Tagged: basketball

Because it’s Monday, There’s No Twins Baseball, and I Don’t Feel Like Doing Any Work: Link Dump

Is Jesse Crain hurt?  It’s a distinct possibility.  He’s been pretty awful since coming off the DL with shoulder stiffness on May 15th, surrendering 11 earned runs in 11.2 innings while only striking out 7.  He gave up the winning run on three straight hits in yesterday’s game against the Cubs.  Of course, it’s also possible that Crain is just the new Juan Rincon.  Update:  Crain has been demoted to AAA Rochester.  I think the only thing that surprised me about this move is that Crain actually had options left (I’m assuming he had options, the article said nothing about clearing waivers).  

If the Red Sox are going to drool over Joe Mauer, then I’m going to drool over the best bullpen in baseball.  Mmmmm….Daniel Bard.

Stick and Ball Guy has an interesting assessment of Delmon Young and his approach at the plate.  Not surprisingly, Young struggles against power pitchers, but hits finesse pitchers fairly well.  Unless he improves his plate discipline and pitch recognition, he will always struggle against power pitchers and won’t develop any power.  The question is whether or not the Twins will be patient and wait for him to develop an eye and patience at the plate.  Since his trade value is almost non-existent at this point, they really don’t have much of a choice.

Current SI chosen one Bryce Harper has decided he’d rather skip his last two years of high school, get his GED, and enroll in community college until he’s eligible for the draft.  Actually, I have no problem with this whatsoever.  This kid doesn’t exactly sound like Fulbright material, so an education is probably wasted on him anyway.  Since Harper does indeed have the talent and physical attributes to become a good baseball player, why not?  And if the whole baseball thing doesn’t really work out, at least he’ll get a $20 million signing bonus out of it.  I guess the only real problem is that the greedy parents of less-talented children are going to try the same thing, but fail miserably because their kid sucks.

I was watching the Cubs’ feed during the series in Chicago (sometimes I need a vacation from Dick and Bert), and I thought it was cute that their broadcasters couldn’t figure out why the Twins are under .500.  Um, it’s probably because they play in the American League.  Although, it isn’t as though there are a lot of powerhouse teams in the AL Central.

Speak
ing of which, during tonight’s Brewers-Indians tickle fight home run derby on ESPN, Steve Phillips said that some thought the AL Central would be the best division in baseball this season.  Wait, what?  Who said that?  Certainly not PECOTA.
 
The Minneapolis Los Angeles Lakers won their bazillionth championship last night.  Meh.  I just find it really hard to care about basketball because, well, it isn’t really a team sport.  I mean, nobody really cares about the supporting cast, it’s all about the marketable superstar.  And by nobody, of course, I mean the mainstream media.  Seriously, this series might as well have been between the LA Kobe Bryants and the Orlando Dwight Howards.

The Wild hired San Jose assistant coach (and Minnesota native) Todd Richards to replace longtime head coach Jacques Lemaire, who resigned right after the season was over.  It’s like Christmas for the hockey fans in this town.  We have an owner (Craig Leipold) who wants to win a championship, decided the front office wasn’t going to get the job done, and cleaned house.  And after an extensive and exhaustive search, Leipold hired the best available candidates for the job.  Obviously, this doesn’t mean the Wild will actually win a championship, and given the lack of talent both on the roster and in the system, it’s going to take a few years to build a Cup-contending team.  Still, it makes wish the Pohlad family were more interested in winning a World Series than saving a few bucks.

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Front-runners

funny pictures

Now that the Arizona Cardinals are playing in the Super Bowl, there’s been a lot of talk about how their fans are all bandwagoners. Cardinals fans have been mercilessly mocked by bloggers and the mainstream media alike because apparently they didn’t exist before this season (that’s not exactly true, they do have at least one devoted fan).  A lot of people are wondering where all of these people have been in the last 20 years, when the Cards were terrible.  Because, you know, true fans stick with their teams no matter what, through the good times and bad.  Neither rain, nor snow, nor a 13-game losing streak prevents real fans from cheering on their beloved teams.

I admit it, we Minnesotans are notorious front-runners.  I remember about a decade ago, whenmarlins_baseball.jpg the Twins were routinely losing at least 90 games and the Dome was like a ghost town.  Back in those days you could actually sit there and count the number of people in the seats (which was often more interesting than the action on the field).  Sometimes I look at all the people in the stands now and wonder where they were before 2002.  The Twins aren’t the only ones who’ve had to deal with fickle Minnesota fans, either.  The Timberwolves continue to struggle to fill seats, even though they had the best record in the NBA in January (yes, you read that right).  Although Minny is considered a football town, the Vikings have had a lot of trouble selling tickets to games these past eight years, when they would barely finish above the Lions. This season, of course, when the Vikes made a big splash in the free-agent market, and then went on to win ten games and make the playoffs, you couldn’t even buy tickets if you wanted to.  Fickle, fickle, fickle.

The exception, of course, is the Wild.  Wild games always sell out, no matter how pathetic the team might be.  It’s not just because Minnesotans are crazy about hockey, either.  It’s because we have already suffered the loss of one hockey team. We’re not going to make that mistake again.

It’s not that we only support our teams when they’re winning. We love them all anyway, even when they suck. We wouldn’t spend so much time complaining about those losers if we didn’t care about them. It’s just that we Minnesotans are cheap a thrifty bunch.  We’re not going to spend $60 a pop for nosebleed seats to watch the Vikings stink up the field.  Not when we can watch them stink from the comforts of our own homes (or not.  And if the game does get blacked out, well, that’s all the better).  And why should we?  If the team is terrible, but people go to the games anyway, the front office has no incentive to make improvements.  If people continue to buy a crappy product, management will continue to produce it. By boycotting games, we fans are sending a strong message that we disapprove of the quality of the product on the field and the idiotic moves the front office has made.  Eventually, this boycotting pays off and the front office puts together a quality product (or moves it to a more lucrative market, whichever comes first).  It’s not a coincidence that the Twins, Vikings, Wild, and now even the Timberwolves have finally put together winning teams.  We fans haven’t given them much of a choice.    

Lions_fan.jpgI also have no problem with people who finally get fed up and just give up on their teams.  I mean really, how long are fans of the Lions, Pirates, Chiefs, and Maple Leafs supposed to suffer?  These teams have been dishing out emotional abuse on their devoted fanbases for decades, and I don’t blame these people one bit if they simply refuse to take it anymore. Good for them, sometimes a divorce is the only way to fix a bad marriage.

Of course, when and if your team decides to win again, I’m sure they will be more than happy to welcome you (and your money) back into the fold. No hard feelings, and no questions asked.    

Andruw Jones and I have a lot in common

jones23b_400.jpgWe have the same body type.  We have the same level of athletic ability.  And now we are both unemployed.  The big difference between us, of course, Is that Jones’s former employer is giving him a nice $21.1 million going-away present.  The only thing I got was the opportunity to do something else with my life.

The two-year $36.2 million deal the Dodgers gave Jones is widely considered one of the biggest busts in recent history, next to the Barry Zito fiasco.  Both deals were ill-advised to begin with, as both players were coming off career years that they were unlikely to repeat (although in Zito’s defense, I don’t think anyone expected him to be as awful as he’s been.  There’s also a chance that he might rebound, since his problems seem to be psychological). It’s deals of these sort, when teams overpay for middling talent, and not the blockbuster deals for the likes of C. C. Sabathia that make it difficult for small-market teams to remain competitive.  Teams like, well, the Twins have never been able to afford to sign such marquee talent, so these types of deals don’t affect them as much.  When mediocre players  like Jones get $16 million a year, it inflates the price of all free agents and makes it much more difficult for small-market teams to retain  their  talent.

  •  Twins express interest in Brandon Lyon and Eric Gagne

large_gagnebrewers.jpgSpeaking of busts, the Twins have apparently contacted Eric Gagne’s agent, Scott Boras,and have discussed contract terms.  It’s no secret that Gagne has been awful after he was caught using PEDs, and is unlikely that he will ever return to his previous, dominant form.  However, if the Twins can get him for a deal similar to what the Indians gave Carl Pavano, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

The Twins are also interested in Brandon Lyon, who might have more of an upside than510086.jpg Gagne.  Although he was terrible last season, posting a 4.70 ERA with the Diamondbacks, he did have 26 saves. Lyon was one of the premier set-up men in the league, and at 29 is still young enough to rebound.  I wouldn’t give him more than a 1-year deal, though.

The Twins’ bullpen was definitely its achilles heel last season and set-up man Pat Neshek will be out at least until 2010 with Tommy-John surgery.  While rookie Jose Mijares was stellar in his 10 appearances last season, he had never advanced past AA ball until his September callup last year. Although he showed himself to be fearless in big spots, he is still very young and I don’t feel comfortable handing him the set-up job just yet.  Either Gagne or Lyon would provide some much-needed depth in the bullpen, and would be worth the risk as long as they aren’t very expensive.

  • Holy crap, the Wolves beat the Suns!

They came back from a 10 point deficit!  On the road!  I don’t know who these guys are and what they did with our basketball team, but as long as they  hid the bodies really well continue  playing  like this I really don’t care.

Maybe they just got tired of the Gophers getting all the attention.

When your baseball team isn’t doing anything……..

At least there is hockey to fall back on.  I promise this will (mostly) be a baseball blog.  And when the Twins decide to do something, I’ll write about it.  Until then, two of our other teams were busy tonight in games that have some huge implications.

  • Wild thump ‘yotes 6-3:

clusterbuck.jpgThis was a win that this team sorely needed.   After a losing two games in a row to teams that they really should’ve beaten (the Flyers and Blue Jackets), the Wild came back and had their way with Phoenix at the X.  For a team that has had such a pathetic offense (they are ranked dead last in the league in even-strength scoring) and has generally looked asleep on the ice as of late, they had no trouble finding the back of the net tonight.  Four players : Andrew Brunette, Mikko Koivu, Cal Clutterbuck, and Owen Nolan each had a goal and an assist.  And while the Coyotes certainly made things interesting by pulling within one goal in the third, Clutterbuck and James Shepppard answered with a goal apiece to put the game away.

This game is huge because there are currently four teams tied for third place in the Northwest Division, and only four points separating the Wild from second-place Vancouver.  The Wild dug themselves a huge hole in December, when they went 3-9-1, and cannot afford to lose these types of games if they hope to earn a playoff spot.

  • Wolves fall to Miami,99-96

I don’t really think anyone expected the Wolves to win this game, even though they’ve beenRandy_Foye.jpg riding an incredible hot streak.  But this loss was still disappointing because they were actually leading the Heat the entire game.  Well, until the last 2:42 minutes, anyway.  In typical Wolves fashion, they managed to squander 5 point lead in the last few minutes, although this is not nearly as devastating as their Dec. 30th loss to Dallas in which they p****d away a 29 point lead and ended up losing 100-107.

Randy Foye was absolutely on fire tonight, with 29 points and 8 assists.  Unfortunately, he was outdueled by Dwyane Wade, who had 31 points and 8 assists.  Foye did his best to make sure Wade’s hands were full trying to defend him, but in the end it just wasn’t enough.

Although the Wolves have now fallen to 11-26, it’s encouraging to see them playing so well together.  It kills me to admit that Kevin McHale might actually be doing something right, but the team is showing so much life under his tutelage it’s actually kind of scary. And while I am going to banish any thoughts of making the playoffs from my mind, it looks as though the team might actually finish at .500.  After the abysmal start to the season, and the past few seasons in general, that would be quite an accomplishment indeed.