The NFL is a train. I’m not talking about a little commuter train carrying wide-eyed hopeful professionals; I’m talking about a FREIGHT train.
Once September rolls around, this train machine comes rumbling down the tracks and takes out everything in its way. It’s like the biggest “big brother” ever. It doesn’t care who or what is on those tracks, it will prevail. Unfortunately, this machine, to keep the analogy going, decapitates baseball division & wild card races. It happens every year. You’ll see popular sports shows (i.e. Sportscenter and… well, just Sportscenter) lead off weekday shows with practice reports from their “expert” correspondents, rather then the fascinating races in baseball. It’s absurd.
It’s absurd because every year so many teams & fans in those cities are hanging onto this last weekend for a hope to reach the playoffs. The American League is pretty much set, except for seeding but on the other hand, the National League, which I hardly ever follow, is wild right now. Berserk! Every single division is up for grabs and four teams are fighting for the wild card spot. The teams in play are: Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, Arizona, San Diego & Colorado. Seven teams, four spots, one weekend. Not as catchy as “Save the cheerleader, save the world” or anything involving Dane Cook, but not bad right?
Like I said earlier, I don’t follow the National League. I’m from Minnesota and it’s natural to follow the conference that your hometown team is in. With 30 some teams it would be impossible to know everything, unless your name is Steve Phillips, Peter Gammons, or Kevin Costner. Side note: I threw Costner in here because he’s done 34 baseball movies, so he probably knows his stuff. I like sticking to one league. Two things are triggering this National League based entry: The Twins stink and my brother currently lives in Wisconsin (I haven’t completely forgiven him for this yet. Still holding a slight grudge). If the Twins were either in the playoffs or still fighting for a spot or my brother wouldn’t be giving me updates on the state of the Brewers, this piece would never have been written. You guys got lucky I guess.
So for when’s the last time a certain team has been in the playoffs purposes, three teams stick out without even looking at Wikipedia: Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Colorado. I’m going to check in a second, but any guess I can give you is going to be past 10+ years. It has to be. Let’s check...ok I got it...Philadelphia made the World Series in 1993, 14 years ago. Milwaukee made the World Series in 1982, 25 years ago. Finally, Colorado made the playoffs in 1995, 12 years ago. Without getting into it too deeply, this paints a nice picture on the parity problem in the MLB. It’s horrible. And just think how cities like Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Tampa Bay feel. They haven’t had a sniff at the playoffs the last 15 years. No wonder why those stadiums are empty.
So, if you’re free this weekend or have a couple moments at night to check box scores to see who won, please do. I’m also pretty sure you’ll see some games on TV. Take a moment to appreciate what those teams & fans are going through. This is crunch time. You might have tunnel vision for the NFL right now, but take a break. This is a big weekend. I’m going to be pulling for those three teams above, strictly to get some new blood involved. Maybe you will too, but either way give it some attention. I wish I could put this in perfect words myself, but I can’t. I got a C in my high school English class. So, I’m going to leave you a quote from Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) from “Field of Dreams:”
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.”
Seven teams, four spots, one weekend...
Friday, September 28, 2007
Posted by Fuzz at Friday, September 28, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Ring the bell and come out swinging. It's time for round one against our favorite rival--the Green Bay Packers. It's going to be a knock down, drag out fight. Get comfortable in your seats folks, this one's going 12 rounds.
Do you need another cliche? Announcers favorite thing to say is that "you can throw out the records when these two teams play" (see: Aikman, Troy). But I won't do that. Let's face facts: the Packers are undefeated...(sorry, I just threw up in my mouth writing that)...and the Vikings just lost to the abysmal Chiefs to fall to 1-2 on the year. Obviously this looks like a blow out to the casual fan. Lucky for you, I am not a casual fan. So let's break this heated matchup down, Nick Bakay-style.
Vikings Offense vs. Packers Defense
Advantage, Green Bay (big time!). The Purple's struggles on offense have been well documented, especially on this site. The quarterback play has been simply awful, whether it's Jackson getting happy feet and throwing the ball to god knows who, or Holcomb sitting in the pocket for days on end until he eventually, and predictably, gets sacked.
These guys simply aren't getting the job done. Speaking of which, the Vikings O line has been below average, at best, this year. The lone bright spot is super rookie Adrian Peterson. He's a stud and the focus of our man crush here at TKOT, so the Pack better watch out. Of course, one player does not make a team, and the Packers defense is extremely talented. Their front seven is outstanding, and guys like Kampman, KGB, Barnett, and Hawk will be all over the place causing chaos. Oh, and their corners, Woodson and Harris, will easily cover our inept receivers. To say that this matchup is one-sided is an understatement.
Vikings Defense vs. Packers Offense
Advantage, Minnesota (barely). Yes, I'm well aware that good old Booze'n'Pills will likely break Marino's career TD record on Sunday. That doesn't give GB the advantage here. Minnesota's defense has been lights out this season and Brett loves to throw interceptions.
Plus, the Pack's well publicized lack of a running game will allow the Vikings front line and linebackers to pin their ears back and get after the glorious #4. It's close, but the Purple get the nod here.
Advantage, Green Bay. The Vikings ST have done nothing to warrant any criticism. Unfortunately, they haven't done anything to warrant any praise either. The Packers, on the other hand, have been very opportunistic in their first three games. For further evidence, you need only to look at that fluke, I mean win, against Philadelphia in Week 1. If either team's return game can pull off a big play, it could be the deciding factor in this game.
Adavantage, Green Bay. Brad Childress sucks and his offense does not "kick a**". Sorry, that just had to be said.
Advantage, Push. The Vikes are playing at home, which is usually an advantage. However, over the past couple of years there have been more and more Packer Backers filling the blue plastic chairs in the Hump Dome.
On the other hand, everyone and their mother knows that Favre is going for Marino's record, so there could be some big time pressure on him that leads to him forcing passes. If he starts slinging the ball all over the place, you could see a flash of purple heading for the end zone after Brett's third (or fourth, or fifth...) interception. This of course will lead to every Vikings fan's favorite image of Football Jesus...
In the end, this game is going to be a lot closer than people realize--every Vikings/Packers game is. The reality is that Green Bay should win this game going away. But don't sleep on the Purple on Sunday. They might just surprise a few people and ruin some bets. And then you can tell your friends that you heard it here first.
Posted by Q at Thursday, September 27, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Ha, made you look...
1. As Fuzz predicted, Dallas had a huge coming out party in their win over Chicago on Sunday night. It would appear that they are the clear #1 in the NFC right now. That said, who do you have as the second best team in the conference?
Fuzz--The Seattle Seahawks! I know that chump Dogg is going to pick the Packers, but Brett Favre's arm is going to be hanging by a thread by about week seven. The ticker just said Shaun has a broken bone in his wrist, but I don't care. He's a warrior. Actually, I think he's kind of soft, but he plays in a weak division. Arizona is 0-3, St. Louie is falling apart, and San Fran still has Alex Smith as their quarterback. They'll have 10 or 11 wins, which will be a lot in the NFC. I can't stress how bad the NFC is. It's bad. The AFC has the big dogs. The Cowboys and the Seahawks are the only two teams that can piss with the big dogs.
Dogg--The Green Bay Packers like I said when the season began. I still believe they have the best QB and WR in the league. I know Roy Williams is very talented but Donald Driver does it all and plays with bruises unlike Roy. They haven’t had a cupcake schedule by any means and are a perfect 3-0 with an easy match up this weekend against our awful Minnesota Vikings. They win the NFC North and get at least one playoff game which will be a guaranteed victory. They are going to be in the NFC Championship game and I’ll go out on a limb and say they make the SB.
Q--I’m going to say that it’s still Chicago. I know the Cowboys flat out embarrassed them on national television, but there are so many question marks about all the other teams in the conference that I just can’t go away from the Bears. If they ever wise up and put Brian Griese at quarterback (as the fans were clearly and loudly chanting for the other night), they will be just fine. He’s not a guy that’s going to necessarily win a game for you, but he’s not going to lose it either (like, say, the Sex Cannon). Their D is still the best in the conference and they get to play Detroit and Minnesota twice each. That’s a lot of positives in their favor.
2. In Arizona, an ineffective Matt Leinart was pulled on Sunday and backup Kurt Warner looked very good, almost leading the team to a comeback win. Do you think it's a good idea for a team to bench the future of the franchise because of poor play and thus create a quarterback controversy?
Dogg--It’s not a controversy at all in my mind. Lionheart is their QB and wasn’t having a good day so they went with the veteran against a very good defense on the road. We all know Kurt Warner is passed his prime and older than dirt so it was the right move for that game. Matty will be back in there next week with Warner waiting for him to struggle again in the future.
Maybe he has his mind on other things...
Fuzz--The only thing Kurt Warner is good for is an over exposed wife and crying with Dick Vermiel. Besides that, he's back-up talent. Leinart is still very young and still needs time to develop. Arizona is still building the offensive line, so this partly is not all of his fault. That line ain't stellar. They're 0-3 so this will be so stupid to sit Leinart. You might as well give him all season to get better.
Q--I thought it was a terrible idea by a rookie head coach. Did Warner play significantly better? Definitely. But now Leinart is going to be looking over his shoulder on every single incompletion and/or interception. You can’t mess with the young man’s confidence like that. If he’s your guy, then let him make his mistakes and grow. He shouldn’t be peeking over to the sidelines to see if the Grocery Bagger is strapping on his helmet every game.
3. After finishing 14-2 last year, Norv Turner's San Diego Chargers have started this season at 1-2. What is the reason for this poor start? Can they still turn the season around and become the dominant team that everyone thought they'd be?
Fuzz--First off, has a coach that won about 85% of it's teams games ever been fired before? Marty got hosed in this deal. Yeah they got beat at home in the playoffs, but it was to those Patriots. You've might have heard of them. I really don't know what's wrong with them. I wasn't crazy about the Turner hire, but they still have the talent, so this is a little confusing. The Patriots loss a couple weeks ago was acceptable, losing to the Packers was cause for concern. Look at their division though? Oakland, KC & Denver. Ish. Two of the worst teams in the league and an alright Denver team. They'll win the division and be fine. Dogg will probably disagree with this too, maybe even Q. Let me remind you, they're morons.
Q--This week is huge for the Bolts. Obviously their major problem has been a lack of a consistent offensive attack. This should not be an issue when you have talent like LDT, Gates, Rivers, etc. on your team. I do agree with Fuzz that they should still win the division and make a playoff run. However, Sunday’s game against the Chiefs is a big one. If they don’t go out and absolutely dominate a bottom of the barrel team like KC, then we’ll know that these problems will doom them all season. Marty Ball may not win you a Super Bowl, but Norv Ball is threatening to keep you out of the playoffs. Someone in San Diego needs to figure it out.
Dogg--Norv Turner is a terrible head coach, period. There are no other reasons behind their poor start.
4. Donovan McNabb and the Eagles exploded for 56 points on Sunday. Is this the major turning point in their season, or was it just a mirage?
Q--Absolutely a mirage. D Nice isn’t the QB that he once was and I’m still not convinced that his knee is in all that good of shape. They lit up an absolutely terrible Lions secondary and now I’m supposed to be impressed? I don’t think so. Their O line is decent, their receivers are average at best, and their defense is extremely old. That doesn’t sound like a team that is going to have a magical season, in my opinion.
Dogg--McNabb is legit and looks like Kevin Curtis might’ve had his coming out party. Reggie Brown was the #1 going into the season but doesn’t remember how to run a route any more. It will be the Westbrook and Kevin Curtis show this year catching a number of balls from McNabb who will be hucking 30+ times every game. I think the Eagles defense is above average and the offense found it’s groove. I believe they are a playoff team in the weak NFC and McNabb is now out to prove a point after the struggles in weeks 1 and 2.
Fuzz--Who knows? One week McNabb looks like he's running like Frankenstein and the next he looks like Carl Lewis. He looked like the quarterback of old for 60 minutes. It should be said here that he was playing the Lions. The Lions are awful. #2 pick in the draft last year, people forget this. To get down to the gritty here, I'll say it's a mirage. I don't see them winning more then 7 or 8 games. It might put you in the playoffs, but you're still around .500. That's average.
5. Since I know you are all fantasy rubes, I'm going to give you a chance to vent (or boast) about your fantasy team(s)/players. Take your best shot.
Fuzz--Well I just benched Philip Rivers for the Sex Pistol (Rex Grossman) this week and it bit me in my a**. Why would anyone start the pistol you say? I have no idea, I complete that moron tripod with my other two cohorts. I'm in four leagues and it's just stupid. I don't recommend it. Get down to two, it's perfect. One is too less and three is too many. Two you can manage very well and still feel like you don't have your eggs all in one basket. My biggest vent for fantasy this year is: I'm in four flipping leagues, our blog name is out of respect for this player, he's the best player in fantasy right now, yet I didn't draft Randy "the freak" Moss in one of my leagues. Awesome.
Q--Unlike these two clowns, I only have 3 teams (though I’d agree with Fuzz that 2 is the perfect amount). I have enjoyed a lot of success in recent years with my fantasy teams, so I probably don’t have much of a right to complain. But, Bill Belichick is killing me. Not only am I getting lit up by one Patroit player after another (first Moss, then Watson, then Brady), but the one offensive player that I have is getting no love. Maroney has been running the ball like a stud, but he can’t seem to get even 20 carries a game or any goal line love. C’mon Bill, I know you want to save Laurence for the stretch run, but throw me a freaking bone here.
Dogg--I am a fantasy rube and play in 5 leagues which needs to be reduced next year for sure. I have and play against every damn player in the league on a weekly basis and lucky if I haven’t had 13 heart attacks before the MNF game is over with. I have LT in two leagues and somehow am 1-2 in one of the leagues and 2-1 in the other so I’m rather happy about that. He’ll go for 100+ yards this week with 2+ TD’s against the worthless Chiefs so I’m ready for that to happen. I guess taking Lamont Jordan and Ed James has paid off for me thus far. Overall, I’m happy with my 5 teams overall performance. 0-3, 1-2, 2-1, 2-1 and 3-0.
Posted by Fuzz at Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
...all the way to a .500 season. That's right, it's called 7 straight seasons with more wins than losses me boys. With all the doom and gloom surround the Twins right now, at least we could have this. So what if Torii Hunter is a free agent in less than a week and basically gave his final goodbye to the Minnesota fans on Sunday afternoon?
At least we could still finish over .500.
And who cares if the Best Pitcher On The Planet keeps complaining about the lack of offense and seems headed out the door in a year (or less)?
At least we could still finish over .500.
So what if Gardenhire is trying to eff with the future of the franchise by regularly playing the likes of Nick Punto, Rondell White, and Luis Rodriguez over Alexi Casilla, Garrett Jones, and Brian Buscher?
At least we could still finish over .500.
And maybe have a newly funded stadium being built as we speak that could be empty thanks to a lack of talent/understanding of how to bring along young players.
At least we could still finish over .500.
The point is this: despite all of the negativity among fans, sportswriters, and players, this wasn't the worst season ever. Oh how soon we forget these days...
7 straight seasons of over .500 ball is a pretty amazing streak. So get it done boys. I'll be watching. Even if I'm the only one who still is.
Posted by Q at Monday, September 24, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Week 2 of the NFL is in the books. Three of the most astute NFL minds in the country hashed out a few of the main points from Week 2...
*The Patriots demolished the Chargers in front of the nation on Sunday night, beating them by 24 points. A pretty impressive victory. Are they clearly the favorite to win the Superbowl?
Dogg: The Pats are the favorite to win the SB like I said since day one. They were a very good team last year and signing Moss, Welker, Stallworth and Adalius Thomas made them a dominant team this year. Brady is one of the best QB’s of all time and now finally getting 3 WR’s who are capable of making big plays, he’s showing how good he really can be with legit threats. Belichick cheats so that is a bonus as well. He knows what plays are coming and he’s already the best coach in NFL history so add that and it’s all but over for the other 31 teams.
Fuzz: The Pats are riding high right after beating two AFC playoff teams in their first two games. They have the confidence, the QB and the coach to be the favorite, but…the Colts are still the favorite in my mind. Defending champs who blasted the Saints on opening day and got by a sneaky Titans team on the road. Home field advantage is going to play huge in determining the AFC representative. Yes, it’s only week two, but I already think these two teams are almost locks for the AFC championship game. The Colts have the belt until they get beat in the playoffs.
Q: I'm going to take a page from my favorite writer, Bill Simmons, and say that I love this question because there is not enough attention on the Patriots right now. Make that, not enough on the field attention. Tom Brady's numbers are outrageous (81% completion rate!) and they have absolutely throttled a playoff team from last year and one of the three favorites to win the Super Bowl this year. The stupid camera/sign-stealing thing is getting way too much attention. That said, let's not start sucking popsicles yet. The Colts are still the defending champs, are 2-0, and have not shown any signs of weakness. I do give New England the slight edge at this point, but it's close.
*The hated Green Bay Packers are 2-0 and looking like a playoff team. Am I right or am I overreacting to this fast start? Give me reasons for choice.
Dogg: You know my answer to this since I have told you several times that Green Bay will be in the playoffs this year. I will repeat it once again that they have the best all around WR and QB in the division. Their RB situation is a little shaky but they will go by committee, which will work nicely for them especially when they get Morency back. Their front 7 on defense is a top 3 unit in the entire league and having Al Harris and Charles Woodson in the secondary isn’t so bad either. They will be in the postseason.
Fuzz: I’m sticking to my guns and calling this a mirage. They clearly played an overrated Philly team and an atrocious Giant team. I’m predicting 1-4 record the next five games. I’m serious too Dogg. San Diego, at Minnesota, Chicago, Washington and then at Denver is their next five. San Diego, Chicago and Denver are all losses. They’ll win one between Minnesota and Washington. My bet is Washington, since Farve hates the dome and we’ll knock him on his butt a few times.
Q: Overreacting. There are legitimate reasons for Sconnies to be excited about the undefeated squad. Their defense has looked really good and they seem to be catching a lot of breaks. But this will not last. They were VERY luck to beat a very overrated Eagles team in week 1 with D Mac at about 50% (despite what he says) and then beat a terrible Giants team decimated by injuries to Brandon Jacobs, Plaxico Burress, and Eli Manning, who shouldn't have been playing in the first place. Time to face facts Packer backers: your offense is terrible. You have zero running game and you've turned one of the great gun-slingers of all time into a dreaded "game manager" (a term the the Purple have long used for their array of below average signal callers). I hate Green Bay, I hate the Pack, and I hate their cheese. They will not make the playoffs.
*Cowboys travel to Chi-town this weekend to play the Bears in a good NFC game. Could this be a preview of the NFC championship game? Do the Cowboys have enough to represent the NFC? Why?
Dogg: The Cowboys will not win this game or any other game they play in Chicago so they better hope they can finish the season with home field advantage throughout the post season if they want a shot. The Bears will smother inexperienced QB Tony Romo and T.O. will be frustrated before halftime even rolls around. Julius Jones and Barber will be bottled up and Dallas has no defense right now (will be much improved with Tank Johnson). A great defense will always offset a great offense so I take the Bears in this match up. I do think both are contenders for the NFC crown and think whichever team can play at home throughout the playoffs will have a great shot.
Q: I would be absolutely shocked if this wasn't the NFC title game. The Bears have the best defense in the conference and if their O line can figure out a way to block just a little bit, they will be the dominant force they were last year. On the other sideline, Dallas has a very high-powered offense with the likes of Romo, Owens, Barber, and Jones. Their D has been a bit maligned lately, but when they're healthy, watch out. Chicago has the edge in this game because of the Cowboys banged up D, but if, nay, when they meet up again in the playoffs, Big D will take them down. As soon as guys like Newman get healthy and they add a potentially huge difference maker in the recently signed Tank Williams, they should roll through the playoffs and have the right to lose to whomever comes out of the AFC.
Fuzz: First off, this game is on National TV on Sunday night and I think the Cowboys make a statement with a convincing win. This is their coming out party so to speak. On the road against a tough defense will put them in the spotlight. I picked the Saints to represent the NFC about three weeks ago and I’m kicking myself for it. I should have known. Cowboys have the best squad in the NFC and will beat them Sunday and if they face them again, will beat them again. I’m all in on these Cowboys…
*Is Tarvaris Jackson the worst starting quarterback in the NFL? If so, will he ever shed that title? If not, does he have a chance to be adequate this season?
Fuzz: Mr. Trebek, what is yes! I’ve seen maybe two big boy throws from him in the first two games. Bad times. He looks way over his head and he just needs to be benched. We need to cut to the cord right now on this guy. Go with Holcomb the rest of the year and draft/sign a QB next off-season. I have no faith in him right now.
Dogg: Well, I just heard on the radio today that he wasn’t even a first team all conference selection his senior year in the SWAC conference which tells me that we traded up to get a guy who was never going to be good in this league. He will get a little better with his accuracy but don’t see him every being worth a 2nd round pick especially trading up to get him. I wouldn’t say he’s the worst QB in the league but in the bottom 5-6, probably. He can at least move around and scramble every so often and make a play. Guys like Josh McCown can’t do that and turn the ball over 5 times a game. I think we look elsewhere next year for a QB.
Q: At this point, I'd have to say that he is. But it's not entirely his fault. The guy's only in his second year and is way too raw to be playing at this point. The smart move would have been to start Brooks or Holcomb and give T- Jack another year to mature. Also, our O line has been horrendous through the first two games and almost got him killed last week in Detroit. I know the Lions were blitzing a ton because they had no fear of getting beat deep (thanks to an inept receiving core and a QB that appears to have a depth perception problem), but come on. Give the kid two seconds to throw a slant. We're paying a few of those guys a lot of money and they're simply not getting the job done. If they step up their game, Tarvaris has a shot to be adequate this season. If they step up and we acquire a real live NFL-quality receiver? He could be down right average in the near future.
*In USA Today’s power rankings this week, the Vikings are 22nd and the Chiefs are 31st, who we play this Sunday. Is this a must win for us? Do you expect us to win after that horrendous loss against the Lions?
Q: 100% this is a must win. As poorly as we played in Motown, we should be 2-0. If we're going to have any shot at being mediocre this season, we have to win games in this soft, early part of the schedule. After the bye, we are going to get crushed by some very good teams (at Chicago, Dallas and Green Bay to go along with home dates against Philly and San Diego--ouch). If we're not 3-1, or at the very least a promising 2-2, going into week 5, the season is lost. Do I expect us to win? Yes. The only thing KC has going for them is Larry Johnson. He has looked feeble at best this year. Combine that with the fact that our only real positive is our run D and you have to give us a decided advantage. I will be very disappointed if we give up more than 14 points, and I think we'll get enough offense (I'm going to call a special teams TD this week) to pull this one out. We need to for the sanity of everyone in Vikingland.
Fuzz: Anytime you play one of the worst teams in the NFL, it’s a must win. If we want any shot, even an outside shot at the playoffs we HAVE to win this game. This would be like losing to the Washington Generals. Get R’ Done Chilly…
Dogg: Ummm, yes!
Posted by Fuzz at Thursday, September 20, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
One of us has got to go. Either me or Gardy. There simply isn't room for both of us in the increasingly less populated Twins Territory. Nothing is ever made of the shaky decisions that Ron makes on a day to day basis in his handling of the Minnesota Twins. Well, the time has come for his free pass to run out.
Last week, highly regarded GM Terry Ryan suddenly stepped down. In the aftermath write ups in print and on the web, everyone mentioned the failed experiments with signing veterans like Tony Batista, Rondell White, Sidney Ponson, etc. What no one said is that a major part of the problem was Gardenhire not recognizing when to cut the cord with these guys and yank them out of the lineup (or off the team, as the case may be). This mismanagement almost cost us a playoff berth last year before Gardy finally pulled the plug on Batista and Juan Castro in early June. That same difficulty in figuring out what lineup is best for the team has shown itself again late in this lost season.
The other day, Ronald felt it was necessary to tell all of us that he's penciling in TKOT nemesis Tricky Nicky Punto as his starting second baseman for 2008. This despite the fact that we have a young, promising infielder in Alexi Casilla who should be playing/auditioning for the starting job every night in September. Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes this is the same Nick Punto who is bottom five in the four most important hitting categories (batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and OPS) among all Major League hitters. He's also 29 years old and a career .224 hitter. But he makes the occasional stellar defensive play and Gardy hates young players, so he gets the nod--in the middle of effing September.
Gardenhire is also continually playing the likes of Rondell White (Chrysler Key Stat of the Game last night: Ro White is hitting .056 at home this year) and Luis Rodriguez, whose .220 average makes him look like an All Star compared to Ro and the Tricky One. All of this while the Twins are 15 1/2 games back in the Central. What better way to prepare for the future than playing a soon to be retired guy who can't hit half his weight and a glorified AAA utility player? We need to give Brian Buscher the chance to be our everyday third baseman and give playing time to youngsters like Garrett Jones, Tommy Watkins, etc. to see if they can contribute to this team in the near future.
But, as I said, Gardy hates young players. That's why Batista, Castro, Ponson, and Ramon Ortiz are handed starting spots that are nearly impossible to lose, while young studs Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey, etc. wallow in AAA despite proving that they've mastered that level. That's what leads to names like Adam Johnson and Mike Restovich. Remember those guys? Highly touted prospects, dominated in the minors, but never given a chance to see any significant time because of our reluctance to let them grow and work out their kinks at the big leauge level.
It's not just a mismanagement of young talent that has Gardy on my chopping block. His misuse of our pitching staff in general is going to kill any hopes of a playoff team in the immediate future. He absolutely refuses to give a young pitcher a spot in the rotation from day 1. Instead, some retread veteran or a "proven" 5+ ERA guy is guaranteed a spot. Worse than that (or maybe equally as bad come to think of it) is how poorly he uses our bullpen. What is the man's obsession with saves? He never pitches Nathan unless he has a save opportunity, or hasn't pitched in a month. He also throws guys who are on a rough streak, or just flat out terrible, in key, late inning situations (and then they predictably lose the game for us). And when we do get a pitcher throwing well, Gardy overuses them until they are basically ineffective (see: Neshek, Pat). As a very light hitting team, we can ill afford to have someone killing our pitching staff with poor decisions on a nightly basis.
So it comes to this: it's time for Ron Gardenhire to get on the same plane as TR come October 1. Either that or the Hatian from Heroes needs to "fix" Gardy's memory of everything he thought he knew about managing a baseball team. This team, hell this organization, has too much talent to have a manager waste it all away with terrible roster/lineup decisions. Otherwise, the good people of Hennepin County just wasted a lot of money on a new ballpark that will be empty by 2012 because our lineup of inept hitters and aging pitchers is winning 60 games a year. That is the future of Twins Territory as it stands now. If Bill Smith wants to really make a splash and improve this team, he will dump Gardy and find a manager who know how to fill out a lineup card.
Posted by Q at Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
I need to get this off my chest before I see any quotes from players & coaches tomorrow. I don't want to be influenced by the professional "quoters" on how they'll spin this loss. I just don't. They'll say something like, "we got jobbed by the officials" or "we didn't think they'd give us much of a run so we all got smashed the night before and played hungover." I'll fall for it and I'm not doing that this time.
That game where the Vikings lost to the Lions in OT was one of the worst football games I've ever seen, if not the worst. If you're somehow reading this and aren't a Lions or Vikings fan, you're the luckiest SOB on the planet. Some one word words that can describe that OT "thriller:"
Painful. Hideous. Repulsive. Ugly. Appalling. Sickening. Disappointing. Laughable. The most disgusting pile of football garbage I've ever watched. Ok, that was 10 words, but you get my drift.
I really don't even know where to start. Honestly. The only thing that you can say we did decent out of the whole stinking game, was our D-line played pretty well. Four sacks with a TD. Besides those consistent monsters, nothing else. Nothing! You say our secondary had three picks, right? How about that same secondary giving up 350+ yds in the air from Kitna and here it comes...JT O'Sullivan!!! Someone shoot me now. This is the same JT that we cut. That's right the Minnesota Vikings with the worst starting quarterback (more on him soon) and even worse QB bench CUT O'Sullivan. Didn't need him, we have that position covered. Whatever.
This might seem a little harsh and bitter since it is only week two, but I don't care. That was absolute filth on the TV screen. I would've rather taken the ACT test this afternoon then watch that nonsense. If we were playing any team in the top half of the league, we would have gotten beat by 30 today. No joke.
Ok, I'm done ranting, so now it's time to look at what needs to be done before next game to improve from this garbage to rubbish.
1) Tarvaris Jackson needs to stop playing like a Pop Warner QB and start playing some real football. Either he stinks or he really stinks. Tell me how you can throw 33 times for only 166 yds? Tell me how you can throw four picks vs. one of the worst teams in the league? Two games for T-Jack so far and he's looked bad and then horrible. Not a good start my friend (that's a loose word right now). I love Adrian Peterson, but I wouldn't mind Brady Quinn on this roster right now. I have a sinking feeling T-Jack might be bagging my groceries in a couple years. If that's the case, this project would be such a waste. Bottom line, he needs to improve...now!
2) 12 penalties for 96 yards. They were fine last week with this, but they went right back into their old habits today. This needs to stop. Most of the penalties I noticed were on younger players. Ryan Cook had an awful game with penalties and AP even had a few jumps. This can't happen on the road. You're shooting yourself in the foot to use the old cliche.
3) Our O-line had a bad bad game as well. It just keeps coming. It's like a storm that won't end. Sewers can't keep up with me right now. It looked like we were getting pushed around like dolls and we didn't open up any big holes for AP. Surprising, because the Lions D line sucks. A lot of money on that line and I'm waiting for these boys to earn it.
Improve on those three things, we'll win next Sunday vs. the Chiefs. Mark my words. They are a worse team then we are. They weren't worse today, no one was, but they're just bad. I'll be watching...obviously...so if we're better in all three of those categories, we'll be 2-1. Promise. Kidding, I don't promise, but that sounded cool.
We'll back early this week with some more banter. Probably more on the other teams in the NFL with a splash of purple, since this loss just needs to be ignored completely. Like the fact that I'm ignoring that the Packers are 2-0 and look goo......nope sorry cheesheads, I can't say it...
Posted by Fuzz at Monday, September 17, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
His name might as well be John Doe. Put tag on his toe, stick him in the freezer, cut him up and let’s look for someone else. This can’t be the name of the guy that’s going to lead my favorite baseball team to the promise land, is it? BILL SMITH!?!?!? Couldn’t he go by Billy or William? Anything but...B- I- L- L. (I’m not knocking the name Bill, but team it up with that rare Smith last name and you got one smoking name) I’d feel better about this right now if it was Billy Smith. I’m officially in full-blown lock up the shutters; get the kids in the basement panic mode right now.
One of the most respected general managers in the game of baseball, Terry Ryan, stepped down after 12 years on the job for the Minnesota Twins. First six years not so good, second six pretty good or real good. Depends on who you talk too. With the payroll Terry was handed, I’m in the real good corner. See, I remember the days of the 90’s, post 91’ World Series, where the Twins flat out sucked. Tinkering around 65-70 wins for about eight years. By the all-star break, you were looking forward to football and forgot what Pat Meares was hitting or what crazy thing Rich Becker did the night before. You lost all interest. Terry Ryan brought us out of that hole. Forget this year for a second, but for the last five years at any point in the season I could give you the averages of every player on our team. Maybe not down to the exact point, but pretty damn close. When things are good, you pay attention to everything. When they’re bad (this year and pre 2001) you don’t give a shit. I hate this right now and I hated it before.
Heading into the most important off-season of the last 10 years I had faith in Terry to bring us out of this rut. This has been an annoying year, but Terry had a plan. He always does. It must be said that the last couple years, Terry’s “plans” haven’t been so good. Batista, Cirillo, Ponson, Ortiz and Sierra are the names he brought to this team. All bombs. Thank God he had his scouting talents to fall back on so we weren’t completely hopeless, even making an incredible run last regular season winning the division on the last game of the season. Terry might have been in a slump, but like a cold shooter in basketball, keep shooting and things will turn around. His good moves have been well documented, including all the trades where he almsot stole players from other teams. Where did that Terry go? I expected this turn around this off-season and I wasn’t more confident with Terry effing Ryan calling the shots.
Sign Santana- trade Santana, let Hunter walk- sign Hunter, bring in a 3rd baseman or maybe a left fielder. Definitely bench Tricky Nicky (copyright Q). Whatever he had up his sleeve, he was going to make it right. Call it a hunch, but I had faith. We are one of those classic “on the cusp” teams right now just waiting for our chance to make the jump of being a serious contender. This is the off-season it was going to happen and now this magic man with all the special potions is gone (at least from the decision making position).
Insert the bouncy Bill Smith. Ok, maybe I need to lay off Bill, because it is just a name but frankly, I know nothing about him. Apparently he’s been with the team for 22 years. I like the loyalty, I’ll give him that but I hope he was a shadow to Terry and not some grunt who’s put in his time, so let’s give him the reins type of deal. Remember the Pohlads are cheap. Bill (this name is killing me. It just isn’t cool to be running “America’s team” with a name like Bill. Wouldn’t a name like Jake Conway ease your mind a little? It would for me.) gets thrown to the wolves immediately. This is why I’m red faced towards TR right now. Is it out of line to think that Terry is bailing on us? He signed those no talent ass clowns to play for us the last two years and now when the kitchen is getting a little hot, he can’t run fast enough. He’s leaving it all up to Bill. Let’s make a short list of decisions to be made:
1) Torii Hunter. Do you sign an aging center fielder to long term deal? He’s asking for five years, can we afford that? He is one of the franchise faces and you have no one, I mean NO ONE ready to replace him. Does he want to play here? This is a biggie and it starts in like 15 days.
2) Johan Santana. Did you forget about him? Two time CY Young winner who is considered the top pitcher in the game. Some people are predicting a 20+ million a year deal once he hits the open market. If you can’t pay that, you have to send him packing for prospects. (FYI: we can’t pay that). That’s easy for me to type, but to make that call in your first off-season, not so easy. This might be bigger then the Hunter decision. Do you gamble and hope for a playoff run with him or get rid of him before he walks? Yeah, good luck Bill. Either way you might be up the creek without a paddle. Look, picking what grub shop I’m going to visit for lunch is my toughest decision of the day, Bill just got thrown into a whole different beast.
3) Justin Morneau. MVP last year and we couldn’t get a deal done with him last winter. He’s young and he ain’t coming cheap. Any second thoughts yet Bill?
4) Try to figure out 1-3 and then still have the skills to figure out how to get better from your annoying year where the Twins are going to finish below .500. All of these choices to make while the other teams in the most competitive division in baseball are getting better.
Man, no wonder why Terry quit...
Maybe Terry was burned out (which he said in his news conference today), maybe he’s pulling a Nick Saban, lying to us all and is going to join the Houston Astros in two weeks. Or maybe he’s sick of being an adult and needs to find a carnival with a magic wish machine and go back to being a kid like Tom Hanks in “Big.” Whatever his motives for quitting were, it still leaves John Doe as our new driver of this baseball team.
I’m a die hard, so I’ll be watching this closely. The last thing we want is to go back to the Pat Meares and Rich Becker days, they sucked if you forgot. I haven't. I’m chalking up this year as a speed bump that we didn’t see and messed up the alignment on our tires. It’s time to fix it and get back on the road. I’m buckling back up for this new ride Jake I mean Bill is about take us on.
Bill Smith...it’s time to make a name for yourself...
Posted by Fuzz at Thursday, September 13, 2007
The first week of the season is in the books and, man, is there a lot to talk about. So without any further introduction, here's what we're talking about:
1. The Saints and Bears, both NFC favorites, lost in week 1. Which team should be more concerned and why?
Fuzz: I would like to say neither, since I believe both are going to be there in the end. Since I’m not for cop out picks, I’ll say the Saints. Mainly because their defense did not hold up at all. San Diego and Indy were among the top three offenses in points scored last year. A good litmus test for this question is this stat: Chicago gave up 14 and New Orleans gave up 41. Both played on the road, both played high-powered offenses, but New Orleans looked like a PeeWee team (especially in the second half) and the Bears held their own. Saints fans should be slightly worried, but Tampa Bay is next on the schedule this week, so this will all go away shortly.
Q: I'll be less wishy washy than Fuzz and go with the Bears. Yes, I know their defense was as dominant as ever and they shut down LDT and blah, blah, blah. I don't care. Everyone knew they were/are good, nay, great. However, their offense looked much worse than anyone could have imagined (except me, of course, when I picked them to go 5-11 this year), especially the running game. Some worried about the void left by Thomas Jones, but everyone in Chicagoland said that Benson was ready to be a feature back. Now? I'm thinking Bears fans might be at least a little worried. Their O line got throttled the entire game, Rexy was Rexy, and now they can't run the ball. Not good times for the Navy and Orange right now.
2. On the flip side, the Patriots and Chargers, both AFC favorites, won convincingly. They face off in week 2, so who ya got?
Q: If I were a lame, unfunny sportswriter (like, say, the Star Tribune's Jim Souhan) this is where I would put a joke about the Chargers winning because the Pats won't be able to videotape their signals. Ha. Ha. Anyways, I'm taking New England. I know that San Diego wants revenge after last year's playoff defeat/dance mocking debacle, but I don't see it happening. If not for an awkward bounce on a punt last week, the Chargers would have been in some serious trouble. I think Brady and Company are ready to prove to everyone that they are back and will dominate this game on both sides of the ball. You know what you won't see a lot of this week? Randy Moss. Bellichick will game plan around Maroney or Walker or Stallworth. He knows everyone is going to be watching #81 and will purposefully not run many plays his way.
Fuzz: I have to pick the Chargers. I picked them to represent the AFC in the Superbowl come February, so in order to be on that Superbowl level, you need, scratch that, you HAVE to win. The Patriots came into your house last year in the playoffs and beat you. All your dreams, crushed. If those aren’t fighting words I don’t know what is. Sports are such a mental game. The Chargers lose this game and then end up facing them in the playoffs, what do you think is going to be racing through their minds? Exactly. The Pats have done it before, the Chargers haven’t. I think this is in the top two most important games for them this year, even if it is week two. On the flip side, if the Pats win putting them at 2-0 vs. two AFC playoff teams, hmmm... Holy shit...
3. Give the people what they want, some fantasy news: 2 studs and 2 duds (along with reasons) from week 1.
Fuzz: Stud #1: Plaxico Burress. Two things that is great about this. 1) He was picked after the 5th round in most drafts, which gave him the element of surprise card. 2) Eli is out for a month so owners of Plexi Glass just got hustled big time. “Poolhall Junkie” hustled. Stud #2: Adrian Peterson. This is from my hometown boy, All Day. Peterson registered the best fantasy day out of any running back in the league, at least in normal fantasy formats. Not bad for a rook. On a side note, seeing his 4.4 speed streaking down the sidelines is priceless. Like seeing your kid riding a bike without training wheels for the first time or having a beer with your Grandpa priceless. I’m serious.
Dud #1: Steven Jackson (58 rush yds, 1 rec 3 yds). Look at that line? That is just funny. It’s funny because I don’t have him in one league! For the consensus #2 pick this is not what you want to see. It’s also funny that Christopher “I was probably not drafted in 90% of leagues in the Nation” Brown rushed for 175 yards week one. Don’t you love Fantasy? Dud #2: Drew Brees: (192 yds, 2 INT). Another high draft pick and another horrible performance. Played in the first game of the year in front of millions and looked terrible. Like the terrible of that new movie “Mr. Woodchuck.”
Q: This is going to be tough for me since all three of my fantasy teams were awful in week one. Stud #1 goes to Tony Romo. The only player on any of my teams that played like a man. 300+ yards, 4 passing TD's, and a rushing TD? Those are big time numbers from a guy who's looking to get paid. Stud #2 is Randy Moss. C'mon, our site is named after him, you knew we had to show him some love. After missing the whole preseason he goes off for 183 and two scores. Oh, and that muffled sound you're hearing is all the naysayers trying to get their collective foot out of their mouth.
Dud #1, and my new mortal enemy, is Thomas Jones. I have him as a second RB in two leagues and he goes for 45 yards. That's it. I know the Patriots D is tough, but come on. I can't say anymore because I'll go into a blind rage and there's no telling what I'll type then. Dud #2 goes to Frank Gore. A top 5 pick in every league playing against the Cardinals. Sounds like fantasy gold, no? 55 rushing yards later, he's in the "dud" category. What a chump.
4. Cautiously, most Vikings fans were pleased with Sunday's victory. What did you like and what didn't you like from the win over Atlanta?
Q: Obviously the defense was sick (much like we here at Superbowl Homeboy told you it would be). 2 INT's, 2 TD's and 6 sacks is a great way to start the year. And AP was the bomb as everyone and their mother has already told you. But what I really liked was Chester getting knicked up. This is going to put all the focus on Peterson and give Taylor a chance to shine. He'll have a monster game against Detroit because no one will game plan for him. I predict 75 rushing yards and 8 catches for 50 yards plus a TD, you know, if he plays...While the offense moved the ball more efficiently than I thought they would, T Jack still scares me a little. He rarely sets his feet and made some terrible throws (see: the flip out of bounds, the rocket behind Vinny, and the two missed deep throws). I know he's still raw, but some of that stuff is easy to fix. Set your feet and throw the ball young man.
Fuzz: Liked the Adrian Peterson performance that’s already starting the rookie of year talks, but loved our defensive performance. Two “see ya” picks to the house and six “lay down” sacks. Our defense sets the tone for our whole team. We’ll be in every game if the come out with that intensity as they showed in week one. I didn’t like that T-Jack missed on some longer throws. Better teams are going to make T-Jack win the game for us. He didn’t show that this game, so I’m hoping he’s a quick learner before we get to our meat of our schedule.
5. Lastly, tell us the 5 most important things that you learned from week 1 of the 2007 season.
Fuzz: In descending order:
5) No big surprise, but Miami, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Kansas City & Cleveland are your five worst teams in the league. In no particular order, those five squads are almost locks for the first five picks in next years draft. Hey Brian Brohm? I hope you like screaming head coaches with amazing press conferences, because you’re headed to Kansas City big guy.
4) I liked the performance by Tony Romo. You know this kid had a lot to prove after last years fumble debacle. I’m sure it played in his head every day, so to come out with a huge game like he did eases the pain a little. Good for him. Wait… is he still with Carrie? Nevermind, he’s still a goon.
3) Peyton Manning is still making a lot of coin on commercials.
2) LaDainian Tomlinson could be a starting quarterback for 10 teams in this league. This is getting a little ridiculous. Another passing TD? Come on! The guy can do anything it seems like. If he starts attempting PAT’s or starts calling audibles from the running back position, I’m out. I can only take so much.
1) Randy Moss gave the biggest “smoke & mirrors” performance of my lifetime. 183 yards and a touchdown!! I’m amazed on how people forgot so quickly. Yes, he still has this in him from time to time, but this will explode. I.e. Hammy or Locker room. Pick your poison. Bottom line is that he doesn’t stretch, he doesn’t care, and he’s going to give the Pats about a 6-7 week grace period before the hammer is dropped. Just wait...
Q: In no particular order:
5) Um, so the Colts are pretty good...I guess.
4) Bears 0-1, rest of the NFC North, 1-0. Guess what Chicago? That breeze you're feeling would be the winds of change, not the gusts off Lake Michigan.
3) Kansas City and Cleveland might be two of the worst teams to ever play in the NFL. And that includes the Raiders for the last decade.
2) Football Jesus, aka Brett Favre, throws 42 times for just about 200 yards, no touchdowns, and a pick. Time for the Cheeseheads to face facts: he's done. D-O-N-E, done. Bring on Aaron Rogers!
1) Detroit lucks out against Oakland in a battle of the two worst teams in football last year. Now they've got their chests all puffed out and have an air of invicibility about them. That will all come crashing to a hault in week 2 when the Brothers Williams crush Kitna and the Lions...
Posted by Fuzz at Thursday, September 13, 2007