Yeah those screams of joy you heard this morning, as well as one from a tiny corner of the Pacific NOrthwest, came from Minnesota Vikings fans when their team selected Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson with 7th overall pick in today's 2007 NFL draft. Wow!! I haven't been this fired up about a Vikings draft pick since Randy Moss fell to them in 1997. From what I'd read and heard from the Vikes 3 headed decision maker, they were hoping Peterson would drop to them. Rick Spielman joked on KFAN, even before it was announced AP reinjured his collarbone in the Fiesta Bowl, to spread a rumor that Peterson was hurt so teams would back away. Turns out that's exactly what happened. There's no doubt a risk with every prospect, and certainly Peterson's collarbone is a concern. But to get a player of his incredibly ability, as well as work ethic, is a great pick for a team and fan base that desparately needed somebody as their "Face of the Franchise." Vikings fans we finally have one! Oh and you can order your very own Adrian Peterson jersey here. Personally I'll wait until the white one comes out, as I;ve been waiting awhile to replace my Randy Moss, Cris Carter, and Michael Bennett jerseys (the Bennett one I picked up for $10 from a going-out-of-business sale from that sports shop on 7th & Marquette underneath WCCO), but this is the kind of shot in the arm the fanbase needed. I know receiver and QB were greater need areas, but since they weren't going up to get Calvin Johnson there was no receiver worth the 7th pick (that includes Ted Ginn Jr who went 2 picks later to Miami. At best he's another Antwan Randel El), and Brady Quinn isnt the answer either (as I type this we're at the Cowboys pick at 22 and Quinn still hasn't gone). Tavares Jackson deserves some time to figure out if he's got a chance, so I'm ok with them not taking Quinn.
I talked to Jer on IM yesterday and said this was the first time in years I wasn't excited for an NFL draft, and most of that was because I didn't think the Vikes would do this. but they did! I dialed up the MWSR batphone and caught Jer at Park Tavern, and we were both giddy as little kids. It's awesome. I am fired up for the Adrian Peterson era to begin Minnesota!!
Brad Childress might be able to learn a thing or two from new Gopher Football coach Tim Brewster:
"... what I was looking for was a tremendous man of strength at the position so that I would not have to call plays. I don’t want to have to call offensive or defensive plays because what I want to be able to do is manage the game, manage my team and I think you really take away from your ability to manage the game if you have to call plays so I wanted to hire a veteran experienced guy on offense..." -- Tim Brewster
This morning I had a look at several different mock draft scenarios (http://www.nfldraftcountdown.com/sub/mockdraft.html, http://football.about.com/cs/nfldraft/a/bl_mockdraft.htm, http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/draft/mock) Five to be exact. One mock draft had the Vikings taking Adrian Peterson with their 7th pick. Two had Adrian Peterson being drafted before the Vikings pick at #7. And still two others had the Vikings taking a player other than Adrian Peterson, when Peterson was still available with the 7th pick. Confused yet? Yeah, me too. Several sources apparently have the Vikings taking Safety LaRon Landry out of LSU. And while Landry would be a great addition to the Vikings secondary, I think it would be a mistake to not address the offensive side of the ball with the 7th pick. The first wish would be WR, and Calvin Johnson is clearly the best in the draft, but after Johnson the crop fall off considerably. The next biggest question mark on the offense is quarterback. But I don't think for a second that Colonel Childress is going to draft a QB in the first round, because that would be the equivalent of him admitting that he may have made a mistake with Tarvaris Jackson. So a young running back would be the next logical step. It would be nice to have someone to spell Chester Taylor so that Taylor doesn't put on so many miles this year, and wouldn't Adrian Peterson be a nice young building block for future Vikings offenses? If Adrian Peterson is available with the 7th pick, and the Vikings pass on him, I think it will be the biggest mistake of the draft.
We here at mwsr are done bashing Kevin McHale. We're through piling on the Giant Ugly Sweater. Pack up those "Fire McHale" tshirts, signs, paper bags, and websites. Despite his incompetence and complete inability to run a basketball franchise over the past decade (which is chronicled beautifully here at www.firemchale.com), we are no longer blaming Kevin McHale for the Minnesota Timberwolves failures. Why? Because we can't. Kevin McHale is not good at his job: not good at all. But this is not his fault. He has had a horrible draft record: of the 20 1st or 2nd round draft picks he's made since taking Garnett in 1995, only 3 are currently with the team- Rashad McCants, Randy Foye & Craig Smith. 10 of them are now out of the league completely. And of course he lost 4 1st rounders in that time because he tried to illegally sign Joe Smith to an extension, and has traded the rights away to 2 future 1st rounders, resulting in Marko Jaric, Mark Blount, and Ricky Davis; all of whom, according to McHale's postseason news conference are now on the trading block. The team will be in salary cap hell, with or without Garnett, through at least 2010 because Jaric, Blount, Troy Hudson, Mike James, Trenton Hassell and Mark Madsen have contracts until then. Oh and all of them are also almost completely untradeable.
But this is not his fault. Why? Because you can't improve on something you don't have. McHale was a Hall-of-Fame talent as a basketball player, but in his 11+ seasons running the Timberwolves, he has shown very little talent, ability or skill to be a successfull GM. And yet he not only still has a job, for the second straight season (and 3rd in a row his team has missed the playoffs) he was allowed to decide whether he wanted to keep it. If a person likes their job, or at least the paycheck, regardless of how bad they are at their profession, I believe they're going to keep their job if given a choice. So therefore you can't blame McHale for rehiring himself. Twice.
If you're one of the 5 or 6 pro basketball fans left in the Upper Midwest who still care about the Wolves, you're probably wondering who's left to blame. Well that's easy: owner Glen Taylor. For reasons that are beyond comprehension (Man crush? Incriminating evidence? Family held hostage?) Glen Taylor continues to employ Kevin McHale and allow him to make all important decisions pertaining to his basketball team. It's Glen Taylor's fault the Wolves suck, and will continue to suck, at least through the end of Garnett's contract next summer, because he refuses to fire the man responsible for the Wolves situation. So therefore it is Taylor who is responsible for the team's predicament.
Here's the obvious catch though: you cannot fire the owner. More over, I'm not sure you'd want to. Taylor has put a ton of money into the team, and is as passionate an owner as there is. If fans were to revolt by, oh I don't know, stop going to games, watching on TV or buying merchandise until a change is made, the alternatives are not attractive for professional basketball in Minnesota. There's not a long line of people with deep pockets who would want to keep the team in-state. And if the NBA is going to allow the Sonics to leave a Seatte market that's larger than the Twin Cities (as well as one who faithfully supported the NBA since the early '70's), you better believe they'd let the Wolves leave Minnesota. So for better, and certainly for the forseeable future, for worse, if you want to watch pro basketball in Minnesota, you're stuck with Glen Taylor, Kevin McHale, and a s***ty team.
Well folks, welcome back to 2006, when Kevin McHale said he was going to stick around and make things better. We all know how that turned out: 32-50. And oh, by the way, the 20-20 season that Dwayne Casey had put together was supposed to get better with Whitman right? How many wins did Whit pull together? Oh yeah, 12. So McHale is coming back, and Jeff IM's me and we have this conversation that pretty much sums it up for me: Jeff says (3:34 PM): so are you going to rant on the blog about McHale/Taylor? Jeremy Miller x5032 says (3:35 PM): i suppose i should, but I just don't know if my heart is in it anymore Jeff says (3:35 PM): i don't blame you Jeremy Miller x5032 says (3:35 PM): it's depressing Jeff says (3:35 PM): to say the least
And that really does sum it all up for me. I just don't know if I have the heart to continue to invest in the Wolves as long as Kevin McHale is around. He has driven this franchise so far into the ground with bad acquisitions, and then piled dirt on top of it with a slew of horrible long-term contracts, that I don't think it's worth investing in the franchise as long as he's making the decisions. The worst part is that he's taken all of us down with him. And I'm not sure what's worse: the fact that McHale doesn't know when to throw in the towel, or that Glen Taylor doesn't have the sack to throw the towel at him. "The fans are frustrated, and they should be... It's been three consecutive bad seasons... There's a frustration level ... but I don't want to walk away with the team in this state...Unfortunately, it reminds me of the team I took over." HE'S ADMITTING THAT THE TEAM IS NOW AS BAD AS IT WAS WHEN HE INHERITED IT!!! I cannot believe that he has the audacity to say "I don't want to walk away with that team in this state." This proves that McHale has no earthly clue how to run a franchise, when in fact walking away is exactly what he should do. Kevin McHale has ZERO ability to rectify a bad situation, but when it comes to making a bad situation worse, McHale is a WORLD FREAKIN' CHAMPION.
I have a love/hate relationship with the NBA. I love basketball and I love to see it played by its best players, and I suppose that's why I have such high hopes for the league- and why I'm continually let down by it. This season I was ready to walk away, what with the well-noted Tankapalooza2007, reading today what I already said would happen when Coffee Bitch sold them last summer, and poor Wolves beat reporter Steve Aschburner inventing new ways to put a positive spin on yet another blowout loss for a team that quit because incompetent management/ownership has given them no other choice. But then Commissioner David Stern threw the curveball of curveballs by suspending referee Joey Crawford for the rest of the season and possibly the playoffs for ejecting whiner/All star Tim Duncan for LAUGHING.
To me there are three major image problems for the NBA... and one of them is nuclear war (sorry old Austin Powers joke)...seriously one of them is the pro wrestling atmosphere of the playoffs where it seems that maybe, just maybe, the whole thing is rigged for certain teams with certain high-profile players to win *cough*Dwyane Wade*cough*. True or not, the stigma of one-sided or biased refing in the playoffs has stuck, to the point that just about everybody who wasn't a Miami Heat fan calling the officiating last June a joke. Crawford, one of the longest tenured refs, was one of the worst offenders, and over the past few years his ego was almost eclipsing that of the players, which is saying something. It seemed as though Crawford wanted the spotlight in playoff games, and made some ludicrous calls to get his shiny bald mug on TV. His ejection of Duncan was unbelievable, and yet I expected nothing to happen because nothing EVER happens to referees that blow calls or job teams. The league says it will reprimand or fine an official or suspend him or whatever, yet that same crappy egomaniac is back giving Wade or Lebron free throws and throwing out whoever dares even think about disagreeing with a call. I mean it got to the point where Stern was throwing such enormous fines at people for complaining about the officiating that even Mark Cuban, who seemingly lives to get fined, hasn't said a peep all year. And now Stern suspends Crawford and gives a rational explanation? What's next- Stern admitting the lotteries for the Knicks in '85 and Wizards in '01 were rigged?
Honestly, I'm not sure where we go from here. Is this Stern admitting he was wrong and making amends, like Lost killing off Nikki and Paulo? Or is just another publicity stunt to grab headlines like with the ball, or the dress code. I hope Stern will finally let the world's best groups of athletes decide the NBA champion instead of the officials. That would solve ONE of the league's biggest problems.
The other two? Well here's where the Commish and I disagree, at least publicly. Stern stated on espn.com yesterday that he intends to address the tanking issue this offseason, vowing to find a way to stop teams from tanking to get the best possible pick. Me personally, I'm not bothered by Memphis or Boston sucking to get a chance at once-in-a-decade talents like Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. As the Sports Guy and numerous others have explained, a potential superstar can change the fortunes for a team in basketball more than any other sport, so why wouldn't a team with no chance of making the playoffs give themselves the best possible chance to land one of these two? It's not like this happens every year either. Since the lottery concept began in 1985, and was tweaked after 1993 (when the Magic landed back-to-back #1 picks) there's only been a handful of drafts where there's been a player worth tanking for. Seriously look at this: Ewing in 85, Shaq in 92, Webber/Penny Hardaway in '93, Duncan in '97, and Lebron/Melo in '03. Including this year, that's 6 drafts in 23 years.
The tanking that DOES bother me hits with NBA's other real problems, which are an image of lazy players and dumb GM's. For the 2nd year in a row, your aforementioned Wolves are trying to secure a particular draft spot so they don't lose their pick because their GM made a bad trade/signing. The TPups aren't alone either, as Atlanta and Indiana tried to do the same this year, and you can be certain that with so few competent GM's in the league, and so many players getting guaranteed contracts no matter how they perform, this isn't going away. GM's will continue to make dumb trades and sign guys to bad contracts, crippling their team. I mean really, what options do the Wolves have? McHale has screwed up this roster so badly with poor drafting, trades and free agent signings, that their only hope of keeping Garnett is to keep their #1's and land Oden or Durant. That's it.
The solution here is simple: do away with guaranteed contracts. It's why the NFL is the most popular sport on the continent, because players HAVE to give their all or they get cut. Doing this in the NBA would do a much better job of making players give max effort, and also letting GM's off the hook for bad contracts. Fans get to see players actually trying on a nightly basis, and they know their teams aren't trapped in salary cap hell if/when their GM makes a dumb move. Everybody wins- well except the lazy-ass players who currently get guaranteed money.
It would take a man like Stern, who when he wants to can be as intimidating a figure as there is in sports, to make this happen. The players union would fight it at all costs, and as the lockout dragged on the owners and fans would fight it too. But IF he could hold his ground, and explain in ways that only he can to "make them an offer they can't refuse", it would be his boldest and best move as Commissioner.
Short of that, there is an easier way to help solve the problem of bad GM's and bad contracts...which we'll save for next time.
My gal and I attended the Twins tilt against the Devil Rays on Friday night. I spent the day at work in a fog; part allergies, part excitement at my first opportunity to see Johan Santana pitch live. But what I saw at the Metrodome on Friday night from the tenth row of the left field home run porch, was nothing short of disgusting. In the words of Don Henley, "this is the end... this is the end of the innocence." Johan was pretty good, but he was not his normal Cy Young-esque self, and the bats were might as well have stayed on the rack. But that's not what I'm talking about when I say that this is the end. Look, as Americans, we are in trouble. I have seen the next generation, and ladies and gentlemen, we may as well go ahead and board the whole thing up because we are in a whole heap of trouble. A generation that has no respect for baseball is a generation that I don't want to be around when they start running things into the ground.
Timeline: 1st inning: 4 youngsters around the age of 10 try to get the wave going. (By the way, I hate the wave. I absolutely abhor the wave. But that's another topic for another time.) I groan audibly. 2nd inning: The first, of what would become several, beach-ball of the evening begins making its way around the left field seats. The fans boo when the usher confiscates and pops it. 3rd inning: Beach-ball #2. Same outcome. Apparently the fans have short memories. 4rd inning: Heard from a 20ish female behind me "The right fielder looks cute." We were sitting in left field. 5th inning: Beach-ball #3. 6th inning: As, the row of 20-somethings behind us continue to not pay attention to the game, the females in the group begin to talk about their Twins t-shirts, all of which had been bought the day of the game. Please shoot me. 7th inning: Almost nobody within my line of sight is singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," and most look confused by what is going on. 8th inning: The Twins need a rally, and the kid sitting next to me looks at me like I'm smoking crack-cocaine when I turn my hat inside out and wear it backwards. Shouldn't it be completely legal for me to hit someone like this? (And by the way, if you don't know what it means to turn one's hat inside out during the late innings of a baseball game, please don't ever read this blog again.) 9th inning: Within my line of site only 5 people, including myself are wearing the proverbial "rally cap." Game end: Twins lose. I'm not surprised. This was a poor showing by the fans.
Well hello there. Hope you're all enjoying "Easter Monday" and the day off that comes with it...oh wait, um, that's right, you don't live in a metric socialist country where they take all your money in taxes but give back with 4 day weekends for Easter. I believe Sean Connery said it best when he said "Suck it Trebek!" I'm not even sure what that means.
* Ok so I suck at golf and don't pay attention to it other than when the 4 majors are on, which is a nice way of saying I'm uneducated. But here's my question: would you rather see a tourney that's played well, with Tigger and Lefty and Ernie and Vijay and Weir (I have to include him now that I live here. It's communist law) playing under par and making great shot after great shot? Or one like this weekend's Masters where the course just kicks everybody's ass all weekend long? Because I'd definitely choose the former. I mean I know the rich old crusty white guys at Augusta probably LOVE seeing their course pull an Iron Lotus on the world's best, but it's not as much fun to watch. Maybe it's me. Oh and just who the hell is Zach Johnson anyway?
* So my baseball team, which happens to be none other than the 1st place Seattle Mariners, had an entire weekend of baseball snowed out. Yes snow (I'm choosing to overlook the fact that the only reason Seattle remains in 1st is because of the snow). Would it make too much sense to play the 1st week or so of the season in sunny locales or places with domes? Sure global warming will make this point moot in about 10 years, but for the next 9, is it such a bad idea to not have guys freezing their asses off or fighting through snowstorms? Isn't baseball hard enough already?
* I now hate the Red Sox almost as much as the Yankees (really what's the difference between the two teams now? Well other than the Sox fanbase is way more whiny and annoying?), but I'll make one comment on them after watching their 3-2 victory over Texas last night: moving Jonathan Papelbon back to closer might be the best move of the season- for anybody. Papelboner came in the 8th last night with runners at 1st & 3rd with one out, and Texas' 2 best hitters due up: SS Michael Young and 1B Mark Teixiera. The Boner struck out Young on 4 pitches, then got Teixiera to pop up on the 5th. Inning over. He then mowed down the next 3 Ranger hitters in the 9th. Ball game. I am well aware of the age old argument that starters are more valuable than relievers, and I understand the "pro starter" argument, but after watching last night, the Red Sox definitely did the right thing moving him to the closer's role. He and Joe Nathan are the two best in baseball, and it's a huge edge when you know you have a guy like that to protect late leads. I'm not sayin, I'm just sayin.
* Hockey playoffs start Wednesday! Feel the excitment! It's hockey mania here, but it's just plain stupid that we have teams like Atlanta and Tampa Bay in the playoffs and not Toronto or Montreal. Great job on the expansion there Gary Bettman. You've got so much parity in your league that the two largest markets and most popular teams in Canada are staying home so that southerners who wouldn't know a puck if they were hit in the head with one (frankly they probably wouldn't feel that either) can take a break from playing Toby Keith and watching NASCAR to watch hockey...and then immediately forget it and stop caring the instant "their" team is eliminated. At least Minnesota made it, and considering they're playing my least favorite sports franchise on earth, well, Go WILD! is all I have to say! At least until they play the Canucks. Then it's on!
* Finally, ESPN.com did an Ultimate Franchise Rankings where they polled a bunch of fans on a myriad of questions and categories, and came out with the "best franchise" ranked from 1 to 122. Your top 5: Buffalo Sabres, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Indy Colts, and the Detwah Pistons. The Twinkies finished 14th, with the 4th most likeable/hardest working players, the 3rd worst stadium (3 wild guesses at what the worst was. here's a hint: it's the same building!), and somehow only the 77th best ownership group (Sid Hartman must have done the voting there). The Pack were 23rd (Lambeau was voted the #2 stadium. #1? Wait for it...), the Wild ranked 29th (#1 stadium in all of sports. Couldn't agree more), my Canucks were 74th, my 1st place Seattle Mariners were 90th (10th best stadium), and your Minnesota Timberwolves were ranked 109 (both their coaching/managing and "Title track" ranked 117th- or 5th worst. The fans must not read Forbes?). But of course the icing on the cake is the bottom 5. Ladies and gentlemen, fans of The Purple, your 5 worst pro franchises in all of sports as voted on by the fans: 1) Detwah Leones 2) Oakland Raiders 3) New York Knicks 4) YOUR MINNESOTA VIKINGS!!!! 5) Chicago Blackhawks
That's right, if you thought Viking fan morale was at an all-time low, well, you're absolutely right! Thanks Chilly! Thanks Ziggy! And thank you Viking fans for voting. I can't WAIT for football seaon now! You know it's bad when the best thing for the franchise would be an awful season so that Chilly and the entire staff (front office included) gets canned and we get as high a draft pick as possible for 2008. That's my hope! That's my Vikings! Catch the Purple Fever!
A few things to mention as we head into the Easter weekend. 1) Thoroughly enjoyed the college hoops national Final Monday night. Good to see Greg Oden finally have a game where he looked like the dominant force he’s supposed to be. Of course I question why he doesn’t play like that every night, but really there’s no need to worry about his pro potential since 99% of the guys in the NBA don’t play hard every night either. He’ll fit right in. This is the most fun I’ve had watching basketball since the Fab 5 were wearing baggy shorts and taking money from boosters at Michigan, and I hope Oden, Durant, the UCLA guys and everybody else sticks around for another year. It had been so long since we saw college hoops played at a high level, that I forgotten just how much better it is than the NBA. Besides the fan intensity and that the kids actually play hard every game (well except Oden), it’s nice to see TEAM basketball where they actually run an offense, work it around for the best shot and mid-range jumpers. Even though Florida was in control for most of that game, it was so enjoyable to watch because they ran their offense so bloody well. They always seemed to make the extra pass and find the right guy, and when that didn’t work Lee Humphrey would bomb away from 25 feet out. Seriously how impressive was he? The guy was an absolute assassin, but hey, we have no room for that kind of player on the next level. He busts his ass on both ends, and shoots the lights out. Nope if you don’t have the desire to go 1-on-5, refer to yourself in the 3rd person, and want to make it all about you, you’re not going to be an NBA player (the Suns, Mavs and KG being the only exceptions).
Can you tell I’m down on the NBA right now? Since my Sonics are going to Oklahoma next year, and I can’t stand watching the Wolves anymore, I’m now without a team. (By the way here’s the courtesy link to ESPN.com’s interview with KG. Minnesotans, enjoy him for the last 2 weeks because after this year he’s G-O-N-E. Notice in the article his only comments to the “will you ask for a trade?” is that his only focus is on finishing out the season strong. Sure he doesn’t say he wants to be traded, but not ONCE does he say he’s coming back and does NOT want to be traded despite being given every opportunity to in the interview. Not once. KG’s done everything you could possibly ask a superstar athlete to do, and he should be sent out like a hero. Hopefully this summer Freddy Hoiberg can start to clean up the awful mess Kevin McHale has made).
Admittedly my buddies Ben and Joel and I tried to adopt the Charlotte Bobcats as our favorite team (all three of are Canadians, and all three of us hate the Raptors. Yet none of us have given a crap about the NBA this year). So I’m hoping that as many good players as possible stay in school so that college hoops will be that much better.
As for Luke's comment about Billy Packer...
The only thing on Saturday night that annoyed me more than Joakim Noah's girliness is Billy Packer MANY times referring to a very questionable call and saying that it was "unquestionably" a foul or "unquestionably" not a foul. Who is he paid by? Is he so authoritative that nobody can question his judgement?
...well that’s just the tip of the iceberg. To say Packer’s a little set in his ways would be like saying Tom Cruise has gone a little crazy. Read this story the Sports Guy linked to from USA Today and you’ll understand just how great Billy thinks he is. He does no research on the team’s he’s covering and DOESN’T EVEN BOTHER TALKING TO THE COACHES BEFORE THE GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who else could possibly get away with that? As the SG has mentioned numerous times over the past few months, he doesn’t like Packer and doesn’t know anyone else who does. I agree. I can’t stand him and none of my friends (at least to my knowledge) like him either. Why can’t Bill Raftery have that job? He’s my favorite analyst in any sport and perfectly captures the excitement of college basketball but still does an excellent job of telling you what’s going on AND WHY (that always baffles me. When they show replays color commentators so often just give a play-by-play of what happened rather than telling us WHY it happened. Don’t do the play-by-play guy’s job. Do yours!).
Finally I’d just like to say how thankful I am that the Masters falls on Easter weekend, since I have nothing better to do Friday, Saturday and Sunday than watch (said in a whisper) “The Masters.” Between that, Mariners baseball (3 games in and we’re STILL above .500! May wonders never cease!), the Canucks trying to clinch the Northwest division (if you think Minnesota loves the Wild, multiply that by about a billion and you’ll start to understand how much people love the Canucks here. I suppose that’s what happens when you’ve got a metropolitan area the size of Seattle or the Twin Cities with ONE pro sports team.), AND 20 degree Celcius temperatures predicted, this is shaping up to be a nice little weekend. Maybe Bed, Bath and Beyond…I don’t know if we’ll have time.
In case you were wondering, just two more days until the Gopher Spring Football game and the Gopher Nation Celebration! I might be excited. Can you tell? Two reasons I'm excited about this: First of all, IT'S FOOTBALL!!! Second of all, IT'S TAILGATING!!! Yep, you read that right, we'll be tailgating for the spring game. What is this Florida? Texas? Who do we think we are, USC? You know what? I don't care. Brewster is pumping up the troops, and the fans, and it's about time. Think like a winner, play like a winner. In case you haven't been paying attention, there's a lot of excitement going on over at the U. I have to tell you, it's pretty impressive what Joel Maturi has been able to do for Gopher Sports in the past 90 or so days. I believe that I've said it before, but he had a chance to make the Gopher Sports program the talk of the town, and he has managed to do it. I never thought I'd be saying this about Joel Maturi, but nicely done! So back to Gopher Football. Since National Signing day in early February, Brewster has continued to make an impact in recruiting. Just this week Champlain Park linebacker Sam Maresh committed to the Gophers, and Ryan Grant (son of EP coach Mike Grant and grandson of former Vikings coach Bud Grant), quarterback/linebacker from Eden Prairie, committed as well. Maresh is a big commitment. He's will be the top defensive player in the state when high school football opens in the fall, and he's been ranked in the top 250 prospects in the nation. I saw a brief interview with Maresh who said that Brewster absolutely sold him on the program and staying home to play football. Apparently Maresh was driving home from the U of M campus to Champlin with his dad and he told him to turn the car around, he wanted to make a verbal commitment to Minnesota. In an interview with WCCO's Mike Max Maresh said "It just put butterflies in my stomach with all the stuff he was saying about 'we need Minnesota boys to stay in Minnesota' and 'we really need you'. He's just a real passionate guy and he's real dedicated in what he's going to do for this program." And, oh by the way, Maresh had been offered scholarships at Michigan, Miami, Wisconsin and Iowa, and has said that he will actively speak with Cretin-Derham Hall receiver Michael Floyd and Eden Prairie defensive end Willie Mobley about staying in Minnesota. Wasn't it Glen Mason who said we couldn't land blue chippers in Minnesota?
Deja vu? Yes here we are again, with a national final of Florida and Ohio State. Just as conventional wisdom (or at least mine) said the Buckeyes should have no trouble beating the Gators in football, after watching Saturday's games I see no way Florida loses to Ohio State in basketball. Which if the football Title game is any indication means Ohio State will win by 20. But I doubt it. Once the Gator's outside shooters started knocking down shots early in the 2nd half against UCLA (you knew it was only a matter of time), it was over. Ben Howland knew it too, as he had used all his timeouts before the 12 min TV timeout to try and slow the momentum. But the Gators, as they were last year, were just too much, overpowering the Bruins inside and outshooting them from the perimeter. And defense. We can't forget that, the part that UCLA prided itself on most was where Florida really shined. Corey Brewer was impressive shutting down Aron Afflalo and Darren Collison on the perimeter, and UCLA got nothing inside, going one-and-done on just about every trip.
Ohio State is better than UCLA because of Mike Conley and Greg Oden, but it's not going to matter for one simple reason: Oden can't stop committing quick, cheap, early fouls. IT's like he has foul-itis, where he can't stop himself from reaching in or running over somebody when he should know better. Oden HAS to know by know that EVERYBODY they play will be trying to get him in foul trouble. And what did he do against the Hoyas? He said "screw it" and picked up 2 dumb fouls in the first 3 minutes. His first half minutes in this tournament have been as short as Britney Spear's hair, and his chances of him not continuing that trend in tonight's final are about as good as the chances of Ms. Spears staying in rehab.
IF Oden can stay in the game, we could see an all-time classic, but even then the Gators have too much. They can run Noah (who's moving into a Mateen Cleaves-level of annoyance for me), Hortford and Richard at him, while Brewer and Green slash to the hoop and Humphrey nails 3 after 3. As Denny Green would say "They are who we thought they were! We knew this was the 2006 National Champs, so if you wanna go ahead and crown their ass, you crown them!" Thanks Denny. I believe they will be crowned Monday night as the first back-to-back Champs since the damn Dukies.
A quick uneducated baseball preview, since nobody told me the season started. What? IT did? Already? I suppose it is April already. AL division winners as the A's, Tiggers, and Red Sox, wild card is Toronto (and I hate Toronto, so keep in mind it kills me to say that). The A's don't look to be the best team in a weak West, but they always find a way. In Beane We Trust. The Central is the best division in the game, and the Tigers have the depth and experience to win it. Cleveland's margin for error is too small for my liking. If/when CC Sabathia goes down they're in trouble again. They will hit though. I'm not saying the Twins will have a bad year (they'll be above .500), I just don't see how you win with the best player in baseball and then 4 #5 starters as your rotation. Anyone? Watch they'll go and win the whole damn thing. And the Yanks? They're starting Carl Pavano on opening day. Randy Johnson's not walking through that door. Roger Clemens' not walking through that door (calm down, he's going back to Houston once the roids have had a few cycles- I'm sorry what?). Their pitching is suspect to begin with, and if you've noticed, there's not a lot of teams out there with a surplus of pitching to trade with. Unless you want to give up a king's ransom for Jon Lieber in Philly? Didn't think so. The offense will hit as always, but the entire pitching staff (short of Mariano Rivera) is suspect, and in the AL that's not going to get it done.
Although I'd like to dance on the graves of the anti-christ, this is actually not a good sign for anti-Yankee fans like myself. Now that GM Brian Cashman is actually allowed to do his job (ol George is too old and tired to control everything anymore), the Yanks are building through their farm system (i.e. dealing Sheffield and The Unit for prospects), and will still have the cash to sign the big free agents or make the shrewd deals. So although they'll miss the playoffs this year (first time in a decade. Wow!), they'll be back to stay in 2008.
In the National League, um, I mean, do you really care? Do you? It's still AAAA baseball over there, and as I said last year, there's not one team in the National League as good as the top 6 in the AL. The Mets? Rotation issues. Phillies? Bullpen issues. Cardinals? They don't make horseshoes that big to have a team that bad win 2 titles in a row. And the NL West is awful. So who's in? (Closing eyes and pointing randomly to teams) Mets, Phils, Brewers and...San Diego (founded by the Germans in 1904. I will never tire of that joke)? Sure sounds good.