October 5, 2007

Link-O-Rama

  • If I ever arrive in hell and see a staircase that leads to the floor below, I imagine that the sign would read: "High-school class where everyone spends a semester dissecting Scoop Jackson's work."
  • I discussed the potential impact of Jamie Mottram leaving AOL FanHouse for an important position at Yahoo! Sports in this space last week and this week his brother, Chris Mottram, announced that he's been hired to "be more or less in charge of all things blogging" at SportingNews.com. I also noted last week that David Pinto of Baseball Musings recently signed with The Sporting News, so it looks like one of the oldest sports media outlets around is smartly committed to trying some new things.

    It also looks like the Mottrams are now the first family of sports blogging. As someone who's fascinated by the changing media landscape of print versus online, it's been interesting to watch all the new hires and roster shuffling going on at various newspapers and websites over the past year. It's amazing how quickly blogging has become a prominent part of many mainstream websites and the blog influence figures to get even stronger now that bloggers are starting to get into positions of power.

  • Speaking of Pinto and Baseball Musings, I rank right behind them in the No. 3 spot on L.A. Snark's list of the "101 Best Baseball Blogs of 2007." And while we're on the subject of random blog rankings that feed into my ego, Juiced Sports ranked me No. 37 on their list of the "100 Most Influential Sports Bloggers." That sound you hear is me beating women off with a stick.
  • No. 1 on the aforementioned "100 Most Influential Sports Bloggers" list is Will Leitch of Deadspin, which is a ranking that even Gilbert Arenas agrees with. Arenas recently sat down for an interview with Leitch, which led to this tremendous exchange:
    Leitch: How much time do you spend on the Web, personally?

    Arenas: Not as much as you'd think. I check out my MySpace. I'll go on sites to see what's funny on YouTube.

    Leitch: Do you have any regular sites you check out, sports sites, whatever?

    Arenas: No. Well, yeah, but I can't tell you, I can't put those out there.

    Leitch: So you're saying only porn?

    Arenas: Yes. [smiles]

    Arenas then went on to engage in some blog readership trash-talking with Chris Paul--"nobody reads his site"--which officially shows that he's a true blogger.

  • In a low-profile move that surely comes along with some juicy details that may never be revealed, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that "FSN North studio host and reporter Ron Johnson was fired by the network on Thursday" despite the fact that "his contract does not expire until the end of December." Studio shows tend to annoy me (especially when they often feature Ron Coomer doing "analysis") and for the most part I find sideline reporters pretty useless, but I thought Johnson did a relatively good job.
  • A recent interview with Denard Span over at Josh's Thoughts included this amusing exchange:
    Josh's Thoughts: What is something people would be shocked to know about you?

    Denard Span: That I read Twins blogs. I read about people saying I'm not ready and that I suck, etc. But I read it to get motivated.

    Span was the Twins' first-round pick back in 2002 and because of that many fans still view him as the team's center fielder of the future. In reality, he's done little in the minors to show that he's capable of becoming a quality major leaguer and has certainly not shown that he's capable of stepping in for Torii Hunter in 2008. Here's a look at what Span has done since advancing past Single-A midway through the 2005 season:

    LEVEL          G      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG      OPS     SB     CS
    Double-A 202 901 .285 .345 .347 .692 34 19
    Triple-A 139 548 .267 .323 .355 .678 25 14

    The Twins knew that Span possessed very little power when they drafted him, but he's also shown no ability to get on base or utilize his outstanding speed. It's probably worth noting that a quick search through my archives shows that "Denard Span" and "suck" have never appeared together in an entry that I've written, although perhaps Span would interpret what I just wrote about his lack of development as me saying that he "sucks." If so, then thanks for reading and you're welcome for the motivation.

  • Let's pretend that we're playing Jeopardy for a moment. Here's the answer: "I pick Kevin Garnett, Johan Santana, and Aaron Gleeman." OK, now what's the question? (Hint: It wasn't "Who's a person Minnesotans were sad to lose, a person they don't want to lose, and a person they'd gladly get rid of?")
  • Perhaps it's just because of my recent home-buying experience, but I'm fascinated by what similar homes cost in different places. For instance, CNNMoney.com reports that a 2,200-square foot home in Beverly Hills, California runs about $2.2 million, while the same place in Killeen, Texas would be about $136,000. That same 2,200-square foot home would cost at least $1.38 million in each of the 10 least affordable markets, but in each of the 10 most affordable markets you could get it for under $157,000.

    As someone who works from home and could realistically do his job from nearly anywhere, that type of comparison is endlessly intriguing. Also noteworthy is that the same 2,200-square foot home in Minneapolis would cost about $416,000, which makes it the market closest to the national average price of $422,343. I've always assumed that living in the Twins Cities was inexpensive relative to the entire country, but apparently that's not the case.

    I'm very happy with The House That Blog Built, but before committing to a 2,100-square foot place in Minnetonka it might have been fun to see what the same money could have gotten in one of those 10 most-affordable markets where you can get 2,200 square feet for under $157,000. Sure, living in Minot or Topeka or Tulsa or Wichita isn't ideal, but the place would be huge! On the other hand, there's the option of moving to New York, working at the NBC Sports offices, and living in a one-bedroom closet.

  • Along with Gregg Rosenthal's must-read Pancake Blocks, Rotoworld's growing stable of blogs now includes Strike Zone With Matthew Pouliot. If you're unfamiliar with their work, Gregg is Rotoworld's No. 1 football guy and Matthew is Rotoworld's No. 1 baseball guy, while I sort of bounce back and forth between the two sports. I realize that I'm incredibly biased by working with them every day, but they are without question two of the smartest, most knowledgeable sports writers anywhere.

    In an ironic twist given that they hired me several years after reading this blog, it seems like some day soon I might be in danger of being the only Rotoworld writer without a Rotoworld blog. Of course, my obsession with the Twins and Elisha Cuthbert mean that I'm probably best served by keeping my blogging activities here, where I can devote thousands of words to Chris Heintz and bore people with personal stories. That sort of stuff tends only to fly on a website that's your name followed by a .com.

  • I've always been under the impression that most major newspapers have editors and fact-checkers, but perhaps that's no longer the case. In a column that ran in the Atlanta Journal Constitution earlier this week, Terence Moore criticized the Braves for letting Andruw Jones leave via free agency and wrote the following:
    He is the hidden reason the Braves produced Cy Glavine, Cy Smoltz and Cy Maddux, along with all of those consecutive years of team ERAs that ranked first or second in baseball. He caught everything. He threw out everybody. He made the spectacular routine. He did so through an 11th year with the Braves that will produce a 10th Gold Glove, but management will shove Jones out the door by allowing him to become a free agent while yawning.

    Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Greg Maddux combined to win six Cy Youngs with the Braves, but only one came with Jones in center field. In fact, when Glavine won the first of those six awards in 1991, Jones was 14 years old. Moore calls Jones "the hidden reason" behind the Cy Youngs, but he was at Single-A when Maddux won the award in 1993, 1994, and 1995. Also, Jones' MLB debut came 120 games into the 1996 season, yet the Braves led the NL in ERA in 1992, 1993, 1995, and 1996.

  • Here's the problem with pushing a product down everyone's throats: I'm of the opinion that Frank Caliendo is a pretty talented guy and may have been inclined to watch his new show on TBS, but after sitting through seemingly hundreds of commercials for the show during the station's first two days of postseason coverage I'm already sick of it.
  • Speaking of TBS' postseason coverage, I think it's been very good and several million times better than having to hear Joe Buck and Tim McCarver again on FOX. If nothing else, it's been nice to see baseball games covered without blowhard announcers, annoying sound effects, and close-up shots of someone's face between every pitch. I also think that Cal Ripken Jr. and Frank Thomas did a nice job joining the always fantastic Ernie Johnson on a laid-back studio show, although not everyone agrees.
  • I attended the Paolo Nutini concert Monday night at the Fitzgerald Theater, which received a glowing review from Jon Bream in the Star Tribune. Bream wrote that Nutini "channels Van Morrison and Otis Redding" and "evoked visions of Joe Cocker," but also noted that his stage presence was strange:
    Nutini, 20, was hopelessly introverted at the Fitzgerald. With his vintage Jon Bon Jovi-like helmet of hair covering much of his face, he sang the entire 75-minute set with his eyes closed. In fact, he looked up at the crowd maybe only twice between songs. ... [L]ost in his vocal riffing, rolling his r's with a Scottish brogue, oblivious to the audience.

    The audience adored Nutini even if he said little between songs. When he did speak, his voice was so soft and his accent so thick, who knew what he said? ... His elastic, quavery voice had an easy, moaning soulfulness that belied his youth and likely inexperience.

    It's certainly possible that Nutini is simply introverted and inexperienced on stage, but my guess is that he was also a little bit drunk. In addition to a water bottle, he constantly took sips from a thermos while stumbling around the stage and sang entire songs while hunched over, doing little more than tapping his feet spastically At one point, while he was mumbling his way through some between-song banter, someone from the audience yelled out, "Get sober!"

    I can't be certain given his thick accent, but a few songs later I'm fairly sure that he mumbled something like, "Now I'm almost sober." Near the end of the concert, after he had knocked the thermos over and caused some of its contents to spill onto the stage, he repeatedly raised his drink in a quasi-toast that I'm pretty sure people don't do with coffee. Of course, none of that really mattered. He looked strange on stage, but the actual performance was outstanding.

    What Bream's review failed to mention, perhaps because he arrived late, was that Nutini's opening act really stole the show. I'd never heard of Serena Ryder before, but she started the show by walking out on stage and fearlessly belting out an a cappella song that showed off her incredible voice. She then picked up her guitar and did a set that was like a cross between Alanis Morissette, Tracy Chapman, Janis Joplin, and Bonnie Raitt. She was even funny while bantering between songs.

    Ryder finished her set by asking the audience to clap along while she did a foot-stomping, a capella version of "Sing Sing" that is this week's AG.com-approved music video:


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

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