December 1, 2006

Link-O-Rama

I have to clean out my bookmarks before heading to Orlando for the Winter Meetings this weekend, so this one might bring back some memories ...

  • One of many amusing aspects of being able to track the traffic of this site is being able to see the odd search-engine requests that send people here. For example, each week for the past few years a dozen people have arrived here after typing "Jennifer Aniston's butt" into a search engine. That's a pretty good one (the search that is, not the butt, although I suppose it works either way), if only because it seemingly lives on forever.

    However, someone arrived here earlier this week through what may be the single most mind-blowing Google search in the long and storied history of Google searches: "Joe Mauer dating Jessica Alba." Without even knowing the sex of their purely hypothetical baby, I'm prepared to marry it and pencil it into the third spot in the Twins' 2030 lineup. Aniston's butt can bat cleanup.

  • Once I finished laughing at this clip, I did see the man's point. That mustache didn't grow itself and, to paraphrase the great Sidney Deane, "It's hard work looking this good."
  • When Albert Pujols gets frustrated over finishing second in the MVP balloting, he subtly complains to the media. When Derek Jeter gets frustrated over finishing second in the MVP balloting, he does something far better:
    New celebrity couple Jessica Biel and Derek Jeter sparked outrage when their public display of affection at an exhibition left art fans upset. The actress and the New York Yankees star were checking out the Holy Image, Hallowed Ground: Icons From Sinai exhibition at Los Angeles' Getty Museum when things started getting hot and heavy.

    One eyewitness tells the National Enquirer, "It was shocking. They were making out on a veranda in full view of everyone, including several Orthodox Jewish families who'd come to see the religious artifacts."

    There are those who would probably argue that Jeter and Jessica Biel were the two most important religious artifacts in the room. Of course, we've been through this before. Also, Batgirl is funny.

  • Brian Joura of Associated Content interviewed me recently, with the usual assortment of questions about blogs, blogging, and the mainstream media. It's worth a read if you're one of the handful of people who haven't yet been forced to hear the story about how this all started because the Minnesota Daily wouldn't have me.
  • On a somewhat related note, I'm now convinced that not being able to get my start in the world of print journalism was actually a positive thing for my career. Established columnists and reporters from major newspapers have gradually started to leave their print jobs for better opportunities online, and the newspaper business as a whole has a little less influence, power, and readership seemingly every day. It's not a trend that's going to slow down anytime soon.

    During my senior year of high school, I attended a sports journalism seminar at the University of Minnesota, which featured a number of well-known columnists from around the country. Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe stole the show, as the man Tony Kornheiser calls "The Quintessential American Sportswriter" told great stories and came across as someone who simply loved his job. He was exactly who I always wanted to be.

    In a recent interview with Sports Media Guide, Ryan had this to say about the growth of online media:

    Our business is under siege. Somebody starting out today should get to a dot.com immediately if not sooner--why spend your time in a dying industry? I'm grateful I'm much closer to the end of my career than the beginning. ... I can't imagine starting out today.

    Had I successfully taken the traditional path to becoming a sportswriter, I'd probably be writing about high-school football at a small newspaper in the middle of nowhere right now or, if I was lucky, penning obituaries and random feature pieces while working the weekend shift at the Minneapolis Star Tribune or St. Paul Pioneer Press. There's no shame in that, of course, and just a few years ago I would have given anything for that path to open up to me.

    However, it's now clear to me--as I pack for my trip to the Winter Meetings, shoot videos for NBC, and cash paychecks that are bigger than I ever dreamed of getting--that I skipped the middle man without even realizing it. For the first 20 years of my life, the only thing I ever wanted to be was a newspaper columnist, yet now the owners of those dream jobs are starting to realize they'd be better off doing what I'm doing. As the old saying goes, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

  • Presented without comment: The poster child for "it's better to be lucky than good."
  • On the other hand, as a newspaper columnist I could write a horrendous, completely asinine article like this one and somehow convince people that they should pay to have it printed on paper and delivered to their front door each morning. It's really a win-win situation.
  • If you're not yet convinced of the internet's power, consider that it's now helping people identify the Vikings players who allegedly assaulted them. I'm pretty sure that's what Al Gore had in mind when he invented this whole thing.
  • I bought some "business casual" clothes to wear at the Winter Meetings, but after seeing this picture I'm thinking I probably should have just stocked up on Hawaiian shirts.
  • I realize that punching someone in the face isn't a very nice thing to do, but I would suggest that the accused in this specific case could present a perfectly reasonable explanation by simply pleading to a judge: "Yes, I threw the punch at him. But seriously, you've seen him play, right? What were the odds that he'd actually catch it?" Counting right hands to the chin, Troy Williamson now has 28 catches and 11 drops this year.
  • If you haven't yet, make sure to check out the first two installments of my series covering the Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2007: 31-35, 36-40.
  • I thought all day yesterday about what I should say following the announcement that Dan Monson has stepped down as University of Minnesota men's basketball coach, but for whatever reason I can't muster much of a reaction. I became increasingly frustrated and fed up with the basketball program under Monson, going from a student-ticket holder to barely checking the team's boxscores, so I've long viewed his leaving under unfavorable circumstances as inevitable.

    In fact, almost exactly two years ago today I wrote a column titled "A Program in Disarray" in which I laid out my thoughts on how Monson was taking the team in the wrong direction, both in terms of who he recruited and how he coached them once they arrived on campus. I concluded the piece with the following prediction:

    I don't see any conceivable way for Monson to successfully rebuild the program at this point. That's not to say he's not capable of doing so, because I think clearly he showed he can win while he was at Gonzaga. But rather, he is no longer capable of doing so here, if he ever was. As the old cliche goes, things usually get worse before they get better, and it seems to me we're at that "getting worse" stage right about now.

    Monson rode Vincent Grier to a surprise NCAA tournament trip since then, but things certainly "got worse" before completely falling apart this season. Monson had a difficult job on his hands when he came here from Gonzaga and while he was far from a total disaster, the team never improved its long-term chances of winning, which is essentially the focus of any rebuilding effort. My fear now is that the program has fallen so far that it'll be difficult to lure a desirable coach to rebuild again.

  • Finally, here's my latest column at NBCSports.com: "Talking Shop: Top Storylines to Watch During MLB Winter Meetings." Make sure to stop by Monday (and throughout next week) for Winter Meetings blogging live from Orlando. If I can't get a sit-down interview with Terry Ryan, my hope is to at least shoot some behind-the-scenes video of an intoxicated LaVelle E. Neal III ragging on Jim Souhan. In fact, I think I'd prefer the latter.

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