December 5, 2008

Link-O-Rama

I'm leaving Sunday for Las Vegas, where I'll spend next week covering the MLB winter meetings at the Bellagio hotel. As was the case during my first trip to the winter meetings back in 2006 my plan is to post any Twins-related information and non-baseball stories on AG.com, but the bulk of my writing will be found at Rotoworld and NBCSports.com. I'll be posting new entries on the Hot Stove Blog constantly throughout each day, so make sure to bookmark the page or sign up for the RSS feed.

My agenda for Las Vegas includes doing a whole bunch of blogging for Rotoworld, meeting Phil Miller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press for the first time, trying to avoid talking about soccer while hanging out with Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com LaVelle E. Neal III, being a fly on the wall of the jam-packed media room while the sport's writing heavyweights do their thing, and interviewing Ron Gardenhire again. Oh, and perhaps playing a little poker too. It should be a very interesting week.

If any AG.com readers are planning to be in Las Vegas next week for the winter meetings, drop me an e-mail and we can try to meet up. And if any AG.com-reading media members feel like being friendly to a lowly blogger, let me know and I'll try to get over my shyness long enough to introduce myself and/or buy you a beer. While you're hopefully bookmarking the Hot Stove Blog and I'm hopefully packing for my trip, here's the usual Friday link dump ...

  • If University of Minnesota football games featured something like this every time the Gophers were losing 55-0 at home, spending a Saturday afternoon at the Metrodome would be a lot more interesting. Wait, the story gets even crazier. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "the Iowa woman caught having sex in a Metrodome restroom before a cheering crowd of onlookers" is a 38-year-old "married mother of three" who "was fired from an assisted living center, where she had been an administrator."

    The lesson? As always, never get so drunk that you're willing to have sex with some guy named Ross.

  • One of my favorite blogs and daily reads, ShysterBall, has joined forces with The Hardball Times.
  • Who wins when Jim Souhan fights Chris Berman? Everyone. Also, what kind of bizarro world are we living in where Souhan is criticizing someone else for making bad puns? Seriously. Can we expect Sid Hartman to start taking Dick Bremer to task for being too much of a homer? Does this mean that I'm supposed to start ripping various people for working from home, being fat, and wasting time blogging? Up is down, down is up, and Shecky himself is mocking someone else for a cheesy shtick.
  • I'll never be able to look at Oscar Martinez from The Office the same way again.
  • I've always loved listening to talk radio. Howard Stern had a brief run in Minnesota during my high school days and I'd tape his show religiously before eventually having to pay for the recordings when he ceased being on the air locally. My collection now includes literally hundreds of tapes and CDs filled with old Stern shows, going back decades. I'm also a huge Adam Carolla fan and have a similar stash of old Loveline episodes from the good old days when he hosted the show with Dr. Drew Pinsky.

    For years I've used Stern and Carolla as sort of the background music for my day-to-day life, listening to them while writing or watching sports on television or driving or simply sitting around the house. In fact, old episodes of Loveline playing on my iPod are what will help kill time Sunday during my flight to Las Vegas. All of which is a very long, overly detailed way of saying that I'm a huge fan of talk radio and tend to become obsessed with constantly listening to certain shows.

    At various points Tony Kornheiser, Dan Barreiro, Bubba The Love Sponge, and a few other talk-radio guys have joined Stern and Carolla in my listening mix, but recently I've been devouring the Two Jacks In The Hole archives at Poker Road. However, Two Jacks clearly isn't a poker show (they sarcastically play a clip from Rounders every time someone even mentions the word poker) and in fact technically isn't even a radio show. Instead, it's a radio-caliber podcast hosted by Scott Huff and Joe Stapleton.

    There are re-occurring bits, callers, news segments, and all sorts of other stuff that you'd normally hear on a morning or drive-time radio show, except without the annoying traffic updates, lengthy commercial breaks, and pretentiousness. Oh, and it's also extremely funny. Huff and Stapleton have an incredible on-air chemistry that sort of mixes Carolla's ability to entertainingly riff on random subjects and Stern's ability to be brutally honest about his personal life.

    I've listened to a ton of talk radio over the years and have rarely heard a mix of intelligence, humor, and on-air chemistry like what Huff and Stapleton bring to the table, which is pretty amazing for a couple of guys who started doing the show for literally zero audience just a couple years ago and have turned it into something with a devoted following. In fact, it reminds me of the "this is fun, let's see if we can turn it into something" approach that blogs like this one have taken and that makes it even more enjoyable.

    Anyway, if you like Stern, Carolla, Kornheiser, Barreiro, or talk radio in general, listen to a few episodes of Two Jacks In The Hole and give it a chance to grow on you. After initially only occasionally listening to the show while checking out the various poker-related content over at Poker Road, I've recently become hooked to the point of listening to their entire archive during the past couple weeks. Right now they do a two-hour show once a week, but if life is fair they'll be snatched up by some radio station and get big.

  • Speaking of Stern, even on Sirius satellite radio he has enough juice to make sidekick Artie Lange's new book No. 1 on the New York Times' best-seller list. Fi-yah!
  • Not many people can successfully pull off the white pants look, but not surprisingly Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com runner-up Marisa Miller has no trouble.
  • Sean Avery of the Dallas Stars made headlines earlier this week for opining that "it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds" because his ex-girlfriend has dated several other hockey players. There are two aspects of the Avery story that absolutely fascinate me. One is that the NHL actually suspended him for making those comments, which is fairly amusing coming from a sport that features violence as an accepted part of the game.

    However, that part pales in comparison to the fact that the "sloppy seconds" Avery was talking about is none other than former Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Elisha Cuthbert. Seriously. She's currently with Dion Phaneuf of the Calgary Flames after previously dating Avery and Mike Komisarek of the Montreal Canadians. As they say, you can take the girl out of Canada, but you can't take Canada out of the girl. Or something, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the notion of Cuthbert as "sloppy seconds."

  • Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic wrote a very nice article about former University of Minnesota pitcher Reid Mahon, who's on the verge of reaching the majors just three years after going undrafted.
  • FOX's lead MLB color commentator, Tim McCarver, reportedly lost one million dollars recently when his investment broker failed to follow instructions. Not only is that a tough break for McCarver, it may be bad news for the baseball-watching public if the 67-year-old, already unlistenable announcer is forced to extend his career to make up for the loss.
  • My NBCSports.com colleague Tiffany Simons is on the ballot for the annual "Sexiest Sportscaster" contest at Playboy.com. Erin Andrews will surely end up getting more votes than every other nominee combined, but Tiffany is good at her job, very nice, and good looking, so she's an underrated choice. Rock the vote!
  • Over at his blog, legendary film critic Roger Ebert wrote an interesting entry on where the newspaper industry is headed:
    A newspaper film critic is like a canary in a coal mine. When one croaks, get the hell out. The lengthening toll of former film critics acts as a poster child for the self-destruction of American newspapers, which once hoped to be more like the New York Times and now yearn to become more like the National Enquirer. We used to be the town crier. Now we are the neighborhood gossip.

    [...]

    The celebrity culture is infantilizing us. We are being trained not to think. It is not about the disappearance of film critics. We are the canaries. It is about the death of an intelligent and curious, readership, interested in significant things and able to think critically. It is about the failure of our educational system. It is not about dumbing-down. It is about snuffing out. The news is still big. It's the newspapers that got small.

    On a related note, my MinnPost colleague David Brauer reports that there's yet another batch of layoffs and buyouts coming at the Star Tribune.

  • I'm not planning to see Twilight and had never heard of Kristen Stewart, but she seems like fun.
  • A couple weeks ago on Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay ate dinner with a framed picture of his wife sitting on the table because they weren't able to be together on Valentine's Day, which at the time struck me as sweet in a sort of odd, overly dramatic way. Like a politician who rails against something for years before eventually getting busted doing exactly what he was supposedly so morally against, it turns out that the British tabloids recently uncovered Ramsay's alleged seven-year affair.
  • Thanks to this picture of Eliza Dushku, we now know what the entire male species would look like if cameras were always around to capture our reactions to beautiful women. Can you blame the old guy?
  • It comes naturally to me, but many of you can learn a thing or two from The Art of Manliness' guide to growing a manly beard.
  • Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Sarah Bareilles doing a live version of "Vegas":


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

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