Friday, May 30, 2008


I reported on FanHouse last night (via our colleague James Mirtle) that former Gopher hockey player Blake Wheeler spurned an offer from Phoenix to become a free agent.

To make a short story long, Wheeler was drafted by the Coyotes four years ago. Because it had been four years (he played a year of juniors before playing three years with UMTC) since his draft year, Wheeler had the right to turn pro on his own, so to speak.

He could withdraw from school and activate a 30-day clock. If Phoenix failed to sign him, Wheeler would become an unrestricted free agent. The Coyotes would then receive the 35th overall pick in the NHL Draft (second round) as compensation.

Now, because Wheeler was drafted under the rules of the old Collective Bargaining Agreement (he was a pre-lockout pick), he would be able to receive a larger contract and more bonus money from Phoenix than he would if he became a free agent.

The Hockey News reports Wheeler could be leaving upwards of $225,000 on the table by nixing a potential deal with Phoenix. Now, this might sound like a lot of money, but if Wheeler has even a moderately successful pro career, it's a drop in the bucket. From his standpoint, it's a small fee to pay for the right to sign where he wants to play. His agent says that's what this is about. He wants to play where he wants, and not where the system sent him.

But is that the issue?

Look at the Phoenix roster. They already have the likes of Peter Mueller established as NHL players. Kyle Turris and Brett MacLean are on the way. There's a lot of competition for minutes among some really talented young players. Wheeler, meanwhile, comes in with a lot to prove (he was a bit of a disappointment at Minnesota).

The couple times I dealt with Blake during his time at UMTC, I found him to be an engaging, thoughtful, and intelligent kid. Nice kid.

And if this is what his agent says it is (Blake sacrificing some money for the chance to play where he wants), I think it's an interesting move. It's an arguable point. However, it's also a bad precedent. For a player drafted where he doesn't want to go, there is an out after four years. I don't like that. The draft exists for a reason, and it's not so players can find loopholes in the system and become free agents.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


You know what I find funny?

Brett Favre went away over two months ago. He's gone. Has barely said a peep publicly.

Yet, his name keeps coming up.

The latest in media idiocy comes from, among others, USA Today. And it's a doozy.
Favre's locker still has his nameplate and that the legendary passer's shoulder pads still rest there on a shelf.
Credit Jason White of "" with "breaking" this Earth-shattering story.

I have to respectfully disagree with coach Mike McCarthy and the team keeping it intact, as it is was during the Packers' organized team activity practices. Even though the Packers legendary quarterback called it a career in March -- albeit with a few public unretirement ruminations afterward -- his nameplate is still above his locker, and his shoulder pads are still on the shelf.

I think that's wrong. It isn't fair to Aaron Rodgers, who has as tough a follow-up gig as anyone has ever had at quarterback in the NFL. Not only is he following a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer, which has been done before, but Rodgers is following a guy who started 275 consecutive games without missing one with an injury, and he's doing it in a town where Favre is a deity.

Words can't describe how stupid this is. If nothing else, it has forced the Packers to blow the doors off what they'd been quietly working on. And it's a nice gesture.
The Packers took away the Favre nameplate from Brett Favre's locker and replaced it with a standard ‘Packers' nameplate. The Packers had initially planned to keep the locker with Favre's name until further plans, but pulled it this week, coincidentally as the locker drew national coverage. Apparently the team is now considering giving the locker to Favre as a gift. "I think it's been totally blown out of proportion. It's frankly an excellent idea that Ted Thompson and the organization had as far as a gift on a personal note to Brett. It's been discussed with Brett, and we can talk about it at a later date. But its really a construction concern, is the reason why the locker hasn't been taken out of there. So there's nothing more to it. A lot has been made of it. ... Ted, at the board of directors meeting yesterday, talked about the Brett locker situation and told them the plans that he had had as far as what he was going to do with the locker and they gave him a standing ovation. It's a classy move and something that definitely reflects how the Green Bay Packers do business and how they appreciate what Brett Favre has done in his career."
All the guy wants to do is retire. And all the Packers want to do is move on.

Why is this such a difficult thing for the media to understand?

Sadly, someone out there in blog/talk radio/column land will spin this as somehow being Favre's fault. As if the tearful press conference wasn't evidence enough. As if the Packers' repeated attempts to move on weren't enough.

The worst part of this story? Some moron with a press pass asked Rodgers about the locker.
"I have a lot of things to worry about besides whether they keep the locker or not," Rodgers said. "I mean, it's not even on my mind. I got to try to figure out a way to lead this team on my mind — workouts, OTAs — so I'm not worried about that at all."
I'm sure Rodgers has experienced a few sleepless nights, racked with worry over when the Packers will finally get rid of that damn locker. Good thing it got settled now, or it would have ruined any shot he has of succeeding in 2008.


Not so fast, my friends.

Pittsburgh got a real nice, uplifting win Wednesday night. But that's all it was. It wasn't a momentum-shifter or a series-changer. It was a win.

In the end, the Penguins are still facing some problems they need to overcome if they are to truly make this a competitive series.

For starters, they can't count on the officiating to work so much in their favor. Wednesday night's game was not consistently called, and that benefited the Penguins, who got away with more penalties than Detroit did.

Detroit missed a couple open nets, including that amazing pipejob from Tomas Holmstrom shortly after Pittsburgh made it 3-1. The bad-luck plays went against Detroit, and they couldn't overcome them because...

They (the Wings) didn't play well. They weren't tenacious enough defensively, and they weren't strong with the puck. Credit Pittsburgh for doing a better job of forcing the issue, but just like the Penguins couldn't afford to stand for getting badly outworked in Detroit, the Wings have to step up their effort in Game Four.

One of the things coaches harp on is the importance of having a good shift after a goal (either for or against). When you score, you don't want to lollygag and give up the momentum you just gained. Similarly, when you give one up, you don't have the luxury of moping around and acting like you have time to regroup.

Game Four Saturday night will be fun to watch. I expect the Red Wings to come out with a more balanced effort, and I expect it to be very difficult on Pittsburgh to generate any offense. They need to continue to be opportunistic, and they have to work hard to shut down the quality chances Detroit will create with their speed and skill.

I see the Wings rebounding to win, and then they should be able to clinch the series at home Monday night. However, if Pittsburgh wins Saturday (by any means necessary), this gets very interesting.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


They say you're supposed to wait three years before judging an NFL team's draft.

I've waited three years. The Vikings' 2005 draft was very, very, very bad.

First round, 7th overall - Troy Williamson, WR, South Carolina
I could tell a bunch of jokes about drops and such, but they're all old. Williamson was a terrible pick, and the Vikings missed a great opportunity to rebuild after the Randy Moss trade.

First round, 18th overall - Erasmus James, DE, Wisconsin
It's harder to blame this one on the Vikings. James was dealt to Washington this week after failing to pass his physical. Shoulder and knee injuries really sunk any chance James had to make an impact. You can't predict these types of things, so while it looks like an awful pick, I'll give Minnesota a mulligan.

Second round, 49th overall - Marcus Johnson, OL, Mississippi
Tough kid who has emerged as a decent player. Not a bad second-round pick.

Third round, 80th overall - Dustin Fox, DB, Ohio State

Fourth round, 112th overall - Ciatrick Fason, RB, Florida
Didn't last long, and was hardly a serious contender for playing time in a Viking backfield that crowded quickly with the Taylor signing and Peterson pick.

Sixth round, 191st overall - CJ Mosley, DT, Missouri
Decent contribution as a rookie, but ended up with the Jets the last two years.

Seventh round, 219th overall - Adrian Ward, UTEP
I have no idea who this guy is.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


A few thoughts on the Stanley Cup Finals, as we head into an important Game Two in Detroit...
  • The East isn't so bad that Pittsburgh is automatically going to get overrun in this series. However, the Penguins enter Game Two with plenty to prove. Coach Michel Therien called it the worst performance of the playoffs for his team. Given how they've looked to this point, it's hard to argue that statement. It's an arguable point, based on past history, that Game Two isn't a total must-win for Pittsburgh. But if it happens, it will open us up to a lot of criticism of the Eastern Conference.
  • Is that criticism justified? Maybe. However, there are three Western Conference teams that didn't do much of anything against these Red Wings, either. Are we going to indict the West on not presenting us with competitive opponents for Detroit, either? I mean, they had three shots to produce one, and the East gets just one chance. People who are fans of Western Conference teams (full disclosure: I'm a Minnesota fan) will use a lopsided result in the Finals (if we get one) as an excuse to bash the East, even without any good reason. What we're going to forget is that the best challenge Detroit has gotten so far came from the Nashville Predators. Colorado and Dallas were never real serious threats.
  • Evgeni Malkin needs to wake up. Fast. Detroit doesn't have any forward lines that are bad defensively. Get used to it and prepare to have to outwork them to succeed.
  • Marc-Andre Fleury wasn't bad at all in Game One, but two of the goals he gave up were. I don't care what led to the wrap-around goal. A wrap-around should never lead to a goal, unless the goalie is interfered with, in which case the goal shouldn't count. The third goal (short-handed) was quite soft.
  • Seven shots over the last two periods? I don't care who you're playing, Pittsburgh. That won't cut it.
  • All in all, I expect a better performance out of the Penguins on Monday. I'm not sure it will be enough.
  • I'm also not totally sold that a Game Two win is a must for the Pens. In the heat of the moment during our FanHouse Game One LiveBlog, I said it was. I'm no longer convinced. They have to play well, score a couple goals, take better care of the puck, and help Fleury out. If they can do those things, they can take some positive vibes back to Pittsburgh and make a series out of this.


It never ends.

Despite pitching in his fourth inning over two days, (Guillermo) Mota said he was not fatigued.

"I'll pitch anytime they need me," Mota said. "I was out there trying to do my job. I feel strong. That's what I'm here for."

Yost added that the team was low on options, because the batting matchups prevented him from bringing in a left-handed specialist.

"We were looking at [Carlos] Villanueva in the next inning if we were still tied -- seeing if he could pitch a couple innings," Yost said.

Dmitri Young was up with a runner on after Mota walked a .100 or so hitter. Young's OPS against lefties has dwindled considerably in recent years, to the point where the Nationals don't let him do much against them.

Left-hander Brian Shouse was sitting in the bullpen.

With runners on first and third, Yost let Mota pitch to Felipe Lopez, even though he could have set up a force at each base with an intentional walk.

(Also worth noting: Lopez is pretty fast, and the odds of an inning-ending double play were low with him batting.)

Did I mention Mota was pitching his fourth inning over two days, and was pitching multiple innings in a day game after a night game?

Yost? Clueless. Again.

Brewers? Losers. Again.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Former (should-be Hall of Fame) major league pitcher and current Minnesota Twins broadcaster Bert Blyleven did an interview with Yahoo's Big League Stew, and he made it clear that he believes he'll make the Hall.
The convincing, to me, is over with. I feel I'm going to be in there in a couple years. I honestly feel my time is coming.

...I think with the steroid era — how the game has changed — and with guys pitching every fifth day now, there's no emphasis on complete games. I see guys pitching eight shutout innings and then not going out for the ninth because of a pitch count. We never had the pitch count.
He also believes in a superb idea about the Hall selection process that will probably never, ever happen:
I talked to Ernie Harwell about that. He thinks I should be in. He says in his great voice, "You know, Bert, I just don't know why announcers haven't been involved in the voting for the Hall of Fame. If only because they see these players every day." A guy like a Vin Scully — my goodness. Any radio play-by-play guy or TV play-by-play guy should — if they're there a certain amount of time, just like the writers for 10 years, I think, they should have the right to vote also.
Most of the baseball writers are fantasically intelligent people who take this process seriously. There have actually been sane arguments against admitting Blyleven in the Hall. Getting into shouting matches with the Bill Conlins of the world is simply a waste of time, energy, and breath.

Say all the nice things about the BBWAA you want, but it's patently insulting that the people who broadcast the games don't have any say over who gets in. People like Bob Uecker and Vin Scully are on the outside looking in. They're at the ballpark every day, and their passion for baseball is unparalleled. With all due respect, why is a guy like Richard Justice more qualified to decide who gets in the Hall of Fame than Scully?

There are a lot of things wrong with the Hall of Fame and the system used to select its members, but this is one of the serious structural flaws that is just inexplicable to me.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


A confession, if you don't mind.

I've never seen a UFC event, or any other MMA event. For the most part, I've simply not had any interest. I never saw any episode of "The Ultimate Fighter" on Spike TV. Again, just haven't had interest.

However, I'm more than willing to admit something.

I think I'm missing the boat.

I've had an opportunity to catch a few editions of HDNet Fights, which is Mark Cuban's offshoot MMA promotion, his lame attempt at competing with the top dog of MMA, which is Ultimate Fighting Championships, or UFC.

There are others who exist or have tried. Pride was a fighting promotion based mainly overseas, but they went away in 2007. World Extreme Cagefighting has a home on Versus. There's also EliteXC, which launches on CBS television next weekend. There is more than a niche market for MMA.

And I've missed out.

I'll be watching next weekend, when EliteXC debuts. I'm going to make a point to catch HDNet Fights more often. At some point, I know I have to graduate to UFC, no matter how pricey their pay-per-views are ($50 standard definition, $60 high definition). It's the 800-pound gorilla, and it's where the best fights are found.

As I get my feet wet, I'll throw a plug to my FanHouse colleague Michael David Smith. He's covering MMA, including UFC, better than anyone else on the internet. He'll be live in Vegas this weekend for UFC 84, and I'll be following their coverage.

In the meantime, where do you stand on this growing phenomenon in sports? Are you on board? Is it not your thing? Are you willing to check it out? Let me know.


If Brett Favre had a flaw in the eyes of many Packer fans, it was his general inability to be "one of the boys" toward the end of his career. His relationship with young backup Aaron Rodgers wasn't thought to be all that great. It was understandable to an extent. After all, Favre was the old dog. He has 15 years on Rodgers. When I'm 37, I'm not going to hang with anyone who's just out of college.

But there were some Packer fans who saw that as a bad thing. They thought Favre should have taken Rodgers under his wing. Taught him everything he could. That didn't happen.

And if Rodgers' recent words and actions are to be seen as a trend, it won't happen that way with him.
Rodgers said he's just being himself in respect to the off-season gatherings. But it's easy to see that Rodgers' living room is where Favre's reign ends and the Rodgers era - whatever it will ultimately be - has begun.

"I've always been open, a guy that wants to be involved not only working together but in the lives of these guys," Rodgers said. "That's why I've been having guys over once a week, just because I want us to be a connected team on and off the field."

I'm not a rah-rah guy by any stretch, but I think this is a great first step on his part. In order to succeed in Green Bay, Rodgers can't try to be Favre. Granted, there are fans who want him to be Favre. But he can't. He's Aaron Rodgers, and Aaron Rodgers just wants to be one of the boys.

And while it would be totally understandable if Rodgers shielded himself from rookies Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn, he says that won't happen.

"I'm going to help them as much as they want," Rodgers said. "I know what it was like to be a rookie and I'm sure their heads are swimming a little bit with the stuff we put in. So as much help as they want, they have my phone number. They know where I live - they're coming over tonight to hang out - so I'm going to be there for them."

Rodgers said his rookie experience had no bearing on his outlook toward his underlings.

"It was a different situation," said Rodgers, who has traded voicemails with Favre since his retirement. "(Favre) was 36, I was 21. We were 15 years apart. I'm 24 and these guys are 22 so as far as age goes, there's a little more connection there. But I'm just doing things the way I've always done them."

Say what you want about Rodgers' uneven performances in his first three years, but there are some undeniable statements:
  • Rodgers looked really good in that Dallas game last year. He threw the ball well, spread the field, and confidently led this team.
  • He's gotten significantly better in his preseason stints since his rookie campaign.
  • He needs a freaking haircut.
I've been to Green Bay. I know there are haircut places there. In fact, I have seen them myself. Here's a link to one.

Since we've established they exist, and I'm sure they're not out of Rodgers' price range, I'm not sure why Rodgers is trying to grow his hair longer than Al Harris. Perhaps, he's trying to sell the idea that he's so busy trying to get ready for the season that he doesn't have time to get a haircut.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


For as long as I've followed hockey, I've never understood why NHL players were so resistant to using visors to protect their eyes from serious injury.

Every time I see something happen involving a facial injury, I wonder even more.

To the right is Philadelphia defenseman Braydon Coburn, who took a puck to the face in Game Two of Philadelphia's series with Pittsburgh. He didn't return for the rest of the series. Combined with the loss of Kimmo Timonen, who didn't play until Game Five because of a blood clot, it crippled Philly's defense.

Movements to make visors or face shields mandatory have been met with enough resistance to stop them. However, there are some within hockey who believe that it's only a matter of time.

Quoting from Adam Proteau's Hockey News blog, Greg Wyshynski notes a very solid point made by AHL commissioner Dave Andrews:
"I don't think there's any reason for a player to take (a visor) off," said Andrews, whose league made visors mandatory for its players at the start of the 2006-07 season. "Every player now turning professional...whether they come from Europe, NCAA or major junior, has been wearing a visor, and to play without one is to consciously take it off."
I am of the "the sooner, the better" attitude here. Coburn's injury was absolutely avoidable, and I fail to understand why so many players don't realize this. They choose to stop wearing a face shield, and in doing so, they put themselves at incredible risk of a career-altering or career-ending injury.

This isn't about the impact of Coburn's loss on the Flyers' ability to beat Pittsburgh. It's about Coburn's injury, and the potential such an injury has to change a young player's career. Coburn is lucky he will be able to recover and play this fall. His injury should have little impact on his future. However, it has happened before (just ask Bryan Berard), and it will probably happen again if something isn't done.


Though I wish he'd take part, I generally don't have a problem with Miami Dolphin Jason Taylor skipping his team's offseason work this weekend. "Dancing With The Stars" is a royally stupid television show, but it's here to stay, and it's a commitment. Taylor made that commitment, did very well on the show, and I have no issues with him choosing to hang out with his wife and kids this weekend, now that the competition is over.

However, today's revelation that Taylor is skipping all the Dolphins' offseason workouts and training camp shows the potential for a different agenda.

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said on Wednesday that Taylor won’t be participating in any of the team’s offseason activities — and that he won’t be at training camp.

“I know that Jason is not going to be at any OTA’s,” Sparano said. ”I know that Jason will not be at any minicamps. I know that right now Jason is not going to be at training camp.

“That’s what we know. Jason is a player under contract with the Miami Dolphins. He knows that. Both parties are well aware of the information. That’s all I’m going to say about it. . . . I’m not going to talk about another thing about Jason.”

Frankly, I think this is stupid. Taylor is supposedly a football player first. Sure, everyone needs something to do after football, and for some, a career in Hollywood has a bit more appeal than sitting in a New York/Los Angeles studio talking about football every Sunday.

But Taylor is under contract with the Dolphins, he's expressed no public desire for a new contract, and he's expressed no public desire to be traded. If he wants to be a Dolphin, he needs to be a Dolphin. That means he needs to report to minicamp (the mandatory one) June 6, and he needs to show up for training camp.

Instead of football, Taylor's eyes are obviously on life after football. If that's the priority, I suggest Taylor consider retirement from playing football. It's never struck me as a game you can play half-assed.


Date Opponent Site Time (CST)
Oct. 5 Lakehead U.# Duluth, MN 6:07 p.m.
Oct. 10 Lake Superior State~ Sault Ste. Marie, MI 6:05 p.m.
Oct. 11 Northern Michigan~ Marquette, MI 6:35 p.m.
Oct. 17 Western Michigan Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Oct. 18 Western Michigan Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Oct. 24 Alaska Anchorage* Anchorage, AK 10:37 p.m.
Oct. 25 Alaska Anchorage* Anchorage, AK 10:07 p.m.
Nov. 1 St. Cloud State*+ St. Paul, MN 4:07 p.m.
Nov. 7 Denver* Denver, CO 8:37 p.m.
Nov. 8 Denver* Denver, CO 8:07 p.m.
Nov. 14 Wisconsin* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m. Nov. 15 Wisconsin* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Nov. 21 North Dakota* Duluth, MN 7:37 p.m.
Nov. 22 North Dakota* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Nov. 29 St. Cloud State* Duluth, MN 7:37 p.m.
Dec. 5 Colorado College* Colorado Springs, CO 8:37 p.m.
Dec. 6 Colorado College* Colorado Springs, CO 8:07 p.m.
Dec. 12 Michigan Tech* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m. Dec. 13 Michigan Tech* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Jan. 2 Lightning College Hockey Classic@ Tampa, FL TBA
Jan. 3 Lightning College Hockey Classic@ Tampa, FL TBA
Jan. 9 St. Cloud State* St. Cloud, MN 7:07 p.m.
Jan. 10 St. Cloud State* St. Cloud, MN 7:07 p.m.
Jan. 16 Bemidji State Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Jan. 17 Bemidji State Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Jan. 23 Minnesota State-Mankato* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Jan. 24 Minnesota State-Mankato* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Jan. 30 Wisconsin* Madison, WI 7:07 p.m.
Jan. 31 Wisconsin* Madison, WI 7:07 p.m.
Feb. 6 Denver* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Feb. 7 Denver* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
Feb. 20 Michigan Tech* Houghton, MI 6:07 p.m.
Feb. 21 Michigan Tech* Houghton, MI 6:07 p.m.
Feb. 27 Minnesota* Minneapolis, MN 7:07 p.m.
Feb. 28 Minnesota* Minneapolis, MN 7:07 p.m.
March 6 Alaska Anchorage* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
March 7 Alaska Anchorage* Duluth, MN 7:07 p.m.
March 13-15 WCHA Playoffs (First Round) TBA TBA
March 19-21 WCHA Final Five St. Paul, MN TBA
March 27-29 NCAA Regionals TBA TBA
April 9 & 11 NCAA Frozen Four Washington, DC TBA
It's a challenging start to the schedule. Northern Michigan should be vastly improved this fall, and the trip to Anchorage is always tough, no matter the talent possessed by the opponent. St. Cloud State is a perennially tough foe. Playing the "conference home opener" at the XCel Energy Center will be a treat.

So will that New Year's weekend trip to Florida.
    The Bulldogs are trying to build off a second straight 13-win season, and they'll do it with a slew of upperclassmen, a stud goaltender, and a couple highly-touted freshmen named Connolly (Jack and Mike, who are not related).

    Ugh. Still a bit more than four months until the first puck drop. Seems like a long time.

    Actually, it is.

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008


    Because Ned Yost hasn't been ripped enough lately.

    The fun continues.

    A non-sports blog reported that Yost would be fired on the off day after the team was swept in Boston, and this blog picked it up and later posted comments from general manager Doug Melvin, saying he would not respond to erroneous Internet reports about his manager losing his job.

    Well, Yost did respond. And he was not happy, as evidence by his tone and choice of un-publishable words.

    "It's not right," he said after settling down a bit.

    "Blogs and the talk radio show guys, it's fun, but they don't have all the information. To sit back and criticize and talk about certain situations and they don't have all the information, now that's where it gets hard to listen or give it much credability."

    Yost also said the Journal Sentinel should shoulder some blame for picking up the blog report.

    "It's a joke," he continued. "There's no legitimacy there at all, and we put it on the Internet for everybody to see and raise havoc. It's a joke. It's not fair and it's not right."

    Wow. We finally figured out a way to get Ned Yost to swear. Tom Haudricourt also got Ned to contradict himself. In the same meeting, he asked Ned about Ryan Braun's comments (the ones where basically said the manager is an idiot without saying it).
    "I had no problems with what Ryan said," Yost said. "Everybody's got the right to say what they want."
    Apparently, people who want Ned fired don't have this right. Just players who want to indirectly call him out in the media.

    Don't you love double-standards?

    Monday, May 19, 2008


    A stupid blog rumor that Brewers manager Ned Yost would get fired Monday was nothing more than a stupid blog rumor.

    We're stuck with him, I guess.

    Along the way, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a very good baseball writer, made a questionable decision. He gave "Badger Blogger" a voice, and gave the stupid rumor legs that it didn't really have.

    Haudricourt didn't really cause any damage by doing this, but he did (at least temporarily) make people think there was a chance Yost would get what he has coming to him for sucking at his job. No reason to do anything but yell sternly at Haudricourt for the tease.

    I'll give him credit. He backed off in a hurry.

    (GM Doug) Melvin was aware that a blogger had posted a supposed news scoop late Sunday night claiming he had a source that told him the Brewers were going to fire Yost today. And Melvin said any radio station or TV station or newspaper that responded to a blog site as a news source -- and that includes me because I did so today -- should seriously question themselves.

    "I have too much respect for newspapers and news stations for them to respond to a blog for their news," said Melvin. "When they do so, they lose their credibility. I refuse to respond to blogs because anybody can put anything out there."

    I agree with Melvin whole-heartedly, and it's one of the main problems I have with blogs and responding to blogs. Badger Blogger put it out there that Yost would be fired today and there was no validity to it. Melvin is in Nashville. Yost is in Pittsburgh. (Owner Mark) Attanasio is back home in LA. You don't fire your manager when all of the decision-makers are scattered across the country. You circle the wagons at times like that.

    Shame on Badger Blogger -- and you can bet I'll never cite anything from that "source" again -- and shame on me for giving them their 15 minutes of fame.

    Credit to Tom for calling himself out. It's something more reporters should be willing to do in such a frank fashion.

    Yes, Badger Blogger is ultimately responsible for the stupid rumor. But Haudricourt is the one who really gave it legs.

    In issuing a mea culpa of sorts, he may also have revealed a bigger part of the Brewers' current problem.

    When told that some have construed (Ryan) Braun's comments as an indictment of manager Ned Yost and the preparedness of the team, Melvin said he didn't see it that way.

    "He did say that the team is playing hard and trying hard," said Melvin. "Ryan's not saying (the team in unprepared).

    "(Owner) Mark Attanasio and I sat six feet from Ned (at Fenway Park) and we saw him cheering and rooting on his palyers. He was on the top step, trying to get the guys going. When players don['t perform well, they will hang their heads at times. Ned was there to make sure that didn't happen.

    "He doesn't sit back on the bench. He's a cheerleader, on the top step, showing them he's behind them."

    Well, gollygeewillikers. Thanks, Ned. You're a helluva cheerleader.

    Now, could you try managing the team?

    Sunday, May 18, 2008


    Ryan Braun is not happy.

    "I almost felt like this series, we didn't expect to win," Braun said after the 11-7 defeat that dropped the Brewers into sole possession of last place in the NL Central with five consecutive losses. "We were competing; I know everybody tried hard. But it's not about trying hard. You've got to expect to win. I almost feel like we never really expected to win any of these games. I just kind of had that feeling.

    "It's just a feeling. Every time we were winning, I just didn't feel we expected to win. It was like we were just content to be there and compete. I don't think we necessarily expected to win.

    "Obviously, they're a great team. It's a good gauge of where we're at when we can go out and compete with those guys. For us, as a team, our goal can't be to compete. Our goal has to be to win.

    "Obviously, to come in here and win the series would have been extremely difficult but it's a real disappointment to come in here and get swept.

    "A team like (Boston), they come out every day and expect to win. You can just sense it. I feel like we're there at times but we need to come with that approach every . No matter who we're playing against, no matter who's throwing against us, and expect to win. Part of that comes with success, comes with beating good teams and good pitchers. We're too talented to approach the game any other way.

    "We've got to figure it out and figure it out in a hurry. We're better than that. We're certainly talented enough to win games. But a lot of it, our approach mentally, sometimes has to improve.

    "We've got to go to Pittsburgh and try to find a way to win the series and go to Washington and find a way to win that series. We can't play like this for very long, as deep and talented as our division is. We're six weeks into it now.

    "By no means is it time to panic. We just have to find a way to start playing better consistently in all facets of the game."

    I'm not sure Prince Fielder agrees.

    "We've still got to go out there and do our job," Fielder said. "Just because we lose doesn't mean that everything isn't going on all cylinders. I don't look at it that deep.

    "It's not fun to lose but it's our job. We've got to do it whether it's hard or not. Every day, just try to go out there and each one of us try to do our part to help our team win."

    I must say that I'm not totally sure what the hell he's talking about. Similarly, I haven't been sure what the hell he's swinging at most of the time this season.

    Meanwhile, Ned Yost was seen after the game doing what he usually does.

    This might explain a few things.

    You want good news? The Brewers won't lose Monday.

    Bad news? They're going to Pittsburgh, where they win about as often as the Lions do in Green Bay.


    I'd stop beating this dead horse if someone would come clean up the body.

    After blowing a game by making four hideous errors, including two to key a two-run seventh inning, Brewers manager Ned Yost got snippy with the media. After all, how DARE you question the ability of this team to learn from the mistakes they're making practically every day.
    "The Red Sox made a bunch of errors, too, and they 're World Champions," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. "Think they're learning anything tonight? It happens. You make errors."
    I'd call Ned a dope, but that would be an insult to dopes.

    I've had it. This team is thoroughly unwatchable, and all I get from the manager are mindless, meaningless quotes that show no basic understanding of what is going on with this LAST-PLACE team. At this point, I don't give a crap who gets fired. The house needs to be cleaned, and I'd like it done while there is still a chance.

    (There aren't a ton of examples of managerial changes leading to anything good, but it did work for - among others - the 1982 Brewers and, more recently, the 2005 Astros.)

    Nine straight road losses. Bad pitching. Bad hitting. Bad defense. A complete moron for a manager.

    Anything going right?

    Well, at least he isn't asking Ryan Braun to drop mindless sacrifice bunts.

    Sunday, May 11, 2008


    Link from TSN report.

    The right move has been made. Suspending Ribeiro would have either caused copious amounts of whining, or it would have started an ugly, unnecessary chain reaction.

    Game Three will be fun. No doubt.

    Hopefully, I'll be home from South Dakota in plenty of time to catch the game in BEAUTIFUL, SPARKLING HIGH DEFINITION.

    (Sorry. My sister-in-law doesn't have HDTV. It's amazing how crappy sports look in standard definition when you become accustomed to HD.)


    First off, I present the video. I am, after all, about fairness. Sometimes.

    Watch carefully and be the judge for yourself.

    First off, I'm not here to condone Chris Osgood's butt-end or Mike Ribeiro's slash. But did either of them cause any damage?

    I'm not about suspending only players who cause injury. Jarkko Ruutu and Ryan Hollweg weren't seriously injured by Chris Simon, but Simon's past transgressions and the intent of his actions justified his punishments. Same for Ryan Kesler and Chris Pronger. Kesler wasn't injured, but Pronger still deserved what he got (and then some).

    This is the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This series is entering a pivotal Game Three Monday night in Dallas. Is it really in the NHL's best interest to reward Detroit for Osgood's pathetic flop by suspending Ribeiro for the game? Is it really in the NHL's best interest to reward Detroit for Osgood's deliberate (accident, my ass) butt-end on Ribeiro that led to the retaliatory slash?

    We all know the officiating in these playoffs has been sub-par (actually, it's been worse than that, but unlike some blogs, I refuse to print that word here). The league doesn't need to step in here and make everything worse than it already is.

    (And let's not get into Kris Draper getting away with blatant faceoff interference after a lame penalty was called on Morrow, nor should we discuss the blatant cross-check Chris Chelios got away with.)

    (Morrow's penalty was almost criminal, by the way, given the timing and what had been let go during the third period. Sorry. I'm blabbing.)

    I will say this for NHL officials. They're not as bad as NBA officials. But I'm starting to wonder if baseball's officiating is better, floating strike zones and all.

    As for Game Three, it's obviously a must-win for Dallas. To get the win, they need another strong game from Marty Turco, and they need to do a better job getting the puck on net when they have chances. Collectively, their defensemen were too slow getting shots off, allowing people to get in the shooting lanes. Offensively, great chances (Steve Ott and Niklas Hagman come to mind) ended with shots that missed the net. That can't happen if Dallas is to climb back into this thing.

    Friday, May 09, 2008


    We can only hope, right?

    It's getting out of hand in Milwaukee. The issues with current manager Ned Yost are too many to document.

    Among the major ones:
    • The Brewers' leadoff hitter is batting .188, with an OBP below .330. He's led off all but one game, even though his batting average hasn't topped .204 since April 13.
    • Outside of Ben Sheets, the Brewers don't have a starting pitcher capable of consistently going past the fifth inning. This particular fact isn't Yost's fault, but Yost is responsible for the fact that he continues to insist on trying to get his starters past the fifth inning, no matter how much trouble they're in.
    • The handling of the bullpen is somewhat questionable. Again. You want an example? How about the time right-handed Salomon Torres was left in the game to face a gaggle of left-handed hitters, even though left-hander Brian Shouse was standing in the bullpen, waiting for the call.
    • The hallmark of Ned's regime has been his ability to get his guys to play. It's the one area I've consistently praised him for, because not every coach is able to get his players going. Ned's had that ability. Until now. The Brewers were completely lifeless in the three games at Florida. They needed to get something going, and all they got were four runs in three games. Yes, Florida's pretty good, but the Brewers looked like a team trying to get their manager fired they'd rather be somewhere else.
    This is a big three-game series in Milwaukee this weekend. The Cardinals are in first place, but the Brewers need a couple wins. At this point, there aren't many Yost supporters left in the fanbase. While you don't let the fans fire the coaches, it's a telling sign of a problem, considering that Yost's approval rating was probably in the 70s early last year.

    For the good of the future in Milwaukee, Yost has to go. I have said it almost as long as anyone, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that the organization eventually recognizes what has to be done, and they make the move before it's too late. I'm not sure that Ted Simmons is the guy to lead this team to the playoffs. I just know Yost isn't.

    Monday, May 05, 2008


    I'm still developing my NASCAR fandom.

    As such, I usually avoid chatting too much about things that involve racing. I plead ignorance, because I still don't know much about how everything works.

    Saturday, however, was too interesting to avoid commenting on.

    First, you had media darling Michael Waltrip upset with Casey Mears, the Forgotten Hendrick Driver. Waltrip was bumped into the wall by Mears, who got too high because his spotter drank too much Crown Royal (or maybe was simply not paying attention). Waltrip responded by driving into Mears' back bumper and carrying him around the track. A bit of a bunk move by Waltrip, but also an understandable blowup. Waltrip had to think Mears was the dumbest guy on the track, and he was upset that his racecar was wrecked. Considering that Waltrip is 33rd in owner points (fall out of the top 35, and you have to race your way in every week), he has to be feeling a tinge of heat.

    That wasn't it. Not by a longshot. Denny Hamlin led like 850 laps Saturday. It was weird, because they only run 400 in this race. And Hamlin didn't even finish on the lead lap. After a late pit stop for tires (which was the right call, because Hamlin had run a ton of laps on the previous set of tires, and he had - by far - the best car), Hamlin ran into trouble. His right front started to slowly go flat. Hamlin knew it, as the car handled different on the turns and wasn't getting nearly as much speed.

    Consequently, teammate Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., both closed the gap quickly. At one point, the three were dramatically three-wide, with Earnhardt passing Hamlin on the high side, Busch on the low. Earnhardt got a better push and took the lead in the race, much to the delight of 112,000 fans in attendance. As Hamlin fell back, Earnhardt surged. Busch couldn't keep up, and Earnhardt began to look like a shoo-in for his first win in two years (last win: Richmond, spring 2006).

    Oh, but there was one more twist. Instead of pitting with that dying tire, Hamlin chose to stay on the track, hoping to remain on the lead lap and coax a top-ten finish out of a bad situation. Instead, the tire finally gave out, and Hamlin stopped his car on the high side of the racetrack. Once the caution flag flew, Hamlin made his way to the pit.

    The damage was done. The caution reeled Earnhardt back in, and after the restart, he had to battle Busch for first. Earnhardt was staying high, Busch low on the turns. On one of the turns, Busch got too high. Earnhardt didn't give any more, and was run up the track and into the wall by Busch.

    For a guy who already has a reputation, Busch's move was, well, bush. Not surprising, however.

    In the end, there are two villians here, and they both drive for Joe Gibbs. Hamlin deliberately stopped his car on the track, and it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out that he did it to help a teammate. Busch had no shot of catching Earnhardt without a caution, and Hamlin had no shot of staying on the lead lap without one. In the end, NASCAR caught on to Hamlin's game, parking him for two laps and preventing him from running all 400 laps. Meanwhile, karma caught up with Busch, who ran Earnhardt into the wall. Clint Bowyer passed Busch as he was tangled with Earnhardt, and the classy, quiet, unassuming Bowyer got his second career win. It's terribly unfortunate he wasn't driving his usual 07 race car design, which is among the best going right now. And I don't even drink Jack Daniels.

    At least there was one happy part to the ending.


    The internet continues to be aghast over the comments of author Buzz Bissinger on HBO last week.

    (More here.)

    To a certain extent, I understand the buzz (no pun intended). Bissinger was belligerent, profane, and combative in his appearance on Costas NOW. He's been much more articulate, understanding, and conversation in his media appearances since.

    For that, I applaud him. I also applaud him for the interview he gave with The Big Lead. Not only did he give an interview, but he answered all the questions and actually made some very interesting points. I'll post a few of his thoughts and respond, because it seems like a really good idea.
    The initial reaction was quite positive, more than quite positive from those I immediately spoke to–fellow panelists and members of HBO with the exception of Costas (Bob was friendly but muted in his response to my performance. He is one of the most thoughtful people I know and I think he was mulling that I had gone way too far.) What I began to realize by the next afternoon is this: What the fellow panelists thought (at least the ones I spoke with) were not remotely a representative group. When I came home from New York, my wife simply told me that I had been over the top and undignified.
    I don't know how you can watch his performance and not have an "Oh, my God. What is he doing?" reaction. I'm glad Mrs. Bissinger conveyed the same reaction, though I think I would shriek if my wife used the word "undignified" in a conversation with me. She'd probably just say I made an ass of myself.
    I believe in what I said (although the emails I received have also directed me to some excellent information-based sports blogs I was not aware of). But I made a terrible mistake in the manner in which I said it. I am a man of passion and my passion truly got the better of me. I should have considerably toned it down, in particular in terms of my treatment of Will Leitch. Without going into details, I have taken steps to remedy that. I have also publicly apologized on several radio shows that have been widely disseminated. Those apologies are sincere, just as my passion was sincere if terribly misplaced. I treated Mister Leitch like the worst kind of blogger.
    You're not going to get a blind defense of Will Leitch on this site. I think Will is brilliant, but he does have flaws. One of them is the amount of profanity that can be found on his site. For some of you, that's either a turn-on or a non-factor. And that's okay. It's part of the beauty of the internet. If you don't like something, you don't have to click on it. Personally, I'm not a fan of it, and I choose not to read the saltier stuff that you can find on Deadspin. I prefer to keep things a little cleaner around here, and I will very rarely use any words here that I couldn't use on the radio without getting at least a call to the proverbial carpet.

    But your mileage may vary. I bought Leitch's book and was riveted. It was superb content. His site is usually the same. It's not so much about showing athletes to be jerks and philanderers. It's about showing that we shouldn't take sports (or ourselves) too seriously.
    As I have just answered, there are some very good information-based sports blogs out there written by bloggers who clearly have excellent sources, just as there are some ESPN commentators who think before they talk and some marvelous radio talk show hosts who know their information inside and out and also have real sources. Now of course I will contradict myself by making the generalization that as a society, we have become more petty and mean-spirited and nastier than ever. We revel in watching celebrities fall apart. We revel in mockery and that is true of every media outlet whether you define it as new or old or mainstream or the future or whatever. Sports blogs certainly do not hold the monopoly on being vindictive.
    I'm in absolute agreement on all counts. We're too voyeuristic in our society nowadays. We take pleasure in the downfall of others, which simply isn't right.

    (NOTE: To me, there's a distinct difference between being amused by the problems of others [see: "Clemens, Roger"] and reveling in the destruction of said person's life.)

    My youngest son, who is 16, never picks up the paper. So I have no solutions for the American newspaper, although it makes me terribly sad to acknowledge what appears to be their extinction in print at some point in time.

    I became a writer because I loved the feel of a newspaper in my hands. I know saying that makes me sound terribly old, but it is hard to hold the Internet in your hands. But you guys are not simply the future; you are the present. All I ask, and I am pretty sure I have already said this somewhere before during this Q and A, is to take up your responsibility with seriousness and honor while not stifling what is the best part of the Internet, which is the way in which it gives a voice to everyone. That part of the Internet is truly exciting. As for us MMSers, we will continue to write and cling to print, and sometimes we will still do it pretty damn well. And maybe with some tolerance along the way and acceptance, we can co-exist and maybe even like each other instead of fueling the flames of hate as I unfortunately did with my appearance. But it will take more responsibility on the part of the blogging community and less maliciousness and sophomoric sexual references.

    The bottom line is that the internet is here to stay. Any solution for newspapers doesn't involve the internet going anywhere. They need to to understand ways to use the internet to their advantage. Give us compelling content, make it available on the internet, and re-construct the business model to make better use of the internet.

    Frankly, this isn't anything compelling or original. But it's the best I can do. I just don't have any reason to pick up the hometown paper anymore. I can read all the content I need on the internet. The one day I used to always pick up the paper was Sunday. I don't anymore, because I'll read articles on the internet, and then I'll just use the internet to look at the Sunday store circulars and print any ads or coupons I want to save.

    The only time I buy newspapers is when I'm on the road. There's still no better way to spend an hour-long flight or a long car ride than thumbing through the newspaper and finding interesting stuff to read and talk about. When I travel for hockey, I almost always buy the local newspaper, even though I can usually read the content on the internet.

    Even travelers don't need physical copies of the newspaper anymore. Just fire up the laptop, connect to the hotel's wireless network, and read.

    It's a different world. Someday, a newspaper executive in a reasonably-big city is going to find an answer. His/her newspaper will thrive, and everyone will follow that lead.

    I just hope that day comes before the newspaper goes away. There's still great use for the material, and even those of us who have migrated to the internet would miss the voice.

    Saturday, May 03, 2008


    No, I'm not calling for Ned Yost's firing again.

    (Though, after last night's latest round of stupidity, I should. Instead, I've just given up on it.)

    I've tried to clean a few things up around the blog. You'll notice the links have been amped up a bit and sorted out. I tried to copy over the vast majority of the links I have in my reader. There are many, many, many worthwhile blogs out there, however, and I fully acknowledge that I've probably missed a few here.

    Please leave a comment or e-mail me if you know of a site (or run a site) that you'd like to have included on the list.

    I'll more than likely be around at some point this weekend, so I invite you to check back.