July 5, 2013

Link-O-Rama

• News story lead sentence of the week: "A bizarre incident at a McDonald's drive-thru involving a bare-breasted woman and caramel led to the woman being arraigned."

Baseball America is publishing Byron Buxton porn now.

• In response to my post about the Twins signing 16-year-old Lewin Diaz for $1.4 million, swing mechanics expert Bobby Tewksbary broke down the video and compared him to David Ortiz.

Gilbert Gottfried as Walter White is just dumb enough to be funny.

• As a longtime Google Reader power user who relies on constantly updated RSS feeds to do his job I was crushed when it went away this week, but I'm slowly rebounding with Feedly.

• Not mentioned on this "Most Popular Date Ideas By City" list is Minnetonka: Chinese takeout and "Blue Valentine" on Netflix.

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we unfortunately predicted exactly how the Josh Willingham injury situation would play out and examined the Kyle Gibson hype meter.

• I generally think Conan O'Brien on television is hit or miss, but his internet videos are more often than not really funny:

And my favorite O'Brien thing is the "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop" documentary, which is on Netflix.

Joe Mauer, on moving to a new house with his pregnant wife: "I've been told I'm a hoarder."

Glen Perkins thinks the Twins should be using him more often in non-save situations, which is exactly what I wrote here not so long ago. He probably has a better chance of convincing them.

• Here's an example of the type of e-mails that get sent to the HardballTalk contact address. We write about baseball, by the way.

Jim Thome was unable to land another major-league job at age 42, so he joined the White Sox front office as a special assistant to the general manager.

• There's something funny about the Twins' television announcer implying that people who watch games on television don't know as much as people who watch games at Target Field.

• On a related note, I've gone to a bunch of Twins games recently and luckily spotted this.

• Holding up signs at baseball games always seems silly to me, but I'm making an exception.

• I really liked Britt Robson's lengthy, reasoned analysis of the Timberwolves beefing up their offense and ignoring their defense.

• My weekly half-hour appearance on KFAN with Paul Allen was pushed back to Friday because of the holiday and we were joined by Paul Charchian. I explained Mase to them.

• I'm almost finished re-watching all six seasons and 86 episodes of "The Sopranos" and this is by far the saddest moment.

• One of the best "The Sopranos" moments that I'd forgotten about was Christopher Moltisanti quoting "Born To Run" in a scene with Bruce Springsteen's bandmate Steven Van Zandt:

With all that New Jersey and all that Van Zandt, how did Springsteen avoid making a cameo?

• So you wanna work in baseball, huh?

• On a recent "Gleeman and The Geek" episode I talked about being nostalgic for typewriters and according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "typewriters are surprisingly hip again."

• Just a super chill Twitter bro offering up his thoughts about baseball and life to me.

• Two-and-a-half years after leaving the Twins for the Dodgers and a three-year, $12 million deal Matt Guerrier was traded for Carlos Marmol in a swap of unwanted contracts.

Tami Taylor was amazing, but it turns out that Connie Britton is pretty great in real life too.

• One of the better Twitter conversations of all time. Just happy to be a small part of it.

• Never forget that Karl Pilkington is the best.

• "Stop Podcasting Yourself" is my favorite podcast and it's especially good when hosts Graham Clark and Dave Shumka are joined by a guest with as much silliness as Caitlin Howden.

Jon Dore was a fun guest on "Who Charted?" with Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack.

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

- "Darin Mastroianni girlfriend"
- "Ways to approach a 39-year-old daughter to lose weight"
- "Bret Saberhagen net worth"
- "Are Aaron Gleeman and Dana Wessel the same person?"
- "Fox Sports North Girls last name"
- "Drinking alcohol while on the elliptical"
- "Is Kyle Gibson right-handed or left-handed?"
- "Ron Coomer strip club"
- "Jim Thome shirtless"
- "Sid Hartman still alive"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Leaving California" by Shawn Smith:


This week's blog content is sponsored by Ticket King, a local ticket broker that doesn't charge check-out fees, offers in-store pickup, and specializes in Twins tickets. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

June 27, 2013

Who are the best old hitters in Twins history?

twins best old hitters

Last week I wrote about the best young hitters in Twins history, using OPS to highlight the most productive seasons by players at ages 20 (Butch Wynegar), 21 (Tom Brunansky), 22 (Kent Hrbek), 23 (Joe Mauer), 24 (Hrbek), and 25 (Harmon Killebrew). I'm going to focus on the other side of the age spectrum today, examining the best old hitters in Twins history. Let's start with the 35-year-olds ...


AGE 35              YEAR      PA      OPS
Kirby Puckett       1995     602     .894
Harmon Killebrew    1971     624     .850
Tony Oliva          1974     494     .739
Terry Steinbach     1997     489     .696
Vic Power           1963     578     .682
John Roseboro       1968     435     .611

Those are the only six 35-year-olds in Twins history to log 300 plate appearances, led by Kirby Puckett in the strike-shortened 1995 season. In what was his final season he hit .314/.379/.515 with 23 homers and 39 doubles in 137 games. Defensively he'd shifted to right field, but Puckett remained a force offensively with an OPS that was 60 points above his career mark. He smacked his most homers since 1988 and set career-highs with 56 walks and a .379 on-base percentage.

And adjusting for the offensive levels of the two eras Killebrew's age-35 season was arguably even more productive than Puckett's despite lower raw numbers. Puckett edged Killebrew by 44 points of OPS, but the league average was .771 in 1995 compared to .681 in 1971. Killebrew split time between third base and first base while hitting .254/.386/.464 for the league's 10th-best OPS and led the AL in both RBIs (119) and walks (114).

Tony Oliva joins Puckett and Killebrew as the only other Twins who were above average at 35, hitting .285/.325/.414 in league that hit just .258 with a .371 slugging percentage as a whole. Terry Steinbach was well below average while hitting .248/.302/.392 in 1997, but his modest .696 OPS was just slightly below the AL average for catchers and he caught 116 games in his first of three seasons with the Twins. Oh, and he doubled his career-high with six steals.


AGE 36              YEAR      PA      OPS
Harmon Killebrew    1972     532     .817
Tony Oliva          1975     515     .722
Terry Steinbach     1998     465     .720
John Roseboro       1969     406     .654

Only four 36-year-olds in Twins history topped 300 plate appearances and all of them were also on the age-35 list, led by Killebrew hitting .231/.367/.450 with 26 homers and 94 walks in 139 games. Those may not stand out as huge raw numbers, but in 1972 he ranked third in the league in both homers and walks while placing among the AL's top 10 in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS.

Just like the previous season Oliva remained a slightly above average bat, hitting .270/.344/.378 in a league that hit just .258/.328/.379 in 1975. Steinbach was actually better at 36 than he was at 35, upping his OPS by 25 points and catching 119 games. John Roseboro made his name with the Dodgers, but after a decade in Los Angeles he moved on to the Twins for two seasons and, like Steinbach, was remarkably durable for a mid-30s catcher.


AGE 37              YEAR      PA      OPS
Terry Steinbach     1999     380     .748
Harmon Killebrew    1973     290     .698

For the young hitters lists the cutoff was 300 plate appearances, but because there aren't nearly as many old hitters I've reduced the minimum to 200 plate appearances for age 37 and up. And even then Steinbach and Killebrew are the only 37-year-old regulars in Twins history. Steinbach again raised his OPS, going from .696 at 35 and .730 at 36 to .748 at 37. He wasn't as durable, but still started 96 games behind the plate and posted a career-high .358 on-base percentage.

Killebrew was a shell of his former self in 1973, as major knee problems limited him to 69 games and he managed just five homers, although he still walked 41 times and posted a .352 on-base percentage. Oliva fell too short on playing time in 1976 to make the list, but he played his final season at age 37 and was a below-average hitter for the only time in his career, struggling for 67 games before calling it quits.


AGE 38              YEAR      PA      OPS
Harmon Killebrew    1974     382     .672
Jamey Carroll       2012     537     .660

Killebrew is technically the most productive 38-year-old in team history, but it wasn't pretty. He was healthy enough to play 122 games in 1974, but hit just .222/.312/.360 with 12 homers in his final Twins season before moving on to the Royals for one last forgettable season. Meanwhile, in basically matching Killebrew's age-38 production Jamey Carroll set a career-high with 537 plate appearances and also drove in the most runs of his career.

Mike Redmond's limited action as a backup catcher keeps him from appearing on any of these lists, but he spent ages 34-38 with the Twins and hit .294/.337/.352 for them after turning 35. Only six players in Twins history logged more plate appearances than Redmond after age 35 and his .690 OPS is plenty solid for a catcher. In fact, Redmond's adjusted OPS+ was the exact same as Steinbach's post-35 mark.


AGE 39              YEAR      PA      OPS
Jim Thome           2010     340    1.039
Paul Molitor        1996     729     .858
Jim Dwyer           1989     254     .794
Otis Nixon          1998     500     .705

When the Twins signed Jim Thome for just $1.5 million in 2010 he was supposed to fill a limited role as a bench bat and occasional designated hitter, but instead he turned in one of the best age-39 seasons of all time. Thome hit .283/.412/.627 with 25 homers and 60 walks in 340 plate appearances for a 1.039 OPS that's the fourth-highest age-35 mark in MLB history, one spot ahead of Babe Ruth and trailing only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Ted Williams.

Not only is his 1.039 OPS in 2010 the best mark by any Twins hitter after age 35, no one else has even cracked .900. And regardless of age his 1.039 OPS in 2010 is the highest in Twins history for all hitters to play at least 100 games, with only Killebrew twice and Mauer and Rod Carew one apiece joining Thome in the 1.000 OPS/100 games club. Not bad for a guy who signed for $1.5 million and began the season behind Delmon Young in the line for playing time.

Thome's age-39 season is so amazing that it overshadows an incredible age-39 season by Paul Molitor, who batted .341 with a league-leading 225 hits in 1996. Molitor signed with the Twins after three seasons in Toronto and joined the 3,000-hit club in September, missing just one game while setting a career-high with 113 RBIs, tying a career-high with 41 doubles, and stealing 18 bases. Molitor is the only 39-year-old in MLB history to top 200 hits or 110 RBIs.

Otis Nixon looked 39 years old for his entire career and had one of his best seasons as an actual 39-year-old, hitting .297 with a .361 on-base percentage and 37 steals in 110 games during his one-season stay in Minnesota. Nixon broke his jaw in April when Royals shortstop Felix Martinez kicked him in the face during a double play, yet still managed the second-most steals in MLB history for a 39-year-old behind Rickey Henderson.


AGE 40              YEAR      PA      OPS
Jim Thome           2011     242     .827
Paul Molitor        1997     597     .786

Here's how ridiculous Thome's age-39 season was: He lost more than 200 points from his OPS the next year and still had one of the most productive age-40 seasons ever. Thome hit .243/.351/.476 with 12 homers in 240 plate appearances for an .827 OPS that tops the Twins' age-39 list ahead of his lone competition in Molitor. And then Thome was even better after being traded to the Indians in August, hitting .296/.390/.479 in 22 games back where his career started.

Molitor was also very good as a 40-year-old, hitting .305/.351/.435 in 135 games to join fellow Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Sam Rice, Luke Appling, and Henderson as the only players in MLB history to bat .300 at age 40. Thome and Molitor are the only Twins to get regular playing time at 40 and the only other hitters in team history to see any sort of game action at 40 are Jim Dwyer, Ruben Sierra, and Elmer Valo, who combined to bat .179 in 144 trips to the plate.


AGE 41              YEAR      PA      OPS
Dave Winfield       1993     594     .767
Paul Molitor        1998     559     .718

Three seasons before Molitor notched his 3,000th hit in Minnesota fellow St. Paul native Dave Winfield signed with the Twins and did the same at age 41. And he was hardly just a novelty act, hitting .271/.325/.442 with 21 homers in 143 games in 1993. Winfield joins Williams, Bonds, and Darrell Evans as the only 41-year-olds with 20 homers. Molitor managed a nice-looking .281 batting average at age 41, but his .718 OPS in his final season was below the AL average of .771.


AGE 42              YEAR      PA      OPS
Dave Winfield       1994     328     .746

Winfield is the only hitter in Twins history to appear in a game at age 42 or older and he was still a decent hitter in 1994, batting .252/.321/.425 with 10 homers and 15 doubles in 77 games before the strike ended the season. Unfortunately he didn't call it quits during the strike, instead coming back in 1995 with the Indians and hitting .191 in 46 games to end a Hall of Fame career. Winfield has the ninth-most plate appearances in MLB history after turning 40 with 1,722.


This week's blog content is sponsored by Curt's Salsa, a locally owned salsa company that believes in fresh ingredients and rooting for the little guy. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

May 3, 2013

Link-O-Rama

• Another week, another example of Glen Perkins being the best.

• Crazy story of the week: A mother of two went missing for 11 years and was presumed dead only to return and reveal that she left voluntarily to live among homeless people.

Jim Thome is still looking for work even as the Indians build him a statue outside their ballpark.

Jon Bois does a lot of good writing about sports for SB Nation, so not surprisingly his tales of being homeschooled for Vice are a must-read.

• When it comes to making terrible decisions for breakfast I go with Burger King over McDonald's, but people like me have been waiting decades for this news.

• "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" is one of my favorite albums of all time, so if it takes the threat of prison time to coax the first new music in a decade out of Lauryn Hill then so be it.

Snoop Dogg and Philip Seymour Hoffman are besties, obviously.

• You can't listen to "Gleeman and The Geek" live on Sunday because the Wild-Blackhawks playoff game bumped us off KFAN, but you can hear what we sounded like on the radio last Sunday.

• Podcast listeners know my policy of asking John Bonnes about the parking situation before we record an episode at a new location and my fear of winding up in a video like this one is why:

I'd have just gone home about 30 seconds in.

Tommy Lasorda reacted to seeing Psy at Dodger Stadium exactly like you'd expect.

• What has gotten into Kevin Correia? I'm glad you asked.

Jack Morris has a new radio gig in Toronto and he's accusing opposing pitchers of cheating.

Julio Borbon has a hit by pitch he'd like to sell you.

Mila Kunis was just named FHM's "sexiest woman in the world" after previously being named GQ's "sexiest woman alive." I've been driving that bandwagon since naming her Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com back in 2010, but now that it's the consensus opinion it may be time to move on. Kate Mara is the current front-runner, but I'm also considering Lizzy Caplan, Aubrey Plaza, Chelsea Peretti, and Alison Brie. Obviously this isn't a decision that should be made quickly.

• Baseball-Reference.com now has game logs and splits for minor leaguers dating back to 2008, because Sean Forman is a saint.

• What happens when A.J. Pierzynski leaves a team after eight seasons and then faces them for the first time?

• The most shocking revelation from Jason Collins' hour-long chat with Bill Simmons is that he's a Blackberry user just like me.

• As a lifelong Howard Stern fan it always make me happy when he has someone else I like on as a first-time guest and they get along well, so Marc Maron's appearance was great.

• Sunday afternoon the Minneapolis JCC is hosting "Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes" author John Rosengren for a chat about Hank Greenberg and Jewish baseball players.

• "Modern Comedian" is a well-done series of short films by Scott Moran and I especially enjoyed the most recent one about "crowd work" featuring Phil Hanley:

Hanley has also been a guest on my favorite podcast, "Stop Podcasting Yourself."

• I'm very happy with my employers for renewing the most underrated show on television.

• In her latest recap Molly Lambert of Grantland asked arguably the most important question in "Mad Men" history: What did Pete Campbell order from the Chinese restaurant?

• I got into a bar debate about which "Mad Men" character you'd most like to be friends with and my choice was Stan Rizzo, so I'm happy that the actor who plays him, Jay R. Ferguson, seems pretty great too. Especially for a former teen heartthrob.

• On a related note, here's my favorite GIF from the most recent "Mad Men" episode.

• No one cares because reviewing movies six months later is silly, but I finally saw "Silver Linings Playbook" and didn't love it. Lots of good parts, but also lots of rough draft-like parts. I've decided that 2012 had tons of very good movies, but zero great movies.

• Follow-up from last week's Link-O-Rama: Stand-up comedian Rob Delaney actually did a very nice job singing the National Anthem at the Dodgers-Brewers game.

Dayn Perry, whose podcasts with Carson Cistulli are basically my favorite thing ever, has a new book out called "Drinking With Boileryard Clarke."

Parker Hageman of Twins Daily was a guest on "The Sportive" podcast and a good, filthy time was had by all.

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

- "She men's restroom recap"
- "Ribas Twins what team is he in now?"
- "Dick Bremer retiring"
- "Jason Kubel shirtless"
- "Girl in baseball jersey"
- "Zubaz limousines"
- "Joe Mauer personal life"
- "Why doesn't my brain want me to lose weight?"
- "Cybermetrics on A.J. Pierzynski"
- "Binging on macaroni and cheese"
- "Started watching 'Dawson's Creek' on Netflix"
- "Aaron Gleeman is Jew"

• Finally, in honor of me knowingly listening to a Daft Punk song for the first time and actually liking it, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Get Lucky" featuring Pharrell Williams:


This week's blog content is sponsored by "Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes" author John Rosengren's upcoming appearance at the Minneapolis Sabes JCC on May 5. Please support him for supporting AG.com.

March 25, 2013

Twins Notes: Hicks, Butera, Gibson, Diamond, Benson, and 612 Brew

aaron hicks three homers

• Making official what was pretty clearly the plan as soon as they followed up the Denard Span trade by also trading Ben Revere, the Twins named Aaron Hicks the Opening Day center fielder. Perhaps if Hicks had a terrible spring training Darin Mastroianni could have worked his way into the gig as a place-holder, but Hicks made that a moot point by hitting .350/.397/.650 with three steals in 18 games, including a headline-making three-homer game.

Hicks is a very good prospect with an all-around skill set that could make him a long-term building block, so I'm extremely excited to see him play. However, by jumping him from Double-A to the big leagues at age 23 the Twins may be rushing his development a bit and are definitely sacrificing their ability to delay his eventual free agency for the maximum amount of time. If he never goes back to the minors Hicks will be a free agent following the 2018 season, at age 29.

Based on service time rules they could've pushed back his free agency by an entire year, gaining an extra season and 162 games of team control, by sending Hicks to Triple-A for as little as four weeks. In that scenario if the Twins called him up in late April or early May and Hicks never went back to the minors he'd be a free agent following 2019, at age 30. Short-term gratification is hard to ignore, but stretching a prospect's pre-free agency years is done regularly by many teams.

Instead of having Hicks for 135 games this year and 162 games in 2019 they'll have him for 162 games this year and zero games in 2019. That math seems straightforward enough, especially considering Hicks is likely to be better as a 29-year-old veteran than as a 23-year-old rookie and the Twins might actually be contending in 2019. It's not about being cheap, it's about maximizing a player's value before he can leave. But it apparently never factored into the Twins' decision.

• One thing that has always made Hicks an intriguing prospect is excellent plate discipline, which he displayed immediately as an 18-year-old at rookie-ball in 2008 and has maintained ever since. He's averaged 98 walks per 150 games as a pro, including 79 walks in 129 games at Double-A last season, which is not a skill set you typically find in speedy, athletic, up-the-middle defenders. Joe Mauer, who knows a little something about plate discipline, took notice of Hicks' approach:

I've been real impressed by him. For a young guy to take pitches and work at-bats is pretty impressive. Even today, I talked to him and told him taking pitches is going to help the guys behind him. He has a pretty good grasp on how to approach an at-bat.

Ron Gardenhire tends to use speedy center fielders and middle infielders atop the lineup even if they lack strong on-base skills, so it's nice that Hicks is actually a patient hitter. By comparison, Revere drew a grand total of 57 walks in 254 games for the Twins. Hicks' high walk rate has also come with lots of strikeouts and mediocre batting averages, so it'll be interesting to see how he adjusts to facing pitchers with better control and no fear of throwing him strikes.

• Back in December the Twins tendered Drew Butera a contract for 2013 and then in January the two sides avoided arbitration with a one-year, $700,000 deal, but he'll be making that money in Rochester after being optioned to the minors. On one hand it's encouraging that the Twins finally realized a career .183/.232/.265 hitter probably shouldn't be in the majors. On the other hand it would have been nice to come to that conclusion before signing him to a $700,000 contract.

One-year deals to avoid arbitration aren't fully guaranteed until certain dates this month, so even after signing Butera they could've saved five-sixths or three-fourths of the money by releasing him. Detroit recently did that with Brennan Boesch, saving $1.9 million of a $2.3 million deal, but those deadlines have passed. Gardenhire talked of wanting a stronger bench and removing Butera fits that, but he also talked of wanting Jim Thome and that apparently isn't happening.

Kyle Gibson won't be joining Hicks on the Opening Day roster, as initial reports of him looking great coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery gave way to struggles in actual games and the Twins sent him to Triple-A. He'll be limited to 130 innings this season, so there's an argument for not wasting them at Triple-A, but the problem with that line of thinking is assuming Gibson is ready to succeed against big-league hitters when he hadn't even done that yet before surgery.

• What was supposed to be minor surgery to remove a bone chip from Scott Diamond's elbow in December has become a season-opening stint on the disabled list for the would-be Opening Day starter. For now the plan is for Diamond to make his season debut in mid-April, missing the Game 1 matchup versus Justin Verlander and a couple more starts, but the Twins' injury timetables haven't been worth a whole lot in recent years and worrying about elbow issues tends to loom.

• Diamond on the DL and Gibson at Triple-A means Samuel Deduno or Cole DeVries is likely to be in the Opening Day rotation and both of them could get a spot if the Twins decide to send Liam Hendriks back to Triple-A. At the beginning of the offseason Terry Ryan spoke of big plans for fixing the awful rotation, yet the Twins are already turning to the same career minor leaguers who were thrown against the wall to see if they stuck last season as emergency options.

Joe Benson was sent to Triple-A after a lackluster spring training, but even if he'd played well there wasn't much room for him on a roster with Hicks and Mastroianni. Benson is coming off a terrible, injury wrecked season, so he needs to get back on track or risk falling off the prospect radar, but he'd seemingly be the obvious call-up if Hicks struggles or if any of Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, Chris Parmelee, or Ryan Doumit gets injured.

Danny Rams and Cole Nelson were among a handful of minor leaguers released by the Twins. Rams was a 2007 second-round pick with lots of power, but couldn't turn himself into a quality defensive catcher and hit .241 with 543 strikeouts in 406 games while failing to get past Single-A. Nelson and Lester Oliveros were acquired from the Tigers for Delmon Young in 2011--the same day "Gleeman and The Geek" debuted--but the big left-hander from Edina stalled at Single-A.

Anthony Swarzak will join Diamond in beginning the season on the disabled list as he recovers from the fractured ribs suffered in the "horseplay" incident during Twins Fest.

Tim Wood, who was a candidate for the Twins' bullpen and out of minor-league options, has been shut down with a strained rotator cuff.

Matt Capps failed to make the Indians on a minor-league deal and may accept an assignment to Triple-A one year after beginning the season as the Twins' closer.

Scott Baker's comeback from Tommy John surgery has been derailed by a strained elbow and he'll be shut down for at least a month.

• Thanks to everyone who came to the Twins Daily meet-up Saturday at 612 Brew. It was a great turnout and we're definitely planning to host semi-regular events throughout the season. Between the beer and laid-back space 612 Brew is an ideal venue, with the added bonus that the owners are Twins fans and the head brewer is a "Gleeman and The Geek" listener. I'm sure we'll be back there at some point, but in the meantime I highly recommended checking out 612 Brew.

• I didn't think to take any pictures until after the crowd had already thinned out a bit, but ...

twins daily 612 meetup2

twins daily 612 meetup1

twins daily 612 meetup4

twins daily 612 meetup3


This week's blog content is sponsored by Territory Train, which takes the heavy lifting out of planning and executing Twins road trips. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

March 1, 2013

Link-O-Rama

• I also carefully considered my options before deciding to move out and buy my own house.

• Every student in a Johns Hopkins University class boycotted the final exam, so based on the established grading curve they all got a perfect score.

• I was conflicted seeing all the good-looking movie stars sporting beards at the Oscars, but ultimately they can't be blamed for believing in science.

Nikola Pekovic and Zach Galifianakis are besties now. Lotta respect in the beard game.

• Never forget: Kelsey Grammer was the original Jennifer Lawrence.

• Tough to decide between Lawrence and Jack Nicholson or Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Sally Field for cutest Oscar couple.

• It was a good run, but after nearly three years as Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com this might be the end of us. I've got a committee putting together a list of potential candidates.

• And don't feel too bad for Mila Kunis. She's used to it.

• Just to be clear, I'm still willing to marry into Kate Mara's family.

• My annual series ranking the Twins' top prospects will conclude next week, but in the meantime here's the first installment of the top 10.

Ricky Rubio to Alexey Shved on TNT last night: "Change your face. Be happy. Enjoy it."

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode one of my family members was randomly at the bar we chose for the recording and I also compared myself to Jennifer Lawrence.

• Locking yourself out of a hotel room naked is essentially my worst nightmare:

And based on that amazing video it's the worst nightmare of everyone around him too.

Wright Thompson's lengthy ESPN.com piece about Michael Jordan on his 50th birthday is a must-read, if only for the part about Jordan's security code name being a Hebrew word.

• I kind of want to go to New Mexico and take this "Breaking Bad" tour, even if Bryan Cranston isn't around to pose for pictures with everyone.

• Congrats to friend of AG.com and two-time "Gleeman and The Geek" guest Lindsay Guentzel for her new gig on K-TWIN, where she'll co-host a show with Ron Coomer and Mark Rider.

• I've always been a big believer in naps, so I loved the Boston Globe's "how to nap" guide that illustrates the best methods for napping and explains why napping is a good thing. My personal recommendations: Try to nap immediately after finishing work for the day and buy a sleep mask to block out any sunlight for daytime napping (and also to look really cool, obviously).

Erin Andrews had no interest in going to the candy shop.

Zach Lowe of Grantland wrote a really interesting analysis of stat-head general manager Daryl Morey building the Rockets into a high-powered, statistically ideal offense.

• Reading this interview with Linda Cardellini it occurred to me that she's 37 years old, which seemed impossible considering she brilliantly played a teenage Lindsay Weir in 2000. My crush has not dissipated since then and I recommend spending 99 cents to watch Cardellini co-star with John Slattery in the 2011 independent movie "Return."

• Hey, it's spring training for national anthem singers too.

• Now that we know Ron Gardenhire texts I imagine him as a heavy emoticon user.

Stephen Curry had a crazy degree of difficulty while scoring 54 points on 28 shots.

• I first saw Haralabos Voulgaris when he made the final table of a World Poker Tour event in 2007, but poker is just a hobby. He's gotten rich from betting on basketball and as Scott Eden of ESPN.com chronicles that makes him arguably the most successful statistical analysis in sports.

• UFC president Dana White's buddy challenged unassuming lightweight Joe Lauzon to a grappling match and the results were amusingly predictable:

Any weight advantage was canceled out by the scarf.

• Fictional players from my "Hardball Dynasty" league are now being interviewed on Fan Graphs.

• Sure, it's only March 1, but it's hard to believe you'll see a better catch this year.

Jim Thome is still looking for work, so I'll make a standing offer: $20 per episode to co-host the podcast and I'll do the best I can to keep John Bonnes from hugging him.

• It took Joe Posnanski all of two posts on HardballTalk to write something better than anything I've ever written on there.

• In addition to Posnanski we also added Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley to the HardballTalk crew.

• My mom tried to get the inside scoop about the Baer hiring before anyone else.

• There's a podcast about embarrassing pooping stories and it's actually pretty good. "How I Met Your Mother" writer Doug Mand is the host and he's joined on "Doodie Calls" by lots of funny guests, like "Happy Endings" actress Eliza Coupe and Twitter must-follow Alison Agosti.

Adele is great and all, but Paul F. Tompkins does the best version of "Skyfall."

Louis C.K.'s latest stand-up special, which I happily bought for $5 on his website last year, is now available on Netflix online. Here's a screenshot of me watching it for the third time.

• In addition to being an age-old debate Blondes vs. Brunettes is also a female flag football game to raise money for Alzheimer's awareness, so check out a good, fun cause and go to their happy hour at Brit's downtown next week.

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

- "Father of Diora Baird's child"
- "Aaron Gleeman dating Linda Cardellini rumors"
- "Carlos Gutierrez baseball agent"
- "Ear lump"
- "Shecky Souhan"
- "Aaron is fat and mental"
- "NBA players wearing teeth braces"
- "How do I lay my leg with a broken fibula?"
- "Alexey Shved shirtless"
- "Kate Mara ugly"

• Finally, in honor of Cardellini still being great at 37 and Ronda Rousey using it for her entrance at UFC 157 this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett:


This week's blog content is sponsored by Rotoworld's annual "Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide," which is available in both magazine and online versions. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

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