June 22, 2006

Link-O-Rama

  • Given the obscene amount of hype Roger Clemens' return received, it was doubly satisfying to see Francisco Liriano take center stage last night. Liriano is now 7-1 with a 2.17 ERA in 66.1 innings, including an amazing 6-1 with a 1.64 ERA in seven starts. If he had just a few more innings Liriano would be leading the AL in ERA, pushing Johan Santana to the No. 2 spot. Roger who?
  • I rode my elliptical machine while watching the United States-Ghana World Cup match yesterday morning. When Clint Dempsey scored on a great play to tie the game near the end of the first half, I instinctively did a fist pump and ended up nicking my knuckles on the ceiling. Seriously.

    If you think that was stupid, consider that just a few moments later Ghana scored on a penalty kick to take a 2-1 lead into halftime. Never let it be said that I won't reveal embarrassing stuff about myself here solely to amuse my audience. And by "embarrassing stuff" I'm not talking about hurting my knuckles, I'm talking about watching soccer.

  • I'm not sure what it says about me that this story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune was the most upsetting thing I've read all year, but it was.
  • As I've discussed in the past, this blog receives several dozen hits each day from people looking for some variation of the phrase "Jennifer Aniston's butt" on search engines. For proof, check out the top result from that search on Google. Anyway, I bring this up today because the number of people arriving here looking for Aniston's butt has skyrocketed of late, and until yesterday I was wondering why.

    The answer? Apparently Aniston actually shows the oft-searched-for butt in her new movie. Since plenty of people have already been disappointed after arriving here while looking for Aniston's butt for going on four years, here's the scene (it's probably "not safe for work," so don't press play if you're not into that sort of thing):


    After all these years it was disappointing, like finding out that Santa Claus exists, but collects presents in his parents' basement and delivers them on foot.
  • Speaking of work and video clips, if by some sick twist of fate I was forced to work in an office setting, there's no question that I'd spend all day doing this (it's definitely safe for work, unless you're this guy's boss):


    Hell, who am I kidding? I work from my bedroom and I've still been practicing my Joe Mauer foot sweep and Justin Morneau above-the-head bat twirl.
  • Anyone who has followed the Wolves over the years knows that it was only a matter of time before we saw something like this in the Star Tribune:
    No doubt the Wolves rank Gonzaga forward Adam Morrison as their No. 1 choice in the draft. However, the agent for Morrison won't allow his client to work out for the Wolves because he believes Morrison will be drafted long before the Wolves pick sixth in the first round. But don't be surprised if the Wolves try to improve their position in the draft so they can put Morrison in a Timberwolves uniform.

    Given the Wolves' track record I'm skeptical that they'll be able to pass on J.J. Redick with the sixth pick, so I'm certainly not surprised that they're lusting after Adam Morrison there. Of course, the above information is dubious at best since it comes from Sid Hartman (or so I'm hoping).

    Hartman also throws in this nugget:

    The word is that Wolves free agent point guard Marcus Banks is headed for the Los Angeles Lakers. Two years ago, the Boston Celtics and the Lakers made a trade that had Banks going to the Lakers and Gary Payton moving to the Celtics. But Payton failed a physical and the deal was called off. The Lakers have been trying to land Banks ever since, and that is where he is likely to be when the 2006-2007 season starts.

    If the Wolves end up losing Marcus Banks for nothing, their trade with the Celtics will have been an even bigger disaster than I predicted at the time. They will essentially have traded Wally Szczerbiak and a first-round pick for Ricky Davis, which is the sort of deal that landed Isiah Thomas a job coaching the Knicks.

  • For most of this season I've been touting Pat Neshek as someone who is extremely deserving of a call up to the Twins, even devoting an entire column to him last month. Neshek continues to dominate at Triple-A, with a 1.93 ERA, .183 opponent's batting average, and incredible 79-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 51.1 innings.

    In addition to being one of baseball's best reliever prospects, Neshek runs his own website and has done several Q&A sessions over at Seth Speaks. The latest version includes e-mail questions from readers, and as you might expect from someone who is so interested in interacting with fans Neshek provides some interesting, non-cliched answers.

    I'd be shocked if Neshek isn't a big part of the Twins' bullpen in the second half, and based solely on merit (as opposed to whatever got Kyle Lohse back to the big leagues so quickly) he should have been in Minnesota a month ago. Plus, you've got to respect a pitcher who knows what his lefty-righty splits are right down to the at-bat.

  • Pictures like this are why Jessica Alba is on track to become a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Of course, she'll have to avoid running into the same wall that has snuck up on so many would-be Hall of Famers.
  • I recently stumbled across a blog written by Marty Andrade, who I once had a non-fiction literature class with at the University of Minnesota (although I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't remember me from it). Anyway, Andrade recently posted an article comparing the win-loss records of teams managed by Tom Kelly and Ron Gardenhire to those teams' Pythagorean winning percentages. It's a good read and shows Gardenhire in a positive light, but there's a significant flaw in the analysis.

    What the comparisons show is how a team performed relative to their runs scored and runs allowed. In other words, if a team scores 700 runs and allows 700 runs, they are "expected" to go 81-81. If they instead go 84-78, the team outperformed their Pythagorean winning percentage by three games and an argument could be made that the manager did a good job. However, what that analysis doesn't show is how the manager impacted those numbers.

    Let's say Gardenhire benched Joe Mauer and Johan Santana, replacing them with Corky Miller and Jesse Orosco. He would be doing a horrible job and the team would score fewer runs and allow more runs. On the other hand, it wouldn't necessarily lead to the team underperforming its Pythagorean winning percentage, because that's just comparing actual wins to expected wins based on those Gardenhire-depressed run totals. See the problem? Now go tell Marty I said hello.

  • There was a big storm here last week and DirecTV predictably went down. After requesting a service call on Saturday morning, we were told that "someone can be out there Wednesday." I don't really have a point to make here, but for some reason I feel the need to share that. When combined with the air-conditioning repair guy being a racist, you can see why the service industry has a bad reputation.
  • One of my favorite non-sports bloggers and one of my favorite baseball bloggers are teaming up over at LAist. Tony Pierce--who once served as guest columnist here while I celebrated my 21st birthday in Las Vegas--has taken over as the site's new editor, and one of his first moves was hiring Rob McMillin to cover the Angels and Dodgers.
  • The Ozzie Guillen-Jay Mariotti story has been beaten to death at this point, but I wanted to touch on something that is being overlooked. In what is a credit to his remarkable ability to come across as an unsympathetic jerk against all odds, Mariotti has managed to make me dislike him even more than I did before Guillen started calling him names.

    You would think that's impossible, but by acting like some sort of good-intentioned martyr--as opposed to an annoying media whore and mud-slinging hack columnist--Mariotti has made me think even less of him than before. Here's a quote from his Chicago Sun-Times column on the subject:

    Guillen's beef with me involves his belief that if I criticize him, I should rush down to the ballpark immediately and let him litter me with insults. ... Imagine a critic panning a movie, then being required to take a tongue-lashing the next day from an angry Vince Vaughn. Imagine a restaurant critic not liking an Italian joint, then having to show up so the chef can throw meatballs at him.

    [...]

    I might cede to Guillen's wishes, by the way, if Sox management through time had been more professional in controlling numerous incidents in which I was threatened physically in their clubhouse. This, in turn, led to published stories about the episodes and turned me into what no journalist wants to be -- the news -- which led to a Sox-generated perception that I am some evil being who roots for the Cubs.

    Mariotti's points about being a critic are valid, but there are few things in the history of mankind that have been less true than the combination of Mariotti claiming that a) he's a journalist, and b) he doesn't want to be the news. Mariotti's entire career is based on writing ridiculous things in his columns and screaming ridiculous things on television, and then counting on people to get upset enough that they talk about him.

    I'm certainly not in favor of what Guillen did, but I didn't doubt for one second that Mariotti would fail to come anywhere close to taking the high road in response. As with everything else, he's milking the story for everything it's worth and getting as much attention as possible. In fact, I'd be shocked if Mariotti isn't thrilled beyond belief at what happened.

    If he's a journalist who wants to avoid being the news, I'm Tony Batista's biggest fan. And it's all too predictable that Mariotti's fellow columnists are now tearing Guillen down for saying something stupid after previously building him up for being outspoken.

  • Here's a new addition to the ever-growing world of Twins blogs: Todd's Twins.
  • Lawrence, Kansas will never be the same.
  • I'm heading to Seattle next week for the annual SABR convention. Since I didn't plan ahead enough to have guest columnists lined up like I did for my aforementioned Las Vegas trip, I thought re-running some past columns would be a good idea. I have over 1,000 to choose from dating back four years, so if you have a favorite entry that you remember enjoying the first time around, let me know.


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