February 9, 2003

Monday morning

Not too much went on in the baseball world this weekend, so I thought I would devote this column to some random thoughts I had while wondering why Mariah Carey looked better wearing "Wizards 23" last night than Michael Jordan ever has...

While watching the various NBA All-Star weekend festivities, I had what I think is a very good idea.

The luster of the dunk contest and 3-point contest are sort of gone, so I was thinking about a new event that would liven things up a bit.

How about a 1-on-1 contest?

Can you imagine Tracy McGrady going 1-on-1 against Kobe Bryant?

How about Kevin Garnett against Tim Duncan?

Shaq versus Yao?

Jason Kidd and Gary Payton?

Allen Iverson against Steve Francis?

The possibilities are endless.

They might have some trouble getting the true star players to participate, just as they do with the dunk contest, but what if they put up a $1 million dollar first prize?

I bet you a few of the great players would be interested in that and it would definitely get the competitive juices flowing once the competition started.

By the way, congratulations to Kevin Garnett for winning the MVP award.

He had a great game and he is a class-act and the best all-around basketball player in the world.

Plus, I met him one time and he was really nice to me.

37 points and 9 rebounds doesn't hurt either.

Speaking of basketball...

My beloved Minnesota Gophers basketball team defeated Big Ten leading Purdue on Saturday, with me in attendance.

The Gophers are the absolute worst team to be a fan of, because they are just good enough to get your hopes up and just bad enough to always end up disappointing you.

They've been that way for a few years now.

Want a few examples?

I knew you would...

They opened the season with 4 straight wins, including wins over Georgia and Georgia Tech.

Then they went to Nebraska and lost by 20 to a Nebraska team that currently boasts a 9-12 record, including 1-7 in Big Twelve conference play.

After losing at Illinois and at Wisconsin to start Big Ten conference action, they bounced back and won 4 out of the next 5, including wins over Michigan State (a game I also attended) and Michigan.

Then they went to Ohio State and laid an egg, losing a game they led throughout, to an OSU team that currently sits with an 11-10 record.

And Saturday, with me in attendance and my confidence in the team at a low-point, they absolutely crushed Purdue, who came into the game at 15-4 and 7-1 in the Big Ten.

The Gophers are now 13-7, including 5-4 in conference.

Their next 3 games are at home against Iowa, on the road against Northwestern and at home against Penn State.

3 extremely winnable games.

Of course, knowing them, they'll go to Northwestern and lose to the Wildcats (9-11, 1-8 in Big Ten), just like they did last season.

Heck, even if they win those 3 games they are still going to end up disappointing me, simply because their last 4 games of the year are @Michigan State, Wisconsin, @Indiana and @Illinois.

Whoever put that schedule together is not a real big fan of Goldy Gopher.

Switching to baseball...

Remember my "Top 50 Prospects of 2003" article that was posted on BaseballPrimer.com a couple of weeks ago?

I was recently informed by the higher ups at Baseball Primer that over 10,000 people have already read it since it was published on January 27th.

That's a lot of people!

Thanks to everyone that has already read it and, if you haven't yet, go do it already!

Since I am doing random thoughts today, I wanted to "introduce" everyone to a relatively new blog that I have really started to enjoy.

It's called "The Dump's Sportsblog" and it can be found over there in my "links" section on the left side of this page.

The Dump is one of my favorite new sites and it is one that I check out everyday.

It's run by 3 guys, Matt, Dan and Pete, and they do an excellent job writing about various baseball subjects.

Here's an example of why I make sure to visit their site everyday:

Charles" Bronson Arroyo claimed by the Red Sox

Going to a high school in New York with many kids of foreign descent, I noticed the very odd trend that many of them had typical American last names as their first name. For instance, a good friend of my brother's is named Johnson. That's his first name. I had classes with a kid named Williams. Not William...Williams. You see this a little bit in the baseball realm as well, with young guys like Jackson Melian banging around the minor leagues. My assumption has always been that people moving to the United States (or who just dream of being able to do so at some point) want their children to be able to fit in with American society, and they figure that if they give their kids what they think of as an "American" name, that'd help. Of course, because they're in fact last names, it sounds kind of stupid, at least to me. I could be totally wrong about the motivation here...I just can't think of any other explanation for it.

Of course, there are American-born, American-bred people with last names for first names too though. Every so often you'll hear about someone named Lennon or something like that. Generally, this is done to honor someone who the parents admire a great deal, just as you might name a child after a relative to pay respect to them. I like to think that this is the case for Bronson Arroyo, who hopefully is named after cinematic legend Charles Bronson, most notably the star of the Death Wish series of films (one of my all-time favorites).

You've got to love a website that can not only devote several hundred words to the Red Sox signing a pitcher the quality of Bronson Arroyo, but can do so without really talking that much about Bronson Arroyo.

Plus, Matt and Dan just joined one of my Diamond-Mind leagues, so I figured I should be nice to them before my team starts kicking their butts!

Speaking of the links section on the left side of this page, I added a whole bunch of new ones over the weekend.

This site now boasts over 50 links, which seems like it is a good thing.

If you haven't already, go check out some of the links, there is a lot of good baseball stuff listed there.

And, if you know of any good websites that you think I should check out or link to, feel free to send me an email and let me know about it/them.

The Devil Rays signed Travis Lee over the weekend.

Twins fans may remember Travis Lee as the guy that the Twins drafted with the 2nd overall pick in the 1996 draft and then lost because he and his agent found some type of contractual loophole to make Lee a free agent.

At the time, I remember everyone was extremely upset about it because Lee looked like he would be a future star.

Lee hit .363/.473/.690 at Single-A and .300/.387/.573 at Triple-A in 1997 and it was looking like the Twinkies had lost out on a great player.

Karma came back and bit Travis on the butt though and he has never really been anything more than mediocre in the Major Leagues.

He is a career .255/.339/.402 hitter that has never slugged over .434 in any season.

The lesson to be had from his situation?

Don't f@$% with the Minnesota Twins.

You heard me!

Speaking of the Twins...

They made a signing of their own last week, locking up Jacque Jones to a 2 year contract extension, worth $7.1 million.

I probably should have written about this earlier, but I really couldn't think of anything particularly interesting to say.

I still don't have any earth-shattering revelations about it, but I couldn't just ignore it.

Anyway, the signing doesn't change much.

Jacque Jones was still going to be arbitration eligible for the next 2 years anyway, which means he would have been a Twin no matter what.

What it does do for the Twins is allow them to avoid going to arbitration with Jones, which is something that is worth doing whenever possible.

Additionally, it gives them a little bit of cost certainty, which is always good for a low-budget team.

The Twins and Jones had each submitted proposals to the arbitrator, Jones asking for $3.2 million, while the Twins suggested $2.75.

Basically, Jacque was going to make around $3 mill this year.

So, in essence, the deal is a 1 year deal that buys out Jones' final year of arbitration for $4 million dollars.

Players generally receive more money in arbitration the more years into the process they go.

What I mean by that is if a player hits .275/.350/.500 heading into his first year of arbitration, he can expect to be awarded a lot less than if he had hit .275/.350/.500 going into his 3rd year of arbitration.

The point being that if Jones was set to receive about $3 mill in arbitration this year, he was almost certainly going to make more than $4 million during the process next year, unless he completely stunk in 2003.

So, the Twins avoid arbitration and gain a little cost certainty and some potential savings next year.

And Jacque gets a little financial security and some protection in case he turns into Greg ".163/.286/.315" Vaughn next year or something.

That is all the off-field stuff.

On the field, I am not thrilled with the fact that the Twins seem to be set on Jones being their left fielder for the near future.

I have said many times, both on this site and on other sites, that I would like to see the Twins trade Jacque Jones.

It is not that I think he is a bad player or anything like that, I just think that the Twins have a logjam of corner outfield candidates and could help themselves an awful lot by ridding themselves of a few of them in order to strengthen their team in other areas.

This is even more of an issue now that Torii Hunter is locked in for 4 seasons in CF.

What the Twins have now is 2 corner outfield spots and the DH position to work Michael Cuddyer, Jacque Jones, Bobby Kielty, Dustan Mohr, Michael Restovich, Lew Ford and Matthew LeCroy in to.

When you have Luis Rivas as your second baseman, you can always look to improve your middle infield.

Plus, there is plenty of room for improvement at first base, until Justin Morneau is ready in a couple of years.

Basically, Jones is a very nice player to have, but when you have other, cheaper nice players at the same position and have some weaknesses at other positions, it might be a good idea to explore some other options.

That said, maybe Terry Ryan is shopping Michael Restovich or Lew Ford or Dustan Mohr, I don't know.

Jacque Jones at $3.5 mill a year is a nice deal, no matter what.


I wanted to share with you a couple of things that happened during one of my classes on Friday.

The class is a foreign language, so the teacher was explaining to us why the verb goes after the noun or the noun goes after the verb or something like that.

Anyway, she kept yelling at the class that "You can't change the language!"

Meaning even if we think it should go a different way, that is the way it is and you can't change it around to the way you like it.

Okay, that all makes sense to me.

About 10 seconds later she gave us an incorrect version of a sentence and then asked (and I quote):

"What it should be?"

[no response]

"What it should be?!"

[no response]


I didn't feel right (or safe) pointing out the fact that a) you can't change the English language either and that b) it's "What should it be?"

Then, a little later in the class we were reading something about a wedding and the sentence said something like, "I talked to the bride."

The teacher was telling us how "the bride" is not a "definite direct object."

Someone asked why not and she replied, "Because the bride is not receiving any action."

To which I, being a complete smartass and a sucker for attention, said, "Maybe not at the wedding, but wait 'til the honeymoon."


Thank you, I'll be here all week.

Make sure to tip your waitesses and try the veal.

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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