Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
Cooking with Ryan: Cauliflower and salami salad
Labels: Cooking with Ryan
Links of the Day 8/30/10
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Steve's 2010 NFL Predictions
It seems like everyone just wants to hand the Jets the AFC East title this year after sneaking into playoffs last year and making it all the way to the AFC title game. They may have one of the best defenses in the league, but their offense concerns me, with a below average starting QB that may have a sophomore slump and legendary RB who is now kind of over the hill. The Patriots are still going to be a wonderful offensive team, but their defense is just another year older, and their dominant days seem to be over. So what does that leave us for the AFC East? Maybe the most balanced team in the division, the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins made a surprise playoff run in 2008 and seem to be poised to head back again this year with a more mature Chad Henne at QB (who seems much more capable than Sanchez at this point). The Dolphins D, however, could be their downfall, but there are much worse in the NFL. The Bills are trying to invent a time machine to go back to 1990.
The Ravens Defense is still one of the best in the NFL, and with youngsters Ray Rice and Joe Flacco leading the offense, they are much more well rounded than some Ravens teams in the past. The Bengals seemed like kind of a fluke to me last year, and are still extremely volatile on and off the field (tons of arrests, TO and Ochochinco). The Steelers are going to suffer without Big Ben for the first few games, and we'll see how he plays when he returns. Remember how he was after the motorcycle accident? The Browns are hoping to get something going. At least in November Cleveland fans can turn their focus towards the Cavs and King Ja....oh nevermind.
1. Colts - 1st Round Bye
2. Texans - Wild Card
3. Titans - Wild Card
Last year, I stupidly picked the Colts as one of the 6 teams from the previous year to miss the playoffs, and they went to the Super Bowl. I won't make that mistake again this year. Even though they lost the Super Bowl, and Super Bowl losers tend to suck the following season, I think the Colts are a mature enough team that last year's Super Bowl loss will only motivate them to make it back again this year and win it this time. The Texans are still a team on the rise but have yet to make the playoffs in their first 8 seasons. They have a powerful passing attack but suffered running the ball a little last year when Steve Slaton had a sophomore slump. This year they are going with Arian Foster, and they still have an improving defense led by Mario Williams. My pick for the Titans to get the last wild card is 100% dependent on Chris Johnson staying healthy all season. He basically is the Titans, and everyone else is just an accessory. The Titans were sleeping for the first 6 weeks or so last year but really turned things around. Teams that finish strong tend to do well the following year. The Jaguars are capable of being dangerous offensively, but aren't all that great defensively. Unlike most last place teams, they'll be pretty competitive this year, but the rest of the AFC South is just too talented.
1. Chargers - Home Field
Last year I started my comments with, "Wow, what a bad division." This year, I'm going to say, Wow, what a bad division. The Chargers are still the class of this division and will probably wind up with home field throughout the AFC playoff thanks to scheduling alone. Just think, they play 6 games against their own division, and 4 against the NFC West. They could get 10 easy wins just by beating up the bad West division teams. I think the Raiders have made some steps to improve themselves, bulking up their defense through the draft, signing a semi-competent QB, and not firing the entire coaching staff. They will probably only be 7-9 at best, but that's good enough for 2nd in this division. In Denver, even though Kyle Orton is the best QB currently on their roster, the fans will be frothing at the mouth for Tim Tebow. As soon as the Broncos begin to struggle, its going to be Tebow's team prematurely, and the Broncos will pay for it in the standings. The Chiefs are moving in the right direction but they have a long, long way to go to become relevant again.
1. Cowboys - 1st Round Bye
2. Giants - Wild Card
The Cowboys finally seem to have some order, and I think they will have another great regular season just like last year, especially with their old nemesis, the Eagles, probably taking a step back this year. The Giants are coming off of a rough season, but I think they will rebound this year enough to make the playoffs again. Are they Super Bowl quality like in 2007? probably not. The Redskins were going to be my 2nd Wild Card pick until I realized that it might not be possible with the AFC South and NFC East beating up on each other all season, but I think they will fall just short. Mike Shanahan is going to try to prove to everyone he shouldn't have been fired in Denver and Donovan McNabb should have a chip on his shoulder for being run out of Philly. The Eagles could definitely be a good team this year too, but I think they will have some trouble adjusting to Kevin Kolb and their defense is getting older.
2. Vikings - Wild Card
I think Brett Favre has probably had it. He won't completely suck, but I think he was seriously considering retiring this year....for real this time. The Vikings still have a strong defense and I think will be able to at least get a wild card spot even if Favre turns into an interception machine this year. The Packers have some defensive issues, but they are turning into one of the best offensive powerhouses in the NFL. They are going to be eager to get some revenge on Favre and the Vikings this year as Aaron Rodgers is turning into one of the NFL's best QBs. The Lions are moving forward while I think the Bears are moving backwards. Maybe it doesn't make much sense to pick the Lions for 3rd, but who cares? Neither will be good this year so I'll go on a limb. The Bears defense is deteriorating and their offense hasn't been anything to write home about my entire life.
1. Saints - Home Field
I know this is the goofy division where the last place team rebounds and wins the division title the following year, but if Tampa can find a way to win this thing I will be beyond stunned. The Saints are bringing most of their Super Bowl winning team back this year and I think will finally be the first team to repeat in this crazy division. The Falcons looked good early last year, but faded late. I think they will take a step back this year and be only a 7-9 or 8-8 team. The Panthers are a mess, but they have some good RBs. Getting rid of Jake Delhomme may have been a positive, but replacing him with Matt Moore probably neutralizes that. Tampa has a very strong chance of being the worst team in the NFL this year. John Gruden probably has no regrets over his firing.
The 49ers are ready to take back what is rightfully theirs, control of the NFC West. They will be far from a great team this year, but considering their competition, they seem like the obvious pick to win it this year. The Niners have one of the better defenses in the NFL and 3 big offensive weapons in Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, and Michael Crabtree. Their only concern is going to be the play of Alex Smith, who has had a serious up and down career since being drafted #1 overall in 2005. If he can play this year, like he did late last year, the Niners should make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. One thing we need to keep in mind with Seattle is that Pete Carroll is not a good NFL coach. His personality is perfect for college, but it failed miserably in New England. Seattle has been beat up over the past few years, but now I feel that is mostly because of age instead of bad luck. The Cardinals are going to miss Kurt Warner immensely, especially based on the way Matt Leinart has played this preseason. They also lost a lot of key players on both sides of the ball, and are probably doomed to be the Cardinals again. The Rams are going to try out Sam Bradford from the start, but they have a lot of work to do to get back to being competitive again.
7 returning teams: Ravens, Colts, Chargers, Cowboys, Packers, Vikings, Saints
5 new teams: Dolphins, Texans, Titans, Giants, 49ers
5 teams getting the boot: Patriots, Jets, Bengals, Eagles, Cardinals
Wild Card Playoffs
Ravens over Titans
Texans over Dolphins
Giants over 49ers
Packers over Vikings (how awesome would this be?)
Colts over Ravens
Chargers over Texans
Packers over Cowboys
Saints over Giants
Colts over Chargers
Packers over Saints
Super Bowl XLV
Colts over Packers
MVP - Phillip Rivers, Chargers
Coach of the Year - Tony Sparano, Dolphins
Offensive Rookie of the Year - C.J. Spiller, Bills
Defensive Rookie of the Year - Rolando McClain, Raiders
Links of the Day 8/29/10
You may get upset by the fact that the Pirates are making money and whatnot, but I am more impressed that the owners shared their finances with the people of Pittsburgh, knowing, perhaps, that they may be raked over the coals for it.
SI likes Purdue, for some reason.
Labels: Links of the Day
Saturday, August 28, 2010
This is a Risky Night for the UFC
UPDATE: Well, Couture made short work of Toney, taking him down before he could even throw a punch, then dominating him with the ground and pound until eventually submitting him. I think if anything we learned (more like reinforced an ongoing trend) that you just can't walk into a mixed martial arts ring and expect to dominate just because you are a "tough guy" or very good at boxing. It takes years of training to be an elite MMA fighter, and it shows it matches like this.
Links of the Day 8/28/10
Friday, August 27, 2010
The Twins have made more moves after the deadline
That would have been all well and good, but the Twins went ahead and added another former Rockie, Brian Fuentes, who recently pitched for the Angels. He was the league leader in saves last year, but that's not particularly telling, as he has a penchant for being streaky. He was chased out of Colorado after losing the closers role there, and after a rough outing in the ALCS, Angels fans have started booing Fuentes. That said, he too will provide some good depth for a squad, like any, that needs it in the bullpen. Well done again, Bill Smith, even if your hand was forced by injury.
Labels: Minnesota Twins
Links of the Day 8/27/10
Hey, someone noticed something I noticed
I was reading the Thursday paper (Star Tribune) earlier and came across the Twins Team Notes. In the ETC. subheading, they talk about something I had noted back when the Twins were hunting for starting pitchers. Doesn't it seem like the Twins are missing more balls hit to the outfield?
Why yes they are. Rather than looking in depth and seeing that, yes, the outfielders are less efficient this year, they decided to ask Gardenhire if this was a case, since he is also the new team statistician. Gardenhire said that he "didn't see a problem that needed to be addressed". To some degree, I agree with him, but on another, it's a little complicated.
Of course, he did also say that the problem was communication and not that, say, Jason Kubel in the outfield is dragging an anchor out there, so maybe not everyone gets the problem. This will require some further investigation, i.e. not at a time that is 2AM.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Double Play Stats...
Shawn wrote an article on his blog about a new stat he was working on coming up with. I think his stat has a legitimate point, but I think the execution of calculating it still needs work.
Shawn pointed out that guys who hit into double plays hurts his team. Thus, he calculated a stat that took the on-base percentage and subtracted an out for each double play the hitter hit into.
Here's where the problem comes in for me. Let's say Tom, Dick, and Harry bat in order during a game. Tom and Dick have excellent on-base percentages but very little power. This means Harry is likely to often come up to bat with Tom or Dick on first base. Poor Harry has a lot of opportunities to hit into double plays, and therefore, likely has hit into a lot of them.
On the other hand, Huey, Dewey, and Louie bat in order. Huey and Dewey have pretty good power, but their on-base percentages are pretty poor. Therefore, when Louie comes up to the plate, it's not very likely that there's someone on first base, so he doesn't really hit into that many double plays.
Here's the thing: both Harry and Louie could hit the ball exactly the same in every at-bat. But Harry's on-base percentage would be much lower than Louie's based on the stat Shawn presented us with. To me, it strikes me as unfair. It's simply a matter of where Harry and Louie are in the line-up. If you'd switch them, they'd likely be hitting exactly the same. (In fact, Dick is probably fairly vulnerable to the double-play, too, while Tom is probably not at all, when in reality all three are similar hitters in my hypothetical line-up.)
I told my cousin who was begging for the Twins to trade Joe Mauer to his team: "Why, do you need more guys to hit into double plays?" The reality is that Mauer is often like Harry in our hypothetical example: Span and Hudson typically get on base often, and Mauer is somewhat of a ground-ball hitter, making him vulnerable to double plays, putting him on the leader board for grounding into double plays. But people who know stats also point out that based on opportunities, his double play percentage isn't on the leader board.
I think there should be some way to account for double plays in stats. Right now, the only one I'm in favor of is the double play percentage, which calculates the percentage of double plays based on the opportunities to hit into them (runner at first, less than two outs). I wouldn't mind seeing the two stats (OBP and GDP%) combined, actually. I haven't worked out the science, but I'd like to see the math that Shawn figured out, but not straight-out subtracting a hit for every double play. With that, players get penalized when they have more opportunities, when really it's the manager's fault for putting him in that place in the line-up.
Links of the Day 8/26/10
I complain about the Twins from time to time, but at least we aren't the Mets.
College is starting, hopefully you have this linguistics class.
Labels: Links of the Day
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
So long, Ballhype
Eventually, it became a good source for breaking news and a mouthpiece for all things MMA, and was purchased by Daily Radar. Unfortunately for anyone still interested in blog related networking, and are doing so at the beginning of your blogging career, you are going to have to find a new resource.
On that same note, what the hell happened to Awful Announcing?
Labels: bye bye
Links of the Day 8/25/10
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Golf IS hard
The past two days of my little 4 day break, I have spent the time on golf courses in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area. I usually take a cart, and I have to tell you, despite that, I am completely exhausted. My body is sore from the swinging, I'm totally sunburned, I'm mildly dehydrated, and having to get to tee times 45 minutes away from my place means I am a little overtired, what with the getting up before 8 on days off. I have a whole new respect for professional golfers.
Also, I am the master of the overtly comedic shots. I am a decent enough golfer for most of the game, but I fall apart in pretty spectacular fashion. I shot a 12 on one hole, because I couldn't hit it anywhere. I once lined a ball off an out of bounds post into a pond. The very next hole I smoked a tree... back into a pond. I 5 putted a hole today. Most people laugh at least once when they play with me.
It's a challenging game, but the fact of the matter is, I would love to play almost every day. Only 38 more years until retirement...
Links of the Day 8/24/10
Monday, August 23, 2010
Oh look, the Rangers have pitching
Links of the Day 8/23/10
Sunday, August 22, 2010
I always make the strangest enemies
Well, yesterday someone DID Google Ben Repinski, came across the story and left me with this comment:
I'm sorry but your a dumb ass. That's not how the story went at all, some parts were right but not all. Douche BagNice. Let's break this thing down, line by line, shall we?
"I'm sorry but your a dumb ass." - No apology necessary, sir, but in the future, when calling someone else a "dumb ass" be sure not to include two grammatical errors in a 7 line sentence.
"That's not how the story went at all, some parts were right but not all." - Let me rephrase: I was entirely wrong, except the parts I wasn't wrong about. Also, I pretty much restated the facts from the newspaper, so your issue should be with the Star Tribune. Well, I guess the issue should really be that you got in a car with a drunk f*king 12 year old.
"Douche Bag" - I like that you capitalized both words, almost like a salutation. It almost seems as though you are telling us that your name is Douche Bag.
Well, Mr. Bag, good luck fighting the case. Thanks for reading
Links of the Day 8/22/10
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Cooking with Ryan: Dirty Risotto
Risotto is a one of the scarier dishes out of there for most people. It tastes good enough, but people find that it sounds like it's incredibly challenging. I'm here to tell you that it isn't. Sure, it takes a long time and you need to keep stirring it, but that's it. Just stir it. Well, keep adding the broth and wait for it to gt absorbed, but it's not that challenging, really. If you're patient.
I had some friends come over when I made it for a little potluck (I'm so domestic) but mostly because I wanted someone else to cook for me. My friend whipped up some chicken Parmesan, while another brought the ice cream. The risotto was pretty good, but I think I liked the chicken better, because I didn't spend an hour working at it.
So anyways, if you like risotto, don't be afraid to try making it. Unless Giada is directly involved, because that would put some fear into me.
Labels: Cooking with Ryan
Links of the Day 8/21/10
Friday, August 20, 2010
The Punto effect
Labels: Nick Punto
Links of the Day 8/20/10
The annotated Ozzie Guillen rant
For all those people there saying it was my fault about Jim Thome, yes it's my fault. If those people don't like that, (bleep) them. I'm not afraid. I can care less what people think. We're in second place. When Jim Thome was here, we finished third three times out of four years.(1) We went to one playoff because he hit a home run to go to the playoffs. Listen, I don't make that decision, we made that decision. It was hard for me to do this. A lot of people in Chicago talk about Jim Thome. How about J.D.? I think Jermaine Dye did more stuff for the Chicago White Sox than Jim Thome did, with all my respect to Jimbo. What's going on here? I don't get it. Why do people forget about J.D.? People don't even talk about J.D. at all. If Thome was a better player than J.D. for the White Sox, that's the answer. J.D.'s not playing for the Twins.(2) That's it. If (Nick) Punto hit that home run, I might still be crying. Or (Denard) Span. Or (manager) Ron Gardenhire. (3) Jim Thome's hit almost 600 home runs, good for him. (4) Every time we had Jim Thome here, we couldn't play him against the National League. Why won't anybody give me credit for that one? (5) We won 15 games. And Jimbo had one, two at-bats every time we played those guys. And we made this run because we played good against the National League. We got hot then. But I hope he hits another (bleeping) one today. (6) He had all three hits against lefties. Is it my fault we can't pitch against his (rear)? No. (7) Well ... I feel proud of him, to be honest with you. When I see him hit that (ball) out there all the way to the building out there at 98 (mph), I don't see that for the last three years with us. Good for him. A lot of people talk about the home run from Jim Thome. How about the eight or nine runs before that? (8) But that's OK. I'll wear it. I'll take it. (9) I'll take the heat. That's Gardenhire's fault for bringing those guys into pitch (Matt Capps and Jon Rauch). He should have left that guy in that started the game and then we're still playing. (10) I'm not running away from anybody. (11) I don't run from anybody because I sleep very well last night, I played golf this morning. (12) I didn't change anything. I rode my bike, go to sleep and as soon as I'm done with (this game) I'm going to go back to sleep. (13) Same stuff. Because I know my mind, my heart and my soul, they're very clean. (14) I have my head on my shoulders, and I think we did the right thing with what we did in spring training. If people don't like it, good. They don't like it, they don't have to watch the (bleeping) White Sox. (15) Oh and I got one more year on my contract, just make sure to tell Jerry (Reinsdorf), get it ready, this crazy (bleeping) Mexican, it's fine with me. (16) They going to blame me about one home run, I'll take the blame
1) Frankly, it's been a two team race for about the past 8 years, except when the Tigers have a pulse. Unless Thome had something to do with the rise and fall of the Detroit, I'm not sure you can pin everything on him, can you?
2) Fun fact: The rest of the league thought so highly of Jermaine Dye that he doesn't have a job. Also, Thome's career OPS in Chicago was 138, while Dye's was 121. Stats win again!
3) Well, Punto was on the DL, so that would have been really tough, and what's wrong with Span? Is it because he is a lefty too? I mean, Denard Span is pretty good. But yeah, Gardy was a terrible hitter.
4) So hold on... you are trying to say that it wasn't a big deal that Thome was sent out of town because he wasn't very good, but it's also not a big deal that he hit a home run against the Sox be cause he IS very good. I'm just trying to follow the logic of your possibly cocaine fueled rant.
5) I don't think you will get much credit for keeping an old, slow designated hitter on the bench against a league that doesn't allow a designated hitter, no. But did you leave him riding pine on home games against the NL, or did you let Buehrle bat at the Cell too?
6) No you don't
7) It is a little. You're the manager, after all.
8) The Twins had scored 5 runs before Thome's homer. Who's counting?
9) I'm sorry, what will you be wearing? And who are you taking it from?
10) Yeah, I was pretty upset about the irrational decision to pull the starter who had thrown 91 pitches in less than 5 innings and was struggling. Gosh darn it, Gardy! At least let him get to 100! Ok, I'm not really mad. I don't think many people would blame the manager for going to the bullpen if relievers gave up runs more than three innings after the starter was pulled. But sure, Ozzie, Gardy almost blew the game for the Twins.
11) Are you now accusing Gardenhire of ducking criticism for his rash maneuver? Golly, Ron, you're such a baby! Just own up to the fact that you handled the bullpen in a manner almost every other manager in the league would have!
12) Oh yeah? Where'd you go? I just went to Bluff Creek and did pretty good. That 12th hole is a killer.(Wouldn't a foursome with Ozzie be the best?)
13) You could probably use a nap, yeah.
14) It's right about here that I am pretty confident Ozzie Guillen has totally lost his sh*t
15) This is why Ozzie Guillen is NOT in marketing.
16) Ozzie Guillen is not Mexican.
Labels: Ozzie Guillen
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Links of the Day 8/19/10
I wish I had the audio...
Remember Tuesday night? Wasn't that awesome? Jim Thome hit the walk off home run against his former team. Asked about Thome's departure last year, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen became... unhinged. The Chicago Tribune had it all in a tidy little article, but I think, as my friend said, it sounds even better if you put into one long quote. It seems more like a completely deranged rant this way. Well, I am here to make people happy. Here is the completely unbroken tirade from Guillen.
" For all those people there saying it was my fault about Jim Thome, yes it's my fault. If those people don't like that, (bleep) them. I'm not afraid. I can care less what people think. We're in second place. When Jim Thome was here, we finished third three times out of four years. We went to one playoff because he hit a home run to go to the playoffs. Listen, I don't make that decision, we made that decision. It was hard for me to do this. A lot of people in Chicago talk about Jim Thome. How about J.D.? I think Jermaine Dye did more stuff for the Chicago White Sox than Jim Thome did, with all my respect to Jimbo. What's going on here? I don't get it. Why do people forget about J.D.? People don't even talk about J.D. at all. If Thome was a better player than J.D. for the White Sox, that's the answer. J.D.'s not playing for the Twins.That's it. If (Nick) Punto hit that home run, I might still be crying. Or (Denard) Span. Or (manager) Ron Gardenhire. Jim Thome's hit almost 600 home runs, good for him. Every time we had Jim Thome here, we couldn't play him against the National League. Why won't anybody give me credit for that one? We won 15 games. And Jimbo had one, two at-bats every time we played those guys. And we made this run because we played good against the National League. We got hot then. But I hope he hits another (bleeping) one today. He had all three hits against lefties. Is it my fault we can't pitch against his (rear)? No. Well ... I feel proud of him, to be honest with you. When I see him hit that (ball) out there all the way to the building out there at 98 (mph), I don't see that for the last three years with us. Good for him. A lot of people talk about the home run from Jim Thome. How about the eight or nine runs before that? But that's OK. I'll wear it. I'll take it. I'll take the heat. That's Gardenhire's fault for bringing those guys into pitch (Matt Capps and Jon Rauch). He should have left that guy in that started the game and then we're still playing. I'm not running away from anybody. I don't run from anybody because I sleep very well last night, I played golf this morning. I didn't change anything. I rode my bike, go to sleep and as soon as I'm done with (this game) I'm going to go back to sleep. Same stuff. Because I know my mind, my heart and my soul, they're very clean. I have my head on my shoulders, and I think we did the right thing with what we did in spring training. If people don't like it, good. They don't like it, they don't have to watch the (bleeping) White Sox. Oh and I got one more year on my contract, just make sure to tell Jerry (Reinsdorf), get it ready, this crazy (bleeping) Mexican, it's fine with me. They going to blame me about one home run, I'll take the blame"That's a lot of words Ozzie. And yes, there will be more fun had with this at a later date.
Labels: Ozzie Guillen
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Links of the Day 8/18/10
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Bryce Harper worth a pie in the face
That said, if he IS on your team, he will be an exciting, power hitting player. If you can pair him with Stephen Strasburg, then, well, as a GM you deserve to celebrate.
In the middle of their press conference announcing the signing of first overall pick Bryce Harper, Stan Kasten pulled a whipped cream pie...and smeared it all over Mike Rizzo's faceNo pressure on Harper. But he's likely just arrogant enough to think he can live up to it.
Links of the Day 8/17/10
Monday, August 16, 2010
What do you think of Slowey now?
While I among of Ron Gardenhire's most outspoken critics, I feel that my credibility would be ruined if I didn't state when I actually agreed with his moves. His faults lie in game to game strategy, development of young hitters, favoritism, bullpen management, and a menagerie of other flaws, but one of his greatest strengths is his insistence on protecting his players from injury. Justin Morneau has been kept out of the lineup because of concussions concerns, and yesterday Gardenhire pulled Kevin Slowey, fresh off an elbow induced missed start in them middle of a no hitter thanks to his high pitch count.
It was a very tough decision, no doubt, but one that was absolutely the correct one to be made. The best part was that he acknowledged the situation. Gardenhire stated that he "would have booed him too" for pulling Slowey in the middle of the no-no, indicating that he struggled with the decision. It was one he made with the health of Kevin Slowey in mind, and it's impossible to argue with it.
Oh, and all you that were in favor of knocking Slowey out of the rotation, or trading him to Seattle in order to get Cliff Lee... still feel the same? We're going to have Slowey now for a few more years, thanks in part to Smith not trading him and Gardy being unwilling to ruin his arm in an effort to gain a mere statistic.
Links of the Day 8/16/10
Just because the fans didn't know the rules doesn't mean Dustin Johnson didn't break them. As Gene Wojciechowski relays, it's really only Johnson's fault.
There was a Stanley Cup sighting in Roseau. How long until the Cup comes to Minnesota again?
Labels: Links of the Day
Sunday, August 15, 2010
It's Sunday, Here's Charles Barkley Golfing.
Links of the Day 8/15/10
Saturday, August 14, 2010
How will Soccer do?
For those who appreciate the game itself and simply weren't given the chance to watch as much of the game as they like, the premier European leagues are starting this month. Today is the first day of the English Premier League, which may be the most popular of them all, with Spain, Germany and Italy starting soon. For those with a keen eye for soccer, watching a better European game is preferable to watching the inferior MLS.
For those who enjoyed the World Cup for it's international competition, the Champions Leagues and European qualifying are beginning as well. The Champions League is mostly thought of when discussing the UEFA competition in Europe, which is about to reach it's group stage. It's probably the most elite version of club competition in the world, and mixes and matches teams from across Europe. There is a Champions League for CONCACAF (North America) as well that is underway if you would like to monitor American franchises. Real Salt Lake, the Columbus Crew and Seattle Sounders are still alive, while the LA Galaxy was eliminated by a team from Puerto Rico. Mexican teams will almost certainly dominate this competition, which is one of the reason the European version is so much more popular: Better competition from top to bottom.
Another advantage for American viewership is that these European leagues, including the Champions League, will air their games during the morning when they don't have to compete with other sports. There are many sports fans who won't mind watching an elite sports competition, even if it is soccer, just so long as it doesn't interfere with football on Sunday afternoon.
The real question is, with so many casual fans coming to the game in June, how many of those casual fans will stick around, even if it means doing a little bit of digging to find a game worth watching?
Links of the Day 8/14/10
Friday, August 13, 2010
More from Minnesota crime
- Went to a party, picked up a 12 year old.
- Needed a ride home, and his two options were the 12 year old (drunk) and a guy on a moped (also drunk)
- When he tried to drive, he actually did worse than the drunk 12 year old
That, ladies and gentlemen, is Ben Repinski.
Links of the Day 8/13/10
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I am a criminal
So last night, I was on my way home from Real Job Inc, and getting ready to pull into my street when I saw the cherries and berries behind me. I was getting pulled over! The street I had been on had a speed limit so slow on a 4 lane street that it's hard to NOT speed, so I knew I was busted. Bad luck to be sure.
The officer came to my window and said right off the bat that "I wasn't blowing the doors off people, but I was going 45 in a 35 earlier. I wasn't going to get a ticket, but could I provide my license and proof of insurance?"
Now here are two fun facts: I moved to my new place last December and haven't updated my ID. Also, I keep all of my old Proofs of Insurance in my glovebox, and I had a tough time finding the insurance card. In fact, I never found the current one. I did pretty much everything wrong with this stop. I had been speeding, I had an invalid license and despite my best efforts, I never provided my ACTUAL proof of insurance.
I was probably tagged to be pulled over because my car looks like garbage, but upon getting to the car and talking to me, seeing that my ID just had the wrong address and that I wasn't acting erratically, the astute officer of the law (as any astute officer of the law would) surmised that my ID issues, Proof of Insurance issues weren't a big deal and let me go. I was just lazy and disorganized, not some sort of ruthless bandit.
I think this is an important lesson to so many athletes of the day. Most cops are reasonable people. When they pull people over, most of the time they either A) are legitimately pulling you over because you are going way too fast or B) are trying to prevent any suspicious activity. Act earnestly and do whatever the cops ask. If you don't give them a reason to be suspicious, they won't be suspicious. I have no sympathy for an athlete that flips out when he gets pulled over. Just try and help the guy out, and you'll be on your way in 5 minutes.
Links of the Day 8/12/10
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Jason Repko: The next Lew Ford?
- Career minor leaguer befor becoming a more regular fixture as a fourth outfielder in the Twins lineup.
- Successful in his first season in that role.
- Providing a "spark"
Yep, those are all Lew Fordian. He hasn't burned himself with an iron though. Let's push further.
- Loved by Ron Gardenhire
- Should probably never be expected to produce like this ever again.
Let's just hope that we don't keep him in the lineup for the next 3 years and watch him take at bats from an up and coming star like Ben Revere or Aaron Hicks. But yay, Repko, I like him this season.
Links of the Day 8/11/10
Percy Harvin has migraines, not unlike anyone following the Favre thing.
Cheerleading: Not a sport and here is why. Also, by this logic, Poker IS a sport. I kind of agree with this logic.
Labels: Links of the Day
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Cooking with Ryan: Burgers
I also learned from The Weather Channel (what?) who was showing a "cooking outside" segment on Saturday morning that to appropriately season a piece of meat you are grilling, you need to make sure you can see the seasoning, whereas this is too much for cooking indoors (I can attest to that, too). It was pretty great, the end result. You could definitely taste the garlic in the burger and it went well with the rest of the condiments and fixin's.
Of course, my friend Eric (Panthers_24, for both of you that read the comments) did a lot of the grill monitoring because I am not a good host. He tried to put a tomato on his burger at one point, which promptly slid off and hit the porch. before Eric could pick it up and toss it into the shrubbery, my dog came and... laid down right on top of it. Why would a dog feel the need to lay on a tomato? Perhaps she is anticipating a skunk attack.
We tossed the extra tomato and lettuce into the underbrush (or tried, I got some stuck in a tree. I have the throwing accuracy of Jamarcus Russell) thinking that it would be popular with the tiny woodland creatures that I have inhabiting my front yard. All I have now is some sun-dried tomatoes and lettuce,
So I would say this turned out pretty well, the only problem being a dog with a tomato stain.
(No pictures... I think you know what a bacon cheeseburger looks like)
Labels: Cooking with Ryan
Links of the Day 8/10/10
Monday, August 09, 2010
Oh Sid, you old coot
Sid Hartman didn't. That's why he broke the news that Brett Favre will be coming back if his ankle is ok. Sid talked to Ryan Longwell to establish this. So, essentially, Sid broke news that was about a week old. Thanks Sid.
The best part is that this was also picked up on ESPN's edition of Sportscenter this morning. Unbelievable. I'm beginning to hate Favre less and less as it becomes increasingly evident that jackasses in suits will fawn over him and leap to conclusions no matter what happens, even if it happened a week ago.
Links of the Day 8/9/10
Sunday, August 08, 2010
They should keep these around
Links of the Day 8/8/10
Carl Pavano was acquired a year ago yesterday.
We almost had another no hitter today.
I am inclined to agree with the Legend on this one. If forced to choose, I would say get rid of the NBA.
Labels: Links of the Day
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Position in the Spotlight: Detroit
If nothing else, we can certainly say that Detroit IS the PitS. It's a depressing city, from the faltering economy to some pretty atrocious teams, like the Lions of the early 2000s Tigers. Don't make any mistake about it, though, this isn't a depressing town like, say, Cleveland. Detroit has a history of success. A RECENT history of success by some standards. Sure the Lions are bad, but the Pistons were the dominant force between Bird's Celtics and Jordan's Bulls, and just won the title again in 2004. They have the Tigers who were in the World Series this decade and won a couple in the 80s. No team, however, has been as successful as the Detroit Red Wings.
The best part about the Red Wings is that they do things the way most fans want a team to do it: good coaching, and players that have come through Grand Rapids and stayed in the Red Wings system. If you think back to all the best players the Red Wings have had, it seems like they have all begun their career in Detroit. They aren't often of the same position, but they all came up with the team. And this is why the Detroit Position in the Spotlight is the Red Wings' Homegrown Talent.
It goes back as long 1946 when a young winger Gordie Howe took to the ice for the Red Wings. He was 19 years old at the time, and didn't leave the team until he was the leader in goals, points and assists, titles he still holds. It only took 25 years. He took a year off, and then went to play in the newly formed WHA, and ended up playing until he was 51. The Wings should have known he still had good years left in him. He scored 100 points at age 40. He played all but one of his years with the Wings. Definitely a quality home grown talent.
On his same line in 1968 when he was the 40 year old dynamo, he was often assisted by Alex Delvecchio. Delvecchio was 7 years younger than Howe and certainly took advantage of all the time that he played with him. He ended up with over 800 career assists, all with the Wings, and has his number in the rafters at Joe Louis arena.
One of the most beloved hockey players by a fan base in my lifetime is Steve Yzerman. Stevie Y joined the Wings in 1986 at age 21 and spent the entirety of his career in Detroit. Like Delvecchio and Howe, he had a long career with the Red Wings and is among the team's all time point leaders, coming in at #2 on the list (between Howe and Delvecchio). Not only that, he brought the team back to prominence, winning three Cups, the first in decades for Detroit.
Even today, the best players the Red Wings have have been their for their entire career. The triumvirate of the ageless defensive stalwart Niklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have all come up with the Wings and are already on the all time lists for scoring, be it points (Lidstrom and Datsyuk) or goals (Zetterberg and Datsyuk). They make the Wings a threat to win the title every season.
Now if only they could get a permanent goalie.
Tigers outfielders: The outfield has a long, long history of talent, from the turn of the century on. How does Ty Cobb sound? Or Sam Crawford, Harry Heilman, Al Kaline or Heinie Manush, all outfielders wearing Tigers caps in the Hall of Fame. Of course, they haven't had a truly transcendental outfielder since Kaline who retired in 74. Bobby Higginson doesn't count.
Pistons bad boy: For whatever reason, the Pistons best players always have to be surly and/or arrogant. Bill Laimbeer, Isaiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman jsut to name a few. Even in their renaissance in the 2000s, they couldn't have done it without the ever charming Rasheed Wallace
It should be noted that the University of Michigan is near to Detroit, but it's very difficult to pick just one position there that can be spotlit. It's a very prestigious university with a prolific history.
Links of the Day 8/7/10
We have all been made to feel old, and it's Shaq's fault.
The Twins successfully signed their first round pick. Looks like the Twins came out... Wimmers.
Labels: Links of the Day
Football is just around the corner!
\All the camp stuff is going on on ESPN. They have buses! The Hall of Fame game and the associated induction ceremonies are all this weekend. Even in the college game, everyone is talking about the impending season and not the impending conference shakeup, coming next season. People are just excited for football! It's only.....
Oh wait, it's still over a month away. Never mind.
Links of the Day 8/6/10
Thursday, August 05, 2010
Are Minnesota GM's second guessed more than any others?
Every time I see a story about a transaction executed by a Minnesota sports team, it doesn't take long for the critics to jump down their throats I'm sure there are loud mouthed critics in every market, but I don't think anyone gets second guessed by the national media more than Minnesota GMs. Just look at the past few years with current general management.
Timberwolves: The Wolves have been bad ever since Kevin Garnett departed. That was Kevin McHale's poor trade, and none of the components worked out terribly well, aside from Al Jefferson. Eventually, David Kahn was chosen to replace McHale and has since been a trading machine. He has also drafted several at the same position and seemingly added a bounty of players at similar positions. People seem to think he's insane for his assemblage of players, but remember, aside from Corey Brewer and Kevin Love, this is now entirely his team, and he got whatever he could get while jettisoning McHale's players. As for the draft, couldn't he be operating on the premise of just seeing what fits in Minnesota. Rickey Rubio and Ramon Sessions probably don't. Jonny Flynn does and Luke Ridnour might. As for Darko Milicic's hefty contract. Some were saying that they didn't understand when they bid so much when there were no other bidders. They forget that they were bidding against the pull of returning home to Europe, not against other teams. But it's easier to criticize.
Twins: Bill Smith was given a tough hand to start with. He had to move Johan Santana... somewhere. He made a conscious decision to take less to move him to the National League. While the eventual haul after other trades was JJ Hardy, Jon Rauch and Deolis Guerra, it was lambasted at the time. We could have had Joba! Tell me how THAT turned out. Bill Smith's next criticized move (which actually occurred first) was the decision to move, essentially, Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza to Tampa for Delmon Young and Brendan Harris. People STILL think this was a bad trade. Excuse me, but I disagree. While Bartlett and Garza were great during the Rays World Series run in 2008, since, they have been average to mediocre. Yes, Garza threw a no hitter, but that's still only one win. It's possible that Delmon Young wins significant MVP votes this year. That's not just best player on a team, that's among the best players in the league. The numbers he is putting up are the same type that Joe Mauer is expected to produce. You would trade Garza and Bartlett for Mauer, right? Even if he wasn't a catcher, I think most Minnesotans would make that deal in a heartbeat. And Young is 4 years younger than Mauer. Of course, there are some that are critical of the deal Mauer got, perhaps because outsiders, especially those in New York or Los Angeles, don't quite understand how much one player can mean to a small market. Not just the team, but the entire market. (see: James, Lebron). Then there was the Ramos-Capps trade. I agree the Twins overpaid for Capps. That said, I don't see much that the Twins could have done that would have been better. The Twins didn't have the pitching to pair with Ramos for a top player like Cliff Lee. They didn't have the pitching depth to go for Haren and Oswalt didn't want to come here. We wouldn't have gained anything if Ramos was buried on our roster. Capps was the best player we could have got for Ramos, and our bullpen is now deeper for it.And we don't have to worry about Ramos directly.
Vikings: The Vikings have been the butt of many jokes through the whole Brett Favre saga. I have made them too, but mostly because of how gutless the fans are with their lack of loyalty or pride. I digress. The Vikings front office doesn't care about pride, they care about winning, even if they are made to look like fools during the process. And they look like fools. The groveling and brown nosing worked though. They got Favre, and he was better than anyone imagined. Sure, the Vikings didn't win the NFC Championship, but that was further than they would have got without him, probably. That said, I don't expect a repeat performance this year, but they will be better with Favre than without.
Wild: Chuck Fletcher hasn't exactly set the world ablaze, but his hands have been tied, again, by the previous administration. Doug Risebrough didn't do anything to soften Marian Gaborik's departure, and Fletcher was stuck rebuilding this team from the ground up. He's doing it centered on Mikko Koivu, a fan favorite and first line center. He hasn't added a lot of bulky veterans, preferring a youth movement, but the problem is that because of Risebrough's poor draft history, the Wild haven't had any good frontline prospects since... Gaborik and Koivu. The only trade chip is Brent Burns, so he needs to maximize the value there. It's a lot of work, and Fletcher is getting criticized for not doing it. I am looking at things and I can't even figure out a place to start. Draft and hope, that's all I've got. No need to jump down Fletcher's throat.
So, national media, please, get off our general manager's backs. We don't have a lot of success, in Minnesota, but give them some credit.
Links of the Day 8/5/10
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
In payment for your Sunday video
Links of the Day 8/4/10
Once again, blame the media
-Favre texts teammates, saying "this is it"
- Someone tells Star Tribune
- Star Tribune says Favre retires.
- Internet explodes
- Favre still hasn't said anything to team
- Favre hasn't said anything to his closest friends
- As of quarter to 1 on Wednesday morning, there is STILL NO TANGIBLE EVIDENCE that Favre has decided to retire.
- Vikings talk themselves into giving Favre a raise anyways.
Well played, whoever is orchestrating this dumbassery. Well played.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Links of the Day 8/3/10
The "looking like a caveman Hall of Fame" maybe, but I don't think the baseball HOF will be taking Johnny Damon. The LLACHOF is. of course, Milwaukee. Wisconsin. Inductions are in November. A girl I went on a blind date with, (my friend and I call her Og) is getting in this year!
Ryan Howard, uh, getting helped off the field.
Labels: Links of the Day
Monday, August 02, 2010
Brad Childress did what now?
You're going to want to watch this at about 115. Embedding wasn't allowed. Here is a quick summary of what happened though
Mark Rosen asked if the loss last season was tough to swallow. Childress, elegant wordsmith that he is, responded by saying...
" I told our coaches... after I choked on it and swallowed on it hard for about a week...."
Links of the Day 8/2/10
Sunday, August 01, 2010
Position in the Spotlight: Phoenix
The Position in the Spotlight series is back, and this weekend we are going to cover Phoenix, Arizona. This one hits a little closer to home for me because I currently live in the greater Phoenix area, so I have had the past 2 years to get a feel for the sports climate here....
Phoenix is a 4-sport market but doesn't quite have the history that most of the other cities that we will be covering that have all 4 sports in town. It all started in 1968 when the Phoenix Suns were reluctantly added to the NBA. Little did the NBA execs know back then that the population of Phoenix would explode throughout the 70's, 80's, 90's and 00's. The Phoenix metro area is now almost 4.5 times larger than it was when the Suns began play. The other sports took notice of Phoenix's steady population rise, and by 1998, they had all 4 sports in town. The St. Louis Cardinals NFL team became the Phoenix (now Arizona) Cardinals in 1988. The Winnipeg Jets became the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996, and the Arizona Diamondbacks started as an expansion team in 1998. Considering the short amount of time these teams have been in town (and for some, their awful pasts) there has been some success enjoyed in Phoenix, but not nearly to the degree of the other 4-sport towns. The lone championship was won by the Diamondbacks in 2001, when they stunned the Yankees in the World Series. The Cardinals made a surprise run to the 2008 Super Bowl but lost, and the Suns have always been above average but never great, making it the finals in 1976 and 1993 but never winning. The Coyotes have yet to win a playoff series since moving the Phoenix 14 years ago. Phoenix also has Arizona State in bordering Tempe, who have enjoyed some success in baseball and football, and if we include Tucson, Arizona has won a national title in basketball.
Now onto my pick. There is something interesting about living here that is different than almost anywhere else. It is almost impossible to find someone that was born and raised in Arizona. Almost everyone you meet was born and maybe even grew up somewhere else. It's a lot like going away to college, where you meet people from all across the country and world. This leads to some problems with the sports teams. I think they are almost here as a novelty, with the hopes of being a "2nd favorite" team. Sports fans from all across the country moved here with their allegiances to their home town teams, and enjoy the fact that Phoenix has all 4 sports so that they can watch their favorite teams play as visitors. Having half the MLB here for Spring Training every year doesn't help the local teams either. Because of this, my position in the spotlight pick for Phoenix is All of the Other Cities' Position in the Spotlight Picks.
Yes, it really is that strange. People that enjoy sports and aren't there to see the visitors because they grew up loving them tend to pull for the home town team (I do this too), but once their childhood favorite comes to town, they immediately turn into the obnoxious visiting fan. However, its really not that obnoxious, because at almost every game I've been to, probably at least 40-50% of the stadium is doing the same thing. I remember wearing 49ers stuff to a Bears game in Chicago in 2001. Big mistake. I was a little worried about my safety in all honesty. I tried it again this year at a 49ers-Cardinals game. No problems at all. In fact, I was only 6 rows from the field but somehow surrounded by Niners fans. But what about the actual Cardinals fans there? I received no crap or trash talking from them at all. I think they are just used to having their home stadium invaded by visiting fans. I've seen the same happen at D-Backs games and although I haven't been to a Coyotes game yet, I think its very safe to assume the same thing happens there.
One other fun example was on Week 17 of the NFL season last year, I went to a sports bar in my subdivision and so no less than half of the NFL represented there. Yes, 16 teams' clothing being worn in one little sports bar in suburban Phoenix. This would not be too odd of a sight in a college town, but these were adults in the bar, not college kids lost from Tempe. I wrote the teams on a napkin for the day I'd eventually write this post. Here is the list in no particular order:
1. Cardinals 2. Colts 3. Patriots 4. Steelers 5. Saints 6. Browns 7. Jets 8. Ravens 9. Bears 10. Eagles 11. Lions 12. Packers 13. 49ers 14. Broncos 15. Cowboys 16. Redskins
This is not intended to be a knock to Phoenix, its just a different kind of city that is growing rapidly and hasn't developed the kind sports followings that other older cities have. Unless parents and grandparents still hold a strong sports influence over their kids, I think over time the Phoenix teams will become the majority's favorite team.
Proof of this is that it seems like 1 of the 4 teams does stand out as having more followers than the others, and that is the original team in town, the Suns. The Suns have been around long enough and have been competitive enough with hated regional cities like LA that they have a much more loyal following than the other teams in town. So to throw Phoenix a bone, my pick for native Phoenicians is Phoenix Suns (Point) Guard.
The Suns have always based their play around a strong point guard, even in the days before there truly was a position called point guard. Let's start back in 1975 with Paul Westphal. After some success with Boston in the early 70s, Westphal came to Phoenix and helped lead the Suns to the 1976 NBA Finals against his former team. Westphal stayed with the team until 1980, when he was replaced by, this time, a future Boston Celtics star, Dennis Johnson. Johnson led the Phoenix offense until 1983 when he went on to greener pastures in Boston.
Following a return of Paul Westphal and a few years of Jay Humphries (who got indicted in a cocaine trafficking ring...oops....well it was the 80s.) The Suns traded for a rookie that became a franchise player (and the mayor of Sacramento), Kevin Johnson. Johnson was the Suns point guard from 1988-1998, leading the Suns to the playoffs every year but his first, the conference finals 3 times, and the 1993 NBA finals, where they ran into the Michael Jordan buzzsaw.
In 1997, the Suns replaced an aging Johnson with likely future hall of famer Jason Kidd, who led the Suns dynamic offense until 2001, leading the NBA in assists twice during that span.
Kidd was traded to New Jersey in 2001 for another star point guard, Stephan Marbury. Marbury was eventually traded to the Knicks in 2004, and led the NBA in assists that year.
It seems like it might be hard to top 3 great point guards in a row. The Suns outdid themselves again by signing their current face of the franchise, Steve Nash, as a free agent in 2004. Nash came in and electrified a Suns team that just came off an awful season, leading the Suns all the way to the 2005 Western Conference finals and winning the league MVP award in the process. In 2005-06, Nash repeated this act, again leading the Suns to the conference finals and again winning the MVP award. Nash has lead the NBA in assists 4 times since joining the Suns, including this past season, where he led the Suns to yet another Western Conference Finals appearance.
Nash is starting to get a little long in the tooth, but this season proved he still has something left in the tank. Based on an impressive 22 consecutive year run of point guards in Phoenix, Suns fans won't expect anything less than a great player to replace Nash when he eventually retires.
Arizona Diamondbacks Ace - The D-Backs have always had strong starting pitching in the front of their rotation. They acquired Randy Johnson in their 2nd year in the league and eventually added Curt Schilling to lead them to their first World Series title in 2001. After Johnson and Schilling left, Brandon Webb stepped up as the team's dominant ace until he was hobbled by injuries. Dan Haren seemed poised to pick up where Webb left off, but he was just traded last week. We'll see if Webb can pick up where he left off when he eventually returns or if the D-Backs can find someone else to lead their staff.
Arizona State Baseball Some Position - This is one of the few places where some people actually care about college baseball. I, however do not, so I don't feel like researching it.
Links of the Day 8/1/10
The wikipedia page of former White Sox (and for a short time Twins) 3rd baseman Joe Crede. This is an example of wikipedia at its finest. It starts off all well and good, then has a very in-depth history about his time with Twins. In his personal life section, it has some random facts and then trails off and talks about his unknown brother for the rest of the section. But my favorite part is the "Back Problems" section. It not only talks about his back surgeries which led to him being an unsigned free agent, but apparently his wife, kids, and the fact that he is a Missouri Tigers basketball season ticket holder contribute to his back problems as well.
A fun collection of White Sox cartoons (and the other Chicago sports teams) from the Southtown-Star newspaper in Chicago.
This is sorta-sports related. I know its been on for 8 years, but if you still aren't watching Top Gear on BBC America you're missing out. Here's the website.
Labels: Links of the Day