Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fare thee well, MWSR

Well folks, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Here we are three years after starting Midwest Sports Rubes, and it seems that it's time to board up the franchise.
Looking back, we haven't tackled any difficult subjects, but we've covered a bevy of them, to say the least.

Remember these topics?
The Lakers trade Shaq to Miami
Ricky Williams retires... then un-retires... then gets high... then gets kicked of the league... then plays in Canada... then... I lost track.
The fall of The Dream Team.
Glen Mason's Minnesota tenure, and firing.
Red McComb's hog-tying, then selling the Vikings.
The Randy Ratio.
Latrell Spreewell not being able to feed his family.
Maurice Clarrett being an idiot.
Kevin McHale being a horrible GM.
Don Stern's implementation of a dress code for NBA players.
The Viking boat scandal.
The Mike Tice Era.
The demise of the Flip Saunders Era.
The Dwayne Casey Era.
The end of Randy Moss.
The end of Daunte Culpepper.
Ty Willingham out... Charlie Weis in at Notre Dame.
Kevin Garnett getting traded to Boston.
Terrell Owens to Baltimore... no wait, to Philly, then to Dallas.
Terry Ryan resigns as Twins GM.
Dan Monson finally fired.
Johan Santana and Torii Hunter contract talks.
New stadiums for the Twins and Gopher Football.

There has been a lot of topics that we have pontificated on. And there will be a ton of future topics that we will have opinions about... those opinions just won't be posted here.
There are several reasons for allowing Midwest Sports Rubes to die. We always imagined this blog to be a community and interactive, but it never turned into that. We have rarely gotten much feedback. This is something that we have discussed and tried to figure out for the entire 3 years. But the bottom line is that it never turned into that. This has sometimes made it difficult to find motivation to write. The numbers say we have been getting 50 or so hits/week, but that number hasn't grown in well over a year. We also don't know if these are 50 unique viewers, or just the same 8-10 people checking the site a few times a week.
In addition, we still have the passion and aforementioned opinions that we once had about sports, we just don't have the passion for writing about them that we once did.
Lastly, we have come to the realization that a general sports blog is tough to maintain, and doesn't really catch on. It seems that in order for a blog to catch on you need a specific niche. As an example, the Fire Glen Mason Blog that we started a year before Mason was fired, still gets almost 50 hits per week... and it hasn't been updated since mid-January.
Jeff has encouraged me to turn the Fire Glen Mason blog into a Gopher Football blog, and I have obliged. Actually, Fire Glen Mason is gone, but my new Gopher Football Blog can be found at Jeff isn't sure what he will do yet as far as writing, but he's talented in writing and verbal communication, so you will certainly here from him in some form down the road.
Thank you for joining us on this sporadic journey over the last 3 years. Thank you to the readers and to those who commented... it's been real!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Jeremy: So much to say...

Commenting on a few of the hot sports topics of the day:

*The Patriots/Cameragate
Here is a quote from The Sports Guy's article about the topic:
"Teams in every sport often cheat in little ways to try to get a small advantage. When cheating is exposed, teams are punished. You take your punishment like a man, and you move on -- and the fans of the other teams ALSO move on. The Patriots did something wrong, but the level of the response is just ludicrous because so many fans just hate the Patriots -- not because of anything the Patriots have done, but because of the constant praise they've received from the media over the past few years."
I don't buy it.
First of all, I don't buy that "so many fans just hate the Patriots," and second, I don't believe that "the level of the response is just ludicrous."
In my opinion, Belichick has a bit of Barry Bonds to him, in the sense that, he's just not that likable of a guy. I'm not saying he isn't a great coach, clearly he is, but he's not that likable. I think people have wondered for a long time what is behind his genius. He always seems to have some angle that nobody else has. I don't think fans "just hate the Patriots," but I do think that fans dislike Belichick.
Let me be clear, I'm not implying that Belichick is the coach that he is because of taping, I'm simply offering an opinion why, although I do not think the response is "ludicrous," the there might be some backlash against Belichick and the Patriots.

*Terry Ryan leaves the Twins
As Jeff mentioned, just a huge blow for the Twins organization. Jeff and I had a nice talk about this over instant messenger last night. Jeff made the point that perhaps Ryan got tired of having his hands tied by the Pohlad family, that maybe Carl and his boys said "no dice" on breaking the bank to sign Torii and Santana. And I think Jeff is absolutely right.
Hot Carl is of the old school thought that player salaries should not exceed 50% of your team's expenses, which is such outdated thinking that it's staggering. Jeff has pointed out a few times here that Pohlad is the second richest owner in baseball, but Carl's personal wealth has never entered into the equation when it comes to the Twins. Carl Pohlad is a banker. Banker's like low risk transactions, and Hot Carl is no different.
Terry Ryan has done more with less than any other GM could have hoped to accomplish, and as Souhan points out today, we have been spoiled by the crafty moves that Ryan has made.

*Greg Oden out for rookie season.
The NE Revival took a major hit yesterday when it was announced that Oden went under the knife for knee surgery and will miss the entire season. Don Stern has built a league that centers around player personalities, and that is why this is such a devastating blow to the league... not to mention the Portland TrailBlazers.

*Notre Dame vs. Michigan
As Jeff pointed out earlier this week, either Notre Dame or Michigan is going to be 0-3 after this week's game. Unreal. Earlier in the week I was trying to decide, who would I most like to see lose this game? Which team do I most want to see fall so far from grace that climbing back is nearly impossible? But then I realized... this one is easy.
I work with a couple of hard-core Notre Dame fans (who also happen to be Bears fans) and seeing them on Mondays the past two weeks has been more tolerable than it was last fall. It was hard to fault their enthusiasm after some tough years under the Golden Dome, but my question to them last year was "who have you beat?" ND only played 4 ranked opponents last year, and Penn State (#19 at the time) was their only win in those games. They got beat by AT LEAST 20 points in the other three games, and were absolutely EMBARRASSED by LSU in the Sugarbowl.
Good thing they gave Weis that huge extension.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Jeff: Terry Ryan Resigns

Don't have much time to go into it, but in case you haven't heard, Twins GM Terry Ryan is stepping down after this season. There'll be an official press conference this afternoon to announce it, and as of yet, no word is given on why the 52 year old Ryan is stepping down after 12 seasons on the job. Long time assistant GM Bill Smith, who I've never heard of, takes over.

Obviously, if you're a Twins fan, you owe any and all success the Twinkies have had in the last dozen years to Ryan. This could easily have been the Pirates, Royals, or Devil Rays, but Ryan has kept them competitive on the tightest of budgets. His legacy will always be the AJ for Liriano, Boof and Joe Nathan trade, as well as drafting Joe Mauer when most everyone, including geniuses like me, thought he was crazy for not taking USC ace Mark Prior #1. I didn't agree with all his moves, or maybe the lack-there-of, since I thought he overvalued his prospects at times and wouldn't trade them for ready-now pieces, but how much of that has to do with owner Carl Pohlad not wanting to take on more salary we'll never know.

Regardless, this is a huge loss for a Twins team that is facing a major crossroads this winter with pending free agency and/or extensions needed for Johan Santana, Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter, Joe Nathan, and Mike Cuddyer. Ryan is/was one of baseball's best executives, and this is a huge loss for Minnesota.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Jeff: The Monday Musings...on Tuesday

So it looks like Mondays will officially be insane with an 8:30-5:30 school day, so even though you won't read this until Tuesday, I'm at least writing this on a Monday. Does that count? I think it does. Wow so much happened this weekend, and I had pretty good seats for it on my whirlwind tour of Minnesota. Congrats to Josh and Natalie and enjoy Nova Scotia. I mean it's Canada- how can you NOT enjoy it? Exactly. Thanks to Jer and Mrs Jer for hosting me this weekend. I miss you guys. And to Luke for hosting us for a glorious Sunday afternoon of watching football with men. Just the way God intended it.

As always, please read Peter King's MMQB column first. Ok this should probably be a 2 parter- a college and pro football edition- so we'll see how it goes:

* Your Minnesota Vikings won 24-3. The answer to the question of was Atlanta that bad or the Purple that good lies somewhere in between, and will reveal itself as the season progresses. I'm having a hard time being rationale about this because I have drunk from the Pool of Adrian Peterson Mania and it is delicious. Good lord as much as the win was great to see, I think it feels even better to have a potential super star back in the fold. It just gives you hope no matter what's happening. Thank you AP, and thank you Vikings for having the guts to draft him when you already had Chester Taylor. And yes it's week 1. I'm already dilusional.

* As King points out early in his column, the NFC is, um...well it sucks. It's wide open. Chicago has no offense whatsoever, and yet basically shut down the Charge, who WILL be a top 5 offense again this year. LaDanian Tomlinson is the best back in the league, and maybe the history of the league, and yet they generally contained him. Yes he threw a pass and ran for another, but when you hold the Bolts to 2 TD's and lose, that's not the fault of the D. Still, if that's the best team in the NFC? Did you see Rex Grossman? What about the non-existent Cedric Benson? That's the class of the conference? As King also points out, NOBODY in the NFC looked good. I mean who else can you like? New Orleans? Philly? Seattle? St Louis? They all were varying degrees of suck.

* The sleeping giant in the conference is definitely the Cowboys. Sure the D got torched yesterday, but they've got the pieces to be good again. All the offense is missing is a confident Tony Romo and a Terrell Owens that catches the ball, and we saw both last night. They're the one team and only NFC team with Juggernaut potential. Everybody else has too many holes.

* I really want to like this Vikes team, but I'm not sold yet. My old roomy Kris (who's coaching corners at Bethel and should be a game analyst) pointed out how suspect the Vikes linebackers, and specifically Chad Greenway, looked, but I still see some potential there. Greenway's essentially a rookie, and he made some poor reads dropping in coverage, but he's so athletic, I think he can learn. The line was their usual run-stuffing selves, and this Edwards kid off the end? So that's what a pass rush looks like. I hadn't seen one from an end since Chris Doleman so I had forgotten what it looked like. ANYWAY, if the D is sound, and keep forcing turnovers, well that makes life easier on the offense, but they HAVE to throw for more than 95 freaking yards. Be prepared for seeing all 11 guys in the box from now on though when AP's on the field. These first 4 games are nice, but the middle part of that schedule is brutal.

* Holy Christmas, did you SEE Calvin Johnson in Detroit? I mean seriously? He's a dump truck that moves like a Ferrari. Even Chuck Norris is afraid of him. How on God's green earth do you cover a man that big and fast? We'll see what the Vikes can come up with this week.

* I hate Jake Delhomme. He absolutely KILLED me the last 2 years in fantasy, and so I avoid him like sanity evading Brittney Spears, and what does he do? Of course he tears up the Rams. Of course he did. I can't decide if I hate him more for doing that, or for the almost certainty that I'll be desperate enough to pick him up by week 4...only to have him go back to sucking. I hate Jake Delhomme.

* The Rams are in big trouble. Orlando Pace being done for the year is a gigantic loss (both figuratively and literally).

* Mike & Mike have my favorite radio show, but they should not be doing play-by-play. It just shouldn't happen. Although I'm not sure anybody could make this Arizona/San Francisco game better, but still.

The definition of sweet justice: while Charlie Weis is getting blown out by 30+ for the second week in a row at Notre Dame, former Irish coach Ty Willingham and his UDub Huskies knock off #24 Boise State to move to 2-0, with a H-YOOOGE matchup with Ohio State upcoming. As a Husky fan and Notre Dame hater, I couldn't be happier. Neither could Willingham, but he's way too classy to say it.

* Um why is Lloyd Carr still coaching at Michigan? Forget for a moment the bowl game losing streak and his inability to beat Ohio State. With a team that returns a ton of offensive starters, including a senior QB, RB, and monster LT, he gets beat by a 1-AA team AND gets spanked by Oregon at the Big House in successive weeks? Really? I'm sorry what am I missing here? What could they be hoping for by keeping him? Losing by 40 to Indiana? Schedule a D-III team? Seriously 2 games in and their season is over, and Carr's should be too. I don't get it.

* After this Saturday, either Notre Dame or Michigan will be 0-3. Think about that.

Friday, September 07, 2007

MWSR Podcasting is here...

We've been teasing you with a snazzy podcast player, and a fun poll for far too long. Jeff flew in all the way from Vancouver to record the inaugural podcast. Our first attempt at this is a quickie, less than 10 minutes. You can check it out by clicking the play button on the podcast player on the right side of your screen.

We would love to hear comments from all 6 of our readers/listeners. Did you listen? What did you think? (We already know that the sound is a bit uneven... we're working on that.) What would you like to hear us talk about? Any questions?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Jeremy: This feels familiar

The only difference between the Gophers loss to Bowling Green last night and some of the losses that we were used to seeing under Glen Mason is the fact that last night felt like getting punched in the stomach over and over again for the entire first half... and then again at the end of the game.
I'll give Mason this: he saved the stomach punch for the end.
Utter disbelief. That's how it felt sitting in the Metrodome watching Brew's new crew get absolutely rolled in the first half. I couldn't believe what was happening.
I made the mistake earlier in the day, after finding out that Michigan had lost to Appalachian State, of calling my uncle and saying "MICHIGAN LOST!!! THE DOOR IS OPEN!!!"
Forget walking through that door. Last night the Gophers couldn't even find the door. In fact, during the first half, it was apparent that Brew's Crew didn't even know the damn door existed.
As the guy who lead the charge to Fire Mason, I felt the stomach punch as bad as anyone.
But I got a good night's sleep last night, and I've had some time to think this over. I've calmed down now.
I will admit, Brewster's moxie and rhetoric had me fired up. The salesman sold me. I bought. I bought into what Brewster was selling, he offered me all of the up-charges and extra options, and I bought every last one of them. Hook, line, sinker.
So now I have to take a step back. I can't blame Brew for what he did, trying to convince the state that this team was worth believing in. Really, he had no other options. He inherited a team full of players that were used to being punched in the stomach. A team which lost it's starting quarterback, leading receiver, and an All-Conference tight end... it's fair to say that this offense may have struggled even without the new regime. He is a first year head coach who has allowed new schemes to be implemented on offense and defense. After taking a step back, it's clear I should have realized sooner, Brewster is building for the long haul. The deck has been stacked against him since day one. As they say, he's making lemonade.
And I don't agree with Pat Reusse's take on Brewster today. I don't want Brewster to settle down, and stop chirping. Keep talking coach! We're not used to positivity around here. It makes the punch in the stomach a little easier to recover from.