March 18, 2011

Link-O-Rama

• Being a millionaire doesn't mean what it used to, or so all the millionaires say.

Summer Anne Burton is drawing all 295 baseball Hall of Famers and her work is pretty cool.

Jeff Van Gundy is my favorite NBA announcer, but this is still pretty scary.

• Congratulations to my main man Darren Wolfson for becoming a father Saturday. I predict they'll have a father-and-son television or radio show before the kid is out of kindergarten.

• Call me crazy, but I vote for Padma Lakshmi doing more "Top Chef" episodes in a bikini.

Bryce Harper's minor-league at-bats will have a sponsor.

• After five years as the Twins beat writer for MLB.com Kelly Thesier has left the job for a new gig as a communications manager with the LPGA. I was (too) tough on Thesier when she first started at MLB.com, but her improvement over the years was remarkable and she always took my criticisms in stride, or at least managed to act very friendly the few times we met in person. Best of luck to Kelly in the golf world and thanks for five years of Twins coverage.

Thesier's replacement is Rhett Bollinger, who's been helping to cover the Angels and Dodgers for MLB.com since graduating from USC in 2008. I don't know much about him beyond that, but I definitely recognize his name from various MLB.com bylines over the years. Actually, that isn't entirely true. I can also confirm that Bollinger has exceptional taste in bloggers and/or is smart enough to suck up to the jerk who was often critical of the person he's replacing.

Either way, welcome! You can follow Bollinger on Twitter.

• I'm sad to note that Nate Dogg passed away at age 41. His mid-90s peak coincided perfectly with my getting into music and after my dad got me a CD player boombox for my 11th birthday "Regulate ... G Funk Era" was one of my first purchases. Seventeen years later I still have all the words to "Regulate" memorized and marvel at Nate Dogg's ability to turn the phrase "and it's going real swell" into a viable rap lyric. Hopefully his next stop is the East Side Motel.

Terry Ryan and Bill Smith may provide some insight into why only three current MLB general managers are former MLB players.

• For years Jon Krawczynski has been the most underrated sports writer in Minnesota while covering the Twins, Timberwolves, Vikings, and seemingly every other local team in the relative obscurity that comes with being part of the Associated Press content machine. Now he's finally getting some attention, but unfortunately it's because NBA referee Bill Spooner filed a lawsuit against Krawczynski for this January 24 post on Twitter:

No one will ever confuse me for a lawyer, but I can't imagine how someone could win a lawsuit over that. How does Spooner prove he didn't say that, let alone prove damages and whatever else is required to win the case? Beyond that, by suing Spooner has ensured that thousands and thousands of people read Krawczynski's original tweet, which was initially seen by at most his 2,000 followers and was only re-tweeted a dozen times before the lawsuit news broke.

• Speaking of the Associated Press, they'll now be asking Krawczynski and other MLB writers to pen "hometown" versions of game recaps in addition to standard stories so local newspapers not staffing games with their own writers can better use the content. That helps newsrooms that have suffered through big staff cuts, but it'll also lead to even more cookie-cutters recaps. Or as AP sports editor Terry Taylor said: "They were more concerned with just getting it fast."

• Everything you ever wanted to know and more about Adrian Beltre and head rubbing.

• My latest podcast discovery is "The Best Show On WFMU" hosted by Tom Scharpling, who is somehow consistently entertaining and funny while doing a three-hour show with zero breaks. He rants about various topics, takes calls from an odd and amusing cast of regulars, breaks in and out of an ultra-sarcastic persona, often has big-name guests from the comedy and music worlds, and sprinkles in fake guests played brilliantly by Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster.

"The Best Show" is truly unlike anything I've ever listened to before and I'd probably classify it as an acquired taste because of the quirkiness and many inside joke-like aspects, but I've very quickly burned through two years of the decade-long archive and am convinced Scharpling is a genius. Along with hosting my new favorite podcast, he was a "Monk" writer/producer, wrote NBA articles for Slam magazine, and is doing a new television series with Paul F. Tompkins.

• In a rare trip to the movie theater I saw "The Adjustment Bureau" last week. I'm a sucker for that type of science fiction plot and the overall conceit of the movie was very intriguing, but the actual execution was disappointing, especially in the final half-hour or so. Despite some solid performances from Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, John Slattery, and especially Anthony Mackie it left me feeling like Philip K. Dick's story had been wasted. Grade: C-plus.

• This guy must really hate Fan Graphs.

Jim Nantz may be CBS' lead announcer, but for me there's no question that Gus Johnson is the true voice of the NCAA tournament and Greg Bishop of the New York Times penned a very good profile of the undisputed king of exciting calls.

• Also in the New York Times this week, Grant Hill wrote an excellent response to Jalen Rose regarding the portrayal of Duke players in ESPN's new Rose-produced "Fab Five" documentary. Hill's entire piece is really good, but the last line is spectacular.

• I'll be rooting for Tim Collins this season, at least whenever he's not facing the Twins.

• I don't watch many network television shows at this point, but four of the spots on my DVR are filled with Thursday night NBC comedies and I'm thrilled that "Community" and "Parks and Recreation" have both been renewed for next season along with "30 Rock" and "The Office."

Tim Lincecum spent the offseason trying to put on weight and revealed his methods, which led to a whole bunch of baseball scribes writing articles about how he often got three double-doubles, two orders of fries, and a half-chocolate/half-strawberry shake from In-N-Out. I guess that's a lot of food for someone listed at 165 pounds to put down, but as a longtime fatboy it hardly seems worthy of such shocked coverage. On a related note, I've started another diet.

• I'm writing some lengthy season preview articles over at Hardball Talk, including this one on the AL Central's worst team and this one on J.J. Hardy's new team. Check 'em out, please.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Regulate" by Nate Dogg and Warren G:

http://www.minnpost.com/braublog/2011/03/14/26601/nba_ref_sues_ap_sports_reporter_over_twitter_tweet

September 24, 2010

Link-O-Rama

• Hey look, the Twins have the best record in baseball.

• As a college dropout who's secretly hoping to be retired by age 33, this study confuses me.

• I can certainly understand not liking Dave Matthews, but this might be taking it a bit far.

• Stories like this one scare me away from a life of crime.

• This beats the hell out of that G.B. Leighton song FSN plays every damn night.

• I may be willing to pay extra for Derek Jeter's old apartment, but only if Minka Kelly stayed there after he moved out.

• I'll be on 1500-ESPN after tonight's Twins-Tigers game, co-hosting "Twins Wrap" with Darren Wolfson. Starting about 30 minutes after the final out we'll talk Twins and take phone calls for at least an hour. Stay up late and call in, or just listen online here.

UPDATE: We'll talk plenty about Ron Gardenhire all but ruling out Justin Morneau until 2011.

• My favorite Mad Men quote of the week, in picture form.

• Based on this interview with AMC's website, Kiernan Shipka (aka Sally Draper) is either the world's most brilliant 10-year-old or someone with a horrible sense of how 10-year-olds speak is answering the questions in her name. I'm honestly not sure which, but "fortunately the hair department is quite amazing"?!

• Apparently clothing from the 1960s is to Christina Hendricks what long hair was to Samson.

• Inspired by Felix Hernandez's latest tough-luck start yesterday afternoon, here's my rant on how silly it is to evaluate pitchers on "wins" and "losses."

• The first and last time I'll ever be compared to Carl Crawford. More like Carl's Jr.

• Do you think this comes in a XXXL?

• This commercial is hilarious, but I can't decide if it's intentional or unintentional:

Either way, genius.

• It never ceases to amaze me that the woman in these pictures is someone's mother.

• Journalism Barbie seems like sort of a misguided idea, although surely most guys in the Jets' locker room would approve.

• It takes a special kind of 53-year-old man to use the phrase "poopy pants" on the radio.

• So far I've only liked two (or maybe two-and-a-half) of this season's new television shows: Boardwalk Empire on HBO looks great (and has already been renewed for Season 2), Terriers on FX looks very good, and Running Wilde on FOX looks like it may be decent. Otherwise, meh.

• This isn't quite the sideways-world high school Lost spinoff I was hoping for, but it'll work.

Jose Bautista is the Kim Kardashian of 50-homer, 100-walk hitters.

Red Man is no Green Man, and Matt Diaz is no friend to the drunken doofus.

• In case you don't have time to watch Maury every day, you can get the highlights here.

Katy Perry was too hot for Sesame Street, which no doubt could have set an all-time ratings high in the "men ages 25-54" demographic.

• The team with the most strikeouts in MLB history has scored more runs than the two teams with the fewest strikeouts this season, because a strikeout is just an out.

• University of Minnesota law school student Joshua Fisher was profiled in the New York Times for his blog's coverage of the Dodgers' divorce-related drama.

Jason Whitlock also got the New York Times profile treatment and he always intrigues me.

GQ magazine's oral history of Goodfellas is a great read.

• KFAN morning show co-host Cory Cove signed a three-year contract extension.

• This year's The Hardball Times Baseball Annual is now available for pre-order, and as always I highly recommended it.

• Here are some highlights from my NBCSports.com blogging this week:

- David Wells calls Joe Torre a "coward" and "terrible manager"
- Cardinals released Felipe Lopez because they were sick of him showing up late for games
- Brewers hitting coach says Alcides Escobar "has to change his mechanics"
- Bobby Jenks "may have thrown his last inning for White Sox"
- Impending free agent A.J. Pierzynski has "no idea" if he'll be back with White Sox
- Alex Gordon: "I'm going to dominate next year"
- Russell Martin faces an uncertain future with the Dodgers
- Dan Uggla wants a five-year, $58 million contract extension
- Finally! Chris Carter gets first hit after starting career 0-for-33

• Finally, because between her name being Florence and her choice of footwear the degree of difficulty is insanely high, this week's AG.com-approved music video if Florence and the Machine doing a live version of "Dog Days Are Over":

September 17, 2010

Link-O-Rama

• R.I.P., White Sox (April 5, 2010 - September 16, 2010)

• Her control and velocity weren't quite as good as the last time she threw out a first pitch, but Marisa Miller still looked great on the mound at AT&T Park.

• I'm willing to undersell any and all pay-to-follow Twitter offerings. I'll even toss in a Facebook friendship.

David Brown of Yahoo! Sports is one of my favorite interviewers and Vin Scully is the best announcer of all time, so when they get together for a chat I link to it.

• Believe it or not this is what an Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate looks like after hours of makeup.

• Baseball has proven really difficult for the Royals, so they're giving another sport a try.

• I let my nerd flag fly and brought my laptop to the 1500-ESPN studio for the past two nights. Thanks to Darren Wolfson and Joe Schmit for having me on "Twins Wrap." It was lots of fun.

• My never-ending quest for new podcasts to devour recently led me to discover Jesse Thorn and his pair of great shows. One is a relatively formal, NPR-style interview series called "The Sound of Young America" and the other is a more laid back comedy show with co-host Jordan Morris called "Jordan, Jesse, Go!" Both are excellent podcasts, in large part because of Thorn's incredibly dry yet goofy sense of humor and easy going yet intelligent conversational style.

Plus, he's a big baseball fan and even interviewed Bill James on an episode of "The Sound of Young America." If you're into smart, lengthy interviews listen to Thorn's chats with Louis C.K., Nick Hornby, Adam Carolla, Martin Starr, and Paul Rust. And if you're into funny stuff, check out basically anything in the "Jordan, Jesse, Go!" archives. Thorn is great, Thorn and Morris are a great duo, and both podcasts have quickly become part of my daily listening routine.

• Friend of AG.com Jay Jaffe wrote a nice tribute on the 40th anniversary of my favorite book.

• If you see Kevin Mitchell on a golf course don't ask the former MVP if you can play through.

Torii Hunter is $5,000 poorer because Hideki Matsui hit a triple.

• My fellow Friday Night Lights fans will really enjoy Diablo Cody interviewing Kyle Chandler:

Coach Taylor couldn't possibly have been more charming.

• There are two extraordinarily promising 20-year-old rookie hitters in the National League this season. One is showing historic power and the other is showing historic on-base skills.

• I could definitely see paying a la cart prices for long-form writing online, but unfortunately I suspect I'm in the minority.

• Speaking of good long-form writing, Nicholas Dawidoff's profile of Rex Ryan in the New York Times is a must-read for anyone who enjoyed Hard Knocks on HBO.

• And speaking of the Jets, a female sports reporter told a story about why Orel Hershiser's good-guy reputation is deserved.

• Apparently sometimes "saddest" can be just a synonym for "greatest." After all, she's "up 22 percent in popularity this week."

• I blame Brooklyn Decker for this.

• My favorite television writer, Alan Sepinwall of HitFix.com, gave one-sentence reviews for all the new network shows this season and sadly not one of them struck me as particularly worth checking out. Thank god for the other 500 channels.

• I'm moving further and further down the list of the best writers in my family.

• NBCSports.com unveiled a re-design this week and it looks pretty sweet.

• I'm really hoping this becomes the new Rick-rolled.

• As if I needed any help getting fatter, a restaurant called Yo Yo Donuts just opened up about a block from my house. So far I've been too scared to even check it out, because obviously no good can come of this.

• I'm addicted to WhatIfSports.com's Hardball Dynasty game and my league has one franchise open with a new season set to begin next week. Hardball Dynasty is not fantasy baseball, but rather an incredibly detailed simulation of running a fictional MLB organization from rookie-ball to the majors, so due to the steep learning curve and time commitment required we're looking for an owner with previous Hardball Dynasty experience. If you're interested, let me know.

• Here are some highlights from my NBCSports.com blogging this week:

- Clayton Kershaw is 22 years old and really, really good
- Joe Morgan's opinion about the Cy Young debate is exactly what you'd expect
- Carlos Marmol has the highest strikeout rate in MLB history
- Mariners to fire professional scouting director over Josh Lueke controversy
- Manny Ramirez comes up empty as White Sox's playoff hopes slip away
- Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma said to be eyeing MLB
- Fredi Gonzalez turns down interview for Cubs' manager job
- After 10 seasons and 1,500 games Michael Young is finally playoff bound
- Livan Hernandez was a one-man gang in Atlanta

• Finally, in honor of the White Sox this week's AG.com-approved music video is "All Over Now" by Eric Hutchinson:

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