Sunday, January 31, 2010

NFL Power Ranks: Conference Championships

Well, we're officially at the half-way point of the NFL pre-Super Bowl media circus, and I'm doing my best as usual to avoid it. I have literally steered clear of all sports channels for the past week, except to watch the occasional old NFL Films Super Bowl highlights video, and I even went to my first NBA game in 2 years on Thursday (Suns vs. Mavericks).

Let me start off by saying I love this Super Bowl matchup, this is the first Super Bowl in a long time where I won't be heavily rooting against a team because I don't like them. This is the matchup everyone has waited all season to see, and these 2 teams held the top 2 spots in my rankings for almost the entire season. One one side, you have the Colts, who are just all around good guys and definitely to "good guys" in the rivalry against the evil patriots over the past few years. On the other side, you have the Saints, who are making their first appearance after a history of being truly awful at everything. They are playing for a city which was devastated by a hurricane 5 years ago, and their quarterback, Drew Brees, is another great guy (and Purdue alum). New Orleans has never won a championship in any major professional sport.

So how did the conference championship games affect the ranks? the Colts win kept them at #1, while the Jets loss dropped them 4 spots back to #7. The Saints win catapulted them 5 spots to #3 and the Vikings loss dropped them 1 spot to #5. As a result of the games, The Cowboys moved up to #4 ahead of the 2 title game losers but fell behind the Saints. The Packers dropped a spot to fill the void left by the the Saints as they moved up, and due to weird strength of schedule changes, the Broncos and Bears, and Redskins and Chiefs flipped spots yet again.

So the ranks are predicting a Colts victory in the Super Bowl. Makes sense to me. Personally, I'm going to be rooting for the Saints this year. I appreciated the Colts when I lived in Indianapolis, but they already got a Super Bowl 3 years ago. I'm going to stick with my college loyalties and root for Drew Brees to become the 3rd Purdue quarterback to win the Super Bowl, and hopefully increase his chances of joining the other 2 (Griese and Dawson) in the hall of fame.

"Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints? Who dat? Who dat?"
(I hope the NFL doesn't sue....)

Full Ranks:
1. Colts - 72.34 - Even
2. Chargers - 71.39 - Even
3. Saints - 69.15 - +5
4. Cowboys - 65.71 - +1
5. Vikings - 65.42 - -1
6. Texans - 65.33 - Even
7. Jets - 64.46 - -4
8. Packers - 63.89 - -1
9. Ravens - 62.62 - Even
10. Eagles - 61.95 - Even
11. Falcons - 61.40 - Even
12. Patriots - 61.09 - Even
13. 49ers - 60.36 - Even
14. Panthers - 59.63 - Even
15. Steelers - 58.84 - Even
16. Titans - 52.35 - Even
17. Cardinals - 50.05 - Even
18. Bengals - 48.48 - Even
19. Browns - 44.97 - Even
20. Bills - 44.63 - Even
21. Broncos - 43.88 - +1
22. Bears - 43.47 - -1
23. Giants - 41.57 - Even
24. Dolphins - 38.68 - Even
25. Jaguars - 35.39 - Even
26. Buccaneers - 32.40 - Even
27. Redskins - 30.76 - +1
28. Chiefs - 30.63 - -1
29. Raiders - 27.79 - Even
30. Seahawks - 23.62 - Even
31. Lions - 15.37 - Even
32. Rams - 11.10 - Even

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Links of the Day 1/31/10

Maybe Punto wouldn't have needed surgery if he would just stop diving into 1st.

Bryant McKinnie was kicked off of the Pro Bowl squad. Surprising from someone typically so responsible.

Rogerer Federer was once again the winnerer.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Does anyone care about the X Games?

Is snowboarding still cool? Does anyone know who this black man is? Why is ESPN wasting my time with people on snowmobiles? Isn't there a real game on?


Links of the Day 1/30/10

Bengals linebacker was busted for DUI.... in a 2003 Pontiac Sunfire.

If you are taking your children to the Super Bowl, be on the lookout for this man.

The Vikings NFC Championship shirts are going to Haiti this year. The Vikings finally did something that wasn't morally reprehensible!


Jay Leno is a tool

Say what you will about your favorite Late Night comedian, but personally, I can't abide by a man who lacks the self awareness like Leno does. During his Oprah interview (first off, ugh) he played the pity card for the entire episode, because it's not his fault that his show sucked and led to this mess.
He actually blamed Conan for the ratings slip that the Tonight Show saw. He thinks it's Conan's fault that everything is shifting around. Holy Hannah. Part of Leno's success was based on the fact that he had such a strong lead in. My parents, for example, watch the NBC News because they loved ER, Cheers and a few other NBC shows. They left the TV on the same channel because they are lazy, just like the rest of America. Right now, CBS has the top shows on it's network, while NBC keeps a mediocre talk show as the lead in to the news. Eventually, some of those same lazy viewers will watch the late night show. It's common sense.
Of course, if anything, Jay Leno has no common sense. He also lacks the ability to take blame for anything. It's OK if you seem like a nice guy on the surface. That doesn't mean you are one, and it doesn't mean that you always do the right thing. I don't think Leno has EVER done the right thing.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Links of the Day 1/29/10

Thank goodness Purdue seems to be back on track. Would I like a Boiler trip to the Final Four more than I am enjoying the Colts Super Bowl? Yes.

A pretty petty back and forth between a couple of former Nationals. I think I really like Mike Bascik now.

I can't wait until next weekends. Hours and hours of non stop diplomacy!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Links of the night, 1/28/10

This was from a while ago, but this is embarrassing for weatherpeople.

Hey, Purdue seems to be back on track.

Are you any good at video games? You might want to try this. I demand a finders fee.


What can you afford?

I know, breaking news, but the Twins signed former nemesis Jim Thome to a one-year, $1.5 million (plus $750,000 in incentives) contract. I don’t mind it. I’ve never really personally hated Jim Thome, except when he was hitting home runs against the Twins, which means I really only hated him when he was up to bad against the Twins…

I don’t think this was necessarily a bad signing. Rather, it was a confusing one. In fact, because I initially thought he was a right-handed hitter, I thought it was excellent. But three of the Twins top four* home run leaders were left-handed, including the presumed DH. As for next year, I don’t see Cuddyer hitting 32 home runs and leading the Twins in 2010 (I’d love it, but I don’t expect it). Whereas, I presume that Morneau will be healthy and lead the team, and Kubel and Mauer showing similar home run production. Maybe a little higher for Kubel, and a little lower for Mauer, but somewhere within the ballpark (pun intended) of their 2009 performance.

* Why did I choose the top four? Because two guys were tied for third (Mauer and Kubel), and there was a huge drop-off to the number five (28 to 15—Crede). A top three wasn’t going to work, and the fifth most home-runs didn’t really totally count, partially because of the drop-off, and partially because he’s not presently signed by the Twins. For the record, I would not be adverse to him wearing a Twins uniform again this year, for a Thome-esque contract. Or a Crede2009-esque contract.

Now we add into the mix of Thome. As a left-handed hitter off the bench, I like it, but someone pointed out that Thome’s career stats as a pinch-hitter are lacking. Granted, it’s less than 100 plate appearances (98, to be exact), but his hitting line is .213/.333/.338. To put it into perspective, Ryan’s presumed nemesis, Nick Punto, has a career hitting line of .248/.322/.324. (Shockingly, Punto has never been a pinch hitter.) In other words, you’re getting a Punto-esque slugger as a pinch-hitter. Now, I’ll grant that Thome’s pinch-hitting appearances are limited, and perhaps he’ll learn to prepare to be a pinch hitter. But at present, that may not be the best line of work for him. That leaves the option of moving Jason Kubel to the outfield, and Thome DHing when the Twins are facing a right-handed pitcher, presumably placing Delmon Young on the bench. However, like Ryan, I would like to see Delmon Young get more consistent playing time. Because he’s been in the majors so long, we forget how young he is. (Along that line, I was absolutely stunned to find out Albert Pujols was only 29 last year—he just turned 30 a few weeks ago. Happy belated birthday, Mr. Pujols! I’ve been hearing his name so long, I didn’t realize he was just a kid. I suppose those outside Minnesota might be shocked to find out that Joe Mauer’s won’t turn 27 until April, and Justin Morneau won’t turn 29 until May.)

So, I’m not really sure what the Twins are going to do with Thome. However, with his price tag, it really shouldn’t affect any plans of getting a real second baseman or real third baseman. (I love Brendan Harris and Nick Punto. I really do. I’m just not sure they’re real second baseman or third baseman. They can fill in in a pinch, but I wouldn’t build my team around both of them as starters—one, okay, but not both on the same team. We shall see, I suppose. I’ve been wrong before.) However, the salary of the team so far is high enough that the possibility of finding a good free agent infielder may be tricky, without a trade. (I’m still betting on a Glen Perkins trade by opening day. Part of me is sentimentally sad, because I like guys playing for their home town teams, but part of me will be relieved, because there are so many bridges on fire between Perkins and the Twins, I’m not sure they can be saved.)

As for the Vikings…well, I expected no less of them. I’m not a Vikings fan, per se, because I don’t follow football. I have enough friends/family who are Vikings fans that I care enough for their sakes. But, well, I’ve vicariously been a Vikings fan long enough to expect no less of them than to do exactly what they did: Build up hopes, and crush them. From what I understand, it was from questionable game decisions, too. It’s nice to have consistency in life: the Wild will be streaky, the Twins will go out in the first round of playoffs, the Timberwolves will win one of five games, and Vikings will break hearts.

Timberwolves update: They have a 0-4 record since I last reported. They’re now at 9-38, or a 19.1% winning percentage. The have the worst record in the West, but New Jersey has the worst record in the NBA, 4-40.

Wild Update: The Wild have a 26-23-4 record, for a 49.1% winning percentage. Petr Sykora is gone (last I heard, the Wild assigned him to the minor league team, he refused, and they’re working on terminating his contract), but Brent Burns is back!

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The trip to Cape Girardeau

I received the coolest text I have ever received this morning at about quarter to three. My friend Allan sent me a message telling me his plans for the day. Ok, that's underselling it. The test informed me that he was a couple thousand feet from the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and he planned to finish the climb the next day. Amazing. Scaling the highest mountain of a continent is something that I have no plans to ever do, but that doesn't mean I don't bear a great deal of respect for those that do. Heck, I'm just jealous that he got to go to Africa.
Anyways, I got back from Cape Girardeau, Missouri on Sunday after a fun weekend on the road. I promised you some stories, observations and side notes from the trip. I wish I could have more details on the trip to Tanzania my friend made, but you'll have to settle for this.
- The Friday night before the game, since I arrived the day before, I went to the Outback next door to pick up some dinner. As I was waiting for it I noticed that the Murray State team was enjoying their dinner mere feet from me. I thought this was odd. Never mind the statistical improbability that I would come across the team at the restaurant right door to my hotel in a town of 35k with plenty of other dining options. No, I thought it was weird that they were in town, when their game was the next day at quarter to 8, and the drive was only 2 hours or so. The only explanation I could come up with was that they traveled with the women's team, which was playing the game before them. I guess. Either that or Murray State is flush with cash.
- Before the game I went to the campus to scout for merchandise and, of course, tickets. The ticket office was closed, and a trip around campus revealed that the bookstore was closed. I understand. What student has free time to shop on a Saturday. I went to the mall, then, in CG in order to kill some time, find some apparel and find dinner. While looking I found a Jared Allen Kansas City Chiefs jersey for 20 dollars. A bargain! I also found the most terrifying thing I've ever seen, the "Parakeet Jungle". It's basically a large parakeet enclosure that kids can go in and be with the birds. Spend a dollar, scar your kids for life!
- Speaking of the walk around campus, there was a couple of Indian dudes walking around taking pictures too. It struck me how odd I must seem as a tourist walking around SEMOST when I saw OTHER tourists walking around SEMOST.
- OK, on to the game. I was close enough that my view was obstructed when the cheerleaders stood up.
- Between the two teams, there was on white guy, Eric McCrary for SE Missouri. He was definitely the "energy' guy. He would not shut up on the bench, and was always the first on his feet screaming. He was certainly more valuable there than he was on the court. He was slow, had band hands and was a worse shot. But he made up for it by being annoying as hell.
- Murray State reminded me of a Big Ten team. They relied on their inside game and strong defense. They aren;t your classic tournament upset-special, because that tends to be a strong outside shooting team. Playing to their strengths, they don't have enough size to play inside with the other big teams. If they do make a splash in the post season, they will have to do it by playing aggressive defense.
- Fun facts about the coach: His name is Dickey Nutt, and he is the brother of Ole Miss football coach Houston Nutt. He
- I struck up a conversation with the gentleman behind me. He immediately recognized that I was not from the area, what with my accent and all. That was a peculiar sensation. We talked about my being a meteorologist, then he asked me what I thought of the Farmer's Almanac. Yep.
- I have never heard the Cupid Shuffle outside of a bar before, but it had regular radio rotation in Cape Girardeau. It was the soundtrack to an imaginary high speed chase I underwent. There was some truck that followed me around for a little while. Haunting.
- It was the mascots birthday. He wore a tux and had a cake, then they handed out awful looking t-shirts. It was really a special day for all of us. After the game, I went to Steak 'n' Shake and had some celebratory ice cream.

It was probably the best of my trips, simply because there was no hassle, and I was able to see some of the town as I was there. If things work out this well during my next trip (hopefully to Colorado State), I will be greatly pleased.

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Links of the Day 1/27/10

It's the 27th, and I'm still writing 09 on all my links.

How about some more in depth discussion on the Jim Thome signing? (not really in depth)

If you enjoy drinking and enjoy watching hockey, have I got the game for you.

How about a Super Bowl Top 10 list.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What to make of Thome?

Frankly, I don't think anything should be made of the Jim Thome signing today. Sure, it's nice to have one of the best home run hitters of the past 15 years or so on your team, but he doesn't really add anything the team doesn't already have. He can play DH or 1st. We already have Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel for those spots, and they are both lefties. There are murmurs about putting Kubel in left and letting Thome DH, but that means 5 lefties at least in the lineup. Also, I would be surprised if the lesson hasn't been learned yet that Delmon Young is at his best when he is in the lineup every day.
I read somewhere that platooning Young and Thome would be the "right thing to do". I almost went into a 5 page tirade about how how wrong minded this is, but instead, I will make this simple statement, saving my first Delmon Young screed of the year for another time. Delmon Young's age 23 top 10 all time comparables according to baseball reference include: Roberto Clemente, Carl Yastrzemski and Carl Crawford. His top comparable, Carlos May, was even an all-star in a season. Kirby Puckett (for example) doesn't compare to anyone at age 23, as he hadn't yet spent a season in the league by then. I guess what I'm saying is, give him time.
If we are giving him time, then, what the hell are we doing with Thome?

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Links of the Day 1/26/10

Happy Birthday to my brother Kyle. Here are some late links.

Hey, the Lottery/Mock Draft is back on ESPN. Exciting times.

Will someone tell the A's they are a small market team?

The world did not need a Greg Oden nude photo scandal.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Oh Super Bowl, why must you tear Purdue apart?

Three years ago, the Super Bowl featured the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears. Purdue draws it's two biggest groups of students from Indiana and Chicago. It was said that the campus almost exploded.
Now with the Bears mired in Cutlermania, it appeared that the whole campus could easily be a Colts school. Well, except for one thing. Perhaps the most beloved player in Purdue history (more so than Stu Schweigert even), Drew Brees is the quarterback for the Saints. Checking with my former college associates, it appears that, once again, they are divided. The difference is that now people are struggling internally with this one.
Me? I'm not agonizing at all. The way I see it, as a Colts fan and a Drew Brees fan, I will be happy either way. For the first time in a while, I am looking forward to this game because of the teams involved and not because of the spectacle.

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Links of the Day 1/25/10

Are Oregon Ducks involved in a campus theft? With the assaults on our eyes every week, this seems like a step down.

Um... what? Really? Thome is certainly one of the nicer players to play the game, so I guess this is OK.

Is it just me or does the World Cup seem frought with violence though it hasn't even begun?


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dear Vikings fans

I hope you win the Super Bowl. I have too many friends, so much of my family that loves the Vikings that I can't help but feel bad about the teams' perpetual success. My disdain for the team lies with the front office and the executive decisions that appear to both make the team more marketable for another city while at the same time covering up for this and pretending like they aren't trying to gut the state of Minnesota. I have hated the Vikings because I felt bad for Minnesotans, that they were so poorly represented by a team they were so devoted to.
This season was different. I hated this team because they are a band of unlikeable players. They are all mercenaries, hired guns. Few of the players have pt in a lot of time in a Vikings jersey, aside from, I don't know, Bryant McKinnie. The team is led by one of, if not THE most despised quarterbacks in the league, who came out of retirement a second time to play for a team to get revenge on a team he played for for 17 years. Their defensive star was acquired in a trade and is a complete lunatic with a bad haircut and an aggressively unlikeable personality, simply because he believes he is so damn funny. The head coach is terrible, but was extended on the back of his hired guns, though he himself hasn't developed any stars. Worst of all, this team has made some of you cocky. Downright insufferable. Nationally, the Vikings have been hated with a passion typically reserved for dynasties, and the generally affable Minnesotans found themselves turning into an unlikeable fan base of an unlikeable team.
Today, the failures were in part because of Brett Favre's interceptions and Jared Allen's inability to get to Drew Brees. Some of the fans withough knowledge of the game will blame Peterson or the refs, but it was only partly Peterson's fault, and it's never the refs fault, no matter how strongly you believe a call was blown. Perhaps you shouldn't have been in that situation. So, congratulations those of you who have turned into the smug pricks that are typically reserved for New York. You got exactly what you deserved.
For those of you who remained decent, and who will continue to faithfully follow the VIkings even in the coming rebuilding, I hope the wait isn't too long. But I'm afraid it will be. The Vikings waisted a lot of money and draft picks on this team. It's a very old roster, thanks to the habit of adding free agents and not skilled rookies. Next year, assuming he comes back, will be Favre's last in the league. Steve Hutchinson doesn't have much time left. EJ Henderson may be done for his career, and Ben Leber is falling apart. There will be a lot of holes to fill for the Vikings in a bout two years, but I can guarantee they won't be filled until it's too late.
Hopefully "too late" doesn't mean when they are playing in Los Angeles.


Links of the Day 1/24/10

I just got in, here are some quick links.

The Colts are going to the Super Bowl!

Some people just aren't good at high fiving.

I'll never get over funny names in sports.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

I'll get this out of the way quick.

Game over in Cape Girardeau. I thought I would give you the lowdown on the game really quick. Tomorrow and Monday will be for the football, whatever happens. Tuesday I'll give a more thorough summary of the trip.
The game itself was closer than the 80-61 would indicate. There was really only one big stretch that the Racers really took the RedHawks behind the woodshed. After 8 minutes of Southeast hitting almost everything they threw at the basket, and Racers star forward Ivan Aska on the bench with early foil trouble, they took the lead. Then the Racers went on a bit of a run.
A 30-4 run.
The Redhawls and Sam Pearson especially took a lot of mid-range jumpers, and when they stopped going down, the bigger, more athletic Murray State team started grabbing rebounds and working the ball inside on their own offensive end. The less athletic Redhawks started moving with their hands and not their feet, fouling Racers often and sending them to the line.
After the run, however, the game was almost even. The difference for the rest of the game was a 1 point advantage for the Racers. The damage was already done, however and the Racers continue unbeaten in the OVC.
More notes and a deeper trip summary later this week. With pictures!

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Links of the Day 1/23/10

Links, coming to you from Missouri!

Could South Carolina actually become an elite team this decade? Some think so.

Purdue players always have the inside dope on Erin Andrews.

Last but not least, the touching end to the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.


Friday, January 22, 2010

NFL Power Ranks; Divisional Playoffs

As we head into the Conference championship games this weekend, we have a new #1, and needless to say this team is pretty familiar with the #1 spot. It's none other than the Indianapolis Colts. The Chargers long winning streak was shockingly snapped by the red hot Jets and they are out of the playoffs, but only fell to the #2 spot since they were so far ahead of everyone else coming into this week. The Jets benefited immensely from their win, shooting all the way up to #3, by far the highest they have been ranked all year. The Vikings moved up 1 spot to #4 after eliminating the formerly #2 ranked Cowboys, who fell to #5. The Colts dominating win over the Ravens knocked them back 5 spots to #9, and the Saints moved up to #8 after dispatching the Cardinals with authority. There was also a little bit of strength of schedule jockeying around lower in the ranks.

So right now, I have a high amount of confidence that whoever ends up winning the Super Bowl will finish #1 in these ranks, which is never a guarantee when its purely based on a formula. The Colts, Jets, and Vikings are all within 2.52 points of each other and the Saints are not too far back. The Saints are still paying for their late-season swoon, but they can easily make up for that by winning it all.

So lets look at this week's games:
#1 Colts (71.70) vs. #3 Jets (70.35) - As I have said, the Jets are red hot, but this week they are facing a team that only sometimes chokes in the playoffs instead of always chokes in the playoffs (Chargers). Can the Jets do it? Probably not. The Colts' 2 I don't care loses didn't seem to affect them on the field, but has hurt them in the ranks, making it seem that these 2 teams are closer in overall ability than they really are.

#4 Vikings (69.18) vs. #8 Saints (63.93) - The Saints proved they didn't accumulate too much rust over the past 5 weeks and blew out Arizona, while the Vikings may or may not have run up the score on Dallas. So what to predict in this one? Well, the Saints gave away their last game of the season which hurts them in the recent success category, but I think the lingering question with them is can a team with that bad of a defense win the Super Bowl? The Vikings, Colts, and Jets have all been pretty stingy this year to get where they are, but the Saints have done it mostly through offense with some inconsistent defensive play. If the Saints wouldn't have mailed it in at the end of the year, they would probably be #2 or #3 instead of #8 so this one is anyone's guess.

Here are the full ranks:
1. Colts - 71.70 - +2
2. Chargers - 71.09 - -1
3. Jets - 70.35 - +4
4. Vikings - 69.18 - +1
5. Cowboys - 65.73 - -3
6. Texans - 65.26 - Even
7. Packers - 64.06 - +1
8. Saints - 63.93 - +2
9. Ravens - 62.64 - -5
10. Eagles - 61.94 - -1
11. Falcons - 61.30 - Even
12. Patriots - 60.91 - Even
13. 49ers - 60.39 - Even
14. Panthers - 59.13 - Even
15. Steelers - 58.87 - Even
16. Titans - 52.28 - +1
17. Cardinals - 50.06 - -1
18. Bengals - 48.54 - Even
19. Browns - 44.99 - Even
20. Bills - 44.77 - Even
21. Bears - 43.64 - +1
22. Broncos - 43.55 - -1
23. Giants - 41.59 - Even
24. Dolphins - 38.82 - Even
25. Jaguars - 35.32 - Even
26. Buccaneers - 32.30 - Even
27. Chiefs - 30.63 - +1
28. Redskins - 30.43 - -1
29. Raiders - 27.81 - Even
30. Seahawks - 23.65 - Even
31. Lions - 15.54 - Even
32. Rams - 11.11 - Even

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Links of the Day 1/22/10

I, Steve, get to do the links today:

Since I am still in my 20s and live in a western state, I pretty much have to follow MMA, and I'm starting to like it more. Maybe I'll even post on it occasionally. This is a day old, but UFC Heavyweight Champ Brock Lesnar is making his return after a bout with diverticulitis.

With everyone talking about whether Kurt Warner will retire, Bertrand Berry decides to hang'em up. I think it may be time for the Cardinals to be the Cardinals again.

Bowling Alley Turf Wars!!!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

How much money?

Twins blogger Aaron Gleeman wrote on Twitter yesterday: “Presented without comment: Twins spending over $10 million this year on Nick Punto, Brendan Harris, Jesse Crain, and Delmon Young.”

Because of the 140 character limit, Mr. Gleeman made no comment. So, let me.

While in some respects, it seems insane to spend that much money on those four guys, like Ryan said yesterday: “What are you going to do?” (By the way, Ryan, I’m pretty sure my office isn’t giving out raises this year, either. Based on inflation, that means we’re actually taking pay cuts…but at least it’s not real pay cuts!)

Nick Punto will make $4.5 million in 2010. Somehow, we just have to get over that. I don’t think it was The Worst Contract Ever, either. With superstars making over $20 million per season (everyone “knows” Joe Mauer will get that; whether in a new contract with the Twins, or in free agency with another team remains to be seen), You can look at it as Nick Punto making ¼ the amount of a superstar. It doesn’t look so bad. It might be a little bit expensive, but at the time, it was before the economy completely tanked, and was reasonable.

So, let’s take Nick Punto out of the equation. Now we’ve got Brendan Harris, Jesse Crain, and Delmon Young making $6.1 million if Young reaches both of his incentives (which is “only” $50,000).

How does the money break down? Harris will make $1.45 million.* Last year, he batted .261/.310/.362, which are not exactly numbers to brag about, but they’re not really numbers to rip apart, either. His fielding seems to be pretty average. You’ve got an average player, and realistically, making an average salary for his years of service. I’m not sure the two-year contract was necessary, and the salary and incentives for 2011 sound reasonable.

*Harris’s incentives for 2011 break down like this: $75,000 for 450 plate appearances in '10; $100,000 for 500, $150,000 for 550, $175,000 for 600 and $175,000 for 650. Frankly, if he reaches 550 plate appearances, I’ll be shocked. If he reaches 500, I’ll merely be surprised.

Delmon Young will make $2.6 million in 2010, with another $50,000 in bonuses if he reaches 600 plate appearances ($25,000 if he reaches 575). His fielding has is notedly poor, but the fact that he managed to end the year with a batting line of .284/.308/.425 impresses me. I know, these guys are professionals, but the kid is 23 years old, and he had to face the death of his mother—from the sounds of it, it was a very quick, sudden illness (It was 3 ½ months from diagnoses to death). I give him a pass for his first half of the year. (He’s never been a patient batter, so the OBP is going to suffer.) Based on his hitting, and average salaries around the league…this sounds like a reasonable, fair contract.

Crain was coming back from arm surgery. The recovery time, according to some, is about 16 months. Incidentally, 16 months after his surgery would’ve been September. His ERA in September and October (including post-season) was 1.13. He gave up eight hits and eight walks (the walks are concerning), and struck out eleven. Frankly, that’s pretty good. The Twins have reason to believe Crain will return to form, and based on his pre-surgery performance, he could become a very valuable member of the bullpen. Can you depend on it? No. But you don’t want to risk losing it, either.

Pretty much, what we have is 16% of the players taking up 12% of the payroll (based on a $90.5 million payroll, which I’ve heard thrown around). The serfs (i.e., non-arbitration players) will make significantly less money than 1/25th of the payroll. The superstars will make significantly more. This leaves the middle ground for the average players. These guys are right in there. If you take Nick Punto out, you’ve got 12% of the players making 6.7% of the salary. Neither of the position players are kept on the roster for their defense. Harris is kept for his versatility, and reasonable bench bat (he may get a full-time position at third base, but that’s part of his versatility). Young is kept for being a poor-fielding, potential-good-hitting corner outfielder. Crain is kept for his potential as a solid member of a much maligned bullpen from 2009.

In short, Mr. Gleeman, I’m not sure that the fact needed any comment. Nick Punto’s contract has been commented on ad naseum, and as we can’t change it, there’s no point. The other three contracts are normal.

Timberwolves update: They have a 1-2 record since I last reported. They’re now at 9-34, or a 20.9% winning percentage. The have the worst record in the West, but New Jersey has the worst record in the NBA, 3-38.

Wild Update: The Wild have a 24-23-3 record, for a 48.0% winning percentage. Petr Sykora seems to be on his way out the door, while formerly concussed Brent Burns may be on his way back into the lineup. He hasn’t played since mid-November, only got back on the ice with the team on Tuesday, but some believe the lad will play tonight. We shall see.

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Links of the Day 1/21/10

The lights are going out on the Tonight Show.

Al Nolen, wearing his GPA on the jersey.

What HAPPENED in the ACC last night?


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Today is Steve's birthday. You all remember Steve, he puts together the ranks and generally writes longer, more insightful posts than I do. Anyways, I am trying to think of an appropriate birthday wish for Steve. His football team, the 49ers, is done. We both cheer for Purdue sports, so I feel like wishing the Boilermakers good luck would be self serving. And he is a White Sox fan, and there isn't a chance I'm going to say anything like "I hope the White Sox make the World Series this year!" Sorry. I guess I can just say "Happy Birthday" and at the very least reward you with this picture of Bobby Jenks. Happy Birthday Steve!

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Links of the Day 1/20/10

Coaching decisions are often difficult to understand.

Elizabeth Hasselbeck showed up on NFL Live yesterday. In other news, I think I now hate football.

I tried to steal a car by posing as Alex Ochoa once. No dice.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

At least someone is getting a raise.

Today is arbitration day in Minnesota. The Twins eligible for arbitration negotiated their new contracts so they didn't have to go to arbitration. As it turned out, every single one of those players got a raise. Hopefully I will be getting a raise this year too. Francisco Liriano nearly quadrupled his salary and is now making 1.6 million.
I would like to say that I'm complaining about professional athletes and their salaries but frankly, I'm more complainging about my job and how I'm not making 6 figures. And fans shouldn't worry about the Twins overpaying or anything. They are just following the rules the league has out there. What are you going to do?

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Links fo the Day 1/19/10

I'm running way behind today. Quick Links.

Come chat with us... right now! at BMR.

Bugs and Cranks interviews Darren Daulton.

Mark McGwire has no remorse.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Thank goodness I'm heading south

I was a little disgusted yesterday as the Vikings ran up the score on the Cowboys. It would have been one thing if they had scored while trying to run out the clock, or scored with the backups in, but it wasn't cool that they did it while their starters were still in, passing three times, including going for it twice on 4th down. I have enough of a problem with bad sportsmanship, but I had a greater problem with the people who DON'T have a problem with the way the Vikings carried themselves at the end of the game.
The two responses I heard were that A) The Cowboys are professional athletes and B) they are the Cowboys, so somehow they deserve it. Well, the Vikings are professionals too, so they should be better at showing respect to their fellow professionals, especially when this group of Vikings should have no ill will towards this current group of Cowboys. And that's the other thing. This group of Cowboys has been a listless band of players who haven't accomplished anything, nor have the been bombastic in their self congratulation, or outwardly arrogant, not any more than any other NFL team. Other than the owner, this group of player has been downright likeable. Why should they be punished for the sins of Michael Irvin and Charles Haley?
And if you weren't instilled with the same values of sportsmanship, I was, there isn't much I can do, except get upset, at which point you would call me old fashioned or a whiner, and I'll continue to think you are classless where it comes to sports
The worst I heard involved a Vikings fan taunting a Bears fan because his team was still in the playoffs, and the Bears fan was dying. I don't care who you are, that's disgusting. OF course, the taunter didn't think so, and of course, I had nothing to do but get mad at how despicable some people can be. I don't understand how these games can turn people so ugly.
And that, in a nutshell, is why I take my road trips. It's nice to get away for a while, but also it's nice to go to a game simply to enjoy a game. Next weekend, I'll be on my way to Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, Missouri to watch them take on Murray State. Having no affiliation with either school, I can simply enjoy the game.
This might be the first game I go to that the road team wins. Murray State is a very good team, having only 3 losses on the season, at California, Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky, programs that are clearly more elite than their typical OVC opponents. In fact, Murray State is 8-0 in their conference schedule thus far. The Racers feature a young team, and may well be a force to be reckoned with on a national level in years to come.
Contrast that with SE Missouri State. The Redhawks draw much of their roster from local community colleges and are generally juniors or seniors. Three of their 7 total wins on the season have come against non Division 1 opponents. If they have one shining star, it's that their coach's name is Dickey Nutt. That's pretty awesome.
I just got a GPS to take with me for the trip. I've been playing with it and it's been way too much fun so far. That's what I need this weekend. I need to have some fun with my sports.

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Links of the Day 1/18/10

Sad news from the Chicago Bears, with the passing of defensive end Gaines Adams.

A look at an elite group of baseball players. Those that have only received 1 vote to the Hall of Fame.

It's frightening that anyone would think a protective vest would be a solid financial investment for a sporting event.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

The train is derailing

While I have been talking about football, both college and professional lately, I have missed a troubling trend. It continued yesterday while the Colts were making their way to the AFC Championship Game. Purdue lost again. To Northwestern.
This marks the third straight loss for the Boilermakers since they started 14-0. At the beginning of the season, I said that I would be disappointed by anything but a trip to the Final Four. I said they were undoubtedly the best team in the Big Ten. Every positive thing that the Colts do is a pleasant surprise. Everything the Boilermakers have done lately fills me with dread. How could they fail me like this?
I have no explanation for this, only a hope that they can turn it around and play like the team that I know they are. If they don't, I may never be optimistic again.


Links of the Day 1/17/10

If you haven't read Dan Levy's piece on Haiti yet, I suggest you do.

Why won't anyone go to Buffalo?

Also from the Sporting News... The Vikings have built their team rather untraditionally, perhaps because they don't have any scouts watching college games.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Remember, the Vikings are inches from 10-6

Many locals are pretty high on the Vikings right now. After all, they are 12-4 and playing at home in the playoffs. I want everyone to remember, though, that the lucky breaks have come their way so far, and tehy are a break or two away from being 10-6. If Greg Lewis foot is turned slightly, he is out of bounds against the 49ers, and they lose at home. If Steven Hauschka kicks without his hands wrapped around his throat, the Ravens win. In none of the 4 losses did the Vikings almost win. 12-4 is the best they could be, but really, they are just as close to being a 10-6 team. That happens, and tehy are playing on the road against Arizona again in their opening round playoff game. Remember this when they play a legitimate team tomorrow in the Cowboys. They haven't really done well against them so far.

An no, I am not talking about the Colts. I am terrified of what will come this afternoon. It's easier to just rag on the Vikings.

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Links of the Day 1/16/10

Well, that sounds like things didn't end well. Surprising that MSNBC can't get a solid report, though, isn't it?

We in Minnesota are happy with Guillaume Latendresse. Well, they seem pretty pleased with Benoit Pouliot over in Montreal.

More subtext for the Colts-Ravens this afternoon?


Friday, January 15, 2010

NFL Power Ranks: Wild Card Playoffs

As I said last week, the power rank formula allows me to continue doing the ranks through the playoffs. As you can see from the list, mostly only playoff teams or teams mixed in with playoff teams move around during the playoffs, but sometimes we see the occasional flip of a lower team due to a slight strength of schedule or strength of division change caused by a playoff team in their division.

So let's look at last week's games, and how it affected the teams: The Jets win over the Bengals caused the Jets to move up 4 spots to #7, while the Bengals actually stayed put at #18. The Cowboys win over the Eagles moved them to their highest point all season, #2, and the Eagles fell back to #9. The Ravens win moved them up to #4 while the Patriots 8 spots all the way back to #12, and the Cardinals win wasn't enough to move them up at all, staying at #16, while the Packers fell 6 spots to #8. The Vikings and Texans benefited from the losses by Green Bay, Philadlephia, and New England to move up 3 spots each. The other 3 bye teams stayed put.

So how do ranks predict this week's games: It looks like #10 Saints over #16 Cardinals, #3 Colts over #4 Ravens (thanks to a huge 0.24 point split), #1 Chargers over #7 Jets, and in an upset, the #2 Cowboys over #5 Vikings

Also, how 'bout them Texans at #6? It would have been fun to see them in the playoffs this year....

Here are the full ranks:
1. Chargers - 77.90 - Even
2. Cowboys - 74.81 - +5
3. Colts - 69.44 - Even
4. Ravens - 69.20 - +2
5. Vikings - 66.26 - +3
6. Texans - 64.85 - +3
7. Jets - 64.07 - +4
8. Packers - 64.00 - -6
9. Eagles - 62.49 - -4
10. Saints - 62.41 - Even
11. Falcons - 61.18 - +1
12. Patriots - 61.12 - -8
13. 49ers - 60.17 - Even
14. Panthers - 59.67 - Even
15. Steelers - 58.73 - Even
16. Cardinals - 57.29 - Even
17. Titans - 51.90 - Even
18. Bengals - 49.01 - Even
19. Browns - 45.18 - Even
20. Bills - 44.94 - Even
21. Broncos - 43.76 - +1
22. Bears - 43.22 - -1
23. Giants - 41.48 - Even
24. Dolphins - 38.37 - Even
25. Jaguars - 35.24 - Even
26. Buccaneers - 32.18 - Even
27. Redskins - 30.96 - +1
28. Chiefs - 30.85 - -1
29. Raiders - 28.01 - Even
30. Seahawks - 23.78 - Even
31. Lions - 15.43 - Even
32. Rams - 11.21 - Even

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Links of the Day 1/15/09

Portsmouth, a team in the EPL is in worse shape than the Lions. At least the Lions can't be relegated.

How bad was Charlie Brown as a pitcher?

A little subtext for the Ravens-Colts game tomorrow.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

In Other News, It’s Cold When the Temperature is Below Zero

I realize this hardly made any headlines, so you may not have heard that Mark McGwire, former holder of the Most Home Runs in a Season record in Major League Baseball, admitted that he took steroids.

In full disclosure, I’ve taken steroids a few times in my life. Of course, these were prescribed by a doctor, picked up at a pharmacy out in the public. There is nothing illegal about that. (It didn’t stop my friends from harassing me that I had a 50-game baseball suspension, though.)

This is something people have “known” for years, without really knowing it. Mark McGwire claims that steroids
didn’t help him hit home runs and he could’ve done it without steroids
. Steroids merely helped him with his injuries, as he was, “A walking M*A*S*H unit.”

In a small way, he’s right. From my vague understanding of the human body (the last time I took a health class was almost 20 years ago, and I’ll admit now that I don’t even remember attending health class my sophomore year of high school. The only reason I know I did is because it was a required class, and I didn’t indiscriminately skip classes), this is what I know. Steroids do not, in themselves, make you stronger. Steroids merely help your muscles recover faster. If I were to simply take steroids, and change no other part of my daily routine, I would have the side effects of steroids but I wouldn’t be bulking on muscles. If I were a gym rat, I would be able to bulk up some muscle, because the muscles would help me recover faster.

Hitting home runs takes an amazing amount of talent, not just related to strength. It doesn’t matter how many steroids I take for strength-building purposes, I will not be able to hit a home run. I have the eye-hand coordination of an infant when it comes to hitting a baseball (or playing video games, but that’s another story for another time). I can’t hit a baseball in general, so adding strength won’t help me hit it at all. The baseball players can already hit a baseball, by default (except Corky “Corky” Miller). Adding strength only helps them hit it further. Adding steroids allows the muscles to recover faster, so they can exercise more and get stronger.

Mark McGwire believes he could’ve hit 70 home runs in a season without steroids. Maybe he’s right, but I disagree. Based on the above, we know that steroids didn’t help him hit the ball. It probably helped him build the strength to hit the ball farther, or at least recover strength to hit the ball farther more often. Beyond that, by his own admission, he was so injured, he needed the steroids to stay on the field. If he couldn’t stay healthy for a season without steroids, why does he think he could have hit 70 home runs without them? Injuries and strength are part of the game. Those who are “fragile” players (oft-injured) generally don’t last long in the game. Joe Crede’s career may be over at age 32 due to injuries. It’s a sad factor of life.

In short, I believe that Mark McGwire has deluded himself. He feels guilty about taking steroids, because he knows it was wrong. He’s only half-right when he says it didn’t help him hit home runs, and he could’ve done it without steroids. He had the eye-hand coordination and reaction times to hit a baseball. He even had the power to hit the ball very, very far. He just lacked the strength to do it as often as he did, so he took steroids. He only wants to concentrate on half the story.

We can all believe what we want. If it helps him sleep at night, great. If it convinces some kids that there’s no point to taking steroids, even better.

Timberwolves update: They have a 1-3 record since I last reported. They’re now at 8-32, or a 20.0% winning percentage. The have the worst record in the West, but New Jersey has the worst record, 3-35.

Wild Update: The Wild have a 24-20-3 record, for a 51.1% winning percentage. They were also in a few fights last night.

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Links of the Day 1/14/09

The NFL Wild Card weekend in pictures.

The state of Tennessee doesn't like Lane Kiffin's chances at USC.

This is some serious hair.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A perfectly measured response

After Lane Kiffin had made the decision to leave Tennessee, the University said that he had made it known that he would be interested in a USC job, and that during his tenure there, he had represented the University well, was a diligent worker and had been committed to Tennessee. It was a very classy and somewhat surprising response to what was a situation. I had a newfound respect for the Volunteers and their administrators.
So of course, the student body rioted.

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Links of the Day 1/13/09

Pirates fans are showing an interest in new signee Ryan Church.

The Knicks are now haunted.

Conan O'Brien does not sound happy.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Milwaukee Bucks still exist

The other day, Steve and I were discussing which team might be the most forgotten in all of professional sports. I thought it was probably the Milwaukee Bucks, as every time they show up on a highlight, I say "hey, I remember them!" Almost like they went away for a while. So, for everyone out there, I just thought I would remind you that yes, in fact, the Milwaulee Bucks are still around.
Also still in existence:
Florida Panthers
Buffalo Bills
Cincinnati Reds


Links of the Day 1/12/10

This Guillaume fellow appears to be working out nicely.

I don't know if I'll ever get enough of this video.

The UFC is now partially owned by a Middle Eastern nation. Take that as you will.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Is this guy serious?

I don't care if this is some sort of "Modest Proposal" (which it probably is), its perhaps the most idiotic thing written in the state of Minnesota this year, and I've written a lot of stupid stuff. What am I talking about? This opinion article at the hands of Chuck Chalberg, writing for the Star Tribune.
On the surface, it proposes to knock the less than excellent Gophers football team down to a different level, like Division II or the NAIA, rent facilities from schools like St. Thomas or just drop the program all together. Then, the vacant TCF Bank stadium would be available for the Vikings to move into. There are some obvious reasons why this would be foolish:
- The Gophers are, when compared to the other 119 teams, at least in the top half of all programs in the country.
- Taking a public facility, selling it at a discount to a private entity, then renting private facilities to the public entity is perhaps less cost effective than building a new stadium in the long run.
- Like it or not, athletics are the best advertising and after tuition, the best source of revenue that doesn't come from a taxpayer. I know you laud the University of Chicago for dumping football, but, well, Minnesota has 40 THOUSAND more students. Chicago probably couldn't fill out their stadium. Not even the crappy St. Thomas facilities you want to rent.
- Colleges aren't about winning and losing when it comes to athletics. It's a side business, there to make money. Perhaps you shouldn't judge the U for their .500 record, but rather on their ability to thrive as an academic institution.

Like I said though, there is probably a deeper meaning than "The Gophers suck, give the Vikings their stadium!" The deeper meaning would be a question as to why the Gophers get a stadium and the Vikings don't. This is an easy answer. A public institution is upgrading a facility that will in turn lead to greater revenue for said upgrade received the public funds. A private institution got turned down. It's just smart finance to sink money into something that will earn you money directly
Think of it this way. If there were two proposals on the table in Victoria, one to build a new school gymnasium and another to build me a new house, which one do you think is going to get the funding? If I wanted a gymnasium instead of a house, it would be the same thing. A more fitting question would be why the Twins are getting a new stadium and the Vikings aren't. Comparing it to TCF Bank Stadium is patently ridiculous.


Links of the Day 1/11/10

In one year, it will be 1/1/11. Whoa.

#1 Kansas loses, proving that everyone is vulnerable. Except Texas.

I always, ALWAYS link to massive Russian hockey fights.

Oh, by the way, how about the best football game of the weekend?


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Meet your new National Champions: The college football simulation

Well, here it is. My college football simulation and the results. Please look to yesterday's post to get all the details. now, let's take a look at some interesting trends I noticed, then we'll go conference by conference and look at the results. One thing I should note is that the title game (our made up version) is actually at the Superdome this year, not that it's particularly relevant. Anyways, some trends.
- Every conference had a 9-0 in-conference team, making conference tie breakers unnecessary. That was nice.
- The "Dixie" conference was the strongest this year, as they were last year.
- The Great Lakes and Mountain West were tied for the bottom spot.
- 5 BCS teams didn't even make the tournament, including Georgia Tech, who finished 9th in their conference. The ones who made it? Ohio State, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Boise State.
- Speaking of surprisingly poor teams, Florida State, Illinois, Maryland and Iowa State all finished last in their respective conferences.
- There were 5 undefeated teams overall, Penn State, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Alabama and Texas.
- There were 3 winless teams overall, Miami (OH), Florida State (!) and Washington State.

That said, let's take a look at the results!

New England: 2009 Champion - Penn State
2010 - Penn State. The Nittany Lions were the first to claim their conference this season as a group behind them struggled to 5-4 records in conference. Penn State became the #2 seed. Due to tiebreakers, a couple of surprises, Temple and Syracuse, ended up 2nd and 3rd.
Order of finish: Penn State, Temple, Syracuse, Boston College, Rutgers, Connecticut, Army, Buffalo, Navy, Maryland.

Appalachian: 2009 Champion - West Virginia
2010 - Virginia Tech. The Hokies won the conference for the 2nd time in 3 years in what was a very top heavy conference. They defeated both West Virginia and Cincinnati (who also lost to Pitt) to win. 2 out of conference losses to Rutgers and North Carolina State knocked Virginia Tech down a peg, and they were the 10 seed. Just like every year, Pitt finished 4th.
Order of finish: Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Louisville, Marshall, Miami (OH).

Great Lakes - 2009 Champion - Ohio State
2010 - Ohio State. The Buckeyes have yet to be challenged in this conference. For the first time, however, someone other than Western Michigan earned 2nd. That team was Michigan State. Perhaps someone other than Ohio State will win it sometime. Come on, Bowling Green! The Buckeyes were the 11th seed, owing to a 10-2 record and an abysmal conference.
Order of finish: Ohio State, Michigan State, Central Michigan, Kent State, Michigan, Bowling Green, Akron, Toledo, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan.

Tobacco Road - 2009 Champion - Tennessee
2010 - North Carolina. This is usually the most confusing conference to sort out, but this year, thanks to the Tar Heels ability to win out in their conference, and the general parity in the rest of the conference, they were able to win by 2 games. A loss at Michigan State to open the season meant they were knocked down to the 6 seed.
Order of finish: North Carolina, Middle Tennessee State, Tennessee, East Carolina, North Carolina State, Memphis, Duke, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky.

Midwest - 2009 Champion - Iowa
2010 - Wisconsin. Last year, Iowa won the conference, surprising many. This year in the real world, the Hawkeyes were incredible, even winning a BCS game. Could the same thing happen for the Badgers next year? They went undefeated for the season, but due to a shoddy conference had to play in the first round as the 5th seed. Notre Dame continues to hilariously struggle.
Order of finish: Wisconsin, Iowa, Northwestern, Northern Illinois, Notre Dame, Indiana, Purdue, Ball State, Illinois

Florida - 2009 Champion - Florida
2010 - Florida. The Gators have won their namesake conference every year that we have had the simulation, one of three teams to do this (Ohio State and a team still to come are the others). This year they had legitimate competition, however, as they beat Miami to give them their only loss on the year. Florida lost a non-conference game to Alabama and were knocked down to the 7 seed. Somehow,
Order of finish: Florida, Miami (FL), Central Florida, Southern Miss, South Florida, Tulane, Troy, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Florida State.

Great Plains - 2009 Champion - Missouri
2010 - Oklahoma. The Sooners were the beneficiary of a key home game against what might have been the actual best team in conference, just like they were on the wrong end of that last year. They handled Nebraska easily at home, and despite not having Sam Bradford, were able to win the conference easily. Other than Nebraska, the other teams played surprisingly weak. The Sooners were the 3 seed in the tournament.
Order of finish - Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Arkansas State, Kansas State, Arkansas, Kansas, Tulsa, Iowa State

Dixie - 2009 Champion - Alabama
2010 - Alabama. The strongest conference last year was the strongest again this year. Alabama was never really challenged during the conference schedule, which just served to show how strong the Crimson Tide was. There was a lot of infighting, and Georgia ended up 2 games back, but 2 games ahead of the next team, Mississippi. They ended up the #1 seed.
Order of finish: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Clemson, South Carolina, Auburn, Mississippi State, Louisiana -Monroe, Georgia Tech, UAB

Gulf Coast - 2009 Champion - TCU
2010 - Texas. Texas always seems to have a problem with a random team, usually Louisiana Tech for some reason. Not this season. They even won at TCU to make it clear they were the best team in conference. Well, as much as a 9-6 game can be clear. But those two teams were the class of the conference. Some day LSU will be competetive here.
Order of finish: Texas, TCU, LSU, Louisiana Tech, SMU, Houston, Louisiana - Lafayette, Texas A&M, North Texas, Rice

Mountain West - 2009 Champion - BYU
2010 - Texas Tech. The Red Raiders missed out last year when they probably had their best team in the schools history. Somehow, this year, they won on the road at BYU and ended up taking the conference. The Mountain West continues to be a weak conference and is yet to put anyone in the tournament who isn't the 12 seed, which Texas Tech was again.
Order of finish: Texas Tech, BYU, Air Force, Colorado, Baylor, Colorado State, Wyoming, New Mexico, UTEP, New Mexico State

Great Basin - 2009 Champion- Boise State
2010 - Boise State. The Broncos struggled out of the gate, with losses to TCU and BYU, but ended up besting a stable of good teams who ended up beating each other to the point that the closest team, Oregon State, was two games back. Interestingly, Oregon went 0-2 against teams from Idaho, which not many BCS teams could ever say. Boise State was the 8th seed.
Order of finish: Boise State, Oregon State, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, Utah State, Washington, UNLV, Washington State

California - 2009 Champion - USC
2010 - USC. USC has won this conference every year we have done the simulation. They went 8-4 this year in the real world, but had a generous schedule in the simulation and a rather weak conference allowed them to make their way back to the tournament. Last year's 1 seed ended up being the 9 seed this year, however, thanks to non conference losss to Boise State and TCU.
Order of finish: USC. Stanford, California, Fresno State, San Diego State, Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State, San Jose State, Hawaii

This has certinaly taken a lot longer to write than I expected. Just a little bit more! Hopefully you are still reading. Lets take a look at the games:
Peach Bowl - #8 Boise State beats #9 USC 32-30 on a last second field goal. Jeremy Avery ended up with 2 TDs and 122 yards writing.
Gator Bowl - #5 Wisconsin over #12 Texas Tech 24-17. Another close game but John Clay ran all over the Red Raiders for 183 yards.
Citrus Bowl - #11 Ohio State tops #6 North Carolina in what is technically an upset. Brandon Saine led the well in a stout ground attack.
Liberty Bowl - #7 Florida narrowly escaped #10 Virginia Tech 27-24. The Hokies missed a last second field goal to send it to overtime. Ryan Williams still rushed for more than 200 yards in a losing effort.

On to the quarterfinals....
Orange Bowl - #1 seed Alabama left no doubt, destroying Boise State 36-14. Mark Ingram had 201 yards and three TDs.
Cotton Bowl - Essentially a home game for the #4 Texas Longhorns, they played like it, nipping Wisconsin 27-10. Jordan Shipley caught 2 touchdowns.
Sun Bowl - Ohio State and their committee based ground game continued their run, topping #3 Oklahoma 28-14.
Fiesta Bowl - A rematch of last years semifinal, Florida avenged their loss, winning 19-10 over #2 Penn State.

The Final four!
Rose Bowl - Alabama and Mark Ingram made like the real National Championship, winning 31-13 over Texas to secure a trip to the National Championship.
Sugar Bowl - Ohio State and Florida is another rematch of a real life title game. It played out similarly, with the Gators winning easily, 27-7.

And in the national championship, it was a rematch of this years real life SEC Championship. It was the same score as the Sugar Bowl as well. Despite only 17 yards passing, Tim Tebow got his vindication, winning 27-7 for the Victoria Times National Championship.
Next year, we have the new pods, new conferences that everyone will play. Those pods: Dixie-Great Basin - Appalachian and Great Lakes in pod one, New England, Florida, Gulf Coast and Midwest in pod 2 and Tobacco Road, California Great Plains and Mountain West in pod 3. It was a lot of work, and would be a lot easier if this was just instituted already. So what did I learn?
- Schedules are very important to a teams' result. Not just who they play, but WHERE they play.
- There are so many teams in Division 1 that we will never be able to get all of the best teams in a tournament. On the other hand, every game can still be important.
- While I agree a tournament would be fun, I would hate to see anything that didn't follow this blueprint.

I hope you enjoyed this stunningly long post. If you want to know more about your team and what happened, or who they play next year, let me know and I'll fill you in!

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Links of the Day 1/10/09

Alabama wins the National Title, loses the respect of all Gatorade bathers.

This is why so many people hate the Patriots.

I have never been summoned for jury duty. Here is someone who has.


Saturday, January 09, 2010

The college football simulation is done

Over the next couple of days, Steve and I will be revealing the results of our giant annual college football simulation. Not today, because I wanted to give you ample warning, as well as a refresher on how it all works.
1) Taking the premises that a) the people demand a tournament, b) polls shouldn't have any bearing on who gets to play in championship games and c) not every team has a legitimate shot at the title because of their conference affiliations, we took the 120 teams and broke them into 12 10 team conferences based on geography, rather than a schools historic strength, size or fan base. The map for conference regions is above
2) We established a 12 team tournament in which all 12 conference champions in the tournament. It doesn't matter who you are, all that matters is that you won your conference. 2nd place doesn't cut it. 8 teams play an opening round game, with 4 teams getting a bye. This is exactly how the NFL playoffs are set up.
3) Seeds are based on overall record, conference strength and strength of schedule. How is conference strength established? At the beginning of the season, teams play a non conference schedule based on how a team did in the previous season. 1st place teams play 1st place teams, 2nd vs 2nd and so on. The conference pods, or the groups of conferences that play each other will rotate every 2 years (or, next year) based on conference strength over the course of the previous 2 years.
4) The entire season schedule is based on the record of the previous schedule so nobody can claim that they had a good record based simply on an "easy" schedule. Their home and road games will be distributed evenly among strong and weak conference teams.
5) Every single game is simulated on The tournament games are played at neutral sites, and would be played at the oldest Bowl game sites, with the national title being hosted by a rotating conference, but again, at a neutral site. This season, it would have been in the Gulf Coast conference, and likely at the new Cowboys Stadium. Frankly, though, that's sort of irrelevant to the whole simulation process.

So I think that's it. Steve and I each ran a simulation, so expect a couple of posts at least, based on the results and what will happen with the schedule for next year. Enjoy!

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Links of the Day 1/9/10

USA won the Junior hockey championship, and they celebrated appropriately.

Maybe Kiper DOESN'T know everything.

This is what student sections look like when the student's aren't in school.


Friday, January 08, 2010

A win for the Small Market Teams!

There has been much made of TCU and Boise State's not being able to compete for the National Title. Can you believe such a small time, small market team like Alabama took the prize, and didn't let those teams from the bigger cities even have a shot?!
It's true! Boise State and Alabama are actually about the same size university, but the city of Boise is more than 3 times bigger than Tuscaloosa. In fact, Boise would be the biggest city in the entire state of Alabama. And those big city bullies are getting the media to support their claim that they were robbed of a chance at the national title. They already beat a school from Fort Worth (even bigger than Boise!), why can't they just be happy with that?
Why, for once, can't we just let a small backwater program like Alabama have their glory? Liberal, big city media bias. Jerks.

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Links of the Day 1/8/09

Andy Roddick and the unfortunate interview.

Nobody likes a weather man.

Charles Rogers has some serious problems. It says something that he would be better off still playing for the Lions.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Links of the Day 1/7/09

A little old, but is Tom Kelly the best manager with a losing record in history?

This doesn't sound right. Does it?

Ricky Stanzi.... American.


I'm Drawing a Blank Here

I have a friend who was quite upset when the Baseball Hall of Fame vote was announced yesterday. While she was upset about Bert Blyleven getting in, she was outraged that there were five blank ballots. This is something my dad and I discussed many years ago, actually. In the discussion, we reasoned that blank ballots were legitimate votes. The voters have to send ballots in; otherwise, it will be presumed they are lost and replacements would be sent out.

When you’re voting for a political office, a blank ballot is pointless. Someone will be mayor/senator/president/etc. If all choices are bad, the voter must decide which is the better of the evils—or start a write-in campaign for a better choice. But there’s no law saying that someone has to be inducted into the Hall of Fame every year—nor should there be. Non-Hall of Fame caliber players shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame simply because they happen to be on a ballot in a weak year. Therefore, if a voter truly feels none of the candidates are worthy of the Hall of Fame, a blank ballot is an acceptable vote.

The thing is, like the MVP and Cy Young vote, the Hall of Fame vote is subjective. You have the “old school” guys, who feel that “wins” determine the Cy Young, RBIs and home runs determine the MVP (and their team making playoffs is the basis for both), and only super-super-stars like Babe Ruth and Willie Mays belong in the Hall of Fame. And then you have guys who feel that any player who had a pretty good year deserves the MVP, and anyone who played fairly well deserves to get into the Hall of Fame. (I know there were fans a few years ago that felt Derek Jeter should be MVP. No one in the AL had an outstanding year, and their argument is that he had been a good player for so many years, he deserved it. I call that the worst argument ever for MVP. There are guys who have won MVPs who don’t belong in the Hall of Fame, simply because that one year was the only year they played outstanding. As well, there are probably guys who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame who never won the MVP/Cy Young, because every year there was someone just a bit more outstanding than them, but overall, they were outstanding.)

It all comes down to how you feel about the Hall of Fame. Do you feel it’s only for the Elite? Or do you feel it’s more for baseball history?

Personally, I’m somewhere between.

As two examples, Roger Maris and Jack Morris are two names that are not in the Hall of Fame that people believe should be.

I would like to see Roger Maris in the Hall of Fame. Sure, he only had a few outstanding years, but I think his 1961 season is infamous—made even more so that the home run record wasn’t until the steroid era that the record was broken (I’m not implying that those that broke the record were on steroids, but the suspicion still stands). Maris held the title of single-season home run leader for longer than Babe Ruth.

Yet, on the same hand, I’m not sure Jack Morris deserves to go in purely for World Series Game Seven in 1991. Not everyone who throws a shut-out deserves to go into the Hall of Fame, no matter how dramatic the game was. The game itself should be in the Hall of Fame, but not the individual players unless they have a career of play to back them up. (And Morris might deserve to be in the Hall on his own merits; my problem is that most people point to Game Seven as the reason Morris should be.)

Really, because it’s subjective, it’s sadly up to the voters to decide whom they think it worthy for the Hall of Fame and who isn’t. But just like all votes, there will always be some voters who are, and I mean this in the politest way possible, idiots.

Timberwolves update: They have a 0-3 record since I last reported. They’re now at 7-29, or a 19.4% winning percentage; back under the 20% mark. The have the worst record in the West, but New Jersey has the worst record, 3-32.

Wild Update: The Wild have a 21-20-3 record, for a 47.7% winning percentage. The Wild are down to two players with concussions, and Brent Burns feels he’s almost ready to return; Pierre-Marc Bouchard is still completely unknown.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

NFL Power Ranks: Week 17

First, I'd like to wish ourselves a happy 5 year anniversary of sports writing! Ryan and I started the old Is It Sports? site on Geocities on January 5, 2005. I never would have thought we would have almost 2,000 posts 5 years later (mostly by Ryan, or course). It's been a lot of fun and I hope the next 5 years are even better!

The regular season finally came to an exciting end this past week, and the playoff picture is finally set. As I said last week, the ranks are totally based on a formula and do not compensate for a team benching its starters at the end of the year, so we sometimes see some bizarre things happen at this point of the season. In a way, this explains why we have a new #1 heading into the playoffs, the San Diego Chargers. They benched a lot of starters this week too, but faced a Redskins team so bad that their backups came away with the win. The Colts, who also benched starters, lost their 2nd in a row to drop to #3. The Packers blew out the Cardinals just for fun in Arizona to move up to #2, and will have a rematch next week. The Eagles fell to #5 after being completely dominated by Dallas (yet stayed ahead of them), and also despite losing, the Patriots moved up to #4.

If we must discuss the bottom 5, the Chiefs win over the Broncos to seal Denver's 4th choke of a season in a row moved them out of the bottom 5, and they were replaced by the Raiders, always a good team to fill the bottom 5 void. Seattle fell to their season low #30, and everyone else stayed the same. The Rams are on the clock.

This week, 3 teams moved up 5 spots, the Vikings to #8 after blowing out the Giants, the Browns all the way to #19 after winning their 4th in a row, and the Bills to #20 after blowing out the Colts backups. The Cardinals and Bengals both dropped 6 spots after being blown out by the teams they will face this weekend in the playoffs. As in past years, the ranks will continue throughout the playoffs.

So now lets look ahead to the playoffs. Here are the ranks of each of the playoff teams:
1. Colts #3
2. Chargers #1
3. Patriots #4
4. Bengals #18
5. Jets #11
6. Ravens #6
1. Saints #10
2. Vikings #8
3. Cowboys #7
4. Cardinals #16
5. Packers #2
6. Eagles #5

Some of the lower ranks by the top teams are due to tanking and/or benching starters at then end of the year. In the Cardinals' case, its pretty much status quo for the season. The Texans finished the regular season #9 and are the highest ranked non-playoff team (ranked higher than the Saints, Jets, Cardinals, and Bengals). The Falcons, 49ers, Steelers, and Panthers are ahead of the Cardinals and Bengals, and the Titans are nestled in between Arizona and Cincinnati.

So what happens this week? The ranks have the Packers and Jets winning clearly over the Cardinals and Bengals, and they give a slight edge to the Patriots over the Ravens. The Cowboys are Eagles are kind of a crap shoot with the game being in Dallas, but the ranks are going with the Eagles.

Unrelated to the ranks, here are my playoff predictions (and it includes a Ryan nightmare scenario)
Wild Card
Packers over Cardinals
Eagles over Cowboys (the 'Boys will surely not prepare well enough for this game after last week)
Jets over Bengals (I think the Jets are just better, especially defensively)
Ravens over Patriots (yep, going with all the road teams, and I don't trust Brady's ribs)
Eagles over Saints (I think the Saints are DOA)
Packers over Vikings (Favre's career (hopefully) ends with a loss to Green Bay)
Colts over Ravens
Chargers over Jets
Packers over Eagles (yeah, its a crazy sleeper, but I trust my ranks, especially in Lambeau)
Chargers over Colts (doesn't this always happen?)
Super Bowl
Chargers over Packers

Here are the final regular season ranks:
1. Chargers - 77.60 - +1
2. Packers - 72.46 - +2
3. Colts - 69.41 - -2
4. Patriots - 68.74 - +1
5. Eagles - 68.55 - -2
6. Ravens - 68.17 - +2
7. Cowboys - 67.62 - Even
8. Vikings - 66.43 - +5
9. Texans - 64.54 - +2
10. Saints - 62.11 - -4
11. Jets - 62.03 - -2
12. Falcons - 61.52 - +3
13. 49ers - 60.02 - +3
14. Panthers - 58.35 - Even
15. Steelers - 58.78 - +2
16. Cardinals - 52.01 - -6
17. Titans - 51.89 - +3
18. Bengals - 50.05 - -6
19. Browns - 45.23 - +5
20. Bills - 44.63 - +5
21. Bears - 43.73 - +2
22. Broncos - 43.48 - -4
23. Giants - 41.82 - -4
24. Dolphins - 38.39 - -3
25. Jaguars - 35.88 - -3
26. Buccaneers - 32.23 - +1
27. Chiefs - 31.19 - +3
28. Redskins - 30.66 - Even
29. Raiders - 28.02 - -3
30. Seahawks - 23.59 - -1
31. Lions - 15.60 - Even
32. Rams - 11.04 - Even

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Links of the Day 1/6/09

In regards to the Orange Bowl (which Iowa won, by the way) With Leather brings up a prescient point. STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT THE BOWLS

No truth to the rumor that the Redskins are now called the Orangeskins.

The Big Unit.... retired


I shouldn't worry

I mentioned earlier this week that I was worried about the prospect of a Packers-Vikings NFC Championship. This shouldn't cause any concern for me, however. Let me tell you why. The Packers play the Cardinals. Everyone seems to be thinking that the Packers really will beat the Cardinals because they obliterated them in week 17.
Yeah, about that. Kurt Warner hardly played, and the Cardinals first teamers didn't spend much time on the field. The Packers showed way too much of themselves in the defeat of Arizona, so it was like a practice, a practice where they got to see the opponents' game plan.
All the while, the only injury that the Cardinals had on offense was to Anquan Bolden. The Cards, to their benefit, have Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and Early Doucet, as well as Beanie Wells who is learning to catch the ball. And they will have a real quarterback throwing them the ball this week.
As for the defense, the Cardinals didn't spend much time playing defense. Expect them to see how the Packers have been beat previously this season. Aaron Rodgers will be blitzed into oblivion as the Cardinals expose the porous offensive line. They didn't do that in their first meeting. Last week's game was an example of "holding things back", and I can't believe people aren't recognizing this.
Oh, and the Bengals will beat the Jets too.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Links of the Day 1/5/09

MLBTraderumors gives us Miguel Tejada and Doug Davis in it's projections of where the remaining free agents will go.

This is a bummer for everyone.

Um... what? Is this OK?


Monday, January 04, 2010

I think we're being a little selfish

Have you been reading or watching coverage of the bowl season? If you have, no doubt, you have heard relentless bitching about how many bowls there are, and how they aren't important and that they are being forced to watch them. To this I say, shut up.
First of all, it's football. Don't you like football? Especially when it involves evenly matched teams on neutral fields? No? You only like it when the elite teams play in a tournament to crown national champions? Well, then it sounds like you like tournaments more than you like football. Good gravy, people, it's still football in these bowl games. If you would look past the fact that it was Northwestern and Auburn or Idaho and Bowling Green, you would have caught some pretty good games.
And don't tell me these games shouldn't be played. Obviously, Bowling Green (or any MAC team for that matter) wasn't going to be playing for a national title this year anyways, so if their bowl game didn't matter, neither did their regular season. Why bother playing at all?
Why can't the teams that aren't playing in a national title play one extra game, if their entire season was pointless to begin with? Think about it. 95% of the players in the NCAA will not play another game after college. These are kids who have been playing since they were children, started practicing in high school all through the summer, went through 2 a days all the way through college, and you are telling them they can't have the opportunity to play one last game? A reward for their hard work? Even if that reward is just a couple more weeks of work and a trip to Mobile to play another game?
The preponderance of bowl games is not preventing a tournament. If you are just throwing 8 teams in the tournament (or as the Victoria Times constantly proposes, 12), there are still 112 (108) teams that aren't participating in said tournament. If anything, in the meantime,we should go back to making New Years Day the pinnacle of college football, with several of the top bowls on that day. Sure, keep the Championship later, but put all the others before the New Year. It might give the perception of some weight to the New Years Day games again. But please, don't tell me these games don't matter. And don't complain about there being more football.