September 15, 2006

Link-O-Rama

  • MLB.com posted a video recap of the SABR convention, so if you've wondered about the baseball get-together I attend each summer, this is your chance. Featured prominently are Jim Bouton (in the beginning) and Hardball Times writer Steve Treder (in the middle), and at the 11:12 mark there's even a brief shot of me drinking Vodka while heckling people at the trivia contest (seriously, just don't blink).
  • The Philadelphia Daily News had a nice article about the owner of the greatest athletic performance I've ever witnessed in person, who also happens to be a great story and someone to root for.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, the owner of several of the worst athletic performances I've ever witnessed in person was referred to by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as a member of "the first family of Seattle sports."
  • For the 0.000000001 percent of you reading this right now who are curious, as of this morning I've lost 72 pounds since January 11.
  • Congrats to friend of AG.com Alex Belth, who recently got engaged to a girl who appears to have a significantly better swing than Tony Batista.
  • Another friend of AG.com, Tangotiger, launched his annual "scouting report by the fans for the fans," which is always interesting. After going to his scouting database, enter in your personal observations about the players you watch on a regular basis, and become part of a huge database of information and scouting reports compiled entirely by fans.

    If you've ever dreamed about being a scout, this is your chance. Take a look at the instructions and details, and then head to the Twins page and mark down what you think of Batista's aforementioned swing or Rondell White's never-should-be-mentioned arm.

  • The Washington Post had a fantastic article about former Twins reliever LaTroy Hawkins' off-field life. I once met a member of Hawkins' fan club and the person almost literally couldn't stop saying nice things about Hawkins, who is apparently incredibly friendly and outgoing with fans. It doesn't surprise me one bit to read the same sort of stuff in print.
  • Former ESPN.com "Daily Quickie" writer Dan Shanoff has started up a blog, and because he said something nice about me the other day I'm telling you to go check it out.
  • I'm sad, because Tony Pierce was apparently in Minnesota this week and we didn't consume tons of alcohol together while having a too-intense conversation about blogging.
  • Sometimes jokes about the Royals write themselves:
    Shortstop Angel Berroa was a late lineup scratch Tuesday after aggravating an injured left foot, apparently while walking through a Minneapolis shopping mall during Monday's open date.

    Asked to describe the injury, Angel Berroa said, "I was at the mall, just walking around, and today it's sore." That food court can be a real mine field, even for a finely tuned professional athlete.

  • There are an awful lot of interesting things about Latrell Sprewell's latest problem, but my favorite is that his boat is named after a horrible beer. You stay classy, Latrell.
  • Another of my football articles appeared on the front page of NBCSports.com this week.
  • I don't normally make a habit out of defending Ken Harrelson, but the idea that announcers can "jinx" a no-hitter by talking about it on the air is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard.
  • One of my frequent targets of criticism is Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan, whom I've taken to calling "Shecky" because of his tendency to litter columns with lame one-liners and forced "humor." Souhan is a decent writer when he's not desperately trying to be funny, and at times actually produces worthwhile columns, which inevitably leads to people questioning why I'm hard on him.

    Part of the reason I'm so sensitive to Souhan's hackiness is that I am, after all, also a hack. It's like "gaydar," except without all the homosexuality (see what I mean?). It's difficult to explain without examples, of course. Thankfully, Souhan wrote a few typical "Shecky" columns this week (one, two, three) about Brad Johnson and the Vikings. Some highlights (or lowlights):

    The Purple ... play in a division that could be thinner than Calista Flockhart.

    [...]

    Maybe it was the presence of Tom Cruise ... but Johnson looked so excited he could have jumped all over Oprah's couch. ... Johnson pumped his fist and screamed a few choice words toward the sky, and I don't think he was defending Brooke Shields to Cruise.

    [...]

    Williamson ... botched passes as if he had drawn butter from a Legal Seafood lobster on his hands.

    [...]

    The 'Skins have more problems than FEMA.

    [...]

    Wonderful to see my old friends Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes on the field before the game. By the way, put Cruise on the shoulders of 'Skins owner Danny Snyder, and they might be tall enough to get on the rides at Disney World.

    There's plenty more where those came from, but that's a solid sampling of Souhan's work. The mark of a true hack is the ability to combine woefully out-of-date pop culture references with incredibly cliched characterizations of players' skills and constant harping on the mere fact that a celebrity had something to do with the game.

    For instance, because Tom Cruise simply attended the game, Johnson "looked so excited he could have jumped all over Oprah's couch" and wasn't "defending Brooke Shields to Cruise" when he got worked up after throwing a touchdown. Really? That's funny? If it had been Mel Gibson watching the game, would the Redskins' defense have been "as sloppy as Gibson being pulled over by cops"?

    Beyond that, Souhan may want to come up with a different thin actress to use as the punchline for his skinny jokes in the future, because Ally McBeal was canceled nearly five years ago (five years!) and Calista Flockhart has essentially been out of show business since then. At least the FEMA reference was from this decade. Last but not least, calling a receiver "butter fingers" apparently never gets old.

    And if you think I'm being overly harsh on poor Souhan, just remember that Shecky himself wrote the following earlier this week in between telling the audience to tip their waitress and enjoy the veal:

    Anyone who wants to work in the public eye has to accept being a tin duck in a shooting gallery. Walk it off.

    Good advice from one of the better tin ducks around.

  • Continuing the trend of the New York Times giving the Twins a surprising amount of coverage, Pat Borzi penned a good piece about Francisco Liriano's injury. I wondered outloud here a couple weeks ago why the Times was giving the Twins so much coverage and Borzi actually e-mailed me with an answer: "Our baseball editor is interested in the Twins as a national story, especially since they may face the Yankees in the playoffs."

    It's nice having one of the best newspapers in the country print a well-written piece about the Twins every few weeks. I'm hopeful that the newspapers here won't start giving the same type of coverage to the Yankees down the stretch, because I don't think I could handle that. On the other hand, I'm sure Souhan has some great Alex Rodriguez jokes stored up.

  • Lastly, the latest news on Liriano's arm appears to be good, as an MRI taken Wednesday showed no new structural damage. Here's what Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune reported:
    Liriano's ulnar collateral ligament is still intact, [Terry] Ryan said, so the rookie All-Star won't need the reconstructive "Tommy John" surgery, which could have kept him from pitching again until 2008.

    Ryan said the team should know if Liriano, 22, needs less invasive arthroscopic surgery within a week.

    "We need to make sure what is wrong, fix it and get him ready for his future," Ryan said.

    As discussed yesterday, Tommy John surgery is quite common among great pitchers, but avoiding surgery is always positive. However, I'd still bet on Liriano needing some kind of surgery, and perhaps even Tommy John eventually, because it seems unlikely that "rest and rehab" will fix what ails him and avoiding surgery now only to have the problem flare up again next season doesn't fix anything.


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