Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Leitch vs. Bissinger--Yet ANOTHER Blogger's Thoughts

This is a sportsblog, and as we in the blogosphere have come under ornery attack (Like John McCain chasing kids off his lawn) I feel like I should respond in some way.

I know that our literally dozens of regular readers may not read other sportsblogs very often, but you should know that Will Leitch is the man behind Deadspin (though it has become a multi-pronged affair of late, which I understand, but saddens me also). He went on HBO's new Bob Costa vehicle to discuss blogs with Buzz Bissinger and for some reason Braylon Edwards. I know Gilbert Arenas was busy, but couldn't HBO find some athlete who actually blogs a little bit? Pat Neshek could have been made available, for fuck's sake. He's the SUB-MARINER!

If you haven't seen it, go here. Go watch it, and come back. We will wait for you.

First of all, the attack of Bissinger threw the whole thing out of whack. Leitch blogged later that he had an inkling of what he might be in for when he shook hands with Bissinger backstage before the show began. But clearly, when he was booked for the show, the folks at the Costas show didn't say, "Oh, and we'll be quoting extensively from your blog, but not one word you actually wrote yourself. We'll be quoting from your commentors, and so of the weekend subs, and the like. Also, you'll be asked to defend The Blogosphere as a Whole."

Which Will was essentially asked to do. Whilst being called a piece of shit, and being responsible for the dumbing down of America, by a guy who is famous for writing a book about High School Football.

Look, I love sports, and I love well-written books about the pressures of high-school athletes in small town Texas. But it ain't Quantum Physics, is it? No one is worried about America smartening up from reading "Friday Nights Lights" are they? Sports, no matter how well they are written about, are still sports. At the modern, professional level, there isn't research that isn't available in an Elias sports guide; no one has to learn a dead language to write intelligently about sports (thank Mithras!). So the idea of Buzz's, that sportswriting needs to maintain a level of decorum that the subject of the writing doesn't bother to adhere to, is on its very face, silly in the extreme. It is like complaining about a biography of JFK that mentions his womanizing and his Addison's Disease--the press never mentioned it, because they decided it wasn't newsworthy, and how dare you now, in your revisionist history, point them out.

"Newspaper writers decide what is Newsworthy, and we don't need help from amateurs."

Except that they clearly do. Comparing a President to an athlete may seem ridiculous, but imagine a world in which a schoolteacher could run for a State Representative seat, and keep on serving in the Public Interest, until finally reaching the level of President. That person would probably never make as much money in their professional life and Alex Rodriguez does in one year. Money makes these guys important--it puts them in the top 1% of wage-earners in this country, and the fan's willingness to buy tickets, to buy jerseys, to buy special Cable packages, pay their salary. The NFL is so aware of this that they made the very concept of a city-owned team like the Green Bay Packers illegal in their league (with the Pack grandfathered in). We are talking about millionaires acting like assholes, and wasting our money. If they are doing that, the fans who pay their salaries have a right to know what these guys are up to. And there is a reason we don't often know.

Teams own way too much of their press. They pick the radio/TV stations that will be covering their games. If you color-guy rips on the decisions made by the coach too much, maybe your radio/TV station doesn't get the contract next time it is up for grabs. If your beat writer in the local newspaper writes too many negative articles, or prints an embarassing quote, maybe that writer gets shunned, for years! (See Deadspin for some horrific locker room stories from Beat Writers). Who gets fucked in this arrangement? The fans. The teams get their asses covered, more often than not by the people in charge of reporting on them. Reporters who write nice things are made to feel like part of the gang, finally getting to live their dream of being "part of" a professional sports team.

Living in St. Paul, and having subjected myself to sportswriters who wield clumsy, clumsy pens (even with the help of researchers and editors), or were former employees of the franchise they are covering, and reliably take ownership's point of view every single time, or spectacularly fail in their own advice to ownership, or demonstrate racist tendencies whilst writing about a sport they know nothing about, it gets fucking tiresome.

The audience doesn't exist in a vacuum. People find what they aren't getting from their papers, and what they get from their papers is way too often writing soft on both the players and management and ownership. NBC may have a decade long contract with Notre Dame, and that may make old Catholics happy, and while we've always been allowed to criticize that cozy relationship, we are finally able to do so publicly. So suck it, "journalism"--your work is now being rated by your consumers. So sorry if that is a problem for you. Welcome to the free market.

Oh, and as a blogger, I would like to say this one more time: Tom Powers is A Stupid Fat Fuck.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

That Boy is a Champion

Winner of Hockey Mom's Magazine's Minnesota Mullet Award. Kinda makes you want to relocate to the Midwest, where the people are still simple and pure, yeah?

Congrats to 3 year old Brady Arneson, whose fabulous head of hair is destined for the trashbin of history (and probably a real trashbin) when the weather gets warmer.

photo credit: Cody Buckalew, Republican Eagle

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Drunken Savages Collect Some Good Scalps

You won't hear mention of the Drunken Savages in most media reports of Draft Day winners. You'll hear about Kansas City having a Good Draft (they did so by being awful last year and trading away their best player to Minnesota, and their Quarterback is still going to be Croyle or a Huard brother). You'll hear the Vikings did well by getting Allen in the trade, and picking up a safety--which they will need soon, but what they really need is real receivers, Sidney Rice notwithstanding. You'll hear about Atlanta "turning the page" grabbing Matt Ryan.

But the Washington Drunken Savages, who unlike all the teams above was a playoff team last year, did more to improve their offense than maybe any other team on Saturday.

Trading down was risky, but grabbing 2 additional second round picks worked in their favor, as they were able to take part on the run on big pass catchers.

Let's take a look at these guys. (all info from the Washington Post, and the Sporting News)

With the 34th pick overall, the Drunken Savages nabbed the guy most scouts had as the #1 receiver in the draft, Devin Thomas out of Michigan State (thanks in part to St. Louis taking Donnie Avery a pick before, instead of Thomas). It seems to me that one of the reasons this draft isn't being as touted as it should be is that the press in general thinks more of Randle-El than I do.

Thomas, physical, 6' 2", and quick, seems to me to be a very likely starter ahead of Randle-El. Randle-El goes back into the slot, where he truly belongs, and the Skins have their first Big, Fast capable reciever since maybe Art Monk.

With the 48th pick, the Savages picked up USC Tight End Fred Davis, who Sporting News expert Russ Lande says, "might have been a first-round pick if there were no questions about his maturity and work ethic. He has the athleticism and hands to be a versatile receiver and could team with Chris Cooley to give the Redskins two dangerous receiving tight ends." It is a West Coast offense based on Mike Holmgren's version of the West Coast Offense, and Holmgren has his biggest success in Green Bay when he had two pass-catching tight ends. Also, Fred Davis is simply a huge man. When ESPN rolled his highlight tape, I was shocked to realize that the lineman coming off the line was in fact a Tight End. He's a fucking giant, he is, with good hands. Another big target, to going along with Cooley and Thomas, and smaller speedsters of Randle-El & Santana Moss.

With the 51st pick, The DSavages pick up a receiver with the best hands in the draft--Malcolm Kelly of Oklahoma, where he got his name in the record book--like 7th all time in the Big 12 for Touchdown receptions. His speed in the combine is a bit of an issue (4.69), but having a 6' 4" receiver with burners like Moss and Randle-El should work just fine.

Apparently, there is some thought that the Skins have disregarded their needs on the line by grabbing 3 pass-catchers. But the Savages are well aware of their needs on the line, and if they took 3 big men who can catch the ball, they did so because they are aware of lineman who would be available after the big names came off the board. They were Zagging, when the rest of the league was Zigging, if you will. They got quality receivers, with some question marks.

I saw mock drafts where the Skins took Kelly with their original first round pick. Those drafts assumed that Thomas would already be off the board. The Skins got 2 first round quality WRs in a draft that focused heavily on O Linemen. Picking up the Tight End named the best TE in College Football is just a bonus. It was a fantastic first day for the Drunken Savages, and I'll bet that at least 2 of these guys play themselves into being important parts of the offense by week 5 of the next season. It will come down to how well the QB's of the Skins run the West Coast Offense, because all 3 were meant to play that system. They have certainly been given the weapons needed.

Let's Talk a Little Soccer, Champ

I've been hesitant to talk soccer, particularly Champions League soccer on this here blog, because I tend to have to watch the games later than they are actually aired, and I give my copies to miwacar so he can watch them (the poor bastard doesn't have cable). But it has been a few days, I figure we can start to talk about the implications of what happened on Tuesday and Wednesday, plus some other stuff, too. After all, we all love soccer here (except for stupid novelist Andrew).

The Semi-Finals were all about draws that should have been wins. Tuesday's game was pretty ugly, and the scoring certainly was. That was the one that featured Liverpool vs. Chelsea. Liverpool took an early lead thanks to a rather unrefined piece of finishing from little regarded striker Dirk Kuyt. The game was done. It was in the books. We were in the 94th minute, and there was nothing left but the shouting by the Anfield faithful, singing, "You'll Never Walk Alone", when an own goal by John Arne Risse sent that game into a tie, and gave Chelsea the instant advantage, as they scored an important road goal. But this may not work particularly to Chelsea's favor, because I don't think they want an aggressive Liverpool on their turf, and that's what they'll get. I think it clear that despite the mega-million signing, Chelsea isn't the creative attacking force that Liverpool is. And now, Liverpool knows they need to score.

Wednesday's game ended in a 0-0 draw, but the defining moment in that game maybe came much much earlier than the defining moment in the earlier game. Christiano Ronaldo, who has simply a season that will go down as one of the finest offensive seasons ever in professional soccer, missed a fucking penalty kick. Missed it. It wasn't a keeper guessing the right thing, Ronaldo flat out missed it. But aside from that missed opportunity, the game was, for the most part, all about Barcelona and their domination at Camp Nou. And yet, still, 0-0. Manchester is thinking "We hit that penalty kick and we win." and Barcelona is thinking, "We owned these fuckers, we just didn't score." But the next leg is in Manchester, and while Barcelona get back dirty hacker Puyol, they lose outlet defender Rafa Marquez (yellow card issues). Possession in soccer is hugely important--more important than it is even in American Football. But you still have to score, and while Barcelona may be thinking positive thoughts, I have to give the edge to Manchester United.

I'm predicting a Man U vs. Liverpool Champions League Final, and I have to say, I find the idea of an all English Final a little disappointing. Martin Rogers over at Yahoo tells me I better get used to it.

Of course, Martin also tells me that I may have to get used to the idea of Thierry Henry playing for the new MLS franchise in Seattle. Martin has been floating this idea of Henry coming to the MLS for months now. Now he is saying that Henry's performance has been so disappointing that maybe the MLS won't have to wait until his contract runs out--that the MLS may get a 30 or 31 year old Henry. That will simply never happen. Rogers suggested that Zidane would make his way to the MLS, too. File this idea of his under that. Rogers tend to fantasize about what would be great for the MLS, not what would be actually great for the player involved. Henry is only 30--he's got at least one transfer back to the Premiership before he comes to the US. And he's not going to Seattle, no matter how awesome Rogers makes that worthless city sound.

In much more believable news, Capello says that Beckham could be his man at right midfield for the English in 2010. Why would he say that? Because England has yet to produce a better crosser of the ball than Becks. Will they in the next 2 years? Doubtful. If there isn't room for Beckham on the qualifying team starting right fucking now, England doesn't even have a great chance of qualifying for 2010. Beckham's assists make goals happen, and England is desperately thirsty for goals.

When England does poorly, the English media like to gnash and moan about how the influx of foreign talent is fucking up their chances to develop their own talent. But, what the hell--look at the Bundesligue or Eredeversie, and you'll see leagues that embrace foreign talent (before they get bought up by English league teams) and you'll see countries that put together pretty good teams. Hey, England--maybe you are just not very good right now. Maybe your 3 best goalies in your league play are American. Maybe Team USA would beat the 3 Fat Lazy Lions of England 7 times out of 10. How about that?

Friday, April 25, 2008

TNT NBA Show Officially More Entertaining Than NBA

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Slow Down, Overly Excitable Viking Crew!

By now, we've all been alerted that the Vikings spent a lot of money and a couple of draft picks to get Jared Allen away from the Chiefs. Allen was unhappy in KC, and who can blame him? It was a losing team, going in the wrong direction, and the franchise was in Kansas City.

The details of the deal are available here--short version: The Vikings give up picks, and spend a lot of money to get a passrusher who has issues in his past, but sacked the QB 15 times last year. The Vikings have a premier pass rusher! Ignore, if you will, the hilarity of a Sportswriter suggesting that a pro athlete has a drinking problem (have you seen these guys in the Twin Cities? I wouldn't let Reusse drive fucking roller skates.)

But to me, at least, this headline is Hilarious: Title Talk Starts in Winter Park.

Really? A great Defensive End was all that was holding back the Vikings? I'm sorry--also Bernard Berrian, who never racked up 1000 yards as the speedster on the team that did actually make some post-season damage, is now going to be the #1 receiver and make this offense really click?

Patrick Reusse, even whilst drunk, is of two minds. Allen is great, he says, and the Vikings should make the playoffs. But they might not, and if they don't, it is Childress' fault. I agree, but for different reasons. The offense is still horribly one dimensional, and I don't think it is all Tavaris Jackson's fault. Spending big money on Berrian was hilariously misguided. The Vikings are one Adrian Peterson ankle roll (missing 2 games) from being 7-9.

But never mind the offense--let's talk about the defense! Which wasn't the problem last year, anyway. Sid Hartman, old, poor, befuddled Sid Hartman says the Defensive Coaches like having Allen. Kevin "reporter" Seifert says that the Vikings might have the Best Defensive Line in the League.

They are, in Vikings-Land, seriously thinking that they have the best team in the NFC North, because they added a pass-rusher, who was playing for a team that was always losing, in a division where the rivals like to pour on the score. If the Vikings win a playoff game, I'll give $500 to a charity of miwacar's choice.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Our Little Novelist is all Grown Up

Our little novelist has finally become a man novelist. L'chaim! With the release of his much anticipated new novel "To the Last Drop" our co-contributor and friend Andrew Wice finally realizes his life's calling.

When reached for comment, a surly, recently awoken beneath a cat Wice had this to say," Let me just put my shoes on..." Nearly twelve minutes later he added," 'tis a joyous occassion this day is. I have long visited this day in my gossamer visions of an ideal existence..." After that this reporter just walked out of Mr. Wice's shack, trying hard but failing at not stepping on any of the dozens of malnourished cats in the entryway.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Oh, Katherine Kersten, you so Stupid

I think I could almost start an entire blog based on the above Blog Post Title.

But I'd like to focus on this one, from a few days ago, when Kersten opined that Obama voicing the anger, desperation, and yes, bitterness that many lower-middle class voters are feeling had lost the vote of angry, desperate, bitter Pennsylvanians.

Kersten wrote, "I suspect that Barrack Obama has just given the speech that will ensure his quick admittance to a club that includes John Kerry, Al Gore, Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale."

The polls suggest something else. But never doubt that Kersten has her fingers on the pulse of the working class. After all, the housing crisis can be boiled down, in her words, to "ill-advised mortgages." Ill-advised? Have you talked to anyone who is going through this, Kersten? Many of them were flat-out lied to. By their mortgage broker! If you are getting bad advice from the real estate expert who you think you hired to give you good advice, are you really to blame? How about penalties for homeowners who made their mortage payments AHEAD of schedule? She dismisses caring about the crisis as pandering to potential voters.

The chattering class of right-leaning pundits may gawp and gape at the success of Obama, but the fact is that when he talked about bitterness, many Pennsylvanians agreed with him. At least he was talking about, directly, the effect of the siphon of wealth this country is experiencing. People may not believe any candidate can do anything about the massive wealth disparity in this country, but they don't seem to fault Obama for pointing it out.

Katherine Kersten is too old, too comfortable and too stupid to realize that the country is undergoing a seachange. Don't worry, Katherine, you'll still have a good job in a dying medium when Obama destroys your candidate in the General Election.

Blogger Round Up: Minnesota Edition

A blogger round up of Minnesota blogs, but we promise it will be without a single mention of the Vikings pursuit of Jared Allen, mainly because everyone is talking about that, and it probably won't happen. The man has multiple suitors, and the Vikings rarely win that kind of battle (Steve Hutchinson aside).

While we all await the NFL Draft, and the Champions League to start up again, here are what we Minnesotans are talking about on our blogs and the like and stuff.

Pacifist Viking is watching NBA playoffs. (So, you can be a Pacifist and a Masochist at the same time. Interesting). He thinks he sees a pattern to be announced in the Spurs/Suns tilt that bodes well for the Spurs. If the Suns hadn't traded for Shaq, we would try to find a way to fault his logic. With Shaq, we now don't particularly care for the Suns, and no longer care who wins this series, and we think PV is probably right.

10,000 Takes is broadening their media supremacy by getting other Sports dudes in the Twin Cities to answer their odd, odd questions, and letting their readership guess the identity of the responder. This week's question involves a genie in a bathroom trough at the Metrodome. I shit you not. Based on the answer, I'm going to say the responder is Michael Rand. That answer has Rand Ball stank all over it. I would have locked that guess in, but the commenting at 10,000 Takes seems a little screwy at the moment.

Both The City Pages and The Rake genius sportswriters are discussing the apparent redundancy in the backcourt of the Wolves--If Foye and McCants both demand to be the backcourt star, should the Wolves move one of them? The answer to that question echoes throughout the line-up, of course, as it impacts the draft decisions, in a decidedly swingman heavy draft. And you best recognize Britt Robson's choices for post season honors.

The Ladies have a New Lady, from our own wonderful city. She, representing St. Paul, is, of course, an older lawyer lady with four kids. We here in St. Paul don't get out much anymore. All the same, we welcome Cinnamon Girl to the Blogosphere, and offer our help to jigger her router if the need arises.

Hey, How About Nick Blackburn?

You may have noticed, over the years, that we don't care much around here about the NBA playoffs. We'd much watch rather a good pitcher's duel than watch Game 1 of Round 1 of the aforementioned NBA playoffs.

And we got one when we watched the Twins play the Indians today. Normally, the Twins have a bit of trouble with the Indians (having lost the last 8 games against them, for example), but today a little heralded pitcher by the name of Nick Blackburn put on a pretty good show, with plenty of help from his defense, and just a little help from his offense. And to be fair, after the first two innings, Cleveland Indians pitcher Jake Westbrook pitched a damn good game, too.

I don't wantt to rehash too much of the game, which you can get from any good summary, but special mention of the defense again, which had 4 double plays (and you know, you don't have double plays unless your pitcher is giving up hits; Blackburn did, but he gave up the right kind of hits. 8 hits, and I think 6 of them were singles.) Also worth mentioning was Delmon Young's gunning down of Asdrubal Cabrera, trying to score from second on a well hit ball to left by Casey Blake. Young one-hopped a ball on a frozen rope to Maurer, who had the plate so well blocked that the ball probably could have been rolled in from left field.

I mainly want to talk about Blackburn, who really is supposed to be in the minors at this moment. It took Liriano starting in the minors, and Kevin Slowey getting dinged up for Blackburn to get an extended look at the major league level.

Blackburn seems to have settled, after throwing less than 12 innings in the majors last year, and starting four games this year, into the Big Leagues pretty well. In his first two starts, he pitched under 11 total innings, and got two no decisions. In his last two starts, he has gone a combined 14.2 innings, and gone 1-1. In his loss, his struck out 6, and gave up one run. That's a quality start that was ruined by the Twins offense. In his second game, this one, against Cleveland, the Twins offense didn't give much room for error, only scoring 3, but it was enough. And he kept Twins Killer Travis Hafner 0-4.

And let's talk a bit about his pitches. He seems to have four or maybe five clearly defined pitches that he feels comfy with. Two of them seem to be a little underused at the moment, simply because they were devastatingly effective when he did throw them. Perhaps if he threw them more often, they'd be less effective. I'm not pitching coach Rich Anderson, so I don't know.

I'm speaking of his slow, looping 12-6 curve, which crossed the plate at around 77 mph, and his straight change, which was crossing at around 82, and I saw that pitch generate his one strikeout, and an important pop-up.

His more commonly used pitches were pretty effective as well; Blackburn's fastball doesn't have a ton of movement, but he locates it well, and hits 96 on the gun. He's got a slider than seems to cross pretty regularly at 88-90 mph.
Photo Credit: AP/Jim Mone
Oh, and Ladies...he's not hard on the eyes, either.

Once Aaron Gleeman is done masturbating to Lori Laughlin, I'm sure he'll weigh in on Blackburn's day.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fighting To Make America Dumber, or Ben Stein is A Huge Douchebag

Mayhaps you have heard of this film, perhaps you haven't. Ben Stein, world renowned for being a stereotypical stuffed shit, I mean shirt, has decided that he's a bad-ass rebel for arguing against Science being taught in Science classes.

If you watched that trailer, you might have noticed that they seem to claim that anyone who espouses a scientific view (i.e., one based on observation and experiments) can not possibly be religious. Darwin wasn't an Atheist, and even if he were, so what? His science doesn't argue that there can't be a God; simply that there isn't any evidence. What this trailer is all about, and the longer ones demonstrate even more, is that it isn't science that's uncomfortable with religion; it is that old time religion is pretty damn uncomfortable with science. The God of the Gaps, as Koestler put it.

There are two quotes in the just 2 minutes of trailer that blows apart the supposed dialectic the film clearly is trying to suggest.

Ben Stein says, "Scientists are not even allowed to think thoughts that involve an intelligent creator."

That is simply not true. Scientists since Roman times and up at this present moment are allowed to have whatever thoughts they want to have about God. To suggest otherwise is stupid. In fact, the vast majority of scientists throughout history have not been atheists, and that includes fucking Darwin. Truth be told, religion got in the way of some of our finest minds. Johannes Kepler is a fine example. He threw away his scientific findings because he couldn't accept that planets would move in an ellilptical fashion--God would produce spheres. He knew that in his heart, even when his numbers proved him wrong. Copernicus wasn't willing to publish his findings because he knew that Christians would berate him for his heliocentric universe. Galileo was fucking arrested for stating positively that the Bible wasn't good on Cosmology. Einstein dismissed Quantum Physics with a quote about how God didn't roll dice. Scientists are free to believe whatever they want to believe. But when it comes to science, it is about PROOF.

So when the Kraut comes on and says, "We can not accept Intelligent Design as scientific theory," he isn't saying that he doesn't believe in God; he's saying that he can't prove God's existence. Simple statement. And yet, it is taken to be some big evil Big Science Over Religion statement.

Ben Stein is a fucking waste of his father's cum.

For a more dispassionate takedown of this movie, I point you to here.

For evidence that this movie isn't based on science, I would suggest reading this post, titled "How To Share Your Faith Using Expelled". And I give you this quote, which shows how wildy dishonest the makers and defenders of this movie are willing to be:

Stein actually captured footage of ‘famous’ atheist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, acknowledging that he is more inclined to believe that life originated on earth as a result of a visit from aliens, than to entertain the scientific possibility that an Intelligent Designer could exist. No surprise here, but Dawkins is reportedly a bit upset about how he comes across in the movie…

First of all, Stein didn't capture shit. Dawkins has been saying this for years. And it isn't like he argues for super-intelligent aliens coming to Earth. What he argues is that it could have been a comet strike carrying bits of organic molecules that helped spur life on this planet. I've seen Dawkins on video after watching the movie. He didn't seem upset to me. Bemused would be a better word.

But these ignorant, scared of science assholes don't have an agenda. And hey, suggesting that Darwin is to blame for Hitler? Pretty classy, Ben Stein.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Milwaukee Bucks Do Coach a Favor, Fire Him

Unless you live in Milwaukee, or are a member of his extended family, you may be surprised to learn that the Bucks had a coach named Larry Krystkowiak. You probably won't be surprised, given his lack of Big Name Value and the awful, awful record (26-56. In the East!) the Bucks produced, that Larry Krystkowiak is on his way out the door.

But it isn't very fair to Larry K.

Consider: one of the people weighing in on the need to overhaul the roster is current Buck bust Andrew Bogut:

"I think the group of guys we have just need to work hard and be committed to the team and put team before 'I' and we'll be all right," Bogut said. "But if we come in looking for individual accolades again, and guys trying to be All-Stars and so on, it's not going to work out."

Uhhh...Andrew? The Bucks drafted you #1 overall, ahead of Deron Williams AND Chris Paul. Maybe you should shut the fuck up. You are the newest symbol of the Bucks poor draft work, until Yi Jianlian demands a trade, that is.

But has anyone really done a good once over of the Bucks historical ineptitude in the First Round of the draft? Their last good move that I can think of was trading Stephon Marbury to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Ray Allen.

Let's take a look at the Bucks First Round picks, shall we? I'm sure it will become clear that Coach K2 is totally at fault for not making this franchise a winner:

2007: Yi. Time will tell, obviously. But he won't be there in 2010, so who cares how good he ends up?
2006: No First Round pick. Second round pick: David Noel. Waiting...
2005: The aforementioned Andrew Bogut, the 7 footer who barely manages a double-double.
2004: no picks
2003: TJ Ford. Injured, undersized. In theory a good point guard. Has not once averaged more than 15 points. His best years have been in Toronto.
2002: Marcus Haislip: Out of the league for the last two years. Averaged under 4 points a game for his career.
2001: No First Round pick
2000: Joel Przybilla. Nuff said.
1999: No first round pick.
1998: Dirk Nowitzki. Traded. Will score over 20,000 points before his career is over.

So yeah, Coach K. How dare you fail with that kind of talent being handed to you!

ABC News, Ya'll Bitches

I didn't comment on the debate on this here space, because I didn't want to, because it was so angryifying. One hour of bullshit in a prime time debate? Thanks Chuck and George.

But do enjoy this package of bullshit.

In Praise Of: Marco Balotelli

Most Americans aren't watching soccer. There was the NCAA's basketball championship. There was baseball's opening week.

Americans who are watching soccer are watching mostly the Champions League, as well they should (C'mon Giggsy!) There are no Italian teams left in Champions League, so it is forgiveable that many American soccer fans don't care much about what is happening in Serie A.

Of the teams in Serie A, one of the teams that has crazy depth at striker certainly has to be Inter Milan. Perhaps die hards have noticed that Inter has been forced to play their brand new secret weapon, Mario Balotelli. Mario is about as Italian as I am.

He is Ghanian by birth, adopted by Italians, and now on the front line for one of the premier clubs in all of Italy. Oh, and he's not yet 20. He throws elbows like a defender, he turns in the box like Nistelrooy, he controls the ball like an oversized Maradona. Any wonder that Ghana and Italy are fighting over who he should play for in World Cup 2012?

Say Hello to Mario Balotelli! (Watch out--crappy Euro Dance Music in the mix here)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Scott Erickson: Movie Mogul

I mentioned previously that I turned away from the Twin's game at some key junctures.

One of those junctures was the fifth inning, when I came back to hear a clearly old guy in the box with Dick and Bert. I didn't see him, and he was unidentified for awhile. But he was clearly, clearly old--his voice just sounded beat down, mid-American old guy. "Bitter" some future Black President might call it. This old guy was talking about a movie, identified on screen as A Plumm Summer.

At first, I thought it might be someone truly old, like Harmon Killebrew, or old and bitter, like Bud Grant. But then, I learned he was part of the Twins 1991 World Series winning squad. And I was lost. The mystery voice even said that he was playing in 2001 but still made it to the 10th year reunion of the 1991 World Series. He mentioned he was playing for the Orioles at the time. I got a little queasy, and suddenly knew we were talking about just 40 years old Scott Erickson.

His new movie is a family movie, with such luminaries as Willy Baldwin, Clint Howard, Brenda Strong, Henry Winkler, Jeff Daniels, and (um) Lisa Guerrero. On the Twins broadcast, he was promising that at the premiere, members of Toto would should up. And maybe Chili Davis, and maybe even Kent Hrbek. Awesome!

Good thing Scott Erickson was never busted for statutory rape, or the idea of his family movie might strike some as a bit incongrous.

Twins Check-In

It was just a post ago that I said, "We can expect the bullpen (Guerrier, Neshek (The Sub-Mariner!) and Twitchy Joe Nathan to stay really good." In the last two games, Guerrier, Neshek and Jesse Crain (ugh) have all contributed to the Resurgence of the Detroit Tigers, giving away Twins leads in late innings. The mighty Twins bullpen, their one guaranteed strength going into the season, gave away two wins in Detroit.

So tonight, when the Twins were continually behind the hapless Devil Food Cake Rays, and barely managing to tie the game, I think I can be forgiven for turning away. I forgot all about Carl Crawford! I'm not convinced that he isn't a Twins Double Agent. Recall if you will, last year. But because I turned away, I can't describe his bone-daddy move this time around myself. I have to go to beat writer La Velle Neal III's description:

It was an excellent catch. Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford showed off his tremendous speed and fearlessness as he slid into foul territory to grab Mike Lamb's fly ball in the eighth inning.

It was also the wrong play, as Delmon Young tagged up from third and easily scored the winning run in the Twins' 6-5 victory over the Rays on Wednesday night at the Metrodome.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Twins Pitching: The Pendulum Swings at the Star Trib

Tonight, Boof ("BOOOOF!") Bonser had his third straight quality start. Francisco Liriano, whose early promise we documented well before most folks did, is slated to start next. The Star Tribune is suddenly giddy.

You may remember we documented the total freakout that happened at that paper (aside from Jim Souhan, to his credit) over the Johan Santana trade. Things are beginning to slide in the other direction, towards overly optimistic ridiculous. I read a lot of blogger/beat writer Joe Christenson, so I trust he is very tongue in cheek when he writes, "This Francisco Liriano guy better be good if he wants to keep pace with the rest of the Twins' starting pitchers."

The rotation is of course, extremely young (aside from Livan Hernandez, who is older than your average Oort Cloud) and therefore, extremely vulnerable, and not yet proven by any stretch. The starting rotation is a big game of Who's That? (again aside from Hernandez, who has been around for awhile). Scotty Baker (who we've alternatively loved and hated), Nick Blackburn (who?), Boof Bonser (who we have always loved, because he made his legal name "Boof"). Kevin Slowey was supposed to be a starter but got hurt, which just goes to show how fragile the success of the Twins will be. In Slowey, we are talking about a guy who has less than 15 career starts being a planned key component of the Twins plans. Regardless, it is an entire rotation of guys not drafted in your Fantasy Baseball league.

The New York Media (and by extension everyone else) is going a little crazy on Johan Santana's early struggles. He always struggles early. Take for example, last year, when at about this time, Ramon Ortiz was the better pitcher. The idea that batters have keyed on how to hit him (don't wait for the change-up, which will make you look stupid; swing on the fastball) is crazy dumb. Santana can throw curves and changes all day long. You want to make him into a junk pitcher? He'll comply, and then probably throw a high fastball for the third strike.

All of that prefaces the fact that in a number of key stats, the young and stitched together Starting Rotation for the Twins has played better than anyone expected thus far into a very young season.

We won't pretend we're Aaron Gleeman, or anything, but we can crunch some numbers.

First things first--Santana, despite his 1-2 record, isn't actually having a slow start. Two out of his three starts have been Quality. In almost 21 innings, he's struck out 18, and his WHIP is a damn good .97. His ERA is a respectable, if not fantastic 3.05, and his opponents are hitting all of .211 against him. It's the Four Runs and Four Walks that stand out the most.

But the Twins have a pitcher on the roster who has done better than Santana in almost every statistic. Boof Bonser has 3 quality starts in 3 starts. His ERA is under 3. Livan Hernandez is also under 3 ERA, and is 3-0. He's pitched a third of an inning more, averaging 7 innings per start, and has given up 0 Home Runs (after averaging one a start last year) and only 1 walk. Nick Blackburn has pitched 10 less innings and has only 7 less K's.

I'm not saying that anyone should expect the Twins starting pitching to stay as good as they have been. We can expect the bullpen (Guerrier, Neshek (The Sub-Mariner!) and Twitchy Joe Nathan to stay really good. We can expect the hitting to improve. I'm just wondering as the praise starts to flow for this young, exciting (and unpredictable) team, will the sportswriters (and Nick Coleman) admit they completely overreacted to the loss of Torii "Gates of Shinto" Hunter and Johan Santana? I can almost guarantee there will never, ever be a mea culpa.

Being a professional sportswriter means never having to say you are sorry.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Comedy Palate Cleanser

How about a little Classic Even Stephven?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thanks, Bryant

Bryant Gumbel does the right thing. It took him two years to do it, but maybe he thought learning on the job was the best way to help a fledging, barely watched, overpriced Cable outfit.

I'm all for having a three-man team in which one person is there not because of play-by-play ability, or expertise in the sport. But it has to be a three person team to allow for that individual. Having a two-person team that has one person who doesn't know the game or how to call it is kind of a waste. (note: Those three person teams usually have a personality guy. Bryant Gumbel clearly fails that metric, too).

Morning TV "news" shows really seem Bryant's milieu. Perhaps he should look into getting back into that.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Murder at the Foul Line

Calipari's Memphis Tigers made it to the NCAA Finals before they finally tripped over the foul line. In the regular season, the one-loss Tigers ranked 339th of 341 in free throws. All season long, Calipari assured the press that his team would make the free throws that mattered.

Perhaps the Tigers, by plowing through lackluster competition and too far ahead to even be fouled in the last five minutes, didn't think free throws mattered next to their aggressive defense and charging offense. Their foul shots whistled in during the tournament, all the way to the Final Four.

I was clapping so hard my hands burned as the Tigers clanked 4 of 5 in the last 1:12, including the front end of 1-and-1's twice. Then Chalmers nailed a tough three-pointer with two seconds left, one of the greatest shots in Finals history to send it to overtime. Kansas coach Bill Self called it "the biggest shot ever made in Kansas history."

You see, free throws are about all I have left. But I make them. Oh, and Kansas? Their free throws were 14 for 15 in the championship game.

In unrelated news, I will be appearing on local Albuquerque channel 27 on Wednesday, April 23rd at 7pm MST to promote my novel To The Last Drop. It will be available on a Live Stream!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Blogger Round-Up: It's Been Awhile

We used to round up bloggers every Saturday, mainly as a way of generating good will within and without the blogosphere, and then we got fat and lazy (we may have been fat and lazy previous to the dropping of regular blogger round-ups). But we are back and committed, and hot damn! And stuff.

In our very most recent post, we mentioned in passing the brilliance of That's On Point when it comes to soccer. To prove the point of questionable brilliance, cardillo over at T'sOP watched the first Thursday night MLS double-header on ESPN, and he has some thoughts. (Included in that is of course David Beckham's first goal in the MLS, and a potentially deadly drinking game. I mention that because I know most of our readership are either drunkards or sluts for Beckham, or both).

Our friends over at the Big Picture say that if you are looking for a young baseball team to get excited about, think about the Cincinnati Reds. We say: Maurer, Morneau, Cuddyer, Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez. We'll stick with our Twins, and our second choice, The Brew Crew.

Rumors and Rants has a rather uncomfy story about a Pittany Lion basketballer jerkin' it in a library. Hey, I'm all for pulling a Squid and the Whale action in the biblioteque, but don't do it right behind the chick you were working on in the stacks. Find the nerdy chick who works there, and have her take off her glasses and throw her hair around. That sort of stuff happens in libraries, if you know how to play your cards.

My boys at The Loss Column have set a new low in Baltimore Oriole fandom. They include in their Modest Goals the following "goal"--less than 100 losses. Here's my modest goal--someone blackmails the fuck out of Angelos, and that team gets handed on the cheap to some other owner who knows who to stay the fuck out of the day to day, and knows when to pay for quality, so that the O's don't let a pitcher like Bedard get away for nothing ever again. Honestly--compare what the Twins got for Santana to what the O's got for Bedard, and it is becomes more and more clear that the O's either didn't know what they had, or they didn't know how to make other teams realize what they were getting. If you are getting dicked around, re-sign the guy. Bah, Orioles Leadership, BAH! (I'm much more of Twins guy these days, but it still bothers me that is has been 25 years since the Orioles tasted real post-season magic)

From the Ladies, we just love Lady Andrea. We'd like to take her behind the junior high and get her pregnant. Thank you, Lady Andrea.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

I Dislike Your Favorite Team Bracket Update

With my predictions coming true (though, for some reason, my IDYFT bracket is one of the only brackets I filled that doesn't have Memphis and Kansas in the final game. Guh.) we can now look at who will win the IDYFT Bracket Challenge.

If Kansas wins, our Top 3 shake out like this:

Ava's Avengers (aaron s)
Walkin' Like a Panther (tomije007)
Hey (Rodney W)

The only person I can identify with any certainty there is Rodney W, manager of "Hey", who is of course a former Pro vs. Joe.

If Memphis wins, our Top 3 are:

TKO from Tokyo (hoopscardillo)
The Round Hound of Rebound (seb)
Ava's Avengers (aaron s, again)

So congrats to Aaron S' Ava's Avengers who are definitely walking away with something. I have no idea who seb is, but I know he is playing an ungodly amount of Yahoo fantasy. hoopscardillo, I have to assume is the owner and manager of one of the finest soccer blogs around, That's on Point. I could be wrong about that ID, but I'm quite correct about that blog's quality. I'd read it, if I were you. It's a fuckin' corker, mate.

Final Four and Junk

So we are down to it. All Four #1's have made into the Final Four, thus finally proving Clark Kellogg, a smart man who knows more about basketball than I will ever learn, finally right.

So what does it mean? Let's check in with CBS online columnists.

Gary Parrish says it will be totally unfair that if UCLA loses, coach Ben Howland will be thought of as the coach who couldn't win the big one. That given the history behind UCLA, what with that old guy who won a bunch of championships and has a trophy named after him, and cheater Jim Harrick, some coach who plays by the rules, assembles quality teams and gets to 3 Final Fours in 3 years is going to be criticized for not taking the next step.

I can honestly say that that idea never occured to me until I read Parrish's column. Only Idiots would compare the era Howland is coaching in to what John Wooden coached in. Hell, Bill Walton was never tested for drugs during his run to the Championship. I think 3 straight Final Fours is comparable to a National Championship, especially when 2 of those Final Fours were with the ridiculously loaded Florida team of the past 2 years. Parrish may be right, but I hope he isn't. Ben Howland can't possibly be on a hot seat of any kind.

Mike Freeman suggests that Kansas and UNC could be considered a David and Goliath, except that Kansas is too good to be a David. So Kansas is Goliath, and UNC is Superman. What? That's a meaningless point. It's just a question of scale--either way, Freeman, you are suggesting that Kansas is a huge underdog. And I think you are very wrong. Bonus points, though, for the Tyler Spazbrough line.

Gregg Doyel, worthless as always, spends most of his column talking about meaningless trivia, and his haircut. Yes, somehow, his haircut is elevated above worthless trivia, possibly because he mentions it more than once. We get it, Gregg, you have a nutty hairstyle. I dare you, I FUCKING dare you, to read his column, and find anything more important than Doyel's mixed feelings about his faux hawk. Keep in mind, he got paid to write that. HE GOT PAID for it. (To be fair, he also revealed that Kevin Love isn't a great singer! Fantastic insight, Gregg. At least you aren't accusing black men of racism towards you this time around.)

My picks for the games tomorrow are what they were when this tournament started--Memphis over UCLA (which is now suddenly a sexy pick, which I'll get into in a second) and Kansas over UNC.

On the undercooked bacon that is ESPN's First Take, Satan's Excrement aka Skip Bayless actually argued that Memphis has lost a huge component in their game because they are favored by Vegas by 2 points to beat UCLA. He said that since this tournament began, Coach Calipari has been able to use the underrating of Memphis to motivate his troops, and now that they are favored, he has lost that advantage. It is because of this sort of "insight" that makes me wonder if Skip has ever played a competitive game in his life. Memphis made to the Elite 8 last year, they are in the Final Four this year, and I don't think the Tigers give two shits whether they are favored or not. And certainly, even if they were, being favored by 2 points, or ONE FUCKING BASKET isn't exactly being in a position of overwhelming dominance. Oh, and they were a #1 seed, which suggests that the whole "We're barely considered to be in the Top 5 of the country" wasn't that much of an argument.

And when his counterpart argued that Memphis would win the whole thing, Skip "The Devil's Leftover Asswipe" Bayless shrugged his shoulders and muttered, "Conference USA", thus negating the very point he had spent minutes building and yelling about. Hey, if they are favorites, how can you dismiss Memphis with a shrug and a mention of their conference? Because Vegas says so? Fucking idiotic, Skip Bayless, you fart from Satan's mom's ass.

I predict Memphis vs. Kansas come Monday. The fact that Skip disagrees fills me with optimism. Because as sports are to Skip Bayless, caves are to coprolites.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Frackin' Sweet!

Just watched the Season 4 premiere of BSG, and it was wicked awesome. George Lucas needs to sit at the knee of those jokers, and learn how to do special effects that aren't just for eye-poppin. (and how to write a story).

I won't say anymore, as I know that some of the losers who visit this site haven't seen Season 3 yet, and some haven't even been bothered to watch Season 1, even though I told them 2 years ago to watch it. (They ignored me on Arrested Development, too. Jerks).

But if you aren't watching BSG, well, I'll let Dwight say it for me:

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Gus Frerotte--Viking (again?)

I'm going to put the over/under on when Frerotte becomes the starter at 6.5 games.
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