Friday

9-4-09: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

We've made it to the end of another week. And for most of you, it's a long weekend thanks to Labor Day. Me? I'll be working Sunday and Monday. But I won't be bitter or grumpy about it – okay, maybe I'll be a little grumpy about it – because next week's a short week for me.

In 6 days I'll be winging my way Eastward for a vacation I've been planning in my head for years. More on that next week.

Today it's time to cap off this week. College football kicked off the 2009 campaign last night, and not without some controversy. I'll have a quick rant.

After that, it's time for your weekly dose of DFTU, in which I add a 3rd team to discuss!

So let's get to the getting, shall we?

"There is no such thing as an underestimate of average intelligence."
- Henry Adams (1838 - 1918), American journalist, historian, academic and novelist


And given what we saw last night, that extends to the world of college athletics.

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If you didn't see the end of the Oregon/Boise State game last night, and somehow managed to miss the highlights today, here is a link to the video. It's surreal enough to warrant a few moments of your time.

If you insist on not watching (and I could understand if you do), here's a quick synopsis: after a pathetic performance by Oregon, their starting running back LeGarrette Blount was walking off the field when a Boise State player came up to him, slapped him on the shoulder-pad and said something (presumably a taunt). Blount's reaction was to let the guy turn away and then sucker-punch him with a right-cross that landed flush on the guy's chin. Blount then proceeded to dance away from the scene while flexing his muscles like he'd just accomplished something. When a couple of teammates tried to separate him from the Boise State players who were coming after him, he shoved one of his own teammates in the face mask. And that wasn't the end!

As he finally tried to exit the field, several boisterous Boise State fans yelled and hollered at him, and that's when he really lost it. Blount flipped out and tried to get at the fans in the stands, and literally had to be dragged off the field by security personnel.

He wasn't ushered off... he wasn't herded off... he was dragged off the field.

It was a truly crazy scene.

Obviously there's no question as to whether Blount's going to be punished, the only question is to what level.

I've heard everything today from “suspend him for one game” to “kick him off the team”. As usual, I think the correct answer lies somewhere in between.

Don't get me wrong, I won't shed a tear if Blount is dismissed from the club. He made his bed, now he's got to lie in it. But if he's suspended somewhere between 4-6 games, I won't be upset either.

It'd be easy to pound one's fist on the desk and say, “don't let the door hit him on the way out”. But I think you have to take certain circumstances into account.

First of all, the Boise State player was being a complete d-bag. You won the game kid, “neener-neenering” the guy just makes you look like a punk. I'd have lost my temper with the guy too if I'd been in Blount's shoes.

And if you've ever been near a college football sideline, you can guess what kinds of things were said by the fans as Blount exited the field. I'm not sure I blame him for being upset by that either.

That being said, I wouldn't have punched the Boise player, and I wouldn't have gone after the fans in the stands. And for those actions, he clearly needs to be punished.

Like I said, if they throw the guy off the team, I'll get over it pretty quickly. But my guess is he's sitting down for 1/3 of the season or so. If it's less than that, then Oregon's basically saying that punishment for inappropriate behavior is mitigated by how talented you are. And that's a dangerous precedent to set.

(Ed.'s Note: At about 3:40pm central time, the following note crossed the wire, "Oregon suspends RB LeGarrette Blount for remainder of season for punching Boise State player". Can't argue with that.)

Okay... enough ugliness, let's get to the fun stuff!

Because it's Friday. And that means that it's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment:

Dan's Favorite Teams Update

Minnesota Twins:
The Twins are 67-66, in second place in the AL Central and 5 games behind the Detroit Tigers.

So the good news is that the Twins are back above .500 and have won four consecutive series. The bad news is that Detroit is also 7-3 in their last 10 games. So the standings haven't changed much since last week.

Yes, technically the Twins have lost a half-game in the standings, but that's more of a quirk in the schedule than anything to blame the boys for.

But, as I said last week, the Twins need to be picking up a game a week on the Tigers to have a realistic chance of catching them. And in the past 7 days, that hasn't happened. That rule's not strict, because the Twins could pick up two games next week and be right back on track. And let's not forget, they still have seven games left directly with the Tigers, so as long as they stay close, they have a chance to make up ground in head-to-head games.

Bottom line is, the Twins are doing what they can do at this point. Now they just need the Tigers to cooperate and hit a rough patch.

The Twins are in Cleveland tonight to start a 3-game weekend series. Then they head North of the border for a 4-gamer with the Blue Jays starting Monday. Not an easy road-trip, but it's one you have to go 5-2 on at least if you want to stay in this thing.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs are 61-74, in fourth place in the NL West and 19 games behind the L.A. Dodgers.

We're getting to that point in the season where there isn't a whole lot I can say about the Snakes.

We've known they've been out of the race for months. They traded away as much dead wood as they could afford to, and have brought in plenty of kids to get a look at them on the big-league level.

Their "anti-magic number" (the number of combined Arizona losses and Dodger wins it will take to officially eliminate the D'backs from the post-season) is nine. With 27 games left on the schedule, that won't take long to get to zero.

I'll give them credit. The guys who are there haven't just rolled over and died. Mark Reynolds is putting together a career year, hitting .274 with 40 home runs and 91 RBI. Dan Haren is only 13-8, but he has a 2.74 ERA and is fourth in the league in strikeouts. Justin Upton is starting to figure some things out while hitting .314.

Don't get me wrong, this has been a painful season to watch for Arizona fans. Especially when three teams in their division are fighting for two playoff spots.

But they're not without hope for next year. And after all, that's the beauty of baseball isn't it? There's always next year.

Arizona is in Colorado for three, and then comes home to host the Dodgers on Monday.

Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers are 0-0 and open the season against Northern Illinois tomorrow night at 6pm central time on the Big Ten Network.

I'll be honest. I really don't know what to expect from Wisconsin this year.

On the one hand, their rushing game should be solid as usual. Red-shirt sophomore John Clay is going to be a beast. At 6-2, 247, his running style is a blend of speed and physicality.

Unfortunately, the quarterback situation is up in the air. As I understand it, the depth chart shows: Scott Tolzien, Jr./Curt Phillips, Fr.

There's an old adage that says, "if you've got three running backs, you've got none". I think we can safely create a corollary that says, "if you've got three quarterbacks, you've got none".

Last year's starter, Senior Dustin Sherer, is apparently third on the depth chart now. Not terribly surprising when he completed only 55% of his passes for last year, throwing 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

Tolzien saw action in only 3 games last year, going 5 for 8 with no touchdowns and 1 interception. But apparently he made enough progress in the off season and in camp to win the starting job.

Until he makes a mistake and opens the door for Phillips apparently.

Phillips is a 6-3, 228 Freshman out of Kingsport, TN. And that's pretty much all I know about him. But apparently he impressed the coaching staff enough, that he's likely to see some action against NIU tomorrow.

As for the defense? That's another question mark. Wisconsin has a tradition of playing well against traditional offenses, and struggling against the spread offense. Basically, if their linebacker play improves, they should be okay. If not, then not.

The bottom line is that this is a crucial year for Badger head coach Bret Bielema. Bielema is entering his 4th season at the helm, and his teams records have been going the wrong way.

Reasonable Wisconsin fans know better than to expect 12-1 each year. But last year's 7-6 (3-5 in the Big Ten) isn't going to get it done. I don't think there's a strong movement to fire him yet, but I have heard some grumblings. Fans expect success in Wisconsin. Mediocre bowl games may be acceptable at other Big Ten institutions, but 7 wins and getting killed by Florida State isn't going to cut it in Madison.

I'm looking forward to seeing what they have to offer tomorrow night!

That's going to do it for this week. Enjoy the baseball and college football goodness this weekend! I'll be back on Monday (yes, I'm working on Labor Day) to recap.

Until then, thanks for reading!

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