June 17, 2011

Link-O-Rama

This week's Link-O-Rama is sponsored by the Minneapolis computer repair shop TCPC Services, so please help support AG.com by considering them for your computer problems ...

• The only good thing to come out of the riots in Vancouver was this photo.

• If an 85-year-old pornography kingpin and his 25-year-old model girlfriend can't make it work what chance do the rest of us have?

• Journalistically the GQ profile of actor Chris Evans was messy, but it sure was a fun read and makes me reconsider all my ideas about the name Edith.

• Based on this story, my advice for anyone vacationing in Mexico is to bring your own hammer and avoid riding the bus, although in fairness that's basically my advice about going anywhere.

• Ozzie Guillen has a new nickname for the Twins.

• Confession time: I'm actually a lesbian, so ultimately it all evens out in the blogging world.

• Speaking of which, it turns out there's actually something that Target Field diminishes even more than home runs: Grab ass.

• First he groped the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com on television and now this. Bastard.

• I'm a sucker for movie lists and the 50 best final lines is no exception.

• I'm not sure what the final line of the Moneyball movie will be, but the extended trailer is out:

It looks like a cross between Major League and Friday Night Lights, with Brad Pitt doing all sorts of Brad Pitt-like things playing Billy Beane and lots of details that will probably annoy anyone who read the book (or simply knows anything about baseball). If nothing else Chris Pratt from Parks and Recreation playing Scott Hatteberg should be amusing.

• As a frequent Perkins take-out customer and all-around breakfast food enthusiast I'll assume my going on a diet led directly to this. Sorry.

• Speaking of breakfast food enthusiasts, behold: The many faces of Ron Swanson.

• This news comes as no surprise after America's Next Great Restaurant chose the wrong idea and then ruined the concept they did pick by forcing it to be "healthy." Plus, reviews of the Mall of America location were very negative. When in doubt, go with grilled cheese.

Cecil Fielder has been able to fool new writers every season, but Prince Fielder still wants nothing to do with him.

Pippa Middleton is newly single. Does anyone have her number? I've heard she's super into arguments about Francisco Liriano.

• I'm guessing the kids might have a slightly different take some day.

Jon Bois of SB Nation brilliantly breaks down the world of pickup basketball.

• I've started watching the BBC series Luther on Netflix, which is very well done and makes me wonder (again) why the hell Idris Elba isn't in everything, ever.

• Not only is stand-up comic Anthony Jeselnik friends with my Rotoworld and NBC colleague Gregg Rosenthal, he also did a great set on Conan:

His impression of Dane Cook is pretty great too.

• As someone who just booked a $450 flight to California for the upcoming SABR convention, this seems a little excessive. Incidentally, if any AG.com readers are going to be in Long Beach for the festivities next month please let me know.

Anthony Weiner is out of a job, but not before he made Ginger Lee one of the world's most famous porn stars.

A.J. Pierzynski explained that Gavin Floyd can't hold runners, but forgot to mention that he can't throw anyone out no matter who's pitching.

• Congratulations to Mark Cuban, who's probably even happier now than that time he out-bid those other rich guys on Shark Tank.

Dirk Nowitzki wearing hipster glasses plus Brian Cardinal in all his glory equals my favorite non-Cuban picture from the Mavericks' post-title celebration.

Marc Maron might be taking his must-listen podcast to television. Sort of.

• Podcast recommendation of the week: Brian Posehn talking to Joe Rogan, with video.

• Old friend J.C. Romero was designated for assignment by the Phillies.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Buttons" by The Weeks:

June 16, 2011

Delayed draft notes: College pitchers, college shortstops, and Pudge’s kid

Last week I wrote about the Twins' trio of first-round draft picks, noting that they abandoned their usual focus on toolsy high school outfielders and strike-throwing college starters to use first rounders on a college position player (Levi Michael) for the first time since 1997, a high school pitcher (Hudson Boyd) for the first time since 2004, and a bat-first high school position player (Travis Harrison) for the first time since 2006.

Those three picks were very intriguing within the context of the Twins' usual draft strategy and obviously first rounders (and supplemental first rounders) are the selections everyone focuses on, but they also made 49 other picks on Day 2 and Day 3 of the draft. They resumed focusing on college pitchers, taking Oregon righty Madison Boer in the second round, Vanderbilt lefty Corey Williams in the third round, and UC-Irvine righty Matt Summers in the fourth round.

In all 22 of their final 49 picks were used on college pitchers, including University of Minnesota right-hander Trevor Oakes in the 41st round. However, the Twins did continue to stray from their usual strategy by loading up on college shortstops even after grabbing Michael with the 30th overall pick. They took Tyler Grimes from Wichita State in the fifth round, Adam Bryant from Troy in the ninth round, and Gophers shortstop A.J. Pettersen in the 25th round.

Whether or not any of those four college shortstops will provide help for the Twins in the near future remains to be seen, but using their first pick and three of their first 11 picks on college middle infielders is a pretty clear sign that the organization made it a priority to address the lack of MLB-ready depth at shortstop and second base. I'm not sure what took them so long to adopt that approach, but I'm glad to see them finally do so.

Grimes made a ton of errors this season, but according to Baseball America he "has better tools than most college shortstops" and "has a strong arm and can make nifty plays." Offensively he hit .300 with modest power, but like Michael showed excellent plate discipline by drawing 57 walks in 65 games for a .467 on-base percentage. He also struck out 61 times, however, and Baseball America notes that he "plays out of control at times."

Bryant wasn't a walk machine like Michael and Grimes, but hit .337 and slugged .570 with more walks (26) than strikeouts (25) in 62 games. It sounds like he may have to move to second base, with Baseball America calling Bryant's arm strength "fringe-average." In addition to those college shortstops the Twins also drafted one high school shortstop, Brian Anderson, using a 20th-round pick on "the best prep position player in Oklahoma" according to Baseball America.

While loading up on college shortstops and pitchers the Twins did take one toolsy high school outfielder, sixth-round pick Ivan Rodriguez, who goes by Dereck Rodriguez and is the son of future Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez. As you might expect arm strength is Rodriguez's best skill and some teams reportedly liked him as a pitcher. Not only is his dad still playing at age 39, he's backing up former Twins prospect Wilson Ramos in Washington.

During the previous 11 drafts the Twins used a first rounder on a college pitcher 10 times and took at least one college pitcher within the first 75 picks every year but 2001, 2006, and 2007. This year Boer was the first college pitcher at No. 87 after the 6-foot-4 righty from Eden Prairie had a 2.27 ERA, .234 opponents' batting average, and 74-to-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 99 innings as a junior at Oregon.

Boer works in the low-90s as a starter, but spent time in the bullpen, where Baseball America says his fastball has been clocked as high as 96 miles per hour and touts his splitter. Williams was the next college arm at No. 117, but Baseball America reports that the Vanderbilt lefty is "thought to be a tough sign as a redshirt sophomore." He throws hard, but had a team-high 5.23 ERA in 33 innings as a reliever this season while coming back from this ugly knee injury:

If you're too squeamish to actually watch the video or look at the X-ray a line drive back up the middle broke Williams' knee cap and he somehow still managed to pick up the ball and flip it to first base for the out while writhing in pain on the mound. Summers has no such YouTube-able moments, but the fourth-round pick successfully made the transition from outfielder to pitcher at UC-Irvine with a 2.02 ERA and 99-to-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 116 innings.

This week's content is sponsored by the Minnesota computer repair shop TCPC Services, so please help support AG.com by considering them for your computer problems.

June 15, 2011

Twins Notes: Immobilized, underrated, grated, deteriorated, and elevated

• Just when the Twins are finally getting key players healthy Justin Morneau has been put on the disabled list. And not with symptoms from last year's concussion or the neck pain that led to cortisone injections last month, but because of a wrist injury the origin of which was never really explained. Answers given last night were oddly vague, but Nick Nelson had a source tell him that "Morneau's wrist injury was the result of a locker room tirade after a strikeout."

Whatever the case, the Twins announced last night that Morneau's wrist will be "immobilized" for 10 days. General manager Bill Smith explained that "we're looking at this as a short-term event," but nearly every recovery timetable the Twins have issued this season has proven to be wildly optimistic. Morneau being shut down with Joe Mauer and Tsuyoshi Nishioka on the verge of rejoining the lineup is unfortunate, but Morneau hasn't looked like himself anyway.

He showed some flashes at various points, but was never able to string together any kind of hot streak and went 2-for-27 following a two-homer game on May 31. Morneau was batting .345 with 18 homers and a 1.055 OPS in 81 games at the time of his concussion last July. After nine months on the sidelines he's hit just .225 with four homers and a .619 OPS in 55 games this season. At this point some more time on the DL might be the best thing for Morneau.

• With the Twins now playing well enough to get people thinking about winning the thoroughly mediocre division MinnPost boss Joel Kramer passed along 2007 analysis from Nate Silver at Baseball Prospectus examining the largest comebacks of all time. Baseball Prospectus recently made its archives free and the article is worth checking out, as you can see where the Twins overcoming their current deficit would rank and where their amazing 2006 comeback fits.

Carson Cistulli at Fan Graphs crunched the numbers and concluded that Denard Span might be the most underrated player in baseball. I wouldn't go quite that far, but twice in the past week I've written that Span has been the Twins' most valuable all-around player this year and both times multiple comments and e-mails strongly disagreed. His performance has definitely flown under the radar, so hopefully the concussion doesn't derail Span's season.

• Speaking of Span being underrated ... I couldn't care less about the All-Star game, but given what I wrote here last month about the local media's treatment of Michael Cuddyer (and the reaction I got from some members of the local media) it was amusing to see Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune devote an entire column to Cuddyer being deserving of an All-Star spot with a .273/.339/.423 hitting line and versatile but poor defense.

• With every Matt Capps blown save giving up Wilson Ramos for a "proven closer" looks even worse. Capps is 24-for-31 (78 percent) converting saves since the deal, whereas Jon Rauch was 21-for-25 (84 percent) prior to being replaced and is now 7-for-9 (78 percent) in Toronto while earning half as much as Capps. Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune recently wrote that Rauch "might have been a keeper if his personality hadn't grated on the Twins."

Flawed logic regarding the closer role led to mistakenly thinking Capps was a big upgrade over Rauch, poor decision-making led to paying a premium for that non-existent upgrade in the form of a top catching prospect, and the Twins compounded the problem by evaluating Rauch based more on personality than performance or cost. Ramos' current OPS is 30 points above average for a catcher and he's thrown out an MLB-high 50 percent of steal attempts at age 23.

• Christensen also penned a lengthy article about something that has been a frequent topic in this space, which is that the oft-repeated notion of "playing the right way" and "doing the little things" being "the Twins way" has become more perception and less reality with each season. National media members and people who mostly pay attention to other teams haven't caught on yet, but I'm glad to see someone with a mainstream audience busting the myth.

• My grandpa has said for years now that Toby Gardenhire will eventually be the Twins' utility infielder, which I've always laughed off because ... well, he's a career .230/.293/.268 hitter in the minors and nepotism can only go so far, right? Maybe. Tyler Mason wrote a lengthy profile of the manager's 28-year-old son for FSN's website, and between the "Toby Gardenhire moves closer to MLB debut" title and article's content it no longer seems so far fetched. An excerpt:

Gardenhire, now with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, is closer than ever to his dream. A call to the majors, however, would mean something more for him: the chance to be coached by his father, Ron, the Minnesota Twins' manager. "Having my dad up there, it would probably just be an added bonus," said Toby Gardenhire, 28, who is primarily a shortstop but has been a jack-of-all-trades in the minor leagues.

"If somebody told me Toby's the guy, we think he deserves a shot to come up here, I don't know how I'd handle it, to tell you the truth," said his dad. "I'd have to regroup. But I know he's worked really, really hard and he's played very well. If that ever happens, it would be a really, really cool thing."

Gardenhire is hitting .254 with a .291 on-base percentage and .349 slugging percentage in 39 games at Rochester for a .640 OPS that's dead last on the team. Yet his dad says "he's played very well" and "has actually swung the bat very, very well." Triple-A manager Tom Nieto says "he's really progressed." Mason notes his "elevated play." Meanwhile, even Drew Butera beat Gardenhire's career OPS by 70 points in the minors. I'm starting to think my grandpa is right.

Anthony Slama's latest "opportunity" lasted all of two games, as the Twins didn't even see fit to give him a chance when they had the league's worst record and a bullpen in flux. He has a 2.10 ERA and 370 strikeouts in 274 innings as a minor leaguer, including a 2.71 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 106 innings at Triple-A, yet is 27 years old with a grand total of seven games in the majors. Slama isn't going to be great, but he might be useful and they'll never know.

• If the Twins opt to move Mauer to another position in 2012 they ought to call the Reds. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote recently that catcher prospect Devin Mesoraco "killing it in Triple-A" may soon force the Reds to call him up, at which point "a lot of teams would likely be interested in Ramon Hernandez or Ryan Hanigan." Hernandez is 35 years old, but Hanigan is a 30-year-old career .275/.375/.365 hitter with a good arm under team control through 2014.

• Old friend J.J. Hardy hasn't been injury free in Baltimore, missing a month with a strained oblique muscle, but he's yet to make an error in 37 games while hitting .299/.371/.493 for an .864 OPS that ranks third among all MLB shortstops. He's played so well that Orioles president and former Twins general manager Andy MacPhail wants to keep Hardy from becoming a free agent after the season by signing him to a contract extension before the All-Star break. Sigh.

• Earlier this week Nick Nelson and I had a Twitter discussion about Francisco Liriano and all this "pitch to contact" stuff, which Sean Schulte at Hitting The Foul Pole pieced together along with his own take.

• To preview the (now rain-shortened) Chicago series marvelously named White Sox blogger J.J. Stankevitz asked me some questions over at Beerleaguer.

This week's content is sponsored by the Minnesota computer repair shop TCPC Services, so please help support AG.com by considering them for your computer problems.

June 13, 2011

Twins Notes: Hotness, to and from contact, dizziness, and tough decisions

• They still have the worst record in the league at 26-39, still are on pace to go 65-97, and still would need to go 59-38 from here on out to finish with even 85 wins, but by going 9-3 to start June the Twins have at the very least put off a potential fire sale for a while and made their games fun to watch again. Baby steps, sure, but 26-39 looks a whole lot prettier than 17-37 and as usual the thoroughly mediocre AL Central makes much bigger steps seem possible.

Francisco Liriano had a panic-inducing April, posting a 9.13 ERA with as many walks (18) as strikeouts (18) as the Twins tried to convince him to "pitch to contact" with terrible results. His first May start was a no-hitter versus the White Sox and Liriano flirted with a second no-hitter yesterday against the Rangers, giving him a 1.89 ERA in six starts since May 1. And as Liriano explained after racking up nine strikeouts, his success has come from not following advice:

I've always been the power pitcher, trying to strike out people. I feel more comfortable pitching like that. I'm trying to be me, [the way] I used to pitch last year and the year before. I'm not thinking about contact at all.

Good. It never made much sense that the Twins would try to force Liriano into the same strike-throwing, contact-inducing mold they use for pitchers with inferior raw stuff and less ability to overpower hitters, so thankfully he stayed with the approach that led to so much success last season.  Liriano has allowed two runs or fewer in five of six starts, with the lone outlier coming after throwing 123 pitches in the no-hitter, so hopefully they'll stop trying to fix him for a while.

Carl Pavano has also put together a strong six-start stretch since beginning the season 2-4 with a 6.64 ERA, logging 43 innings with a 2.49 ERA and just two homers allowed. However, his lack of missed bats continues to be worrisome from a 35-year-old pitcher set to earn $8.5 million in 2012. Pavano has just 16 strikeouts in those 43 innings, which is a minuscule rate of 3.3 per nine innings and even lower than his 3.6 per nine innings through seven bad starts.

Pavano can still be effective by limiting walks and homers, but it'll be tough for the Twins to get their money's worth over the next season-and-a-half if he can't get back to at least 5-6 whiffs per nine innings like 2009 and 2010. Not only are his 3.5 strikeouts per nine innings this year the lowest rate in baseball, no other pitcher is below 4.0 and the last pitcher to qualify for the ERA title with a lower strikeout rate was Livan Hernandez at 3.4 in 2008 ... for the Twins.

Denard Span's collision with Royals catcher Brayan Pena didn't look like much at the time. In fact, I was watching on television alongside a handful of other Twins bloggers and a few beat reporters, and no one seemed to think much of it beyond Span not turning Pena into Buster Posey with a bigger collision. Span stayed in the game and even played a few days later, but then complained of dizziness and was put on the new seven-day disabled list for concussions.

Span told reporters that he's "definitely scared" about the situation and it's easy to see why. One reason is that Justin Morneau missed the final three-plus months of last season and was sidelined for a total of nine months following a concussion last July and still hasn't gotten back on track 11 months later. Beyond that, Span described what he's currently going through as "a familiar feeling" to when he missed time with vertigo in 2009:

I feel a little like somebody's kind of pushing me from the back a little bit. I'm not going to fall over, but it's the same exact feeling. I want to get this checked out. I'm frustrated, all those things. There's something wrong. I don't know what it is, so I want to get it taken care of.

Span, who'd bounced back from a disappointing 2010 to be the Twins' best all-around player through 60 games, also revealed that he still experiences symptoms related to the vertigo two years later, saying: "It's calmed down a lot and it's manageable, but it's been something I've dealt with since then." That's news to me and is a glimpse into the type of health information players and teams tend to keep to themselves whenever possible.

Alexi Casilla continues to play very well since escaping from the doghouse thanks to Trevor Plouffe's mistake-filled attempt to replace him and is now batting .337/.401/.421 in 27 games since mid-May. His defense is also improved and Casilla is finally using his elite speed. Despite great stolen base percentages Casilla attempted just 21.5 steals per 600 plate appearances prior to this year. This season Casilla has already tried 12 steals in 198 plate appearances.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka is finally on the verge of returning 10 weeks after an injury expected to last 4-6 weeks and once that happens Casilla seems destined for second base despite starting 10 straight games at shortstop. Nishioka looked shaky at second base before fracturing his fibula thanks in part to incorrect double play positioning, so the Twins presumably wouldn't have him playing shortstop while rehabbing if they planned to bring him back as a second baseman.

Ron Gardenhire has dropped some strong hints recently about being unhappy with Danny Valencia and Nishioka returning provides an opportunity for the Twins to keep Matt Tolbert as the utility man and Luke Hughes as the starting third baseman while demoting Valencia back to Triple-A. Hughes has hit well in a part-time role of late, but hasn't been impressive overall with a .270/.311/.360 mark and 23-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 33 games.

What's funny about Valencia's situation is that his power and plate discipline have been fine, but whereas an unsustainably high .345 batting average on balls in play fueled his better than expected rookie season an unsustainably low .239 batting average on balls in play has him fighting for his job now. Ultimately the "real" Valencia is somewhere in between and his career line of .270/.321/.397 is close to both his minor-league track record and Hughes' likely upside.

• Barring a setback it looks like Joe Mauer will come off the disabled list Thursday, returning to the lineup after missing 57 games with complications following offseason knee surgery. In his absence the Twins have gotten the worst production in baseball from their catchers, as Drew Butera and Rene Rivera (and Steve Holm, briefly) have combined to hit .178 with a .497 OPS. To put that in some context, Al Newman has the lowest OPS in Twins history at .581.

They've both done a good job defensively, particularly when it comes to controlling the running game, but Butera has hit .174/.207/.261 in 40 games and Rivera has hit .196/.262/.304 in 20 games. So naturally in discussing Mauer's impending return yesterday Gardenhire talked about what a "tough decision" it will be choosing which replacement-level catcher gets to avoid a trip back to Triple-A and stick around as the backup:

Oh, absolutely. You want tough decisions though. I don't like it when it's carved out, "this is going to happen." You want tough decisions. That means both of them are doing OK, and when Joe comes back, sure, we're going to have to make a tough decision. And both of them have done their parts and they continue to. But it's not going to be easy no matter which way we go.

"Both of them are doing OK" and "both of them have done their parts" is an interesting way to describe two players who've literally combined for the worst production in baseball. How much worse than a .497 OPS could they get before it no longer qualified as "doing OK"? In reality it's only a "tough decision" because neither Butera nor Rivera have played well enough to warrant sticking around, in which case "stub your toe or get a paper cut?" is also a "tough decision."

• Speaking of Rivera, last night he tweeted this charming picture of Ben Revere at Morneau's annual casino night charity fundraiser:

Is that a better or worse look for Revere than this little number from his rookie hazing?

This week's content is sponsored by the Minnesota computer repair shop TCPC Services, so please help support AG.com by considering them for your computer problems.

June 10, 2011

Link-O-Rama

This week's Link-O-Rama is sponsored by the Minnesota law firm Snyder Gislason Frasier LLC, so please help support AG.com by considering them for your legal needs ...

Justin Timberlake shows why kids should take singing lessons instead of blogging lessons if they want to one day grope the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com on national television.

Uncle Phil made a nice living as a judge, so he probably could have covered the $8,356 cab fare from West Philadelphia to Bel Air. That buys a lot of vanity plates and dice for the mirror.

UPDATE: Nick Nelson, the Twins blogosphere's unquestioned rap aficionado, passes along an extended version of the Fresh Prince intro that a) inserts a terrible verse into the middle of an otherwise enjoyable song, and b) ruins the humor from the above link with previously unseen (to me, at least) details about his trip. To ease the pain of all the childhoods ruined by the new information, here are a bunch of pictures of a grown-up Tatyana Ali.

False alarm, you guys: Alex Rodriguez and Cameron Diaz are still together. Phew. He's still two-timing his water, though.

Christopher Beam and Jeremy Singer-Vine from Slate used a bunch of the data on Rotten Tomatoes for some sabermetric-style movie analysis and their findings are very interesting as long as you're not Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Anthony Weiner has lots of issues, but at least his taste in porn stars seems pretty decent.

• I'm willing to cut Weiner some slack, but only because he introduced people to Benjy Bronk.

• It was a big week for Bill Simmons. Not only did he launch Grantland, a photographer at the Stanley Cup Finals snapped a post-goal picture that features Simmons, his dad, and his dad's extraordinary mustache celebrating in the background.

• Sometimes just a headline is enough to know I'll be seeing a movie as soon as it comes out.

• Not mentioned in this story is that the NBCSports.com offices are in Stamford, Connecticut.

Bryan Harper is no Brian Harper.

• Seeing this drunk guy "walk" home is strong evidence that alcohol gives you super powers:

Without the booze I'm convinced he would have died 10 times during that video.

• Speaking of drunk guys, Seth Stohs e-mailed me this picture he took of me losing a staring contest to Lindsay Guentzel at approximately 1:00 am last Friday night:

Couple things. One, as you can clearly see losing weight hasn't decreased the size of my head any (and has had a minimal impact on chin count as well). Two, if you look very closely you can see two different Twins beat reporters in that photo, at least one of whom likes to quote xFIP.

• Also, check out how tough and mean Seth looked standing in front of the Harmon Killebrew statue at Target Field right before driving two drunk bloggers home:

Seth's look says "these guys aren't nearly as fun as they think they are when I'm sober." OK, enough of that. Thanks to everyone for putting up with me. I'm scheduled to leave the house again in 2014.

• Nothing has changed with old friend Carlos Gomez. Still can't hit, still makes great catches.

• Another old friend, Brian Fuentes, helped get Bob Geren fired in Oakland.

• Breaking news: Men like looking at boobs, even in France.

• My new boss was profiled by Sports Business Journal right after he spent $4.4 billion to retain the Olympics through 2020. I'm just hoping NBC still has enough money left to cover my next expense report.

• I've mostly been ambivalent about Anne Hathaway, but the glasses change everything.

• Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and rookie Jerry Sands are both young and reckless.

Kevin McHale's introductory press conference as the Rockets' new coach was pretty funny, unless you're a Timberwolves fan.

Kathy Ireland is the latest opponent to take a loss against time, which remains undefeated.

• It was tough going months without listening to the "Two Jacks in the Hole" podcast with Joe Stapleton and Scott Huff , but this week they premiered a new (or at least renamed) podcast called "Huff and Stapes" and it was better than ever.

Willy Aybar: Mediocre baseball player, world-class scumbag.

• As a kid I remember listening to Joe Chevalier's national radio show many nights and simply assuming "Papa Joe" was in his sixties, but he passed away this week at age 62.

• Communication trumps run scoring when it comes to firing hitting coaches.

• Annoying reminder: If you'd like to sponsor AG.com for a week, click here for details.

• Finally, in honor of his retirement this week's AG.com-approved music video is "I Know I Got Skillz" by Shaquille O'Neal, which a 10-year-old me non-ironically memorized in 1993:

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