March 15, 2007

Link-O-Rama

  • Not only did I order one of these fantastic shirts, I gave strong consideration to buying a couple dozen of them, throwing out the rest of my wardrobe, and wearing a different one each day, Inspector Gadget-style.
  • Over at Yahoo! Sports, Jeff Passan celebrates Johan Santana's 28th birthday with a look at the best pitcher in the world.
  • Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star may be the only sports columnist in the entire world who no one has ever said a bad word about regarding his writing or personality, and now he's blogging. It has quickly become one of my daily stops.
  • One of the topics I often write about here is the newspaper industry's decline, and it usually follows the same pattern. First, I'll link to some new evidence of the decline, such as falling readership, decreased revenue, layoffs, and prominent writers leaving for more promising online jobs, all of which have been happening plenty of late. Then, a few print-media veterans will pop up in the comments section to assure everyone that I'm overreacting.

    It's an amusing back-and-forth, because that refusal to read the rapidly increasing writing on the wall represents one of the reasons that the newspaper industry is declining in the first place. This week's evidence--which someone in the comments section will surely inform me means absolutely nothing--is that 24 staffers at the Minneapolis Star Tribune have accepted a buyout following the newspaper's recent sale.

    That total represents seven percent of the newspaper's staff and includes several well-known names, among them long-time Timberwolves beat writer Steve Aschburner. Reporter Darlene Prois, who worked at the Star Tribune for 30 years, explained why she accepted the buyout offer by saying, "It's pretty uncertain here right now." I'm pretty sure Prois was referring specifically to the Star Tribune, rather than the newspaper industry as a whole, but she's right in either case.

  • On a related note, a couple weeks ago in this space I relayed a tip that I received reporting that Jason Williams, the Twins beat writer from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, would be leaving his post this month for a job with MLB.com and graduate school. Continuing this particular source's streak of accuracy, Williams did indeed leave the Pioneer Press this week, announcing the news with a brief farewell message on the newspaper's spring-training blog.

    The source was also right about Williams' replacement, Kelsie Smith, who previously covered the Red Sox at the Boston Globe. My thoughts on Williams' work are well documented, so I won't rehash them, but needless to say that I'm looking forward to a new voice reporting on the Twins. I know nothing of Smith, but everyone starts with a clean slate in my book and I'm hopeful that she'll win me over in much the same way Joe Christensen did after joining the Star Tribune last season.

  • Just like I figured he would, Dan Barreiro has taken to blogging like a fish to water. My personal favorites are Nos. 2, 5, 24-26, and 39.
  • It's possible that I found this note from Gregg Rosenthal's Rotoworld blog highly amusing solely because it involves my boss and my colleague/friend, but here it is anyway:
    I get married in less than two months, and we have the most last-minute wedding possible. ... I'm the editor-in-chief of our football magazine, which is impossibly due on the week directly after the NFL Draft. Coincidentally, that's also the week of my wedding. I also move in two weeks.

    Throw in the regular news, the videos (check out the 8 baseball previews we're taping this week by the way), and there's a pretty good chance I'm going to flip out or spontaeously self-destruct by May. Our GM Rick Cordella said he's putting me on the 'busts' list of employees for 2007. That hurts.

    I haven't said this to Gregg, because apparently I'd rather be a jerk publicly, but I think it says an awful lot about the power of women that someone who's more football-obsessed than anyone I've ever met could possibly agree to get married in the few days between the NFL draft and the due date for the football magazine he's editing. I'm sure I'd agree to something similar (or worse) if put into the same situation, but since that's in no danger of happening any time soon I can safely mock Gregg.

  • If you want to watch some of those "eight baseball previews" Gregg taped this week--along with Tiffany Simons as co-host and Yours Truly as a call-in guest--the starting pitcher, relief pitcher, first base, and second base versions have been posted on NBCSports.com.
  • Making fun of a pre-wedding Rosenthal is fun, but let's just be honest: Elisha Cuthbert is no longer even the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com and still hangs out with the wrong people, but if she asked me to I'd probably sign away my baseball-watching rights for life and maybe even start following hockey.
  • My favorite video of the week masterfully combines the genius of Michael Gary Scott and Cornell Iral Haynes Jr., plus plenty of appearances by one of the leading OFGoAG.com candidates.
  • When Patrick Reusse isn't wasting space in the Star Tribune with weird columns attacking bloggers, he can still write some nice pieces on topics like the similarities between Brad Radke and Kevin Slowey or David Winfree's odd rise through the Twins' system.
  • One of the most difficult aspects of giving up my involvement with The Hardball Times as part of my contract with NBCSports.com is that I'm no longer able to write the annual Twins preview, but Will Young stepped in and predictably did an excellent job. If you can't live without a Twins preview written by me, check out the Deadspin version.
  • Speaking of NBCSports.com, they (or am I allowed to say "we" now that they sign my paycheck?) recently entered into a content-sharing partnership with SI.com, which while somewhat confusing to me at this point certainly has the potential to be good. I'm a big fan of what SI.com has done over the past couple years to bring in talented writers from the online world who may not have been big-time names, such as Jon Weisman and Alex Belth, and I find myself heading there more and more of late.

    Here's what SI Digital president Jeff Price had to say about the partnership:

    The speed and depth of SI.com content and the broadband video power of NBCSports.com is a unique combination of resources that enhances the user experience for fans on both sites. Building a strong relationship that leverages NBC Sports powerful video storytelling ability furthers our efforts to partner with the best brands in sports.

    Here's what NBC Sports senior vice president Perkins Miller (whom I've actually met!) had to say:

    From our live pre-game programming for Notre Dame and the NHL, to our wrap-up shows for football and golf, NBCSports.com has been on the forefront of original broadband sports programming. With SI.com's world-class writing and photography, married with our Rotoworld fantasy news, NBCSports.com users will have a richer, more informative visit than ever before.

    Like I said, I'm not sure exactly what that all means, but it sounds interesting, I respect what SI.com has done, and I love the fact that Rotoworld is prominently involved in the plans.

  • I did a double-take after reading the following note in an article about the Twins' young pitchers by MLB.com's Kelly Thesier:
    There has been a lot of concern voiced outside the organization about the lack of experience for some of these young arms, but the Twins don't see any reason to hesitate using these young starters right away.

    OK, let me get this straight. The Twins may end up spending about $9 million on the veteran trio of Carlos Silva, Ramon Ortiz, and Sidney Ponson, who went a combined 26-36 with a 5.84 ERA last year. Despite that, Thesier is suggesting that they "don't see any reason to hesitate using these young starters right away." Really, they don't see any reason? Is there another explanation for the rotation being filled with veterans coming off horrible seasons instead of, you know, those young starters?

    The kicker, of course, is that Thesier further suggests that the "concern ... about the lack of experience for some of these young arms" is coming from "outside the organization." Really, people outside the organization are the ones who're hesitant to hand things over to the young guys? I guess all those outsiders forced Terry Ryan to re-sign Silva for $4 million, hand Ortiz $3.1 million, and bring in Ponson. The Twins trust the young guys, but these silly outsiders love the veterans! I'm glad that's settled.

    (I think Thesier has improved a tremendous amount since she first took over the Twins beat at MLB.com last season and given some of the things I've written about her work she was exceptionally friendly to me when we met at the Winter Meetings in December. With that said, I sometimes wonder if her articles are written in some sort of bizarro world that I just haven't discovered yet. On the other hand, she did break the news that Jason Kubel and Jeff Cirillo are likely to platoon at designated hitter.)

  • If you're a Padres fan or simply like good writing, check out friend of AG.com Geoff Young's self-published Ducksnorts 2007 Baseball Annual.
  • Here's an interview with my favorite new musical artist of 2006, James Morrison, who's coming to Minnesota at the end of the month as part of his new U.S. tour. Anyone know anything about the 400 Bar in Minneapolis? Would a dorky baseball blogger be wildly out of place watching a British guy sing there?
  • If you haven't yet checked out the first four installments of my Top 50 Prospects of 2007 series, here they are: 11-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50. The final installment, covering the top 10 prospects in baseball, will be posted here early next week (along with, hopefully, some relatively big news about where I'll be living soon).

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