Monday, February 27, 2006

Jeff: Da Musings

* The Olympics are officially over. Of course for me, they ended last Wednesday when Canada's hockey team lost. Bad Olympics for North American hockey, but good for North American athletes: USA finished 2nd in the medal count with 25, and Canada finished 3rd with 24. Glorious.

* On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being really hot, ice dancer Tanith Belbin is like a 472. She's also Canadian.

* So KG hit a fan in the face with a basketball yesterday. After a bad call, a frustrated KG threw the ball into the stands in frustration, and hit some poor guy right in the kisser. No truth to the rumor KG thought the guy was Kevin McHale.

*By the way, I guess it's Target Center policy that any fan that's injured has to get carted off on a stretcher, no matter what the injury. The TC crowd booed the guy as he was being carted out. What is this, Philly?

*Speaking of booing, the dumbest move by a fan base last week comes from Cleveland Cavaliers fans booing Lebron James as the Cavs got spanked again by Detwah. Um people? You don't live in Miami or LA or New York. Drew Carey has to be the only person alive who really believes that "Cleveland Rocks". If you guys feel that way about Lebron, trust me, there's 29 other NBA cities that would gladly take him.

* Went to the Wolves/Nuggets game Friday night (big thanks to Megdan- I MEAN Megan & Dan, for the ticket. BTW I saw Dan twice this weekend! TWICE! My mind was officially blown!). Great game, great crowd, but the Wolves could not stop Carmelo (25 pts through 3 quarters, finished with 30). I do believe I mentioned this in the "T25U25" but Melo is coming along quite nicely, thank you. He was hitting shots from all over, and his baseline spin for a two-hand dunk right on Blount was filthy. I am still surprised at how explosive Melo is. Is it possible to be "deceptively explosive?" Because he is. Oh and the three he hit to win the game in overtime, buried in the corner with Trenton Hassell draped all over him, was as clutch as it gets. Melo may beat Lebron to the Finals yet.

* As good as Melo was, the one Nugget I would really like to see in Minnesota is GM Kiki Vandeweigh (or however you spell it). When Kiki took over the Nuggs, they were as cap-strapped and hopeless as the Wolves are now. He completely rebuilt them into the contender they are today (and yes getting Melo in the draft helps). He could be the one guy that could save the Wolves and keep KG, and because of a conflict with the Nuggets owner, he won't be back in Denver next year. But of course that would actually mean firing McHale, and we know there's a better chance of a 90 degree day in February here than that happening.

* Don't have an exact date here, but wanted to give you the heads up that some time this month you WILL be seeing the First Annual MWSR NFL Mock Draft (or at least the 1st round). Plan your lives accordingly, take time off work, quit work, hell do whatever you have to do. We just want you to be prepared for that life-altering event. For those that doubt us, what makes us think we can publish our very own mock draft? We both have the NFL Network. Duh.

* Finally, I'm starting a new thing in the Musings called the "Music of the Musings" or some crap like that, I don't know I was never very good at titles. Anywho, the point is I always have songs running through my head (the Jer was subjected to it Saturday night), and I thought I'd take this space to share a few that I've been enjoying over the week. Feel free to contribute your own. Here's my three for the week...

"Tulips"- Bloc Party
"Blue Orchid"- The White Stripes
"Folsom Prison Blues"- Johnny Cash (from the Love, God & Murder cd)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Jeff: #$%^& @&#^!!?!?!?!?

That kind of sums up my feelings on Team Canada being knocked out of the Olympics in the quarterfinals. My therapist has said it's best for me to write this out, and apparently it's a much more theraputic and healthy way to deal with anger than punching somebody in the back of the head and driving them face first into the ice. Who would have thunk it, eh? So here's my basic assessment of what went wrong for Team Canada at the Olympics. If you don't care about Canadian hockey, I'll gladly cross-check you face-first into the ice...oh wait, I'm not supposed to do that anymore.

GOALTENDING: Martin Brodeur is the best in the world, and proved it. His backup, Bobby Luongo, was sensational in his 2 appearances.
Grade: A++
DEFENSE: Scott Niedermeyer was certainly missed, as was big Ed Jovanoski. However, other than taxi-squad replacement Bryan McCabe, Canada's D men played well. In their 6 games, Canada gave up only 11 goals, 2nd best in the tourney. The speed and size of rookie Dion Phanuef of the Calgary Flames would have been a welcome addition too.
Grade: B
OFFENSE: Hmmmm so 3 goals in the last 4 games, 2 of which were flukes, and Gretzky decided to leave 7 of the NHL's top 25 scorers at home. Anyone else see a connection there? For a team that could not score, that just might be your issue. Name a Canadian forward that played well- I dare you! Gretzky chose some guys that had gold medals and world championships, but were not having good NHL seasons before the Olympics started. Bertuzzi, Draper, St Louis, Richards, Smyth and Nash continued to play below expectations. And to make it worse, your "stars" like Sakic, Thornton, Iginla, Gagne, Heatley, and Lecavalier give you 4 GOALS TOTAL!?!?!?! Russian super rookie Alex Ovechkin (my new favorite player to watch by the way. In the Canada game, when he had the puck it looked like everyone else was in slow motion.) had more goals than all those guys COMBINED!!! And can you imagine if Yzerman and Lemieux had accepted their invites? This team would have been even older and slower!!!
grade: what's lower than an F-?

Look it's tough to criticize Gretzky because he rebuilt Canada hockey after the debacle in Nagano in '98, bringing leadership and responsibility to the team, and it resulted in the country's first gold medal in 50 years. Gretz is old school and favors experience over the best players, but that thinking is the biggest reason Canada will be watching the semi-finals today instead of playing in them. In these short tournaments, yes there's a lot of pressure and experience would help, but the keys are 1) goaltending (never a problem for Canada), and 2) chemistry. Logic would tell you that guys who are playing well in the NHL when the Olympics start are going to have a much better chance of continuing to play well than guys who weren't.

Ok, that feels better, although only a little bit.

A couple of quick non-hockey thoughts:
* yes the Knicks are insane for bringing in Stevie Franchise-Killer. I thought that Isiah might swing Marbury to the Wolves, but it looks like he's going to try an idea that nobody, including himself, thinks will work. When asked about pairing the two me-first players in the same backcourt, Isiah's response was "it's crazy enough that it might work." Boy there's a shot of confidence. So glad I'm not a Knicks fan.
* also, the Knicks are able to make trades like this because they make obscene amounts of money. The Knicks themselves are the most profitable team in the NBA, and the company that owns them, Cablevision, has literally millions of cable subscribers a month paying their bills. Money is not an issue at MSG- competence certainly is.
* Strib this morning says that Daunte doesn't want to be traded, and the Vikings never shopped him after all. That's funny because today's Miami Herald tells a much different story.

* Finally, you heard it here first: Miami Dolphins for Super Bowl XXI. ESPN's John Clayton is reporting the Dolphins will throw obscene amounts of money at QB Drew Brees, and that San Diego will not match. Forget Bill Belichek, Nick Saban is the best coach/decision maker in football right now. In 2 seasons he'll have turned that team from doormat to Super Bowl contender. Miami won 9 games without a decent QB last year, and now they're going to get one of the 6 best in the league. This also means the Chargers are almost as crazy as the Knicks. I don't care how good you THINK Philip Rivers can be, you KNOW Brees is a Pro Bowl QB. Just plain dumb.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Jeremy: Funny quote

I got one of those emails today where they ask kids questions and then you get to read the funny answers. With my upcoming nuptuals in mind, this was my favorite one:

You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
-- Alan, age 10

That's funny stuff. I especially love that the kid doesn't say that she should like sports too, he just says "she should like it that you like sports."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Jeff: The Monday Musings

* I was one of, probably, 4 people to watch and enjoy the NBA All-star festivities over the weekend. The Andre Igoudala dunk from behind the backboard was one of the craziest things I've ever seen. The fact he hit HIS FACE on the backboard on his first attempt, well, if I had a nickel for everytime that happened to me...ok, ok I'd have no nickels.

* I said it in the Top 25 NBA players post, and I'll say it again: as an NBA fan I'm concerned about Lebron's development. I swear he and Kobe switched bodies last night: Kobe was passing up open shots, while Lebron was going 1-on-5 the whole night. And yes he was the highest scoring player from the East, but he was NOT the MVP, as the East made their huge comeback in the third quarter with Lebron seated firmly on the bench- where he still managed to shoot 7 times (or maybe I just imagined that). LBJ was so hyped coming into the league because he was supposed to be an all-around player, not a bigger version of Kobe. What happened to the "more athletic, HIV-free Magic Johnson" Lebron was supposed to be?

* speaking of concern, I'm well beyond that point with Olympic hockey. Just not a good time to be a North American hockey fan right now, but hey, at least the American team has an excuse: they're just not that good. USA hockey is in a transition, as the "stars" like Mike Modano, Chris Chelios and others are hitting the twilight of their careers, and the guys in their late 20's and early 30's, like Brian Rolston and Eric Cole, are good but not great players. However, the USA has some of the best, if not THE best, collection of hockey talent age 17-21 in the world right now. The last few NHL drafts are seeing record numbers of American-born players not only going in the first round, but going early. The 2006 draft should be the first time ever two Americans have been taken with the first two picks, as the U's Phil Kessell, and Minnesotan National U-18 defensemen Erik Johnson are battling it out for the top spot. For the 2010 games in Vancouver (assuming NHL'ers as still playing in the Olympics), USA should be right back in the medal hunt.
As for Canada, I wish I had an answer, but I don't. All the excuses I can come up with, be it jet-lag, tired legs from playing so much in the NHL, or lack of chemistry, apply to all the other big hockey countries, and yet it's not affecting them as much. Part of the problem could be one of too many options: the Canadians had so many quality players to choose from, they were bound to leave some deserving guys at home. Wayne Gretzky (by the way, I haven't commented on the gambling thing, because, as is being reported now, Gretzky and his wife did nothing wrong, and won't be charged. It's a non story, so leave The Great One alone) chose to take some more experienced guys who were not playing well when the team was selected in December, like Bertuzzi, Ryan Smyth, Draper, and Martin St Louis, instead of inexperienced youngsters like Eric Staal, Jason Spezza, and Sidney Crosby, who were on fire before the tournament started. I also think, as was pointed out during the broadcast of Canada's loss to Finland, that despite Canada's superior depth, the loss of defensemen Scott Niedermeyer was huge. Niedermeyer is one of the game's top players, and one of the best skaters, and on the bigger sheet, his presence has been greatly missed.

* If I had to pick a favorite to win Gold, I'd take the Russians. Nobody has more skill up front, and their goaltending has been solid. By the way, if you're wondering why I can't get back into Canada, it's because of comments like this: I don't care how much hype Sidney Crosby receives, Russian Alexandre Ovechkin is a better player than Crosby. If I could select any player in the world to build a team around, I'd take Ovechkin over anybody else. And by the way, for you Americans, I think Kessel's got a very solid chance to be better than Crosby too. Canada will now revoke my citizenship.

* Adam Stache Morrison strikes again: Gonzaga was down at the half Saturday night to Loyola, and Morrison had just 5 pts. Head Coach Mark Few's halftime speech went like this: "Adam, shoot the ball!!!" And so he did, scoring 37 in the 2nd half, including 8 of 10 from 3 point range, to finish with 44 points for the game and a 79-70 Gonzaga win.

* Last, and certainly not least, congratulations to the driver who won the Daytona 500 yesterday. A huge accomplishment by that guy, turning left a lot faster and better than anybody else. Needless to say I was so excited for the event, I didn't watch a single solitary second of it.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Jeremy: Love to Hate

I was listening to ESPN Radio this morning and the guy hosting the show (I have no idea who is was and I can't seem to figure it out) was discussing an interesting topic that I thought I'd take a stab at. He was talking about people in sports, that for one reason or another, people hate. Athletes, owners, commissioners, referees, etc. It's not something we think about often, but we know the people that strike a negative chord with us, no matter the reason. (Hate is a strong word, and my Mom told me I should never use it to describe another person... sorry Mom... for the sake of dramatics I'll continue to use it.)I thought, for my own enjoyment, I'd list my favorite sports personalities to hate and why, in no particular order.

*George Steinbrenner - I'm sure I've said this before, but in my opinion the Yankees represent everything that is wrong in sports, and Steinbrenner is the grand marshall of that parade. He's willing to pay ridiculous amounts of money for any player he wants, because he knows that he's going to make twice that amount off of t.v. and jersey revenue. I don't know what's worse, the fact that he'll pay those salaries or that the players keep showing a quick willingness to accept them. I'll give Steinbrenner one thing: the system allows him to run his team the way that he does, and he does it better than anyone else... that doesn't mean we have to like him.

*Kobe Bryant - I never liked him. I never liked the comparisons to KG, I never liked his smug swagger, I never liked his "me first" attitude, and I never liked that he had so much trouble with Shaq. Kobe has multiple rings, and he would never have gotten any of them without The Diesel in the post. He has always carried himself like he believed he was above everything going on around him, and he proved it with his extra-marital activities in Colorado awhile back. Unfortunately for the Kobe haters he's one of the top 3 players in the game right now and if you like scorers, there's nobody who is more fun to watch.

*Bobby Knight - I would call this a bit of a love/hate for me. I hate Knight because, like Kobe, I think he feels like he's above the law. But having said that... I'd love to see him coaching my team. He's a throw-back, as task-master and a teacher. No matter what you think of him as a person (which might be not much) he's still a great college basketball coach.

*Bud Selig - My opinion that baseball is the most screwed up professional sport is well-documented. I wouldn't say that I blame Bud Selig for that, but I would certainly blame him for being seemingly unwilling to do anything to make it better. I understand that the players union would have a fit if Selig tried to introduce a salary cap, but how does Selig not see that this would be the best way to save the competitiveness of the game? Instead of getting a handle one how much money the owners are paying the players Selig talks about contracting teams that aren't doing well financially. And how can he expect all of these teams to do well financially when the playing field is not level?

*Terrell Owens - If there's anyone is sports who seems like he wants to be hated, it's Owens. T.O. is the poster-child for the entitled athlete, for the players who think they always deserve something more for what they do on the field, no matter what they already have. Unfortunately he's also one of the top 5 most dangerous offensive weapons in the game. If the guy never played another down in the NFL I don't know if anyone would miss him, but behind Barry Sanders and Bo Jackson he would be number two on the list of "What if..." NFL players. I can dream can't I?

*Sean Salisbury - Let's get something strait: this guy played quarterback for the Vikings in the early 90's... EVERYBODY played quarterback for the Vikings in the early 90's. His accolades as a player have nothing to do with his prowess as an analyst, and nothing to do with my feelings about him. As an analyst he is annoying, he is over-bearing, he is rude, he is a know-it-all, and the sound of his voice makes me cringe.

*Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon, Randy Johnson... you get the idea - anybody who cut their teeth with a MLB team and then sold their soul to the devil himself to be overpaid by the Yankees deserves to be sucker-punched in the stomach. Okay, okay, I get it, all together now: IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT THE MONEY! I don't care. It sucks. It makes me sick, and I will never, ever, be okay with it.

*Iowa Hawkeye fans - Once, in Iowa City for a Gopher football game against the Hawkeyes, I literally feared for my life. I am not even joking about this. I really thought that if things continued to get out of hand I might not make it out of Kinnick Stadium alive. Hawkeye fans are rabid (which isn't, in and of itself, necessarily a bad thing) to the point of being rude, and being jerks. They take all of the fun out of friendly trash-talking. Usually while tailgating at Gopher games I like to rib the opposing fans a bit, and usually everyone has a good time with it, but I won't even talk to the Hawkeye fans. There's a chant we love: "WHO HATES IOWA??? . . . WE HATE IOWA!!!" I think for many Gopher fans it's not so much a chant as it is a way of life.

That was fun... this might not be the last you hear of this topic... Jeffrick, you got anything?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Jeff: Bring Back Marbury

Is there another state in the union that always has more drama surrounding their pro sports teams than Minnesota? It may be cold here, but it's certainly never dull. We'll save Daunte-gate for next week, as the team has until early March to decide what to do with him (I said it on this site in mid January and I'll say it again- keeping him for the 2006 season is the smartest thing to do). The NBA trade deadline is next Thursday, giving teams now less than a week to revamp rosters for a playoff run- or a run at Adam Morrison in the draft lottery. Rumblings continue today in the Strib that the T-Pups are still looking to deal, and Stephon Marbury's name keeps popping up. At this point in time, I think getting Starbury is a move the Wolves HAVE to make. Allow me to explain... (salaries are, of course, courtesy of hoopshype)

Kevin Garnett's contract runs out in the summer of 2009, giving him 3 more seasons in Minnesota after this one (assuming he chooses to stay that long, of course). Thanks to your plucky VP of basketball operations, the Wolves are essentially capped out through the remainder of his deal. The salary cap will hover around $60 million a year through 2009. Garnett makes $18 mill this year, and each year through '09, his contract goes up $2 mill, meaning he'll make on average about $23 mill through the end of his deal, or a little more than a third of the team's cap. Got that so far? Added to that are four guys whose contracts run at least as long as Garnett's, and who, by themselves, are completely untradeable: C Mark Blount (4 MORE YEARS after this, with a salary now of $6 million, and will finish close to $8 mill per year), G Troy Hudson (also 4 more yrs, starting at $5.5 now and finishing at $6.5 per year), G Marko Jaric (signed through 2011!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! $5 mill per now, and $7.5 by '11. And by the way, the Jaric deal McHale made was the 2nd worst in the history of Minnesota sports behind only the Herschel Deal. Just so you know), and G Trent Hassell (who makes a reasonable $4.35 mill per year, but he gets that EVERY year through 2010).

On average that's about $20 mill a season on the low end, and as high as $24 mill per year by 2009. Combined with Garnett's $20-$24 mill per season, even my math tells you that's close to $50 mill of your cap with those 5 guys right there. Add to that Dick Davis' $6.5 per season through '08, Mark Madsen stealing $2.5 mill per year through like 2065, and Rashad McCants and your bench guys, and there's your entire salary cap tied up every year through the end of Garnett's deal. Congratulations, Wolves fans: you're screwed!

And not to kick you while you're down, but because of the Jaric trade and Celtics deal, you'll only have 2 of your 4 first round picks. The team, as currently constructed, is not a championship contender. Instead the Wolves are a borderline playoff team, who, when they actually do get to use those draft picks, will probably be picking somewhere in the teens. So you can't add much through the draft, and you can't add the alpha-dog Garnett needs to run with through free agency because you simply don't have the cap room. What do you do?

You roll the dice and deal Jaric, Hassell, and hopefully Blount or Hudson for Marbury. Steph and KG are on record, multiple times might I add, that they wish Steph wouldn't have left and that they'd get another shot together. Could this go down in flames? Absolutely. But it's either take the big gamble, or you're completely starting over. I'd like to say there's better options, but when Kevin McHale is running your team, this is as close to "good" options are you're going to get. If anybody else has a better idea, I'm listening.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Jeremy:... Why not? Thursday too.

*I was watching some Olympic coverage and I saw some highlights of the men's doubles luge event. Have you seen this? Were you like me, did you feel uncomfortable when you saw it? I'm not sure what would be worse, being the guy on top, or the guy on the bottom. I can't, of course, confirm this, but I heard there's a rumor flying around the internet that during the next Winter Olympics they are going to change the name of the event to Brokeback Luge.

*Can the NFL force owners into retirement? Because I think that this is the best option for Raiders owner Al Davis. I'm glad that Art Shell got another chance to coach an NFL team, even if it is the same team that he coached in his first stint in which he was run out of town for no apparent reason, but he was Davis' last choice. It's like all of the available coaches were lined up for a kickball game, the good ones got chosen early, and the rest decided to go play on the jungle-gym or the swings when they realized the only spot left was the Raiders. Except for Art Shell, who was still standing there hoping to get picked to play. Like I said concerning Davis, at this point nobody wants to coach for the guy, pretty soon nobody is going to want to play for the guy, and the only reason he still has an NFL team at all is because his fan base is a bunch of belligerent drunks who just like wearing black and having an excuse to get drunk and paint their faces, and who apparently have a ridiculous amount of disposable income.

*I can't quite decide what to make of the whole Daunte Culpeppar situation. On the one hand, if the guy wants out, I don't blame him. He is playing in the ONE market in the entire country that doesn't see him as one of the top 5 quarterbacks in the league. On the other hand, the guy is really forcing the Vikings to make a decision that they shouldn't have to make until they see the way his knee is going to hold up. I'm not excited about the prospect of Brad Johnson being our only option for a starting quarterback going into next season. If they Vikings do trade Daunte I won't be heartbroken, but they best get something better in return than they got for Moss.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Jeremy: Jeff Gets Mondays, I'll Take Tuesday

Muse on this Jeffrick... I'M BACK!

*Okay, I was never really gone, but Jeffrick is correct, wedding planning and the like has certainly preoccupied much of my time lately. To the two people who look for me to write regularly (family) and the two guys from Albquerqe that I pay to read, I'm sorry. (Side note: do you realize that we are getting between 50-100 hits on this blog per week and besides Jeff and I and two members of my family I literally have NO idea who reads this blog.)

*Like Jeff I didn't watch the Pro Bowl. In fact, I even went so far as to turn the channel when the highlights came on ESPN. Not only do I not care about the game, I don't even care who makes the team. While the NFL is the most successful professional sports league in the world, and while the NFL has the best and most successful championship game in all of sports, they have, without question, the worst all-star type game, and it's not even close. And (my sister loves this phrase) therein lies the rub: there's really nothing the NFL can do to make it better. The problem with the Pro Bowl is that it's after the Super Bowl, after the entire meaningful season is over. Once the final whistle is blown on the Super Bowl the average football fan doesn't care, and the die-hard football fans (no matter how much ESPN pushes it down our throats that it's still football and it's the final game of the season) don't care either. On top of that, like Jeff mentioned, the players don't even care and many of them don't even want to go. Can you imagine the media nightmare that would surround the NFL if a Pro Bowler like Chad Johnson or Randy Moss or Shaun Alexander suffered a career ending injury in the Pro Bowl? I'm with Jeff, name the Pro Bowl teams, and don't even bother playing the game. Or better yet, name the Pro Bowl teams, have EA Sports create teams with those players on Madden for the XBox 360 (which I hear is amazing), and televise the Madden version of the Pro Bowl. Now THAT I might watch.

*I've been giving some thought to the whole hockey gambling ring led by Rick Tocchet. I can't decide why I should care that hockey players want to, or are, betting on football, baseball, etc. Let me be clear: I think that what Rich Tocchet did was wrong, and he should be punished for it, but I just don't think I care. I would venture to guess the wife of the greatest player to ever play the game wasn't involved in the whole ordeal we may well have already forgotten about it.

*A note on the T'Wolves: Last week my cousin called my from Phoenix to tell me that he was there to watch the Wolves take on the Suns. At the time I said this: "well, if you want to have a good time, you might as well cheer for the Suns." Later in the evening I regreted having said that and I felt like the worst kind of fair-weather fan. To everyone who expects me to be a blind, biased, homer, I'm sorry, I let you down. Having said that... the Wolves have lost their last three games in a row, all at home, to the Utah Jazz, New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, and the Toronto Raptors. Please re-read that last sentance until it really sinks in.... it's time to board up the windows.

*If anybody knows of how I can register my fiance and I for wedding gifts with the Golden Gopher ticket office please let me know.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Jeff: Back with the Monday Musings

- I didn't watch a single solitary second of the Pro Bowl. I don't think I'm alone. What would be wrong with just naming the team, and not playing it? Not only do people not watch, most players don't even want to go. It would be nice if they'd actually wait until AFTER the regular seasons ends to name the team, rather than week 16. Just a thought.

- I did watch a bit of the NFL Network during the week, where Bungles receiver Chad Johnson walked around the NFC practice, telling guys there was nobody that could stop him. And nobody on the NFC team disagreed.

- Wednesday will be the best day of the week: Mariners pitchers and catchers report down in Peoria, AZ (Twinkies report Sunday in Sarasota, FL), and it's also the start of Olympic men's hockey (Canada plays at 6am vs. Italy. Yes, I will be up at 5:45, and watching until I leave for work at 7:15. Draw your own conclusions about what that says about my life)

- I'm all for women's athletics, but what is the point of women's hockey? There are two nations that are good at this sport: Canada and the USA. The Canadians have outscored their first two opponents 28-0. The Americans have outscored theirs 11-0. I watched a few minutes of the Canada/Italy game (Canada won 16-0), and it was like the Italian team had never played the game before. Hell, maybe they hadn't. If you're going to hold this tourney, have the "gold medal bracket" for the USA and Canada and the "maybe we'll have a hope in hell in 80 years" bracket for everybody else. Honestly, it's like if the summer Olympics allowed American football: THe USA would win 100-0 in every game, the Canadian team would beat everybody else by at least 3 TD's, and when they played in the gold medal game, Canada would score once... ok, no they wouldn't, it would still be 100-0. The only good thing the European teams would have would be kickers. Yippee. Would anybody support this? Of course not, so why is this allowed in women's hockey??

- I think snowboarders like TheJer are slackers that need to get real jobs and learn to fly down mountains on two skis like God intended (or I'm jealous that I'm can't snowboard). I do however think it's very cool that the snowboarder punks have special pockets for their IPod built into their jackets. THey have controls built into the wrists them so they can change songs on the fly, with speakers built into the hoods. If I'm a snowboarder and I want to mess with some other dude, I steal his Ipod right before his run, and download nothing but Anne Murray or Celine Dion. That's be narly. Or radical. Or whatever snowboarders say.

- Sammy Sosa wants a million dollars from the Warshington Nayshunals (that's how a guy I used to work with pronounced it, so that's how I'm pronouncing it from now on) to play this year. The club wants to pay him about half of that. Remember when Sammy was at the steroid hearings and didn't answer any questions because he pretended not to understand english? If I'm the Nayshunals GM, I'm telling him "sorry, no speak Sammy. No comprende 'million dollars'" just to see how he likes it.

- If I have to say this every week until the NFL draft before people catch on, so be it: the Vikings should do what it takes to draft Lendale White, and they shouldn't trade or cut Daunte Culpepper unless he makes it absolutely clear he wants out.

- Anyone seen The Jer? Wedding planning has swallowed him whole. I'm worried he may never post again. So are the 4 regular readers of this site.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Jeff: Hello Twins Fans

Twins fans, can I have a quick word with you please? I'm Jeff, and I'm an outsider. I'm not a Minnesotan, which means I don't know what it's like to be "one of us", and it also means I'll never be able to run a pro basketball franchise into the ground and still have people say what a nice guy I am (that whistle you heard in the background was just the bitter train rolling through Jefftown). I'm not a Twins fan (Seattle Mariners fan since '89. OH if I only knew at 9 how such a simple decision could affect the rest of my life), but do find myself cheering for the Twinkies when it doesn't affect the M's (which really hasn't been a problem these last few years). As an outsider, I just wanted to say I'm starting to get worried about the mindset of Twins fans, at least if the article in the strib yesterday by Nick Coleman is any indication of how some of you are feeling right now.
COleman's basic message was that unless the Twins offer to pay for a new stadium, they can take their team and shove it where the walleye swim (or something like that). My favorite line was this one:
"Minnesotans are sensible people and they would approve a stadium plan that makes sense. They haven't seen one yet."
Um Nick, and any other Twins fans who share this sentiment? You're going to see the Twins leave town before you see a "deal that makes sense". Welcome to pro sports, friends, where fans get screwed. It's a matter of leverage, and in the case of Twins fans, they have none. New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner is footing the entire bill for a brand new stadium. Why? He has to. The man is making more money than God in the largest media market in the country, and he knows and Yankee fans know that he can't make more money in any other market. It's a wise decision to cough up massive amounts of money because he'll make that back 10-fold.
That is the exception, ladies and gentlemen, not the rule. Boston or Chicago (the Northside, that is) are the only other cities where owners could and should pay for the ballparks. Everyone else, including Minnesota, is going to have to pay out the nose to keep their team. If they don't like it, start cheering for the Yankees. As long as there's an open market of comparable size available (Viva Las Vegas, anyone?), the Twins are a threat to move if tax payers don't pay for a new stadium.
Now don't get me wrong here, I am NOT pro-owner. I think it's just as ridiculous as you do that billionaires making tons of money on sports franchises are taking tax payer dollars away from education, highways, and massive military spending (whoops, that's the federal government, sorry bout that) to spend on sports. I don't think it's right, but if you want to keep the Twins, that's how it's going to have to be. Ol' Tightwad Carl's buddy, Commissioner Bud, is on his side, not yours. He was fully ready to contract the Twins, so he won't have any problem letting his pal move the team to Vegas or Portland or Charlotte if it means him making more money. The owners won't stop him either, because it's in their best interests for them all to make the most money possible.
As a Mariners fan, I've been in this situation. In the mid-'90's, the team threatened to move if the city of Seattle didn't cough up a new stadium. The fans relented, we got one of the best ballparks in baseball, and Seattle is now a baseball town. Of course this doesn't guarantee you success. Three of the best players of the last two decades, Griffey, The Unit and A-Rod, all left town, and we currently have a $90 million-plus payroll and will probably finish last in the AL West- for the third year in a row. But at least we still have a team. Hey I agree that Minnesotans are sensible, and that they do know a good deal when the see one. But if you want to wait for that "good deal" to come along, while you're waiting the moving trucks will be taking your Twins off to some other town. I'm not saying it's right, but that's just how it is. Welcome to being a sports fan.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Jeff: Top 10

10. Andrei Kirilenko, F, Utah Jazz, 6'9, 225lbs, 24 yrs, 6yrs/$86.4 million, 38.2mpg, 15.6 ppg, 8.4reb, 4.4 apg, 1.69 stl, 2.75 blk, 20.43 PER
A 5 stat guy that does everything for you-- except lead. Hey I'd love to have this guy on my team doing anything I asked, but I have two problems: he's not a go-to guy, and he's making $86 MILLION FOR THE NEXT 6 YEARS!!!! AK47 at $50 mill? Love him. At $86 mill? Hmmmm not so sure. Great young talent who's underappreciated and overpaid. Coolest nickname in the league, though.

9. Gilbert Arenas, G, Washington Wizards, 6'4, 210lbs, 24 yrs, 4yrs/$46.2 million, 41.8mpg, 27.9 ppg, 3.7 reb, 5.9 apg, 1.8 stl, 22.72 PER
Wow, anybody else surprised by his scoring this year? A me-first type of point, but the 5.9 assists is respectable, and the 27.9 ppg and over 40 minutes a nice more than makes up for it. A reasonable contract for one of the 5 best points in the league. Memo to K. McHale: this is what can happen when you use your 2nd round pick on talent instead of an overrated, undersized Big 10 player. Just throwing it out there.

8. Chris Paul, G, New Orleans/Oklahoma City/Okabogee Hornest, 6'0, 175lbs, 20 yrs, 5 yrs/$20.8 million, 36 mpg, 16.3 ppg, 5.7 reb, 7.8 apg, 2.2 stl, 22.14 PER,
Where to even start with this kid? What impresses you most? THe assists? Rebounds? steals? An almost 3-1 assist-turnover ration? Yes he's only 6'0, but he's not as reckless going to the rim as Iverson, so I think his frame can hold-up. The only thing left for him to do to complete the Isiah Thomas comparison is win 2 titles, get left off the Olympic team, and single-handedly destroy an entire minor league, AND a prominent NBA franchise. I'm personally hoping the last two end up being the WNBA (wait who am I kidding? The CBA was WAY better than the WNBA!) and the Lakers.

7. Carmelo Anthony, F, Denver Nuggets, 6'8, 230lbs, 21 yrs, 3 yrs/$14.6 million, 36.6 mpg, 25.7 ppg, 5.3 reb, 1.22 stl, 21.43 PER
Yeah the age is not a typo there. In his 3 year career he's been labeled NBA savior, then a baby, and now "The New Bernard King". It was unfair to compare the kid to Lebron, only because so few people on planet earth have Lebron's maturity at 18 or 19. Melo's taken some time to mature, and has taken his lumps for it, but I honestly think he's better off without the Lebron comparisons now. He's a lethal scorer who wants and makes big shots, and believe it or not, has been much more clutch than LBJ early in their careers. Whoops, there's another Lebron comparison.
One other comment: Yes, Joe Dumars has built the NBA's best team in Detroit, but if I'm a Pistons fan, I'd still be upset we passed on Melo for $%^&ing Darko! Dumars can hum and haw all he wants about how "we had Tayshaun already" and "where he start on this team" and everything else. Stop it. You had the #2 pick in the draft and you're getting NOTHING from him. No team in basketball history couldn't use a 20 point-a-game scorer. With Melo the Pistons would be making a serious run at 80 wins- I'm not kidding. As the Jer would say "I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin.'"

6. Greg Oden, C, Lawrence North High School (Indianapolis, IN), 7'0, 245lbs, 18yrs

Being called by people smarter than me the best high school center since Shaquille O'Neal (remember Tim Duncan, from the Virgin Islands, was relatively unknown at the time). Could he just as easily be the next Eddy Curry as the next David Robinson? Absolutely, but the potential of being a once-in-generation center puts him this high. Thanks to the new draft rule, we'll all get a good look at him at Ohio State next year when he should destroy the Big 10 before going to the draft. If New Orleans/Oklahoma/Aberdeen was smart, Chris Paul would fake an injury next year to give them the best shot at him. Paul and Oden together? Wow. Instead he'll probably be wasted on the Raptors. Thanks to Isiah Thomas, at least the Knicks can't get him.

5. Chris Bosh, F/C, Toronto Raptors, 6'10. 230lbs, 21 yrs, 3 yrs/$13.3 million, 38.9 pmg, 22.9 ppg, 9.2 reb, 1.08 blk, 23.69 PER
If I didn't loathe Toronto as much as I do, I'd also feel sorry for any basketball fans they have there. First Vince Carter quits on them, they get literally nothing for him, and then he turns back into an allstar. Now Chris Bosh is making the leap just in time for Raptors fans to realize there's absolutely no way he'll resign there. Honestly, what has a better chance of happening: Chris Bosh resigning with the Raptors, or Canada renouncing beer? We're maybe 5 years away from contracting the Raptors, and I think we should take New Orleans/Oklahoma/Tombstone, and Orlando down with them. But of course that makes WAY too much sense to ever happen.

4. Dwight Howard, F/C, Orlando Magic, 6'11, 240 lbs, 20 yrs, 4 yrs/$23.2 million, 37 mpg, 15.3 ppg, 12.5 reb, 1.57 blk, 19.37 PER
Two words: "Man Child." Or "Moses Malone". Hey I'll admit I thought Orlando should have gone with the sure thing and taken Okafor instead of Howard. You just never know with high school kids how hard they're going to work until AFTER they've signed a 5 year guaranteed deal. Howard showed from day 1 he's the real deal, and because of the potential, high school kids keep getting taken so high. But as NBA GM, I'd still be nervous. Not the case with Howard though, a double-double machine for the next decade. Can he be the go-to guy, and become a 20-15 behemouth? Time will tell, but we know if it doesn't happen, it won't be because of a lack of effort.

3. Dwayne Wade, G, Miami Heat, 6'4, 212 lbs, 24yrs, 3 yrs/$11.8 million, 39mpg, 27 ppg, 5.9 reb, 6.9 ast, 2.0 stl, 28.01 PER
To me, the top 3 guys are head and shoulders better than anybody else on the list, but there's not much separating them from each other. Wade's "only" the third best player despite the fact he's proven more than the other two guys. He not only puts up monster numbers in the regular season, but proved last post-season he's capable of carrying a team by himself. Shaq was right when he said "this is Dwayne Wade's team". Too bad Shaq didn't tell that to Pat Riley, who went out and got Jason Williams and Antoine Walker to take shots away from Wade. Look when you have two dominant players, you surround them with complimentary guys, NOT selfish ball-hogging, no-talent ass-clowns. Not only that, he clogged up the salary cap for the next 3 years. Good thing Dwayne will only be 27 when they get some flexibility back.

2. Amare Stoudamire, F, Phoenix Suns, 6'10, 245 lbs, 23 yrs, 6 yrs/$75.2 million, 36.1 mpg, 26.0 ppg, 8.9 reb, 1.6 blk, 26.71 PER
Obviously this is contigent on his knee healing, and him returning to 100% health. He's due back in March, and considering the Suns are leading the Pacific with a solid hold on the #2 seed, if I'm Phoenix I'm keeping him out till April. Give him two weeks to get in shape, and then be ready to go for the playoffs. At just 23, he's ready to overtake Duncan as the league's best big man, and considering he AVERAGED almost 38 & 10 in the western conference finals loss to the Spurs last year, I don't think that's going out on a limb. IF he's healthy for the playoffs, I think they've got a great shot to knock off the Spurs.

1. Lebron James, G, Cleveland Cavaliers, 6'8, 240lbs, 21 yrs, 3 yrs/$21.1 million, 41.8 mpg, 30.9 ppg, 6.9 reb, 6.5 ast, 1.64 stl, 28.70 PER
You were expecting Darko? Three years in it's safe to say he's the best combination of size and skill we've ever seen. The question now should be: can you teach a killer instinct? Thus far in his career, we haven't seen it, and I know a lot of things come with age, but I don't know if that will to dominate is one of them. He hasn't had a great supporting cast in the past, and he certainly has less to work with than others even this year. Basketball fans love him for his passing talents, but those have diminished as his scoring has gone up, yet when the game's on the line, he seems more apt to pass instead of score. Am I wrong? I hope so, and this post-season will be VERY telling for me on just whether King James really can challenge MJ as the greatest of all-time. He's got the ability, but does he have the will? Will he be MJ, or the NBA's version of Peyton Manning/A-Rod?