Monday, September 19, 2005
UPDATE – Thought you might be interested; I just did an interview on WCCO radio with Eric Eskola this morning. It will air this afternoon on WCCO radio. It was a number of questions on the Vikings season thus far. It was fun! If you are like me and live outside of WCCO’s listening area, you can listen to their live audio stream by clicking here. When you get to that page, click on the "listen Live" option. (Note- I'm not exactly sure when it will air. I do know that I was listening at noon. They were doing their hourly news update. Near the end, they mentioned the Vikings and aired a short clip of mine. So maybe it will air only on the hours? Maybe it will be on in full sometime in the afternoon. Note 2 - it wasn't on at 1:00.)
Saturday UPDATE - My final installment of the Blogger's Moment on the Twins Magazine aired this afternoon. You can hear it here. When you go to that page, it will take a little while to start working. On my computer, it took about 45 seconds for the sound to start playing because it is over two minutes in length. I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to e-mail me any comments you may have.
NFL "EXPERT" Picks
MONDAY MORNING LETDOWN
Good Monday Morning! Welcome to the work week! It was another interesting weekend of sports, and we'll discuss some of it here this morning. To be honest, it will probably be a fairly concise posting today, and I'll try to not write up too much. Just the highlights (or, lowlights?) and a few extra thoughts. We'll try to get more data for you starting tomorrow.
It is really tough being a sports fan in Minnesota this year though. It started with the Timberwolves. Coming off of their trip to the NBA's Western Conference finals, they were expected to compete for an NBA title. There were plenty of issues, and they didn't even make the playoffs. Disappointing. And then there's the Twins. Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark gave us hope, predicting the Twins to get to the World Series. Despite incredible pitching, the team will not even make the playoffs. And now, we hear that the Vikings have all these new defensive players to go with their always strong offense and who knows, maybe they'll be a Super Bowl candidate. Well, they're now off to an 0-2 start and it's the offense that is really struggling. To make things worse, the defense was horrible yesterday too. And now, we can only hope for some competitive games to watch. Yes, the Gophers football team is 3-0, having beat three cupcakes by wide margins so far, but they play Purdue next weekend and I have to wonder if reality will set in for them too? Probably.
But we are all "Minnesota Nice," right? We know that the effort is there, so we like to give our home town teams the benefit of the doubt. I mean, I know I'm that way. I chose to enjoy the season, rather than really worry about the end results. Yes, I obviously prefer these teams win, but I look at it all as entertainment. Many want coaching changes, or to continually bash players. I do that too, but usually I have the ability to understand two sides to situations and can give a manager or coach the benefit of the doubt. I don't know if that's changing. Flip Saunders got fired during the season, and I thought that was completely unfair and a terrible decision. I still believe that, although I think that Dwayne Casey will be a very good NBA coach. I went from giving Ron Gardenhire the benefit of the doubt because of the last three seasons and how cohesive his teams were. Well, he still makes a lot of questionable decisions during and before games, and now he has taken to bashing is players in the media. That cohesiveness clearly is no longer around. Is it time for a managerial change? It won't happen, but if it did, I would understand it. Also, if this were most other sports towns, don't you think that Gardy would have been gone long ago? And Mike Tice? Well, see my question down below. What do you think?
Welp, as I have lately, lets start with a couple of Other Thoughts, and some links to some good articles. Today, I really feel the need to direct everyone to Twins Territory where there were a number of great articles over the weekend:
First things first, I have to talk about a couple of movies that I watched over the weekend:
1.) Went to The 40 Year Virgin on Friday night. It is one of the funniest movies that I have ever seen. I literally laughed so hard throughout the movie! Now, it certainly is not a movie for all ages. I mean, the movie started, and within about five minutes there were a couple of couples that got up and left. I can understand it being a little offensive. However, it was so funny! Steve Carell, who also stars on NBC's The Office, is hilarious!! He was on Anchorman, and I'm sure you remember his scenes with the altered voices on Bruce Almighty. As a matter of a fact, there is a movie in production called Evan Almighty where his character will be contacted by God to build an ark.
2.) I bought the DVD of Fever Pitch. It is the movie starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore that involves a a huge Red Sox fan and love and other things. But baseball fans would really like this movie, I think. The Red Sox, the Curse of the Bambino, and other baseball topics are actually done justice. There is actual Red Sox footage. Johnny Damon, Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon are in one scene. OK, so the baseball part is good, but it is a great romantic comedy. Seriously, I loved it! I also think it showed well the lengths that some die-hard baseball fans will go to for their team.
Be sure to check out Roger's review of the Gulf Coast League Twins players. It is really good. He informs me that he will be looking at one Twins affiliate a week.
'cmatthewson' wrote a great article comparing Twins GM Terry Ryan to the Indians GM Mark Shapiro.
On Friday, the news came out in the Star-Tribune that Torii Hunter was putting his house in the cities up for sale leading to speculation that the Twins will trade him in the offseason. (of course, his buddy Jim Souhan had to write an article telling us to think that such a trade would be horrible for the Twins) I suppose I won't mention that USA Today's Sports Weekly had mentioned it almost two weeks earlier. jclund wrote an interesting article on Hunter, comparing him and his salary to other centerfielders in baseball. Personally, I think his $10.75 million salary could be used to acquire two or three guys that can out-produce Hunter. That's not to say that Hunter isn't a really good player. Defensively, he is second to none, but centerfield defense can be replaced as we have seen by Lew Ford. His ability to hit 25-30 homers a year seems like it shouldn't be a big deal, but to the Twins, it is.
A case against Johan Santana as a Cy Young candidate??? I may agree, at all, with 'dwintheiser' who wrote said article that would be controversial among Twins fans.
If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
The Twins and White Sox played a three game set this weekend. When we all saw the schedule last spring, we circled this weekend as games to be excited for! I mean, Twins/White Sox in September! Who could ask for anything more?! But the White Sox got off to such a great start and the Twins played horribly for the middle two months of the season, making this just another weekend series. But again, I still enjoy the game, and the games, so it's still worth watching, no matter what.
On Friday night, the Sox won a 2-1 game in 10 innings. Scott Baker continued to impress. He went seven innings and gave up a run on just two hits. He walked an uncharacteristic three batters, but was very good! Problem was that Jon Garland was just as good. He gave up just a run, on Jacque Jones' 21st homer of the season, in eight innings.
On Saturday, the Twins got an incredible pitching performance from two guys that they have counted on all year. Johan Santana probably pitched the best he has all year. He got the first 13 hitters out, and was striking out a lot of hitters! Aaron Rowand blooped a single to end the perfect game chance in the 5th. But Santana kept dealing. However, in the 9th inning, he loaded the bases, and Joe Nathan was brought in to close the door. After striking out the next three hitters, he had preserved the strikeout and recorded his 38th save. So, Santana went 8 innings and gave up four hits and two walks. He struck out 13, improved to 14-7 and reduced his ERA to 3.05. Justin Morneau gave the team a 2-0 lead with a long home run, his 20th of the year. Later in the same inning, Jason Tyner drove in two with a triple. Tyner was 3-5 on the game. Michael Cuddyer gave the team an extra run with his 10th homer of the year. Terry Tiffee and Lew Ford each had two hits.
Yesterday, it was another 2-1 loss for the Twins. Kyle Lohse gave up a run in five innings. Jesse Crain was perfect for two innings. Juan Rincon, thanks to a Nick Punto error, gave up an unearned run in his inning. He falls to 6-6. Matt Guerrier pitched a scoreless 9th. Joe Mauer went 2-3 with a walk. Jones had the lone RBI again.
Anyway, here are the pitching matchups for a West Coast trip to Oakland to face an A's team that is clinging to their Wild Card hopes. As you can imagine, there will be a couple of games that I will be paying close attention to, the Tuesday and Wednesday games. I am not sure which games are, or aren't, going to be televised, but I have to believe that the Liriano start will be on TV. If that is the case, there WILL be an analysis of his start on Wednesday!
Monday - 9:05 pm - Brad Radke (9-11, 3.91, 1.17, .272) vs Barry Zito (13-12, 3.75, 1.20, .220)
Tuesday - 9:05 pm - Francisco Liriano (0-0, 3.86, 0.57, .130) vs Joe Blanton (10-11, 3.57, 1.24, .239)
Wednesday - 3:35 pm - Scott Baker (1-2, 2.87, 1.09, .219) vs Joe Kennedy (7-11, 5.84, 1.70, .258)
Any thoughts on the Twins, White Sox, A's, Barry Bonds, the playoffs or anything, please e-mail me.
Here are some things that I wrote in my Vikings predictions before Week 1:
"Daunte Culpepper is the best QB in the NFL! OK, that might be just a little bit much, but he is certainly in the Top 2."
"Daunte Culpepper will be the league's MVP."
"As always though, it completely depends on the health and effectiveness of the offensive line."
Prediction - The team gets to play in the NFC North, which obviously helps then some. If the team doesn't win this incredibly week division, big changes will be in store, including the certain firing of Mike Tice. I predict an 11-5 season, with a chance at a 12-4. As I have said before, if the defense can be just average, this team could be dangerous in the NFC. Along with the Eagles, Panthers and Falcons, the Vikings have to considered as a likely representative of the NFC in the Super Bowl."
Maybe I should hold back predictions of any kind for baseball. Daunte for MVP?? Vikings in the Super Bowl? Wow! I guess sometimes it is just best to admit that I was wrong (unfortunately, this happens a LOT). The only thing I can say I am right about is that the NFC North is incredibly weak (of course, I spelled that week, so even when I was right, I was wrong!)
There are so many questions surrounding the Vikings. Let me start with this one:
Q: How long until Mike Tice is fired?
a.) right before his Monday afternoon press conference?
b.) on the Tuesday off-day?
d.) October 3rd, the day after the Falcons beat them to drop them to 0-4, giving a new coach the bye week to get things figured out?
e.) Midseason sometime?
f.) he'll make it through the season?
As I was watching the game, I was thinking that the answer to that question was going to be closer to a.) than f.), with f.) really being incredibly unlikely.
Second play of the game, 70 yards from Carson Palmer to Chad Johnson. A turnover. Another touchdown pass, this one to TJ Houshmandzadeh. And really, it was more of the same the rest of the game. Vikings turnover turned into Bengals points.
Michael Bennett actually rushed well, three times for an impressive 36 yards. Unfortunately, he fumbled on two of those carries, and didn't get back into the game. Mewelde Moore entered the game, and I would have to assume that Moore will be taking over top running back duties. Daunte Culpepper threw five interceptions in the game and was just not good the entire time. In Week 1, we were able to blame the offensive line for many of the mishaps. This week, that isn't the case. The receivers weren't getting open, and Daunte was waiting too long often, meaning sacks, or forced passes. In this case, there is no quarterback controversy, but I did think that a change to Brad Johnson by the fourth quarter would have been smart.
I thought that Paul Allen made a very astute comment on Daunte's struggles. The team may not be less talented overall, however, defenses will be able to play differently against them. With Randy Moss on the field, defenses had to send an extra guy or two his direction. Now they are able to play the other receivers straight up. They are able to play a regular zone. They are able to send an extra linebacker or take more risks on the blitz because they don't have to keep extra men on Moss. It's a fair point!
Honestly, there isn't much more that can be said about the game. The Bengals are good. They could be a playoff team in the difficult AFC. What do the Vikings do? I'd love to hear your thoughts. What is going on?? E-mail me.
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
Alright, so Week 1 was not good for any of our panelists. Week 2 proved to be even worse. Horrible, might be the best way to describe it! But it is still fun, right? But in the end, check out which panelist has the lead heading into the two Monday night football games? That's right, yours truly! Yes, luck is a good thing sometimes!
Seth Stohs Stick & Ball Guy Ben Jacobs Aaron Gleeman Grant Balfour Kevin Slowey SethSpeaks.net Stick & Ball Guy Hardball Times Aaron's BB Blog Minnesota Twins Pitcher Twins Pitching Prospect Baltimore @ Tennessee Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Detroit @ Chicago Lions Lions Lions Lions Bears Bears Minnesota @ Cincinnati Vikings Bengals Bengals Bengals Bengals Vikings San Francisco @ Philadelphia Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles St. Louis @ Arizona Rams Cardinals Cardinals Rams Rams Cardinals Miami @ NY Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Dolphins Jets Kansas City @ Oakland Chiefs Raiders Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Raiders Buffalo @ Tampa Bay Buccs Buccs Buccs Buccs Buccs Bills Jacksonville @ Indianapolis Colts Colts Colts Colts Jaguars Colts New England @ Carolina Panthers Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Pittsburgh @ Houston Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers
Atlanta @ Seattle Seahawks Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Cleveland @ Green Bay Packers Packers Packers Packers Browns Packers San Diego @ Denver Chargers Broncos Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers NY Giants '@' New Orleans Giants Giants Saints Saints Giants Saints Washington @ Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Redskins Cowboys
Will Young Trevor Born Brent Hanson Cory Hepola Mike Brasel Melissa Lien Will's Twins Weblog Twins Junkie BrentNet KTVH-TV Fantasy FB Guru SethSpeaks.net Baltimore @ Tennessee Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Detroit @ Chicago Lions Lions Lions Bears Bears Lions Minnesota @ Cincinnati Vikings Vikings Vikings Bengals Bengals Vikings San Francisco @ Philadelphia Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles St. Louis @ Arizona Cardinals Cardinals Cardinals Cardinals Cardinals Rams Miami @ NY Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Kansas City @ Oakland Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Raiders Raiders Chiefs Buffalo @ Tampa Bay Bills Buccs Bills Buccs Buccs Buccs Jacksonville @ Indianapolis Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts New England @ Carolina Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Panthers Patriots Pittsburgh @ Houston Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Atlanta @ Seattle Falcons Seahawks Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Cleveland @ Green Bay Packers Packers Packers Packers Packers Packers San Diego @ Denver Chargers Broncos Broncos Broncos Chargers Broncos NY Giants '@' New Orleans Saints Giants Giants Giants Giants Saints Washington @ Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys
Looking at the selections of the 12 panelists, here is who the collective "We" think will win each game:
Baltimore @ Tennessee - Ravens 12-0
Detroit @ Chicago - Lions 8-4
Minnesota @ Cincinnati - Tie 6-6
San Francisco @ Philadelphia - Eagles 12-0
St. Louis @ Arizona - Cardinals 8-4
Miami @ NY Jets - Jets 11-1
Kansas City @ Oakland - Chiefs 8-4
Buffalo @ Tampa Bay - Buccs 9-3
Jacksonville @ Indianapolis - Colts 11-1
New England @ Carolina - Patriots 10-2
Pittsburgh @ Houston - Steelers 12-0
Atlanta @ Seattle - Falcons 10-2
Cleveland @ Green Bay - Packers 11-1
San Diego @ Denver - Chargers 7-5
NY Giants @ New Orleans (@NYG) - Giants 7-5
Washington @ Dallas - Cowboys 11-1
And on that note, I will call it a day and say, "Have a great week!" I certainly hope that you have found plenty of things worth reading. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
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