Friday, June 27, 2008


Today was Will Leitch's last day editing the popular sports blog Deadspin.

Of all the stuff that was posted over the last two days, I found a couple of things quite interesting.

For starters, Will actually got noted author and aspiring television commentator (maybe not) Buzz Bissinger to do an interview. Well, it was more like an e-mail debate. Some of it shows Bissinger's ignorance as to what sports blogs (and blogs in general, I would assume, since many political blogs are more biting and mean-spirited than the worst sports blogs are) really are, and it also casts Bissinger as quite ignorant about sports.
Obviously, the biggest is that sports should not be treated with seriousness. I think Friday Night Lights proves the point of just how serious sports is in our culture.
Listen. I think the world of Bissinger's work. Friday Night Lights was positively brilliant, and his non-sports work is very good, at least as far as non-sports work goes. He was clinically insane when he appeared with Leitch on Costas Now, but most of us have gotten past that by now.

But this is just wrong.

Much of what happens in Friday Night Lights happens because people take sports too seriously. The people who spend 16 hours a day preparing for their next opponent like someone's going to die if they lose are taking sports too seriously, too, but at least they are getting compensated insanely well for their work.

We don't get compensated for watching. As fans, our job is simple. Watch. Consume. Enjoy. With the over 200 channels on my television, I have a choice. When Saturday afternoons roll around in the fall, I'll have around 30 games to pick from every day. I'll have football from 11am until after midnight. In October, as the NHL season rolls into action, I'll have over 50 games every week at the touch of a button. That's how I choose to consume sports. With plenty of choices, I'm hardly ever at a loss for entertainment. And it brings me great enjoyment.

I love seeing the best athletes in the world compete against each other. I love the tactical discussion that arises when a football coach calls a pass play on third-and-inches, or when his counterpart rushes seven defenders against a five-receiver set on a big fourth-quarter play. I like reading stuff from people who know sports talking about the decisions made by coaches and athletes. I get a kick out of everyone ripping on Kyle Busch. He's an idiot, but he's damn good at what he does, and he's a lot of fun to watch, in part because he doesn't put a lot of time into molding the perfect public image.

I love making fun of people who take this stuff too seriously, because I firmly believe I don't. I take my job seriously, because thousands of people in this area enjoy the programming our radio stations put on the air every day. Every decision we make about that programming affects them, and we have to remember that every day. While it's entertainment, it's serious business for me, and it should be.

Sports isn't serious business for me, and it's not serious business for 90 percent of this country. For people who work in or around it, Bissinger's argument makes sense. But it's such a small segment of our population that it's not worth addressing the way Bissinger does.

It would be like Rush Limbaugh pandering to the Ron Paul supporters. There's a reason he hasn't done that, and it's the same reason why he's the most popular talk radio host in the history of talk radio.

I was also struck by Leitch's own farewell. Somehow, through the three or so years he did Deadspin, he never forgot the initial purpose, which was to rail against those in sports who were too full of themselves for their own good.
The tributes this week have been completely silly — we mean, we're just leavin' a darned blog — and still awesome and, most important, bone-shatteringly funny. That's all we wanted Deadspin to be all along; a place where people could slip away from their life for a while, dig in, have some fun, then head back to the regular life, where bills must be paid, family must be attended to, jobs must be (slightly) acknowledged. You know: Kind of like sports themselves. Life is difficult. Life is scary. Diversions — real, palpable diversions, places where you can go away and frolic, and then return to the world the way you found it, for better or worse — are rare, and should be cherished. That's what sports are. That's what we hope this site has been. That's what we're certain it will continue to be.
We all have lives. We have jobs. We have cars that die for no reason (and now we have fuses that we have to pull out of our cars when they're not running in order to keep the battery alive - ack). We have kids. We have family crises to deal with. We have those nights where we make epic outdoor plans, only to have an inch of rain fall from the clouds at 4:30 in the afternoon. When reality slaps you across the mouth, you want something to take your mind off the pain, even if only for a little while.

When Parkersburg, Iowa, was leveled by a tornado, there was a reason that the town eventually started cleaning up the turf at the high school football field. It wasn't so the kids would have someone to hit on Friday nights in September. It was so they would have their community gathering place back. Yes, to a certain extent, this validates Bissinger's argument. Sports do have a huge place in our lives.

However, those Parkersburg citizens are not going to watch the local boys win at all costs. They're going to enjoy themselves, whether the home team wins or loses. The score will be hugely important only to the participants and a select few spectators who wind themselves up too tightly for a high school football game.

It's a place to hang out, and for a couple of hours, maybe they can forget that the process of rebuilding house and life will take a lot longer than anyone could possibly understand.

Good luck, Will. Thanks for helping us understand what sports should be about. And may your Cardinals rot in NL Central hell.


(See, told you I'd be around.)

For once, Kevin McHale appears to have done something good.

Not only did one of the NBA most notoriously incompetent personnel managers actually manage to dump some bad contracts, but he appears to have actually helped his team in the process.

This is rare for a guy who made a bad habit out of handing out bad contracts (Hi, Marko Jaric!), making bad draft picks (Hi, Ndubi Edi!), and making bad trades (Hi, Ricky Davis!).

Instead, Kevin McHale appears to have used the leverage he had for a greater good.

The Timberwolves picked third in the NBA Draft. They wanted UCLA forward Kevin Love, but couldn't justify picking him third overall. Instead, they took the guy everyone had third on the "big board", USC guard O.J. Mayo. After the pick, Wolves brass said all the right things about Mayo helping the team and how they wanted to keep him around.

Memphis took Love fifth overall, about the right spot for that prospect. However, Memphis wanted Mayo, and the Wolves wanted Love. It was time to talk deal.

At least publicly, Minnesota made it clear they were willing to keep Mayo. Surely, the Grizzlies knew they had the chance to make this deal, but McHale held firm, making sure he could 1) make the Timberwolves better, and 2) help the team's contract situation.

He did both.

McHale dumped a bad contract in Jaric (three years for $21 million remaining) and an unhappy veteran in Antoine Walker, who would never have been happy coming off the bench. He added a couple potentially bad contracts in Jason Collins and Brian Cardinal. However, Collins is in the last year of his deal, and Cardinal has only two years left on his. That's manageable, and it beats the hell out of having Jaric - better known for his recent engagement to Adriana Lima - on the team.

(Yes, Marko Jaric is engaged to her. Be jealous. Talk about outkicking the coverage. Geez.)

McHale also added a very solid player in Mike Miller, who is just 28, shoots the three very well, and now gets to experience a homecoming of sorts. Miller, who played college at Florida, hails from lovely Mitchell, South Dakota. This is as close to home as he'll ever get to play NBA basketball.

Miller's outside shooting should open up the paint a lot more for Al Jefferson, as well as Love. Even if Love doesn't turn out to be as big a star as Mayo does, this is a good deal for Minnesota. The Wolves needed to help out Jefferson, and while Mayo could have done that, Miller has already established himself as a good outside shooter, and Love will take a lot of defensive pressure off Jefferson, freeing him up more on the offensive end. Not only that, but Jefferson isn't a great one-on-one defender. Love's presence gives Randy Wittman a second big who can be used to defend the solid big men of the Western Conference. Mayo isn't going to guard those guys (duh).

I'll admit some bias here. I haven't been a big Mayo fan going back to high school. I think he's cocky, extremely self-centered, and not nearly as good as his attitude would make you think he is. I don't think he would have been a great fit on this growing young team. Love, meanwhile, understands how his game can help the Timberwolves, he's a hard worker, and I think he has tremendous offensive upside.

Jim Souhan is right in that Mayo's stardom could make this deal look really bad, but it's a chance I think McHale was right to take. At some point, the Wolves had to deal with the fact that they had three solid players for two spots. They did that, and they got rid of Jaric.

It's a good day for Kevin McHale.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Not sports related, but it's about life instead. Sorry if you don't like that.

I'm curious about something.

Am I the only human being on the planet that can remember who hit the ground ball that got by Buckner in Game Six of the 1986 World Series, but can't remember to check everything that goes in my freaking kid's hockey bag?

As a result, his breezers are missing, he had to miss practice tonight, and I'm stuck sitting here, pissed off at myself. And I'm out $95. There's that, too. Freaking hell.

I can't be the only person around that has this problem. Right?

Help? Anyone?

Monday, June 23, 2008


I opined last week on the Brian Rolston negotiations, hoping loudly that the Wild would pull the head out of the posterior and get the deal done.
The history of this organization suggests that a loss like Rolston will not come with any kind of corresponding move. Same for Pavol Demitra, who is (thankfully) almost a lock to depart. While I won't mind one bit if Demitra leaves (especially if he goes to screw up division rival Vancouver's offense), but that's another hole somewhere on the Wild's top two lines (depending on the result of Jacques' most recent line juggle).
Upon further review, I may just be an idiot. Maybe.
Negotiations with the Wild’s Brian Rolston is at a sensitive juncture.

The Wild has grown frustrated with Rolston’s agent, Steve Bartlett. GM Doug Risebrough says the Wild has not received a single counteroffer from Bartlett.
I still think the Wild should bend the budget a little bit to get Rolston in the fold. He's got 96 goals in three years, and he's willing to play the style Jacques Lemaire demands. These kinds of players don't grow on trees, and they do have tremendous value in the "new NHL".

However, if this is all true, the dummy here might be Bartlett and not Risebrough. Actually, the real dummy could end up being Rolston.
Asked if the Wild has made its final offer, Risebrough said: "Probably, because the other thing is, [not receiving a counteroffer] doesn't motivate you to want to do anything else, either. When you've made three [offers] and haven't got one, it doesn't motivate you to make four."

Reached Saturday, Rolston said: "I haven't reached my agent as of late. I'll get in touch with Steve, but we've been talking all along. I don't have much to say. We've been here the whole time listening to offers."

Rolston said Bartlett's philosophy is not to make counteroffers. He said maybe that needs to change, but he maintains the Wild needs to offer him "market value" or he will go elsewhere. Risebrough has said there's a difference of opinion in Rolston's "market value."
This is the part about professional sports that I despise, and I wouldn't miss it for a second if pro sports simply vanished one day.

First off, I think it's ridiculous that Risebrough wouldn't be motivated to re-sign Rolston because the agent isn't presenting any counter-offers.

They said "No", Doug, and that means your offer wasn't good enough. Or maybe it just flat-out sucked.

However, if Rolston feels that a counter-offer would be productive in the talks, and he were truly serious about staying in Minnesota, wouldn't he call his agent and demand that one be made?

Maybe I'm wrong here, since I am just a fat, unathletic guy who never played hockey, but doesn't the agent work on behalf of the player? If Rolston wants to stay in Minnesota, doesn't the agent have a duty to make that happen, even if it means making a counter-offer?

Reality is probably closer to this:

Brian Rolston doesn't give a crap if he ever plays for the Wild again. He just wants to make sure he maximizes the potential of what could be his final significant NHL contract. In a year where the free-agent pool is painfully thin, he's right to hold out for the right offer.

Whenever an athlete comes out and makes a comment that infers a lack of communication with his agent (i.e. "We haven't spoken much in the last couple weeks"), it's usually done in a way to suggest that he's letting the agent get the job done with little interference("We're listening to offers"). The reality is that the average professional athlete doesn't sincerely care where he plays. He just wants to get paid what he thinks he's worth. Time as an elite performer in any sport is severely limited by Father Time, after all.

I have no problem with this. Why do they think they have to lie about it?

Friday, June 20, 2008


Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, who joins Michael David Smith (PFT/College Football Talk/FanHouse/Etc) and the Brothers Mottram as members of the "Internet Stars Who Must Never Sleep" Club, has a very interesting bombshell.

He got it from the Wall Street Journal, who reports that ESPN is in "high-level" talks on a deal with the NFL Network.
A deal would bring to a face-saving end an embarrassing episode for the NFL and a bitter stand-off between the lead and four of the nation's largest cable operators, a dispute which kept live pro football games on Thursday and Saturday nights out of many American homes.

An agreement would represent a big shift in strategy for the NFL—abandoning its effort to sidestep sports broadcasters like ESPN and take some of its valuable games directly to cable subscribers, who pay lucrative monthly fees.

...One possible scenario could be a combination of the NFL Network with the ESPN Classic network, which has relatively low ratings but wide distribution on expanded basic tiers. ESPN would likely use its market weight and its eight additional games to seek higher subscription fees than the 16 or 17 cents it currently receives for ESPN Classic, boosting rates to something closer to what the NFL network has been seeking, according to Derek Baine, a senior analyst for SNL Kagan. Under such a scenario, ESPN and the NFL could form a joint venture and share revenue, or ESPN could take an equity stake in the channel.
I only mention this because I think it's an interesting scenario. I like the NFL Network, but I really feel like they need to program more aggressively. I'm sure a big part of it is the lack of distribution deals, but those of us who get it deserve more original programming, more classic games, and fewer repeat loops of programming.

About the only things the network has going for them this offseason are the NFL Replay shows on Sundays, which are playing back the best games of every week of the season, and the NFL Classics on Monday nights, which are fun.

ESPN could certainly ruin many of the good things about the NFL Network, but the Worldwide Leader could also enhance much of the programming. NFL Network has a thin staff of reporters and analysts. ESPN's stable is practically endless.

The deal isn't done yet, but this one bears watching. The NFL Network needs to do something to claim some legitimacy, as they cut their own knees off by putting that Giants-Patriots classic on 43 channels last December.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


This probably isn't good news for Minnesota Wild fans.
Rolston maintained that he wants to stay in Minnesota, but the Wild has to hit his “market value,” which is expected to be substantial regardless of his age in the year of an average free-agent class.
Since I talked to Brian Rolston yesterday and couldn’t get Doug Risebrough on the phone, today I sat down with Risebrough for his rebuttal. Risebrough said there is a difference in opinion as to what Rolston’s market value is.

You can read all about it in Friday’s paper, but he said in his opinion, market value is different from team to team. He essentially said if Rolston wants to play for more money on a losing team, he’s got that right. But the Wild has to place a value on him, and if Rolston wants to play for what Risebrough considers a winning team in a great market and wonderful place to live, he may need to make a decision and leave some money on the table.
Emphasis mine.

If Doug Risebrough said this, he's an idiot. Plain and simple.

Brian Rolston has scored 30 goals in three straight seasons. The list of guys who have done this and are going to be available in the offseason is pretty thin. Admittedly, this means Rolston's market value is bound to be higher. There are a number of NHL teams looking for goal scoring this summer, and not a ton of guys who can deliver that.

Furthermore, the Wild suffered a dreadful goal-scoring slump in their first-round playoff loss to Colorado. While Rolston's poorly-timed and sometimes poorly-conceived decisions with the puck were partially to blame for some of these problems, this really isn't the time to dump a guy who has scored 96 goals in a Wild uniform.

If Risebrough is dumb enough to let Rolston go, who replaces him on the top (or second) line? Benoit Pouliot? Aaron Voros? The Fridge?

The history of this organization suggests that a loss like Rolston will not come with any kind of corresponding move. Same for Pavol Demitra, who is (thankfully) almost a lock to depart. While I won't mind one bit if Demitra leaves (especially if he goes to screw up division rival Vancouver's offense), but that's another hole somewhere on the Wild's top two lines (depending on the result of Jacques' most recent line juggle).

Do they go after Olli Jokinen? That's a lateral move, but certainly an acceptable one. How about Ryan Malone? Sure, Bugsy has Pittsburgh roots, but he also has Minnesota roots, having produced a stellar career at St. Cloud State before turning pro. But while Malone has definitely grown as a player, and he had a super postseason, his career high for goals is 27, which happened to come in a contract year. He's the classic example of a guy you let someone else overpay (Hi, Columbus!).

If this notoriously cheap franchise is ever going to take a serious step in the right direction, they have to go after someone in free agency to bolster this roster and restore some faith in this franchise. The fans here are great, but they won't stick around forever. Assuming that they will is a big mistake.


Word came out earlier this week that Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder wasn't exactly doing a good job paying his taxes.

$400,000 is a pretty good chunk of change, and I can understand the IRS being a bit miffed over such a thing.

I can also understand Fielder not wanting to talk about such a story. That aspect of things didn't surprise me one bit. These guys won't even talk about the weather if they're in the wrong mood.

However, the reaction of Fielder's agent to the story (and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Tom Haudricourt's pursuit of it) is downright ridiculous.
Boras let it be known in no uncertain terms that he thought I had no business poking into the situation. He said he didn't comment on the personal finances of his clients, which I understood. But he also made inferences during our conversation that made it seem as if the matter was being addressed. Still, he made it clear it could compromise my working relationship with Fielder if I pursued the matter -- a proposition I didn't take lightly.
Fielder isn't blameless here, not because he didn't comment on the story, but because he selected this snake as his agent. Yes, Boras sticks up for his guys, but insinuating that a journalist doing his job could hurt him in the long run is idiotic, unnecessary, and unprofessional.

This is the kind of situation where Boras should be earning his commission. The agent needs to step in and simply diffuse the situation with a "This matter is being dealt with privately. My client is aware and will not comment publicly on this financial matter" statement.

It's not difficult, and it would have gone a long way toward ending the story.

Instead, Boras is his typical a-hole self, and we await word of this matter actually being dealt with. He's a jerk for how he treated Haudricourt, and he's a moron for how he's handling it (and how he's instructing Prince to handle it).

For an agent with his experience, background, and notoriety, Boras sure can say and do some really stupid things.

As for Fielder, he may not read the paper, but I'm sure someone who knows him does. And someone should get in his ear and convince him that an apology to Haudricourt is in order. Not for anything Fielder did, but on behalf of the sanctimonious ass who serves as his agent.


There have probably been many thoughts posted today on reports that the Packers are interested in trading for Jason Taylor.

I figured it wouldn't hurt anyone if I threw my two cents in.

First off, a quick summary of what's going on. From Greg Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
After informally asking the Miami Dolphins what they wanted in exchange for defensive end Jason Taylor before the draft, the Packers have kept cursory contact with the Dolphins and have done their homework internally since then.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson recently discussed Taylor with defensive coordinator Bob Sanders and defensive tackles coach Robert Nunn, who both coached Taylor with the Dolphins. Both assistants have a fondness for Taylor and would undoubtedly be in favor of acquiring the 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Sounds like the Packers have discussed the idea, but I'm guessing Thompson doesn't routinely discuss potential trade targets with assistant coaches. With that in mind, I'm led to believe that there might just be something to this.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen took the Ron Wolf angle on all of this:
Wolf has long anguished over the lack of "deal-makers" in the NFL, past and present. There were a handful -- Parcells and Wolf among them -- but not enough. Now in retirement, Wolf has lamented the overall lack of risk-taking, if you can call it that, in quest of the ever-elusive Super Bowl ring.

Thompson has been more conservative than Wolf. He has cherished draft picks to the point that it seems he's obsessed with them. In his first four years as the Packers' GM, he had the mission of rebuilding a team with salary-cap issues. Now the Packers are $30 million under the cap, still one of the youngest teams in the NFL and coming off an appearance in the NFC Championship Game.
If nothing else, this is an intriguing storyline as we enter the "down time" of early summer. This is a time of year where most team executives will take extended time off, and the players aren't involved in any organized football work.

It seems obvious to me that Taylor will need to commit to playing at least two more years if he is to be dealt. From the sounds of it, he wants to be dealt, no matter what he says publicly. He'd also have to commit to attending training camp in Green Bay. If he was truly serious about skipping camp with the Dolphins, that would be one thing. He's been there a long time, knows most of his teammates and the system he will be playing. Plus, it would be their problem and not my team's.

While he is probably at least aware of the system he'd play with the Packers, he would need some time to get acclimated to the coaching staff and his new teammates.

If Taylor isn't willing to commit to more than one season, there is one other way for a deal to happen. The Dolphins would either have to back off their demand for a high draft pick, or they'd have to accept a conditional pick in 2010, based on if Taylor agrees to continue playing in 2009. I'm not even sure such a deal is allowable under NFL rules, but it strikes me as the only chance Miami has of getting a first-day pick for Taylor, unless he decides to play beyond one more season before a deal is done.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star Tribune did an interesting piece on the Vikings-Packers season-opening game in September.

For those who haven't heard, the Packers will be retiring quarterback Brett Favre's jersey during the Monday Night Football opener, and ESPN is planning a little bit of coverage.

Zulgad wrote about a couple former Packers, Ryan Longwell and Robert Ferguson, who now play for the Vikings. They both had some nice things to say about Favre, and it sounds like they're appreciative of the front-row seat they'll have September 8.
“It’ll be good for the simple fact that they are retiring his jersey, he left the game on his own terms,” Ferguson said. “There are a lot of things that are positive about the way he retired. I’m happy for him and happy to see him go into the second chapter of his life.”

...“Obviously, you’re a football fan before you start playing this game,” Longwell said. “I think in the all the years that I put in with Brett and played with him it’s pretty neat to be there for an event like that. Whether you’re on the opposing team or not, it’s going to be pretty neat.
“It will be pretty crazy. I think the fans will be excited about Brett’s situation, I think they’ll be a little uneasy about their quarterback situation, but I think it’s a great opportunity for us at the same time.”
That's all fine and dandy, but I'm left curious about where Longwell was going with this comment about the beginning of the Aaron Rodgers era:
“It’s very tough. I saw so many guys come in and try to replace legends over there,” Longwell said. “He’s (Favre) probably a top three or four legend in the whole organization ever. Aaron’s got the mind to do it, he’s got the tools to do it. The media situation over there is different than anywhere else. He’s just got to withstand that.”
Please don't take this the wrong way. I think the reporters in Green Bay and Milwaukee are very fair and even-handed. They ask the right questions and almost always offer good information to the readers, viewers, and listeners.

I'm not saying the media in southern Wisconsin isn't tough. They're not pansies down there. However, Longwell is intimating here that the "media situation" in Green Bay/Milwaukee is somehow difficult to deal with.


I read this quote, and I'm led to believe Longwell thinks dealing with Bob McGinn is like a guillotine compared to Patrick Reusse and Tom Powers. And I think Longwell's out of his freaking mind if he honestly believes that.

Here is the game story from the Packers' NFC Championship loss to the Giants. If the roles were reversed, and it was an underdog Green Bay team going into Giants Stadium to steal a conference title, the New York media would have never let it go. Tom Coughlin would have been answering questions about his job security at his postgame press conference.

In Green Bay, you get the consoling hand on your shoulder.

Honestly, Aaron Rodgers probably couldn't ask for a better city in which to take over the job of a Hall of Fame player. More than anywhere else, the fans and media will rally behind Rodgers from the get-go, instead of waiting to skewer him the first time he throws a bad interception.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I'm really not much of a golf guy.

Typically, I check out the majors, especially the Masters and the British. I was drawn to the U.S. Open this year - to an extent - because the later television times made it easier for me to watch.

In retrospect, I couldn't be happier.

Tiger Woods won, which is about as surprising as the sun rising in the morning and setting in the evening. He's 32 years old and has already won 14 majors, putting him three years ahead of Jack Nicklaus' record pace for major championships.

It was the way Woods won, however, that has sports fans talking now, and probably talking more about golf in the near future than they have in a long time.

This was a special event, and it was completely out of the blue in every way.

Woods' balky knee was not cooperating throughout the tournament, but he battled through it. He had his moments, with an uncharacteristic four double-bogeys. He also stepped up his game when he needed to most, most notably the back-nine 30 on Saturday, and the birdie on 18 Sunday to force the playoff with Rocco Mediate.

Mediate proved to be the perfect foe for Woods, and he did it by simply never giving up. Woods had a three-shot lead at one point in Monday's playoff, but Mediate birdied three straight holes to quickly pull even. He took a one-shot lead to the 18th tee, but an errant tee shot forced him to play conservatively. As a result, Mediate settled for par, and Woods was able to birdie to force a sudden-death playoff.

It was great drama, with Woods barely missing a long putt on 15, and Mediate making a couple huge putts as he forged his comeback. Both golfers had a dramatic mix of great shots and bad misses. They both spent time on the beach, and both found the high grass.

For a non-golf fan like myself, this was superb theater. I know not to expect this every time there is a major, and I know not to expect this every time Woods is playing with a lead late in a tournament or when he's involved in a playoff. That's part of my problem with golf, but it's also part of my problem with sports. The overhyped tournaments, events, and matchups often disappoint.

Fair or not, golf has less margin for error. It's simply not as exciting a sport, and there's less to draw you in when it's not dramatic, as it was today.

When Woods got par on the first hole of sudden death to finally beat Mediate, there was a look of relief in his eyes. He told NBC's Bob Costas that he really didn't feel like playing anymore, and he hinted that he could miss some time. The British Open is about a month away, and we got no commitment from Woods on whether he would make the hop across the pond.

In closing, kudos to the NBC crew for superb work throughout the weekend. They kept everyone interested, and I feel they were fair to all the storylines of the tournament, instead of focusing too much on Tiger and his knee.

The scene at the end with Tiger and his daughter was awesome. I'll bet it's the first time Dan Hicks has ever used the word "binky" during a sports broadcast.

Friday, June 13, 2008


With qualifying rained out, there wasn't much to talk about at Michigan International Speedway Friday.

(Kyle Busch, by the way, starts on the pole, as the order is set by points. Hopefully, weather is better for Sunday afternoon.)

The big story was a mandatory meeting with NASCAR honcho Mike Helton and Cup drivers/owners.

The subject? Stop whining about the Car of Whenever.

Things apparently reached a critical mass last week at Pocono, where it appeared nobody was happy about the rough track or the so-called “Car of Tomorrow” that is still being developed, or the intense heat that had many drivers near exhaustion after a 500-mile race most of them believe should be no longer than 400 miles.

Apparently, the main bone of contention is the almost constant grumbling over the new car, a more uniform construction intended to cut costs for the teams and enhance competition on track.

...The complaint level hit a season high in the wake of Pocono, and Helton reacted.

“He wanted to remind our drivers about their responsibility to the fans,” said NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter. “He felt it has become a negative environment and reminded them to think about the fans, what they are facing, the rising cost of gas and the hardships, particularly in an area like this that has been hit so hard by the economy.”

The drivers generally reacted positively to Helton’s message.

“I think it just got a little out of hand this week, everybody complaining so much about everything,” said Carl Edwards, the defending winner of Sunday’s Lifelock 400. “It’s almost a little bit silly.”

I think it's natural to complain about change. And this post isn't about ripping the drivers for the issues they brought up. When you become as comfortable with something as the drivers and crew folks did with the old car model, it's hard to switch to something new.

The new car is a good thing for NASCAR, but it will take time for everyone to get used to how it handles at certain tracks. Last year's phase-in was a good thing, because it allowed everyone a chance to get a feel for the car at the shorter tracks. But NASCAR made a mistake not using it on more of the bigger tracks. They had the fall race at Talladega, but could have used more work at the "cookie-cutter" 1.5-mile tracks, like Michigan.

That said, it's been a year and a half, and it's time for everyone to buckle down and figure out how to make the car work for them. Complaining about it is only going to make the powers-that-be at NASCAR upset.

Helton also brought up another good point, relayed afterward by NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter.
"We remind them if it weren't for the fans we wouldn't be here," he said. "The fans are paying over $4 a gallon for gasoline. [We told them] to keep the fans in mind when you're talking, to show your appreciation to the fans. Without them this wouldn't be like it is."
Sounds hokey, but NASCAR doesn't like it when races don't sell out. The last reports I heard had the Michigan race coming ~10,000 tickets short of a sellout, and other races have fallen short this year, too.

There are so many fans and so few races that there really is no reason for a race to fail to sell out. In today's tough economic times (and Michigan is in a real bad spot right now), more should probably be done to make fans feel welcome and appreciated. Non-stop whining about the cars isn't going to qualify.

Fans don't want to hear that crap from multi-millionaire drivers and owners when they're scraping by just to afford tickets and gas to go to the races. It's a tired argument (bringing up the money involved), but it matters these days more than ever.


You know what I find strange?

Charlie Jones was a tremendous broadcaster for almost 40 years. He died today at age 77. And despite the long, wonderful career he enjoyed, this is the best video I can find of Charlie Jones on YouTube.


Farewell to another great voice from my childhood.

Jim McKay, Tim Russert, and Charlie Jones. All in one week.

I don't know how much television is done in heaven, but the quality of it just went up by an immeasurable amount.


Couple of house-cleaning notes regarding UMD hockey.

Assistant coach Lee Davidson had stepped aside a couple months ago for personal reasons. He will be replaced by former Bulldog Brett Larson, who played for Mike Sertich in the first part of the 1990s. The Duluth native scored 67 points in 133 games as a Bulldog.
"To coach at the same school where I once played is a dream come true for me. I've been thinking about this ever since I began playing professionally," said the 35-year old Larson, whose appointment officially begins June 23. "I believe it's an exciting time to be involved with UMD hockey. This program is so close to making that next step and I want to be a part of that."
This is a very important season for UMD, as they are coming off four straight seasons finishing in the bottom half in the WCHA. With a large group of seniors, and a handful of highly-touted freshmen, the heat is on the Bulldogs to get back in the upper half of the league.

Leading the way in this important season will be three of those seniors. Andrew Carroll, Matt Greer, and Josh Meyers were named tri-captains this week. The three are going to serve as great examples for the young players coming in.

Cripes, hockey season is more than 100 days away yet. Ack.


"Big Russ and Me" and "Wisdom Of Our Fathers" were brilliant. His work on "Meet the Press" was influential, even for those not involved in politics.

While his background was in politics, the Buffalo Bills would be remiss not to pay a tribute to Tim Russert this fall. They didn't have a bigger fan anywhere. Russert was famous for chatting guests up about his beloved Bills and Sabres, and he was also insistent on getting home after "Meet the Press" tapings, so he wouldn't miss kickoff of the Bills games.

I was struck by the statement from Senator John McCain, who will officially become the Republican nominee for President in a couple months.
"I am very saddened by Tim Russert's sudden death. Cindy and I extend our thoughts and prayers to the Russert family as they cope with this shocking loss and remember the life and legacy of a loving father, husband and the preeminent political journalist of his generation. He was truly a great American who loved his family, his friends, his Buffalo Bills, and everything about politics and America. He was just a terrific guy. I was proud to call him a friend, and in the coming days, we will pay tribute to a life whose contributions to us all will long endure."
I'm not a political expert, and I'm not a media expert. I'm simply in the media. However, I find it hard to believe that you are going to find anyone in this or any other business who is more prepared for work than Tim Russert was. From that standpoint, he will always be revered in the media business. You don't manufacture the kind of passion or work ethic he possessed. It's either there, or it isn't.

Farewell, Mr. Russert, and condolences to Big Russ, who loses his son on Father's Day weekend.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


The list of people who want to take a shot at Kyle Busch is probably quite impressive. Especially if you include NASCAR fans.

He's simply not popular the way Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is. He's also not popular the way Jeff Gordon is. There are legions of NASCAR followers who actually like Gordon.

Practically everyone on the planet despises Busch, to the point that I'm curious if anyone would even dare wear anything with the M&Ms logo to a race.

As universally-booed as Busch is, there is no denying three fundamental facts about the young man:

1. He enjoys the notoriety. There's no such thing as bad publicity, and Busch knows the attention he's gotten this season is good for his career, as well as the sponsors whose logos adorn his race cars and firesuits.

He plays the villain role well, akin to classic "bad guy" pro wrestlers like Ted DiBiase and Ric Flair. Like those WWE/WCW legends, Busch isn't afraid of getting booed. In fact, he seems to get a kick out of it.

2. He's a damn good race car driver. Probably the best in the world right now. Busch drives trucks well. He drives Nationwide cars well. And he is the Sprint Cup points leader. Oh, and he's barely old enough to legally drink.

Not only is he really, really good, but he's also got the prime of his career about ten years away. Isn't that scary?

3. He loves to drive. Yes, there is some ego involved. All these guys have egos. However, for Busch to take on the schedule he had this past weekend, he must love to drive. For once, I believe a competitor when they say something like this:
"I just like to race, that's what it's all about," Busch said. "I don't need to test myself. I don't have anything to prove. I'm just out there trying to race races and win races."
He's right on all counts in terms of what he has to prove. He's won in every major NASCAR national series, and he's done it driving for different race teams. For all his faults, he shows tremendous passion for his craft.

Evidently, however, this isn't enough for some NASCAR media mainstays. Terry Blount writes that Busch shouldn't have been allowed to attempt the three-races-in-three-different-cities stunt this past weekend.
The blame lies with the men calling the shots at Joe Gibbs Racing, Joe and J.D. Gibbs. They shouldn't have allowed Busch to do it. Too much is at stake on the Cup side.

Everything about the trifecta weekend had a downside. Busch finished an impressive second in the truck race at Texas after starting in the back but later whined about how bad the truck was.
I can't agree. The dude's a racer. He's a really good one. Why shouldn't he push himself and try to get better?

One of the topics brought up during ESPN2's coverage of Saturday's Nationwide series race was how other drivers wished they could do what Busch did. Carl Edwards was one of the names mentioned. I'm sure Jack Roush was thrilled.

Not only that, but Blount forgot about the racing many drivers, including Busch, took part in on Wednesday, when Tony Stewart hosted his annual Prelude to a Dream event at Eldora. Maybe everyone should back out of that event, too. After all, you wouldn't want their focus to strain from Cup racing for more than ten seconds.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


There he is, looking as dumbfounded as he usually does.

Brewers manager Ned Yost had his club in auto-pilot over the course of a nine-game homestand. It's hard to screw things up when your team goes 8-1 and outscores three good opponents by a total of 27 runs.

However, when a six-game road trip began in Denver Friday night, Yost was back to his old tricks. In a close game, he infuriated Brewer fans by again botching the management of his bullpen. In doing so, he again screwed his ace, Ben Sheets, out of a win.

Carlos Villanueva pitched the seventh inning, striking out two hitters in a 1-2-3 inning. He threw a grand total of ten pitches, as his renaissance continues in the bullpen. With the score still 4-1 going into the bottom of the eighth, it seemed like a no-brainer to keep Villanueva in the game.

Leave it to the manager with no brains to not figure that out. Instead of leaving the hot, fresh pitcher in the game, he brought Guillermo Mota out. The result? Disaster. A five-run inning that propelled Colorado to a 6-4 win.

"Mota's been our eighth-inning pitcher the majority of the year," said Yost. "We went to our eighth-inning pitcher."

So, instead of extending their winning streak to seven games and building on the momentum of an 8-1 home stand, the Brewers begin their six-game road trip with one of the most brutal losses of the year. And one that probably wouldn't have happened had Yost stuck with Villanueva, who has pitched seven consecutive scoreless innings since being shifted from the starting rotation to the bullpen.

As it turned out, not scoring a runner from third base with no outs in the seventh inning made all the difference. After J.J. Hardy drew a walk off Colorado starter Ubaldo Jimenez, Jason Kendall greeted reliever Matt Herges with a triple into the right-field corner that gave the Brewers a 4-1 lead.

... Had the Brewers gotten Kendall home, Yost said he would have stuck with Villanueva another inning. Why?

"It's not a save situation," Yost explained.

Again, the formula. Villanueva would have been entrusted to protect a four-run lead but Mota got the call with a three-run margin.

"I just sat there, expecting to go back out," said Villanueva. "When the inning was over, they told me to shut it down."

Just remember, the formula only matters to Ned when he says it matters. Otherwise, he plays a strange mishmash of hunches and biases.

Honestly, there probably isn't a more dangerous managerial combination in baseball than an idiot paired with "the book". After all, only an idiot would mess up the use of "the book", managing to make even the simplest situation into a horrific adventure.

Perhaps Brewer fans should just consider themselves lucky that they didn't manage to blow either of the nine-run leads they had on the homestand.

Remember, I told you two years ago this guy was an idiot. You can't blame it on me.

(Actually, my first rip of Yost on this blog dates back three years. So it's really not my fault!)


A pioneer and a legend in this wonderful sports broadcasting business has died.

Jim McKay, the voice you hear in the above video, was 86 years old.

Thank you for all you've done in paving the way for us.


It showed up in my mailbox today.

It shows up on newsstands Tuesday.

Phil Steele's college football preview is the bomb. Please support his hard work.

If you've never bought the magazine, it's 328 pages of college football information. He has more information in those 328 pages than most publications could dream of having if they were allowed to go to 500 pages.

I won't give away any of the predictions or All-America picks or anything like that, but he does really like Tim Tebow. Then again, it's hard not to really like Tim Tebow.

He's also not so bullish on Michigan, it seems. Sorry, Blue.

Friday, June 06, 2008


In 2006, the Wisconsin men's hockey team beat Ohio State 4-1 at Lambeau Field. It was an immensely successful and, by all accounts, enjoyable event.

With the positive attention the NHL got for their Winter Classic game New Year's Day in Buffalo, it seemed obvious that someone in college hockey would try to capitalize on the gimmick before it became old hat. This is especially true when you consider that the NHL is already making plans for another outdoor game this winter.

College hockey appears poised to pounce, and there is no better rivalry to do it with than Gophers-Badgers.

Talks are under way that could result in the Badgers playing Minnesota in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association game at Camp Randall Stadium instead of the Kohl Center next season.

Representatives from the UW Athletic Department and the Herb Brooks Foundation, a non-profit organization based in the Twin Cities, have been discussing an outdoor matchup of the two long-time rivals for months.

...Many hurdles have to be cleared -- including approval from WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod, finances and scheduling logistics -- before UW can host the third outdoor game involving major colleges since 2001.

But sources indicate there is considerable interest from both schools and a meeting of the pertinent organizing parties is tentatively scheduled for later this month.

I'm obviously biased as a WCHA guy and a Wisconsin football fan, but you can't ask for a better venue to hold an event like this than Camp Randall. I am speculating here, but it stands to reason you could configure Camp Randall to hold 50,000 or more fans for this event, and I would also go out on a limb and say that McLeod isn't passing up this chance.

You can bank on the WCHA approving this in a heartbeat, provided the finances are taken care of, and assurances are made that the athletes won't be running an unnecessary risk playing in the game.

Wisconsin has the best hockey fans in the country, and I don't see anything negative about allowing another 35,000 or so of them the chance to partake in a special event.

You always worry about gimmick overkill, but that's a bridge that won't get burned for some time. The WCHA needs to make sure this happens, as it would be great for the league, the schools, and the under-covered sport of college hockey.


You know you've done something wrong when you are pitching well, yet get cut by a team that has virtually no quality pitching.

That's the latest fate in the career of former Twin Sidney Ponson.

(For the record, I'm pretty sure that I stole the "Pontoon" nickname from Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune, but I can't find any web evidence.)

Ponson pitched poorly enough to get cut by the Twins last year, even though the Twins were short of pitching depth at the time. In his career, he's run into legal problems, anger problems, weight problems, and drinking problems.

Despite his issues, the Texas Rangers, who have no pitching, took a flyer on Ponson. He started the season in Triple-A, but eventually got a shot with the big club. He appeared to have lost some weight, spun a complete game six-hitter at the Twins, and looked to be back on track. A 4-1 start was far more than anyone could have expected.

Sidney, however, found himself out of a job Friday. I suppose you'd like to know why, so here is Rangers GM Jon Daniels with an explanation:
"He had disrespectful and adverse reactions to situations that were unbecoming of a teammate," Daniels said. "We want guys who want to be here. We're trying to put together a team here, and based on some comments and reactions, he didn't want to be part of that. That's not something we're going to tolerate."
The Dallas Morning News story does offer more detail on where Ponson may have gone wrong.

According to multiple club sources, the situation had been bubbling for days and came to a head in the last two days over a disagreement in Ponson's pitching schedule. Ponson, who pitched on three days' rest (one less than normal) Wednesday, was told he'd get five days' rest before his next start, according to sources. He challenged the Rangers to release him.

The Rangers had asked Ponson (4-1, 3.88 ERA) to take an extra day of rest to keep Kevin Millwood on his normal four days' rest.

According to the sources, however, problems began to fester more than a week ago when the Rangers were in Tampa Bay.

The night before his start against the Rays, according to the sources, Ponson was seen late in the evening in the hotel bar. The next day, he lasted only five innings and allowed 12 hits in a 7-3 loss. Club officials spoke with Ponson about comportment after the incident and reiterated the "one-strike" stance they took when they signed him in March. In essence, the club said it would cut ties if he had one behavioral issue.

You don't hear that one from many general managers. The Rangers have the worst team ERA in baseball (5.09), and they just dumped one of their best pitchers.

Must have been some disrespect.

No one roots for people to be unable to overcome personal demons. Ponson is in a position, however, that makes you wonder if he may have just blown his last chance.


Well, are you?

Let's face facts. The guy has gone off the deep end. In that sense, it's completely fitting that he's an Oakland Raider. The owner has lost it, and the star wide receiver is well on his way.

Walker's attributes his demise in Denver to the Broncos and the way they handled his knee injury. While in Dallas for some training camp work against the Cowboys last summer, Walker experienced swelling in his surgically repaired knee. He said he dealt with the issue and kept practicing daily.

In the first two games of the season, two Denver wins, Walker looked like the same player he was the season prior, grabbing 17 balls and being a key offensive component. However, in the third game, a home loss to Jacksonville, Walker had just two catches.

He said that was the beginning of the end of his time in Denver.

"I was open and they didn't get me the ball," Walker said. "Here I was busting my butt, draining my knee, to be able to go out and make plays and they didn't get me the ball. After that, I started to take care of my knee."

You read that right. Walker is mad because Denver didn't get him the ball enough. In Week Three.

Remember, Packer fans, we got a second-round pick for the guy. I'd say that's pretty solid, considering how good a job he's done keeping himself in shape.

With that in mind, Walker says he's ready to play Denver in the second game of that season-opening Monday Night Football doubleheader. That leads me to my favorite part of Williamson's piece.

"I was ready in those final games and they just didn't want me to be a part of the offense," Walker said. "It just didn't work for me there with that team. They wanted me to take a pay cut in the middle of the season. They just didn't care about me. I'm glad I'm out of there."

Privately, the Broncos are happy Walker is gone, too. Team insiders said Walker, who wore out his welcome in Green Bay as well as Denver, was selfish and was more interested in his personal numbers than the team's success.

Walker insists he is a team player and is looking forward to an Oakland renaissance, both personally and for the franchise.

"'This team gets me," Walker said. "They know what I can do for them. The coaches want me to get the ball here. I just can't wait to show what I can do in the first game against that team."

Seriously? You insist you're a team player, and then you launch into another monologue about getting the ball? That crap simply isn't going to fly on a team coached by Mike Shanahan. I'm no fan of his, but one thing I'll give Shanahan credit for is that he takes really good care of his offensive players. They're in a system that allows them the chance to do great things, so Walker's decision to blame the coaches for his lack of production rings hollow with me.

There's no question at this point that getting Walker the hell away from Brett Favre was the right move. Then again, the fact that Green Bay is 21-11 with a conference championship appearance since he left was probably plenty of evidence for you.

I wonder how that huge chip on his shoulder could be affecting his knee. Perhaps it's shifting the balance of the weight on his legs and causing a problem. Is there a doctor in the house?

(I doff the cap to FanHouse.)

Thursday, June 05, 2008


When I was a kid, it was fun to watch the Lakers and Celtics do battle for the NBA title. I don't want to be dismissive of this year's incarnation of the NBA's greatest playoff rivalry, but I'm not excited.

It's not ABC's fault. I don't think they've overhyped it (yet). I really like the crew they have working the games (Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, and Mark Jackson). They do good work, and the broadcasts are enjoyable.

You can't complain about this matchup being overdone, as the Celtics haven't played the Lakers in the NBA Finals since 1987. Yes, this is their 11th Finals matchup, but it's been a while.

These are two dominant organizations. This year marks the 31st time one of them will win the NBA title.

They have great players. Kevin Garnett is going for his first NBA ring in a Hall of Fame career. So is Ray Allen. Paul Pierce is in the Finals for the first time. Kobe Bryant hasn't been to the Finals since Shaq left Los Angeles, so this is his chance to prove he can lead a team to the promised land.

There should be plenty of quality basketball, and no shortage of interesting storylines (officiating, anyone?).

So what's the problem?


History will be made August 30, when the reigning and defending national champions from Division I-A (oops ... FBS) and Division I-AA (oops ... FCS) meet. It still looks like a mismatch on paper, but the game between Appalachian State and LSU will get a ton more attention than it normally would.

First, it is that historic first "national champion vs. national champion" matchup. The Mountaineers are actually a two-time defending I-AA (oops ... FCS) champion. LSU backed into the BCS title game last year, and then put a whipping on Ohio State that surprised precisely no one.

Beyond that, there is that other reason why the game will garner plenty of national publicity. Oh, yeah. Almost forgot.

OK. I lied. I didn't almost forget. I'll never forget.

With all this in mind, the decision made this week by ESPN comes as no real surprise to me.

On Saturday, Aug. 30, LSU will open the 2008 football season on national television as the Tigers host Appalachian State in a game televised by ESPN, the Southeastern Conference announced on Tuesday.

Kickoff for the LSU-Appalachian State game is set for 4 p.m. in Tiger Stadium.

It seems ridiculous on its surface. Why would ESPN (and, presumably, ESPNHD) choose to nationally televise a I-A vs I-AA matchup?

After all, the odds of this being a greatly competitive game are virtually nil. Then again, you get a lot of nationally televised games in the first week that aren't that competitive. So why should they let that stop them?

I mean, could it really be that much worse than that 48-7 whipping LSU put on Virginia Tech in September last year? Or USC-Nebraska?

LSU should have no trouble pulling away from Appalachian State. But we said that about Michigan, too, and you all saw how that turned out. If nothing else, the off-chance of an "instant classic" should be reason enough to get people interested.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


From Kukla's Korner, which - if you don't visit the site ever - is positively awesome.

In 1991, the Giants won the Super Bowl
In 1991, there was a Bush in the White house
In 1991, there was a Clinton running for President
In 1991, there was a war in Iraq
In 1991, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup

In 2008, the Giants won the Super Bowl
In 2008, there is a Bush in the White House
In 2008, there is a Clinton running for President
In 2008, there is a war in Iraq
In 2008, the Penguins?

This is one of those factoids that ends up on an NBC graphic in the first ten minutes of Game Seven, or perhaps late in Game Six if Pittsburgh wins comfortably.

Otherwise, we'll all forget we ever saw it.


We've been live-blogging games at FanHouse, and we invite you to join us again tonight.

The fun starts at around 7:30pm Eastern, 6:30pm Central, or 3:30pm Alaska.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


I really don't like superlatives.

I don't.

I hate comparing Sidney Crosby to Wayne Gretzky. They're different players. Kobe Bryant isn't the same as Michael Jordan.

It doesn't matter that Ty Cobb would have hit .350 if he played in this era. He's dead.

But it's hard not to throw a superlative or two out when discussing last night's Stanley Cup Final game in Detroit.

That was simply incredible.

I've seen some great multiple-overtime playoff hockey games. I got to call a three-overtime game in St. Cloud last March.

Last night has to rank among the best I've had the privilege of watching.

It had the up-and-down, back-and-forth that great games require. Each team had their periods of dominance, and each team had strokes of good fortune. We had some good, gutsy officiating, and some stupid, gutless officiating. We had great drama with a great finish.

We may have also had a great momentum switch. The younger team found a way to come through, even though they're not as good or as experienced. Fatigue is a great equalizer, and while Pittsburgh seemed to tire first, Detroit gradually joined them. Since you can only get so tired before you can't get any worse, the Wings eventually ended up as tired as the Pens were. Once that happened, they weren't as dominant, and Pittsburgh found a way to take advantage.

For NBC and the NHL, you couldn't have asked for a better piece of theater. If Pittsburgh can find a way to force a Game Seven (something I still see as unlikely), it could be the most-hyped NHL game in years.

Already, the "mainstream" media is coming around. ESPN led "Around the Horn" and "PTI" with talk about Game Five, and there were many compliments thrown out as to the quality of the game and the strength of Pittsburgh's character for finding a way to win. Scott Burnside's quality column on got plenty of front-page play. Fox News Channel probably spent more of their sports time talking about hockey this morning than any other morning (with a possible exception being when Sean Avery was hospitalized) this postseason.

It'll be interesting to see how the press covers Game Six tomorrow night, and even more interesting to see how they handle it if Pittsburgh wins, considering the NBA Finals start Thursday night in Boston. They have a highly-anticipated matchup with the Celtics and Lakers.

Random thoughts on the game and the series:
  • Mike Emrick was awesome last night. I loved his story about the four-overtime Devils-Sabres playoff game from 1994. Remember, they played that game in Buffalo, then played Game Seven in Jersey the next night. He did great work, as usual. Having done one multiple-overtime game in my career, my throat aches just thinking about what a broadcaster goes through on a night like that. Adrenaline can take you a long way, but I'll guarantee Doc wasn't talking much when he got up this morning.
  • Ryan Malone is awesome. He may never be a 30-goals-per-season star, but he's the kind of player every team needs. If he takes another puck off his face, his knows may just fall off. And he doesn't care.
  • Stanley went back in the box quite quickly last night. It wouldn't surprise me if he never made an appearance in Pittsburgh Wednesday night. I'm hopeful that the momentum swung their way, and they can at least carry us to a seemingly improbable (before last night) Game Seven.
  • If Sergei Gonchar can't play, good night. Pittsburgh can't continue to deal with not having a solid puck-moving defenseman. I'd love to see Grand Rapids, MN, native Alex Goligoski get a shot if Gonchar can't go, but I have to figure Kris Letang would be the pick. Goligoski's puck-moving ability makes him a decent fit for the lineup against Detroit.

Monday, June 02, 2008


We all know how baseball organizations often offer strange promotions to entice fans to the ballpark.

In our rather tough economic times, a summerlong trend is likely to be the additional creativity shown by teams.

The Minnesota Twins are the latest to play off the issues of the day, and try to help out a little bit as money becomes tighter.

Attendance at the Metrodome is down a tad this year, even though the Twins have been playing some really good baseball so far.

(Don't blame the schedule-maker, as the home schedules through June 1 the last two years are quite similar. The Twins have had seven games total against the Yankees and Red Sox already, along with series against former Twin Torii Hunter's new team and the hated White Sox.)

With that in mind, the Twins are trying to help fans deal with the rather high gas prices you see these days.
"Tanks from the Twins" provides a ticket discount equivalent to the national average for the price of a gallon of gasoline.

The amount of the ticket discount will adjust each Monday morning reflecting the most current national average for a gallon of gas. During that week, a single-game ticket in the Upper Club and Lower Reserved sections of the Metrodome purchased for any game during the 2008 season will be discounted by that amount.
It doesn't sound like much, but as someone who will pinch a penny or two off the average price of a gallon of gas whenever possible, let me tell you that it helps.

Given the fortune possessed by the Pohlad family, I'm sure they could afford to whack a few more dollars off tickets in a few more Metrodome sections. In the end, I'm not sure whether to applaud the Twins for this, or call them out for a half-assed, hollow gesture.

By the way, Pohlad's, I live about 150 miles from the Metrodome. Any chance you give me a bit more of a break, since I can't get there on a gallon?

(Thanks, Minneapolis Star Tribune!)