Browner. Of course, you just need to ask Carl Eller, Jesse Ventura or Al Franken how celebrities do in Minnesota elections.

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Links of the Day 6/4/10

One of the greatest coaches and great people of the past century, John Wooden is gravely ill. He is 99.

Here is a nice retrospective on a trade for once. Philadelphia didn't screw it up!

Hey, I actually like this idea for replay in baseball. Why? Because if umps are in charge of deciding to use the replay, the game won't last for 90 hours. AND players and managers can still get worked up.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

The thing I hate about baseball

The world is abuzz today with the blown call at the end of last night's Indians-Tigers game that would have given Armando Gallaraga the 21st perfect game in the history of baseball and the third this season. Instantly, Jim Joyce the first base umpire has become "criminal" and his "crass incompetence" has been decried as enough to get the man fired.
This is what I hate. Jim Joyce, Steve Bartman and many others, not actual participants in the game have a brief error in judgment that influences the outcome of a game, and they are instantly vilified. The worst part is that they weren't doing anything wrong, they just made a mistake, but are turned into pariahs by reactionary assholes. Bartman was reaching for a foul ball, as anyone would, Joyce was making what he thought was the correct call at first. It doesn't make either a bad person. They already feel horrible, but we have to keep piling on for no good reason.
Joyce has gone out of his way to express his apologies, to admit he was wrong (hard to do as an umpire) and even contacted Armando Galarraga (who if anything feels worse for Joyce than for himself, it seems), but we all want to brand him as a bad guy because he made a mistake.
Let's make a few things clear. Jim Joyce is a good ump. He is often branded as a player favorite, he has about 20 years of experience, has even gone to the World Series twice. He isn't confrontational, like a Joe West, isn't looking for attention. He was willing to make a tough call in an important situation, and whether you want to admit it or not, this was a close call.
But now, because of one call, he will be forever branded as a bad umpire, and that isn't right.

(Great job, Detroit, welcoming him back with cheers and not jeers.)
(Second parentheses, I would  like to not that the two links at the top were intended to demonstrate normally right minded people throwing stones because of baseball, and not intended to call the writers reactionary assholes)

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Links of the Day 6/3/10

You would think you would try to get in shape for this...

In case you hadn't heard, Roger Federer is out of the French Open, knocked out before the semifinals for the first time in a very long time.

Just in case you have always been wanting to work in the NHL.


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Fielders Choice, short to second

During the Memorial Day win over the Mariners, Jon Rauch was ahead in the count 0-1 with a runner on first and nobody out. Ken Griffey, Jr, was pinch hitting for catcher Rob Johnson. He grounded it to JJ Hardy who flipped to second to retire the runner. The next batter, Casey Kotchman lined it to Justin Morneau, who turned and fired it to Hardy for the tag on Griffey.
That's the last we'll ever see of Griffey on the field as a player. He has retired.
I'm not going to pretend Griffey was a favorite of mine, or I rooted for him, but you can't deny he was one of the most exciting players of his era, and was certainly at the forefront of any baseball conversation at the beginning of the 90s, from his exciting plays in the field to his big bat to his video game to his appearance in Little Big League as something of a villain. It's a shame that this brilliant, likable player was never a factor in the postseason, and has his name on no major records. At least we'll have the memories, and he has the Hall of Fame.


Links of the Day 6/2/10

 I've always said that watching a game from home is better than going to the stadium for NFL games. The NGL is trying so hard to remedy that.

If I was a part of this wager, I would have hair down to my shoulder blades in a 2 weeks.

If you haven't seen this, this is rather amazing.


Listening to the color guy

I was watching some MLB Network yesterday, and they cut away to the Reds-Cardinals game with the local St. Louis team doing the commentary. They were talking about the impact Mark McGwire had on Albert Pujols. They went so far as to say that Pujols would be mistaken if he let McGwire tell him how to do anything. The assertion was that Pujols already knew how to swing the bat. Valid point.
They continued by saying that the roal of coach in the majors is somewhat diminished because all the players essentially know how to play baseball. Great point. The coaches are there as an extra pair of eyes if something should go wrong. They can help look for glitches in a players swings, fielding techniques or pitching motions, but their job as teacher is pretty much nil. I couldn't agree more, and
What am I driving at? Well, this is what I've been saying the whole time. The coach (and especially manager!) doesn't really have a role in the overall functionality of a player. Having a talented team comes from their minor leagues and their front office (unless the player is very young and raw, such as many players on, say, the Nationals or Pirates who don't fully develop). The success of a manager depends on their in game strategy.
Sorry, it's late and I was repeating myself.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Links of the Day 6/1/10

Wow, June already. Naturally, we'll start with a hockey link.

The fountains of Chicago run red with blood of Flyers fans. Oh wait, they just dyed it for the Blackhawks,

Savior of DC baseball, Stephen Strasburg will make his MLB Debut one week from today.

So... much...... patriotism.