August 31, 2007

Link-O-Rama

  • As if being a blogger with a 2.38 career ERA wasn't already more than enough to make Pat Neshek the Official Relief Pitcher of AG.com, something that he wrote on his site earlier this week cements that status. Frustrated by various media members suggesting that "hitters have figured him out" because of a recent rough stretch, Neshek wrote that "blogs are going to be the place where people start turning for in-depth analysis" because "these guys back up their comments." He went on to write:
    For example if Aaron Gleeman would write something with the headline "The League is Figuring Him Out" I know he would have concrete stats detailing things like BA during second time facing player, 3rd time, 6th time, 100th time. I know he would then go out and do some crazy statistic adding up the entire leagues 2nd, 3rd, 4th at bats against me and lay it out and I would read it and go man, this guy is right.

    It's interesting to see that sentiment coming from an actual big-league player, because similar feelings were behind my starting this blog back in 2002. Along with simply wanting to write for an audience, I was frustrated by the level of Twins coverage available from mainstream outlets. Too often I found myself wondering where the evidence was for a statement someone made or questioning an opinion that seemed illogical. It's great to know that Neshek thinks I've provided a valuable alternative.

  • The first step of my master plan is now complete, so it's only a matter of time.
  • For 45 solid minutes of interesting, humorous, unique, and insightful basketball talk, check out Bill Simmons' recent ESPN.com podcast featuring new Suns general manager Steve Kerr. Somehow I doubt that Timberwolves general manager Kevin McHale would come across quite as well.
  • I'm stealing this from Will Young's blog, but it's too good not to share:

    On top of Nick Punto being the worst hitter in all of baseball, you've got to think that few players in the sport's history have failed on more bunt attempts during a single season. In most cases a hitter would seemingly either begin to actually lay the bunts down successfully or cease being asked to do so on a regular basis, but somehow neither scenario has played out with Punto.

  • The Cleveland Plain Dealer notes that the Twins' difficulties in Cleveland extended beyond the field:
    Some loudmouthed fans gave members of the Twins bullpen a hard time early in the series. Twins players responded by dousing the fans with water.

    Neshek and his fellow relievers apparently took great offense to repeated taunts of "you guys probably hit only marginally better than Punto," which was obviously uncalled for.

  • I have no idea why, but this amused me. "You are Peter Gammons!"
  • I'm fairly certain that none of the girls from my elementary school have turned into incredibly fetching celebrities, but if they had there's probably a good chance that I'd be looking as short-sighted as some guy named Ross who went to grade school with former Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Jessica Alba. I'm generally not in favor of quoting acceptance speeches from the Teen Choice Awards, but it's not every day that two of my great passions in life, Alba and baseball, mix:
    I would like to dedicate this award to a young man who has been on my mind for the last 19 years: Ross. Ross didn't love me. I was pigeon-toed, I had a sway back, I was slightly cross-eyed, buck-toothed, I sucked my thumb. Look at me now, Ross! Look at me now! He promised that if I kissed him he would choose me for baseball ... I was still chosen last. I never trusted men again.

    Ross apparently wasn't very good at math back then.

  • As someone who's been endlessly amused and fascinated by the immortal Ned and his crutches of destruction, I'm happy to announce that he's a first-ballot inductee and the only member of Deadspin's second Hall of Fame class.


    The man is truly a legend.
  • AOL Fanhouse is one of the few blogs that I make sure to check multiple times every day, and Jamie Mottram's baby just celebrated its one-year anniversary.
  • Along the same lines as the Alba and baseball mix comes Alyssa Milano modeling her new line of baseball clothing for women. Aside from the mixed feelings I'd have if attractive women began wearing Yankees outfits--I'd probably have to stop wearing this shirt--I'm hoping that Milano's clothing line really takes off.
  • SI.com's Jon Heyman, who got my dander up earlier this season for some questionable reporting about Johan Santana, recently wrote the following in response to a question about considering stats like Value Over Replacement Player or Runs Created in a discussion of MVP candidates:
    I am more interested in "wins created" than runs created. And the day I consider VORP is the day I get out of the business. The idea of the MVP is to honor the player who has had the biggest positive impact on the pennant races.

    A popular sentiment among veteran sportswriters when something like VORP gets brought up is to say, "I have no idea what that is, but I'd never pay attention to it." That stance has always fascinated me, because it's essentially bragging about being ignorant and trying to impress people by your lack of an open mind. Heyman isn't quite at that level with the above comments, but it still reveals plenty about his personality and analytical ability. It also makes me (and Neshek!) less likely to value his opinion.

  • For once, worlds colliding sounds pretty good.
  • I'm sure Tigers fans have their share of complaints about manager Jim Leyland, but I'd sure love to hear Ron Gardenhire make a comment like this when asked about a struggling young player (in this case, rookie Andrew Miller and his 5.63 ERA):
    This kid's going to be a real prized pitcher in the big leagues. It appears at this point that we asked a little much. It's a tough task for a kid one year out of college. But he's got so much ability. He's going to be a prize.

    If Gardenhire ever made a comment like that about a player under the age of 30 it's likely that it wouldn't end up quoted in a newspaper anyway, because all the reporters on hand surely would have fainted.

  • I'm still amazed that something like this didn't happen when I interviewed Gardenhire at the Winter Meetings in December.
  • If Gardenhire had decided to beat the crap out of me that day in Orlando, I'm sure the Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com, LaVelle E. Neal III, would have had my back. Actually, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have, and it probably wouldn't have mattered anyway when Jason Williams and Kelly Thesier jumped in alongside Gardenhire. Speaking of the OTBWoAG.com, LEN3 was recently interviewed about the life of a beat writer over at Twins Territory. Thankfully, we no longer have "NO IDEA" what the job entails.
  • From one member of the tribe to another, congrats.
  • As someone who was the sports editor on his high-school newspaper--unlike the Minnesota Daily, they didn't know any better--I'm fairly certain that MTV's upcoming show about a high-school paper will be the most boring offering in the long and storied history of boring reality shows. While fascinating to me, talk of heads, decks, nut graphs, and inverted pyramids generally don't grab ratings. Plus, it's my experience that people working on high-school newspapers don't have faces made for television.
  • Meanwhile, friend of AG.com Thor Nystrom has failed to follow in my footsteps, landing a spot on his college newspaper. One day, maybe he'll be featured on a boring reality show.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this week that the Twins were the last team to call the A's about potentially acquiring Mike Piazza, but only "made a few tepid inquiries a month ago."
  • Lowly bloggers like me may not be on the newspaper world's radar, but some big boys have taken notice of the declining industry and are trying to take advantage online. While often opining about the newspaper business, one thing I've always suggested is that as the mystique of print gradually wears off, newspapers will simply become one of many media outlets fighting for an audience online. That fight appears to be starting and I look forward to watching.
  • A new blog to check out: PG Sportsworld.
  • Beginning Monday my "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld switches from baseball to football, with the NFL season officially kicking off Thursday. It always bothers me that I cease writing about baseball right when the season is really getting interesting (at least for teams other than the Twins), but such is life in a world where fantasy football is king. One of the benefits to Rotoworld's relationship with NBC Sports is that we can team up to offer something like the $100,000 Fantasy Challenge.

    The new game is free to play and involves plenty of interesting strategy that you won't find in a typical head-to-head fantasy football league. Basically, you stack your lineup with whoever you want each week, with the caveat that you can only use a player once during the regular season. In other words, you can start LaDainian Tomlinson, Peyton Manning, and Chad Johnson in Week 1, but then they're all off limits for the rest of the year.

    Not only is it an interesting twist on typical fantasy leagues, it's easy to sign up for, the whole thing is free, and you can win $100,000. Rotoworld even has a weekly strategy column designed specifically to help you win the money. Plus, with $100,000 on the line I'm officially giving everyone permission to use the "sorry honey, I'm working" excuse when a wife, girlfriend, mother, or daughter (or all four, I suppose) tries to guilt you into not spending so much time on your fantasy teams.

  • Speaking of fantasy football, what does it say about me that I think this is a fantastic idea?

  • Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

    August 29, 2007

    The End

    I've been very lucky, both as a fan and as a blogger, because the Twins advanced to the playoffs in four of my first five seasons blogging about the team. Last night's loss completed a three-game sweep at the hands of the first-place Indians and all but guarantees that this will be the second season in six without a playoff berth. Whether it comes in August or October (or June, as was too often the case in the 1990s), the moment when all hope of a championship disappears is always a horrible one.

    Between now and spring training there'll be plenty of time to debate what went wrong this season and to discuss what might go right next year, but at the moment I find myself wanting to briefly step away from all the disappointment and frustration. There are still 29 games left on the schedule and I'll no doubt watch just about every inning, but I'll do so with a different mindset than I've had for the past five months (and for most of the past five years).

    On the most basic level my wish each season is for the Twins to delay this horrible day for as long as possible. I'll probably never shake the feeling that the opportunity to do that was wasted this year.


    Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

    August 28, 2007

    Twins Notes: FotF, Castro, VORP, and Slides

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported that Torii Hunter turned down a contract offer from the Twins that was "believed to be" for $56 million over four years, although Hunter's agent later denied those claims. "We have no plans to talk with the Twins about a contract until after the season if they're interested in pursuing it," agent Larry Reynolds said. That statement alone represents a major shift for Hunter, who previously complained that the Twins weren't interested in negotiating with him.

    Hunter has long talked about wanting to remain in Minnesota beyond this season and has even hinted at potentially giving the Twins a "discount" to do so, but turning down a $56 million contract extension would certainly cast some doubt on that. Of course, given that Hunter has spent most of the season telling the media in other cities how much he'd like to play for the team they cover, there should have been plenty of doubt cast on his plans to begin with.

    Hunter has been perfectly willing to discuss his pending free agency with anyone who asked and some who didn't, but he's suddenly tight-lipped now that the team reportedly offered him a contract. The Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, asked Hunter about the rumored negotiations and received this response: "I don't want to talk ... I'm not trying to be a distraction for myself or my teammates or even the fans."

    While admirable on the surface, that reasoning is laughable given Hunter's outspokenness on the issue right up until the point that the Twins are said to have actually opened negotiations. In other words, Hunter has used the media to paint the Twins as unwilling to negotiate with a player who wants to remain with the team, but when the Twins showed a willingness to negotiate he reportedly turned down their offer and stopped talking about the issue.

    I have zero problem with Hunter turning down $56 million, because there's little doubt that he could receive more than that on the open market. However, to turn down a relatively reasonable contract after saying that you want to remain with the Twins while complaining that they aren't willing to negotiate seems disingenuous at best. Much like Johan Santana following next season, if Hunter truly wants to remain with the Twins he can do so while still making a tremendous amount of money. We'll see.

  • ESPN.com recently ran a series asking a newspaper reporter, a blogger, an ESPN.com writer, and a Baseball Tonight cast member to pick a "face of the franchise" for each major-league team. Of the four people surveyed for the Twins, one has a job that causes them to rely upon talkative players providing publishable quotes on a daily basis. Of the four people surveyed for the Twins, one picked Hunter. You can probably do the math.

    I was asked to take part in the ESPN.com series, but unfortunately had to pass because of my gig with NBCSports.com. They filled my blogger shoes with ease, as friend of AG.com Seth Stohs made a strong case for Joe Mauer being the face of the Twins. I likely would have gone with Santana as my pick, although Mauer wasn't a bad choice and Justin Morneau seemingly deserves to be in the mix as the reigning MVP. As for Hunter ... well, I'll leave it to Jim Souhan to call him the "face of the franchise."

  • On a related note, J.D. Arney from RedReporter.com picked former Twins shortstop Juan Castro as the face of the Reds:
    The face of the Reds franchise in 2007 is without a doubt utility infielder Juan Castro. He sucks. And the Reds have sucked for a long time. There is little redeeming about Castro as a player, just as there is little redeeming about a Reds franchise that seems adrift these days, with no clear plan of how to pull themselves out of the mess that has been the past seven years. The Reds have had plenty of players on their team the past few seasons that have no business being on a major league roster, but Castro is the worst, and he's the greatest example of why things are looking pretty bleak in Cincinnati these days.

    Castro spent two seasons blocking Jason Bartlett and the man who brought him from Minnesota to Cincinnati, Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky, was formerly Terry Ryan's top assistant. Since leaving the Twins, Castro has hit .234/.267/.332 in 108 games, while Bartlett has hit .292/.353/.391 in 212 games (while going 31-for-38 stealing bases). Thanks, Wayne.

  • Believe it or not my intention today wasn't to pile on Hunter in the middle of what has been a fantastic season, so allow me to point out that he leads all Twins hitters in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) at 41.0. That means Hunter has been 41 runs better than "replacement level" offensively, which ranks fifth among all MLB center fielders behind only Ichiro Suzuki (56.1), Curtis Granderson (47.3), Grady Sizemore (44.3), and Aaron Rowand (42.3).

    Along with Hunter, the only other Twins hitters with double-digit VORP totals are Morneau (36.7), Mauer (28.7), Bartlett (18.5), and Michael Cuddyer (16.0). Interestingly, if you remove those five guys from the equation, every other hitter who's come to the plate for the Twins this season has combined for a -43.5 VORP, led by Nick Punto at an MLB-worst (and historically bad) -24.3. If you're curious, Santana leads the team with 56.3 VORP, of which 2.3 comes from hitting .286/.375/.714 in eight plate appearances.

  • Oh, and that was a helluva catch.
  • Ron Gardenhire has yet to stifle Punto's tendency to pointlessly slide head-first into first base, but the New York Post reports that Yankees manager Joe Torre is trying to break Melky Cabrera of the same annoying habit:
    Asked how he can break Melky Cabrera of using a head-first slide into first base--always slower than running through the bag--Torre said, "Strangle him." Cabrera cost himself a hit in the eighth when he used the dive on a leadoff grounder. "He has been told and will be continued to be told [not to slide]," Torre said.

    Perhaps the only thing worse than a .199 hitter is a .199 hitter whose false hustle hurts his already slim chances of getting a hit. Despite sitting below the Mendoza Line, including .170 since the All-Star break and .133 in August, Punto has started a dozen straight games and has been in the lineup for 85 percent of this season's 132 games. Punto has hit .199/.290/.258 in 450 plate appearances, while major-league pitchers have combined to bat .144/.177/.186. Make of that what you will.

  • Boof Bonser didn't pitch especially well while losing last night, but allowing three earned runs over seven innings against the league's fifth-best offense certainly qualifies as a solid outing. Similarly, Bonser hasn't pitched especially well this season overall, but his 4.72 ERA in 158.1 innings certainly doesn't match his ugly 6-11 record. All of which leads me to this comparison:
                       GS        IP      ERA      W      L
    BOOF BONSER 27 158.1 4.72 6 11

    Paul Byrd 25 154.1 4.61 13 5
    Jeremy Bonderman 25 160.2 4.87 10 7
    Miguel Batista 27 159.2 4.90 13 11
    Dave Bush 25 156.0 4.96 10 9
    Claudio Vargas 23 124.2 5.13 10 4
    Jamie Moyer 26 158.2 5.16 11 10
    Adam Eaton 25 138.2 6.23 9 8

    Something to think about a) when Bonser's first full season gets labeled a disaster, and b) the next time someone relies solely upon a pitcher's win-loss record to gauge their performance.

  • Somewhere along the line Gardenhire seems to have gotten the impression that Carmen Cali is a legitimate late-inning relief option, but after contributing heavily to last night's loss Cali now has a 7.22 ERA and 23-to-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 28.2 major-league innings. On a related note, the recent trend of waiting to bring Pat Neshek into a game until after another reliever has created a big mess in a tight spot is odd, to say the least.
  • Earlier this week I posted an in-depth comparison of Luis Castillo and Alexi Casilla. While Casilla has struggled with the Twins, Castillo has hit .301/.363/.355 with the Mets. That's basically identical to the .304/.356/.352 Castillo hit with the Twins, but he's already stolen five bases (without being caught) in 23 games with the Mets after stealing a total of nine bases (while being caught four times) in 85 games with the Twins. Of course, he also recently missed three games with leg problems.
  • As Joe Christensen notes over at his Star Tribune blog, the Phillies' pitching staff is suddenly home to three former Twins who've fared surprisingly well since arriving in Philadelphia. J.D. Durbin, Kyle Lohse, and J.C. Romero have combined to go 7-5 with a 3.56 ERA in 101 innings for the Phillies, including 6-3 with a 4.07 ERA for Durbin, who was let go for nothing this spring.
  • Along with posting a 5.84 ERA in seven starts with the Twins, Kevin Slowey went 10-4 with a 1.74 ERA, 103-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and .217 opponent's batting average in 129.2 innings at Triple-A. Those ridiculous numbers earned Slowey the International League Pitcher of the Year award and he'll return to the majors with a start Tuesday against the Indians.
  • Gardenhire was ejected last night for the 34th time in 941 games (3.6 percent) as Twins manager. By comparison, Tom Kelly was tossed four times in 2,386 games (0.2 percent). This is the type of stuff that keeps my mind busy while the season slips away.

  • Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

    August 26, 2007

    Is Casilla the Next Castillo?

    From the moment the Twins traded for Alexi Casilla in 2005, I began comparing him to Luis Castillo:
    Alexi Casilla has a lot more in common with Luis Castillo than the closeness of their last names. Like Castillo, Casilla is a switch-hitting middle infielder who has almost zero power, controls the strike zone, gets on base, and has a ton of speed. ... If Casilla develops well, he could step in at second base and the top of the order when Castillo's contract is up in two years.

    It's now two years later and Casilla has indeed replaced Castillo as the Twins' second baseman and (sometimes) leadoff hitter, although the team's decision to trade Castillo pushed that timetable up about a half-season. Casilla stepping into the lineup for Castillo makes an already natural comparison even easier, because the similarities include name, size, place of birth, position defensively, offensive style, speed, and the ability to switch-hit. On the surface at least, they appear to be nearly identical.

    Of course, just because diminutive speedsters from the Dominican Republic share many traits doesn't mean that they actually perform similarly on the field. Jose Canseco and Ozzie Canseco are identical twins--as opposed to Castillo and Casilla, who appear to be "identical Twins"--but Jose's 462-to-0 homer lead shows that they were anything but identical players. Rather than focus on the obvious similarities between Castillo and Casilla, let's examine how their on-field performances compare.

    Let's begin with what they each did while playing at Single-A early in their pro careers:

    SINGLE-A       AVG      OBP      SLG     IsoP     IsoD      BB%      SO%
    Castillo .326 .419 .362 .036 .093 13.9 12.7
    Casilla .327 .395 .409 .082 .068 8.8 9.8

    Before diving into the above Single-A numbers, it's important to note than Castillo played there as a 19-year-old, whereas Casilla was 20 and 21 while at Single-A. That's an important distinction in terms of projecting development and makes a comparison of raw numbers somewhat less meaningful. However, it's interesting to note that they performed similarly well despite the age difference, posting high on-base percentages while hitting .326 and .327 respectively.

    Castillo drew 58 percent more walks and struck out 23 percent more often, which shows that despite being a teenager he was significantly more patient at the plate and simply more able to work long counts. Casilla didn't show nearly the same type of plate discipline, but struck out significantly less, hit for twice as much power, and did better work on the bases. Castillo stole .46 bases per game at a 69-percent success rate, while Casilla stole .49 bases per game at an 81-percent success rate.

    Next up is Double-A, where Castillo played as a 20-year-old and Casilla played as a 21-year-old:

    DOUBLE-A       AVG      OBP      SLG     IsoP     IsoD      BB%      SO%
    Castillo .317 .411 .393 .076 .094 13.6 14.0
    Casilla .286 .366 .365 .079 .080 9.6 11.0

    Along with a 31-point advantage in batting average, Castillo again showed far more plate discipline than Casilla by walking 42 percent more often. Casilla's power edge disappeared, but he followed up his Single-A performance by again striking out less often and doing far better work on the bases. Castillo stole .47 bases per game at a 65-percent clip, while Casilla stole .38 bases per game at an 80-percent clip.

    Next up is Triple-A, where Castillo played at 21 and 22, and Casilla played at 22 earlier this season:

    TRIPLE-A       AVG      OBP      SLG     IsoP     IsoD      BB%      SO%
    Castillo .303 .410 .347 .044 .107 15.3 14.9
    Casilla .267 .336 .334 .067 .069 9.3 14.1

    Triple-A was pretty much the same story as Single-A and Double-A, with Castillo holding a 36-point edge in batting average while walking 65 percent more often. Casilla reclaimed a 55-percent power advantage, but his once-mighty edge in strikeouts shrunk to just five percent and he fell behind on the bases. Castillo stole .35 bases per game at a 70-percent success rate, while Casilla stole .26 bases per game at a 66-percent success rate.

    Last but not least, let's compare big-league performances through the age of 22 (Casilla is currently seeing his first extended action in the majors, while Castillo saw multiple stints with the Marlins through the same age):

    MAJORS         AVG      OBP      SLG     IsoP     IsoD      BB%      SO%
    Castillo .236 .312 .279 .043 .076 9.8 20.5
    Casilla .228 .279 .265 .037 .051 6.7 12.6

    If nothing else, their respective major-league numbers through the age of 22 show that there's little reason to be overly concerned about Casilla's sub par performance with the Twins thus far. With that said, Castillo continued the minor-league trends by drawing 46 percent more walks and striking out 63 percent more often, and did so while completely closing the gap in power. Castillo stole .23 bases per game at a 72-percent clip, while Casilla has begun his career 8-for-9 swiping bases.

    What does this all mean in terms of the popular Castillo-Casilla comparison? First, it means that the comparison is more apt for style than for substance. Castillo and Casilla are very similar physically and stylistically, but their actual on-field results haven't been nearly as close. Casilla has made better contact while hitting for more power, while Castillo has drawn far more walks while hitting for a much better batting average.

    The numbers-to-numbers comparisons certainly don't show dissimilar players, but it's clear that truly duplicating Castillo's career will be extremely difficult because of the unique skill set involved. In other words, it's extraordinarily hard to draw a high number of walks while hitting for almost zero power, and the ability to do that while consistently hitting above .300 is what's made Castillo such a successful player. Casilla's track record suggests that he doesn't possess that same ability.

    Casilla has shown significantly less plate discipline at every step along the way and in that sense his superior contact rate can be viewed as part of an inability to work long counts. Avoiding strikeouts is never a negative quality by itself, especially for a speedy player who lacks power, but for Casilla it's also a sign that he's far less able to extend at-bats and fight to get on base despite that lack of power than Castillo was at the same stages in his career.

    Toss in lower batting averages throughout his track record and it seems unlikely that Casilla will match Castillo's .370 career on-base percentage in the majors. Of course, he looks capable of making up for some of that lost OBP with far more power. Casilla will never develop into a home-run threat, but unlike Castillo his track record hints at some semblance of extra-base pop potentially on the horizon. Castillo possesses a historic lack of power, while Casilla's lack of power looks to be of the non-historic variety.

    Are Castillo and Casilla similar? Absolutely. In fact, they're probably among baseball's most similar pairs of players. However, Castillo possesses (or at least possessed) a set of offensive skills that make him unique in this era of baseball history, whereas Casilla's skill set is more common. Not every speedy, switch-hitting middle infielder who lacks power can bat .300 while coaxing walks in bunches, so don't expect Casilla to do that just because he resembles Castillo in many other ways.


    Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

    August 23, 2007

    Link-O-Rama

  • I'm featured in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune as part of the newspaper's weekly "How I Got My Job" series. The article doesn't go over much new ground for anyone who's read this blog for a while, with all the usual topics (AG.com, Rotoworld, NBC Sports, Minnesota Daily, journalism school, working from home) being covered, but I'm very proud to say that I managed to work both Jessica Alba and Elisha Cuthbert into the piece. Seriously.

    I was asked to participate in the series way back in February and headed to the Star Tribune offices on a snowy winter afternoon to have my photo taken. Just seven short months later, there's a 491-word article about me in the newspaper. About six months passed between the photo shoot and actually doing the interview for the piece, which took place via e-mail a few weeks ago. I wrote 1,700 words in response to questions from Aimee Blanchette and about 400 of them found their way into print.

    In discussing the impact my friend and Rotoworld colleague Gregg Rosenthal has had on my career, some copy editor apparently saw fit to change my correct spelling of "Gregg" to the incorrect "Greg" version. Despite that, I'm very happy to be featured in my hometown newspaper and should note that Blanchette was very nice throughout the process. Any press is good press, but it's amazing to see how much time and planning goes into a 500-word article.

    Contrast that to my radio debut earlier this month, which involved showing up at the KFAN studio, sitting next to Doogie Wolfson, and speaking into a microphone for an hour. One thing was literally seven months in the making and can be read in two minutes, while the other thing produced 60 minutes of content and was essentially 65 minutes in the making. Incidentally, I have two more mainstream-media appearances coming soon, so if you're not sick of me already you will be shortly.

  • If the Star Tribune article has brought you here for the first time and a bunch of random links to stuff isn't really your thing, check out Monday's write-up of Johan Santana's 17-strikeout masterpiece, Wednesday's profile of Gary Gaetti, or Thursday's Twins notes. Oh, and welcome!
  • Speaking of Alba, my narrow window of opportunity to meet and successfully woo her has apparently been slammed shut. So close.
  • In a way, horribly sloppy and uneducated fantasy football "analysis" like this show is responsible for getting me into the Star Tribune, because without it I wouldn't have a job.
  • After repeatedly mentioning here that I have no clue what the point of MySpace is, someone offered to take over the day-to-day operation of my MySpace page. I'm still no closer to figuring out what the point is, except now I have 250 "friends" (at least three of whom I've actually met) and a song that plays when you load the page.
  • Here's a recent headline that you probably didn't want to see while reading the newspaper over a nice breakfast: "Elderly people having more sex than you might think, study reveals."
  • This video showing what things would be like "if blog commenters ran the world" would be really funny if it weren't so close to reality:


    Throw in someone defending Nick Punto or calling me "The Oracle" and it might even hit a little too close to home.
  • I'm now apparently the world's foremost expert on Dick Bremer's blandness.
  • As of Tuesday, it's slightly less creepy to look at these pictures of Hayden Panettiere.
  • The newspaper industry has made an awful lot of mistakes over the past few years, but making it so that Stephen A. Smith can no longer call himself a columnist is a huge step back in the right direction. It took a while, but perhaps some editors will begin to realize that when bad, sensationalistic writers like Smith or Jay Mariotti attempt to go become famous for screaming on television, newspapers should let them.
  • Like me, former AG.com favorite Bobby Kielty has caught the poker bug.
  • I'm not a big fan of the French, but every once in a while they're good for something.
  • Former Timberwolves forward Eddie Griffin's troubled life came to a sad end this week:
    Officials said Griffin, 25, drove his SUV through a railroad crossing barrier, past flashing warning lights and into a moving train ... Griffin's vehicle burst into flames on impact, burning his body so badly that investigators were unable to identify him until Tuesday, when they used dental records to confirm his identity.

    Kevin McHale, who signed Griffin to a multi-year contract despite the fact that he had a major drinking problem and wasn't all that good to begin with, seemed unsurprised by the news.

  • In other former Timberwolves news, Latrell Sprewell apparently wasn't joking about struggling to feed his family.
  • I may never forgive HBO for canceling Lucky Louie last year, but at least they've decided to pick up a second season of Flight of the Conchords.
  • Not only is longtime Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate Jenna Fischer prominently featured in the all-important "top 10 moments in boob-grabbing history" (scroll down to No. 5), she's starring alongside John C. Reilly in Judd Apatow's upcoming movie Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, which looks very funny.
  • I didn't really want to see Amy Winehouse in the first place, but her alleged problems with drugs and drinking have cost me a chance to see Paolo Nutini in concert. (And yes, I continue to have the musical taste of a 17-year-old girl.)


    His cover of Winehouse's "Rehab" is better anyway.

    UPDATE:
    Nutini has re-scheduled a show for the same night, without Winehouse.
  • Suddenly my ongoing "Top 40 Minnesota Twins" countdown doesn't seem quite so exciting.
  • Following in the footsteps of FOXSports.com and NBCSports.com, CBSSportline.com has changed its name to CBSSports.com.
  • They don't call it the World's Greatest Online Magazine for nothing.
  • Friend of AG.com and top-notch sabermetrician Tangotiger has launched the always interesting and fifth annual "scouting report by the fans for the fans." After going to his scouting database, you can enter in your personal observations about the players you watch on a regular basis and become part of a huge database of scouting reports compiled entirely by fans. Check it out.

  • Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

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