Monday, November 30, 2009

Check out my new gig

In addition to this, The Weather Blog and of course, Barry Melrose Rocks, I have been asked to contribute on a new baseball and mustache blog, the 7th Inning Stache. It's part of the NESW network, and featured noted Bugs & Cranks writer David Chalk, as well as about 58 other people. It's baseball. It's mustaches. It will be funny and informative and worth your while to check it out. So won't you?


Links of the Day 11/30/09

Prince at the Vikings game. I think he likes the purple.

Saskatchewan lost the Grey Cup in heartbreaking fashion. It's football!

And oh yeah, the Colts remain undefeated.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Momentary panic attack

I was watching a bit of the High School State football championships, in which Eden Prairie played St. Paul high school Cretin-Derham Hall. I was reflecting on the history Cretin has, putting several players in professional sports, including Paul Molitor and Chris Weinke. This reminded me of one of their most famous athletes, a guy named Joe Mauer.
Back when he was in high school, Mauer was a three sport star, playing basketball as well as football and baseball. He was a great quarterback, and many got their first glimpse of him in consecutive state championship games for Cretin. In fact, he was named the national quarterback of the year, and had a scholarship to play at Florida State.
The kid who apparently loves Minnesota, was ready to jet off to Tallahassee for 4 years to play football and eventually start an NFL career. If he loved Minnesota so much, why didn't he want to resurrect the Gophers? He was ready to leave Minnesota for NO money (well, not as much).
And this is why I had a momentary panic attack.


Links of the Day 11/29/09

So why did Joe Mauer win the MVP again?

A couple of new guys, Andrew Ebbett and Guillaume Latendresse helped the Wild come back and win their second game in a row.

Patrick Reusse is belligerent in his stupidity.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

North Texas-Arkansas State... What I missed

If you have been following along, you will know that one of the games I was supposed to attend was a college football game between Arkansas State and North Texas, but due to a variety of unfortunate circumstances, I ended up going to Middle Tennessee State and watching them play Arkansas State instead. Anyways, the UNT-ASU battle was this afternoon, so I thought I would do my due diligence and check out what happened.
I had to work, but I still followed along with the game on Game Center. Arkansas State jumped ahead thanks to the communal effort of their backfield. Playing in his last game in Jonesboro, running back Reggie Arnold lead the way with 111 yards, but it was Don Jones that scored the first touchdown of the game.
North Texas, 2-9 coming into the game, appeared to be rattled early, as they turned the ball over a couple of times early and couldn't stop the Red Wolves. Thanks in large part to freshman quarterback Ryan Aplin and his ability to run (he ran for 2 touchdowns and 122 yards), Arkansas State was up 27-7 at the half. Arnold scored the 4th touchdown of the game, his final one in Jonesboro.
While the first half was almost all Arkansas State, the second half definitely belonged to North Texas. A fumble by running back Lance Dunbar was picked up by Kevin Dickerson and brought in for 6. The Mean Green used three quarterbacks, perhaps preparing for next year, and two of them tossed more touchdowns. In the end though, one late field goal and two botched extra points for North Texas were what it took for Arkansas State to hold on for the end.
I wish I had been able to go, because this sounds like a pretty good game. Ryan Aplin sounds like he will be a force to be reckoned with in the Sun Belt conference for years to come. North Texas' disappointing season comes to an end, while Arkansas State looks to close out on a high note next week against Western Kentucky.


Links of the Day 11/28/09

Tiger Woods gets in a minor traffic accident, creates an international incident.

Chuck Kobasew netted a hat trick for the Wild last night.

The Las Vegas Locomotives won the UFL title. Or something.


Friday, November 27, 2009

I Now Realize the Fun of All-Star Games

So, each year, I usually check out the baseball all-star game. It can usually be pretty entertaining, seeing the best players in baseball play each other, but to me, and I think a lot of people, its not that big of a deal. Even now that "this game counts" and the home league in the World Series is determined from it, it's still not that big of a deal to the average fan, whose team it may or may not matter to (who really knows in July?). It's actually kind of funny, because all it really is is a passing thought after the game. As a White Sox fan, I benefited from the AL's win in the 2005 all-star game, and I remember thinking after the game, "hey, the AL won, and the Sox are doing pretty good this year. If they make it to the World Series, they'll get home field." That was pretty much it, and it worked out well that game 1 was in Chicago on a Saturday night so I got to go.

But I think it was tonight where I realized the true value of an all-star game, beyond any lame gimmick to let the AL have home field every single year in the World Series: They are absolutely awesome to record and then rebroadcast on the MLB Network about 20 years later. Yes, that's right. They serve as a perfect time capsule of the players of the day to show the stars of the era and to remind grown-ups who were kids at the time of the players they grew up with.

My theory has always been that the most impressionable 5 year window for a kid becoming a sports fan is between 6 and 11 years old. As a 6 year old, they are just starting to understand a little more about the teams and individual players, and they usually create their oldest sports memories. By 11, any good future sports fan should be really knowledgeable about the teams and players and have a little bit of history and trends to fall back on after 5 years of solid fandom, supplemented by baseball cards, board games, or video games, depending on the era they grew up (and not having a job or caring about having a girlfriend allows more free time to be dedicated to sports).

Based on this, my impressionable sports window was from 1989-1994. Leaving the conversation on baseball, some of my baseball memories from that period include the 1989 World Series earthquake, the baseball strike, learning to love guys like Carlton Fisk, Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, and Jack McDowell, learning to hate guys like Jose Canseco, Tony LaRussa, Ryne Sandberg, and Mark Grace, learning to respect guys like Ken Griffey Jr. and Cal Ripken, the destruction of the old Comiskey Park and the opening of the new Comiskey Park, loving every minute of watching the A's get swept in the 1990 World Series (I really hated them back then), seeing the White Sox win a division title and Frank Thomas winning 2 MVPs, and the list goes on and on. Just about every baseball card I own is from this time period and I got even more familiar with players by playing the All-Star Baseball spinner game and playing the primitive Nintendo and Super Nintendo games that actually had MLB teams and players.

So tonight the MLB Network decided to show the 1990 and 1991 All-Star games back to back, which I caught flipping through the channels, and I just couldn't stop watching. Originally, I thought it was funny to see so many members of the Danny Tartabull game playing in these games, which I just posted in the archives, including Danny Tartabull himself, but watching these games really took me back to my days as a 7 and 8 year old watching players that seemed larger than life at the time playing each other, and it was a lot of fun. It really took me back, remembering my baseball cards and silly kid arguments about who is better with my friends. It's also funny to watch games from this era for the awkward moments baseball would probably want us to forget. For example, in the 1990 game, Jose Canseco flew out to Darryl Strawberry, and Strawberry threw out the tagging up runner at home. Heading back into the dugout, he was congratulated by Barry Bonds.....ugh...

So I officially discovered the best part about an all-star game. They are awesome to record and show several years later. I bet there are a lot of 6-11 years out there right now that will sit down and have a ton of fun watching the 2009 all-star game some time in 2028.

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Links of the Day 11/27/09

Last night, the Gophers beat #10 Butler. They will be playing Portland, because they absolutely destroyed UCLA.

ESPN says Allen Iverson will retire. Unless he doesn't. (via Deadspin)

Did you buy yourself any robot hamsters this morning?


Thursday, November 26, 2009


I am thankful for many things this year. I'm going to keep this short and sweet, though, because if you're reading this before turkey, you're impatiently waiting for turkey, and if you're reading this after turkey, you'll fall sleep before you're done reading anyway. And if you're not in the US, you should be working, so get back to work!

I'm thankful for another exciting Game 163 this year. Two years in a row, the Twins have been to the tie-breaker Game 163 (and both years, Adam Everett was on the losing team). Both years the games were phenomenal, which you expect when two teams come through 162 games with the same record--they must be fairly equal, which makes for exciting, competitive games.

But I'm mostly thankful for the Baseball Writers Association of America, who happened to get both AL awards correct: Zack Greinke, despite NOT pitching on a winning team, and not winning 20 games, was the Cy Young winner--the most dominate pitcher. Joe Mauer, helped by being on the winning team, was the MVP. He may not have led in home runs, or RBIs, or Runs, but he was up there--and had enough other stats that made it clear that the stats he had no control over (RBI and runs) were simply that: stats he had no control over. I'm impressed (although the fact that the MVP was voted on before the playoffs made him a clear-cut case).

And I'm thankful for I'm not a member of the Timberwolves. At what point do they get too depressed to get out of bed?

Timberwolves update: They’re now at 1-14, or a 7.1% winning percentage. The have the worst record in the West, but New Jersey has an 0-15 record.

Wild Update: The Wild have improved marginally with a 8-12-3 record, for a 34.8% winning percentage.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Links of the Day 11/25/09

Art is more than a little frightening at times.

Now you can dominate your backyard football game tomorrow.

Hey, did you know the Vikings are leaving? Happy Thanksgiving!


NFL Power Ranks: Week 11

First of all, I'd like to make mention that according to the blogger site, this is post #1,800 all time for Victoria Times/Is It Sports? (And yes, I can put Is It Sports? in there now that all of the archives from the old site have been posted. Take a look at the archive section from January 2005 - March 2006 for the Is It Sports? posts. Is It Sports? and Victoria Times overlapped from January 2006 to March 2006). When we started doing this almost 5 years ago, I never thought we would hit 2000 posts by March 2010, which is about what we are on pace for.

There is only a little to discuss this week with the top 5/bottom 5 in the ranks. The Colts, Saints, Vikings, and Patriots all picked up wins to stay ranked 1-4, but the Bengals choked away a game in Oakland, causing them to only drop 1 spot to 6th (thanks to a lot of stumbling below them as well). The red hot 7-3 Chargers move up to grab that #5 spot.

Two of the Bottom 5 teams actually won this week! Their reward? They moved slightly higher within the bottom 5! Yes, the Raiders beat the Bengals, moving them from #29 to #28, and the Lions beat the Browns in the pillow fight of the year (which was actually a fun, crazy shootout) to move from #31 to #29. The Bucs and Rams fell back to #30 and #31, respectively, while the Browns still suck.

The biggest gainer this week was Kansas City, who pulled off a shocking upset of the Steelers to win their 2nd in a row and move to #21. On the flip side of that game, the biggest losers by far were the Steelers, who fell 9 spots all the way to #16. Surprisingly, the Steelers are now ranked below the #15 Titans, who have won 4 games in a row after starting the season 0-6. What's going on in this league?

If you look past Thanksgiving, there is a big game coming up this Monday when the #2 Saints take on the #4 Patriots. I'm guessing we'll see a little more movement next week.

Projected Playoff Matchups:
First Round Byes: #2 Saints, #3 Vikings
#9 Eagles @ #7 Cowboys
#8 Packers @ #10 Cardinals
Top 3 Out: #17 Giants, #18 Falcons, #22 49ers

First Round Byes: #1 Colts, #4 Patriots
#12 Jaguars @ #5 Chargers
#11 Ravens @ #6 Bengals
Top 3 Out: #13 Texans, #14 Dolphins, #15 Titans

Full Ranks:
1. Colts - 89.53 - Even
2. Saints - 84.18 - Even
3. Vikings - 76.47 - Even
4. Patriots - 73.99 - Even
5. Chargers - 73.06 - +1
6. Bengals - 66.90 - -1
7. Cowboys - 64.40 - +1
8. Packers - 62.08 - +3
9. Eagles - 62.06 - Even
10. Cardinals - 59.81 - +3
11. Ravens - 58.93 - -1
12. Jaguars - 56.42 - +3
13. Texans - 55.67 - -1
14. Dolphins - 53.95 - +4
15. Titans - 53.72 - +2
16. Steelers - 53.39 - -9
17. Giants - 52.30 - +2
18. Falcons - 49.11 - -2
19. Broncos - 43.69 - -5
20. Jets - 40.63 - Even
21. Chiefs - 40.40 - +5
22. 49ers - 39.99 - -1
23. Bears - 39.67 - +1
24. Panthers - 38.01 - -1
25. Redskins - 35.43 - +2
26. Bills - 34.57 - -4
27. Seahawks - 33.42 - -2
28. Raiders - 28.18 - +1
29. Lions - 24.81 - +2
30. Buccaneers - 24.51 - -2
31. Rams - 22.24 - -1
32. Browns - 14.82 - Even

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gardenhire.... the Rebuttal

Before I left to go on my little adventure to Tennessee, Beth and I got into a debate over the merits of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. Never one to let a sleeping dog lie, I dwelled on this subject for 5 days, and am now back with my rebuttal to a few of Beth's counterpoints. My counter-counterpoints, if you will.
1)I’m not sure who Ryan thought Gardy should put there [the number two spot in the order]. Joe Mauer. Instead of Span - automatic out - Mauer, wouldn't it be awesome if you always knew that, when Span got on base, there would be no outs when the MVP hit? Mauer makes good contact, drives to the gaps and can come through in situations when the pressure is high. Essentially, he is the prototypical 2 hitter. Also, he hits lefties almost as good as he hits righties. I think Morneau has grown accustomed to the clean up role, so another reliable hitter, like Jason Kubel or Michael Cuddyer, depending on the handedness of hte pitcher should move up to the third spot in the lineup. In my wildest dreams, I thought Delmon Young would come around and become the perfect three hitter for this lineup. There is still hope.
2) Conversely, I think using pitchers for shorter periods can be useful. If Jose Mijares only faces one batter, he can likely pitch nearly every other day. As a strong lefty reliever, this could be important. If you pitch one pitcher, say, Mijares, for one hitter in a 5 pitch at bat, and you pitch, say, Matt Guerrier for an entire inning with 5 pitches per at bat, that is 5 vs 15 pitches. Now, Mijares and his one day rest goes in the next day. Guerrier gets a couple days off. Mijares warms up twice, throwing about 40 pitches each. Guerrier goes once. Over the course of, say, a three day period, Mijares has thrown almost 100 pitches because of his 2 batters, while Guerrier who pitched an inning, has thrown about 55. So, do we really want a bullpen full of pitchers throwing 100 pitches every 3 days? No, no we don't. Stop messing with the bullpen, keep pitchers in there.
3) Who was the manger when Mauer and Morneau got called up? The point here was that players that came up through the Twins system were better off than players who had to receive tutelage from Gardenhire. So thanks for that Beth!

I think we can all agree, though, that the Twins will be in a lot of trouble if they lose Joe Mauer, no matter what your opinion of the manager is. So hopefully, before Christmas, the Twins make Gardenhire continue to look good for the next several years by locking up Joe.

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Links of the Day 11/4/09

Oh wow, talk about missing the forest for the trees. See if you can find out the conflict in this article. Let me know in the comments if you can.

Hey, Purdue won the Paradise Jam! They definitely tried to lose it in the last few seconds, but managed to win anyways.

Amazing. I miss college.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Arkansas State-Middle Tennessee State... a recap

After what should have been a little over a 13 hour drive that was driven closer to 14 thanks to a missed exit in Bloomington, Illinois and another in Murfreesboro, I finally arrived at Middle Tennessee States campus. I got to the stadium about 2 hours early, because I really didn't know what else there was to do in Murfreesboro.
The seat was at about the 35 yard line, three rows up. I don't think I have ever been this close to a football game, including when I was in high school. There were plenty of good seats available, as the Floyd Stadium paid attendence was 19000, though at least half of them didn't show up. It's almost Thanksgiving and they were playing a mediocre opponent, so I couldn't blame them. It appeared most of the fans were locals from Murfreesboro, however, and they were rabid for their home town team.
The game itself was over pretty quick. The tone was set when Dwight Dasher found speedy running back DD Kyles on a swing pass, and Kyles ran the rest of the way for the touchdown. The Blue Raiders were up 17-0 by the end of the quarter, and the Red Wolves simply couldn't recover. They were renowned as a defensive team coming into the game, but the Blue Raiders speed ended up being too much.
With the score 17-0, the Red Wolves finally put a drive together and were going for a field goal, which was partially blocked by Middle Tennessee State. The one good chance to make this a game was gone after that play.
Near the end of the second quarter, Arkansas State quarterback Corey Leonard went down with what looked like a leg injury. If they had looked lost before that, they looked hopeless after the injury. With Arkansas State struggling to score points or even hold onto the ball, MTSU had the ball for the majority of the game. Dasher took advantage and postes some gaudy statistics, including throwing for 4 touchdowns. The 5th came on a fumble return.
Rather than going through a recap of the whole game, which you can find online, here's a few thoughts and observations.
- Dwight Dasher may be a prospect in next years draft, given the stats he posts, but the real prospects should be the wide receivers and Kyles, who are incredibly fast.
- Speaking of receivers, I have never seen so many white receivers in my life. It's not a demographic thing, either, because the Dasher is black. All my stereotypes have been shattered!
- Everyone on the Blue Raiders' sideline came and sat in their assigned spot on the bench. I sat behind the receivers. One guy, one of the rare African American wide-outs, had his own bench away from everyone else and right in front of me. His name was Sancho McDonald, and that is now one of my favorite names.
- Kelly Holcomb does color for Middle Tennessee radio.
- There is no net behind the uprights. I haven't seen that since high school.
- Speaking of high school, given the fans, who were polite and very into the game, and the proximity to the field, it did feel more like I was at a college game than a high school game.
- It was a very sloppy game, with a lot of penalties. Any time Arkansas State would have a big play, there was always a flag. It's not a small conference thing either. Everyone around me seemed disgusted.
- Players involved in this game included someone named Jamal Lewis, Jeff Blake and Craig Heyward.
- The
- On the way home, driving through Illinois it was made abundantly clear that it was the deer opener. I'm not sure southern Illinois has any deer left.

All in all, it was a good time. I am in the midst of buying a townhouse, so I'm not sure the second road trip of the year, to Akron right before Christmas, is going to happen. I will certainly will try, and if I can't I will at least keep an eye on the game online.

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Links of the Day 11/23/09

Hey, real live links!

Joe Mauer wins the AL MVP.

Not really a huge story here, just a little piece on a women's basketball player, but her brother plays for Middle Tennessee State as a WR. I saw him on the sideline with my very own eyes.

Jimmie Johnson won the Sprint Cup for the 4th year in a row. In the car driving through Illinois, I couldn't find any NFL updates, but I found two live broadcasts of yesterday's race.


I'm home

A real day of posting tomorrow, but first, here is a picture of me from the MTSU-Arkansas State game yesterday.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hometown Hero Day

I'm in Murfreesboro! This was posted over at Victoria-Weather already today, but since it involves my time in Murfreesboro, I figured I would just repost it here. Besides, I'm on vacation!

I'm in Murfreesboro, Tennessee today to attend the Arkansas State-Middle Tennessee State football game. I go to two games a year, randomly selected, but like the way we pick our cities and road trips here at V-W, though different, because it's real, and I write about it for the Victoria Times.
The game was "Hometown Hero Day", as first responders and other members of the community were being honored for their service to the Murfreesboro community. It's always good to remember those every day heroes, but this day was dedicated to those that came to the rescue in mid-April of this year. On April 10th, good Friday, the south central saw a massive tornado outbreak, including an EF-4 twister in Murfreesboro.
I asked someone sitting next to me what part of town the storm went through, and he started listing off roads and parts of town, so I went with the standard, "I'm not from around here," response. He did, however, mention a few roads that I recognized. I told him where I was staying and asked if it had been close to there. "Yeah, real close" he said.
I tried to find out more, but he obviously didn't want to talk about it any more. When the heroes of Murfreesboro came on the field though, the reticent gentleman to my left really got into it. One of the members of the Murfreesboro PD especially gained his applause. It was obviously an important moment for the family to my left, making sure to show their appreciation, so I stayed quiet after that.
When I got back to my room a few hours ago, I decided to do a little digging. The twister in fact past just over a mile to the north of where I am staying. The huge twister moved through residential portions of the city and mercifully only killed 2 people. A storm with the strength that the Good Friday storm had, Murfreesboro certainly benefited from the bravery of their hometown heroes.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Links of the Day 11/19/09

Typically on Thursday's Beth wakes up for me and puts together a well thought out, creative post, then when I do the links and set the time so they appear below her post on the site. Not today friends! Why? Was it because she dared counter my divine opinion? YES!
OK, no. Really, I just wanted to say that hey, I'm leaving! If I post between now and Monday, it's from the road! I'll be in Murfreesboro, Tennessee for the Arkansas State-Middle Tennessee State football game. Arkansas State is no longer bowl eligible, but that doesn't mean it won't be a good time! I'll see you jokers later! On to the links...

No arguments here. Zack Greinke wins the Cy Young.

Watch out if you're in Chicago. Those Bears fans'll getcha.

Your World Cup field is set, though Ireland begs to differ.


I See Your Point, and Raise You a Counterpoint

As is no doubt well-known, Ryan is the complainer, and I’m the naïve cheerleader of this site.

Yesterday, Ryan wrote about the Manager of the Year Award, which was, again, not won by Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire, and wrote his reasons that Gardy shouldn’t have won it. I will state right here that I’m not entirely sure he should’ve won it. I think he’s a fine manager, and definitely has deserved his second-place finish so many times, but each year, it seems one manager out-shines him. He should get a lifetime achievement award or something. (Just like people were complaining a couple of years ago about a player not getting the MVP. It’s not that he deserved it that year—if I recall, there was no outstanding player that year—but rather that he had been good for so long. I completely disagree with turning an award like the MVP—something meant for a single year—into a lifetime achievement award. That’s what the Hall of Fame is for.)

Anyway, I thought I’d make some counterpoints to Ryan’s article, in the name of journalism giving equal press to both sides. Or in the name of being a contradictory brat. Whatever…

Gardenhire is incapable of putting together a batting order. The Twins were consistently weak at the number 2 spot in the lineup…

I’m not sure who Ryan thought Gardy should put there. Did he want Delmon Young? Or Carlos Gomez? Joe Crede? I’m just not sure. It’s not like there weren’t better options some of the time, it’s simple that batting order positions 1, and 3-9 were the right people. Gardy just happened to have an extra 8 or 9 batter he needed to do something with. Granted, he could’ve moved everyone up a slot, so the traditional clean-up hitter was batting third, because often the number 5 hitter is pretty similar to the number 4.

Which is not to say Gardy was without his faults. In fact, I often complained about his batting order—even beyond not having Alexi Casilla follow Joe Crede who would follow Brendan Harris who followed Delmon Young who followed Carlos Gomez who followed Matt Tolbert, but only because they’d be in numerical order. No, my problem was all the times that the 3-4-5 hitters were Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Jason Kubel. I know they were pretty much the three best hitters, but that’s just asking for the intelligent opposing manager to bring in a lefty to face the left-handed* middle of the order late in a close game. By sticking Cuddyer between Morneau and Kubel, it gives the manager pause. Cuddyer, a right-handed batter who generally does well against left-handed pitchers, would make the opposing manager have to decide whether to bring in a righty to face Cuddyer, knowing Kubel, a lefty who hit well off of right-handed pitchers, was coming up behind him. The fact that usually there was no good option as a pinch-hitter on the bench meant all three had to face the left-handed pitcher most of the time. That was my problem with Gardy’s line-ups.

* I think all three guys are right-handed, but they bat left, and that’s the key here.

Gardenhire devastated the bullpen. If individual relievers were allowed to go full innings, rather than one or two outs at a time, the bullpen would have been saved. Instead, Bill Smith had to go out and restock, adding Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay.

Conversely, I think using pitchers for shorter periods can be useful. If Jose Mijares only faces one batter, he can likely pitch nearly every other day. As a strong lefty reliever, this could be important.

Yet, I agree Gardy did totally amuse some pitchers with too many appearances, but how often did you want to see Bobby Keppel come onto the mound? Or any of the other guys who spent more times on planes between Rochester and Minnesota than they did on the mound whose names are slipping my mind?

Here, I give some blame to Bill Smith. I’m still very bitter about losing Craig Breslow. While Breslow is not a strong left-handed pitcher blowing pitches by the opponent, he’s a smart* pitcher, and generally was able to get through innings without too much trouble. I know he started 2009 poorly, but based on his past performance, I was surprised to see he was given so short of a leash. In general, Gardy didn’t have a lot of solid pitchers to work with in close situations until Jon Rauch, and to some extent Ron Mahay, came around.

Gardenhire is terrible with young players, especially if they aren't his favorites. Terry Ryan and Bill Smith have always had to contend with this. Kyle Lohse had to be jettisoned, after which he flourished in Cincinnati. Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett didn't get along with Gardenhire and were packaged up and sent to Tampa, where they became key members of a World Series team.

To some extent, this is true, but he’s certainly not the only manager to suffer from this. I would also like to point out that Smith mentioned that he did not want to trade Bartlett, but the Rays demanded that as part of the deal (to which the Twins countered with a demand for Harris...I’m not sure how smart of a move that was on Smith’s part. Note: I LOVE Brendan Harris. But he’s not really an equal of Bartlett). How much of Bartlett’s ability to do so well was a direct result of being forced to work so hard in Minnesota? No one will ever know… Also, a fact I don’t think most people realize: Brendan Harris is almost a year younger than Bartlett. I think because Bartlett was so much older when he was called up (probably why Gardy had bigger demands of leadership from him), many people perceived him as being younger than he was. If Bartlett were two years younger (that is, being 28 this year, rather than 30), there would be a much stronger argument.

Gardenhire is terrible with young players Part II Players that have come up with the Twins have always done well, because the minor league system is so well constructed. …it will be Smith who will be blamed and not Gardenhire. Fortunately, fundamentally sound players whose development wasn't monitored by Gadenhire, like Jose Morales contributed in the end to the team's success.

Who was the manger when Mauer and Morneau got called up? I know Gardy can play favorites, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone on Earth who doesn’t. Gardy, from all appearances, loved Torii Hunter. Torii Hunter didn’t love a young Justin Morneau. Gardy seemed fine with a young Justin Morneau (when Justin needed a good talking-to early in his career, Gardy spoke to Justin, not the press). Gardy does play favorites. However, Bill Smith is in charge of who gets sent up and sent down. There is no reason that Carlos Gomez (much of the basis of Ryan’s argument) Bill Smith couldn’t send Gomez to Rochester when it became apparent Gardy was not going to use Gomez in Minnesota.

Gardy did have his hands tied. Span is needed to be a leadoff hitter. Young, from what I can tell, was a slightly more refined player than Gomez. Thus, Young got playing time over Gomez much of the time. Gardy did work to get Gomez into the field in his strongest ability: offense. The thing is, in the minors, that’s when managers work on developing players. Managers in the majors have to worry about winning games. Gardy couldn’t pull the better hitter out of the line-up to give Gomez more experience hitting. At least, not if he didn’t want his head on a chopping block! Fans want teams to win. Many teams going through re-building struggle trying to convince fans “We’re developing players here! Just hang on a couple of years!” Fans want wins.

Again, I reiterate, I don’t think Gardy definitely deserved Manager of the Year. But Joe Giardi getting votes is preposterous, when you consider that it would’ve taken real talent to not take that team to the playoffs/World Series. Although I probably could’ve managed it...

Timberwolves update: They’re now at 1-11, or a 8.3% winning percentage.

Wild Update: The Wild haven't done much better with a 7-12-2 record, for a 33.3% winning percentage.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Too bad Bill Smith couldn't get votes

In today's Manager of the Year voting, Ron Gardenhire was voted second, perhaps disappointing a few. I think it's appropriate though, given that the Twins turn around was thanks to Bill Smith's reaction to Gardenhire's mismanagement, rather than anything Gardenhire did. Well, that and some dumb luck.
First, let's take a look at the mistakes he made that Smith turned into benefits.
Gardenhire is incapable of putting together a batting order. The Twins were consistently weak at the number 2 spot in the lineup, mostly because Gardenhire consistently put shortstops or second basemen at the 2 hole, regardless of their ability at the plate. The only time the Twins had a strong hitter in the two spot before Smith got involved was when they put Mauer there. Why Gardenhire didn't see the light and put a good hitter, no matter the position is beyond me. Bill Smith adjusted and picked up Orlando Cabrera, because he can hit AND he plays the middle infield. I hope the Twins can resign Cabrera, if only because Gardenhire is stupid enough to bat Punto second again next year.
Gardenhire devastated the bullpen. Just a year and a half ago, the Twins featured one of the strongest bullpens in the league, however they eventually broke down as the season progressed. Why? Too many appearances. If individual relievers were allowed to go full innings, rather than one or two outs at a time, the bullpen would have been saved. Instead, Bill Smith had to go out and restock, adding Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay. With the injured Boof Bonser and Pat Neshek hopefully coming back, perhaps more depth will keep the bullpen in tact until about July next year.

Of course, there were a few lucky turns of events that gave the Twins the late season boost they needed. Of course, they had to happen to offset the typical blunders he makes.
Gardenhire is terrible with young players, especially if they aren't his favorites. Terry Ryan and Bill Smith have always had to contend with this. Kyle Lohse had to be jettisoned, after which he flourished in Cincinnati. Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett didn't get along with Gardenhire and were packaged up and sent to Tampa, where they became key members of a World Series team. The inability to aid young players in their development continued this year, and would have continued if it weren't for Justin Morneau's injury. Because of his typical slow starts, Delmon Young lost a lot of playing time early. When he struggled to rebound after the death of his mother, he continued to lose playing time, and was redressed by Gardenhire. It takes a special lack of awareness or compassion for someone to realize that a kid in his early 20s might not be completely back within two weeks. It's even more ridiculous that he was left on the bench to dwell on his mother's passing and his own shortcomings on the field, rather than put in the game to help get his mind back on playing good baseball. When Morneau went down, that meant one player or another would have to get on the field more. With regular playing time, Young excelled.. Somehow, Punto, no matter how bad he is, gets to play every day, so Gardenhire has the capability to let players work through their slumps. Delmon Young never would have had the chance, had it not been for Morneau's injury.
Gardenhire is terrible with young players Part II Players that have come up with the Twins have always done well, because the minor league system is so well constructed. Players that have come over in trades, left to develop in Minneapolis and not, say, Rochester, have languished. Carlos Gomez was acquired from New York in the Santana trade. He spent very little time in the minor leagues and as a result, he has failed to develop. Smith recognized that Gomez likely never will develop in Minnesota and sent him to Milwaukee to prepare the team for next year. It was the right move, and will be even if Gomez turns into a 30HR type of guy, which he could with the right coaching. It wouldn't have happened in Minnesota, however. The thing that bothers me is that when it happens, it will be Smith who will be blamed and not Gardenhire. Fortunately, fundamentally sound players whose development wasn't monitored by Gadenhire, like Jose Morales contributed in the end to the team's success.

It's nice to think that the Twins are a cute little story because they keep getting to the playoffs out of the AL Central. Great. It's been one of the worst divisions in the game since baseball went to 6 divisions instead of 4. The talent the Twins have, especially over the past couple of years, should mean the Twins are winning the division by 10 games annually. They shouldn't be taken lightly in the postseason. If the Twins are only inching into the postseason because of dumb luck and the gifted General Management of Bill Smith, the Twins will forever be an afterthought.

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Links of the Day 11/18/09

A video from the Jets-Raiders game. What do you THINK is happening.

The Bengals signed Larry Johnson, a move that should not have surprised anyone.

What do you think of the Twins new unis? Landon Evanson loves them.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NFL Power Ranks: Week 10

Wow, what a finish to that game last night. The Smartest Man Who Ever Lived made a pretty dumb decision at the end there, and the Colts are almost as highly ranked as you can be, with 89.45 points out of a possible 100, and 100 is mathematically impossible. In fact, the highest score any team could realistically get is probably around 92-93. So that's pretty good. The Saints stayed undefeated as well, and hung onto the #2 spot, while the Vikings win coupled with Cowboys and Patriots losses moved them up to #3, while the Patriots fell to #4. At #5, we have the Bengals. Wait, let me fix that typo.....

Holy crap! The Bengals are ranked #5. Ironically when I updated my little top 5/bottom 5 graphic for week 10 from 2008, I was able to cut and paste the Bengals logo from the bottom to the top. They now hold a 7-2 record and are on top of the AFC North all by themselves, and they have a guy playing WR named Ochocinco....

The Browns solidfied themselves as the worst team in the NFL Monday Night on national TV and dropped to last. I caught part of the game at Buffalo Wild Wings, and I wonder if B-Dubs has ever tried to seek damages against the NFL and ESPN when the Browns are on Monday Night Football, because it was completely dead there tonight. This caused the Lions and Rams to move up a spot, the Raiders to stay put, and the Redskins actually won so welcome back, Tampa, to the bottom 5.

There was a lot of movement in the ranks this week, with so many teams hovering around .500 and with only 2 teams with byes. The biggest gainer this week is the Titans (+7) who have won 3 straight and move all the way up to #17 after a horrible start. The Chargers and Jaguars both move up 6 spots by beating playoff contenders and building some more momentum for their own playoff races. The biggest losers were the Seahawks (stick a fork in them) and the Falcons, who are trying their best to disprove me calling them an elite team a few weeks back. The Broncos also fell 5 spots, beginning their collapse earlier than usual.

Playoff Projections
First Round Byes: #2 Saints, #3 Vikings
#11 Packers @ #8 Cowboys
#9 Eagles @ #13 Cardinals
Top 3 Out: #16 Falcons, #19 Giants, #21 49ers

First Round Byes: #1 Colts, #4 Patriots
#10 Ravens @ #5 Bengals
#7 Steelers @ #6 Chargers
Top 3 Out: #12 Texans, #14 Broncos, #15 Jaguars

Full Ranks:
1. Colts - 89.45 - Even
2. Saints - 82.88 - Even
3. Vikings - 74.76 - +2
4. Patriots - 72.55 - -1
5. Bengals - 71.40 - +2
6. Chargers - 68.01 - +6
7. Steelers - 62.91 - -1
8. Cowboys - 62.89 - -4
9. Eagles - 61.58 - -1
10. Ravens - 61.47 - +5
11. Packers - 61.40 - +3
12. Texans - 60.89 - -1
13. Cardinals - 59.65 - Even
14. Broncos - 53.63 - -5
15. Jaguars - 52.61 - +6
16. Falcons - 51.19 - -6
17. Titans - 46.01 - +7
18. Dolphins - 45.95 - +2
19. Giants - 45.70 - -2
20. Jets - 45.05 - -4
21. 49ers - 43.23 - +4
22. Bills - 40.73 - -4
23. Panthers - 40.48 - Even
24. Bears - 38.02 - -2
25. Seahawks - 36.10 - -6
26. Chiefs - 35.90 - Even
27. Redskins - 34.09 - +1
28. Buccaneers - 26.20 - -1
29. Raiders - 23.72 - Even
30. Rams - 21.02 - +1
31. Lions - 17.36 - +1
32. Browns - 16.17 - -2

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Links of the Day 11/17/09

Did you watch the St. Peter's-Monmouth tilt on ESPN? OF course not, it was on at 3 in the morning (4am local time!)

This would explain why I keep following sports, even thought I'm a terrible pessimist.

Former Minnesota wrestler and fake athlete Brock Lesnar's career may be over, due to a bacterial infection.


Monday, November 16, 2009

The best part of last night's game

The post game press conference last night after the incredible Colts victory was one of my favorite moments in weeks. Bill Belichick was prodded and harassed over and over about his decision to go for the first down on 4th down late in the 4th quarter. Ultimately, the decision backfired, and the Patriots came up short. No matter how the question was phrased, Belichick kept saying that he went for the first down because he thought they could get that yard, and they would then have the opportunity to run out the clock. No matter what the question, "We thought we could get that yard," Belichick would say. Then, at the very end of the press conference, one question stuck out. Before, Belichick had been annoyed and gruff, but this question really ticked him off:
"You know it was 4th and 2, right?"

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Links of the Day 11/16/09

Late links today because, frankly, I've been lazy.

The Broncos are lost without Kyle Orton. Wait, that doesn't seem right.

Hey, Michelle Wie won something. Took her long enough. What is she, 30? No? 20? Oh....

That old Tennessee-Buffalo rivalry...


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Am I worried?

Tonight the Colts will be on national TV again, playing against their nemesis, the New England Patriots. The Patirots are playing extremely well right now, while the Colts are definitely not. The Pats have most of their top talent ready to play, while the Colts are nicked up across the entirety of their roster, office and defense. About the only thing to hang my hat on is the fact that the game is being played in Indiana. I am not disillusioned. The Colts will probably lose this game.
I'm not worried though. It's still early enough in the season that a possible loss would serve as a wake up call rather than a panic attack. The Colts still would have a record as the remainder of the season commences. And like I said, the Colts are not playing their best football. I feel like if they were, they would be the better team. I want the Colts to win, but I don't think it will tell me a whole lot, or worry me terribly if they don't.

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Links of the Day 11/15/09

Remember how my simulation last year had TCU winning the National Championship? Well....

More proof that NFL fines are ridiculous.

Hello Ohio!


Saturday, November 14, 2009

I'm OK without replay

Many talking heads and bloggers have decried the decision by owners to not expand instant replay in baseball. I understand the concern. Precision and getting things right has become paramount this day in age. Most other sports use replay to their benefit, of course, so why shouldn't baseball?
Part of the allure of baseball, for me, anyways, is the mental aspect of it. Part of the game is the ability of the player to influence the call of the umpire on close plays. Part of it is the ability to understand every aspect of the situation, from the count, to the score, to the weather to the way the umpires have been calling a game.
Part of what makes pitchers brilliant is their ability to manipulate a strike zone. Part of what makes a veteran valuable is their rapport with umpires (assuming they are more Cal Ripken than Albert Belle). Most of the time, calls are easy and correct. More often than not, difficult calls are correctly made as well. Those difficult calls add to the spice of the game and affect the tempo and momentum of a game, particularly after a heated debate with a manager.
More than any sport, I find baseball to be an art. Other sports are often violent competitions, where precision is vital. In baseball, there is a beauty to the pace and gameplay of the game. With art, as with baseball, I find it better if some things are left open to interpretation.


Links of the Day 11/14/09

Will anyone ever be able to stop ESPN? No.

Notre Dame continues to suck. This time because of basketball.

The NHL Suspension flow chart.... revealed!


Friday, November 13, 2009

NFL Power Ranks: Week 9

So why would my picture this week be of the Buccaneers? Especially wearing what they are wearing? Believe it or not, their win over Green Bay in Week 9 didn't propel them all the way to the top of the computerized power ranks, since I normally put a picture of the #1 ranked team up top. Instead, they actually managed to climb out of the bottom 5 teams by finally getting their first win of the season. Sadly, I will now have to go back to using their current logo in the top 5/bottom 5 grid, since I said I would leave it as "Bucco Bruce" until they finally won a game. How ironic is it that they finally won that game wearing the creamsicle jerseys, a uniform they rarely ever won with?

Anyways, the Colts and Saints are still #1 and #2 while staying undefeated. The Eagles loss dropped them 5 spots to #8 which allowed the Partiots to move to #3 while the Cowboys jumped all the way up to #4 now that they have taken control of the NFC East. The Vikings still get no respect (or is it justified?) staying at #5.

As I mentioned above, with the awful teams in the NFL this season, a single win can bump you up several spots. Tampa went from dead last to #27. Detroit is back where they belong, at the bottom of the ranks. The Rams stayed put at #31, the "surging" Titans jumped all the way to #24, which bumped Cleveland and Oakland down a few spots, and I would like the welcome the Washington Redskins to the bottom 5, you earned it.

The biggest gainers this week were Seattle (who still suck, but are playing slightly better), Dallas, and Tampa. The biggest losers were the Eagles and Bears, who dropped 5 spots each. I was also going to rip on my favorite team, the 49ers, for falling from #1 all the way to #25 in just a few weeks, but their win over the Bears last night gets them off the hook.

Projected Playoff Matchups
First Round Byes: #2 Saints, #4 Cowboys
#8 Eagles @ #13 Cardinals
#10 Falcons @ #5 Vikings
Top 3 Out: #14 Packers, #17 Giants, #19 Seahawks

First Round Byes: #1 Colts, #3 Patriots
#11 Texans @ #6 Steelers
#7 Bengals @ #9 Broncos
Top 3 Out: #12 Chargers, #15 Ravens, #16 Jets

Full Ranks:
1. Colts - 87.71 - Even
2. Saints - 84.05 - Even
3. Patriots - 75.26 - +1
4. Cowboys - 74.53 - +5
5. Vikings - 72.90 - Even
6. Steelers - 70.74 - +1
7. Bengals - 68.87 - +1
8. Eagles - 65.46 - -5
9. Broncos - 63.09 - -3
10. Falcons - 60.60 - +2
11. Texans - 60.54 - Even
12. Chargers - 59.61 - +2
13. Cardinals - 57.39 - +2
14. Packers - 57.28 - -4
15. Ravens - 53.37 - -2
16. Jets - 48.62 - +3
17. Giants - 45.24 - +1
18. Bills - 45.20 - +2
19. Seahawks - 44.59 - +6
20. Dolphins - 44.58 - -4
21. Jaguars - 44.16 - +2
22. Bears - 42.10 - -5
23. Panthers - 38.59 - -2
24. Titans - 35.46 - +4
25. 49ers - 31.91 - -3
26. Chiefs - 28.46 - Even
27. Buccaneers - 27.46 - +5
28. Redskins - 25.86 - -4
29. Raiders - 25.50 - -2
30. Browns - 22.44 - -1
31. Rams - 19.51 - Even
32. Lions - 18.09 - -2

Photo: AP/Chris O'Meara

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Links of the Day 11/13/09

This is why polls are important.

Jared Allen. Just..... Jared Allen.

This is why you shouldn't handle beavers.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gomez versus Young

It’s old news by now (I wrote this last Friday, but I assume…) that the Twins traded their fourth-outfielder/center fielder Carlos Gomez the Brewers for shortstop JJ Hardy. This should make my friend E happy. She likes JJ Hardy. That’s neither here nor there, though.

I knew going into the offseason—which sucks, by the way—that the Twins were going to trade either Gomez or left-fielder Delmon Young. Cuddyer was still under contract (and, in fact, the team picked up his option for the 2011 season), and is a bit older and has faced some (freak) injury issues. (I think it’s important to point out the “freak” injuries versus the chronic injuries. Freak injuries involve broken bones/dislocation when something unusual happens. Joe Crede’s back problems are chronic. Michael Cuddyer dislocating his finger, and then having his foot broken while on re-hab is more freakish. Although two dislocated fingers—albeit, different fingers—in one season borders on chronic.) This will bring down his value slightly, and he’s higher valued on the Twins for his clubhouse presence. For a team that is often littered with young, unexperienced players, there is value in veteran leadership. While Joe Nathan is older, he was also traded to the Twins, whereas Cuddyer has only known the Twins, from the draft day forward. Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer have moved out the definition of “young players”, but both have a few years to go until they reach the age of 30. I could keep arguing, but let’s just put it down as a positive that Cuddyer stays. Span is the leadoff hitter the Twins have been waiting for for years. He’s solid defensively (although not quite up to Gomez’s incredible level). Span was staying.

Both Gomez and Young were wanting to be full-time players, but both were young. Both had moments of brilliance, and both had moments of frustration. Gomez was clearly stronger defensively, while Young was not exactly carrying a gold glove—unless it was literally gold—in left field (caveat: many have commented that because of the lights at the Metrodome, left field was the hardest position to play there. I’m not saying that Young is great, but he might be a little better than Minnesota got to see). One of them was going to go. It turned out last Friday to be Gomez to the Brewers.

I think I know why they traded away Gomez rather than Young.*

* Totally kidding. It’s a crack-pot theory that amuses me.

Young came to the Twins in a trade with Tampa Bay. Twins fans know how good Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett have been since leaving Minnesota. (Eduardo Morlan, the final guy the Twins sent to the Devil Rays, is still an unknown quantity.) The pieces that the Twins got in return—Jason Pridie, Delmon Young, and Brendan Harris—have not been up to par. Pridie has not played much with the Twins, but his minor league career does speak about his future as a fourth outfielder. He’s four months older than Delmon Young, but has only 11 major league at-bats (Young has 1,741). We got a solidly average (but cute!) player in Brendan Harris. He’s okay everywhere in the infield (except, perhaps, catching and pitching; I would venture he’d be well below average in those two positions), but nothing that you’d write home to Dad about. So, the Twins traded away a pretty good shortstop and a pretty good pitcher for a couple of average guys and one young unknown. (I still believe Young has a chance to break out. Then again, I’ve believed every year for the last two or three years that the Royals might finally break out of their funk, so take it for what it’s worth.)

Carlos Gomez came to the Twins in a trade with the Mets. Gomez was the centerpiece of the deal for Santana. The Twins just lost Torii Hunter and needed a center fielder. Remember back when Denard Span was a bust and at that point our best option was Pridie (remember how key getting Pridie in that trade was?!) The other guys in the trade include the unknown commodity of Deolis Guerra (who’s not yet 21), Kevin Mulvey (who was mediocre despite my feeling that he’d be the best prospect and later “traded” to the Diamondbacks in a trade of waivered players for Jon Rauch), and Phillip Humber, who was designated for assignment after many poor performances. Really, none of the four players turned out to be anything to write home about (yet). However, with the trading of Gomez, now we can say that Johan Santana was traded for Rauch (who has acquitted himself well for the Twins so far), JJ Hardy (unknown commodity), and the elusive Deolis Guerra. That trade might look better by the end of the 2010 season. We can only hope.

One last, unrelated, thought. Rafael Palmeiro won the first base Gold Glove in 1999—despite playing only 28 games at first base. No one would’ve considered giving Michael Cuddyer a Gold Glove for first base this year…and he played 34 games at first. Of course, Palmeiro had a .996 Fielding Percentage, and Cuddyer had a .986, so clearly he didn’t deserve it.

Timberwolves update: They’re now at 1-8, or a 11.1% winning percentage. As was pointed out in a Twitter post, the fans can relax, because there are only 73 games left this year!

Wild Update: Conversely, the Wild have improved their record to 7-10-0, for a 41.2% winning percentage.

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Links of the Day 11/12/09

I do love a good mock draft.

Cool interview with Dick Vitale.

Was former Purdue Boilermaker Bernard Pollard blackballed?


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Soccer slowly making ground

An odd sight gracd many visitors to this morning. The feature story was a link to this article about the Soccer Power Index. For a nation who espouses the NFL and American football as the greatest game on earth, why is soccer nosing into the American psyche at a faster rate, it seems, than football is emerging as a popular global sport?
Well, the fact that ESPN has the contract with at least two European leagues doesn't hurt. The fact that they will be airing the World Cup is pretty good too. Of course, they got the rights because they could make money overseas, but they are also able to air some of these games stateside, lending some more attention domestically.
Soccer, though, is seeping into the American sports world subtly, slowly. Instead of a grandiose domestic league, attention is being paid to the soccer formats that already exist. If ESPN can make poker a spectator sport, surely they can infiltrate the EPL and make Americans care about that. Most people resent anything being shoved down their throat, and America simply has not wanted to enjoy the sport. Now, individual Americans have begun to follow the sport and those that don't like it can still ignore it.
The NFL, by comparison, is garish and forceful. It is trying too hard to garner European attention. Now that ESPN has footing in Europe, they may be well served to let ESPN do the heavy lifting, letting those in Europe that would appreciate football do so on their own terms.

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Links of the Day 11/11/09

First off, thanks to all the veterans for their service, and also for making an awkward work week.

Women's soccer is out of control.

Charlie Weiss is an ass.

Buffalo sure is TRYING to garner some attention.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

So here I go

Last night, I honestly fell asleep on the couch as I was trying to think of something to say. I have stopped drinking pop when I am not at Real Job Inc, and I am tired all the time. Today though, I am writing a post about the first of my trips. I will be leaving a week from Thursday or Friday (depending) headed for Murfreesboro, Tennessee to take a look at the Arkansas State Red Wolves and the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders play some football.

The Red Wolves were the team I picked for this little adventure, so I will start there first. The Red Wolves are having an unfortunate season. They were tabbed to finish at the top of the division this year, but instead are 2-6 and 1-3 in conference. they have games remaining against Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee State, North Texas and Western Kentucky. Three of those games are very winnable, and a win in all four would make the team bowl eligible. The toughest test will come against Middle Tennessee State, the game I will be at. The only game they have really struggled was an early season matchup versus Nebraska, so they very well could be much better than their record indicates.

In Murfreesboro, the Blue Raiders have shown themselves to have an explosive offense. The Red Wolves have been stout defensively, but MTSU has scored 27 points or more in all of their wins, and sputtered to 14 or less in their losses. Things depend on Dwight Dasher, who leads the team in passing and rushing, having scored 22 total touchdowns. Like Arkansas State, the Blue Raiders' record may be somewhat misleading, simply because they have played the dregs of the conference so far, leaving the third and fourth place teams in the conference, as well as Arkansas State left on their schedule. They are already bowl eligible, but need to win out to have a shot at the conference championship.

One more team, I would like to check out is North Texas. As I mentioned a while back, I am actually going to the wrong game. The addition of Louisville to the schedule jimmied the times around for the Arkansas State schedule, so I ended up taking time off of work for what was supposed to be the 11th game of the season, and it turned into the 10th. Since I should be watching their game, I will preview them and give a recap of their game in a few weeks as well. The Mean Green of Texas are having a tough season. They are playing at the bottom of the Sun Belt, thanks in large part to atrocious defense. Even when they beat Western Kentucky, they allowed 49 points. Ever since their opening week win against Ball State, the lowest points allowed total that they have had has been 33 against Louisiana-Monroe. One highlight is running back Lance Dunbar, who has 13 touchdowns on the season.
So yeah, I'm all ready to head down to Tennessee. It will be a good trip, I think, and my first college football game in my plan for random road trips. I'm not sure how I am going to get there, or what my exact plan is quite yet. Perhaps I will leave on Thursday before the game so I can just leave the site to Beth that day. Not for a week though.

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Links of the Day 11/10/09

Congress, apparently, is left with nothing to do.

Falcons coach Mike Smith? Feisty.

LeGarrette Blount, that crazy Oregon Duck who got all punchy in week one, has been reinstated.


While you have been watching football....

NCAA basketball appears to have started. I honestly can't think of anything relevant to add to this, because the season snuck up on me so. No word if I will be able to think of other excuses later in the season...

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Links of the Day 11/9/09

Get anything worthwhile at the Twins sale? Probably not.

A glowing ode to Orlando Cabrera.

Larry Johnson, the nutbar, is probably done for his career.


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Joe Christiensen is giving me body issues

Star Tribunist Joe Christiensen is right up there with LaVelle E. Neal on Twins coverage, and he has been all over the Gomez-Hardy trade. He seems to like it. I don't mind it. He clearly has some apprehensions, however, saying:
The deal has the potential to look very good for the Twins if Hardy can regain his pre-2009 form, but that “if” is as big as Hardy’s 6-2, 190-pound frame.
That seems to be the question. Hardy was an all star in 2007, however -- wait a minute. 6'2 190 is big?! For a professional athlete? Hold on.
/measures height, steps on scale
Oh man, I 'm HUGE! 6'2 1/2" and 195 pounds! Thanks a lot, Joe Christiensen, for making me self conscious.

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Links of the Day 11/8/09

So Purdue beat Michigan yesterday. First time they have won in Ann Arbor since 1966.

Jahvid Best had a terrifying injury for Cal yesterday, however it appears that his prognosis is good.

This is why America is having financial problems. Everything is the Yankees' fault.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

What I learned today in college football

Well, let's see. Purdue won at Michigan for about the first time wince the Nixon administration, despite being pretty bad this year. Speaking of bad, an awful Illinois team nipped the Gophers in Minneapolis. I have no idea what any of this means. This has been a strange and hard to decipher football season. The only thing that I actually learned, I think was that Wake Forest has a linebacker by the name of "Gelo Orange". One of the few rules we operate by here at the Times is that there is always room for Gelo.


Links of the Day 11/7/09

The Twins will hold on to Michael Cuddyer through at least 2011.

What happened a Sammy Sosa's face?

Lebron to Minnesota? I totally see this one happening...


Friday, November 06, 2009

Links of the Day 11/6/09

After the big Gomez/Hardy trade, I can finally get back to the links.

Tim Lincecum arrested in what is the least surprising marijuana bust of all time.

The Oilers wouldn't do anything like this to Alberta.

And this is why I don't date women from New Mexico.


BREAKING: Twins trade Carlos Gomez for JJ Hardy

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Twins have acquired JJ Hardy for Carlos Gomez. The move signals several things for the Twins (and the Brewers, who were trying to off load Hardy after the emergence of Alcides Escobar). First: They thought the potential Gomez possesses was equal to their need at short. Second, this likely means the team will keep Delmon Young who began to emerge late last season, AND he will be in the every day lineup. Third, this means Orlando Cabrera will not be back in Minnesota next year.
Hardy struggled last season, but if he returns anywhere close to form, the middle of the infield is going to be much better, and the Twins overall lineup will be stronger. This could be a refreshing change of pace for Hardy, playing in a lineup where he won't be asked to be among the top hitters.
As for Gomez, not only will he get a chance to play more frequently, but he will be mentored by Mike Cameron. Cameron is almost exactly like Gomez, coming into the league as an excellent defender who had offensive tools yet to be realized. I think in all of this, Carlos Gomez is the big winner.
Bill Smith also demonstrated that he is comitted to building HIS team. If you asked Ron Gardenhire, I'm sure he would have preferred to keep Gomez over Hardy, but Hardy's skill set is just what the Twins need, if they are realized. He offers a better bat late in the order, as well as veteran experience. Meanwhile, Denard Span, a natural center fielder, will no longer have to worry about playing left and Young can rest easy in left field. Perhaps he will put together a complete season, not having to worry about outside pressure.
So, so long, Chuck. You have been a fun player to watch, and I'm sure Brewers fans will enjoy your hijinks in Milwaukee. The fact is, however, we needed a short stop, and you needed a different opportunity.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Vegas Won't Be Calling Me Anytime

I’m sure most of you remember my stellar, well-thought out projections for the 2009 Major League Season (baseball is the only sport that can call their season by one year. Sure, football’s regular season all takes place in the same year, but the Super Bowl for that season takes place in a different year). For those that can’t quite remember whether I ranked the Blue Jays or the Red Sox higher, here’s the link

Sadly, my predictions weren’t accurate AT ALL! Shocking, since, as Ryan pointed out, I wrote them pretty much in reverse order of what all the other experts predicted.

In fact, I daresay that the only division that completely surprised me—and most of baseball—is the AL-Central, but we’ve covered that enough. The Yankees, for all their overspending, actually overspent on the right players this year. They were a well-oiled machine, so there’s really not much more to say. In many ways, they deserved their victory: they had, for the most part, the best players at every position. It’s not a guaranteed win, but it helps a whole lot when you don’t have weak players—either offensively or defensively—at a few positions.

But I’m going to get back to numbers, because I love them:

Here are the top ten spenders in baseball for the 2009 season*:

Mets (23 games back)
Cubs(7.5 GB)
Red Sox (WC, 8 GB)
Tigers (1 GB)
Astros (17 GB)
Mariners (12 GB)

Five of the top ten spenders didn’t make it to the playoffs.

Analyzing these stats, it’s fairly clear that to be one of the top ten spenders, you have a 50% chance of making it to the playoffs, and a 40% chance of winning your division. If you fall in the middle ten, you’ve got a 20% chance of making playoffs—but only a 10% chance of winning your division. (The Rockies would’ve come in 18th in salary; the Cardinals 17th.) Whereas if you’re in the bottom ten teams in salaries, you have a 10% chance of winning your division, but no shot at the Wild Card (the Twins came in 23rd in salary).

This is called “Small Sample Size”. Looking at one year is not the way to analyze statistics. We’d need years of statistical analysis to get a good idea of the trend. I’m sure that we’d find plenty of outliers to the graph (teams that didn’t follow trends), but I’m equally sure that the trend would point to the fact that spending money can create wins, It is just as important to note that money is not a guaranteed win (money must be spent wisely, which is harder to analyze).

Simply spending money won’t get you anywhere. Part of it is spending the money in the right place—and sometimes it’s luck. The Mets were second only to the Yankees in spending, and came in 23 games back. The Athletics spent significantly less money (in fact, $87,063,987 less—which is more than 18 teams paid in salaries—in fact, if the Mets had paid as much as the Athletics in salary, they could’ve used the leftover money to pay for the entire salaries of the bottom two teams and they’d still have had $6,495,787 left). The Mets, however, had points in the season where not a single member of their starting line-up was on the field, due to injuries or poor play.

I’m not completely in favor of spending caps (they have their own issues), but I’d like some changes for the “luxury tax” and revenue sharing. For example, teams who built a new stadium get discounts on their luxury tax, so even though the Yankees outstripped all other teams in spending—both on their team AND on their stadium—they still were able to discount a significant portion of their luxury tax (according to an article I found, and lost the link, they were able to discount $84 million from their luxury tax, based on their new stadium). It’s really a once in a lifetime occurrence, I’m not sure anything really needs to be done about the stadium clause. I do think that the luxury tax money should go to the teams that spend less, and a certain percentage either spent on players, or put into savings for future player salaries. (For example, if a team has a young player/rookie they’re confident will become great, they can put aside the salary to pay him in the future, and the money could be put aside for that player’s future salaries.) There should be a cap on the number of years it can be saved, however (I’ll give it five).

But, anyway, congrats to the Yankees. As much as it pains me to admit it, you did deserve to win. You were the best team in baseball this year. Even if you had to buy it.

*Note: I found conflicting data on the payrolls of teams. Here’s ESPN’s version: 2009 MLB Salaries

Timberwolves update: After last week’s great post wherein the Timberwolves had a 100% winning percentage, they’ve dropped. They’re now at 1-4, or a 20% winning percentage. While I don’t follow the Timberwolves, from my Twitter updates, it seems as if they’ve been playing well.

My question about basketball is how Utah is considered the NORTHwest, and Miami is considered the SouthWEST. I know, sometimes dividing the teams doesn’t work equally, but you have to admit that it’s still funny.

Wild Update: The Wild are improving, winning their first game in regulation last Friday—because I was there and Gaby was injured—and winning their first road game (also in regulation) on Saturday against the defending Stanley Cup winners. Their record is 5-9-0, for a 35.7% winning percentage.

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Links of the Day 11/5/09

I saw the end of the World Series while in the 2nd mile on the elliptical machine, making sure this was as miserable a result as possible. Congrats to the Yankees.

Hideki Matsui, the MVP, had a gaudy World Series.

This is why people don't like bowls anymore.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Now Ross Rebagliati wants to work with an open flame

The Victoria Times... the only blog that is still making fun of Ross Rebagliati. Anyways, he has been chosen to carry the Olympic torch through British Columbia. I wonder if he would use it to light anything?

(Ross Rebagliati is now approaching Cliff Floyd territory as a running joke here at the Times.)

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Links of the Day 11/4/09

Tim Floyd gets involved with some ladies of questionable repute. No no, this is different.

But not good enough to sign a multi year deal with the Yankees, right?

Playing basketball, you never want to lose to a team named the Dolphins.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

NFL Power Ranks: Week 8

The crazy Eagles fan as back as our picture this week. It's been a pretty exciting time in Philly lately, with the Phillies pushing the World Series back to New York for a game 6, and now, after their huge win over the Giants in Week 8, the Eagles have taken over 1st place in the NFC East and moved all the way to #3 in the power ranks. The undefeated Colts and Saints remain at #1 and #2, respectively, while the Patriots are Vikings sit barely behind the Eagles. The Broncos, who got their first loss of the year, drop to #6.

We finally had a shakeup on the bottom side of things. The Titans and Rams got their first wins of the season, leaving only the Buccaneers winless, which sent them to the bottom spot (but only barely behind the awful Rams). The Rams' victim, the Lions, drop all the way back to #30 and believe it or not, make their first appearance of the year in the bottom 5, which means I can use their snazzy updated logo (which in my opinion kind of looks like their old logo right after filming a porn scene, but at least it looks more like a Lion now than the ambiguous blue blob they have used for the past 50+ years). The Browns stay at #29 while the Titans move up to #28 after finally winning.

There wasn't a ton of big moves this week, but the biggest gainers were the Dolphins (+6), who are looking like they are turning things around, and the Ravens (+5), who ended the Broncos' perfect season. The biggest losers were the Giants (-7), who got crushed by the Eagles and fall all the way to #18. They were #1 just 3 weeks ago. The Jaguars (-7) are ridiculously inconsistent, and got dominated by the Titans.

Projected playoff matchups:
First Round Byes: #2 Saints, #3 Eagles
#10 Packers @ #5 Vikings
#9 Cowboys @ #15 Cardinals
Top 3 Out: #12 Falcons, #17 Bears, #18 Giants

First Round Byes: #1 Colts, #4 Patriots
#11 Texans @ #6 Broncos
#8 Bengals @ #7 Steelers
Top 3 Out: #13 Ravens, #14 Chargers, #16 Dolphins

Full Ranks:
1. Colts - 86.42 - Even
2. Saints - 82.70 - Even
3. Eagles - 73.62 - +4
4. Patriots - 73.16 - Even
5. Vikings - 73.13 - Even
6. Broncos - 72.32 - -3
7. Steelers - 67.96 - +1
8. Bengals - 67.46 - +1
9. Cowboys - 66.78 - +1
10. Packers - 63.08 - -4
11. Texans - 62.93 - +3
12. Falcons - 56.98 - +1
13. Ravens - 56.35 - +5
14. Chargers - 53.27 - +1
15. Cardinals - 53.14 - -3
16. Dolphins - 52.21 - +6
17. Bears - 51.68 - +4
18. Giants - 51.31 - -7
19. Jets - 48.34 - -2
20. Bills - 45.54 - -1
21. Panthers - 44.57 - +3
22. 49ers - 43.05 - -2
23. Jaguars - 42.23 - -7
24. Redskins - 34.16 - +1
25. Seahawks - 33.95 - -2
26. Chiefs - 28.09 - +1
27. Raiders - 25.93 - +1
28. Titans - 25.34 - +3
29. Browns - 22.51 - Even
30. Lions - 20.93 - -4
31. Rams - 18.98 - +1
32. Buccaneers - 16.32 - -2

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