November 23, 2005


No, it's not Friday. Since Thanksgiving is tomorrow and the traffic on this site typically falls off a cliff on holidays (apparently most of you read this at work or something), I've decided to take the rest of the week off. In the meantime, peruse the many links I've provided for your enjoyment below, eat a lot of turkey, and I'll see you back here Monday.

  • I have complained numerous times about Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan's propensity to crowbar corny one-liners into his writing like a bad, old-school comedian (which is why I've tagged him with the nickname "Shecky Souhan." His column yesterday about the Vikings' comeback win over the Packers is a perfect example of the sort of stuff that bothers me:

    Your Vikings, like downtown Manhattan, Dali paintings and Aunt Ethel's hot dish, are a glorious mess.


    Their offensive line is like that old Abbott & Costello baseball routine -- Who's at guard, What's at center and I Don't Know is at tackle -- yet that line made a joke out of the Packers defense in the second half.


    The Vikings receivers, without Randy Moss to antagonize the Packers, are about as exciting as C-SPAN, but they made enough plays to outscore Brett Favre, with Koren Robinson setting up the game-winning field goal when the Packers left him as uncovered as Pamela Anderson in a home video.


    The Vikings are 3-0 in November. They're a glorious mess much like their coach, Tice, who strode onto the Lambeau Field sidelines looking like an extra from the movie "Grease."

    Either that, or with his black jacket accessorizing his usual all-black attire, Tice was paying homage to the real man in black -- Johnny Cash. And now Tice seems to be trying to dance right out of his own personal ring of fire.

    Those are just a few highlights, but keep in mind that the entire column was only 671 words. As the complete hack of a comedian, Kenny Bania, once said, "That's gold, Jerry! Gold!"

  • I'm not sure how much truth there is to this, but an anonymous commenter left a note yesterday saying that's Mark Sheldon will soon be leaving the Twins beat to cover the Reds. If true, that's a real shame. Sheldon not only does very good work while pumping out a ton of good content, he has been very friendly to the Twins' blogosphere. In a market that has far too many guys like Souhan, it hurts to lose someone good.
  • Earlier this month I linked to a story in the Salt Lake Tribune where Jerry Sloan was very critical of former Gophers star Kris Humphries and his disinterest in passing. Because of that it's only fair to point out that Humphries had a very good game against the Suns last week, putting up 16 points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes. Of course, he failed to record an assist and then played just six minutes the next night, so it's safe to say he's not quite out of Sloan's doghouse.

    UPDATE: With Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, and Matt Harpring all injured, Humphries started at power forward for the Jazz last night. He had six points and three rebounds in 26 minutes ... and somehow managed two whole assists!

  • Speaking of the Gophers, they got some very bad news this week when Vincent Grier went down with a broken finger on his shooting hand. It's a shame that the injury came in a non-conference game against a cupcake opponent like North Dakota State, especially since Dan Monson inexplicably played Grier all 40 minutes.

    I'm not sure what the point of the team's star playing all 40 minutes in the first game of the year is, but I'm trying to avoid blaming Monson. After all, Grier could have broken his finger playing 25 minutes. The Gophers always play a very weak non-conference schedule, which means they should still be able to rack up quite a few wins while Grier is out for 4-6 weeks, but their chances of getting any "quality wins" before the Big Ten schedule starts are very slim.

  • I don't envision writing a whole lot about the Gophers basketball team this year, but a former classmate of mine from the University of Minnesota school of journalism has started up a sabermetric-style basketball blog called Gopher Hoops. It just launched last week, but there is already some good stuff to read about how Grier's injury impacts the team. Go check it out.
  • Back in August, I linked to a article that ranked the top 100 college football players in the country and then made an off-the-cuff remark about Adrian Peterson being "the best running back in the country." I quickly received an e-mail from Rich Lederer of The Baseball Analysts, who basically took me to task for not giving Reggie Bush (who was ranked one spot ahead of Peterson) that title.

    I tried to explain to Rich how I could simultaneously think that Bush was an extremely good player and also somewhat overrated. I talked about how he didn't even lead USC in rushing last year (LenDale White did), and how I thought he was more of an all-around threat that strictly a running back. And now? Well, it's time to eat a little crow.

    Peterson has had a disappointing, injury plagued season, rushing for just 787 yards (4.5 yards/carry) after gaining 1,925 yards (5.7 yards/carry) as a freshman. Meanwhile, Bush has arguably been the best player in the country, running back or otherwise. I watched in awe as he carved up Fresno State Saturday, piling up 294 rushing yards on 23 carries. Check out his season totals:

    ATT       YDS     AVG     TD     REC     YDS      AVG     TD
    163 1,398 8.6 13 31 383 12.4 2

    After totaling a modest 908 yards (6.4 yards/carry) on the ground last season, Bush already has 1,398 rushing yards this year and has picked up an incredible 8.6 yards per carry. Toss in 383 yards catching the football and some good work as a return man and he would have my Heisman vote if the season ended today.

    Of course, I still have some questions about his ability to be an every-down back in the NFL, particularly near the goal line, and I wonder how he'll fair when he doesn't have as many opportunities to run in open space. Still, there's no doubt that Bush is the best running back in the country, and I think his production has certainly caught up to his hype.

  • Speaking of USC, already has a line up for a potential USC-Texas national championship game, with USC favored by 6.5 points. That's interesting, but what I'm really curious about is what the eventual over/under for the game will be. Texas and USC rank 1-2 in the country in points per game at 50.1 and 48.5, respectively, and both teams appear to be somewhat vulnerable defensively (particularly USC).

    After watching USC and Fresno State go back and forth in a 50-42 game Saturday and seeing Texas absolutely steam roll Oklahoma State in the second half after being down big early a few weeks ago, I wouldn't be shocked to see an 80-point over/under, which is just crazy. Assuming both teams take care of business down the stretch, it could be one of the better title games in quite a while.

  • This site is what the internet is all about. Well, that and porn. OK, mostly porn.
  • The New York Times ran a very nice profile of my favorite writer, Bill Simmons, this week. In it we learn a bit about Simmons' writing routine and his pre-ESPN days, which is always interesting.

    I have often wondered why ESPN doesn't put Simmons on TV more, since the majority of their programming these days revolves around writers yelling into a camera. Despite that, I can only remember seeing Simmons on ESPN once, and I think it was for about 10 seconds in one of those SportsCentury episodes on either the Red Sox or Celtics.

    Well, I think I know the reason now, or at least one of the reasons. Simmons made a brief cameo on Monday Night Football this week, appearing in a funny skit for "60 Seconds With Jimmy Kimmel" at halftime. While watching it I noticed that Simmons has a fairly high voice, which may either keep ESPN from putting him on TV or keep Simmons from wanting to be on TV. Or not, who knows?

    One thing that is for certain is that whether he sounds like Mike Tyson or Barry White I'd much rather listen to Simmons than guys like Stephen A. Smith and Jay Mariotti. Seriously, if you gave me the choice between Simmons speaking through one of those electrolarynx things for people who have lost their voice box or Woody Paige's dulcet tones, I'd take electro-Simmons in a heartbeat.

  • And finally, copies of The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2006 are already being delivered -- we beat the scheduled release date by a week and a few of you have e-mailed me saying you've received yours -- so if you haven't purchased the book yet, I encourage everyone to do so.
  • Today at The Hardball Times:
    - Business of Baseball Report (by Brian Borawski)
    - A Short Digression into Log5 (by Dan Fox)
    - Stop the Madness! Or not. (by David Gassko)

    Pick of the Day (141-121, +$1,975):
    Boston -3 (-110) over Atlanta

    Thursday's Pick:
    Denver -2.5 (-110) over Dallas

    Friday's Pick:
    Wisconsin -7 (-110) over Hawaii

    Saturday's Pick:
    Fresno State -15 (-110) over Nevada

    Sunday's Pick:
    Cincinnati -9 (-110) over Baltimore

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