Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A very short NFL review

This is how dedicated I am to you. It's 330 in the morning and I'm still writing an NFL review. I love you guys. And girls. I'm a little emotional when I'm exhausted.

I don't think I've ever been able to watch the Vikings play the Eagles all the way through. I always fall asleep part of the way through and miss it. This is fine this week, because both teams were miserable. I don't think it's possible to make any more "the Vikings are bad at quarterback" jokes. Oh. Wait. Here's one.

I can't fathom why the Twin Cities were given the Jags-Bucs game in the afternoon. I mean, after the Patriots were up on the Redskins by around 20, we would be flipping channels. Seriously, give us something! We don't want an old quarterback throwing to older receivers on one team and a team with a quarterback with a weight problem and 462 running backs on the other. Quinn Gray (weight problem), by the way led the Jaguars to a win that approximately nobody in Minnesota cared about. At least the game was close to the end.

As for that New England-Washington game. Well, I watched the Wild lose to the Avs. I don't want to watch the Patriots anymore. They're too good. The Colts, even if they beat the Patriots this week, will lose somewhere down the road. the Patriots? Not so much. They could win out. I hate that.

As for the Monday night game, I have to say I appreciate the Packers fans at the office more than the Vikings fans, who are unbearable after a Minnesota win (fortunately there haven't been many). The Packers played a fun game, and the fans barely mentioned it. Fantastic. I used to hate the Pack, but honestly, they're kind of growing on me.

Steve will have his power rankings sometime soon. He's in the boonies currently on business. Colorado? Utah? I'm not really sure.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Something about A-Rod

So while I almost always take a certain delight when things go awry for the Yankees, I can't help but be concerned by the departure of Alex Rodriguez. See, in all the time he spend in New York, while Rodriguez was branded a loser and a choker, the Yankees looked like the bad guys. Then, when Boston won the World Series, Rodriguez, and his even more evil agent decided that was the perfect time to announce his departure, which is entirely uncalled for (just ask Peter Gammons). The Yankees, in this regard, stuck to their guns and said they weren't going to negotiate with him, since he didn't bother to even explore their offer. After such a terrible season, the Yankees look like the good guys.
But enough about the Yankees. What about the Twins? Well, A-Rod leaving is bad for the Twins on two fronts. First, by having his option not picked up by the Yankees, that also let's the Rangers off the hook for a substantial sum of money, which, according to reports, they will use to sign Torii Hunter, who was about 1/5th of the teams offense this year, and the Twins are going to actually have to make roster moves in order to replace that. Heck, it may not even be as complicated as the Rangers getting more money. The Yankees could probably afford to pick up a new center fielder as well. Wouldn't that make you sick?
The other problem is this. If there is a bidding war that fires up soon, that means teams will show just how much money they have, which, of course, means players will ask for more money, something Carl Pohlad would rather take to his grave than spend on making Minnesotans happy, if history is any indication. And what position gets the biggest boost in price? Why, third base, of course. And the Twins have been looking for a third baseman, seemingly since Gary Gaetti. Sure, they had Corey Koskie for a few years, but now would be a good time to find an improvement over the void there now.
So, I once supported Alex Rodriguez, but now, in affect, he and his evil agent have screwed over baseball, and specifically, the Twins.

(photo again courtesy the New York Times)

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Hey, Boston!

Screw you!

(photo courtesy New York Times)


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fun headlines.

I think you can chalk your career up to "injury plagued" when you miss games in 6 of your 7 years to the same type of injury. While that's the bad news, its decidedly worse that the Star Tribune went with this particular headline. I don't believe that I have ever had anything like that written about me, but I'm not particularly jealous.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ohio State HAS been tested

What with Ohio State playing at Penn State this weekend being the only game between quality opponents in the Big Ten this weekend (Purdue better not even have a contest with Northwestern), there have been all sorts of professions about how good this match up should be, so I figured that I would read up on the OSU-PSU game and break it down, Fire Joe Morgan style. (Ken Tremendous I am not.) The culprit journalist? Bruce Hooley at

Penn State's defense, Happy Valley Crowd should test Ohio State

So far, we're in agreement. OSU struggled last week against Michigan State and didn't play really well on the road at Purdue.

Indeed, Ohio State's ascent to the top of the BCS standings has been as uneventful as retrieving the morning newspaper from the front porch

Well, the Buckeyes did go on the road against a ranked opponent. And...

The Buckeyes' closest call came last Saturday against Michigan State, 24-17

That's right. Thanks for the reminder.
but the score was more mirage than anything.

Oh? Tell me more Bruce Hooley.

The Spartans scored two touchdowns on an interception return and fumble return.

So, having turning the ball over is never caused by good defense? Michigan State didn't you know, force a turnover? Right. No. Because that would mean Ohio State had been tested.

Admittedly, that wasn't as bad as I was expecting after watching TV and hearing that Ohio State hasn't been tested this season. Purdue was ranked higher than Penn State is presently and OSU played poorly, and if the Boilermakers had showed up with a quarterback or a defensive coordinator, it would have been a lot closer. Additionally, Penn State gave up 31 points against Indiana, which Penn State just shouldn't do, save for during basketball games. Of course, this would just be chalked up as an OSU win if the game weren't on ABC.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Please, heroes of sports, don't wear headbands

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Red Sox are better than the Rockies

Before I tried to go to work, only to have my car not start, I caught some commentary from Fox's Ken Rosenthal while he was talking to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. They asked him why the Rockies were struggling so furiously with the Red Sox when they had just swept their way through the Cubs and Diamondbacks. Sure, there is the argument that it's the Rockies layoff, or maybe the playing conditions, but Rosenthal had a pretty solid argument as well.
The Red Sox are a lot better than the Phillies or Diamondbacks. The Rockies too, for that matter. I find it curious that so many didn't think to factor that into their World Series picks. I include my self in that group. Let's break this down. I'll even throw in the Phillies and Diamondbacks to show how clearly superior the Red Sox are. Analysis as needed.

Red Sox: Varitek.
Rockies: Torrealba
Diamondbacks: Snyder
Phillies: Ruiz
Advantage: Red Sox, without any argument, both behind the plate and at bat.

Red Sox: Youkilis
Rockies: Helton
Diamondbacks: Clark/Jackson
Advantage: In most situations, the Phillies win out here, but in the postseason, Youkilis is hitting .422. .422! Oh, and when they are playing in Colorado, the Red Sox will bat this Ortiz fellow, that I hear is pretty good.

Red Sox: Pedroia
Rockies: Matsui
Diamondbacks: Ojeda
Phillies: Utley
Advantage: Rockies, in a very close battle. Ojeda had an empty batting average (all singles, no walks) this offseason and Utley hit .182, while Matsui and Pedroia have been veritable monsters for their teams. Matsui has been better in the post season by a slim margin, but Pedroia is going to be the rookie of the year. (Be careful so he doesn't sell his World Series trophy replica).

Red Sox: Lowell
Rockies: Atkins
Diamondbacks: Reynolds
Phillies: Nunez/Helms/Dobbs
Advantage: Red Sox. Atkins has the second best postseason batting average for third basemen in this comparison at .194. The Phillies started three different 3rd basemen against the Rockies, and none got a hit. In the regular season, Atkins splits away from Coors are dreadful, and I couldn't pick any of the four from Arizona or Philly out of a lineup.

Red Sox: Lugo
Rockies: Tulowitzki
Diamondbacks: Drew
Phillies: Rollins
Advantage: Of a good group of short stops, Stephen Drew has had the best postseason by far, and Jimmy Rollins is one of the most effective shortstops in the game, but hit .182 this post season. As I'm sure you've heard, the best hitting shortstop in the World Series is Troy Tulo-- Wait. Julio Lugo. Higher batting average, but lower slugging percentage, which is ok, because he can still score in front of the bigger bats in Boston's line up (Tulowitzki is batting .226, if you were wondering, while Lugo is at .282).

Red Sox: Ramirez
Rockies: Holliday
Diamondbacks: Byrnes
Phillies: Burrell
Advantage: Red Sox. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Manny is batting .447 in the postseason, and he still finds time to befriend soup.

Red Sox: Crisp
Rockies: Taveres/Spilborghs
Diamondbacks: Young
Phillies: Rowand
Advantage: Diamondbacks? Chris Young is the only player here that has done anything this postseason, and really, he had the best regular season as well. I guess he is why they made the playoffs, huh? And of the World Series teams, I have to give the Colorado platoon the nod. To say Coco Crisp has underperformed falls wildly short of the truth.

Red Sox: Drew
Rockies: Hawpe
Diamondbacks: Upton/Salazar
Phillies: Victorino
Advantage: If Justin Upton could have played all the games instead of platooning with Jeff Salazar, theirs would have been the best Right Field of this group, but they didn't and the position batted .250, lower than Brad Hawpe. By the way, guess how many extra base hits Hawpe has this postseason? The same as me! So, in the end, J.D. Drew is the best of the right fielders here.

Red Sox: Beckett, Schilling, Matsuzaka
Rockies: Francis, Fogg, Jiminez
Diamondbacks: Webb, Hernandez, Davis
Phillies: Hamels, Kendrick, Moyer
Advantage: Red Sox again. Beckett has been lights out all year, Schilling pitches his best in the post season, an frankly, even if they aren't getting what they paid for yet, the Red Sox have a better pitcher with Dice-K than all of the others listed, aside from Webb, Hernandez and Hamels.

Advantage: Ok. Name someone from the Diamondbacks or Phillies bullpen. Go.

Kyle Lohse? Is that it? I thought so. And the Rockies have LaTroy Hawkins and Ramon Ortiz. Generally speaking, that many former Twins in a bullpen isn't the greatest idea, especially when they are rejects from Minnesota. Jonathan Papelbon is very good in the bullpen. End of story.

So, broken down, I don't really see any way that the Rockies pull this series out. The Red Sox, out of 10 categories were the best in 7 of them. The Diamondbacks had the top shortstop and centerfielder, while the Rockies have an advantage at 2nd. Because of Kaz Matsui. The Rockies can only hope it snows in Colorado this weekend.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Minnesota making some roster moves

There were a pair of Minnesota teams making roster moves today. I don't particularly care about the NBA, but I should note that the Timberwolves traded for Antoine Walker and everyone's favorite dopey blond center, Michael Doleac. I'll be looking forward to buying myself a Doleac jersey, that's for sure.
The biggest news for readers here, however, is that the Wild called up RW Cal Clutterbuck. I don't have any decent analysis on this move, but I just can't say it enough. Cal Clutterbuck. Oh yes, as I said months ago, this is definitely leading to a Dan Terhaar suspension.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Week 7 Computerized Ranks

The week 7 ranks are in. The Colts still sit on top and the lovable ewes are still in dead last. There wasn't a whole lot of movement this week. The biggest gainer was the Chiefs, who surprisingly have jumped all the way up to #11 and into first place in the AFC West. The biggest losers were the Steelers, who lost to the ice cold Broncos, the Texans, who almost staged an amazing comeback win but are slowly sinking into their usual last place finish, and the 49ers, who have been absolutely terrible 4 weeks in a row. They are 2-4, but somehow managed to fall behind the 1-6 Falcons! Here are the complete ranks...

1. Colts - 91.68 - Even
2. Patriots - 78.47 - Even
3. Giants - 71.70 - +2
4. Cowboys - 70.13 - +3
5. Packers - 70.07 - +1
6. Jaguars - 69.02 - -3
7. Titans - 66.52 - +3
8. Redskins - 62.53 - +1
9. Steelers - 61.95 - -5
10. Panthers - 58.79 - +2
11. Chiefs - 54.39 - +5
12. Buccaneers - 53.17 - -4
13. Chargers - 53.01 - +1
14. Lions - 52.06 - +4
15. Ravens - 49.91 - -4
16. Eagles - 49.62 - -3
17. Browns - 48.87 - Even
18. Seahawks - 48.51 - +3
19. Bears - 48.38 - +4
20. Texans - 48.37 - -5
21. Cardinals - 43.89 - -2
22. Raiders - 41.66 - Even
23. Vikings - 40.53 - -3
24. Bills - 39.90 - +4
25. Bengals - 38.85 - +1
26. Broncos - 38.39 - -1
27. Saints - 37.00 - +2
28. Falcons - 27.36 - -1
29. 49ers - 27.19 - -5
30. Jets - 18.47 - Even
31. Dolphins - 17.29 - Even
32. Rams - 13.72 - Even

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I don't understand the sweaty D

For those of you who don't know, I work a job with some nuts hours, and this weekend was no different. I worked overnight Saturday and had to pick up my dad from the airport at 1230 (and they failed to tell me that his flight was delayed for an hour). Needless to say, my knowledge of what went on this weekend is a little scattered, at best. Nevertheless, there was a lot that went on this weekend.

The first games on locally were the type that made me feel OK that I had to go to the airport to pick up relatives. Tampa versus Detroit was an all right game, but Tampa completely dominated Detroit in every bit that I saw. Of course, every time I flipped to see what else was on, they would do something asinine. Detroit won, and John Kitna may be proven right after all. Although Calvin Johnson is as amazing as I had been told.

The other game in the early session was the Patriots playing the Dolphins. I really lack anything to say about this game, so I thought I would comment on this commercial:

If you're sitting in an empty stadium with three buddies just to watch Chad Johnson (and only Chad Johnson) practice, you shouldn't still have enough shame that you are worried about your sweaty pits.

Before the Vikings game started, I was enraptured by the Titans-Texans game, not because I was watching it (I couldn't due to league rules) but by the CBS studio crew. They were watching the end of the game, and America was watching them watch the game. It was fantastic. Bill Cowher was smiling happily the entire time, Dan Marino couldn't have cared less, Shannon Sharpe spit out various unfunny one-liners and Boomer Esiason tried to give continuing analysis on the art of the onside kick. It was gripping television. Cowher is my new favorite studio guy, because after watching that segment, it's very obvious that even though he retired, he still just loves football with a childlike enthusiasm.

Speaking of childlike enthusiasm, when I was a youngster, I had a pair of books written for a younger set about great players and world champions, so even though I was born in 1983, I knew all about the Steel Curtain and Earl Campbell and Tony Dorsett. I was the only 9 year old in 1992 who longed to watch Dorsett in action. He had even had the longest run from scrimmage against the hometown team (with whom I've severed all ties, in case you forgot). So, it's stuff like that that leads me to appreciate football, and makes every game have the potential to be very exciting. So, when Dallas and Minnesota took the field, there was the potential for something exciting to happen. It didn't.

Sunday night was my first chance to watch the Steelers in action, and frankly, they are the same as usual. But even more the same is the Broncos. They haven't had a distinguishable player since Elway. The Quarterbacks are always talented and underperforming. Running backs are quick but powerful and always married to the system. Receivers are good route runners. It's the same every year. It's successful though, so good for you Denver. Things are going your way. (By the way, Mike Tomlin just looks like a badass on the sideline,)

The Indianapolis Colts aren't making too much noise, even though they are blowing through the AFC South like elephants drunk on rice beer.


Another option for the Indians

The Yankees and Red Sox have long been accused of trying to "buy" their World Series trophies like it's a bad thing. Now, however, you have that same opportunity, if EBay is to be believed (and who has ever lied on the internet?), as a 1991 Minnesota Twins World Series trophy is on the auction block. Let's see, the sellers location is Texas, and whoever is selling this probably has a few more of them, and/or needs the money, and/or resents the Twins. Hmm... I wonder who the seller could be?

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Monday, October 22, 2007

The Red Sox clinch and the Rockies await

So, the Cleveland/Denver rivalry wasn't stoked as I had hoped. There will still be a World Series, believe it or not, even though the Red Sox came back after being down 3-1 in the ALCS. Nobody makes note of how rare a feat this is, probably because they came back from down 3-0 last time they were in the World Series. I don't have the stomach to analyze this World Series, and I would rather hear what the players themselves had to say in an informal internet setting, although I am inclined to note that while people say the Red Sox won't be cooling off before the World Series starts, the Rockies are now well rested. Additionally, I think it would be another knife in the Cleveland area's heart if Denver won comfortably in 4. And for whatever reason, it seems as though God has it out for Cleveland. Mr official prediction? Rockies in 5.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Could Twins fans see a familiar face at the hot corner?

In La Velle E. Neal III's collection of Twins notes today, he mentions that former Twin/Blue Jay/Brewer and current Canadian Corey Koskie is looking to return to baseball after a long layoff due to post concussion syndrome, and his option was just declined on Friday by the Brewers. Let's see, a former Twin who plays third base and hits from the right side of the plate can be had for cheap. I'm not saying that the Twins signing Koskie would be a good signing, so much as.... inevitable.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Cleveland-Denver rivalry lives!

Here's what I'm hoping happens tonight. I hope that Cleveland wins convincingly over Boston, and the media continues to talk about Joe Torre's departure from the Yankees and how Boston should have beaten the Indians if they just hadn't used Tim Wakefield in game 4. Then, the series itself would be a mishmash of stories involving Todd Helton, Colorado's magical run, and the Rockies team faith. If I were a Clevelander, I would be licking my chops.
It may come as a surprise, but Cleveland and Denver have one of the most heated, quiet sports rivalries out there. Just looking at the cities, you can see the dichotomy, and the almost movielike difference between the cities. You have Cleveland, the gritty industrial town, full of down on their luck, hard working blue collar citizens, and then you have Denver, picturesque, thriving as a commercial center, full of affluent white collar citizens. And time and time again, Denver kicks Cleveland in the stomach.
Look no further than the NFL, and the late 1980's. In 1987, the Browns and Broncos met in the AFC championship. The Browns were up 20-13 with 5 and a half minutes remaining. They had the Broncos right where they wanted them. And then this happened:

Certainly one of the most epic possessions in football history. The first kick to the city of Cleveland's collective gut. Fortunately, next year, they made it to the AFC Championship game again, facing their nemesis, the Broncos again. Running back Earnest Byner was running all over the Broncos, but Denver was ahead 38-31 with time winding down. Cleveland was driving, looking to make up for the previous season, and they had the ball at the Denver 8. They gave it to Byner again, he made it to the three, until:

The Fumble. I really think these two games crippled the entire Cleveland psyche. Sure, the Indians came around, becoming the dominant team in the AL Central, even making the World Series twice. How much of the losing mentality learned in those years against Denver still lingered with the crowd, though, as in the same year Denver won the first of their two Super Bowls, the Indians lost their second World Series, this to the Marlins, a 4 year old team from Florida. their first loss was to the Atlanta Braves, who had a pattern of losing when it really mattered. Until, of course, they played Cleveland.
Around the turn of the century, both cities stopped being relative in most competitions, until the 2003 NBA draft, when the Cleveland Cavaliers had the first pick, with a hometown hero, Lebron James, the top player available. But this draft was stacked. There were two players of particular note in this draft, James, and Syracuse freshman Carmelo Anthony. And of course, where do you think Anthony went? The Denver Nuggets picked him third. Now, while both the Cavs and the Nuggets are successful, Anthony hasn't shown up to any Rockies games wearing paraphernalia of the opponents.
So yeah, I think a Cleveland-Colorado World Series would be delightful. The Rockies are getting all the headlines, and they certainly seem like the team of destiny, sweeping their way to the World Series. They'll be more than happy to tell you that they are blessed, although I find it hard to believe that God is really all that interested in baseball (or football for that matter, Jon Kitna) when there are seemingly bigger things to worry about. The Indians would come in much more quietly, with their opponents having received all the headlines. The Yankees, out of the playoffs, have been making headlines all week, and the news out of the ALCS is all Red Sox oriented. It seems that people have already tacitly ordained the Rockies as the World Champions. How sweet would it be if Cleveland could finally stick it to Denver?

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Friday, October 19, 2007

The NHL is doing just fine, thank you

In the most recent issue of ESPN the Magazine, (the October 22nd edition with Willie Parker on the cover) Peter Keating's "The Biz" articleon page 12 has some perhaps stunning news for everyone out there, including, probably, his employer. Financially, the NHL is doing just fine.
Unfortunately, the article isn't online, but it has some interesting points, but the most fascinating was a graph in the bottom right corner that features leagues, their revenues and their TV contracts. The NHL ranks 4th, below the NBA but above NASCAR, which really isn't a surprise, but what is a surprise is the margin between the NBA and the NHL. The total revenue is 3.1 billion for the NBA and 2.2 billion for the NHL. The TV contracts are respectively 765 and 70 million dollars. If you can do the math, and even ignore the probably spike in merchandise sales, the only thing separating the NBA and NHL is their TV contracts, which means that the NHL is certainly doing something right.
Keating attributes this success to hockey's embracing and successful use of new avenues for providing their sports content, particularly the internet, with sites Google video getting the highest attribution. Additionally, attendance is through the roof across the nation in hockey arenas, and ticket sales have always been the main source of hockey revenue. So who cares if the TV revenue isn't there? Everyone knows that hockey games are better in person anyways.
(One potentially unmentioned factor in the NHL's surprisingly high revenue is their popularity overseas and in Canada. With so many players from Europe, that has to factor into some merchandising revenue, I would suspect. Additionally, TSN's contract with the NHL is unlisted. Even so, the results are surprising, to say the least.)


My College Football Tournament Plan

The first BCS poll was released this week, and the way the college football season has gone so far this year, it seems like we could be potentially be on a collision course of about 10 1-loss teams vying for the 2 spots in the national title game. The polls will be biased, people will complain, someone will get left out, and we'll have the same old story all over again. Ryan already wrote a preemptive strike against this post 2 days ago, but I have a plan that I think will work and some counterpoints for Ryan...

My plan is pretty simple. Much like the NCAA basketball tournament, take all 11 division 1-A conference champions and 5 at-large teams to make a 16 team tournament. The 5 at large teams would be the top 5 teams in the BCS that did not win a conference championship. The seeding in the tournament would be the order they finished in the BCS, regardless of whether or not they won the conference title. This method only essentially allows the poll makers to choose 5 teams to play for the national title because the 11 conference champs are out of their control. There could be some complaints over the at large spots but the last team out would more than likely be a team that already lost to 1 or 2 of the teams that make the tournament.

Ryan addressed this format in his post, saying that including all conference champions would have anti-climatic games. In the first round, yes, there probably would be some, but the NCAA basketball tournament has plenty as well, and for that matter, who really cares? I'd like to see this tournament happen mostly for entertainment value alone. The college basketball tournament is one of the most entertaining events in sports because you can cheer on the underdogs in the first 2 rounds and then see some spectacular matchups in the later rounds. This is exactly what you would see in this tournament. While the #1 seed would get to throttle the MAC champion in the first round, they would then (for example if the favorites won below) have to beat the Pac-10, SEC, and Big East champs 3 weeks in a row to win the title. Also, speaking of the MAC champion, Ryan mentioned that the Motor City Bowl is their way of getting media attention each year. In my tournament, instead of facing the 7th place team in the Big Ten on ESPN2 sometime around Christmas, they would get to play against a national powerhouse that, if they were to win, would bring an unbelievable amount of attention to their little liberal arts school conference. And if they get blown out? It's not really a big deal, because no one expects them to win anyways. The MAC gets plenty of chances during the regular season to beat crappy Big Ten teams, so what's the point of letting them do it again?

I don't want to get rid of the bowl system as it is today, and my no means would a tournament make the bowls obsolete. Why? Because all bowl games except for the BCS national championship game are completely meaningless already. A matchup between the 4th place ACC team and 5th place SEC team is meaningless. When Purdue had a magical season and went to the Rose Bowl 7 years ago, it was meaningless. The BCS system as it is today sets up a national title game and the winner of that 1 game is the national champion. All other games are just glorified exhibitions with only pride on the line. I don't see any reason to get rid of these games with a tournament in place, because once again, they can be entertaining, and good for the players. These games could make nice weekday filler between the Saturday tournament games.

Speaking of logistics, I'm not even going to get into the academic argument, because it is absolutely ridiculous. Most big time college football players only take school seriously enough to remain academically eligible, and it works in basketball with a much more hectic schedule. This system wouldn't add too many extra games either. All 16 of the teams that qualify would make it to a bowl, so only the 8 first round winners would play more games than usual, with just 4 teams playing 2 extra games, and 2 teams playing 3 extra. As for the games themselves, I would propose rotating the semi-finals and championship game between Pasadena, Miami, and Glendale each year and have a semi-home field advantage for the higher seeds in the first 2 rounds. I got into more details on this last year on Is It Sports? but I think it would be interesting for each conference to have a home "neutral" location to host the game to save on some travel for the teams most likely to advance deep into the tournament.

So if the season ended after this past week's ranks, here is how the tournament would look. I guess we'll see where South Florida stands next week after their loss tonight. I broke conference title and multiple division ties based on higher BCS rank for now, but by the end of the season we'll have clear cut conference champs.

ACC: Boston College (3)
Big 12: Oklahoma (5)
Big East: South Florida (2)
Big Ten: Ohio State (1)
C-USA: Tulsa (NR)
MAC: Central Michigan (NR)
Mountain West: BYU (NR)
PAC-10: Arizona State (8)
SEC: LSU (4)
Sun Belt: Troy (NR)
WAC: Hawaii (18)

At Large Teams: South Carolina (6), Kentucky (7), West Virginia (9), Oregon (10), Virginia Tech (11)

First Round Matchups
#1 Ohio State vs. #16 Central Michigan
#8 Arizona State vs. #9 West Virginia
#4 LSU vs. #13 BYU
#5 Oklahoma vs. #12 Hawaii
#3 Boston College vs. #14 Troy
#6 South Carolina vs. #11 Virginia Tech
#7 Kentucky vs. #10 Oregon
#2 South Florida vs. #15 Tulsa


Thursday, October 18, 2007

The BCS is out, and -- WHAT?!

The BCS polls are out, as was noted yesterday, and Log's Blog had a chance to breakdown the rankings, and it turns out that an old favorite here at the Times is ranked # 18 in one computer poll. That's right, North Warhawks State is the #18 team in all the land according to Jeff Saarin's adjusted rankings. People seemed shocked by this, naturally, but is it more preposterous that the Bison are #18 in a computer poll or that South Florida is #2 in a couple of the human polls?

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An argument against an NCAA Football playoff

With the release of the BCS rankings, the fervor has returned, with many people, heck, most people (including Steve, who will have a post on the topic later this week) clamoring for some sort of post season tournament in college football. I, for one, am typically a big fan of tournaments, but in this instance, I am staunchly opposed, and I hope I can illustrate why clearly.
Playoffs and tournaments work in other sports for different reasons. In the two most logical comparable sports, NCAA basketball and the NFL, they work for two different reasons that wouldn't work for NCAA football. In college basketball, the tournament field is so vast that they can include roughly 20% of all teams playing in Division 1, which would then include conference champions from all conferences as well as the elite teams that didn't win their conference. To do this in college football, you would need to include at least 20 teams which, at best, means a tournament that would last around a month and a half.
In the NFL, the league is small enough that teams play 40% of the other teams in the league at least once, making their record a viable measure as to whether or not they should make the playoffs compared to another team. In order for simple record to work as a metric as far as putting an NCAA team in a tournament, following the NFL model, teams would have to play about 50 games a season, ensuring that they play 50 different teams. And again, the NFL uses all division champions, and the percentage of teams making the NFL playoffs is even greater than those that make an NCAA tournament, in terms of playoff teams to teams in the given league.
Which brings me to my main point. A tournament doesn't serve to remove the arbitrariness that comes with the BCS. If you want to create, for example, a month long, 16 team tournament with the conference champions (there are 11 conferences in Division 1-A) and 5 at large teams, or a shorter, 8 team tournament with the most elite teams you have created a pair of new problems. With the first example, you have eliminated the chance at many premier matchups by infusing conference champions into the mix, which will lead to several anticlimactic games. Football (this season aside) tends to yield fewer major upsets than basketball, so Cinderellas are a lot less likely. With the 8 team tournament, how do you choose your 8 teams? Aren't you beset with the same problems as the current 2 team championship game? The 9th team will have the same complaints as a 3rd ranked team today. And really, how would you feel about, say, Oklahoma, a team who lost to Colorado, having as much a chance at the national title as a number of undefeated teams? The present set up punishes teams severely for slip ups like that.
Another thing that's nice about the bowls is that it gets conferences that aren't typically in the media limelight their 15 seconds. The Motor City Bowl often is the validation for the MAC. What happens to the MAC champion in the event of a tournament? Do they get unceremoniously throttled every year, or do they get nothing, save for a spot in an archaic bowl that's less important than the NIT? Additionally, by playing in the smaller conferences, several of these teams are eliminated from any hope of glory before the season starts, thanks to polling biases.
Now, I'm not just going to go out and spout off about why I think the tournament is a bad idea, but I will provide a couple of ideas to make the Bowl system work a little better. First, get rid of human polls until about week 8, until we've had a chance to watch everyone play. This should eliminate a lot of bias in the final poll, especially if the human polls are reduced in weight in the final computer standings. Secondly, to better gauge the talent of one team, one conference to the next, have one or two league mandated non conference game to supplement the cupcake games on the schedule. We learned a lot more about Ohio State last year when they beat Texas than when they beat Bowling Green, so why can't we just have a couple more major conference games? I know the big programs are afraid of losing, but if you think your team is a title contender, shouldn't these game be a non issue? I think randomly assigned non conference games would be informative and certainly helpful in deciding which teams should play the national championship.
Personally, I think with a tournament, you haven't crowned a national champion, but rather a tournament champion, given the arbitrary nature that would be inherent in selecting teams to compete for a title. If we keep the Bowl system, we are left with 20some excellent matchups (if, granted, not always with the best teams) because Bowl organizers' jobs are to put butts in seats. With a tournament, we may not see the number of unique or entertaining games as we would in a tournament, depending on the format. I know I'm in the minority on this topic, but I hope I made my argument clear. Let me know what you think in the comments, or if you would like me to clarify anything. I wrote this at 4 in the morning after all.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Week 6 NFL Power Ranks

Week 6 wrapped up this evening, with the New York Football Giants (which hasn't needed to be specified in almost 50 years) defeating the Falcons. After I put my original ranks up after week 2, Ryan commented that the Giants should be proud of themselves for cracking the top 25. How things have changed. After 4 straight impressive wins, the Giants sit on top of the NFC ranks, #5 overall. With Vinny Testeverde at QB, its hard to believe the Panthers beat the supposedly "red-hot" Cardinals this week. Can you believe they are 4-2? The computerized power ranks are having a hard time believing too, putting them at #12, just ahead of the 2-3 Eagles. New England took over the #2 spot by knocking off former #2, Dallas. The talk is starting now if this team can go 16-0, but they still sit behind the Colts in my ranks due to how horrible their division is. This possible "problem" with the rankings could be resolved in Indianapolis in a few weeks though. For now, I'm not buying into the talk of the Patriots possibly going 16-0, but instead I'm wondering why no one is talking about the more realistic chance of the Dolphins and/or Rams going 0-16. The Dolphins have an atrocious defense and an offense led by Cleo Lemon. The Rams are loaded with injuries and would have a hard time scoring on a high school much for the "Greatest Show on Turf." The Ewes are now the bottom feeders of the NFL after a listless performance against Matt Stover....err..I mean Baltimore. We have another big matchup coming this weekend with the #1 Colts taking on the #3 Jaguars. So far this season, we've already had a 1-2, a 2-3, and a 1-3, so we'll see if that continues. Here they are....

1. Colts - 89.32 - Even
2. Patriots - 80.51 - +1
3. Jaguars - 78.39 - +4
4. Steelers - 72.28 - Even
5. Giants - 69.87 - +4
6. Packers - 69.82 - +2
7. Cowboys - 69.24 - -5
8. Buccaneers - 61.99 - +3
9. Redskins - 60.73 - -4
10. Titans - 60.02 - -4
11. Ravens - 59.54 - +2
12. Panthers - 59.17 - +3
13. Eagles - 53.54 - +7
14. Chargers - 52.44 - +7
15. Texans - 50.84 - -5
16. Chiefs - 50.76 - +6
17. Browns - 49.50 - +2
18. Lions - 48.24 - -1
19. Cardinals - 46.91 - -1
20. Vikings - 43.79 - +3
21. Seahawks - 43.76 - -7
22. Raiders - 42.61 - -4
23. Bears - 39.90 - -7
24. 49ers - 34.95 - +1
25. Broncos - 32.65 - +1
26. Bengals - 30.14 - -2
27. Falcons - 29.31 - +1
28. Bills - 28.94 - -1
29. Saints - 28.80 - +2
30. Jets - 23.84 - -1
31. Dolphins - 16.10 - +1
32. Rams - 14.77 - -1

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Minnesota doing something right

In the furor of football, both college and pro and the baseball playoffs, I just wanted to mention one thing. The Minnesota Fightin' Adjectives are the only undefeated team left in the NHL! This, of course, has everything to do with Niklas Backstrom being a force between the pipes. (Mostly, I wanted to throw up a hockey post to show Kevin that I knew what I was talking about, despite the decidedly less than all hockey content here.)


Sunday, October 14, 2007

The vicious Purdue cycle

It happened again, and once again, I was lulled into the trap. Let me explain what trap I fell into by guiding you through the 2004 season. How much it mirrors the current season is frightening. The only thing that will make it different is that we won't be able to go to the Sun Bowl, since the Big Ten no longer has an affiliation with that game. I was beginning to think Joe Tiller had a time share in El Paso. Anyways. Here it is.
Purdue started by blowing out there first two non conference opponents, Syracuse and Ball State, teams that can be feisty if in the right season, but weren't so much in '04. The Boilers were riding high. Then, they narrowly edged Illinois in what should have been a wake up call for everyone, but nobody woke up, and the game was forgotten after Purdue rolled over Notre Dame, who was having a down year. The fifth game was another game against a team having a down year, but still, Penn State was a big name and everyone was feeling the Purdue love as they headed into a huge home game against Wisconsin. Gameday showed up, Purdue was ranked #5, Kyle Orton was smelling the Heisman already. Under the lights, however, especially at home, Purdue is 0 for the millennium. They were getting ready to put the Badgers away when Kyle Orton fumbled, it was picked up by the Badgers and returned for a touchdown. It was horrible. Everyone in the stadium thought the call was blown (though it was not) and this play was the beginning of the end.
Their next game, at home against Michigan, was your typical let down game, and their dynamic offense was nowhere to be found, with Kyle Orton's mind still on that 4th quarter fumble against Wisconsin. The next week, they did the unthinkable for a team that had previously considered itself a contender for a bid in the Rose Bowl, losing at Northwestern, and again at Iowa, who was ranked, however Purdue was devoid of any offensive spark.
They came around at the end of the season and beat Ohio State and Indiana at home to get bowl eligible, but the damage was done. They looked fairly helpless against Arizona State in their traditional Sun Bowl appearance, despite what the score said. Now let's flash forward to 2007.
First, they started the season by blowing out their non conference opponents, Central Michigan and Toledo, who in the past few years have proven to be feisty. Then they went to Minnesota, and though they beat the Gophers handily, there were certainly signs that trouble was brewing, as the defense let the Gophers back in the game in the second half. All this was forgotten as the Boilers beat Notre Dame the next week.
So now Purdue was 5-0 and had a date with the class of the Big Ten, this year, Ohio State. Curtis Painter, while not turning the ball over, still allowed the Buckeyes stifling defense to get in his head. I think the 10th or 11th punt will count as the "Orton fumble" type of breaking point for Curtis. No doubt, the game was heartbreaking for Purdue fans who thought their team was on to something. The next week, the Boilermakers played Michigan and got throttled in your classic letdown game. The only two differences between this years game and the one in '04 was that this game was in Ann Arbor and Purdue's defense is terrible this year.
So, now we have a quarterback who is rapidly turning into a headcase, a team with no spirit and a broken fan base. In fact, I find myself hoping Purdue loses out so they don't get embarrassed in a bowl game.
Well, the next two weeks are against Iowa and Northwestern (both at home, but at this point, I don't think it matters), and then they have a game at Penn State, which, following the same cycle, should be when the Boilers wake up. They'll win at home in their final home game of the season again Michigan State. Undoubtedly, Joe Tiller will try to force some sort of quarterback controversy after their next couple of game, with the back up giving we Boilermakers just enough hope to believe in them next year. That, my friends, is the vicious Purdue cycle.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Get out there and hug someone

I tell you what. We in the blogosphere can get pretty cynical and downright mean sometimes, and I feel a little bad about it. Anyone that knows me knows that I'm all about love (and a little bit about meteorology, but thats not the point), and I've strayed from that a recently. Good thing that Kellen Winslow Jr. is there, reminding us that sometimes, we just need a hug, as he suggests for Joey Porter. What a swell guy Kellen is. So you know what? This weekend, go out and hug someone. That's your mission. Tell 'em a soldier sent you. (And if the police come, don't mention us)


Friday, October 12, 2007

Small Town News

It's been a rough week or so for me. First, Steve beats me in our fantasy baseball championship series. This is what happens when you are loaded with Mets. Second, my baseball picks just went to hell. It's really bad when Dick Vitale beats you at this (or anything, really). Then there was the whole Stu Scott fiasco, and now Jesse Boulerice is just helping Scott's cause. I lost every fantasy sport available to me last week as well. Pro Football? Check. Pro football pick 'em? Check. College football pick 'em? Check (4/15! I should never gamble). Hockey? Double Check. Although, in one league I've been to focused on preparing for my matchup against Kevin from Melrose Rocks. I'm coming for you and Jeremy Roenick can't save you now.
So anyways, I don't particularly care to talk about sports right now. I DO want to talk about Victoria, since we haven't done that in far too long. Let's crack open the paper, shall we? Again, for a refresher, since readership has about sextupled since the last time we did this, the paper I'm referring to is local to Victoria, Minnesota, and I'm so hard on it, I won't name it. The editor, whom I call Celine Dion, because nobody likes Celine Dion, has total ownership of it. I personally call the paper the Celine Dion Newsletter, but nobody understands. So let's pick this piece of biased journalism to shreds, shall we?
Actually, my mom and dad were recently in the paper for being on the winning team for a local golf tournament (athleticism does run in my genes!) only to find that the online version doesn't run pictures. While poking around that part of the site, I decided to look at the notes and quotes and was delighted to see this one, from someone on the ETWN named Mark Cristina: "There was global warming before people inherited the earth." First off, thank you, person with no scientific background giving a quote that doesn't make any sense. And I thought the church had an anti-evolution type of stance, if I was not mistaken? How was there earth before humans? The second bit of thanks goes to Celine, of course, for printing an obviously biased quote that shows exactly why I don't like her. Where is the sciencey type person to refute Mr. Cristina's quote? Anywhere? Well, the Church has always been the bastion for good science, so I guess we should take the ETWN's word for it. (Note: I'm a Catholic!)
The next step, as always, is to meander over to the letters to the editor, where the only real news actually takes place. In it, we learn that the Harman Retail Nursery is now open. (Celine will not be writing a story.) A Victoria resident was killed in a motorcycle accident, and frankly, the writer or the letter could have spared some of the gruesome details. (Celine will not be writing a story.) The Mayor wrote a letter regarding some communique between her and the Lieutenant Governor regarding the Highway 5 bridge and it's safety rating (49.1, which is only slightly below grade). With the recent attention given to Minnesota bridges, as well as the intended expansion of 5, this is an important issue. (Celine will not be writing a story.) There were awards and benefit announcements throughout the letters section. (Celine will not be writing a story.) There were several letters that were clearly not intended to be printed in the paper, and had the feel of personal notes, written to her or the business in general. (Celine MAY be writing a story.)
In the City Hall portion of the paper, Celine goes back to her favorite issue, the Highway 5 -Park Drive intersection, which she once called the most dangerous intersection in the county. Of course, I've never even heard of an accident there, and there is absolutely truth to the rumor that she has to turn at that intersection. She gets pretty livid, even using italics, to note that the City Council will not be applying for funding to study that intersection. The nerve! The town spending their money wisely instead of responding to your pet issue?! But how will the intersection ever become not dangerous? Oh. Right. It's already not. Although Councilmember Richard Tieden believes it is. Says Tieden, "It's a dangerous intersection." I stand corrected.
There was a lot of talk about Steve Sarvi, City Administrator, and his recent return from Iraq, which is applauded. There was some hubbub about a new policy regarding city employees that I admittedly didn't understand but which Sarvi was in the middle of. The end had a little bit of bad news. Steve had kidney stones! Exactly what he wanted the town to know.

So on that note, I leave you with the news that mostly, the rest of the paper is boring nonsense that nobody would ever intentionally read about, much less write about. So, with that, I'm done.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Recipe For Success?

The NLCS has just begun, and I noticed some strange parallels....

Florida Marlins
- Founded in 1993
- Because of the 1994 strike, won the World Series in their 4th full season, 1997, over the Cleveland Indians
- The 1997 team was mostly high paid veterans with a first year manager and had Livan Hernandez
- Reduced the use of their feminine teal in 2003 in favor of black
- Won their 2nd World Series 6 years after their first in 2003 over the New York Yankees
- The 2003 team had younger, career Marlins and a couple of key veterans

Arizona Diamondbacks
- Founded in 1998
- Won the World Series in their 4th full season, 2001, over the New York Yankees
- The 2001 team was mostly high paid veterans with a first year manager
- Dropped the use of their feminine purple in 2007 in favor of red and black
- Has a chance to win their 2nd World Series 6 years after their first in 2007 over the Marlins' first victim, the Cleveland Indians
- The 2007 team has younger, career D-Backs and a couple of key veterans, one of which is Livan Hernandez

So that's the blueprint for success. If an expansion team were to join the league next year, they should have pink uniforms and pay a bunch of veterans (including Livan Hernandez) and a new manager a lot of money in 2011 to win the World Series, then in 2017, change their colors to black and red and have a bunch of younger players. It won't start a dynasty, but it will give you as many world titles as the Cubs....

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Week 5 Power Ranks

Week 5 is in the books, and at the end, there are 3 undefeateds left standing. Not many people would have New England ranked 3rd of those 3 teams, but my formula puts them there. They've been impressive against their opponents, but none have been very impressive in the win column this season. Also, they are well on their way to getting 6 easy wins against a terrible division this year. I'm interested to see how the Pats do against the #2 Cowboys this weekend. The Colts will likely remain on top during their bye week, but the winner will have a commanding hold on 2nd. The biggest gainers this week were Washington, who destroyed a feisty Lions team and jumped all the way up to #5 overall and Chicago, who knocked off the previously unbeaten Packers in Lambeau, with Brian Griese no less! The biggest loser was Seattle, who dropped 7 spots after being shut out by the Steelers and falling into a first place tie with the Cardinals. Meanwhile, two former top 10 teams, Denver and San Francisco, continue their spiral into the pit of despair at #25 and #26. The 3 winless teams each came close to winning this week, and stayed in the order they were in last week. The Dolphins are .08 points behind the Saints, so Ryan suggests all they need to do is get drunk next week to climb out of last. On to the ranks....

1. Colts - 90.70 - Even
2. Cowboys - 81.56 - Even
3. Patriots - 79.85 - +1
4. Steelers - 71.89 - +1
5. Redskins - 71.55 - +7
6. Titans - 71.07 - +2
7. Jaguars - 70.69 - +2
8. Packers - 67.38 - -5
9. Giants - 62.07 - +4
10. Texans - 60.44 - Even
11. Buccaneers - 57.70 - -5
12. Cardinals - 56.72 - +2
13. Ravens - 56.54 - +4
14. Seahawks - 51.19 - -7
15. Panthers - 48.09 - +1
16. Bears - 47.46 - +8
17. Lions - 47.03 - -6
18. Raiders - 46.42 - Even
19. Browns - 46.39 - -4
20. Eagles - 46.13 - +2
21. Chargers - 42.09 - +5
22. Chiefs - 41.51 - -3
23. Vikings - 38.53 - Even
24. Bengals - 37.21 - +1
25. 49ers - 35.34 - -5
26. Broncos - 32.96 - -5
27. Bills - 28.69 - +1
28. Falcons - 28.29 - -1
29. Jets - 25.81 - Even
30. Rams - 17.05 - Even
31. Saints - 14.14 - Even
32. Dolphins - 14.06 - Even

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The best week of the season

It's been a topsy turvy, peculiar week here at the Times, and I think its good to embrace our routines, such as the Tuesday NFL review. So let's embrace the best week of the season. It's the only week of the year that we get a full slate of games and aren't stuck having to watch the Vikings.

I had to work overnight Saturday to Sunday, but still set my alarm for noon so I could catch the Jets-Giants game. I'm really trying to remember something from this game, but I mostly fell asleep during it. I do remember waking up in time to see Chad Pennington throw an interception. It seems like I hear about how good Pennington is supposed to be, and how Jets fans are unnecessarily harsh on him, but then I watch and, well, he sucks. If Thomas Jones did anything though, maybe Pennington wouldn't get annihilated every time he stepped back in the pocket.

So, after seeing so little of the early game, my folks came over and the baseball game came on, which limited what I was able to see of the afternoon games. From what I saw of the Chargers-Broncos gane, I established that the Broncos may not be so good. The other conclusion would be that Norv Turner figured things out and is running the Chargers well now. But I don't think that's possible.

A conclusion can also be drawn from the Colts game. The offense has it so well put together that you can plug any running back in there (Kenton Keith?!?) and they'll be all right. In some teams where this happens, you would pin the credit on the line, but is it possible that Peyton Manning really is so good that the running game is reliant on Manning as well? It would make the Colts a 2-14 team if he ever went down. (Residual pessimism from Purdue? Yes. How do you rush 3 and drop 8 on 3rd and 6 in your own zone in the first quarter against a perennial rushing team? I'm more of an online GM than coach, but seriously, I'm having trouble seeing why this makes sense at all, let alone why you would do it twice.)

The difference between Brett Favre in weeks 1-4 and his game against Chicago was that he played like ass against Chicago. This really wasn't a corner turned by the Bears, but it may signal the beginning of the end for the Packers season. Of course, who can catch up to them? I really don't have anything else to say about this game. Anyone watch Boston Legal tonight?

I don't have any patented Bills jokes to make, because I haven't seen them play in about 8 years. That being said, they don't have an offense. The Cowboys and Tony Romo played brutally all day, turning it over 6 games but still won, simply because the Bills couldn't score any points offensively. But yes, its good to know Buffalo still has a team.

(Photo courtesy the Washington Post)


An exclusive interview with Stu Scott?

We've had some fun here with Stuart Scott in the past, but the fact remains, he's still a high paid, influential sports journalist. Well, the other night, I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions recently. Here we go.

Good to see you Mr. Scott. I want to first ask you your opinion on Barry Bonds.

Thanks, dog, good to talk to you. You know, he's leaving the Giants after a great career there. Big ups to my man Barry.

You don't think his career there has been tainted by steroid allegations?

I haven't seen any proof of his guilt. All I see is a great hitter doing big things.

What about his trainer who is in jail for refusing to give grand jury testimony?

How is that evidence? Since when did grand juries become law?


Now, take a look at someone like Jay Gibbons, that monster, who has actually been linked to a pharmacy that provides steroids.

Wasn't Bonds linked to BALCO?

To what now?

Never mind. Let's talk about football. Who do you have?

Well, the Eagles are clearly the class of the league, with my dog D-Mac in charge. Clearly, he's the best quarterback in the league. Nothing can stop them. Booyah!

Besides the Packers right? Or the Redskins or Giants? And it looks to me like the Patriots are unstoppable, and that Tom Brady might be the best quarterback in the league.

He would be nothing without Randy Moss. That dude is so Now.

Any thoughts on the beginning of hockey season?

Ho-what? Just playin'. I think they really need to inspect that league. It's entirely too brutal to be shown on television, with all the fighting and hits. I think they really have a problem with violence.

Uh. Sure. So, who is your favorite athlete?

Muhammad Ali, all time favorite. Currently Pacman Jones. He's fast and exciting. Too bad he's not playing.

You do recognize the irony right? Muhammad Ali fought and Pacman Jones hits. And shoots bouncers. Or, his posse shoots bouncers.

Hockey players are out of control thugs. Pacman is just a misguided soul.

What the hell? Wait. You haven't made a single logical point the entire interview.

Are you a racist?


You're a racist! This interview's over! I want to talk to your manager. You should be suspended for your yellow journalism.

Wait. What?!

[Scott leaves and the door slams. The end]

So yeah. That didn't go well. I'm expecting a letter from Google any time now, telling me that I can no longer blog here. So, if this is farewell, it's been a great ride.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

You have receive me a half gift?

I love the internet. You remember that post you skimmed over and didn't read the other day about me going to a couple random sporting events? Well, someone found it interesting enough to translate into German. I don't care if this was likely done by a robot. My mug is now in the middle of a nonsensical German post.
I translated the German back to English as well. Among the highlights: In German, this blog is title "The Victoria measures time". The phrase "Sun Belt Conference Clash" translates to Sonnenbandkonferenzgeklirr, which I sincerely hope you can work into conversation the next time you are in Hamburg. Lastly, I found it interesting that they had problems translating the word "racism" into German.
I really could reread this thing all day. I love the internet


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Local independant television makes me sad

I've spent too much time lately rambling on and on about various sports and certain other things I'm sure I'm the only one who cares about. Do you actually care that I'll be in Alabama in March? Probably not. Unless you want to come with me.
I want to mention something else today, something that has been bothering me for some time now. When I was unemployed at the beginning of the year, I would spend my weekday afternoons engrossed in the KSTC afternoon lineup. It went like this: 2:00 Hawaii 5-0, 3:00 Magnum P.I. That's really all you need for a happy afternoon until ESPN wakes up and you can watch Around the Horn or any number of afternoon game shows, or you know, talk to people. If you started watching TV a little too early, you could catch Mary Tyler Moore at 1 and an infomercial at 130. The best was Yoga Booty Ballet. Usually I watched Law and Order or something on TNT.
But then KSTC went and did something ridiculous. First, they replaced Magnum P.I. with Little House on the Prairie. In what universe does that make any sense? When is a Conestoga Wagon more popular than a Ferrari? Who would rather watch people struggling with a butter churner than a suave detective help out a sexy supermodel who has got herself into trouble in a tropical paradise? I daresay no one.
I pretty much stopped watching after that, losing touch with McGarret and Dan-o and his radiant green suits on 5-0 which is really a shame. Imagine my surprise then, when I went back to check it out and it had been replaced by, of all things, Little House on the Prairie. What. Unbelievable. After a little research, I discovered that they wedged in 2 episodes of the Cosby show and just shifted LHOTP and 5-0 up an hour. So that's what I'm left with. I have to be sure to catch the high tension antics of 5-0 at noon, and then I would be left with a void for the rest of the afternoon. You're killing me KSTC.

I think this counts as sports, since KSTC carries Wild games. Right? And if you want something a little more in depth, well, how about this thought? Utah is the finder of all teams overrated this year, after beating UCLA and Louisville. The Bruins and Cardinals have each lost a game to someone who is clearly bad, and Utah then beat them both. Something to think about.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Operation: Unusual Travel Plans initiated

If you've been around for a while, then perhaps you remember that every year, (this being the second year) I pick 2 games, at random, so long as they are NCAA basketball, NCAA football, the NFL, MLB, or NHL, in which to attend. I added this to my plan to attend the Twins game played on my birthday. This year, the games were Valparaiso at Missouri-Kansas City in a January basketball contest. A couple weeks later, we tracked St. Bonaventure's trip to Temple. That was a 5 post instant message nightmare. Lastly, I took a trip to Chicago to watch the Twins play the White Sox in a a game that was canceled because of cold.
So, I set the date for picking a new set of games at October 5th, which is my half birthday (did you get me a half present?), and conveniently, many of the schedules are or will soon be released. As scheduled, yesterday I picked the games for me to travel to. And I will be traveling this year.
How did I get my games, you may be asking. You also may be asking what the hell is wrong with me. I have an answer to only one of those questions. First, I collect all of the teams in the 5 leagues I would care to see in person, the NCAA both D-1 basketball and D 1-A football, the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NHL, and I have my computer randomly select one of them. It's heavily weighted, of course, towards NCAA basketball, but thats fine, because there are a lot of games you would never see on TV, and I would rather vacation in the winter anyways. Next, I have the computer randomly select the game for me to go to. I do that twice, and then I'm ready to go. So let's get to those games then.
My first selection was the Denver University basketball team, and their 25th game of the season. This seems like an easy process, but lo, Denver is playing the Coaches Versus Cancer classic, and while they are assigned at least 2 games, in Oklahoma, if they win both, if they can defeat cancer, then they will get additional games in New York City. If the Pioneers can get themselves to New York, this means, I will travel to North Texas to watch the Pioneers play the Mean Green in a Sun Belt conference clash. If they can win while in New York, I'll go catch the Pioneers at home against Louisiana-Lafayette or Troy, depending on how many wins they get. If we go by the conventional wisdom, that Denver won't win at Oklahoma, this means my first game is set as a Sun Belt conference clash between the Denver Pioneers and the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, in Monroe, Louisiana.

Now, let's have a word about me. I grew up in, and still live in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Minneapolis and St. Paul are some of the whitest cities this side of Moscow. You would think there is an undercurrent of racism, perhaps, in cities as homogeneous as these, but really, the only common stereotypes we have of African Americans here in the Cities is that black people play center field and chase high fastballs. That being said, I would feel out of place, say, at a Historically Black College. It's just a totally different situation than I've ever been in. Fortunately, I went to Purdue, where there actually is ethnic diversity, because the second school I picked was Alabama State, and their 29th game, which happens to be the season finale at home against Jackson State, who actually made the tournament last year. Again, Historically Black College basketball game. Me in attendance. For reference:
So, that'll be a new experience for me. Jackson State at Alabama State in Montgomery is my second game.

I was sort of hoping that I might pick up a school or two with their own bloggers, maybe find out a thing or two about the schools and the teams, but I haven't been able to find any. The second thing I wanted, was for people to go with me. If there is anyone who wants to go to Monroe, Louisiana and watch some basketball on February 16th, drop me a line. Likewise to anyone who wants to go to Montgomery, Alabama on March 8th.
Now, you may be asking why I do this? Well, for one, I just like traveling, and I don't care where to. It's exciting this trip, though, because I've never been to Louisiana or Montgomery. More importantly, I like watching games. There's nothing like the atmosphere of seeing a game in person, and there is a different atmosphere in every arena or stadium, and along with it, every game has a different story. Like I said, I like watching the games. sometimes in the fervor of ESPN, the blogosphere, and overwhelming statistical analysis, we forget that we like watching these sports. It's probably a good idea for any sports fan to every once in a while to just get out to a game to enjoy yourself, and not necessarily live and die by it, or be overly cynical. You can see somethign exciting at every game, be it Dee Ayuba helping to lead the UMKC Kangaroos back in overtime, or Mark Tynsdale leading Temple to the century mark as he and his teamates drain three after three. I'm excited to go to these games, if you couldn't tell.


Purdue versus Ohio State

Steve just gave me a call as he and our friends A.J. and Jesse were walking to the Boilers-Buckeyes game. As A.J. reports:

There are so many [expletives] here wearing [expletive] red sweater vests! I'll throat punch you if I ever see you in a red sweater vest, Ryan.

So yeah, big game tonight.
(The rest of the call involved A.J. telling me how I had to impregnate a Mormon and telling me I always brough home the best looking girls at Purdue. I'm not sure he knew who he was talking to. Yeah, he was pretty wasted)


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Friday, October 05, 2007

The only thing that could make this better is ice cream

Since I have a gigantic announcement* tomorrow, and Steve put up an excellent post yesterday, I don't really feel like getting myself worked up enough to write anything riveting today. Instead, I will point you in the direction of 3 other excellent reads/stories worth taking a look at if you get some free time today.

First, Doug Mientkiewicz lost a battle with a cameraman before yesterdays game. Hard to believe he was injured there, but not, say, in this picture.

Epic Carnival is continuing their battle to see what the coolest jersey in sports is. Presently, it's that of the Minnesota Wild. But wait! They don't use that jersey anymore! See? This is why I don't like the lame red one they have opted for now. It's not even close to as cool as the old green.

Lastly, Bugs and Cranks wonders which Ryan Howard had the worst week. "Ryan is like a fake brother who steals your jeans."

*Not actually gigantic


Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Rockies Make Baseball More Fun

Since they hit the scene playing baseball at the football-famous Mile High Stadium back in 1993, the Rockies haven't been your average expansion team. Sure, they haven't won a World Series (or even 2 like their 1993 brothers, the Marlins) and this year is only their 2nd ever playoff appearance. In all reality, they've been pretty mediocre in their 15 year existence, but the way they have been mediocre has been great for the game of baseball....

It's a known fact that the air is thinner in Colorado, and the thought is it will cause a baseball to travel much farther when hit. The Rockies had three 20-home run guys on their expansion roster, including the immortal Charlie Hayes, and it just expanded from there. Two of their earliest stars, Andres Galarraga and Dante Bichette, saw their power numbers absolutely explode in the following years. In 1994, Galarraga and Bichette combined to hit 58 home runs even though they combined to miss 105 games due to injury. With the thin air theory being proven, Coors Field was opened in 1995 with larger than average dimensions featuring a 390 ft power alley and 415 ft to straight away center field.....but the homers kept coming. The Rockies had 4 30-homer guys in 1995 and 3 40-homer guys in 1996. As the old commercial said, chicks dig the long ball, and Coors Field quickly gained the reputation as a place where you were guaranteed to see a ton of offense, but it wasn't all from home runs....

The large dimensions in Coors Field to combat homers also pose another problem for pitchers (or benefit to the fans). There is a lot of room for line drives and fly balls that actually do not clear the fence to fall in for hits, or roll to the 415 sign for a triple or inside the park homer. Its a known fact that overall batting stats, including batting average, explode when a player goes to the Rockies. Rockies players have won 6 NL batting titles since they came into the league in 1993, and they had Tony Gwynn to compete with for most of the 90s. If you look up almost any mediocre player that played at least one full season for the Rockies over the past 15 years, their numbers stand out. Here are some quick examples:

Ellis Burks - 1996 - .344, 40 HR, 128 RBI
Jeff Cirillo - 2000 - .326, 11 HR, 115 RBI
Jeffrey Hammonds - 2000 - .335, 20 HR, 106 RBI
Jay Payton - 2003 - .302, 28 HR, 89 RBI

Another fun example in Vinny Castilla, who had 2 runs with the Rockies. As a full time player from 1995-1999, he averaged .302 with 38 HR and 112 RBI each season. He then bounced around the league the next few years averaging .250, 13 HR and 67 RBI. He then made a glorious 1 year return to Colorado in 2004 where he hit .271 with 35 HR and 131 nothing ever changed. It will be interesting to see when guys like Brad Hawpe and Garrett Atkins play elsewhere.

Besides the great entertainment value of watching all of this offense coming from one team, the Rockies have enhanced a baseball fan's experience in many other ways. A lot of great pitchers are afraid to go there, because they know their ERA will explode. Mike Hampton went there as a pretty decent pitcher, but all he was remembered for was almost breaking the single season home run record for a pitcher (as a hitter) while ruining his confidence on the mound. Another fun fact is the lore of the humidor. The Rockies have been putting balls in there before games in order to try to counteract the home runs, and it has actually worked to some extent. However, as I mentioned before, that doesn't prevent those balls that fall short from becoming doubles and triples. Also, we can never forget the fact that a freak June blizzard can knock out all baseball there for a week.

This year's Rockies have all of the fun features I mentioned above, but they are also by far the hottest team in baseball entering the playoffs and lead the NL East champ Phillies 2-0 in their divisional series. Just think, on September 15, they were 76-72 before they went on a 13-1 run to end the season and winning the most exciting 1 game playoff true Rockies fashion, 9-8. This great young offensive team brings a lot of excitement to the playoffs, and I'm hoping they have a long run.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A note from Boilerdowd

As many of you have probably picked up on, we here at the Victoria Times have come to enjoy Boiled Sports. The other day, Boilerdowd fired an e-mail in response to Steve's Notre Dame hate post last week. It turns out that HE hates Notre Dame too! Bloggers have so much in common. In any case, he like me, is a graduate of a Catholic high school and shares this anecdote about the frosty relationship between Notre Dame and Catholics who don't have gold coin swimming pools

My high school was sued by UND last year for using the leprechaun logo. CLC(Collegiate Licensing Corp.) now has control of UND's licensing. At one time, the priests and brothers at UND had an agreement that CHS could use the same leprechaun if they turned it the opposite direction. This "handshake" pact existed for about 50 years. Why? Because at one time, Cathedral and UND were both run by the same order of Brothers.During this period, in the early 1900s, there was a lot of cross-pollenization between the two institutions. In fact, Rockne supposedly coached a football game for Cathedral in 1918 or '19. In the early 1900s, UND was called the Catholics, and later, the Ramblers (their logo was a terrier). Rockne really liked Cathedral's use of the name "Fightin' Irish" and asked if his football team could adopt it...Without hesitation, the request was granted. Later, UND borrowed a CHS icon to go along with the name they had taken...the logo evolved into the leprechaun that UND now claims as solely theirs.I'm not sure how the Irish brigade legend came about, but I am pretty sure it's an example of revisionist history by UND.

Ah yes. Stay classy Notre Dame.

P.S., we will defintiely have something on the MLB postseason up tomorrowish.

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The MLB post season is here!

We'll have a full length post on the postseason a little bit later. Not necessarily a preview, but definitely longer than this. I just wanted to go on record with my predictions before actual baseball was played.

Phillies in 4.
Cubs in 3.
Angels in 5.
Yankees in 4.
Phillies in 6.
Angels in 7.
World Series
Angels in 5

That is all.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Norv Turner can be wrong half the time and still keep his job.

If you heard a great gasping, sucking sound on Sunday, that was my life force being smote. How do you make a day where you are blacked out of one of the three potential TV games worse? Make one of the games you are forced to watch be the Packers-Vikings! Even worse? Get guilted into a lame family reunion type of thing, in which people actually want to talk to you. By the way, a special message to everyone who knows a meteorologist. The "meteorologists can be wrong half the time and still keep their job" joke STILL isn't funny, and you aren't the first person to tell it to me. Today. Let's talk about the games that were.

Well, I didn't want to believe Simmons when he mentioned it, but Brett Favre is having a good statistical season because he actually is playing really well. He broke his touchdown record while actually playing phenomenally, which is really the only way to do it. While the Vikings are completely miserable and may only win one more game, because they play the Raiders at home, their defense is still quite formidable. Favre absolutely picked them apart. I can totally see Favre doing an Elway and finishing his career with a Super Bowl win if things continue as they are. In the meantime, the Vikings are broken in a way Brad Childress can't fix. Of course, I'm not sure Childress could fix himself a cheese sandwich, so I guess that's not saying a whole lot.

The Colts looked brutal on defense for much of the first half. Then Harrison went down. Then I left the confines of my parents house to come home, drove home not keeping tabs on the game because it goes against my superstitions, arrived at my place, turned on the TV and the Colts were winning by 15. THIS IS WHY I DON'T LISTEN TO GAMES IN THE CAR! But seriously, if the Colts continue to play crappy defense like what I saw, the Patriots should already be booking tickets to Phoenix for early February.

On Sunday night (last I checked that's still the official name, regardless of NBC lobbying to change the name of Sunday to Football) the Eagles went to New York to play the Giants in a heated NFC East match up which will be important later because oh my God I don't care about the NFC East and I'm sick of watching them and please stop showing them on national television, I'd rather watch the Lions. Ahem.

Let's mention the little spat between Chad Johnson and Carson Palmer. For all the attention that Johnson has received for his outspoken actions, and all the attention the Bengals have had for there less than stellar civil reputation, it's surprising, somewhat, that Johnson hasn't notably yapped at his quarterback until now. I would say that hey, this just goes with the territory for marquee receivers, or its just an extension of their incredibly poor team discipline, but given the relationship between Johnson and Palmer until now, I think it's just a reflection of the fact that everyone is frustrated and the Bengals are playing like crap right now.

Without further ado, then, a look at the official Victoria Times rankings after week 4. Steve tells me they should start to shake up next week, because momentum and recent play will be different than overall record, so these should become a little more interesting.....
As Ryan just mentioned, this week, the teams are once again more or less lined up by record, but that will change soon as momentum shifts and winning percentages become tighter as more games are played. This week, the Colts still top the list, again helped by the strength of their division, and the Dolphins are still in last after being humiliated at home by the Raiders. The biggest gainer was Arizona following their impressive win over Pittsburgh and the biggest losers were the 49ers, who have looked absolutely pathetic the past 2 weeks and now have to rely on Trent Dilfer and an Is It Sports/Victoria Times legend, Darrell Jackson. So without further ado...

1. Colts - 88.92 - Even
2. Cowboys - 81.24 - +4
3. Packers - 80.72 - Even
4. Patriots - 79.02 - +1
5. Steelers - 67.75 - -3
6. Buccaneers - 64.84 - +8
7. Seahawks - 63.91 - +8
8. Titans - 63.57 - -1
9. Jaguars - 62.56 - -1
10. Texans - 59.47 - -6
11. Lions - 58.99 - +2
12. Redskins - 56.68 - Even
13. Giants - 52.89 - +6
14. Cardinals - 52.55 - +10
15. Browns - 47.80 - +7
16. Panthers - 47.50 - -6
17. Ravens - 47.16 - -8
18. Raiders - 46.26 - +7
19. Chiefs - 45.91 - +7
20. 49ers - 45.81 - -9
21. Broncos - 45.23 - -4
22. Eagles - 44.85 - -6
23. Vikings - 39.03 - -2
24. Bears - 36.36 - -4
25. Bengals - 35.89 - -7
26. Chargers - 33.29 - -3
27. Falcons - 31.48 - +4
28. Bills - 29.20 - +1
29. Jets - 26.74 - -2
30. Rams - 16.94 - -2
31. Saints - 14.40 - -1
32. Dolphins - 12.66 - Even

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