10-2-09: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

The weekend is nearly upon us, and here in Minnesota, it's Sports Armageddon.

Let's see... We've got the Twins playing their final series in the Metrodome. And the games still count as the Twins are trailing the Tigers by two games. Then we've got the Gophers hosting their biggest rival in the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday (a game I will be attending, thank you). That's followed by the Wild season-opener at Columbus on Saturday night. And if all that isn't enough, there's some football game happening on Monday night.

Oh, that's right... Vikings/Packers on Monday Night Football. Game of the Century! Revenge of the Favre! The highest rated football game in ESPN history!!!

Whew. I need a break.

Those of you who need a break as well might want to take a saunter over to my other blog, The Gettysburg Files. The third of four posts is up today. If you'd like to read more about my trip, click here.

But it's Friday. And that means no rest for the weary! Friday means DFTU time. And it's a special DFTU, since one of our teams will be leaving us for the off-season. Which one? Stay tuned and find out!

Let's do this!

”When a thing has been said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.”
Anatole France (1844-1924), French poet, journalist, and novelist

Yeah... what he said!

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It's the end of the week. You've waited for it. You've longed for it. And now it's here.

It's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment...

Dan's Favorite Teams Update

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are 83-76, in second place in the AL Central and two games behind the Detroit Tigers.

It's come down to this. Two games back with three games to play.

It's unfortunate that the situation has to be so dire, but it is what it is. The Twins failed to win a game Wednesday that they dearly needed to get. Carl Pavano has been a solid acquisition for the Twins and had owned the Tigers lineup until that night. It's unfortunate that it had to be that night that he ended up off a little bit, but that's baseball for you.

So the Twins ended up splitting the four-gamer in Detroit, and picked up no ground on the Tigers. Detroit's magic number now resides at two. That means any combination of Tigers wins and Twins losses which add up to two will give the Tigers the AL Central crown.

Each team has three games remaining. The Tigers host the White Sox* while the Twins host the Royals.

(* - A local sports anchor made a great point. If I'd told you 3 years ago that on this weekend, Minnesotans would be rooting for the White Sox and Brett Favre, how many anti-psychotics would you have prescribed for me?)

The best-case scenario is for the Twins to sweep and the Tigers to be swept. That gives the Twins the division.

If the Twins win two of three from the Royals, they would still need Detroit to get swept by Chicago to give them a tie, which would result in a play-off game on Monday.

If the Tigers win even one game, the Twins would have to sweep to stay alive. If the Tigers win two, it's hasta la vista post-season.

Obviously, the situation is dire. But until they're mathematically eliminated, I have to cling to hope!

As mentioned, the boys host the Royals for three, and they have to find a way to beat Zack Greinke on Saturday. Oh my.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs are 68-91, in last place in the AL West and have been eliminated from the playoffs.

This is the last appearance for the Snakes in the DFTU for this season.

Sure, they still have three to play against the Cubs, but those games are the textbook definition of “meaningless”. Even if they win all three, they can't rise in the standings.

So what are we to make of this season?

Obviously it was a disaster. While nobody had penciled in the Snakes for a playoff run, they were believed to be a team on the periphery of contention.

Instead they fired their manager early in the season and were never able to get things going in a positive direction.

There were a few small positives. Dan Haren was in Cy Young contention for a while. Mark Reynolds had a breakthrough season offensively. And Justin Upton took a step forward in his development.

But there were far more negatives. Obviously the field management is a question mark. There wasn't much that interim manager A.J. Hinch did that would make me think he'll automatically be brought back. Then again, if a new voice didn't change things during the season, then why should we assume that another new voice will change things for next season.

Brandon Webb has probably pitched his last game as a Diamondback. Already simmering tensions between Webb and the front office were exacerbated by the way his shoulder injury was handled. That's a major loss to a rotation which was supposed to be one of the strengths of this club.

Eric Byrnes and Connor Jackson both had seasons lost to various injuries. Perhaps Connor will be back, but I think we've seen the last of Byrnes.

Chris Young had a tough year. But with the contract that Arizona signed him to the year previous, there's not much flexibility. He'd be tough to move without eating a good portion of that salary, and you can't leave him in the minors while he's making that kind of money either.

To put it simply, there are a lot of questions to be answered in the off-season. Assuming that those questions actually have answers that is.

Courage, D'back fans... courage.

Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers are 4-0 on the year and 1-0 in Big Ten play.

Here we go!

Wisconsin at Minnesota. The Big Ten opener at TCF Bank Stadium. The Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe. Wisconsin's first road game of the season.

There are a ton of story lines to this game. And thinking through them all has left me with few conclusions and quite a headache.

First, last week... After the worst 44-14 win I've ever seen, the Badgers responded with one of the more dominant 38-30 wins you'll ever see.

Though I'm fairly certain that Michigan State is an inferior opponent, it was still nice to see Wisconsin execute both offensively and defensively.

But again, that game was at home. Now the Badgers are venturing forth from the friendly confines of Camp Randall Stadium for the first time this year.

That means it's quarterback Scott Tolzien's first time on the road as a starter. It's running back John Clay's first time on the road as a starter. It's the first time for a bevy of players on the road in the Big Ten all together.

Their opponent, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, are 3-1 on the year and also 1-0 in the Big Ten. They're coming off a well-earned road victory at Northwestern, and feeling good getting ready for Saturday.

How will it all shake out? The line opened at Minnesota -2, moved to -3, and settled at -2.5. If you assume that the home team gets a 3-point cushion, that means these teams are nearly dead-even.

Ultimately, that's how I expect the game to be played – dead even.

My guess is that it'll be a close game and will probably come down to who has the ball last.

The most important thing to me will be to see the new TCF Bank Stadium for the first time. It's looked pretty spectacular on TV, now I'll get to see a game from the inside.

Weather may play a factor as showers are forecasted for Saturday morning. I guess I can look forward to being at the first Gopher home game impacted by the elements in well over 20 years. That's something, no?

The game kicks off at 11am central time, and will be on ESPN or ESPN2... check your local listings!

It should be fun!

And with that, we put a bow on this week's DFTU.

Have yourself a safe and fun weekend. I'll be back on Monday to recap all that's happened.

Until then, thanks for reading!

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