Saturday, April 29, 2006

Jeremy: Dirty Pictures?

Jeffrick is fond of stating his belief that Kevin McHale must have some dirty pictures of Glen Taylor, or at least some kind of bribary technique that keeps Boss Taylor firmly in McHale's corner. It's an interesting theory for sure.
Well, I'm beginning to wonder whether Brad Radke might not have some equally incriminating pictures in his possession of Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire.
Let's quickly look at how Radke's season is going. Radke is 2-3, with an 8.89 ERA. He has given up at least 4 runs in each of his first 5 starts, 6 runs in each of his last three starts, and has allowed 10 homeruns. Friday night in Detroit, perhaps his most inept start of the year, Radke gave up 9 hits, 6 earned runs and 2 homeruns in 2 1/3 innings.
Now I'm not blaming the Twins problems on Brad Radke. Everybody knows that the pitching staff is squarly to blame for why this team has played from behind in every game so far this season, and surely Radke is not the only problem. Silva and Lohse each have ERA's over 8 as well.
But I just cannot seem to figure out why Terry Ryan and Gardie continue to speak so highly about Brad Radke.
I expect Radke to continue to do his best Glen Mason impression after a bad start: "I thought I threw the ball OK. A couple ground balls here, ground balls there. I gave up a couple home runs, but I thought those two pitches were decent pitches."
But even Gardie talks about Radke with glowing terms after a miserable outing: "It's Brad Radke. I've always had the utmost confidence in him, and I always will. When we've got Brad Radke on the mound, I always feel very good about our chances to win. And it hasn't changed. Until the day he retires, it won't change for me."
So, what exactly were you doing that was so incriminating in those dirty pictures that Brad has of you Ron?
I would like to point you to Gardie's first sentence, "It's Brad Radke." Yes, Gardie, thank you. It IS Brad Radke, and that is exactly why we are worried. Why aren't you?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Jeff: Happy Day-Before-the-Draft

...I would be the first to agree with those who say that the NFL draft is the most overrated event in sports, and yet I still find myself giddy in anticipation for tomorrow's precedings from Radio City Music Hall in NYC. Honestly, after the TExans taking Reggie Bush #1, nobody has any real idea what happens next. Looking back at past drafts, like with my list of first round QB's, you know there's going to be more busts than stars in this draft, and yet there's 8 legit uberprospects, and a bevy more interesting guys further down. Of the top 8 or 9, history tells us only a few of them will turn into All-Pros, and yet I can't find much fault or weakness in any of them!! I'd say Leinart or Young will have the best chance of the top 8 guys to fail just because the expectations on them both are SO ridiculously high. I'm starting to believe all this talk that Vince Young really will get taken by the Titans at #3, but I can't imagine the Jets, who are DYING for a marquee player, would pass on Leinart if he's available. THere could be 1000 Eli vs. Leinart stories before trainig camp. Would Ferguson, the big ol' LT be smarter pick? Undoubtedly, but when you play in New York, and try to run a team there, you need to go big or go home.

...safest pick in the top 10 is Ferguson, but since O-Linemen never rookies of the year, I still stand by my prediction from January that Lendale White will be the Offensive Rookie of the Year for 2006. If he goes to Carolina or Pittsburgh he'll could be a Pro Bowler.

...My Defensive ROY, and I'm certainly not alone on this one, is AJ Hawk, the LB from Ohio State. It kills me to say that too because you just KNOW he's going to Green Bay. It's bad enough we have to deal with Urlacher twice a year, and now we're going to get another sideline-to-sideline tackling machine in Cheeseland too.

...I have no idea what the Vikings will do at 17, and even worse, I have no idea what I WANT them to do!! Ideally, I'd like to see Cutler fall to them, but if not, I think LB Chad Greenway from Iowa would be a great pick. Sure, he didn't have great workout numbers or "measurables" but the guy was incredibly productive for 4 years in the Big 10, and for me that just might count for something. From a PR standpoint I think it'd also be a great guy to push to the fans, as the Vikes really don't have a very identifiable team right now. For years we've had some of the best jersey sellers in the league like Moss or Culpepper, but now? Honestly, if you were going to go out and buy one of those new Vikings jerseys (which i don't mind at all, by the way. Much less horrific than I thought they'd be), what player are you getting? Birk? Brad Johnson? Koren Robinson? Kevin Williams? I'll be very interested to see who the team leader in jersey sales is this year, and whether that guy will end up being one of tomorrow's or Sunday's draftees.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Jeff: Top 20 NFL QB's

BRETT FAVRE IS COMING BACK!!! I know, I know, what were the chances of the guy taking all offseason to make his decision so all the attention can be focused on him? It's not like he's done this the past 5 years or anything. It'll be 2011 (when Favre will be throwing 39 INT's a year) and he's still going to be asking himself whether he's got the passion or the love of the game or as big an ego as Terrell Owens (whoops how'd that get in there? hahaha). Anyway, I could care less about Favre coming back, and as a Vikings fan, this is a good day because not only are the Pack not a playoff team with Favre, he's further stunting the development of backup Aaron Rodgers. Long live Brett!!

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because wanted people's opinion of where Favre ranks among the 20 best QB's in the league. I did my rankings, and of course "SportsNation" didn't agree with me. Why? Because apparently most sports fans are idiots and buy into the hype. Guess who was #1? Peyton Manning. OF course he was. Hey if you're listing the best regular-season or Pro Bowl or fantasy QB's, then Peyton's your guy. But if you count winning in the postseason, well I just can't do it. Before looking at the list I said there's no way Favre is still a top 10 QB. But after seeing it, I was either appalled or amazed at the lack of quality NFL quarterbacks right now. Has the position ever been worse? That's a topic for another day.

Anyway, here's my rankings, with the general public's opinions in brackets:

1. Tom Brady, Patriots (2)
2. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (3)
3. Peyton Manning, Colts (1)
4. Carson Palmer, Bengals (4)
5. Matt Hasselbeck, Hawks (7)
6. Drew Brees, Chargers (8)
7. Jake Delhomme, Panthers (9)
8. Donovan McNabb, Eagles (6)
9. Brett Favre, Cheese (5)
10. Trent Green, Chiefs (12)
11. Daunte Culpepper, Dolphins (13)
12. Marc Bulger, Rams (17)
13. Eli Manning, Giants (14)
14. Byron Leftwich, Jaguars (15)
15. Mark Brunnell, Redskins (20)
16. Jake Plummer, Broncos (11)
17. Steve McNair, Titans (18)
18. Mike Vick, Falcons (10)
19. Drew Bledsoe, Cowboys (16)
20. Brad Johnson, Vikings (19)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Jeff: The Monday Musings

* Could there be more going on right now? Could I have chosen a worse couple of weeks to save all of my homework to do? Probably not. Playoff basketball and hockey, NFL draft rumors galore, and baseball season getting into full swing. Where to even begin? How about here...

...As Marc Stein of writes you can expect a different Kobe in Game 2. In the 3 regular season meetings between the LA Lakers and Phoenix Suns that Steve Nash participated in, Kobe scored 40+ each game- and the Lakers still lost. Laker coach Phil Jackson somehow convinced Kobe that team basketball might be a better way to beat the Suns, since Kobe jacking up 40+ shots a game hadn't worked. Well after "team" basketball didn't work either, you know Kobe's going to go out firing. Hope the rest of the Lakers enjoyed the shots they took in the loss yesterday, because they're not likely to see those again the rest of the series.

...I said I wouldn't believe Lebron could carry a team in the playoffs until I saw it, and well, I saw it Saturday as the Cavs dismantled the Wizards in game 1. Lebron dropped 32 pts, 11 rebs, and 11 asts in leading his team to a lopsided victory. Washington's approach for the rest of the series will be interesting, as slowing Lebron was the key to their 3 regular season victories. But if Cleveland's supporting cast can keep defenses honest, Cleveland's going to be tough to beat.

...King James' triple-double was nice, but he, along with everybody else, has a ways to go to catch Magic Johnson, who had over 30 playoff triple-doubles!! The next closest guy had barely half that total.

...The Twins have been just awful on the road this year, losing 4 in a row, and are now just 1-8 away from the Metrodome. Going to be a llllloooooonnnnnnnnggggggg year if that continues.

...Twins starter Brad Radke, who's always quick to blame his offense for his losses, has been tagged for 20 earned runs and 8 HR's in his first four starts. Yup, gotta be the offense, right?

...Strange watching the NHL playoffs without my Canucks, or even the Wild, involved. Still some great games but I found myself not really paying attention until the 3rd period if things were close. Love the intensity from the players and the crowd, and still nothing beats overtime hockey.

...One week now until the NFL draft, and you can toss our previous MWSR mock draft right out the window. I have no idea what's going to happen. None. I'd like to think the Vikings are staying put at 17 and drafting a LB, but really how do you know at this point?

...the Texans are insane is they stay at #1 and DON'T take Reggie Bush. But as good as I think Bush will be, I also think that IF the rumors are true about the Jets offering #4, 29, and a second and third round pick for the #1, that the Texans would be insane for not taking that offer. Bush could be great, but 4 or 5 high picks, including 2 #1's from a very deep draft, is going to help you get better a lot faster than taking Reggie Bush.

...I'd just like to thank Shaun Alexander for giving up his spot as an elite fantasy running back. It was bad enough that he lost all-pro guard Steve Hutchinson to a certain crafty team, but now that Alexander's been named the cover boy for the new Madden '07 video game? Well I think that'll put an end to playoff aspirations for him and the Seahawks. You can count on three things: death, taxes, and the Madden Curse. Since EA Sports started putting a player on the cover in 2001, it's turned every cover boy's season into a disaster.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Jeremy: Sunday Quips

*Bryan Cupito's line during yesterday's Gopher Football spring practice: 17 for 25 passing, 251 yards, three touchdowns. Impressive for a spring game. I like Cupito, he showed potential last year, and I mean it when I say I like him... but this was against the second string defense. Let's not forget that.
*Brylee Callender rushed for 110 yards and three touchdowns. Did I mention this was against the second string defense?
*The Gopher defense allowed only 3 first downs on 7 possessions. I could be wrong here, but I think that might have been against the second string... nope, I was right, it WAS against the second string offense.
*The Maroon team (starters) beat the White team (reserves) 42-3. Can someone please tell me how this is supposed to be helpful to anyone? Does this give the coaching staff any good information, whatsoever, about where the team sits? Just curious.
*Glen Mason's comment regarding having the starters playing the second stringers all day: "It's kind of a stacked deck." Really, hmmm. That hadn't occured to me. Sort of like you coaching against Jim Tressel? Mase also added, "I guess if the No. 2 offense had moved the ball all over the first defense I wouldn't be a happy camper today." I'm sorry, was that Glen Mason or Sid Hartman stating the obvious? Ladies and gentlemen, your head football coach for the next 5 seasons... Glen Mason!!!

*Has anyone seen the Twins pitching staff? If you do, and you wouldn't mind, could you please let them know that the season has started? And if it's not too much to ask, please remind them that, despite what happened on the homestand, the offense really can't carry the team.
*It had looked like Brad Radke had turned over a new leaf this season. He seemed poised to give up a homerun in the second inning of each start instead of his trademark of giving up a first inning longball. Well everyone, welcome back the old Brad Radke. He gave up a three-run shot to Jermaine Dye in the first inning on Saturday night. "Reunited... and it feels to so good..."

*During the press conference where Kevin McHale let everyone know that he would be back for another exciting Timberwolves season in '06-'07, McHale blamed the Wolves problems on the teams lack of internet access. "I'm coming back and I'm really excited about getting this team back online." (Ba-dum-ching.)

*Check out this article highlighting the 13 markets in the country that have all four major professional sports teams and see where Minnesota ranks.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Jeff: Top 3

With the NBA playoffs starting tonight, I thought we'd look at things in 3's...

The Big 3...
Although neither Cleveland, Miami or Denver is favored to reach the Finals, the 2006 playoffs creates another opportunity for Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Carmello Anthony to make a statement about who really is the best player from the '03 Class. There's no doubt in my mind that the most pressure is on James. Dwade, even without help from the Diesel and a nice supporting cast, proved last year he can be The Man when it matters most. Melo's Nuggets are flying well below the radar as usual and aren't even expected to get out of the first round, let alone get to the Finals. But Lebron has been The Savior from day one, and after his first MVP-caliber season, he's EXPECTED to make the leap this year. Sure nobody's picking them to beat the Pistons in the 2nd round, but they're still expecting him to continue scoring 30+ a night. I think they're going to need him to be other-worldly just to get out of the 1st round.

3 most underrated/overlooked players...
Gilbert Arenas, PG, Washington Wizards: How can a guy who AVERAGED 29.2 pts, 6 assts, and 2 stls a game be practially unheard of? Gilbert would like to know too. He plays his best with a chip on his shoulder, as he has most of his career. In what will be one of only two nationally televised series in the first round, don't think Gilbert doesn't see an opportunity to show the world people should be looking at him and not Lebron.

Jason Terry, PG, Dallas Mavericks: Dirk deserves all the MVP talk he's received, but people haven't been paying enough attention to Terry. The 28 yr-old has averaged 17 pts, 3.8 assts, and 1.3 stls, but it's his leadership and shot-making ability (47% FG, 41% 3's, 80% FT) that's been a key in Big D this season. One of the few good free agents available this summer, Terry knows he can make a lot of green lighting it up in blue for the Mavs in crunch time.

Jason Kidd, PG, New Jersey Nets: What is it with point guards? While Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson grab the highlights and headlines, with their spectacular dunks and scoring, don't forget it's Kidd getting them the ball. At 33, he'll never be as explosive as he was before the knee injury, but JKidd has reinserted himself among the top 3 PG's in the game. His scoring is down slightly (13.3 ppg) and his shooting continues to be woeful (40.1% FG, and would probably shoot better blindfolded from behind the arc), but his all-around game (7.3 reb, 8.4 ast, and 1.9 stls), as well as being a proven playoff performer, mean he's the one guy the Nets can count on.

Most to prove (besides Lebron)...
Vince Carter, SG, Nets: The Nets know what they'll get from JKidd, but what about Vinsanity? The postseason memory still for Vinsanity is him missing a game-winning 3 against Philadelphia, and Carter hasn't been back since. He was off the radar in Toronto until now, where again he's going to be his team's go-to guy. Carter HAS to score for the Nets to win, so after hibernating in TO for a few years, the spotlight is firmly planted back on #15. If he fails, there's going to be plenty of critics and cynics calling him in those damn cell phone commercials.

Dirk Nowitzki, F, Dallas Mavericks: When things go well, like they have this year for the Mavs, Dirk gets all the credit. When things go bad, like they have every postseason that Dirk's been in Big D, he gets all the blame. For me, his stellar regular season will mean nothing if the Mavs flop in the playoffs once more. This is not the most talented team Dirk's been apart of, but I believe it's the one best built for success. The big German has expanded his offensive repetiore by shooting over or posting up smaller athletic guys that used to give him fits, and he's not a complete liability on D anymore. He's been scoring over double and triple teams all year, but can he do it now when it REALLY matters? As much as I love Dirk, my image of him is still chewing out Jason Terry for taking and missing a game winning shot in regulation against the Suns, and then Dirk responding with an 0-5 OT and a Mavs loss. We'll see if the big fella can back it up this time around. And don't underestimate the fact he hasn't shaved his head. He might be Samson-like with the long locks.

Kobe Bryant, SG, LA Lakers: Well this is what Kobe wanted: his own team and the spotlight entirely on him. If you can overlook the fact he single-handedly destroyed a shot at 3 or 4 more titles by getting rid of Shaq (I can't but to more power to you if you can), Kobe's first season sans The Big Aristotle has been everything he's wanted. He's been a man among boys all season, and he's proven in the past to perform at his best in the playoffs. 7 seed or no 7 seed, if he truely wants to Be Like Mike, Mamba needs to carry the Lakers past a more talented Suns squad (and although I don't think Mamba will ever be as great as Mike, I don't think it's absurd to think Kobe could be in MJ's league by the time his career is done. More on this next week).

Best (as in best to watch) 1st Round Series...
Washington vs. Cleveland
I won't believe Lebron can carry a team through the playoffs until I see it happen, so I'm picking the Wiz to upset Cleveland. Washington took 3 of 4 from the Cavs this year, and in the three W's, the Wiz held James to an average of 20 a game. On the other hand, Arenas will be a man possessed, and he's got a nice supporting cast in Jamison, Butler, Haywood and others. The Wiz not only think they can beat Lebron, they KNOW they can beat him, and I think it happens in 6 games.

Denver vs. LA Clippers
The world might be coming to an end: not only are the Clips in the playoffs, but they're actually FAVORED in the first round! Denver, who's got one of my favorite players in Melo, and one of my favorite coaches in Furious George, takes on a Clips team that you can't help but cheer for. There'll be a lot of good story lines and a lot of scoring, which means it should be very fun to watch. Can ANYBODY else step up for the Nuge and help Melo? I don't think it happens, and the Clips win in 5, but it'll be a very entertaining 5 games.

LA Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns
Speaking of fun series and scoring, it doesn't get much better than this. I'm not a Kobe fan, but he makes for good TV, and when he's pitted against Nash and the run-and-gun Suns, well you count me in for this series. I DO think Kobe goes for 35+ a night, and maybe even 40, but it's still not going to be enough to slow down Nash and Marion and the rest. Kobe's heroics will steal at least one game, and maybe 2, but the Suns will need only 6 at the most to advance.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Jeremy: "Shout a HIP-HOORAAAY...."

At around 2:00 Wednesday afternoon I'm sitting at my computer at work, listening to a little KFAN radio, as I oft do, when I hear The Common Man say "we'll take the eleventh caller for Twins tickets to tonights game." I started dialing, not thinking much of it and assuming I'd get a busy signal. But then, the phone was answered... "KFAN, you're the eleventh caller." A 4-Pack of tickets to the Cambria Skybox, a converted football press-box that isn't used during baseball season.
Free popcorn, free soda and a half-mile walk to $1 dogs. It doesn't get any better than this!!!
It seemed that everyone in the box had won tickets. I know this because a drunk bimbo (really, she was both) yelled out "DID ANYONE ACTUALLY PAY FOR THESE TICKETS???" and nobody piped up. Either that or everyone was so embarrassed for her that they didn't want to draw any further attention, as she was already doing a fine job of that. (Within ear shot of everyone in the box, she also called the umpire, who was not within ear shot, a "F*@#er".)
Just a great game to be a part of if you are a Twins fan. I've already called this bunch of Twins the Comeback Kids. Going into the game the boys were tied for the most come-from-behind wins in MLB with six and the decided to go ahead and make it seven. I have to admit, however, they make it fun to watch. You never feel like they are out of the game. So far this season the Twins pitching has abandoned them for the most part, and somehow the bats have made up the difference. It's astonishing! How many games in your life are you going to see where a team is going to score runs in its first 5 innings? How many games are you going to see in your life where a team scores 9 runs in five innings? And of those games, how many of those teams that score 9 runs in their first 5 innings are going to lose? I'm no baseball historian, but I'd guess not many.
The Comeback Twinks scored 4 runs in each the 2nd and 6th innings, a solo shot by Hunter for one in the 7th, and a bases loaded walk off of Francisco Rodriguez in the 9th to tie the game at 10 runs each and send it to extra innings.
And then came Cuddy! With two outs and Castillo on second after a walk and a steal in the bottom of the 10th, Cuddy pinch hit for Nick Punto, and... BALLGAME!!!
A fantastic game to see in person. I know I've said it here many times, but I'm just not the same kind of baseball fan that I used to be. But this group of Twins, and being lucky enough to get free seats to two games in the first two weeks of the season, might be changing my mind. The Skybox was a good time too. Torii's homer in the 7th went out directly below us, and by the time Cuddy hit the game winner in the 10th I was so invested in the game and excited for the win, I think I could have jumped from the Skybox and have had a better chance of catching it while falling from the box, than the Pride of Jamestown, North Dakota, Darin Erstad had.
Good times... This is Comeback Kids Territory!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Jeff: Vikes Don't Need to Trade Up for a QB

Since Daunte Culpepper was shipped down to Miami a few weeks ago, there's been plenty of speculation on what the Minnesota Vikings are going to do at quarterback. There's been more than a few folks that would like to see the Vikes, who now have a bushel of first day selections, trade up to get one of the "Big Three" QB's: Matt Leinart, Vince Young, or Jay Cutler. Leinart and Young will be top 10 selections, but there's a chance Cutler could slip to as low as the 13th pick, where the Baltimore Ravens could be in the market for another young QB. Could the Vikes trade up with say Cleveland at 12 or the Rams at 11 to take Cutler? Since trading Daunte, I've been in the camp that says either a)keep all those picks and draft a QB in the 2nd or third round or b)deal it for Matt Schaub. The more I've thought about it, the more I think they should stay put at 17, take the best available player, and draft a quarterback in the 2nd or 3rd round. And it looks like history agrees me.

Looking back at past drafts, the success rate for first round QB's is awful. Since 1991, 34 QB's have been drafted in the first round. Only one has won a Super Bowl, and only 3 more have even played in the Big Game. Conversely, since '91 there's been 4 QB's that were either later than 1st round picks or not drafted at all, that have won Super Bowls. Here's a list of all the 1st rd QB's since '91, as well as later round selections that have started at least a few games in the NFL (Craig Whelihan was mentioned only for having the best stache of the 90's, and for bridging the stache gap between Jeff Hostetler and Jake Plummer. I think I speak for all of us when I say "Thank you, Craig."):

1st Round
16. Dan McGwire, SDSU (Seahawks)
24. Todd Maranovich, USC (Raiders)
Others: (2nd) Brett Favre, Southern Miss (Falcons)

6. David Klingler, Houston (Bengals)
25. Tommy Maddox, UCLA (Broncos)
Others: (4th) Craig Erickson, Miami (Cowboys)
(6th) Jeff Blake, East Carolina (Jets)
(9th) Brad Johnson, Florida State (Vikings)

1. Drew Bledsoe, Washington St (Patriots)
2. Rick Mirer, Notre Dame (Seahawks)
Others: (3rd) Billy Joe Hobert, Washington (Raiders)
(5th) Mark Brunell, Washington (Packers)
(8th) Elvis Grbac, Michigan (Chiefs), Trent Green, Indiana (Rams)

3. Heath Shuler, Tennessee (Redskins)
6. Trent Dilfer, Fresno St. (Buccaneers)
Others: (7th) Gus Freotte, Tulsa (Redskins)

3. Steve McNair, Alcorn St (Titans)
5. Kerry Collins, Penn St (Panthers)
Others: (2nd) Kordell Stewart, Colorado (Steelers)
(4th) Rob Johnson, USC (Jaguars)
(6th) Craig Whelihan, Pacific (Chargers)

1st Round- none
Others: (2nd) Tony Banks, Michigan St (Rams)

26. Jim Drunkenmiller, Virginia Tech (49ers)
Others: (2nd) Jake Plummer, Arizona St (Cardinals)
(4th) Danny Wuerffel, Florida (Redskins)

1. Peyton Manning, Tennessee (Colts)
2. Ryan Leaf, Washington St (Chargers)
Others: (2nd) Charlie Batch, Eastern Michigan (Lions)
(3rd) Brian Griese, Michigan (Broncos)
(6th) Matt Hasselbeck, Boston College (Packers)

1. Tim Couch, Kentucky (Browns)
2. Donovan McNabb, Syracuse (Eagles)
3. Akili Smith, Oregon (Bengals)
11. Daunte Culpepper, Central Florida (Vikings)
12. Cade McNown, UCLA (Bears)
Others: (2nd) Shaun King, Tulane (Bucs)
(4th) Aaron Brooks, Virginia (Packers)

18. Chad Pennington, Marshall (J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets!)
Others: (6th) Marc Bulger, West Virginia (Rams), Tom Brady, Michigan (Patriots)

1. Mike Vick, Virginia Tech (Falcons)
Others: (2nd) Drew Brees, Purdue (Chargers), Quincy Carter, Georgia (Cowboys), Marques Tuiasosopo, Washington (Raiders)
(4th) Chris Weinke, Florida St (Panthers)
(5th) Mike McMahon, Rutgers (Lions), AJ Feeley, Oregon (Eagles)

1. David Carr, Fresno St (Texans)
3. Joey Harrington, Oregon (Lions)
32. Patrick Ramsey, Tulane (Redskins)
Others: (3rd) Josh McCown, Sam Houston St (Cardinals)
(4th) David Gerrard, East Carolina (Jaguars)

1. Carson Palmer, USC (Bengals)
7. Byron Leftwich, Marshall (Jaguars)
19. Kyle Boller, California (Ravens)
22. Rex Grossman, Florida (Bears)
Others: (3rd) Chris Simms, Texas (Bucs)

1. Eli Manning, Ole Miss (Giants)
4. Philip Rivers, NC State (Chargers)
11. Ben Roethlisberger, Miami, OH (Steelers)
22. JP Losman, Tulane (Bills)
Others: (3rd) Matt Schaub, Virginia (Falcons)

1. Alex Smith, Utah (49ers)
24. Aaron Rodgers, California (Packers)
25. Jason Campbell, Auburn (Redskins)
Others: (3rd) Charlie Frye, Akron (Browns), Andrew Walter, Arizona St (Raiders)
(4th) Kyle Orton, Purdue (Bears)
(7th) Ryan Fitzpatrick, Harvard (Rams)

Not pretty for the 1st rounders, is it? When teams feel like they have to reach for QB's in the first round, in most cases they're REALLY reaching. And as much as it kills me to say it, the Packers have drafted three QB's in the late rounds (Brunell, Brooks, and Hasselback), and developed an undrafted free agent (some guy named Kurt Warner) that have all started at least 4 years in the league. Despite having Favre all that time, they were still spending a late round pick on a QB almost every year. I would LOVE to see the Vikes adopt this strategy. Also, the Vikes might want to think twice about drafting Kellen Clemens from Oregon, since Dan Fouts is the last Duck QB who's actually had some success in the NFL. Just throwing it out there.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Jeff: The Monday Musings


* Just wanted to get that out of the way. NHL hockey playoffs start later this week, and for the only time all year, I'm sad I don't have Canadian TV. My buddy Joel always bemoans how much hockey is on TV in Canada, and how hard it is to follow any other sport up there (especially the NBA), and he's absolutely right. Usually I'm glad to have American sports, except for this time of year. I LOVE playoff hockey. There;s absolutely nothing better. I'm down because my Vancouver Canucks, a preseason choice to make a run for The Cup, will miss the playoffs for the first time in 6 years (I could ramble on about why this is good because their current group was flawed but I'll save you the boredom). As much as I could care less how the Wild do, I'm also saddened they're not in the playoffs because a) it means I could have actually watched some games and b) I love watching playoff hockey in a packed bar of hockey fans cheering for a team like the Wild. Even The Jer admits (or did the last time the Wild were in the playoffs), how fun playoff hockey is. If you're somebody who hates it or doesn't understand it, just give it a chance. That's all I ask.

* The only thing that makes me feel better about the Canucks not making the playoffs is that the Toronto Maple Leafs didn't make it either. Come to think of it, why haven't I made a list of teams I hate most? I do not know the answer. As William Wallace's uncle Argyle says "that is something we shall have to remedy." Not today, but soon. I'm fairly certain Uncle Argyle would have hated the Leafs too. Really how can you not?

* The New York Knicks, who currently have the NBA's 2nd worst record, sat 6 of their best players, including Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis, in a 103-97 loss to Detroit yesterday. Should somebody tell the Knicks that tanking your last few games to enhance your draft position only works if you actually HAVE your draft pick (they don't. Or next year's)? Nah. (If I were still commenting on the Wolves this would be a perfect time for an "even Kevin McHale's not that dumb...or is he?" comment. But I'm not).

* Not sure if you saw it, because I'm guessing most people didn't, but David Stern and the NBA have lowered the age minimum for their developmental league, the NBDL, down to 18. This means that if 18 year olds really don't want to go to college, they can play in the D League for a year before turning 19 and becoming draft eligble for the NBA. Interesting that they'd slide this through so quietly after there was so much of a fuss made last year to raise the eligble draft age to 19. I've heard a few conspiracy theories as to why The Don Stern would do this, and for what it's worth, here's mine (just for the record I have zero proof this is true):

Trent from Swingers can sum it up in three words: "Vegas, baby! Vegas!" Yes, the NBA is the most likely league to get a team into what would be a VERY lucrative market in Las Vegas (it's no accident they;re hosting the All-star game there next year). Stern has been adamant that the NBA will not put a team in Vegas unless casinos within the city limits take NBA games off the books. Although this would hurt the sportsbooks, losing basketball games would be worth the risk. Why? And what does this have to do with lowering the NBDL age limit? I'll give you two more words: March Madness!! Of the millions and millions of people that filled out brackets on this year, FOUR people nailed the Final Four teams. That means there's millions and millions of people betting, and very few winning. March Madness is as big a betting time as the Super Bowl, and nobody loves the parity in college basketball today more than Vegas. Sure they could be hurt by people betting big on an underdog and winning, but the more schools with a legitimate chance to win it, the more the money gets spread around on different schools, and the more money Vegas makes. And what increases parity in college basketball? That's right, top high school kids either a) not going to college at all or b)only staying one year. This year's tourney showed that even with less recognizable players sticking around to play college ball, the interest nation wide (both on the TV ratings and at the betting windows) is as strong as ever. Stern wants to bring the NBA to Vegas? Lower your age minimum back down to 18, or give the country's most talented 18 year olds another option besides college. Vegas will lose the NBA betting to gain increased chances of taking people's money on March Madness. Again, I have no proof of this, but there's my conspiracy theory. If they end up fishing my body out of the Mississippi River this week wearing cement shoes, you'll know I'm onto something.

* Attended the Twins/Yankees game Saturday night. What an event. The combination of Easter weekend, the Yankees being in town AND Johan Santana pitching created a monster crowd (at least by Metrodome standards) of over 42,000. Gotta love a playoff atmosphere in April! Always fun to scream "Yankees suck!!" at the top of your lungs, although I'm fairly certain that chant is responsible for the Yanks 5 consecutive runs in the late innings. I was surprised by how many Yankee fans were there, and I've just never understood that. What would be somebody's excuse for cheering for the Yankees? The only things I could think of were that people were from New York, but then again you could still cheer for the Mets. The only other thing I could think of was that people enjoy selling their souls and cheering for Goliath. Wouldn't it get boring to cheer for the best team every year? How do bandwagon Yankee fans sleep at night? I'm guessing a lot of medication.

* If one month from today Rondell White is still in the Twins' everyday lineup, let alone hitting cleanup, you can kiss your playoff hopes goodbye. YOU CANNOT WIN A PENNANT WITH RONDELL WHITE BATTING CLEANUP!!!!!!!! I cannot stress this enough. The people at the dome seem to have caught on, as they booed him as he committed out after out. And the Yankees sure figured it out. Twice Joe Mauer came to the plate with a runner in scoring position and first base open, and the Yanks gave him the intentional walk both times. What'd Rondell do? Yeah he got out. I don't blame Rondell (did you know this is his 14th year in the big leagues?!?). He's just not that good, and he's being asked to play way above his head. If Rondell is DHing or playing LF a couple of times a week, batting 7th or lower, you're fine. But cleanup? Everyday?!? He wouldn't hit cleanup for any other team in baseball, and I'm not even kidding. The Royals, D Rays, Rockies, Pirates, or whoever you think is a bad team, none of them would have Rondell hitting 4th. Since the Twins will make it 19 years in a row now without aquiring a 30 HR hitter (1987 right?), you'd better hope Justin Morneau proves capable of hitting cleanup. Early returns look like he just might be, but even so, they'll still be a bat short. This is why, you know, a trade of Kyle Lohse, Scott Baker and any other prospects not named Francisco Liriano to the Reds for Adam Dunn would make so much sense. Too much sense, apparently.

* If the Yankees think they're going to the playoffs with that bullpen, they've got another thing coming.

* had a GREAT poll question the other day: who's the best college running back of the last 25 years? The choices were Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson, Barry Sanders, or Reggie Bush. When summer rolls around and we've got nothing but baseball to talk about, I'm pulling that question out and breaking it down. Oh, and Herschel, thanks to the Worst Trade in Sports History, will not be in the conversation, no matter how great he was at Georgia. When you ruin the Vikings AND build a dynasty for the team that traded you, especially when it's the f$%^&ng Cowboys, well you won't be on any greatest list of mine.

* 12 days until the NFL draft. Not that I'm counting or anything.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Jeremy: We're Talkin' Baseball

*Thanks to a friend of my special lady friend and I, we got the opportunity to attend the Twins home opener on Tuesday. Pretty nice little Tuesday evening we had there at the Dome. In talking to my cousin a few hours before the game, this conversation took place...
Josho: "Whose pitching tonight?"
Jer: "Radke."
Josho: "Oh..."
Jer: "So yeah, I figure we'll be watching him give up his first home run around 7:27 tonight."
Well, according to the Metrodome clock I was off by exactly 20 minutes. First pitch was late because of the Kirby Puckett tribute before the game (more on that later), and somehow Radke battled through the first inning without giving up a dinger... he saved that for the second inning. I can't bash Radke too bad, however, he did battle through giving up three wins in the third and one in the fourth. Nice to see the Twins bats supporting the pitching staff.
*If you read this blog regularly (which according to the hit counter people are reading, we just can't figure out who the heck is reading out there, do you people have an opinion on anything... or a pulse?) you know that I get a bit emotional when it comes to my teams. When Kirby passed away I wrote a tear-laden (mine, not yours) post about how Kirby had affected me in my younger days. Well, a couple of tears came back to me on Tuesday night. (Geez, am I ever a sap! For the life of me I can't figure out what gets into me! I think it has more to do with the memories surrounding the teams, than the teams themselves... that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.) The tribute to Kirby before the game was nice. Placing Kirby's "34" on the turf in centerfield is a really nice touch.
*The Twins seem to have a flair for the dramatic. Go ahead and start calling them the comeback kids. A bit of a penchant for slow starts from this team, but like I said before, at least they seem to be getting the bats going a little bit. They started out 1-5, they are now 4-5 and looking sharp. In addition they had to come from behind to win all three games with the A's. This is Comeback Kids Territory.
*Jim Thome has hit 4 homeruns in his last 4 games, 5 for the season so far. We didn't need that guy did we? No, sure didn't! Did we? Son of a...
*The Yanks are in town this weekend. They've had to scratch and claw to get above .500. And who was that team that they just swept in order to get above .500? Was it the A's? Oh, no... that was the Twins who just swept the A's. Oh yeah, it was the Royals. The Yankees needed a sweep of the Royals to get above .500. (That felt good! Gotta get those shots of the Yankees in while we can, there might not be many chances. Of course, they are a game above .500, and we are a game below .500... son of a ...)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Jeff: Sid Hartman: Village Idiot or Court Jester?

Before you read any further, click here. That's today's column from good ol' Sid. By now you're well aware of this website's feelings about Sid, which is that he's the biggest corporate kiss-ass in town. Usually I leave Sid alone because, well he's old and he rambles and you generally already know how much ass Sid is going to kiss before you read his column.

Well today is different. Sid did everything short of bow at Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad's feet and proclaim him the Lord of MInnesota! Sid's only point was that if Ol' Carl hadn't bought the Twins in the mid '80's, they would have been moved to Tampa Bay and we wouldn't have Twins baseball. My favorite line in the whole column was this one:

"But the positives of Pohlad's ownership have far outweighed the negatives."

Besides the fact he saved the team in 1984, the only other "positive" Sid mentions is "He has been one great owner, with the Twins Community Fund being one program to help kids who would never get a chance to play baseball."

That's it. I'm serious, those are his only examples for positives for Carl Pohlad owning your Minnesota Twins. Oh he does claim that the Pohlad family has not threatened to move the team-- well at least not since 1997, when he tried to sell it to an ownership group in Charlotte that wanted to move the team there.

He does talk about the contraction issue twice, mentioning that yes Ol' Carl WANTED TO CONTRACT YOUR BASEBALL TEAM AND MAKE A TON OF MONEY FROM DOING IT, "...but believe me, it would have been all over in 1984 had Pohlad come not to the rescue."

So what Sid's saying is that DESPITE Carl Pohlad, you still have a baseball team? That if Carl had his way, he'd have sold the Twins franchise up the river, making gobs of money on the way out of town while Twins fans were left with nothing?

Tell me this, Minnesota: why is Red McCombs a curse word in this state and Carl Pohlad is not? Red bought the Minnesota Vikings with every intention of moving them to San Antonio. When he was denied, he tried to get a new stadium here. When that didn't work either, he stripped it down and sold it for as big a profit as he could. In essence he proved to be exactly what he was: a used car salesman angling for the best deal he could get. But at least when he realized he couldn't get what he wanted, he sold the team to somebody who wanted to keep the team here and wanted the team to succeed! In the end, although he tried and failed to screw over Minnesota Vikings fans, he helped them by selling to Zygi Wilf, who seems to be committed to bringing a Super Bowl to the Land of Lakes.

Now what about Ol' Carl? Yes, he saved baseball in Minnesota in 1984, but really, according to Sid, the only reason he did that was so HE could get richer and then get rid of them himself. Like McCombs he's tried to relocate the team (or sell it to someone who would). Like McCombs he's spent the bare minimum to keep this team alive (Billy Beane is the best GM in baseball but Twins GM Terry Ryan is a close second. Look at what he's done when he's been given nothing!!) Like McCombs he's a BILLIONAIRE who whines about revenues and a new stadium and yet puts forth next to nothing to build a new one.

The only differences I see between Red and Ol' Carl? Red never tried to contract the team, and Red was never a good friend of Sid Hartman. I'm not saying we should suddenly praise Red as a good guy, I'm just wondering why I don't hear more Twins fans, or ANY for that matter, upset at Ol' Carl.

If he REALLY cared about Minnesota and Twins fans, he'd either a) spend some money on this team, or b) sell it to someone who would. I can't believe for a second that's there not someone who could do a better job of keeping this team competitive here than Pohlad's done (Glen Taylor comes to mind- as long as he doesn't fire Terry Ryan and replace him with Kevin McHale. By the way, was that the Wolves or an NBDL team in Memphis last night? Just checking). I understand that whoever owns the Twins will not make as much revenue because of the stadium situation, and that this is not New York or LA as far as marketsize goes. But don't give me this crap about "a small market". It's actually the 15th largest in the country. St Louis, you know, the 2 time defending NL Central champs with a big payroll and a beautiful new ballpark? A smaller market than the Twin Cities. San Diego? Smaller. Cleveland, the team the Twins are looking up at? Smaller. All new parks and bigger payrolls than the Twins. You want support for a new ballpark? Spend some damn money.

If you spend the money for one or two hitters (and the Twins have the prosects to do it without giving up Fransico Liriano) the Twins are a front-runner to go the World Series. If they're winning, there's going to be more Twins fans buying tickets at the Metrodome, buying merchandise, more watching on cable TV which helps ad revenues, and so forth. Would a new stadium help? Absolutely, but call me crazy but if you have a winning team that people are really behind and excited about, they're going to be a lot more willing to help build a new stadium.

The Twins have the best pitching staff in baseball, and some nice pieces in Mauer, Castillo, Stewart, and Morneau, among others. If Ol' Carl would ever give the go-ahead (he won't but allow me to dream) to deal Kyle Loshe and Torii Hunter and some prosects for a Big Stick or two, this is a World Series contender. Instead, you're going to see a Twins team that will remain competitive but never quite competitive enough. And after watching the Detwah Tiggers a bit this first week, I'd be more worried about finishing 4th in this division than finishing first.

If Ol' Carl is such a great a great owner for this state, why won't he be more like one of the state's worst, Mr. Red McCombs: spend money to make the team better, or sell it someone who will.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Jeremy: The Tuesday Ramblings

*Great article by Ric Bucher today in The Daily Dime on MVP talk. The NBA MVP talk has been everywhere lately. It seems like more people are talking about the MVP than about the playoffs. I'd like to put in my two-cents... For my money (which like I said, is about two-cents) there's not a better MVP choice than Steve Nash. I understand why people are enamored with Labron, and I know why people think Kobe is the most valuable. I can also see the arguments for Dwayne Wade and Chauncy Billups. All great players and all of them have performed above expectations this season. But the trump-card for me is, if you look at the four players I just mentioned, the teams that they play on are doing exactly what they were expected to do. The Cavs were supposed to be better, make the playoffs, and Labron was supposed to be their best player. Kobe was supposed to be a ballhog on the Lakers and help them take one of the final 2 or 3 playoff spots. The Heat and the Pistons were supposed to be the two best teams in the East, and Wade and Billups were supposed to lead them as such. But the Suns are a different story. Without Amare Stoudamire, their best player, the Suns were supposed to struggle all season. It wasn't an uncommon belief that they might not even make the playoffs. But behind Nash, with 6 games left in a season where Stoudamire played in only 3 games, the Suns have clinched the third best record in the Western Conference. The Suns have exceeded everyone's expectations, including their own, and Nash has lead the charge by exceeding what was expected of him. Averaging a double/double with over 19 pts/gm and 10 assist/gm, he's also throwing in over 4 reb/gm. He's the leader and best player on a team that was supposed to do nothing. He does all of the little things that a point guard needs to do to win, he fills the stat sheet and he makes everyone around him much better than they should be. If that's not your MVP, I don't know who is. If the stats aren't enough for you, he's got a great head of hair, he's Canadian, and he used to date Elizabeth Hurley. What else do you need in an MVP?

*I know I commented on the Favre situation last week, but... honestly, has there ever been a more self-centered, over-the-hill, doesn't-have-much-left-in-the-tank player hanging on to a Hall of Fame career for dear life? COME ON BRETT!!! Retire already! Don't you see? These people want to love you, you are a god in their eyes. You have a chance to leave with a shred of dignity left... please do us all a favor and take it.

*It seems the Vikings weren't in as much of a hurry to make the Matt Shaub trade in exchange for the 17th pick as it looked like. The Vikes are bringing in plenty of players that they want to get a closer look at (30 or more prospects will be visiting Winter Park according to Childress)to possibly take with the 17th pick, or perhaps even move up. Laurence Maroney and Chad Greenway (didn't we pick him in our mock draft for the Vikings) are both possibilities at 17. The Vikes will also have visits from quarterbacks Vince Young, Jay Cutler and Charlie Whitehurst. Don't rule out the Shaub trade yet, however. The Vikes are in the driver's seat when it comes to that deal with the Falcons since Shaub will be a free agent after the '06-'07 season.

*I'm learning to love Vikings Don Zygi Wilf more and more everyday. Can we get him to run the Gopher athletic department? Zygi EXPECTS to lose money until a new stadium is built. And his response? "I bought this team with the intent of enjoying football... We're hoping that building a new stadium will allow us to become profitable. But right now, you really have to love your football. You have to love your football, because on the financial side it will become more and more difficult. We've felt we've needed to spend the money to be competitive, and we did that. We will continue to do that. We know it will continue to eat away at our profitability until we're able to get into a new stadium." On behalf of the people of Minnesota, Mr. Wilf, I would like to say... THANK YOU.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Jeff: Monday Musings

* Well, well, well looks like Tiger's finally got a rival. Lefty Mickelson cruises to a (said in a whisper) *Masters* victory winning his 3rd Major in 3 years. I'll be honest, though: at this point I'm more worried about Tiger holding up his end of the bargain than Lefty. Ever since Tiger married the Swedish Nannywife, he just hasn't been the same.

* Speaking of wives, if you look up "MILF" in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Mickelson's wife. My goodness gracious.

* As much as I'd like to say that the Green Bay Packers should just get it over with and rename the team the Brett Favre's, I can't. That's because as much as they're pandering to him right now, in the most subtle of ways, they're telling him to retire. Favre said he would wait to see if the Packers made enough moves in free agency and somehow that would determine whether he should play or not. Well the Packers have done next to nothing with all the cap room they had (2nd most in the league, I believe), which should tell you all you need to know about their plans for the year. They're rebuilding. If Favre comes back, they can afford him for one more year, and if he doesn't, well then Aaron Rodgers (or Vince Young or Jay Cutler) will have time to learn on a rebuiling team.
Now the question is, just what sign is Favre waiting for to tell him whether or not he's coming back? All the good free agents are gone, and even if they do sign Charles Woodson, he's not the difference between the Favres making the playoffs or not making it. I think every pro athlete (well except hockey players) has a pretty big ego, but some are just better than others at hiding it. Favre's been lauded for years as this great team player and "just one of the guys" but this whole offseason shows he's a selfish egomaniac like everybody else. I mean, this is the same guy who rips Javon Walker for holding out and hurting his teammates. How is that any different from what he's doing now? Personally I still stand with my statement that as Vikings fan we WANT #4 back under center because I have faith he's got at least one more 29 INT season in him. I hope two, but for sure one. Plus it hinders the development of Rodgers or whoever their next guy will be.

* Great article on Page 2 on this topic comparing the situations of Favre and Steve McNair.

* After perusing the NFL schedule for 2006 I have 2 quick observations:
1) Cleveland is so going to the playoffs.
2) You're kidding yourself if you don't think the Miami Dolphins are going to the Super Bowl this year.

* At the school's National Championship pep rally last week, Florida Soph C Joakim Noah said he was coming back for his junior season (keep in mind that last year's Final Four MOP Sean May of North Carolina, along with like half their team, made the same declaration at their pep rally. And of course all of them went pro anyways). If he sticks to it (which I think he will) June's NBA draft will be one of the worst in decades. And next year's will be one of the best in decades.

* Normally I'm all for kids staying in college as long as possible, but I think Noah's crazy for staying in school. He's the #1 pick this year. Next year? No. See Oden, Greg, C Ohio State.

* After the Minnesota Gophers women's team has 5 players leave the program, AD Joel Maturi says head coach Pam Borton's job is safe. Besides the obvious question of "did Glen Mason and Dan Monson send her flowers, candy, or both in thanks for once again lowering the bar?" how about "just what the hell does a Gopher coach have to do to get fired?!?" Oh, right: cheat while leading your team to a Final Four. Just ask Clem Haskins.

* I am recommending the movie Lucky Number Slevin, preceded with 4 thoughts:
- there's two pointless nudy scenes. Movie would have been just fine without them
- before I saw the movie, Josh Hartnett was one of my least favorite people on the planet. After seeing it he was not.
- whatever your opinion of Lucy Lui, after watching this she will go up at least 200% in your books.
- Just like how Vince Vaughn and Denzel Washington play basically the same role in every movie (themselves), Bruce Willis should have to play a hitman/assasin guy in every movie from now on. Just trust me.

* Finally, you'd better sit down for this one. I'm serious. Or maybe assume the fetal position. The official sign was given over the weekend that the Apocolypse is indeed coming, and coming soon: David Spade is dating Heather Locklear.

Like your Monday wasn't depressing enough, eh?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Jeremy: Gopher Stadium Talk

Despite playing in a major Division I conference, while operating like they have a Division II budget and a Division III athletic department, the state seems to be supporting the future of Gopher Football, and Gopher Athletics as a whole.
To quote the Star Tribune....
"...the House on Thursday evening overwhelmingly approved the University of Minnesota's request for financing help for an on-campus football stadium."
It seems that the people of Minnesota and the politicians in Minnesota support the Gopher sports programs as a healthy and important part, and financial support, of the educational process at the University.
This is a pretty exciting development. My aunt and uncle and several of their friends have called the Metrodome their fall home for Gopher Football games since the Dome opened in 1982. My uncle has told me that at the time everyone was excited about the Dome. The idea of sitting indoors in comfort to watch a football game was an attractive one to everybody.
It seems that now, over 20 seasons later, everyone is starting to realize that the Gophers never should have been a part of the home teams at the Metrodome. College football requires atmosphere, history, a ground-swell of support from students able to walk from their dorms to the stadium on a Saturday morning. College football isn't about putting teams into a neat little box that we can all get our hands around. College football is about passion, about pride in your state and about the game, not the players.
It's apparent that the state taxpayers and legislators are beginning to understand this sentiment.
Wouldn't it be nice if the University athletic department and administration could begin to understand that too?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Jeff: Maybe It's Just Me

I'm starting to feel old, and completely out of touch with the world around me. I didn't think this was supposed to happen until I was 70, but it's happening before I even turn 30. Rock music today? Forget it! Or at least the stuff that makes in onto the radio. All the 93X death metal sounds like a bunch of yelling and screeching. I mean really, what do these guys have to be so upset about? They all came from middle class suburbia. What the hell do they have so much "angst" about? They didn't get a brand new Blazer for their 16th birthday and they've never forgiven their parents? Or they couldn't get a picture with Mickey Mouse at Disneyworld and now they hate corporate America? Please. Shut up already! And pop music? I'm amazed at what makes a top 40 hit these days. Or appalled. One of the two. Seriously bands like Led Zeppelin or Hendrix would have trouble getting on the radio if they were around today because they don't sound like complete crap!

The other reason I'm starting to feel old is that in my day, you know like 10 years ago, nobody complained about creating more playoff spots and opportunity. People back then had this crazy notion that if you didn't make the playoffs (be it high school, college, or the pros) then you weren't good enough and you'd try again next year. Now? If you won two games in a row at some point in your season apparently that's merit for a postseason berth. Parents of high school kids barely have enough time to complain about their kid's teachers (remember it's ALWAYS the teacher's fault. Never the neglecting parent who's never around or has not learned that "NO" is a word kids should hear more than "yes") because they're filing lawsuits because it's unfair that either a) their kid didn't make the team or b) their kids' team doesn't have a chance to make the playoffs.

Honestly, in 50 years we'll be at a point where any kid that enrolls in high school will not only be automatically put on whichever team they choose, but they'll also be state champs just by showing up. Show up for the first day of practice and we'll just hand out trophies to every single damn kid that walks in the door. God forbid they'd have to earn it, or maybe learn a lesson from losing. Nope, everybody's ENTITLED to it now! There's already like 17 classes of high school football in Minnesota, and I'm sure we'll have twice that many in another few years for those poor schools that just can't compete in their region. Am I the only one who looks at what the state of Indiana used to do for high school basketball- having ONE class for the entire state- and think that's a good idea?

And it's not just high schools. This year college basketball coaches were banging the drum about having more berths in the NCAA tournament because 65 just aren't enough. Really? Let me ask you, which are there fewer of right now: quality bands or quality college basketball teams? Although this year's March Madness was exciting, the Final 4 showed just how poor the level of play is today. And coaches want MORE of this? You want to reward mediocrity (and that's being kind in some cases) with more opportunities? This would be lowering the bar and rewarding the average instead of raising it and encouraging people to accel to a higher level. Major conference schools were complaining because Cincinnati, Michigan and Florida State were "robbed" of tournament berths! Really?
* Cincy lost 10 of their last 16 games (and defeated a grand total of ONE top 25 team!!)
* Michigan lost 7 of their last 9
* Florida State (19-9) lost in the 1st rd of the ACC tournament to hapless Wake Forest, and beat ONE top 25 team, #1 Duke at the end of the year.

These are teams deserving to get in? Hey maybe if you'd close out the season strong and beat a few quality teams, maybe you'd get more consideration!!

Finally even the NFL isn't immune to this whining. Yes Kansas City won 10 games and didn't get in, leaving a very good team out of the playoffs. And you know what? It's probably going to happen this year too! and the next! But wouldn't it be better to have a deserving team or two sitting home rather letting in 2 or 3 who don't deserve to be there? Yes the AFC will be another mad scramble this year to see who gets in while the NFC might as well draw straws to fill out their side of the bracket.

Am I the only one who likes to see competition and intrigue and drama in the regular season? Am I the only one who wants to see teams COMPETE and EARN their way into the playoffs? Maybe. Maybe I am. And maybe I'm the only one whose parents told me way back when something that so many people today seem to have forgotten: "life's not fair. Deal with it."

Maybe that's what all the death metal guys are so upset about.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Jeremy: Muesday

*Thank to Jeff for commenting on baseball... that means that I don't have to. Look, I'm sure I've said this many times, but baseball just doesn't excite me, and my apathy seems to get worse every year. I will still follow and cheer for my hometown Twinkies, but that's about all I can muster.

*Congratulations to the Florida Gators for winning the most boring Final Four in the history of college basketball. Honestly, what a snoozer, huh? It's disappointing that after such an exciting and unpredictable first four rounds that the Final Four wasn't able to continue the trend. Despite battling a crippling headache, I was able to catch most of the second half of the championship game and Florida is just plain fun to watch. I know they were getting beaten like drum for most of the game, but seriously, could UCLA be any more boring? Defense is a great way to make a run for a championship, but when the defense fails you better be able to score. UCLA couldn't.

*Looks like the Vikes might be making a run for Falcons back-up QB Matt Schaub. Let me be the first to admit that I know very little about Schaub, but the idea has been swirling around the airwaves and the net that it might be worth giving up the 17th overall pick for Schaub. I've even heard it said that the Falcons might be looking for a first round pick, plus a second or third rounder to pair with it. Does this seam insane to anyone else? Schaub has a career 68.8 quarterback rating and a 49.3% completion percentage in two years behind Mike Vick, with 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. I'm not saying that you discount a guy like this because he hasn't gotten much experience and his numbers aren't spectacular, but I also don't think you give up the farm for him either.

*I think that what Brett Favre is doing to the Packers right now is just embarrassing. Of course the Packers owe a huge debt of gratitude to Favre for leading the franchise for the past decade or so, and bringing a Super Bowl trophy back to Titletown, but really, isn't the guy over playing his hand right now? The Packers are in a Catch-22. They need to be able to show Favre that they have a commitment to winning now, but without knowing if he is going to come back, they don't know where to spend the money. Being stuck with Aaron Rogers could be a good problem for the Packers to have if Favre does plan to opt out, but as much as the organization owes to Favre, he at least owes them the courtesy of a quick decision. Too late.
If you haven't checked out Pro Football Talk yet, I would highly suggest it. Just a great, and accurate, pro football site. The below picture is from Pro Football Talk... a look ahead to the Packers youth movement?

Jeff: Play Ball!!

Ahhh baseball. Besides all the steroids, payroll disparities, bloated contracts, Bud Selig, A-Rod, and Carl Pohlad, it's one of the few pure things we have left. I could probably write long drawn out posts on each division and hell each team, but I'll spare you, mostly because I'm not sure how many outside of me are big baseball fans (also it would only be a matter of time before I'd start lamenting the Mariners and harkening back to the glory days of Junior, Edgar and the Big Unit. And nobody wants that). Also, remember when reading these that predictions are fun, but I'm rarely right on these things. Then again, I don't think I was the only one who didn't forecast a White Sox/Astros World Series.

The AL is ridiculously good. You've got 8 teams with a legit chance of winning at least 90 games and yet we've only got room for 4 of them. Call me crazy, but I LOVE that only 4 of them are getting in, and I love that baseball takes the fewest playoff teams of any sport. It's the way it should be (again more on this tomorrow). Anywho, this is a combination of what I THINK will happen, and in the case of the AL East, what I hope happens:
AL Central
Pennant: Cleveland Indians
Wild Card: none

Ladies and gentlemen, the best division in baseball. Wasn't long ago the Twins were taking this one by default but boy have things changed. I'm picking Cleveland assuming starter CC Sabathia won't be out too long. They don't have a deep pitching staff, and their ace as much as anybody. Their offense will be awesome, and I think their bullpen will be fine.
Chicago White Sox- Call me bitter, but I just don't see it happening again for the White Sox. EVERYTHING went right for them last year. They were something like 35-15 in one run games last year, most of their starters had career years, and their key guys all stayed healthy, except for their closer Dustin Hermanson who was miraculously replaced by career journeyman Bobby Jenks turned into Mariano Rivera for about 3 months. There's just no way all of that comes together again. Yes, their starting rotation is probably the best and deepest in baseball, but the alarm bells are already sounding out of the bullpen. It doesn't matter how good your starters are if things fall apart when you get to the pen. Now if they turn youngster Brandon McCarthy into their closer, well that changes everything.
Minnesota Twins- You can't win this division with Rondell White as your cleanup hitter. And Torii Hunter hitting 5th. And Tony Batista not only making your roster, but STARTING. Not going to happen. The pitching staff is the best in baseball east of Oakland, but if you can't score runs, which the Twins will have problems doing again, it's not going to matter.

AL West
Pennant- Anaheim/LA/East Compton/San Bernadino/OC/Seth Cohen Angels
Wild Card- Oakland

With the enormous hype surrounding the A's (EVERYBODY is picking them it seems like), the Angels (who I refuse to call LA) are quietly (well except when they're whining about not being called LA) looking like contenders. Their starters are underrated (and despite being about 400 pounds Bartolo Colon-my friend Ben has a great nickname for him but it's not really, um, "printable" shall we say- is still one of the AL's best), and the Shields/K-Rod combo in the 8th & 9th is as good as it gets. Oh and they have Vladdy (who TURNED ON an unhittable pitch down and away for a 2 run shot yesterday against the Mariners. Sick! Sick! Sick!). Hell I'll just come out and say it: this team is going to the World Series.
Oakland A's: the only thing that worries me here is that pitching staff is REALLY young, and they don't really have a big bopper in the middle of the lineup. Lots of quality guys all over the place, but no real stars. I know, I know sounds a lot like the White Sox from last year. By the way, I don't think Oakland is that much better than the Sox or Minnesota for the wild card, it's just that the A's get to play Texas and Seattle a lot whereas the Central is going to beat up on each other. I think the Detwah Tiggers are going to be rather feisty this year, and they're going to steal some games from the Twins, Sox, and Tribe.

Pennant- Toronto Blue Jays
Wild Card- None

Will this happen? Not in a million years, but I really am starting to hate the Yankees AND Red Sox this much that I'd love to see a postseason without either of them. What the hell would ESPN talk about? Would they actually have to mention the 12 other teams in the American League? Would Joe Buck get as angry as he did about Randy Moss "mooning" if he wouldn't have the Red Sox and Yankees to fawn over? Chances are one of these teams make it, and if I had to choose, I'd say it'll be Boston. The Yankees starters are getting old, and I think this team will really miss Tom Gordon setting things up in the 7th and 8th. As for Boston, there's no way they get a full season out of Schilling or Wells, and it seems like a Manny trade is looming, and you just don't replace a bat like Manny's. Of course they DO have Big Papi, so that helps.
Why the Jays then? GM JP Riccardi is a Billy Beane disciple, and he's finally getting some guys he wants. Also spending big $$ on AJ Burnett and especially closer BJ Ryan helps the pitching immensly. The additions of Lyle Overbay and Troy Glaus will do wonders for the lineup as well. IN reality this team is probably another year away from really pushing Goliath and the Antichrist from the top of the standings, but hey I'm hoping it happens. Also, keep in mind I hate Toronto, and have never in my life cheered for the Blue Jays. Ever. So this should tell you my feelings on Boston and New York.

All I'll say about the NL is that if baseball took the top 8 teams regardless of league, the NL would get one (St Louis- which means they should go to the World Series but probably won't) and maybe two (Atlanta or the Mets). Maybe. Every team in the AL except Kansas City could win the NL West. I'm dead serious. It's that bad. This league makes the NFC look strong by comparison.
pennant- Atlanta
Wild Card- NY Mets

Like everyone else I'll choose someone else besides Atlanta to win the East as soon as someone else besides Atlanta wins the East. The Mets have too much offense not to get in, but the Phillies are starting to put something together.
NL Central
pennant- St Louis

I secretly think that if the Cubbies could get 50 starts total out of Wood and Prior they can challenge St Louis. The addition of Pierre may have been the move of the offseason. I also NEED to get to Wrigley this summer. Anyone else up for a roadtrip to Wrigley? Anyone?

NL West
pennant- LA Dodgers

There's no way Bonds plays the whole year so the Giants are out, the Padres just don't have the offense, so that leaves the Dodgers. Also, the D-Backs will be the surprise team in the NL.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Jeff: Monday Musings

* Thanks to LSU for setting college basketball back about 50 years with that performance against UCLA. And for making me sit through the whole thing.

* 3 Differences between LSU F Glen "Big Baby" Davis and former Michigan wide-body Robert "Tractor" Traylor:
1) Tractor's got a cooler nickname (what would be wrong with Glen "Dumptruck" Davis"? It follows the alliteration rules and everything!)
2) Tractor actually dunks in games.
3) Tractor can say he was an NBA lottery pick.
Not to pick on Davis, but after watching him get blocked repeatedly by some dopey lookin' dude for UCLA, there's just no way he'll make it in the pros. None. Big fella, stay in school, eat at the school cafeteria for free for 2 more years and be a campus hero.
There is one thing Davis has on Tractor Traylor though: he won't get traded straight up for Dirk Nowitzki on draft night. Sorry for reminding the 4 remaining Milwaukee Bucks fans of that one.

* On over the weekend I saw the caption "It doesn't get any better than this" and then went on to talk about the Women's Final Four. Am I cyincal for thinking the caption should have read "It doesn't get any better than this...unless of course men were playing"? Nah.

* Anyone else want to talk about how great George Mason's run was and how it was one of the biggest upsets ever? Anyone? Dookie V? Didn't think so.

* Am I the only one who can't get enough of the new VW "Unpimp Your Ride" commercials with the Nihilist from the Big Lebowski? The only thing that could make them better is after they trash the Bam Margera-wanna be's car and replace it with a VW, the Nihilist should say "I'm a nihilist. We believe in nothing." And then the Bam Margera guy could say "that must be exhausting."

* I noticed some striking similarities between the American League of baseball and the American Football Conference of football for the 2006 season...

They're both so much better than their "National" counterparts (NL & NFC) it's like holding a spelling contest between 2005 Spelling Bee champ Anurag Kashyap (an 8th grader) and Jessica Simpson (whose IQ is probably somewhere around 8).

Way more playoff contenders than playoff spots (NO this doesn't mean we should expand the playoffs!?!? More on this Wednesday):
AL- 8 teams (Angels, Athletics, Blue Jays, Indians, Red Sox, Twins, White Sox, Yankees) for 4 spots
AFC- as many as 11 teams (Bengals, Broncos, Browns, Chargers-although it's a slimt chance without Drew Brees- Chiefs, Colts, Dolphins, Jaguars, Patriots, Steelers, & Texans) for 6 spots. And yes, I really did mean to type the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans as legitimate playoff contenders for '06. And yes I mean 2006, not 3006. And no I haven't been drinking.

Greatest regular season player of all time:
AL- Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
AFC- Peyton Manning, Colts

Greatest regular season player of all time who will never, ever, ever win a title (because it’s difficult come playoff time to swing a bat or throw a football with both hands wrapped around your neck):
AL- Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
AFC- Peyton Manning, Colts

Team from Massachusetts that were a great story when they won a title, but since have been so overhyped, overrated and played out I would almost cheer for the Yankees or Cowboys if they played them:
AL- Boston Red Sox
AFC- New England Patriots

Next Superstar:
AL- Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
AFC- Reggie Bush, Houston Texans

Best comparison of why Baseball has a long way to go catch the NFL:
AL- Kansas City Royals
AFC- Kansas City Chiefs

Or not…
AL- Oakland A’s
AFC- Oakland Raiders

Surprise Division winner:
AL- Cleveland Indians
AFC- Cleveland Browns (I’m still not kidding. Browns- 2006 AFC North Champs. Deal with it).

Defending champ who won’t make the playoffs:
AL- Chicago White Sox
AFC- Pittsburgh Steelers

Best damn player on the planet:
AL- Vlad Guerrero, Anaheim Angels
AFC- LaDanian Tomlinson, San Diego Super Chargers

City who shouldn’t have a team:
AL- Tampa Bay
AFC- Jacksonville

Talented guy with dreadlocks who's also completely insane:
AL- Manny Ramirez, Red Sox
AFC- Ricky Williams, Dolphins

Team from New York that won’t make the playoffs:
AL- Yankees (suck it Steinbrenner!!)
AFC- Jets

…and Boston
AL- Red Sox (get used to the sound of “Toronto Blue Jays: 2006 AL Champs”. And remember, I hate Toronto)
AFC- Patriots