Monday, October 31, 2005

Jeremy: I'll Take a Pepto on the Rocks

Sitting in the very last row of the Metrodome on Saturday watching the Gophers get absolutely destroyed in the second half was a horrible feeling. When things looked bad in the first half my "friends" made fun of me as I stood with my shoulders crossed and a scowl on my face. For many of them this was their first Gopher football game and they didn't know my game watching habits. In the second half I sat calmly and cussed either out loud or under my breath as I pulled my hat down over my eyes.
How was I to know that the pain I was feeling in the pit of my stomach was just a precursor to what I would feel on Sunday afternoon during the Vikings game?
As Daunte scrambled on that fateful play I was thinking to myself "that looks like the old Daunte..." But when he went down, and I saw that his knee had taken a beating and he grabbed it ever so slightly, it didn't look like it could be season ending.
Of course maybe that was the homer in me, the biased Viking fan who always assumes the best. I couldn't have been more wrong, and today, that pain in my stomach feels a little bit like what a burning ulcer that is being taunted by a hangover and the stomach flu might feel like.
They say when it rains it pours, but how come nobody told us it was going to be unseasonably monsoon-like all season long in Viking land? I'm no weatherman, but I'm predicting the monsoon is only going to rage on. Might be time to board up the house, sandbag the perimeter and prepare for the worst.

Jeff: Daunte's Down & the Vikes Are Out

A team that we thought was going to be a Super Bowl contender in August, is looking like a team who will only be contending for the #1 pick heading into November. The last-second miracle win against Green Bay two weeks ago provided a glimmer of hope, that maybe, just maybe, the Minnesota Vikings squad we had hoped to see would finally show up. The bloodbath in Carolina sank any of that talk. After getting demolished 38-14 by Steve Smith and the Panthers, the Vikings season is essentially lost, as is starting quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Culpepper was running for his life once again in the first half, and when he finally found some daylight he decided to take his frustrations out on Panther safety ... At the same time, corner Chris Gamble went low, just as you're taught. THe combination collision bent Culpepper's knee in an awkward way, and he slumpt to the turf. After being helped off, the worst is feared today for him, and the same can only be said for the entire organization as well.

Two things about that hit: One, it was NOT a cheap shot by Gamble, as a few morning radio hosts were trying to say. Gamble is AT LEAST 60 pounds lighter than Daunte, and as all corners are taught when tackling a much bigger man, go low below the knees. A man Gamble's size couldn't possibly tackle somebody like Daunte by going high. Hits like this happen all the time, and this one just happened to be at an unfortunate angle. Two, yes Daunte is 265 and moves like a gazelle, but that injury never happens if he slides like he's supposed to. Commentators today said it was just Daunte wanting to be competitive and win and get some extra yards. Look, I would assume the other 31 starting NFL QB's want to be competitive and win. They're not sliding because they care less, they're sliding because they care MORE. Even at Daunte's size, he's the one being hit, not the other way around, and by not sliding, he's leaving himself open to shots like he took. Especially when his knee was already a detriment to him all season, there's no excuse for him not sliding and avoiding further contact there.

So now the season rests on the shoulders of Brad Johnson, who looked nothing Sunday like the Super Bowl winner he was with Tampa five years ago. But even if we had the Brad of five years ago, it would matter little with this team. Nobody can seem to explain why the Vikings are a completely different team on the road, but neither their offense or defense has had a clue away from the Dome. $25 million down the drain on what was supposed to be a much improved defense. Steve Smith humiliated a once-confident Fred Smoot, and Jake Delhomme and Stephen Davis carved up everybody else. There was hope that after strong first-halves and second-half flops the last couple of seasons, that maybe this year will be the opposite. Sunday's loss showed both halves of the season will be woeful this year. Perhaps it's for the best: with no hope to cling to now, this should give owner Zygy Wilf all the reason he needs to completely overhaul the players, and organization, from top to bottom. This year has proven that this Vikings' ship has so many holes, it's a wonder it's stayed afloat as long as it has.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Jeff: NBA Preview: Out West

I'm going to attempt to make this shorter than last year's. Of course I said that last year, and if you attempted to read it, well you know how that went.

15. New Orleans/Oklahoma City/Baton Rouge/Timbuktoo Hornets: They'll play most of their home games in Oklahoma City. Good thing the Okies or Sooners aren't on the schedule. I know there's a reason this team hasn't been contracted yet, but I'm forgetting. Please, Don Stern, do this before it's too late to save Chris Paul (who will be the best player from the '05 draft for the first 3 seasons) and JR Smith.

14. Portland JailBlazers: You know the end of the world is upon us when Joel Prysbilla is considered a quality NBA center. Yes THAT Joel Prysbilla. Yes the Vanilla Gorilla. Gopher fans, you may now collectively stare at the floor, shake your head, and mutter extremities under your breath. Trust me, it helps.

13. LA Clippers: What do the Clips, Arizona Cardinals, and Alex Rodriguez all have in common? None of them will ever win a championship. (As a Mariners fan, that feels great to say out loud. Honestly, as long as the Yankees have ARod -which is hopefully forever- they can put an all-star at every position and still not win the Series. Oh wait, they've already done that! And see? No title. Beautiful)

12. LA Lakers: I know, I know, I know, they have Kobe AND Phil. They also have a disgruntled Lamar Odom and absolutely nothing else...unless you're counting on Kwame Brown, Chris Mihm, or Andrew Bynum to be a factor in the post? And did I mention Speedy Claxton's their point guard? See, I knew you'd come around. Also, Phil hasn't really "coached" a team since his first title run with MJ, and even if he started now it wouldn't matter.

6 teams; 3 playoff spots. You'd have as much luck throwing darts at them to figure out who's finishing where. I have no idea, but then again you already knew that.

11. Utah Jazz: They'll make the Sox/Astros series look entertaining by comparison. Speaking of which, with all sincerity, congratulations to the Chicago White Sox and their 12 real, die-hard fans. There are many baseball fans, like myself, who may never get to experience what you folks are feeling. With that said, can we stop pretending this win was as good for the city of Chicago as it would have been for the Cubs to win it? Please. If the Cubbies ever win a World Series, that city would be in absolute and total chaos. They wouldn't be able to hold the parade down Michigan Avenue for weeks because of the looting, rioting, partying, and group sex that would make even the Minnesota Vikings uncomfortable. Drunk college kids would be parading Harry Caray's corpse around town shouting "Cubs Win!" "Holy Cow!" and "It's a simple question! A baby could answer it!" like it was a Weekend at Bernie's movie. The Sox win over Houston may make them the #1 team in baseball this season, but it doesn't change the fact they'll always be a distant second in the Windy City.

10. Seattle Sonics: I compare this team to the Chicago Bears of a few years back. You know, the one that came out of nowhere to win 12 games? EVERYTHING went right for them. Well that was the Sonics last year. Like that Bears team, the Supes come back to earth. Getting rid of starting center Jerome James was a good idea. Letting coach Nate McMillan and top assistant Dwayne Casey walk? Not so much.

9. Phoenix Suns: Ok so let met get this straight: last season, this team's entire offense predicated on running the fast break, and Nash driving and dishing to either Amare or a wide-open guy for 3. And they played no defense whatsoever. This season, Amare's out for at least 3 months, and their two best 3-point shooters are gone. Oh, and they still can't play defense. Only my undying love- I mean respect- for fellow Canadian Steve Nash has them ranked this high.

8. Minnesota Timberwolves: You know those Adidas commercials of KG running on the beach in a Muhammed Ali sweatshirt? That's not a marketing gimmick. I think Adidas couldn't find him all summer, and somebody stumbled across him running 19 miles a day on the beach, and they just filmed it. Too bad they didn't show his training where he alternates Wally Scerbiak and Rick Rickert punching bags. Garnett will have his best season as a pro, carry this team on his back, and be the first guy to win MVP on an 8 seed. It's also probably his last year in a Wolves uniform, so enjoy it while you can.

7. Memphis Grizzlies: No allstars but good depth, and guys who know how to win. Plus Pau Gasol has a sweet Grizzly-Adams beard. Apparently he's trying to shed the "soft" label. Um, Pau? You're European. You'll always be soft. The beard won't change that. Also, can you put an "l" at the end of your first name please? That's always bothered me.

6. Golden State Warriors: Their season hinges on the hinges, screws, plates, and whatever else is holding Baron Davis together. IF Baron can stay healthy for an entire season the Warriors take the reigns from Phoenix as the most exciting team in the league to watch, and the scariest opponent for anyone to play. However, considering I don't believe Davis has had an injury-free season at any level, this is probably just wishful thinking.


5. Dallas Mavericks: As much fun as the Nash/Mike Finley/Dirk Nowitzki trio was to watch, they were not going to win a championship for Dallas. Through free agency and the amnesty clause, the Mavs are 2/3rds finished with their housecleaning. Mark Cuban needs to deal the Diggler now for as much as he can get, and build around someone else because the Dirk will not lead a team to the title. I had high hopes for him that maybe, just maybe, he'd be the first European to step-up when it mattered. Of course that was right before chewing out Jason Terry at the end of game 5 and then missing all 5 of his shots in OT. Maybe if he didn't shave his head every year things would be different, but I doubt it.

4. Houston Rockets: Probably the 2nd best team in the West with the addition of a real power forward and point guard, but because of the divisional format they'll have to settle for a 4 seed. But at least they'll host, giving T-Mac his best opportunity yet to break his 1st round playoff drought. And imagine if he plays all year like he did in the first round against Dallas last year? Yao Ming has had an entire summer off to rest up for the first time since the Great Wall of China was built. And you know what? He'll still never be an elite player. Never.

3. Sacramento Kings: Remember when this was the toughest division in decades? Now the Kings have half the team they used to, and yet they'll still get a home series. Bibby will be Bibby, and Brad Miller will continue to be the Esa Tikannen of the NBA (for non-hockey fans that's the guy every team hates with all-star skills). There's a reason Bonzi Wells is on his 3rd team in four years, and he'll have his annual meltdown before season's end.

2. Denver Nuggets: Nobody's happier about the division realignment than, as my friend Joel likes to call them, the "Nugents." Everyone, including myself, predicted this ascention last season, but this really should be the year. If they grab a clue by the trade deadline and deal Nene for a legitimate 2-guard, they could really challenge the Spurs. Melo was a new man under George Karl, and as we saw last year, as he goes, so go the Nuge. I still worry though that's he got too much Glenn Robinson in him. Extra points to Denver for the powder blues, being fun to watch, and, of course, for Earl Boykins.


1. San Antonio Spurs: The only people who would whine that Tony Parker, who has been the point guard on two Spurs Title teams, shatters the mold of "soft Europeans" would be Europeans themselves. So just in case there's any that are taking a break from hating Americans or watching soccer to read this, let me make this point: Derek Fischer and BJ Armstrong were also starting point guards on multiple title winners. When they eventually left for new teams, they were exposed for the below-average players that they were. If Parker's smart, which considering he's dating Eva Longoria I'd say he is, he will do whatever it takes to stay in a Spurs uniform as long as Tim Duncan does. Granted the PG play in the league has never been worse, but I'm baffled as to how Parker was able to drive through the lane at will last year. The only thing I can figure is that out of respect and awe, the rest of the league won't guard him as long as he's dating Eva.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Jeff: What's the story?

Two sports stories today caught my attention, both because I can't believe they're getting any attention at all.

The first is Sheryl Swoopes has admitted to being gay. 99.999999% of people have two responses to that sentence: the first is "Who?" The second is "Who cares?"

The article contends that "Swoopes, 34, is the most recognizable athlete, male or female, to come out in a team sport." Um, WHAT?

First of all, the comment that Swoopes is the most "recognizable athlete to come out in a team sport" is ridiculous. Only the most die-hard of hoops fans, and women's hoops fans at that, know who Swoopes is. No matter how much ESPN and David Stern try to shove it down our throats THE WNBA IS NOT A MAJOR SPORT. NOBODY CARES. This is a good player from an obscure league. If this were Mia Hamm, Anna Kournikova, Michelle Wie, or one of the Williams sisters, THAT would be a recognizeable athlete. You ask 100 people who Sheryl Swoopes is, you'd be lucky to get 2 or 3 people that would know. You ask 100 people who Hamm, Wie, Venus, Serena, or Kournakova is, I would guess at least half the people, and possibly more, could tell you. Those are recognizeable athletes. Swoopes is not.

Second, I don't believe this opens the door of acceptance for both gay female AND male athletes. I really don't think there's much of a problem with the acceptance of lesbian athletes today. Much of the WNBA's fanbase comes from the gay and lesbian community already, so I think this helps a lesbian, not hurt them. And please don't make the argument that "well it hurts her endorsement opportunities with mainstream America." PLEASE. Gay or straight, she didn't have any to begin with. Furthermore, we've already had prominent female athletes in tennis, the most popular women's sport, come out. Billy Jean King and Maria Navratalova were two of the greatest in the history of the sport. I don't remember there being a real big deal made about this.

It certainly hasn't made mainstream America more comfortable with the idea of a gay man in a team sport. To think Swoopes coming out will change people's minds on that is naive at best. I'm not saying that attitude is right, but comparing Swoopes in the WNBA to a guy in one of the four major pro sports is like...well you know what there IS no comparison to that. Bottom line: GOod for Sheryl Swoopes, and I'm glad she feels better about things. I just don't care.

The second article is about long-time Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry making the comment that black players "can run very, very well." Here's the two comments he made:

'He said Air Force needed to recruit faster players. "We were looking at things, like you don't see many minority athletes in our program,"'

"It just seems to be that way, that Afro-American kids can run very, very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me they run extremely well,"

I'm sorry, but why is this an issue? Race relations are far from perfect in this country, but what's the problem here? The man isn't saying that all African-Americans do is run well, or run fast and that all they are or can be as a race is good athletes. Not at all. The man is simply stating a fact. The two positions in football that speed, quickness, and agility are most vital to are running back and corner back. Look at the NFL: you don't even need one hand to count the number of white running backs AND defensive backs. You simply need one finger. BRad Hoover, who started last year as Carolina's fullback, was moved to tail back after four, count them, FOUR running backs on the team got hurt. He was the only white RB in the league I can even think of. And corners? Now that the vastly overrated Jason Sehorn is no longer prancing around the league, there are zero white corners. None. And if you watch D-1 football on Saturdays, the number of quality white starters at those positions is pretty similar.

IS this racist? Of course not. Do all african-americans run faster? Of course not. But the best players should play, regardless of race, and the sheer number of african-americans playing those positions (as well as wide receiver) show that. Please leave DeBerry alone. He's got enough to worry about with that program as it is.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Jeremy: While I've Got a Chance Here, Let Me Clear My Head

*While I was watching the World Series the other night, I noticed... wait a minute, I wasn't watching the World Series. What am I talking about?
Look, I tried to watch it, I really did, and when I watched it, I even went as far as to try to care, but I just can't do it. I have only two possible rooting interests in this Series. First is that I hate the Sox. Second is that when I used to play RBI Baseball (circa 2000) I would always choose the Astros because Biggio and Bagwell were money. Well, it turns out in real life, in 2005, Biggio is still pretty money, but Bagwell is washed up. I can't support reality t.v. that spits in the face of my Generation X-like memories.
*There I am. It's around 2:30 a.m. Treasure Island Casino. $5 Blackjack table. Sitting next to my future brother-in-law. I'm up $45 and I am feeling it. Suddenly my gal walks up and asks how I'm doing. Even worse... I TOLD HER!!! What was I thinking?
Well, you know how it ends. I should have just gotten up when she asked, but it's been so long since I've played blackjack that I forgot the unwritten karma rules. Later, on the drive home, when I tried to explain to her about how blackjack has karma and streaks and how little things, things that aren't even related to the game, can change everything, I felt like a complete idiot as I stumbled over my words trying desperately not to sound like a tool.
*The Gophers are ranked 20th in the BCS standings. They actually improved their standing by not even playing last week. Their stock is rising in the BSC not because of who they have beaten, but because of who they have lost to. Simply amazing! I do not understand the BSC at all. USC won and they still dropped to #2. How does this happen?
*What's happening with Minnesota football this year? First the Gophers beat Purdue in the kind of game they always lose, then they beat Michigan where they never, ever, win, and then the Vikings beat the Packers on a last second field goal in the kind of game that the Wikes almost always lose. Are they setting us up? Or are they finally learning how to win?
*I feel like Sid Hartman today. I can't put together enough material for a full post so I have to piece together items like this. I keep clearing my throat uncontrollably. I can't say enough good things about Minnesota teams. And I have said the "F" word at least 1,949 times already today.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Jeremy: Some Interesting Points From Whitlock

If you don't already read Jason Whitlock on, I would recommend checking him out. While I agree with him roughly only 70% of the time, he generally brings a well thought out opinion and he's pretty entertaining.
In his column today, 10 More NFL Truths, he talks about two things worth mentioning.
First, a quote regarding the Vikings. I think for the most part Jeff and I have avoided tackling "Boatgate '05," but I think Whitlock sums it up nicely.
"If all it took to throw a team into chaos was a sex party involving a third of the roster, then I'd suggest that a third of the league's teams would be in chaos.
The Vikings stink because they're poorly coached, they have mediocre defensive personnel, and Daunte Culpepper can't read a defense. Lack of discipline and lack of morality have nothing to do with Minnesota's on-field failures."
Second, Whitlock talks about a classic quarterback vs. quarterback controversy. In this case Favre vs. Marino.
"Without arguably the greatest defensive player of all time, Favre does not own a Super Bowl ring and two Super Bowl appearances. Give Marino a defender as dominant as [Reggie] White, and he wins at least one Super Bowl.
I bring this up because it's my opinion that Marino, especially late in his career, routinely carried mediocre teams -- like the one Favre is leading now -- to the playoffs. I don't question Favre's greatness. I'm just saying there's no reason the Packers shouldn't win the NFC North and reach the playoffs. Marino would do it."
I've never heard this particular argument stated in quite this manner and it's very intriguing to me. How important is having a single dominant player and team leader on both sides of the ball? Is Whitlock right, would Marino have won a ring with a Reggie White-type player on defense? Was Marino a better QB than Favre is now?
I'm curious to see what you all think. (And Porta is not allowed to answer because we know he's blinded by green.)

Jeremy: Dress Code Marketing

Piggy-backing on Jeff's post about the new NBA player's dress code, this issue is certainly on the forefront of basketball fans everywhere. And Jeff is absolutely right, there's no reason to believe this isn't going to work and it's not going to be enforced.
We know that David Stern knows two things at least. First, he knows how to run a business, and the NBA is definitely a business. Some might be quick to argue that, no, the NBA is not a business, it's a game, and the players should not be forced to dress as if they were part of a business. The truth is basketball is a game, but the NBA is a business, and that is a very important distinction to make.
Second, Stern knows, as the leader of this business, he's got a monopoly on the professional basketball market. The reason that he can enforce his new dress code rule, and go to any lengths he needs to in order to uphold it, is because he knows that the players won't leave for another league. True, there are other professional basketball leagues around the world, but none of them come anywhere near the NBA as far as talent, competition, exposure, and, most importantly to the players, (and to why Stern is safe in upholding his new rule) money.
I wrote a very similar opinion when talking about age minimums, but this isn't about choice, it isn't about singling players out, and it isn't even necessarily about making the players look good. This is about David Stern protecting the product that he is putting before the buying public. He knows that his league's players have the worst reputation of the players in the other professional sports. This is his attempt to help present his product as more professional and more approachable by the common fan.
Whether I like it, you like it, or the players like it, or not, David Stern has every right to do this, and from a business standpoint, it's an incredibly shrewd, but smart move.

Jeff: The Question For Gopher Fans

As a relatively new Gopher football fan, I feel like one of the new recruits in the movie Band of Brothers. I'm like one of the newbies that comes over after D-Day, and I want to say I'm part of the group, and that I know what the grizzled vets have been through, but I don't. I know it, and they know it. As a new Gopher football fan, losses like the one last week to Wisconsin hurt. For the vets, it's just another scar. I feel like I should have no right to comment on how the captain is running this ship, and yet I was taught that if you don't understand something, ask-no matter how dumb the question. So, Gopher fans, I need your help. I need some clarification on the head coach Glen Mason. The debate this season is whether he should be given a contract extension. My confusion doesn't center on whether he should be back next year: my confusion is HOW IS HE BEING CONSIDERED AT ALL?!?!

If I'm Gopher AD Joel Maturi, I'd tell Glen "You've done all you can here. Put the house up for sale, start cleaning out your desk, because when this seaon's finished- so are you." I'm starting to believe Mason has concocted some kind of maroon-and-gold kool-aid. And boy has it been getting around. He's given it to Maturi, as rumors in the paper are that Maturi, even after last week, continue to talk extension. He certainly passed it around to the folks at E!SPN who were covering the game last week. Commentators Mark Jones and former Ohio State great Chris Spielman, were gushing about Mason and his accomplishments at Minnesota in 9 seasons. How he has a winning record (56-47), how his 3 8 win seasons('99,'02,'03) were as many as the school had in the previous 3 decades, and how he has a winning bowl record (3-2). They also mentioned how Mason had- I'm not making this up, they actually said this- turned down "numerous job offers to stay at Minnesota." They just couldn't heap enough praise onto Mason's shoulders as the team looked certain to defeat Wisconsin. And then we know what happened next. And he's been passing it around to pleny of Gopher fans. The common argument is that Mason's done much more, and is much better, than Jim Wacker- the man he replaced.
All of these things (except the comment about Mason turning down offers to stay at Minnesota. He's applied for every job known to man but has been turned down for all of them. E!SPN must have gotten their facts mixed up. THe kool-aid will do that to you) are true. Not counting this season, he's averaged a 6-5 record over 8 years. Yes Gopher fans, that means your team has a good shot at being bowl eligible. That's certainly better than Wacker or many of predecessors have accomplished. But my question is, why would you settle for this? GOPHER FANS DESERVE BETTER!!
I looked up the numbers that people AREN'T telling you. And believe me, they're not easy to find. I had to go to three different websites (and none of them were the team's official website, to piece together Mason's history at Minnesota. After the loss to the Badgers last week, Glen Mason at Minnesota...

- is 27-41 in the Big 10
- is 5-22 vs ranked teams (he has not played a ranked non-conference opponent)
- has a winning record against three Big 10 teams- Illinois (5-1), Northwestern (4-2), and Penn State (4-3)
- is 3-3 vs both Michigan State and Indiana
- is 3-17 vs. Michigan, Purdue, and Ohio State
- against the rivals, is 2-6 vs Iowa, and 3-6 vs Wisconsin

Taking out this year's 2-2 conference record, Mason averages 3 Big 10 wins a season. Gopher fans, Mason has had 9 seasons at the U. He's won zero conferece titles, and the Gophs have played in zero New Year's Day bowls.


No matter how hard you try, you can't turn a Cavalier into a Cadillac (I would know because I drive a Cav). You are what you are. What Mason is is a decent coach who will get you to a low-profile bowl game, and an average of 3 Big 10 wins a year. With Mason you're finishing somewhere between 6-8th in the conference. You're better than Northwestern, Illinois, and sometimes Indiana. And that's it. This is who the Gophers are, and always will be, under Glen Mason. If you're satisfied with that, then keep him around. But I think GOpher fans deserve better. We'll never be Michigan or Ohio State, or even Penn State, but there's no reason we can't be as good as Iowa, Wisconsin or Purdue. If believe that, then start writing Maturi's office that we need a new coach for 2006. And keep him away from the kool-aid.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Jeff: E!SPN

I've finally reached my breaking point. I've had enough, and I'm not going to take it anymore!! Henceforth, ESPN will now be referred to on this site as E!SPN, only a slight variation of the E! entertainment network. The self-proclaimed "World Wide Leader in Sports" is becoming the "Gossip-for-Schoolgirls" network for men. Sportscenter is now 30-90 minutes of who said what about whom, what color somebody's shoes are this week, what hairstyles are in, who a guy's favorite rapper is, and how he feels about. Oh and if they get time, they might even throw in a highlight or two from an actual game. Anchors like Stu Scott and Linda Cohen haven't said one original thing in a decade. They're using the same shtick they were using when they started at the network, when their one-liners were actually amusing. Why not just hire Leeza Gibons and Joan Rivers as your anchors, and Brooke Burke and Tara Reid as your reporters and get it over with. "This week, Brooke talks to Shaq and Steve Nash about their hair, their groupies- and their spa of the month."

And you know what the saddest part of it all is? It's not that E!SPN has decided that us sportsfans are so dumb, all we want are chicks in bikinis, cool graphics, and snappy, overused one-liners. No the worst part is that E!SPN can get away with this because they know that real sportsfans like myself and the Jer have nowhere else to go. HOw in the name of BOOYAH! are there 19 cooking channels and shows about how to fix your sink, and yet there's so little choice for factual sports news?!? E!SPN knows there's no competition out there, so they can keep throwing this garbage on there and people like me will watch just hoping for 5 minutes of highlights and analysis. Fox Sports found a niche with regional networks, but anything other than actual games or the Best Damn Sports Show Period! (which is on about every 15 minutes), look like the cable access channel.

In this world of 24 hour cable networks and the internet, E!SPN is so worried about being able to hold a viewer for more than 15 seconds that they're throwing this and any other garbage on to get people watching. Believe it or not, people like myself and Jer, and others out there, are actually able to wade through all the media crap that we're inundated with on a daily basis, and find what we like. But they screw the die-hard knowledgeable sportsfan simply because they know they can!! If somebody out there has enough money to start your own network, or to buy an existing one, please: don't start another "how to make tofu taste like meat while giving your bathroom that post-modern look" channels. They're everywhere. Instead, start a real sports network that shows games, analyzes them, and previews them. You can leave who Tom Brady's dating or what color TO's underwear is for the folks in Bristol. They'll cover that and more next on E!SPN Sportsce!nte!r, hosted by Paris Hilton and one of the Queer Eye Guys.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Jeff: The Godfather is back!

He's done it again. Just when I think "THe Don" David Stern has lost all his Godfather-like powers, he starts slapping people around and telling them to act like a man! First he avoids what could have been a very ugly strike/lockout with the players union. Sure he didn't get everything he wanted...or did he? I think he got more of what he wanted than the players did, and as usual that means The Don wins. Now he comes out with the dress code. Are you kidding me? Not just because athletes are more spoiled than ever, but also because of the imminent race card being thrown in? In spite of it all, Stern goes ahead with it, that knowing smile on his face that this will work. At a press conference today The Don laid out the new NBA dress code. Phrases like "business casual" and "sport coats" were used in the same sentences as "NBA players". Impossible? Laugh all you want, and granted the thought of Allen Iverson, or even Jason Williams (the one who didn't shoot his limo driver), in a suit is hilarious, but make no mistake-- this WILL happen. Stern didn't go into specifics about exactly how he will enforce this dress code, saying only this:

"If they are really going to have a problem, they will have to make a decision about how they want to spend their adult life in terms of playing in the NBA or not," Stern said.

A veiled threat? Hardly. Do you really think a man that has worked so hard to make this league so successful, and who cares so much about the image of both himself and the league, would dare try this if he didn't know it would work? You really think he would stick his neck out this far if there were ANY risk of it getting cut off? No sir. AS amazed as I am that somebody would try this in the lawsuit-happy world we now live in, BECAUSE it's the Don, I have no reason to believe he can't pull it off. Nobody else, repeat NOBODY ELSE, would even dream of this, let alone try it. The man should be on everyone's ballot for the 2008 presidential election. I don't know, or care how, but he would clean up Iraq, balance the budget, and feed Latrell Sprewell's family if he were elected. Of this I have no doubts.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Jeremy: Sid Has All The Answers

You gotta love Sid Hartman. He's the kind of writer who you can't help reading, but everytime you do he says something that completely baffles you. I can't read his column without laughing and screaming in my head: "WHAT?!?!" It makes me wonder how a guy like this is still writing for a major metro newspaper.
On a side note wondering how Sid still has a job, apparently Sid also has a world-class foul mouth. I've heard it said that Sid cannot go 3 minutes without using the infamous "F" word. He's even sworn at my employees during catering events. His liberal use of swear words, particularily the aforementioned one starting with an "F", is legendary. I've never met him myself, but I'm told he is neither pleasant to be around, or welcoming in how he approaches people.
Moving on... Ever the last word on all things Minnesota sports related, today Sid had this gem.
"One comment on the Vikings. One of these days, the critics will discover that the Vikings don't have talent, and their record is not the coaches' fault. Last year, the Vikings scored 47 touchdowns; this year, they are on pace to score 16. Enough said. "
Enough said. Enough said? Nicely done Sid. Nothing like hatching up an opinion contradictory to what everyone else is saying. I commend Sid for standing on the other side of the street, however, he's completely wrong.
I'm not saying that how terrible the Vikings are has everything to do with coaching, because that is crazy. But to say that their horrible season has NOTHING to do with coaching is ridiculous. Furthermore, to say that the Vikings don't have talent is a cooked up way to let the coaches off the hook, when they clearly deserve to be firmly on the hook, along with their seaworthy players. Letting the coaches off the hook is just plain stupid, but it's the only viable plan if you want to keep your lips firmly planted to the rear ends of the coaching staff so that you can join them for dinner at Murray's on Thursday nights.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Jeff: So This Is How It Feels... be a Bengals fan (at least before this season). Or the lone Arizona Cardinals fan. To be looking ahead to the NFL draft before October's even over. I've pondered before if it'd be worse to cheer for a perenial loser, or a team with expectations that constantly breaks your heart. This season I may get to find out. Is this really the team picked to go to the Super Bowl? A team who would tell anybody that would listen about their new image now that badboy Randy Moss was gone? I don't know about you, but I'd take Randy's halfmoon or any of his antics over what's happened so far. With Randy on the team I know we'd at least have scored more than 1 touchdown in the last 24 quarters.
But this is obviously so much larger than Randy. Or Matt Birk. This team had two weeks to prepare for a one-dimensional Bears team with a good defense, and instead of looking ready, it was as if they spent the two weeks on the Love Boat (Oh wait, that's basically what happened). The team stunk for the fourth time in five outings, showing absolutely no signs of improvement from the pounding they took at the hands of the Falcons two weeks ago. Is it too early to say the season is lost? Unfortuneatly, Purple fans, it may be time to start looking to see how close we are to the bottom of the standings instead of the top. It's us vs the Texans (who are getting crushed in Seattle as I type this)for the right to pick the best USC Trojan (I take Reggie Bush over Matt Leinart but that's a discussion for another day).
Now before you start pointing to the pathetic NFC North standings, and how the Vikings are STILL very much in the hunt for the divison let me say this: tHe other three teams in the Norris may not have terrific records, but they've been in every game. They've moved the ball consistently, and have even stopped people on occasion. The Purple have been in exactly one game, and that's only because the Saints were even more disinterested than the Vikes.
The "alleged" sex cruise scandal was bad enough, but the Vikes could have used it as a chance to come together (a REALLY easy joke right there but, like Denny Green, I'm taking the high road here) and make a stand for their season. Instead the game was over from the opening kickoff.
So the big question today for Vikings fans isn't how do we fix Daunte, or the running game, or the line, or the receivers, or the defense, or playcalling, or whether Mike Tice knows how to write up a resume? The biggest question is which Trojan would look better in Purple? (I'll let you insert your own Love Boat joke here)

Jeremy: Looking Back @ Wisconsin

Thanks Lukedawg & Twinsfan for the replies on the last post. Obviously a lot of emotion tied up in that Gopher game against Wisconsin, as there always is, but this one seems to sting a bit more.
I agree with both of you to varying degrees. Twinsfan, I see your point about not blaming this on coaching, and you can't blame the entire loss on coaching, but for sure somebody needs to remind an 18 year old kid what to do if the snap is botched on that punt. Did somebody do this? We don't know, but somebody dang-sure should have. And Luke brought up an even bigger coaching mistake with the on-side kick that I certainly was not aware of. It's the coaches job to see what is happening on the field and react accordingly with personnel, scheming and teaching... this simply did not happen in the final moments of Saturdays game.
And for once I'm not even saying it's necessarily Mason's fault. Of course, he is the head coach, and the blame falls somewhere on his shoulders. But there is a special teams coach on this team right? Somebody, a coach, has got to understand the situations that the team is in, and react. And when it counted most, when everything was on the line, a win over one of your biggest rivals, housing two traveling trophies, a Big 10 Championship, a January bowl game... nobody reacted accordingly.
With the success that the Gophs had the entire game against Wisconsin it is painfully obvious that the coaching staff had a good gameplan in place. And the way the team played it's also obvious that they believed in the gameplan and the coaches and they executed. They did what the coaches asked them to do. Are we to believe that suddenly at the end of the game these guys didn't do what the coaches asked them?
A good gameplan isn't the end-all and be-all of coaching. Good coaches know when the gameplan is irrelevant, when to get away from the gameplan and just play good, smart football. It doesn't seem, to me anyway, that this happened on Saturday.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Jeremy: Another Coaching Failure?

The Gopher football team was well prepared to play on Saturday in the Border Battle against the Badgers. The team did everything right and put themselves in a position to win. The coaches must have a had a great gameplan in place.
So in the end, who do you blame for a botched punt snap?
After speaking on the phone just minutes ago with Jeffrey, I concur with him:
Whose job is it to remind the punter: "if the snap is bad just down it in the endzone, we'll still have the lead and we can let the defense win it."??????
Just a hunch, but it might be a coaches job.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Jeremy: My Emotional Gopher Experience

I was standing in Sportsman's Bar on Como Avenue in Minneapolis with my gal last Saturday as Jason Gianni kicked the Gopher field goal that beat Michigan. The first time a Gopher football team had taken the Little Brown Jug from the Wolverines in 19 years. Why I was at Sportsman's surrounded by a bunch of half-hearted (at best) Gopher football fans is not important (and it's pretty anti-climactic too), but what is important is how it felt.
You've already read all the stories about how big of a win it was, how the Gophers did it, how Michigan is having a down year. None of those stories matter now. It's over. The Gophers beat Michigan. It's just a W on the record and let's move on to Wisconsin.
At least as far as the team is concerned.
It's six days later and I can't stop smiling everytime I think about the fact that we finally lifted the monkey that is Michigan off of our backs, threw it to the ground, and walked away able to look ahead.
My uncle and my cousin were there. I talked to them after the game. I wasn't even there, but just talking to them on the phone was an emotional experience for me. My gal will attest to the fact that I was an emotional mess when we walked out of Sportsman's. I was happy with disbelief over the win. I was ecstatic for my uncle and cousin who were at the game. I was slightly sad that I wasn't able to be there with them.
It's the weirdest thing in the world sometimes, to me, to be a sports fan. The logical part of my brain keeps telling me that it's just a game, a dumb football team full of guys that I don't know. But the emotional part of my brain (heart?) is completely overcome.
Anyway, yes, I cried. Okay? I said it, I cried.
I'm walking out of a crap little bar with my fiance and I'm shedding tears over a football game as she consoles me and I'm babbling, "I can't believe we beat Michigan. It's just a dumb football game. I can't believe we beat Michigan. I'm sorry I'm crying, it's just a dumb game, but... it's Michigan. And my uncle and cousin are there."
I can't imagine what it would have been like to be there. I'm sure I would have just collapsed.
I cannot explain it, I simply cannot. I cannot explain my loyalty to sports teams. I cannot explain the anger I feel when they act like idiots off the field. I cannot explain the joy I get when they finally do well. And I cannot explain why it brings me to tears.
But what I can explain is how much fun I've had at Gopher games over the years both home and away, even when I feared for my life one November Saturday in Iowa City. I can explain the memories of tailgating with close friends, making new friends, and having perhaps one too many before heading into the Dome for an 11 a.m. kick off.
And I can explain how close I am to my uncle and my cousin and how I believe Gopher football has played a huge part in that. Gopher football is like a strange family legacy for us. It's an unrational loyalty to a rotating bunch of young men who we have no personal attachment to except for the state in which they play. It's not like being a fan of Florida State or USC or Notre Dame, whose teams have one or two bad seasons in 20. It's different. I believe it takes a bit more intestinal fortitude to be a Gopher fan. Then again, I'm a little bit biased.
I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again...
This is what it's like to be a Gopher fan.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Jeff: Can Daunte Save the Season?

Ok so I'm not making deadlines for myself anymore. I haven't had internet at home until the past weekend, so I'm not sure when I thought I'd get all this time to write. Certainly not at work or school. But now that I have the net back (and cable) I'll be able to write some more- and of course do a lot less homework. Jer was having some computer troubles of his own, otherwise he would have posted about the Gophers win. Only he or Josho really should comment on this one, since they've been waiting like 16 years for this. IT's coming, trust me. I'll also get to the Whine List at some time.

Today, though, it's about Daunte. The Purple face the Chicago Bears this Sunday. They've had two weeks off, two weeks to prepare, two weeks to answer questions about what's wrong with the team and whether it can be fixed. I can't answer the second, but I can answer the first: Daunte is the problem. Minnesota needs the Daunte we've seen up until this season, not the bumbling, stumbling turnover machine we've seen through five weeks.

I probably can't repeat what you're saying right now. Probably something along the lines of "No $%^&!! EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT!!! Tell us something we DON"T KNOW!!" Thank you, I will. I was watching the Atlanta debacle at the Jer's place, and midway through the game, after Daunte made yet another terrible decision, Jer's housemate Ryno made the comment that Daunte "looked rattled and like the Falcons got in his head. He's completely lost his confidence!" Ladies and gentlemen, the light went on for me.

Culpepper has been one of the top quarterbacks in the league, and had it not been for Peyton Manning, he would have been league MVP last season. How in the name of Wade Wilson does Daunte go from MVP to moron in one summer? People point to two factors: Randy Moss and Matt Birk, and I agree that the absences of both are the reasons for Daunte's struggles- but for more than the reasons you hear. Yes, teams can defend the Vikes differently and much more aggresively than in seasons past. You HAD to commit at least two people to Moss, and sometimes even that wasn't enough. Now you have the option of blitzing any one of the 11 guys on defense. Nate Burelson, Travis Taylor and the rest of the Vikes receiving core have talent, but they're certainly not keeping D co-ordinators up at night. THey feel like they can blitz like crazy and not get burned. And so far they've been right.

Losing Birk hurts because he was absolutely your best lineman, and now you're reshuffling lesser players to fill the void. Very true. Birk was very athletic and a great blocker. BUt he was also excellent at recognizing blitzes at the line of scrimmage. It's the center's job to call out blocking schemes and blitzing players before the snap. Birk was exceptional at it, and seemed to always make the right call. The Vikes line and backs, for the most part, knew what was coming and who was coming, and it kept Daunte upright and able to throw the ball. And there in lies the key: keeping Daunte upright. Not just for his physical health (hey even 260 pound QB's can only take so many hits)- but more importantly for his mental health.

Ryno hit it right on the head: Daunte was rattled. He had lost his confidence. Our good friend Austin Danger Powers would say he'd lost his mojo. For his entire career, Culpepper's been a man among boys, and has had the time to use his incredible physical gifts. He played on a great team in high school, and played against lesser competition at UCF. Up until this season, he's played with a lot of talent in Minnesota, and it's allowed him time and space to do his thing. But this season opposing defenses are bringing the house on every play and Daunte is helpless to stop it. It's hard to believe that a quarterback that stands 6'4, 260 pounds with his incredible physical gifts could lose confidence in himself so easily but that's exactly what's happened.

Look at the Vikings losses this season to the Bucs, Bengals and Falcons: Minnesota was down early, and Daunte was down often. They blitzed the hell out of him early, got to him, and he was never able to recover mentally. In all three of those games, after getting killed early, even when Daunte had time to throw he was missing open receivers. No throw in the NFL is "easy" by any means, but he was missing passes that a starting NFL QB should make- let alone one of the best in the game. Now look at the New Orleans win. Daunte's first play from scrimmage he went right after the Saints and connected for a 27-yard TD to Taylor. Next series, he went after them again and it resulted in another TD. #11 got the mojo working early and the Vikings cruised to their only win of the season.

So how do we keep Culpepper, and his confidence, upright? I have as little faith as you do that Mike Ticey or Steve Loney can come up to a solution, but it needs to happen before the Vikings season slips away. Remember, Minnesota's looked as bad as any Vikings team in the last 2 decades, but they're still just a game back of Detroit for first place. The Vikes need to protect Daunte enough to let him be aggressive early, which means finding a way to block blitzes that will come from any direction. Keep Daunte upright and you keep the Vikes season and playoff chances afloat. But if you see #11 on his big keester a lot this Sunday against the Bears, the Purple's season will pretty much be sunk.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Because the Vikes don't play this week, and because I don't have time, I'm going to put off the Daunte opinions until early next week. Nice to see Zygy not do the right thing and give Tice the vote of confidence today. Although, usually when that happens, that means the coach is walking the plank. We'll see.

Friday I'm going to start a new feature. No, not regular writings on this site! We might actually get regular readers if we did crazy stuff like that. No, instead I'm going to type the inaugural edition of "The Whine List". To explain, let me take you back to 1999. People were scared to death of the Y2K bug that was going to wipe out our banking system and cause mass chaos. Or something like that. Well obviously that didn't happen, but I found something it DID do: it has caused the world to be a completely fair, balanced, and just world. Yup, everyone is entitled to their rights, and by rights, I mean getting anything they want whenever they want it. Oh, and they don't have to earn it. They just deserve it because they want it. As a matter of fact, it's even more unfair if you do have to work for what you want.

If, for some strange reason, you don't get exactly what you want when you want, you have the right to bitch, complain, rant, rave and scream about it. Or hire lawyers, which do the same thing. Every kid that plays a sport now has to make the team and be a winner. Anytime something bad happens to somebody it's definitely not their fault- even if it clearly IS their fault. Yup, the world is fair, and people are unhappy when it's unfair. And therefore there's been a LOT of whining since the turn of the century.

There's been a few, mostly (ok, actually entirely) sports related whinings this week. I'll share those Friday.

PS-- the NHL starts tonight. Celebrate in the best way you see fit. I'm going to do homework. Yippee!!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Jeff: Going Down with the Ship

Mike Tice is a good guy, but he's not cut out to be a head coach. That much is clear. Mike Morris had some interesting comments this morning on the Powertrip Morning Show on KFAN, pointing out that Tice never got the experience as an offensive coordinator that pretty much every NFL head coach gets. You can't blame Tice for jumping at the chance to be a head coach. I think any of us would take a job with significantly more pay, even if we didn't have the experience or training for it. However, in his time as coach I think he's made it pretty clear he's not up to the challenge. Could he have been with some time as O-coordinator? We'll never know.

What I do know is Tice needs to go, and I think it should happen this week. The two arguments I've heard against firing Tice this season are "firing your head coach during the season tells your fan you've given up" and "there's no one else on the staff who could run the team any better." The second point is absolutely true. All these guys are barely able to keep their heads above water with their current assignments, and none of them are head-coach material. This is what you get when ol' Red puts together the cheapest possible staff. In this business, like any other, you get what you pay for. As to the first point, yes, firing your coach midseason rarely results in a Super Bowl appearance. Ok, it's NEVER resulted in a Super Bowl appearance. But, like I mentioned, this is a business. The players today aren't stupid. They know this. They read the papers and surf the internet and watch TV just like you and I, and they know Tice is a lame-duck coach. In today's Pioneer Press, Sean Jensen has an article quoting players that say:

"Tice delivered a 'rambling (postgame) resignation speech'"
"He quit on us... I lost all respect for him."
"You could tell he gave up on us"

According to Jensen, this isn't coming from benchwarmers-this was from STARTERS!!! Ladies and gentlemen, these guys have already abandoned the Good Ship Viking. THey've gone overboard and aren't swimming back until somebody-ANYBODY- has replaced Tice as the captain. Don't be worried about fans thinking you've given up-worry about the players!! THere's no sense in keeping Tice on for the rest of the year when every fan, player, coach, and Tice himself knows he's not coming back. Could somebody else on the sidelines do a better job? Probably not, but to avoid mutiny, Tice needs to go and he needs to go now. Give the new guy two weeks to throw a game-plan together and try and salvage the season. Because oh by the way, as terrible as we've played, we're still only a half game out of first place in the division. Is anybody worried about Detroit or Chicago running away with it? Me neither. The time to act is now. Make Tice walk the plank and see if somebody else can steer the Vikings towards the playoffs. Next year, we'll worry about a new coaching staff. This year, let's just worry about winning the divison while there's still time.

Tomorrow: Fixing Daunte

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Jeremy: Outdueled in Happy Valley

As I was working throughout the Gopher Football game on Saturday I received periodic text message comments on my cell phone about the game from my cousin who was watching on t.v.
"D no show."
"Death to Cupito."
"Death to the D."
"Death to the Gophers."
"They would have done better with a no show."

Even though it wasn't much prettier trying to listen to it on the radio while at work, in a sad way I was glad I wasn't able to watch the game. Since he was able to watch the entire game and since he obviously had a strong opinion on how things went I offered him a guest blogging opportunity on Midwest Sports Rubes. I present to you now, the best man in my wedding next June, my brother, my friend, my cousin... Josho. (edited for content and strong language)

There are two ways a team can lose a football game: either they can be beaten or they can beat themselves. There are also two ways a football team can win a game: they can play better then the other team or they can get lucky.
Today the Minnesota Golden Gophers lost to the Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State played flawlessly. This is the major contributing factor to the Gopher’s loss. As much as critics of Glen Mason hate to hear it when he says it, Penn State is a good football team; the [Gophers] were simply outplayed by better student athletes.
Penn State made plays; the Gophers did not. The Gophers made mistakes; Penn State did not. As a fan of Minnesota football I expected today to see a good match where two good teams met on a battlefield of turf to see who was stronger.
In the end, it was very clear that Penn State was stronger. Minnesota ran into a buzz-saw today. Sure, both teams were undefeated going into this game. Both teams were getting national respect for their level of play recently, but in the end only one team could win. It is just too bad that it wasn’t even close.
As Gopher fans, we are accustomed to speculation and wishful thinking. “If only the Gophers could do (fill in the blank) then we would have acompetitive team.” If only the Gophers would have (fill in the blank) then we would have won the game.” Sometimes we are lucky enough to be able to pinpoint with relative accuracy just exactly what went wrong and what may be a good reason for why the game ended up the way it did.
Even when the Gophers pull through and win important games we hear speak of this nature coming from the celebratory lips of even the most faithful of maroon and gold supporters. Gopher fans can always speculate: “What if Cupito was better? What if the defensive line was stronger?” But today none of those things mattered. This game today was just so cut and dry there is very little room for editorial commentary.
Look at the numbers put up for both teams in this game. Minnesota's defense could not stop Penn State. The Penn State defense had Maroney perfectly dialed in. Cupito and the Minnesota offense could not make anything work against Penn State. The end result: Penn State outplayed Minnesota and was victorious.
That is the end of it. I wish there was more.