Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ryan's quick and dirty MLB predicition post

Let's get right to it...



The Mets have the best talent in the league, no doubt, and their history of choking will eventually be overtaken by their enormous talent, right? Right?! Look for injuries and Raul Ibanez to derail the Phillies this season, while the Braves could pull off some amazing things with their suprisingly talented pitching staff. The Marlins offense will keep them interesting. Not in contention, but interesting. Look for the Nationals to pack it up and hit the golf course in June.

Make no mistake... this isn't a very good division, and the Cubs will win simply because the rest of the teams in the NL Central aren't very good. The Cardinals may get second. I sort of just picked them because they are usually OK. The Reds are always my sleeper because they are so young and could break out. Of course, they never do. Otherwise I would have put them in second. The Brewers lost too much, and without pitching, they can't do a thing. The Astros are simply not any good this year. They have Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman and despair. Speaking of despair, the Pirates are still involved in baseball.


The Dodgers and Diamondbacks will come down to the very end of the season before its all sorted out. The Dodgers have very little in terms of pitching, something I'm suprised was not addressed by them this offseason, so I think that's what will give the Diamondbacks the title. The Giants and the Padres have a few good arms as well, and that should propel them beyond the Rockies.


Red Sox
Blue Jays

I feel like the Rays will stay healthy enough to overtake their older, more brittle adversaries. I think the Red Sox are too young, and certainly hurt by the loss of Manny Ramirez, while the Yankees top three pitchers are very good possibilities to go down to injury. At the bottom of the division, I like going with young garbage over old garbage every time. Orioles over Jays

White Sox

The Twins and White Sox spent much of the season at the top of the division last year. The Indians were ravaged by injuries, but it would be silly to think that every card dealt to them this year will be bad as it was last year. The Twins will only get better, but I think the Indians are still the better team. The Tigers will work out some kinks and should be better next season, while the Royals, I think, are destined to have one of those seasons in which they make brief strides that get everyone in a tizzy, then falls apart. In Chicago, this will be Ozzie Guillen's last season, as they lost too much due to aging and attrition to be competitive this year.


I think the Angels' time as a perennial contender has finally run out. Of course, they are still going to win the West because none of the other teams in the division are talented enough to overtake them. The A's still haven't wowed me with their pitchers, which are usually the driving force behind their successes. The Rangers have a lot of emerging sluggers, while the Mariners will have fun with Ken Griffey Jr's return.

National League
Braves over Cubs
Diamondbacks over Mets
Diamondbacks over Braves

American League
Rays over Twins
Indians over Angels
Indians over Rays.

Diamondbacks Indians for the World Series, with the Diamondbacks coming out on top.

I can almost guarantee I will be the only person to make that pick this year

If you were wondering, I've got Carlos Zambrano and Jered Weaver for Cy Young, and David Wright and Carl Crawford for MVP. Your thoughts in the comments, please.

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Links of the Day 3/31/09

Dave from Barry Melrose Rocks interviews NHL.tv's Carrie Milbank.

Seth Curry not as fun as Stephen, decides to go to Duke.

Bemidji State is in the Frozen Four! Bemidji!


Monday, March 30, 2009

The 2009 Minnesota Twins

Here we are, a week out from the beginning of the Twins season. They will start the season at home against the Mariners a week from today, which, frankly, will probably give fans an inflated perception of how wonderful the team is. Anyways, here is a realistic look at the team, which the more I think about it, is better than I thought.

Catcher: It all depends on Joe Mauer, of course, and when he can come back. One of the advantages to the team is that they get so much offensive production out of the catcher spot, one not typically known for such success. If he's out, that's a lot of offense taken from the lineup, but honestly, if Mike Redmond catches, that should keep the team in contention, more or less.

Infield: If this goes like every other year, Joe Crede will start the season in a bit of a slump, and no matter how well he recovers, Twins fans and Ron Gardenhire will be all over him and pull him out of the lineup, and no matter how awful the Credeless lineup is, Nick Punto, Brian Buscher and Alexi Casilla will be in the line up every day. I'm hoping I'm wrong, but there is a precedent. Justin Morneau can hit 30 home runs, and I think the Twins desperately need him too. Having a healthy Crede or even a good Jason Kubel batting behind him would help. The middle of the infield is quality with the glove, although Nick Punto is incredibly overrated. I think Brendan Harris off the bench is due for some sort of offensive explosion.

Outfield: Right now, the Twins depth chart has Michael Cuddyer starting in right, Carlos Gomez in center and Denard Span in left. It's funny, because everyone that projects the Twins depth chart outside of the organization has Span as the teams fourth outfielder. Apparently, the Twins are the only people that don't see the value in starting the outfielder who led the outfield in home runs and hit .290 over the season, thanks to a few months in which he hit well over .330. Yes, I'm talking about Delmon Young, and I think its absolutely inexcusable if he doesn't play almost every day. Michael Cuddyer puts up similar numbers when healthy, albeit with more home runs (although if Young's finish last year translates to this season, he will have substantially better numbers than Cuddyer). The problem is, Cuddyer has missed large chunks of the season for the past couple of seasons. Denard Span is a slap hitter and Carlos Gomez isn't a hitter at all. You could really replace any of those guys with Young and I would be happy. Actually, as much as I complain, it's not a BAD outfield. I just think Young should be playing every day. Of all those guys, I think Gomez is the one who should be out, probably in AAA. Inevitably, however, someone will get hurt and Young will be back in there. Probably Cuddyer. In other news, I think Kubel is a great choice for DH.

Starting pitchers: The pitchers are talented and young. They will only get better. The best case scenario is that they pitch more innings than last year. That's the key. Why? Because....

Relief pitchers: ... the relief pitchers will be successful only if they aren't over worked like they were last year. That was the problem. There were injuries in the pen and short outings by the starters and the relievers just broke down last season. Luis Ayala is a new face, and it remains to be seen how he does, but I think he can succeed, again, if he isn't over used.

The x factor, I think, will be Ron Gardenhire. The team's successes to this point can be attributed to his abilities as a coach. The failures can be attributed to his falures as a game manager. We'll see if he learned from his mistakes. 2nd place, I think, this year.


Links of the Day 3/30/09

Another example of a horrible tragedy that doesn't seem to happen in America. I blame it on soccer.

The Final Four is set.

This is a good reason not to get Guitar Hero.


There's a 99.76% Chance....

....My 2009 NCAA basketball bracket is better than yours. Check it out over at ESPN.com. I'm currently ranked 11,102 over there, but with around 4.6 million brackets on the site, that puts me in the 99.76 percentile. If I would have written this post yesterday, it would have been 99.92%, but those Spartans foiled my plans today of having a perfect final 4 to match my perfect Elite 8. I'm bound to drop a few more spots after the MSU-UCONN game is played, but for now I'm just enjoying my time near the top. This is definitely the best bracket I've ever had, with the only one I remember coming close was when I picked North Carolina over Illinois correctly in 2005...but everything else about it pretty much sucked.

The funny thing here is I watched very little college basketball this year, probably the least in about 10-12 years. So here was my strategy for filling out my bracket....

- The first step is drink a few beers. It worked awesome in 2005 while I was on Spring Break, so I tried it again this year when I filled it out after going out for St. Patrick's day. You don't want to drink so many that you make stupid picks, but enough that you have the guts to pick some upsets.

- I came into it with these thoughts
North Carolina seems to be the best team, but the rest of the ACC is a little overrated
The Big East is amazing and worth the high seeds
The Big 12 is underrated, but not as good as the Big East
The Big Ten will do what they usually do
The Pac-10 is a tier below the other above conferences
The SEC sucks
Pittsburgh always chokes
Butler is always overrated
Gonzaga is probably overrated
Western Kentucky is good

- These thoughts led to me not picking any SEC or Pac-10 teams for the sweet 16, and I was a little friendlier than I needed to be to the Big East and ACC, putting FSU and West Virginia in there. I did a bad job with the Big Ten teams in the first round, but the middle of the pack ones are always hard to predict. Western Kentucky was only a second away from knocking off Gonzaga, who went on to get crushed by North Carolina

- For the Elite 8 picks, I dropped in all the #1s, took the best Big Ten team over the 7th best Big East team, took a good Big East team over an ACC team, and took the best Big 12 team over a lower level Big East team. The tough one for me was Missouri-Memphis, but after looking at Memphis' schedule, I realized they may have been the biggest overrated sham in tournament history, by having really only one good win, and it was over a non-power conference team. To the right is Memphis DOMINATING conference rival UTEP. Mizzou proved me right and I was there in person to see it.

- Michigan State surprised me today, but UCONN was an easy pick over Missouri, North Carolina was my champ pick, and I applied the Pittsburgh always chokes rule and took Villanova.

I guess we'll see how the rest turns out. But from now on, I'm never filling out a bracket without being at least a little tipsy and thinking about conference strength before anything else.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Links of the Day 3/29/09

A fantastic finish to the Villanova-Pitt game last night put the Wildcats in the Final Four.

Speaking of fantastic finishes, how about that D-2 game yesterday? Huh? How about it?

Speaking of NCAA Championships, the Frozen Four is half set.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Twins are hoping for an economic recovery

This season, the Twins will have a promotion called "market Mondays". It works like this. Whatever the market closes the Friday before, that's what tickets in the left field "Home Run Porch" will cost. For example, Friday, the market closed at 7775, so tickets would be $7.00 on th next Monday.
In short, the better the economy does, the more the Twins could pull in. On the other hand, Twins fans everywhere will no be forced to pull for a deeper recession. Yay, failing economy!


Links of the Day 3/28/09

Subtle Butt. I think that's all I need to say.

Billy Gillespie is out as Kentucky's head coach. They should have kept Tubby.

I don't know much about phoning bomb threats, but I do know that many places have the caller ID, and it's probably not a good idea.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Things we're supposed to not notice.

Above is Korea's first baseman Kim Tae Kyun. Apparently, he is a pretty good player, lots of power. The rest of the world just has to pretend he's not rocking the mullet.

Next, read this ESPN article about the surreal case of Pirate's minor leaguer Jose Tabata. It's a very strange case in which his wife decided she wanted a baby. So she abducted one. After having second thoughts, she brought it back. The first thing you will notice upon reading the story, however, is that Mrs. Tabata happens to be 43. Tabata is 20. That's just odd.

Lastly, here's a video of a news story from KARE11 in the Twin Cities. It's something about some bad luck for a couple split up due to the family. If you're like me, however, your focus won't be able to stray from the fact that their dog only has three freakin' legs.

If you have any "things we're supposed to not notice" be sure to send them to us at thevictimes@gmail.com


Links of the Day 3/27/09

NFL player Ryan Moats was on the way to the hospital to see his dying mother in law when he was pulled over for running a red light. What happened next was just a horrible, horrible story.

If you are going to abduct any competitor on Dancing with the Stars, might as well be the one that can fit in your handbag, right?

MLBTraderumors has a Q and A with Kevin Slowey.

EXTRA BONUS LINK: Purdue loses in the Sweet 16


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Who's Not on First

The Minnesota Twins know who’s on first. They even have options for who’s on first if their ex-MVP, All-Star first baseman doesn’t play. (Last year, for a period, there was no true back-up; Michael Cuddyer is presently un-injured, and Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris have both played there this spring.) They have a real third baseman in Joe Crede--with solid back-ups in, again, Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher. They have a shortstop, Nick Punto, and a second baseman, Alexi Casilla with decent back-ups in Brian and Brendan, again. (I should note that neither Harris nor Buscher could be considered super-utility players in the truest sense. They’re fine on the field, but not ideal.)

The starting rotation is set, with the same five guys who ended the season last year. Only Blackburn made it the full year last year, but that was due to injuries to Slowey and Baker and Perkins and spending time in the minors. There are a number of options in AAA if another starting pitcher is needed. (Me? I’m going to be Pollyanna here and declare that while the AAA pitcher will pitch wonderfully, none will be needed in the majors.) Scott Baker is the wizened veteran of the rotation at the ancient age of 27 (so is Nick Blackburn, but Baker is older). Baker was given a long-term contract (to cover his arbitration years, with an option for his first year of free agency), but has pitched batting practice so far in Spring Training.

This is not to say the Twins are without problems.

They have five outfielders, and even if Jason Kubel is the DH, that’s still one too many. This is not a bad problem, mind you, it will just be interesting to see how the year pans out. Michael Cuddyer’s injury-laden last year meant that Denard Span got a chance to show off his skills. But now that Cuddyer’s healthy, Span is still there, and Gomez and Young are where they were, too. Gomez and Young are the two youngest guys on the team, so they have the most potential for improvement--as well as the most potential for rookie mistakes. Ron Gardenhire will have his hands full trying to get all four guys playing time--and in the interleague play away games, he’ll have five guys to juggle.

Another area of problem is the bullpen. So far in Spring Training Jesse Crain is re-claiming his role of set-up man, which he lost due to shoulder surgery in 2007 (wherein Pat Neshek took the role, but lost due to Tommy John surgery in 2008). Boof Bonser was supposed to be in contention for that role, but he was lost to shoulder surgery in 2009. The only loss to the bullpen from the end of the year was to Dennys Reyes, but his role seems slated to be taken by Luis Ayala. Craig Breslow stepped in beautifully as another lefty in the bullpen, and seems to be holding that down quite well. Middle relief will be held by Matt Guerrier (who is still struggling since second-half 2008), and the long-relief right now is in competition between Philip Humber (out of options; part of the Johan Santana Trade of 2008) and R.A. Dickey (the knuckle baller whom the Twins signed in the 2007 off season, only to lose to the Rule 5 draft). And, of course, there’s still the elusive Jose Mijares, whom came out of AA last fall to be a lights-out relief pitcher, but came into Spring Training out of shape and prefers pitching batting practice to the other team so far.

And we’re not going to take about the catcher situation. It is what it is. Joe Mauer might have another injury-plagued year, or it might be temporary. It’s too early to call. And it’s way too early to tell if the guy whose hitting 1.000/1.333/2.333 in the majors (Jose Morales--with his three major league at-bats) will make the team as the second catcher come opening day. (It seems that making Mike Redmond will not be the primary catcher, but rather that Gardenhire would lean towards having two catchers splitting time.)

In short, I’m curious to see what this team is really made of. Are they the team that clawed their way to a one-game play-off against the Chicago White Sox last year? Or are they the team everyone thought they were going to be last spring? There’s only one way to find out: playing games. Play the game on paper as much as you want. Writers and mathematicians might love baseball, but baseball loves the elusiveness of luck and determination.

Timberwolves update: 20-52 (0-4 since last time, 16-37 since McHale).

Marian Gaborik Injury Status: Sure, the day I say he won’t play for Minnesota again (last week), it’s announced he’ll play the next Sunday. And he did. And Mikko Koivu was injured so…

Mikko Koivu Injury Status: As of yet, it’s unknown ho severe the knee injury is, but I suspect it’s season-ending. There just isn’t that much time left. I’m sulking over this.

Joe Mauer Injury Status: A second opinion again stated that his injury is not serious, but he will not be playing opening day.

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Links of the Day 3/26/09

Detroit schedules the only day game on Good Friday. Catholics are not amused.

I think eventually Bert Blyleven is going to completely lose it.

The plan, apparently, is still to have T-Jack and Sage Rosenfels compete for the Vikings' starting job. So glad I'm a Colts fan.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In response to some of my fans

On my way into work, I ran into one of my coworkers who was mentioning that he was a fan of Syracuse. I asked him in a jocular fashion how they kept getting so many scrappy, trashy looking white guys for their team. He said in response, "Have you ever BEEN to that part of New York?" Good stuff.
Anyways, I wrote something on Eric Devendorf the other day. In my opinion, Devendorf is a white trash douchebag. As seems to be the case whenever I write something about my disdain for something, be it Oregon uniforms or overhyped, overinked basketball players, I got a few spiteful comments.
First, let me address the fact that I didn't "do my research" as one commenor said. I'm aware that Devendorf's cronies and his coach who needed him to excel claimed that this was all a big misunderstanding, that whole "hitting a woman" thing. Fine, he's exonerated. Actually, you know what, another college athlete getting away with something upsets me even more. That wasn't the point of the post, however. The point was that I don't like Eric Devendorf. If you would like me to check with my sources on that one, let me do so. Hang on, don't go anywhere.
Yep, still don't like him.
And the argument that he is a loving father? He's 21 years old and still in college. That means that he was probably 19/20 when the kid was born. Is that supposed to show how responsible he is? The dumbest of athletes know to keep it wrapped. White trash everywhere thinks they have some sort of Super Sperm. You can't tell me that this didn't go through Devendorf's head.
In conclusion, for every one of Devo's fans that decided to tell me how ill-informed I am, what trash I am, I say this. In sports, do you love every one of your opponents? I doubt it. I bet you hypocrites talk bad about Hasheem Thabeet or Luke Harangody every opportunity you get. I'm going to keep reminding people that Devendorf leaves every game in a dual exhaust pick up truck wearing a Metallica t-shirt with its sleeves ripped off to chew tobacco for three hours.


Links of the Day 3/25/09

The Boilermakers look to be inspired for tomorrow's big game.

The MLBTraderumors review of the Twins offseason.

As much as I love football, I'm seriously against this.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where the Marlins are going, they won't need roads.

The Florida Marlins, under the specter of contraction twice, have finally garnered enough support for a new stadium, to be built in Little Havana. The stadium will be ready in 2012 and it appears that the Marlins will stay put in Florida. What won't stay put, however, is the name. Instead, they will change their name to the "Miami Marlins". Now all they need to do is change to the Leagues, and then, in 2015, the Cubs will finally win the World Series. Well, that is if Marty McFly's autobiographical movie is to be believed is to be believed.

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Links of the Day 3/24/09

Curt Schilling is calling it quits.

It's been said that the only thing that could derail the Rays is an attack by a wild pig. Wait. Oh no!

Lance Armstrong is broken.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Now that Mauer is hurt, do the Twins even have a catcher?

Remember 2004? Joe Mauer tweaked his knee and was out for most of the season. We plugged Henry Blanco in the starting catcher's role. We had Matt Lecroy in the backup role. Blanco, of course, hit .204 and Lecroy's defense, at best, was objectionable. Still this worked. Somehow. Well, entirely because of the pitching, and the fact that Blanco's defense was impeccable, he could hit an occasional homer and Lecroy was a very amusing person to have on your baseball team.
Now with Mauer hurt again for an indeterminate amount of time, the Twins have a question mark at the backstop. They have Mike Redmond, who is always good for quality at bats, working pitch counts and even hitting for an average around .300. Better still, he is excellent behind the plate. Of course, I believe Redmond is 56 years old, which means he can't play more than once a month. Who else do the Twins have to plug in? On the active roster, there are two catchers that aren't Redmond or Mauer.
Drew Butera:
PROS: The son of a former Twin
CONS: The son of Sal Butera

Jose Morales:
PROS: Has major league experience! In one game, went 3/3 with double. Has yet to record an out in his entire major league career.
CONS: How will he take it if he ever gets called out? Also, "Jose Morales" sounds a little too generic to be a real name.

In short, it's a good thing we got Crede!


Links of the Day 3/23/09

Like father like son, I suppose.

Tim Dierkes interviews Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes. Very cool.

Colin Matta hates Cornell. If Colin Matta existed.


Holy crap, baseball season.

First, let me just say that Steve and I will not be doing a division by division preview this year like we have in previous seasons because that takes a long time and I'm not sure how much people actually read them. But mostly they are so long.
Second, the WBC finals are set! It's going to be Korea and Japan. So, you know, all that drama about the Netherlands, or following all those teams chock full of players we all know and love? Eh, not so much. But maybe they ARE pretty good at baseball over in East Asia.
Thirdly, you know it's baseball season when you have your first fantasy draft of the year. This year, I made sure to start drafting pitchers a little earlier. Jake Peavey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lackey. I made sure to get speed categories filled up decently in speed categories, so as to get those extra base hits and stolen bases. I think I'll be all right this year, but that usually means I'm in for a horrible failure. In the meantime, I have one question. Does anyone know anything about Pablo Sandoval? I drafted him, and he doesn't even have a picture.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Links of the Day 3/22/09

Purdue is still dancing.

Oh Ozzie. F you too.

The Minnesota Gophers made the basketball tournament, but will not be making the hockey tournament this year.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Earning my ire

Today I got a letter in the mail from my bank. They needed to tell me that they had tried to send me a new debit card, but it had been returned to them by the post office, with the USPS telling them that they had the wrong address. I had two immediate thoughts. A) Why did this letter get to me? B) They didn't have my address, so they thought to inform me.... by mailing me a letter?!?
Anyways, on the topic of credit cards, the single most grating commercial on my soul during this year's tournament is this number from Capital One:
I hate Spaghetti Jimmy (whose last name is apparently Cardholder) Spaghetti Jimmy Cardholder sucks.

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Links of the Day 3/21/09

I don't remember any long winded rants against Bush in our comments. I'm not mentioning politicians again for a month.

The Champions League draw is complete, reminding us that England is the AL East of European soccer.

"The young naked man approached her with this poodle, and she immediately realized something peculiar"

Mauer is out for opening day, and Koskie is calling it a career.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama vs. McConiughey: Showdown in DC

If the Victoria Times needs anything to boost its readership, it's definitely an article on bowling. Last night, President Obama made a questionable comment on the Tonight Show saying that his bowling abilities are "like the Special Olympics." I'm not the type that gets offended over any little comment, but it probably was a little insensitive. Maybe he just figured that if the Special Olympics participants are benefiting from his "redistribution of wealth," he is allowed to belittle them. Well it turns out, Obama would get a bowling butt-whuppin' if he ever dared to step foot in a Special Olympics bowling competition. The smack talk has begun, as mentally disabled (and apparent Michigan alum...Big Ten fans insert jokes here) Kolan McConiughey has challenged our president to a bowling match. Kolan has bowled 5 300 games since 2005, which is extremely impressive for anyone, disabled or not. So I think America needs to see this showdown. Screw the prime-time press conferences about the economy, I want to see the bowling match of the century!

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Links of the Day 3/20/09

The Minnesota Twins and their shrinking payroll. This wasn't supposed to happen with the new stadium coming, was it?

If you have ever seen Blake Griffin, you will understand how impressive (and dirty) this is.

Is there a loss in productivity at work during tournament time? The numbers may be fudged.

Also... if you didn't know, Purdue still in, Minnesota out.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Links of the Day 3/19/09

Kobe Bryant, doing his civic duty. Does this mean he has to miss games?

A preview on the Purdue/Northern Iowa game today. Ali Farokhmanesh doesn't really look anything like I would expect.

If I know anything about Gus Johnson, his protestations must have been loud. But exciting!

Now go enjoy the basketball


Ends Justifies the Means...

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from MLB the past few years, it’s that the ends justify the means. Or at least that’s what I’ve learned from A-Rod, Andy Pettite, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens.

Two of the four have admitted to steroid use, and the other two deny it, but there’s so much evidence that it’s hard to believe them.

Rodriguez said he wanted the competitive edge. He wanted to be able to live up to the rich contract he signed with the Rangers after abandoning Seattle. In a small way, I feel sorry for him. There is pressure to live up to expectations. He was in a very public role. However, does the ends justify the means? He certainly lived up to the expectations of the public at the time, but now what? Now they’re looking back, and feel like they were cheated out of a real player. Instead, they got a non-human performance.

Then again, where are you going to draw the line? Many athletes get eye surgery to give them better vision than they naturally have. This is an advantage to them in sports. Tommy John often replaces a torn ligament with a much stronger ligament, enabling some pitchers to actually throw harder than they did pre-surgery. Tommy John is a bit of a risk, though, because not every pitcher makes it back. (The difference, of course, is that as far as has been studied, there are no long term negative effects to these surgeries; whereas, the long-term effects of steroids have been studied.)

Steroids are not bad. People take steroids quite often. The cortisone shot that so many get to relieve pain is a steroid. Many asthmatics take steroids--that’s what’s in the inhalers (I’m uncertain if there are any athletes in this situation). Premature infants are given steroids in the hospital to help lung development. Granted, these steroids are taken openly under the watch of a doctor as opposed to behind closed doors for no medical necessity.

I’m being a little facetious here; there are different types of steroids. Steroids, unchecked, have long-term affects. The players who take steroids are giving themselves an unfair advantage (although wouldn’t you say being born with athletic talent is an unfair advantage, too?). If left unchecked, this will grow, until players need to take steroids in order to compete. And the more athletes that take steroids to compete, the more teens that will take steroids to be considered good enough to be drafted and pretty soon parents will have to give their toddlers steroids. Leave it to me to take things to an over-dramatic extreme! However, the more professionals that take steroids, the more teens/college athletes will feel pressured to do so.

The ends do not justify the means, unless the means are justified by themselves.

Timberwolves update: 20-48 (1-3 since last time, 16-33 since McHale).

Marian Gaborik Injury Status: He’s skated some practices with the team, but is still a ways off according to coaches. I’m betting he doesn’t play for Minnesota again.

Joe Mauer Injury Status: Latest rumors are that his back problems are not serious, but he has yet to take part in baseball activities, so take that for what it’s worth.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tourney begins tomorrow

I hope you are all in a bracket. I recommend either the BMR pool or the one put out by our friends at Boiled Sports. I am in both, and you should be too. Don't know what to do? Just ask the president!

In the spirit of fairness, here is a brief Women's Tournament preview. I don't know much, but if I am to make an assessment based on the image on ESPN's home page last night, I would say that half of the players in the tournament do not, in fact, have lips.


Links of the Day 3/18/09

Now all of Ireland will be Steeler fans.

Former Purdue Boilermaker and current Houston Rocket Carl Landry was shot in the leg after a minor traffic accident. Remind me to never go to Houston. Ever.

A look at the Twins, as only the Dugout can provide.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Let's go Hornets

The Play=in game between Alabama State and Morehead State is just underway from Dayton, Ohio. Many of you, I'm sure, have found your way to The Victoria Times because of the preview I wrote for Deadspin earlier today. If you're logical, you may be wondering why I have any stake in a SWAC school in Alabama.
Well, here's the story. Every year, i take a road trip to two games, any games nationwide. I think it's more fun if I come to that game at random, so I randomly ended up with a contest between the University of Denver and Louisiana-Monroe last year, as well as Alabama State and Jackson State in Montgomery. I went to Montgomery last March for that game after doing some research on the two schools and have been a fan ever since of the entire SWAC conference. How can you not be a fan of a guy named "Chief Kickingstallionsims"?
That was enough to get me the post on Deadspin. My idiocy in wanting to drive around watching small schools play sports.
If you were wondering, this year I haven't been to the games yet. I'm waiting until the beginning of next basketball season, where I will see Illinois-Chicago take on an as yet unnamed opponent in December. To change things up, I will also be going to a football game between Arkansas State and Western Kentucky the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Anyways, the game has started, the Hornets look like crap so far, but here's hoping they straighten things out.

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Links of the Day 3/17/09

Well said, Julian Tavarez. Sheesh.

UMD should probably stick to football.

Looks like the Wild will need Craig Weller to start scoring some goals, I guess.


Monday, March 16, 2009

A quick look at the brackets.

First off.... mad props to the Purdue Boilermakers for winning the Big Ten. I couldn't be happier. Now, to the brackets.

Snubs: San Diego State. Only San Diego State. St. Mary's was worse than all of the other at large teams this year. If you lose one player and it derails your whole team, I think that demonstrates that you aren't necessarily tournament quality. I would replace SDSU with Arizona, if you were wondering.

First round upset picks: Dayton over West Virginia, Maryland over California, Temple over Arizona State, Akron over Gonzaga, Minnesota over Texas.

Top 8 teams (worst chance to best): Memphis, Syracuse, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, Washington, North Carolina, Michigan State, Duke.

That's right, I have Duke, at first glance, winning the championship. They have been embarrassed the past several seasons with early exits and aren't likely to let that happen again. They also seem to be the team to beat a very strong Pitt squad, as they operate with mid range jumpers, rather than working the ball inside, where the Panthers would destroy the Blue Devils. The other surprise to many would be a lightning quick and still fresh Washington in the Final Four. They played a weaker conference and were seeded far to low. They still have their legs under them, unlike future opponents in the Big Ten, ACC, and especially Connecticut from the Big East. Make your picks accordingly.

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Links of the Day 3/16/09

Check the new digs at Barry Melrose Rocks. Very, very orange.

Lew Ford has signed with the Rockies.

White people continue to be hilariously awkward.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Victoria Times all math projected bracket

I forgot to put in seeds on there before I transferred it, but this is my projected bracket. I wanted to get it out there at least before the NCAA put theres out there. Notes: Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Louisville and surprisingly Duke are my number 1 seeds (note... I don't know anything). I relied heavily on RPI and strength of schedule, which is why Georgetown and UAB got in and St. Mary's did not. I would expect one of those two teams to be swapped at the time the brackets come out. Minnesota is in as an 11 against Arizona State, and Big Ten champ Purdue is a 5 against 12 Georgetown. If I have time before CBS airs the brackets, I will be sure to tweak this a little bit.

UPDATE Seeds and locations added

UPDATE 2: After reviewing the tournament field, it appears that I forgot to include 3 automoatic bids, VCU, Binghamton and ETSU. If you include them and drop the last three I had getting in there (Arizona, Auburn and Maryland), that means I got 62/65 teams right. Not bad, I guess.

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Links of the Day 3/15/09

The only Twins preview that really matters. The fantasy preview!

Purdue is in the Big Ten Championship game. Many are pleased.

A little Minnesota flavor.... Breck and Eden Prairie win the state's hockey championships.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rooting interests for Minnesota.

I said earlier this week that the Minnesota Gophers were likely still in the NCAA tournament. With the way thins have been going lately, with upsets all over the place, I figured I might share some prudent teams for Gopher fans to root for for the rest of the weekend.

Tennessee over Auburn, then over Mississippi State in the SEC

Duke (ugh) over Maryland today in the ACC. Tomorrow's game is pretty irrelevant.

Arizona State over USC for the PAC 10 title.

Missouri over Baylot in the Big 12.

Temple over Duquesne in the A-10.

Utah over San Diego State in the Mountain West championship game.

Utah State over Nevada, because two Utahs winning titles would be cool, and also USU would probably get an auto bid without winning the WAC.

There you have it, Gopher fans. You know who to cheer for.

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Links of the Day 3/14/09

A well thought out and spot on assessment of the BCS versus March Madness that inevitably people will hate.

I suppose you could say he was a self made billionaire. Scary.

CBS has rendered the boss button useless.


Eric Devendorf....

is still a tool. Sure, he helped his team with a couple of huge shots in their wins the past two nights, which included 7 overtimes and a lot of Johnny Flynn. This time of year, the hoopla surrounding basketball often supersedes the character flaws of individual players. I'm here to remind you that Syracuse's Eric Devendorf is not a good guy. He even looks like a white trash Kid Rock disciple. Go Louisville.

(Photo from ESPN)

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Links of the Day 3/13/09

How do you accidentally have 8 kids? That seems patently ridiculous.

The nation's debt, visualized.

Minnesota wins a key game against Northwestern. They dropped their game today, however.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Links of the Day 3/12/09

Dwight Freeney was on Dr. Phil. Go Colts!

Steve and Beth would do this for me too.

Andre Smith is soon to be a professional athlete...


Fiscally responsible?

Does the NFL have a salary cap? I have no idea. I know hockey does, and baseball does not. What I do know is that, salary cap or not, the New York/Jersey Jets have lost the concept of fiscal responsibility…but who’s at fault?

In short, the Jets will be paying Bart Scott $48 million dollars. Seems like a typical sporting contract to an elite player, if the money is there. The problem is, the money isn’t there--many their employees get a two-week furlough--unpaid vacation. I might call it a temporary lay-off, but I’m not a business person.

The claim of bringing on this linebacker for this much money is to make the team competitive. If the team isn’t competitive, then they’re not going to bring in fans, and if the fans don’t come, they won’t make money. On some levels, this makes sense. On others…not so much. If you can’t afford employees to be there to sell tickets, then you’re not going to sell tickets.

Team need to start considering how much is too much. In the recent past, the economy was strong, and every athlete got paid to live a glorious lifestyle. Because most fans were living a pretty good life as well, they may have rolled their eyes at the outrageous salaries, but they never thought much of it. Now, with the economy going down, even the fans who haven’t had changes in their financial situations are being cautious. In times of depression, the entertainment industry usually doesn’t have too hard of a time--people need escape. The thing to consider is that people will pick their entertainment with their budget in mind. The money will not always be freely spent, so the money will not always come in freely. Will paying Scott $48 million bring more than $48 million into the budget? Will that many more fans, and thus sponsors, come because of him? Will he be worth that much more than less expensive solution? That’s the call to make. And that won’t be known until the end of the contract; right now, people in the know need to guess.

And not that I blame Bart Scott*, but isn’t that a lot of money? For the last three years of Babe Ruth’s career, he made $10,000 more than the President at the time. The current President makes more in two years than Babe Ruth did in his entire career. MLB’s current minimum wage is equal to that of the President’s annual salary--and he only has a four-year contract, with an option for the next four years. So, the argument that athlete’s careers are so short is a little misguided, too.

*If my company offered to pay me $48 million, I’d take it, too. Because I knew if I didn’t take it, someone would. And in Scott’s case, someone else was going to pay him a lot of money anyway, so why not the Jets?

Finding out that a team played a player an insane amount when they couldn’t afford to pay the lower-paid employees will not look well. I’m not a Jets fan, but I hope this is a situation that the fans will consider. Again, I’m not familiar with football, so I don’t know how much they needed a good linebacker. I don’t know how much Scott is worth. This may all make sense to true football fans in the long-term thought. But right now, it just seems a bit blind to the current state of things.

Timberwolves update: 19-45 (1-3 since last time, 15-30 since McHale).

Marian Gaborik Injury Status: He’s with the team in Colorado, for whatever that’s worth.

The Twins signed Scott Baker to a four-year contract! Sure, he was theirs already for those four years, but it gives both sides a guaranteed amount of money. It helps both sides set a budget and gives them one less thing to think about.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

NDSU is Minnesota's small school

Did you know that across the country, there are only 6 states with one or fewer Division 1 schools? Alaska and Hawaii, obviously, Wyoming with it's small population, as well as Maine and Vermont, which are small states in general. The sixth state, nonsensically, is Minnesota.
I've been over this a couple of times I think so I won't get into it again, but I think it's about time some school in the state stepped up (St Cloud, Winona, Duluth, SOMEONE) and became the state's second D-1 school. It would keep Minnesota athletes in state at a better rate, and would likely mean more money for those schools.
More importantly for fans, it would give everyone a feel good story whenever the smaller schools earn some sort success. Minnesotans would never cheer for a team from Wisconsin or Iowa, so we needed that school. Since we were incapable of getting that second school to root for, the Dakotas have picked up the slack for us. Now, I urge you all in Minnesota to repay them the favor and cheer for the North Dakota State Bison in the NCAA Tournament. Go NDSU!

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Links of the Day 3/11/09

Tournament announcer pairings in case, you know, you have the whole first two rounds off.

Speaking of the tournament. Do you have a sleeper?

The Netherlands is the new international baseball powerhouse. Bert Blyleven already knew that.


Who are BTN's viewers?

Why is this commercial constantly on Big Ten Network? Who can afford this?

It's Dan Patrick, isn't it?


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Links of the Day 3/10/09

At this point, I'm so used to the Big Ten that I don't even notice the low scores anymore. (Also, you never know what Indiana might do)

The real life Sam Malone was laid off. How do you get laid off from a bar?

You don't see guys running on the field a lot in NASCAR.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Scott Baker resigns for 4 years.

Good news for the Twins, as Scott Baker looks to be with the team for a few more years, likely taking the lead at the front end of the rotation for the duration. Best news? He seems to have solved all of his, uh... support issues.

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Links of the day 3/09/09

Happy birthday, Mom!

America treated to a biology lesson from ESPN last night. Oh! That's a labrum!

This is why Australia is different from America.

This little boy, a golfing prodigy, is doing it with one eye.


Relax, Minnesota fans

Heck, relax across most of the Big Ten. In the NCAA tournament, there are 34 at large bids. The primary multi bid conferences are the BCS football conferences, with the Mountain West, Atlantic 10, and Missouri Valley usually a lock to get a couple teams in. This year, it appears that only Butler and maybe Siena and maybe St. Mary's would be, possibly, at large bids if they don't win their conference tournament. Let's say that happens. 31 at large bids. Our next assumption is that the winner of every conference tournament in the major conferences, the ones listed above, would have been at large teams anyways. Georgia last year is the only team I can think that wouldn't have fallen into the category in the past decade or so.
So we'll stand with 31 at large bids up for grabs. The Mountain West is good this year. A four team logjam at the top, and really, all four of those teams could make the dance. 28 bids. Shockingly, the MVC will be a once bid conference this year, meaning tournament champ Northern Iowa will be the only team with no at large bids burned. The A-10 sees Xavier and Dayton likely to head to the Dance. After considering our mid-majors, we still have 27 spots to go to the 6 power conferences.
The two best conferences this year were the ACC and Big East and will claim a good portion of at large bids. The ACC really has 6 teams that could make it. I'm not buying an 18-12 (7-9) Maryland team getting in this year, but I will give them their top 6. I think 5 are worthy, but I will give them 6. We're down to 22. The Big East has 6 sure fire locks. If any of the teams makes a deep run in the conference tournament, like Providence or West Virginia, they will get 7. I would count on that, because it always happens. 16 bids out there.
Next, lets review the Big 12 (because we're going alphabetically). Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri are locks. I'll also say that three of Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and K-State will make it in, depending on how the conference tournament goes. 5 at large bids, were down to 15.
The Pac 10 is a little off this year. I'm giving them 4 bids, and not including Arizona because they hacen't really proven anything yet. 12 bids left as we set our sites on the SEC. The SEC this year is atrocious. LSU and Tennessee are the only teams deserving of a ticket to the Big dance. Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina could negotiate their way in. They really only have the one at large bid locked up, however.
Do you know what that means, Gopher fans and other fans of the Big Ten? That means there are 11 bids still floating around out there. The selection committee can spread those 11 bids liberally across the Big 10 and then go back and give bids to some of the teams I said no to earlier (Maryland, Arizona, Providence). So thats still 8 at large bids. You can't tell me that most of those won't go to the most competetive conference in the country, one that features several teams with RPIs in the top 50. Figure the Big 10 to get their conference champion as well as all teams that don't completely lay an egg to make it to the Dance this year. That means you, Minnesota. And you, Michigan. And even you, Penn State. It might not be because the Big Ten is the supreme conference, but the Big Ten will get at least 7 (and maybe 8) teams to the Dance this year.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Links of the Day 3/8/09

After a win by the Netherlands over the Dominican in the WBC, we are all left with an important question.... isn't it Holland?

A-Rod's having surgery. New York Yankees to miss playoffs.

Great game puts Morehead State in the tournament.Yeah! Morehead State!


Saturday, March 07, 2009

T.O. Buffalo

Inside T.O's crazy mind....

Beaches, babes, Buffalo. This is where its all about it. It can be pretty chilly some days in north Texas in December, but I don't have to worry about that anymore! Wait....the beach near Buffalo is Lake Erie? Aww damn...

They still have that Thomas guy to be my running back right? Oh and that really old guy that's the coach too! I remember back in college playing as those guys in Tecmo Super Bowl, and they were unstoppable! So get your popcorn ready, because T.O, Thurman, Jim Kelly, Andre Reed, and Cornelius Bennett are finally getting that ring!!

Photo credit: James P. McCoy/Buffalo News/Associated Press

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Links of the Day 3/7/09

The Wild? In the playoffs?

Bubble time raises the dander of many.

Alas, I cannot get the only Yankee jersey I would have liked.


Height makes you smart

I have a pet peeve. I hate it when people who played sports longer than I did claim that they know more about their sport than I do. I hate it when people have the idea that you only know when to play at double play depth if you have played high school ball. Apparently, my poor eyesight also makes it hard for me to parse strategy. Additionally, my lack of jumping ability also makes it hard for me to know how to execute a 2-3 zone.
I mean really, just because I am not a very good athlete (wild, dangerous understatement) doesn't mean that I can't practice logic. I'm pretty good with numbers and I am good at picking up strategy. In fact, I would note that I am just as into many sports as most who play. They spend a lot of their time refining many individual skills whereas I become more in touch with the various minutia of the game.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, this day in age where everyone has access to stats, and so many people watch the game and, frankly, are just as smart, if not smarter than those playing or coaching the game, everyone should have a right to be critical of on field decision making. Leaders of teams have the advantage of knowing how to hone the fundamental skills, but please, don't be surprised if we the fans, the the liberty of critiquing your decision making every now and then.
Besides, I have contacts now, and my hand-eye is a little bit better


Friday, March 06, 2009

Links of the Day 3/6/09

PV isn't as apoplectic about the departure of Matt Birk as I would have thought.

More WBC predictions.

T.O was released. Stuart Scott has the details.


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Links of the day 3/5/09

Are there any Twins who maintain one of the worst contracts in baseball? (yes)

The NFL players gone missing story only gets sadder

The Twins would be at batting practice right now, but they need to catch up on the Bachelor first.


Buy or sell. Don’t just sit still.

It was the NHL trade deadline yesterday and Ryan already wrote about this in brief last night, but I already had this half-written, so pretend this is new. The Minnesota Wild made no changes to their team.

There is such a thing as doing nothing because it's better than doing the wrong thing (trading good prospects/players for mediocre players is worse than just keeping the bad players), just like there's addition through subtraction (getting rid of a player who is hurting the team and getting nothing in return).

At any trade deadline, I'm usually reasonable when no trades are made by Minnesota teams (because there almost never are). However, this year that didn't apply to the Wild. Their one star player--who's never played a full year healthy, although he came close last year, and isn't ready to return from his surgery this year--is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Unrestricted means that he can do whatever he wants. Restricted free agents have to bargain with their present team (the details are long; it’s similar to baseball’s arbitration). At any rate, Marian Gaborik is unrestricted. He's already implied he will not play for the Wild anymore. And he will probably play a best-case scenario of ten games the rest of this year (and it's always worse-case with him).

The Wild are in the middle of a swan dive--they’ve lost four in a row (one in overtime) and are in the middle of a long stretch of mostly games on the road, an issue nearly every team struggles with. Each game they're playing a little worse than the one before. They're on the outside looking into the playoffs, with little hope of attaining it.

From fan reports, their minor league team/prospects aren’t inspiring. There are a few guys that could be good, some that might be decent, but none that project to be great. The Wild have very few draft picks due to past trades. They've let a lot of players walk in their unrestricted year for nothing. (Baseball offers draft picks to teams whose star players leave via free agency and was offered a contract; this is not true in of unrestricted free agents in hockey.) Also note that hockey has a salary cap, so teams cannot just go out and buy all the best players.*

* People ask for baseball to have a salary cap. I don't think this is necssary, but I think baseball polices itself quite well without a salary cap. That's another topic, though.

At some point, a GM has to realize one of two things has to happen: he has to re-build, or he has to throw all his cards in. As the Wild didn't have any cards to throw in: that is, the only players they had that were tradable were the ones they needed to win. Their role-players weren't worth enough to get better players to support their stars. And none of their stars were good enough to warrant enough better supporting players in a trade. In short, there simply wasn't hope to build a winning team this year with the players they had. Unless they got the exact right GM who was just naïve or ignorant enough.

So they didn’t trade their injured, soon-to-be unrestricted free agent, star player for anything, didn’t trade any of their decent players for prospects or low draft picks, or trade a few of their decent players for a star or two. They stood still, believing somehow this team that can barely manage to score three goals in a game will be okay.

The team needed to be buyers or sellers. They couldn’t afford to stand on its own.

I’m an optimist, but I’m realistic. I just don’t see it happening.

And if you think I’m dramatic, you should hear the season ticket holders.

Timberwolves update: 18-42 (0-3 since last time, 14-27 since McHale).

Marian Gaborik Injury Status: He’s still with the Wild. And will start playing towards the middle/end of March for a few games, and then gleefully wave good-bye. If Niklas Backstrom, who just signed a four-year contract with the Wild, isn’t fuming, he’s probably drunk.

It’s also my half-birthday today! Whee!

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Minnesota never does anything

The Wild are just out of the playoffs (three points, but with games in hand). They are on the cusp of losing their best player in franchise history, Marian Gaborik. Now would be the time to make a hard push for the playoffs before they enter a dreaded rebuilding period. They might not have a chance for a couple of years.
OR they could accelerate that rebuilding process and make sure they get a return for Gabby, trading him to one of the teams lobbying hard for him, like the Canadiens, for example. It would suck in the short term, but would likely pay off sooner rather than later.
If there was any team to make a trade in the NHL, if there was any team with viable reasons to be either buyers OR sellers and have an active day today, it was Minnesota. Instead, in true Minnesota fashion, Doug Risebrough and the Wild sat on their hands and made sure to be as dull and uninteresting as possible. On a day when there were 22 trades and 45 players changing teams, the Wild couldn't find it in them to do anything. Horrible.

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Links of the Day 3/4/09

Matt Cassel plans on thanking Bernard Pollard, his new teammate, for the opportunity to play.

This is the crime I would get nabbed for.

Do you remember Freddy Adu? Maybe he is not as good as we had all thought.

Also, remember to head over to BMR where I'll be live blogging from 1-3 CT.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Bump over to BMR

Tomorrow is the NHL trade deadline, for those who didn't know, and over at Barry Melrose Rocks, my other sports related gig, we're going to be liveblogging the whole thing. Check it out tomorrow.

For the less hockey inclined, perhaps you can try to figure out if new Twins third baseman is in fact former Boy Meets World hooligan Sean Hunter


Links of the Day 3/3/09

Maybe A-Rod lied to Katie Couric because he didn't want to disappoint a role model.

The A's keep adding guys on the left side of their infield. Someone had to get the squeeze.

This is just an awesome tan line.


Monday, March 02, 2009

In case you missed it...

Here are a couple things to note from the Marquette-Louisville game yesterday.
First, the Golden Eagles borrowed their uniforms from the Atlanta Thrashers

Say, is that Tony Montana casting a spell on the game in the background? Let's take a closer look:


(Basketball photos gleaned from ESPN, previously from AP)

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Links of the Day 3/2/09

Four boaters have gone missing off of Florida's Gulf Coast, including two NFLers.

B&C breaks down the Team USA WBC roster.

The Big Picture is not impressed with Matt Cassell.


Sunday, March 01, 2009

I am going to Bowling Green, Kentucky

I'm not sure if you recall, but I was waiting on the Sun Belt Conference to release their 2009 schedules in order to see who the Arkansas State Red Wolves would be playing in their 11th game. I anticipated it would be North Texas at home in Jonesboro just based on previous seasons for ASU. Good thing I waited. The Red Wolves will be traveling to Bowling Green, Kentucky to take on the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky on November 21st, and I will be there.

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Links of the Day 3/1/09

The NHL Trade Deadline approaches, and rumors abound.

Paul Harvey, good to listen to on long rides through rural locales, has passed away.

Purdue pounded Ohio State yesterday. That makes me happy.