Sunday, June 29, 2008

What if the Twins go for it this year?

Somehow, the Twins are only 1.5 games out of first at the half-way point of the season and sit 8 games above .500 despite some glaring deficiencies to this point.  The AL Central is very winnable and the Twins have some glaring, easy-to-improve weaknesses.  With the minor league pitching depth, it is possible to make a run at this year without interrupting the "compete in 2010" rebuilding process.

What do the Twins need?  There are easy upgrades at 3B (although Buscher has already been a major upgrade over "hits like a" Lamb), SS/2B (depending if Casilla could move to SS), and corner OF/DH.  With the Delmonator penciled in as a building block and Cuddyer under a semi-long-term contract, the team probably disagrees with my assessment.  But Cuddyer's injury could change the picture...

This could be a mess, but I'm going to look at some of the shittiest teams in the league to see how the Twins' needs match up with what they might be looking to unload at the deadline.

By my estimation there are eight teams that won't be bullshitting their fans into believing they are in the Wild Card race:

Padres - Brian Giles
Rockies - Matt Holliday (rumored), Garrett Atkins
Giants - Randy Winn, Ray Durham
Reds - Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Dunn, Griffey Jr.
Pirates - Jason Bay, Xavier Nady
Astros - Jacques Schitt
Nationals - Cristian Guzman, Dmitri Young
Mariners - Raul Ibanez, Adrian Beltre

Granted, there are more players that will probably be available, but I tried to keep it limited.

There are some intriguing names on the list, but some aren't very realistic--the Twins won't give up enough to get into any Holliday sweepstakes, probably don't like Dunn's style, remember the Guzman experience, and Griffey probably isn't a realistic target here.  And frankly, I don't think the team thinks they need OF/DH help with Cuddyer, Young, and Kubel.

What it all comes down to is that I want the Twins to trade for Adrian Beltre.  He's under contract next year for a very reasonable $12mm, plays gold glove caliber defense, and will see some power return if removed from Safeco field (even playing in that RH-power-killing park, he has more HR than any Twin).  I'm not sure what it would take to get him, but the assumption is that he's available.

Or the Twins can call the Pirates and ask for the part-time left side of their infield, Doug Mientkiewicz (3B) and Luis Rivas (SS).  I am not kidding, look it up.

I was going to go for the common cheap shot and make fun of the Twins for never making a move, but then remembered the Rick Reed and Shannon Stewart trades.  It is time to make a move again.  Come on Bill Smith, you know you want to make a trade that turns out better than the Young-Garza swap has so far.

Even Worse

I've reflected a bit further on the Wolves' draft, and I realized that everyone is paying so much attention to the Mayo/Love trade that the worst move of the draft is being ignored - the Chalmers trade.

With Mayo/Love, you can argue either side of the trade and make an intelligent argument. I think it was a bad move, but I can see why people would be in favor of it - especially racists - and respect that opinion, however wrong it may be. But there is absolutely no defense for trading Chalmers for two second round picks. None at all. Just plain stupid.

Chalmers is a point guard. The Wolves have a serious point guard deficiency. The only point guard on the roster is Sebastian Telfair, who, although he showed some improvement last season, will never be mistaken for a quality point guard. With Jaric shipped out, the only other guy on the roster with any kind of ball handling ability is Randy Foye, and if they're still trying to turn him into a PG they might as well give up right now.

And Chalmers played point for the national champions at Kansas, and is a solid player. Obviously he was a second round pick, but he was projected as a "late first early second" type, not a "second to undrafted type." One scouting group rated him the same as DJ Augustin (note: I don't agree quite with that, but still.) Essentially, he was a steal where they got him, and then they ship him off for two second round draft picks, which I can almost guarantee won't end up netting them one player of Chalmers caliber, much less two. Maybe he's figuring he can get two guys who are each 60% the player Chalmers is, and that will be like getting 120% return on the trade. I honestly have no idea what McHale was thinking on this one. Utterly brutal. Now they'll end up signing some broken down veteran point guard to back up Telfair. This team is a complete joke. Their one chance was to hold onto Mayo, hope he's a star, and hope they can get him to stay - although he'd probably end up going to Boston like everyone else - and the blew that too. Good thing I don't watch the NBA, or I'd be out of this world pissed.

- In case you missed it, I said Woody Austin was the pick at the Buick this week. He finished second, and should have been in a playoff with winner Kenny "Dan Akroyd" Perry, but somehow managed to blast a birdie putt about fifteen feet past the hole and couldn't make it on the way back. Still, pretty much proves I'm a genius. Eat it Faldo, wherever you are.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Summer of Love - get it?

I was able to watch a decent chunk of the draft last night, but was unable to blog it because while watching I was also holding Wonderbaby. First comments on the Wolves' results, then the draft as a whole.

Round 1 - OJ Mayo (traded to Memphis with Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric, and Gerg Buckner in exchange for Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, and Jason Collins)
I do wish they would have announced this right after the pick, because I went to bed talking myself into OJ Mayo and looking forward to having him and woke up seeing he was traded. I'm not so sure, but I can see the upside here. I'm madly in love with Mike Miller, one of the best shooters in the NBA, and I'm excited to have him in Minnesota. Cardinal is still as annoying as ever, and Collins is worthless, but I'd rather have those two than Jaric, Walker, and Buckner. As for Love, personally I ignore his lack of "measurables" and pay more attention to his production. I didn't think Mayo fit the Wolves all that well because the backcourt would be undersized, but now with Love, the frontcourt will be undersized.

Love should fit in well, and will be a productive player, although I don't think he's all-star material, where Mayo had that kind of potential. And as much as I like Miller, he doesn't really make that much sense for a rebuilding team. Even though I like Love and was never a huge Mayo fan, I hate this deal. You aren't winning with Jefferson, Love, Miller, Foye, Telfair.

Round 2 - Nikola Pekovic - I was completely disgusted with this pick when it was made, and am only slightly less disgusted after doing a little more research into this commie. Turns out he's not your typical Euro: seven feet tall, skinny frame, soft, averages of 5 pts and 5 rebs per game. He's actually quite good, averaging nearly 20 points per game and being named EuroBasket's player of the year. Even so, he just signed a rich, 3-year contract with his team in Europe, so he wouldn't even be available for three more years. I also read that he "hates the NBA" so he may never come over at all. And they could have had Bill Walker.

Round 2 - Mario Chalmers
(traded to Miami) - I liked the Chalmers pick here, especially with the weaknesses the Wolves at PG, and don't understand why they'd ship him off for two future second rounders, especially from Miami when they just picked up Beasley and will be improving. The picks will almost certainly be lower than #34 (where Chalmers was picked), and he was talented and would fit the team perfectly. Don't get it.

In short, despite liking Love quite a bit, I completely and totally hated this draft in every possible way. Snacks made a good point about the direction the Wolves are heading in an email to me, which hopefully he'll repost in the comments, but I can't shake the disappointment I feel from trading Mayo.

Let's move on to the draft as a whole:

1. Derrick Rose - Chicago: No brainer. Plays a valuable position, no real concerns, played well on a big stage, and is from Chicago

2. Michael Beasley - Miami: All the Mayo talk was just talk, as it should have been. The Derrick Coleman comparisons are ludicrous.

3. OJ Mayo - Minnesota (to Memphis): The third of three guys with the potential to be a star. We don't need him.

4. Russell Westbrook - Seattle: I don't get the Westbrook love. He's a great defender, yes, but he's too small to play the 2 and doesn't have the PG skills to play the 1. And he's not a good shooter.

5. Kevin Love - Memphis (to Minnesota):
See above. I like Love and think he'll be qualilty, but it pains me that the Wolves passed on a potential superstar.

6. Danilo Gallinari - NY Knicks:
Obviously I've never seen him play, but seeing as he's foreign and was drafted in the lottery, I'm going to predict bust. I'm sure Bill Simmons will mention this as well, but watching him get interviewed by Stephen A Smith was hilarious.

7. Eric Gordon - LA Clippers:
Bust. Shrinks in big games, just isn't NBA ready. May get there in time, but not this year.

8. Joe Alexander - Milwaukee: Don't get the love here either. He's too slow to drive, too weak to post up, and doesn't have the outside shot to be a perimeter guy. Maybe he can combine the three to become a good player, but I doubt it.

9. DJ Augustin - Charlotte: Excellent pick, as Augustin is built for the NBA. Will be a better player than Gordon, and could join the Deron Williams/Chris Paul discussion down the road.

10. Brook Lopez - New Jersey:
Whatever. Tall. Good. We'll see if it translates. He sounds like Jame Gumb.

11. Jerryd Bayless - Indiana (to Portland):
I've mentioned I love Bayless, and I love what Portland is doing. Bayless will be a huge upgrade over Jarrett Jack.

12. Jason Thompson - Sacramento: You know, there was a lot of talk about how Rider had an NBA draft caliber player this year, but he never really dominated the way you'd think if he was going to go twelfth. Very curious to see how he works out.

13. Brandon Rush - Portland (to Indiana): Can't hate this pick, he's very solid. Rush is one of the safest players to pick, but also with not a whole lot of upside. You know he's going to be a quality rotation type player, who may crack a starting rotation at some point, but will never be a star.

14. Anthony Randolph - Golden State: A bit of a super athletic project, but at this point, why not?

15. Robin Lopez - Phoenix: Jame Gumb with the Sideshow Bob hairstyle. Lopez is a defensive kind of guy, and by going to the Suns shows they may be looking to change up their team identity a bit. I think he would have been well-served staying in school for a year to show he could carry a team himself, but 15th is nothing to be ashamed of.

16. Marreese Speights - Florida: I have a really good feeling about Speights. He's excellent down low, but also has a better outside game than many realize.

17. Rob Hibbert - Indiana: I guess he has to be taken somewhere. I wouldn't touch Hibbert until later than this, but I suppose there is also a place for a 7-2 uncoordinated, slow big man in the NBA.

18. Javale McGee - Washington: I have no idea why you would take him ahead of Darrell Arthur or Kosta Koufos if you want a big man. No idea.

19. JJ Hickson - Cleveland: I'd think you'd want a guy with a little more polish if you're the Cavs and are trying to simultaneously take the next step as well as convince LeBron not to leave when his contract is up - like Darrell Arthur.

20. Alexis Ajinca - Charlotte: He has a girls name, is from France, and averaged 5 ppg in a french league - guess how this one will turn out.

21. Ryan Anderson - New Jersey: Bascially Joe Alexander with a better outside shot, and 13 picks later.

22. Courtney Lee - Orlando: Great pick. Guy will be a very solid 2 guard.

23. Kosta Koufos - Utah: I think he will be a very solid player, and going to Utah and Jerry Sloan is a great fit. He needs to gain some weight and get stronger, but already has a good post game and can step out and hit the outside jumper. Like this pick.

24. Serge Ibaka - Seattle:
I'm not even going to pretend I know who this is, but he's from the Congo so he'll likely be killed by Killer Apes before he even gets to the NBA.

25. Nicolas Batum - Houston (to Portland): Another Frenchy. According to the Blazers GM, they have a chance to actually sign Batum for this coming season. How weird is that? Teams keep drafting guys who they won't even see for a few years. Don't get it.

26. George Hill - San Antonio: The Spurs' backup PG is Jacque Vaughn, so they clearly need a PG here. Why Hill over Chalmers? I don't know.

27. Darrell Arthur - Memphis: A steal, as long as those Kidney issues - which caused him to drop to here - don't end up being a big deal.

28. Donte Green - Houston: Some people (Snacks) really love Green. I don't. he doesn't do anything other than shoot three pointers. The problem is he's 6-11, over half of his FG attempts last year were from three, and he only shot 34.5%. He has talent, if only he can figure it out.

29. DJ White - Detroit (to Seattle): I think White has a real chance to be a contributor right away. For two second round picks, it's a great move for the Sonics.

30. JR Giddens - Boston: I didn't even realize he was considered first round material, but he is a hell of a player. Lots and lots of off court issues, but lots and lots of talent. A big gamble. Boston also picked up Bill Walker in the second round, who is another possible first rouond talent kind of guy if his knee turns out to be ok. If even one of the two work out, the Celtics will be in great shape. Ainge might be turning out to be a pretty good GM.

So there you have it, and congratulations to all the underclassmen who declared and either went undrafted or were picked in the second round. Special shout out to USC's Davon Jefferson, a very talented freshman last year who definitely would have been first round material, possibly lottery, with another year or two in college, but declared this year and went undrafted. Good luck in the D League, genius.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm so Popular

Based on the overwhelming response to my last post, I wasn't going to bother typing tonight, but I just can't resist. Hooray for Naperville!

- One thing I have to say about corporate business training is that it generally really sucks. I don't understand where they get these "trainers" from. It's pretty clearly almost always people who don't understand the underlying business concepts, and have just memorized everything about a particular technique or software package. I get so frustrated every time because it's like being back in junior high they move so slowly. And even worse, there are always a few people who don't understand these elementary concepts. And they are the type that ask question after question, so when the training is supposed to end at 4:30, you end up stuck there until five because they won't shut their whorish mouths. I hate people so much it hurts sometimes.

- You want a sleeper pick for this week's Buick Open? Nick Faldo is supposed to be submitting a full preview, so I won't get all into it and what not, but look for Woody Austin to be involved on Sunday.

- A little more NBA Draft chatter - Chad Ford has a dude from Italy by the name of Danilo Gallinari going at #6 overall. What I don't understand is why all this love for international players hasn't subsided. How many have worked out? Yao Ming when he's not hurt? Drazen Petrovic before he lost an argument with a car? Arvydas Sabonis after he turned fifty? Let's look, because I have nothing better to do and clearly, neither do you.

2007: It's a bit early to evaluate this draft - obviously since Corey Brewer kind of sucked this year but will end up being totally awesome. At #6 we have Yi Jianlian, who ended up playing 25 minutes a game this past season and put up 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds, while shooting 42%. Yes, he's seven feet tall and shot 42%. That has to be some kind of record. Not the good kind. Other internationales from the year included Marco Belinelli at #18, Rudy Fernandez at #24, Tiago Splitter at 28, and Petteri Koppenen at 31. Belinelli averaged less than 3 points per game last year, and none of the other three have even joined their NBA team. Splitter recently signed a contract to keep him in Spain through at least the 2009-2010 season.

2006: The first pick this year was the Raptor's, and they took Italy's seven footer Andrea Bargnani. The girls name is a bad sign, obviously, and Bargnani has averaged double figures in points in both of his seasons, but just barely. He's also not managed to crack four rebounds per game. So basically a pretty good role player. At number 1 overall. Very Wolvesian. Others in round 1 were Senegal's Mouhamed Sene (10), Switzerland's Tabo Sefolosha (13), Ukraine's Oleksiy Pecherov (18), Spain's Sergio Rodriguez (27), and England's Joel Freeland (30). Sene never got out of the D-League before destroying his knee, Sefolosha has been a good bench guy, Pecherov is Rick Rickert, Rodriguez hasn't played much, but has at least shown flashes of being a good, streetball style point guard and has a sweet nickname in "Spanish Chocolate", and Freeland is still in Europe.

I'm not going to go year-by-year, because I'm already bored, but here are some names, stop me when you hear a quality player: Fran Vazquez, Yaroslav Korolev, Johan Petro, Ian Mahinmi, Andris Biedrins, Pavel Podkolzine, Viktor Khrypa, Sergei Monya, Beno Udrih, Sasha Vujacic, Darko Milicic, Mickael Pietrus, Zarko Cabarkapa, Sasha Pavlovic, Boris Diaw, Zoran Planinic, Carlos Delfino, and Leandro Barbosa since 2003.

Biedrins is a pretty solid center, Petro has shown some potential, Vujacic has found a niche by being annoying, Pietrus is athletic but can't shoot for crap, Diaw and Barbosa are good in the right system, and Delfino is a quality backup guard. Nice legacy. Seriously, if the Wolves go foreign with a first round pick ever, they're idiots. Although the second round is different, go ahead and take a shot at the next Ginobili.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I Heart Chicago

Really I do. It's the greatest city in the world (other than maybe Rome). And here I am, getting to fly in and do two days of training here, and do all the fun Chicago things. Flew into O'Hare this afternoon. Awesome. Except, wait. My training is not in Chicago. It's in somewhere called Naperville, a good 45 minutes to an hour outside of anything that could reasonably be called Chicago. And it's basically a poor man's Blaine. Great. At least I got a nice meal (Cajun Ribeye at Morton's) but there is nothing else to do here and I don't have a car. The good news is that they have beer in the little market thing by the lobby. The bad news is that Naperville has some kind of homosexual rule where they have to open the beer before you can take it to your room, so the max I could get at a time is four, and I'm in the room furthest from the lobby - it's like a ten minute walk back. I don't feel a whole lot of stamina tonight, mostly because WonderbabyTM has decided she quite enjoys crying at night, so let's see how this goes. F Naperville.

- Did you see the Blue Jays hired Cito Gaston as their manager again? I was so confused when I saw that. It was at like 4 am when I was feeding WonderbabyTM and watching Sportscenter, and I was wondering if I had drifted off and time travelled back to 1991. I mean seriously, the guy hasn't managed since 1997. That may not seem like much, but it's 9 years! That's almost 10. I don't even know what he's been doing since then, and I'm not going to look it up, but I'm betting it involved a street cart and some tacos of dubious quality.

- 10,000 B.C. comes out on DVD on Tuesday, and I'm telling you for your own good don't rent this. If you're a gigantic nerd like me, you were super stoked by the previews and got a nerd boner and wanted to see this. Well, I wasted my time and money in the theater and it's a huge piece of crap. I'm not going to get into a whole movie review thing here, because that's more Dawg's thing if he'd ever bother to post ever again, but let's just say that it's a mess. Theres a whole thing with a Sabertooth Tiger that is just forced and stupid, and the terrain they traverse somehow changes from frozen tundra to tropical forest to desert very quickly. That is a magical continent. Don't rent it. Don't.

- Other movies I've seen lately - SemiPro was also a huge turd, as was Fool's Gold (obviously). National Treasure 2 was also a piece of crap. I really liked the first one, but this second one just went out of it's way to try and be on a really grand scale and it did not work - at all, although Diane Kruger is quite attractive. Strange Wilderness was also bad, which surprised me because I think both Steve Zahn and that fat kid from Superbad are both quite hilarious. Juno was very good. And surprising me was a movie called Senior Skip Day which was really not bad. Mostly due to the performance of the lead character, who is basically a younger, slightly less than rich man's Ryan Reynolds (who I would probably make out with). It's kind of a Can't Hardly Wait/Eurotrip quite movie, that if I still was ever able to go out drinking all night and then come home with friends and drink some more, that would be in the late night rotation. Too bad I'm all grown up and totally responsible now.

- Speaking of not writing for this site anymore, since Grand Slam has disappeared of the map, our own Nick Faldo has offered up his services as our golf blogger. We should see his first contribution this week, so be gentle.

- The Girl Next Door is also a very good movie. I mean, I saw it a long time ago, but I'm flipping channels here and it's on FX. Good movie.

- So Curt Schilling's career is probably over. Let the Hall of Fame debate begin. Now, the biggest knock on him is he only has 216 career victories. To give a little perspective, that's less than Jamie Moyer and only one more than Kenny Rogers, neither of whom are anywhere near Hall of Famers. It is also sixth among active players, which is a note in his favor.

If you know and understand baseball and statistics, you know that wins are not the best measure of pitcher, not even close. I do, however, think they can give you a pretty good gage of a pitcher's career. Obviously, there are a lot of metrics that need to be looked at beyond that, but it is a decent surface look barometer, and Schilling doesn't really measure up.

I'm not a big believer in the 300 win barrier, as only 23 players in the history of the game have hit that number. So let's ignore things like career wins, 20 wins seasons, and all star games that idiots like to look at, and concentrate on things that matter.

First off, ERA. Now, ERA is also a fairly dubious way to evaluate a player, since it depends a lot on luck and the defense behind him, but it's not totally useless. Schilling finished in the top 10 in ERA in nine seasons - that's pretty good. Strikeouts per nine is a good way to look at dominance, and he finished in the top ten there ten times. WHIP is my personal favorite pitcher stat, and he finished in the top ten there 11 times. Eleven. That's fantastic. He posted a WHIP under 1 (phenomenal) twice, and under 1.10 nine times.

Another thing people will point to is his lack of a Cy Young award, and will point to this as not being "the best pitcher of his era." Well, he finished in the top four four times, including finishing second three times in a four year span - that's pretty dominant.

Honestly, when I started writing this, I figured no way was he Hallworthy, but now I'm a little more conflicted. He's hurt quite a bit by not becoming a full time starter until he was 26, and that's reflected in his win total, but once he did, he was absolutely one of the best pitchers of his generation. He finished with a WHIP+ over 120 twelve times, and was just incredibly consistent. Consistent at a high level.

According to baseball reference, his most similar pitchers are Kevin Brown, Bob Welch, and Orel Hershisher. That sounds like a pretty good pitcher, one of the best in the league for a stretch, but not a hall of famer, and that's pretty much my impression of him. Now, the big X-factor for Schilling is his postseason performance, which is nothing short of phenomenal. In 19 career postseason starts and 133.1 innings, he's posted a WHIP of 0.97 (and a 10-2 record). Just to put that WHIP into a lit bit of perspective, since Schilling broke into the league, just only nine pitchers have had a season where they pitched that many innings and posted a better WHIP (Greg Maddux (3), Pedro Martinez (5), Randy Johnson, Johan Santana, Kevin Brown, Roy Halladay, Jason Schmidt, Bret Saberhagen, and Pascual Perez?). Cherry-picking stats? Yes. But still makes an interesting point.

Basically, I think Curt Schilling is stil not a hall of famer (although baseball reference disagrees), but it's a hell of a lot closer than I originally thought. Another very interesting case is Mike Mussina, but I'll save that for another time.

- Speaking of Mussina, I just finished an interesting book by John Feinstein called "Living on the Black" which follows both Mussina and Tom Glavine around last season to give a little insight into the life on an aging pitcher. Honestly, although I love baseball books and I love Feinstein and I have a mad crush on Mussina, it was a little boring. His big mistake was just following the two pitchers and never delving into the lives of their teammates. Despite having a season where Glavine won number 300, the Mets had a historic collapse to end the season, and the first time ever Mussina was pulled from a starting rotation, it's still really slow. Needed to flesh out a little more of the teammates and what life was like for all of them. So not bad, but not great. Next up: 3 nights in August starring Tony LaRussa - although right at the start the author, Buzz Bissinger of "I hate blogs" fame goes into how people who are into statistics to evaluate baseball players "don't get it", so I'm already a bit apprehensive.

- On the way to the office today, they KFAN guys were talking about Jessica Simpson. At one point they mentioned her music, and I have spent the rest of the day trying to think of a single song of hers, and I got nothin'. Seriously, I can't think of a single song she has ever sang, ever. So her entire musical career has left zero imprint on my life. Killer rack, though.

- I was described by a co-worker today as "the quintessential really smart guy who doesn't fully apply himself because he doesn't have to." Pretty accurate. Not exactly high praise, but I'll take it.

- You know how when you're in a hotel, often times they will have labels on the tv stations, so when you change channels you'll know what channel you're on? Well this hotel has them, but they are all wrong. It says ESPN, but it's A&E. It says HBO, but it's USA. What the f is up with that? Your stupid city doesn't suck enough, you have to f with me on the tv too? It's all I have. Thank god for the internet.

- With the NBA draft just a few days away, I should probably say something, but I'm having trouble being interested, even with the Wolves having third pick because they will just screw it up. Here is Chad Ford's latest mock draft and I have some things to say.

1. Rose should definitely be the pick at #1. Beasley looked incredible last year, but things seemed really be really easy for him. Once he hits the NBA, he's going to have to work his ass off, and it's not clear if he's up to the challenge, whereas Rose appears to be. Stupid? Yes, pretty much, but when two players are this close, you have to find some kind of seperation somewhere.

2. Please don't take OJ Mayo. Please either trade down (great move) or take Jerryd Bayless. And it has nothing to do with Mayo's "character issues" because "character issues" are pretty much the most overrated thing ever. I'll take talent over charity work every time. Bayless is and will be a better player. Plus, and everyone seems to be ignoring this, Mayo will absolutely not resign in Minnesota after his first contract is up. Craves the spotlight waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much.

3. Going way too high: Eric Gordon, Mario Chalmers, Kosta Koufos, Robin Lopez, Mareese Speights. Interesting is to see Joe Alexander in the lottery. I expected him to be more of a sleeper mid-first pick, and I love his game. It seems Chad Ford might be figuring this whole thing out, I'll be interested to see if NBA GMs can do the same and take him that high. I'm predicting a Brady Quinn-like freefall.

4. The Wolves have two very early second round picks (#1 and #4), the kind where you can actually get solid players. According to Ford, they will get Devon Hardin and some dude from Australia, while has them taking some Serbian dude and Bill Walker. I'd be pretty happy with Hardin and Walker. Ideally, I'd love to see them get Walker and Courtney Lee. Another intriguing possibility is Mike Taylor, formerly of Iowa State who lit the Gophers up at the Barn. Honestly, if Walker is there and they pass I'm going to assassinate Kevin McHale. Not kidding.

- Of course, also has Trent Plaisted being drafted, and I'm almost positive he pulled out of the draft. Checking ESPN and I'm wrong, it was Lee Cummard who pulled out. Way to go Plaisted, enjoy being this years Rickert. Twenty bucks says the Jazz take him at #53 and then Boozer punches him in the face in a pickup game.

- There's more to talk about and tell you why everybody else is wrong, but I'm very tired, even though it's early, and the lady with the beer is very far away. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Crazy roun' here.

I've been very busy with no chance to write, so I apologize to those of you have been refreshing tens of times per day, hoping against hope that there is a new post up. It would be great if Snake, Dawg, or Sidler would type something, anything, but alas, no such luck. Thoughts on some recent happenings:

- So that US Open was kind of a good time, huh? Got a whole lot of people interested in golf, if only for the weekend. On Monday my boss actually pulled the whole office (all five people) into the conference room to watch the end on TV - of course, I already had it up on the computer, but I joined them for office harmony's sake.

I still say Tiger was faking a little. Seriously, I wish I had it on tivo so I could go back through and see what the results were each time he acted like he was in pain vs. when he didn't. I bet there would be a pretty interesting pattern there. And for every Pat Forde, who advises those calling Tiger a drama queen to shut up (um, Pat, have you ever ready any of your own articles?), there's a Retief Goosen who backs up my opinion. And who would know better than another golfer? In any case, seeing as Tiger is shutting it down for the year, my decision to not pick him in fantasy golf last week to save a start is getting worse and worse.

Lastly on golf, for those out there calling Tiger a poor role model for throwing his club in the sand after a bad shot, get a grip. I could write pages and pages about the stupidity of that opinion, but I'm tired, so I'll just say if you are upset at Tiger for throwing his club, you are a freaking moron.

- Speaking of morons, how about the whole Kobe/Jordan debate? I know 8 billion people have written up this angle already, so I won't waste your time any more than I already am. Actually, if you're reading this, you're intentionally trying to waste time, so I'll say a bit.

Now, the legend of Michael Jordan has grown since his retirement, and memories have a tendency to color things in the best possible light and build legends into greater and greater icons over time, but when people say, "Jordan would never get blown out by 40 in the Finals" or "Jordan's teams would never blow a 24 point second half lead in the finals", they're right. And it's not because of his "force of will." What the hell does that even mean? You can't will a team to do anything unless you have magic powers like Harry Potter or Jesus. You can, however, inspire a team due to your leadership. Make no mistake, Jordan could be a jerk at times, but he also commanded respect from his teammates. With Kobe, he's a jerk all the time, and you get the feeling his teammates all hate him - and probably his kids too. Jordan matured, so it's not like it's too late for Kobe to mature into a competent leader, but he's got a long way to go.

Hey, I just flipped on the Twins' game and saw Delmon Young chase the first pitch of the at-bat - which was outside - and hit a weak groundball. Weird.

Anyway, I'm clearly in the "happy for KG" camp, as opposed to the "F KG" camp, so I'm pretty happy for him, weird, rambling, semi-coherent interview aside. Not to mention Pierce and Shuttlesworth. The worst thing ever is the idiotic Minnesota fans calling into radio shows saying how if we could have kept Ray Allen instead of trading him for Marbury this could have been our championship. Hey idiots, two problems - 1. They'd still be missing a Paul Pierce, the #1 reason they won the title (KG was the #1 reason they got there, Pierce why they won), and 2. they never wanted Allen, he was going to be traded to Mi-lee-wau-kay (Algonquin for "the good land") from the get go. If the Wolves were going two guard, they were going with Kerry Kittles who, like most Wolve picks, is out of the league.

- The NBA Draft is right around the corner (please pick Jerryd Bayless) and, as usual, there are some very bad decisions being made. Some of the worst would be CJ Giles (Oregon State), Kalen Grimes (Missouri), Reggie Huffman (UAB), Shawn James (Duquesne), and Walter Sharpe (UAB) - none of whom are likely to be drafted at all. Two very curious decisions are Luc Richard Mbah a Moute from UCLA, Davon Jefferson of USC, and Bill Walker of Kansas State. Mbah a Moute has decided not to withdraw his name, despite no assurances of being drafted at all. Mbah a Moute has been a quality player for UCLA, but needs another year to shake of injury concerns and hone is offensive game. Jefferson had an awesome freshman season, playing with OJ Mayo, but did not distinguish himself enough to be lotto material. After a poor showing at the Orlando predraft camp, he's looking like a second rounder and should have pulled out and given himself a year to improve. Walker hurt his knee in a private workout for the Hornets, and remained in the draft nonetheless. He missed most of the year two seasons ago with a knee injury, recovered and played well last season and was looking like a late first round selection. Now, having not played in Orlando and having only two private workouts, he's almost certainly going to slip into the second round based on injury concerns. Another year with K State, with him being the man, could have vaulted him into the lotter if he could have stayed heatlhy.

There were some smart players who pulled out, including Antonio Anderson, Chase Budinger, and AJ Abrams, who will all have the chance to prove they are big time players and improve their draft position. Other good choices were Derrick Caracter of Louisville (needs to show more consistency and discipline), Ty Lawson (needs to show he can shoot), Robert Vaden (better ballhandling skills), and Lester Hudson (play against better competition).

- It's nice to see Cristian Guzman back in the metrodome, the same place that destroyed his soul and his game back in the second half of 2001. What a complete fall off the map. And the Nationals signed him in 2004 for four years, $17 million. He managed to play 142 games his first year with them, and hit .219/.260/.314 on his way to an OPS+ of 53 (almost identical to last year's Punto), the worst among regular players that year. Then missed all of 2005 and 75% of 2006 with an injury - all while makeing $4.2 million each year. And guess what, he's in a contract year now, so of course he's hitting .316 with some power, and will likely be the Nationals' All-Star representative. In a contract year, imagine that.

- What is up with the roller bags for laptops now? Seriously, it's gotten to the point where people can't even carry a laptop bag on their shoulder? I get it for girls, since they have a purse and what not, but for dudes? Come on guys, get it together.

- Finally, since I know you want it, here's the latest picture of baby W.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh, how cute.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

To me. After an excellent Father's Day breakfast of donuts and bacon (jealous?), I'm now planted on the couch with the little one with plans to watch the Twins/Brewers, US Open, and NBA Finals.

- Enough with the bunting. Enough.

- I love how when Mauer sits Gardy doesn't have the energy to bother shuffling the batting order and just plugs Redmond in the three hole. I don't know if it's laziness or stupidity (such as, "I can't move anyone else around it'll throw them off!!) I don't know which would be worse, but what I do know is that Gardy is not a good manager.

- Unfortunately, Delmon Young has the day off so I don't get to watch him flail about, but I want to mention that Snacks is a huge Young fan. This weekend I was called a "hater" and told "he's only 22." So please, next time you watch Delmon chase a ball a foot outside, go after the slider in the dirt, or hit a groundball nine consecutive at bats, just remember that Snacks is in love with him.

- I'm going to write something about college basketball next week, I promise.

- Scottie Baker "The Touchdown Maker" just gave up a double to the Brewer's pitcher. That seriously has to be the worst thing in the world. Even worse than giving up a hit to Adam Everett.

- I chose Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia over Tiger for fantasy golf this week. That's looking like a pretty major mistake. Dammit. I hope his knee falls off.

- On Channel 101 on DirectTV is the "Championship Gaming Series Draft Show." This is a group of teams, drafting people to play on their video gamer teams to compete in the North American Gaming series. Sample analysis, "So do you go with a DOA Male to compliment your female, or do you go with a driver here to fill out your squad." Chris "NinjaCW" Harris was just picked, and he goes up to a podium and gets a hat and shirt and all that. Totally surreal.

- US Open has now officially been on for fifteen minutes and we have yet to see a single shot. Enough with the blah blah already.

- How about the choke job by Appleby yesterday? Nobody's talking about it due to Tiger's brilliance and the fact that it was Saturday and not Sunday, but tossing up a +8 when you're leading the US Open is Normanesque. And not just the +8, but the way he did it. He missed AT LEAST four putts under five feet. I'm guessing he doesn't recover for a while, he's kind of a sensitive emo dude and probably cried himself to sleep last night.

- The front page of the leaderboard sucks. You have Tiger (boring), Lee Westwood (commie), Rocco Mediate (probably gay), Geoff Ogilvy (definitely gay), DJ Trahan (I barely know who this is), Camilo Villegas (the most annoying golfer on tour), Robert Karlsson (commie), and Miguel Angel Jimenez (gay commie). I'm going to have to root for someone on page two to make a miracle run. Let's go with, um, say, Sergio Garcia.

- Also Scott Baker is very good. 8 K's through five, including four in the third inning alone. Jason Kubel is awesome too. Where are all the haters now? HATERS!!1 He should probably be an all-star.

- Mrs. W's contribution, "Cuddyer doesn't look like a Michael. He looks like an Andy." Weirdly, I agree.

- I understand it's sad that Tim Russert died or whatever, but do we really need a ten minute segment on him during the US freaking Open? I don't mean to be an insensitive ass, but there's a time and place people, a time and a place. They better break into news tonight whenever somebody birdies a hole. Meanwhile I see Brian Bass is in with the Brewers up 3-2, so I'm going to go ahead and mark down a Brewers' win here.

- The dream is over right away, as on the par 3 third hole Sergio pumps in right into some crap, then sails it over the green on shot two and ends up with a double. I'm now officially rooting for Lee Westwood. God I'm so sick of Tiger. They've spent more time on the telecast thus far talking about stupid Tiger crap than they have showing any of the other golfers. He's like Brett Favre, but actually good. It's just like, enough already, there are other golfers out there. I really don't need to know about Tiger and his mom's spiritual relationship.

- Dennys Reyes is the new Rich Garces.

- Tiger doubles the first, hitting a tree twice. Of course, his very first hole of the tourny was a double as well, so this doesn't necessarily mean much, except that it was to watch him struggle like a weekend hacker.

- He follows that up with another shanked tee shot and a three putt to bogey number 2, including a missed four foot par putt. So far he's looking like Appleby from yesterday, hopefully he'll keep it up. He's already wincing and making fake grimaces when the camera is on him, just so he can blame the knee if he ends up not winning. What a prima donna. Oh, so the knee is fine when he shoot -3 through three rounds, but two bad holes and suddenly it hurts? You're no Lance Harbor, sir. If only somebody would make a run, but Garcia can't seem to make a birdie anywhere.

- In case you missed it, Jordan Crawford is leaving Indiana. This now leaves the Hoosiers and new coach Tom Crean with exactly two returning players and one scholarship player in Kyle Taber, who averaged 1.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game last year. What a mess.

- Luke Donald officially withdraws from the Open after injuring his wrist on the fourth hole. How do you get hurt playing golf you ask? I wouldn't have believed it either, but a friend of mine, we'll call him Park, once hurt his wrist golfing and had to sit out an entire summer of baseball. And he was a baseball stud, and was lucky to break 120 golfing. Of course, he was always the kind of kid who, despite being an incredible natural athlete, could also manage to get hurt doing just about anything. He was like Fred Taylor or, if you prefer something a bit more provincial, Michael Bauer.

- Sergio sucks.

- Lee Westwood just had a birdie putt that would have put him up 2 on Tiger here on the 8th hole, and Tiger stood in his line of sight. Seriously, like right there. While prima donna Tiger backs off his shot if a bird chirps or the wind blows. So he's a baby, a faker, a whiner, and a cheater. Real role model there. What an ass.

- Naturally, Westwood misses. Seriously, nobody can putt today. And Tiger takes the lead. So, there's that. It's pretty much over. I can't wait for the basketball.

- Wow, I just came back and somehow Mediate is back in front of Tiger by a shot. How'd that happen? Go Rocco! Also, if you live in the North St Paul area, you should order Rocco's Pizza. Thin crust, sausage and pepperoni. It's very thin and cut into squares. Money.

- Here's a new one. Tiger missed a par putt by a few millimeters left, and announcer guy says, "It hit something. It hit something on the green and didn't break as much as it was supposed to." Then we go over the replay, and he narrates how it hit something. But it didn't. It never hit anything. It just didn't break that much. It was seriously just like Madden making excuses for a Brett Favre interception. The guy is the greatest golfer in history, but he does actually miss putts without anything crazy happening. He just missed. It's ok. It happens. Sheesh.

- El Tigre sinks his birdie putt on 18, and he and Mediate will be playing 18 tomorrow to determine the winner. Wow. That's a bit of a mismatch. Tiger by 6 strokes.

- Basketball prediction: Due to being down 3-1, the Lakers are demoralized. Since their leader, Kobe, is not from the "inspirational leader" school of leadership and is more from the "I'm a complete dick" school, they struggle from the get go. In the second quarter (or earlier), Kobe is done with his teammates and goes into full on ballhog take over the game mode. It might work, and it might not, but expect Kobe to take over 30 shots tonight, for good or for ill.

- Rajon Rondo has officially become Jacque Vaughn. Drove all the way into the lane and had a wide open layup, but for some unknown reason kicked it out to Paul Pierce instead - who missed. He apparently has decided he has the shooting touch of Jonathan Williams.

- Well, the Lakers certainly haven't come out flat nor demoralized, up 24-12 quickly. Kobe does have 8 shots in under 8 minutes, so that prediction is looking good, unlike pretty much every other prediction I've ever made. Go JP Losman!

- Ray Allen has, without question, the prettiest jumpshot ever. Look:


- Whatever happened to former Big Ten POY Brian Cook? The dude from Illinois? He was a Laker for a while, and seemed to be kind of being not terrible, but now the Lakers are playing super stiff Chris Mihm over him.

- Here's your answer. He has his own website (actually I don't know if it's by him, but it's certainly dedicated to him) and he was traded in the offseason from the Lakers to Orlando. He pretty much sucked, averaging 5 points and 2 rebounds per game in 12 minutes, and got hurt right before the playoffs. I guess there's not that much of a market for a seven foot tall three point specialist, unless you're Sam Perkins.

- I keep forgetting to mention that Brendan Harris is my new favorite Twin. Sports Illustrated does a thing in each episode where they ask four athletes some pop culture/everyday life types of questions. In this one mag, Harris was one of the guys and the question was, "What do you never leave the house without?" and some of the answers were like "My wallet" or "pictures of my family", but Harris's answer was "My flask." You gotta love that.

- 55-52 at half. Kobe has slowed down, with only 12 attempts. Expect that number to sky rocket in the second half, as he feels more and more of a sense of urgency.

- Semi-Pro is a gigantic turd of a movie. Don't waste your time. Watch Anchorman again instead.

- No matter how hard I try, I just cannot get into NBA basketball. Is impossible.

- You can tell Vujacic is a Euro, after a jump ball he goes down hard, and curls up in the fetal position like a European Soccer Player. Very girly.

- Lakers up two with five minutes left, and Kobe doesn't touch the ball the entire possession. Inconceivable. I thought Phil Jackson was some kind of genius.

- I really don't like Will Smith. Does that make me a racist? I'm ok with that, just wondering.

- KG misses two free throws that would have tied it up with 2 and a half remaining. Sigh. Let the anti-clutch opinions keep coming - he keeps living up to them, sadly.

- Those shooting sleeves are the gayest things ever. EVER.

- Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah Lakers! Great, now I'll have to force myself to watch at least one more game. Awesome.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

US Open Preview

Grandslam is an ass, who is "too busy" even though he wanted to write a weekly golf preview. I haven't heard from him in like two months, but I can't very well let a US Open go by without at least a small preview, so here we go.

As far as a recap, Either Justin Leonard or Robert Allenby won the ST. Jude classic last week, I think. I don't remember for sure.

This week, the best golfers in the world head to California to play Torrey Pines for the U.S. Open. What makes this an especially interesting circumstance is that Torrey Pines hosts the Buick Invitational every year, and it's a rare thing for a course to show up twice in a season. Of course, this weekend will be very different, with the rough going from regular to swampland lenght, and the greens going at lightspeed. With the course being lengthened as well, there will be a lot of long irons coming in and trying to stop on those greens, and expect scores to be more like the +5 that has won the Open the last two years instead of the -19 Tiger won the Buick with earlier this year.

Speaking of Tiger, he's the clear favorite here yet again, despite the knee surgery. All he needs is some of Bud Kilmer's magic juice, and he's up and going. He hasn't played a competitive round in months, but it's awful hard to bet against him. He's won six times at Torrey Pines, including the last four Buicks, and is a Majors' horse. Still, he hasn't been able to really practice until this week, and the headlines are less than inspiring. I've seen "Tiger plays 9" from Monday and this morning "Tiger plays 17+ with a cart." I don't really get the 17+ thing. Did he just quit on 18? Hit one into the woods and decide not to track it down and pack it in? It's not smart to bet against Tiger, but I'm not going with him here.

The other favorite here is Mickelson, the #2 in the world, and who also has a handful of wins at Torrey. He's playing very well right now, with two wins on the season, and other than a missed cut at the Pebble Pro-Am, no worse finish than 23rd in a tournament. Mickelson has all kinds of struggles in US Opens, however, missing the cut last year (albeit with a wrist injury) and collapsing on the 72nd hole in 2006 to lose to Geoff Ogilvy. That being said, he's the best golfer in the world without injury concerns right now, and is playing well, so he's probably the smart bet.

That being said, my pick for the week is Sergio Garcia. If you've read the scroll bar above, I've called this the year of the Sergio after he won at the Players. He finished fourth at the St. Jude last week, and looks to be in good form. He's still having some struggles with the putter, his big weakness, and hasn't played well at the US Open in the past, missing the cut the last two years, but after getting to a playoff at the British last year and winning the Players, I think he's ready to make a big step forward and get his first Major victory.

A few quick sentences on some other guys:

Adam Scott: The number three player in the world. Even worse than Garcia in US Opens, and nursing a hand injury. Nope.

Ryuji Imada: Kind of a trendy pick right now, based on his win at the AT&T last month, his runner up finish at the Buick this year, and a 12th place finish at the US Open two years ago. It's a pretty strong case, but I really don't think previous play at the Buick will have much baring on play at the US Open here. The course is going to be vastly different. Still, he could surprise.

Jim Furyk: Runner-up at the Open the past two years, will this be the year he wins his second one? He's not playing all that great this year, but it's possible.

Justin Leonard: Is he back to his old form that lead to a 1997 win at the British Open? He just won the St. Jude last week, and is having a great year with five top 10s already. I think he's back and back strong. Should be in contention this week.

Stuart Appleby: My sleeper pick for the week. Appleby looks like a smaller, gayer version of Hulk Hogan, but he can play some golf. Hasn't had much success at the US Open, but may have started turning that around last year, finishing 26th after missing the cut seven of the previous eight times. Started the year off hot and has cooled down a bit, but is still playing well. If you put any stock in Buick Open statistics, Appleby finished 8th there this year.

Mike Weir: Another solid sleeper. Plays very well at the US Open (3-4-42-6-20 the past five times) and finished second at the Memorial his last time out.

Anyone I didn't mention won't win. Especially not Stewart Cink.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Twins/Sox - Catch the Rainness

I'm going to attempt to live blog the Twins/Sox game this afternoon here, but I am unsure of how this is going to work out. The baby is sitting happily in her bouncy chair (thank you Uncle & Aunt Bogart) but could snap at any moment so we'll see. Also I'm cooking bacon.

1:03 - Naturally, the game is in a rain delay. Glorious. Instead we are being treated to an episode of Coach. That show sucked.

1:10 - I burned my hand on the bacon

1:29 - When there's a rain delay, don't they usually keep it with the broadcast team and talk about, you know, sports? How am I supposed to comment on how Hayden Fox's mentor betrayed him at the Pineapple Bowl? (He's way too sensitive, by the way). The Bacon's good at least.

1:30 - Bert breaks in to tell us they think the rain will pass in an hour. I'll be back.

2:33 - Looks like we are going to get started, and the Twins send Slowey out there. $20 says he gives up a three run home run within the first two innings.

2:35 - Carlos Gomez never steals anymore. I got to say though, the kid has impressed me. A much better hitter than I thought originally.

2:47 - Holy crap, Delmon hit a homerun last night? No way! And then they show the replay, and it didn't even get to the first row of the stands, just cleared the fence by a matter of millimeters. That guy has less power than your average women's softball player. Word.

3:03 - And there it is, Nick Swisher, three run home run. Totally called it. You owe me $20.

3:13 - Bert let's us know that the Twins are not a homerun hitting club. That is the kind of hard-hitting insight he's famous for. I'd put him in the hall of fame as an announcer before a pitcher - sorry Dawger.

3:14 - Carlos Quentin throws like a girl. And if he ends up leading the AL in homeruns at the end of the season, I'll quite watching baseball 4 eva.

3:23 - Jesus christ, Kevin Slowey is a god awful pitcher. He basically throws BP. I think I could get a hit off of him. In fact, I know it.

3:30 - The Twins' starting pitching difficulties are now Joe Mauer's fault for not calling enough inside pitches, according to Bert. I'm just happy to see somebody actually criticize the baby Jesus.

3:31 - Nick Swisher looks like a pedophile. I find it fascinating that Ozzie Guillen led him off for a good part of the year. Ozzie has been outspoken about "that moneyball shit", yet Swisher is a perfect leadoff hitter using a statistical approach to lineup creation, and horrible in traditional terms. Thus, Ozzie is a hyprocrital ass. Whereas Kevin Slowey is just a gigantic piece of crap.

3:37 - They've now batted around here in the third, but Slowey is still out there tossing up his BP. He's like Jamie Moyer without the ball movement. Gardy is clearly trying to teach him a lesson.

3:46 - Yeah, I'm not doing this anymore. This team is garbage.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

It's been a while

Yes, I know, sorry. 33 Hours of meetings in four days, followed each night by a company outing, then coming home to a baby and a wife who was alone with that baby for four nights doesn't leave a lot of time to write semi-witty, mainly nonsensical comments about the wonderful world of sports. I would have hoped one of the other contributors to this blog would have chipped in here somewhere, but it turns out they're lame. I have some time here as I take a break from mowing my far too large lawn with my far too small mower while mom & baby are at relatives, so let's see what's what.

- First thing, the Phillies/Reds game on Tuesday was pretty good, and the only worthwhile thing that came out of the week in Philly. Griffey didn't start, and wasn't going to play, so that took some of the wind out of the sails, but he did pinch hit in the 8th or 9th. The whole crowd stood and applauded, and then my new least favorite pitcher, replacing Mark Buehrle, Tom Gordon walked him on four pitches, none of which even sniffed the strike zone. What a giant pussy. His home crowd booed him. I hope that bear from that book with his name in it finds him and eats his face off. Overall, Citizen's Bank Park was good. I wouldn't say great, there's nothing here that blows your skirt up - Player T-shirts are $25 (we got a voucher, so I picked up a Hamels shirt, but the beer flowed like wine and a good time was had.

- I suppose the biggest news is the 1-0 lead the Celts took on the Lake Show in the Finals, after Paul Pierce recieved some Bud Kilmer Juice in the locker room and came back after being carted off in a wheelchair. I LOVE the conspiracy theorists who think it was an intentional bit to fire up the crowd and the team. We didn't land on the moon either. I'm torn in this series, because I'd love for KG to win a title, but I'd hate for the Sports Guy to have another of his teams win. I guess the Kobe hatred that still courses through my veins is the big tiebreaker. I can't stand that son of a bitch. Him, Michael Jordan, and Emmitt Smith make my triumvirate of hate, and I can't think of another player in the history of any sport that I hated anywhere near as much. Minnesota athletes exempt, they are a whole different category.

- Can't Buy Me Love was a truly excellent movie. Did you know the dude who turned into Rico Suave was in this? Kenny Fisher, too.

- My golf picks for this week, which I didn't get a chance to post so you'll just have to believe me, were Brandt Snedeker and Robert Allenby. Snedeker is currently Even and in 17th, Allenby is +1 and 26th. Not bad. Does anybody want to write up a US Open preview for the site next week? Anybody? Bueller?

- I read something the other day about how Greg Maddux and Ken Griffey are the opposite of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, and I couldn't agree more. Maddux and Griffey aged, showed their age and injuries, and had some fairly poor seasons, but there isn't a question out there about if they stayed natural. Griffey is number six on the all-time homerun list, and two of the guys above him were clear Roids guys, so let's call him fourth all-time behind Aaron, Ruth, and Mays. Griffey also missed the equivalent of about three full seasons, but still managed to hit 30 home runs last season at 37 years old. Honestly, I think he is the best overall non-roided baseball player of my generation. It's between him, A-Rod, a pre-roid Bonds, and Brian Harper.

- You know who else is pretty underrated actually, at least by me: Larry Jones. I've never liked him, mostly because the guy voluntarily goes by Chipper. That's something people should call you behind your back if they don't like you, and choosing it as your moniker is suspect. But with Jones hitting .421 this season, he's been in the limelight quite a bit and in looking at his career numbers, they're pretty impressive. Career batting averge of .310, with 2208 total hits. Behind just Wade Boggs and Pie Traynor in average among third basemen, and with a total of 400 homeruns, he's behind just Mike Schmidt, Eddie Matthews, and Darrell Evans amongt primary third basemen. So I guess he's not that bad. Although Jeff Bagwell is still gay.

- Lastly, before I start the stupid mower back up, the MLB draft was this past week. The Twins had three first rounders, making two very good picks and one horrible, T-Wolves like choice. Their first pick, at #14 was high school outfielder Aaron Hicks. Hicks is known as a five-tool player, and was also a pitcher with a 90+ mph fastball in high school and has first round talent as either a pitcher or a center fielder. Rumor has it the Twins will start him off in the outfield, which is what he prefers, although many teams think his future lies on the hill. With Gomez, Ben Revere, and Joe Benson all in the system, pitcher might be the way to go. Hopefully they figure it out. He's being favorably compared to Darryl Strawberry - the hitting/fielding/running, not the partying/drinking/drugs, although if he can hit, what do I care?

- The other good pick was the awesomely named Shooter Hunt, a pitcher (naturally) out of Tulane. Baseball America ranked Hunt the #11 prospect, and the Twins got him at 31, so if he's as good as BA thinks, he's a definite steal.

- The bad pick was closer Carlos Gutierrez out of Miami, universally looked at as a horrid first round pick. Expert Keith Law didn't even have him in his top 75. He's a college closer, with a 90-94 mph sinking fastball. It's looked at as a very good pitch, but it's also his only pitch. As the 27th pick in a draft, you need to have a second pitch at a minimum, if not a third. He's probably a pretty stellar third round pick.

- That's all I have time for. Go F yourself.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Frickin' griffey not playing tonight.

Frickin' griffey not playing tonight. Homo.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Revisiting the AL Central

Two months into the season, the AL Central looks more like the crappy division the Twins won in 2002-2004 compared to the powerhouse most predicted it would be this year.

Here’s a team-by-team look at the division, with current AL rankings for runs scored and allowed:

Chicago White Sox (30-26)
Runs: 8
Runs allowed: 2

Positives: Obviously the pitching—4 starters (John Danks, Jose Contreras, Gavin Floyd, Javier Vazquez) have sub-3.50 ERAs and Linebrink and Jenks have been awesome out of the bullpen. On offense, Carlos Quentin has been lights-out good and is 2nd in AL home runs. Jermaine Dye and Joe Crede have bounced back from bad 2007s. Improved team plate discipline has helped the Sox overcome some horrendous batting averages.

Negatives: Nick Swisher and Orlando Cabrera have been disappointments. Thome and Konerko are showing their age. Ozzie Guillen’s still insane.

Outlook: There’s no way the pitching holds up, but I said that all of 2005 as well. This is probably a .500 club the rest of the way, but that could be good enough to win the division.

Minnesota Twins (29-27)
Runs: 4
Runs allowed: 11

Positives: Somehow the offense is in the top third of all AL offenses, primarily due to hitters being super clutch, hitting an unsustainable .307 with runners in scoring position (compared to .267 overall). Mauer and Morneau have been as good as advertised and Gomez has been league-average at worst. Some of the young pitchers (Blackburn, Slowey, Baker, Perkins) have shown plenty of potential.

Negatives: The defense sucks, the offense has no power or patience, the starting pitching is inconsistent, and the bullpen is a wreck. The trade with Tampa is looking worse by the day.

Outlook: I don’t have a clue, seriously. There’s no way they should be a game out of first, but they are. The pitching could get better, the defense might improve (thanks to Punto), but there’s no way to sustain the 4th best offense with no power.

Cleveland Indians (25-31)
Runs: 12
Runs allowed: 4

Positives: Cliff Lee’s late-90s Pedro Martinez impression has been impressive. Wow, this team sucks. Grady Sizemore is still an above-average CF. Carmona has been wild but effective; Sabathia appears to have turned it around.

Negatives: Travis Hafner aged in dog years the last couple seasons, he’s DONE. Victor Martinez is suddenly Joe Mauer without the defense. A bunch of dudes are hitting for low averages. Basically, the offense sucks.

Outlook: Unless Hafner starts taking some steroids, this team could be in trouble. Cliff Lee’s sub-2.00 ERA can’t last, the bullpen has taken a step back, and Carmona’s injured. What kind of moron predicted these guys would be good this year? Based on the strength of my previous predictions, that probably means the Indians will turn it around.

Detroit Tigers (24-32)
Runs: 3
Runs allowed: 12

Positive: The offense is good.

Negatives: The pitching sucks. Carlos Guillen’s hemorrhoids.

Outlook: If they can find a way to have the pitching suck less, the offense is still impressive. The still remind me of the recent Yankees teams, so I expect a big run to get them back into contention at some point this summer.

KC Royals (23-34)
Runs: 14
Runs allowed: 9

Positives: Zach Greinke is delivering on the promise displayed before his mental breakdown, Alex Gordon is improving, and Tony Pena Jr. can play some mad defense. Joe Posnanski covers them for the KC Star.

Negatives: Tony Pena Jr. hits like WWWWWW’s daughter and they have less overall power than the Twins. Other than Grenke and closer Joakim Soria, the pitching has stunk.

Outlook: Last place again and a disappointed Sidler.

The Sidler's newest, even-more-meaningless predictions:
1. Detroit 83-79
2. Chicago 83-79
3. Cleveland 80-82
4. Minnesota 79-83
5. Kansas City 69-93

Sunday, June 1, 2008

So Now I'm in Philly

The city of brotherly suck. Out here for four days for our national sales conference. Which means I will be in meetings all day, and "functions" all night. And since I've only been with this company for under two months, I know all of like four people. This could monumentally suck. Rumor has it one of the functions is going to be a "1920s Prohibition party." That better not mean no alcohol. There's no way I could deal with these people without alcohol. I'd rather die.

The one very cool thing is it is confirmed we will be attending a Phillies game on Tuesday. It's always cool to check out other parks, and I've only been to the Gaydome and Fenway, so I'm excited to check out whatever this park is. I know it used to be Veterans Stadium, but at this point it's probably a new park or been renamed. Pitching matchup is Aaron Harang vs. Adam Eaton, which is as big a snooze as possible. Was hoping to get Cueto, Volquez, and/or Hamels, but whatever. At least it isn't Jamie Moyer, and as I wrote before, the Reds are a very exciting young team and it will cool to get a chance to see Jay Bruce.

Even better, is Griffey Jr. is at 599 homeruns. If he doesn't hit one the next two nights, it will be very cool to be there to possibly see him hit #600. Then I would have been at both his 600th homerun game, and Cal Ripken's 3,000th hit game. I would also like to mention here that when Ripken got his 3,000th hit, Dawg refused to stand and applaud, and actively yelled at those of us who have a respect for history who cheered. Although he's not alone in his feelings. The radio dude on the way to the airport this morning was bitching about fans cheering and standing for Manny's 500th in Baltimore last night. His big example, "Do you think if a Yankee hit a milestone in Boston they would stand and cheer?" Even if they wouldn't, and I think it's 50/50 they would - remember, they gave Pedro a standing O when he came back to pitch - do I really have to explain the differences between Boston/Baltimore and New York/Boston? I mean, really? That's your example? And that's not even getting into the fact that Boston has billions of "fans" in a whole bunch of other cities. I'm guessing with Baltimore's recent history, there were more Sox fans than Oriole fans there. In conclusion, people are morons and so is Dawger.

Back to Griffey, it's pretty incredible to think how good he's been, without even a hint of the Steroids taint. I'm going to run some nerd numbers and delve into this a bit further at some point.

And what's the deal with the NBA Finals not starting up until Thursday? I mean, I know what the deal is - ratings and money - but come on. Five days between games? I've already been over inundated with enough stories about the classic Celtic/Laker battles to last me two lifetimes, and now we're going to get five more days? At least cover the games, not the nostalgia. Like who is going to guard Kobe, Pierce or Posey? If Pierce, how will that affect his offensive game? Which Ray Allen will be there? Who is going to stop KG, and will he assert his dominance or keep playing the unselfish superstar role? Will they try Odom on him? Can Fisher handle Rondo and vice versa? Will Kobe revert to me-first ball to try to establish himself as the next Jordan? And hundreds more, but all they are giving us is rehashes of the same old Bird/Magic and company highlights. And I loved those teams, and loved that rivalry - but I'm already sick of it. Play a damn game already.

Be back later. I'm supposed to go meet some people at the bar now. Also, Sidler, Snake, and Dawg if you're reading this try to post something this week since I'm likely going to be very busy.

Back. Not drunk. Sad face. The Mets game is on ESPN game right now, and the first thing I see is a graphic on how Johan led the AL during a five year stretch in wins, strikeouts, ERA, and BA against. Depressing. Jon Miller then brings up how some people thought there was a little erosion in his numbers last year (true) to which Joe Morgan replies "It was mental. Minnesota wouldn't sign him, so his head wasn't in it." Jesus. Too depressed to continue.