Friday, November 30, 2007

That's a relief.

After yesterday's post talking about how Minneapolis is at the bottom of the sports barrel, we are reminded by the Wildcats' Bill Walker that, in fact, Kansas State is #1

I'm as surprised as you that I've used the Public Urination tag twice now.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Minnesota is clearly Sports Hell

Not so long ago, 100% Injury Rate argued that the Bay Area was a sports hell. Sure, they've had a rough patch, but if you pit the Minnesota sports scene for the past few months, and really, over the course of the past 20 years or so, against the Bay Area or any other city or area with more than one sports team and you'll see that Minnesota is in an awful string of luck.
First lets start more recently. It's really been nothing but bad news for local teams, like the Twins who have lost Torii Hunter to free agency and discussions are rampant that ace Johan Santana will soon be traded to someone who can afford him. And oh yeah, it was the Twins worst season since 2000. Let's also not forget that whole contraction debacle.
The Vikings have missed the playoffs the past couple of years and haven't won more than 9 games since, that magic year 2000, when they lost by 41 in the NFC championship game. And if you don't remember, there was that whole Love Boat thing and the Mike Tice era, the Red McCombs tenure and now Zygi Wilf and his whole looking down on the Minnesota area act. To make it better, they get
The Timberwolves made headlines this offseason by trading away the face of the franchise, and in many ways the face of sports in Minnesota, to the Celtics. So, Kevin Garnett is gone, and now the Wolves have the second worst record in the NBA.
The Wild are the best team in Minnesota right now, and will continue to be until Marian Gaborik inevitably injures his groin. They're yet to win their conference, and unless they all stay healthy, it won't happen this year.
Gophers football? 1-10. One and ten. And the one win was in overtime against Miami of Ohio. At home. And then there were ten losses.
The Gophers basketball team finished ahead of only Penn State and Northwestern, but to be fair, they each only had 2 conference wins. Each of them had one win against the Gophers, and both had more overall wins than Minnesota, but at least the Gophers added Tubby Smith as their coach, right?
So, thats the bleak state of the Minnesota sports scene now, but I think I should touch on one more thing. No Minnesota team has made it to the Championship game of their sport in 16 years. That's longer than any city that I can think of other than maybe Cincinnati. Cleveland put the Indians in the World Series twice in '95 and '97 and Buffalo has been in the Super Bowl a couple years more recently, going in 1994. Those are the two cities most associated with sports misery, and Minnesota surpasses them, and Minnesota has more pro sports teams than either of those cities. For reference, by the way, Since the Twins went to and one the World Series in 1991, Bay area teams have competed in 3 championship games or series.
So, yeah, Minneapolis is sports hell.

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Anyone closely following baseball is probably aware that the Twins substituted Eduardo Morlan for Juan Rincon in the trade Ryan previously spoke of. This clouds the trade a little bit more for me; I found Morlan more valuable than Rincon, who has declined of late to the extent that Matt Guerrier joined Pat Neshek as the primary set-up men. (I've always loved Guerrier, but I was happily surprised how well he took to a set-up role.) On the other hand, the reason the substitution was made was because Rincon is apparently having elbow issues. If that's truly the case, and if the issue can be fixed, that's not such a bad thing. But I'd still rather Morlan in New Britain or Rochester (or Fort Myers) than Rincon in Minnesota. But what's done is done.

Many people hailed this as "Smith is willing to trade young pitchers! Finally!" Granted, some of them are more than a little upset that it was Matt Garza rather than Boof Bonser or Scott Baker or Kevin Slowey (or two of those three), but whatever.

However, I feel it prudent to point out that Terry Ryan did once trade young pitchers. In fact, two of them in the same trade for a non-pitcher. I speak, of course, of the Luis Castillo for Travis Bowyer and Scott Tyler. Most casual Twins fans had never heard of Tyler, and only seen Bowyer briefly in his September call-up in 2005. Both were on the Twins' 40-man roster, at least briefly.

Neither of them are currently on the Marlins' 40-man roster, and considering the boys are 25 and 26 years old, that's saying something; most players with futures are on 40-men rosters by then if they're not in the majors yet. Bowyer has yet to pitch for the Marlins--he injured his shoulder and had surgery in August 2006 (based on the lack of stats, I presume he was unable to play before surgery was decided upon), and presumably spent 2007 recovering. I do not know his status. In 2007, Tyler pitched mostly at the Marlins AA level, but was hardly worth noting there (his 2007 ERA in AA was 8.80).

In other words: Terry Ryan did give up pitching prospects when he deemed it was proper. And when he did, he knew exactly which ones to trade. I only hope Bill Smith was watching closely.

Also, I'm distraught that Mikko Koivu! still can't play hockey. I miss him. Stupid Ohlund. :shakes fist:

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

December Madness is Heating Up!

Note: This post is written news-style to paint a picture of what things would be like if my college tournament plan was real

Well, we're heading into the final week of the college football regular season, and the national championship tournament picture is starting to become clearer. With the conference championship games being played, just about every game taking place this Saturday has major implications in the seeding of the teams or even who will make the last at large spots and who's bubble will burst. There is a lot more debate this season over who the truly best team is. The CFT (College Football Tournament) rankings say that it is Missouri as of right now, but there are plenty of doubters. Luckily, it's going to be settled on the field. Can you imagine what kind of outrage there would be if the BCS was still around? A lot of people seem to think that Georgia, LSU, or USC could actually be the top team, but none of them would have had a chance in the old system. LSU wouldn't get a shot because they missed 2 triple overtime 2-point conversions. Here is how the tournament matchups would look if the season ended today and if it is assumed that the higher ranked team in the CFT wins their conference title game, followed by a breakdown of the 11 conferences:

ACC: Virginia Tech (6)
Big 12: Missouri (1)
Big East: West Virginia (2)
Big Ten: Ohio State (3)
C-USA: Central Florida (NR)
MAC: Central Michigan (NR)
Mountain West: BYU (19)
Pac-10: USC (8)
SEC: LSU (7)
Sun Belt: Troy (NR)
WAC: Hawaii (12)

At Large: Georgia (4), Kansas (5), Oklahoma (9), Florida (10), Boston College (11)

Outside Looking In: Arizona State (13), Tennessee (14), Illinois (15), Clemson (16), Oregon (17)

First Round Matchups:
#1 Missouri vs. #16 Central Michigan @ Kansas City
#8 USC vs. #9 Oklahoma @ San Diego
#4 Georgia vs. #13 BYU @ Atlanta
#5 Kansas vs. #12 Hawaii @ Houston
#3 Ohio State vs. #14 Central Florida @ Indianapolis
#6 Virginia Tech vs. #11 Boston College @ Jacksonville
#7 LSU vs. #10 Florida @ New Orleans
#2 West Virginia vs. #15 Troy @ East Rutherford

Conference Breakdown:
ACC: The tournament's first round is showing a rematch of this Saturday's championship game. The automatic bid is on the line in this one, and Boston College will most likely not get the at-large spot with a loss, while VT is probably ranked high enough to still make it with a loss, but they would probably have to travel farther for a first round game. Clemson has an outside chance of getting in if VT, Arizona, and LSU win

Big 12: Missouri and Oklahoma will probably both make the tournament as long as there are not upsets in the SEC and ACC championship games, and most importantly for Missouri, their #1 seed is on the line against the only team they lost to. Idle Kansas is currently #5 and is a lock to make it and can even get a higher seed with some key upsets.

Big East: West Virginia has won the conference and the automatic bid. They have their sites set on the #1 seed if they win and Missouri loses

Big Ten: Ohio State has won the conference and the automatic bid. They can still get the #1 seed if Missouri and West Virginia lose. Illinois is in a similar situation as Clemson, where they could get in with wins by Virginia Tech, Arizona, LSU, and maybe even Missouri could help

C-USA: It's Central Florida vs. Tulsa in the championship game with an automatic bid on the line. The winner will probably get the #14 seed in the tournament

MAC: It's Central Florida vs. Miami (OH) in the championship game with an automatic bid on the line. The winner will probably get the #16 seed in the tournament

Mountain West: BYU has won the conference and the automatic bid. They will have the #13 seed unless UCLA somehow wins the Pac-10.

Pac-10: Here is the craziest situation of them all. If USC beats UCLA, they win the conference title. If UCLA wins and Arizona State wins, Arizona State wins the conference and the bid. If UCLA wins and ASU loses, UCLA wins the conference and the automatic bid. Arizona State has a good chance to make it if Virginia Tech and LSU win their conference title games regardless of what USC does. Unranked UCLA's only hope is the scenario I mentioned above, and Oregon is fading fast and unlikely to make it, even with a win and a lot of help because Illinois and Clemson are idle.

SEC: They currently have 3 teams in, with 2 of them facing each other in the first round. First, LSU will play Tennessee in the conference title game. LSU would probably have to lose badly to miss the tournament, and this is a must win for the Vols because an at-large spot with a loss is out of the question. Idle Georgia is sitting pretty at #4 and are the highest ranked team in the SEC, even though they aren't playing in the championship game. Florida is also likely to make the tournament because they are not playing this week either, but they could possibly get squeezed out if Tennessee and ASU or UCLA win their conferences.

Sun Belt: The Sun Belt doesn't have an official championship game, but they're having one this weekend when Troy faces Florida Atlantic. The winner of that game is the champ and gets the #15 or #16 seed in the tournament

WAC: Undefeated Hawaii has won the conference title and the automatic bid. Unlike the old system, where a loss this weekend to Washington would cost them a BCS bowl bid, they have been rewarded by winning the conference title and now this weekend's game only factors into their seeding in the tournament, where they get their shot against the other imperfect teams.

December Madness will be sweeping the nation this weekend, and fans of 25 different colleges are still in the running to see their team put it all on the line in a national championship tournament. A little more exciting than hoping their team gets picked for the Outback Bowl, right?

Opposite ends of the journalism spectrum

If I put up three posts in one day, it seems like I'm working hard, right? This one is quick, but I really wanted to mention these two things.\

It was probably an honest mistake, but Pioneer Press writer Bob Sansavere has a pretty funny lapse with an article that he wrote about the Twins the other day. Fire Joe Morgan, of course, jumped all over it.

Secondly, I wanted to thank the Denver Post's Mike Chambers who steered me in the right direction for some research I need to be doing for my trip to Monroe. He admitted that the Denver Pioneers don't get a whole lot of publicity there, but he was nice enough to get back to me and, as I said, steer me in the right direction. Not enough of us bloggers give columnists credit when they are friendly, so I just wanted to publicly acknowledge him.

Finally, at long last, I'm done for the day.

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Hockey players are kind of mean.

I went to a high school with an excellent hockey team who won the state tournament twice, which is about as big a deal as football is in Texas. As you can imagine, the team was full of arrogant douches, especially the stars of the team, like Troy Riddle, who is currently mired in Houston playing within the Wild's minor league system. Riddle was a star in college and many though he would be playing in the NHL somewhere down the road but as of right now, that is appearing less and less likely.
The team wasn't without it's NHLers though, as defenseman Andrew Alberts made his way onto the Boston Bruins roster. I didn't really know him, but I suspected he was kind of a douche by association. Never the less, he didn't deserve this:

Thanks to James Mirtle via BMR

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Twins swinging a blockbuster

According to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Twins are very close to completing a blockbuster deal that would send Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and Juan Rincon to the Tampa Bay Rays for Delmon Young, Brandon Harris and Jason Pridie.
I like the deal for a few reasons. First, it signals a shift in the demands for Johan Santana, namely, they don't need an outfielder anymore, instead needing an infielder. Either the Yankees have to step up their offer, including Robinson Cano AND a top pitcher, or it's not going to happen. The Angels and Dodgers now become front runners in the Santana sweepstakes.
Second, Bartlett and Harris are of equal value, but Harris is a better hitter, while Bartlett is better in the field. The Twins need offense at this juncture more than defense. In any case, they have plenty of good defensive utility players.
Third, Pridie had a wonderful year at AAA and stands to be the center fielder of the future.
Fourth, Rincon's salary is off the books, perhaps allowing the Twins to chase Aaron Rowand as LEN3 reports in his update.
Lastly, I'm encouraged that Bill Smith is OK with shaking the roster up. Terry Ryan was conservative to a fault, and Bill Smith appears aggressive and intent on winning as well as saving payroll where it's important.

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Dan Dierdorf is a filthy liar

I'd just like to add a little something from the weekend in the NFL. During the Broncos-Bears game, they cut away to James Brown who provided a 49ers-Cardinals highlight. Frank Gore decided to finally do something, and ran for a touchdown, which led to Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf having a little discussion about Gore. I paraphrase Mr. Dierdorf, "Fantasy football owners know Frank Gore. They LOVE Frank Gore." As an owner of Frank Gore in one fantasy league, I feel that I can speak for Frank Gore owners everywhere.
Dan Dierdorf, you are a filthy dirty liar.
At present, Gore, who was my 1st pick in the draft, is sitting on my bench, because I'm getting more productivity out of Maurice Jones-Drew and the other guy in that game, Edgerrin James. If Dierdorf had said fantasy owners loved Edge, I would be inclined to agree. Not only is Gore not among my top two running backs, he's not among the top 5 players on my team. Braylon Edwards and Chad Johnson who is having an awful year by his standard, has scored more points than Gore. Jon Freaking Kitna is more valuable on my team than Frank Gore. My first pick.
He is the 15th rated running back this season, behind luminaries such as Clinton Portis and Ronnie Brown, who hasn't played in several weeks. He's just ahead of Earnest Graham, who Tampa sought to replace with Michael Bennett. Michael Freaking Bennett! Fantasy owners love Earnest Graham, I'm sure.
So, Dan Dierdorf, no. Fantasy owners do NOT love Frank Gore. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but I've never met him, and he's been a miserable disappointment for fantasy owners. So Dan Dierdorf, no more of your filthy lies.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the tragic passing of Sean Taylor. Two wishes for prayers and condolences in a week are two too many, but I pass them along to Taylor's friends and loved ones.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Week 12 NFL Ranks

The top 5 stayed exactly the same this week for the first time all season, and 2 huge matchups are now set for this week. The #2 Packers will take on the #3 Cowboys and the #4 Colts will face the #5 Jaguars. Overall this was a pretty uneventful week as far as the ratings are concerned. The biggest gainers this week, jumping 5 spots each, were the Vikings, who destroyed the Giants and jumped all the way up to 11th at only 5-6; the Bears, who got an important win over Denver to stay in the playoff race; the Bengals, who inexplicably destroyed the Titans all while finally showing some life on defense; and the Raiders, who got their 3rd win of the season and leapfrogged a bunch of slumping teams, including their victims, the Chiefs. The biggest losers this week were the Titans, who are suddenly fading fast in the playoff hunt, the Bills, who have suffered 2 beatdowns since being ranked 10th, and the Chiefs, who have lost 4 straight, are now ranked 29th, but are still only 2 games out 1st place. Its a good thing for the state of Missouri their Tigers are ranked #1 in the BCS, because their NFL teams are 28 and 29 now. Here are the ranks:

1. Patriots - 82.93 - Even
2. Packers - 81.15 - Even
3. Cowboys - 80.70 - Even
4. Colts - 74.34 - Even
5. Jaguars - 71.06 - Even
6. Steelers - 68.07 - +1
7. Buccaneers - 62.05 - +4
8. Seahawks - 59.40 - +2
9. Giants - 57.68 - -3
10. Browns - 57.66 - +2
11. Vikings - 57.41 - +5
12. Eagles - 53.57 - -4
13. Chargers - 53.22 - +2
14. Texans - 50.36 - Even
15. Bears - 49.51 - +5
16. Titans - 48.66 - -7
17. Lions - 46.84 - -4
18. Redskins - 46.01 - Even
19. Bengals - 45.18 - +5
20. Cardinals - 45.17 - -1
21. Saints - 44.66 - +1
22. Broncos - 42.16 - -1
23. Bills - 41.05 - -6
24. Falcons - 35.07 - +1
25. Raiders - 33.19 - +5
26. Ravens - 31.88 - +1
27. Panthers - 31.78 - -1
28. Rams - 30.95 - Even
29. Chiefs - 30.59 - -6
30. 49ers - 28.62 - +1
31. Jets - 25.84 - -2
32. Dolphins - 17.73 - Even

Monday, November 26, 2007

Making intangibles tangible

One of the things that drew me to baseball was the easy tracking of statistics. More than any other sport, baseball has cut and dried numbers that are easily deciphered and rarely conceal anything that can't be determined by looking at more numbers. Of course, traditionally, baseball has a rich tradition outside of the numbers, with curses, epic at bats, and lore. Lots of lore.
Over the past several years, we've seen a swing from the mystique of the game towards a more numbers heavy analysis. Traditionalists still clamor for players like Derek Jeter or David Eckstein, who generally don't put up numbers you would like to see, but are lauded for their grit, their intangibles. This drives numbers people insane. But is there something to the intangibles? Can we make those intangibles tangible? I have three things that could probably be labeled as "intangible" but are very real, and truly beneficial to a teams productivity. Let me know if you can think of more in the comments.

1. Work ethic: Often times, a hard working player, which should be all players, but often isn't, will spend extra time working out, taking batting practice or fielding grounders. While this won't necessarily make a player elite (look at Eckstein, for example) it puts a message in the heads of young people. Just because you have the raw talent to play in the majors it doesn't necessarily mean you can coast like you did to get to the major leagues doesn't mean you can anymore. It would do a world of good for someone like Elijah Dukes to get taught this lesson.

2. Affability: It isn't actually part of the player's job description to be an easy interview, or to even enjoy being interviewed. They're job is to be really good at baseball. Luckily for Twins stars Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, they live in Minneapolis, which isn't as media frenzied as other markets, as they still seem overwhelmed by most of the publicity the receive. Even better for them has been having Torii Hunter, Johan Santana and Mike Redmond on the roster, three outgoing guys who are most frequently seen taking questions after games. The same is the case in New York, where Derek Jeter gets hounded by the press, deflecting some of it away from the timid Alex Rodriguez. This was among Eckstein's roles in his two World Series runs. Psychologically, getting interviewed and being the center of attention can get inside some guys' heads. Think of it as stage fright. The added attention is added stress, which can mess with a players fundamentals. Better to let someone who can excel at the off-field stuff handle that than those who aren't.

3. Likablity: The perfect example of this is Lew "No Talent" Ford. He's inexplicably been on the Twins roster for years now, and it isn't because of his quality stats. Part of it has to be because of the Twins' limited farm system, but still more has to do with the fact that he makes the Twins money, both through merchandising and getting his personal fans to come to the games. He's just a nice guy. You can't discount the value a likable player adds to a franchise. Sure, he may not contribute to the game itself, but he can contribute to the bankroll.

I'm sure there are more things out there that you can make tangible, but this is just scratching the surface. I'm more of a numbers guy myself, but I understand that there are times that numbers don't tell the whole story.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Torii Hunter and John Garland, together at last

The hot rumor was that Torii Hunter was going to sign with the Chicago White Sox, but out of the blue, he signed with the Anaheim Angels. Was it so "out of the blue"? Perhaps not. The Angels made one other move before they signed Hunter, trading Orlando Cabrera for Jon Garland of the White Sox. So, the only thing that changed before he went from a future White Sock (?) to an Angel was Garland moving from Chicago to Anaheim. Do I need to paint you a picture?
I'm sure the 15 million additional dollars had something to do with it too.

Fun Garland:Hunter fact: Torii Hunter has faced Garland the 3rd most of all pitchers in his career.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

The new Bash Brothers

The Wild recently plucked Todd Fedoruk off the waiver wire, which makes me happy. Clearly, the organization knows that fans like to see fighting, and with Derek Boogaard and now Fedoruk on the roster, there will be no shortage. (Boogaard on the right, Fedoruk on the left)

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving football is boring

This year was no different than previous years. The Lions were completely overmatched by their opponent again this year, and the Cowboys were, once again, much better than theirs. It leads to two games every year on Thanksgiving that everyone watches but are over almost as soon as the start. You would think that the NFL wants us to watch the best games available, but for whatever reason, we see terrible games every year.
The reason, I believe, is that the NFL is just looking out for us. Why would we want to watch a good game if the turkey is putting us to sleep? No no, the Thanksgiving football games are just an excuse to take a nap in front of the TV. We've got a game on and the day off with a full belly. What better time for a nap? The NFL realizes this, so they facilitate the nap with a boring game. At this point the only people awake are the women, and all they really want to see is a halftime show, so thats where Kelly Clarkson comes in. The NFL has thought of everything. Thanks NFL!

(In an unrelated and somber note, the Victoria Times would like to offer our prayers and condolences to the family of Joe Kennedy.)

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Bill Conlin was probably dropped as a child

I usually don't get too worked up about the whole journalists hate bloggers thing, because frankly, this is how history has transpired. A new opinion or method of information dissemination comes about and those that had made their living the old way have always resented the new way. Like I said, this is the way it goes, I'm not going to get too worked up about it.
Well, that is until Philadelphia Daily News columnist ended an e-mail chain with Crash Burn Alley with this little number:
The only positive thing I can think of about Hitler’s time on earth–I’m sure he would have eliminated all bloggers. In Colonial times, bloggers were called “Pamphleteers.” They hung on street corners handing them out to passersby. Now, they hang out on electronic street corners, hoping somebody mouses on to their pretentious sites. Different medium, same MO. Shakespeare accidentally summed up the genre best with these words from a MacBeth soliloquy: “. . .a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. . .

All right then. So, there's a difference between casual disgust and aggressive stupidity, and Mr. Conlin asserted his. Not only did he do a little defending of Hitler, but he also debased the grassroots cause of the American Revolution. Maybe bloggers aren't so bad.

(If you're wondering what article caused this, well, Fire Joe Morgan eviscerated it already.)

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Worse than losing Torii Hunter? How about losing Santana

For years now, Torii Hunter has been my favorite Twin, but I've realized lately that it was time for him to go, especially at the price the Angels are giving him. What is certain now, however, is that if the Twins are concerned with winning in the next couple of years, Johan Santana is absolutely indispensable now.
The Twins are opening a new stadium in 2010, and I'm sure they would like to have an exciting product on the field on opening day. For the past half decade, the Twins have had two players that breed excitement both here and in other markets, and they were Torii Hunter and Johan Santana. Sure, the Twins have had Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, but 75% of teams have a low key hitter batting around .300 with 35 home runs, meaning Morneau really isn't all that different from anyone, and Joe Mauer doesn't have the dynamic personality that one wants from a premier star. Sure, he's popular in his hometown and definitely with the teenage girls, but he just doesn't have the personality to make his high batting average seem all that exciting.
Like it or not, Torii Hunter had fire in his belly, and was noticed. I can't tell you how many dogs and cats I know that were named Torii. No other Twins name, save for Kirby, even comes close. Johan Santana doesn't have the same intensity, but given his Cy Youngs, he certainly gets the same publicity. There's no doubt he would provide the excitement the Twins need to open the stadium.
From a strictly baseball standpoint, he is the best pitcher in the game on a team that had no offense before Hunter walked out the door, which increases his value as it is. Next, there is no rotation, but a bounty of high end prospects. These guys could certainly be dealt for the bats the Twins need, with the remaining pitchers succeeding under the tutelage of Santana. If the Twins decide that now is the time to open their pocketbooks (do people still use pocketbooks?), I certainly hope that some of that cash is directed to Santana.
Of course, the Twins have offered Santana a contract, which he countered with a request equal to Barry Zito's contract last year. There was no per year increase in value in his counter offer, but the Twins are balking at giving Santana 7 years and fielding trade offers now. Originally, the trade offers were promising and exciting, but now they seem to be fraught with prospects that seem as though they should have panned out by this point (Lastings Milledge comes to mind (according to my spell check, there is a word "Lastings")). Moving Santana now would be sending a horrible message to the fan base, namely, "You built our stadium, and now we're done trying to win".
If Santana goes, there is only one player of consequence left on the roster that could potentially leave via free agency, and that's Morneau. Sure, he says he would love to stay in Minnesota and that he and Joe Mauer are best friends, but athletes sing that same tune all the time, especially when a team is winning. Ask him again when the team is rebuilding during a contract year, and see how quickly he buys a house in Seattle. Heck, Mauer may be inclined to get off the sinking ship too if things aren't looking up. He did sign on to play football at Florida State, after all, so he may have the itch to get out of town. More than likely, I see him remaining the Twins version of Mike Sweeney, however.
And that's the final reason that Santana is indispensable. Not only would losing Santana make next season a tough go, but it would cripple the franchise for at least a decade. I'm not optimistic.

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At one of my favorite “everything sports news, non-blog” sites, Yahoo Sports, there was a mailbag question to Ross McKeon. Dwayne Bugler asked, “Why doesn’t the NHL suspend a player who injures another with an illegal hit for the same length of time the injured player is sidelined? “

McKeon’s answer was simply: “While this would be the most fair result in terms of punishment fitting the crime, it’s not practical because there’s too much uncertainty with injuries – how long someone will really be out, etc – and can you imagine all the gamesmanship this would invite? ”

This is near and dear to me because Minnesota Wild player Mikko Koivu* was injured by Vancouver Canuck Mattias Ohlund. While Koivu did illegally elbow a player (and was assessed a penalty for it), Ohlund swung his hockey stick at Koivu, cracking a bone in his leg. No one should ever--ever!--hurt one of my favorite players intentionally!

The situation would’ve been fair if Ohlund--or another Canuck player--had leveled Koivu at a later point in the game. It would be even more fair if it were a completely clean hit. That’s what hockey revenge should be about--make your statement, but don’t get in trouble for it. If Ohlund had injured Koivu on a clean hit…well, I still would’ve been sulky about it because it's Mikko Koivu and I have enough trouble with my favorite player Marian Gaborik atttempting to remain uninjured so I don't need my second favorite player injured too, but I would not have been so irate about the situation.

It would be fair for Ohlund to sit out as long as Koivu is out, but McKeon has a point. There’s too much uncertainty. I like the suspension for a number of games, particularly in hockey. (However, it should be actual games played. If a player is suspended for a year, and there’s a lock-out that year, that year shouldn't count towards the suspension--there’s no punishment because everybody sat out. More on that later.)

Suspensions, from my brief research and limited knowledge, seem to be set at the discretion of the Commissioner. I think the suspension should be based on the injury, rather than the crime, if it's not presently. For example, broken bone is ten games, cracked bone is five games, concussion is four games, no injury (but a play worthy of suspension) is three games--something a little more concrete, something more a reminder of what you’ve done to the other team. Sure, the same illegal move could have a ten-game suspension for one guy, and a three game suspension for another, but that’s the point: you better be careful what you do, because you never know what the result will be. Todd Bertuzzi likely didn’t mean to injure Steve Moore as seriously as he did, but nonetheless, he did hurt him seriously--he intentionally made an illegal move, and it turned out worse than he imagined. That decision had more serious consequences than he intended, but nonetheless, they happened. (In this case, I don’t believe Bertuzzi should have to sit out until Moore can play again, so I think the year suspension was a very good one. While his year suspension was mostly a lock-out year, he was also not allowed to play in Europe, which many players did. However, I think he should have had to serve at least a partial suspension during the next season. The league's reasonsing was the 17 games he sat out the year the incident happened, as well has his remorse, and lost salary and endorsements. Yes, he’s remorseful about the incident, but I’d like to see him try to make amends beyond apologies--donating time and money to spinal injury research, for example. Maybe he does. That's neither here nor there.)

Anyway, that's my thoughts on something I don't really understand.

Happy Thanksgiving!

*I love that kid. Sure, he’s a turning into great hockey player, but there is no name in the NHL--and I daresay the world--that’s more fun to say. Mikko Koivu!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Alex Rodriguez: The stupid factor

Alex Rodriguez has been in the news a lot lately thanks too his pursuit of the greatest contract in the history of American sports. The thing I find intriguing about the whole ordeal is that people don't seem to be as disgusted by Rodriguez as they do by other athletes who have fought for enormous contracts. Why is this? It certainly isn't because he has demonstrated an easygoing and gregarious personality, or because he's played for everyone's favorite teams.
Is it possible that we aren't as hard on A-Rod because we suspect he might be a little stupid?
For a guy making 25 million dollars a year, he seems to get pushed around quite a bit. He never spoke up about wanting to get out of Seattle, and was bowled over with an incredible stack of cash. Then he got traded to New York and he didn't really want to play third base, but since his buddy Derek Jeter was playing short he switched positions. Now this offseason, he didn't seem like he wanted to leave New York, but agent Scott Boras elbowed him into opting out of his contract. For some reason, Rodriguez finally did what he wanted and resigned with the Yankees.
For whatever reason, this pattern of events tells me that he is not a strong willed person and is easily persuaded to do things that the conniving, smart people like Boras and the Steinbrenners want him to do. This all points to someone who is weak minded. Even when he was pointed back to the Yankees, it was after consulting with billionaire Warren Buffett. It's almost as if Rodriguez is the expensive plaything of conniving billionaires.
He seems timid whenever he is interviewed, and at this point in his career, it can't possibly be because he's shy, as he should be accustomed to having a camera in his face which implies that his timidity is because he is unsure of himself or what to say, almost as though he is worried about rocking the boat. It's as if he were a young child, blessed with enormous baseball talent. Would you have reacted the same way at 8 to being asked to leave home for a while, no matter how much candy was given to you? Sure, you'd leap at the candy, but secretly, you'd always want to be at home. He, and the hypothetical child would be too polite to speak up and would just enjoy the candy/money, even though its not what they really want.
So that's why I think Alex Rodriguez isn't as despised as his counterparts in other sports. Terrell Owens comes to mind as the closest example in another sport. At the time, he was the best at his position when he asked for a raise. He held out, the NFL equivalent of opting out of a contract, he had a jerk of an agent in Drew Rosenhaus and in the end signed with the most hated team in his sport, the Dallas Cowboys. The difference? Owens asserted himself, and he made it clear he wanted more money. Rodriguez just wants to stay where he is, but he's not smart enough to tell people that.

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The life of a collegiate wide receiver

Once again, I bring to your attention the continuing saga of Purdue wideout Selwyn Lymon, who you may remember for for setting the single game receiving record for a Notre Dame opponent and later getting stabbed by a girl he was trying to pick up at a bar. Well, he's outdone himself this time.
After fleeing the scene of a domestic disturbance, he drove to his own apartment with a BAC twice the legal limit and parked in a handicapped spot. The police questioned him, and during the process, he wet himself. Sure, there were no scars from this incident, but right there, I count at least 4 separate charges.
In other news, Selwyn Lymon has been kicked off the Purdue football team. (The best part of that article is Joe Tiller's quote: "Selwyn is the victim of making some very poor choices..." Whatever you say, coach)

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Week 11 NFL Power Ranks

The Week 11 power ranks are ready to be unleashed. Another narrow win by the Colts dropped them below the Cowboys to 4th, and the 3rd embarrassing loss of the season for the Steelers dropped them completely out of the top 5 and moved the Jaguars into their spot. We had a little bit of a shakeup at the bottom, as the Rams beat the 49ers in the pillow fight of the season so far to jump all the way up to 28th, and the Jets win moved them up to 29th. The 49ers and Raiders ugly losses dropped them to 31st and 30th respectively, while the 0-10 Dolphins still sit in last awaiting their savior, Ricky Williams. The Bills first entry into the top 10 last week ended in ugly fashion as the Patriots walked all over them, dropping them to 17th. The big winners this week were the Cardinals, who seem to be building some sort of momentum while jumping back to .500, the Seahawks, who surprisingly have taken control of the NFC West with a winning record, the Eagles, who have gotten back to .500 and have quietly climbed all the way to #8 with the help of their strong division, and the Vikings, who don't seem to need any kind of passing game to win any more. The big losers this week were the Bills, who I mentioned before, and the Saints, who are slipping back down after winning 4 games in a row. Here are the ranks:

1. Patriots - 83.60 - Even
2. Packers - 80.40 - Even
3. Cowboys - 79.19 - +1
4. Colts - 74.28 - -1
5. Jaguars - 69.88 - +3
6. Giants - 68.14 - +1
7. Steelers - 67.83 - -2
8. Eagles - 60.26 - +6
9. Titans - 57.97 - -3
10. Seahawks - 57.14 - +6
11. Buccaneers - 56.64 - +2
12. Browns - 55.85 - Even
13. Lions - 52.86 - -4
14. Texans - 52.49 - +5
15. Chargers - 51.78 - -4
16. Vikings - 49.05 - +6
17. Bills - 48.66 - -7
18. Redskins - 48.16 - -3
19. Cardinals - 47.57 - +8
20. Bears - 47.17 - -2
21. Broncos - 43.12 - +3
22. Saints - 41.19 - -5
23. Chiefs - 37.12 - -2
24. Bengals - 37.01 - -4
25. Falcons - 36.63 - +1
26. Panthers - 33.49 - -3
27. Ravens - 32.87 - -2
28. Rams - 31.26 - +1
29. Jets - 26.44 - +2
30. Raiders - 23.16 - -2
31. 49ers - 21.48 - -1
32. Dolphins - 17.05 - Even

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hey, college basketball started!

I feel the need to once again profess my love of college basketball, as if going to watch Denver play Louisiana Monroe in February and Jackson State play Alabama State in March wasn't enough. Again, I say I love college basketball the whole season long, and I often wonder why people aren't as amped up for it as I am. Oh. Right.

(photo courtesy ESPN)

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Home from Saint Louis.

I made it out of St. Louis alive, although there was probably enough drank that I shouldn't be. It was good though, that I missed watching Purdue continue their downward slide into the abyss known as the Armed Forces Bowl because I was both too hungover and busy exploring the Gateway Arch.
A few brief things I thought were interesting from the trip. First, me and my friends spent some time at Ozzie Smith's restaurant, which was creatively names "Ozzie's". The best part, aside from the beer and the proximity to our hotel was that he had all of his Gold Gloves on display. It was fascinating to get a bit of baseball history mixed into what was a weekend intended entirely for drunken reminiscing.
Albert Pujols also has a restaurant near where we were staying, again creatively named, his named "Pujols 5". Albert has more of a sit down, candlelit type of restaurant, and the most curious item on the menu was calamari. Sure, Albert may love some calamari but really, how fresh is the squid in St. Louis? Needless to say, I had the chicken fettuccine.
Another night (last night, actually), we went to the Funny Bone comedy club and saw Tim Northern, who my friend Kent thought was absolutely hilarious. Now, Kent is typically quiet and reserved, but when he starts to laughing, it can be heard everywhere, and is completely infectious. As I said, Kent is usually quiet and reserved, and all weekend, we were writing his number on the receipt whenever we had a cute waitress. Imagine our surprise, then, when 3 girls decided to join us at Ozzie's because they heard Kent's furious giggling. This is all well and good, but the takeaway point is that the girls weren't too fond of me because, as they said, "you're kind of an asshole". Most would take this as an insult, however, everyone knows that sports bloggers pretty much universally are A-holes. Well, not all of them are, of course (Beth, fore example, certainly isn't) but some of the best are.
Perhaps I've finally made it.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pick Five

I had been debating posting this anyway, so the timing works out (it was either this or a very numbers-heavy post. Count your blessings!). I really hate posting speculative posts--not that I don't have opinions, but reality lives about 4,533 miles away from what I think. Consider this a work of fiction, based on a true story.

On Tuesday, Ryan posted about what would happen if the Twins traded Johan Santana and some prospects: “The next year without Santana, without those vaunted prospects, we would have a pitching rotation that would have Twins fans clamoring for Rich Robertson.” Would we? Of course it’s possible, but I fear the day the Twins rotation has fans clamoring for a guy with a major league 5.40 ERA/1.67 WHIP in 114 games/415 innings. However, let's look at the situation right now.

Based on pitchers on the Twins' 40-man roster who pitched in the majors last year (plus Carlos Silva, who is now a free agent), who are the options for the Twins' Starting Five in 2008? To avoid conflict, the players are listed in age order (ages as of July 1, 2008). I think the most telling thing about this staff is that the oldest player will be 29 years old--and that's if Santana stays.

Carlos Silva, 29. I think we’ve seen the last of Silva in a Twins uniform. While he earlier expressed a willingness to take a discount to stay at “home”, I somehow doubt the Twins could even afford him at the discounted price. MLB Career ERA: 4.31/1.37 WHIP, 259 games/945 innings/125 starts

Johan Santana, 29. There is, of course, the possibility that of trading Santana. I suspect this won’t happen for two reasons. First, the Twins seemed resigned to the fate of not re-signing Torii Hunter. To lose Santana and Hunter in the same year would be a poor marketing move. That brings me to the second point: The only way fans would be resigned to this is for multiple high quality players, which I doubt other teams will give up. Of course, he will be the ace of the staff and opening day starter, no matter where he is opening day, but I suspect March 31, 2008, will see him on the mound in the Metrodome--wearing a Twins' uniform. MLB Career ERA: 3.22/1.09 WHIP, 251 games/1308.2 innings/175 starts

Scott Baker, 26. Baker’s 2007 season started out with one promising game, and then another decline with similar numbers to his poor 2006 season. However, post all-star his numbers showed dramatic improvement equal, capped by a near-perfect game. He is a possibility in a trade for a decent bat; his value outside of the team is probably equal, if not higher, than it is to the Twins. If he’s not traded, he will be in the starting rotation. MLB Career ERA: 4.71/1.36 WHIP, 50 games/280.2 innings/48 starts

Bonser, 26. Boof would be intriguing to other teams based on his great September 2006 run, as well as his excellence in May 2007--he has the ability to pitch very well. However, clubs will note his eventual “demotion” to the bullpen in September 2007. If he stays on the team, he will likely be in the starting rotation, but the bullpen for long-relief is possibility if things don’t go well. His main problem has been a lack of stamina, probably due to weight. The Twins have asked him to address the situation. MLB Career ERA: 4.77/1.43 WHIP, 49 games/273.1 innings/48 starts

Nick Blackburn, 26. Blackburn's potential in a trade is either for an okay experienced batter, or a throw-in in another deal (I'm not a betting person, but if he were traded, I would bet on the latter); his age and lack of major league experience would make him more questionable in a trade. If he's not traded, he will likely start the year in Rochester, unless other trades decimate our rotation and/or he’s needed to fill Fransisco Liriano’s place until Liriano comes back. MLB Career ERA: 7.71/1.80 WHIP, 6 games/11.2 innings/0 starts

Glen Perkins, 25. Perkins spent last year in the bullpen or on the DL (and one start in Rochester). Despite the Twins insistence that he will be prepared to be a starter next year, I believe he will find his way to the bullpen--again, unless there are too many trades of the other guys on the list. Because of his injuries last year, it's likely other teams will value him lower than he should be, so a trade is not likely profitable; the lack of pitchers on the market could dictate that, though, and he has extra value as left-handed pitcher. MLB Career ERA: 2.88/1.11 WHIP, 23 games/34.1 innings/0 starts

Matt Garza, 24. Garza is a strong pitcher, and very attractive to other teams looking for quality young pitchers. However, based on the Twins' past protection of players, I’m fairly confident that he would not be offered in a trade unless it was something too good to refuse. He will be in the starting rotation. MLB Career ERA: 4.47/1.60 WHIP, 26 games/133 innings/24 starts

Fransisco Liriano, 24. Fransisco was out the end of 2006 with injuries which led to eventual Tommy John surgery in 2007. Because of his history of injuries (which will market him as more of a risk), and past performance (on the good side), the Twins are unlikely to be trade Liriano. If healthy, he will be in the starting rotation. If he’s healthy and back to form…it will be a miracle. MLB Career ERA: 2.74/1.02 WHIP, 35 games/144.2 innings/20 starts

Kevin Slowey, 24. Like Garza, Slowey has a strong minor-league career with attractive numbers. Despite his poor June call-up, his September performance was more in line with his minor league numbers. This could make him an attractive trade candidate; his future is not projected to be as high as Garza’s so the Twins would be more willing to let him go. If he’s not traded, he’s a strong candidate for the rotation. He has little to prove in the minors, but the crowded pitching rotation could find him back there. MLB Career ERA: 4.72/1.39 WHIP, 13 games/66.2 innings/11 starts

And if you get beyond these guys, there are a number of young prospects that don't need to be on the 40-man roster yet, but are improving every day. While I doubt they'll be ready to come up in '08, I'd guess it wouldn't be the end of the world if they were needed in '09. Hopefully, they're not.

If Santana were traded, the Twins' 2008 rotation of young'uns would likely be: Perkins, Liariano, Baker, Bonser, Garza; behind them would be Slowey, as well as whatever high prospects obtained in the Santana trade. (How odd would it be to have Baker be the senior pitcher in the rotation? This is another reason why Santana will likely not be traded unless a veteran major league pitcher is included. Based on the '07 Ponson/Ortiz experiment, Twins fans aren't too keen on outside help in the form of veteran pitchers.)

My projected starting rotation (in no particular order): Santana, Bonser/Perkins (one in the bullpen), Baker, Garza, Liriano. Back-up would be Slowey. Since it would be a little silly to send Slowey to Rochester, and both Boof and Perkins should be able to start, I speculate that at least one of the non-Santana pitchers will be traded. (Please don’t let it be Baker.)

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Week 10 NFL Power Ranks

The Colts played in an absolutely surreal game on Sunday Night. San Diego returns 2 kicks for TD's in the first quarter (not totally unbelievable for the Colts terrible special teams), but beyond that, the extremely banged up Colts defense kept the on-again off-again high powered Chargers at bay and gave good ol' Peyton some time to catch up. Piece of cake, right? Hell, the Chargers even missed an extra point to give the Colts the chance to win instead of just send it to overtime. They tried as hard as they could to keep the Colts at #1 in my rankings, but the Colts couldn't cash in on their luck. In true "No f-ing way game" fashion, Manning threw 6 interceptions and despite all of that, gave the Colts a chance to win, only to see Mr. Clutch, Adam Vinatieri, miss a 29 yard field goal. The Colts are now #3, and not surprisingly, the Patriots are the new #1 team. Now that we are 10 weeks in, let's take a look at the top and bottom 5 a little more in depth and see why they're ranked where they are....

1. Patriots - 82.08 - +1 - When a team is performing above average, someone may say, "yeah, but its easy in that division" or "who have they beat?" That plays in to these rankings to separate the contenders from the pretenders. Even though the Pats look like they are far and away the best team, they are hurt by their schedule, and that's why they are still barely on top. That's the downside to the computer ranks I guess....are you listening, college football?

2. Packers - 81.04 - +1 - Let's see...Patriots, Packers, Cowboys, and Steelers in the top 5. Is this 1996? Brett Favre is playing just shy of 1996 levels, and he's playing much better this year than Drew Bledsoe, Troy Aikman, and Mike Tomczak. It's not all about Favre though, despite what John Madden will tell you. A big reason why the Packers are up at #2 is because of their underrated defense (#3 in points allowed). They've also won 4 in row.

3. Colts - 73.65 - -2 - The Colts have fallen on hard times the past 2 weeks, but they are still one of the most well rounded teams in the league. Unlike the Patriots, they play in the toughest division in the league and using my strength of schedule method, have played the toughest schedule of anyone in the NFL this season.

4. Cowboys - 72.47 - +1 - Despite having a better record than the Colts, the Cowboys are not as balanced of a team. Their defense is below average, and even though they play in an equally tough division, have not faced extremely hot opponents this season. A win this week will probably shoot them up to 3rd, though.

5. Steelers - 71.54 - +2 - Statistically, they aren't much different than the Colts, and they are becoming the new media darlings. Let's not forget their 2 very ugly losses though. If they pick up another win this week, they will more than likely pass the slumping Colts as well.

(insert huge break here)

6. Titans - 65.48 - Even
7. Giants - 64.00 - -3
8. Jaguars - 62.98 - +1
9. Lions - 60.19 - -1
10. Bills - 58.24 - +6 (Top 10 Bills? believe it!)
11. Chargers - 57.79 - +2
12. Browns - 55.20 - -1
13. Buccaneers - 54.66 - +1
14. Eagles - 54.00 - +3
15. Redskins - 53.79 - -3
16. Seahawks - 50.88 - +7 (biggest gain this week)
17. Saints - 49.54 - -7 (losing to an 0-8 team = biggest loss of the week)
18. Bears - 49.18 - +2
19. Texans - 45.04 - +3
20. Bengals - 43.81 - +4
21. Chiefs - 42.95 - Even
22. Vikings - 41.59 - -7
23. Panthers - 40.56 - -5
24. Broncos - 40.42 - +2
25. Ravens - 39.65 - -6
26. Falcons - 38.95 - +1
27. Cardinals - 38.69 - -2

(insert huge break here)

28. Raiders - 24.99 - Even - We'll call them the best of the teams with less than 3 wins. They have lost 5 in a row, and have not played too many impressive opponents. Maybe Daunte Culpepper can get some revenge on the Vikings this weekend to turn things around for them.

29. Rams - 23.26 - +3 - The last place team for many weeks, the Rams finally jumped up 3 spots this week when they got their first win of the year over the red hot Saints. They have the worst offense/defense combo statistically in the league, but surprisingly, they've played the 2nd toughest schedule after the Colts.

30. 49ers - 21.31 - -1 - Absolutely terrible. Losers of 7 in a row, the only thing keeping them out of last is the fact they have 2 wins. They have the worst offense in the league and play in the weakest division.

31. Jets - 18.30 - Even - They spent some time below the Dolphins despite having just 1 win. They're only 1-8, but they've actually played the EASIEST schedule (tied with Detroit, Seattle, and Baltimore) this year, and neither their offense or defense is performing well.

32. Dolphins - 17.89 - -2 - They were actually out of last for a weeks when their offense showed some signs of life in some close games, but now, as the only 0-9 team, they've sunk back into the basement. I predict that when they finally get their win, they'll shoot past the 2 teams above them. The race for the #1 pick is on!

An open letter to Craig Monroe

Dear Craig Monroe,
Hi! Welcome to the Twins organization. I hope you're looking forward to your time here in Minnesota, because I think it could be fun. My dad already calls Justin Morneau "Monroe", so imagine the first time you come to the plate and asks just who the heck you are. "Monroe," I'll say. He'll pause and say, "Boy that sure doesn't look like Monroe. Are you sure that's not Rondell?" And I'll respond, "No, that's not White." To which he'll say "I know he's not white, which is why I know it's not Monroe." The borderline racist Abbot and Costello will continue for about 15 minutes until Dad thinks I'm pulling his leg. From then on, you'll be Rondell White in his eyes. Sorry.
But really, we can totally be friends, because I like corner outfielders that can hit, especially righties so you'll have to get that stroke back. Last year was a tough one, but looking at your statistics, it's very clear to me what your problem is. You used to be a high average hitter, but then you started to hit some home runs. This must have been quite a rush for you, because you started swinging at everything. Your walks went down, your strikeouts went up and your batting average went to hell. This can be fixed though! Just relax! Take it easy! Don't swing at everything! I'd rather have you getting on base, hitting balls in the gap than hitting 20 HRs and striking out 120 times.
Sure, some might say that if we wanted to pay someone 5 million to hit .220 we should just give Nick Punto a raise. Not me thought. No. I'm optimistic. Stop striking out, and I think we can be friends.
- Ryan

Bill -
What the f**k was that?
- Ryan?

(A P.S. to the readers. I'm headed out of town this weekend, so expect more Steve, less updates and a little bit o' Beth tomorrow)

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Is this it for the Twins?

Well friends, it may be almost over here in about 24 hours. We hear in Minnesota have grown accustomed to seeing a winning team taking the baseball diamond every year for the past 6 or so years, but that magical ride could come off the tracks in about 24 hours. Yes, baseball's free agency period is beginning tomorrow, and while it used to pass under the radar here in Minnesota (either we wouldn't be losing any major pieces or the ones we brought in were nothing to sneeze at, see: Tony Batista) this offseason will spell the fate of the Twins for the next 5 years or so.
Torii Hunter is all but gone, which makes a decision on Johan Santana's future essential to the Twins now. New GM Bill Smith must do something before the season starts. The way I see it, he has two options. Trade Santana now and get some ready to play outfielders and other prospects to open the new stadium in 2010 or resign him to the most expensive contract in Minnesota Twins history. There is, of course, a third option I'm not mentioning but has been mentioned by many that also follow the game. Trade some pitching prospects for some bats and win in 2008. I'm less than enamored with that idea.
There are problems, of course, with all of the ideas. The first plan is essentially a signal that the Twins are rebuilding. Of course, this is fine if the team eventually does rebuild. Will Justin Morneau want to continue to wear a Twins uniform after he plays through another struggling season? Perhaps not. The other issue? Folks in Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Tampa can tell you that rebuilding sometimes never happens. After living with the Twins through the 90's, you'd better believe this is something I'm intensely fearful of.
The second plan would cost a lot of money, and I'm not sure that Carl Pohlad would spend much more than that. Sure, we'd have Santana and Mauer locked up, but again, would he want to fork over the cash for Justin Morneau? Michael Cuddyer? Nick freaking Punto? Perhaps not. At least the Twins wouldn't be bad, but they would mirror the team we have now. More or less irrelevant, but still pesky.
The third, unfathomably bad idea would be to trade away our prospects and then let Santana walk away at the end of the year. Think about that. We have no better than a 1 in 30 chance to win the WS this year and we're putting all of our eggs in this basket. The next year without Santana, without those vaunted prospects, we would have a pitching rotation that would have Twins fans clamoring for Rich Robertson.
The worst part is, of course, that the Tigers (who acquired Jacque Jones today) and Indians seem to be at a crest in their ups and downs, and the White Sox are much more capable of spending the money it takes to field a consistent winner. If things go poorly for the Twins, at least we'll have company with the Royals.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

What is Cory Brewer thinking?

I don't typically watch the Timberwolves because I don't honestly believe that the NBA is anything more than some sort of soap opera, not unlike the WWE, but I was at a bar last night and the Wolves were plastered all over the giant TVs they had there. One question kept popping up in my mind. What exactly is going through Corey Brewer's mind? He always seems to have a look of concerned confusion splayed across his face, no more evident than when he's shooting free throws. We spent the night trying to work out what exactly was going through his mind. Well, I now leave it to you, the reader, to figure out what he was thinking here

I'll start it off... "'Hey guys, what's that giant, lighted thing hovering above the court? Should we be worried?' 'No, Corey, we don't have to worry about the Jumbotron'"

Additionally, Corey makes a good partner with his coach, the perpetually stunned Randy Wittman.So yes, leave your thoughts on what you think Corey may be thinking down there in the comments.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

I want that Oleg Kvasha tan.

A couple of weeks ago, I made reference to a fantasy hockey league I'm in with Kevin from Melrose Rocks, and he responded. In the interest of fairness and honesty, I should admit that, in fact, I lost. It wasn't a blow out, just 6-4-1 in our head to head league, which is nothing to sneeze at, in my opinion, because I got 4 points against a supposed expert on the subject. I'll take that.
However, with my defeat, I feel I must do something for Kevin that I wouldn't typically do to symbolize my defeat. Yes, friends, that is why we are getting a post on the New York Islanders.
Now, I don't know a whole lot about the Islanders, save for the fact that one of their best players in history didn't like Brian Bellows, they were pretty good in my formative years and they recently have a knack for developing and losing Minnesota born players, like Jason Blake and Mark Parrish. I do remember one story I have about the Islanders is the time last year me and my pal Eric played NHL '06 a bit last year, deciding to go with the random teams that the EA gods decided would pick for us. We played 2 games and I was the Islanders both times. Let me say, both times, Oleg Kvasha was a monster.
I was going to writes some flowery BS about how the Islanders made a wise decision I wouldn't have been able to make (judging by my 2 games playing as the Islanders on a video game), but when I went poking around for a little Oleg Kvasha info on the internets, I found a delightful quote in his Wikipedia page. "Kvasha has represented his native Russia in the 2002 Winter Olympics, where he graciously allowed the Canada and U.S, gold and silver, since he figured bronze would match his tan better." This article does not cite it's references or sources, indeed.

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The Vikings are inhumane

Last week was probably the best the Vikings have had in years. It's the first time a recent draft pick had paid dividends. It showed that the exorbitant contract given to Steve Hutchinson was worth it. Most of all, it showed that the Vikings were once again watchable and relevant. I almost looked forward to this weekends game.
Then we were reminded that the Vikings are managed by a bunch of douchebags. The latest incident occurred this past week, when wide receiver Troy Williamson was docked a games salary for having the nerve to plan and attend his grandmother's funeral, as well as visit his comatose brother in the hospital. Now, it's typically sad to lose one's grandmother, however, Williamson was especially close to his, because, well, she RAISED HIM. Think about that for a minute. What if you were adopted and your adoptive mother died, but you weren't allowed the full bereavement time because she wasn't your biological mother? It's exactly the same situation.
The Vikings have defended themselves, and I can see how they are thinking, even though I don't support their arguments. At some point, you have to have some compassion for your players. But compassion and viewing employees as actual people has never been a strong suit of Vikings management, from owner to owneer.
For example, you had Red McCombs come in and dump Denny Green after one bad year in his entire tenure with the Vikings. Keep in mind, Green was the one who took a chance on Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper and got Randall Cunningham to perform. While in Arizona, he drafted Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. He has an eye for talent, and with the support of cognizant ownership (not present in Arizona or Minnesota under McCombs, who mostly wanted to move the team) he was an excellent coach. But again, he was dispatched because nobody in the organization is allowed to slip up. No one is allowed to be human.
The Vikings shouldn't be in the business of telling their employees how to grieve. Everyone does it differently. Take the bereavement time for the weekend game and say he missed practice. Is that a problem? I don't know human resources, I'm a meteorologist, but this seems like it should have a workable solution. Then again, I don't suspect the Vikings will look for one.


Thursday, November 08, 2007


So that long awaited change to the Times that we were all waiting for is going to happen. Starting next Thursday in this very spot, one of the very bestest commenters in the in the world, and frequently my fill in in the past (before Steve started up here), will be writing a weekly post here at the Times.
I'm excited for a couple of reasons about having Beth help us out here. First, she'll provide a definite change of pace in perspective and writing style to Steve and I for a couple of reasons. She tends to be more thorough in her writing, and a lot less cynical, which should make her posts pleasant and refreshing. Second, I can't think of too many sites that feature a coed cache of writers. Sure, there's Epic Carnival, but I think at this point I'm the only one not writing over there. Usually when there are female bloggers, they tend to congregate, like with Ladies... or Babes Love Baseball, rather than comingle, or fly solo like the esteemed (and now retired) Bat-Girl. But no. Steve and I aren't of girls. We're happy to have Beth on our staff.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The NFL Ranks: Week 9

This past week we had our clash of the (non-Tennessee) Titans in Indianapolis. Despite the Patriots pulling out the 24-20 comeback victory, my rankings still put the Colts on top. How can this be? It really all falls back on the strength of schedule method that I am using that is momentum based. Using this system, the Colts have by far played the toughest opponents at the toughest times this year in the NFL, where the Patriots have beaten up a lot of teams that were down in the dumps until this past weekend. I factor in divisional strength as well, and we all know how pathetic the AFC East is outside of New England. I guess we'll just have to see where the rankings will take us from here. This week, the biggest gainers were the red hot Saints, who knocked off the formerly #4 ranked Jaguars in convincing fashion and now have won 4 in a row, and the Vikings, who destroyed the Chargers behind Adrian Peterson. The biggest fall was seen by the Chiefs and Seahawks, who both dropped back to .500 (though remaining in first place) and saw the crappy divisions they lead have a bad day. Onto the ranks, with a new and improved graphic...

1. Colts - 83.11 - Even
2. Patriots - 82.08 - Even
3. Packers - 73.52 - +2
4. Giants - 72.76 - -1
5. Cowboys - 71.33 - _1
6. Titans - 70.33 - +1
7. Steelers - 70.08 - +1
8. Lions - 63.70 - +2
9. Jaguars - 60.70 - -5
10. Saints - 57.59 - +9
11. Browns - 57.30 - Even
12. Redskins - 56.51 - Even
13. Chargers - 54.89 - -4
14. Buccaneers - 54.61 - +6
15. Vikings - 51.87 - +9
16. Bills - 51.49 - +2
17. Eagles - 50.95 - -3
18. Panthers - 47.38 - -1
19. Ravens - 46.47 - -4
20. Bears - 46.04 - +1
21. Chiefs - 45.73 - -8
22. Texans - 45.55 - Even
23. Seahawks - 42.39 - -7
24. Bengals - 36.31 - +1
25. Cardinals - 35.03 - -2
26. Broncos - 31.93 - +1
27. Falcons - 30.28 - +1
28. Raiders - 26.47 - -2
29. 49ers - 21.56 - Even
30. Dolphins - 19.08 - Even
31. Jets - 17.98 - Even
32. Rams - 12.45 - Even

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Of Vikings saviors and ugly uniforms

Mostly because it seems like I have done a disservice by writing a lengthy dissertation on a small hometown newspaper, I feel as though I should rebound with some hot, hot NFL review action. Shall we review, then? You may want a glass of water if it gets too hot, hot for you

After disparaging the Vikings for about a year straight, I have to say something nice about them. Swell job on drafting Adrian Peterson. With the offensive line, running game, and defense they have, they are like last years Bears, only with a much worse passing game, if that's possible. Oh, and their running game is better. And their defense is a little worse. But other than that, just like the Bears. If they had any talent at receiver/quarterback, and a coach with a 3rd grade reading level (or higher) they would be a legitimately the best team in the NFC and about the 8th best team in the NFL. (If anyone was wondering, the Pacifist Viking is mildly excited about AP's development. Although I join him in the quest to not call him Purple Jesus. Pretty soon, we'd have to call Steve Hutchinson the Purple John the Baptist and Chester Taylor the Purple Judas Iscariot.)

Since we are contractually obligated to a Fox game, we were left with the Browns-Seahawks game that was on opposite the other game on for the afternoon. I'm sure I was the only one who noticed, but the game was surprisingly watchable. Quarterbacks are always labeled as the reason for a teams recovery, and as such Derek Anderson has been tagged as the reason for the Browns excellent season. This is not the case. The whole team is performing now. Their defense is playing better. They have a ground game. The past few drafts have brought in Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards, who are having breakout years as well. The Browns are good.

The important thing that we learned from the Colts-Patriots game was how to beat the Pats. The issue hasn't been scoring on their defense, it's been stopping the offense, and the Colts did the best job at that all season. The key is to come after Tom Brady and hit him a couple times. The second step, the part that the Colts didn't do, is keep it up for all 60 minutes. They just kind of relaxed at the end of the game. I think we were all taught a very valuable lesson. The Giants look like the team that could finally beat the Patriots. For the record, The Colts would have won if they had their Hall of Fame receiver Marvin Harrison playing, as well as their stud rookie at tackle in Tony Ugoh to make sure Peyton Manning had a little more time. They will at the end of the year, and the playoffs should be thrilling.

It's good that Dallas is back as a top team, because I'm not sure John Madden knew who's ass to kiss anymore. In any event, after talking up Tony Romo for most of the 5 minutes I caught after switching over from the Amazing Race (I really can't stand the NFC East) Romo threw one of the ugliest passes I've ever seen. It was a duck if I've ever seen one. Of course, the Eagles are terrible, so they squandered that opportunity en route to getting blown out.

I don't really have a lot to say about the Monday night game, because there wasn't a whole lot to say. The Steelers are much better than the Ravens, simple as that. But have you ever heard anyone say that they thought the Steelers had ugly uniforms? No. Of course not. So why do they go with the alternate uniforms/retro uniforms that make me want to take Liquid Plumr to my eyes? I don't understand.

Steve will likely have some power rankings up soon, making this a big three post day at the times. 3 posts!


I think I might be a better journalist than someone!

Recently, some car trouble (yes, Honda dealer, the alternator CAN go out on the '97 Accord, and in fact has. Twice on my car alone) left me stuck at my parents' house, and lo and behold, a copy of the Celine Dion Newsletter was there. You know what that means? It's time to check in on the city of Victoria/make fun of the local paper!

Due to her inability to create hyperlinks, the one interesting story (to me. I'm not a fan of human interest stories, but to each their own) I saw on the front page, one regarding a golf pro leaving the Deer Run Golf Club (where I used to work) to go be the Head Pro at Pebble Creek. Which one? There are several. I assume the one in Becker, Minnesota, but it could be the one in Cincinnati or New Jersey. Until Celine can figure out the art of the hyperlink, I'll never know. (Yes, it does bother me that I can't read about this but I can read all the personal mail she received in the past month).
I decided to poke around the paper a little more than I usually do, and decided to read the message from the editor. She mentioned the wildfires in California and wondered what she would save from the house if she were in the same situation. Her Catholicism, as ever, was pervasive, something I've grown to accept from the CDN, because frankly, Victoria is a Catholic town. What bothered me was that she slipped in another of her "I live on Park Drive and Victoria needs to do something to improve it" jibes. Today, she was complaining that it was her only way into or out of the neighborhood. Frankly, there is only one way out because there is one place to go. If you have a suggestion for another outlet, I'd like to hear it. I'm guessing she just doesn't wants something new because 5 and Park is so dangerous. (note: After searching the internet for reports of accidents, I found 1. Like, ever. (Additionally, while looking, I saw that some minutes from the Victoria Council meetings that said the Chanhassen Villager was the official paper of the city. Ha!))
Now, on to the traditional first part of the paper I read, the letters
I invite you to interview a gardening and cooking expert who will be giving a free lecture at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Here's a press release and her photo is attached. She quite an interesting woman and gives thoughtful, insightful, and fun interviews.
Can we perhaps read some of the press release? No? I didn't think so. So we know the location of this speaker, but not the name or time. Fabulous. Unless people read about it in the Villager, I doubt anyone was able to show up. Admittedly, if the writer of the letter had ever read the CDN before, she would know that she should have mentioned everything said in the press release in the letter as well, so it's not entirely Celine's fault. Well, it is for publishing the letter. That was just asinine.
Apparently, Celine's son got married. So it says in like 15 straight letters. Ugh. I'm glad my mom only talks about my achievements with her coworkers, rather than putting them in a newspaper with a circulation of a couple thousand people.
In another irresponsible bit of journalism, a writer wrote something informative and heartfelt about the affects of radon gas and how it causes lung cancer, and requested that Celine "help inform the citizens" of the dangerous affects. Sure! So she buried it on the 2nd page of her online letters to the editor page and didn't even provide a link to her attachment. Well, my circulation is the entire interwebs, so here's a link to something on the dangerous affects of radon. See? I can do something good sometimes.
The last pertinent letter was one that was actually sent to the mayor from the Lieutenant Governor regarding the Highway 5 bridge over the old railroad line, and the intended plans. It will get replaced, it appears, as Highway 5 is upgraded through Victoria in the coming years, but I was more intrigued that the letter ended up in the Letters to the Editor, and not the city hall news section, unless.... Yes, that's it. Celine thinks she's the mayor.
The first item of interest in the city hall section is a proposed ordinance to keep snowmobiles out of downtown. I have no problem with this. Why do you need to take them in town anyways, especially with a trail right there for you to use? Of course, this is Minnesota, and snowmobiles are important for people around here, so I'm sure this will raise the dander of a few people. Just take the sleds to Park Drive.
Another story that hits home for me is the idea of enforcing the speed in Kirchlelachen, my old neighborhood. While you're at it, why not make people stop at the stop sign at 81st and Trillium? I'm all in favor of having a squad car busting speeders in the neighborhood, however, I'm sure I'll get tagged on my way home sometime.
In a complete jerk move by a city resident in regard to the accrued vacation time of Steve Sarvi, Iraq War vet and City administrator, he said this:
We've been very gracious to Steve Sarvi. By law, we didn't have to do that ... I'm getting tired of playing Santa Claus. I don't think vacation time should have been accumu-lating while he was gone ... and now he has political aspirations. You can't tell me he can run for national office and still put in full time here for us.
Really? You don't think defending our nation earns someone a vacation? And almost everyone in a non executive or federal governmental elected position has a job, so why should that stop Sarvi? Relax pal. Tim "Neat Cool" Amundson had a good point, noting that people in the service definitely aren't earning a drastic amount of money, and are often just above the poverty line. Kudos, City Council for doing the right thing here.
Another responsible step taken by the Council was opposing the Met Council's move to have all cities in it's jurisdiction strive for densities of 3 housing units per acre, which for many places, especially on the outer fringe, is ridiculous. For one thing, people come to Victoria to space themselves out a little bit. Secondly, traffic in Victoria is already a nightmare. Let's straighten that out before we mandate high density suburbs, OK? (And how the heck do you do this in, say, Wayzata, where everyone owns a couple acres of lakefront property? Seriously.)
So that's it. Your look at Victoria. I apologize to anyone who has no idea what I'm talking about, which I suspect is everyone.


Monday, November 05, 2007

A closer look at some baseball rumors

One of my favorite sites out there, MLB Trade Rumors, recently released their top 50 free agents this offseason, as well as the projections for where those 50 players will end up. With 10 days remaining until the free agency period officially begins, I think we can safely take a look at the pending free agency period, with MLBTR's guidance, specifically looking at the two teams of note here at the Victoria Times, namely, the Twins and the White Sox.
The Twins have already indicated that they are taking a different path than I would have, by even negotiating to extend Joe Nathan. I would like to see him dealt for something offensive, as the Twins have a bevy of pitching prospects, as well as a fairly strong bullpen as it is. But I digress. MLBTR has the Twins letting Torii Hunter go (to Texas) as well as Carlos Silva (to the Mets). I don't have any disagreements there, although I would like to see the Twins try to resign both of them, Hunter because his loss would be devastating, and Silva because he is such good friends with Johan Santana. But like I said, I don't think the Twins will actually sign those guys, MLBTR does have the Twins making a couple signings, however, Kenny Lofton and Luis Gonzalez. While both would fill roles for the Twins, namely Center Field/lead off hitter and designated hitter, I can't help but be underwhelmed.
See, while these are temporary fixes, I don't think the Twins can afford temporary fixes. The Twins are deep in terms of pitching depth as an organization, but there is nobody waiting to break through and be the next center or left fielder. Or third or second baseman, for that matter. So why get 2 guys who maybe have one or two years left in the league, when there are trades to be made? And make no mistake, they are out there. One popular trade target has been the Pirates Jason Bay, who I think would be a good fit in Minnesota, which has a history of quality Canadian players, not the least of whom is Justin Morneau. MLBTR also mentions Coco Crisp as a possible target for center. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. If we have the resources to acquire two talented players, I think I would prefer a trade for someone to play third or second. If the money is there, and these two trades are made (For Bay and an infielder), I would be able to live with a signing of Kenny Lofton. If we were to acquire a second baseman, I can see the Twins picking up Corey Koskie at third as well.
MLBTR has the Sox taking what I think to be a dangerous and even poor route, adding Aaron Rowand, Shannon Stewart and David Eckstein. What they branded as "Ozzie Ball" when they won the World Series in 2005, it was fine over the course of an entire season when their competition was weak, however now, in an era when the Tigers and Indians are scoring runs in droves, your team needs to do the same, rather than clawing for the odd run here and there. That means you need high OBP guys at the top of the order. Stewart fits the bill when he's healthy, but Eckstein does not. Aaron Rowand is more of a 5-6 hitter on a team full of 5-6 hitters. Another option put forth and is gaining steam around the internet is Joe Crede for Johnny Damon, who would also be a poor fit in Chicago. Of these moves, the best one the Sox could make is for Shannon Stewart, followed by Aaron Rowand, for no other reason than that fans seem to like him there.
I consulted Steve on this, and he is OK with replacing Juan Uribe with Eckstein, while he would like to keep Crede at third and not sign a left fielder, instead letting Josh Fields play out there. On his wish list are Torii Hunter (but he would be OK with Rowand if the sweepstakes are too high) and Luis Castillo, as the present state of 2nd base in Chicago is essentially catatonic.
Of course, these are all rumors and wish lists. Personally, I'm looking forward to a wacky and wild free agency period, beginning in 10 days.

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