October 30, 2006

Talk Amongst Yourselves

It's late Sunday night as I write this, I'm dead tired after covering a full slate of NFL action for RotoWorld and NBC Sports all day, and I'm supposed to wake up in about eight hours to do it all over again. Plus, I still have some stuff left to do in preparation for my trip to the East Coast later this week, not the least of which is getting a "professional" haircut for the first time in well over a year.

When you work entirely from home and your job revolves around doing something most people gladly do for free, all via the computer, it's often difficult to explain exactly what you do when people ask. When I try, my explanation is usually met with confused nods and questions like "wait, you get paid to watch football games?" or "you don't really write from bed, right?"

Given my plans for Monday, I think the best way to describe my life, both in terms of what I do for a living and what I do every day, might simply be to point out that I haven't paid someone to cut my hair in a very long time. That singular fact reveals a lot, including that I don't have co-workers, wear a hat close to 100 percent of the time when I'm not in bed, and rarely have to depend on looking the least bit presentable.

I suppose it also says plenty about me outside of what I do for a living, although that's more "sad" than "amusing." Why am I bringing this up, when no one in the world could possibly care about how or when my hair gets cut? Because I'm about to go to bed, didn't have anything written to post here, and felt bad about not providing a new entry of some sort a couple days before leaving on a trip. Seriously.

Rather than Friday's Link-O-Rama column remaining in this space and some mystery being left as to why nothing new was posted for today ("maybe Luis Rivas finally found him and killed him!"), you get a rambling, entirely pointless entry on a meaningless topic and a promise that player No. 23 in the oft-delayed Top 40 Minnesota Twins series will be posted first thing tomorrow morning.

Even better (and assuming my laptop permits), I should be able to use my flights to and from New York to finish up a few more profiles in the countdown and maybe even start on that Top 30 Twins Prospects series I've optimistically promised will be forthcoming. Either that or I'll just sit there, nervously thinking about what waits for in New York and then dissecting how things went while I was there. Either way.

While I attempt to get some much-needed sleep, wake up too early to do some difficult-to-explain work, and then move on to putting the finishing touches on a write-up of the 23rd-best player in Twins history, feel free to chat about whatever it is people chat about on a Monday morning. I'd suggest haircuts and the identity of tomorrow's player as topics, but writing about them didn't work so well for me just now.

October 26, 2006


  • Over at The Baseball Analysts, Kent Bonham wrote perhaps the best description of a website that I've ever seen:

    If Bill James and Jessica Alba ever bore a child, and their child came out as a minor league baseball website, it would probably look something like minorleaguesplits.com.

  • It's funny, because I've always told people that if Tim McCarver and Rosie O'Donnell ever bore a child, and their child came out as a blog, it would probably looking something like AaronGleeman.com.

  • I keep this blog relatively free of football talk because that's what I'm focusing on over at RotoWorld and NBC Sports right now, but I stumbled across some good quotes while doing my news-gathering and column-writing duties this week. First, here's what Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden told reporters when asked about the differences between quarterbacks Chris Simms and Bruce Gradkowski:

    They're totally opposite. One is left-handed, one's right-handed. One is 6-foot-5, one is 6 foot. One is handsome, one is ugly.

    In typical newspaper fashion, the Tampa Tribune declined to speculate about which player fits which description, instead offering only that "Gruden wouldn't say which one he thought was ugly." In typical blog fashion, I'll point out that Simms looks like this and Gradkowski looks like this, and then make a pithy comment about how neither of them are likely to win any beauty contests. Then, in typical reader fashion, you'll go to the comments section and remark that I'm not exactly in a position to comment.

  • Meanwhile, Tiki Barber fired back at various media members who criticized him for saying earlier this month that he plans to retire following the season:

    I will call them idiots because they have neither spoken to me nor any one of my teammates or any of my coaches, yet all they do is criticize me for being a distraction with this retirement thing.

    Barber went on to name names, mentioning New York Daily News columnist Gary Myers and ESPN's Tom Jackson before saying:

    That includes the ultimate character guy, facetiously speaking, of course, Michael Irvin. Please get a clue how to be a journalist.

    While I'm in complete agreement with Barber, I think it's safe to say that "how to be a journalist" is pretty far down on the list of things Michael Irvin should "get a clue" about.

  • This doesn't qualify as a quote, but I was amused by the New York Times reporting that first-year Jets coach Eric Mangini "was nicknamed the Penguin ... by receiver Laveranues Coles." There are several possible reasons for the nickname and nearly all of them are funny.
  • According to MLB, 28 of the 30 players "who sacrifice for their team in often unrecognized effort" are white guys (including Jason Tyner from the Twins). Long-time readers of this blog may remember me discussing a Sports Illustrated player survey in which the question "who gets the most from the least talent?" yielded nine white guys among 11 total vote-getters, while "who gets the least from the most talent?" yielded all but one minority. I don't really have a point to make here, but it's sad.
  • It's been quite a while since the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com title was passed from Jessica Alba to Elisha Cuthbert, although Alba has remained in serious contention ever since. When it comes time for the torch to be passed again, there's a pretty good chance Keeley Hazell will take over the top spot. I've been scouting her for a while now and I think she's on the verge of making The Leap.
  • Of course, additional evidence like this could make me reconsider.
  • I haven't been paying much attention to the Timberwolves, but the one thing I was hoping for was that Paul Shirley would make the opening-night roster. Shirley writes a regular column at ESPN.com and reading about the Wolves' season through his eyes might have made it easier to tolerate wasting another year of Kevin Garnett's career. Instead, the Wolves cut Shirley, robbing fans of an interesting way to follow the team and robbing beat writers everywhere of a good quote.

    The good news is that being let go allowed Shirley to fire some amusing parting shots on his way out of Minnesota, via his next-day ESPN.com chat. Asked about "going up against Mark Madsen every day in practice," Shirley called it "a flurry of paleness." He also described the team as "a franchise that has made some interesting decisions over the last few years" before adding that "I don't know that cutting me will have many lasting ramifications, though."

    Asked how good he thinks the team will be, Shirley replied: "If they start well, they'll be fine. If they don't, it will quickly disintegrate." Asked about his brief time in Minnesota, Shirley deemed the women "better looking than those in Kansas City, but just as predisposed to prudish behavior" and requested that "someone explain ... how there can be so many homeless people in the coldest big city in the country."

    And just so you don't think he's merely a jerk with an axe to grind--the responses came off much more playful in the context of an entire chat--here's what Shirley had to say about Garnett:

    I was thoroughly impressed with Kevin Garnett. He may be the most individually unstoppable basketball player I've ever seen. It's almost unfair that he is that tall, that skilled, and can jump so well. He's a hard worker and a fairly down-to-earth guy. Funny, too.

    In a season that will likely see the Wolves lose 45 games and the interest of most fans, a player who uses words like folly, methodology, adulation, extrapolated, predisposed, and apathetic in his writing was let go so they could keep Vin Baker around. I have no idea if Shirley is a legitimate NBA player or not, but I do know that the state's level of writing talent just took a nosedive. Unless Baker has found a time machine, that's a bad tradeoff.

  • Speaking of NBA players who are entertaining in print, the first installment of Raja Bell's journal at ESPN.com was very enjoyable.
  • Finally, be nice to Will Young today. We matched up in the ALCS of a Diamond-Mind keeper league last night and he suffered a horrific collapse. Despite my team having homefield advantage and Johan Santana starting Game 1, Will's team won the first two games of the best-of-seven series on the way to taking a 3-1 lead. My squad then came up with back-to-back wins to force a Game 7, but Will seemingly ended my comeback hopes before they could even get started by jumping out to an early 7-0 lead.

    He then watched in horror as his Game 7 starter Kyle Lohse (seriously) and his bullpen proceeded to cough up the lead before eventually falling 9-7 in extra innings. I found myself feeling sorry for Will and almost felt bad for coming back to take the series, but then I remembered there's a decent chance I'll be similarly crushed after losing in the World Series. Whether it's real life or what someone I know refers to as "a dork league," no one likes their season to end.

  • October 25, 2006

    Rained Out

    If there was ever any doubt about my incredible love of baseball, it was confirmed last night when I sat through back-to-back-to-back episodes of The War at Home in the hopes of the rain in St. Louis letting up at some point. It didn't, and I couldn't even salvage the evening by writing a lengthy blog entry due to Blogger being "down" the entire time. In fact, it's 10:07 p.m. and everything started running again just in time for me to go to sleep.

    Instead of a World Series game and some heavy blogging, I spent a couple hours glancing at Michael Rapaport's horrible television show while what were surely countless unfunny, laugh track-supported lines fell on deaf ears thanks to the miracle of mute. And I actually like Rapaport; that's how awful the show is. The experience went perfectly with Joe Buck assuring everyone that the game was "about to begin" every 20 minutes while the camera showed the rain pouring down.

    So much for those "storm trackers" showing cluttered maps of the greater St. Louis area while colors flashed all over the screen, I guess. If a meteorologist can't accurately predict what the weather will be like in an hour, why does anyone bother with seven-day forecasts? And is last night's performance the sort of thing that gets a meteorologist fired? Does such a thing even exist? When you're paid to analyze the weather and your analysis is completely wrong, does that impact your job security one bit?

    Speaking of job security (how's that for a clumsy segue?), prior to spending my entire night waiting for something that never arrived, I received news that I'll likely be taking a trip to the East Coast next week. The details aren't quite finalized yet, but it sounds like I'll be boarding a plane Wednesday night, which means blogging will either be light or non-existent for at least a couple days. The good news is that I should have some interesting stuff to talk about once I return.

    The other good news is that my oft-delayed Top 40 Minnesota Twins series will officially be resuming before I leave. Shane Mack's days as the last guy profiled are coming to an end, with the long-awaited No. 23 player in team history finally being unveiled either Monday or Tuesday. In the meantime, those of you who weren't around way back when I began the series in January should consider catching up on the players you missed:

    #24 Shane Mack
    #25 Brian Harper
    #26 Eddie Guardado
    #27 Larry Hisle
    #28 Tom Brunansky
    #29 Kevin Tapani
    #30 Jacque Jones
    #31 Butch Wynegar
    #32 Al Worthington
    #33 Greg Gagne
    #34 Matt Lawton
    #35 Steve Braun
    #36 Dave Boswell
    #37 Jimmie Hall
    #38 Eric Milton
    #39 Scott Erickson
    #40 Randy Bush

    I'm also planning to kick off a Top 30 Twins Prospects series soon, although running simultaneous countdowns will likely lead to disaster (or, if the Top 40 Minnesota Twins delay is any indication, the No. 1 prospect being profiled sometime in 2011).


    Despite what has been a surprising amount of optimism from Twins fans, I've been saying for the past couple months that I don't think time off will "fix" Francisco Liriano's arm problems. Sadly, it looks like I was right. The Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com, LaVelle E. Neal III, reports that "Liriano has left the team's year-round facility in Florida and is considering surgery after being unsatisfied with rehab" for his injured elbow.

    Here's more of LEN3 from today's Minneapolis Star Tribune:

    Liriano left Fort Myers, Fla., to travel to Miami, where Dr. John Uribe, one of several experts who have examined Liriano, is headquartered. While that might appear to be more than a coincidence, indications are that a final decision on surgery has not yet been made.

    "Francisco continued to experience pain while taking part in a throwing session, and at this point, he felt it was necessary to re-evaluate his situation," said Gene Mato, one of Liriano's agents. "After conferring with the Twins and the different medical personnel that have evaluated him, he will determine whether or not he wants to have surgery in the next week or so."

    The Twins were hoping Liriano could pitch in winterball and be ready for spring training after rehabbing in Florida, but that was wishful thinking from the outset. Instead, he made it just a few weeks before the pain became an issue again. Terry Ryan told LEN3 that he's still "hoping to get him back here and see how things go," which continues the disturbing trend of acting like it's something he can pitch through when Liriano can't make it more than a few throwing sessions without experiencing significant pain.

    I realize surgery is always the last resort, but injuries like Liriano's simply don't heal on their own. Had Liriano gone under the knife when it became an option, he'd be over a month into his recovery and on track to pitch in the second half. Now, even if he elects to have the same surgery, he'll have to make quick progress to pitch at all in 2007. Of course, in the grand scheme of things 2007 matters little, but that's why the Twins should have taken the long-term approach with Liriano the entire time.

    Regardless of how many times the Twins stick Liriano back on the mound after a little time off, this is not something that figures to go away. Rather than risk further damage by gambling on a non-surgical option, I think it's time to put aside any thoughts of Liriano being a part of the 2007 team and do what's best for his long-term career. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, evidence suggests that Tommy John surgery is as close to a speed bump on the road to greatness as you'll get in a situation like this.

    As I wrote here the day after Liriano "heard something pop" in his elbow back in September: "Whether it's in spring training, next September or the second game of 2008, I look forward to seeing a healthy, dominant Liriano again." Here's hoping nothing the Twins have done in the six weeks since then have put that in further jeopardy.

    October 24, 2006

    Quick Notes

    After describing the WhatIfSports Hardball Dynasty league I've created, I got 117 e-mails from people reserving a franchise. Not only was that about five times as many as expected, fitting everyone into the 32-team league is literally impossible (especially since a few of my non-blog friends claimed spots). The game is too time-consuming for me to create enough leagues to fit everyone in, so instead I'll be filling the remaining spots through a quasi-lottery.

    Later today, once stragglers have had a chance to put in last-second requests, I'll randomly select a batch of e-mails to send invitations to. I'll give them 24 hours to join the league, at which point I'll select another random batch of e-mails to fill any remaining spots. I realize this isn't exactly a great solution and will have at least 80 people upset that they missed out, but I couldn't think of a better way. Perhaps it was naive of me, but I never expected to get more than the necessary number of interested players.

    Thanks to everyone who reserved a spot. One of the best things about having this blog is the sense of community that allows me to do something like this (although sometimes the community is too big for it to work without any problems). I apologize to anyone who misses out on a spot, because it wasn't my intention to whet everyone's appetite only to leave people out. I'll save the e-mails that weren't selected in case people leave the league (which tends to happen) or I create another one at some point.

    In the meantime, here are a few quick Twins notes ...

  • Johan Santana has been named Baseball America's Player of the Year, which is nice despite the fact that I don't know past winners. LaVelle E. Neal III, who's the Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com by day, penned an article about Santana for BA. LEN3 relays a story about Santana telling hitters what he's going to throw them before getting them out and goes into how the Twins ended up with Santana via the Rule 5 draft. It's definitely worth a read and isn't behind BA's subscription wall, so check it out.
  • I can't remember whether or not I've linked to this site in the past, but either way it's worth linking to now: TwinsCards.com offers a pretty amazing collection of baseball cards featuring Twins past and present. With thousands of cards from hundreds of players, it's the sort of site you could get lost in for hours. Not only does the site offer dozens of Kirby Puckett cards to look at, it even has a half-dozen instances of cardboard being wasted on this guy.
  • Perhaps Terry Ryan's biggest strength as general manager has been his amazing ability to pluck low-minors prospects from teams when trading them mediocre veterans. It's too early to say whether the long list of such deals will eventually include last offseason's J.C. Romero-for-Alexi Casilla swap, but it's looking good. Casilla batted .318 with 50 steals between Single-A and Double-A before making his big-league debut in September, while Romero posted a 6.70 ERA in 65 games for the Angels.

    One year after joining the organization, Casilla is now one of the Twins' better prospects and could be in the majors for good by mid-2007. Meanwhile, the Angels recently declined Romero's $2.75 million for 2007, making him a free agent. Given how Casilla and Romero performed in 2006, along with how well Dennys Reyes pitched in Romero's old role, it's safe to say that the trade couldn't have worked out any better in Year 1. Maybe someday there'll be a Twins blog called Thank You Bill Stoneman.

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