Monday, August 4, 2008
Top Story out there is that the Gophers have offered Darius Smith a scholarship. The by far weirdest thing about this is Smith's quote that he is not overly familiar with the program and that he has "Caught a couple games on TV. I know [Tubby Smith] is a great coach and it's a good program."
Smith kind of comes out of nowhere as far as the Gophers go - at least to my knowledge - but he sounds like a quality player. He is ranked 90th overall in the class of 2009 by Scout and 80th by Rivals, and has seen his stock rise since some excellent play in the Peach Jam AAU tournament. He's listed as a SG by Scout and a PG by Rivals, so it would seem he's another combo guard and at 6-2 I'm hoping, if he was to come here, he would be able to play the point.
He says he already has a favorite, and the Gophers are late to the party, so I would put the chances Tubby lands him as slim. Although the competition (Clemson, Marquette, Baylor, Iowa, Indiana, DePaul, among others) aren't the type to blow a kid away, so anything is possible. On to other things.....
Obviously there are some pretty big Minnesota stories out there right now, and I'll get to that, but first I want to take a second here to point out an article on espn.com about Clem Haskins. It's pretty much a fluff "where are they know" article, but it's written almost admirably. It seems mostly to stress that he's found happiness by staying away from basketball, and maybe it's because it was written by a broad but it seemed very complimentary of Haskins and the life he has "chosen" to lead.
I'm conflicted, because although I will always remember Haskins more as the one who brought the team to the Final Four than the one who brought the program crashing down, I'm not about to praise his decisions. Even if the accusations brought against him were overblown, as he still claims, there is no doubt he is one of the biggest cheaters in NCAA history - no joke. And I'm the kind of guy who is ok with a little rule bending if it means wins (judge me as you will), this was obviously at a level rarely seen. Which also means no high profile program would hire him. If he did want to come back, he'd have to start at a low, low, low major like a Morgan State (which is where fellow cheater Todd Bozeman ended up) or at an AAU type level (which is where Jim Harrick coached for a while). It's a joke to suggest he's some kind of courageous citizen by living on a farm in Kentucky rather than coaching somewhere. But then again, the article was written by a chick, so what do you expect.
- In Minnesota news, Franky Liriano pitched in his first MLB game since early in the season and managed to put up 6 shutout innings, giving up just 3 hits. It's not quite as sunshiney as you'd think, as Aaron Gleeman also pointed out. He walked three, which isn't a horrible number, but struggled to find the strike zone often. His fastball is nowhere near the 95ish number reported by the Twins, and failed to break 90 quite often. And pitching against the Indians isn't exactly the strictest test there is - because they suck.
All that being said, however, it was certainly a very encouraging outing after the early season debacles. He seemed to have good command of his pitches, aside from strike zone issues, and his slider looked to be at or near 2006 form. It is certainly a step in the right direction, and the fact that they made the right decision and dumped Livan instead of moving Perkins into the bullpen or something makes me smile. However don't expect six shutdown innings every time, and there will likely be some ugly outings, but he's back and he's on his way. I'm optimistic that by next season he will be very close to his old form and could be dominant again. Please.
- The other big news is that the Packers have contacted the Vikings about trading Favre, and all tampering charges against Minnesota have been dropped. So what does this mean? I think it's all a big charade by the Pack. I can't imagine any possible scenario where the Packers would actually trade him to Minnesota. I guess, if they think him being there is too disruptive he might, but I just don't buy it. I'm thinking they probably called the Vikes and said "Give us 9 first round picks and Adrian Peterson and you can have Favre." There. They talked to the Vikings. Looks good to the Favre fans now.
Plus, the Vikings probably shouldn't trade for him. I mean, he basically is Tavaris Jackson with a drug problem and no mobility. Seriously, they both make the same mistakes. They both try to force plays when they should just throw the ball away. Why trade for a washed-up alcoholic drama queen, when we have a young Mike Vick right there on the team already? Don't think Favre's washed up because of his nice stats last season? Guess what, it was all because of his receivers. Don't buy it? Check this out. It's a very compelling post from a nerdy football blog. Performance can't be as easily quantified in football as baseball, but they make a good case. To sum up, "The Packers receivers racked up more yards after catch (YAC) than any other corps in the NFL, even the Moss-Welker-Stallworth squad in New England. On a per-pass basis, Brett Favre's passing statistics were extremely inflated by the abilities of his receivers. In fact, 52% of his passing yards came from YAC, second (tied) only to Kansas City's defenseless Brodie Croyle." There's a whole lot more there, including a compelling case that YAC is NOT a QB dependent stat, but a receiver dependent stat and the point that a QB with a high YAC average is throwing an awful lot of dump offs (I'm guessing the Vikings are career leaders in this). It pretty much proves my point that Favre is basically a football Pete Rose.
- Speaking of Rose, I bought his book where he whines a lot for $3. Expect a review. Ok, fine, more like a throwaway comment when I'm drunk and typing.
- Speaking of books, I'm reading the Tony LaRussa book, Three Nights in August. It's ok. The stories are interesting, including how much of a dick LaRussa is to his family, but the write and notorious blog hater Buzz Bissinger is killing me. He spent the whole intro bashing people who are into stats, and has spent the rest of the book using mind-numblingly stupid analogies at every opportunity. I have it next to me, and on this one page alone we have, "blooping it into center like a falling Easter egg" and "like the steady spout of water from a fountain, where you can't quite grasp the mechanics of how it can flow so easily and yet so forcefully" - and that last one is describing a fastball. These are sprinkled in about one every 2-3 paragraphs, and they take me right out of the book every time. Horrible. And this guy is a professional.
- Have you watched this new American Gladiators? That "Wolf" guy has got to be about as gay as they come. Actually I think most of these guys are. HOT.
- Jesus Christ, Mike Lamb is hitting fifth because he's filling in for Kubel? Just like Redmond hitting third when he fills in for Mauer. It just drives me crazy when people say Gardy is a good manager. If Punto ever has to fill in at first does he hit fourth? And it doesn't matter if Lamb goes 5-5 with three homers, it's still dumb.
- Sure enough, he doubles in a run. Point stands.
- Speaking of Joe Mauer, have you heard the radio commercial he does for Sun Country Airlines? It's on KFAN sometimes, and it's not going to do anything to dispel the rumor that Mauer has no personality. He reads his lines with slightly less inflection than Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It's brutal. Of course he also makes millions, built a multi-million dollar house which included a man-made lake with a golf green in the middle, and has his pick of ladies. But I can read lines with believable voice inflection, so eat it Mauer.
- Nick Punto just hit a homerun. I knew Miguel Batista was brutally bad, but I had no idea he was that bad. Also, the guy is a notorious headhunter. I fully expect somebody to get plunked here at some point after that one.
- Batista somehow won 16 games last year, despite a WHIP of 1.52, a BB/9 of 3.96, and an ERA of 4.29. Yet, people still evaluate pitchers based on win totals.
- DownwithYou is quickly becoming my favorite commenter.
- In between innings we're watching Friends, and it's the one where Ross dates a student. That chick is quite attractive (pictured above). AND from Minnesota.
- Dang, Batista's out. But I promise if he had stuck around he would have beaned somebody.
- I don't think there's a better hitter in baseball than Justin Morneau. Ok, I'm kidding, but dang man, how good has he been? He's pretty much the exact opposite of Mike Lamb.
- Game is boring. I'm tired. And that's pretty much all I got.