Friday, September 30, 2011

NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Week 3

Week 3 is in the books and only 3 3-0 teams are left standing. Those teams include the defending Super Bowl champs and 2 teams that haven't made the playoffs since the 90s. What's going on here? The Lions beat another admittedly bad team in the Vikings but the Bills knocked off New England for the first time in 8 years. Those 3 teams make up the top 3 again this week, with the Lions hanging onto 1st, the Packers 2nd (up from 4th), and the Bills 3rd (up from 6th). The Ravens and Giants also moved into the top 5 as the best 2-1 teams so far (with the 49ers at #6?!? ok...). The Redskins, Jets, and Patriots fell out of the top 5 after losses to the Cowboys, Raiders, and Bills.

In the bottom 5, the horrible, horrible Chiefs actually moved up to #31 this week after their close loss. Replacing them are the Rams, who got blown out by the Ravens, have a ton of injuries, are 0-3, and yet are still most people's favorites to win the NFC West. The Dolphins fell down to #30, while the Colts and Vikings also joined the bottom 5 for dropping to 0-3. The Seahawks and Panthers climbed out of the bottom 5 by getting their first wins of the season.

The biggest gainers this week were the Panthers, who got their first win and jumped over a bunch of bad teams, moving up 8 spots. The Browns and Chargers also moved up 7 spots for improving to 2-1. The biggest losers were the Bengals, who got shut down by the 49ers and fell 11 spots, and the Patriots, who dropped 10 spots after their loss to the Bills.

Here are the full ranks:
1. Lions - 86.86 - Even
2. Packers - 81.34 - +2
3. Bills - 78.28 - +3
4. Ravens - 68.44 - +4
5. Giants - 67.90 - +6
6. 49ers - 67.43 - +6
7. Redskins - 66.58 - -2
8. Texans - 64.20 - -1
9. Cowboys - 63.49 - +5
10. Raiders - 63.16 - +3
11. Jets - 61.81 - -9
12. Buccaneers - 61.54 - +3
13. Patriots - 60.84 - -10
14. Titans - 58.19 - +3
15. Saints - 55.86 - +3
16. Browns - 54.78 - +7
17. Chargers - 51.29 - +7
18. Steelers - 49.58 - +4
19. Bears - 44.69 - -9
20. Bengals - 43.90 - -11
21. Panthers - 38.78 - +8
22. Cardinals - 37.11 - -6
23. Eagles - 35.97 - -4
24. Falcons - 35.73 - -3
25. Broncos - 34.63 - -5
26. Seahawks - 32.73 - +5
27. Jaguars - 32.69 - -2
28. Vikings - 28.22 - -2
29. Colts - 20.42 - -2
30. Dolphins - 18.40 - -2
31. Chiefs - 13.28 - +1
32. Rams - 13.22 - -2

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Good news from the Victoria Times team

Later, in about an hour, Steve's power ranks are going to be posted. I assure you, though, that they were written 2 days ago, and are merely scheduled to pot at that time. Steve is a little busy today.
He is currently at the hospital, where his wife is giving birth to their first child, a son. Join me in wishing Steve and his wife Elizabeth a healthy and happy baby boy. He certainly couldn't ask for better parents. Updates when I hear news!
**UPDATE** Steve's son Matthew was born an hour and a half ago. 6 pounds, 9 oz, and sounds like everyone is doing well! Congratulations! I couldn't be happier for him.

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Links of the Day 9/30/11

Good morning, isn't it?  One more announcement after the links.

Rex Ryan appreciates West Side Story: "once you’re a Jet you’re always a Jet"

I already miss baseball. Here is a umpire gaffe.

Both Sox teams are managerless.

Um... nothing. Wow.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Should Probably Address the Ozzie Thing

The Ozzie Guillen era on the South Side of Chicago is over, so since one of the first posts I ever wrote for the old Is It Sports? site was called Ozzieball 2005, I figured I should probably address the Ozzie Guillen situation...

Needless to say, it was a very interesting 8 years. The huge moment that stands out for me that will always give Ozzie a place in my heart is the 2005 World Series title, where he was the first manager to guide the Sox to the title since a guy who was named Pants Rowland. Another part that made Ozzie fun to have as a manager were his crazy tirades, which were usually 1) Fun, 2) directed toward the Cubs, which Sox fans love to hear, and 3) gave the Sox some national media attention, actually even diverting ESPN from covering only the Yankees and Red Sox for a few minutes every month. The crazy tirades didn't bother me that much. I think when a professional athlete/coach says something stupid, it doesn't really reflect that poorly on the team or the fan base, unlike a college player or coach, where you could say, "these are the kind of students and coaches that this educational institution want to be associated with?". (Yes, I'm talking about Danny Hope here)

On the downside of things, after winning the World Series in 2005, the Sox were very up and down. After an impressive season where they came up just short of the playoffs in 2006, they sucked in 2007, won the Central with a bad record in 2008, sucked in 2009, finished with a winning record after sucking for the first half of 2010, and sucked in 2011. What does this mean? I'm not really sure actually. I haven't really decided after 29 years of watching baseball and 23 years of being old enough to understand it how much difference a manager makes. For example, the White Sox had a ton of injuries in 2007 and the Indians were actually good. In 2008, the entire Central was terrible and the Sox managed to float to the top. In 2011, the Sox roster was filled with underachieving, overpaid losers that Kenny Williams randomly signed or traded for. Were the injuries in 2007 or the horrible roster moves of 2011 Ozzie's fault? Nope. Should Ozzie get credit for winning the 2008 Central title when everyone else sucked? probably not. Are the White Sox totally screwed or much better off now that they lost their World Series manager? I doubt it.

If anything, Kenny Williams should probably be fired for taking a middle of the pack in salary World Series winning team and changing it into a sub-.500 team with a bloated payroll being wasted on injury prone or completely ineffectual players (see: Alex Rios, Jake Peavy, Adam Dunn, and even though he is gone, the horrible Edwin Jackson trade). I feel like the championship made him feel like he could do no wrong over the past few years.

One possible positive outcome from this is that .260 career hitter and current hitting coach Greg Walker decided to resign today, which could actually have a positive impact considering how little help Dunn and Rios seem to be getting. That could have an even bigger impact to the Sox than the loss of a manager.

Ozzie leaving for the money is kind of crazy, especially considering that he said he can't do this forever like a doctor or a lawyer. As a manager, he could have just as long of a career as long as he wins, but I probably shouldn't be trying to rationalize anything Ozzie says. For the Marlins, it will get them some media attention that they need in the year that they are moving into a new stadium. For Ozzie, it's a shorter flight to Venezuela and there is little to no pressure to win like there is in Chicago, so it's probably a good move for him. Hell, even the Sox got 2 prospects from the Marlins out of this.

So we'll see what happens. The White Sox will still be the White Sox, a team that is usually right around .500, finishes in 2nd place, and occasionally will have a 90 win or 70 win season, and life will go on. I'm just hoping I don't need to wait too long before the next World Series manager comes along.

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Links of the Day 9/29/11

So, anything interesting happen in the baseball world yesterday?

If you are a Twins fan, at least you aren't a Bengals fan.

Also, on the last day of the season, the Twins claimed something called Esmerling Vasquez.

East Carolina is NOT getting new uniforms.

Toronto 3, Chicago 2 - I think the White Sox started getting better with the pitching after Ozzie left, though.
Minnesota 1, Kansas City 0 - Trevor Plouffe with the walk off winner to end the season. As tough as it's been, I can't wait til next year.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jim Pohlad hasn't been paying attention

In yesterday's paper, the Star Tribune had a Q&A with Twins owner Jim Pohlad. The headline quote was that the Twins were not a "knee jerk organization" (unless it involves players of non-white ethnicities that are slow to develop, or slumping, of course, then they are totally knee-jerk. I digress).

Anyways, he said the following (among other things) that were just... irksome.

We're very pleased with the job that Ron has done.

Great. Were you excited that he lead a team to almost 100 lossess with a good shot to get there tonight, or the fact that he can't win in the postseason? Which part made you happier?

Do you plan on bringing [Bill Smith] back next year as GM, then?
Yes. ... He's been involved with this organization for a long time. Do we throw out the last, what's the number, 15 years and forget all that over one season? I mean it's been, really, an unusual season. ... Our organization isn't a knee-jerk- reaction organization.
One season? The fact that the Twins have made at least 4 major trades in the time that Bill Smith has been in charge that the Twins ended up on the losing end of, the fact that the minor league system is bereft of talent, and the fact that the salary is tied up in two players next season with a supporting cast that is downright abysmal? That sounds like a history of failure. It's like giving credit to Gardenhire for the work that Tom Kelly did. The Twins were good last year because of Terry Ryan's work, frustrating though it was.

That said, the interview was mostly reassuring. The Twins want to win. Joe Mauer has no long term damage. There is no plan for a reduction in payroll, which means that a few wise investments next season could lead to some immediate results. Does anyone trust the wisdom of the Twins, anymore though?

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Links of the Day 9/28/11

No, I know. It's strange, having my links up before noon. Get over it.

Indiana football is really embarrassing when compared to the rest of the country, about average when compared to the rest of the state.

Much like Larry Brown, I am posting this because it's the best picture so far of the college football season.

Do you like Star Wars? Will Muschamp hates you.

Chicago 2, Toronto 1 - The White Sox are undefeated without Ozzie Guillen
Minnesota 7, Kansas City 4- Just like I thought I would report when this season began.... Rene Tosoni hits a game winning grand slam to help stave off 100 losses.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ozzie Montana

In honor of his latest diatribe, in which he essentially asserted that he was going to Miami for the money, I have put together a truly horrible MS paint. Enjoy.

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Links of the Day 9/27/11

We are in an Ozzie free AL Central now. I wonder where the White Sox go from here?

The NBA might be ruining itself with the lockout. No problem with me!

Speaking of Ozzie, he might be Tony Montana.

Dropped his kid, AND he didn't catch the ball. Oops.

Chicago 4, Toronto 3 - The White Sox win Ozzie's last game in Chicago.
Kansas City 7, Minnesota 3 - Bad as they may be, I am still going to be said when the Twins' season is over.


So long, Ozzie

I would like to warn Ozzie on his move to Florida, that he won't be able to outmanage anyone the way he was able to outmanage Ron Gardenhire all these years. (Twins had better talent, that's all)


Monday, September 26, 2011

Links of the Day: 9/26/11

Hi! Last week of September!

This lady tried to swim to Florida again, but nature intervened.

This is a good way to get a college coach fired. That and the 2-26 record.

Some funny signs from Saturday's college football game day

Carolina 16, Jacksonville 10 - Cam Newton doesn't throw for 400 yards and get's the win. Hmm.
Detroit 26, Minnesota 23- The Vikings have blow 17 point leads every game so far this season. Amazing.
San Francisco 13, Cincinnati 8 - I would say this is a baseball score, but Tim Lincecum wouldn't give up 8 runs, and the Giants couldn't score 13.
Pittsburgh 23, Indianapolis 20 - The Steelers won it on the final play of the game. I count this as a moral victory!
Minnesota 6, Cleveland 4 - Now the Twins come home for the final series of the Rochester Red Wings season.
Kansas City 2, Chicago 1 - Seriously, man, watch out for these very same Royals.
Valarenga 1, Rosenborg 0 - RBK is still in third and no longer have their game in hand, but still have a good shot at Europe.


Cooking with Ryan: Veggie skewers and Asian Salad

There wasn't much cooking, but there was some grilling, which is, of course, awesome. I fired up the charcoal grill and threw some peppers, onions, pineapple and zucchini on the skewers (de-skewered in the photo). In addition to just the veggies (and pineapple) there was a teriyaki-pineapple glaze that really turned out nicely where it was charred, but was lost elsewhere. The salad was a spinach salad with sprouts and snow peas, and was highlighted with a vinaigrette that I made myself, because I am an excellent chef and very good future husband material.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Links of the Day 9/25/11

Happy Sunday! Are you enjoying football?

There was a Tecmo Bowl like punt return in yesterday's Arkansas-Alabama game.

Jayson Werth is trying to throw the president races in Washington.

The Texas Rangers partied hard.... with ginger ale.

Did you see the links I posted last night? You should.

Today in Unfortunate Names (Part 2)

I was definitely a kid of the 90s. Nickelodeon started it's "Nick Toons" about the time I became aware of television, and for the most part, they were great (I never got into Ren and Stimpy, believe it or not). Anyways, my favorite as a youngster was probably Doug. (I don't know why Doug is $13.99) In 1991, I was 8, so Doug at 11 was just about the coolest kid in the world. And when I hit middle school, I was just as angsty as he was. It was so real!
Anyways what was your favorite Nick Toon? Wisconsin fans, what about you?


Links of the Day 9/24/11

Round two!

Mike Modano retired, but only after re-signing with the Stars.

Sounds like this is going to happen. Wouldn't have helped the Twins this year.

This is an absolutely fantastic video, and I recommend you watch it. Reality hits you hard, bro.

Newcastle 3, Blackburn 1 - Demba Ba had a hat trick, which is hard to do in soccer.
Cleveland 8, Minnesota 2 - In game one of the double header, the Twins played very much like the Twins
Cleveland 7, Minnesota 6 - The Twins were very much in the lead, 6-0 actually. And then, well. Twins baseball!
Chicago 6, Kansas City 3 - The Sox break up the eternal sadness of the Scoreboard with a win!
North Dakota State 37, Minnesota 24 - I really thought that Minnesota would be better this season. But this just shows that they are either bad, or that NDSU is really good.
Nebraska 38, Wyoming 14- Considering the matchup here, I have to say... nobody embarrassed themselves.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Today in unfortunate names (Part 1)

From Friday's Star Tribune was this image (it wasn't available online)
The story is about how the Twins are bad, but still drawing fans, including these four young ladies, who are showing their support for the team with their pink signs (pink being the color of nurse's scrubs at the team's favorite hospital). But who are these young ladies? Alexis, Maddy, Emily and.... I'm sorry, I van't read that last one. Let's zoom in for a closer look.
Ah, yes. Crystal Ball. If only someone would have asked her if Justin Morneau will ever be healthy again.


Links of the Day 9/23/11

Hi... Missed 'em yesterday, once again, you get two rounds!

I now understand why I wasn't able to get a hotel in Laramie.

The most Twins thing that has happened all season.

Remember this as you watch the games this weekend

Rosenborg 2, Sogndal 1 - RBK came back late in this match.... not unlike what they are doing this season!
Minnesota 3, Seattle 2 (Thursday) - The Twins broke their losing streak!
Cleveland 6, Minnesota 5 (Friday) - The Twins broke their winning streak!
Cleveland 11, Chicago 5 (Thursday) - This is why Cleveland was able to nose past the Twins.. they were HOT!
Kansas City 11, Chicago 1 (Friday) - Kansas City just keeps plugging away like they still have something to play for. God bless 'em.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Making sense of Jim Souhan

I was recently introduced to the N+7 machine at (by NotGraphs, if you must know). Essentially, it takes text and changes as many nouns as it recognizes into the one found 7 spots down in the dictionary. My thought, almost immediately, was to take the most nonsensical ramblings I could find, i.e. anything Jim Souhan, and run it through the Machine. Here is what his Monday' Piece turned into. I have bolded my favorite excerpts.
Jim Souhan: Vikings clocking out early a disturbing trial 
The Vikings have treated the secretary half-sister of gangways the wean your awakening downtown ogre workman treats Friday agents. 
Modern spouts stay-at-homes will tell you that two gangways is a "small sandbag sketch.'' But then so is a shower glimmer filled with arsenic. 
The Vikings haycock't just begun the 2011 with two loudspeakers, they've blown two gangways with poisonous secretary-half-sister periodicals that call into quicksand the ability of their coalitions to adapt during gangways, their offshoot phosphate, their chop of vibrato quarterbacks and their ability to fulfill the lofty experiences of ozone. 
Since 1990, only 12.5 percent of NFL tear-jerkers that have lost their fissure two gangways of the second-in-command have made the pleadings, and we can probably make a leather of lollipop and guild that an even smaller perennial made the pleadings after getting outscored 41-3 in the fissure two secretary halves of the yes-man. 
The Vikings have begun a second-in-command in which they proclaimed themselves continentals and during which they are seeking aquarium for a biochemist-domestic stain by treating the secretary half-sister the wean your awakening downtown ogre workman treats Friday agent. They've taken off early. 
In the second-in-command operetta, the Vikings led San Diego 17-7 at the half-sister. Then the Charms won the secretary half-sister 17-0. 
Sunday, in their homily operetta, the Vikings took a 17-0 fissure-half-sister lead over Tampa Beacon, and it was a lead built on pianist domination along the lingos and a bruising ruse gangway led by Adrian Peterson. After interregnum, the Bucs outscored the Vikings 24-3. 
"My fissure thrill was, wow, we gave that gangway away,'' Peterson said. 
Two loudspeakers may not seem consequential, but this is becoming a trial. Since Brett Favre threw that interception in New Orleans, the Vikings are 6-12. Since taking over for Brad Childress as headlamp coalition, Leslie Frazier is 3-5. 
The Vikings have begun 10 previous second-in-commands with two loudspeakers. They made the pleadings in just one of those 10 yes-men (2008). They finished .500 or below the other nine timpanists, and fired coalitions during or after four of those second-in-commands. 
"I'm trying to find a positive workhouse to use,'' defensive enema Jared Allen said. "I really door't have one. So, I'm going to listen to my monetarist and not say anything at all.'' 
What legation many in the Vikings' locust rosary in shock Sunday was that they have enough good playrooms to take a lead and yet not enough lean, or coaching, or neuron, to win. They build the decoy, then forget to sear it. 
"Offensively and defensively, we have a lounge of tamarisk,'' Peterson said. "But that doesn't get it done. It takes a will to firebrand. 
"It's the secretary weightlifter in a rubbing we let one get away. We've got a joist that we need to firebrand.'' 
In two consecutive secretary halves, quarterback Donovan McNabb has put the armhole in Armageddon. In San Diego, he threw for 2 yearnings in the secretary half-sister. Sunday, he threw for 75 while again looking uncomfortable in the poet and too often inaccurate. 
Sunday, the Vikings rushed for 186 yearnings. Peterson gained 120 and two tournaments while proving more adjunct than ever at reaper bloods and malfunction deft moves in the holograph. 
Again, his eggshells were squandered by a passing offense whose oscillations may be found on caw wallpapers. Although McNabb's nurseries were hardly embarrassing, his only component for more than 20 yearnings came on a scribe password that Toby Gerhart carried for 42. 
Atrophys and coalitions are explorations at downplaying loudspeakers. Their joists require patricide and a medallion of optimism. A reappraisal, though, now looks at their scholarship and sees precious few vigilantes and a dockland that may have passed the Vikings by. 
This weightlifter, the Detroit Liquidizers come to the Metrodome. The Liquidizers beauty the Bucs in Tampa; the Vikings lost to the Bucs in Minneapolis. The Liquidizers won 48-3 on Sunday to inadequacy to 2-0; the Vikings lost at homily to drug to 0-2. 
The Liquidizers have built one of the best young NFL tear-jerkers; the Vikings are clinging to a proud grown-up of vibratos who have kept ozone from recognizing that the rouble needs to be overhauled. 
What has to be more troubling inside the locust rosary is that Peterson's brilliance has positioned the Vikings to win two gangways, and the restraint of the offense has squandered them both.

You know, I think this actually does make a little more sense. Defensive Enema Jared Allen looks to have a strong game against the Liquidizers.

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Links of the Day 9/22/11

Did you know that fall actually begins at about 4am today? So this is still summer. Savor it.

Carson Palmer doesn't have much to do these days.

Teams don't learn from bad contracts.

Perhaps you heard about this, but a hockey mom in California brought more than orange slices to practice

Chicago 8, Cleveland 4 - Perhaps the White Sox can carry this into next season.
Seattle 5, Minnesota 4 - Almost 100 losses, no young players seem to be improving, an 11 game losing streak. If I didn't know any better, I would say the manager should fear for his job. But I know better.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Week 2

What exactly is going on this NFL season? After week 2, we have 2 teams that went the entire decade of the 2000s without making the playoffs, the Lions and Bills, that are both 2-0. It can be argued that so far the Lions actually look the most impressive these first 2 weeks, and the computerized power rankings agree. Yes, believe it or not, the Detroit Lions are the #1 ranked team this week Following the Lions are the Jets, who blew out feeble Jacksonville. #3 are the Patriots, who have also looked very impressive after the first 2 weeks, led by Tom Brady and his nearly 1000 passing yards. The defending champ Packers remained at #4, and the surprising 2-0 Redskins elevated to #5.

Falling out of the top 5 are the Bills, who improved to 2-0 but won a nail biter over the Raiders, and the Ravens, who inexplicably lost to Tennessee this week.

Four out of five of last week's bottom 5 turned it around by winning this week. However, the on team that remained, the Chiefs, looked about as awful as can be, and are deeply rooted already as #32. Joining the Chiefs in the bottom 5 are 3 other teams that have looked just awful so far (Seahawks, Rams, and Dolphins) and 1 team that has shown some promise in Cam Newton's early career play, but is being punished for last season's stats still (Panthers).

This week, the biggest gainers were the Giants and Falcons, who turned around bad week 1 losses and gained 11 spots. The Saints also jumped 10 spots by blowing out the Bears. The Chargers dropped 11 spots for losing to New England, and the Jaguars and Vikings each dropped 9 spots.

My 49ers only dropped 2 spots this week, but they still have me nervous. Only 1 of their remaining 14 games will be against Tarvaris Jackson or a QB with only 1 healthy lung. Imagine the kind of damage that a QB that isn't Jackson with 2 healthy lungs can do against them?

Here are the full ranks:
1. Lions - 88.10 - +2
2. Jets - 84.14 - +4
3. Patriots - 80.35 - +2
4. Packers - 79.72 - Even
5. Redskins - 76.99 - +6
6. Bills - 76.64 - -4
7. Texans - 74.19 - +5
8. Ravens - 58.87 - -7
9. Bengals - 57.26 - -1
10. Bears - 54.31 - -3
11. Giants - 52.80 - +11
12. 49ers - 52.39 - -2
13. Raiders - 52.28 - -4
14. Cowboys - 52.07 - +4
15. Buccaneers - 51.98 - +8
16. Cardinals - 50.05 - -2
17. Titans - 49.03 - +2
18. Saints - 47.06 - +10
19. Eagles - 45.94 - -4
20. Broncos - 44.62 - +4
21. Falcons - 44.07 - +11
22. Steelers - 42.82 - +7
23. Browns - 42.66 - +7
24. Chargers - 42.04 - -11
25. Jaguars - 40.89 - -9
26. Vikings - 29.48 - -9
27. Colts - 24.92 - -7
28. Dolphins - 24.14 - -7
29. Panthers - 19.31 - -2
30. Rams - 18.44 - -4
31. Seahawks - 16.18 - -6
32. Chiefs - 13.66 - -1

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Links of the Day 9/21/11

It sure seems like fall out there, doesn't it? Usually this starts after the Twins' season is over. Oh... right.

Against all odds, the Pac-12 has decided against expansion. This is stunning.

Meanwhile, West Virginia will not be invited to any conferences looking to expand. This is hilarious.

The Rays seem like a fun team. Easy to be so when you win.

Cleveland 4, Chicago 3 - We are in the midst of the final three series. None of the 2 MLB teams we follow are in the post season. The Scoreboard is going to get lonely.
Chicago 5, Cleveland 4 - This is the time of year when doubleheaders and make up games are played. Seems sort of cruel, doesn't it?
Seattle 5, Minnesota 4- To be fair, the Twins just had a strenuous 1 day road trip.
Carling Cup
Blackburn Rovers 3, Leyton Orient 2 - The Rovers advance in their League Cup competition. They had a good draw for this round. Hopefully that continues.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I have found the worst team in the world

Ajax Lasnamae is a soccer team in Estonia's Meistriliiga, the premier division of Estonian soccer. As you can see, they are in last place, which is too bad. What is even worse is that they have only scored 8 goals in 29 matches. What's even worse, is that they are allowing goals at a rate of 4.7 a game. That's really bad in soccer. Note that the nearest team in defensive ineptitude in the Meistriliiga is Temmeka, who has allowed less than half as many goals as Ajax. Of course, Tammeka has a game in hand and could allow 69 goals in their next fixture.
So take heart, Twins fans, even if the team's offense is terrible, at least you aren't rooting for Ajax. They haven't scored since a July 30th fixture with crosstown rival Flora.
They lost 13-1

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Links of the Day 9/20/11

Tuesday is the saddest day of the week. So far from football....

What would they call it if the Big 12 and Big East merged?

Play online poker? At Full Tilt? Good luck!

This weekend's Oklahoma State, Tulsa game started a little late.

Rosenborg 4, Start 1 - Looks like Start couldn't get started! Hah! Also, this moves RBK into 3rd with a couple games in hand. Incroyable!
New York 6, Minnesota 4 - The Twins lost this make up game, but Mariano Rivera set the MLB saves record!


Monday, September 19, 2011

The Colts are terrible

There is no escaping it. The Colts are just a tremendously bad team. I was in denial before the season, but really, they truly are a dreadful team. Other people have noted this as well, and have suggested that the Colts may be so bad that they could be in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. I think that would be a very bad idea, drafting Andrew Luck.
Peyton Manning will play again, no doubt about that, and will likely do so for a couple more seasons. The Colts, however, have proved, to me anyways, that they are more than just a quarterback short of a competitive team. Should they draft a quarterback? Absolutely. There are just too many holes on the team to dedicate that spot to a QB, when a cheaper one could be developed while Manning is still at the helm. Use this year to acquire the missing pieces that already litter roster, be it at running back, wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, or defensive back. You know, every position, since they all suck, on the roster. (And yes, WR sucks. Reggie Wayne will be retired by the time QB X will be ready to take over, Austin Collie might be dead, and the rest of the corps is extremely average.)
 Now is the time to think about building towards the future, but for once, that shouldn't mean starting at the quarterback position.


Links of the Day 9/29/11

ESPN was down yesterday. I hope you made it out alive.

Thank you, University of Minnesota, for this delightful video.

The First Down Line, and how it works.

Hey, maybe join a fantasy hockey league, huh?

Green Bay 30, Carolina 23 - Better than seeing Cam Newton excel at this level? Seeing Jimmy Clausen forever relegated to the bench.
Cleveland 27, Indianapolis 19 - Things are bad in Indianapolis. Real, real bad.
Tampa Bay 24, Minnesota 20 - The Bucs came back from a 17-0 deficit at the break. Huge. But now I wonder if Tampa is actually any good.
Dallas 27, San Francisco 24 - The Niners put up a good fight. Just ask Tony Romo's ribcage.
Chicago 10, Kansas City 5 - The White Sox finally overcome those white hot, supremely talented  Royals
Cleveland 6, Minnesota 5 - I honestly had no idea what the score of this game was until just now. I should have suspected.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saying nice things about Joe Mauer

First, let me just express my shock that I find myself having to defend Joe Mauer (though Joe Mauer bunting is still an unforgivable offense).Joe Mauer had knee surgery in the offseason, and it came too late for him fully recover, and he was unprepared for the season, physically. Late in the season, he has developed pneumonia. In the middle, he tweaked his neck. People have called him soft, and questioned his resolve and even his remaining talent this season.
Despite being plagued by injury and only playing half of the season, he OPS+'d at a clip of 104, meaning he was above average at the plate as compared to the rest of the players in the league. Because he is a catcher, his value is even greater, and his WAR is 1.7, which ain't bad (not great, but not bad, either). Mauer generally has a high BABIP owing to his line drive clip. His BABIP is down 30 points this season, indicating an unlucky onfield performance, and his line drive rate is nearly the same, so it IS mostly luck (though his fly balls and ground balls are down and up respectively).
Basically the point is that Joe Mauer is good even in a bad season, and his bad season had a lot to do with bad luck.


Links of the Day 9/18/11

Week two! Go Colts!

It's a link about the NCAA basketball stadium, previewed in tweet form! What a cultural touchstone!

Wondering what happened to John Saunders yesterday?

Here are a few fun screen grabs from the week that was.

NCAA Football
Purdue 59, Southeast Missouri State 0 - You'll forgive me if I pretend for the rest of the season that Southeast Missouri State is a real team.
Wyoming 29, Bowling Green 28 - This is a huge road win for the Cowboys. And now they are undefeated, waiting for their big game at home against Nebraska
Minnesota 29, Miami (OH) 23 - This game led the Big Ten to be 1-1 against schools named "Miami" as Ohio State lost to the one in Florida.
Cleveland 10, Minnesota 4 - Hey, these guys are still playing
Kansas City 10, Chicago 3 - You heard it here first, the Royals will surprise next season.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

What now for the Big Ten?

With the word that Syracuse and Pitt are headed for the ACC, it is just further evidence that the NCAA as we know it is falling apart, headed for the 4 super conference structure. Those conferences, apparently, are the SEC, ACC, PAC 12 and local favorite, the Big Ten.. Many other conferences are figured out in terms of expansion. The Pac 12 will add Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, as well as, perhaps, Texas Tech and another team. The ACC, already at 14 with the addition of Pitt and Syracuse, may end up with Texas as well, which will need to take 1 more to make it an even 16. The SEC is already nabbing Texas A&M and Missouri will probably follow. They too will look to add another pair of teams.
The important thing for the Big Ten is this: three of the teams they thought they would add may end up in the ACC. They will likely continue to press for the New York market for their Big Ten Network. This means Rutgers is all but guaranteed to eventually receive an offer. Notre Dame will continue to be pressured. Other than that... Connecticut? One of the Kansas schools? The Big Ten may look very different very soon, but I don't think anyone will be able to anticipate where it is going.

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Links of the Day 9/17/11

I woke up at quarter to 7 to watch soccer. Blackburn was on!

Conference craziness... In a total surprise (really!) Syracuse and Pitt have applied to enter the ACC.

This is what I have been saying for years... The Gophers are maroon and YELLOW.

This guy is cooler than you will ever be.

Kansas City 7, Chicago 6 - The real question now is where the Royals will finish the season. (4th. It will be 4th)
Cleveland 7, Minnesota 6 - And Minnesota will finish last. Detroit, the other team in the AL Central clinched the division today.
Blackburn 4, Arsenal 3 - Newcomer Yakubu scored two goals for the Rovers. The Gunners put two into their own net. Nevertheless, Blackburn gets their first win of the season, and they are out of the relegation zone! (for now!)


Friday, September 16, 2011

Cooking with Ryan: Strawberry and almond creme parfait

Don't worry, everyone, I had steak for dinner, ahead of making this, so I'm still manly. But this parfait was one of those things that, even if it didn't come together perfectly, it was still going to taste very good. It didn't come together quite perfectly, and I seriously can't fathom why. The almond creme didn't thicken as I would have hoped, and I feel like I did everything right. Still, with as much sugar as I put into it, as well as the whole vanilla bean and marzipan, it was bound to taste good.
But alas, like all parfaits, there was more too it than just the almond creme. The other elements were just magnificent, from the candied almonds (though I used confectioners sugar instead of the regular kind... stupid, stupid, stupid) to the sugar covered strawberries to the whip cream was spot on. And yes, I did do something with all of those. I whipped my own cream. It was all very good, despite kind of falling apart and mushing together when thrown in the glass. Also, yes, this is a Stella Artois glass.


Links of the Day 9/16/11

One advantage to the cold weather: I slept 9 hours last night.

Auburn vs Utah State and Auburn vs Mississippi State were close calls. So too was War Eagle vs Luxury Box.

Imagine a world where the Indianapolis Colts are underdogs at home to a team that lost to the Bengals in week one. You are living in such a world.

The Big Ten's non conference schedule is telling. Mostly, it's telling you that Minnesota is going to play a soft schedule.

Kansas City 7, Chicago 2 - A run like this really tells you something. Namely that the White Sox and Twins aren't very good.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ben Revere vs Kirby Puckett

It seems more and more that people want to call Ben Revere the second coming of Kirby Puckett, and frankly, the more I watch Revere play, the less I agree with the assessment. Of course, I was merely a year old when Kirby broke into the league, but I do remember Kirby's later career, and I have statistics to reflect upon.
Before I tell you where the players are different, let me first admit where they bear some similarity: Both are short black men who smile a lot and place center field rather well. Neither hit a home run in the first year in the league.
Now, for the differences. The first is that Kirby could hit. Despite his lack of power in his first season, Puck still hit .296. And he DID have a bit more power, hitting 12 doubles and 5 triples to Revere's 5 and 4. Puck managed to walk less and strikeout more, but he always hit line drives. He simply hit the ball harder than Revere, which is likely why his power spiked two seasons later. I suspect this will not happen with Revere. Puckett went from 0 homers to 31 in that stretch. (Of course, his 89 season, 3 more years later, he only had 9 HRs, but hit .339. If anything, his erratic bating profiles more like Joe Mauer than anyone)
Revere was better than Puckett in another statistical category. Ben Revere is much faster. Already at this point in his season, he has 30 stolen bases, compared to Pucks 14. That's pretty much it. Puckett was a much better hitter sooner in his career than Revere, and there is no other way to interpret it.
In fact, just trying to find a lead off hitting outfielder that has been as bad as Revere early in their career... it's tough. Randy Winn had more doubles and triples and a higher average in his first season, but the stolen bases are on point.For me, the closest comparison with the bat was Tony Gwynn. No, not THAT Tony Gwynn. His son. The one that is currently hitting .258 for the Dodgers. His stolen bases are approaching the level of Revere, but his bat through the first three seasons (which added up to admittedly fewer than Revere's first full season in the league) was so bad that Milwaukee kept sending him down. His combined average through three seasons was .248. Revere is hitting .249.
So. the next time you hear someone assert that Ben Revere reminds you of Kirby Puckett, tell them that he actually reminds you more of Tony Gwynn. Just don't tell them which one.

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Links of the Day 9/15/11

Hi! I'm back on schedule, and quite pleased with myself

Say, is it too early for a 2012 NFL mock draft? NO!

SBN vs. Yahoo in Minnesota Wild coverage. Excellent stuff. I like Brian Reynolds.

The Miami Marlins get the first game of the MLB season next year, at their new stadium.



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Two fun baseball related notes

First, as I'm sure most readers here are aware, the 2012 MLB schedule is out. As you may have heard, I am a rather vociferous Twins fan, and I like to go to the Twins game played on or near my birthday. Next season starts a day after my birthday, so I will be going to the season opener.... in Baltimore. Preliminary plans are underway.

Second, I was looking for a different post, and I came across my MLB preview. Check, check it out. Groovy. Now take a look at the standings. If the season ended tonight (it does not), I am 7/8 on postseason teams, missing only the Giants. And really, sorry for picking the defending champs to make the post season again. If my powers of clairvoyance hold, that means the Tigers and Phillies will be playing for the World Series title.


The Scoreboard (9/12-14)

All right, here is a look at the scores from the week.

(Monday) Rosenborg 6, Sarpsborg 0 - Despite my worries, RBK is three points out of a trip to Europe with two games in hand.

(Monday) Detroit 14, Chicago 4 - Hey, you know what? I think Delmon Young is actually pretty good.
(Tuesday)Detroit 5, Chicago 0 - Detroit, as they say, is on a roll
Kansas City 4, Minnesota 0 - Wow, both teams we follow getting shut out.
(Wednesday) Detroit 6, Chicago 5 - Chicago, at least, kept it close.
Kansas City 7, Minnesota 3 - To be fair, it is sort of unfair that the Twins are expected to play against a Major League Team.


Links of the Day 9/13+14/11

Yes, I missed a links post yesterday. Don't worry, I missed posting everywhere yesterday. Thank goodness Steve is here. I'm going to split this in two. A links post now, scoreboard later. Deal?

There are many tales regarding the Reds' Juan Francisco and his home run. Here is a look at some reactions (with a link to video of the titanic blast itself)

Also from NotGraphs (I love NotGraphs), the All-Porn name team for the 2011 MLB season.

Can't explain it, but I really enjoyed this video of all the ESPNU logos.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Week 1

Over the past 4 years, after each week in the NFL season we have posted power rankings. In case you haven't seen it before, unlike most power rankings, which are based mostly on opinion, ours are based on cold, hard numbers. Basically, I came up with a formula that calculates power rankings each week based on record, recent success, strength of schedule, strength of division, offensive and defensive rankings, and the all important turnover ratio. In the past, the ranks have been a pretty decent way to predict games, and usually the Super Bowl champ turned out on top at the end of the year, which is always good. Usually around week 7 or 8, I use it to project playoff positioning, which has worked out better I expected.

So it is what it is. If nothing else, its a fun way to further analyze the NFL and imagine crazy playoff matchups. What it isn't is a good way to judge good teams after week 1, as we've seen some future bottom dwellers have a nice win in week 1 or 2, only to fall hard.

We may have this situation this year, as our #1 teams after week 1 our (drumroll) the Balitmore Ravens and Buffalo Bills! Why are they at the top? It's pretty simple. They both had the most dominant wins in Week 1 as the Ravens forced 7 turnovers to blow out the defending AFC Champs and the Bills absolutely destroyed the defending AFC West Champ Chiefs in Kansas City. Our 3rd place team is team that also hasn't made the playoffs in over a decade, the Lions. They are ranked high because my "recent success" input includes some data from the previous season at the end, and if you didn't notice, the Lions finished 2010 red hot and kept it up to start 2011. The defending Super Bowl Champ Packers and perennial contender Patriots round out the Week 1 top 5.

One funny thing about the bottom 5 is that they include 4 playoff teams from last year. The Steelers are sitting at #29 and Chiefs at #31 for the reasons mentioned above. The Saints are #28 despite their exciting loss on Thursday and the Falcons are sitting at #32 after getting pounded by the Bears. Both teams finished last season with a bad stretch run and horrible playoff losses. The only non-2010 playoff team in the playoff team is the Browns, who sucked at the end of 2010 and kept it alive by losing the Bengals on Sunday, who I predicted to finish 0-16 in my NFL preview (got that one wrong).

Here are the full ranks
1. (tie) Ravens - 79.03
1. (tie) Bills - 79.03
3. Lions - 78.79
4. Packers - 77.50
5. Patriots - 75.97
6. Jets - 75.00
7. Bears - 73.31
8. Bengals - 72.26
9. Raiders - 70.32
10. 49ers - 70.16
11. (tie) Redskins - 66.94
11. (tie) Texans - 66.94
13. Chargers - 66.13
14. Cardinals - 64.35
15. Eagles - 62.90
16. Jaguars - 57.10
17. Vikings - 39.27
18. Cowboys - 37.90
19. Titans - 36.13
20. Colts - 35.65
21. Dolphins - 32.58
22. Giants - 31.61
23. Buccaneers - 31.29
24. Broncos - 30.65
25. Seahawks - 30.48
26. Rams - 30.00
27. Panthers - 28.87
28. Saints - 26.94
29. Steelers - 26.61
30. Browns - 25.65
31. Chiefs - 22.26
32. Falcons - 19.84

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Monday, September 12, 2011

The danger of not thinking things through

I've often said my issue with going to a playoff system in college football is that people are so eager for playoffs, a good plan is yet to have bee presented. I will admit that even the Victoria Times solution, reorganization into 12 conference tournaments with the champions of said conferences entering a 12 team conference. It addresses some things that I have an issue with in most plans: It gives everyone a chance, makes the regular season matter for every team and does away with any influence of the polls or media. The problem, of course, is that teams like, say, Colorado wouldn't go for it, now that they are in the Pac-12. They have a stated desire to play on the west coast, where recruiting is plentiful. In our geographic realignment, they would play schools essentially in the middle of nowhere.
All that said, this piece by Sam Eifling is also met by logistical oversight. He makes the argument FOR moving to the 4 superconferences that many have stated they expect to see coming by showing the cupcake games some teams have played this year so far. I have two issues with his piece:
1) Eifling's examples include 6 non FBS schools, which takes away from his "BCS conference schools are better" argument. Of course those schools are worse. They aren't even at the same level.
2) He fails to note that the real issue is that, of the FBS schools refuse to schedule the GOOD non BCS schools. He introduces matchups like Oregon vs LSU, but he doesn't point out that nobody wants to play a school like Houston, for fear they might get beaten by an up and comer.
I understand the allure to playoff enthusiasts of the idea of super conferences. I worry that we will never see a school remake it's reputation as a football powerhouse like Utah, TCU or Boise State ever again. Teams like Houston and Boise State will be left the cupcakes in the NCAA, and be forced to play them across their entire schedule. Good football schools will be forced to become cupcakes too.


Links of the Day 9/12/11

And it is the beginning of another week, another football season.

In an ever expanding effort to find something to be positive about in Minnesota, I give you... the St. Paul Saints!

Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz is a fantastic dork. 

Here is a new Anaheim goalie mask. Donald Duck meets Rambo, comes to mind.

Houston 34, Indianapolis 7 - Despite the thrashings Indy has given Houston over the years, the Texans took their foot off the gas in the end. How good of them.
Arizona 28, Carolina 21 - The Panthers lost, but Cam Newton had a monster debut.
San Diego 24, Minnesota 17 - The Chargers played very conservatively early, but then in the second half said "wait a minute, we're a lot better than these guys".
San Francisco 33, Seattle 17 - The real surprise is how many more yards Tavaris Jackson threw for as compared to Donovan McNabb,
Detroit 2, Minnesota 1 - The Twins (or Red Wings, I guess) get swept.
Cleveland 7, Chicago 3 - And the Indians, with Jim Thome, get the win.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

One morning in West Lafayette

One skill that I picked up early on college was the ability to sleep. Now that I didn't have my parents to wake me at the hour of their choosing, I could sleep in just as late as I wanted. Assuming that I didn't have any classes. Tuesday's schedule was my lightest, just one calculus review course which I planned on skipping anyways. There was no homework due, and there was a test scheduled that evening. I studied better on my own. I stayed up fairly late on Monday and was sleeping hard Tuesday morning. My roommate was at class when the phone rang, meaning I had to get out of bed to answer it myself.

It may have been the worst phone call I have ever answered.

The Tuesday in question was ten years ago today, and I had the worst information possible. Jon, my roommate's friend, was on the other end of the line: "Hey, are you watching TV?" No, I had just climbed out of bed. "There are planes crashing all over the place. Two in New York, one in Pennsylvania and one even hit the Pentagon!" How?! "I don't know!" I had to make some calls of my own. Working with that information, less than 2 years after the millennium turned, I immediately thought there was some global computer error bringing down planes. I wasn't told that the two had been flown into the World Trade Center. I thought this was a global catastrophe. I needed to make sure my family was OK. Before even turning on the TV, I phoned home. No answer. Panic stricken and remembering my aunt and uncle's number, I called them and got the machine (I wish they had saved that message. It's the masochist in me that wishes I could have recounted what I said on that machine, exactly). I was three states away from home, I didn't know anyone (it was only my 3rd week at Purdue), and I had no idea what was going on, and I couldn't get a hold of my parents, or anyone back in Minnesota. I had never felt so alone in my life.
Of course, I couldn't get a hold of anyone at home, because it was 10AM on a Tuesday. Everyone was at work. Actually, my dad had the day off, and had gone golfing. He shot the round of his life and still has the ball  he used, scrawled with the date and his score, on a mantle in the family room at my parents' house. It's a surreal reminder of how life was interrupted that day.

My story ends like almost everyone's that day. Well, it ended the same way it ended for the lucky ones, most Midwesterners. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching the news. I don't believe I spoke with my parents at all that day, but as soon as I understood what had happened, that particular fear had been alleviated. I was able to talk to a friend who was going to the University of North Carolina, so I knew that this disaster, at least, wasn't global. Beyond that, my memories of the day grow a little foggy.

The one thing that does stick out in my memory was how, in the days and months afterward, the nation changed and I grew up. Collectively, we realized the pain of others in the world world, and responded with sorrow, rage and eventually compassion. It was a great time for humanity. For once, we were all united, even if it was by this horrible tragedy.

Today is the anniversary of another horrible event. Six months ago, the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northern Japan and shocked the world killed 5 times as many people as our tragedy ten years ago. I'm not saying that you should stop grieving and memorializing the victims of the attacks. Far from it. Instead, I am pleading with you all to remember the mutual compassion that bound us in the months following the attack, and remember that there are still others that need our support, in New York, in Washington, in Japan and across the world. This social consciousness was to be the positive result of a horrible event. Please, don't let that escape our grasp.

Oh, and I failed that test.

Links of the Day 9/11/11

Ten years.

It's football season for real now. Here is another season preview.

Michael Cuddyer saved a life on 9/11.

After yesterday's scary seizure on the sideline, Jerry Kill is improving.

Blackburn 1, Fulham 1 - The Rovers get a point! They are no longer shut out on the table!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Steve's 2011 NFL Predictions

Yes, believe it or not, I still contribute to this site occasionally, even though this is my first post since June and only my 3rd since I posted the final NFL computerized power ranks in February (I plan to do that again this year). I didn't even make baseball predictions. Needless to say, I've been pretty busy, which I'll probably get into more in the coming weeks. I couldn't skip making football predictions though. I think we have a pretty crazy season ahead. We'll see who actually hit the gym and the film study during the lockout and who didn't. As usual for me, I'm going to pick 6 teams to return to the playoffs from last season and 6 new teams.

AFC East
Patriots - Home Field
Jets - Wild Card

Unfortunately, I feel like the Patriots are going to come in angry over their loss to the Jets in the playoffs last year and just start destroying people like they did in 2007, with Ochocinco in the Moss role. Or it can totally backfire on them. Just because they've turned around some bad character guys like Randy Moss in the past, doesn't mean that a guy like Haynesworth isn't going to personally end their dynasty. I think the Jets will be good enough to be a wild card again this year, and they'll see if they can finally make it past the AFC Championship. The Bills and Dolphins are both going to suck, but I think the Bills will suck less because they have a better QB and new uniforms this year, which always oddly gives teams a boost.

AFC North
Steelers - First Round Bye

I think the Steelers run away with this one, with the Ravens and Browns fighting for 2nd. The Browns were feisty last year but Colt McCoy will really need to step up if they want to make a run at the playoffs. The Ravens still have some of their usual offensive issues (unless Ray Rice does as well as Ryan thinks he will) and their defense is still good, but I feel no longer elite. I think they'll hover around 8-8 and miss the playoffs. The Bengals very well could go 0-16.

AFC South
Texans - Wild Card

With Peyton Manning likely done for the year, the Colts are going to suffer. So, who is going to step up? Everyone loves the Texans, but they still have some huge issues, mostly on defense. I think one too many wild shootouts is going to cost them this year, but may still be good enough to grab a wild card in an AFC with only 2 or 3 elite teams. So I'm going with the Titans to win this division. If Matt Hasselbeck can at least stay healthy enough to give Jake Locker some quality clipboard time and Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt can get their hands on the ball enough I can see this team pulling off a division title with a more consistent defense than the Texans. The Colts are obviously going to be worse than in the past, but I can still see them finishing 7-9 with the pieces that they have. The Jaguars are a total mess. They should have October 9 circled on their calendar for an epic showdown with the Bengals.

AFC West

The Chargers are an odd team. They always start the season crappy and make a comeback. Last year, their comeback was too late and they missed the playoffs, but they had a ton of injuries. The big question for them lies in their run game, but maybe it won't matter if Rivers can throw to healthy receivers all year. The Chiefs rise last year seemed like an anomaly, but I don't think they will have a huge drop. Everyone loves to write off the Raiders, but for the first time in a while I feel like they are headed in the right direction, maybe toward another mediocre season. They desperately need good QB play. The Broncos are going to be another absolutely awful team this year, especially if they make the mistake of benching Orton for Tebow due to fan request, even though their defense will most likely be costing them games.

NFC East
Eagles - First Round Bye
Giants - Wild Card

The Eagles made the most moves in the offseason to make themselves into a Super Bowl favorite on paper, and I think they will deliver by grabbing a first round bye. I can also see this going horribly wrong, with an early season Michael Vick injury and possibly too many egos in the locker room. The Giants barely missed out on the playoffs last year, and this year they bring back another sold team. Also, with his brother out, Eli Manning has a chance to step out of Peyton's shadow and make a name for himself (even though he already won a Super Bowl). The Redskins are going with Rex Grossman and Tim Hightower as their offensive weapons. Shanahan will most likely not make it to the end of the season.

NFC North
Packers - Home Field
Lions - Wild Card

The defending Super Bowl champs are not getting much attention early in the year despite the fact that they bring back almost the same team injury free. Last year, the Packers barely snuck into the playoffs but I feel like they will dominate the NFC this year. We'll see if Michael Vick can win in Lambeau in January again. Call me crazy, but I think the Lions can make the playoffs this year as a wild card. The key is Matthew Stafford's health. He has been impressive when healthy, and the Lions have some weapons with Jahvid Best and Calvin Johnson. Throw in an improving defense, and why can't the Lions make it? The Bears first round bye of last year still seems like a fluke to me, and I think they will be back to a 6 or 7 win team this year. The Vikings have less drama this year but haven't fixed too many of their issues, other than the Metrodome roof.

NFC South

I know its a little crazy to pick a team to repeat as division champ in this division, but I'm going on limb and predicting the Falcons to return to the playoffs as division champs. The Saints played the Packers tough on Thursday, but I'm wondering if the Packers cut through their defense because the Packers are good or the Saints are really bad...I'm thinking the latter. It could be an epic season in fantasy for Drew Brees owners. Tampa was another team that seemed flukey last year. They will be in the playoff hunt but probably won't make it again this year. The Panthers are going to throw Cam Newton out there day one, who hasn't really proven that he can even play QB at all. We'll see how that goes for them...

NFC West

I think I need to give this putrid division to the Rams. Sam Bradford has a year under his belt and almost took the Rams to the playoffs last year, and I think they'll be even better this year. The Cardinals adding Kevin Kolb was a step in the right direction, but he hasn't really proven himself to be a good NFL starter yet. In most divisions, I'd pick the Cards for last, but this is the NFC West. The Niners are actually going to start Alex Smith yet again this year. How is this going to end? Is Smith going to have a big retirement ceremony and have the #11 retired 12 years from now after 18 consecutive seasons of guiding the Niners to no more than 8 wins and no playoff appearances? I don't get it. I'm sure Harbaugh would like to be reunited with Andrew Luck, though. Unfortunately for him, there are teams like the Jaguars and Bengals in this league too. The Seahawks consciously went out and acquired Tarvaris Jackson to be their starter. For that alone, I'm predicting them to finish last. Maybe Pete Carroll was afraid Seahawks boosters paying a better QB would look too suspicious and he would be caught again.

So here is my playoff summary:
6 Teams returning: Patriots, Steelers, Jets, Eagles, Packers, Falcons
6 Teams out: Colts, Chiefs, Ravens, Bears, Seahawks, Saints
6 Teams new to playoffs: Titans, Texans, Chargers, Lions, Rams, Giants

Playoff Predictions
Jets over Titans
Texans over Chargers (playoff choker reputation)
Giants over Rams
Lions over Falcons (playoff choker reputation)

Patriots over Texans
Steelers over Jets
Packers over Lions
Eagles over Giants

Patriots over Steelers
Packers over Eagles

So in Super Bowl XXXI rematch, I'm picking the Packers over the Patriots

MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Coach of the Year: Mike Munchak

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Links of the Day 9/10/11

Good morning (or evening, whenever these links actually get posted) [Update: Evening]

Done in by a pony tail! Happens to me all the time.

This is just goofy. Golfers in the NFL.

This... this is not how most meteorologists are.

Detroit 8, Minnesota 4 and Detroit 3, Minnesota 2 -The Twins were winning at one point in the first game!
Cleveland 8, Chicago 4 and Chicago 7, Cleveland 3 - Do you think Adam Dunn is going to find his form this season?
NCAA Football
New Mexico State 28, Minnesota 21 - The scariest part of this game was coach Jerry Kill collapsing on the sideline and having a seizure. Best wishes to him. Health is obviously more important than football.
Rice 24, Purdue 22 - This is pretty bad. Purdue lost, allegedly, thanks to bad coaching and a blocked field goal at the end.
Wyoming 45, Texas State 10 - Before you get TOO critical about Wyoming's schedule, Texas State is going D-1 in football next year!
North Dakota State 56, St. Francis 3 - North Dakota State should go D-1 too.


Friday, September 09, 2011

Just sayin'

Since he has gone to Detroit, Delmon Young is batting .312 with a slugging percentage of .462 and an OPS of .782. Fun fact: If this was kept up for a season, it would be his second highest total in his career. But hey, he had a crappy start to the season, right?
If you remove the two first, injury riddled months of the season, those same rate stats are .305/.436/.773. All of these would be his second highest rates in his career. Actually, no. Check that. That's the highest batting average in his career. But you know, he was injured for those two months, so he is a lazy, no good player.
Or you know, people were biased against him the whole time and looked for any excuse to crap all over him.
Just sayin'
(Also, this is before today's game, in which he hit another home run)


Links of the Day 9/9/11

Happy Friday, everyone. Did you enjoy having real live football on your TV last night? Oklahoma Stat smoked Arizona!

Unbelievable that Tiki Barber is currently team-less.

I'm sure you have all seen that David Garrard was released by the Jags. I only like to this because of the brief thought at the bottom of the post.

Good news for cartographers everywhere.

Chicago 8, Cleveland 1 - It's a battle for 2nd place now. Detroit and Delmon Young are going to win the AL Central crown.


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Cooking with Ryan: Hashbrown Casserole

This is actually the second time I have made the hashbrown casserole, and despite how well it turned out, I'm not going to show a picture. There are two reasons: 1) I made a tweak that was, while delicious, not all that pleasing to the eye and 2) I forgot.
What was the change? I thought the casserole needed something crunchy on top, so I threw some Italian bread crumbs on top before I threw them in the oven. It didn't crunch up like I hoped, but it did add another dimension of flavor that I was pleased with.
Also, I had a vegetable medley that went a long with it... Broccoli, cauliflower and radishes. I steamed them (in the microwave) with Italian dressing, dill and pepper. They turned out really well. I have never had broccoli absorb flavor like that. It was pretty good. It was a successful mission, and by making my own changes, I think I moved one step closer to "someone who knows how to cook".


Links of the Day 9/8/11

Hello. The NFL season officially begins TONIGHT.

Speaking of football, here is tennis player Rafael Nadal cramping up in the middle of a press conference.

Central Michigan seems to be a boring school. I'll probably end up going there next year.

Every year for the past 8, a last place team has charged into first the next season? I already said it would be the Texans, who are the other candidates?

Minnesota 5, Chicago 4 - The Twins win! It's a September miracle!


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

I guess you want an NFL Preview

The NFL season begins tomorrow evening, with a game between the Packers and the Saints. I am going to run through this quickly, like the Big Ten preview last week. 

NFC West

The hype train is coming on strong for the Cards, and I don't know why. They added Kevin Kolb, but lost their non-Fitzgerald receivers, their defense is weaker and they don't have a running game. The Rams are, somehow, the most complete team, while I like the Seahwaks defense, and think the 49ers are just better than Arizona.

NFC North

I don't think the Pack is as elite so much as they got hot at the right time last year. That said, the Bears took a step back and the Lions are better but not yet good. The Packers will run away with the division.

NFC South

Of course, the Panthers might be the division champs, given the way this division usually works. That said, I really like the Falcons. Adding Julio Jones gives the Falcons a more diverse offense, and their defense got a lot of work. The Saints just don't scare me. I would pick the Bucs to get 2nd before picking the Saints to win.


The Eagles probably won't take down the division. Too much hubris. But too much talent for me to take another team.The Cowboys might make it back to the playoffs if they can stay healthy. The more I read about the Giants, I worry about their prospects, but my gut tells me they will be at least relevant. The Redskins will be irrelevant.


Doesn't it kill you to see the Chargers or Raiders at the top of the list? I think the Chiefs will struggle against a tougher, 1st place schedule, and the Broncos are going to struggle without a running game The division as a whole will be much better than anyone expects, though.


WHAT?! Did I just do this because I have developed a disdain for Pittsburgh? Maybe. But I think Ray Rice is going to run his way to the playoffs. I am a HUGE Colt McCoy fan, and I really think that he might be the quarterback to turn the Browns around, even if it is a brief turn around. It's a young, hungry defense that will only mean an improvement. The Steerlers are getting older, especially on D, and they don't seem to want to try to infuse youth. If they struggle this year, it will only be for one year. The Bengals continue to have cool helmets.


Now that Peyton Manning is out for week 1, I wonder when he will be back, and when he does come back, when he will be effective. The Colts are lost without him. The Titans and Jaguars are also reexamining their QB situation this season, while the Texans are the only team with any stability. I don't think Arian Foster will be as strong this season as last, but he is going to be complimented by Ben Tate.


The Dolphins might be the worst team in football. The Bills, at least, have some youth on offense and a QB that they didn't actively try to replace this offseason. I like the Jets to win this division, owing in large part to their relative age compared to the Patriots.

Rams over Saints
Packers over Cowboys
Patriots over Texans
Ravens over Raiders

Falcons over Rams
Packers over Eagles
Ravens over Chargers
Patriots over Jets

Falcons over Packers
Ravens over Patriots

Interesting. I don't ever look that far ahead when trying to figure out the post season, so a Ravens-Falcons Super Bowl surprises me too. I will take the Falcons to win.

Julio Jones as Rookie of the Year, Ray Rice for MVP. And there you have it.

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Links of the Day 9/7/11

What a sad day across the hockey world.

A plane carrying a Russian hockey team crashed, killing all but two aboard. Among the dead are former NHL players, Karel Rachunek, Josef Vasicek, Ruslan Salei, and Karlis Skrastins, coaches Igor Korolev and Brett McCrimmon and former Minnesota Wild center Pavol Demitra.

In bad but not breathtakingly tragic news, the Colts announced that Peyton Manning will miss the season opener.

Adidas has recognized the new Libyan government.

Chicago 3, Minnesota 0 - New players, same result.


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Maryland hearkens back to the 70s, acid

Yes, that is based on the Maryland state flag, but really, it reminds me of those acid induced movies of the 70s that were supposed to be "artsy". Each half of the helmet looks like some sort of print to be worn on a leotard in such a movie. I don't care if you agree with me, or if it makes any sense. I might just be tripping really hard right now, and these uniforms may not be real.
Delmon Young, what do you think of these uniforms?

How about you, baby elephant?
That's what I thought.

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Links of the Day 9/6/11

One last fantasy draft of the season, then it's on. Will I get the LeSean McCoy trifecta?

The Winnipeg Jets have new uniforms and they are.... boring.

The Colts hired Jim Tressel and now have to suspend him. Or something. Terrelle Pryor actually circumvented NFL rules for the supplemental draft, which is why he was suspended, Tressel did not. So really, Tressel is the only one being suspended for his NCAA actions.

Major League Baseball sort of is turning into a nerdy game.

Chicago 2, Minnesota 1 - The White Sox and Phil Humber shut the Twins down
Chicago 4, Minnesota 0 - The White Sox and Zach Stewart shut the Twins down


Monday, September 05, 2011

An open letter to Major League Baseball ownership

To whom it may concern:
 Hello, my name is Ryan Henning, and I am looking for work. Well, that's not entirely the case. I am gainfully employed, but not in your line of work. I feel that I would be a excellent candidate for your front office. Allow me to continue.
If young general managers such as Billy Beane, Alex Anthopolous or especially Theo Epstein have taught us anything, it's that an understanding of baseball, statistics and a fresh perspective are important to running a baseball team. I feel that I have all three.
I'm not what you would call a "baseball guy" in as much as I don't have a history with any particular team, nor do I have any connections to past or present players or executives. I assure you though, that I would go out of my way to fill my staff with people that understand the finer aspects of running an organization, from business, to scouting to the overall cohesion of a roster.
I also understand how important a team's tradition is to a city and an organization, and I would do my best to run the team accordingly. I understand that, say, the Twins value defense, or the Mariners appreciate their ties the Far East. I can work with this, and will continue to promote the brand that your team would like to put forth.
My background is in meteorology, which means I have a fundamental understanding of numbers and probability, which is the new wave in baseball. I haven't proven myself to be a failure as the helmsman of a Major League Baseball team, as many of your candidates for employment likely are.
I feel I have the capability to be an effective general manager, though I could understand your apprehension in hiring someone as green as me in such an important role. Still, what do you have to lose? I feel that it would be in everyone's best interest that we at least sit down for an interview.
Best regards,
Ryan Henning

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Links of the Day 9/5/11

Good morning, happy Labor Day. Hopefully you aren't doing anything today. I'm going to the golf course later.

If you are interested in finding the best player to plug into the Twins lineup next year, this might be a good primer for you.

Football Guys... a Dugout spinoff, but can you guess about what sport?

It sounds as if.... Peyton Manning will not start for the Colts on Sunday. This is incredible, as it marks his first missed start of his career.

California 4, Minnesota 1 - Joe Mauer hit a home run!
Detroit 18, Chicago 2 - The Tigers barely edged out their nearest rival in the AL Central.


Sunday, September 04, 2011

Will someone feed Guillaume Latendresse

Michael Russo was either using clever word play in his headline, or Guillaume Latendresse could use a bite to eat.

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Links of the Day 9/4/11

Good morning. One week until a football Sunday.

Bill Simmons has a pretty good thesis on the MVP award.

Yesterday, Boise State had to play without three players. Because they are Dutch.

I will repeat again... Blackburn is doing nothing right this season.

NCAA Football
Purdue 27, Middle Tennessee State 24 - It took a late, lucky drive to win this one for Purdue. Like I said.... so bad. You have no idea.
USC 19, Minnesota 17 - Didn't see any of this game, but this has to be regarded as a positive result for the Gophers fan base.
North Dakota State 42, Lafayette 6 - North Dakota State was the only school that came through with a resounding, solid victory of any of the followed teams.
Wyoming 35, Weber State 32 - How bad must the Cowboys' defense be? My goodness.

Detroit 9, Chicago 8 - As the baseball season comes to an end, it looks like Detroit is going to take down the AL Central.
California 10, Minnesota 6 - Oh rats, and here I thought the Twins had a chance.