I think Jeff Shelman does a really nice job covering college basketball for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, but this comment on Gophers forward Dan Coleman in his "Meet the Gophers" piece Wednesday was one of the most ridiculous things I've read all week:
With his combination of length and ballhandling, Coleman might be the best long-term NBA prospect on this team. However, he tends to vanish at times on the floor. Needs to be more aggressive.
Perhaps that says more about the rest of the Gophers than it does about Coleman, but it's still like saying, "Someone who buys a lottery ticket might have a better chance at winning the lottery than the people who don't buy a ticket." Normally I'd add something pithy here, like "if Dan Coleman ever plays in the NBA I'll eat my Gophers hat." However, since Kevin Burleson is actually on an NBA roster right now, I think I'll just shut up.
Also, I don't think much of Vincent Grier's NBA potential (which my uncle and I discussed at some length while watching the Gophers narrowly beat UMD last week), but there's no way Coleman is more of a "long-term NBA prospect." He plays with zero intensity and has no discernible skills that are above-average. The NBA GM who drafts him should be fired on the spot.
There is some debate about which cast member of The Goonies is doing the best 20 years after the movie was released. I say it's no contest, because Josh Brolin gets to wake up next to Diane Lane every morning. Seriously, does anyone actually think being in The Lord of the Rings is better than that?
I've really been enjoying Paul Shirley's ESPN.com columns, and I thought he made a very interesting point earlier this week about the careers of his fellow NBA journeymen like Mark Pope:
But, let us not forget that, regardless of his exact standing within his peer group, it could easily be said that Pope is among the best 1,000 basketball players in the world.
The math is not difficult. There are approximately 450 players in the NBA per year. Pope has proven that he is certainly a qualified NBA player. Even if we allow that there are somehow another 500 players in the world as good, scattered as they might be in remote outposts of European basketball or Tibetan mountainsides, we would still be safe in our conclusion.
Think about that for a second. There are, give or take, six billion humans on the Earth. How many people will ever exist among the top .0000167 percent of the world's population ... at anything? In fact, it is a sobering thought.
All of which makes the whole Kevin Burleson thing even more confusing.
I often find myself jealous of other bloggers because I wish I could write like them, have their audience, or just share their outlook on life. Sometimes it's Tony Pierce or Jeff Jarvis, other times it's Jon Weisman or Ryan Perry. This week I found myself jealous of Pauly McGuire over at the Tao of Poker, because covering poker tournaments (and everything that goes on surrounding them) sounds like a hell of a time.
I took a little nap last night (in fact, I am typing this about five minutes after getting up) and had one of those crazy dreams that ties together a bunch of random stuff you had been thinking about before falling asleep.
In this particular dream I was at some sort of a convention (I had just read the SABR newsletter about the 2006 convention in Seattle), hanging out with Adam Carolla and Fred Taylor (I had just listened to an old episode of Loveline and written something for Rotoworld about Taylor's ankle injury), and we ran into Elisha Cuthbert and a group of her friends (no explanation needed).
Drinks and conversation ensued, during which I was extraordinarily charming (that's how I knew it was a dream) and had the room cracking up over jokes about Taylor's injury history. You know, because Canadian actresses love fantasy football humor. Sadly, I woke up before knowing whether or not having Carolla and Taylor as my wingmen was successful.
Instead, I got up groggy, read some e-mails about one of my Diamond-Mind keeper leagues, turned on the Travel Channel to watch a World Poker Tour repeat episode that I've seen no fewer than three times already, and began typing this blog entry. So, basically the same sort of exciting stuff I was dreaming about.
The Cardinals have indicated they hope to retain Sanders, while the Twins, Marlins and Mariners are also known to have expressed interest. He is expected to command a multiyear deal in excess of the $4 million that he made in 2005.
The Marlins left the general managers' meetings confident they can jettison third baseman Mike Lowell. What they probably can't do is altogether eliminate him from the books.
Owed $9 million each of the next two seasons, Lowell is tradable if the Marlins are willing to absorb some of the remaining dollars. According to a front office official who has spoken with the Marlins, they had "a few hits" on Lowell this past week.
One club that could take him at a discount is the Minnesota Twins. Former Marlin and Lowell friend Mike Redmond last season got in the front office's ear about acquiring the Gold Glove winner.
If the Marlins are willing to pay a huge chunk of Mike Lowell's salary and they are willing to deal him without getting a whole lot of value back, this is a move I like quite a bit. After five very good and remarkably consistent seasons, Lowell was horrendous this year:
I have no idea why Lowell struggled so badly in 2005, but I am hesitant to write someone off because of one bad season in six. Plus, he's only 31 years old, stayed healthy enough to play 150 games, and looked good enough defensively at third base to win a Gold Glove (for what little that's worth these days).
The 2000-2004 version of Lowell would be a perfect fit for the Twins, sliding into the middle of the lineup as a right-handed bat between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, and taking over at third base. Whether or not that version still exists is a big concern, obviously, but if the Marlins pay half his salary it's probably worth finding out.
Among the hitters they have contacted is former All-Star catcher Mike Piazza, who is willing to move to the American League and split time between being a catcher and a designated hitter.
"Minnesota called me and to me there is interest in Mike," said Dan Lozano, Piazza's agent. "Minnesota definitely is a team Mike is willing to listen to. At this point, it's a little bit premature to determine what's going to happen and where Mike's going to end up."
Lozano also confirmed that the Twins have expressed interest in infielder Tony Graffanino. Graffanino, 33, batted .309 with seven homers and 38 RBI last season in stints with Kansas City and Boston. He played in a career-high 110 games last season, and the Twins reportedly are willing to give him the chance to be the everyday second baseman.
According to people with the team, the Twins are interested in more than a dozen free agents. Their options include third baseman Bill Mueller, whom the Twins tried to acquire from Boston before the July 31 trading deadline, infielder Nomar Garciaparra, who was limited to 62 games with the Cubs because of a torn groin muscle, and Rondell White, who batted .313 in 97 games with Detroit. Garciaparra could be asked to play third base, and White would be the full-time DH.
We'll soon see how things actually play out, but I like the guys the Twins are rumored to be going after.
I know I've been criticizing newspapers a lot lately, but ... well, it's fun. I was doing my football news-gathering gig for Rotoworld yesterday morning and couldn't help but be amused by how silly the Vikings-related headlines were in both the Minneapolis Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press.
I am always amazed by the lengths newspapers are willing to go to make forced puns and repeat tired cliches, despite the industry constantly stressing the seriousness of their reporting and the importance of strict codes and standards. For Sharper, reading really is fundamental? Returns to splendor? My favorite journalism professors, Chris Ison and Paul McEnroe, would have had a good laugh if someone turned a story in to them with a headline that shticky.
And yeah, I realize it is only the sports section, which I had someone tell me was "the toy department of the newspaper" about a thousand times while in journalism school. But has anyone else noticed that the "top read stories" listing on the front page of the Star Tribune's website is almost always dominated by sports stuff? As I write this Monday night, four of the top five stories are about the Vikings.
Twins followers and statistical freaks continue to complain that Johan Santana was robbed in voting for another major award: AL's Cy Young.
These folks want Santana to receive full credit for going 6-2 with a 1.09 ERA in his final 10 starts -- domination that took place in garbage time of a lost season for the Twins.
It was in his previous 10 starts the Twins needed Santana to dominate. That's when they were going from 35-22 and 4 games behind the White Sox in the AL Central to 58-56 and 16 1/2 games behind the Mighty Whities (and from 7 ahead to 4 behind Cleveland).
Santana was 3-4 with a humdrum 4.64 ERA in that decisive stretch of the season, making a third-place Cy Young finish a generous reward.
Odd, isn't it, that a guy who calls people "statistical freaks" would then use statistics to support his argument? On the other hand, at the least the column didn't fall under a silly headline.
Despite having the ball in his hands enough to shoot an average of 17.2 times per game, Humphries handed out a grand total of 20 assists in his college career. That comes out to an assist every 49.5 minutes, compared to a shot every 1.9 minutes. In other words, it's not particularly surprising that his pro coach, Jerry Sloan, thinks he's a ballhog.
I had a rough few days, but I am now typing this on a beautiful new laptop. I'd like to thank everyone who left advice about my computer problems in the comments section last week. I actually printed all of the comments out (which is a first, for sure), and will try to figure out the best way to get my old laptop up and running again.
In the meantime, I figured out a way to access the old laptop on battery power (which lasts about two hours at a time), so I was able to get all of my favorite places on to the new computer so I could make up for Friday's missing Link-O-Rama entry. The one thing I still need some advice on is the best way to transfer a whole bunch of files from one laptop to another.
As far as I can tell a CD only holds 700 MB, which isn't enough for the type of files I'm looking to move. There's got to be an easy way to move an entire music library from one computer to another without buying something expensive, right? As always, let me know in the comments section. And now, the links ...
In addition to being one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Kevin Garnett has always struck me as simply a good guy. Whether it is the way he conducts himself during interviews or his considerable charitable work, he seems like the sort of athlete many sports fans say there aren't enough of. Now, if only he'd start shooting more ...
Speaking of Garnett, the boys over at Courtside Times have a nice look at the Timberwolves' improved defense. Of course, when you're giving significant minutes to offensive non-contributors like Anthony Carter, Mark Madsen, and Trenton Hassell your defense better be good.
In what probably isn't shocking to anyone who watched his one season with the Gophers, Kris Humphrieshasn't exactly taken the NBA by storm. Here's my favorite quote, from Utah coach Jerry Sloan:
Kris has got to learn he can't shoot the ball every time he touches it. He's got to learn to play with other people, because if he shoots every time he catches it, his career is going to be a very selfish one.
Here's my question: How did the Sloan and the rest of Utah's decision-makers watch him in college and not notice that as a major issue?
To their credit, the Los Angeles Times has a feature called "Outside the Tent" where they give a guest columnist an opportunity to criticize the newspaper. Friend of AG.com Matt Welch was last week's columnist and wrote a great piece taking the paper to task for their "value-subtracting" coverage of the Dodgers.
The Fourth Estate is braced to get more bad news about itself next week.
On Monday, the Audit Bureau of Circulations releases its semiannual figures on circulation -- and they are expected to show that paying readers continue to disappear at an alarming rate during the latest six-month period.
Challenged by online rivals, a dearth of younger readers and an advertising downturn, newspapers are suffering through their worst slump in years. The last ABC figures, which were released in May, were the worst for the industry in nine years, showing that average daily circulation had dropped 1.9% in the six months ended March 31 from a year ago.
The growing worry in the industry is the numbers reflect not just a slump, or a simple extension of a long-term decline in readers, but a more tectonic shift in habits. More Americans clearly are getting their news online.
Funny, in the last year this blog's readership has increased significantly, and traffic at both The Hardball Times and Rotoworld are way up as well.
No mention of declining newspaper readership would be complete without Star Tribune columnist Jim "Shecky" Souhan. Souhan, whom I've criticized here a number of times for a number of reasons, was featured in Dead Spin's ongoing "Why Your Hometown Columnist Sucks" series last week. Apparently I'm not the only person who gets rubbed the wrong way by his awkward one-liners and flawed logic.
I can't disagree with anything Dead Spin said, although in Souhan's defense there are far worse sports columnists writing for far more prominent papers. That doesn't make him any more enjoyable to read, of course. The only disappointing part of seeing Souhan get his due? That Dead Spin didn't list "Shecky" among Souhan's nicknames.
The good news? She has significantly improved the physical appearance of the average blogger -- moving us from about a 1.1 on the looks scale to maybe a 1.2 -- by starting up a blog about hockey on NHL.com. Seriously. Needless to say my love for her grows stronger every day.