October 19, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• I had a pretty good worlds colliding moment this week, as my Chelsea Peretti crush and my baseball writing job crossed paths. And her reaction was about right.

Anthony Bourdain found out that Marlo Stanfield is still tracking Omar Little, and the whole thing should delight fellow "The Wire" fans.

• Just in case you forgot that Bill Murray is the best.

• MLB.com reporter Bill Ladson did the baseball equivalent of "Dewey Defeats Truman."

Alex Rodriguez has the Twins to thank for his playoff reputation not being even worse.

Jim Harbaugh shifted $75 million in bets by turning down a penalty last night.

• I'm not sure why, exactly, but John Bonnes thought it would be a good idea to record a video after we were done recording the latest "Gleeman and The Geek" episode. So here's me drinking beer and talking nonsense while he shines an incredibly bright light in my face in the middle of an otherwise dark bar:

Special guest appearance by our waitress! (And blame Bonnes for shooting in portrait view.)

• The above video was recorded Saturday night at The Lyndale Tap House, but afterward we felt further alcohol was needed and went to a new bar/restaurant called Nightingale that fellow Twins blogger Nick Nelson's brother and sister-in-law just opened last week. I recommend checking it out, because the place looks great, the employees and patrons were nice, and they have a good beer selection in addition to a big food menu.

• Thanks to everyone who submitted Twitter questions for my mailbag post earlier this week. I'll try to make it a semi-regular thing during the offseason.

• Within that mailbag post I recommended five podcasts, one of which was "Fan Graphs Audio" with Carson Cistulli and Dayn Perry. Their chat this week was a a fine representation of the show's overall brilliance.

• Like I've always said, working out is for chumps.

Ozzie Smith, who earned $32 million during his 19-year career, is selling all his stuff.

• Nobody puts Jeff Kent in a corner.

• Former Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Elisha Cuthbert makes a pretty good Annie Hall.

• I'd order less Chinese takeout if dining in restaurants mirrored this story more often.

• I'm pretty sure this is what people from other countries imagine goes on in America always.

• My mixed feelings about Germans in general contributed to my enjoyment of this video:

I have no idea what he was saying, but the way he said it made everything much funnier.

• Good, because I really didn't want to think of Dane Cook as a co-worker.

• I've avoided anything even remotely related to politics for a decade here, but my "Friday Night Lights" fandom is too strong to ignore this story.

• Good to see that Zach Lowe didn't miss a beat moving from SI.com to Grantland. If you like basketball and smart analysis, he's a must-read.

• Whoever cast Alison Brie and Lizzy Caplan as sisters is a genius.

• Not surprisingly the smart folks at Baseball America are on Team Trout.

This is an example of why almost all of my ESPN-watching involves live sporting events.

• Some more recommendations from my ongoing Netflix instant binge: "Klown," "A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt," "Indie Game: The Movie," "Backstage," "Jim Norton: Please Be Offended," "Bill Burr: You People Are All The Same."

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "I've had nine beers and I'm 150 pounds"
- "Joe Mande and Glen Rice"
- "Does Shana Hiatt have a baby?"
- "How many carbs in hunan chicken?"
- "Chris Ison Pulitzer"
- "Ashley Greene baseball"
- "How fat is Chuck Knoblauch?"
- "Delmon Young doppelganger"
- "Rachel Bilson favorite baseball team"
- "Jacqueline Bisset salaries"
- "Finding Minnesota pornographers"
- "Notes to put on a nerd's back"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Brandi Carlile doing a live version of "That Wasn't Me" for 89.3 The Current:

This week's blog content is sponsored by Audible, which is offering a free audiobook download for AG.com readers and "Gleeman and The Geek" listeners at AudiblePodcast.com/Gleeman.

October 17, 2012

Twitter Mailbag: Answers

Last week I asked for mailbag questions submitted via Twitter, so here are about 1,600 words worth of me answering 140-character queries ...

@mdidrikson: What is the best baseball book you've read?

Without question "Ball Four" by Jim Bouton. I've read it at least five times and it never ceases being amazing. For him to write something that great in 1970 is crazy. Meeting him at the SABR convention in Seattle a few years ago was a big thrill.

@caniwarrior: How did Rick Anderson survive the coaching purge?

Rick Anderson became pitching coach when Ron Gardenhire replaced Tom Kelly as manager in 2002, so the combination of a decade on the job and Gardenhire's support is a pretty strong one. My assumption is that Gardenhire fought to keep Anderson around, perhaps at the expense of multiple other coaches, but that's just speculation. Obviously the Twins' pitching has been in decline for a while now and Anderson is presumably on the hottest of hot seats.

@ZBurmeister: What are your favorite podcasts I probably haven't heard of?

I work from home and listen to podcasts constantly all day while I write for NBCSports.com, so at this point I subscribe to more than 40 of them. There's a complete list on the right-hand sidebar of this page, but in terms of podcasts you may not be familiar with my favorites right now are:

- "Stop Podcasting Yourself" with Graham Clark and Dave Shumka
- "The Best Show On WFMU" with Tom Scharpling
- "Fan Graphs Audio" with Carson Cistulli and Dayn Perry
- "The Long Shot" with Sean Conroy, Eddie Pepitone, Jamie Flam, and Amber Kenny
- "Throwing Shade" with Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi

And of course "Gleeman and The Geek." Once the playoffs are over and my work schedule settles down a bit I think I'll write up a guide to all the podcasts I like, because it's something people ask about a lot and as someone who loves the medium spreading the word would be nice.

@jacoblaxen: What is Terry Ryan's first move this offseason?

It's always hard to predict the timing of moves, but based on Terry Ryan's repeated comments about upgrading the rotation and not liking the free agent market my guess would be some sort of trade for a starting pitcher. Reading between the lines, it sure seems like he has a trade or two on the table that he feels reasonably comfortable with.

@skrypzUSN: Who would you rather see traded for starting pitching, Denard Span or Ben Revere?

It all depends on what type of returns they would fetch. Denard Span is a better player than Ben Revere right now and generally seems underrated by Twins fans, but he's also older, much more expensive, and much closer to free agency. If they both had identical trade value I'd probably lean toward trading Revere and sticking with Span, but they don't. Span should be able to command a lot more in return.

@commnman: Are there any bargain free agent starting pitchers you'd be comfortable with the Twins targeting this offseason?

Quite a few, actually. This is a pretty deep crop of free agent starters, at least relative to other offseasons. There aren't many elite, top-of-the-rotation options, but the Twins wouldn't be in the mix for them anyway and there are plenty of mid-rotation types available. As soon as the playoffs end I'll have an article breaking down all the options, but for now some names to ponder: Joe Blanton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ervin Santana, Gavin Floyd, Brandon McCarthy.

@dbrugg999: Twins talk is about how they need starting pitching, but what other position is crucial that they upgrade?

Middle infield, but that's been true for essentially the past decade. Right now Pedro Florimon is probably the favorite to start at shortstop in 2013, which says a lot about a lot.

@jackthumser: How closely do you follow other sports?

Pretty closely. I've always been a big basketball and football fan, and for several years I wrote about the NFL for Rotoworld. I know absolutely nothing about hockey and don't have a ton of interest in other sports except for mixed martial arts and, if you consider it a sport, poker.

@mattusaurus: Who has the best pitch in baseball?

Mariano Rivera's cutter was the correct answer to this question for 15 years, but since he missed the entire season I suppose we need a new one. Fan Graphs assigns run values to pitches and based largely off those my picks would be Craig Kimbrel's fastball, Fernando Rodney's changeup, Clayton Kershaw's curveball, Yu Darvish's slider, and R.A. Dickey's knuckleball. And along the same lines as Rivera's cutter, I guess Dickey's knuckler is the best.

@salmensays: Do right-handed hitters or left-handed hitters get more infield hits?

I'm guessing most people would assume left-handed hitters get more infield hits, by virtue of being a couple steps closer to first base. However, studies have shown that right-handed hitters actually get more infield hits because they hit more ground balls to third base and shortstop, which require longer throws than ground balls hit to second base and first base.

@ZnelND: Who's the best Twins prospect no one has heard of?

I'd say probably Jorge Polanco. He was overshadowed by Miguel Sano and Max Kepler when he signed for $750,000 as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2009 and then got off to a slow start as a professional, but Polanco had a great half-season at rookie-ball. He's years from potentially entering the Twins' plans, but as a shortstop with a good bat Polanco is one of their highest-upside prospects.

@jimcamery: Do prominent ex-players make better coaches than scrubs? Is there any real data?

That question was about Paul Molitor being turned down for a job on the Twins' revamped staff. Many fans assume that great players like Molitor would make great coaches, but there isn't much evidence to support that. Very few Hall of Fame-level players go on to become great coaches or managers and many of the best coaches and managers were marginal players. Molitor, for instance, was fired by the Mariners after one season as hitting coach in 2004.

@MeatSauce1: Bring Alex Rodriguez to the Twins?

That question comes from the world renowned Meat Sauce of KFAN fame, so of course I have to answer it. There's zero chance of the Twins trading for Alex Rodriguez, but it'll be interesting to see if the Yankees try to trade him, period. He's owed $114 million for the next five seasons and I'm guessing they'd have to eat at least $75 million to unload him. Also worth noting: Rodriguez hit .272/.353/.430 this season. Justin Morneau hit .267/.333/.440.

@mdidrikson: What's the best team in the past 25 years to not win the World Series?

There are a lot of them, because the nature of baseball means being the best team during a 162-game season and winning the World Series are often very different things. I'd probably go with the 2001 Mariners, who set the modern record with 116 wins and lost in the ALCS. Any good baseball team can beat any other good baseball team three times in five games or four times in seven games, which simultaneously makes the playoffs great and maddening.

@ScandiAngel: What's a reasonable expectation for Kyle Gibson in 2013? Will the Twins treat him like Stephen Strasburg?

I'm sure Kyle Gibson will be on a workload limit in 2013. In terms of what to expect, he's off to an impressive start in the Arizona Fall League and reportedly throwing harder now than he did before Tommy John surgery. He'll compete for a rotation spot in spring training before most likely heading to Triple-A. Expectations should be held in check because Gibson wasn't an elite prospect before the injury, but if things go well he could join the Twins' rotation midseason.

@jimcamery: Was Prince Fielder worth the money?

Prince Fielder hit .313/.412/.528 with 30 homers in 162 games, so he certainly earned his $23 million salary this season. That was always pretty likely, though, because he's 28 years old with a great track record. He's still owed another $191 million for the next eight seasons and the odds of the second half of that deal looking good for the Tigers seems iffy at best. Then again, I'm more or less against handing out massive long-term contracts to any player.

@SpitThatHotFire: Where do you see Josh Hamilton ending up next year?

Josh Hamilton is one of the most interesting free agents ever. Based solely on his track record at age 31 he'd be in line for well over $100 million, but because of his off-field (and on-field) issues it wouldn't surprise me if he signed for less than $100 million. As for where ... I have no idea. It sure seems like the Rangers don't want him back unless it's cheap and most of the usual free-spenders seem unlikely to go nuts for him. "Not the Twins" is the best I can do.

@wombat_socho: Is there any cure for Ron Gardenhire's addiction to scrappy/useless infielders?

Well, the most obvious cure is for the front office to stop providing him with such players, but then that brings up the question of who has the addiction in the first place.

@commnman: How are Twins fans supposed to decide between rooting for Delmon Young and rooting for the Yankees?

We actually discussed this at some length on this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode and ultimately concluded that rooting for the Tigers made sense under these circumstances.

This week's blog content is sponsored by Audible, which is offering a free audiobook download for AG.com readers and "Gleeman and The Geek" listeners at AudiblePodcast.com/Gleeman.

January 13, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• By virtue of her contribution to Jay-Z's new song his week-old daughter Blue Ivy Carter has already experienced more success than 99 percent of musicians ever will.

• One bad thing about being George Clooney is that he has to make such difficult tradeoffs.

Alex Rodriguez definitely has a type.

Rob McElhenney gained 50 pounds for the latest season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, so naturally now he's interested in the lives of bloggers.

• This would be like arresting me for writing about the Twins or looking at Mila Kunis pictures.

Donovan McNabb finally found a place where his bounce passes are a positive thing.

• If anyone knows Katy Perry, tell her I'm willing to overlook this whole thing.

Bud Selig makes $22 million per year. That's all.

• My blog-mate Craig Calcaterra had some interesting thoughts about guys like us joining the Baseball Writers Association of America.

• This week's podcast is a mailbag episode, so thanks to everyone who submitted questions.

• Last month I opined that Glen Perkins is one of the few athletes worth following on Twitter, as evidenced by this picture of him dressed up as Bear Bryant for the Alabama-LSU game:

And clearly he wasn't kidding about hoping Ricky Rubio popularizes the neck beard locally.

• Apparently my diet has had a profound impact on the world.

• Good news if you like good television: Community is coming back to NBC, for a while at least.

Russell Wilson was the Rockies' fourth-round draft pick in 2010 and played 93 games in the low minors as an infielder, but the Wisconsin quarterback told them he's sticking with football.

• I rented Blue Valentine about six months ago and then watched it again last weekend ... four times. Luckily the free Showtime preview on DirecTV came to an end, because I couldn't stop.

• I also learned that Showtime has some pretty good shows and has definitely closed the gap on HBO. And now I'm confused about why Emmy Rossum isn't a huge star.

• Seven years ago I wrote this article touting Barry Larkin for the Hall of Fame.

Johan Santana is 16 months removed from left shoulder surgery and still not sure when he'll rejoin the Mets' rotation. He's owed $55 million for the next two seasons.

• Earlier this week the "F" key on my laptop stopped working and it's still giving me problems, but rather than getting it fixed I'm thinking about adopting this approach to writing.

• Very few one-person podcasts are any good--which is why I partnered up with John Bonnes for "Gleeman and the Geek"--but Bill Burr's solo show "Monday Morning Podcast" is hilarious.

• Two of my favorite comedians, Tom Segura and Todd Glass, will be at Acme Comedy Club on back-to-back weeks. Instead of talking someone into driving me or figuring out how not to be so clueless getting places and buying a new car I'm thinking of just moving next to the club.

Evan Drellich of MLB.com penned a fitting tribute to Society for American Baseball Research member and all-around nice guy Greg Spira, who died last month at age 44.

• This year's SABR convention is coming to Minnesota from June 27 to July 3 and I've gotten a lot of questions from locals curious about joining, so click here for details about what it entails.

• Finally, in honor of me binging on Blue Valentine this week's AG.com-approved music video is "You and Me" by Penny and The Quarters:

August 5, 2011

Link-O-Rama

This week's Link-O-Rama is sponsored by Minnesota's top variable frequency drive company, IDEAL Service, so please help support AG.com by considering them for your industrial electronic needs ...

• I didn't realize it until afterward, but Monday marked the ninth anniversary of this blog, which started on August 1, 2002 with a post about A.J. Burnett being overworked by the Marlins. That night the Twins beat the White Sox behind Eric Milton's three-hit, 11-strikeout shutout and Michael Cuddyer's grand slam. Two months later the Twins made the playoffs for the first time since 1991, shortly after that Burnett blew out his elbow, and now here I am.

I started as a 19-year-old in search of a writing outlet while home from college for the summer and now I'm a 28-year-old lucky enough to write about baseball for a living. In between seems like kind of a blur, but I know that without this blog and the people who read it I may never have gotten the opportunity to make a career out of something I love and for that I'm forever grateful. Whether you've been here for nine years or this is your first visit, thanks for reading.

There but for the grace of blogging go I.

• This is one service that the YoYo Donuts near my house does not provide.

Joel Lovell's lengthy profile of Louis C.K. in GQ magazine is well worth the read.

• In one of the most disappointing revelations in cinematic history, Mila Kunis has admitted to using a "butt double" in Friends With Benefits. As the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com explained:

I showed side boob and I figured I can't just give away everything all at once. I gotta let it all out in little pieces here and there.

Legally, does that count as a binding contract?

• Kunis defending Justin Timberlake by yelling at reporters in Russian was fun to watch.

• In one of the craziest plays you'll ever see Brendan Ryan caught Oakland's defense napping for an "infield triple."

• Picture of the Week: Jimi Hendrix gets his hair done while reading Mad magazine.

Kate Upton saying she "prayed every day" to look like Kate Upton has made me reconsider everything I've ever thought about religion.

• In honor of Randy Moss' retirement, here's a commercial he and Jason Williams did for Nike that I thought was pretty badass as a kid:

Still is, actually.

Bethlehem Shoals was an awesome basketball blogger, but he might be even better writing about Otis Redding, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and the history of "Try A Little Tenderness."

Latrell Sprewell is still just trying to feed his family in Wisconsin.

• Of course, Sprewell is a piker compared to Stephon Marbury.

Marko Jaric is faring slightly better after leaving the Timberwolves.

Kevin Durant scored 66 points in a Rucker Park game and the video is excellent.

• For a 51-year-old fat guy Stan Van Gundy can still handle the rock pretty well.

• After seeing Half Nelson and Blue Valentine during the past week I've officially become a Ryan Gosling fanboy, which is something I never expected to write. Blue Valentine is definitely worth renting, while Half Nelson is a must-watch for anyone with Netflix instant.

• To anyone who made the mistake of not watching already: Netflix instant just added the first four seasons of Mad Men. Pour yourself an old fashioned and watch all 52 episodes. Trust me.

• In odd marriage news, Jay Cutler and Kristin Cavallari broke up before their wedding while Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed are now engaged after 28 years and two grown kids.

• Cavallari has rebounded with ... the kid from Boy Meets World? Sure, why not.

• Even my mom would begrudgingly admit that George Clooney made a solid rebound choice.

Alex Rodriguez being investigated for "playing in an underground, illegal poker game where cocaine was openly used" makes him significantly more likable. Even if he isn't very good.

• Oh great, now my hopes are up for a Friday Night Lights movie.

• Now that everything has been settled, the worst part of the NFL lockout is without question HBO skipping Hard Knocks this season.

Community was already one of my favorite shows, and now they're adding Omar Little and Bill Haverchuck to the cast for next season. Omar comin':

It sounds like Michael K. Williams had a good first day on the set, too.

• People who insist on saying happy birthday to every "friend" on Facebook deserve this.

• Maybe it's not too late for me to become a newspaper reporter after all.

Sarah Hyland provides a compelling sneak preview of next season's Modern Family.

• Versus is becoming NBC Sports Network, which means I'm a step closer to that cooking show I've always wanted. "Aaron Makes Stuff With Rice And Oyster Sauce" is the working title.

David Cameron, whom I got a chance to meet and play poker with at the SABR convention, has been diagnosed with leukemia. Whether you like his work as Fan Graphs managing editor or just hate when bad things happen to good people, root for him.

• I'm on board the Rick Adelman bandwagon, which guarantees David Kahn won't hire him.

• I'm thrilled that 1500-ESPN decided to dump Colin Cowherd's syndicated show and replace it with a local host. My nomination: Darren Wolfson.

• In related news, Sporting News Radio just became Yahoo! Sports Radio, with lots of Yahoo! writers getting their own shows. KFAN-1130 will air some locally, I believe.

UPDATE: And now more intrigue in the local sports radio scene, as David Brauer of MinnPost reports that KFAN is switching from AM to FM.

• Want to feel old? Raul Mondesi's son just signed with the Royals for $2 million.

• For any DIPS and/or FIP doubters out there: When position players pitch they have the same batting average on balls in play as actual pitchers pitching.

Fedor Emelianenko went from the top of the MMA food chain to washed up in three fights.

• I was feeling good about our recent traffic at HardballTalk, but then I saw that my colleagues at ProFootballTalk had 3.9 million page views in one day. To put that in some context, AG.com has had a total of around 13 million page views ... in nine years.

Curb Your Enthusiasm fans will like Jeff Garlin's appearance on The Sound of Young America.

• I've now been on Twitter for two years and 7,000 tweets later can't imagine life without it.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is The King of Soul singing what will always be my favorite version of "Try A Little Tenderness":

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: