11-6-09: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

Welcome to the end of another week. And what a week it's been. Plenty to talk about in the DFTU. But before we get to that, there are a couple of things to discuss...

First of all, today is my Mom's (mumble-mumble)'th birthday! So I'd like to take a moment to wish the woman who brought me into this world, and somehow over the last 35 years has resisted the temptation to take me out of it (thoroughly deserved, I assure you), all the best. Happy Birthday Mom! Have a wonderful day. I love you!


Ladies and Gentlemen, the New York Yankees are your 2009 World Champions.

That statement is still sinking in a full 36+ hours after it became fact. I'm not as upset about it as many of you. Mostly because I hold firm to the belief that payroll doesn't necessarily equate to championship success. But that doesn't mean I'm thrilled about it either.

There are several teams that spend well north of $100 million per year on their payroll, and some of them haven't won a championship in 20+ years. Yes, I understand that the Yankees spend more than anybody else, but I refuse to say that they “bought” their title when they're spending less in 2009 than they did in 2008, and have out-spent the other teams each year since their last title without winning one til this season.

No, I'm not going to be bitter that the team that swept the Twins out of the playoffs ended up winning the whole enchilada. Instead, I chose to tip my cap to the Bombers and count the days until the Twins have another shot at them.

No 2009 MLB Season recap today. I'll be working on that over the weekend and hopefully will have it for you on Monday.

Today is Friday (yours, not mine... dammit, I did it again). And that means it's DFTU day. So let's get to the U-ing, shall we?

Thought you'd see it my way...

”What we call 'Progress' is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance.”
*- Havelock Ellis (1859 - 1939), British sexologist, physician, and social reformer.

Sexologist, you say? Fill in your own punch-line there I guess. As much as I like gadgets and technology, I can't disagree with what the man says. They improve life in many ways, but bring about a whole new slate of problems.

«Read More...»

What doesn't bring about problems? That's right... you've waited patiently, and it's almost time for the weekend... and that means it's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment...

Dan's Favorite Teams Update

Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers are 6-2 (3-2 in the Big Ten), good for fourth place in the conference.

I said last week that Bucky needed an impressive win to shake off the doldrums from the Ohio State and Iowa losses, and they came through in a big way, beating the Boilermakers 37-0 at Camp Randall.

Can anyone figure out Purdue? They've looked pretty dangerous at times, but they looked bloody awful against Wisconsin. I'd love to give the Badgers full credit for that, but that would be presumptuous on my part. This week Purdue heads to Michigan. Want to make any predictions on who's going to win that game? Not me!

But we're talking about Wisconsin here, and I've digressed...

Wisconsin looked pretty good in all three phases of the game, even blocking a punt for a score on the way to 37 points. Purdue threatened to break-up the shutout late in the game, but the defense held firm and managed to keep the doughnut on the scoreboard.

John Clay continued his rise towards being the feature-back for the Badgers as he tallied 123 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns. I heard a few people mumbling about the fact that many of his TD's have been of the 1 yard variety. It's hard for me to view that as a valid criticism when he does so much to set up those scores on the drives leading up to them.

Quarterback Scott Tolzien was okay, but not great, completing 6-of-13 for 87 yards and no touchdowns. But perhaps most importantly, he didn't throw an interception. Sure, he didn't have much of a chance to, but a zero in the interception column is a zero. I'll take it.

His back-up, Curt Phillips, even got a look late in the game. The freshman is young and obviously lacking experience, but you can easily see why the coaching staff is high on him. He's not necessarily the runner that Michigan's Tate Forcier is, but he's not that far behind him either. The question, as with all mobile quarterbacks, is can he balance his running ability with enough of a pocket presence to be an effective passer? Lots of guys can do one or the other, the special ones can do both. That answer's yet to come with Phillips, but he's got a shot to be special, no doubt.

That leads us to this weeks game, on the road at Indiana. Obviously it's a game that Wisconsin should win, but when you go on the road in the Big Ten, nothing's ever guaranteed.

And it's difficult to know what to make of this Hoosier squad. Obviously they have some talent, and for stretches in games can be a threat. But against superior teams (Wisconsin being one of them), they haven't been able to close the deal. And unfortunately for them, that's resulted in some serious stomach-punching losses. They were ahead late against Michigan and lost in a disappointing fashion. And then there was the 28-point fourth quarter they surrendered to Iowa, blowing a double-digit lead to an undefeated club.

It's my belief that after two losses like that, a team has to be on the verge of giving up. I have no doubt that the Indiana coaching staff is trying to spin those losses as evidence that they really can run with the big boys. But I wonder if the kids aren't thinking that they want to believe, but maybe they just aren't good enough to get the job done. And as much as I hate wishing ill for others, for Wisconsin's sake, that's precisely what I hope is the case.

Because if it is, then it's simply a matter of Wisconsin grabbing an early lead and winning the time of possession battle from there on out, sucking the heart right out of the Hoosiers.

The line is Wisconsin -10.5, and that should be within their ability to cover. But you just never know. Kickoff is at 11am and it's on Big Ten Network... check your local listings!

Minnesota Wild: The Wild are 5-10-0, good for 10 points, and last place in the Northwest Division.

I was at the game last night when the Wild lost 5-2 to the Canucks. I've preached all year that this transition is a process where there are going to be steps back. And that so long as those are minimized, and spread out amongst more steps forward, they're just something Wild fans are going to have to deal with.

I'm hoping that's what last night's game was. Because it sure wasn't pretty to watch. The Wild were coming off of a 4-day layoff, and the rust was clearly evident in the first period. The boys weren't skating well and Vancouver jumped out to a 2-0 lead early on.

The Wild tried to make a game of it in the second period when they got their two goals (both by Kyle Brodziak... more on that in a minute). But every time they scored, Vancouver had an answer.

What's really disappointing about that loss is that Vancouver had been beset by a bunch of injuries headed into that game, and clearly weren't at full-strength, yet they obviously dominated the Wild.

Coming off a two game winning streak against the Rangers and the defending champion Penguins, that's a game you'd really like to have.

Instead, the Wild resorted back to some of their old ways, making bad mistakes at crucial times. And to be honest, goalie Nicklas Backstrom didn't have one of his better nights, getting pulled after two periods in favor of Josh Harding. Add those together and the Wild didn't give themselves much of a chance.

But, like I said, hopefully that's just one step back, and the Wild will take a couple steps forward in upcoming games.

And there's certainly reason to hope. Though you'd like to see Marty Havlat putting up more points on the score sheet, his line with Eric Belanger and Petr Sykora certainly generated some offensive opportunities.

Plus, the third line of Brodziak, Clutterbuck and Kobasew was obviously buzzing, with Brodziak getting both goals on the night and nearly completing the hat trick late in the third. I keep saying this to people, and I don't mean to over-do it, but I'm becoming a big fan of this line. They may not have the skill of the first two lines, but they work hard and do just enough to be dangerous. Having a third line that does that is a big key to being a winning hockey team.

While I'd love to keep pouring on the positivity however, it was clear in Todd Richards' post-game press conference that he's feeling the strain. For a guy who wants to coach an up-tempo, energetic hockey team, it's clearly eating at him that some of the guys aren't putting out the kinds of effort he wants to see.

Just when it seemed that Derek Boogaard was becoming someone that Richards could count on regularly and use in crunch time, Boogey had a night where he was involved in a turnover which led t the first Vancouver goal, and took an awful double-minor at the end of the first period which resulted in a Canuck goal on the power play in the second. The first penalty was for crosschecking, which was in the act of defending a teammate, but the second was for unsportsmanlike conduct because he communicated his displeasure to the referee in words we don't use here at The Sports Take. That's the inexcusable part. And that's a mistake which ultimately led to a big drop in Derek's ice time.

I wish I could offer more than a cliched, “stick with 'em folks”. But that's really all there is to it. There are going to be a lot more growing pains as the season goes along. It comes down to looking for signs of progress, and hoping that there are enough signs to keep from having to gut this team at the trade deadline and start over from scratch. I can't discount that as a possibility, but I hope it doesn't come to that, since that'll drag this process out longer than I hope is necessary.

The Wild have tonight off before hosting the hated Dallas Stars tomorrow night (those are always fun games to watch). Then next week it's an east coast road trip, as they head to Toronto on Tuesday, Tampa Bay on Thursday and Washington on Friday.

Feel fully updated? I thought you might. Hopefully that's enough to carry you through your weekend. Like I said, I'm hoping to tackle my MLB year-in-review column this weekend and have that for you on Monday. But you know how these things go. As soon as I declare my intentions, something crops up that forces me to shift things around. So no promises, except that I'll have something worth your time on Monday!

Until then, thanks for reading!

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