Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Jeremy: Some Notes on the Vikings Draft

As I walked into KFAN the Restaurant Saturday around 11:40 a.m., the gents who were hosting the draft viewing party were already about how the Vikings were going to be taking Troy Williamson from South Carolina, whether Mike Williams was available or not. This rumor was met with myriad booing and jeers. Nobody seemed to understand why the Vikings would make this pick, and nobody seemed convinced that they would actually pass up on Williams.
I must say I agreed.
As pick after pick fell off the board and Mike Williams was still available, the crowd kept cheering. The big, physical receiver from USC would be falling into the Vikings lap.
You know what happened next.
I'm trying to be optimistic about the pick But I'm struggling with this one more than a little bit.
To me, on paper, Troy Williamson (6'1", 203lbs) looks like a faster Nate Burleson (6'0", 192lbs). Mike Williams is not fast, but he's a big, physical, possession receiver who caught 20 touchdowns in the redzone while he was at USC. But I guess we don't need a guy like that. Apparently we need a guy to stretch out the field. Another short guy to run the deep route. My only assumption, then, has to be that the Vikes plan to make Marcus Robinson a bigger part of the offense this year.
Let's face it, besides losing Moss' speed, the biggest thing we lost when he went to Oakland was the most dangerous redzone weapon in the entire NFL. Leaping ability, great hands, great footwork. So Troy Williamson makes up for the speed portion of the equation that was lost when Moss was subtracted, are we to believe that Robinson can pick up the rest of the slack? Pardon me if I have my doubts.
I'm not saying Williamson isn't talented, I'm not saying that it's not a good idea to have a guy to stretch the field, and I'm not even saying that he won't be a great fit and he won't work out for us. All I'm saying is, when you know you need a number one receiver, and you are drafting at number 7 with the pick that you got in exchange for the best receiver in the game, I'm just not sure how you pass up a guy as big and as talented as Mike Williams.
As for the rest of the draft, I gotta say, things look alright.
Obviously we would have rather had David Pollack out of Georgia at the 18th pick, but the perennial losers in Cincy had to take him one pick ahead of us. Except for some injury concerns, however, we don't lose much with a quick Big 10 lineman in Erasmus James out of Wisconsin. Or, as I like to call it, Thank Goodness It's Not Iowa.
There was one more thing that could have gone wrong in this draft, and of course, it did. The Jets killed our hopes of solving our kicking problems in the long-term by taking kicker Mike Nugent from Ohio State two picks ahead of us. I never liked the Jets anyway.
In the later rounds the Vikes addressed mostly defense, but also picked up a running back out of Florida who looks like he could add to the log jam that's piling up to take hand offs from Daunte. Ciatrick Fason ran for over 1,200 yards on the ground last year and he can apparently catch the ball as well. He looks like a guy who, if he is given the bulk of the workload, could emerge from the pack. Then again, those same words have probably been said about ALL of our running backs.
In my mind the perfect draft for the Vikings would have gone: Williams at 7, Pollack at 18, and Mike Nugent at 49. If the draft had gone that way, I would have given it an A+. Considering that they didn't even have a shot at Pollack and Nugent because they were taken before we picked, and if you believe Mike Tice that Williamson is the best fit for the team, then all things considered, you've got to give the Vikings an A-. But, as is always true with any draft, only time will tell who has the best results.
Overall, the Vikes did a nice job of adding young talent at key positions, which can only prove to make the team stronger at those key spots. Training camp should be interesting. There's going to be a lot of competition for defensive line and running back spots. I'm excited to see how the wide receiving core takes shape, and how the defensive backfield steps into the spotlight. For the first time in over 10 years the defense could be the talk of the town, but the offense shouldn't be too far behind: Daunte is still captain of the ship.
Do I sound a tad bit excited?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Would You Rather...

Last week on my radio show, Jer and I played a little "Would You Rather...". It was a roaring success, with all 7 of my listeners calling in. We had so much fun with it we're doing it again tomorrow on what is now, thanks to Jer, known as "Would You Rather Wednesday's". I just thought I'd share the love with some of the ones we, and the 7 listeners, came up with. Feel free to add your own. As a matter of fact, I'll be disappointed if you don't. And yes, if they're good, they become property of this site and Jer and I will steal them for the show.

Ok, here's Jer's guidelines:
Three rules to all of these…
1. For questions with two bad options, death by killerbees is always a third option.
2. For questions with two good options, choosing one means the other would never happen in your lifetime.
3. When we mention teams we like (Vikings or Wolves) or don't like (Cowboys and Packers), feel free to substitute your favorite and least-favorite teams to make the questions more relevant for you.

Now, Would you rather...
  • See the Gophers win a Rosebowl (or for Jeff, the Mariners win a World Series) or see the Vikings win the superbowl?
  • spend 6 months as a cellmate with Martha Stewart or one night in a twin bed with Michael Jackson?
  • Never again be able to wear a baseball cap (for Jer cowboy hats ARE included) or see KG playing for another team?
  • Be seen in public everyday with a supermodel but never be able to touch her, or have the ability to be intimate with a supermodel everyday but nobody could ever know?
  • Never be able to sleep more than 5 hours in a night, or never be able to take a nap again?
  • Watch a WNBA game on TV or a bowling match?
  • Go to a WNBA game or watch a bowling match on TV?
  • Watch a WNBA game on TV or get a root canal?
  • Watch a WNBA game or be stung unmercifully by killer bees?
  • Be a vegetarian or cheer for the Packers?
  • Be able to sing only in falsetto or dance only the jig?
  • Marry Martha Stewart and live on a ranch where you can watch all the sports you want and shoot cats, or marry Heather Locklear, and live in a house full of cats where you can NEVER watch sports again?
  • Be able to hit homeruns or throw a baseball 95mph?
  • Win the Masters or the Super Bowl?
  • Be a superstar high school athlete and NEVER win a state title, or be a role player on a high school state title winner?
  • Never drink beer or never be able to eat red meat again?
  • Be an Iowa Hawkeye fan or live in hell?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Jeremy: Players Associations

The NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) will expire this summer following the current season, at which time we will all be subjected to the endless talks about how players should be allowed to make even more money than they already do, and how owners cannot afford to keep paying these types of salaries. Are you as excited as I am? (I'll wait a moment while you let the sarcasm sink in.)
The big debate currently is that David Stern, the NBA's up-standing commissioner (COUGH!!!), would like to explore the possibility of adding an age minimum to the CBA, keeping high school players from entering the NBA. I've already given my opinion on this matter, but the current debate of the upcoming CBA talks has me thinking of something else.
I'm in the beginning stages of forming an opinion, and I would like the seven of you who read this site to explore this opinion with me.
Are players associations ruining sports?
Driving home tonight I heard an interview on the radio with Marcus Camby of the Denver Nuggets and the subject of age minimums came up. So far every player that I've heard discuss age minimums has been opposed to it, and Camby is no exception. Blah, blah, blah. Not the point. Camby then went on to talk about the current CBA expiring, and then, very nonchalantly, alluded to the fact that some people are already talking about the possibility of a lockout.
Does this attitude by the players concern anyone else?
We already have one of the four major professional sports in a lockout that cancelled AN ENTIRE SEASON and threatens to do the same to part of the upcoming season, or replace the entire NHL roster of players with "scrubs." Major League Baseball seems like it is constantly on the verge of internal combustion. The NBA already lost half of a season in '98 and now they are talking about the possibility again. Even the NFL has lost playing time because of labor disputes.
At my young age of 27 I have witnessed lockouts in all four of the major sports, and apparently I can plan to see this happen to each sport every couple of years. It's gotten to the point where it's almost a foregone conclusion that when a labor agreement expires the entire league of players will put a "kibosh" on the season, leaving the fans to wait in the balance to see what is going to happen next.
So who is to blame?
Well, it would seem to me that there's plenty to go around. First, some of the blame has to drop on the fans (if loving sports is wrong, then, baby, I don't wanna be right!!!). We are all willing to pay the ever increasing and ridiculous prices for tickets, merchandise, food and booze at the games. Let's give credit where credit is due. We hate the fact these guys whine about how the millions of dollars that they make aren't enough to feed their families, and yet, when the ticket prices go up we are applying for a seventeenth credit card so that we can pay for tickets.
Second, we know a great amount of blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the folks who are raising ticket, merchandise and booze prices: the owners. Enough said.
So, next, should we blame the players? Okay, yeah, let's give them some blame too. I mean, here, in all of the major sports, we've got plenty of guys who are willing to stand up and say "Hey, that seven figure salary I'm making isn't nearly enough. I mean, come on, I'm playing a game out there... I mean... DANG IT!!! I didn't mean that. I meant to say, I'm sacrificing my body for the enjoyment of the fans, I'm entertaining people."
Have you ever heard a players association, from any of the major sports, step up and say, "You know what? He should not have said that and we do not support that statement." NOT A CHANCE. Everytime an idiot like Latrell Spreewell flies off the handle and makes a boneheaded comment about not being able to feed his family, his local players association not only supports him, but also his idiot statement, and suddenly it becomes the stance of all of the players. But is that accurate?
When a guy like Donald Fehr tells the media that MLB players don't support steroid testing, and yet, some players come out and say that they support it because they want their sport to be pure, who are we to believe?
When an entire NHL season is lost because the players association and the owners won't give into each other, and then some NHL players step up and say they just want to play hockey, who should we support?
The players associations in all of the major sports have brought us to a point where, as fans, we can expect lockouts every couple of years. Not only is this practice, and the mentality that supports it, destructive to the fans, but it's also destructive for the players, and as a whole, I believe, it's incredibly destructive for sports in general.
This mentality, which has spilled over from one players association to another, is bound to spill, as the "me first" mentality of millionaire players has already rubbed off on young athletes, into youth and little league sports.
How close are we to hearing about an entire 7th grade basketball team who refuses to play their season because they aren't happy with the jerseys that they will be required to wear?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Jeff: Take Me Out to the Ballgame

What is it about opening day in baseball? Despite all the steroid coverage and the overblown and overanalyzed Red Sox/Yankees rivalry (I may not be able to read the Sports Guy again until November), I was still excited for Opening Day. It took me all of one day to start worrying about the Mariners, despite their win, and the worries continue as they've dropped 2 straight to the Twins. Here's a some other thoughts as the baseball season has begun...
  • Not sure what to think of all the national media guys hopping the Twins bandwagon and picking them to win the World Series. It could be a curse, or they could be right. They'll win the division but I think their young hitters are a year away from being able to get them to the World Series. Still, if everybody develops and Mauer's body holds up, that's a very scary team.
  • To steal a line from Jason Churchill, the executive editor of insidethepark.com... "If Billy Beane is considered a small-market genius for what he's done with the (Oakland) A's, then what does that make (Twins GM) Terry Ryan? Super-Genius? Emperor? god of small-market baseball?"
  • One other Twins note: Carl Pohlad said today he wasn't sure he could make it financially if the Twins can't get a new stadium. Really? Well then sell the damn team, Carl. The Twin Cities is the 15th largest media market in America. Bigger than St Louis. Bigger than San Diego. Bigger than Cincinnati. All those teams are doing fine and are spending money on free agents. I'm getting sick and tired of the "woe are we the small-market team". REALLY tired.
  • It would be bad enough being a Chicago White Sox fan. Your team is always good enough to disappoint, you have a horrible stadium, and no matter how hard you try and deny it, you're not the Cubs and you can't stand it. What would put me over the edge is if I had to watch the Sox and listen to Hawk Harrelson and whoever that jackass is that's their analyst broadcast the games. How could ANYBODY stand those two?!??!?! Flipping through channels for some afternoon baseball yesterday I came across the Sox/Tribe game on WGN, and I thought I'd take in the 8th and 9th inning. Annoying is not even the word. "Makes-you-want-to-stick-scissors-in-your-ear-to-stop-the-pain" is more like it. From the ridiculous "YOU CAN PUT IT ON THE BOARD....YYYYYYYYYESSSSSSSSSSS!!!" home run call to "HE GONE!" when somebody strikes out, the newest We Hate Men movie on the Oxygen network was starting to look almost appealing. To add to it, there's also the incredible one-sided view of the game. These guys are professionals? I understand giving a Sox slant to it, but they were going way overboard. I wonder why? Do they need to try this hard to convince Sox fans it's ok to cheer for them and not the Cubs? Could it be that they're worried somebody will see through the facade of "We hate the Cubs and we're glad we're not them"? (even thought you KNOW they're upset because they didn't get the job to replace Chip Carrey and Steve Stone) Maybe they were just thankful to be alive because they made it from their car to the stadium without being mugged. Whatever it was, I'm amazed that there's any Sox fans left. Not that there's many to begin with. If, for some strange reason you feel the need to torture yourself, turn on WGN next time the White Sox are on and see how long you can last. And can we all just agree we hate the White Sox? Thank you.

Finally, just though you'd want to know I'll get to see my first game at Safeco Field in SEattle in a couple of weeks against the Tribe. Hopefully the Mariners won't already be eliminated from the playoffs by then.