Monday, July 30, 2007

Twins trades, and other notes.

Finally. I'm back in the saddle. Combine a vacation with a move, and your schedule gets rather messy. In any event, thanks to the great job by Beth and Steve, two people I don't think could be more opposite. OK, it's time for a week in review.

ITEM ONE: The trade deadline is coming up, and typically, I'm very excited by this. This year, however, not so much. I'm usually pretty OK with the Twins buying or selling, though I prefer them to be buyers at the deadline, however this year, they are selling. Terry Ryan is pretty good at acquiring minor league talent, but now people are on to his zany schemes, and I don't think he's going to be able to pull off a heist like he did with A.J. Pierzynski, or even Eric Milton or Brian Buchanan. That being said, if the Twins make any deals at the deadline, it will almost certainly be a bad deal in my estimation. The two players demanding the most attention are Luis Castillo and Torii Hunter, and locally, people seem to think that trading Hunter is a great idea. I wish someone explain to me why.
The Twins have emerging talent in Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer, as well as a strengthening pitching staff. The pitching staff will become one of the better rotations in the league in about 3 years, but for now they need all the run support they can get. If the Twins lose Hunter AND Castillo, these three gifted hitters will be surrounded by total crap. There will be nobody at the top of the order to get on, and Mormeau won't be protected batting 5th. Worse still, the farm system is quite barren in terms of servicable bats. Morneau and Mauer each say they want to stay here, but if the losses start piling up as they are carrying the team, will they want to spend the prime of their career on a weak team when the promise of wins and more money are elsewhere? The current sentiment is no, taking what they have said at face value, however people have changed their mind before, and judging past history, I'm inclined to believe they would too.
If money is a concern, or the desire for prospects is paramount, there is a solution. If Dan Wheeler, a middle reliever with an ERA in the 5s, can command a quality player like Ty Wigginton, imagine what Joe Nathan could command. Bullpen guys are in high demand and the pen is a strength for the Twins. So why not sell high, get some decent prospects, resign Torii Hunter and make sure the new stadium isn't opened with Jason Kubel batting clean up.

ITEM TWO: Now that I'm done with my diatribe, I would like to note another link to the site. Vikings blog the Pacifist Viking enjoyed my post on the awful QBs a week or so ago, and linked me. Another cleverly named blog. Ugh, I'm so lame.

ITEM THREE: I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I'm decidedly against having a tournament in college football. It isn't a "real season championship", its a tournament winner. Rather than prattle on about that now, which I will probably do sometime during the college football season, I just want to make two points. The Pac 10 and Big 10 have spoken out as being strongly opposed to the idea of a tournament. Will Leitch at Deadspin is, among his other talents, excellent at taking criticism, so I don't feel bad about providing some of my own regarding his objection to the Pac 10 and Big 10s decisions. Please, when arguing against something, don't imply that those arguing against you are being obstinate. Instead, provide reasons why you want it your way. Clearly, there are people out there who have dissenting opinions, and you are weakening your own credibility by instead dismissing those opinions as "annoying". There. I spoke out against Deadspin, and I hope the fires of hell don't rain down on me as they did on Stop Mike Lupica.

ITEM FOUR: Speaking of the Big Ten. Apparently they want to add another team to encourage a football championship to accomodate the new Big Ten network. The top candidates right now are Notre Dame, Rutgers and Navy. Yikes. Notre Dame doesn't want to do it, and South Bend isn't exactly the market they were looking for, I really can't see teams traveling to New Jersey, even if the New York City market is appealing, and I think Navy is just too far away down in Annapolis there. My two picks? How about either Louisville or West Virginia from the Big East or Missouri from the Big 12. Thoughts?

And so ends the first post from the new home office.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Week in Review

:tap: Is this thing on? Excellent! My evil plans to take over the world can now commence. Except I promised Ryan I wouldn't do that...Alas.

ITEM ONE: Wild left wing Derek Boogaard will be here to kick around--er, to kick us around--for another three years (barring a trade). This makes me happy, because I like Boogaard. Bobbi was shocked to find my favorite Swarm player was the enforcer, too. I'm not big on fighting, but I'm glad to keep around a hockey player who will fight back (rather than instigate), if the need arises.

ITEM TWO: By sitting out of the game on Sunday, Barry Bonds has 753 career home runs. The Giants now return home for a seven-game homestand. Barry will probably get his history home run there, and we will have to hear about it every day for the rest of the year, as well as hear every single home run for the rest of the year. My belief is that he will retire at the end of the year. Or is that hope?

ITEM THREE: Jon Lester will return to the mound for the Red Sox today, according to reports. Lester has not played since August 23rd of last year, when he was diagnosed with a treatable form of lymphoma.

ITEM FOUR: A guy named Padraig Harrington won the British Open. I know nothing about golf, so the apparently dramatic finish is lost on me. Why does it look like the score is tied for a winner? There must be something in the golf rules that breaks the tie, but I've got nothing. Anything that involves a "double Bogey" sounds like it belongs in a children's story. One of the few golfers that I know of, Tiger Woods, tied for twelfth.

ITEM FIVE: Twins fans can rejoice. We no longer have to depend on the mediocre bats of Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter, and Nick Punto: Rondell White has returned! We need have no fear, and there's no reason for that Michael Cuddyer--who is currently broken and on the DL with a sore thumb--to hurry back. Rondell White has returned! As such, the great Garret Jones returns to Rochester. (And the Red Wings will be thrilled to get him back. He may not have done much for the Twins, but he's one of the power threats for the Red Wings. In fact, I think you could say he's The power threat for the Red Wings.)

And with that, I shall sign off with these inspiring words: Mikko Koivu!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

We've Got Controversy!

Even though I haven't updated my own site in over 6 months, Ryan asked me to do a special guest post on his site over the weekend, so here we go. I kind of feel like Brian Kenny when he fills in at ESPN radio, but I promise not to spend 90% of this post talking about boxing and claiming that UFC is just a "trend" and that boxing is the supreme sport. Anyways....We've got controversy everywhere in sports right now...let's break it down...

- In case you've been living in a cave, Barry Bonds is on the verge of breaking the most well known record in sports, and impressively during his march to 755 HR his hat grew about 8 sizes. The steroids issue in baseball is far from over, and will be an increasingly hotter topic over the next few years as more and more guys from the 90s become Hall of Fame eligible. So what do I think about this? It's all relevant. 75% of the guys that have been caught since testing began have been pitchers. So the roided-up hitters were hitting HR off of roided-up pitchers. Sounds fair to me, might as well elect them all and let the people of this generation pass on these stories to their children when they visit the Hall of Fame or look at record books. The hitters from this generation that didn't use steroids will obviously be held in higher regard in the future, and if future hitters (like Alex Rodriguez) wind up toppling these records, that will make them even bigger legends and something for baseball to be proud of. Another thing the Hall of Fame can do is give higher regard to the singles hitters, great fielders, and great base stealers of this era. I'm not saying that puts Scott Podsednik in the hall of fame, but it could make things more fair.

- The NFL is being stung with a flurry of arrests and indictments, with the biggest obviously being Michael Vick and his dogfighting. Now, I'm fine with believing in the concept of innocent until proven guilty, but I've never been suspected of dog fighting, and you've never been suspected of dog fighting. That's not something that you just get accused of if you aren't involved in at least some way. What I don't understand about this is....why is he involved with this? It's not like he needs the money from taking bets. So he obviously just thinks its cool to watch dogs fight. So as a result of this, it looks like your 2007 Atlanta Falcons starting QB is none other than: Joey Harrington! Can we start a new "Harrington" curse? It seems like now wherever he goes, he winds up starting due to some injury/arrest. I wonder if he won't be able to find a job in 2008 just because a team doesn't want their starting QB to be brought up on genocide charges by the U.N.

- Hot off the press in the NBA's latest controversy. A referee that bet on games and fixed the finishes. That's a pretty big charge that can tarnish the league for years, but a lot of people suspected that this has been happening in the league for a long time with Dick Bavetta being assigned to playoff series in order to extend them to 7 games to generate more money. Let's also not forget the alleged frozen envelope from the 1985 Draft Lottery. I guess this definitely explains the Toronto Raptors winning a division title this year. In a league where all of this is happening, I'm surprised that dull, fundamentally sound teams have won 5 of the last 9 titles. Maybe the NBA needs to use this referee and the mafia as special consultants to come to a more profitable solution in the future.

- Even a sport that's fake has been in the news lately, where a pro wrestler flipped out (possibly due to steroids) and killed his family and himself. This is a sad situation and I won't discuss it more out of respect, but the common thread with all of these sports is that they are in the news, being talked about, and generating interest, even though the publicity is bad. What's being left out here? The NHL...

- The NHL endured a betting scandal of its own that involved its most famous player's wife, but the story kind of fizzled out and the NHL is once again out of the national news. So here's my proposal to get hockey back on the map: During intermissions between periods of games, the entertainment must be dog fights, but not just any dog fights, but steroid injected dogs fighting, in which all in attendance will be forced to bet on or be subjected to steroid injections themselves. And instead of having the new shootout rule to break a tie, the result of the dog fights will determine who wins the game, but only if the referees and mafia approve.

So there we go. My first post in months. Obviously I'm just kidding about the NHL proposal and the league should be commended on not having any major controversy right now as the other leagues are suffering through their own. These kind of stories actually make sports more interesting because if they weren't happening, you would have to think about things like the upcoming mid-week series between the Orioles and Devil Rays. On that note, the 2nd highest paid player on the Devil Rays is none other than the legendary Casey Fossum. Maybe the MLB and NBA aren't all that different after all....

Thursday, July 19, 2007


If you have seen this man, Carlos Guillen, DOB: 9/30/75, Height: 6'1, Weight: 180lbs, Venezuelan national... please contact the Victoria Times Police Department. Guillen, suspected to be in the Minneapolis area, but with ties to Detroit, is implicated in the attempted murder of Ryan Henning via a screaming line drive into foul territory. The VTPD warns that Guillen is considered armed (with a bat) and dangerous. If you see this man, DO NOT attempt to pitch inside to him.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Vikings and their Awful QBs

I'm guessing the guest post won't revolve around football, so I figured I better get this out there. In case I haven't mentioned this, I take a certain, twisted delight in the mismanagement of the Vikings, and how it appears that their best intentions are driving the team into the ground. The season hasn't started yet, but recently, we've had our first quantifiable evidence that the Vikings are going to be dreadful this year.
Both Sports Illustrated and Fox have issued their quarterback rankings, and the thing they agreed on was that the Colts were in good shape in the quarterback department, and that the Vikings were going to be absolutely awful.
There are four quarterbacks on the roster this year going into camp. The Vikes are likely to go with Tavaris Jackson at the helm. If they didn't have a running game and had some decent route running receivers, this might be a viable option, since Jackson has a cannon arm that I wouldn't trust over 10 yards down field, and his legs are his most viable asset. Of course, he's unpolished, they do have a running game, and there are no good Vikings receivers. You could certainly try to improve Jackson's skills, but they don't really have a veteran to mentor him. Daunte Culpepper would have been perfect. Too bad Minnesota let him go. The whole Love Boat fiasco probably set the team back 10 years. Jackson, whom coach Brad Childress seems to love, hasn't made the transition from 1-AA to the NFL in one season quite as smoothly as expected. I mean, he HAS made the transition exactly as smoothly as expected.
Next on the depth chart is Brooks Bollinger. I'm sure the Jets would love to recount some of there favorite Brooks Bollinger memories. When I saw the Vikings in person and the quarterbacks were warming up, I honestly thought that Brad Johnson was warming up with the punter. I was wrong. The punter is actually bigger than Bollinger. Sure, small quarterbacks have worked in the past, like with Doug Flutie, but really, he didn't put together a full career, so much as a good highlight and a miraculous season or two. Even that is the exception to the norm. And as much space on the interwebs that I have wasted bashing Bollinger, he's probably the most viable option at the position heading into camp.
Drew Henson had a stellar career at Michigan. Then he went to baseball and had a failed career and never sniffed the bigs before he was signed by the Cowboys and never made the cut as a starter. He's taken a couple of unfortunate wrong turns in his career, and will likely never pan out in any sport, despite his physical ability he possesses. Sadly, he's probably the biggest name on the roster at QB.
Fox mentioned that the Vikes will take a long look at Tyler Thigpen in camp. This is a seemingly innocuous statement that portends to a longm brutal winter in a land where long winters are barely noticed. Thigpen is another rookie who was drafted in the seventh round. Read that again. The Vikings may consider a rookie taken after 216 other players to come in and lead the team. Now, in most environs, if your quarterback situation is so awful that you take a look at a rookie at the position, you don't want that rook to be a 7th rounder. Especially one whom the draft analysts suspected would be used at wide receiver (another problem, of course. The receivers are so bad Minnesota may use a quarterback there). If you are to be a successful 7th rounder, then you need to bide your time and get tutored by a vet like Drew Bledsoe, as was the case with Tom Brady. Additionally, it's usually bad news if your alma mater's uniform relied heavily on teal.
Such is the sad state of the Minnesota Vikings quarterback position. The scary thing is, the best quarterback in town may be a receiver. And not the football type. Expect a call from the Purple and Gold, Joe Mauer.

I need a vacation

Before we begin, I should probably tell you. I won't be here next weekend, however, the Times will not lie dormant. It is bigger than just one man. There will be a guest writer for the Week in Review, and perhaps a guest post at another miscellaneous time this weekend. Be very excited.
ITEM ONE: The All-Star game was played on Tuesday to collective indifference across the country. There was an incredibly insipid tribute to Willie Mays. These things to me always seem to be so staged and lifeless. It would be touching if the whole thing wasn't choreographed and seemingly made for Fox programming. I'm all for heartfelt tributes, but this wasn't it. As for the game, I'm definitely a fan of making the game count. If I see the best players in the game, I want to see the best game possible, not some beer league, no hustle crapfest. It turns out, Ichiro certainly hustled, and he's one of my new favorite players.

ITEM TWO: The argument for why hockey is no good that seems to be bandied about the most by the anti-hockey pundits is the fighting. How can a sport be legitimate if there is fighting, etc. Well, this story on Derek Boogaard probably doesn't help.
Wait. There's fighting in boxing and MMA, but nobody seems to have a problem with that. I don't get it.

ITEM THREE: Oh right. The Twins. They've done pretty well since the All-Star break, huh? Yes, they swept the Oakland A's, that other team that is famous for their second half surges. I, as always, would like to see the Twins do a little retooling for the stretch run. I think the best fit would be a name not mentioned much in trade rumors. Just like Sean Casey last year with the Tigers, I think Kevin Millar would do well in a DH role here in Minnesota. He has a history of being a fire starter, which wouldn't be a bad thing in the Twins clubhouse, although they are showing more spunk of late. Additionally, like Phil Nevin last year, he could spell Justin Morneau at first every once in a while, and I don't believe the Orioles would ask for a whole lot. In any event, the O's have been pretty bad at trading lately, so that might play to the Twins favor as well.

ITEM FOUR: If you Google "Steve Finley steroids", the Victoria Times is the second link you'll see. I'm rather dissappointed that it took that post to get me noticed on the interwebs, but I'll take it. Hopefully, any new readers will enjoy rambling posts on the City of Victoria and blatant misuse of parenthesees.

Just four items. I'll have another post up either today or tomorrow.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The COPS Drinking Game

I stand by the fact that drinking games are sports in their own right, and feel that I should introduce this one, my favorite during my college years. Since I felt like whipping up a post and I have already commented on the news from Victoria and I absolutely refuse to waste an entire post on the All Star break or David Beckham, there was no time like the present. (Additionally, this destroys any credibility on the whole Steve Finley thing).
How did this game start, you may ask? Well, first off, COPS may be one of the funniest shows on television, whether it tries to be or not, and when you watch the show cheering for certain things to happen, well, the show just gets better. Considering that most of the time the segments on COPS involve a drug arrest or domestic abuse, I'm pretty sure this makes me a bad person. On the plus side, I have a new found respect for the police.
There are 4 simple rules, with an addendum that my roommate Shawn and I added after the game became popular outside of the apartment. The rules are as follows.
Drink for every:
1. Cop with a moustache. It's alarming how much the stereotype fits. There is even a cop in California who definitely could have used a razor for her upper lip. We took a sip every time she came on.
2. Guy without a shirt on. My favorite. You know something awesome is going to happen if some topless drunk comes out, screaming about how he didn't do anything wrong while waving around his 40 of Colt 45. Bonus you can actually see the bag of dope in his shorts (usually cutoffs and denim).
3. Bleep/blur. This is always the one that does us in. First off, license plates are always blurred, so that's an easy drink, but then, if you get a said shirtless guy, you will likely see any number of the following: a blurred buttcrack, the blurred faces of his embarrassed children, a tirade in which he drops 14 f-bombs on how the police are out to get him or something, or on those domestic disturbance calls, he screams epithets at whoever called the police on him. The drunker the person, the drunker you end up.
4. Non-scientific drug reference by the police. "Where's the dope? Where's the dope? Where's the dope?" That's 3 swigs right there. This is especially popular in the larger cities, where vice squads know all the street names for various drugs. Curiously, an officer in Honolulu nearly led to my getting alcohol poisoning after introducing us to "batu" which is Hawaiian slang for crystal meth. He couldn't call it meth for the entire 10 minute segment, and must have mentioned it 200 times.
The addendum: If there is are guests, there is to be an additional rule provided by the guests. The most popular is to drink everytime the minorities are actually the majority on camera. Another memorable rule was to chug during every chase (we couldn't make it to the bars that night). Other good suggestions: Every squad car on camera, every set of handcuffs produced, everytime you think a cop is being a jerk, but turns out to be right, mullets.
Of course, the game has it's horrifying times when there is a truly awful crime, but they are surprisingly rare. Additionally, there are the assorted boring clips where you get like, 2 drinks. On those nights, it's still ok, because it's Saturday night, and now all your friends are in the same place. If it's a bad pair of episodes, you can still go to the bar. Of course, there are no bad episodes of COPS.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I'm not even sure whats going on

It's time once again to rehash the months "news" from Victoria. With an imminent move to Apple Valley, for the world headquarters of the Victoria Times, you may worry that I'm going to slack on my coverage of Victoria news. Well, don't worry. Or worry, if you don't like these posts.
As always, the most interesting news was in the letters to the editor, which I am beginning to appreciate for being so comically awkward, like the a writer wondering if an article on the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum could be written every month, and the editor flat out saying she would rather just have the Arboretum advertise. I love the business, the cutthroat smalltown newspaper business, being displayed to openly.
But no, the interesting news was of a basketball clinic that was recently held at the embattled Victoria Fieldhouse. It was hosted by the lovingly introduced John Thomas, "former Rooesevelt High School star, Minnesota Gophers Captain, Timberwolves Star and current NBA Free Agent". I love it. First off, I'm not a huge NBA fan, but I generally watch enough TV to know who is and is not a star on a given team. I didn't even know that Thomas played for the Wolves. Lastly, I love that he was additionally tagged as a current free agent. I just don't know how many teams are going to be looking for a 32 year old big man who has averaged less than 3 points a game and hasn't played for a season now. Lastly, they briefly mention that Mike James, a player still actually playing, also participated. I wish I could find pictures.
The first few stories were about city maintenence and financing for downtown redevelopment and oh my God it's so boring. An interesting development, however was the sale of the old ski factory building (where I used to wash toilets. I don't want to think about it) to a Polaris retailer. Just what we need! More snowmobiles and toys with engines in this town. I'm actually being kind of serious. I don't like snowmobiles, because they don't seem to realize they are in the suburbs while they are in their suburbs, but I like the idea of commerce in V-Town. The only problem the City Council had was the placement of a sign on the facade of the building, because they preferred something that was lower than the Welcome to Victoria sign. I think the big problem was that the name of the place was Digger's. Unfortunately, Urban Dictionary is down, otherwise, I would be able to tell you what a Digger is. (Hint: #2!)
In sad news, the city's first watertower is scheduled to be destroyed soon, as the new tower is at a height higher than the old one. The tower is pretty old and a powder blue that calls to mind the 80s Royals, but still, it was a pretty big deal when it was built. And yes, I remember the city watertower being built. That's how long it took for us to actually get a water tower.
Other noteworthy items: The city council needs more space, perhaps for Tim "Neat-Cool" Amundson's enormous collection of trendy adjectives. There is debate between Chaska and Victoria about the connections between the two cities. Chaska is trying to bully Victoria, it sounds, and Victoria is holding their ground.
Amundsen also said he wouldn't like bringing a fire truck into a neighborhood for an event. I have no idea what the event would have been. It wasn't mentioned. Just that quote. Professional! In that same breath, Jim Paulson said "We're trying to hire a director" and Kim (?) said "I'm not!". I don't know who Kim is (although I only assume its Roden, since shes all buddy buddy with Celine), and I don't know if they are shooting a movie or what's even going on.
But so it goes in such a crazy little town.

This Guy

Sorry I'm posting a week in review so late. Mediacom sucks, and the internet has been spotty all day. I'm tired and I don't have high hopes for the quality of this post.
ITEM ONE: So, the big deal for the Twins this week was the double header in which they scored a ton of runs while stomping all over the White Sox, and then subsequently dropping the next two games. Hopefully putting another bat in the lineup after the all-star break, in this case Rondell White's, will even the keel and the team will get a little bit more consistent. What worries me is the Mike Redmond bat to the head incident. This pretty much guarantees that Mauer and Redmond will never be seen the same lineup ever again, unless, of course, we get the even more terrifying third catcher. I have a better solution. Teach Mauer to play first. He's a good athlete, and things come naturally to him. On days Mauer needs a break from catching, put him at first and Morneau at DH, and everyone gets to play and if something happens to Redmond, as it inevitably does, Mauer can catch and we have plenty of guys who can play first. Problem solved!
ITEM TWO: So, you remember that post I wrote, er... yesterday? Well, it was actually voted down once over at Ballhype, which I am totally obsessed with. Were they Finley fans? Did they find fault with my theories? Did they just think I wrote like crap? Then, on the other hand, I got a legitimate link from the wonderfully named Nyjer Please. My favorite part is that they labelled me "This guy" which I think makes me sound like a total nut, and frankly, may not be too far from the truth. I couldn't be more pleased.
ITEM THREE: Imagined horse track announcer commentary: "It's Kegstand out in front, followed by Ducktaped to a Tree and Passed Out with Panty Raid charging hard on the outside! Panty Raid and Kegstand are neck and neck! AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME! It's Panty Raid by a nose!"

ITEM FOUR: I'm not sure whether or not this is positive news, but U.S.S. Mariner, a blog for, of all teams, the Mariners, recently wrote an open letter to the pitching coach, only to have it read by the pitching coach, and delivered to the specific player mentioned, Felix Hernandez, who was genuinely affected by it, and took it to heart. Like I said, it's either good or bad. Good that rational pieces could find their way to the right people, or bad, because if someone important is reading someone else's blog, somoene important could be reading this one too. Yikes.
ITEM FIVE: So, Doug Risebrough stopped sitting on his hands and signed a couple of free agents, bringing back Wes Walz and adding defenseman Sean Hill (who we will have for, at most 63 games, thanks to a drug related suspension) and center Eric Belanger (Bel-on-zhay), who seems to change teams like I change underwear. He has always been a good face off guy, and this is actually his first time as a free agent. He started his career in Los Angeles before being traded twice in a year. Well, lets just hope having Pavol Demitra and Belanger in the same lineup works better than it did for the Kings.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A Fairly Obvious User of Steroids

Now, I've often mentioned that the cheating aspect of steroids isn't so much what I have a problem with, but rather the health impacts on players and those who try to match their success. Steroids just aren't good for you. I don't really dislike guys like Rafael Palmeiro, but rather feel bad for them, that baseball was that important. It's probably good that baseball is at least trying to put the kibosh on steroid use.
The bad news, somewhat, is that while the baseball community is prone to rumormongering, it isn't reall full of conspiracy theorists (if it were, that bat to Mike Redmond's head would have received a lot more scrutiny. Think about it. Ozzie Guillen has been prone to irrational though, especially while frustrated, and it's been a tough year, and the Sox just got beat by 20, and Gardenhire had a catcher as the DH, so eliminating the one behind the plate would mean the pithcer would have to bat, giving the Sox a slight edge. I don't believe this is true, of course, mostly because Thome is to classy to pull a stunt. Ozzie? Not so much.), at least when compared to the other four leagues. If it were, maybe other players would be investigated more thoroughly when they are introduced as candidates for possible steroid use, like Bret Boone, as an example, or Luis Gonzales names that aren't Bonds or Sosa that have been bandied about.
If they want to pin a player though, it seems as there is a current player who looks as though he almost certainly juiced. That player is Steve Finley.
Early in his career, Finley was mostly a slap hitting, top or bottom of the order typr of guy. He played all 162 games at age 27, generally around the first year of a players increase in power stats. He hit 5 home runs and stole 44 bases. And so it went in Houston. In 1995, when Finley was 32, he went to San Diego, which has always been notorious as a hitters ball park. Players that stick around for a while usually put together their best seasons in terms of power around the age 32-33 season, the peak of a career arc, and age 32, Finley hit 10 homers.
Finley had his breakout year at age 33. After playing a year with admitted and now deceased steroid user Ken Caminiti, Finley's homerun total tripled. Like I said, the typical player hits their career high in power stats around 32 or 33, not break out as a power hitter. If anything, players gradually transition to sluggers, actually more in the mold of Barry Bonds. Finley's slugging percentage went up .111 points in one season. That just doesn't happen in your 8th season in the league, especially in San Diego. Finley's comparable players went from Mookie Wilson to Ruben Sierra in a matter of a couple seasons.
the most pertinent point is that Finley didn't become a better hitter, just a more powerful hitter. In that jump of 20 home runs, his batting average went up only 1 point, and in the years following, his homerun totals remained in the 20s as his batting average was typically in the .260 range.
If my allegations are, in fact, accurate (something we'll likely never know) I can't say I entirely blame Finley. He started his career as a speedster, known for stolen bases and triples in Houston, and then he started lose that speedy touch. To be fair, he had aboided the Ken Caminiti temptation in Houston, but now with his livelihood threatened by aging legs, maybe he thought he needed a boost to continue his career. Maybe he was upset that of the sporting Finleys, he was the most nondescript, what with Chuck getting beaten by Tawny Kitaen and Michael being the basketball playing one. I don't have anything against Finle. Rather, he's an example I came across while looking up something else, so I don't have a vendetta against the guy, but it seems to me that his is an example of how seriously Major League Baseball is, or rather is not, taking the whole steroids issue. I'm sure there are a couple other players out there that fit his profile as well, and it's these guys baseball should look at if they want any credibility.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Finally, I was able to slip Pedro Munoz into a post

I'm operating on less than 5 hours of sleep, so bear with me if I make even less sense than usual.

ITEM ONE: The big news in the sports world as much as I try to deny it talking about baseball and the NHL free agency period was the NBA draft. This is pretty much the only time of year that I care about the NBA, mostly because I want to see where the college players I knew are going to end up. Additionally, I wanted to make sure Joakim Noah stayed away from Minnesota, and he did, mercifully. He may be my least favorite person on the planet. In any event, the highlight for me wasn't so much the players going where they went or the trades. No, my favorite part was watching Yi Jianlian struggling to open a bottle of Sprite. I wish I had video of that.

ITEM TWO: Justin Morneau came back to the Twins lineup a few days ago, which is great, because now he's ready for the All-Star game. Much has been made of the whole David Ortiz winning the vote thing, but I don't mind. It's generally a bigger honor, in my opinion to get voted in by the managers and players, because this means In fact, I think it's humorously ironic. Just think, the Twins had David Ortiz and Doug Mientkiewicz on their roster at first, and they let Ortiz go because he wasn't much of a defender. Then, they traded away Mientkiewicz because he couldn't hit. Now, Ortiz nosed out our current first baseman in the All-Star game because he's such an imposing hitter. So, essentially, the Twins have only themselves to blame for a Twin not starting at 1st this year.
The other complaint I hear about the All-Star game is the every team getting a representative thing. Frankly, it's what kept my attention through the late 90s when the Twins were just awful (although not among the worst teams of all time) , and I imagine people of Pittsburgh will be tuning in to see Latin Singing Sensation Freddy Sanchez, rather than 4 or 5 Yankees that they see every day on ESPN. Really, this is an all-star game for the league, not for the networks, so anyone who has a problem with that (I'm looking at you Mike Golic) can just stuff it.

ITEM THREE: In another (incredibly lame) bit of baseball trivia, I went into the vault to look at the Twins history on my birthday. As you may or may not know, as of a couple years ago, I am trying to get to the Twins game played on my birthday, and I have been met with unmitigated failure, including passport problems, the White Sox weaseling out of a game, and next year, a wedding. In any case, I checked out the history of the Twins and came up with fun facts for their history on April 5th since 1983. The squad is 8-6 (going 7-3 in the last 10 April 5th games), doing pretty well since baseball decided to move the start of the season up a week about 10 years ago. On the day I was born, the Twins got smoked by Detroit, 11-3, and have played them twice since, going 1-1. If I my parents had started this tradition for me and taken me to birthday baseball games, I would have made 5 trips by now: New York at age 5, Detroit at 16, Seattle and two trips to Toronto in the time since 1999. The squad has hit 12 homers on my birthday, with Torii Hunter and the unlikely Shannon Stewart with 2. Brian Harper and Randy Bush had the first homers on my 6th birthday. The other names on this unusual list were Pedro Munoz (My favorite Twin growing up, after Puckett), Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, Matt Lawton, Jacque Jones, the aforementioned David Ortiz, and the even less likely Luis Rodriguez. I couldn't sleep last night.

ITEM FOUR: There was an uproar in the blogging community the other day as Stop Mike Lupica came out with some statistics on who Will Leitch and Deadspin link to the most since Memorial Day. After an intial wave of verbal assault, he clarified his positions, indicating that he was not intending to besmirch the name of some blogs, like Winning the Turnover Battle and Ghosts of Wayne Fontes, both of whom were the most taken aback, but rather trying to establish the point that Deadspin links to more frivolous blog posts than more serious or unique posts. GoWF took the clarification well, and in the end actually seemed to be in agreement with SML, while WtTB, and especially writer KidUterus are still extremely agitated. Deadspin and Leitch mostly agreed with the overall piece.
Where SML erred was in its phrasing of the criticism, and it came across as being particularly down on the two smaller blogs. That phrasing caused readers to lose sight of the main point, which was "Why does Will do things this way?" Of course, Deadspin is more about whimsy than hard hitting journalism, but the fact remains that many people get their sports news from Deadspin, the AOL Fanhouse and other blogs. People have admitted to finding things out here at the Times. If blogs are gaining this mounting readership, they should be open to the same criticism they dish out, as it appears Leitch is. The major difference is that bloggers are generally more approachable than media executives, so criticism should be used to improve ones site, rather than be ignored as it has been by ESPN (we don't care about the Espy's or the Who's Now? bracket. Don't ruin brackets for me ESPN). Getting involved in an imbroglio with your critics shows a certain level of immaturity that I think is what keeps bloggers relegated to the outside of the sports community, even pros like Leitch.

July, the contract month.

Ah July, the time when contracts are signed or traded from team to team in 3 of the 4 major sports leagues. July features the baseball trade deadline, and the first of the month introduces the NBA and NHL free agency period. It's certainly one of the more fascinating times of the year. Wanting to get in on the action, I'll be signing a lease for a new apartment tomorrow. I'll have plenty of time to obsess about the baseball trade deadline, and the NBA is both uninteresting (Jason Kopono is the biggest name to switch teams) now and during the season, so let's turn our attention t0 the NHL, where things have been going crazy since the signing period began at 11 this morning.
Actually, here in Minnesota, the excitement began at 1201 AM, ET, when Doug Risebrough traded his scalding hot water for Boston's unfinished hot cocoa. (Did everyone get those references when I made them?)Yes, Manny Fernandez is now a Bruin, marking the first time in a while that a rumored Minnesota-Boston trade came to fruition in any sport. The Wild acquired young Petr Kalus and a 4th round draft pick. (Hmm, a Minnesota athlete with a Spanish last name from an area where French is widely spoken goes to Boston. This is David Ortiz all over again (The Dominican shares Hispaniola with French speaking Haiti. Look it up!) (Quadruple parenthesees!))! At least he won't be hitting homers any time soon) Most importantly, they freed up 4.33 million dollars in cap space, which will help them in their quest for a new, quality center, i.e. Jason Blake.
Wait. Jason Blake went to the Maple Leafs. Well, let's see what plan B is. Resign Todd White and Wes Walz? Aw, heck. Todd White is a Thrasher, the first player to be signed. Things aren't quite going the way I had expected. At least the Wild have plenty of space left to find someone to patch the team's weaknesses. Right now, the best available player that would fit with the team is, in my opinion, Dainius Zubrus, who would make a good 2nd line forward, and provide a little bit of grit in order to play with some more finesse players. Oh, or a good center in the face off circle, like Yanic Perrault. Wait. What? Chicago? Well, shoot.
There's no doubt that the Wild have room to improve, (they were 6th in conference last year, not Stanley Cup Champs) and while developing your kids in Houston is nice, when you get this close and have the opportunity to add a needed piece right now, you have to buckle down and do it.
Of course, looking at the signings thus far, part of the problem may be that the top tier stars are getting deals for up 8 years, like in Daniel Briere's case, and the Wild are only interested in locking down players for a year at a time. Clearly, that's not working, and with the way the salary cap went up this year (6 million dollars) the Wild have to imagine that they can afford to add some salary for the next couple of years. So let's pony up the cash, Doug! I mean, for someone other than Martin Skoula. And please don't bring back Pascal Dupuis. Wait. You can't. Thank goodness.

(TSN and Barry Melrose Rocks have been invaluable today.)