Monday, July 30, 2007

Black Monday

Kevin Garnett is a Celtic. Damn I hate saying that. A deal was all but finished on Monday, with an official announcement coming tomorrow after figuring out the smaller details of the deal. Personally, I feel betrayed by owner Glen Taylor and GM Kevin McHale. After the deal wasn't completed before the draft, it sounded like the Wolves were indeed going to keep KG. Of course I want success for KG, but I'd rather have success for the Wolves. With the loss of KG, there is no way that the Wolves are a better team. Of course, McHale got himself into this mess by signing players to bad contracts, leaving him no option but to trade KG. Best of luck to KG, you officially just made the Celtics the best team in the East.

The proposed deal-

To the Celtics:
Kevin Garnett

To the Timberwolves:
Al Jefferson
Gerald Green
Sebastian Telfair
Theo Ratliff
Two #1 draft picks (one of which was originally the Wolves draft pick)
Ryan Gomes (rumored)

With a once in a century guy like KG, you hate to see him go. Fortunately, this trade is a best case scenario for the Wolves. They obtain guys who can help right away in Jefferson and Green, a guy with potential (Gomes) and cap room once the contracts of Telfair and Ratliff expire. The deal would have gotten my complete blessing had the Wolves been able to unload one of their bad contracts, like Troy Hudson or Marko Jaric.

The Wolves quickly become a team with very little veteran leadership. Also, they will be losing their most tenured Wolves player once they buyout Troy Hudson's contract. The Wolves roster, as of tomorrow:

PG - Randy Foye
SG - Ricky Davis
SF - Gerald Green
PF - Al Jefferson
C - Mark Blount

Marko Jaric
Theo Ratliff
Ryan Gomes
Corey Brewer
Mark Madsen
Rashad McCants
Craig Smith
Trenton Hassell
Juwon Howard
Troy Hudson
Sebastian Telfair

Based on the amount of players currently on the Timberwolves roster, and the number of players they can carry, expect more trades. Hudson will definitely be bought out, and Brewer won't be traded. Ratliff and Telfair will give them cap space after the season. Expect the Wolves to trade at least Ricky Davis and Trenton Hassell. Gomes, Jefferson, and Green are players the wolves will want to try and re-sign after the season, so they most likely will not be traded either. Obviously, at this point the Wolves are overstocked, and more roster moves are inevitable. There is one guarantee though...the Wolves will be nearly unrecognizable next year.

Twins trade Castillo

The Twins made their first deal on Monday, and its looking like they are taking the seller route. Leadoff hitter and second baseman Luis Castillo was traded to the New York Mets Monday for two second tier minor league prospects. The Twins recieved a class-AA catcher named Drew Butera, along with class-A outfielder Dustin Martin.

A quick look at the stats on these guys -

Butera is hitting .231 in both class A and AA. He's shown only modest power, with a total of 6 home runs between both levels.

Martin is hitting .287 for the Mets class-A affiliate. He also has shown only modest power, with only 5 home runs on the season.

I don't completely understand this move, considering the players the Twins got in return. Another catcher? The Twins have Mauer locked up for years! I was all for trading Castillo, but they could have gotten a little more for him. Alexi Casilla most likely will be called up to take his spot, and hopefully will start over Nick Punto. Bartlett will most likely take over as the leadoff hitter for the remainder of the season.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Move over Barry, Jason is coming!

Jason Tyner connected with a ball for his first major league home run in the third inning of tonight's game in Cleveland off of P Jake Westbrook. Tyner's blast barely made it over the wall, and landed in the Twins bullpen. Not only was this a huge accomplishment for the not-so-powerful Tyner, but it was a huge accomplishment for the Twins. His shot gave the Twins their first lead in 6 games. Tyner is now only 754 home runs away from the major league record.

Shortly after Tyner's HR, Jason Bartlett broke his bat on a weak grounder to the right side. Unfortunately for Cleveland C Victor Martinez, the bat broke during Bartlett's follow-through, and struck Martinez in the head, knocking him backwards into homeplate umpire Laz Diaz. Diaz held Martinez as he fell and he was examined after play was stopped. He stayed in the game, but it was a very scary sight. As much as we here at Court's Sports want the Twins to succeed, you never want it to come at the expense of another players injury. We're glad that Martinez wasn't seriously injured on the play.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Land O'Links - A week of ups and downs

This week has been the definition of up and down, with some great things happening in Minnesota and US sports, while other stories this week are some of the worst in recent sports history. Should I start with the good or the bad? I think I'll start with the good...

  • The Timberwolves are determined to get rid of Troy Hudson. Hudson has been incredibly inconsistent since signing his big deal, and is slotted to be a 3rd PG this year. He is clearly past his prime, and will make room for younger guys when the Wolves eventually (yes, he definitely is a goner) cut him.
  • While the Twins have struggled of late, help may be on the way offensively. No, I'm not talking about the trade deadline...although that could do it. With Michael Cuddyer's injury, and Rondell White returning from the DL, there was no reason to keep OF Darnell McDonald on the roster anymore. Instead, the Twins opted to bring up 3B Brian Buscher. Buscher has been a lone bright spot for the Twins minor league system offensively this season. At AAA Rochester, Buscher hit .313 with 6 home runs and 20 RBI in 35 games, and in AA New Britain he hit .308 with 7 HR and 37 RBI. The one thing that has been keeping Nick Punto at 3rd is the same thing that probably kept Buscher from being considered earlier - his defense. Buscher has 15 errors in a combined 98 games this season at AA New Britain and Rochester. Still, I'd trade a huge offensive upgrade for slightly subpar defense anyday.
  • Breakout Milwaukee Brewers 3B Ryan Braun wrapped up the NL Rookie of the Year award this week...well not really. But with Houston OF Hunter Pence's broken wrist, the award has essentially been awarded to Braun. Had Braun come up earlier, he could have even been in the talk for NL MVP at this point.
  • Groundbreaking on the Minnesota Twins new open-air stadium is next Thursday, and Twins president Dave St. Peter claims that the stadium will "'redefine open air baseball' in the United States."
  • Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune pointed out something Thursday that many people tend to forget. While the Twins could (read: will) lose Torii Hunter and Luis Castillo to free agency in the offseason, both would be in the top 10 of their position, which ultimately means that the Twins would recieve an additional 4 selections in the first round of next years draft. The Twins have been pretty successful in the draft pitching wise the last few years, but with 6 picks in the first round, it would be pretty hard NOT to find a capable major league hitter.
  • Finally, Jon Lester made his comeback from cancer this week, and got the win. It is a shame that some of the stories that I have listed lower on this post garnered media coverage over Lester's inspiring return.
Some random things I have noticed-
  • Man has Baseball Tonight struggled to find regular analysts since Harold Reynolds was fired. Seriously, this is getting to like Curse of the Bambino magnitude. Reynolds gets fired and the show hasn't been able to find a regular analyst who contributes the same dissection of players with the equivalent charisma or passion. Reynolds cared about Baseball Tonight and his 10 year run on that show was one of the main reasons it was successful. Reynolds, Peter Gammons, and host Karl Ravech had personalties that melded perfectly, and since then no analyst has been anywhere near as good as Reynolds. Quick list...Oral Hershiser, Eric Young, Fernando Vina, Eduardo Perez...just terrible. Everything lately has sounded extremely forced. Bring back Harold!
  • I'm a huge fan of "Rob and Big" on MTV, and this was easily the best part of this season
  • The Simpsons comes to the silver screen today, and hopefully it will be as good as the hype, and not just an overglorified 4 episode storyline. The only thing I know about the movie thus far is that Homer falls in love with a pig. I think an Oscar is on the way!
  • I may not know "Who's Now," but I do know "What's Annoying" and it's this damn series. I can't take it anymore. Can't I watch Sportscenter in peace without Michael Wilbon talking about Matt Leinart hooking up with Paris Hilton? Just show me Twins highlights and give me news stories.
And now for the bad news of the week

  • The FBI is investigating NBA referee Tim Donaghy for allegations that he helped shave points from the spread for his and others profit. Refs had way too much control before this happened, and while I can't envision the NBA changing too much due to this scandal, the NBA needs to change something. How about...get better refs. Oh, and also how about when you find out that one of your refs has a gambling problem, you release him. Just an idea.
  • Training camp started for the Falcons, and Michael Vick wasn't allowed to attend. Why? He may be involved in a dog fighting ring. While my brother thinks that this isn't as bad as when Kobe was arraigned, I feel differently. Kobe's actions could be interpreted different ways, and were an isolated incident in an otherwise spotless background. By CHOOSING to fight dogs, and continually do it on more than one occasion, this cannot be chalked up to simply a mistake. While he may not have been involved as heavily as these charges allege, even knowingly allowing of illegal activities on your property is bad. I feel he will be found guilty. How much will he be found guilty of? I'm unsure of that. But at this point, it seems like he at least knew that something was going on, and that at least means probation. Unfortunately, with the heavy media coverage, it doesn't matter if he is innocent or not...his image has already been tarnished.
  • While we may never know whether Lance Armstrong ever used steroids, one thing is for sure...the future of the Tour de France is in trouble after heavy doping allegations.
  • Ian Johnson, the Boise State star who led them to an undefeated season with his run on the Statue of Liberty play in their BCS game, is getting married to the girl he proposed to shortly after that run. That is good news. Bad news? That people in America are still so ignorant that they are actually sending racist threat letters. This shows that as far as it seems America has come on the race issue, that it is never gone. Seeing stuff like this makes me sick.
  • And finally, Wake Forest basketball Skip Prosser passed away Thursday. Courtland and I send our condolences to the Prosser family.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Severe Case of Nostalgia

This article also runs on and Coast-2-Coast Sports :

Sports movies in the last several years have evolved greatly. We’ve gone from movies like Air Bud to movies like Glory Road. If anyone’s taken notice, although they are all about sports, sports movies today are quite different than they used to be.

We’ve gone from fantasy movies (Little Big League, Angels In the Outfield, The 6th Man) to pretty much all biography films (Glory Road, We Are Marshall, Remember the Titans). Not that there is anything wrong with that but it’s hard to dream about something that’s already happened. Growing up, I always wanted to be Henry Rowengartner throwing heat for the Cubs or as Billy Heywood managing the Twins. Yes, now the movies seem somewhat ridiculous and outlandish but it let kids dream.

Many times with my friends we reminisce about the old movies that we used to love. They bring back awesome memories and are great movies. Often times these movies are forgotten in the shuffle of the new sports movies and the special effects block buster’s.

Let’s look at my top 5 sports movies of the Nickelodeon and T.G.I.F era :

Angels In the Outfield (1994) – This movie was a very touching and heartwarming story about two young Angels fans who are foster children (save the jokes Dodgers fans, I’ve already said ‘em all). Both have been through a lot of hardships in their young lives. They go to an Angels game and Roger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sees angels helping the Angels win their game, when the night before he prayed that the angels would win the pennant (since his dad said that’s when they’d be a family again). The boy goes to tell the manager of the Angels, played by Danny Glover, that angels are helping the team win games. Of course, who will listen to a 9 year old when he says that angels are helping your team win games. This was before the ADD/ADHD excuse began. Kids just used to be crazy and I’m sure that this crept into George Knox’s (Danny Glover) mind. Eventually he gets the team to believe in themselves and they win the pennant without the Angels. Danny Glover adopts the two boys and rides off into the sunset.

4. Little Giants (1994) – At this point in the 90’s…does it get much better than “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” vs. “Married With Children”? Rick Moranis’ character, Danny O’Shea and his brother Kevin (played by Ed O’neill) play rivals to each other on the football field. Danny’s daughter is cut from her team by her uncle Kevin. She wants her dad to coach a team except the only problem is that there can only be one team per town. So because of this, Danny must take on Kevin on the gridiron. Kevin’s team is the Pee-wee Cowboys and Danny’s team is the Little Giants. Like typical kids movies of these times, Danny’s team wins on a last second play and with part of the brothers’ bet, Danny got Kevin’s car dealership. This movie really showcased how sports can turn families against each other. O’Neill’s team was that team that we all have seen in our pee-wee days. The team that comes on the field with nice jerseys and team sponsored water bottles. While I’m sitting across the field with an old mountain dew 20 oz bottle filled with warm water and a jersey that’s been cut because it was too big for me. Definitely some funny moments in this movie and it made it a very watch-able movie. Rick Moranis was one of the more underrated comedy actors of this time.

3. Little Big League (1994) – Billy Heywood and his grandfather are very close with each other. Billy is the Jonathan Lipnicki ( big headed kid from Jerry McGuire) of baseball facts. One of my favorite parts of this movie comes at the beginning when three players end up on the same base. The managers all argue with the umpire and then the umpire turns to Billy and asks him what the ruling is. Had this movie been about the NBA, there’s a good chance that the umpire would have made the call which ever way would have gotten him the most money from the mob. Now there’s a kids movie for today’s kids! I love this movie the most because what kid doesn’t dream of managing a major league team at one point in his life. For all of us in Minnesota, it was a big deal because it was the Twins that he got to manage. My other favorite part was how mean and vicious they made Randy Johnson look like. You could almost see the sweat/grease dripping from his hair when he came out of the bullpen. Also included in this movie was type cast Dennis Farina as the always screaming and eventually fired coach. “Hey, a Bill Heywood has to do what a Bill Heywood has to do”

2. Mighty Ducks 1-3 (1992-1996) - Anyone who knows me may be surprised that I didn’t just put these as separate movies. In all honesty, D3 was not many people’s favorites, but I’m going to argue that it was a good movie. It showed that the kids had to face the trials of a new school and having to grow up without coach Bombay. It didn’t have the ‘knuckle puck’ or even the ‘bash brothers’ really but it finalized the story and showed that the team could rely on each other to succeed. ‘The Mighty Ducks’ was the movie that started it all. Gordon Bombay (Emilo Estevez) is pulled over for a DUI and is forced into coaching a pee-wee hockey team as community service. You can tell that he’s from Minnesota based on the fact that he drives onto the ice in a limousine like it’s concrete. The kids are misfits but he gets it all together and they beat his old coach in the championship game. Many will argue that Mighty Ducks 2 is the better of the 3 movies…I agree. You’ve got Gordon Bombay’s change from the “Minnesota Miracle Man” to the slick haired and slick talking “Captain Blood”, the introduction of the shot that kids around America really thought would work (Knuckle-puck) and showed that hockey in Los Angeles in the mid-90’s was apparently very popular in the projects. They beat the strong, steroid induced I’m sure of it, Icelandic team with coach Wolf “the dentist” Stanton. Who, according to Charlie Conway, punched out 2 teammates and his coach and was banned from the NHL. In today’s professional sports scene…he probably would be a terrible GM who would eventually someday become an even worse coach (see Isaiah Thomas).

….and finally…

1. The Sandlot (1993) – This is the true sports movie that I feel represents any kid in the early years of their baseball career and the true innocence of baseball. The movie chronicles the summer of 1962 with a boy named Scotty Smalls. He is the new kid on the block and spends most of his time inside playing with erector sets and other nerdy things that kids without friends do. He sees some of the kids in the neighborhood get together and play baseball one day and sneaks over to watch them. Scotty is terrible at baseball but the king of the neighborhood, Benny Rodriguez helps him become a mediocre baseball player. The boys go through a typical Southern California summer that includes hot days filled with baseball, cokes and the pool. The pool is where we see the BEST scene of the whole movie. Michael Palledorous, otherwise known to Sandlot fans as “Squints”, was in love with the wonderful and voluptuous Wendy Peffercorn. She was a lifeguard at the pool and Squints had been eyeing her for, what he says, “his whole life”. He kisses her and they are banned from the pool forever. But any male who has seen that movie will vouch that if it were them, it would be well worth it. The boys must also deal with “The beast”. No no no, Rosie O’Donnell doesn’t make a cameo, it’s just a huge dog that eats everything that passes over the fence. The boys continue to live out their summers but by the end, only Benny and Scotty are still close. Benny is a star for the hometown Dodgers and Scotty is the radio announcer. This movie is a clear cut number one for showing a true summer for young boys who love baseball, youth and cute lifeguards.

So there you have it, my top 5 sports movies for kids in the 90’s. I’ll be frank about it, I probably left some out. These are just my picks and I’m sure that there are some different picks out there. Let me know your top 5. I’ll leave you with this….

“Michael Squints Palledorous walked a little taller that day. And we had to tip our hats to him. What he'd done was sneaky, rotten, and low...and cool. Not another one among us would have ever in a million years not even for a million dollars have had the guts to put the moves on the lifeguard. He did. He had kissed a woman. And he kissed her long and good. We got banned from the pool forever that day. But every time we walked by after that, the lifeguard looked down from her tower, right over at Squints, and smiled.” (The Sandlot, 1993)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Land O' Links

LA Times columnist and frequent Around the Horn guest Bill Plaschke offers a great article on the Michael Vick indictment.

This is a big reason why I still like the Midwest....

You know what....I hate to say I told you so. But for at least...10 years I have been saying that these guys have WAAAAAAY too much power to affect a game. Now the NBA and David Stern will have to pay for their shortcomings.

Who says that the British are boring?

A great post that explains how about 75-80% of Twins fans feel right now by Stick and Ball Guy

Finally, I will be instilling my "Youtube's" of the week :

1. If this doesn't make you smile a little bit...

2. Possibly one of the funniest sequences in this show..."Daddy?...."

3. We were at this game and there are 3 guys that will vouch that I called this as he stepped to the plate...

4. Easily one of the funniest skits they ever did...

That's it guys! Enjoy your weekend and don't let the Twins get you down too much.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Monday Run-down

This week ushered in the second half of the baseball season and so much more...

  • Duh. You're sitting around .500, and paying over 200 mil. You should be better.
  • Wow...apparently people don't know how to use the volume knob anymore.
  • I don't know about you, but I would LOVE to have Mark Cuban in baseball. Especially since he would be in the NL, and would keep players away from the Yankees. Anything to piss off Steinbrenner is good in my book. Unfortunately Bud Selig has made it known that its HIS league, and he'll do what HE wants.
  • Glen Perkins experienced a setback in his rehab, and now he may not be back until after August.
  • The summer league grades are in! Randy Foye and Craig Smith get high marks, but apparently Corey Brewer failed to impress. Smith actually averaged nearly 22 points per game in the summer league, with Foye contributing 18 more. Hopefully this translates into success for the coming season!
That's it for now, check back during the week!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Pull out the broom - A clean 4 game sweep!

The Twins just completed a 4 game home sweep of their 2006 playoff nemesis Oakland Athletics. While this helped the Twins pick up a couple of games on the Indians and Tigers, what differences did they show over the 4 game series? I saw a few things that were very impressive, and a few things that showed they still have things to work on.

I'll start with the problems I saw in the 4 game series-
  • Our bullpen, while far and above better than the Indians and Tigers, still have a few weak spots. Juan Rincon has been awful of late, allowing 11 earned runs and 14 runs over his last 9 1/3 innings of worked, managing to blow Johan's shutout during this series. Maybe Rincon's lack of steroids are hurting him this year. Dennys Reyes has also had trouble recently, with hitters batting .317 against him (compared to .197 last season). We have 3 reliable arms out of the bullpen (Neshek, Guerrier, and Nathan), and the other guys need to pick up the slack.
  • Nick Punto is creeping ever closer to the Mendoza Line. While he did have a 2-run triple in Sunday's game, he was 3 for 14 in the series. You know that you need to up your production when 3 for 14 actually RAISES your batting average. Punto has been spectacular in the field, but with Cirillo proving he deserves at bats, he will be out of a job within a couple weeks if he doesn't start hitting.
  • While they won the 4 games, the Twins still didn't provide the scoring they are capable of. They averaged 4.75 runs per game in the series, but against other teams that won't be enough to cut it. They left a remarkable number of runners on base and they simply can't do that if they hope to win. The Twins left 65 runners on base over the 4 game series, which is waaaaaaaaaay too high. ( Games 1-4: 15, 18, 15, 17)
  • The Twins are starting Garza in the next series, virtually assuring that Kevin Slowey is to remain in the minors for the time being. With no game Monday, the Twins could have skipped their 5th starter, but instead are going with the Garza. They are also keeping Johan on 5 days rest, pushing Baker back to a Thursday start.
While those are all very fixable problems, since the Twins have shown they can hit, and Reyes and Rincon have pitched well in the past, I'm most concerned about Nick Punto. He hasn't shown any signs of turning his hitting around, and they simply can't keep playing him if he is hitting that poorly. My solution? Utilize his speed. He has tried to bunt for singles less and less frequently as the season has gone on, instead choosing to hit away. He needs something to spark his batting average, and he sure loves diving head first into first base. Maybe a few bunt singles will help. Also, using Nick Punto as a late inning glove and base stealing threat may prove to be a more useful role for him on this Twins roster.

There were also many things that looked extremely positive during the series:

  • Well, obviously, the Twins won all 4 games in the series. This is the kind of run they needed, especially since they haven't been particularly amazing at home this year. They also were able to pick up 2 games on Detroit and 1 on Cleveland, and now face the Tigers with the chance to pick up 3 more games on them. The Twins will be trotting out Garza in his second start, then Santana, and Baker.
  • Luis Castillo showed signs of life! Castillo, who is a good offensive and defensive player, rarely shows any emotion while on the field. The last time I recall seeing any emotion out of him (not including postgame celebrations) was when he committed his first error of the season, and you could see him yelling at himself. That was over a month ago, and he has been his usual self since then, trotting out to the field each day and doing his job. Much to my chagrin, Castillo actually showed that he cares on Sunday, with his 9th inning leadoff triple. Right when he hit the bag, he let out a scream of success and it sparked the Twins to their 4-3 win.
  • They faced the only pitcher you could possibly place higher than Johan in the Cy Young race right now in Dan Haren, and beat him. Haren didn't get the loss thanks to Guerrier allowing 2 runners to score, but the Twins were able to score 2 runs off of him and make him look human. The Twins helped in upping Haren's era for the 7th consecutive start, while subsequently making Johan's credentials look better. Win-win-win situation!

Well, this is about as good of a start to the second half as one could have hoped! Let's just hope that Garza can continue the run on Tuesday against Nate Robertson and the Tigers at the Dome.

Where have all the rivalries gone?

Part 1 of 2 of a series on “Where have all the rivalries gone?”

When you think of rivalries, what comes to mind? Longevity? Geography? Fights and verbal sparring? Well, all of these things fit the definition of a rivalry. They range from Packers/Vikings, Pistons/Lakers to the ever storied Red Sox/Yankees. Rivalries in sports are what keep us all watching. Without them, sports would be emotionless competition. Competition with emotions running high and a great deal of pride at stake means so much more. Growing up in Minnesota, you are born and bred to hate the Green Bay Packers. Walk around the Mall of America and tell me how many t-shirts you see that say “My favorite teams are the Vikings and whoever plays the Packers” (the same shirt can be found across the river, but reverse the order of the team names). Same goes for the Red Sox and Yankees. You can’t go to a Red Sox game without hearing “Yankees Suck!” at some point throughout the game (even if the Yankees aren’t in town). Rivalries are still strong today, but there is something missing. There is some aspect of the rivalries that has been lost in translation as our society has moved along in the last 20 years. Who remembers the way that the Pistons literally man-handled Michael Jordan and the Bulls? What about when Pete Rose charged into catcher Ray Fosse during the 1970 All-Star game? Or even Kevin McHale throwing punches during the Celtics’ glory days? What do all of these have in common? They all fall into the “the way things used to be” category.
I do not condone violence in sports, but doesn’t it seem that sports were more enjoyable to watch when there was a small possibility of someone flipping out and causing a bench clearing brawl? In the last 5 or 6 years, networks have seen some of the lowest ratings in their history for professional sports. I think that there were maybe 6,000 people across the world that watched the Cardinals/Tigers World Series last year (to be fair, it was an absolutely horrendous display of baseball by both teams). The fire and electricity that is often infused into rivalries has been put out. There are still enjoyable rivalries to watch, but they are not the same. I only have two things to blame for this lack of fight in rivalries: Crazy Parents and League Commissioners.

Parents: This story from a couple weeks ago will get us started off on the right foot. A St. Paul father felt that his 12 year old son was not getting enough playing time on his little league team. After yelling and swearing in the dugout area, the coach and other league brass asked the father to leave the field area. The next day, after watching his son not play again, he reportedly called the coach and threatened that he would “shoot him down like a dog”. Naturally, the boy’s father was arrested and charged with threatening the coach. Supposedly, the father has past troubles with being a little too into his son’s little league career. Look, I’m sure that your son is the next Cal Ripken Jr. in the making, but I’m sure that the coach had a good reason to not play your son. Maybe those sand castles he was building at short stop looked nice…

Anyway, this is becoming a problem. More and more recently, we have been hearing stories about parents who are interfering in their children’s athletic lives.

Here are some quick examples:

Dad rushes onto wrestling mats ...

A Great Slideshow by Ben Meiner and Jon Adams

3. “Playing football for West Caanan is NOT the opportunity of a lifetime!”

The Piece De Resistance

As you can see, parents have been taking things a little too far. Our society in athletics has turned so violent at the hands of parents, that we’re telling kids that they can’t be aggressive anymore. This in turn, may turn kids away from sports or make them more passive in the sport that they play. I am currently at a tennis camp in California for the summer and each week we get kids who would much rather hold a Playstation controller than a tennis racket. And at the end of the week, it’s the parents who come up and grill us about their child’s evaluation. If your child is 11 years or older and can’t tell the difference between swatting a fly and hitting a forehand…it may be time for a change of venue. Between the 1960’s and 80’s, there were too many parents who had failed athletic dreams. Now we all have to deal with those people as parents and their kids who are all the next Michael Jordan even though he may be running down the basketball court with his hands down his pants (Everybody Loves Raymond, Season 6, Episode 8 of that season). Because of parents involving themselves too much, kids are falling away from being emotional and competitive in sports. They are getting right to the roots of this problem.

So now that we’ve been down the boulevard of broken dreams, it is time to look at the league commissioners. Instead of ruining things at the base of the tree, they are just chopping off branches at the top.

Let’s look to November 19, 2004. I feel that this was the day that aggressiveness in pro sports was forever changed. NBA fans had already witnessed the brawl between the Knicks and Heat in the ’97 playoffs (who can forget Jeff Van Gundy being dragged on the floor like a rag doll). What was different with this situation in ‘04 was that the fans were involved. Ben Wallace was fouled by Ron Artest, unnecessarily hard for what the score was, and Wallace retaliated by pushing Artest. After this, Artest was brought off the court and…well…the video should explain the rest. This was an absolute disaster in Detroit. You can’t see it in the video but after the game, reports surfaced that a fan had thrown cup of beer at Artest, which caused him to go into the stands. You can blame the players until you are blue in the face, but there has to be responsibility pinned on the fans as well.

146 games combined was the total for suspensions between the players involved from the Pistons and Pacers. As well as some jail and probation sentences for the fans involved. Still, some people argued that the player’s suspensions were too much.

Let’s fast forward to 2007 on December 16th. The Knicks and the Nuggets were involved in a similar altercation (sans the involvement of fans). Mardy Collins fouled JR Smith a little too hard and they began to argue. Things were seemingly normal until Nate Robinson’s 4’6” frame came into play. He pushes Smith and then Carmelo Anthony takes a swing at Collins and then runs away like a coward. Anthony got 15 games (the most of any player involved) and Nate “too short” Robinson got 10 games. Again, many argued that David Stern had done a poor job dealing with the suspensions and violence in the NBA. This would set up the final situation.

Game 4 of this year’s Western Conference finals in the NBA. Steve Nash drives up the side of the court and is checked into the boards by defensivem…sorry…defender Robert Horry. This was on top of the already heated situation of Bruce Bowen kneeing Steve Nash in the groin earlier in the series. Immediately following the game, talk had arisen that Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw would be suspended for one game for leaving the bench during the situation. Notice on the video how the leave the bench area but then are seen holding other teammates back from going any further. David Stern is about as flexible with rules as Bud Selig is good with figuring out extra inning All-Star games. ESPN’s Bill Simmons wrote a great piece about this situation a couple days after it had happened. Because of a very lame rule in the NBA, the Suns’ hopes of beating the Spurs were crushed. David Stern had struck again. His lack of understanding competitive athletes in a heated situation led to, what I felt was, a bad decision on his part. Guys can’t even defend their teammates anymore but the NBA wants passion. What kind of message does that send to the players?

Professional sports have seen its ups and downs the last couple of years. 2007 was no exception. With the rise of parents becoming violent when dealing with their kid’s athletics and league commissioners inability to control violence and in turn their inability to deal with it, sports are quickly becoming less and less emotionally based. The age old rivalries are becoming more and more faceless and boring. What will save them?

Friday, July 13, 2007

What Could Have Been....

From guest writer Brian Fuller :

THIS is what could have been in the Target Center...

The 2007-2008 season will be the 13th for Kevin Garnett. In these last 12 years Garnett has made this franchise at the very least respectable in the NBA, making a couple of playoff runs during his career.

However, Garnett has never been able to make a serious run at the NBA championship. There are several reasons why this is. One of the biggest reasons has been GM of the Year Kevin McHale's inability to consistently surround Garnett with talent that would help push the T-Wolves over the top. So what I would like to do today is look at the team the Wolves could have been if they would have kept the players they had. Of course this is a truly fantastical scenario, and the likelihood of keeping all of these players is next to nil.

So this is what Minnesota's roster could have looked like:

PG: Terrell Brandon

Brandon, ever the sparkplug, came in to Minnesota and one year after the strike shortened season helped Garnett get the Wolves to 50 wins and the playoffs. Brandon was the pass-first point guard, averaging 17 points and 9 assists for the Wolves. Unfortunately, Brandon's effectiveness was seriously diminshed after knee injuries in the 00-01 and 01-02 seasons.

OR, PG: Stephon Marbury

What is there to say about Starbury that isn't already known? Marbury was a top-5 point guard in this league. In fact, Marbury (along with a vastly improved Garnett) helped the Wolves reach the playoffs in his first year with the club, averaging 16 points and 8 assists a game. Marbury and Brandon actually played one season together before Marbury was off.

Just think if Marbury had stayed around Minneapolis and both he and Garnett hit their primes. The two of them at their peaks could have made some serious runs. But it was not to be.

OR, PG: Chauncey Billups

This team has had 3 great point guards, so obviously it is not this area that was holding the Wolves back. Billups only played in Minnesota for a couple years, but once again, think about what the Wolves would have been like if he had stuck around; not only that, but if both he and Marbury stayed. The Wolves could have gotten away with playing a Billups-Marbury backcourt, which could have been one of the most prolific in history, perhaps a modern day Frazier and Monroe.

SG, SF: Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell

The problem with putting these two guys on the list is that by the time the got to Minnesota, both players were clearly on the decline, especially Sprewell if you look at what he accomplished in Golden State (career highs of 24.2 pts and more than 6 asts a game). These two players were solid, but it was honestly hard to see how both of these guys were going to help Garnett get to the Finals and win a championship. Cassell did his winning in his first two years, playing with Olajuwon, and Sprewell has always been a hothead (how he and the Knicks made it to the Finals in 1999 still baffles me...).

SF: Wally Szczerbiak

Wally's big problem is his knees. He was quickly becoming an excellent player for the Wolves, averaging 20.1 points per game in 05/06 before injuries sidelined him. If Wally had stayed healthy, things could have been radically different for Minnesota. The Wolves would not have been 25-26, and Flip Saunders probably would not have been fired (but knowing McHale, he probably would have still been).

SF: Ricky Davis

Now say what you want about Ricky Davis, but I like this kid. He is a solid player when actually given a chance. Davis could potentially average 6.5, 7 assists a game for a team. He is relied upon for scoring though, so that is what he does. He is also knocked for his past in Cleveland (the pre-LeBron era), a time that has given Davis a black eye.

However, Davis does have a solid skill set. He is a decent mid-range shooter and has an explosive first step, which he uses to get to the rim and finish or get to the line. And for his size Davis is a solid rebounder and an adept passer when he has people (like Garnett) who can finish.

PF, C: ???????

This right here is why the Wolves have never been able to make a serious run. The backcourt has always been there, but Garnett has never had a legitimate talent down low to help him out. Now I could throw out names like Radoslav Nesterovic or Mark Blount, but these guys aren't the best. For one, these two guys can't rebound to save their lives. Christian Laettner came and went in a flash.

The only big man worth mentioning is Tom Gugliotta. However, he was hitting his prime right when Garnett came into the league, so the two players never played together in their prime, which obviously is a shame.

So let's build a starting lineup of the All-Garnett Wolves, taking into account the fact that I have picked these 5 based on each of them playing in their prime with Garnett, who seems to be in his prime for the 11th straight year.

PG: Terrell Brandon
SG: Stephon Marbury
G: (Tie)Chauncey Billups/Ricky Davis/Wally Szczerbiak
F: Tom Gugliotta
C: Garnett

How well would these 5 players done in their prime together? It's hard to say. The egos on the team would have been difficult (especially Marbury and Billups together...) to deal with. And the team still lacks that bruising low-post presence. I like Garnett, but he just doesn't have that burly Wes Unseld-like feature to him.

Two more starting lineups for you. These are what they'd be like if the Wolves/Warriors trade would go through.

Minnesota, post-Garnett:
PG: Randy Foye
SG: Monta Ellis
SF: Ricky Davis
PF: Al Harrington/Andris Biedrins
C: Mark Blount

Once again, Davis gets to lead a team that seemingly will head for the number one pick.

Golden State with Garnett:
PG: Baron Davis
SG: Stephen Jackson
SF: Matt Barnes/Mickael Pietrus/Marco Belinelli (This kid will fit in nicely playing Nellie-Ball)
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Al Harrington/Andris Biedrins

There you have it...what could have been, and what most likely will be...

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Monday Run-Down

The Minnesota Twins started their last weekend before the All-Star break with a bang. Game 1, which was a make up game from a previous rain out, ended with a football score; with the Twins winning 20-14 by pushing out 23 hits and a grand slam by Jason Kubel. It was John Garland’s earliest exit since 2004. For a struggling Twins offense, this was a great game to start off against the White Sox.

Game two started just as well as game one did. 2006 MVP Justin Morneau crushed a 3-run home run to right field to give the Twins the early 3-0 lead. From there, the Twins would go on a 9-0 run and blank the White Sox 12-0. Matt Garza, who was called up the week before, scattered 5 hits over 6 innings with 6 strike outs and no runs. Although he had a strong start, Garza will most likely be put back into the bullpen as the Twins do not need a 5th starter for a couple more weeks.

Games 3 and 4….not so good. Mark Buehrle threw 8 shutout innings and stifled a Twins team that had scored 34 runs in the previous 2 games against them. The Sox scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 4th and that was all that they would need. Boof Bonser pitched a solid game, with his only mistake being a 2 run home-run to Paul Konerko. The Twins just couldn’t buy a hit or a run until Torii Hunter hit a sac fly in the 9th. Sunday’s game was pretty much the same story. Javier Vazquez threw a gem of a game to beat the Twins 6-3. It was his second complete game in a row for the White Sox pitcher. Carlos Silva gave up 3 home runs in the 3rd inning, two of which were to Jim Thome and Paul Konerko for back-to-back shots. The Twins couldn’t muster up any more of their run scoring to beat the White Sox in the final two games.

Now Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter and Johan Santana will travel to San Francisco for the 2007 MLB All-Star game. Morneau will be participating in the Home Run Derby against perennial power hitters Albert Pujols, Vladimir Guerrero, Magglio Ordonez and Ryan Howard. Hopefully Morneau will not fall into the “Home Run Derby curse” that has plagued hitters for the last couple of years.

Other weekend Stories :

I’m going to miss John Kruk at the All-Star game….

Federer is just running the table right now

Buehrle = not a white flag

Anyone remember the Tigers who couldn’t catch a baseball?....

Another reason why NASCAR is a joke

Can anyone just outright beat Tiger? Or does he just let guys win?

Enjoy the annual Century 21 Home-Run derby. Let’s hope that Morneau can pollute McCovey Cove with baseballs!

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Friday Run-down

  • This weekend is the Twins final series before the All-Star break. The Twins are sending centerfielder Torii Hunter, first baseman Justin Morneau, and ace Johan Santana. Unfortunately, Pat Neshek's 32nd man bid couldn't beat the continent of Asia and the Boston faithful who got Hideki Okajima elected.
  • After Kevin Slowey's start yesterday in New York, Slowey was sent back down to the minors for at least the All-Star break, if not longer. The Twins don't need a 5th starter until July 21st, which leads me to believe that this is only temporary, just to get Carmen Cali more innings at the major league level. Slowey more than likely will be brought back up at that point for the remainder of the season. Slowey was yanked rather quickly from the rotation, and while he is sporting an ERA above 5, his record is still 3-0. I have little doubt that Slowey will be starting against the Angels on July 21st.
  • We all know that Mark Cuban has a HUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGE wallet. Too bad the NBA isn't like baseball, or Cuban would have already bought Garnett just like the Yankees bought Babe Ruth, and doomed the Timberwolves to 80+ years of failure. What this means is that Cuban would need to trade some players of value in return for Garnett. The only reported trade that could work is Josh Howard, Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop and Greg Buckner for KG. Cuban is in love with Howard and Harris, so there is virtually no way that KG will be wearing a Mavs jersey next year.
  • It's amazing how a toy from the 80's could turn into the '07 summer's best movie.
  • Jason Kubel, after hitting the go-ahead home run on Wednesday, was held out of the lineup on Thursday. Gardy knows what he is doing most times, but he has handled the Kubel/Tyner/Ford playing time horribly this year. Neither Ford nor Tyner deserve playing time unless it is forced upon Gardy, yet he inexplicably keeps trotting them out there for at least one start a series. Kubel then hit a pinch hit single in the 9th on Thursday, and in the first game of today's doubleheader Kubel hit a grand slam and is 2 for 2 with 5 RBI. I'm predicting that Gardy will sit Kubel for game 2 of the doubleheader for reasons that only make sense to himself.
  • Corey Brewer, who wore #2 at Florida, is now wearing #22 with the Wolves. He had wanted to wear #2, but it is a retired number. The number belonged to the late, great Malik Sealy, who died much too young at the hands of a drunk driver who has already finished his prison sentence. This got me thinking back to the days of Sealy, and when the Wolves needed a clutch shot Sealy was ALWAYS there to deliver. I can't help but feel like the loss of Sealy was one the Wolves have never truly recovered from.
  • Ken Griffey, Jr and Barry Roids...excuse me...Bonds are both absent from this years Home Run Derby. I understand that they don't want to hurt themselves, but the fans voted them to the All-Star game, and the least they could do is compete in the Derby. In a summer where everyone is watching each home run that Bonds hits, he should be in the Derby. This year especially, since it could be his last, and its his home field. Griffey won two consecutive Derbys back in 1998 and 1999, but hasn't competed since 2000. In this, his year of resurgence, it would have been nice to see he and Bonds compete against the young guns like Justin Morneau, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, and Miguel Cabrera. I'll watch the Derby anyway, but it won't be nearly as entertaining without Bonds and Griffey there.
  • The Twins have already waived their "no negotiating during season" for Santana this year, meaning that they are willing to bend the rules to keep him. Hopefully they are willing to bend the payroll a bit too, because he is going to be expensive. My thoughts? Sign Santana no matter what, let Nathan walk, make an attempt at Hunter, move Neshek to closer, and move Guerrier to setup man. The Twins are already planning on expanding their budget for the new stadium, so its best to start with re-signing the second coming of Nolan Ryan.
That's it for now, have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Boston, Mass = Coney Island???

On this 1776....America gained it's freedom from Great Britain. Setting in motion things like the Industrial Revolution, the Cival Rights movement, T.G.I.F. on ABC, American Flag Zubaz pants and of course....The infamous Nathan's hot dog eating contest at Coney Island, NY.

Since 2001, the Japanese have held the coveted mustard belt. It has been a sore spot for many Americans. Well...I don't know about "many" but I'm sure that within the American ring of competitive eating, it hasn't been good.

Today, the Louie Anderson sized competitive eating gods have looked down favorably at American Joey "Chompers" Chestnut. He defeated the great Kobayashi by 3 hotdogs. 66 hot dogs to 63 for Chestnut. Both destroyed their previous records; Chestnut's record was 59 1/2 (set last week in Tempe, AZ) and Kobayashi's record was 53 1/2.

So like in 1776, we once again gain our freedom from oppression. We are now the proud owners of our own property....The Mustard Belt.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Reflection on the Draft

From guest writer Brian Fuller, here are his thoughts on the 2007 Draft as a whole:

The 2007 NBA Draft...

Simply put, this draft was slightly disappointing for me. A great deal of hype had been built and in my opinion, the hype went unrealized. The biggest names in basketball were being dangled in front of us in tantalizing trade scenarios that would have made me all giddy had they happened.

But they didn't, and we were left with this. Don't get me wrong, it was still a pretty good draft. Here is my totally slanted and outrageous stance, and I will do what so many others do and be cliché by using the whole winners and losers thing...

Loser: Atlanta Hawks.

The Hawks had a chance to land Amare Stoudemire while giving up only 2 draft picks. Stoudemire is a First-Team All-NBA player. With Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, the Hawks would have immediately become a top 3 team in the East. They most likely could have made the finals next year. And their new uniforms suck. They just got those nice gold alternate jerseys a couple years ago, and they scrap them. Wow.

Loser: Kevin Garnett

Garnett could have been in Phoenix. Now it will be more difficult to move Garnett, although the Warriors and Mavericks have entered the mix. The Warriors are offering a very tempting package for KG, including Monta Ellis and allegedly Al Harrington, although the Wolves want Andres Biedrins included in the deal...

Winner: Greg Oden

He went first in the draft. He becomes the anchor of a quickly rising team. How could he not be a winner?

Push: Kevin Durant

Durant started the night great, getting drafted second and looking at playing alongside Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. Now Allen will wear a different shade of green, and Lewis will pull the trigger with any other team. Durant is now left to carry an NBA team as a rookie. He'll average 20 and 8, but he will have a hard time getting his team a lot of wins...

Winner: Portland Trail Blazers

No one did better in the draft than these guys. They get their center for the next decade and made a stellar trade, bringing in Channing Frye and Steve Francis. Frye will contribute at PF, and Francis can play the 1 or the 2 for the Blazers, giving this team a very versatile and athletic look. I like this team a lot now. I think they can legitimately make the playoffs next year.

Winner: NY Knicks

The Knicks didn't do so bad in this trade either, netting a very good PF in Zach Randolph and getting a solid backup guard in Fred Jones.

Idiot: Isaiah Thomas

One question: Who is Wilson Chandler? Thomas is the quirkiest drafter ever.

Loser and idiot: Danny Ainge

Ainge has no idea what's going on. He shipped out Jeff Green for Ray Allen, who is the best shooter in the NBA, which is a good trade. But Ainge takes on more salary and for what? Has Ainge really done enough to make this team good? I do not think he has. Ainge seems to be throwing together whatever he can to make this work.

Loser: Yi Jianlian

Yi doesn't get to play in a city with a Chinatown. I hope he is a man and shows up in Milwaukee when he is supposed to...

Winner: Michael Jordan and the Bobcats

Jordan didn't do too shabby in his first draft, netting a couple solid players and Jason Richardson...that is, if his knees hold out for Jordan...

Winner: Golden State Warriors

In moving Richardson, the Warriors cleared some room to make a run at a solid free agent or another good player via trade (Garnett?). At the very least, Golden State can now keep their core together for a few years and make a run in the playoffs...

Winner: Rodney Stuckey

Stuckey is a big-time guard from a little school who now gets to play for one of the best teams in the East. I'd like to think he will contribute off the bench for Detroit, especially if Chauncey Billups decides to bolt...

Loser: Houston Rockets

The Rockets really needed a big bodied PF. They drafted two guards, one of them barely measuring in at 6 feet.

Loser: Viewers

I swear ESPN kept showing the same 3 commercials; all I know is that sprite is good for some reason, Dwayne Wade can't putt, and Tim Duncan is NOT about himself...

Winner: Viewers

Now anyone who actually watched the draft got to see Dick Vitale and Stephen A. Smith. Seriously, these two guys are crazy. I'm surprised Stephen A. didn't go nuts when Vitale called him out on the 2003 draft being better thing (By the way, the 2003 draft was better...). These two guys should have their own show. Or simply a debate. The winner can get a crash cart to revive himself...

Monday, July 2, 2007

The prospects of a KG to Warriers trade

The best of the reported trades thus far, a trade with the Golden State Warriors is an interesting one to think of. The Timberwolves strongest position the last several years, held by KG, was the SF/PF spot. Interestingly, in any of these reported trades (except a trade with Phoenix in which we would get Amare Stoudemire), the Wolves wouldn't be addressing this position, instead acquiring other position players at center and guard. I'm going to examine what would happen to the Timberwolves roster in the case that this proposed Golden State deal happens.

PG - Randy Foye
SG - Monta Ellis
SF - Corey Brewer/Ricky Davis (If he is still with the team)
PF - Andris Biedrins/Al Harrington
C - Mark Blount

PG - ?
SG - Rashad McCants
SG/SF - Marko Jaric
SF - Trenton Hassell (He will most likely be traded, since Corey Brewer is basically a better Trenton Hassell)
SF/PF - Brandan Wright
PF - Juwon Howard
PF - Craig Smith
PF/C - Mark Madsen
C - Patrick O'Bryant

While this is a MUCH different looking lineup than last year, with the only returning starter from the beginning of last year being Mark Blount, the roster looks very solid. Whereas the starters are weaker without Garnett in the lineup, with bench is much stronger than last years team with quality backups at every single position instead of just at the guard positions.

I see the proposed trade going...

Monta Ellis, Patrick O'Bryant, Al Harrington, Brandan Wright, and a future draft pick (hopefully a first) for Kevin Garnett and Troy Hudson (which is why I didn't put Hudson on the above roster).

O'Bryant doesn't have very good looking stats, but he was a top ten pick in last years draft, and as Stephen A. Smith so delicately puts it "YOU CAN'T TEACH HEIGHT!!!." O'Bryant is a 7'0'' center, and weighs 10 pounds more than current Wolves center Mark Blount. O'Bryant never was truly given an opportunity to play last season, and could excel playing for his hometown team (O'Bryant went to Blaine High School). Wright has a ton of potential, but will need to be brought along slowly. compares him to Chris Bosh/Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and those are two players who have experienced success in the NBA. He will eventually be a very good player though, and he showed flashes of brilliance at times last year at UNC.

The greatest part of this trade is that not only do Monta Ellis and Al Harrington/Andris Biedrins allow us to compete now, but O'Bryant and Wright give us two big guys to build our franchise around once they develop. We would also have Foye, McCants and Brewer, giving us 6 guys from the last 3 drafts. Our team would be young, but could be great within a few years.

As a result of the Jason Richardson trade, the Warriors now hold a $10 million trade exception, which it is assumed they would use in the Garnett deal to make it more appealing. They could take any one of McHale's horrible deals that he has made, but Hudson has the least worth due to his horrible contract and lack of playing time.

The team would then need to acquire a backup point guard for Foye through trades, but it looks like Davis and Hassell could be traded.

In other words, I'm saying that in this case, I believe the Wolves would be a better team after the trade than before it, and that's always the point of a trade, right?

The Rumor Mill part tres

Great article here by's Marc Stein. It lists the potential trade suitors for the Wolves, and the assets that could be tradeable to the Wolves. Stein lists the suitors as most of the teams we already know (Suns, Warriors, Celtics, Mavs, Lakers), and also brings the Bulls back into the equation. Based upon this article, it looks as if the most realistic place for KG to wind up are still Phoenix and Golden State. In an interesting note in the article, it is reported that every move Golden State GM Chris Mullin is making is to position the team to acquire KG. I also think that they have the most enticing deal to offer the Wolves, since they would be getting at least Monta Ellis and Brandan Wright. Any deal with the Suns that doesn't involve Amare Stoudemire would be a rip-off for the Wolves. Keep posted for more KG trade rumors and information.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Rumor Mill part deux

According to sources in the NBA and, the Minnesota Timberwolves are now in serious talks with the Golden State Warriors.

These talks are different than those with the Mavericks for the fact that there are actually players that have been named to swap between the two teams.

Minnesota would trade Kevin Garnett for Monta Ellis, Brandan Wright and Patrick O'Bryant. Minnesota apparently wants Andris Biedrins but Golden State is only willing to offer them Al Harrington instead.

This trade would work well for both teams. Minnesota would get some size and very talented young players to replace the All-Star in Garnett. Garnett would go to a team where he would be able to share the scoring load with Baron Davis and would improve the team greatly.

I have a feeling that until Garnett is actually traded, there will be new "Rumor Mills" everyday. So keep on checking here for the latest updates.