September 4, 2005


  • My contempt for the Twins' pathetic offense grew even stronger over the weekend, as they failed to provide Johan Santana with enough offensive support for him to pick up a win Saturday night while allowing one run over eight innings against the Indians. Sure, Joe Nathan deserves part of the blame for failing to slam the door on a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning, but the fact that the offense once again provide sub par support is what has me upset.

    Take a look at the number of runs the Twins have scored in Santana's starts since the beginning of August: 1, 4, 1, 5, 1, 1, 3. For those of you without calculators handy, that's an average of 2.3 runs per game over the course of seven starts, which is why Santana has gone just 3-1 over that stretch despite tossing 53.1 innings with a 1.35 ERA.

    Given even four runs per game to work with, Santana would have gone 7-0 over his last seven starts, he'd be 17-5 with a 3.07 ERA on the year, and he'd be on his way to a second straight American League Cy Young. Instead, he's stuck turning in brilliant performances like Saturday night's (8.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 10 SO, 0 BB) for a team that can't score any damn runs, and he's stuck on 13 wins.

    Regardless of how spectacular his strikeout-to-walk ratio gets or how low his ERA drops to, Santana will not win another AL Cy Young with 15 wins. It's a shame that he's going to lose out on something he deserves simply because he pitches for a team that starts Jason Tyner as its designated hitter in September, has the worst leadoff hitter in the league, and can't even get to four runs per game since the All-Star break.

  • Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart (who passed for 332 yards and three touchdowns in a 63-17 win over Hawaii Saturday) will have a light schedule during his senior year, with his only class at USC reportedly being "Ballroom Dancing." I'd make a joke about this, except a) he's taking the class with his girlfriend, who looks pretty cute, and b) I once took "Bowling" to fill a physical education requirement (sans cute girlfriend).
  • In what is by far the most shocking news I've heard this year, former Gophers point guard Kevin Burleson has signed a contract with the Charlotte Bobcats. Now, Charlotte was an expansion team last year so they're pretty short on talent, but Burleson is by far the worst point guard I have ever seen start for a Big Ten team. And that's not hyperbole, I actually mean it.

    I can't begin to explain the conflicting emotions I've had watching Burleson's brother, Nate Burleson, become one of the best wide receivers in the NFL for the Vikings. Considering the degree to which I despise Kevin (I used to seethe when I saw him around campus), it would be like if Adolph Hitler had a brother named Joey Hitler and he led the Twins to the World Series.

  • Here's something slightly less shocking: The Metrodome sucks.
  • And here's something even less shocking than that: Tara Reid recently admitted that her breasts are fake. Feel free to insert your own joke here. Or not, since at this point she is sort of her own punchline.
  • Remember last month, when I said the Timberwolves' team trip to Las Vegas was a bad idea? Turns out the NBA agreed with me, fining the team $200,000 because "NBA teams are not allowed to hold organized team practices or functions in the offseason."
  • Speaking of basketball (sort of), I've discussed my strong dislike of the WNBA here in the past and received a lot of angry e-mails because of it. In fact, saying you don't really like watching women's sports is at the top of a very long list of things in this society that can get you in trouble for simply stating a personal preference. So while I no longer bring the subject up much, I was glad to see my favorite writer,'s Bill Simmons, broach the topic last week.

    Simmons wrote a lengthy piece on why he doesn't enjoy or even care about the WNBA, and I found myself agreeing with nearly every sentence. ran an accompanying pro-WNBA rebuttal from Graham Hays that contained faulty logical and some horribly twisted numbers, and did nothing but hammer home the fact that the league's supporters will never quite grasp why the majority of people don't like the league.

    Here's an excerpt from Hays' piece:

    Sloppy play? Five players in the 15-team WNBA averaged three or more turnovers per game this season ... In the 30-team NBA, 11 players averaged at least three turnovers per game ... The most careless team in the WNBA averaged 16.8 turnovers per game; the most careless team in the NBA averaged 16.1 turnovers per game. Lousy shooting? The worst team in the WNBA shot 40 percent from the floor; the worst team in the NBA shot 41.5 percent.

    Yes, the shooting percentages are marginally lower, and the turnovers come in a game that's eight minutes shorter, but it's tough to make a case that, relative to the competition, WNBA basketball is any sloppier or less competitive than the NBA variety.

    This is an angle the WNBA's supporters play constantly, and it is silly on several levels. For one thing, if you adjust the stats Hays presents for the differing number of teams in each league and minutes in each game, it is in fact very easy to "make a case that, relative to the competition, WNBA basketball is sloppier or less competitive than the NBA variety." WNBA teams shoot worse and turn the ball over more, and their individual players do too.

    But even if that weren't the case -- if the numbers Hays presents actually supported his argument -- is there anyone really interested in watching basketball games because of fewer turnovers and better shooting percentages? Last year during the NBA playoffs or March Madness, did you ever hear someone say, "Wow, did you see the game last night? Only 15 combined turnovers and the two teams shot 52 percent from the field!" Of course not.

    People like to watch basketball because it is face-paced and exciting, and at the highest levels contains an incredible amount of athleticism and skill. The fact that those arguing in favor of the WNBA bring up the league's "fundamentals" as such a strong selling point is pointless, in addition to being misleading and ultimately wrong.

  • I don't see nearly enough new movies, but I saw two recently that I highly recommend: The 40-Year-Old Virgin and The Aristocrats. Both movies were spectacularly funny (assuming you share my sense of humor) and among the best movies I have seen in years. The Aristocrats is not for everyone (which is what people say when they don't want to recommend something to someone who is a prude), but if you don't get offended by words and you like to laugh, it's an amazing way to spend 90 minutes.
  • Speaking of movies, friend of Steve Silver pointed out this outstanding quote from Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan:

    "The Dukes of Hazzard" is a film that is not there. It can't really be reviewed because it doesn't really exist. It is not empty calories, which implies pleasure, but simply empty. It's a cosmic void where a movie ought to be. ... With no plot, character or dialogue worth experiencing, let alone remembering, the film merely occupies space on the screen and hopes for the best.

    Every once in a while I'll come across something so good that I am actually jealous that I wasn't brilliant enough to write it.

  • On a semi-related note, the aforementioned Steve Silver and I typically agree on most things pop culture, but we couldn't be further apart on our thoughts about "Turtle" (played by Jerry Ferrera) from HBO's Entourage. Here's what Steve wrote about my favorite character last Tuesday:

    Yes, I love the show, but Turtle is a clear weak link - he brings nothing, absolutely zero, to the table.

    Now, if you want to talk about a completely useless character who brings absolutely nothing to the table, I have two words for you: Mandy Moore. Not since Paris Hilton has someone failed so miserably at playing herself.

  • If you hear the name "Beetle Juice" and don't think first of a Michael Keaton movie, I have a must-see link for you: Staind sings "Bad As Can." He's big and he's strong ... he knows what he knows ... he's a tough guy.
  • Today at The Hardball Times:
    - Winning and Losing (by Aaron Gleeman)
    - Whatever Happened to Ichiro? (by David Gassko)

    Today's Picks (96-84, +$985):
    Memphis -2.5 (-110) over Mississippi

    Tuesday's Picks:
    Tampa Bay (Fossum) +280 over New York (Johnson)

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