Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 5 Posts of 2010

And now it's time for the traditional reflection on the year that was! What were our top 5 most popular posts of 2010? Will we be able to duplicate the success next year? That remains to be seen. Here are the top 5 in terms of traffic this year. (My favorite was still the Repinski escapade)

5: Spain-Holland, finding your rooting interests
 - This July post previewed the 2010 World Cup finals for anyone that was interested.

4: Target Field
- Beth's review of Target Field after it's first exhibition checked in at #4.

3: Now this is a road trip!
- After the Mountain West schedule was released, and I found out I was going to San Diego, I was excited. Apparently, so were you.

2: The Brett Favre Sad Gallery, Week 7
- The week the Sad Gallery was officially introduced to the masses (with a big thanks to the Big Lead)

1: A Birthday Visit from JR
- My dear friend Loser Domi invited Jeremy Roenick to post something for my birthday back in April. It's meant more traffic than any of our other posts this year, much to everyone's collective, surprise, I'm sure. Well, except for Jeremy Roenick's.

And with that, I will put a bow on 2010. Thanks to everyone for your readership, and thank you in advance for continuing to read in 2011. Your support means the world to me. From myself, Beth and Steve, have a happy New Year!

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Links of the Day 12/31/10

The last links of 2010. So that's something.


Some NFL pictures with jokes. I used up my good LOTD jokes already this year.

Ryan Braun is on the same career arc as the illustrious Raul Mondesi.

Some of the top stories for 2010 from the perspective of Awful Announcing.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Week 16

After 6 consecutive weeks on top of the power ranks, the mighty Falcons have fallen to #2 after losing to the Saints on Monday night. Fortunately for them, they are still in the driver seat to clinch home field advantage in the NFC with a win over Carolina this Sunday. The Patriots have replaced the Falcons as #1, and have clinched home field in the AFC. It will be interesting to see how many starters they bench this week and how it could affect their rank heading into the playoffs with a loss. The Steelers remained #3 after dominating the now #32 Panthers on Thursday. The Eagles loss on Tuesday night to the Vikings knocked them back to #6. Moving up to replace them were the Ravens and the Bears, who clinched a 1st round bye thanks to that Eagles loss.

We had some more movement on the bottom side. The Cardinals got a dramatic win over the Cowboys on Christmas to move them up to #26, and the Bengals knocked the Chargers out of the playoffs to move up to #25. The Broncos also won, but only moved up 1 spot to #31, putting the Panthers rightfully back in last. The Seahawks moved even further down this week to #30, and the best part is, with a win this weekend, they are NFC West Champs and get a home playoff game. The Texans are brand new to the bottom 5. They have played horribly on defense and have combined them with losing a few close games over the past few weeks.

The biggest gainers this week were the Lions, who have won 3 in a row and are killing a potentially nice draft pick. They moved up 6 spots to jump all the way to #14. Can they make it 4 in a row to end the season? The biggest losers were the Lions' victims, the Dolphins, who fell 7 spots below a group of bunched up under .500 teams to fall to #24.

The playoffs are pretty much set, so a playoff projection doesn't make much sense, but here it is. Some of these scenarios are impossible so this more reflects who is playing best right now.
NFC
First Round Byes: #2 Falcons, #5 Bears
#9 Packers @ #6 Eagles
#8 Saints @ #17 Rams
Top 5 Out: #11 Buccaneers, #14 Lions, #15 Giants, #18 Cowboys, #22 Vikings

AFC
First Round Byes: #1 Patriots, #3 Steelers
#12 Chargers @ #7 Chiefs
#4 Ravens @ #10 Colts
Top 5 Out: #13 Jets, #16 Raiders, #19 Jaguars, #20 Titans, #21 Browns

Full ranks:
1. Patriots - 83.20 - +1
2. Falcons - 76.89 - -1
3. Steelers - 71.92 - Even
4. Ravens - 69.85 - +1
5. Bears - 67.47 - +1
6. Eagles - 66.87 - -2
7. Chiefs - 66.70 - +1
8. Saints - 66.24 - -1
9. Packers - 64.45 - +3
10. Colts - 58.43 - +3
11. Buccaneers - 57.01 - +3
12. Chargers - 54.49 - -1
13. Jets - 54.18 - -3
14. Lions - 53.59 - +6
15. Giants - 54.42 - -6
16. Raiders - 50.42 - -1
17. Rams - 47.50 - +2
18. Cowboys - 43.98 - Even
19. Jaguars - 42.50 - +3
20. Titans - 41.32 - +1
21. Browns - 40.41 - -5
22. Vikings - 39.90 - +4
23. Redskins - 39.32 - +4
24. Dolphins - 39.19 - -7
25. Bengals - 37.65 - +4
26. Cardinals - 36.30 - +4
27. 49ers - 33.92 - -4
28. Bills - 33.65 - -3
29. Texans - 32.65 - -5
30. Seahawks - 30.30 - -2
31. Broncos - 27.98 - +1
32. Panthers - 25.44 - -1

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Links of the Day 12/30/10

We're almost to the end of the year!  We almost made it through 2010!

Brandon Lloyd, classiest human being in the NFL.

Prayers and best wishes go out to Twins legend Harmon Killebrew.

I think I'm going to have to start following Oney Guillen on Twitter.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So, what does Purdue have to do?


Two seasons ago, Robbie Hummel had back spasms and a broken vertebra. His team, Purdue, was written off as doomed. The Purdue Boilermakers, even with a dinged up Hummel for part of the season won the Big Ten Tournament, and got to the Sweet 16
Last season, Robbie Hummell blew an ACL playing here against the Gophers. Purdue was written off as done. The Purdue Boilermakers, even without Hummel, were Big Ten co-champs, went to the tournament, got to the sweet 16 and put up a decent fight with eventual champion Duke.
Now, before the season started this year, Hummel blew his other ACL.Without him, Purdue has gone 12-1 with one admittedly bad loss to Richmond on a neutral court. For whatever reason, Purdue is still written off as a non-factor. Hasn't Purdue proven they can play without Hummel yet?
I'm not complaining, because the Boilers usually prove themselves on the court. I'm just mystified by the perception everyone has of the team without him. I guess it just goes to the stereotype that white people are better at basketball.
(In case you wondering, the Star Trib has them finishing 5th in the Big Ten this year... I can't find the article online)

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Links of the Day 12/29/10

I'm ready for golf already, and this doesn't help matters.

They must really miss basketball in Seattle.

Apparently Mark Buehrle is a good guy. This one is for you Steve.

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Links of the Day 12/28/10

The Vikings are now 2-2 in games Brett Favre doesn't finish.

Who had the highest payrolls at the END of the year?

A referee taunts the Columbus Blue Jackets fans. No, not for being Blue Jackets fans.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Let's Talk About the 49ers

I think I have stated on this site a few times that I am a 49ers fan, even though I grew up in Chicago. It may sound like sports blasphemy on my part but following the Sports Guy's "Rules for Being a True Fan" and the revision he recently wanted to make to that in his story about wanting his daughter to be a Celtics fan, it makes sense. Here's why: My dad is old enough that during his childhood there were 2 NFL teams in Chicago, the Bears and Cardinals. In those days, the Bears played in the North Side Wrigley Field while the Cardinals played in South Side Comiskey Park. Much like the White Sox/Cubs rivalry today, and following the Sports Guy's rule #20, you have to pick one to love and one to hate. Since my dad grew up on the South Side, he loved the White Sox and Cardinals and hated the Cubs and Bears. When he was 12 the Cardinals moved to St. Louis, so following part of rule #19, he decided to like the Raiders of the brand new AFL instead of the hated Bears, and still is a fan to this day 50 years later (and still hates the Cubs and Bears). I was born 23 years into Chicago's single NFL franchise run, but it would have been too heartbreaking for my dad to be a Bears fan, so he taught me to hate them as a little kid, and encouraged me to like the Raiders. I did and still do like the Raiders, but I wanted a team to call my own. My favorite color was red and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world that a team that wore red uniforms won the Super Bowl on my birthday, so the 49ers became my favorite team. Little did I know that I chose a franchise that was in the early years of being a dominant Super Bowl contending and winning team over an 18-year period. Also, I know it is a little ironic that I picked the Raiders cross-town rival, but at that time the Raiders were in LA and not Oakland, so it would have been much worse if I had chosen to like the Rams.

So that's my background. My first 18-20 years of 49ers fandom were pretty enjoyable, but the last 8 years have pretty much sucked. If we revisit that Sports Guy story one more time and look at rule #12, if you stack up all of the 5 year grace periods for winning Super Bowls, I have been allowed to complain about them since 2007, which is also the first time I have been able to in my life. Since I don't live in San Francisco, I am beginning to question the city's desire to have a winning team. Imagine if the Steelers had 8 absolutely awful years in a row. The town might explode. Living in Arizona, I know that western cities attitudes towards sports are extremely laid back and not as rabid as it is in the northeast or rust belt cities. Fans see games as entertainment, not life or death, which is probably a healthier way to live. I think the Niners' current problems are rooted in that and the poor ownership that now controls the team.

Ed DeBartolo was the man that put the 49ers dynasty together, seemingly always making the right moves with upper management, coaches, and players for all 23 years that he was owner of the team. He was also in the business of running horse racing tracks and casinos in Louisiana. He eventually got involved with a corruption case involving the governor of Louisiana and was more or less forced to sell the team to his sister in 2000. His sister then immediately allowed her husband and children to run the team straight into the ground.

The reason why I am writing about the 49ers today is because they were in the news almost all day with the talk of Mike Singletary's firing as the head coach. The legendary linebacker brought a great fire and spirit to the team, but if you look at this well written piece from ESPN, he basically didn't have much of a chance to succeed, due to his lack of experience as coordinator for any team and his lack of connections to hire quality assistants for his team. A passionate coach is a great thing for a college team, but in the NFL, you need guys that are masterminds of the x's and o's to succeed. Singletary was nothing more than a big name to get the fans excited that really had no business being a head coach in the NFL (at least until he gets more experience). Let's think about who he replaced: Mike Nolan. He is a fine defensive coordinator, but he was mostly hired because he is the son of former 49ers head coach Dick Nolan, who coached them to a few good seasons in the early 70s. He will mostly be remembered for his sick obsession to wear a suit on the sidelines during a game, instead of his actual coaching. As a defensive minded coach, he was a horrible match with the freshly drafted Alex Smith, and the two clashed all the way until he was fired. Before Nolan, the Niners had great college but proven failure in the NFL coach Dennis Erickson.

The Niners personnel moves have ranged from pretty good, to terrible, to too wishful, to downright arrogant over the past few years. They've managed to build a pretty talented defense anchored by 2007 first-rounder Patrick Willis and have also used the draft to get talented offensive weapons like Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, and Michael Crabtree. They've also had a lot of horrible busts like Kentawn Balmer and almost all of their picks in the early 2000's. On the wishful side, for some reason that I just can't understand, they have been overly loyal to Alex Smith since drafting him #1 overall in 2005. After 6 years of constant injuries, benchings, and inconsistent play (not helped by changing the offensive coordinator every year), isn't it time to pull the plug on this experiment? Are they just sitting around praying that somehow, one day he will make the Niners management actually look smart for drafting him? Besides some defensive freaks, all good teams have good QBs, and the Niners will be nothing until they have one. Some of the Niners signings and moves have been downright arrogant as well. For example, they made Nate Clements the richest defensive player ever heading into the 2007 season, blowing all of their free agent money on this "missing piece" of their championship puzzle. Clements is an ok player, but isn't worth the money he makes on a team filled with holes (and personally won them and cost them their game with the Falcons on a single stupid play this season). They also gave away their #7 overall pick in the 2008 draft and a 4th rounder in 2007 to New England for New England's #28 pick in 2007, probably because they figured their 2007 team would be so unstoppable that their 1st rounder would be in the high 20s in 2008. By the way, New England traded that 4th rounder to the Raiders for Randy Moss. That's a prime example of what a well run team does.

Speaking of the draft, I knew going into Sunday's game with the Rams that this weekend's game against the Cardinals would be their biggest game since 2002. If they would have won, they would need to win this game to be back in the playoffs (and be the worst playoff team of all time), and if they lost, they would absolutely need to lose to the Cardinals to help their draft status. Thanks to an awful NFC/AFC West schedule this year, the Niners have a legitimate chance to end up with the #2 overall pick if they lose this Sunday. They just need to lose ensure at least #5 overall and any win by the Bills, Bengals, or Broncos moves them up a spot for each win. The Bills are playing the Jets, who I imagine will bench their starters in order to rest them up and play the Chiefs instead of the Colts in the first round. The Bengals will probably lose to the Ravens, and the Broncos are playing a dejected Chargers team. If the Niners win, they will probably be picking around #10 overall. So, interim coach Jim Tomsula, your message is clear: Lose to the Cardinals this weekend.

So, I think I've ranted enough. In summary, here is what I think the Niners have to do to get back on top (assuming I can't convince the Yorks and the NFL to sell the team back to DeBartolo).
1. LOSE THIS SUNDAY TO THE CARDINALS
2. Hire a legitimate GM/Team President that actually knows something about football
3. Hire a head coach that can work on this pathetic but talented offense that has enough connections to hire some decent and experienced coordinators and assistants.
4. Get rid of Alex Smith
5. Get a new QB, either a veteran that has worn out his welcome (Orton? McNabb? Kolb?) or try your luck again in the draft, but if you do, have a system in place to develop a young QB
6. Don't blow all of your free agent money on a single, above average player, unless its a very good QB
7. Don't get too full of yourselves thinking you can just waltz to an NFC West title because of a new coach and quaterback next season. As proven by this year, being everyone's obvious pick to win the division means nothing when you can't get it done on the field.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Are sports becoming too important? The Stadium Debate

I fear that I may come off as sort of douchey with this post, especially from someone that writes on a sports blog every day, and have for the past 5 years. I have noticed a trend this football season especially, in which in various aspects of life, sports are becoming simply too important in our lives, and often cloud the judgment of typically right thinking individuals. I have three examples, again pertaining to football, because it is the biggest sport in the land today. I will post the next two topics some time over the next couple of weeks.
The first is in the stadium debate here in the Twin Cities. In my opinion, the cost/benefit for the city of Minneapolis having a stadium is reduced the more that they end up having to pay. For the Twin Cities, the Metrodome continues to be a serviceable venue for high school sports, conventions and other large gatherings, and there is no impetus for them to replace it, just put a new roof on the building. The Vikings, frankly, don't do much for the Minnesota economy. No doubt they are good for the economy, but it's not worth the debt incurred by the city. With 10 home games bringing 70k to town a day, merchandise sales and the potential for a Super Bowl, no doubt that local economy would receive a bump, but that cash wouldn't be recouped by the city itself. The stadium across town, Target Field, had 3 million people show up to games this year, or 5 times the maximum attendance for Vikings games. The Twins haven't drawn less than 700K in a season in almost 30 years. It seems almost common sense that the Vikings stadium shouldn't be a priority to anyone but the hospitality industry in Minneapolis, Blaine, or wherever the stadium is built. We could use the money for schools or roads or public safety.
But it isn't. I have recently been involved in a couple of debates on the merits of a stadium, and the value of the Vikings in Minnesota. I've had people say that it would leave the Twin Cities as a ghost town and in economic shambles. Typically intelligent and right thinking people actually hold this opinion. Again, the Vikings with a new stadium might in one perfect year bring a billion dollars of revenue to the city in a year, if they get the Super Bowl. That's a lot of money. Locally headquartered Fortune 500 company Target that employs tens of thousands of people in the cities does 65 billion dollars annually. General Mills does 14.7 billion. Cargill does 108 billion. Best Buy does almost 50 billion. 3M does 23 billion. Hell, Dairy Queen does 2.5 billion. What am I saying? I'm saying that the Twin Cities will be economically viable without the Vikings. Still, the idea of an empty sports bar without the Vikings in town for 16 days a year leaves some people in a panic over the state of the potential economy in Minnesota. Emotionally, Minnesotans will be shattered, but the pocketbooks for everyone will be just fine.
I am a huge sports fan, and even though I make jokes about it, I don't want the Vikings to leave. In my mind, however, their impact on the state simply isn't as important as some people say.

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Links of the Day 12/27/10

Good morning. Many of you back to work yet? No? Screw you.

Sometimes my Mom gets mad when I can't squeeze out more than 3 paragraphs in a post.

Not an NBA fan, but Lebron James is an asshole.

There may be serious problems with the way the Purdue Athletic Department handles drugs and athletes in the program.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

When bad meteorology, hysteria and football mix

So tonight's Vikings-Eagles game in Philadelphia was pushed to Tuesday night after a few local weather people mentioned the chance for 20 inches of snow. Was there a chance for that much snow? Sure. In eastern New Jersey. Atlantic City is at the tail end of a storm that will put them near 2 feet. Meanwhile, the airport in Philadelphia is checking in with less than 5.
So what happened? Hysteria, for one thing. There was the chance for big snow in the viewing area for the Philadelphia TV market, and upon hearing "up to 20 inches" all bets were off. Sure, it's snowing less than what was originally ACTUALLY forecast in Philadelphia, but not much. For example, at Real Job Inc, I was saying about 7. (Meteorologist!) Now the NFL looks a little silly deciding not to play a game for reasons of "public safety" when the city in question ended up with a manageable snow total.
What is the moral of this story? I guess there are a few. First, of course, is if you are relying on a TV forecast, make sure to pay attention to the whole thing. If you want a more specific forecast, check online, or get a personal forecast, especially if you are a major money industry like, say, the NFL. They might make sure to tell you that you will get 7 inches of snow, rather than the 20 they will get about 60 miles away.
Obviously, the idea of postponing a game for the sake of the public is admirable, especially in a league hellbent on making cash (TV ratings for a blizzard game would be through the roof), but in the future, they should make sure that there is an imminent danger.
Unless of course, they just wanted everybody to watch the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl tonight.

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Links of the Day 12/26/10

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas. Let's get back into it!

The Vikings are going to have to get a game postponed... AGAIN. The Vikings Have had more games postponed this season than the Twins did at Target Field.

Beanie Wells is getting ad work?

If the Diamondbacks farm was so good in 2006, why do they suck so bad now? Anyways, watch out for the Royals.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Victoria Times!


I'm going to take the next couple of days off, so I wanted to make sure I took the time to wish you a Merry Christmas. If you celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, then, well, color me surprised, our fan base is broader than I thought. Enjoy the Yule Log.

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Links of the Christmas

Santa is on his way! Probably to the bar, he did most of his shopping online this year, and UPS is doing the deliveries.

In the Christmas spirit, let's laugh at the misfortune of others!

Hmm, apparently it's new stadiums and new ace pitchers that drive ticket sales. When do the Twins get their ace?

An informative look at directional kicking.

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Cooking with Ryan: Pork Noodle Stir Fry

I have to say, just looking at the title of this post, it doesn't sound appetizing. But it sure was! My last attempt at Asian cuisine was an unmitigated disaster (unless you count the pilaf, which was simply disappointing) but I learned an important lesson. Use a delicate touch when using corn starch to thicken sauce, and if using Italian pasta noodles, remember to rinse the starch off, otherwise everything ends up gooey. Also don't cook the noodles too early. So with this wisdom in mind, I was pouring my sauce over the vegetables in the wok (I bought a wok!) when I realized that I had forgotten to add water. There was nothing to thicken.
Oh well, the sauce was still all right. It was supposed to have a "citrus salad dressing" in it. What?! I looked and looked and ended up purchasing the only close semblance I could find at Cub, a lemon tarragon thing. Is there something else out there I should have gone with? I don't know my salad dressings, I guess. One other thing I wish I had done was added more pork. Pork is a tasty slab of meat. Also tasty? The bell peppers. I usually am left to get the picked over, nasty peppers at the grocery store, but not this time. I have never seen such colorful, firm, delectable vegetables. The red pepper looked almost like an apple.
Anyways, here is what my culinary creation looked like.
I should hire someone to dress these plates so they look better when I take the picture.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Links of the Day 12/23/10

Christmas Eve Eve! I hope your shopping is done.

The Giants look worse and worse with their loss to the Eagles on Sunday.

Austin Collie is out for the season, if not more (the last part is my own speculation).

Stories in the New York Post tend to be different than those in the Star Tribune.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Favre Sad Gallery, Week 15









The latest addition to the Sad Gallery is from 30fps

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Links of the Day 12/22/10

Things were a little different back in the 70s.

Oh Twitter.... hey remember to follow us at @victoriawxtimes

This is a thing that happened. Speaking of, Frederic Von Anhalt has the strangest Wikipedia entry that I have ever seen.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Week 15

The power ranks have been pretty certain on who the top teams in the NFL are over the past few weeks, and again this week there was not much movement. The Falcons and Patriots both improved to 12-2 to stay at #1 and #2, but the Patriots are closing the gap. The Steelers lost to the Jets, but were so far ahead of the #4 Saints going into this week, that they stayed at #3. The Saints, who lost to the Ravens, didn't fare as well, dropping to #7 after losing to the Ravens, who despite being a solid team all year, finally cracked the top 5 for the first time all season in Week 15. The Eagles capitalized on the Saints loss and moved up to #4.

We had some movement on the bottom thanks to some of the bottom 5 teams winning. In a clash of the titans in Carolina, the Panthers got their 2nd win of the season over the #29 Cardinals to move into the #31 spot, dropping the cards to #30. The Bengals also won, moving them up to #29. The Seahawks control their own destiny to win the NFC West, yet are ranked #28. Amazing.

This week we saw 3 teams jump 5 spots in the ranks. The Colts moved to #13 after beating the Jags and taking control of the AFC South. The Lions played wild card spoiler 2 weeks in a row by beating Tampa. The Titans finally showed some life and beat the Texans, jumping them in front of a lot of bunched up teams. The biggest loser this week by far were the Jaguars, who fell 8 spots after losing control of the AFC South, and falling behind a bunch of other mediocre to bad teams.

Playoff Projection:
NFC
First Round Byes: #1 Falcons, #4 Eagles
#9 Giants @ #6 Bears
#7 Saints @ #19 Rams
Top 5 Out: #12 Packers, #14 Buccaneers, #18 Cowboys, #20 Lions, #23 49ers

AFC
First Round Byes: #2 Patriots, #3 Steelers
#10 Jets @ #8 Chiefs
#5 Ravens @ #13 Colts
Top 5 Out: #11 Chargers, #15 Raiders, #16 Browns, #17 Dolphins, #21 Titans

Full Ranks:
1. Falcons - 82.74 - Even
2. Patriots - 82.40 - Even
3. Steelers - 71.40 - Even
4. Eagles - 69.66 - +1
5. Ravens - 68.19 - +1
6. Bears - 65.86 - +4
7. Saints - 65.75 - -3
8. Chiefs - 64.70 - Even
9. Giants - 64.10 - -2
10. Jets - 63.88 - +1
11. Chargers - 62.03 - +1
12. Packers - 57.03 - -3
13. Colts - 54.18 - +5
14. Buccaneers - 50.21 - -1
15. Raiders - 49.05 - +4
16. Browns - 47.68 - -1
17. Dolphins - 46.62 - -1
18. Cowboys - 45.39 - +2
19. Rams - 44.97 - -2
20. Lions - 44.71 - +5
21. Titans - 44.35 - +5
22. Jaguars - 43.71 - -8
23. 49ers - 39.89 - -2
24. Texans - 38.90 - -2
25. Bills - 38.78 - +2
26. Vikings - 36.33 - -2
27. Redskins - 31.37 - -4
28. Seahawks - 31.29 - Even
29. Bengals - 30.26 - +1
30. Cardinals - 26.64 - -1
31. Panthers - 24.94 - +1
32. Broncos - 21.89 - -1

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Links of the Day 12/21/10

Happy winter solstice, everyone! It only gets better from here.

For whatever reason, lacrosse players have this reputation...

Time lapse of TCF being cleared.

If you loved FJM or simply hate arguing with people who refuse to listen to your side of the story, this is an interview for you.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

This video embarrasses me


I don't like that a 315 pound lineman is light years faster than I will ever be. Someone get Dan Connolly a chair and a Danish.

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Links of the Day 12/20/10

Hell of a scoop, Mark J. Miller.

All right, one mean link to Yahoo!, one nice link to Yahoo!.

It's a Christmas miracle!

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What the Twins are doing wrong

There has been a lot of clamoring about the Twins and their offseason strategy. It hasn't inspired a lot of confidence, with the bullpen scattering across the country, JJ Hardy being traded for crappy pitching, Jose Morales being traded for crappy pitching (but maybe this means Toby Gardenhire gets a shot in the bigs!... kill me), Orlando Hudson is gone, replaced by the unknown Tsuyoshi Nishioka, recently added from Japan more for his speed than anything else.
The premise for these moves was that the Twins wanted, at Ron Gardenhire's behest, to add speed. As is typically the case, there is a little bit of common sense in this idea, but it misses the forest for the trees. In a bigger park, or one that plays bigger, as Target Field does, speed does play an important role, but it shouldn't be a factor in offensive planning, especially if those speedy guys can't get on base (see: Casilla, Alexi). I'm getting ahead of myself.
The problem with last year's team, as many saw it, was with the starting pitching and, going forward, would be with the bullpen after the mass exodus. The Twins have done nothing to add to the pitching staff at the major league level, which could be considered a huge problem, or not, if you look at some of the peripheral stats.
The Twins pride themselves on their strike throwing pitchers. It's a good way to have a stable rotation, because strikethrowers are often more durable and reliable than hard throwers. The thing is, these strike throwers tend to be much more hittable, and by much more hittable, this typically means "fly ball" pitchers, which is the case with players like Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey. They struggled in 2010.
There is a fancy new stat called "fielding independent pitching" or "FIP" which measures the pitcher's statistics that are controlled only by the pitcher (strikeouts, home runs and walks) and develops an expected ERA based on those numbers. Slowey and Baker pitched in a home park that played big, but the outfielders are rather poor across the board. Bad range, bad instincts not very good gloves. As a result, the actual ERA for both Slowey and Baker was about half a run higher than it should have been!
Now, counter that with Carl Pavano, who actually had the same xFIP (same stat, adjusted for park) as Baker! Pavano, unlike Baker, is NOT a fly ball pitcher, and he was heralded as a stabilizing force at the front of the Twins rotation. Again, for what they did, Baker and Pavano essentially had the same effect, except for where opponents hit the ball. The infield defense last year was enough to keep Pavano's ERA down to more respectable levels (his ERA was about .3 runs lower than his FIP)
So, what does this mean? Frankly, the Twins were very good last year as is. They have won more games than they did in 2010 5 times in their history, and even then, it was very close. The case could be made that the formula was working and it shouldn't have been altered at all. I, (and most Twins fans) should have been OK with that. But they didn't. Instead they weakened an infield defense that bolstered Carl Pavano's stats (and to a lesser extent Brian Duensing's) with players who have untested reflexes, gloves and instincts, all of which are more important in the infield than base speed. On offense, speed doesn't matter much if you can't get on base, something JJ Hardy could do much more efficiently than Casilla. (Nishioka, for our purposes, I suppose, is a non factor, since Hudson was probably gone regardless).
Where speed could have been effectively injected into the roster was the outfield. As good on offense as Cuddyer and Kubel are, the benefit to Slowey and Baker, and any other strikethrowers the Twins might have in the system, would be just as relevant. So, one option the Twins should have, or still should explore is moving Kubel (again, Delmon Young is the best right handed bat on the team, and the club is rife with lefties, which is why I elect Kubel for trade) to acquire a center fielder. Span can move to right, where he is a better fielder than Cuddyer. Instantly, the pitching rotation is much better, AND with a speedy center fielder, Gardenhire has his speed.
The other option would be to replace Baker or Slowey with a ground ball pitcher. This would have taken advantage of a solid defensive infield, much like Pavano and Duensing did. I think at this point, Brandon Webb is the best option in free agency, despite his injury history.
The moral of the story is this: the Twins could have made cost effective decisions that addressed the "speed" directive while actually improving the team. In the end, however, they did no such thing. They weakened one of the remaining strengths while refusing to address the actual problems with the roster. And that is what the Twins are doing wrong.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Links of the Day 12/19/10

The big winners of the Zack Greinke trade were revealed overnight... The Brewers! Just like everyone expected.

Go ahead and guess what Denard Span's fantasy football team is named.

Nice hat, Ozzie.

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Cooking with Ryan: Chicken Cacciatore

That, of course, is the chicken cacciatore hovering in space on a plate my mom's weird friend got me as a housewarming gift. Anywho, for those that don't know, chicken cacciatore is a tomato based braised chicken dish that usually has some onions and mushrooms (gross) and whatnot with it, cooked in wine. There were a few tweaks in my recipe, including using red wine vinegar in lieu of red wine, and some sugar instead of say, oregano (almost the same thing) which made the dish sweet, almost barbecuey. It was perhaps the best thing I've ever made. A lot of it had to do with the chicken being as moist as it was. That's steamed broccoli and a couple of slices of French bread there on the plate with it. Fancy, right?
Anyways, I made a pound of chicken and had some leftovers. I nuked it at work at Real Job Inc. the other day. It smells pretty good, and it earned me a lot of questions, including one of my coworkers asking if I could make it for her some time. So, there you go, guys. If you are hard up for a date, learn how to make chicken cacciatore, it might just be an aphrodisiac.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Links fo the Day 12/18/10

Aside from the fact that you would have to entirely flip the stadium around to get this angle of downtown, this is EXACTLY what I've been saying!

A whimsical look at the conferences and their shifting memberships.


This seems like the 3 Stooges were involved.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

It's the story that keeps on giving!

I love it when I get to break out the "Winona" tag again, because it always has to do with the same person, one Ben Repinski. If you haven't read the story, do yourself a story and read it. To summarize, a 12 year old girl got drunk at a party, Mr. Repinski was drunker and got her to drive him home. Hard to believe though it may be, things did not end well.
I pretty much relayed what the Star Tribune said in their article, but I have now received 2 comments on it (that I have, through Google Analytics, determined to probably be Ben Repinski himself and Daniel Arndt, previously known as Sunglass Moped Guy... or perhaps one of them is the 12 year old girl) that have called into question the accuracy of my post. Or rather, in the words of this morning's anonymous comment:
"So reading through this story and realizing YOUR story is a FAKE. Made up parts!!! I wouldn't read anything else from the Victoria Times. Get your ^#$& story straight before reporting it. Isn't that your job?"
First, and as I say to all of my commenters, thanks for stopping by! Second off, let's see what parts I may have made up:
- Benjamin Repinski may not actually go by Ben
- Repinski may not have been smart enough to know that he needed a ride home, and instead of asking, he demanded the 12 year old to drive him home
- I misspelled sign, somehow.
Other than that, I pretty much went word for word from the Star Tribune! Your issue isn't with me, friends.
Also, I would just like to point out that this is a blog, not really a source for news for most people. Most smart people. The type of people that don't get into cars with drunk 12 year olds, or get plowed, throw on a pair of shades then hop on their moped.
That said, two angry comments in, I still haven't heard what actually did happen, but a lot of angry comments about what the leading newspaper in Minnesota said DID happen that fateful night. Please, tell all of our readers what actually went down that night! E-mail me at Thevictimes@gmail.com and we'll get this all straightened out!

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Links of the Day 12/17/10

The Twins have almost successfully added Tsuyoshi Nishioka!

However, they have not yet learned that trading for single A pitchers doesn't mean "reinforcing the bullpen"

Massive Russian hockey fight.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Week 14

After an NFL season that has been very tumultuous for just about any team that has been on top of these of the power ranks, I give my salute to the Falcons, who have now been the #1 ranked team in these ranks 5 weeks in a row, and have earned the smiling "Matt Ryan is #1" draft day photo to the right. The Falcons got the blow through the horrible Panthers this week in a 1 vs. 32 showdown, but some of the other top 5 teams had tricky matchups. The Patriots blew out the Bears in snowy Chicago to remain #2, Pittsburgh took care of Cincy to remain 3, and New Orleans beat up on St. Louis to remain #4. The Packers, however, lost Aaron Rodgers and as a result, suffered an awful loss to Detroit, dropping them to #9. Replacing them in the top 5 are the Eagles, who have been lurking around the #5 spot for the past few weeks.

One thing that you may notice this week that will seem odd, is that despite winning 31-0 over Kansas City, the Chargers stayed at #13 while the Chiefs actually moved up a spot to #8. This can be explained. The teams the Chargers were trying to catch, Baltimore and Giants, also got big enough wins to stay in front of San Diego. Meanwhile, the Packers, Bears, and Jets suffered even more devastating losses than the Chiefs (based on opponent strength and/or changes to the "recent success" attribute) knocking them all behind KC.

On the bottom side of things, I had the pleasure to attend live and in person the game between #28 Denver and #31 Arizona, which was won by the Cardinals in convincing fashion. As a result, the Cardinals moved up to #29 while Denver took their spot at #31. Detroit's win over Green Bay moved them out of the bottom 5 to #25, and they were replaced by NFC West co-leader Seattle, who fell all the way back to #28 after being humiliated by San Francisco. That forever answers the question: What's a good sign your division sucks? When one of your teams that is tied for 1st place is ranked #28 out of 32 teams after Week 14 of the season. The Bengals and Panthers stayed ranked #30, and #32, respectively.

This weeks biggest gainers were the Ravens and 49ers, who each jumped 5 spots. The Ravens look like almost a lock for an AFC Wild Card, and the 49ers win kept them alive in the pathetic NFC West race. The biggest losers were Seattle, who fell 8 spots but in real life are still in 1st place. The Raiders also fell 5 spots as they saw their playoff hopes fade this week.

Playoff Projection:
NFC
First Round Byes: #1 Falcons, #5 Eagles
#7 Giants @ #9 Packers
#4 Saints @ #17 Rams
Top 5 Out: #10 Bears, #13 Buccaneers, #20 Cowboys, #21 49ers, #23 Redskins

AFC
First Round Byes: #2 Patriots, #3 Steelers
#11 Jets @ #8 Chiefs
#6 Ravens @ #14 Jaguars
Top 5 Out: #12 Chargers, #15 Browns, #16 Dolphins, #18 Colts, #19 Raiders

Here are the full ranks:
1. Falcons - 82.40 - Even
2. Patriots - 81.36 - Even
3. Steelers - 77.48 - Even
4. Saints - 74.24 - Even
5. Eagles - 69.24 - +3
6. Ravens - 66.77 - +5
7. Giants - 65.89 - +3
8. Chiefs - 62.92 - +1
9. Packers - 62.62 - -4
10. Bears - 62.60 - -4
11. Jets - 62.20 - -4
12. Chargers - 58.54 - Even
13. Buccaneers - 57.11 - Even
14. Jaguars - 52.04 - +3
15. Browns - 48.08 - Even
16. Dolphins - 47.65 - +2
17. Rams - 47.50 - -1
18. Colts - 46.48 - +3
19. Raiders - 43.86 - -5
20. Cowboys - 52.53 - -1
21. 49ers - 42.41 - +5
22. Texans - 39.99 - Even
23. Redskins - 38.25 - +2
24. Vikings - 38.08 - Even
25. Lions - 37.41 - +4
26. Titans - 37.27 - -3
27. Bills - 35.69 - Even
28. Seahawks - 35.00 - -8
29. Cardinals - 28.71 - +2
30. Bengals - 23.33 - Even
31. Broncos - 21.38 - -3
32. Panthers - 17.19 - Even

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Links of the Day 12/16/10

The Tarvaris Jackson game started streak is over... at one.

Jesse Crain has also decided to move on. Feel free to tell him what you think of that decision every time the Twins play the White Sox. At least Nishioka is going to sign!

The mystery of Red Bull, Manu Ginobili and the UFO.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The NCAA simulation is underway

Whatifsports has updated their rosters for the 2010 NCAA season, and I have taken it upon myself to start the simulation to try to find the Victoria Times national champion.
For those that don't remember, this is the annual reminder post. The whole idea for this came from a conversation Steve and I had several years ago. Many people feel that a playoff is the right way to determine a national champion, but the playoff solution was still flawed. Teams elected were still based on the inherently biased polls, some of the teams wouldn't even win their conference and would still be added to hypothetical tournament brackets. For all the "winning it on the field" talk, the tournaments would still be largely based on the opinions of old people.
The idea of a tournament that would take the conference champions was lobbed around in our conversation. For the short term, that would be fine, but there would still be talk of the disparity in large and small conferences. To balance them out, we redistributed the teams into geographic conferences, rather than ones b based on money. Were there some conferences that end up weaker than others? Of course, but in the end, there weren't any top to bottom Sun Belt to SEC type of disparities. There are 120 NCAA teams, and we have created 12, 10 team conferences, as seen below.

For seeding purposes, we also have a preordained non conference schedule based on 4 conference groupings wherein the schedule is based on the previous year's order of finish. The groupings, or "pods" are rearranged every two years based on the strength of the conferences.
And I know what you are saying. 12 teams? But how is that going to work? The same way the NFL does. There will be 4 teams with a first round bye and 8 that play in the first round. Nobody seems to have issues with the NFL. Games will be played at the 12 oldest bowl sites (not that it REALLY matters in a simulation) and the national title rotates from conference to conference every year. This year, the hypothetical championship would be in Washington DC.
So we are in our 4th year, and Steve and I each run our own version of the sim. Our entire NCAA format is peeling off in wildly different directions, and we almost always end up with different tournament fields and different champions. It's an interesting exercise, if nothing else.
The last thing I wanted to mention was how we do the simulation. We go game by game, using whatifsports.com, which does their own thorough college football tournament simulation, featuring 16 of the top teams across the country. If you follow us on twitter @victoriawxtimes I have been posting updates. I am through the second week, and right now Stanford looks like the top team. Should be fun!

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Links of the Day 12/15/10

Congratulations, you are halfway through December.

Matt Guerrier has had enough of Minnesota and is off to Los Angeles.

The Vikings game on Monday will be at TCF. They need shovelers! Also, the it will snow tonight.

I only mention this because he's from Minnesota and I saw him play in high school. Congratulations, Kris Humphries, you no-talent, arrogant prima-donna, you found your perfect match!

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The saddest Favre of them all

Well, the Brett Favre Sad Gallery has had some fun, huh? The entire season has been working it's way up to this point, however, Brett Favre injured and on the sideline in the midst of a Viking's loss.
The team sucks, his shoulder is injured, but at least he has a good handle on his junk. 

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Links of the Day 12/14/10

Yesterday was just a weird day. I don't know that I can put my finger on it.

Well this was fast. Act now to get your Brett Favre memorabilia!(Also, the puns... they are so many.)

Things are not going so well for Iowa.

The Phillies swept in and signed Cliff Lee. Are they the new Yankees?

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Monday, December 13, 2010

So... are the Vikings really gone?

I made some jokes yesterday about the Metrodome's collapse, because it's kind of a funny story, but I think the full impact of what the stadium's roof failure means to the Vikings and their status as a Minnesota franchise is beginning to settle in to most Minnesotans and other interested parties across the country. This could be the end for the Vikings in Minnesota.
It doesn't really change anything, The Vikings want a new stadium. The state of Minnesota doesn't want to pay for it. The NFL and, in effect, the Vikings have mostly been in a holding pattern, not putting too much pressure on the people of Minnesota, because less popular teams in smaller markets, like the Bills, Jaguars or Raiders are more appealing teams to move to Los Angeles. The only thing that has likely changed is the timetable.
The Vikings can now say that the dome is demonstrably unsafe (even though the limitations of the stadium were already known, and the collapse has happened before, almost 30 years ago) and the city NEEDS to build them a stadium as soon as possible. If this happens, then good for the Vikings, they get what they have wanted all along... a free ride. If not, then the NFL and the Vikings can feel that they rightfully have good cause to move out of Minnesota. One way or another, the fate of the Vikings is likely to be sealed by the end of 2011. I can't imagine that the state will suddenly have an overwhelming change of heart... these are people that have never taken to bullying.
The thing is, if the dome had stayed intact, I don't think this is even a discussion. The NFL needs Minneapolis more than Minneapolis needs the Vikings. The Twin Cities are affluent and full of avid sports fans that pump a ton of money into the NFL. The Vikings certainly help the downtown economy, but are hardly a boon for the state financially. In fact, keeping the Metrodome functional should be a priority for the state, as the government owns and reaps the proceeds from the stadium, whereas any new football stadium would see profits go to the Vikings and the NFL.(The Metrodome is also a vital convention site, which an outdoor stadium would not be) Like it or not, tax revenue brought in by one Super Bowl would not account for the concession sales lost when the Vikings would move out of the Dome.
Building a new stadium would not be financially sound planning for the state of Minnesota, nor was it for the Twins (the Gophers are a different story... that is a state run institution), but the Twins were at least owned by Minnesota businessmen. I would expect the state to bend over backwards if it could for 3M, Target, General Mills or any of the other major corporations headquartered here. Zygi Wilf is from New Jersey. The players are from Oklahoma or Mississippi or anywhere BUT Minnesota. The only real tie to Minnesota is the fans, and if they aren't willing to pay for the stadium, then it's not going to get built.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, yes. I think the Vikings are really gone.

PS: This is one of the sadder posts I've ever written. My vitriol for the VIkings is based almost entirely on how the recent ownership, from Red McCombs to Zygi Wilf have been trying to hold the Twin Cities hostage. They don't REALLY want the team to stay here, if they did, they would have made some more concessions, offered up some money to build it themselves. They own the team to earn a profit, and no other reason. I feel bad for Viking fans who will be losing their team and for myself that I lost faith in the team and the NFL. I've never been more disappointed in the belief that I am right.

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Links of the Day 12/13/10

The Big Ten announced the names of their divisions and released a logo... all of that sucked.

My EPL team is the Blackburn Rovers. They sacked their manager, Sam Allardyce. In American, they fired their coach.

Oh whatever. I'm sorry for linking to this.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

The day the Metrodome died... thoughts



First off, fascinating gallery at the Star Tribune.

Secondly, Zygi Wilf finally got his outdoor stadium, and he doesn't even want to use it! I am beginning to doubt his willingness to stay in Minnesota.

Speaking of, I always suspected the Vikings might move, but I never thought it would be to Detroit. Also, way to go Detroit, you have a Monday Night Football game! Also, how do the Giants get to always lose one true road game a season?

But back to the Dome. Bat-Girl (remember Bat-Girl?) opines that the Dome has just had too much of the Vikings' sh!t. The NHL's Brian Compton looks at the bright side... they could have the Winter Classic at the Dome now!

All that said, I can't help but wonder what the rest of the world thinks of Minnesota and our civil engineering. Lately, one doesn't think "structural integrity" when they think of the Twin Cities.

Also, San Diego, could you at least wait until the body is cold?

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Links of the Day 12/12/10

Hey, everyone, hope you're well. Anything going on?

Oh yeah.... HOLY F'ING SPIT, THE METRODOME COLLAPSED

I am beginning to think he Twins have no idea what the hell they are doing this offseason.

The playoff picture, going into this weekend's games. The ones that are actually being played.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Let's See How the Conferences Did Against Each Other

Two Years ago, I made the case that Virginia Tech and Cincinnati potentially could have been considered for the National Title game because they came out of a very competitive ACC and Big East, two conferences that fared extremely well against their BCS opponents. Putting together those stats got me wondering, so since I'm pretty much the stats guy on this site, let's take a look at the expanded out-of-conference records for all 11 D-1A conferences in the 2010 season. Well here it is. Click on the table below to view it full size. I don't know how else to embed a big table in blogger.

So let's take a look at the table and see if we can make any observations.

- First the ground rules. This table shows each conference's record vs. every other conference, plus the conferences record against all of D-1AA (screw this FBS/FCS naming thing). The "Indies" are Army, Navy, and Notre Dame, who make up a fictional 3 team conference. Post conferences, the grand totals show each conference's non-conference record, record vs. D-1A only, and record vs BCS conference teams only (The 6 AQ conferences and Notre Dame). Boxes that are grayed out means the 2 conferences did not play all season.

- The two undefeated conference champions playing in the BCS championship game come from the best (PAC-10 at 10-5) and 3rd best (SEC at 10-6) conferences against BCS opponents from outside the conference. Maybe the BCS got it right after all. Only 1 PAC-10/SEC game was played all year, and it was won by the PAC-10 when Oregon stomped Tennessee.

- In contrast, TCU's Mountain West was 7th out of 12 against the BCS, only going 5-10, finishing behind the Indies and WAC (the MWC also was only 4-8 against the WAC this year, but they are getting the top 4 WAC teams in the next 2 years. If you can't beat them, join them), but the MWC did better against the BCS than BCS conferences ACC and Big East

- The Big East was only 3-12 against BCS teams. Awful

- Despite going 10-5 against the BCS, the PAC-10 only finished 14-10 vs. D-1A, so that means they were only 4-5 against C-USA, MAC, WAC, and MWC (they didn't play the Sun Belt)

- Thanks largely to 19 total games vs. the Sun Belt and D-1AA, the SEC finished the season with the best record vs. D-1A and total non-conference. They victimized the Sun Belt a perfect 8 times and went 10-1 against D-1AA.

- The only conference to beat up on D-1AA more than the SEC was the ACC, who went 12-1 against them. That helped get them an impressive 30-18 non-conference record, but they were only 18-17 against D-1A and 6-13 against the BCS.

- The MAC mostly exists to get big paydays for playing at Big Ten teams early in the season, so not surprisingly this was the most common conference vs. conference matchup in 2010, with the Big Ten winning 11 of 13 games. The above mentioned MWC vs. WAC was 2nd with 12 games.

- D-1AA teams managed to beat D-1A teams 7 times this season in 90 games played. Not bad for them. The only conference to lose more than once to a D-1AA team was the MAC. D-1AA managed to get 1 win over 4 of the 6 BCS conferences.

- I think everyone will admit that the WAC and MWC are downright competitive, and college football (at least until things get shaken up) really have 8 "power" conferences, with the Big East probably being the worst of those 8. However 3 conferences actually were worse than the Big East this year.....

- C-USA was a somewhat respectable 14-28 against the rest of D-1A this year, and were 5-22 against the BCS, which is pretty much expected for a lower level conference. They have to be pretty proud of Tulsa's win over Notre Dame, though.

- The MAC was a downright awful 7-35 against D-1A and 3-25 against the BCS. (Toledo over Purdue, Northern Illinois over Minnesota, Temple over Big East Champion UCONN)

- The Sun Belt being in D-1A is pretty much a joke. They went 0-26 this year against the BCS (including 8 losses to the SEC, who would miss them if they moved down) and were only 2-32 vs. all of D-1A (Troy over Bowling Green and FAU over UAB). Surprisingly, they only decided to play D-1AA twice, and won both of those games.

- I think that sums it up. Check out the table and feel free to put your conclusions in the comments.

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Links of the Day 12/11/10

Good morning. Wonderful weather we're having.

Terry Francona, dressed to the nines.

The Florida Panthers... anti Semitic?

Wild prospect Casey Wellman had him a game last night.

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The Chuck Knoblauch trade tree


This doesn't really have anything to do with anything pertinent, but it's a little bit of a cool exercise, if you think like me. It's also fun because now, the Knoblauch and Santana trees are merged. Everyone has pointed to the fact that the Johan Santana trade now is expanded because JJ Hardy (who was acquired for Carlos Gomez who came over in the Santana trade) was moved. But here's how Knobby's trade still affects the Twins.
Knoblauch was traded to the Yankees for Eric Milton, Danny Mota Cristian Guzman and Brian Buchanan.
Guzman and Mota left without a return.
Milton was traded to the Phillies for Nick Punto, Carlos Silva and Bobby Korecky. All have left or will leave via free agency.
Buchanan was traded to the Padres for Jason Bartlett
Bartlett was part of a package (with Matt Garza and Eduardo Morlan) for Delmon Young, Jason Pridie and Brendan Harris.
Young is still on the team, while Pridie was released.
Just yesterday, Harris was packaged with Hardy for relievers Brett Jacobsen and Jim Hoey. The fact that the Knoblauch still affecting the team is really something. Stats are fun.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Links of the Day 12/10/10

OK, everyone. Go buy bread and milk, and THEN come back to read these links. Were looking at a blizzard!

If you want bleak, as of right now this is the Twins depth chart. Note that Jesse Crain is not actually on the roster right now.

Whatifsports is doing their own simulated 16 team tournament. Perhaps after Army-Navy our simulation will be underway.

What's this? A guy who thinks clearly and that sports aren't the most important thing ever?

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Links of the Day 12/9/10

So the Twins have traded JJ Hardy and Brendan Harris in a clear cash grab, and now the New York vultures are swooping in.

Holy smokes indeed. The Muskegon Lumberjacks?

Manchesture United... of Myanmar??

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NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Week 13

Week 13 featured 3 pretty big showdowns with playoff implications on the line. The #1 ranked Falcons disposed of the Buccaneers, causing them to possibly slip out of the NFC playoff race. The Steelers beat the Ravens to take back control of the AFC North. And, last but not least, in a showdown between 2 9-2 teams on Monday night, the Patriots destroyed the Jets to take over 1st place in the AFC East.

These results, of course, had an impact to the top of the power ranks. The Falcons remained at #1, the Steelers jumped up 2 spots to #3, and the Patriots moved up 1 spot to #2. The Jets, who came into this week ranked #2, fell 5 spots back to #7. The Saints stayed put at #4 for their narrow win over Cincy, and oddly, the Packers leapfrogged the Bears (who have been stuck outside the top 5 most of the season despite being 9-3) into the #5 spot.

As usual, the bottom 5 all lost this week, and did not change position. The only thing to note at the bottom is that the Cardinals are so bad that they are at a very strong risk of falling behind 1-11 Carolina.

The biggest gainers this week were the Cowboys and Seahawks, who each jumped 6 spots. The Cowboys beat the Colts in Indy, which would have been more impressive if they weren't facing the 1999-2009 Colts at this point. The Seahawks got to ravage the Panthers, and stay tied in first in the NFC West. The biggest losers were the Colts, who all of the sudden are in an absolute tailspin, but still look like the favorites to win the AFC South, and the 49ers, who got knocked 2 games back of the horrible NFC West playoff race.

Playoff Projection
NFC
First Round Byes: #1 Falcons, #5 Packers
#6 Bears @ #8 Eagles
#4 Saints @ #16 Rams
Top 5 Out: #10 Giants, #13 Buccaneers, #19 Cowboys, #20 Seahawks, #24 Vikings

AFC
First Round Byes: #2 Patriots, #3 Steelers
#11 Ravens @ #9 Chiefs
#7 Jets @ #17 Jaguars
Top 5 Out: #12 Chargers, #14 Raiders, #15 Browns, #18 Dolphins, #21 Colts

Here are the full ranks
1. Falcons - 81.70 - Even
2. Patriots - 79.87 - +1
3. Steelers - 72.76 - +2
4. Saints - 72.07 - Even
5. Packers - 71.57 - +2
6. Bears - 71.14 - Even
7. Jets - 69.26 - -5
8. Eagles - 68.98 - Even
9. Chiefs - 66.48 - +2
10. Giants - 59.92 - +3
11. Ravens - 59.10 - -1
12. Chargers - 57.36 - -3
13. Buccaneers - 55.90 - -1
14. Raiders - 50.47 - +3
15. Browns - 49.92 - +1
16. Rams - 49.42 - +3
17. Jaguars - 49.14 - +1
18. Dolphins - 46.94 - -4
19. Cowboys - 46.93 - +6
20. Seahawks - 44.31 - +6
21. Colts - 44.15 - -6
22. Texans - 42.14 - -1
23. Titans - 40.41 - -1
24. Vikings - 40.13 - Even
25. Redskins - 38.26 - -2
26. 49ers - 36.39 - -6
27. Bills - 31.81 - Even
28. Broncos - 30.74 - Even
29. Lions - 30.60 - Even
30. Bengals - 25.37 - Even
31. Cardinals - 17.39 - Even
32. Panthers - 17.22 - Even

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Yes, this is what the Twins need

The Twins have decided to cater to Ron Gardenhire's whims. His stated goals this offseason are to get faster. Because last year when the starting pitching was getting destroyed, I thought "boy, if only they were faster." So while the Twins and their fans are eager to see what happens with a beleaguered pitching staff that will be losing Brian Fuentes, Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain and Jon Rauch out of the bullpen, the Twins have operated in the winter meetings and before trying to get faster.
They have added, or will add a top of the order threat with Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and of course, by top of the order threat I mean a speedy guy who plays second base. Additionally, it sounds as though JJ Hardy will be traded some time within the next 48 hours, likely to the Orioles for a couple of prospects, all with the purpose of playing Alexi Casilla at short. Awesome.
Our flyball pitchers will really appreciate the speedy infield, and our lineup that produced the 5th most runs in the AL was really lacking for speed. Good. I don't see how this ends badly. Except for Jim Thome, who probably pisses Gardy off with his slow trots around the basepaths.

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Links of the Day 12/8/10

No, the NHL is not moving the Thrashers.

Donald Trump and his hair. It's at the Pat's game, so it counts as a sports link. I even linked on "Pat's game" so it totally is.

It's pretty jarring how bad the Cardinals got when Kurt Warner took off.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Kill you righteous indignation

I feel bad for Jerry Kill, the new coach for the Gophers. First there is the unfortunate nature of his last name. It's a verb! Many puns can be made! Unlike many of the punmakers across the Twin Cities though, I do respect him. That's the other reason I feel bad for Kill. As soon as he was hired, the move was assailed by the local media and many alums.
The problem, as the locals saw it, was that Northern Illinois, Kill's former employer, was a small time program, and they wanted a bigger name coach. They pointed to the fact that he lost in his game against Miami (Ohio) in his final game with the Huskies. The only thing is, this WAS the best the Gophers could do, and that isn't Joel Maturi's fault, entirely.
Minnesota is an unappealing job. This is a fact. The Gophers are in a top conference, televised nationally every year, and are thoroughly, soundly defeated. The Gophers haven't had a good fan base since the 60s, in large part to their being forgotten in the face of professional sports, they were away from campus for 20 years. Meanwhile, big time programs like Michigan and Ohio State get hundreds of thousands of fans at the game, and incredible support. The Gophers losing every year and being a small fish in a big pond (both in the Big Ten and in Minneapolis) likely turned desired coaches like Mike Leach, Randy Edsall, Kevin Sumlin, Brady Stoke, Chris Peterson and Randy Shannon off to Minnesota. Why would they want to come here, when there will almost certainly be more desirable jobs opening up this winter?
As for the whole issue of Northern Illinois losing to Miami issue... that was the conference championship game. The entire critique is going to be based on one game? One very close game? Some went so far as to say they should hire Miami's coach, but Northern Illinois ended the season with more wins than Miami. Also, NORTHERN ILLINOIS BEAT MINNESOTA! I mean, doesn't that constitute an upgrade for the Gophers? Just because he wasn't the big name Gophers fans were hoping for doesn't mean he isn't a better coach. There was also speculation that the Gophers were talking to Paul Chryst from Wisconsin as a prospective candidate, which many local sportswriters are . I don't know that they are exactly the same, but Chryst turned down Purdue two years ago, and frankly, Purdue was a much better situation than Minnesota is now.
And I don't mean the previous two paragraphs to deride Coach Kill. Sure, he wasn't a big name, an up and comer, but that doesn't mean he isn't a good coach. In fact, he may be what the Gophers need. He is humble and self effacing, which means he is not likely to be out worked, and is going to be loyal to the program, believing it is bigger than he is. He sort of looks like Joe Tiller. Most importantly, he did what he did at Northern Illinois working with the same talent pool as the rest of the Big Ten, So good luck, Coach Kill, I hope you do a fantastic job,

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Links of the Day 12/7/10

The Nationals... probably overpaid for Jayson Werth.

This is a real thing that happened.

Western Michigan was above .500, but didn't make a bowl.

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Cooking with Ryan: Spinach Pilaf

I am a disaster in the kitchen. The food tastes fine, but I could not be messier. It all started with an onion. My butter melted a lot faster than I thought it would, to the point it was boiling. I diced the onions and through them in haphazardly, then went to portion out the spices. The spices wouldn't open, wouldn't pour like I wanted them to, and eventually my struggle to get them open meant I had turmeric and cumin all over my kitchen, and not in the pilaf. I had coriander already, and I was successful adding that to the saucepan. I don't think this was supposed to taste overwhelmingly of coriander.
So, eventually I had my unevenly seasoned... sauce?... and I poured it into the cooked rice. I was mixing it into the rice, caught something with my rubber stir thingy and flipped a wad of rice and spice all over the floor, which was awesome. So now I have butter, spices, and rice all over my kitchen. The good news is, the wilting of the spinach went VERY well.
A few lessons learned. 1) More spinach. 2) Bacon would have been perfect for this dish. 3) something that I put in there turns fluorescent red when sprayed with Fantastik. I felt like I was on CSI

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Links of the Day 12/6/10

Sorry for the late links. I was definitely NOT disposing of a body.

Oh how times change. Just think, three years ago, Tarvaris Jackson was finishing games for the Vikings.

Brett Favre got a boo boo. Also, I just noticed that LBS has a boss button.

OR, Favre showed up in Indianapolis and played for the Colts.

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

The title game is set






I will be rooting for Auburn

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Links of the Day 12/5/10

I have to say, I'm rather glad not to have ever played basketball in Greece. But also, good on the fans for thinking to jar their urine ahead of time.

Oh Drew Carey, you nerd. I still want to go on The Price is Right.

In case you missed this one... heartbreaker.

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

Thursday night was big for hated athletes

As everyone knows, because ESPN covered it so feverishly, Lebron James returned to Cleveland Thursday night and was booed relentlessly, right up until the Cavaliers started getting destroyed. The security in Cleveland was beefed up with worries of scorned Lebron fans attempting to cause him harm. It wasn't as bad as feared, because Clevelanders are used to constant disappointment.
The perhaps more surprising homecoming was Dany Heatley who returned to Ottawa amid a chorus of boos.

The Ottawa fans were quite vocal in their disdain for Heatley, who begged out of Ottawa to go to San Jose last year. Furthering the fan hatred was that he refused to wave a no-trade clause after demanding a trade.
Another hated athlete was on the field on Thursday, Michael Vick. He's universally hated because....
Oh, no, wait, he's cool now.

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Links of the Day 12/4/10

The White Sox added Adam Dunn, but remember... The Twins still have Jason Repko.

Speaking of the Twins... The Nick Punto era may be at it's end!

Hey what the heck, let's go all baseball today, before the post you probably read last night reposts this afternoon. Jim Thome? He's playing next year. Where? That remains to be seen.

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Friday, December 03, 2010

NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Week 12

Remember how last week I mentioned how lopsided the Thanksgiving games were, at least from a power rankings point of view? Well, 5 of the 6 teams that played on Thanksgiving are either in the top 5 or bottom 5. The 3 winners, the Jets, the Patriots, and the Saints, are now ranked #2, 3, and 4, respectively, while the Lions lost pushed them back into the bottom 5 at #29, and the Bengals remained at #30. The other Thanksgiving team, the Cowboys, are #25.

I also realized that I failed to mention last week that we had a #1 vs. #2 battle when the Falcons played the Packers. The Falcons got the win, and remained as the #1 ranked team while the Packers fell all the way to #7 for losing. The Eagles also fell out of the top 5 for losing to the Bears last week, moving down to #8, while the Bears moved up to #6 (these ranks do not count the Eagles win last night).

On the bottom side, the Vikings escaped the bottom 5 by beating Washington, and were replaced by Detroit, as mentioned above. Everyone else in the bottom 5 lost and stayed put.

The biggest gainer this week were the Dolphins, who moved up 6 spots by beating the Raiders and are hanging in there for a playoff spot in the AFC. The Texans and Vikings also moved up 5 spots. The biggest losers were the Titans, who looked terrible with Rusty Smith at QB. They fell 7 spots and would be out of the playoff race if the AFC South wasn't suddenly so mediocre. The Packers, Buccaneers, and Redskins each also dropped 5 spots.

Playoff Projections
NFC
First Round Byes: #1 Falcons, #6 Bears
#7 Packers @ #8 Eagles
#4 Saints @ #19 Rams
Top 5 Out: #12 Buccaneers, #13 Giants, #20 49ers, #23 Redskins, #24 Vikings

AFC
First Round Byes: #2 Jets, #5 Steelers
#10 Ravens @ #9 Chargers
#3 Patriots @ #15 Colts
Top 5 Out: #11 Chiefs, #14 Dolphins, #16 Browns, #17 Raiders, #18 Jaguars

Here are the full ranks:
1. Falcons - 81.56 - Even
2. Jets - 79.61 - +1
3. Patriots - 73.41 - +1
4. Saints - 71.87 - +4
5. Steelers - 71.38 - +1
6. Bears - 70.53 - +4
7. Packers - 69.76 - -5
8. Eagles - 67.93 - -3
9. Chargers - 65.93 - +4
10. Ravens - 65.16 - -1
11. Chiefs - 61.05 - +1
12. Buccaneers - 58.50 - -5
13. Giants - 53.47 - +3
14. Dolphins - 50.73 - +6
15. Colts - 49.55 - -4
16. Browns - 47.83 - +3
17. Raiders - 46.91 - -3
18. Jaguars - 46.39 - -1
19. Rams - 45.94 - +2
20. 49ers - 44.20 - +4
21. Texans - 44.17 - +5
22. Titans - 43.36 - -7
23. Redskins - 41.74 - -5
24. Vikings - 37.24 - +5
25. Cowboys - 36.54 - -3
26. Seahawks - 36.52 - -3
27. Bills - 34.11 - Even
28. Broncos - 30.74 - Even
29. Lions - 30.09 - -4
30. Bengals - 24.54 - Even
31. Cardinals - 18.82 - Even
32. Panthers - 17.90 - Even

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Links of the Day 12/3/10

FIFA is not corrupt! Just ask them!

Speaking of FIFA... settle down, Qatar!

The Twins will keep Jason Repko and Pat Neshek. But what does this MEAN?

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

At least they don't change it every game


I sincerely apologize for not bringing this to your attention earlier. My favorite university in the entire country has expanded their repertoire of athletic eyesores from their football uniforms to the basketball court. Now, this doesn't look as stark in person, but it's still a... bizarre, naturey court that doesn't really look all that appealing.
I have to say, though, making their wood court look like trees makes a hell of a lot more sense than sparkly feathers on the football uniform.

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Links of the Day 12/2/10

So the next two World Cups will be in Russia and Qatar. I barely know what to say. I thought we were trying to avoid developing countries because of the inherent problems?

Something like this will almost certainly happen when Nick Punto signs with the Red Sox.

There is so much going on here, I don't think I can make a joke without sounding insensitive.

If there was any lingering doubt, the Twins are not trading for Zack Greinke.

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Nothing but bad news for Vikings fans


As many have realized, the only thing really going for me in the sports world is what isn't going well for the Vikings. First what's going on on the field, which isn't pretty. A lot of people thought that the Vikings would fall off this year, thanks to the fact that they were relying on a battered Brett Favre and no wide receivers to start the season. The precipitous drop has been more exhilarating because it's because of a complete failure on defense. Anyways, try to rankle Vikes fans even further by introducing them to the Playoff Machine on ESPN. It's almost impossible to get the Vikings in!
In somewhat more morose news for fans of those Vikings, there is this little nugget: the team has been approached by two separate groups from Los Angeles. Uh oh Vikings fans! They are getting serious this time about getting the heck out of town!
Now, I don't hate teams because of where they are or who roots for them or whatever, I just happen to find this group of owners, coaches and players to be extraordinarily detestable. It would be bad if the Vikings ACTUALLY left, except for the fact that I would be right, we wouldn't get blacked out from AFC games, and the NFC game wouldn't always feature some crappy NFC North team. But other than that, it would be bad.

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