February 4, 2005

Link-O-Rama

I have to admit, these link-dump columns are starting to become favorites of mine. The more I write them, the more interesting links you guys send me, which is always a good thing. Plus, if you saw the way my "favorites" folder fills up during the course of a week, you'd know just how badly I need to dump these links on you by the time Friday rolls around.

  • Over at Rich's Baseball Beat, Richard Lederer has an interview with Kansas City Star columnist Joe Posnanski, who is one of the only local sports columnists I read on a regular basis outside of the guys here in Minnesota. Posnanski comes across as a smart, interesting guy and I have always enjoyed his baseball writing immensely. He is definitely one of the mainstream newspaper columnists who could most easily be a great blogger, and despite how that sounds I mean it as a big compliment.
  • Ex-Vikings cornerback Corey Fuller, who has played the past two seasons with the Baltimore Raves, apparently got into some trouble with the law a little while back. Here's the lead paragraph of the Associated Press story about his situation:
    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Baltimore Ravens cornerback Corey Fuller was acquitted Saturday of all three gambling and gun charges after being accused of running high-stakes card games at his house.

    Now, that's a damn good lead and very intriguing. However, it can't hold a candle to what you find if you make it to the middle of the story:

    But prosecutor Matt Smith told jurors that Fuller presided over the card games like "a pit boss," armed and demanding the house cut, which was put in a shoe box on the game-room floor.

    "It's not a game room," Smith said. "It's Casino Fuller, that's what it was."

    I have long been of the opinion that there isn't enough mainstream media coverage of NFL players running casinos out of their homes, so this was a welcomed sight. That and I'm wondering if Casino Fuller has any openings in the $3/$6 hold 'em game this weekend.

  • As you all know, I am as big a fan of Bill Simmons as you could possibly find. With that said, his "the Patriots don't get enough respect" mantra over the past few months has been pretty laughable. If Bill is going to write a column bringing up the topic again after the Super Bowl, he's going to have to overlook the fact that 11 of the 13 NFL "experts" ESPN.com asked to make a Super Bowl pick chose the Patriots to win. Sort of like how New England is favored by a touchdown against Philadelphia after being favored on the road against a 15-1 Pittsburgh team in the AFC title game. They're great and everyone knows it, Bill. Relax.
  • A high school basketball player with the ever-so-awesome name of Cash Eggleston broke the Minnesota state record by pumping in 90 points in a game earlier this week. I'm willing to overlook the fact that he did it against something called "Community of Peace Academy" just because of how well "Cash Eggleston" rolls off the tongue. Eggleston scored 39 points in the first quarter and went an incredible 20-for-25 on three-pointers, which is also a state record.

    In the middle of the Minneapolis Star Tribune story on the game is this little tidbit:

    As a 10-year-old, when he was already 5-9, Eggleston was considered to be a basketball phenom. But he didn't grow any taller after that, and has mostly been out of the limelight since.

    The state scoring record is really nice, but geez, how depressing.

  • One of my favorite things about having this blog is discovering the various ways people find themselves here. A large majority of you are frequent visitors and most of the remaining readers are sent here by links on other websites. There is a small percentage of people who stumble across this site by accident, looking for a wide variety of things that are often pretty creepy.

    Earlier this week, someone showed up here by way of a Google search for the phrase "18 years old guys dick management," which somehow produced this blog as the #1 search result. I'm not sure how my column about Tim Raines from August 20, 2002 ended up at the top of Google's heap in this case, but I guess I'll take whatever extra readers I can get.

  • The Timberwolves are in the middle of an extremely disappointing season, but there aren't many "tough" decisions in sports that work out as well and as quickly as not agreeing to Latrell Sprewell's demand for a contract extension. Sprewell has without question lost a step (or two), and is currently averaging 12.6 points per game on 41.5% shooting, all while pitching in a measly 2.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 0.7 steals. Plus, he is playing a career-low 30.2 minutes per game in part because of injuries and in part because Flip Saunders has benched him a few times.

    And now we find out that in addition to constantly complaining about his contract status, getting suspended for yelling at a female fan, being ticketed for a verbal altercation with a police officer, and (most importantly) consistently performing at a sub par level on the court, Sprewell missed the team flight to Milwaukee earlier this week, earning himself a seat on the bench to begin Wednesday night's blowout loss to the lowly Bucks. At this point, I have about as much chance of being on the team next year as Sprewell does. After making $14.6 million this season, one can only hope Sprewell is able to find another way to feed his family.

    On a related note, Minnesota's lack of success this year is being talked about as one of the most surprising stories of the season, but when you look at Kevin Garnett's supporting cast I'm not so sure that it should be. Sam Cassell has started just 33 of the team's 46 games and, when he's been healthy, appears to have lost a step himself. After that, you've got a rapidly declining Sprewell, who has gone from an ultra-athletic slasher and defensive stopper to a guy who is a defensive liability and takes nothing but jumpers all game. Wally Szczerbiak is having a very good season, but he has very little ability to create his own shot and isn't much on the defensive end either.

    Throw in the fact that John Thomas, Ervin Johnson, Mark Madsen, Anthony Carter, Michael Olowokandi, and Trenton Hassell have combined to start 70 games and I think you can see where I'm going with this. Those guys each have uses and can each be contributors to good NBA teams, but if all of them are playing significant minutes and getting multiple starts, the team is simply headed nowhere.

    After Garnett, who is the team's second-best player? Cassell, obviously, but he's already missed a bunch of time with an injury and hurt his shoulder in the first quarter of the Milwaukee game. So again, who is the team's second-best player? Sprewell? Szczerbiak? An injured Cassell? I don't care how good Garnett is -- and he's having another MVP-caliber season -- you'll be hard-pressed to find a great NBA team with a second option who is that mediocre, not to mention a cast of role players being asked to take on this many minutes. The danger in acquiring Cassell and Sprewell last year was always that they could get old in a hurry, and it looks like that's exactly what has happened.

  • Super Bowl Prediction: New England 27, Philadelphia 20.
  • Today at The Hardball Times:

    - Pinch Me I'm Elmer Valo (by John Brattain)


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