September 9, 2011

Link-O-Rama

Otis Redding is my favorite musician of all time and the amazing thing about the quality and depth of his work is that he died in a plane crash at age 26. His music is often the soundtrack to my writing and it never ceases to make me sad when I think about how many great songs we missed out on. Today would have been his 70th birthday and to celebrate I'll be listening to non-stop Otis. Whether you're a fellow fan or unfamiliar with him, give these songs a try:

- "I've Got Dreams to Remember"
- "That's How Strong My Love Is"
- "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay"
- "Hard To Handle"
- "Try A Little Tenderness"
- "The Happy Song"
- "Your One And Only Man"
- "My Girl"
- "Shake"

And once you're done listening to those, you're encouraged to shake it like a bowl of soup.

• This is why I need an agent.

• It takes some real skill to write an article for MLB.com that would more easily fit in The Onion.

Adele is the Donovan McNabb of female British soul singers.

• I've always avoided marrying Hank Aaron for specifically this reason. Lauren Lauren!

Gus Johnson finally gets a much-deserved bigger stage by going from CBS to FOX and one of his broadcast partners for NFL games is Tim Brewster.

• One question was missing from this interview: "Why does Aaron Gleeman sound like you?"

• As a Minnesotan I'm firmly on the "pop" side of the heated pop-versus-soda debate, but we can hopefully all agree to make fun of the people who call it "coke" regardless of the brand.

• If you're going to sit directly behind Brooklyn Decker at an Andy Roddick tennis match, this is basically the perfect shirt to wear.

• As a rookie Jerome Williams was too scared to correct any Giants coaches or players when they called him by the wrong name, so they thought he was "Jeremy" for two years. Seriously.

• I'm going to be on 1500-ESPN before the Twins-Tigers game Saturday afternoon, talking with Darren Wolfson from 1:30 to 2:30. Tune in, listen online, and/or give us a call.

Larry David's rules of society are pretty, pretty, pretty good:

Words to live by, especially if you're really into having fights with strangers.

Louis C.K.'s great tribute to George Carlin was equal parts hilarious and touching.

• It's good to see that Elisha Cuthbert has finally recovered from being stripped of the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com title in 2006.

• I hated Jonathan Taylor Thomas because every girl in my elementary school loved him. And now I hate him because his 30th birthday makes me feel very old. Other than that, we're cool.

Alex Rodriguez is so cheap that he spent less than one year's salary on his new house.

Brock Lesnar's first fight in 14 months will be one of the biggest in UFC history.

• My cooking show again wasn't mentioned, but everything else sounds good to me.

• In back-to-back games the Twins' official lineup card--which is typed out and signed by Ron Gardenhire--listed Brian Dinkelman as "Dinkleman" and Liam Hendriks as "Hendricks."

Stephen Strasburg returned to the big leagues 12 months and three days after Tommy John elbow surgery and averaged 96.7 miles per hour with his fastball.

• I finally watched Source Code. It was a B-minus execution of an A-plus concept, but still pretty enjoyable. Seems like it kinda flew under the radar, but definitely worth renting.

• On a related note, there won't be a problem as long as he stays away from Aubrey Plaza.

• Fantasy football continues to take over the world.

• Thanks to Kirsten Brown of K-Bro's Baseball Blog for the new "Gleeman and The Geek" logo.

• And if you haven't listened to this week's podcast yet, click here. It was a fun/weird one.

• My latest weight-loss effort reached the sixth-month mark Wednesday and I'm very happy to report that I'm down 102 pounds. That sounds impressive and it was definitely hard work, but without question the biggest key to losing 102 pounds in six months is being really, really fat to begin with. I also still have lots more work to do, so anyone who sees me can't be blamed for thinking: "Wait, he still looks like this after losing 102 pounds?!"

Because of all that I'm always sort of embarrassed to talk about losing weight, but hopefully it serves as motivation for me to keep going and maybe even for other people to make a change as well. Certainly if I can do it, you can do it. I didn't have any surgeries or go on any extreme diets, so simply cutting way back on calorie intake and working out on an elliptical machine for a half-hour or so each day can have a significant impact. Now we'll see if I can avoid relapsing.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is the King of Soul performing "You Left The Water Running":

May 13, 2011

Link-O-Rama

• If only click on one link today, make it this photo of Kevin Garnett and his date at prom.

• According to a recent study people who sit for most of their day are 54 percent more likely to die of a heart attack, which is exactly why I've done all my blogging lying in bed for the past 10 years. Gotta be smart (or at least super lazy) to beat the system.

Cedric Daniels meeting Frank Reynolds is proof that television producers can read my mind.

• FOX no doubt gave Gus Johnson more money and a higher overall profile than he previously had at CBS, but the one thing they can't offer is an announcing gig as perfect for Johnson as calling the NCAA tournament. He deserved to get paid and CBS never fully appreciated what it had in Johnson, but selfishly I'll miss him calling buzzer-beaters every March.

Kyle Lohse plays a pretty convincing Tony La Russa, but his cover was blown when he failed to make more than two pitching changes in an inning.

• Maybe I'm just getting old, but the idea of a state full of Masons and Avas is disconcerting.

Brock Lesnar's mixed martial arts career is once again in limbo after his June 11 fight against Junior Dos Santos was canceled yesterday due to more health problems.

• As a former baseball card fanatic who later became a stat-head this illustrated history of how the statistics displayed on the backs of cards have evolved over the years is a must-read from Larry Granillo at Baseball Prospectus.

• ESPN and FOX teamed up to keep NBC away from college football.

• You've probably never heard of Jesse Heiman, but you've definitely seen him on screen:

He's a five o'clock shadow away from having the perfect look to play the lead in my life story.

• Pandora now has stand-up comedy stations, which I've been listening to non-stop all week.

Ozzie Guillen, romantic wine connoisseur.

• Congrats to the Minnesota Daily for being named the best student newspaper in the country by the Society of Professional Journalists. I'll probably never get over repeatedly being turned down by the Daily while in college--the final rejection count was nine, including three in-person interviews--but the reason I wanted so badly to join the staff in the first place is because it's a tremendous newspaper that churns out quality writers and reporters every year.

• Speaking of journalism school, Rick Reilly had awful advice while giving the commencement address at the University of Colorado school of journalism and mass communication:

When you get out there, all I ask is that you: Don't write for free! Nobody asks strippers to strip for free, doctors to doctor for free or professors to profess for free. Have some pride! What you know how to do now is a skill that 99.9 percent of the people don't have. If you do it for free, they won't respect you in the morning. Or the next day. Or the day after that. You sink everybody's boat in the harbor, not just yours. So just don't!

Every job I've ever gotten and every dollar I've ever earned ultimately stems from starting this blog as a 19-year-old and devoting myself to writing hundreds of thousands of words for free. Through that I gained an audience that otherwise wouldn't have been available to me, which allowed me to improve through experience and eventually get my work in front of people who actually pay. Listening to Reilly's advice would have been the worst decision I've ever made.

• When is the last time a longtime couple breaking up had both men and women this excited?

• On a related note, this breakup means there has to be a new "most confusing couple" vote.

Jon Heyman of SI.com has an odd way of evaluating contracts.

• Sad to hear about the death of 34-year-old former University of Michigan star and NBA player Robert "Tractor" Traylor, whose need to pull up his shorts after every dunk made me a fan in the mid-90s. Traylor had a fantastic college career, but his NBA days will likely be remembered most for the Mavericks picking him sixth overall in the 1998 draft and then swapping him to the Bucks for the ninth pick, a little-known German teenager named Dirk Nowitzki.

Alexi Casilla's first experience with hail earlier this week at Target Field was amusing:

"I'm trying to get better with my hands."

• These pictures of a pregnant Jessica Alba at the beach with her infant child are probably the most visually confusing things my brain has ever had to process.

Bill James was a guest on The Colbert Report.

• Mets catcher Josh Thole deleted his Twitter account after getting too many mean messages, which is funny because I've become obsessed with Twitter partly thanks to the interactions on there generally involving a higher level of discourse and a lower percentage of trolls than blog comment sections. In fairness to Thole, my Twitter followers may just be nicer than Mets fans.

• Young Me/Now Me is an interesting website where people match photos from their childhood with the same pose as adults. I'd contribute, but there aren't any pictures of me in bed typing on a laptop from 1988.

Jay Mariotti is no longer a newspaper columnist, but he's still a scumbag.

• As part of their combining with NBC Universal the regional Comcast sports networks will soon be re-branded as, for instance, NBC Sports Philadelphia and NBC Sports Chicago.

Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote a lengthy piece about the Twin Cities' sports radio landscape, which has undergone a ton of changes over the past year. I'm biased because 1500-ESPN occasionally invites me on their airwaves, but more than that I've always been a huge fan of talk radio and increased competition leading to more options and better content is a good thing for everyone.

• Newish podcast recommendation: "The Mental Illness Happy Hour" with Paul Gilmartin, who talks to comedians, actors and artists about depression and other serious stuff in a funny way.

• One of my favorite MLB reporters, Yankees beat writer Marc Carig of the Newark Star Ledger, is now also contributing columns to Baseball Prospectus. The lines, they are a blurring.

• As perhaps the only 20-something male who watches the underrated show, I'm happy that NBC picked up Parenthood for a third season despite mediocre ratings.

• Fat-O-Meter update: I'm down 55 pounds since March 7 and am getting dangerously close to being merely "really fat." My initial goal was to have my pounds lost be higher than the Twins' win total, but that may not be so impressive this year. Right now they're on pace for 56 wins.

• How much rain would be required for this to happen to the Twins' entire season?

• Finally, in honor of that Daily-sized chip on my shoulder , this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Shot Down" by The Sonics:

May 6, 2011

Link-O-Rama

• Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Mila Kunis has a fool-proof plan to meet Barack Obama that should delight the president's body man, former Duke basketball player Reggie Love.

• He'll obviously land on his feet and maybe even get a more prominent overall gig elsewhere, but CBS letting Gus Johnson go after 16 years because of a monetary disagreement is terrible news for everyone who loved him calling NCAA tournament games. There's never been a more perfect match between announcer and event, so hopefully both sides reconsider.

Randy Moss' daughter, Sydney Moss, is a 5-foot-11 high school basketball star in Kentucky and recently committed to the University of Florida after averaging 23 points and 11 rebounds per game as a junior.

• Lindsay Lohan's version of community service seems fun.

Dick Kaegel of MLB.com describes how the Royals have all but ditched in-person "advanced scouting" in favor of video analysis. As manager Ned Yost put it: "You don't need an advance scout anymore. You've got everything at your fingertips. Everything I need or we need to see is on the video."

Kris Humphries has his hands full with Kim Kardashian, literally and figuratively.

Trey Kirby interviewing Amar'e Stoudemire's personal stylist is spectacular enough, but the photo of Stoudemire sitting next to Anna Wintour really takes things to the next level.

Ozzie Guillen was suspended two games for tweeting, which merely adds to his legend.

• At around 2:00 am Wednesday night the few hundred fans left at Fenway Park for the Red Sox's marathon game with the Angels serenaded Kevin Youkilis with a personalized version of "Just A Friend" by Biz Markie:

My childhood smiled.

• Judging by his scores John Smoltz is closer to coming out of retirement to pitch again than he is to making the PGA tour.

• My favorite part about 26-year-old Scarlett Johansson continuing to date 50-year-old Sean Penn is this report that "she's at his house most nights and has been accepted by his teenage sons." Not mentioned is their confusion about winning the lottery without buying a ticket.

• Journalism tops The Daily Beast's list of the "most useless degrees." Even more useless than a journalism degree? Spending four years in college without getting a journalism degree.

• According to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations report the Minneapolis Star Tribune owns the 17th-largest daily newspaper circulation in the country at 296,605.

• I watched every episode of America's Next Great Restaurant on NBC, but a combination of diet and laziness precludes me from going to the Mall of America to give Soul Daddy a try. I'm fairly certain most people don't want their soul food healthy, so what are the odds it'll still be open by the time my diet inevitably fails?

• Sad story, but this never would have happened if she was actually 50 feet tall.

• My old cantor got arrested for a DWI going to my old high school when his wife "called police to report that he'd be showing up at the school and that he was driving under the influence" at 5:45 pm. I could write another 500 sentences about that one sentence, but I won't.

• On a related note, Derek Lowe's life is like The Fast And The Furious films, except sweatier, drunker, and with a higher ground-ball percentage.

• If you enjoyed 500 Days of Summer and watch Community you'll love 500 Days of Britta:

I'm definitely in favor of Zooey Deschanel and Gillian Jacobs teaming up for the sequel.

• One of the best side effects of NBC Universal combining with Comcast is the Versus channel's website and excellent MMA writer Ariel Helwani folding into NBCSports.com.

• From the shoplifting arrest and plea agreement to his side of the story, nothing about Mike Leake's situation makes sense to me.

• I'm not really sure what took me so long aside from being the world's oldest 28-year-old, but I finally tried Skype this week and was basically amazed by the entire thing. I lost my Skype virginity taping an episode of HBT Daily with Craig Calcaterra in which we discussed Francisco Liriano's no-hitter. He was gentle and wearing the headset made me feel sexy.

• My second Skype experience was even better, as I recorded a late-night podcast with Marc Normandin and Matt Kory from Red Sox Beacon in which we talked about the Twins-Red Sox series and re-wrote the script to the upcoming Moneyball movie. As someone who listens to no fewer than 25 podcasts per week it was a lot of fun to appear on a podcast that can actually be found on iTunes and we chatted for about 45 minutes, so please give it a listen.

• If you're more into radio than podcasts, you can listen to my appearance on Minnesota Public Radio talking Twins with Cathy Wurzer.

• Marrying a former Miss Michigan isn't as great as it sounds, as Charlie Bell has learned.

Sammy Sosa likes to laugh at NBA playoff games.

• Congratulations to friend of AG.com Chris Jaffe, who won the Sporting News-SABR Baseball Research Award for his incredibly detailed book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers, from which the Tom Kelly section was excerpted here last year.

• Due to the strong response to my note about wanting to partner with AG.com readers who have interesting and worthwhile stuff to advertise I'm going to start a "Sponsor of the Week" program soon that will keep the site's overall advertising to a minimum while highlighting one advertiser per week for supporting the blog. I've begun reserving weeks, so to promote your thing to the thousands of people who visit this space every day drop me an e-mail for details.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is the original version of "Just A Friend":

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