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.

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