October 18, 2007


  • Charley Walters' columns in the St. Paul Pioneer Press are usually pretty short on substance to begin with, but his note this week about Torii Hunter might be his finest work yet:

    If the Twins can't re-sign free agent Torii Hunter, plans are to trade, sign a free agent or go in-house to find his center field replacement.

    In other words, Walters has confirmed that the team plans to put a player in center field next season.

  • Derek Jeter is clearly extremely broken up about the Yankees' early playoff exit and Joe Torre not returning as manager.
  • Normally it would be surprising if a high-profile baseball announcer revealed in an interview that he doesn't usually watch baseball games--"typically I find myself doing other things ... I just read about them the next day"--but given Joe Buck's air of bored ambivalence as FOX's postseason play-by-play man it makes a lot of sense. Of course, in Buck's defense it's got to be tough when your partner is repeatedly saying stuff like this.
  • Someone really needs to tell DeShawn Stevenson that you can get a perfectly nice STD for a lot less than $10,000 these days. Or not.
  • Adrian Peterson was the lead story on ESPN.com yesterday afternoon, with Jeffrey Chadiha giving some national attention to Purple Jesus following his record-breaking game against the Bears. With a matchup against Dallas coming Sunday, here's what Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said when asked about Peterson:

    I think people were saying [Gale] Sayers and [Eric] Dickerson, kind of a combination there. That's what he looks like to me. He's got that shift of gears like Sayers had and of course he has that tremendous speed that Dickerson had; somewhere in there. I was there George Rogers' rookie year and I was there Earl Campbell's rookie year and those guys were amazing and had great years and this guy is right up there with them.

    In terms of running style and immediate impact, the Eric Dickerson comparison is a pretty good one.

  • She's long been in the running for the title, but here are 12 reasons why Keeley Hazell is a legitimate Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate.
  • Earlier this week over at Baseball Think Factory there was a largely negative discussion thread about a recent Bill Simmons column and a poster who goes by the name of Harvey's Wallbangers wrote the following:

    Aaron Gleeman mocks a writer at the Star-Tribune for his "lame" pop culture remarks in the writer's column yet clearly adores Simmons. In five years if Simmons has been unable to make a transition will Gleeman still be complimentary?

    Similar sentiments have occasionally been posted in the comments section here and the randomness of bringing my name up in the Simmons thread makes me think that they came from the same person. Anyway, it's often difficult to explain your feelings about something as subjective as writing or comedy, but the short version is that Simmons strikes me as funny, entertaining, and likable. Souhan is, to me at least, none of the above. In baseball terms, it's the same reason that not all .250 hitters are equal.

    If a designated hitter bats .250 with zero power and no plate discipline, he's a whole lot less valuable than a Gold Glove shortstop who bats .250 with 50 homers and 100 walks. To me Souhan is like the .250-hitting DH in that he brings very little to the table along with his hit-or-miss pop-culture references and attempts at humor. He's not consistently funny or capable of particularly good analysis, and he's not the world's greatest story-teller. Souhan hits an empty .250.

    Meanwhile, Simmons also fills his columns with pop-culture references and attempts at humor, but the difference is that he's actually funny, entertaining, and likable. Whether the question is how I can like Simmons and not Souhan or how I can praise one .250 hitter while criticizing another, the answer basically boils down to "one is good and the other isn't." I won't delve any further into my oft-stated dislike of Souhan, but I will point to this video of Simmons doing ... well, just watch:

    Perhaps it's projected feelings about myself, but it's my experience that many writers are disappointing outside of writing. As I've said many times, I got into writing partly because it doesn't involve talking, and I'm guessing that I'm not alone. Simmons' massive popularity means that he could no doubt do tons of radio and television if he chose to, so the fact that he doesn't suggests that he might feel similarly. In fact, the above video begins with him saying, "I'm terrible at TV, why did you make me do this?"

    Of course, the video actually shows Simmons coming across almost exactly as he does in print--funny, quick-witted, personable--and his weekly podcasts on ESPN.com are fantastic for the same reasons. That might not seem so remarkable, but for many and perhaps even most writers it is. All of which is to say that Simmons is far from perfect and open to criticism, but strikes me and a huge number of people as funny, entertaining, and likable in print, on radio, and now in videos. Souhan? Not so much.

  • Speaking of funny, entertaining, and likable, Los Angeles Magazine recently published an extremely lengthy and well-done article about one of my favorite people, Adam Carolla (who, coincidentally, is good friends with Simmons). I highly recommend reading it, although you might have to set aside a half-hour to do so. While it's far less lengthy, the USC school newspaper also has an interesting article about Carolla recently serving as a guest lecturer for a "business of entertainment" class.
  • Another of Carolla's friends--and the man who's ultimately responsible for getting him into show business--has reportedly been banned from Monday Night Football for goofing on fired announcer Joe Theismann while in the booth for this week's game. As you might imagine, Jimmy Kimmel isn't very broken up about the news: "Technically, couldn't you say Joe Theismann has also been banned from Monday Night Football?"
  • Seth Meyers of Saturday Night Live was a guest on Simmons' podcast last week and Simmons pitched him a sketch idea based on the annoying Dane Cook playoff commercials. Meyers said that he liked the idea after hearing a 30-second pitch and sure enough SNL did the sketch:

    While the sketch wasn't especially funny, it's amusing that Simmons' random idea got on television within about 72 hours of him half-jokingly pitching it to someone on a podcast. Plus, Cook isn't funny either and he's on TV all the time.
  • I feel much better about having watched Office Space a dozen times now that I know it could be worth $250,000.
  • Acquired by the Twins in the mid-1998 trade that sent Greg Swindell and Orlando Merced to the Red Sox, John Barnes was named the organization's Minor League Player of the Year in 2000 after hitting .365/.438/.565 in 119 games at Triple-A as a 24-year-old. He went 13-for-37 (.351) over an 11-game stint in Minnesota that September, but saw a total of 64 plate appearances with the Twins before being lost on waivers to the Rockies the next season and never played in the majors again.

    Hitting .365 in 2000 was a massive fluke in the context of his entire career, but Barnes likely deserved more of a chance to sink or swim in the majors given that he hit .303/.364/.448 in 960 minor-league games spread over a decade. Now 31 years old he's given up on becoming a major-league outfielder again, but is trying to get back to the big leagues as a knuckleball pitcher. Here are Barnes' combined numbers since moving to the mound two seasons ago:

     G     GS        IP      ERA      SO      BB     HR     OAVG
    41 31 187.2 4.46 153 153 18 .225

    A 153-to-153 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 187.2 innings is obviously ugly (and Barnes also plunked 27 batters), but his .225 opponent's batting average shows that he's plenty tough to hit and knuckleballers can't be judged like traditional pitching prospects. For instance, during his minor-league career Tim Wakefield posted a 4.83 ERA and 204-to-180 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 393 innings, which isn't the sort of performance that would normally portend a 15-year, 168-win (and counting) career in the majors.

  • I stick to baseball and football over at Rotoworld and only occasionally write about the Timberwolves in this space, but despite that Sergio Gonzalez of CBSSports.com was kind enough to invite me to participate in a massive 30-team "experts" fantasy basketball league. I drew the No. 1 pick for the first time in any fantasy league, which sounds good until you realize that with 30 teams--rather than the usual 10 or 12--you don't end up going again for another 59 picks.

    Grabbing LeBron James is fun, but grabbing LeBron James and then watching as essentially every star or quasi-star comes off the board long before it gets back around to you is slightly less fun. You can follow along with the snail-like draft on CBSSports.com and once the season begins you'll be able to see just how out-classed I am when going up against guys who actually write and talk about basketball for a living.

  • Last week's Link-O-Rama included a Minneapolis Star Tribune article about the increasingly lengthy commutes that some Minnesotans are taking to work earlier and earlier each morning. A reader passed along a link to an article on the same basic topic by Nick Paumgarten that appeared in The New Yorker back in April.
  • One of my favorite football writers, Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe, had an interesting article this week about how Wes Welker nearly ended up on the Vikings before signing with the Patriots.
  • AG.com reader Jared Maliga wrote and starred in a funny "short" about the job-interview experience. Maliga e-mailed me to request that the video be named Official Job Interview Short of AG.com, so until someone produces footage of me going 0-for-3 at the Minnesota Daily offices it can hold the title.
  • One final reminder that the floor remains open for the reader-submitted questions that I'll be answering here next week. If you missed it the first time around, Wednesday's entry has details.
  • Lastly, this week's AG.com-approved music video is vintage Stevie Wonder doing a live version of "Living for the City":

  • Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

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