Thursday, March 31, 2011

New York on my mind

In case you couldn't tell by the first two links earlier, I have New York on the brain. I am leaving bright and early Saturday morning. I will post some links tomorrow morning, probably, but may not have time to post much later in the day, so I wanted to tell you what's up. I haven't sought out guest writers for the trip, so instead, you can take a break from your Victoria Times reading for a few days, unless Steve checks in with a post, in which case you should definitely read something and pay very close attention to.
So here's the deal. I leave Saturday and will be in the Big Apple through Wednesday. I am going to the Twins-Yankees tilt on Tuesday, pending the weather. If you want to look for me, I will be in the third level on the first base side. I will be the one not wearing Yankees gear. If you want any pithy updates from me, than follow The Victoria Times on Twitter (you will also get a healthy dose of weather info as well... fair warning), as my chubby little thumbs will be tweeting a couple of times during the day.
OK, that's it. I may check in tomorrow with something, otherwise, I will see you next week!


Links of the Day 3/31/11

Opening Day! Even if it isn't the Twins, isn't it nice that there is baseball on?

The Mets will do anything to improve.

Hey, a team from Minnesota is successful!

I was planning on cheering for Butler anyways, but I feel like this guy would crush me if I didn't.



Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Brief, but somehow too long MLB preview

It's that time of year again! The time where I put a precious little thought into an MLB season preview. I will go division by division, making my picks for winners and subsequently pick the post season. I will not come anywhere close to correct, and you can take THAT to the bank!

The Giants won this division last year, and eventually took that party to the World Series. The pulled in a bunch of castoffs who performed admirably. It's almost as if there is some sort of drug that the Giants have access too to make them better at baseball.... I think the Padres and Diamondbacks lack the overall talent to be competitive, while the Dodgers are in financial ruins. The only challenge the Giants get is from the Rockies, but the Giants should squeak out the division. WINNER: GIANTS

What a mess this division is. I will say this... I don't think the Reds were a flash in the pan last year and will ultimately compete for the Central crown again this year. The Cardinals are going to be offensively strong, but they need depth in their rotation, and the Cubs, well, I think they will be better. The Astros and Pirates will be distant afterthoughts. Who is left, then, to compete with Cincinnati? Oh right. The Brewers. Still an offensive machine, their rotation will be better even without Zack Greinke. Remember, they added Shawn Marcum and still have Yovani Gallardo. WINNER: BREWERS

People are trying to tell us how the Phillies won't run away with this division. Well, they have a bottom of the rotation that would be competitive as a top of the rotation on many teams. Even without Jayson Werth and Chase Utley, they will score their runs. I think the NL Wild Card will come out of the east, probably the Braves, but I don't see them coming too terribly close to the Phillies, who will win about 96-97 games I think. The Marlins will be interesting, and the Nationals will be improved. Most fans would be happy with the Mets, I think, but they play in New York and everything will seem horrible. WINNER: PHILLIES

I don't want to keep picking the obvious choices, but I think in the AL West, you have to go with the Rangers. The Angels are without a dynamic threat in the middle of the order outside of Torii Hunter, and their rotation isn't really all that intimidating. The A's will likely finish second in the division thanks to young pitching that may or may not regress this season. I bet they will, but it won't matter much in a weak division. The Mariners will remain bad, and the Rangers will keep plugging away with a good offense and an uncharacteristically strong rotation. WINNER: RANGERS

I don't want to spend too much time talking about the Twins, so instead I will tell you about the other teams. The White Sox really haven't lost anything in the past couple of years, and what they have they have replaced with quality players. This offseason it was Adam Dunn. The Tigers collapsed last year, no doubt, but this offseason they added Brad Penny and Victor Martinez. The Twins, frankly, were really lucky last season, not only with their successes but the failures of the Tigers and Sox. This is about those two. The Twins will be competitive like always, but won't make the post season. Nor will the Royals or Indians. The difference between the Royals and the Tribe is that the Royals have hope. WINNER: TIGERS

This is, of course, the most important and worthwhile division in baseball. The Red Sox offense got markedly better at the expense of the Rays. I think this is going to be a two horse race now, even though the Rays and perhaps the Jays will be above average. Whichever team doesn't win the AL East crown will win the Wild Card, and I have to side with the Yankees. The Red Sox weren't very good last year, mostly due to injuries, but it's hard for me to ignore. I will give this one to the Yankees. Also, the Orioles play in the AL East.WINNER: YANKEES

Divisional Series: Braves over Brewers, Phillies over Giants, Red Sox over Rangers, Tigers over Yankees
Championship Series: Phillies over the Braves, Tigers over the Red Sox
World Series: Phillies over the Tigers.

I am going with the theory that any time a team that isn't the Twins comes out of the AL Central, they actually succeed in the postseason. I'm hoping, of course, that I am wrong and the Twins pull off another great season.

Baseball starts freaking tomorrow!


Links of the Day 3/30/11

Two baseballess days left. That's it. Can you believe it?

A women's soccer game was going on, until it was interrupted by a dog in need of a tummy rub.

I don't believe there is a situation in which I will ever be this desperate for cash.

Marathons are hard enough when you don't have to worry about directions.

Minnesota 3, St. Louis 2 - A WIN!!!! It took overtime and a shootout, but WHO CARES?!


Don't make me cry Matt Painter

As I mentioned in the links, it appears there is a chance that Matt Painter could be going to Missouri to be their new head coach. The money is the key, but now Purdue has stepped up their offer to Painter. How low would this be for a Purdue fan? Well, Painter recruited the best class that Purdue has had in over a decade and saw them crumble in the second round of the tournament. Painter has been an excellent recruiter so far, however his incoming classes are as yet untested, and there is enough time that those youngsters could decide to play elsewhere.
But these are problems that would beset a program losing any good coach. Purdue prides itself on being a basketball school in a basketball state. Matt Painter is an alumnus of Purdue. How could they lose a brilliant, home grown coach to a second rate team from a conference on the verge of collapse?! The emotional scars, the rejection, would be too much to bear, I think. Sure, we could try to stay positive, but how could we keep the faith? I don't think I am being overdramatic when I say that losing Matt Painter would be one of the most gut wrenching things possible for a proud program that has been middling for far too long.
So, Coach Painter, please don't go. It would hurt my soul.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Links of the Day 3/29/11

I am now operating on a new laptop. How terribly exciting!

This is a pretty snazzy idea, until it falls on the Cameroonian National team.

Purdue is trying desperately to ensure that Matt Painter doesn't skip town for Missouri.

New Zealand Alpacas.... well, making a scene.



Monday, March 28, 2011

The revamped NCAA tournament: Secondary bracket

As I mentioned yesterday, the new NCAA tournament would have a primary bracket, which I highlighted yesterday, and a secondary bracket, which was to be drawn mostly at random. By "mostly at random" I meant this: the highest 34 teams in terms of RPI would be drawn against the lowest 34 (and re drawn depending upon who was still available in future rounds). The first team listed was the seeded team, the second was the unseeded team in the drawing I did last night:
Wichita State vs Oral Roberts, Memphis vs Duquesne, Richmond vs New Mexico, UNLV vs Jacksonville, Texas vs Western Michigan, Butler vs Idaho, VCU vs San Francisco, Syracuse vs Morehead State, Harvard vs Robert Morris, Michigan vs Boise State, Connecticut vs Alabama, Kansas State vs UC-Santa Barbara, Kentucky vs Akron, UCLA vs UNC-Asheville, Cleveland State vs Indiana State, Louisville vs Iona, Purdue vs American, Illinois vs East Tennessee, State, Notre Dame vs Tulsa, Florida State vs Yale, Temple vs Wofford, Missouri vs Montana, Duke vs Texas-San Antonio, Gonzaga vs USC, San Diego State vs St. Peter's, Texas A&M vs Hofstra, Wisconsin vs North Dakota, Clemson vs Boston U., Old Dominion vs Virginia Tech, Georgia vs Alabama State, Washington vs Western Carolina, Vanderbilt vs Hampton, UTEP vs Quinnipiac, Colorado State vs Arkansas- Little Rock.

The Gonzaga-USC game had the smallest gap between the seeded and unseeded RPIs. I'll check back in when I have this simmed down to a sweet 16 of some sort.In the mean time, I'll talk about baseball tomorrow, probably.

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Links of the Day 3/28/11

More computer problems... Apologies if there is no posting tomorrow, as the computer is going into the shop immediately after posting today.

Whether you care for soccer or not, this is impressive right?

I don't care for this. And also, if Painter is gone, who coaches Purdue? Was going to be Cuonzo Martin, but now he's at Tennessee.What's Kelvin Sampson doing?

Joe Mauer doesn't know how to sing.

VCU 71 - Kansas 61 - And so ends the basketball portion of our program. At least Kansas is still alive in the revamped tournament simulation! Look out, Utah Valley State!


What if the NCAA tournament was like European soccer?

After today's elimination of Kansas, there are no outright champions from any conference in the Final Four. The question then becomes, what is the point of winning a conference, if a team that finished NINTH in their conference still has a chance to win the national title?
So what can be done to perhaps reward a team that is more successful in regular season rather than simply rewarding teams that do well late? What if there was a UEFA style tournament at the end of the season? What do I mean? Well, in Europe, there are two primary championship tournaments, the Champions League and the Europa Cup. We could do this, or something similar, in college basketball. Here is what I envision:
The Championship tournament involves the 32 regular season champions, seeded based on RPI (We are making the Great West a post season eligible conference now). Then, we would have the larger secondary tournament. I don't have a name for this. Entrants to the secondary tournament would be seeded somewhat based on RPI rankings as well. Here is how it works:
All conference tournament champions get entrance in the secondary tournament. In order to make this a 68 team tournament, we will also add teams based on their place in conference, so that conferences 1-6 get 4 teams (either the conference tournament champ and teams 2-4 or if the regular season champ or team 2-4 won the tournament, then simply teams 2-5), conference 7-10 get 3 teams and 10-20 get 2 and 20-32 get 1. Also, to keep conference tournaments honest, if a regular season champ wins the conference tournament, they will get placed in secondary tournament upon elimination from the Championship tournament. How?
This is another highlight from the Europeans that I love. The draw. Let's say Ohio State makes it to the round of 16 in the primary tournament, but loses (just like they did this year). They get thrown in to the third round of the secondary tournament. There wouldn't be brackets, but a seeded draw for competitors. There would definitely be pick 'ems for people to play. Anyways, the top seeded teams would be drawn to play lower seeded teams every round in the secondary tournament.
At the end of the tournament, of course, we have the two tournament champions play each other for the national title. A team that gets hot late has a chance to win a title, like Connecticut this year, but the champion of their conference, Pitt, has a distinct advantage by playing against a smaller field and playing fewer games. Also, there is no squabbling about snubs. Everyone knows their place in the tournament. So what is our field? First, let's get easy and talk about the entire Champions bracket, again based on RPI. Below are the matchups for round one. Again, this is a regular tournament:
Kansas vs Utah Valley State, Ohio State vs Bethune Cookman, BYU vs Texas Southern, North Carolina vs McNeese State, Florida vs Murray State, Pittsburgh vs Florida Atlantic, Utah State vs Coastal Carolina, Arizona vs Northern Colorado, Xavier vs Fairfield, George Mason vs Vermont, UAB vs Wisconsin- Milwaukee, Princeton vs Long Beach State, Missouri State vs Bucknell, St. Mary's vs Kent State, Belmont vs Long Island, Oakland vs Charleston.
The entrants for the secondary tournament are listed below. If the conference regular season winner also won the tournament, they are in parentheses as a potential entrant into the tournament. I will draw the first two rounds probably tomorrow, and inform you what they look like before I start the arduous task of simulating the tournament, as usual using WhatifSports to find who might be the national champ in this format.
Big East
Notre Dame, Syracuse, Louisville, Connecticut
Big Ten
Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois (Ohio State)
Big 12
Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Missouri (Kansas)
Mountain West
San Diego State, UNLV, Colorado State, New Mexico
Duke, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Clemson
Alabama, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Georgia (based on a head to head win over Mississippi State)
UCLA, Washington, USC
UTEP, Tulsa, Memphis
Temple, Richmond, Duquesne
Old Dominion, Hofstra, VCU
Butler, Cleveland State
Missouri Valley
Wichita State, Indiana State
Boise State, Idaho, (Utah State)
Gonzaga, San Francisco
Harvard, Yale (Princeton)
Iona, St. Peter's
East Tennessee State, Jacksonville (Belmont)
Quinnipiac, Robert Morris (Long Island)
Wofford, Western Carolina
Akron, Western Michigan
Oral Roberts (Oakland)
Big South
Sun Belt
Arkansas-Little Rock
Big Sky
Montana (Northern Colorado)
American (Bucknell)
Big West
UC-Santa Barbara
Ohio Valley
Morehead State
America East
Boston University
Texas-San Antonio
Alabama State
Great West
North Dakota.

Like I said, I will have the seedings for you all tomorrow. Doesn't this sound like a whole barrel of monkeys?

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Links of the Day 3/27/11

I am back, thank goodness, and the computer is AOK.

Lou Holtz... Doctor.

Jim Tressel takes a mean photograph.

I am on my way to New York on Saturday, and I think I will go snake hunting.

(Friday) Kansas 77, Richmond 57 - The Jayhawks are singlehandedly ending Cinderella dreams.
Saint Louis 6, Minnesota 3 - Hey, they scored three times!


Saturday, March 26, 2011

The State of Purdue Sports

This was supposed to be their year. Hummel was coming off his injury, Moore and Johnson decided to not go pro and make one more run at a national title. Then, Hummel gets hurt in the first practice of the year, and despite this, Purdue has an outstanding season capped by a nice win over Ohio State, who entered the tourney as the #1 overall seed. Starting with the Iowa game at the end of the season, everything seemed to completely fall apart, and I'm not sure if anyone knows for sure why. So here we are today, Elite 8 games being played, and no Purdue. They didn't even make it to San Antonio for the Sweet 16 after giving up 94 points to a random school from Richmond, Virginia. So that begs the question for us Purdue alums, where does Purdue athletics go from here?

It was a fun ride over the past few years watching Matt Painter turn around the basketball program after the team was absolutely miserable while I was in college. Meanwhile, the football program seems to be nosediving back to the bottom of the Big Ten. This is sort of the norm at Purdue, but I went to school there from 2001-2005, which was an abnormal time. The football team was coming off their first Rose Bowl appearance in over 30 years and were still a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten, while the basketball team was getting worse each year as Gene Keady aged. The football team made it to a bowl game all 4 years I was in school, while the basketball team only made the NCAA tournament once. Generally, Ross-Ade stadium was a lively packed place to watch a game while Mackey Arena was a ghost town. Now, when watching Purdue sports on TV, its pretty much the exact opposite, so it barely even reminds me of my time in school anymore. However, I didn't go to Purdue for its sports. I went there for an education so I can get a good job.

Now that Moore and Johnson have no choice but to go pro, and Hummel will hopefully be able to return next year, you have to wonder if the window for Purdue to be a college basketball powerhouse is now closed again for a while, or if Matt Painter will be able to continue to recruit well to keep the Boilers consistently good each year. Another concerning point is I'm still not convinced how serious the Purdue athletic department is about winning. Painter has proven to be a good coach for Purdue despite the collapse this year, but there are always stories lingering around the internet about Painter's pay and how it would be very easy for another school to steal him away with more money. Painter was clearly hired to be Purdue's coach for a nice discount, considering how he was a young coach at Southern Illinois and attended Purdue. Just look to the football program to see how serious Purdue is about winning. In my opinion, they are pretty much hopeless until Hope eventually gets fired, but that doesn't mean the athletic department will actually pay for a coach that actually knows how to recruit and be a good game day coach and doesn't embarrass the school's alumni every time he opens his mouth.

But with the possible decline of the basketball program on the horizon, I ask myself where in the college sports spectrum do I want Purdue to be. In pro sports, the answer is simple. You want your team to be a championship caliber team every single year, but for college sports, I think there is a downside to being too successful at sports. Think about some of the top football programs in the country like Ohio State, USC, Miami, Florida State, Nebraska, etc. To me, it seems like schools like this are often looked down upon as educational institutions because their sports teams are too good. They are thought of as shady schools that only care about winning NCAA titles and will load their curriculum with easy classes so their athletes, seen as their top priority, will stay academically eligible. Do you really want your diploma to be from a school with a reputation (whether or not it is justified) like that? Sure, it would be fun for the 4 or 5 years you are in school watching your teams win, but is it worth being looked over for jobs because of this? This happens for other reasons than sports. For example, Arizona State is looked down upon often because it has a notorious party school reputation with a very high acceptance rate, giving them the impression that they will take just about anyone and everyone likes to party instead of go to class. I live about 10 miles from the campus, and I think this is probably more true than it is for most of the Big Ten schools, but its not like there is a constant block party going on Mill Avenue either.

Because of this, I'd like Purdue's sports teams to be mediocre to below average, maybe with an occasional 2-3 year exciting above average run thrown in. I want them to be good enough so I can be involved in a college sports conversation at work without being embarrassed, but I don't want them to be so good that it discredits my education. I also want Purdue to have intelligent, well spoken coaches that serve as good ambassadors for the school (like Painter, not like Hope) and to keep recruiting good character guys. I'm proud of Drew Brees for taking Purdue to the Rose Bowl and winning a Super Bowl. I'm even more proud of Drew Brees for being a great human being that happened to go to Purdue. I think if Purdue sticks to the good character, mediocrity angle, it will make those occasional 2-3 year above average runs that much more exciting and rewarding for its alumni.


Links of the Day 3/26/11

Ryan is having computer problems, so its a Steve takeover day at the Times:

Does LA really need 3 NBA teams? Should Sacramento even have a pro sports team? One simple solution to this: Vegas.

Yep, I'm lazy today. 2 Links from ESPN. Here's a story about how the White Sox designed their goofy yet iconic early-80's uniforms.

Spring Break Burger King Bikini Brawl!!!


Cooking with Ryan: "Utica Greens"

Apparently there is something out in Utica New York called Utica Greens, and Guy Fieri went out there for his show, saw them being cooked, enjoyed them and turned it into a Food Network recipe. I went to the Food Network Random Recipe (you can find it on Google) and it brought me to that particular recipe.
It was definitely going to be interesting, because it involved a couple things that I don't think I had ever eaten, fennel and escarole. Definitely a grown up dish. The fennel, for those that haven't had it, is an onion like vegetable in appearance, but smells and tastes a little like licorice. Ok, it SMELLS a lot like licorice, the taste is much more muted. Escarole is a leafy green.
The cooking.... didn't go as well as planned. I had the pork sauteing while I julienned the veggies, which took forever. As a result, the pork got a little charred, and then the onions and fennel were probably over cooked a bit. I then mixed the seasoning while the escarole was cooking, and I said... whoa.
Entire spoonfuls of red pepper, regular pepper, salt, garlic salt, all mixed in with red wine vinegar, then mixed with all this rendered ham which is salty in it's own right, and it was overwhelmingly flavorful. The first impression was how hot it was. I started sweating and my nose started running. After I slowed down, the sensation of heat came down, and the incredible saltiness was the biggest thing.
In the time since I had it, I found out that it is often had as part of a sandwich. That makes sense, because it was a little overwhelming plain. If I had known that, I think something like a thick burger or chicken sandwich would have been complimented nicely by something like this. Maybe next time.
Oh, and to make you feel sad for me: Remember how I said I charred the meat? I had so much gunk stuck to the bottom of the pan when I was done, it took me forever to wash. The dishwater turned black when I was done with it. And then the brush from my garlic press went down the garbage disposal. A disaster all around.
Last but not least, I have had some criticism of the way the food looks when I am done cooking it. I can honestly say that this looked as bad as the photo indicates.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Links of the Day 3/25/11

I went 0/4 yesterday in my bracket. That's really bad.

Seth Davis rankles me too.

Pretty cool post from a minor league spring training game, where Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau and Jim Thome showed up. Bonus: Tom Kelly dragging the infield!

This will probably be the last Barbie related link ever on this site.

NOTHING?!?! Now that basketball season is over, the scoreboard is lonely Wait til baseball though


Thursday, March 24, 2011

What does St. Cloud do now?

I have long begged, pleaded, with a school, any school, in the state to go division one for basketball, with St. Cloud and Minnesota-Duluth the two primary candidates in my book, Maybe Minnesota State-Mankato. Still, they have remained reluctant to join the ranks of the top division in college sports.
All three schools are division 2 in most sports, like football and basketball, but all are Division 1 hockey teams, because there is no such thing as Division 2 hockey. Over the past decade, the primary competition for these schools has left their football and basketball conference, the old North Central Conference have moved on, starting with Northern Colorado, then North and South Dakota and North and South Dakota State. The three aforementioned schools took it in stride and joined a conference, the Northern Sun, which was populated with smaller schools. Right now, outside of those three schools, the largest foe they have is Winona State, which is half the size of St. Cloud (and a real candidate to move up in basketball, if I had my way). After that, the next largest school has only 5000 students.
In the only 2 years since joining the Northern Sun, St. Cloud State has already considered dropping their football team, due to the financial issues. The athletic department can't possibly b e making as much money without road fans showing up at the stadium or arena.
Now with the news that the Big Ten will be forming a hockey conference, St. Cloud (et al) are going to be losing two of their biggest draws, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Part of the draw for an athlete perhaps going to St. Cloud or Mankato was the opportunity to play against the future NHL talent at Minnesota and Wisconsin. Every other conference, even without the Big Ten schools, will have a major university to play against, from Boston College to Notre Dame to Connecticut. North Dakota is the biggest name in the WCHA now.
St. Cloud, the way I see it, is left with 2 options, though they will likely take a third. First, they could bite the bullet and go Division 1. There will be some growing pains, but eventually, having a more profitable conference affiliation will be good for other sports, especially basketball revenue going towards the hockey program. Second, they could give up and go division three. Suddenly, they will be left without a cash cow in the athletic program, so why force themselves into paying more for their programs when they could, instead, go to a smaller conference with local opponents.
I think, however, that St. Cloud will instead stay where they are, content to languish financially, playing small schools and their other castoff Minnesota state schools in Duluth and Mankato.

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Links of the Day 3/24/11

A little over a week, and I am getting the heck out of town. I hope you don't miss me too much.

I don't think one should use video games for their fantasy baseball selections.

Remember the Ryan Kesler post of a few days ago? TSN fixed his quote.

Dez Bryant: Hooligan



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Twins are making a mistake

I have railed continuously on the Twins and their offense. Ever since Terry Ryan skipped town and Bill Smith arrived, (not to mention the help of a lot of money) things have changed for the better offensively. Of course, where Ryan excelled, defense, the Twins have languished. I understand and appreciate both of these aspects of baseball fairly well from a statistical standpoint.
I don't understand pitching as well, but I do understand how it relates to the defense behind you, or rather, how defense affects pitching. With that introduction, I am fully confident in saying that the Twins are making a terrible mistake with their rotation.
I have long stated that Scott Baker is terribly underrated by the Twins, thanks in large part to the fact that his pitching style doesn't jive well with the team defense. His FIP, a fielding independent pitching, is on par with Carl Pavano and over his career was demonstrably better than Brad Radke. Radke and Baker were and are both fly ball pitchers (though Baker is slightly more so) and Baker has been MORE consistent, actually, than Radke ever was in his career, thought Radke had better individual seasons. The difference? Torii Hunter. Jacque Jones. When they left, Scott Baker's numbers started to skyrocket, but the numbers HE could control didn't get any worse. Things like his batting average for balls in play went way up, especially last year in the cavernous outfield at Target Field, with Jason Kubel designated to try to chase things down. But I'm not here to talk about Baker, because he has a spot in the rotation.
No, I'm here to talk about Kevin Slowey, who was cost a spot in the rotation for many of the same reasons that Baker's numbers are suffering. Slowey FIP is very similar to Bakers, except for a tough season in 2009 (even though he was 10-3, proving that W-L isn't a good measure of a pitcher) but he never had the benefit of pitching with Hunter in the outfield, so his classic numbers have never been as good as Baker's. The difference is that Slowey has better control but is more skewed towards a flyball pitcher, which compounds hings for him with the miserable outfield in Minnesota. His BABIP has always been way higher than league average thanks to the flyball issue, and he looks a lot worse than he performs.
Of course, now he is out of a spot in the Twins rotation, and the Twins are looking, perhaps, to trade him. While this is certainly the best for Slowey (and perhaps the best the Twins if there are no plans to improve the outfield defense) I would like to see the Twins do something to improve his value, other than putting him in the bullpen. Sure, the team may suffer, but at least scouts will see what he can do. I feel like he will be traded for a lot less than he is worth, and then succeed on a team that can play the outfield and everyone will sour on the Twins front office.
And really, who are we keeping in the rotation ahead of him? Nick Blackburn and Brian Duensing wouldn't start for many other teams in the league. Blackburn has the contract, and I'm sure the team feels beholden to starting him. He doesn't strike anyone out, his control got away from him as walks are concerned as well last season, and when people do hit him, they hit him hard. Duensing is much more acceptable for a strictly baseball perspective. He actually puts together the same kind of FIP as Baker and Slowey, but throws to a lot more ground balls, which is the way to succeed in Minnesota. Still, he is bound to regress this year, as he outperformed that FIP by a full run, and his walks are bound to catch up with him eventually.
To conclude, the Twins are making a mistake having Slowey in the bullpen. In the long run, trading him is likely the only scenario that makes sense, because with the Twins outfield geared towards offense, he won't succeed here. Still, it would be nice if we weren't counting on Nick Blackburn as a long term solution in his stead. How to fix it short term? Maybe have Ben Revere on the roster for a month or two, have him play when Slowey is on the mound. I don't know if this is feasible though, but there has to be something.

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Links of the Day 3/23/11

Boy, it sure looks like spring outside!!! *sigh*

If I recall, Iowa did the same thing to Chaska in Minnesota about 15 years ago. Chaska is somewhat more affluent than rural Georgia.

Alex Trebek, sportscaster?

This is a weird thing that happened involving Steven Seagal.

Toronto 3, Minnesota 0 - Well, at least it's almost baseball season.


Ryan Kesler (or TSN) is confused by words

The Vancouver Canucks are having an excellent season, but center Manny Malhotra is now out for the season after taking a puck to the face, requiring surgery on his eye. Ryan Kesler, one of the leaders of the team doesn't think losing Malhotra will be a problem though. According to TSN, Kesler is quoted as saying
We've dealt with a lot of diversity and I don't expect any downfall in our game.
Of course, now would be a n interesting time to point out that Malhotra is  ethnically Indian, so I guess the Canucks HAVE been through some, uh, diversity. But I'm pretty sure that's not what Kesler meant.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Links of the Day 3/22/11

Trust me when I say, if I am posting links late in the day, it's been a good day for me, because it was a day off from Real Job Inc.

Kevin Slowey, much better than you think. CAUTION: Uses numbers, so be careful if you are reading this Ron Gardenhire. You know what? Why don't you just go play with your Legos.

The Spoiler says Blackburn will get relegated. English bastards.

The rules of football are changing! This is irrelevant, as there will be no football.



Monday, March 21, 2011

What we have in the Sweet 16

I don't know what to say about Purdue. I was so hopeful, they had so much promise... I can't see the end of the season as anything but a complete failure. How does a team that prides itself on defense, one that has two seniors as it's top players completely wet the bed and give up 94 points against a CAA team? What an abomination. If there is any bright side, I guess it's that Purdue basketball has more hope than Purdue football.
But anyways, here is what we have in the Sweet 16. This is the first time since 1999 that there have been 4 double digit seeds in the Sweet 16, and we are guaranteed at least one in the Elite 8 after Florida State and VCU take on one another. This is also the first time that 3 double digit seeds have made it to the Sweet 16 in the same bracket. Put it like this: If Kansas makes it to the Final 4, the highest seed they will have played will be #8 Illinois.
On to the Big East, who I have said all along is overrated. The two teams they sent to the Sweet 16 were the two that had the chance to play other Big East teams. There are as many teams from Richmond, VA, (Richmond and VCU) in the Sweet 16 as there are teams from the Big East. In fact, if you look at the teams still left in the dance, the conference with the most teams left is the ACC, which has three out of their 4 teams still remaining. Conferences with two teams left are the Big Ten, Mountain West, SEC and the aforementioned Big East. How did anyone forget the ACC?
So, even with their run last year, did anyone expect Butler to be the only team from Indiana left at this stage? Anyways, I had Wisconsin topping the Bulldogs, so it doesn't really matter much to me. I will continue to root for Wisconsin, because I had them in the Final Four. In fact, my Final Four is still intact. I guess that's one thing to keep me going.

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Links of the day 3/21/11

Yesterday was a tough day for me, sportswise.

Here is Minnesota getting their ass handed to them yesterday.

Roger Goodell sent a letter to the players. This is not it. Watch the language.

Pat Neshek is gone... good or bad?

SK Brann 2, Rosenborg 1 - RBK loses on the first day of the Tippeligaen season. They were undefeated last year.
Montreal 8, Minnesota 1 - Holy hell.
VCU 94, Purdue 76 - I said I would be disappointed if the Boilermakers didn't make the Elite 8. They didn't. I am disappointed.
Kansas 73, Illinois 59 - Great, a team on the scoreboard actually won.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cooking with Ryan: Barbecue chicken

Back when I was a youngster, we called something like this a hobo dinner, except we used steak and we cooked it over an open flame, not in the oven. So I guess the only thing is that I threw all the stuff in foil while it cooked.
I was surprised by the smell of the dinner. I threw the barbecue sauce on top of a chicken breast, potatoes, green peppers, green onions and seasoned with salt and pepper. I was surprised that, while it was in the oven, almost all I smelled was pepper. Not just one kind of pepper, but the green pepper and the black pepper. I was expecting some chicken or barbecue smells wafting through my place, disturbing my dog. Alas, this was not the case.
I haven't really made anything quite as homey as this before, so it was nice to go meat and potatoes for once. It seems strange that I have cooked potatoes as infrequently as I have... hmm. And I call myself a Norwegian. The recipe called for cheese, which is always good, but I feel like the cheese was the thing that really buoyed everything else. Needed more barbecue sauce. Of course, I pretty much eyeballed the whole thing, so perhaps that was the problem.
And yes, I did bake it on a pizza tray.


Links of the Day 3/20/11

The Big East is totally awesome.

Pat Neshek has been claimed on waivers by the Padres. Hard to find a better place to go to.

A vicious hit leads to a minor league hockey brawl between the coaches.

What the hell is wrong with Greece? And who thought it would be a good idea to teach them soccer?
Blackburn 2, Blackpool 2 - The Rovers tied this one in extra time to get a point out of the match, but they remain precariously near the relegation zone.
Columbus 5, Minnesota 4 - We haven't seen a Minnesota team collapse late in the season like this in almost 3 weeks.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Media gets it backwards

For so, so long, most everyone in Big Ten country has decried the attention that the ACC has received, but ever since the Big East added about a million teams, that attention has gone to the Big East. The ACC has become almost an afterthought, especially since old favorites like Maryland and Wake Forest have fallen off.
This year, thanks in some part to the high rankings I'm sure, the Big East managed to net 11 teams in the Big Dance, while the ACC, the old guard, as it were, only cobbled together 4 teams. The ACC IS really down, aren't they?
But wait! After the first round, the Big East was only 7-4, while the ACC went 3-1 (ironically, their only loss was against the Big East, West Virginia vs Clemson). After today, the Big East lost another team, West Virginia, while they will lose another when Connecticut plays Cincinnati, and another tomorrow when Syracuse plays Marquette. Suddenly, the Big East is guaranteed a max of 4 teams in the Sweet 16. One of their remaining matchups involves the ACC's Florida State against Notre Dame. If FSU wins, then suddenly both the ACC and Big East have three teams in the Big Dance. It makes you wonder if those at ESPN would have had it right, sticking to their traditional guns. Is the ACC the best conference?
Of course not. The best conference is the Big Ten.

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Links of the Day 3/19/11

Round 2 of the dance... or rather, round 3. I'm going back to regular posting today. I have a life to live.

Yeah, I don't really like basketball quite this much.

 The reason we hate Duke, from CNN of all people.

The Brewers made a lot of important upgrades to their disabled list this offseason.

Kansas 72, Boston University 53 - Kansas, perhaps thinking back to a few previous tournaments, struggled early but ended up with the easy victory.
Purdue 65, St. Peter's 43 - Shots didn't really go down for the Boilermakers, but suffocating defense left little in doubt for Purdue.


Friday, March 18, 2011

The irregularly updated basketball time blog Day 2

- Oakland vs Texas - Marv Albert! Craig Sager! Another introduction of the TNT NBA crew on an unsuspecting America. Texas was obviously a better team, in my opinion, but Oakland, despite the lack of talent was not nervous, owing to a difficult schedule this season. It's another of the strong mid-majors that got hosed on seeding, however, with Belmont and Utah State being the others. I really think the at large play ins are going to screw a few good conference champions out of deserved high seeds and unfairly eliminate them early.

- Tennessee vs Michigan - If you asked me to pick a game that would be an enormous 8-9 blow out, it would not have been this game. Bruce Pearl isn't even sweating through his jacket because this game is so out of hand. Speaking of Pearl, it was generally indicated that he would not be back next season, regardless of outcome, which makes this game incredibly awkward for him and his team. Fortunately, that unpleasant feeling is just about over.

- Akron vs Notre Dame - I am unabashedly cheering for Akron, who is only down by 4. They have a lot of players on the team that have been in the dance before, a lot of veteran talent and are seemingly comfortable, as they are somewhat surprisingly within 4 at the half. Of course, Notre Dame always comes into the dance with both hands around their throat, so I guess this isn't a huge surprise to anyone. Go Zips!
Akron hung with the Irish in this game, much to everyone's surprise and my delight, but  they never really went on a run. It was a game with a lot of baskets being swapped, and in the end it became clear that Notre Dame was struggling because their open looks just weren't going down.

- Villanova vs George Mason - FINALLY a Big East team starts hot, and it's one of the teams that was universally panned coming into the tournament. George Mason was a trendy pick to do well in the tournament until they got an 8 seed opposite Ohio State. But Villanova is well rested after not doing a thing for about two months.
GUS FREAKING JOHNSON! The best part is that this game is going down to the wire, so we will see Gus at this Gussiest in the end. Villanova came out fast as I mentioned, but George Mason brought it to within one, and the Wildcats have to be doubting themselves at this point.
George Mason did it! HUGE win, made even huger by the fact that Gus Johnson was able to properly lose it mid game. The Big East is now 5-3 in the first round, with three games against joke conferences, leaving them 2-3 against real competition, which means that they are... average.

- Memphis vs Arizona - Barkley has been trumpeting Arizona the entire day, and they came out extraordinarily flat. I suspected the Pac 10 might be surprisingly well represented again this year, but then I had Arizona losing in the next round and UCLA losing in round one, so I guess I don't know what I was thinking. Arizona came storming back after the Memphis Tigers got out to a hot start and even have a three point lead at the half.
Memphis came storming back again to retake the lead. It just dawned on me that this would be Calipari vs Memphis if the Tigers hang on. Very cagey, selection committee (erp, Arizona gets Texas, not Kentucky... Been a long week). Now, about that whole Big East-Big East second round thing.... But really, this has been one of the better games of the tournament, as both teams are athletic, and neither has been out of it at any point.
Charles Barkley again echoed the same sentiment, saying that these were two of the most athletic teams in the tournament, and it's hard to argue with that. It came down to the end of the game and one of those athletic plays from Derrick Williams. I haven't seen him play before today, but I am impressed.

- Hampton vs Duke - Another team that looks like they should from the beginning. Hampton looks scared, Duke looks confident and this is going very quickly, which is definitely good for the Pirates. Let's just hope it's only feelings that get hurt.
Hampton has 6 points in the second half. Poor, poor Hampton.
In describing this adventure, Kenny Smith said it was good for Kyrie Irving to see the court in a "game-like" atmosphere. Not in a game. Game-like. That's all you need to know.

- Florida State vs Texas A&M - This started exactly the way I thought it would. FSU's defense prevented A&M from scoring for the first 6 minutes. The problem was that the Seminoles weren't scoring themselves. Oops. This game is still tied, somehow.
 For the first time in about 13 years, the Seminoles got the win in the first round. I like the way they played defensively and they just seem long. Even if they don't beat Notre Dame on Sunday, It's going to be a pretty incredible game.

- Texas San Antonio vs Ohio State - Ohio State at this point is up 70-34. UTSA isn't even making that many mistakes, it's just total domination by Ohio State. It's pretty tough for a team to get up for this opening round game, but Thad Matta got OSU going. This kind of coaching and focus can't be good for the rest of their half of the bracket.

- Boston University vs Kansas - Hilarious that the game is so close. Sure, I've said all tournament that Boston got jobbed, being made a 16 seed, but still, Kansas SHOULD be annihilating them. That's why it's not right, because Boston should be getting embarrassed, undeservedly. But they aren't, so good for them.
Perhaps I spoke too soon. The Jayhawks turned it on in the second half and didn't look back. Definitely a situation of abundant talent overwhelming a less well conditioned team in Boston. Kansas moves on and will likely have something to talk about in practice tomorrow.

- Long Island vs North Carolina - North Carolina is simply too athletic. The Northeast Conference doesn't have that many good athletes, and probably got a reputation of a team that does, simply because their champion last year, Robert Morris, competed so well against Villanova in the tournament. Of course, North Carolina is already up, so this may also be a testament to the ACC, who has done well so far this year.
After I wrote this, LIU went on a run and kept it close at the half, but North Carolina then went out and took over in the second half. The first and perhaps last game of the tourney to put a team over 100, this was a demonstration in high powered offenses. Even Long Island scored over 70, but, you know, lost by 30. Seemed like every shot went down for both teams, though.

- St. Peter's vs Purdue - Purdue so far is dominant on defense, but they look like they are trying to force it. They know they are better, they know they haven't played well of late, and they are trying to make up for it. They need to stay within their game, and this will be a blowout instead of a mere victory
This game went pretty much exactly as hoped. Purdue was any sort of superlative when compared to St. Peter's but the one s that stood out were more athletic, bigger, longer and more cohesive. It's really kind of hard to say if Purdue is in a rhythm, because St. Peter's was really, really bad.  The defense looks to be there, however, so there are some good indications going forward.

- Marquette vs Xavier - For the first time, I have a compliment for a Big East team: Marquette looked GOOD. They definitely played like they were the favorite, and were helped by the fact that Xavier came out a little flat. They would be a tough team to face next round were they not facing Syracuse (assuredly) who will have a good book on them already.

- UNLV vs Illinois - I had UNLV winning this one, because I thought the Mountain West would represent themselves well. Illinois is blowing the Rebels out of the building. This and the Michigan game are huge for the Big Ten's reputation. It's almost as if the Big Ten was a tough conference that led to not many teams having great records. Penn State and Michigan State are the only two to lose, and both took it down to the wire so far.
The Rebels never really came back into it. I missed the end of this game though, because a police chase appears to have ended just outside my front door. There were dogs, and about 6 squad cars and an ambulance and it was crazy. I thought it was more entertaining the games, frankly. I want to know what happened.

- Georgia vs Washington - If conference strength continues to go to form, this will be a good win for Washington. I am so far impressed by Isaiah Thomas.
Georgia kept this game a lot closer than anyone expected. Or rather, than I expected. The SEC ended up going 1-3 on day one, while the Pac 10 is 3-0 (USC doesn't count because they didn't even get to the 64). Watch out for the Pac 10. Maybe Colorado will have a better shot next year out of the Pac 12.

- VCU vs Georgetown - Chris Wright is back and clearly healthy. This game is up and down and will be extremely entertaining down to the wire, if early indications are accurate. I don't think VCU will get gassed at this pace, because nobody seems tired in any games this season. This is a fun game too, because its the second CAA-Big East match.
Well, I was wrong. Georgetown was dominated by VCU down the stretch. The Big East looks really good now, don't they?! I like this result for Purdue, because it meant that they don't get a Georgetown team in rhythm and they DO get a team playing it's third game in 5 days. The game won't be easy, but it's a better match.

- Indiana State vs Syracuse - Hasn't really started yet, but the thing I have learned is that Indiana State has some ugly ass cheerleaders. Sorry ladies.
Syracuse let the Sycarmores hang around a little too long, but they ended up running away in the end. Indiana State wasn't a very good team, and one of the few teams (BYU the other) that didn't have a proliferation of tattoos. Interesting. Syracuse rebounds well, which is a good  sign for their future success. The Big East was 7-4 in the first round, and when you subtract the 1-3 seeds, they went 3-4, which ,as mentioned, is average. Two of those teams will lose this weekend, and the Big East will be left with at most 5 of their teams next weekend. What I'm saying though, is that Syracuse probably projects the best.

And that's it for the IUBTB! Not a chance this is happening tomorrow, but the Twitter will be alive and well

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Links of the Day 3/18/11

I just updated the irregular blog from yesterday, so please go check it out. There will be an even MORE irregular blog for day two.

The Champions League quarterfinal draw was this morning. Tie of the round is probably Chelsea-Manchester United.

Adrian Peterson's offensive comment with a little bit of context.

A nice, visual recap of the first day of the tournament.

San Jose 3, Minnesota 2 - It looks like time has just about run out for the Wild. We have now gone since the Vikings over a year ago since a Minnesota team in one of the 4 major sports had a post season victory


Thursday, March 17, 2011

The irregularly updated basketball time blog

- Clemson vs West Virginia: 80 points in the first half is insane! But Clemson started hot, and West Virginia was good from behind the arc as well when they came back, but I think Clemson would be well served to keep going inside in the second half. I would like to see Clemson play UAB, West Virginia and Kentucky in three games. Academic powerhouses all.
And now the wheels are falling off for Clemson. Was it the quick turn around from game to game, or was it the fact that this is Clemson, and this is what they do?
West Virginia ends up winning the game, and someone legitimately named Dalton Pepper sealed the deal. I don't know A) how you can argue with that kind of a name? B) everyone in West Virginia doesn't have that name

- Butler vs Old Dominion: In a way, this has been like an NBA game. Each team goes on 5 minute runs, spread the floor WAY too much and Charles Barkley keeps showing up at half time.
This game is really just flying by, and in my flipping I don't see much of it. Every time I look, it seems like ODU is the clearly dominant team, but Butler is keeping it close.
Butler still never impressed me as the game went on, but they managed, somehow, to win the game. I don't know how, I don't know why, but they tipped in the game winner and should probably lose by 40 to Pitt on Saturday, but will probably win by 10.

- Morehead State vs Louisville - It took over 6 minutes for Louisville to score in this one. That's not good. Two Big East teams off to slow starts, but if West Virginia can get it together, then maybe Louisville can as well. Kenneth Faried is an animal. Everything as promised.
The first major stunner of the tournament! The Morehead Eagles tip the Louisville Cardinals. We get more of future superstar Faried on Saturday against either Vanderbilt or Richmond. There are always chic upset - picks, but frankly, it's games like this that throw everyone's brackets off. Also, the Big East is overrated as usual. More importantly, the Big East TOURNAMENT is overrated. Keep in mind, this is a team that reached the finals of that tournament.

- Penn State vs Temple: In watching this game so far, it is very clear who the best team in Pennsylvania is. Pitt. This is a tight battle that actually feels like a battle. The ODU-Butler game seemed like a game that ODU dominated but Butler won. No team here has the advantage, and either seems like they would be a tough matchup on Saturday.
And the Owls weasel their way to victory with a weird looking shot from an even weirder looking dude.

- Kentucky vs Princeton: It seemed at the beginning that Kentucky was going to completely destroy Princeton, but the Tigers stormed back to make it a 1 point game at the half. It's a standard veteran vs freshmen game, where Princeton is only in this because of their experience and chemistry.
this one comes down to the end. You can tell that Princeton played their game with a score like 57 all. Still, it's not a good sign for the SEC that their champ is struggling with an Ivy League school. And don't tell me that the Ivy League is strong this year. The co-champs, Harvard, got destroyed by Oklahoma State in the NIT

- UNC Asheville vs Pittsburgh - Absolutely no reason Asheville should be in this game. Pitt keeps turning the ball over, and Asheville is down only 5 late in the 1st. Of course, it is tough for Pitt to hang on to the ball when they play with both hands around their throat
This game should be embarrassing for Pitt. Yes, they are up 11 on Asheville midway through the second half, but really, you would think that a number one seed would make teams nervous, and Asheville isn't playing nervous at all. The Big East hasn't looked great today.
Well, Pitt pulled it out. Despite my rantings on Pitts mediocrity in this one, they were clearly the more talented team and managed to wear Asheville down, and doubled their advantage. I'm clearly still not imressed. Of course, it's hard to believe that they would have opened up their entire bag of tricks vs a 16 seed.

- Richmond vs Vanderbilt - This game has upset written all over it. I don't know many people that even have Vanderbilt winning. Every few minutes, they talk about Richmond's upset victories through their history. Well, so far Vanderbilt is the more physical team, and I really like the way they have looked today. Heck, they even destroyed a Richmond Spider's nose with an elbow underneath. If Vanderbilt gets through, you have to like their chances to even get to the Sweet 16.
If there was a theme to this game, it was "Richmond, hitting the running floater in the lane!" The Spiders are getting good penetration but avoiding contact now, and they keep hitting all these little floaters. I think now we are seeing why Vandy didn't do so well in the regular season, but they can certainly still turn things around and take back the lead.
Well, I was wrong. The trends held, and popular consensus was accurate. Richmond always gets upsets, Vanderbilt always loses and everyone picked this upset correctly. Congrats, nobody's brackets were busted.

- San Diego State vs Northern Colorado - Northern Colorado reminds me of North Dakota State a few years back. Spirited in their first year in the dance, giving their competition a scare. San Diego State, thankfully for them, doesn't look at all flustered. Yet
The Aztecs keep inching out further and further ahead. UNC is shooting very poorly, and while San Diego State hasn't done much better, they are getting more opportunities thanks to their size and athleticism. Not as close as the scoreboard indicates.
In the end, a high seed actually looked like a high seed. UNC is the first team today to actually look bad.

- Florida vs California Santa Barbara - Not only did Florida get criminally overseeded, but they also drew one of the weakest 15 seeds out there. Seriously, I think a team like Boston U impresses me more than UCSB. Florida is getting a ton of open looks, thanks in large part to the Gauchos' inability to communicate on defense. IT says something that Florida only has 12. They will win easily, however.
Florida has already opened a 20 point lead. Looks like the first real end to end domination of the tournament.
This one is at the half, but it might as well be over. Speaking of the half, how about that half time show? Charles Barkley seems a lot more informed than I would have ever thought. Also, I totally bet he is going to hang out with Gumbel after the show.
Let's just say, thank goodness this one ended. There was even a broken wrist for UCSB, so nothing went well there.

- BYU vs Wofford - Still way too early to have much of a valid opinion. I already feel like too much attention is going to be paid to Jimmer Fredette, especially from his own team, and may try to force it through him. Also, Wofford has 3 Minnesotans. So, Minnesota prep stars, go to small schools in South Carolina if you want to go to the Tournament, rather than the Big Ten school right next door.
Wofford is leading this game, and the lack of an inside presence for the Cougars has nothing to do with it. Wofford is hitting a lot of open shots, but from the perimeter and midrange, which can't be kept up. BYU just needs to score, score score.
Hey, BYU started to score. They only ended up with 69 so far, so the pace was clearly not dictated by the Cougars. Fredette ended up with 29, which is probably good, since everyone else on the team has 40. Wofford definitely looked like they belonged though, so good for them.

- Connecticut vs Bucknell - UConn looks confident, and are hitting from every where. 14 points before the first commercial. Bucknell looks awkward and gangly, but have actually scored a whopping 7 points.
UConn is also putting the beat down on their opponent. This doesn't remind me at all of their Big East run, however, simply because they were never up 15 in the first half during that run.
This game was ugly.I think Bucknell was probably seeded on previous season's reputation, but they simply were not very good.

- Belmont vs Wisconsin - Lots of talk about this being a potential upset game as well. I feel bad for Wisconsin, because it seems like they always draw an underseeded team. I thought Belmont could have been a 10 or 9 seed easily. The Badgers, though tied, already look deflated.
Hey! Wisconsin is playing like Wisconsin. They started to run away from the Belmont Bruins as they settled in. They're much bigger and locked down defensively to wear down Belmont. If Wisconsin is comfortable, I can't see them losing for a while.

- UCLA vs Michigan State- This one is still early, but a lot of people are looking forward to it. I hope everyone realizes that both of these teams are way down this year.
Hey, Michigan State played like the team they were all season, rather than tournament Michigan State. After the raging comeback from the Spartans, there probably have to be some questions about UCLA, but if they can play like the team that destroyed MSU in the first half, they should do well against Florida who only scrimmaged on Thursday.

- Gonzaga vs St. Johns - Finally, a slow starting Big East team pays for it! The Big East didn't look great all day, but they managed to get a second wind vs more or less inferior opponents to take games late. Not St. John's! They couldn't win all season away from Madison Square Garden and ended up paying for it in Denver. Charles Barkley was railing against the Big East all day, and I'm hoping he's right.

- Cincinnati vs Missouri - This was a battle between two teams that are always disappointing in the tournament. Only one team could suck! It happened to be Missouri today. I hated this game, because I picked Missouri and it was over early. It might be the Big 12 that rears it's ugly head as the weak power conference this year.

- Kansas State vs Utah State - Or not. The Aggies kept climbing back to within 7 or 8 and people kept saying that they were staying in it, but really, they weren't. People were just hoping that one of the late games would actually be good, and a lot of people picked Utah State. So Kansas State is playing Wisconsin. I wonder how many people actually picked that? It seemed as though everyone picked at least one of those teams to lose. Only one trendy upset came through though, and that was Richmond's win.
Also, kudos to Kansas State for being the first to wear something other than white as the higher seed.

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Links of the Day 3/17/11

Just so you all know, I will be tweeting my way through the tournament, with perhaps some sort of live blog here. Definitely the Tweeting though.

Adrian Peterson is so flexible, he can even put his foot in his mouth!

Hey Doug Gottlieb! I see you on TV!

Tim Kurkjian loves young baseball players...



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Purdue-centric look at the tournament

I said that when the bracket came out, I was extremely happy with the way the bracket set up for my Boilermakers. They come out flat in games where there isn't much reason to have energy, like against the Hawkeyes in Iowa and the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, when they squared off against a team that was playing for something while Purdue wasn't. I don't expect their recent slide to continue, is what I am saying.
The first round game against St. Peter's shouldn't be a problem if they come out like we all know the Boilers can play. Purdue is a much bigger, more athletic team.I am looking forward to this game in primetime, showing what the Boilers can do.
The second round will be interesting. Georgetown is completely imploding. They were doing well early in the season, but when star Chris Wright went down, the team did too. But now they are well rested and Wright may come back in time for the tournament. Still, if they are out of rhythm, they may lose to their first round opponent (USC or VCU, we'll find out tonight) and Purdue will have an easy time with whomever they end up playing. If Georgetown wins and gains a little momentum, I would grow a little concern.
In my brackets, I have Purdue playing either Florida State or Notre Dame in the Sweet 16. I think Purdue can play a little more athletically than either team, but Notre Dame can bomb from outside, and if they get hot, they could be tricky. The Seminorles are a completely opposite team, relying on an inside presence, and with Purdue having both Jajuan Johnson and a E'Twaun Moore playing inside and outside respectively, as well as several complimentary players (generally on the outside) that could match up with either team. I think a game against Florida State would be a better game for the Boilers than Notre Dame, but maybe playing against traitor Scott Martin would provide a little spirit for the team.
I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but I feel like things are set up for what I have been saying all year. It will be disappointing if the Boilers don't reach at least the Elite 8.

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Links of the Day 3/16/11


So, what's the deal with Blaine Gabbert? A top pick, really?

Speaking of, the draft sounds like it's going to be awesome.

The take away from this post... Ron Gardenhire has finally learned English.

Cleveland State 63, Vermont 60 - The Catamounts were bounced in the first round of the NIT, and forever bounced from the scoreboard. (probably)


Maybe the best video ever

I want to put up a post on the tournament, on baseball season, on something, but there is a video that has had my attention for pretty much the past 24 hours. You can tell how strongly I feel about this that a link gets it's own post. I laugh until I cry every time I watch it. It involves Vermont, too, so it's sort of like it has something to do with our daily scoreboard. The video isn't embeddable, so you will have to leave the site for a while, but here are my favorite few lines.
"Talk about the Bracket?!"
"And SWOOSH we go with the bracket"
Go watch now
You have to commend Darius. I'm thoroughly impressed by the lack of pit stains.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Links of the DAy 3/15/11

For you to ponder while waiting in eager anticipation for UNC Asheville-Arkansas Little Rock.

Looking back at George Mason and their Final Four team.

Here is an interesting way to make your picks.

Hey, Northwestern is in the postseason! Good for them that they have a cool coach too.

Vancouver 4, Minnesota 2 - But the good news is they actually scored a couple goals


Cooking with Ryan: This is not how it went

I had a little time off yesterday and all I did was make a little tartar sauce to go with some Gorton's fish fillets, and enjoyed it with some fruit. The fruit the recipe (or dinner suggestion, really) recommended were grapes (fine) pineapple chunks (fine) and slices of peeled kiwi.
Uh oh.
How the hell do you peel kiwi? Like this:

Unless you're me. It looked like I killed an alien. In the end, I was only able to suck the juice out of it. But still, kiwi juice. Tasty. Or something.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Links of the Day 3/14/11

And now we wait for the serious basketball to begin.

The Gophers will not be involved in any of that basketball, shut out of even the NIT.

A look at the tournament with Purdue lenses on.

That's what I said! Sorry for all three links being basketball... it's on my mind.

Nada! But aside from Purdue vs St. Peter's as mentioned earlier, Kansas will play Boston University on Friday, and Vermont goes to Cleveland State tomorrow for the NIT


The 2011 Tournament

Holy smokes, this is the worst bracket I think I have ever seen. Once you get to the 3rd seed, I think it's a complete crap shoot. I just went by gut on all my picks (and I watch a LOT of basketball, so this isn't just fluff) and I had:
- 8 double digit seeds winning in the first round
- 5 upsets in the 2nd round
- A 10 seed (Michigan State) in the Elite 8
- a 5 seed (Kansas State) in the in the Final 4.
- 3 1 seeds (Kansas, Duke, Ohio State) in the Final 4.

I don't care for my bracket, because there is so much parity past the 2nd seeds. Here were my guiding forces:
- The SEC is complete garbage. I had Florida losing no matter who they played in the 2nd round.
- The West Coast conferences did extremely well last year, so I picked Pac 10 and WCC's Gonzaga to excel a little bit better than their seeds may have suggested.
- The Big East is solid, but the reason the conference tournament was so wild is because the top teams aren't elite. They tend not to do well in the Big Dance, and Pitt and Notre Dame, the conferences highest seeded teams are the worst offenders.
- I like the Big 12 and the ACC to be surprisingly successful this year from the middle of their conference. I think North Carolina is a little too immature and may take teams lightly like they did at the beginning of the season.

But in my opinion, the bracket is putrid. The lower seeds are almost as good as the higher seeds in far too many cases for me to be comfortable with any early round picks, but I think this will be a good year for the top seeds.

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Links of the Day 3/13/11

How exciting, it's selection Sunday! This may be the last exciting sports Sunday for a very long time.

It was bound to happen... An American blogger, from Lakers blog With Malice is in Japan. His accounts.

The best chart ever, as it pertains to basketball this week.

Eden Prairie won the State Hockey tourney in thrilling fashion.

Kansas 85, Texas 73 - The loss was so bad, apparently, that Texas dropped to a 4 seed.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

My 2011 Random Road Trip destination is set

As you all know, I was unable  to go the Vermont-Stony Brook tilt back in January (Stony Brook just lost to Boston University in the America East title game tonight, by the way), but all systems are go for game two in this adventure. Where to? As you may or may not recall, the second team in this years road trip series is the Wyoming Cowboys' football team. Their 6th game was the game that was selected, and we were just waiting on the Mountain West to come out with their 2011 schedule.
They did just the other day, and game #6 on the Cowboys' schedule is a home tilt with the UNLV Runnin' Rebels. I thought there was a chance I might see them play Colorado State last year, but that was not the case, and I get to catch the Rebs in Laramie this year. The game is on October 15th, and I couldn't be more excited to go.


Links of the Day 3/12/11

Tomorrow is Selection Sunday... now please?

Trust me, if you are into European soccer, this is funny stuff.

The hockey team bus is horrifying.

I'm so glad this is Tom Brady and not Peyton Manning.

Michigan State 74, Purdue 56 - Purdue can never just have one bad game in a row. Always has to be two.
Kansas 90, Colorado 83 - Apparently Kansas scores a lot and doesn't play defense. This could be fun in the tournament.
Dallas 4, Minnesota 0 - The Wild managed 0 goals in the last two games.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquake and Tsunami Devastate Japan

Last night, just before I went to bed, my friend and fellow writer at Victoria-Weather Anthony Dunkel told me to turn it ot CNN, where the video of the tsunami washing away parts of northeastern Japan was being televised live. I was riveted for 2 hours, and today I have spent most of the morning watching CNN rather than SportsCenter or basketball. Rather than just post something glib on sports or try to be overly emotional which would probably end up overly saccharine or seem disingenuous, I also didn't want to gloss over this enormous tragedy, so I have decided to re-post Anthony's post at V-W from this morning, as it is both scientific and informative, something that is both unusual for this site and befitting my personality a little bit better.

Yes, this is a weather blog, and earthquakes and tsunamis are in no way, shape, or form are affect by meteorological forces, but when a natural disaster of this magnitude occurs and affects this many people, it's impossible not to discuss it from a scientific standpoint. It was a rather surreal scene last night, after randomly noticing that ALL of the trending topics on Twitter had a Japan reference, switching on CNN and watching live aerial footage of the tsunami rushing inland and taking out houses, roads, villages, farmland, and just not stopping as it plunged inland. Clearly this will remind people of the giant 2004 Sumatra Earthquake/tsunami and the devastation it caused, but this was different in a way that we could see everything unfold live on TV, whereas back in 2004 we heard about nearly everything a bit after the fact.
What exactly causes a tsunami of this magnitude? Well on Wednesday a 7.2 earthquake hit off the Japanese coastline, followed by a 6.3 early Thursday, then on Friday afternoon, the monster 8.9 quake hit about 230mi northeast of Tokyo, or due east of Sendai. The main instigator of the tsunami was that it only happened at 15.2mi below the surface, which is very shallow for such a powerful quake, and means most of that energy is translated to the surface. Unlike the Sumatra quake, in which a massive underwater landslide triggered the tsunami, this quake caused an uplifting of the seafloor in the Japan Trench as the Pacific Plate subducts underneath the Eurasian Plate, pushing it upwards. When the seafloor has a sudden lift, all of the water above it is displaced, and when you have THAT MUCH water moving upwards, it has nowhere to go but outwards. Out in the open sea, you wouldn't really notice much as the amplitude (height) of the wave might only be a foot, but the wavelength (distance between wave crests) can be dozens or even hundreds of miles long. When this wave approaches the shallow waters near a coastline, the energy of the wave causes it to rapidly build in height and then just inundate the coastline. When you see a normal wave on a coastline, the water will only go inland a few feet before pushing back out to sea in anticipation of the next wave just a few seconds later. With a tsunami wave, and the fact that the waves are dozens of miles apart, all of that energy pushes the wave inland hundreds of feet, or even a couple of miles depending on the topography, past the coastline before it starts to recede ahead of the next wave.
Tsunami waves can reach upwards of 500-600mph as they race across the open ocean, as evidenced by the waves reaching Hawaii and reaching heights of 7 feet, flooding up to 100ft of coastline according to some early reports. Currently, these waves are currently making their way to the Western US. Granted the West Coast won't see anything like what our friends in Japan unfortunately experienced, but still not a wise time to be standing on the beach. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Japan and all of the people affected by this disaster, and hope our readers who have friends or family traveling abroad hear good news.

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Links of the Day 3/11/11

Here's hoping and praying for a fast recovery in Japan...

Joe Mauer makes a lot of money.

Sounds like LCG is shutting 'er down. Hopefully they come back.

Here's a time lapse from the Duke UNC game. Time Lapses are fun.

Kansas 63, Oklahoma State 62 - This probably means Kansas isn't very good
Northwestern 75, Minnesota 65 - *sigh* What a sad, sad season.

Nashville 4, Minnesota 0 - The Wild are getting healthier! Guillaume Latendresse... did not help.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why I refrain from bashing officials

It's boring. There, I said it. It bores me. There is no analysis involved in talking about how people not playing the game may or may not have made a mistake. Part of the game, in my opinion, is selling yourself to the officials. You get more strikes if you are a more well respected hitter. You get more calls in the lane if you are an aggressive offense with good ball handlers. In other words, don't claim poor officiating, just try to play to them. They are part of the game, so use them to your advantage.
As for yesterday's game between Rutgers and Saint John's.. yes, the refs made an egregious error. Nobody feels worse than the officials, I can tell you that much (as someone who has dabbled in officiating). And you know what? Nothing can be done about it. There can be no adjustments for the next game for either team, and frankly it sets up a better game today. Saint John's is a better team, and Rutgers would be completely gassed coming into today's game. They weren't going to make it to the conference championship, and regardless of how they played the rest of the way, they weren't going to make it to the Big Dance. It's done. It's over. Stop complaining.

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Links of the Day 3/10/11

Hey, the Big Ten Tournament starts today! So much basketball on today, but so much work to do.

Despite Jim Souhan's best interests, Tubby Smith will be staying in Minnesota. Also, best picture of Tubby ever.

The lesson is to never scratch bug bites.

This is just like my job!



Wednesday, March 09, 2011

What? Jim Souhan misguided?!

I only wish that Jim Souhan's article on Sunday was available for the masses to read online so you could see what he had to say for himself, and you could decide if I am crazy or not. As usual, he was defecating all over the good name of Delmon Young (but he did say he was the hottest hitter on the team!) as a way to say that the Twins were right not to lock him or Francisco Liriano up. By way of self defense, he cited the players that didn't work out for the Twins when they were locked up long term. Before we get into that, let's chat about some players that the Twins made good moves with, by signing them to extensions before they reached free agency:
- Joe Mauer
- Justin Morneau
- Johan Santana
- Torii Hunter
 To name a few. Eventually the last two signed on, but only after signing at least one extension. Also, this doesn't even touch upon the other players around the league that were signed to extensions that eventually were a cost effective boon to the team, the most extreme example being Evan Longoria in Tampa. But let's get to the "bad move" examples:
Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Jason Kubel, Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker. Let's throw out Blackburn, because I am of the opinion that that WAS in fact a bad idea. The rest of what Souhan calls "backsliders" (players whose production fell after signing their contracts) are a different story.
First and foremost, let's talk about those hitters. Notice anything about them? That's right, they are ALL lefties! If Target Field has taught us anything, it's that it is nearly impossible for a lefthanded hitter to succeed. Only elite power hitters, like Justin Morneau and Jim Thome were able to do anything there. Perhaps the stadium that afforded the opportunity to pay for all these players should be taken into account before determining that they have been lulled into a false sense of security. It's such an obvious conclusion that I can't believe it wasn't even addressed. Souhan even stated that after signing the extension in 2009, Kubel had a career year, but his numbers lagged at Target Field.
As for Baker, his ERA dropped all the way from 4.37 to 4.49. That's like, 1 run for every 8, 9 inning games. What a disaster! And if you look at those scary advanced metrics, he is hurt by the fact that his outfield doesn't pick him up. If one were to take a look at fielding independent statistics, Baker was just as good as Carl Pavano. Stunning, yes, but the fact that Baker is a fly baller and Pavano is a groundballer really hurt Baker. The biggest change to the roster last year, in terms of trade, was Carlos Gomez being moved to Milwaukee, which meant (ironically) that Span would play more center and Kubel had to, eventually, see more regular time in right. The outfield defense is substantially worse in the time since Baker signed his contract, and now, unfortunately, his numbers are slightly off. (I won't even address the W/L because I think we all know better).
So, addressing those two concerns, that the stadium affects lefties and that the defensive set up is geared towards groundballers, Young and Liriano are the PERFECT candidates for an extension. Well, that is if you ignore Young's sometimes present motivational issues and Liriano's injury history. But from a strictly baseball standpoint, Jim Souhan is wrong. Again.

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Links of the Day 3/9/11

Hey, it's my mom's birthday today! Everybody say happy birthday to my mom...

Frankly, I have been rendered speechless.

A women's basketball highlight, because I believe in equality.

Pretty cool look at Francisco Liriano down in Fort Myers.

Minnesota 5, Colorado 2 - And with that, the Wild are tied with the Kings for the 8th spot, and now Mikko Koivu and Guillaume Latendresse are on their way back. A playoff team in Minnesota?! That hasn't happened since October!


Hey, Morneau is back!

As long as I am running behind every freakin' day this week, you get short posts like this. But it's good news! Justin Morneau is back! And in his first at bat, he hit a three run double*! He's back! The Twins are going to be OK!

off of the Pirates in a "B" squad game in Spring Training


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Links of the Day 3/8/11

So this week's snow is looking less impressive, Selection Sunday is in mere days.... things are looking up.

NHL relocaton speculation.

It's been far too long since I linked to Bill Simmons. Did great work last week though.

Carl Pavano has a unique skill set.... outside of the mustache thing.



Monday, March 07, 2011

Why does this person keep showing up on my TV?

Who are the "Wolves?
I thought people weren't allowed to wear the number 42 anymore.
Has this person done something good with a basketball?
Does he play for a high school team in Minnesota? Is that why he is always on WCCO?
I feel so out of the loop.


Links of the Day 3/7/11

I can't tell, is this March or are we still in February?

Kid totally walked.

Math is fun. 6 Degrees of Separation in the NBA, whatever the NBA is.

Man, if this would have happened to me, I TOTALLY would have gone to Stanford.

Penn State 66, Minnesota 63 - *SIGH*
Stony Brook 69, Vermont 47 - Vermont's season is OVER*! Stony Brook will face Boston U for the America East championship
Buffalo 3, Minnesota 2 - The Sabres forced a turnover and scored on the breakaway about 4 seconds into overtime.


Sunday, March 06, 2011

Cooking with Ryan: Macaroni, ham and egg bake

It was like breakfast, except for dinner! My favorite part of this concoction was that there was nothing that I needed to go to the store for. I made a few changes to the recipe to make it work, using egg noodles instead of macaroni and Romano cheese instead of Parmesan, but it all turned out quite well.
I had tried to bake this dish several months ago, and there were problems with it, most notable that my baking dish was too large. I used a smaller one instead this time, and the egg/milk mix actually filled some of the dish, rather than just giving the noodles a bath. It also helped that I was able ti whisk everything this time when I didn't have a whisk last time. You are only as good as the tools you have to work with, so they say, and I am beginning to believe that old adage.
The Romano cheese was leftover from my last conquest, Bolognese sauce (my third time making it, didn't require a post in my opinion) and it provided a distinct pungency that made it seem more like a fancy Italian dish rather than a small town casserole. The taste wasn't very different, but I feel like I totally made things more sophisticated with the cheese.
I took a picture of it, but am on my way to my dear grandmother's birthday party. I will upload said picture when I get back.


Links of the Day 3/6/11

Good morning. One week until Selection Sunday!

Why players with bad contracts stick around.

What it''s like to to get suspended in the NHL.

Maybe this is why the Maple Leafs suck

Kansas 70, Missouri 66 - Kansas escaped by the skin of their teeth and have a 1 seed all locked down, it appears.
Vermont 57, Binghamton 46 - The Catamounts are through to the quarterfinals against, of all teams, Stony Brook.
Iowa 67, Purdue 65 - Awful. Worst loss of the year.
Oral Roberts 72, North Dakota State 65 - And that does it for the season for the Bison. See you next year, NDSU.


Saturday, March 05, 2011

It would be funny were it not so predictable

There is a joke about the Twins and Ron Gardenhire's roster management that friends of mine make whenever we are talking about Gardy and his assemblage of a lineup card. The joke is that no matter who plays second base, they will bat second in the lineup. last year, when Orlando Hudson was out of the lineup, it didn't matter if it was Nick Punto, Matt Tolbert or someone equally terrible with the bat, they always seemed to find their way to the 2 hole. That takes me to the past two days, wherein Joe Christensen has filed these reports:
"Gardy Says Nishioka will play second base"
Naturally, that was preceded by this:
"Gardenhire envisions Nishioka in no. 2 hole"

Perhaps we should move Mauer to second, so he can bat 2nd. You know, where he belongs.

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