Thursday, September 30, 2010

Links of the Day 9/30/10

It would be an honor to be misspelled on the Stanley Cup, right Kris Vertseeg?

Purdue isn't cursed, just cheap.

When he wants too, Drew Magary can really write. Oh God, I never want to have surgery.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On second thought, this reminds me of 91

After numerous anti-Gardenhire, depressing rants, in many ways this team remainds me of the 1991 Twins. It's a player by player type of break down. Bear with me.

The Twins, of course, had the core group in town that had been successful for many years. Some were appreciated, some were under appreciated, maybe a few were even overrated. You had:
The popular home town hero: Kent Hrbek/Joe Mauer
The popular, long time outfielder: Kirby Puckett/Michael Cuddyer
The leadoff hitter having a very down year: Dan Gladden/Denard Span
The outfielder who had a breakout year after geting regular playing time: Shane Mack/Delmon Young

But then there were the holes that needed to be filled. For example:
A middle of the lineup power hitting DH: Chili Davis/Jim Thome
Someone to fill a long thorny infield position: Mike Pagliarulo/Orlando Hudson
A dynamic rookie to fill another problem infield position: Chuck Knoblauch/Danny Valencia

And don't forget the pitching staff!
Some new additions bolstered the relief corps: Steve Bedrosian and Carl Willis/Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes
The young pitcher who may end up having the best year of his career: Kevin Tapani/Brian Duensing
The pitcher so brilliant early in his career, but needed to be monitored for injury later: Scott Erickson/Francisco Liriano
And of course, the ace with the mustache: Jack Morris/Carl Pavano

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Links of the Day 9/29/10

Rams fans are experts with duct tape. That's right! Rams fans!

More info on that US Open scuffle a few months back.

Probably true.


We are the Indians

One of the most historically inept "good" teams of all time was the Cleveland Indians. They had the AL Central locked down for almost a decade, winning the AL Central crown 6 times in 7 years from 1995 to 2001. The Twins are a little bit less successful in that regard, having only won their 6 titles in 9 years. The Indians were always regarded as an exercise in futility, winning the crown but never taking down the World Series. Everyone felt bad for Cleveland since it has such a sad sports history.
Well here's the thing. The Indians went to and lost 2 World Series and managed to find their way to two more ALCS's. In the Twins' stretch, the team has one SERIES victory under their belt. I guess I shouldn't have said the Twins ARE the Indians, because when held up against the Indians, the Twins are substantially less successful. I think that as a fan, this will be a significantly less enjoyable post season than usual, if only because I will no longer accept just getting to the post season as a success.

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Links of the Day 9/28/10

OK, so I disappeared today. My bad. Lay off me.

The Reds made the postseason!

This was sort of a scary incident. I have to say, if someone was spitting on me and yelling ethnic slurs at me, I might have reacted similarly.

So the Twins are saving their wins for the postseason, right? RIGHT?!


Monday, September 27, 2010

Some fun college football thoughts

Ever since Steve and I set up the college football simulation a few years ago, I always take in the NCAA game with the 12 10 team divisions in mind. Now that we are a few seasons in, and several of the same teams are getting into the season ending tournament year after year, a year like this gives a little perspective on how the landscape of the game is changing. If the simulation shakes out such that the highest ranked teams actually do top the divisions, the 12 postseason teams would be thus:

Ohio State
Boise State
Penn State
North Carolina State
West Virginia
Air Force

I think the most stunning inclusions have to be NC State and Air Force, right? Though it would be pretty interesting to have this tournament without USC for the first time since it's inception.

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Links of the Day 9/27/10

I don't know a thing about rugby. Is this cool?

More reasons to hate Bryce Harper....

I don't think anyone is looking forward to NHL Hard Knocks as much as Kevin Schultz.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's Sunday, Here's a fat man running.

The D-Line doesn't get to celebrate a whole lot of scoring, and when they do, they don't get to cut back and forth up and down the field like Brett Keisel did today. Good for him. And hey! Gus Johnson!

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Links of the Day 9/26/10

More Fire Joe Morgan.

I guess I didn't ever realize just how bad Tyler Colvin's injury was.

Photoshop is always delightful. Too bad I just massacre MS Paint.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Week 2

The NFL season is off to its usual unpredictable start. Some teams that no one gave a chance to this season, like Tampa, Kansas City, and Miami, are off to 2-0 starts while some favorites to win divisions (or more) like Minnesota, Dallas, and San Francisco are all 0-2. So what better way to sort all of this craziness out by looking at the power ranks? This week we have a new #1, who is shockingly the Pittsburgh Steelers. They may not know who their QB is going to be for the next few weeks, but they are somehow 2-0 and got to Titans to turn the ball over somewhere around 238 times last week.

Even though the Steelers are #1, I'm giving the picture nod this week to Matt Schaub of the #2 Texans, who threw for almost 500 yards last week and won what was the most exciting game of Week 2 (Thanks Sunday Ticket!....the Monday night Saints-49ers game was a close 2nd). Speaking of that Saints narrow victory in San Francisco, they hang on to the #3 spot this week. The Bears leaped up 6 spots to move into #4 after their impressive win over Dallas, and the Packers move into the #5 spot.

3 out of the original 5 bottom 5 teams won in week 2, so we have some newcomers. Staying put are the Rams (#32) and 49ers (#31, even though I think they are way better than the 31st team in the NFL based on Monday Night), and joining them are the Cowboys (#30, another one that probably won't stay), Lions, and Bills (Those 2 probably will).

I know this is only week 2, but some teams had night/day performances between the 2 weeks, and as a result, we saw some of the most dramatic movement since I have been doing this ranks. The Broncos jumped 18 spots from dead last to #14. The Chargers also jumped 17 spots, and the Bengals 14. The victims of the Broncos, the Seahawks, fell 18 spots to #24, and the Jaguars, Giants, and Cardinals all dropped 13 spots.

Here are the full ranks:
1. Steelers - 83.55 - +3
2. Texans - 79.41 - Even
3. Saints - 78.92 - Even
4. Bears - 76.29 - +6
5. Packers - 75.73 - +6
6. Buccaneers - 74.89 - -1
7. Chiefs - 72.55 - +6
8. Falcons - 69.65 - +11
9. Dolphins - 66.61 - +7
10. Chargers - 62.07 - +17
11. Colts - 61.10 - +6
12. Jets - 58.23 - +6
13. Titans - 54.33 - -12
14. Broncos - 51.99 - +18
15. Bengals - 47.74 - +14
16. Redskins - 47.69 - -1
17. Eagles - 46.08 - +5
18. Patriots - 45.81 - -10
19. Ravens - 44.35 - -5
20. Jaguars - 42.31 - -13
21. Browns - 38.87 - -1
22. Giants - 37.77 - -13
23. Raiders - 37.55 - +8
24. Seahawks - 36.05 - -18
25. Cardinals - 32.98 - -13
26. Vikings - 30.00 - -3
27. Panthers - 29.65 - -6
28. Bills - 26.13 - -3
29. Lions - 26.05 - -3
30. Cowboys - 23.25 - -7
31. 49ers - 21.37 - -3
32. Rams - 19.19 - -2

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Links of the Day 9/25/10

It's tough work being a referee.

Braylon Edwards DUI gets stupider by the second.

Fire Joe Morgan came back for a day.


Cooking with Ryan; Salmon with cilantro vinaigrette

Holy crap. I made something that was absolutely phenomenal. The only thing that I took issue with was my fear of undercooked fish. The salmon was probably fine, and it tasted extraordinary, but I felt weird eating it, since I wasn't 100% sure it was totally cooked. I'm a big baby. It was a sockeye fillet that was very juicy, and the extra moisture in the fish made me skittish. I'm still not an expert chef.
It was basted in the aforementioned cilantro vinaigrette, which afforded me an opportunity to use my blender for something other than milkshakes and margaritas. That went well. I accidentally grabbed mozzarella instead of Parmesan, but I don't think that was a huge difference when it was on the fish. Unlike the last fillet of salmon I made, this one was very flavorful, even on it's own. I mean, I think I want to order salmon the next time I go out to eat I enjoyed it this much. And that would be made by a professional chef, so they would theoretically know it was cooked.
Now let me talk about what I had going on under the fillet. You had better believe that was penne and broccoli. The broccoli was steamed with a bunch of seasoning and some lemon juice and turned out great. I had never had broccoli quite like that before, and it was quite delicious. And, well, I love noodles. So the penne was good. EVERYTHING worked out with this meal, aside, of course, from my own misgivings about the fish, but it all tasted very good.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Links of the Day 9/24/10

An interview with the guy who caught Brandon Jacobs' helmet.

Yep... Braylon Edwards is not a smart guy.

Dig the Dugout.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Twins MVP, 2010

I know the season isn't over yet. The Twins were the first to clinch their division, though, so maybe we should figure out who the Twins MVP is for 2010. I realized I wanted to write about this on my way home from Target this noon, only to come home to find out that the Twins Geek (John Bonnes) wrote the exact same thing at the Strib--Who is the MVP?; it's a good read, but let me pick my Twins MVP.

The whole team. Every one of them is an MVP. I'll even include some non-factors like Brendan Harris, although if you don't want to include the likes of him, Ron Mahay and Randy Flores, I'm down with that.

The thing is, it took all seven thousand of them to win this year (really, I lost track of how many guys have played this year). When Slowey and Baker were injured, and when Blackburn struggled and was sent to the minors...the likes of Dunesing stepped in, with spot starts with by Manship and Perkins. When Justin Morneau--a guy heading towards another MVP season hit his head and ended up with a concussion, and missed the entire second half of the year, Cuddyer moved positions for the millionth time (he played second base, third base, and center field, other than his position in right field). Jason Kubel went from part-time DH to right field. Jim Thome went from part-time bench/part time DH to DH. Hardy, Hudson, and Punto all missed time in the infield. Valencia showed up. Casilla filled in. Like Hughes filled in for a few games. Butera showed himself as a capable defensive catcher, and seemed to have a fair amount of clutch hits that made his lack of hits in general a little easier to take.

So, who's the MVP? Is Cuddyer's reported leadership and flexibility more worthwhile than finally getting a real third baseman or a phenomenal defensive/offensive catcher or a starter who pitched strongly or a pitcher who should be considered in the Cy Young based on peripherals, or the bullpen's work both early and late in the season? Who is it? I think it's everyone put together. By everyone I'm including Bill Smith and the front office, the scouts in the field, the trainers, the coaches in both the majors and minors, and everyone else involved with this Twins season.

There is no easy way to pick a team MVP. It's a team sport. You can't say a starting pitcher is more valuable than a bullpen pitcher--starters can lose games before the bullpen gets involved, and bullpens can lose games after the start has left. A clean-up hitting first baseman can't get RBIs if the batters before him don't get on base. A power-hitting DH can't win games with his bat if no one else hits or plays defense. A great-called game by a catcher is worthless if defense doesn't back it up, or no one gets a hit. It's all combined efforts that win games.

So who's the MVP of the Twins this year? Whomever you think. Although if you've picked Matt Tolbert or Trevor Plouffe, I'd like a rational explanation.

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Links of the Day 9/23/10

Felix Hernandez is extraordinarily unlucky.

Matt Diaz, crime stopper.

Jimmy Clausen is bringing his championship experience to the Carolina Panthers!



Sure, you could celebrate the Twins clinching the AL Central on Tuesday. If that doesn't do it for you, and you are looking forward to the future, perhaps you could simply be excited by the fact that the Rochester Red Wings (essentially) were able to win against the Indians today! Danny Valencia batting clean up! Whoda thunk it?


Links of the Day 9/22/10

Dexter McLuster can do it all. Well, he can do it all on the field.

Looking for a date in Vancouver?

Someone is still pissed about Sammy Sosa.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Akinori Iwamura story

This is Akinori Iwamura. He came from Japan, if you couldn't tell, and was one of the members of the Rays team that turned things around before he got injured and found his career waylaid. He was eventually let go because of these injury issues and tried to catch on with the Pirates. Unable to stay with them for the season, he ended up with the A's in Oakland to finish out the 2010 season.
He traveled with the A's this past weekend to Minnesota, where he played third base on Sunday's matinee. In the 6th inning of that game, he was battling Alex Burnett, and on the 8th pitch of a long at bat, with the 3-2 count, he popped a foul ball behind the plate and right into the waiting right hand of my father.
(Fun side story... I watched the replay to see if you could see my dad snag the foul ball, but you couldn't. He said that he considered giving the ball to a little girl sitting nearby, but noticed an Inaugural Season logo on the ball so he kept it. Two batters before, FSN cut to a guy giving a little girl a foul ball.)


Links of the Day 9/21/10

Is your fantasy team creative? If it's on this list, it isn't.

Cooper finally won something!

Who wants to see people get hit by broken bats?


Monday, September 20, 2010

The Favre Sad Gallery, Week 2

Every time there is an update, check back with The Victoria Times for the Favre Sad Gallery

The latest picture is from Jamie Squire/Getty images

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Links of the Day 9/20/10

The Twins sure do well without Morneau. What's up with that?

Someone at last night's Colts game almost got a souvenir. Indianapolis is full of beautiful people.

Egads, baseball is scary.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Week 1

The NFL season is back and so are the power ranks! If you are newer reader to the site, each week I put up the NFL power ranks, which are based on a weighted mathematical formula that takes record, recent success, strength of schedule, strength of division, offense, defense, and turnover ratio into account. The ranks have been a fun tool over the past few years to see who is the best right now and who might be better (or worse) than their record indicates. Last year, my first playoff prediction based on the ranks, which occurred half way through the season turned out to be very close to actual match-ups, so it's not a rock solid formula, but it isn't totally worthless either.

However, the week 1 power rankings are usually pretty worthless. Recent success takes last season heavily into account and all the 1-0 teams have a terrible strength of schedule while all the 0-1 teams have a perfect strength of schedule. I have some pretty high doubts that some the teams at the top of these first ranks, who took advantage of beating down bad teams, will still be at the top at the end of the season, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Saints and even the Texans or Titans are still there.

The bottom 5 is pretty interesting to start the year. I wouldn't be too surprised if most of these teams stay there almost all season. The Broncos look pretty bad, and the Raiders, Rams, and 49ers have been no strangers to the bottom 5 over the past few years (even though the 49ers were allegedly going to be better this year). It's not a stretch the Bengals will stay down there too, despite a good year last year.

Here are the initial ranks:
1. Titans - 81.77
2. Texans - 78.06
3. Saints - 77.58
4. Steelers - 75.32
5. Buccaneers - 71.61
6. Seahawks - 68.06
7. Jaguars - 67.90
8. Patriots - 67.58
9. Giants - 66.94
10. Bears - 66.77
11. Packers - 65.16
12. Cardinals - 64.68
13. Chiefs - 62.90
14. Ravens - 61.94
15. Redskins - 61.61
16. Dolphins - 59.35
17. Colts - 44.84
18. Jets - 44.68
19. Falcons - 42.90
20. Browns - 42.58
21. Panthers - 40.97
22. Eagles - 37.42
23(tie). Cowboys - 36.61
23(tie). Vikings - 36.61
25. Bills - 33.55
26. Lions - 31.77
27. Chargers - 30.65
28. 49ers - 29.84
29. Bengals - 29.03
30. Rams - 28.87
31. Raiders - 21.77
32. Broncos - 19.03

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Links of the day 9/19/10

Hey, what's the deal with AJ Burnett's black eye? I'm  guessing it was Brian Cashman.

The Gophers were.... respectable against USC yesterday. Good for them.

Purdue won too.


Yep, that's Joe Torre all right

Checked my Yahoo! mail account the other day, and Yahoo! Sports' news feed had the news that Joe Torre was calling it quits.

That's right, former UCLA basketball star Joe Torre is retiring. Unless that's what Don Mattingly looks like without a mustache.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Links of the Day 9/18/10

Incredibly sad story from Texas, where a quarterback died after collapsing on the field.

Already the rumors are starting now that Joe Torre has retired.

This is news for the Bills. Yep.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Not that Jeter gets treated like a god or anything

If the whole Derek Jeter hit by pitch incident had involved anyone else in baseball, would the reviews have been as glowing?
Ron Gardenhire is amused.Every commentator on ESPN, from Josh Eliot to Mark Schlereth has expressed their admiration for such an intelligent, gritty player. If it was ANYONE else in the game, do you think the reviews would be as glowing? I think I'm just going to be happy that he has a fastball coming for his ribs in the not so distant future.

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Links of the Day 9/17/10

Apparently football isn't all that popular in California. Hippies.

All over but the crying on the South Side. Not like they don't have World Series under their belt anyways.

The Black Eyed Peas will be the half time "entertainment" this year at the Super Bowl. Gross.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cooking with Ryan: Macaroni and ham bake

This was an extraordinarily simple little bake, which was greatly appreciated after the massacre that was the Canton beef noodles, though I have to say the leftovers, doused with soy sauce, were actually pretty tolerable. This was just some macaroni in eggs and milk, baked with ham. The only thing is, I didn't want to go get more ham when I had other pork products all over my refrigerator. I still had some pancetta from the risotto I made a few weeks ago, so I threw that in instead of the ham. The only seasoning was pepper, so the fat of the pancetta was rendered out into the pasta, which gave it a nice added flavor. Pancetta is more like bacon than traditional ham, so it wasn't quite as salty as the original recipe intended, I'm sure. It was still pretty good, and I'm always proud of myself when I'm able to tweak a recipe a little bit and have it come out OK.
The green on the plate is just steamed broccoli with a little lemon juice. It's the right idea, something a little lighter to cut the heaviness of the pasta, but something about broccoli isn't light for me. It was still a good meal when it was all put together, though, so yay me.


Links of the Day 9/16/10

Is it true? Are the Orioles.... good?

There is something not right about Jaroslav Halak's goalie mask.

I'm sorry, what did you say a short hop is?


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The 2011 schedules are out

Hey, the MLB 2011 schedules already came out. The things I always look forward to are the opening day, home opener and interleague series. Of course, I also take a particular note of who the Twins are playing on my birthday, because I like to go to the game in that situation. Well, how about a run down.
The season opens on April 1st in Toronto against the Blue Jays. A week later on the 8th, they will be facing the A's for the Target Field opener. The interleague series are against Arizona, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles (the Dodgers, of course) and of course, two against Milwaukee. The Dodgers and Padres are at home, in addition to one series against the Brewers.
My birthday, for those who forgot (which better be nobody) is April 5th, and the Twins will be on the road in... New York. I have never been to the City, and I am terrified. Wish me luck (or come along!)


Links of the Day 9/15/10

Yep, Boston is done with baseball for the year.

Oh yeah, Rafael Nadal won the US Open.



Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Here we go again

Back in June, I touched upon the mayoral race in my adoptive home town, Eagan, and the quixotic campaign of former Vikings' safety Joey Browner. As per usual, I took my facts from the Star Tribune, and splayed them across the internet at my site, and once again, I have been derailed by the Star Tribune. EaganResident has taken it upon themselves to comment:

Lets get more facts down:
The decision is being appealed and therefore should not be paid

He made the deadline. First people complain that he did not make a deadline and now they are complaining about that he did make the deadline. I find it interesting that an employee at Eagan found it necessary to inform the press of the time Browner filed but nothing is said of Maquire's timing.

His website is up and running. Try it again

Lets get the facts right before you call them facts

Good stuff. It should be noted that on the interview portion of the site, he cites a Star Tribune commenter to decry the mayor. But that's not the point. Relaying the facts given to me by a credible news source has once again led me astray. Joey Browner, have you heard of Ben Repinski?

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Links of the day 9/14/10

Hey, the Chiefs won! I know my surprise teams, right?

Do you think Ray Lewis would survive water polo? Does he think he would?

Things are different in Tennessee.

The BCS may be influenced by biased voters...


Monday, September 13, 2010

College whiners irk me.

For whatever reason, the idea of people selling jerseys of college teams has become quite the point of contention for people railing against the idea of not paying people to play college sports. Well, there have been a couple of sites that I saw the complaint on, namely The Big Lead, Barry Petchesky at Deadspin, and this post at Fanhouse by Kevin Blackistone.
Give me a break. Let's run down a few facts: most college athletes in the most profitable sports (football and basketball are the only two that are actually profitable, generally speaking) ARE paid. Do you know how much most college students would LOVE to be on a free ride at their school? Do you know how much the inclusion on a sports roster boosts one's notoriety and resume? Make no mistake, most of these athletes are paid upwards of 30k a year.
If you look up the typical pay of a meteorologist, you will see something in the 6 figures. The numbers are skewed because of the ones on TV and a few of the senior meteorologists at the National Weather Service. Most pro meteorologists make less than 30k a year. This would be about the same discrepancy between a college athlete and one in the NFL or NBA. It's not insane for someone to make 25k a year while other members of their profession make significantly more.  And for those that are upset they aren't getting that money in cash, then I say it's their fault if they are too stupid to parlay a free education into a successful career.
As for the millions the school rakes in, I need to remind you that those millions typically go to fund other programs. Were the schools to pay athletes, then the school starts losing money. Programs are dropped. And if there IS a profit, that goes back into the school. Most of these universities are non profit, so that extra cash goes back into courses, research professors and facilities. Remember? These are schools we're talking about, not the big bad NFL.
Blackistone made reference to the plight of one particular athlete. The problem with allowing one player an exception is that it's a slippery slope. If one athlete at Georgia is allowed to take money from the school on top of his scholarship (and that's what selling their property is), then what's to stop an athlete from a less privileged school, like, say, Idaho, from doing the same?
Now that I have talked about that, I can start in on the fallacy of a playoff being more fair than the present system. Perhaps another time.

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Links of the Day 9/13/10

Pat White can't be any worse than Luke Hochevar.

True story, this is also how Alex Burnett got his start.

The sad Fox music always makes me laugh, then I realize it's because someone got hurt.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

At least it's NFL Season

I'm a fan of two teams in the college game, the Purdue Boilermakers, my alma mater, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers, the home town team. The season's second week was played, mostly in full, yesterday, and I can already tell this isn't going to be a good year for football.
Both the Gophers and Boilermakers played FCS (lower level) teams this week, the Gophers against South Dakota and the Boilermakers against Western Illinois. Minnesota lost to South Dakota 41-38, and Purdue narrowly edged the Leathernecks of Western Illinois, 31-21.
The Gophers couldn't stop South Dakota at all on defense and ended up allowing 41 points. Imagine what will happen when they have to face a real opponent, like USC, Ohio State or Wisconsin or... hell even Northwestern.
Purdue won, so that means they are a little bit better than Minnesota, I guess, though they struggled. Not only that, they fought injury the whole game, including a devastating injury to their top receiver, Keith Smith, though that was in the 4th quarter when the game shouldh ave been in hand. And by "in hand" I mean, Smith shouldn't have even been on the field, because the second team should have been babysitting a 40 point lead. But alas, this was not the case, and both of my college teams are woebegone, and I am looking forwards instead to the NFL team. At least it appears the Colts have locked up their run defense.
Oh dammit.

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Links of the Day 9/12/10

Well played, Chicago Cubs hater.

In the words of Robert Flores.... Does Wayne Brady have to Djokovic?

Among yesterday's bigger games.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nine years have passed so quickly


Links of the Day 9/11/10

Here I was thinking, the Berman 'stache was fake.

Prison has some serious tennis fans. Well, maybe not tennis.

This may be the first (and probably last) time I have ever linked to anything related to Moroccan soccer. Moroccan TV has some pretty fancy graphics though.


Friday, September 10, 2010

History is repeating itself!

I was watching some old school Family Feud, this an episode from 1980 featuring the Dallas Cowboys and their cheerleaders. It featured Danny White (far right) Tony Dorsett (center) Charlie Waters' magnificently feathered hair (2nd from right), and 5 girls who are all now in their 50s. Harrowing.
Anyways, as the game began, Richard Dawson was interviewing Danny White, the new quarterback for the Cowboys now that Roger Staubach had retired. Well, White had some interesting comments on the topic (paraphrasing):
"Well, we hope he's retiring. He says he is, but he could still come back. He may change his mind. He's always been a practical joker."
Danny White is Aaron Rodgers.

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Links of the Day 9/10/11

Who is everyone else picking to win the Super Bowl?

I got a sweet comment on a post over at the Stache.

This is very well representative of the awareness that is demonstrated by the Diamondbacks front office.



The football game was pretty tough to watch. But yeah, I'm going to get some legs out of this picture.

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Links of the Day 9/9/10

Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Las Vegas.

How about some classic ESPN videos?

Yep. I would have to agree. Kansas City may make the playoffs this year. (I've been saying it for the past month)


Could this be the last of the Vikings?

With the season almost upon us (730!) There is a story just lurking in the background that people aren't addressing. There is a slight chance that this could be the last we see of the Vikings in Minnesota.
It's no secret to anyone who doesn't want to sit around in denial; Zygi Wilf would move the team at the drop of a hat, if it means more money for him. He is a business man, first and foremost, and has no affiliation or loyalty to Minnesota, aside from the fact that he owns the football team. He is in it to make money, not for Minnesota. Even if there is a new stadium built in Minnesota, the thought is that the state will require Wilf to chip in. There is a stadium already built in Los Angeles, waiting for a football team. Depending on how things go with the CBA, profit sharing could be completely revamped, meaning a team in a major urban center could stand to be much more profitable than one in a town like Minneapolis, especially if that team is on the hook for part of a new stadium.And the Dome lease will soon be at it's end.
Oh, sure, it would take a while to get everything taken care of, but after this season, it's looking more and more like there won't be a 2011 season, thanks to the increasing likelihood of a lockout. The CBA is being debated, which could be bad news for small market teams, and would more notably give the Vikings a two year window to plan their move to LA, without football. These two factors could mean we are experiencing the last season of the Vikings in Minnesota.
And yes, LA might be adding the Jaguars already, but why couldn't LA support another team? New York and the Bay area do. The Raiders and Rams left when there wasn't really anything different between a small and large market. And wouldn't the NFL want a more interesting team than the Jaguars in Los Angeles anyways?
This isn't something I necessarily want to happen. I don't like the Vikings, but it doesn't mean I wish they would go away. I'm just saying... enjoy this season, I guess.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Links of the Day 9/8/10

James Sheppard is going to be out a few months after an ATV accident. Take all the time you need, big guy.

I still think that I don't like Bryce Harper.

Oh my. Bat-Girl is back, and she's tweeting!


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I hate Nike

The Oregon Ducks, it turns out, have just been a warning beacon to us all. Nike WILL be infiltrating the rest of college football with their uniform retardery, and there is nothing we can do about it. In ESPN's college football preview (in the magazine, which I can't figure out how to hyperlink to), football players rated the Oregon unis the best. Damn kids, not knowing what's what.
Well, Nike, now emboldened by the next generation of half-witted, pot-smoking hippy kids, rolled out their "pro combat" uniforms, which almost unanimously look terrible. Of course, everyone under the age of 22 thinks they look amazing. Kids are morons.
TCU's are far and away the worst. "The helmet has two red lines down the center that represent the blood that shoots from a horned frog’s eyes when under attack. Lewis said the lines also symbolized the brotherhood that unites the team." I would have thought a Christian school would look down on abortions like this.
Paul Lukas is the only saving grace in this regard.  Why can't the sane every be heard in dens of madness?

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Links of the Day 9/7/10

Even though the argument is that Boise State shouldn't be in the title game because of their schedule, it turns into yet another playoff argument.

Tandem bikes will never be cool.

Jeff Loria is a bad man.


Monday, September 06, 2010

Cooking with Ryan: Canton beef noodles

Well, they can't all be winners. I'm not sure EXACTLY what went wrong with this, but I know how it ended it up: slimy and flavorless. The sauce had ginger, red pepper, soy sauce, and beef broth, and there was garlic in the stir fry, so by all means, it should have tasted like SOMETHING. But it didn't. And like I said, it was slimy. Here are my theories:
1) The slime was because of the noodles, which were overcooked
2) Too much corn starch in the sauce
3) The sauce was too warm when it was added to the noodles and stir fry.
I have no idea. The steak in it was good though. Other than that, the less said about this the better.


Links of the day 9/6/10

In honor of the pending NFL Season.

If this were me, I wouldn't even be mad, just impressed.

And I thought the Twins midseason tailspin was frustrating. What happened to the Padres?


Sunday, September 05, 2010

Is this a bad thing?

I can't figure out yet if it's good or bad that the guy from Lost pitched for the Twins on Friday, and did so good that he could have easily fit into the rotation if he kept things up?


Links of the Day 9/5/10

Jim Thome: Better than Mark McGwire.

Purdue lost.

Of course, Taylor Swift HAD to side with Notre Dame. I knew I didn't like her.


Saturday, September 04, 2010

Ryan's 2010 NFL Predictions

We had Steve's NFL preview last weekend, and now, this week, it's time for me. More and more, I like teams that have good youth at the skill positions, but a solid, veteran quarterback. But the key is, it has to be GOOD youth, and not just "youth". Without further ado, let's break it down.

AFC East
New England Patriots
New York Jets
Miami Dolphins
Buffalo Bills

I don't like the Jets as much as some do. sure, they made a post season run, but they really only made the playoffs last year because Indy gifted them a win. I think this division will be tight and very competitive, which will be a problem for the Jets and Dolphins, because teams from weaker divisions, like the North, will be able to accumulate more wins and get into the playoffs. The Patriots should be able to put up enough points that the Dolphins can't keep up. The only way this goes the way of the Jets is if Shonn Green is as good as advertised, and probably a little better.

Balitmore Ravens - 1st Round bye
Cincinnati Bengals - Wild Card
Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland Browns

I think it's funny that it took until AFTER offensive guru Brian Billick was out of town for the team to figureo out how to move the ball. Joe adds a new target in Anquan Boldin and still has Ray Rice to rely on. And yes, the defense is going downhill, but it's still good, just not elite as it once was. I think Bengals will also be able to move the ball with alacrity, especially now with a real live tight end to throw the ball to in Jermaine Gresham. They will get into the post season, but only as the last place team in, thanks to defensive issues. I think the Steelers are in a lot of trouble. Their O-Line isn't good, their defense is suspect and they are starting Dennis Dixon for the first two weeks of the season. In Cleveland, the Colt Countdown has already begun.

AFC South
Indianapolis Colts - Home Field
Tennessee Titans - Wild Card
Jacksonville Jaguars
Houston Texans

I really think the Colts are due for a collapse, seeing as they have no running game and the defense is always inconsistent (though I LOVE that they picked so many LB's in this year's draft), but I think the other teams in the AFC South are going to be hamstrung by their own incompetence. I think in Tennessee, the issues are with their defense, not with Vince Young, who I think is a perfect complement to Chris Johnson out of hte backfield. The Jaguars are always the Colts' Achilles heel and have a good running game and are always feisty on defense. They may surprise a bit this year. Everyone seems to think this is the year the Texans break through, but just look at what has gone wrong. Their two needs were secondary and an enhanced running game. Their starting cornerback, Dunta Robinson took off, and the running back they drafted, Ben Tate, blew up his ankle. I figure everything else has gone wrong for them, so why not put them in last place.

AFC West
Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers
Oakland Raiders
Denver Broncos

I fully expect crazy things to happen in the AFC West, where every team could end up 8-8 or 7-9. The Chiefs are my pick as a sleeper this year, perhaps because I am insane, but I have my reasons. This year, they aren't going to be hamstrung by trying to put Larry Johnson in the lineup and can depend on Jamaal Charles (and Thomas Jones) for the entire season. The coaching staff improved, and the defense will follow suit. They will have two real receivers for the entire season in Chris Chambers and Dwayne Bowe, and they have a dynamic new offensive component in newly drafted Dexter McLuster. The Chargers are on a slippery slope and Philip Rivers has nobody to throw to. The Raiders will benefit from an improved defense and a quarterback who cares. The Broncos will likely be one of he worst teams in the league.

NFC East
New York Giants - 1st Round bye
Dallas Cowboys - Wild Card
Philadelphia Eagles - Wild Card
Washington Redskins

I think Steve and I had similar thoughts here, in that this could be a division that puts three teams in the playoffs. I think the AFC South will be weaker than Steve does, so I am comfortable giving a spot to the Eagles, who will benefit from dynamic playmakers away from the quarterback position. Ahead of them, however, will be the Giants and their balanced attack. I think the defense will be better too, because Tom Coughlin won't let it be as bad as it was. The Cowboys can't be as good as they were last year. People will expect Miles Austin now, and will be able to key on him. The Cowboys D needs to be healthy. The Redskins just don't have the right personnel on defense and still haven't done anything to address the offensive line, which will be the problem for McNabb, more than his receiving corps or his running backs, whose average age is 74.

NFC North
Green Bay Packers - Home Field
Minnesota Vikings
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions

This year is the Packers' to lose. I had a few extra days to see what would happen in this division, and the Vikings may be out their two top receivers from last year, they no longer have Chester Taylor, and their defense will not be as strong as last year, owing the injury to EJ Henderson last season, which I am not comfortable that he is fully returned from, the fact that their secondary isn't any better and, well, that's about it. The Packers will be able to score at will, and they addressed their offensive line, which was a drastic need. The Lions and Bears are probably going to finish with about the same record. I just have them in the order they are at to be different from Steve.

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons
New Orleans Saints
Carolina Panthers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Matt Ryan has won me over. I think he will be better than last year, more his rookie season form. I also expect the Saints to struggle on defense, where there are a few holes, particularly in the secondary. I think teams will start to play them like teams are playing the Colts now: complete ball control. A team like the Falcons or the Panthers, who each get to play them twice a year, can beat the Saints by keeping the ball on the ground and out of Drew Brees' hands. If this happens enough, the Saints could become very ordinary. I almost put the Bucs ahead of Carolina, but the Panthers ground game will be too good, I think.

NFC West
San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals
Seattle Seahawks
Saint Louis Rams

The 49ers will run over this division, but get beat up in their non conference schedule. Their defense is the selling point, and I suspect their offense will languish. Frank Gore is a near certainty to get hurt, and Alex Smith is still trying to figure out how to be a pro quarterback, but the rest of the division is still just so bad. The Cardinals should be in last place, but they also play in a division with two of the most pitiful teams in football. Their offense won't be AS bad as it could be. They still have a ton of receivers and some options to run with. The Seahawks could turn it around soon, but they are in desperate need of talent on the offensive side of the ball. The Rams... ugh.

Wild Card Playoffs
Titans over Chiefs
Patriots over Bengals
Eagles over 49ers
Falcons over Cowboys

Divisional Playoffs
Colts over Titans
Ravens over Patriots
Packers over Eagles
Falcons over Giants

Conference Championships
Colts over Ravens
Packers over Falcons

Super Bowl
Packers over Colts

MVP - Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Coach of the Year - Todd Haley, Chiefs
Offensive Rookie of the Year - Dexter McLuster, Chiefs
Defensive Rookie of the Year - Brandon Spikes, Patriots

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Links of the Day 9/4/10

Being a GM would be tough, even worse for a New York team.

The NFL starts in 5 days. Bill Simmons asks what quarterback you would want? Not Matt Leinart.



Friday, September 03, 2010

So What are the REAL Competitively Balanced Divisions?

When the Big Ten announced their realignment on Wednesday, they said that both competitive balance and geography played a part in setting up the divisions. A lot has been said about the geography side of things. An East-West split seemed pretty easy, but what about the Competitive balance part of it. My guess is the Big Ten grouped and then split pairs of teams by competitiveness. It was probably something like 1. Ohio State - Michigan 2. Nebraska - Penn State 3. Iowa - Wisconsin 4. Purdue - Michigan State 5. Illinois - Minnesota 6. Northwestern - Indiana.

But, what if the Big Ten used real numbers to split up their divisions? I thought this would be interesting to look at, so I looked at each of the 12 teams records throughout the BCS Era (since 1998). I feel like that is a pretty good gauge of competitiveness. You have 12 years to work with, this was an era when things became a little more standardized in college football, and its recent history. Sure, Illinois was awesome in the 1920s with Red Grange, but how much does that matter or affect their recruiting now? Remember, colleges are trying to recruit kids that were born in 1992 or 1993 this year, so the BCS started when they were 4 or 5. So let's take a look at the standings since 1998. These records include bowl games and conference championship games (for Nebraska). Teams in the real life Ohio State division are in red and teams in the real life Michigan division are in blue:

1. Ohio State 119 32 0.788
2. Wisconsin 107 46 0.699
3. Nebraska 105 49 0.682
4. Michigan 101 48 0.678
5. Penn State 96 52 0.649
6. Iowa 84 63 0.571
7. Purdue 83 66 0.557
8. Michigan State 76 70 0.521
9. Minnesota 75 72 0.510
10. Northwestern 67 78 0.462
11. Illinois 56 85 0.397
12. Indiana 47 92 0.338

So, if we were to split up the conferences from a competitive standpoint, we would put teams 1. 4, 5, 8, 9, and 12 together and teams 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, and 11 together (to make it a "snake" pattern). This means the divisions would be:

Division A: Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Indiana
Division B: Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois

This is interesting because in real life, the Big Ten put the top 2 and bottom 2 teams over the past 12 years together, leaving the other division to mostly be the "middle of the pack" division. Divison A looks much stronger on paper in the alignment above, but its actually more balanced, at least over the 12 years. The interesting thing is in his alignment, pretty much only the Purdue/Indiana and maybe the Iowa and Wisconsin vs. Minnesota rivalries would be lost to realignment, probably eliminating the real life need for a cross-conference protected rivalry.

I also took it one step further, because the Big Ten is all about money. Bowl game appearances bring in big bucks, so I gave 1 extra "win" for a bowl bid and 2 extra "wins" for a BCS bid. This didn't change the standings that much, but here they are:

1. Ohio State 119 32 0.788 3 8 0.914
2. Wisconsin 107 46 0.699 9 2 0.784
3. Michigan 101 48 0.678 6 4 0.772
4. Nebraska 105 49 0.682 8 2 0.760
5. Penn State 96 52 0.649 5 2 0.709
6. Iowa 84 63 0.571 6 2 0.639
7. Purdue 83 66 0.557 8 1 0.624
8. Minnesota 75 72 0.510 9 0 0.571
9. Michigan State 76 70 0.521 6 0 0.562
10. Northwestern 67 78 0.462 5 0 0.497
11. Illinois 56 85 0.397 1 2 0.433
12. Indiana 47 92 0.338 1 0 0.345

This setup only gives us one change, but its a big one. It swaps Michigan and Nebraska. Here is what it would be under this alignment:

Division A: Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Indiana
Division B: Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois

I'm sure under this format they would have done the cross-division rivalry because they split up "sacred" Michigan and Ohio State. What would the other 5 be? I'll guess Nebraska vs. Iowa, Minnesota vs. Wisconsin, Purdue vs. Indiana, Illinois vs. Penn State, and Michigan State vs. Northwestern. The most interesting thing I realized while doing this is that Illinois has only been to 3 bowl games in the past 12 years, and 2 of them have been BCS bowls. Weird. But that's why splitting them up by BCS appearances alone can be deceiving. Also, who would have guessed that Wisconsin has the 2nd best record over the past 12 years, even when you correct for bowls? They have been very, very consistently above average, but rarely great.

I'm interested to hear what you think about these other possible alignments. Feel free to leave a comment.


Links of the Day 9/3/10

The Shreveport times always gets the best interviews.

Tennis has the unruliest fans.

Creepy, but I'm unfortunately not surprised someone like this exists.


It's like the Roman Gladiators

This was probably the best basebrawl not involving Kyle Farnsworth in about a decade. My favorite part? Pat Listach!


Links of the Day 9/2/10

These uniforms are positively atrocious. Why won't Nike just go away.

Hard to get on the Twins about Danny Valencia.

Hey, College football started today!


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

As expected, the Big Ten messed up divisional alignment

The Big Ten announced their divisional alignment starting in 2011, and as one might have predicted, the divisions made almost no sense:

Division A) Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Northwestern
Division B) Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue and Indiana.

The claim was made that they wanted to look at three things when creating their divisions, in this order: competitive balance, traditional rivalries and geography. Well great, you screwed up all of them. Let's review what they did wrong addressing all three of those factors, in reverse order.

Geography: This should be pretty office. An East-West split would have preserved a truer geographic balance. Have fun with your inter divisional game against Penn State, Wisconsin, as you pass through Northwestern on your way to get there! But really, this wasn't as bad as it could have been, as two teams in the middle of the Big Ten -- Wisconsin and Illinois -- were swapped with the two teams from Michigan.

Traditional rivalries: Most traditional rivalries are best preserved by a true East-West split, and as a result, most of the broken rivalries are because of the 4 teams that got swapped, like Minnesota and Iowa vs Wisconsin, Illinois vs Northwestern, Michigan vs Ohio State and Michigan State vs. Penn State. Realizing how important these rivalries are, the Big Ten, in their infinite wisdom, will have a set, cross divisional rivalry for every team. They are: Minnesota-Wisconsin, Michigan-Ohio State, Illinois - Northwestern. After that, it gets fun. Iowa - Purdue, Indiana - Michigan State (because this is basketball) and Nebraska - Penn State. So much for geography. And if they go with the 8 game schedule as is common, they will play their 5 divisional games, the 6th crossover game and 2 rotating games. This means that there will be 1 team that you won't see on the schedule for 3 seasons. That's pretty awesome for traditional rivalries, like Iowa-Wisconsin. Of course, there is the chance another conference game is added to the schedule, which may yet happen, but hasn't been confirmed to my knowledge.

Competitive Balance: I have discussed this at length. A true east-west division would be just as competitive as whatever monstrosity this is. Actually, probably more so. Putting Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin in the same conference would have assured a deep western conference. Furthermore, Illinois has been to a BCS game within the past few years, making this conference extraordinarily deep. On the other side, you have Ohio State and Penn State who have fielded any sort of talented roster in the past 5 years. Michigan and Purdue have been BCS teams, but it's been a very long time for each of them. Instead, Michigan was decreed to be just as high quality as Ohio State, and they were split up. Give me a break. When did Michigan become Notre Dame? Do we really need to coddle them and tell them they are pretty even though they haven't been relevant for several years? How long until Michigan is viewed as what they are, a relic of history? 

Let's face the facts, this was done for money. Michigan-Ohio State is the cash cow of the Big Ten. The split of those two teams drove the entire alignment. Congratulations, Nebraska, you left a conference that responded to the whims of Texas for one that responds only to Michigan and Ohio State.


Links of the Day 9/1/10

On a day when Shark Week really pissed someone off, let's get to the links

Hey, Purdue students, you should go try out for the Purdue basketball team. Tryouts are on October 18th!

Motorcycle soccer! I would love to see a slide tackle.

Well done, deep rooted Greek rivalries.


Is it worth it to have Kubel in the tield?

We talked about whether or not it was a valid concern that the Twins defense was missing a lot more balls in the outfield. I thought I would dig a little deeper and see if the team is improved by the replacement of Carlos Gomez with Jim Thome.
On the surface, this is an obvious "yes". But of course, we aren't replacing the bat of Gomez with the bat of Thome, we are replacing the glove of Gomez with the glove of Kubel as well. This is an overly simplistic take on the situation, of course, but it's a look worth taking.
Kubel's fielding this year has been very poor by almost every metric. His fielding percentage is high, of course, because of the balls he gets to, he usually catches. Of course, he doesn't get to all that many balls. His fielding percentage is the lowest among outfielders, and his WAR (wins above replacement) based solely on fielding is -.8. His bat is actually not doing a whole lot this year, and is providing only a .7 WAR this year, but we aren't looking at that. For comparison purposes, Gomez's fielding WAR was .9, so the change in fielding WAR is -1.7. Not so great (and that's comparing Gomez to Kubel... the comparison to Delmon Young is even more staggering, - 2.8)
Thome, who is evaluated exclusively on his bat, is providing a WAR of 2.4. It's his best season since 2007, which is why he is in the lineup every day. If this tells you how much more valuable a bat is than a glove, Carlos Gomez' outstanding glove gave him the same WAR as his forgettable bat: .9. The change, then, from having Thome instead of Gomez is +1.5. Again, we aren't taking into account Delmon Young's addition to the every day lineup
Certainly, there are flaws in the logic and my methodology... I'm doing this after 1100pm on a Tuesday night, after all. For example, a truer reflection of the outfield defense would explore Gomez vs Span in center and Kubel vs Span as a corner outfielder. Also, my understanding of the statistics used isn't as good as it should be, but the simplified conclusion I have made here is this: A straight replacement of Gomez with Thome, moving Kubel from DH to the field is a slight downgrade in the quality of the team. Thank goodness for Delmon Young's bat and JJ Hardy's glove.

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