Monday, June 30, 2008

Links of the Day 6/30/08

Problems in Boston. No, really. Serious problems in Boston.

In the spirit of trying to care about the NBA.... Empty the Bench let's us know that the Timberwolves will still suck next year because of the Kevin Love trade.

Needing a third link, I will go to the easy option... Shot to the junk!


Sunday, June 29, 2008

MY WISH: An end to the SportsCenter My Wish segments

Steve (you remember Steve?) and were chatting on the interwebs today, and Sports Center came on. The following conversation ensued.

Steve :Oh, it's the start of "My Wish". Time to stop watching Sportscenter for however long this lasts.

Ryan: Yep. I was going to say that this sounds like the month Ryan doesn't watch SportsCenter.

Steve: I hate this snizzle-snazzle*. I think it's nice ESPN does it, but I watch Sportscenter for highlights, not Outside the Lines crap**.

Ryan: It's not even Outside the Lines. They should make it an ESPN-Oxygen special.

Steve: They should. They even play a Rascal Flatts song. You should write into them. Maybe you can get, like, Nick Punto to visit you to send them a message.

So yeah. ESPN? You aren't drawing in viewers with your charitable actions, just driving long time viewers away. Sure, it's great you are helping out, like, 6 kids (out of millions, by the way) but come on. Make it stop.

PS: Next week, Nick Punto of the Minnesota Twins visits Little Ryan in Victoria, who is afflicted with terminal apathy. Can Nick make Ryan give a snizzle-snazzle *?

* Steve did not actually say "snizzle-snazzle". I totally did.
** Steve DID say crap.


Links of the Day 6/29/08

A screaming Sox fan wearing jorts... Even other White Sox fans saw the danger in this, and they banded together with Cubs fans to beat the snot out of him.

Wes Walz is joining Barry Melrose in Tampa.

On a technicality, the Dodgers were held hitless, since they didn't bat in the bottom of the 9th, and they didn't bat in the bottom of the 9th because they won. Got it?


Roger Goodell is excellent at diverting attention

Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner recently came out to say that he thought rookie contracts were outrageous, or, in his terms, "ridiculous". This was lauded by players and fans alike. After all, rookies are yet to perform on the field, and what of players who have been out there, busting their butts to earn their money? What if the player never pans out? People have wondered on this subject for years, and Goodell's statement certainly didn't fall on deaf ears, however it only deflects attention away from the most significant problem with NFL salaries.
Now, the NFL is the most profitable of the sports leagues and certainly, the money is there. The problem with the rookie salary is that it's being diverted from other players because of the salary cap. The real reason that players like Matt Ryan are getting huge contracts, comparable to proven players like Peyton Manning is that as time progresses, the cap goes up and teams have more to spend. It's not so much that Ryan is getting an unfair contract as it relates to other players in the league, he just got the newest contract, and with inflation, it happens to be nearly at the rate of those who signed before him.
But that's not the point. The rookie contract is the most important of the player's career, because it could be the only time they receive any money. Let's say that instead of playing 11 games last year, and recording 13 tackles for the Houston Texans, rookie Zach Diles ruptured his Achilles in training camp and he was cut. Sure, Diles never played a down in the NFL, but at the same time, the sport will now have affected his life forever. All he will take away from the game is the signing bonus of nearly $57,000 that he accepted. The rest of his $1.72 million dollar deal is forever lost. Other players later in their career are sometims not guaranteed any money for new contracts, despite the risk they take every time they step on the field.
Fortunately for Mr. Diles, he did not rupture his Achilles and will assume the role of starting strong side line backer for the Texans next year, having fought his way through one tough season in the NFL. Now, of course, he won't be making as much money as, say Paul Posluszny who was about as productive as Diles last season, but frankly, I'm OK with that. People who perform better in college get better jobs in every profession, and football is no different. The problem is that at any point, one of these players could get injured and their contracts would be thrown out.
Think of the signing bonus and guaranteed money then as insurance. If the player somehow gets himself injured, it's a small sum against the total he could have earned, had he maximized his earnings. Any smart NFLer should know that their NFL career is not guaranteed, even if they sign a contract. That's why, until those careers can be guaranteed, rookies should make as much as the owners will give them. (By the way, the picture is Diles making a tackle. Finding an action shot is tough. He's an elusive fellow.)

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Links of the Day 6/28/08

It looks like Purdue went ahead with my ideas. Design Mackey Arena so it looks like my house, I said. Mission accomplished.

I don't know if you've noticed, but I find it a lot easier to write about things when they aren't going so well. With the Twins having won 10 in a row, expect me to spend time Viking bashing.

Marshawn Lynch was distracted by a dancing pedestrian when he hit someone else and ran. In Buffalo. A dancing pedestrian in Buffalo. New York. There's no way mushrooms were involved in this at all.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Timberwolves Draft Day

Over heard in the Timberwolves' war room...

Guy 1: We need to make this team popular again! How do we make Minnesotan's love it?

Guy 2: We could try.... winning?

[Everyone laughs]

Guy 3: Well, the Twins are probably the most popular team in town, what are they doing.

2: Winning?

1, 3: Shut up, dude.

1: Well, let's see. They have Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Nick Punto. They seem to be hits in the community and with the team.

3: Hmm... So, they have a big white guy, a smaller white guy who is a gifted offensive player born nearby, and another white guy who is mostly annoying to other teams but hustles real hard and makes people like him? How do we replicate that here?

1: Well, I have an idea, but, well, we would have to take on another player who doesn't fit our white guy mold.

3: Let me see..... Eh, his name is Jason and he went to Stanford. Nobody will notice.

2: You guys are assholes.

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Links of the Day 6/27/08

After yesterdays Will Leitch roast (which included Scott Van Pelt and Bill Simmons), today, his last day at Deadspin is surely something you don't want to miss.

There was some NBA stuff yesterday. Whatever.

And lest I forget, the Minnesota Twins would dominate, were they in the National League. Absolutely dominate.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Links of the Day 6/26/08

Finally, tonight is the night of the draft. Chad Ford had is final mock draft today.

Why do teams ever do things like this? It just seems whiny and petty. I suppose thats the Florida Panthers for you.

I was going to go play a round at Interlachen this afternoon, but there is something going on apparently. And I'm not insanely wealthy.


Designate Everybody

I’m pretty sure everybody by now has heard that Hank Steinbrenner, heir apparent to the Yankee Throne, is upset that his pitcher, Chien-Ming Wang hurt his ankle running the bases in an inter-league game in a National League park. Steinbrenner takes the opportunity to offer his opinion on the situation of a pitcher batting:

“Truthfully, the NL owners should be concerned with it, even with the practice their pitchers get doing it. You don't need to lose your best pitcher. The pitcher has enough work to do. It's something Bud (Selig) needs to address and he needs to address it soon. Don't give me that traditionalist crap. “

Personally, I’m a fan of having two different leagues with only slightly different rules--the DH versus no DH. It adds a little fun when the teams play each other to suddenly have to change one little aspect of the game. (Interestingly, I’m only moderately in favor of inter-league play. It was kinda an extra challenge when the American League pitchers suddenly had to bat in the World Series. However, it is fun to see a little bit of it, but like most people, I think the rules should be flipped in inter-league play. AL rules in NL parks, NL rules in AL parks. Give the fans a chance to see--in person--the other side. Rather than bringing up TV ratings for a couple series, it would bring attendance up for a couple of series. I digress.)

I’m sure the Mariners would agree, because Felix Hernandez hurt his ankle in an inter-league game--after hitting a grand slam off of former Cy Young winner Johan Santana. Sure, he didn’t sprain his ankle running the bases, but rather making a defensive play. The pitchers should have a designated defender to prevent injury possibilities on the field in general. Twins pitcher Pat Neshek hurt his arm pitching, so perhaps there should be a designated pitcher would prevent injuries to starting pitchers, too. After all, if I’ve learned anything from Hank Steinbrenner, it’s that we have to protect the pitchers!

But it gets me thinking. The starting pitchers are pretty valuable to the team, and most pitchers suck when it comes to batting. But pitchers aren’t the only position with a reputation for poor batting.

We should have a designated hitter for the catcher. Catchers are traditionally a poor-hitting position, and a team only has two catchers (usually with an “emergency back-up guy who’s really a third baseman or first baseman, but was a catcher when they were six, so they’ll do in an emergency). No one wants to see a star catcher like Jason Varitek, Ivan Rodriguez, or Joe Mauer get injured, do they? Last year Mauer hurt his hamstring. Reports were that he could catch without pain, but he couldn’t run the bases. If only he could’ve had a designated hitter, his defensive skills behind the plate wouldn’t have been lost for a month.

Middle infielders are valued for their defense, not their offense (although an offensive - giggle - middle infielder is definitely a valuable commodity!), so let’s get them designate hitters, too.

In fact, maybe baseball should become more like football and lacrosse: there’s offense and defense, and never the twain shall meet. Half the team will play in the field as the defense, and the other half the team will come to the plate as offense. Although, really, there should be designated batters and designated runners, too. You don’t want to hurt your team by having your power-slugger trip running the bases and spraining an ankle.

And there should be designated warm-up guy, too, just so nobody hurts himself warming up before the inning. With the multiple balls flying around the field, anything can happen.

Or maybe--and this is a novel, ground-breaking idea!--we should just recognize that there are risks playing sports, and accept the rules the way they are, and appreciate the differences between the leagues.

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Shawn Chacon gets a win!

Shawn Chacon hasn't been much of a pitcher this year. As one might imagine, he was getting a little frustrated, and relegation to the bullpen didn't help. So, naturally, this led to a physical altercation between Chacon and a 52 year old man.
The fight, apparently was fairly benign. After all, Lance Berkman has been the only Astro able to hit anything all season. Heyoooo!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Links of the Day 6/25/08

In honor of the continued debate over of the Twins roster and what should be done with it, several commentors have weighed in with their input. Thanks again to Tim Dierkes for helping out with that.

In honor of Milton Bradley's comments regarding Sidney Ponson, the Sports Hernia has a few other 'quotes'.

In honor of the Jheri Curl.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A third opinion

As I'm sure you've noticed, I've had a bit of a one track mind lately, trying to figure out what the Twins should do as we head into July. I had a personal identity crisis as I proposed that the Twins take it easy this summer, not doing anything major. Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune had a different opinion, thinking that the Twins needed to undo what they did this offseason, trying to rely more on home grown talent. Both Souhan and I certainly want the same thing for the team, victory in the near and long term, I thought it would be best to consult with someone who knows their stuff, but might not be as biased as Souhan or I. In that spirit, I asked Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors his thoughts on what the Twins should try to do before the trade deadline.
It turns out, he had a third opinion. Rather than standing pat or giving a more prominent role to the youth on the team, Tim suggests something a little bit different. His ideas are seen below:
The Twins are currently just 1.5 games back of the White Sox. They're four games over .500. The Twins have a middling offense, especially against southpaws. Their starting pitching has been lousy, the bullpen average. Defense has been poor. The good news: there are many avenues to improve the team.
Carlos Gomez, Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, Adam Everett, and Mike Lamb have all been drains on the offense. Tons of easy outs. The Twins could improve the team without giving up the farm - players like Casey Blake, Dallas McPherson, Kenny Lofton, Matt Murton, Juan Rivera, Randy Winn, and Brian Giles are available. I'd even consider Barry Bonds. If you're only 1.5 games out you have to go for it, but half the lineup needs a makeover. Even some league average bats could give a boost.
Livan Hernandez is done. I would look to bring in a veteran starter to fill his spot. Guys like Kevin Millwood or Randy Wolf would make sense if the Sabathias and Bedards cost too much. Freddy Garcia might be able to provide a September boost.
You can't acquire players for nothing, of course. Bill Smith should make the tough decision to give up one of his young pitchers. I think the Twins should go for it, but they'd have to commit to many upgrades rather than hope internal options pan out.

Looking at his logic, I like what he's thinking. It wouldn't be a huge drain to add any of the bats he suggests, even when it involves adding salary, as the squad cut so much leading into this season. Also, if we're in the market to trade prospects, I'm all for trading pitching prospects, since they are a bit more volatile.
In my perfect world, if the Twins acquire two players of Tim's list, I would go with Matt Murton, simply because he is still young and bound to improve, and Kevin Millwood, because, as Tim said, Livan is likely done. Wolf would be fine if the Twins needed a third or fourth starter, but I think the team needs someone to take the lead of the rotation late in the year. Of course, I'm not sure what the Cubs or Rangers are asking for those particular players.
Given the problems that Tim spelled out in the beginning of his comments, if Bill Smith agrees with Tim's course of action, Twins fans could be in for an active July.
Thanks again to Tim Dierkes for helping out!


Links of the Day 6/24/08

Boiled Sports gets Tuesday kicked off with a little Notre Dame bashing. I approve.

If you are into things like the NBA Draft, Chad Ford has a complete 2 round mock draft up and running. For those interested, he has the T-Wolves taking O.J. Mayo.

Don Imus is an idiot.


Jim Souhan disagrees with me.

Yesterday, I went out and made the claim that the Twins need to stand pat this year. The Star Tribune's Jim Souhan penned an article yesterday in which he pretty much disagreed with everything I said. He makes some specific points that I figured I might as well address here, because why not? I have a one track mind. In keeping with Fire Joe Morgan protocol, Souhan's remarks are in bold.
[Adam] Everett and [Mike] Lamb have been busts.

Everett wasn't brought in to be a bat. He's known as a wizard in the field. His real problem has been his inability to avoid injuries. As for Lamb, yes, so far he's been a bust.

[Brendan] Harris didn't stick at second base and could lose his shortstop job to Nick Punto, if he stays healthy and gets an occasional hit.

Harris has fallen off, surely, from last years numbers. I would say he didn't stick at second because of the incredible rise of Alexi Casilla. And he has probably shifted to short because Everett has been hurt. That being said, he is still hitting .250. Punto hit .210 last year, but is hitting .288 this year. Like Everett, he's constantly hurt, and by the way only has 59 at bats. His average is coming down, eventually.
[Livan] Hernandez is 8-4, but his ERA (5.23) is worrisome at best. [Craig] Monroe is hitting .211, and .113 against lefties, and his job is to hit lefties.

Sure, Monroe's average against lefties is disappointing, but really, when you bring in a guy who hit .220 the year before, you are admitting that you want him solely to hit a homer or two, which he's done, being third on the team in homers, despite having half the at bats. As for Livan, again, pretty much what should have been expected. He's here to eat innings, not strike out 10 a game.

[Carlos] Gomez has been entertaining but erratic. And [Delmon] Young has been the biggest disappointment of all.


The Twins traded Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett for Young and Harris. If the Twins had not made that trade (and I liked the deal at the time) they would be in first place, perhaps comfortably.

Um, no.

... the improvement of several youngsters (Alexi Casilla, Jason Kubel and Gomez) has kept this team afloat.

I thought you didn't like Gomez? But I'm here to have an honest debate, not be snarky. Sorry.

Lamb has no role with this team. The Twins signed him to a two-year deal worth $6.6 million. They need to try to trade him, or release him, despite the cost, if there are no takers.

Mike Lamb has made a career out of being a back up third baseman or utility player. And also, he has recovered from a .236 2005 to a .307 2007. Not that he's had a full season in Minnesota yet, but I'm willing to wait. And really, 3.3 mil a year isn't all that much.

The Twins can't give up on Young's talent at the age of 22, but they can lessen his negative impact on this team. They should call up Denard Span to share time with Young in left, and to spell Gomez and Michael Cuddyer.

I think it's a little harsh on Young here, but I actually agree with this. I've liked what I've seen with Span when he was up recently. That being said, I'm not ready to anoint Span as the next Twins left fielder of Young.

I really don't see that the winter was a failure as Souhan does, because it was executed with the future in mind. I think a bigger mistake would be shaking up this roster in order to make a huge push at the post season this year.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Links of the Day 6/23/08

Wait, these guys are still around? It's like a whole different version of the Danny Tartabull game.

It doesn't say it in this report, but in another I heard, he tried to prevent the robbery by saying "It's me, Pele!" Trust me, that never works.

Frankly, "Bottom Feeders" fits better than "piranhas". At least we're keeping the aquatic theme, right?

Also, RIP George Carlin.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

A summary of the Twins trades I would suggest

It's time to face the facts. The Twins are actually competing this year, much to pretty much everyone's surprise. As I or any other number of sportsy types may have mentioned, the Twins have their problems with offense and are only mediocre in the starting rotation. In fact, the Baseball Prospectus' playoff predictor has the Twins with the same chance of reaching the post season as the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles, despite the Twins recent 6 game winning streak because of that paltry offense. Their run differential is -2, which is absolutely insane with a winning record.
I'm pretty much one of the itchiest guys out there when it comes to making trades and what not. If I would be GM, I would probably annoy the fan base as I made 43 trades a season. That being said, take my following trade proposals for the Twins with a grain of salt, even though there are apparent needs with this team.

If I were GM, I would make no deadline deals. That's right, none. The team as a whole is young at every position. Even at positions where the squad is struggling, such as third base or shortstop, there are players ready to step into the role, if not this year, then next year. The wins this team is producing is only going to serve to give the players confidence, but I hesitate to believe that this is the squad that we should push really hard to reach the postseason.

Looking at the position players, the Twins have Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Branden Harris, Alexi Casilla, Brian Buscher, Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez and Michael Cuddyer all ready to come back next year and take over one of the positions. Sure, there is a need for a designated hitter, but with so much of the team built with young players in mind, do you really want to sacrifice a prospect in order to get a rental slugger? Better to sign someone this offseason, I say.

The pitching rotation, too, is of concern, however, what should we do? Who do you want to remove from the rotation? Nick Blackburn? Kevin Slowey? Scott Baker? Again, next year the Twins should have a full compliment of pitchers with another year under their belt. Livan Hernandez will be gone, sure, but next year Baker or Slowey or even Blackburn will step into the ace role, and perhaps Glenn Perkins will be the fourth starter. There's even hope that Francisco Liriano recovers and becomes next years 5th starter.

Frankly, if there was a time to make overtures to improve the team, it was last year, when two key players were seeing their time with the Twins end, with Torii Hunter and Johan Santana departing. Terry Ryan was notoriously cautious at the trade deadline, however, and the moves weren't made. Hopefully Bill Smith is patient enough to wait out the transactions he executed this most recent offseason.


Links of the Day 6/22/08

Kevin, the writer for Melrose Rocks, is not going to Russia. Rest easy.

I already hated the White Sox, but now I think I hate the Cubs too.

This kid is likely more impressive than Steve. If anyone knows Steve's uncanny ability to know everything, this is impressive.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Watch Out, My 2009 Manager of the Year Pick!

So the Mariners suck this season. On paper, they looked like they were going to be pretty good and maybe able to unseat the Angels in the AL West. They are so bad they already fired their manager John McLaren. That got me thinking about my picks and awards post from before the season started. Since I had the Mariners winning the West, I picked John McLaren as the manager of the year. But at least I had a disclaimer in my intro: "By the way, the last time I picked a pre-season manager of the year, it was 2005 and he actually got fired half way through the season, so watch out." Yep, back in our massive 2005 preview on the old Is It Sports? site, I picked Cincinnati Reds manager Dave Miley as my manager of the year, expecting a breakout year from them. So watch out, Ned Yost, and watch out to whoever I pick next year. Right now, I'm thinking I should pick Lou Piniella.....

Links of the Day 6/21/08

This is confusing, but hilarious.

So, who had Tyler Cuma in their NHL mock drafts as the Wild pick? Anyone? Tyler Cuma?

I link to this video from CNN only for the term "pregnancy outbreak". It's an epidemic!


Holy crap! Cito Gaston!

At long last, more than 10 years after he was let go by the Blue Jays, Cito Gaston is back. I'm not sure exactly what he was doing in those 10 years, although I suspect chief mustache consultant on Super Troopers was one of his finer roles. Cito had an important role in my life, as the villainous manager in the opposing dugout as the Twins marched past the Blue Jays on their eventual trip to the World Series. Forgive me if I feel a bit nostalgic, and mostly, hopeful. I would love to see the Jays at the top of the game and frankly, I would love this to lead to more action along these lines.
- The Twins, 5 games out of the AL Central, bring back Tom Kelly.
- Experiencing lagging sales, J.C. Penny begins to sell Zubaz.
- With network ratings down, NBC plugs Cheers back into their lineup.
- Teal becomes a popular color for sports teams again.
- Ase of Base releases another hit record.
- Tecmo Bowl becomes a popular video game.
- Movies about dinosaurs are released by the dozens.

As you can see, I'm really excited about the hire. I'm going to go contemplate the ramifications of this hire with an OK Soda.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Links of the Day 6/20/08

Hey, the NHL Draft is today! I hope the Wild draft someone European! And yes, it depresses me that, on average, I'm 7 years older than these guys.

If you had to guess which former Twin was leading in the league in hits, who would it be? Luis Castillo? Torii Hunter? David Ortiz? Heck, Johan Santana seems more likely than Cristian Guzman.

Two things two enjoy about this article from the Boston Phoenix; the illustration (bloggers are rad!) and the phrase "interactive gangbang". The rest... eh.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Links of the Day 6/19/08

Don't expect Adam Dunn to play for the Blue Jays any time soon.

If you're in Abu Dhabi in the next couple of weeks, perhaps you can take in a hockey game.

The top ten trendy preseason picks. Please note that the Vikings aren't even as trendy as the Lions.


The Victoria Times Official NBA Finals Recap!

Hey! The Celtics won in what was apparently a thrilling 6 game series! Kevin Garnett was happy to the point of delirium. And... uh... Steve told you so!

That's it for the Victoria Times Official NBA Recap!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Links of the Day 6/18/08

Stampede Blue takes some issue with the coverage of the Marvin Harrison fiasco.

Not being from the Bay Area, I'll have to say Willie McGee in response to this debate.

Oh yeah. Basketball.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The incredible downfall of Javon Walker

The last time, I think, that NFC North teams really feared Brett Favre and his passing attack was when Javon Walker was still a member of the squad. He had good hands, blazing speed and seemed to always be open. Ever since, the Packers have been mediocre, save for this past season, and even then, it wasn't the passing game that struck fear in the hearts of Vikings, Bears and Lions fans.
Then Javon Walker tried to renegotiate his contract. Hey, he thought, if the Packers can get away with just cutting if I get hurt, why can't I maximize my money now? The Packers didn't see it that way. No team did, and teams still don't. When Javon Walker ironically tore his ACL on his first catch of his last season with the Packers, he became a poster child for all that was wrong with the collective bargaining agreement.
The Packers released Walker, and he eventually latched on with the Broncos. He emerged again as a threat at wideout. He also became a mentor of sorts to rookie receiver Brandon Marshall. One fateful January evening, the two went out with defensive back Darrent Williams and Brandon's brother. After an altercation that allegedly stemmed from the spraying of liquor onto the crowd at a Denver club, shots were fired into Walker's limo as they left. A bullet struck Williams in the neck, killing him. Williams died in Javon Walker's arms.
Sunday evening, Walker was out in Las Vegas, and as he left, he was the victim of a vicious assault and robbery that left him with a fracture in his orbital bone. Reports allege that beforehand, he was at a local club spraying the crowd with Dom Perignon, which either pissed someone off or just demonstrated that he had money to burn. The problem here is that Walker personified what is wrong with players in the NFL, not only getting involved in incidents at bars, but doing the same stupid thing that led to the death of a close friend.
Javon Walker could have been the poster child for what was wrong with the collective bargaining agreement and maybe could tilt things in favor of the players for a change. Instead, he went out and made mistake after mistake, and, if anything, has only served to enforce the stereotype that NFL players are nothing but trouble.


Links of the Day 6/17/08

And I'm back. Check out what I did yesterday. I figured BMR was due for some geopolitical conversation.

Former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees could be the greatest baseball playing Boilermaker since Archi Cianfrocco. The bar isn't high.

The ghost of hangovers past apparently haunts a hotel in Milwaukee. This spooked little Chuck Gomez more than most.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

What's in a Location Name?

I was out in Arizona for work recently, and I noticed that the Phoenix metro-area teams all have their own philosophy on where exactly they claim to be from. You have the Arizona Diamondbacks, who play their home games in the city of Phoenix. The Arizona Cardinals, who used to be called the Phoenix Cardinals, who played their games in Tempe and now in Glendale. The Phoenix Suns, who play their games in Phoenix, and the Phoenix Coyotes, who played their games in Phoenix but now also moved out to Glendale.

Now this sort of a norm in sports. Some teams would rather name their team after their state to market to the entire state instead of just a specific city. I think this makes a lot of sense for all of the Minnesota teams, who are all called "Minnesota" and are Minnesota's only team in all 4 sports (and Minneapolis is annoying the say); the Utah Jazz, Utah's only pro team (I don't recognize the MLS); the Tennessee Titans, because it can unite the Memphis/Nashville rivalry; and both teams that are just called "Carolina" because both Carolinas are loaded with a lot of medium sized markets. But there are some other odd uses of this naming technique....let's take a look by sport, discussing each from most to least sensible....

MLB: There are 6 teams with regional or just bizarre names: The Twins, Angels, Rangers, Marlins, Diamondbacks, and Rockies. As I said above, I think Minnesota is the best use of a state's name because it rolls off the tongue a lot easier than Minneapolis. Arizona and Colorado are also acceptable names because the nickname is something closely associated with the entire state (the mountain range is often called "the Colorado Rockies"), and it could be assumed that they play in Phoenix and Denver, respectively. I'm going to give the Florida Marlins a bit of a pass because they decided to name themselves "Florida" before the Tampa Bay Rays existed, but now they would probably be better off as the alliterative Miami Marlins. The Texas Rangers name is the opposite situation as the Marlins, because when they moved to the Dallas area, the Astros were already in Texas. I understand the name choice because of the famous Texas Ranger lawmen, but what's wrong with being proud of coming from Dallas? The Cowboys play in Irving, but they are still Dallas. The Angels need their own category....

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The dumbest name in all of sports. It all started going downhill in 1965, when they announced their move to Anaheim and a name change to "California" even though the state had 2 other teams at the time. They kept the California name all the way to 1996, when there were 5 teams in the state. When Disney took over the team, they wanted to market the city of Disneyland by correctly calling them "Anaheim," even though that would be like Arlington Rangers or St. Pete Rays in other cities. The city of Anaheim also agreed to renovate their stadium only if "Anaheim" became part of their name. When they were sold again, Los Angeles returned to market to the whole LA area (probably the right move) but stubborn old Anaheim forced them to keep Anaheim in the name....whew...

NFL: There are 5 teams with regional names in football: Patriots, Titans, Vikings, Panthers, and Cardinals, and 3 other noteworthy names. Like I said above, I think the use of Tennessee, Minnesota, Carolina, and Arizona are all good representations because all 4 are representing an entire state(s) and in the case of Tennessee and Carolina, are trying to group 2 or more small markets into 1 large inclusive group. I also don't mind the name New England for the Patriots. Foxborough is actually closer to Providence, Rhode Island, than it is to Boston, and they are the only team in the 6-state New England region. There are 3 interesting teams in this mix too, the Giants, Jets, and Redskins, who all are named after a large city but actually play in an entirely different state than the city they are named for. I think they got this right too, sticking with the traditional "New York" and "Washington" over "New Jersey" or "Landover" or "Maryland." All 3 of these teams originated in the cities they are named for too.

NBA: There are 5 teams with regional names in basketball, and 4 of them make a lot of sense. As I said before, Minnesota and Utah are the only game in town. Also, calling the Pacers "Indiana" is smart in a basketball crazy state that needs to fight off Bulls fans in the northwest and Pistons fans in the northeast. The use of "New Jersey" for the Nets is interesting instead of their former name, New York. They do indeed play in Jersey, and are claiming the state for themselves to fight off Knicks fans I guess. Quite possibly the dumbest name in sports falls back to another California team, the Golden State Warriors. Not only are they taking a state's nickname, there are 3 other teams that play in their state. It all used to make sense when they were called "San Francisco" (Even if their uniforms just said "The City" on them) but it wasn't like they were moving off to a far away land when they build their stadium in Oakland. Thanks to the Raiders and A's, Oakland is a well known city in sports and would work fine for the Warriors, or they could just stick with San Francisco since that is the general metro-area name.

NHL: There are 5 teams in the hockey with a regional name: Devils, Hurricanes, Panthers, Wild, and Avalanche. Minnesota, Colorado, and Carolina work here for reasons I already mentioned, and I think this is an even better use of "New Jersey" since there are already 2 other "New York" teams, and Newark is just an awkward name. The Florida Panthers are the big violators here, joining the NHL and naming themselves after a state when the Tampa Bay Lightning were already playing there, but at least there is an actual animal with that name.

So in the end, my advice to teams looking for a name is that if you're the only team in your state or region and its easier to market than the small to mid size city you play in, then go for the state/regional name. Otherwise, stick to the city or nearest large city you play in. It will be interesting to see if the Sonics go with Oklahoma City or Oklahoma for their name. Just try to avoid calling yourself the Grand Canyon State Coyotes of Glendale.

Links of t he Day 6/16

With Ryan guesting at Barry Melrose Rocks, I, Steve, am doing the links and a post today...

The ESPN sidebar story is called "Yankees Wang shelved until at least September" Dude, I know a lot Wangs that have been shelved a lot longer than'll get through it, trust me.

ESPN anchors and porn stars. who couldn't ask for more?

And while we're in the gutter, a bunch of strippers are saying Mets' skipper Willie Randolph should be fired. Are you listening Omar? If you're looking for another former player, maybe recently out-of-baseball Terrence Long would be more to the ladies liking


Less likely vegetarians

As Pete Croatto asked on Deadspin, is vegetarianism hurting Prince Fielder? Great question, but I'm not really sure I care about the answer. The thing that caught my eye was, holy crap, Prince Fielder is a vegetarian? I know I knew that, but still. That's nuts! There aren't too many people that would surprise me more by saying they were vegetarians. Here's a brief list though.

John Kruk
Dagwood Bumstead
John Daly
Harlan Sanders
Jim Leyland
A pack of hungry wolves

So, yes. I'm surprised Prince Fielder is a a vegetarian

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Links of the Day 6/15/08

Yeah, the Links and various posts are late. I've had a rough day. DADDY'S TIRED!

If you're into trades and the trade market, here's a little guide to what NOT to do or say as we approach the deadline.

Cliff Floyd is always injured, Milton Bradley and Chad Johnson are still crazy.

Oh yeah. Golf. Basketball.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

I have a plan for the Yankees

All right, Hank Steinbrenner, listen up. I don't like you, and you don't care who I am, but I have a plan that will make both of us happy. See, I'm going to help you guys get back to the World Series. The plan is simple. This year, and perhaps for the next few. you're going to need to really suck. No really. Embrace the suck.
The Yankees had a revival in the late 90s, winning the World Series in 1996 and then not really looking back until, oh, say 2004. But in the interest of getting your team to suck (for the greater good, of course), I won't bring that up. I will bring up the early 90's though. Like 1990, when the Yankees were dead last in the AL East. They didn't really improve for a few years, either. Do you know what this led to? This led to high draft picks, most notably, Derek Jeter, who was picked 6th overall in 1992. If you had been a decent team, you would have been drafting later, and Jeter could have ended up with the Giants, the next team picking. Can you imagine Jeter developing as a player with a character like Barry Bonds? The horror! The Giants drafted Calvin Murray instead. What if Jeter ended up with the next team to draft a short stop, the Mets? What if the Mets were the team with all of Jeter's clutchiness and splendor? Can you imagine?
And it could have all happened that way, had you not sucked. But Jeter isn't the only prospect you had. No sir. Other first round picks, Eric Milton and Brian Buchanan were packaged and traded to the Twins for Chuck Knoblauch. Really, when you boil it down, the only long tenured players with the Yankees that were signed via free agency were Mike Mussina and Jason Giambi. The rest were all trade acquisitions (because of your home grown talent) and, well, home grown talent.
I've made my case as well as I can think to. The Yankees need to go ahead and let this season get away from you and just continue to suck out loud. Build that farm system back up, maybe find another Derek Jeter. Then you can start trading your prospects for guys like Prince Fielder, who will be ready to leave Milwaukee by then. Cecil worked out great, right?
It was those early 90's teams that laid the foundation for your run about 5 years later. Heck, you guys should probably give Mattingly a ring just for all that.
And yes, I do stand to benefit. I would love to laugh at Yankee misery for about 4-5 years.

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Links of the Day 6/14/08

Mike Tyson and 50 Cent are both very scary individuals. New York may never be the same after this incident.

It appears that new Twins draftee Adam Conley will, uh... provide that spark the Twins are looking for? At least he and Delmon Young could have something to talk about.

No! Cliff! You've got at lest 5 seasons left, right?

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Finally, some time off

So, I actually have the bulk of a weekend off, which is awesome. I can catch up on some things, watch some sports and all that. What should I watch first? ESPN should have a baseball game on, right? No? Golf? Followed by NBA Finals coverage? Call me crazy, but I don't recall the NHL getting this kind of coverage on the Leader. Maybe I can take in a couple minutes of the US Open, simply because the course is beautiful.
So, the afternoons are, unfortunately, a wash. I still have the evenings. Perhaps I can catch up with the Twins, who I haven't really been able to follow for the past few days... Aw hell. The Twins have only won 2 games since the 3rd? And they have given up 7 runs a game? Is Frankie Rodriguez back in the rotation? And now it's going to interleague, and frankly, I don't think I can stomach 6 games with the Brewers. They're just so dull. I drink Bud Light just to put Milwaukee to shame.
I guess this just means i'm going to have to, like, talk to my family or something. It IS Father's Day. Ooh! Are the Padres on TV?


Links of the Day 6/13/08

This piece from the Huffington Post speaks to my soul. Probably wholly inaccurate, but still. It speaks to me. Cliff!

Well, maybe Rincon did need those PEDs.

Hey! No Twins on this team! That's good, at least.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Links of the Day 6/12/08

The salmonella outbreak sweeps into Purdue. Good to know that the athletes there maintain such a healthy diet.

Well, this seems inappropriate, but what do I know about interoffice rules? Especially at ESPN?

Juna Rincon has now completely fallen off. Poor guy. Seriously though, he's not the only problem with the Twins at this point.


Time for a Bake Sale!

It’s a sad state of affairs when a New York sports team is reduced to beg for money, because they simply don’t have enough to finish a small simple project, like building a $1.3 million ballpark. Sadly, due to IRS regulations, they’re having trouble getting the $400 million more they need. The state is presently paying $450 of this cost (reference).

To put that in perspective, the Mets new stadium costs $850 million--and they’re going to finish their project. New York is paying $165 million (reference).

Another team set to open a new ballpark soon--a year after the two New York ballparks--is the Twins. Their total project will cost $522 million, with $392 million from a public subsidy (reference). The Twins, despite playing in the arctic circle where snow could play a factor in about one quarter of the regular season (and the entire post-season), could not get an extra $100 million to add a roof onto their new building.

The Yankees payroll, by the way, for 2008 is $70 million more than the Yankees, and $150 million more than the Twins. (In 2007, the payroll differences between the Yankees versus the Twins and Mets were $74 million and $120 million, respectively.)

Is that enough perspective for you? Bear in mind when reading the numbers that there is cost of living. The same ballpark built in Minneapolis would cost more if built in New York City. However, the approximate cost of living difference is 61% from Minneapolis to New York City, so just multiply the Minneapolis numbers by 1.61 to get how much the Twins stadium would cost in New York City. Thus, the Mets and the Twins have similar costs in their ballparks.

Some public funds go to ballparks. It’s a fact of life that I shall not debate here. But I do think that if you design your ballpark to cost significantly more than the other ballparks around it, you’ll need to chip in and pay a bit more of your own money. When another team in the same city is building a ballpark, designed by the same architectural firm (all three stadiums in question were designed by HOK Sport), there’s no reason that one needs to cost twice as much as another, which the Yankees are claiming by demanding the extra $400 million, which would bring their stadium cost to $1.7 billion. Maybe it’s time they held a bake sale to fund their luxuries.

Twins pitcher Scott Baker is off the DL! Official period of mourning is over!

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BREAKING: Milton Bradley still crazy

Milton Bradley is still struggling with being named after a board game company. This time, he was so enraged by comments by the Royals color guy in a post game show that he left the clubhouse and "bounded up four flights of stairs" in search for Ryan Lefebvre. Yes! That Ryan Lefebvre!
So, anyways, the comments, which I haven't heard, were apparently not meant to denigrate Milty, but gosh darn it, it hurt his feelings anyways. When he came back to the clubhouse, he apparently "screamed at teammates and broke down in tears." And the Rangers cut Sidney Ponson for being too nuts.
But seriously, would someone give this guy a hug? Uh... maybe not you.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Links of the Day 6/11/08

The media got on Twins fans for booing Chuck Knoblauch a few years back. The Yankees, though, have set their sights higher.

Juan Rincon is reminding TwinkieTown of Benj Sampson. Nobody should be reminded of Benj Sampson.

National Geographic telling off North Dakota Warhawks. Once again demonstrating why it is the premier magazine in the country.


Dear Minnesota Drivers

Now, there are a lot of things that bother me about living in Minnesota. So many Minnesotans are wealthy that prices are exorbitant and frankly out of my range. I used to live in an old Maytag box, but couldn't afford rent. Winters are chilly, yes, but I've long since gotten over that. Once you get below 10 degrees, it doesn't matter anymore, really. What irks me is that the winter can last into early April, and there are years, like this one, where it's June 10th and we've only hit 80 degrees three times. What irks me more is when Minnesotans either A) don't have a problem with it or B) tease me for having a problem with it. Minnesota has so many lakes. We should be spending Memorial Day on them. And not in an icehouse. I'm also not a fan of the preponderance of purple throughout the state.
The thing that gets under my skin the most, however, is the drivers here. I spent most of my formative driving years in Indiana, which, compared to Michigan is incredibly slow, but compared to Minnesota is blazing fast. I've made my peace with the fact that Minnesotans view speed limits as maximums, while Hoosiers view them as minimums. I will continue to dry peacefully at 5 miles per hour over the given speed limit, and leave you in my dust. If you are convinced you need to drive that slow, then you must not be paying full attention to the road, and I would be best served not driving in traffic anyways. So, keep driving slow. But please, heed the following two common courtesy pointers.
First, when stopping at a red light in one of the left turn or no turn lanes, be sure to stop at that white line in front of the crosswalk. Now I, like most drivers, don't particularly care about the pedestrians trying to cross. This isn't about that. No, sometimes, another driver will need to make a right turn. If you are pulled all the way up through the crosswalk, Right Turn Rick can't do anything short of pulling halfway into the intersection to see if anyone is coming, and by that point, it's going to be too late. So, don't be a jerk, you don't need to stop that far into the intersection. And if you stop short, don't keep inching forward either. When you do that to the our buddy Rick, you're just being a douchebag. It makes matters worse when the people who inevitably do this are driving enormous trucks or SUVs or vans. Minnesotans, at this point, are the only people in the country that can afford them.
Second, while on an unrestricted highway of interstate (freeways, you call them) at a non-rush hour time, please keep in mind that the right lane is for driving, and the left lane is for passing. I guess what I'm trying to say is, get the Funk and Wagnall out of the left lane, you stupid minivan. It's not cool to pass people in the right lane, and I don't like doing it. Now, if there are three lanes, and if you aren't planning on exiting any time soon, by all means, occupy the middle lane to avoid the hassle. But if there are two lanes, drive in the right lane and let people pass you. It's not up to you to decide how fast I should go.
Also, while it's on my mind, if you are at a stoplight on a 4 lane highway next to a semi and you can't accelerate faster than the truck to let people behind you get past the truck as well, that's just unforgivable.
Thank you for your time,
- Ryan


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Links of the Day 6/10/08

Today, it was crazy with the stories sent to me. You write one soccer post...

Well, in the spirit of the soccer, MVN provides a recap of the USA-Argentina match from a couple days ago. The World Cup, of course, is but 2 years away.

Finally, we can watch Danny Bonaduce get body slammed by Butterbean. Thanks Hulkster!

With Will Leitch leaving, the Fanhouse wonders who will be replacing him as the editor at Deadspin. Please, Nick Denton, not Shanoff.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Links of the Day 6/9/08

Ok so I lied about not posting earlier in the day.

The Twins haven't seen any noteworthy clubhouse problems out of Delmon Young. There appear to be some chemistry issues with Matt Garza in Tampa, however.

Speaking of crazy-ass former Twins pitchers

Someone in capris is apparently pretty good at tennis.


Why do you [heart] the Devil?

Someone I went to high school with was down in New Orleans recently, and came across these evangelists on the street and this gigantic sign, posing an interesting question to a few specific groups. Or, the possessions of those particular groups, judging by the apostrophes.
In any event, I wanted to share this picture with the world, and point out some of my favorite devil [heart]ers:
Catholic's (hey! Oh, and nice work going after Catholics in New Orleans)
New Ager's (not even sure what the heck that means)
Environmentalist's (Fitting, since the Pope said that destroying the earth is a mortal sin)
P.K.'s (After doing some research, this might be the Promise Keepers. Or Keeper's)
Effeminate Men
Government Recipient's (STOP RECEIVING GOVERNMENT! And of course, everyone knows that Jesus hates poor people)
Thieve's/Jehovah's Witness's (Worst. Punctuation. Ever)
Loud mouth women (problems at home?)

Mostly, I want to know what groups are behind that guy's head there, especially the one that ends in "swine" and the other that ends in "nut's".
You know, on further review, drunkards, druggies, gangsters.... totally New Jersey's fan base.


A few things to savor from Euro 2008

Before work today, I was left with a little free time (yes, I work weekends. And yes, I work so late in the day that I have free time before work. And no, I'm not going to start posting earlier in the day). I flipped through the standbys, like ESPN, FSN, The Weather Channel (just in case Sarah Libby is working. Or Bill Keneely), CNN. I rested on ESPN2, which was airing some first round action from the Euro 08 Football (soccer) Championship. Now, I understand that a lot of people here aren't the biggest soccer fans, or you only watch during the World Cup (which, by the way is almost all European teams anyways, so this is pretty much the same thing, right?), so I'm just going to share some of the enjoyable take home moments of the little bit of Austria-Croatia that I saw. Historic rivals.
- Even though Croatia is so much better a team (to the point that even I know that they are a much better team), the score was 1-0, so the game was never really out of reach, and Croatia couldn't well let up.
- A lot of agonized looks while rolling around on the ground, faking an injury.
- This guy.
- The picture seen above.
- At one point, one of the Austrians was just screaming at one of the Croatians. Why? What purpose does that serve? I can't imagine that the Austrian was yelling in Croatian? Or that all Croatians also understand German?
- On that same note, nobody can argue with the ref!
- Some very Irish announcer was promoting the evenings NBA Finals game, and he sounded really excited about it. Well, naturally, what with the Celtics being involved.
- The same guy calling the Celtics' star player "Kevin GAREnit".

I'm really looking forward to Tuesday when we get to see Sweden take the field for the first time, taking on Russia. Wait. Diving Swedes and Russians?! It'll be just like a Wings-Avs game!

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Links of the Day 6/8/08

As much as I complain about the Twins, at least they aren't the Mariners.

Excuse me? Sir? Mr. Soccer Hooligan? Would you kindly knock it off? Please?

Memorial Stadium is creatively trying to get the hell out of Bloomington.


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Victoria Times, getting our name out there

As I may have mentioned, Steve got married a little while back. Delinquent as I am, I failed to get him a wedding gift, which was probably for the best, because I was going to get Steve and the new Mrs. Steve a blender, and they got about 11 of those already.
Then, while researching the Rays for my post a couple days ago, it dawned on me. See, Steve and I have had a strange and wholly unhealthy obsession with Cliff Floyd for some time now. He's always been one of our favorite punchlines and for no good reason. Seems like a nice enough guy, tries hard, but he just gets hurt all the time, and seemingly single-handedly derailed the Mets for about 5 years.
But I digress. Floyd has been playing like the Cliff Floyd of old lately, as I found when researching that post. Also, I found out that Cliff Floyd's page on baseball-reference was available. Naturally, I bought it as a tribute for Steve and Mrs. Steve. Congratulations!
(P.S. I have a spare blender. Beth?)

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Links of the Day 6/7/08

Didn't post yesterday, but there is something written, just have to straighten a few things out. Here are today's links.

Yesterday, we broke the news of Will Leitch's departure from Deadspin. Today, we bring you Epic Carnival's reasons why.

In keeping with the involved tennis coverage here at VT (and I even played in high school) it looks like someone one the French Open! Or at least, the womens side.

The Saints are honoring Prince tonight, because he's turning 50. Holy crap, Prince is 50.


Friday, June 06, 2008

Links of the Day 6/6/08

As anyone who surfs the sports blogs out there has probably aware, Will Leitch, editor of Deadspin is leaving to work for New York Magazine, which I imagine is better pay than working for a blog. Although, let me tell you, income from my blogs has allowed me to supersize when I go to McDonald's.

The Red Sox and Rays continued their historic rivalry yesterday. It should be noted that Coco Crisp used to box, and therefore could dodge Shields' swing. I don't know why, but I love the baseball fights. Oh, and later, the Red Sox fought each other!

Not sports related, but still hilarious. Tornado sirens in Kansas apparently spooked some special visitors that were in town, and, well... This happened. Oh wait! WaKeeney was the Kansas town for SportsCenter 50 states in 50 days thing! Sports!


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Links of the Day 6/5/08

The Big Picture has taken the Danny Tartabull game and made it their own. But they did an excellent job with it. I laughed at several names. Mike Devereaux!

I have to say, for a Major League Baseball player, getting traded to a foreign nation is probably one of the worst things that could happen to you.

The Pacifist Viking explains to the world what it's really like to be a Viking fan. I an not a Vikes fan, but I have to say, this seems like a pretty good descriptor for Minnesota sports fans in general. The Vikings have always been the top ticket in town, so it stands to reason that they shaped fandom in the state.



I don’t like golf. I know, I probably shouldn’t admit that here, but so be it. But let’s clarify this: I don’t hate it because I think it’s dumb or people who play it are talentless. That's not true at all. I just have no desire to play it or watch it. It’s not my sport. That being said, golfers are amazing athletes. Even the great Wayne Gretzky agrees with me: "You ever tried to golf? You better be a good athlete if you try to golf."

I’ve always thought Tiger Woods was an amazing athlete. What he’s done for the sport both through playing and publicity has been stunning. In a sport where a non-fan (such as myself) viewed the average competitor as a middle-aged white guy, Tiger Woods came in and broke the racial barrier and age barrier.

We’ve established the golfers are athletes (if you disagree, take the argument up with Gretzky). We’ve established that Tiger Woods was phenomenal. Thus, I really respected Tiger Woods.

But recently he was asked about NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. Game five was an amazing game: it went into a third overtime before the game was finally won by the Penguins, who were trailing in the series, having only won one of the first four. It was a sudden death overtime that, had the Red Wings won, would’ve meant death to the Penguins. Pretty exciting. If a basketball playoff game went into three overtimes, I’d be impressed with the excitement.

Tiger said about the hockey playoffs: "I don't really care," he said with an impish smile. "It's all about the Dodgers. I don't think anyone really watches hockey anymore."

If he had left off the last statement, things are okay.* To be honest, baseball had started, the Wild were out of playoffs…I didn’t follow the Stanley Cup Championship series much--I knew the Red Wings were ahead in the series (and won), and that they were playing the Penguins. I heard about the triple overtime game. But I didn’t watch any of the games. I didn’t go off searching for articles about it. I didn’t really care--it’s all about the Twins. But there was absolutely no call for the last statement by Tiger Woods. Just because you don’t watch hockey doesn’t mean no one is. If that were true, I could say that no one watched soccer (football for the Europeans). I don’t care about it, and I don’t watch it. But even I’m smart enough to know that stadiums are filled with fans all around the world--more than any other sport, if I understand correctly.

It’s okay to joke around, but you better add addendums to your statements. “I don’t think anyone really watches hockey anymore. :short laugh: It’s been a great playoff series and a nice win for the Penguins.” If you haven’t been following it, just admit it, but don’t disregard the fans who are watching.

I know nothing about golf, but I wonder if more people paid to watch hockey (at all levels) last year than paid to watch golf (at all levels). Irrelevant. As a professional athlete, Tiger should be showing respect to other professional athletes, rather than dismissing them. You don’t hear brain surgeons saying that what heart surgeons do isn’t important. It’s professional respect.

(And this applies to fans, too. Just because Yankees fans as a whole are obnoxious is no reason that you must be obnoxious back. Moral high ground, people.)

*Or if he were a well-known hockey fan. For those in Minnesota, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau could make that statement because it’s well-known that he’s a big hockey fan. In fact, if you buy NHL 2K8, you could even pick Justin Morneau as your goalie.

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Finally, I can rid myself of this stench

I said going into the Stanley Cup Finals that, because of what the Penguins had done to the North Stars 17 years ago, and because I expect the Pens to float around and piss me off for the next decade, I was going to be rooting for the Red Wings. I HATE the Red Wings. I really can't think of anything more detestable than what I did.
Sure, I could, say, pull for the Yankees to beat the Red Sox in a playoff series, because Boston is getting a bit too uppity, but hopefully that situation won't present itself. I could theoretically see myself rooting for the Jags to beat the Patriots for similar reasons, but frankly, I don't harbor any sort of resentment for the Jaguars, because they can't and probably won't win big games (It would just be nice if they didn't cripple Colts). I've pulled for ALL Big Ten teams in Bowl games, and 10/11 Big Ten teams in the Big Dance. I can't bring myself to root for Indiana, no matter who they play. I'd root for the Irish in a contest between those two schools.
All that was to say, I can't believe I stuck with the Red Wings through the whole series. I feel dirty for doing that. But at long last the series is over, the Red Wings win and more importantly, the Penguins lose. While Beth posts later this morning, I'll be showering 17 times. Can't...get.....clean......

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Links of the Day 6/4/08

Boiled Sports continues their countdown of the best sports venues. Of course, these are just sports venues they've been too, so the ping pong table on the Space Station isn't included, otherwise it would be a travesty if it was left out.

Speaking of sports venues, here is a recap of Nittany White Out's rundown of Big Ten football stadiums, and which one is the toughest. no arguments here, I suppose.

Lou Piniella can be found lurking in the streets of Chicago on Google Maps. In his finest attire, no less.


Changes at the top

In two different sports, two coaches who were thought to be at the top of the game just a couple of years ago have been relieved of their duties. It seems hard to believe that a couple of guys who were so highly thought of can suddenly be seen in such a negative light. I'm talking, of course, about Flip Saunders of the Detroit Pistons in the NBA and John Tortorella of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL. Well, they used to be. I used to think that it was strange firing successful coaches when success was so recently in their rearview mirror. I used to think so.
Saunders was working with incredible talent who was working well as a team before he got there. I'm not much for the NBA, but I do know that Rick Carlisle and Larry Brown each served to develop a strong team atmosphere and brought the Pistons to the NBA Finals. Saunders has been unable to push the team to the next level, despite previous evidence that this group of guys was capable of doing so. This suggests that Saunders lacked the motivational skills to get the guys to advance, or, more likely, he wasn't the best game time decision maker in the clutch. He probably deserved to go.
Tortarella maintained about the same record since his team hoisted the Cup after the 03-04 season, but the squad failed to advance past the quarter finals in either of the following two seasons. This year, he saw the Lightning collapse to 5th in the Southeast despite starting the season with many of the same core players he won the Cup with. It seemed apparent that Tortarella had lost the respect of his players. A tirade a few seasons ago against his goaltender to the press certainly didn't help.
That being said, I think this season should probably be Ron Gardenhire's last. Much like Saunders, he came into a situation that was created mostly by his predecessor, Tom Kelly, and he managed to continue the success for the next three seasons. Things took a negative turn the next year as well as last year. I'll get to 2006 in a moment, but it appears to be the exception that proves thr rule. This year, the Twins are contending in the AL Central despite themselves.
Gardenhire has two major flaws that are seen in two other managers in particular. Two successful managers at that, which is part of the reason why they may not be seen as flaws. Gardy, like Tony La Russa, micromanages his bullpen, therefore using up way too many pitchers and putting himself in potential binds in tight games, particularly those in extra innings. In La Russa's most successful seasons, he had pitchers in Matt Morris and Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder that could eat up innings, meaning that he didn't have to use the bullpen for three or four innings, as we are seeing all too often this season in Minnesota.
His other flaw is his devotion to small ball, or smart ball or whatever you want to call it. Ozzie Guillen used a variant on route to the World Series in 2005. The difference is this. Guillen's version involved the top of the order, guys like Podsednik and Iguchi getting on base, maybe stealing a bag or two, followed by Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye and Joe Crede hitting an extra base hit, like a home run. Gardenhire's version involves the lead off man, Cristian Guzman, Luis Castillo, Shannon Stewart, or Carlos Gomez in previous incarnations, getting on base, then putting someone like Nick Punto in the two slot to bunt the runner over. Always a bunt. Always an out. Then the problem would be compacted by having Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer or Torii Hunter try to slap a ball the other way. In these two scenarios, the White Sox have scored 2-3 runs, while the Twins have scored 1. Do you see the issue? Nevertheless, Gardenhire's teams were always praised for manufacturing their runs. That 2006 season, where the wins won 96 games and won the division, by the way, was the one in which Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter were the first two Twins to hit 30 home runs in a season since Tom Brunansky back in 1986. Funny what a little power in the meat of the order will do.
La Russa and Guillen each had the pitching staff and the mashing lineup to cover up their flaws in the middle of their World Series winning years. Current general manager Bill Smith appears to be trying to augment the Twins power, particularly with the addition of Delmon Young in the offseason, but it doesn't seem to be taking. Nobody in the Twins lineup is hitting for power this year, outside of the always reliable Justin Morneau, and eventually, the accusatory eye has to be turned to the coaching staff. At what point does Smith react to the fact that Gardenhire is coaching away from the team he is trying to build?
Now, I'm not saying that Gardenhire is necessarily a bad manager. He is an excellent fundamental coach. The Twins farm system, however, is steeped in the fundamentals, and in the majors, it seems redundant to continue this approach. For a team like the Pirates who could just use guidance and direction, Gardy would be perfect. For a team that needs to step up and reach the next level, following Bill Smith's framework, it might be time for Gardenhire to go, even if he has been successful. It happened to Saunders and Torterella.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Links of the Day 6/3/08

Former T-Wolves coach Flip Saunders has been canned by the Pistons. That's right, Flip Saunders, he who brought his team to 3 consecutive conference finals is out of work, but Kevin McHale is still going strong.

Of all the guys in Pittsburgh, the hero was Petr Sykora. Fantastic. This is right up there with Ruth and Namath, really.

The Boofster has been relegated to the bullpen. I think I would rather he be sent to AAA, just to keep starting, but what are you gonna do?


Another ratings failure for the NHL

Once again, the NHL failed to attract their maximum potential audience in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Who's idea was it to play the game to 1230 in the morning, local time, anyways? If the NHL continues to play games like this, how can they ever hope to be the marketing force that baseball or football are? Petr Sykora will be a hero in the NBC offices for mercifully ending that game,
(photo from Getty images)

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Links of the Day 6/2/08

The Big Picture: tempting fate.

One of the subjects of yesterday's post, Nick Blackburn, is OK after attempting to field a line drive with his face.

I am not in favor of anything that helps the White Sox improve. I say, let them keep Ozzie around for a while!


Another look at the Rays-Twins trade

Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune had an article this weekend analyzing the offseason trade that brought Delmon Young and Brendan Harris to Minnesota and sent Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett to Tampa. On the surface, it looks like the Rays won the deal, two months into the season, with Tampa on top of the AL East and the Twins fluttering at the .500 mark.
While it's a little bit of a disservice to judge the trade this early in the game, Christensen makes some good points. Garza is doing an excellent job with an ERA under 4 and Jason Bartlett has been excellent in the field and is coming around at the plate, batting .286 this month. For Minnesota, Delmon Young has been a disappointment in terms of his power numbers this season, and his average is off last years pace as well, something that could either be a sophomore slump or the Twins insistence that he change his approach at the plate. Offensively, Brenden Harris is more or less the same player Bartlett was, and less of a fielder. Strictly looking at this assessment, yes, the Rays got the better players. Naturally, this assessment is a little simplistic, as we are only two months into the season after it happened, and all the players involved, including a couple guys still in the minors, look to have long careers with their new teams.
If we're going to look at the trade though, there is another element, short term, that we need to look at. What did the Twins and Rays do to fill the holes they opened up with their trade? Now, the swap of Bartlett for Harris is can be thrown out, since they were exchanged for each other. The two positions that need to be explored, then are in the Twins pitching staff and in right field for the Rays.
The Rays are pretty straight forward. The added Gabe Gross and Eric Hinske, who have had most of the action in right. Gross, aside from yesterday's walk off winner, has been subpar, hitting .224 and only belting 3 home runs. Hinske, however, is slugging at .520 and has belted 10 homers, far surpassing anything Young has done at the plate this year. Combined, they have both been a substantial improvement over Young, had Young done the same things in Tampa as he is doing in Minnesota.
The Twins side of the deal is a little murkier, since it's a rotation of 5. The Twins were also planning on losing two other starters this year, both higher in the rotation in Johan Santana and Carlos Silva. The Twins added Livan Hernandez as their new ace pitcher, and at the end of last season, Kevin Slowey was the higher rated of the two new prospects added to the Twins rotation at the beginning of the year, which means, effectively, Nick Blackburn was Garza's replacement on the Twins' roster. All of the statistics, except for wins, point to Blackburn being the better of the two pitchers this year. His ERA, ERA+, HR/inning pitched, walk to strikeout ratio, all that is in favor of Blackburn. Garza has wins, which are a reflection of the team improvement, and a slight edge in K/9 in his favor.
If we're looking at the trade to see who won short term, it's one thing to look at the players involved, but another to loook at the situations that were created. In this instance, even though, short term, it appears that Tampa were the winners in this trade, it's hard to say that both teams weren't improved with it.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Links of the Day 6/1/08

The first Links of the Day post of June, so naturally, let's start with hockey. What if Sports' Stanley Cup preview simulation is doing fantastically well. It doesn't look good for the Pens tomorrow. These guys are apoplectic, I'm sure.

I know there is a lot of discord between traditionalists and more mathematically inclined baseball fans and experts, but at least we can all agree that home runs are good things, right? No? What?!

It appears that the King Kong attraction at Universal Studios has been destroyed by fire. Wasn't it Godzilla that had issues with fire?


Why is MMA not popular?

So, I happened to catch the beginning of an MMA event this evening. I'm not really into MMA, because I'm not so much into people punching people in the head for entertainment. Well, I know that is popular among certain others, just not me. It's why Walker Texas Ranger had so many good years. But boxing and wrestling and now MMA are just not as popular as other sports. I think, though, I have a theory. Is it because Ken Shamrock is a commentator for its only major network programming, NBC's Strikeforce? Well, see for yourself and judge:
I'll say with the hope of never meeting him. That's not exactly a "TV face".