Friday, November 30, 2007

Fuzz's Stew

I would have used “ramblings” but that phrase seems overused with blogs these days. So forgive me for trying something different or a lot less used. Anyways here are some random topics and my random ass opinions.

The Santana sweepstakes-

At this point it’s more like an auction. All we need is that guy from the Micro Machine commercials taking bids and this would be an all-out official auction. I’m in the camp that we need to trade him but this still hurts hearing all the latest rumors. We “rule 5’d” this guy. Houston gave up on him but our boys saw something special. Well, two Cy Young’s later, he’s the best pitcher in the game and now it’s a foregone conclusion that he’ll be traded. If you are a player here and you get too good don’t get comfortable in this market because you’re a goner. I hate that. And since Johan decided to go A-Rod on us, the Twins can’t afford him anymore.

Jo’Hizzy is part to blame here also. Don’t let him off the hook. I heard we offered him four years for $80 million this week and his agent pretty much shit on it. He’s asking for six for $150 million. We’re only two years and $70 million off. I’m not seeing the snag here. Are you guys? $20 million a year is a damn good salary and if he really wanted to stay, he would take this offer. He doesn’t. He wants the money and year security no matter what team provides it. He also knows that only a handful of teams can afford him, which are all the big market-good teams. He has all the leverage. Not to mention that trade clause. Johan is in a good situation right now.

I don’t want to dive into any of the rumors because it gives you a sense of false hope about which guys are coming are way. I will believe that he’s only going to go to the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers or Angels. Personally, I don’t want all prospects. There needs to be at least one big league ready player. I don’t care if it’s a pitcher or a position player. Just someone that is penciled into a starting role immediately. With the abundance of pitchers we have, two position players and a pitcher would be perfect.

Stay tuned because the winter meetings are this week and things are bound to heat up. Thinking about Johan pitching for some other team is going to hurt just like watching KG playing for the Celtics but some things are inevitable. It would hurt much more next year when he waves bye-bye to the Twins without anything in return. Fucked without a kiss is the expression I like.

You have to admit all this pub we’re getting is fun?

Packers lose-

Finally! It’s seemed like forever ago since they’ve last loss and it was getting a little annoying. Let me say that I think the Packers have a good team. I’m not that much of homer to discount their season. They have a very good defense and Brett Favre is playing like an MVP. Or was playing like an MVP. Favre hurt is elbow along with a separated shoulder. How many jokes did the crew you guys were watching the game with make the pain killer joke after he went out? I was with a group of seven and I think we made 43 in a three-minute span. It was too easy. I was waiting for NFL network to pan to the locker room where Bud Kilmer was yelling into the camera, “Get the hell out of here if you know what’s good for you” while a needle is being buried into Favre’s arm. I didn’t see a scene like this though. Anyways, now they say his consecutive starting streak is in jeopardy. Bull shit I say. Brett Favre 100% will play next week.

They are still easily the second best team in the league only because Tampa Bay is the third best and I can only name the fantasy players from their team--Garcia, Graham and Galloway. The three G’s. Because of Tampa Bay’s unfamiliarity the Packers still stay #2 but it was nice seeing them lose.

Vikings in a must win-

Lose, you’re two out, win you’re tied for a playoff spot (minus tie-breakers). It’s that simple. In respect to God’s team, we’re 16-5 against the Lions in the last 10 years and have never lost two games against them in the same year. Don’t effing lose this game! That’s all that needs to be said. Just frickin win. This just in: Vikings Peterson is probable. Uh Oh...

College basketball nuggets-

The Gophers showed their true talent against Florida State. Tubby is a great coach but he’s going to have to work some serious magic to get this team to the big dance like Dogg’s predicting. An NIT appearance is more reasonable. However, Florida State will probably be the worst match-up they will face. I’m not saying that we can beat the Michigan State’s or Indiana’s but those teams are much different than that FSU squad. They were unbelievably quick and put so much pressure on our young point guards. Nolen and Payton looked fooled and overmatched. All the passing lanes were being blocked on defense by FSU and they were simply out running us on offense. The Big Ten doesn’t have a team even close to that ACC up-tempo style. It’s a bunch of stiffs who play zone defense. They got beat handily against FSU and I don’t see them losing by that margin again all year.

Duke’s 6-0 and the seventh seed in both polls. Thought you guys would like to know that. So all those Fuck Dukes I got on the comment section on my A-Z piece can go to hell. People don’t want to admit it but they’re a top- five at the end of year team. Get used to them up there.

Beasley Update. He’s played two more games so obviously he’s not keeping up with this 30/20 clip. I forgot that college basketball isn’t NBA Jam. Through seven games he’s averaging 26.7 pts and 15 rebounds. I’d say that’s still pretty good. In related news, the Wolves are 2-11. Things are right on track…

Bob Knight shot birdshot at someone’s head. Is anyone surprised? The guy is senile.

Movie recommendation:

It’s been out for a little bit but I saw “No Country for Old Men.” I liked it a lot. I don’t like reading other peoples thoughts on movies because I’m afraid they’ll give something away, so I’ll tread carefully. You really have to be a movie buff to appreciate this movie so if you’re looking for a non-stop Die Hard type action movie for three hours don’t go see this. The fine details in the movie are great. Camera angles, lighting, tone of speech, etc… All of it really sells the plot and suspense. Extremely well acted and the villain in the film will either win an Oscar for his performance or cause an uproar for not winning. He’s that good. Creepiest guy ever. I’d be interested in talking to someone that saw it already. I have so many questions.


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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pipe Dream

On Wednesday, the news broke that the Twins were on the verge of trading Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan to the Tampa Bay Rays for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie. While this is considered a relatively minor trade of promising prospects (Garza and Young) among the rest of the baseball world, it sent shockwaves around Twins Territory…especially in the House That Toast Built.

While technically the deal is not official (at least not at press time), it was on ESPN’s Bottom Line with the famous lead-in “sources say”. In the sports world, that means it’s pretty much guaranteed to happen. The proposed deal incited two major reactions from Twins fans:

1)This must mean that a Santana trade is on the horizon
2)I can’t believe the Twins actually traded a highly regarded pitching prospect

This somewhat low key trade has caused thousands of phone calls, text messages, message board posts, and water cooler conversations all over the Upper Midwest. People are throwing around names like Reyes and Hughes as potential Twins in 2008. At the very least, it’s caused the Twins to take over the lead sports story away from the Vikings/Timberwolves/Wild/Gophers.

Of course, we here at TK on Toast have already spent an entire evening analyzing the details of the trade (“Young is only 22 and has an absolute cannon for an arm”), trashing the guys allegedly on their way out (“You know, Bartlett was never that good and Garza hasn’t proven anything yet”), and posing numerous hypothetical situations for what the 2008 Twins will look like. After much discussion, we have come up with the following moves that need to be made that will make us a very exciting and dangerous team not only next year, but for years to come as well.

Closed-circuit to Bill Smith (an avid TKOT reader):
Yo Smitty, it’s Q. First of all, love the trade. TR would have never pulled the trigger on this, so kudos on separating yourself from him right out of the gates. Second, I know I’ve told you before not to take any of the Twins rants, ramblings, and ideas that get thrown out on here seriously, but this is legit. So get out a pen and paper, follow our lead with this, and be the hero that takes us to a World Series.

Move #1: Trade Johan and Juan Rincon to the New York Mets for David Wright, Mike Pelfrey, and a player to be named later. There was a report from an unnamed source on today that people should not count out the Mets in the Santana Sweepstakes. Considering that Reyes was supposedly on the table before and the Twins weren’t biting, a guy could read that to mean they would consider including Wright in the deal. Plus, we sweeten the pot a little with Rincon (and thus get rid of his $4.5 million contract next year) since New York could use some serious bullpen help.

Move #2: Sign Aaron Rowand to be our everyday centerfielder. While he’s not extremely young (30), he would bring a little bit of veteran leadership to a team that appears to be heading toward a youth movement. He’s also a solid defensive player that would soften the blow of losing Hunter (and occasionally cause flashbacks when he makes his yearly highlight reel catches). We’ll have plenty of money to pay him once we have Hunter, Santana, and Rincon off the books, so that won’t be an issue either (side bonus, these moves also clear up enough room to sign Morneau, Cuddyer, and Nathan to extensions).

After today’s trade and those two moves, you’d be left with the following as your 25 man roster for the 2008 season:

Batting Order
2B—Alexi Casilla
C—Joe Mauer
3B—David Wright
1B—Justin Morneau
CF—Aaron Rowand
RF—Michael Cuddyer
DH—Jason Kubel
LF—Delmon Young
SS—Brendan Harris

Mike Redman
Jason Tyner
Garrett Jones
Brian Buscher

Left Out
Nick Punto

Francisco Liriano
Boof Bonser
Scott Baker
Kevin Slowey
Mike Pelfrey

Joe Nathan
Pat Neshek
Jesse Crain
Matt Guerrier
Glen Perkins
Nick Blackburn

Now that’s the kind of team that could be in the running through August next year (and falter in September), and then mature into a title contender in a very short amount of time. Yes sir, that right there, that’s a pipe dream…

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Choosing A College

Can somebody please tell me why it seems like high school basketball players from the state of MN choose the schools that make the least sense for them? The prime example are brothers Isaiah and Noah Dahlman from Braham, MN who came from one of the best high school basketball dynasties MN fans will ever see.

My biggest disappointment is Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer Isaiah Dahlman. He chose Michigan St. which is of course a great program and probably a great school but did he really think his slow methodical game was going to fit in the Big Ten while being 6’6” 118 LBS? I could’ve told him that he was never going to see the court being that Tom Izzo emphasizes defense and rebounding as much, if not more than any other coach in the land. Dahlman never did rebound the ball great for a 6’6” kid in high school and his high school team played a trapping zone for the majority of games. Michigan St. is strictly a man-to-man team that likes to give minutes to rugged players; the polar opposite of Dahlman. For Isaiah it’s time to give it up, come back to MN and enroll at St. Cloud State where the entire town of Braham can pack Hallenbeck Hall. He will be back in his glory days again and actually dominating basketball games like he once used to.

Isaiah’s brother Noah Dahlman is a prime example of choosing the correct school. He was a 6’5” PF who was a very good high school basketball player but lived in the shadow of his brother for most of his high school career. I believe he became the all-time leading rebounder in MN history but lacking jump shot ability knew that it wasn’t his calling to attend and be successful at a major DI program. Instead he signed on to play at DI Wofford where he is averaging 8 ppg and 8 rpg. Now what is better? Sure, going to play DI at Michigan St. was probably always a dream but you have to investigate the situation before jumping in too quickly. I know it’s hard for guys to turn down big time scholarships like that but you cannot be persuaded by the head coach or head recruiter because they are telling 5 other recruits the same exact thing.

My point is that these kids need help. Their parents should be involved a little bit and they should always find a mentor through all this (AAU coach, high school coach, family friend, etc.). These 18 year old kids usually aren’t making great decisions with their lives as it is already so please will somebody from MN guide these kids to the right program. I cannot see another great basketball player like Isaiah Dahlman rotting away at the end of a bench because it just isn’t right to me after seeing him dominate high school basketball like he did.

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Under Review: Week 12

Week 12 NFL questions for you nerds.

Are the Vikings coming? Meaning, are they coming into the playoff picture? Do they have shot? Or not?

Q: Um, maybe? (That's the best I can do. This team and this season has made no sense to me whatsoever, so I'm done pretending I know what's going on. I'm going with the definite maybe when it comes to the postseason. That way, we could win out, lose out, or some combination in between and I am right about the Vikes for the first time all year.)

Dogg: I still don't believe in this team because we have showed signs of being a terrible team several weeks this season. If we fall behind in any game you can basically kiss it goodbye because I don't see T Jax ever sitting in the pocket for an entire half or even quarter completing passes. AP is coming back but how effective will he be? I say 8-8, which means we would need serious help to make the postseason.

Fuzz: Put it this way: If the Giants don’t have a complete collapse, you’ll have about 5-6 teams competing for the last playoff spot. You have better odds at Treasure Island casino (I hate those commercials by the way.) Still though, why not us? Fans here seem quick to disregard us when they hear how many teams are fighting for one spot. It’s like an automatic response: “Six teams for one spot? No way in hell it’s us.” I ask, why not us? AP, lock down defense, favorable schedule, the fattest O-Line and momentum all factor into my optimism.

Devin Hester, best playmaker in the NFL? If not, who is? Also, is Hester the best return man ever?

Dogg: The best special teamer is not even a debate anymore because this guy is not human when it comes to returning kicks and punts. I know they've lined him up at WR at times but the only time he's done anything is against the dreaded pass defense of the Vikings so I don't know if that's because he can't get open or the fact that they have post-drunk Joe Kane trying to get him the football. Either way they better get him some more touches if they want to keep their postseason chances alive.

Fuzz: Best playmaker is a little strong but he's changed many games in his young career. Randy Moss, T.O., Shawn Merriam, AP and plenty others are just as good as him for a playmaker. I’d say he’s easily the best return man ever. He’s like two years into this and has over 10 returns for touchdowns on punts and kick-offs. It’s absurd. Surprisingly this hasn’t happened yet but he’s going to get the Barry Bonds treatment. Bonds gets walked more than any one in the league. Teams rarely give him the opportunity to beat them. Hester will get the same formula. Teams might simply have to kick it out of bounds on purpose and take the hit. Kickers will now find creative ways to give him no opportunity. What a draft pick by the Bears!

Q: By far the best return man ever (my apologies to Dante Hall, Mel Gray, and Vai Sikahema).

Denver and Kansas City’s third string running backs ran wild this past Sunday. Does this mean anything to you guys when third stringers once giving the opportunity are putting up nice numbers? Is there a point in having that premier runner?

Q: It means nothing if they play for the Broncos. That place is a factory; always has been under Shanahan, always will be. Take a look at the running backs that have had very good either full or partial seasons in Denver under Mad Mike: Travis Henry, Selvin Young, Andre Hall, Mike Bell, Tatum Bell, Mike Anderson, Ron Dayne, Reuben Droughns, Quentin Griffin, Clinton Portis, Olandis Gary, Terrell Davis, Vaughn Hebron, and Aaron Craver. Quite the "Who's Who" of Who's That? right there. Oh, and I could care less about Kolby Smith too. I could run for 80 yards and a score against Oakland's D.

(Kolby Smith)

Dogg: RB's are a dime a dozen these days. Do you not think Maurice Morris would've had great stats all these years Shaun Alexander was tearing up the league? Of course he would've. There are so many great athletes out there these days that sure it takes time to get use to running the ball 20-25 times a game but once that's established there are many guys in this league that can succeed in the NFL. Ryan Grant? Who? The guy played every collegiate game on national television for Notre Dame and John Clayton doesn't even know who he is. It's nice to have guys like LT but those type of runners are once a decade so if I was an owner I would not draft RB's unless you thought you had the next big thing.

Fuzz: I’m more on Dogg’s angle with this question. I find it incredible that the players like he mentioned (Kolby Smith, Andre Hall, Ryan Grant, etc…) are putting up 100+ rushing games on first string defenses. It proves to me that the NFL is so rich with talent (an exception being the QB position.) This is a far cry from MLB. The Minnesota Twins currently play tricky Nicky Punto and pussy Jason Tyner in key games. They both are horseshit. MLB teams are putting in unproductive guys in their lineup all the time. NFL teams pluck borderline practice squad coyote’s into starting roles and they flourish. You wonder why the NFL is so popular? Because the product is so damn good.

Did Philly’s game plan against the Patriots expose the Patriots at all? Is that undefeated season now a little bit harder to attain for them? Are you guys convinced they will win out?

Fuzz: Personally, I think they were exposed. The middle of the field was wide open and A.J. Feeley had all day to pass. It’s going to take a great game to beat these punks. (I’m officially off the Patriots need to go undefeated because I’m sick of the old timers in Miami celebrating story. These guys are so frickin cocky. Bill and his childproof cut-off has the look like he’s better than you. I’m rooting for the other team every time now. Seriously, fuck these guys.) Anyways, a protected accurate passer can carve that defense up. Unfortunately they’ve already played the teams that can beat them. Dallas and Indy were the only two in my mind. If they end up playing again, I believe those two teams can beat them. New England just took first blood off both of them but hopefully one of them gets revenge in the playoffs because I’m sick of this effing team.

Dogg: What was Philly's game plan? Honestly these analysts are saying the key is to get pressure on Brady like Philly did but are they really the only team that has tried this? I think a lot of teams have but if New England's great offensive line picks up the blitz you can put 7 on the board because a double team isn't going to stop Randy. There is no stopping this team and I do think they win out in the regular season. I still have a bias for Manning and the Colts so I say they go into New England and beat them in the AFC championship game.

Q: I think a lot of teams knew that if you put pressure on Tom Brady that you'd have an outside chance of slowing down their scoring train. But that's easier said than done. I'm sure other teams have tried and failed to do the same thing. The difference is that Jim Johnson (Philly's D Coordinator) is much better at creating and disguising blitz packages than anyone else in the league. And I'm definitely not sold on the Patriots winning out. As I'm sure you remember, way back at the start of the year I predicted that the winning streak would end Week 13 in Baltimore. Well guess what next week is? You bet.

Chad Johnson displayed another one of his touchdown celebrations grabbing a camera and fake working it. What is your favorite end zone dance ever? Also, if you can think of one, what celebration would you do if you personally got in the end zone?

Dogg: Merton Hanks and Deion Sanders are two of my favorites of all-time. There are lots out there but these two guys did it right because it was their own dance and they never did anything but those dances. You had "Primetime" from Deion and the "Funky Chicken" from Merton Hanks.

If there was a celebration and this just might be my favorite even over the previous two mentioned is Dante Hall's "X-Factor". How cool from a guy who is basically just a special teamer? Anybody who can claim themselves "X-Factor" as a PR and KR is just that talented.

Fuzz: Two ones that I liked the best were the Bob N’ Weave from the Rams and the Sharpie trick by Terrell Owens. The Bob N’ Weave was cool because it involved more than one guy. 4-5 guys doing a little dance together. The Sharpie thing was awesome because T.O. actually carried a marker in his socks while playing. Who does that? He’s pure crazy.

My personal end zone dance would be out of the Varsity Blues movie. I would chuck the ball has hard as I could at the mascot. How cool would it be if you actually connected to one of those tools and knocked them on their ass?

Q: Wow, three part question. 1) Ocho Cinco's TV camera thing was easily his lamest attempt ever. He shouldn't have even been penalized because that can't even be considered a "celebration". 2) With all due respect to Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, Ickey Woods, and Jamal Anderson, the best TD celebration came from the movie "The Replacements" (note: it may have come from somewhere else, but this is where I remember it from). Throw the football up in the air like it's a bomb, plug your ears, and when it lands everyone on the field falls down. If you're going to get a 15 yard penalty, you may as well get everyone involved, especially big, fat linemen who are 30+ yards behind the play. 3) That depends on if it was a home or away game. At home, I'd go with the "throw the ball as deep into the stands as I can" move. Give some lucky fan a souvenir. On the road, I'd replicate Randy Moss' fake mooning of the crowd if for no other reason than to see if Joe Buck's head might explode.

I might even bare a little cheek just to make sure that he had a stroke.

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RIP Sean Taylor

Sean Taylor, 24, safety for the Washington Redskins, passed away early this morning from complications stemming from a shooting in his Florida home early Monday morning. It seems like just yesterday that we were writing about another young athlete passing away far too soon--Eddie Griffin. It was also only about a year ago that Denver Broncos defensive back Darrent Williams was fatally shot following an argument outside of a night club in Denver. I really hope that this isn't going to become a pattern or a trend in professional sports.

Now I know the grieving for Mr. Taylor has just begun, but the circumstances surrounding his death need to be mentioned and looked at both for clarity and as a warning for all young, professional athletes.

Originally, police were saying that this was a suspected armed robbery. But the more details that come out, the more this looks like a planned murder. Taylor's house was broken into just 8 days prior to his death and there were signs (a knife) that something bad would have happened if he had been home. There's also the fact that the person who broke into his house on Monday did not steal anything, nor did he harm Taylor's girlfriend or infant child. Seems like something sketchy was going down.

I think many young athletes need to seriously follow the investigation that will be done to see what exactly the reason was behind this suspicious activity. They (and all people for that matter) need to be very careful about the company they keep and the activities they are involved in. If even one person changes their life because of this story, then Taylor did not die in vain. If not, then we may be headed towards a very scary pattern in professional sports.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Is this the start of something?

“Every time you win, you're reborn; when you lose, you die a little.” – George E. Allen

The famous British author couldn’t say it any better about the recent shellacking the Minnesota Vikings put on the New York Football Giants. Leading up to this week, including me, everything you heard was negative. Even though we won last week, 4-6 isn’t a pretty record and we seemed like we were miles away from a playoff spot. That all changed.

I was back in my hometown for Thanksgiving break watching this game and on my drive back home the local sports radio show was insane. It’s amazing how quickly fans can change. With the loss from Detroit this week and our convincing win on the road against a strong NFC contender, people are back on the bandwagon. I’m pretty sure I tore my ACL trying to catch the bus as it was flying by my parent’s house. Everyone might not be completely on board, but people are starting to pay attention. This team isn’t dead and you know it. The remaining schedule is right out of the Duke non-conference book. Translation: It’s easy.

You may say easy is not the correct word to use but here are the records we face:

6-5, 3-8, 5-6, 5-6, and 5-6.

Granted we are only 5-6 also but tell me that doesn’t look appetizing? Three home games, two away games, four NFC teams and one AFC team. We have a shot ladies and gentleman! I can’t believe I’m saying that 11 games into the season with T-Jack as our QB but stranger things have happened I guess. This is probably a good time to point out that I thought we were going to get smashed against the Giants. I actually wrote this after our win against Oakland: “So we’ll enjoy this win this week only to get our doors blown out next week.” So saying this shouldn’t discount the fact that I like our chances heading into the last five games. Ok, it actually does discount the fact but it doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

All the football talking heads will tell you that you can win ball games with good defense and good running. We have both. Our defense was on full display this week. On the big New York stage the pretty in purple boys showed why they are considered one of the top units in the league. Four interceptions with three taken to the house. The most important touchdown pick was by Dwight “Block E” Smith sealing the game in the third quarter putting us up by 24 points. Ironically this was about the same time I ripped my ACL. I think he hit the 20-yard line and I was out the door.

With the win this almost guarantee’s the return of “All Day” next week. Minnesota’s superman was jumping up and down on the sidelines with all of the interceptions looking healthy enough for me to give him the nod for this week’s game. Bring him back baby; we’re in this puppy.

Two weeks ago against a strong NFC team in the Packers we perhaps played our worst game as a team. Against another strong NFC team in the Giants we perhaps played our best game as team. Thus no one can predict where this team is headed but I warming up to the idea of a late push by my favorite squad. I know he’s the coach and all but even Childress is warming up to the idea also. He said this after the game:

"2007 is not written yet. We were a footnote at 4-6, so it's significant because now you have a chance to be in the mix."

For all Childress shortcomings he usually gives you a very honest & realistic opinion on things involving this team. He’s buying into that things aren’t over. If he believes it that makes our chances even better because he’s not going to come off as fake & phony when he’s game planning for this weeks game against the Detroit Lions. Warning: Sports cliché to follow this sentence. This is the biggest game of the year. Detroit still holds the 6th seed in the playoffs. We win and we’re tied with them. We lose then we sit two games back. Like I said, this is the biggest game of the year.

George E. Allen was right though; us Viking faithful have been reborn with this latest win. This is going to be a fun week listening to all the hope pour back into the newspaper articles and radio show callers. However, this win and this coming week will all be erased with a loss to the Lions and we will die a little like George says. Sadly, maybe for good...

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Beasley Update

Your Weekly Beasley update...

TKOT's boy Michael Beasley is coming along well for that #1 pick in next years NBA Draft. We're claiming him and we're campaigning him to be the Wolves #1 pick next year. Here is the update...

Beasley: 5 games. 30 points a game. 16.6 rebounds a game.

Wolves: 1-9. Worst record in the NBA

Random Beasley fact: Was named MVP of the McDonald's All-American game.

So far so good ladies & gentleman. So this Thanksgiving weekend be thankful for 30 point games from Beasley and multiple disappointing losses by the T-puppies. I couldn't be happier.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

See Ya!

One of the most popular Twins ever has just signed with the Angels for the next five years. I didn't know any true sports fan that thought he would be back with the Twins. He started his free agent campaign early last spring. I think he knew he was gone. Well now he got his money and we're happy for him. I'm not completely disappointed about him leaving but if we don't get some other player in here to replace him, I will be. Denard Span and Jason Tyner just plain blow. Now pretty much all of those starters from the playoff run we had in the early 2000's are gone. Typical Minnesota sports. People come and go. Next on the list...Jo Hizzy...

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gophers are comin...

Hey friends, Fuzz here. Since TKOT is your college basketball headquarters we thought we'd give a little love to the local team. If we started this blog last year not a chance in hell we breakdown the Gophers. With a new sheriff in town we have a different tone this year. On a daily basis I have to listen to my roommate and fellow TKOT writer pump up this Gophers program. It's non-stop. So, I thought I'd throw some questions at him and let him spout off a little more. So here are the insights from Dogg, one of the biggest Gopher backers I know on the state of the Minnesota Golden Gopher Mens Basketball team. Enjoy.

The Minnesota program seemed to get a shot in the arm with the hiring of Tubby Smith. Every Gopher Basketball fan has high hopes that he can turn this around. What are your thoughts on Tubby? You think he can do it? Anything you've seen that we already don't know?

Dogg: I thought a "shot in the arm" was usually a bad thing but maybe you're referring to the energy and excitement that has been brought back to this program along with its fans due to the hiring of Tubby. Well, it's been everything and then some since he arrived on campus. The players have been rejuvenated and students/fans have new re-found hope in this program. Do I think he can do it? Take a look at his recruiting class coming in next year and find somebody who says they think he can't turn this ship around. He is a recognized and big time name throughout college basketball and high school kids know who he is so his recruiting skills will come naturally. I've always said with the U of M campus and being in Minneapolis high priced talent will come here if we can bring in a high profile coach like Tubby and start winning which he will do. What I've seen is Law Mack get absolutely shutdown in a game this year but the Gophers still put a W in the win column. That would've not come close to happening last year.

Wow. I see you’re fully on board the Tubby train. How many years do you think it will be until we make the Big Dance?

Dogg: This is not a bias prediction at all but I think we are going to make the Big Dance this year! YES, I said the Minnesota Golden Gophers will be playing in the 2007-2008 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Big Ten will always take 5-7 teams and with the league being down this year, we're comin!

Hold up. A nine win team to the dance this year? Can you please explain why you think this? What signs are you seeing personally?

Dogg: This team was better than 9 wins last year but when you have a 2nd grade head coach it's tough to win games especially in the rugged Big Ten. I believe Tubby Smith has always put a strong emphasis on defense and that is what wins games in the Big Ten. Of course you need guys to score some points but that's why you keep the rock in Law Mack's hands and he'll make things happen for himself and his teammates.
Dan Coleman has underachieved more than any DI basketball player that I've ever witnessed. At 6'8" with dribbling skills and a very nice outside jump shot he's been used in every wrong way possible. Give him some freedom to post up the 6'5" players or take the 6'9" posts out on the perimeter. This game is about taking advantage of the mismatches and Monson couldn't have schemed a worse game plan that he did for the past 5 years.

What do you see out of the freshman this year? (Hoffarber & Nolen) Any of them have potential to be good Big Ten players?

Dogg: The way it looks thus far is Al Nolen might contribute immediately, which is a great sign. He did only average small double digits in points senior year of high school but I also believe he was the top assist man in the state which this team needs; a guy who can distribute the rock to the big three (Spence, Law Mack and DC). He has shown that his outside jumper is a strong point in his game, which bodes well for a PG who is a pass first guy.

Blake Hoffarber is the big name coming in but personally believe half that hype was due to the shot he made his sophomore year from his butt in the state tournament. I know he can score but so could Isaiah Dahlman and we know where he's at right now...stuck on the end of Michigan State's bench. The Big Ten is physical and isn't a great place for guys like Blake to be considered good Big Ten players. He might surprise some but I'm going to say that Al Nolen will be the guy to watch.

I think I'm sold now! I don’t know how you do it. Who do you see having a breakout year?
Dogg: I have a couple guys in mind to breakout this year. One being Dan Coleman who I mentioned has been utilized in the complete wrong way his entire career. I watched this guy in the Howard Pulley league take Trenton Hassell to the rack for an entire game and this guy is considered a poor mans Bruce Bowen but still a very good defender in the NBA. If you give him room he'll absolutely burry jump shots from 15' and beyond. He's an inside outside type of player and I like to think of him as a poor mans Shane Battier but have hopes that he'll play more like him this year (side note: I hate Duke and Shane Battier but he was a damn good college basketball player).

The next guy is Lawrence Westbrook. He was one of Monson's top-level recruits who other colleges actually liked coming out of high school as well. Tough to say that about any of Monson's recruits but this guy has million dollar talents with a 10 cent brain, so I hear. Watching him and hearing about him makes me think of Rico Tucker immediately who also had the talents but couldn't keep things straight with school, team policies, etc. Remember though fans, we have a guy named Tubby this year who doesn't let players slip and if we can get this kid to go out and play basketball like he's capable of we might have a star in the making.

Since you seem so plugged in do you have any inside info you can share with us? You hearing anything that we don't know?

Dogg: Al Nolen takes significant minutes away from Kevin Payton and Damian Johnson will be a nice role player. I know Johnson didn't show any signs of being anything worth while last year but he's a guy with good size who can put it on the floor. I also believe Tubby will make guys like him a smarter basketball player which will allow him to understand and let the game come to him instead of forcing the action. Being Minneapolis Patrick Henry alums, Law Mack is showing Al Nolen the ropes and are great friends already. A freshman having a 5th year senior on his side is always a good thing and Nolen will be this years BMOC.

I knew our program was going to get better with Tubby but I didn't know it was coming this quick. Is there a downfall of having too much success and having a big time coach like Tubby as your coach?

Dogg: Are you kidding me? Too much success? After what Gopher fans have had to go through in recent years there's no such thing as too much success. I personally haven't been this excited for a new coach to begin rebuilding a MN program. We are talking national titles at Kentucky, McDonald's All-Americans, top 5 recruiting classes, PTP'ers, Dick Vitale rants, etc. I've even been talking about guys leaving early for the NBA draft in next 5 years. I'm mean we are talking BIG TIME! Last year it was losing to DII Winona St. and hoping we could win a Big Ten game or two but this year and years to come will be a whole new story.

The Big Ten and the rest of America better watch out because Tubby Smith and the University of Minnesota are comin! We're comin! We're comin!

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Under Review: Week 11

Five NFL questions.

Who is better: Moss or Owens? Why?

Dogg: Moss or Owens? That's like comparing Peter Petrelli and Sylar (Heroes), which is virtually impossible because both aren't human. There might not be another WR who runs the straight fly pattern better than Moss but Owens will find the seam, turn it up, light two LB's up and run through a safety for a 50 yard TD. I do love that Skip Worthless Bayless) said at the beginning of the season that both of these WR's are all but washed up and will ruin both organizations. Once again his opinion is about as far off as you can get and the guy has a 10-cent sports mind.

Q: Very tough question, but I have to go with TO. Both guys excel on corralling the deep ball as well as making catches over the middle (something Randy doesn't get enough credit for). Their both major difference makers and athletic freaks. I think the thing that separates them is that while both can be major distractions, TO never lets any of his antics affect his on the field play. Moss basically quit each of the last two seasons because he didn't like the situation he was in. It's a tight race, but that effort factor pushes it slightly to Owens in my mind.

Fuzz: Before we get to the “who is better” question, how ridiculous was last Sunday with these two? It was like Moss and Owens had a little side bet on who was going to be better. “500 G” to the winner Owens said. I’m 100% positive Moss responded with “just pay me straight cash homey.” I swear this was rigged. The two best receivers in the NFL on the same day somehow combine to go for 18 catches, 301 yards and 8 TD’s. Yeah right. Anyways, both are too close to call. I’m going to go with Moss because he started here and I’m a homer. But it’s so close. Give or take they both have about 12,000 yards and 120 touchdowns. It’s pretty amazing how close their career stats are. I’m giving the nod to Randy.

What’s more likely: Lions make the playoffs or Lions miss the playoffs? Why? (FYI: They are currently the 6th seed.)

Fuzz: They only have a one game lead with six games left. No way the Motor City Kitties make the playoffs. Their defense is still shady as hell and they have three ex-Vikings on their roster, so they’re screwed. We haven’t really been good lately. In all seriousness, I don’t think they have the talent. Kitna is a nice quarterback but he throws out stupid quotes and throws 11 picks a game. In the end, they’ll fall. I’m sure my boys will agree...

Dogg: The Lions will miss the playoffs. Anytime an average player like Jon Kitna says things like he'll throw for 50 TD's and his team will have at least 10 wins usually doesn't turn out well. They still have the Packers twice, @MN, DAL, @SD. That is a very tough schedule and Jon Kitna is still their QB.

Q: Absolutely not. I've been saying all year that they are overrated and that their second half schedule would expose them--and I didn't even plan on them losing to Arizona last week. This will continue to be a trend and a major story in the NFL as the Kitties lose game after game and drop further and further out of playoff contention. They won't even be an afterthought in a few weeks.

It’s pretty clear Miami is the worst team in the league. Channeling your inner Mel Kiper, who are they taking #1 next year?

Q: Ah, I knew a question of this nature was coming sooner or later. I will openly admit that I don't follow college football all that closely. I know most of the skill position stars, but not much more. What makes that even worse is that Miami has a young quarterback (Lemon) and a very good young running back (Brown), and there aren't any Calvin Johnson-type receivers in this year's class. That means they will probably draft an offensive lineman or defensive player. I hear that Glen Dorsey cat out of LSU is supposed to be a defensive stud, so I'll go with him.

Fuzz: A quarterback would be a logical choice but like a guy I know called “The Bag,” pointed out is that they are high on their second round pick John Beck. Sounds like a paper salesman but he’s a young chap out of BYU. How about a Darren McFadden here? Is that too risky? Ronnie Brown just ripped his ACL and Ricky Williams even though reinstated can’t stay off the “broccoli.” And don’t tell me Jesse Chatman is pretty good. It’s the NFL for Christ sake, they’re all pretty good. Like All Day proved here, a homerun hitter is a great tool and McFadden brings this.

Dogg: Miami will be taking a QB and to tell you the truth I never know who's going where until 1 week before the draft because I swear that NFL teams wipe out players' entire collegiate career and draft everybody based on their combine results which I think is a very dumb way to do it. Maybe when deciphering between two players but doesn't 3-4 seasons tell you more than what the tests read on your 40-yard dash, bench press, shuttle run, etc. I say they go with Ryan, the QB from BC.

A team that gets no pub is Jacksonville. Tell me about them. What’s to like? Do they have a shot to go deep in the playoffs? Why? Why not?

Fuzz: Oh, I’ll tell you about them. They got that lovable loser with a pencil in his ear in an undefined coaches role. This is why they are winning. Mike Tice just wins baby. To be honest I have no f-ing idea how they are good. They are 7-3 in the strong AFC and their leading rusher is Fred Taylor and their leading receiver is Dennis Northcutt. One more time. Fred Taylor= leading rusher. Dennis Northcutt= leading receiver. Record= 7-3. WHAT!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!!?!?!? To make it worse, David Garrard has eight touchdowns this year. Eight!!!!! I’m getting more pissed off as I write this. How are they 7-3 in the AFC and we’re 4-6 in the NFC? I hate the NFL. I’m done. I’ll let Q & Dogg answer this seriously.

Q: I don't like anyone in the NFL other than New England, Indianapolis, and Dallas. Seriously, what's the point of debating teams like Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, etc.? Maybe they make the playoffs and lose to the Patriots or Colts. Maybe they sit at home and watch somebody else lose to the Patriots or Colts. Fuck it. Who cares?

Fuzz: Nevermind. Maybe Dogg?

Dogg: Jacksonville runs the ball well, has a good game manager in David Garrard and a very good defense like every other year. The biggest change is getting Leftwich out and Garrard in but still don't see this team beating Indy or New England when it counts. I would say they are up there with the Pittsburgh's of the world but they don't have anybody at the WR position that can make a play.

Fuzz: There we go! One of us usually comes through. Why do you think three of us do this? Come on people.

Oh those plucky Vikings. They just won’t go away. What are your thoughts on the season? Do you see progress from last year? Since we’ve written them off this year does this team at least have a playoff shot next year?

Dogg: This is the most inconsistent Vikings team I have ever seen. They've actually looked like a playoff team in some weeks this year but have looked like the Miami Dolphins at times as well. We will need a different QB if we want to make the postseason next year. We don't have a QB on this team right now that deserves a backup position in this league. I hate giving up this quickly on Jackson but he hasn't shown me any progress at all. He has a cannon but his pocket presence and accuracy are nothing short of terrible. Get him out, get Derek Anderson in here and we might have a shot

Fuzz: Frustrating. That is the best word to describe the 2007 season. We aren’t horrible like Miami, St. Louis and San Fran and we definitely are not the elite like New England, New England and…New England. We are just below average. Our defense usually keeps us in every game and we run the ball very well. #1 rushing offense if you want to know. But our QB makes two or three plays a game to lose the game and he never makes two or three plays to win us the game. That’s frustrating! Baring a miracle they are done this season and unless they have a new quarterback in here next year they’ll be the same below average team.

Q: This is the most difficult season of Vikings football that I have ever personally experienced. Yeah, I know it sucks when you have a good team and you lose to a crappy Falcons team or get raped by the Giants. But at least you were good. Seasons when you win 2-3 games and get blown out every other week sucks, but at least you have no expectations and get a high draft pick. This Vikings team is going to win just enough games to screw themselves of a talented player (cough, quarterback) in the draft. Plus, we aren't doing anything well enough on a consistent basis to think that we even have a small chance of smelling the playoffs. Top it all off with the erection-producing play of AD, only to have the balloon pop after his knee got ripped up. Like I said, the most difficult season I have ever had to endure.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Voices from a stranger...

Today we’re introducing a new feature. The established writers at TKOT hope this goes well. Every week we’ll be posting someone else’s opinion on this site. A guest writer will get a spot on this prestigious site once a week. If all goes well this could blow up to a guest writer day. Instead of using the over used guest writer, you’ll be hearing from “strangers.” We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves so it will be just one post a week…for now! If you feel you’d like to do this just email the address and let us know. You can email that address to see if we already have one in line for that week or email your post for us to review. Also, if it’s not good it’s not going up. We are honest SOB’s that will say…hell no!

Without further ado this week’s entry comes from a knowledgeable sports fan from Minnesota currently living in Wisconsin that is an overrated fantasy football manager.

The Bag's ramblings

2008 NFL Draft. For those that know me, know that this is a big day for me. I love the draft. Almost better than Christmas. I love it for the Vikes and I love it for fantasy. So as I have been reading a fair amount the prospects and who's coming out, I think at this juncture the Vikes have to go QB. Unless of course T-jack turns his entire season around, wins us some games and shows some promise, I think we would be dumb to pass up on the QB talent in this draft. I believe Matt Ryan, Andre Woodson and Brian Brohm are top shelf QB prospects and we could get one of them.

If you look at the Vikes 4-6 record, it says two things: It hasn't been a great year in Minni; and we're getting a top 10-pick baby! I checked out other teams with similar records and turns out not a lot of those teams need QB's. So if the vikes keep the course their on (with Peterson out for the foreseeable future, I don't see them righting the ship), they could end up with a legit top 10 QB to build around. Sign McNabb for 2-3 years and let this new guy sit and be mentored, I don't care. But just don't pass up a legit franchise QB. I'm in the "T-jack is not the answer camp" and we need to do something about it.

Here is my 2008 mock top 10 draft. I have included the QB situation for each team.

1. Miami- Jake Long OT Michigan. They're real high on John Beck and I don't see them going QB. Long gives them something to build around and a good place to start is LT.

2. St. Louis- Glenn Dorsey DT LSU. Just gave Bulger a pile of money...take that for what it's worth, but I doubt you see QB here. The Rams need help all over on D and I can't see them passing up Dorsey, who many see as the best player in college FB.

3. N.Y. Jets- Darren McFadden RB Arkansas. My guess is they could go QB, but they are high on Clemens, and I'm hoping he shows them something the next few weeks. I think after seeing what Peterson did for us, they might take McFadden, who's going to be a stud. Otherwise I would say Matt Ryan gets a lot of consideration here.

4. New England (from San Fran) - Chris Long DE Virginia. Yep, that's right, New England forfeits their pick, but gets San Fran's. As if they even need it. If Ryan is on the board I could see them trading down and stocking up later round picks. They're notorious for doing that. Otherwise I see them going DE and why not go Howie's little boy. Oh by the way, I don't think they go QB here.

5. Oakland- Calais Campbell DE Miami. They just gave a pile of money to their #1 pick, Mr. Russell. No QB here. Running back makes sense here but if McFadden is gone you're reaching for anyone else. Campbell gives them a speed rusher who could make an immediate impact.

6. Cincinnati- James Laurinaitis LB Ohio State. I don't think Carson is going anywhere soon. No way they go QB. So why not take the animal Jr. from Minni. I think this kid is legit. Some question his speed, but you wait, he's coming out this year and he's going high. I think along with John Carlson TE from Notre Dame, Minnesota could have two 1st round picks from their state. And Mason didn't get either one...bastard. Think of these two guys at the U now. Can you say, big men on campus?

7. Atlanta- Brian Brohm QB Louisville. I think they need a QB? Everybody loves Brohm back to Petrino. I would love to see Brohm in purple, though.

8. Vikings- Matt Ryan QB Boston College. I would love to see them go QB, With Brohm to Atlanta they could still end up with Matt Ryan or Andre Woodson. Or at least one of the three. This would give us more hope and combined with Peterson we could have a great offense that is built to last...well maybe.

9. Arizona Cardinals- Sedrick Ellis DT USC. I think they like Leinert, and aren't going QB either. Ellis is a monster and Arizona needs help in a lot of places. Everywhere but receiver. I could see them going OL here as well.

10. New Orleans Saints - Kenny Phillips S Miami. Obviously they love Brees and aren't going QB. Then again I don't think they're picking this high come April. Phillips is a stud though and everyone wants that legit S with what Bob Sanders, Polamolu, Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, and Roy Williams are doing. I think if Vikes don't go QB they might even go with Phillips.

That's my first mock draft. Obviously very early. We still have no idea draft order as the season is barely over half over. But I want Brohm, Ryan or Woodson, and yes in that order.

A-Rod's re-signing

Could care less where he ends up, but I think if we're going to trade Santana we go after them hard right now. Go for the throat. Ask for Hughes, Joba and Melky. See what happens. They brought back A-Rod, they brought back Posada. They're going to bring back Rivera. They’re going to take a run and George is sick of not winning. He'll bet his future to win now. I am in the "let's sign Santana. But if we can't get rid of him ASAP and let's start re-building" camp.

What if we got Hughes and Melky? Losing Santana and Hunter if we have Melky and Hughes will soften the blow. We'll have a pile of money to go after free agents. Bring in Lowell, bring in Piazza. I don't care but I think if you trade Santana, the Yanks are prime suspects right now. They're going for it this year, and Jo-Hizzy gives them a legit chance.

I'm Out,
The Bag

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

AP Who?

The loss of the league leading rusher (AP for those who are only reasonable intelligent) proved to be less of a blow than people thought with the 202 total yard output by Chester Taylor in today’s win vs. the Oakland Raiders. Maybe the notion that this is a two-back league is true. Chester was a 1200-yard rusher last year but has been all but forgotten with the arrival of a dynamic rookie.

It should be noted that the Oakland defense is very bad, especially the rushing defense. I was led to believe that Oakland had the worst run defense in the league...I was wrong. I have no idea where I heard this but it’s probably from an uninformed roommate or an ignorant talk radio host. Either way, they are actually the fourth worst run defense in the NFL. They give up a 144 rushing yards a game and Chester’s 164-yard day is not going to help.

Chester’s monster re-coming out party was another nice individual performance to watch in a lost season. The Vikings are 4-6, exactly where they were last year. Nothing has really changed. A few new faces but the same old inconsistency. The last four weeks have been confusing. A horrible loss against a winnable Philly team at home, a better win in the last five years against San Diego, one of the worse losses in franchise history against Green Bay and now a convincing win against a poor Oakland team. Convincing is probably the wrong word but did you ever think we were going to lose that game? Even though the Raiders had the ball for a chance to tie the game in the final minutes I never thought we’d lose. That’s saying a lot since I think we could blow almost every game we play. It’s the Minnesota football in me. The Vikings and Gophers have burned us way too much. But, for some reason this win seemed like ours from the first drive.

Speaking of...

Can we just move Sidney Rice to our #1A quarterback position? Meaning we should give him anywhere from 5-10 reps at the QB slot. I don’t think I’m kidding. After almost two years we finally saw a glimpse of Brad Childress’s kick ass offense. A double reverse receiver pass from Sidney Rice for 79 yards to Visanthe Shiancoe on the very first play. For a minute I thought I was playing Madden football on my Playstation. I was waiting for Shiancoe to do a humanly impossible left juke with Pat Summerall slurring the play-by-play. I seriously have no idea where this came from. Wherever it came from I don’t care because it was kick ass.

It always makes for a nice little Sunday when the Vikings win. We’ve only had four of them this year so we cherish these little moments. But, a realist should know that this doesn’t mean anything. I’m a realist (at least I think I am). If they come out flat against the Giants next week nothing has changed. The system will still seem flawed. I fully expect us to lose at the Meadowlands next week...big. They are in dogfight for a division title and we’re secretly rooting for losses for a higher draft pick. Sorry, it’s the way the season has gone. The Vikings have six games left that are all winnable games I might add. If they can somehow get to eight wins this season it won’t be a complete wash. Eight wins with a revolving door of poop at the quarterback position is motivation for next year.

I can only imagine where we’d be with a guy like Jeff Garcia. I know-I know, I’ve already brought this up numerous times but I’m not letting this organization off the hook for a piss poor back-up plan if T-Jack happened to suck. A proven free agent quarterback that was extremely available this off-season like Garcia couldn’t hurt. We’ve lost a few games simply because our quarterback. And we’ve won none simply because of our quarterback. T-Jack looked all right today and needs to play every single game until the end of the year to finally prove to the coaches that he stinks. Once he does, we can finally move on. Us educated fans already knew this coming into the season but the professional coaches need some more time. Naturally.

So we’ll enjoy this win this week only to get our doors blown out next week. That’s what we do. Maryland might do crab cakes and football but Minnesota does walleye and shaky play football. I think we got them beat. Anyways, T-Jack can’t look all right two games in a row can he? Well...maybe...nah...nevermind. Enjoy this week Viking faithful because that kick ass offense just used up every ounce it had today...


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