Royals 4, Twins 2

September 29, 2008

This is a couple of days late, so obviously we know now that the White Sox play in Detroit on Monday afternoon and need a win to force a one-game playoff with the Twins on Tuesday. Should be exciting!

Royals 8, Twins 1

September 27, 2008

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire used the exact word I would have used to describe Friday’s game in general when he spoke of Francisco Liriano’s performance — clunker.

The Indians can only do the Minnesota so many favors…

Twins 3, White Sox 2

September 25, 2008

The White Sox bats were once again asleep on Wednesday night, letting Nick Blackburn off the hook and helping inflate the shattered ego of Minnesota’s bullpen headed into the third straight game that the Twins can call their biggest of the season.

The two victories the last two nights were huge, but Minnesota still becomes a desperate baseball team with a loss tonight.

Twins 9, White Sox 3

September 24, 2008

I didn’t look, but Matt Guerrier’s ERA may have gone down after only allowing a two-run homer in his one inning of work last night.


The Twins certainly know how to keep things interesting. Despite a simply awful month of baseball, they are now 1 1/2 games out of first place. Crazy.


Kubel got to 20 home runs last night, but my copy got edited in Morneau’s quote to say 19. Not sure what happened there, but I’m not taking credit for that one.

Week 3 Fantasy Football Notes

September 23, 2008

With Week 3 now in the bank, we can now begin drawing a few conclusions based on some early trends. The big conclusion one fantasy league has caused me to draw is to trust my brain, not my gut. Despite having Michael Turner ranked higher than Jamal Lewis and Philip Rivers ranked higher than Matt Schaub, I ended up with Lewis and Schaub on my squad when the other player was still on the board at the time. So, I guess the lesson there is to trust your work when you actually take the time to do it rather than make rash decisions based more on perceived value of players by the masses. But, at least Schaub is on my bench with Jay Cutler tearing it up. I can’t say the same for my RB situation…


The biggest trends I like to look at involved defenses – who is giving up what to who. Let’s take a look at a handful of defenses and see what conclusions we can draw:


I’ll start with Buffalo. The surprising Bills are 3-0 and a legit contender in the AFC East. Part of the reason for this success lies on the defensive side of the football. Buffalo has given up just one touchdown to a running back this season and feature backs are averaging less than 50 yards per game on the ground through three games. The passing defense has also been good, giving up just a hair over 170 yards per game and only two scores in three contests. However, I’m more sold on the run ‘D’ than the pass ‘D.’ Seattle has proven its ability to run the ball the last two weeks with Julius Jones (I definitely didn’t see that coming), Oakland can pretty much ONLY run the ball, and Jacksonville’s got arguably the best one-two running back punch in the game. Its to the point now where if I’ve got a borderline starter – Edgerrin James in Week 5, for example, he’s not getting in my lineup. The jury is still out on the pass, though. JaMarcus Russell is awful so far, and Matt Hasselbeck had just Nate Burleson to throw to in Week 1. Plus Jacksonville’s not exactly an aerial assault waiting to happen.


On the other end of the spectrum, I’m starting anyone and everyone against the Lions. A non-feature back has scored in all three games thus far, and Detroit has ceded six rushing touchdowns overall. That’s not to mention the 123+ yards per game feature backs are averaging against the Lions. Matt Forte owners should be licking their chops for Week 5…


As for pass defenses, Tennessee has been the cream of the crop thus far with just one touchdown pass allowed and seven interceptions. The talent the Titans have faced at quarterback can be questioned some, but besides a couple of meetings with a hobbled Peyton Manning, old Brett Favre, new Aaron Rodgers and ordinary Derek Anderson, Tennessee simply doesn’t face much that they can’t handle. In short, this team will continue to be a fantasy force that can score points any week.


The Colts fall into the mirage end of this equation, giving up just 149 passing yards per game without a touchdown allowed through three weeks. But I’m not giving Indy a ton of credit for shutting down Kyle Orton and Tarvaris Jackson. David Garrard is a little better, but the Jags were simply too good on the ground in this one. If the Colts continue to put up good numbers against the pass, its only because they are having so much trouble against the run that no one even tries to pass. I expect Schaub, Rodgers, Kerry Collins, Ben Roethlisberger, Rivers, et al to have a bit more success in the coming weeks.


An under-the-radar iffy pass defense resides in Denver, where the Broncos are giving up 326 yards and two scores per game through three weeks despite being undefeated. Those numbers would be even more inflated if not for the Raiders being included among Denver’s three opponents. Tyler Thigpen likely won’t do much next week, but after that you could probably use Brian Griese, Garrard or even Matt Cassell in the coming weeks as emergency starters should you need one.


That’s enough defense for now, I feel like ragging on the Lions. Jon Kitna is getting progressively worse, and Roy Williams has yet to be good. Sure, he caught a touchdown pass in Week 1, but there is plenty to be worried about here. Roy is catching fewer than three balls per game and has yet to hit the 50-yard mark while Calvin Johnson is emerging as the top target in Detroit. Williams has been a must-start receiver the last few years, but if Roy doesn’t do something against Chicago and Minnesota out of the bye week, he’s simply no longer on that list. 

A View from the Bridge

September 17, 2008

With the new I-35W bridge opening Thursday morning, it was somewhat fitting that I stopped a few blocks away from it Tuesday night to take in a showing of “A View from the Bridge” at the Guthrie Theatre. And since it says at the top of this blog “sports AND entertainment,” I figured I’d drop a quick plug for what was an AWESOME show.

The lead role of Eddie Carbone was played by John Carroll Lynch, who you may know from such movies as Zodiac, Gothika, Fargo, or as Mimi’s love interest in The Drew Carey Show. I’ll be honest, when I found out at intermission it actually was him and not just a look-alike, it took me about 10 minutes into the second act before I could view him as his character in the play. However, he did an excellent job and stood out in a cast of high-quality performers. His bald head, arrogant attitude and believable accent was more than a little reminiscent of Tony Soprano.

The only gripe I had about the show was Bryce Pinkham’s accent, particularly at the start of Act 2. The Yale School of Drama grad was stellar overall in his role as Rodolpho — cousin of Carbone’s wife Beatrice (played by Amy Van Nostrand) and love interest to Carbone’s niece, Catherine (played by Robyn Rikoon). However, at the start of the second act I noticed his Italian accent slip into a Hindu accent on multiple occasions, but only for a few seconds at a time. It was a minor hiccup that likely went unnoticed, but I tend to pay special attention to Italian accents given my surname. He was strong enough elsewhere, though, that it was easily forgivable for a theatre novice like myself.

I was impressed at the cast’s ability to hold the audience in the first act despite what could have been excruciatingly long scenes. There was some strong foreshadowing in the early moments of the show before Beatrice made her first appearance, and Marco (Rodolpho’s brother, played by Ron Menzel) dropped a big hint with his chair performance to close out the act.

As strong as the first act was, the second was even better. Perhaps it was just the increased intensity of the scenes, but it seemed that the acting took a step up in Act 2. There was a good 20-minute stretch where I was so mesmerized by the show that I no longer felt like I was at a play, I was just observing someone else’s life. I snapped out of it and had to shake my head and close my eyes to snap back to reality. It was actually pretty cool and something I had not experienced at a show before. Then again, the Guthrie’s intimate Wurtele Thrust Stage puts you so close to the action it likely makes it easier to become one with the show rather than just a simple observer.

As previously stated, I’m a novice when it comes to theatre so I’m not going to try to rate this show in any way. However, I was thoroughly entertained — moreso than any non-musical play I’ve ever been to — and would recommend it to anyone who might be remotely interested in checking out a live show. The story is solid, the acting is great, and for those in Minneapolis, the Wurtele Thrust Stage provides a perfect backdrop to both.

Week 2 Fantasy Highlights

September 16, 2008

After two weeks I’m sitting at .500 overall in my five fantasy leagues, settling into the fantasy mediocrity I’ve experienced since the start of the baseball season. Here are my observations from Week 2…


DeSean Jackson is an idiot. He’s no doubt talented, but that “fumble” to erase his touchdown was classic. When a guy is that cocky two games into his NFL career, just wait until he is established. Philly’s going to need a new stadium to fit his ego. As for his fantasy value, don’t get overly excited after two straight weeks with six catches and more than 100 yards. Reggie Brown will be back soon and Kevin Curtis will follow shortly thereafter, relegating him to No. 3 on the depth chart at best, with Greg Lewis, Jason Avant and Hank Baskett also vying for Donovan McNabb’s attention. Jackson still keeps some fantasy value because of his return abilities, but once the Eagles are playing with a full deck, a few catches for 50 yards will be considered a good day.


For those in tight end mandatory leagues, it appears you’ll want to keep your eyes on the Chargers’ schedule. No, not because Antonio Gates is a stud — although that is nice. You’ll want to watch San Diego because after two weeks it has given up 17 catches for 192 yards and three touchdowns to the tight end position. If Dante Rosario and Tony Scheffler are this tough on the Chargers, those of you working the waiver wire weekly to fill the position may want to grab whoever is going against San Diego that week.


Tim Hightower is opening some eyes in Arizona as the heir apparent to Edgerrin James. Although I’m excited about his future, I’m not hopping on the Hightower bandwagon just yet. Yes, he’s scored in two straight weeks, but he’s not getting many touches and he’s played against the 49ers and the Dolphins — two defenses I’m not exactly fond of. Relying on Hightower as anything more than a desperate bye week fill-in or emergency injury replacement — barring a James injury or demotion — is a bad idea.


Speaking of bad, the Cincinnati Bengals are in rough shape. I’m benching my Bengals again this week, but its more because of the defense. They have faced the Ravens and Titans thus far and get the Giants this week. When Cincy gets the Bengals in Week 4, I’ll give T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chad Johnson/Ocho Cinco and Carson Palmer another shot. If they can’t do it against the Browns, then I may hit the panic button. Yes, I know if you drafted Palmer you did it as a starter, but he’s not the only high-end QB you should bench this week…


Drew Brees has faced Denver seven times in his career, although never as a member of the Saints. New Orleans goes to Denver this week after the Broncos have allowed five touchdown passes the first two weeks of the season. But the Broncos have Brees’ number. In those seven games, Brees has a 64.4 QB rating, averages 157.7 yards per game, and has tossed just two touchdowns while throwing five interceptions. In other words, if you’ve got a decent backup option, use him.

Twins 7, Royals 1

September 11, 2008

Its hard to believe that a team that just won back-to-back games for the first time since winning four straight from August 19-21 is just a game out of first place, but sure enough…

Kevin Slowey was awesome again, although he pretty much just toys with the Royals (3-0 in three starts against them this year, with an ERA less than 2.00).

Lynx 86, Fever 76

September 10, 2008

What was supposed to be an easy night of work at my last WNBA game of the season turned into a busy evening as the Lynx lost Seimone Augustus to a head injury in the first quarter. So I spent much of the game running back and forth between the game and the concourse to try to catch a glimpse of what was going on with Augustus, and later first-round pick Candice Wiggins, who also was lost for the game in the first half with a sprained knee. 

Ultimately I wrote in the neighborhood of eight versions for two total stories, which made for a long night. Fortunately it appears that Augustus should be OK — I saw her walking under her own power as she left the building to get a CT scan. 

By the end of the night I guess I wrote a bit too much now that I see what the editors pared it down to, but too much is better than not enough I guess.

Week 1 Fantasy Highlights

September 10, 2008

For the first time in four years, I spent the opening Sunday of the NFL season watching games from the comfort of my couch. It was just as glorious as I remembered.


I still had my computer close by, though, obviously keeping track of my fantasy squads (I’m down to five from six last year, but that’s still entirely too many) and my pick ’em selections. I’d prefer not to get into my individual teams much more than to say I only selected Tom Brady in the first round in two of my five leagues, so my year isn’t completely f#@*ed, but trading up in one league to get him digs the knife a bit deeper.


But I digress, here are some of the fantasy highlights that stuck out to me the most…


Donovan McNabb looked plenty good, and double points for doing it with his top two receivers on the sidelines. However, Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown aren’t exactly Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, and the rest of the Eagles receivers fall in line at least above average competency. Then there’s the part about the Eagles playing at home against a Rams team that I thought would be fighting for next year’s No. 1 pick before I witnessed them shredded into Philly Cheesesteak. So, before the Eagles apologists and McNabb backers get too giddy, let me remind you that McNabb last played 16 games in 2003 and has only thrown more than 20 touchdown passes in a season three times since becoming a starter in 1999. His career-high of 31 came courtesy of Terrell Owens, with his other high-water mark a respectable 25 TDs. McNabb shouldn’t have a problem hitting 3,500 yards if he can play a full-slate, which I certainly wouldn’t bank on, but don’t kid yourself into thinking he’s going to surpass, or even reach, the 20-touchdown mark.


Eddie Royal certainly opened some eyes with his 9-catch, 146-yard and one-touchdown performance against what has been a stout pass defense the last couple of years. As an owner of the rookie in a few leagues, I was certainly pleased with the results. However, I picked up Royal in those leagues with the sole intention of selling high to a knee-jerk owner. Brandon Marshall will be back next week, and Marshall was fifth in the NFL in receptions and sixth in receiving yards last season. And this is a guy who has only been playing the position for a few years. In other words, Royal just had what will likely turn out to be his best game of the season, so don’t rely on him as anything more than a No. 3 receiver.


Michael Turner busted out in a big way for an offense that I didn’t expect to have much pop this season in Atlanta. Tougher defensive tests certainly await, as do road games, but on first glance I wish I would’ve stuck to my guns on my cheat sheet and taken Turner over Jamal Lewis in the two leagues I flip-flopped last minute. I knew the guy had talent, but if Matt Ryan can simply be Kyle Orton-esque, Turner could be in for a big year.


Speaking of the Bears, I had Chicago’s defense penciled in at No. 1 when the preseason began because it is virtually the same unit as 2006 with everyone healthy. The final preseason games gave me pause, and I have to admit, my faith was shaken. But the same reasons I trusted them to bounce back are the same reasons I’m now confident that their undressing of the Colts on Monday night wasn’t a fluke. Yes, Peyton Manning wasn’t at 100 percent and Chicago benefited from it, but this could very easily turn out to be the best fantasy defense in the league.


I’ll check in after every week with some fantasy analysis of what stuck out to me the most. I’ll also have broken down weekly rankings in some capacity soon, although probably not for Week 2. My bad…