Hello again everybody...
We've reached the middle of the week, and it's all downhill from here... right? I don't know about you, but after having two short work-weeks thanks to holidays, this week seems interminably long already. I woke up yesterday (Tuesday) trying to figure out how close to Friday it was. Not good. Hopefully the rest of the week flies by without incident. That shouldn't be too much to ask, should it?
I debated how I was going to write today's column for a good portion of yesterday. I've got a couple of baseball notes and a college football prediction to discuss, but also a personal story to relate. Now normally, I'd put the personal story in the preamble here, but since I have a feeling that this particular personal story is going to take up some space, I'm going to include it in the notes.
If that rubs some of my more “organizationally-inclined” readers wrong, I apologize. It just didn't feel right to write a huge preamble and then a few quick notes and be done. What can I say?
So more random thoughts and musings are headed your way.
Off we go!
”If you would be known, and not know, vegetate in a village; If you would know, and not be known, live in a city.”
- Charles Caleb Colton (1780 - 1832), Englich cleric, writer and collector
I mean no offense to my fine readers who happen to reside in smaller hamlets. But one of the best things I ever did was move back to Minneapolis after having resided in Eau Claire, WI for several years. Again, I'm not ripping Eau Claire per se. But it was one of those towns that seemed to have a habit of trapping people. Somehow it made it easy to forget that there was a great big world out there to experience. That's what I love about living in a city the size of Minneapolis. There's so much going on, and so many connections to the rest of the country/world that opportunities to experience things seem to abound.
Now if we could just transport Minneapolis' vibe to Phoenix's climate, I'd be golden!
It's time for some...
Tomorrow night's the National Championship Game...
What? You didn't think you were going to get the personal story first did you?
Tomorrow night. Alabama vs. Texas. The BCS Championship Game. Pasadena, California. The Rose Bowl. Well, not the actual Rose Bowl Game. That's just what they call the stadium. It's a little confusing I know.
The important thing is that the number one team in the nation plays the number two team in the nation for the BCS National Championship. Who says college football doesn't have a playoff? Number one “plays off” against number two and we get a champion! Now we just need to refine things a bit and include a couple more teams, and we'll be set!
But that's the future. Tomorrow night will give us a champ for the 2009 season. So who will it be?
You probably shouldn't ask me. My record picking Bowl Games this year is beyond pathetic. It got so bad that around New Years, I gave up and started picking teams I wanted to lose. The sad part? It worked. In just about every game I've cared about and bet the other way, the team I wanted to win, won. I can't explain it. I don't recall doing something karmacally catastrophic. But apparently I annoyed some cosmic force somehow.
So maybe if I don't pick the Championship Game against the spread, I can get away with a straight pick. Maybe. Either way, I'm going for it and here it is...
Alabama. I know, I'm not going out on a limb since Alabama's the favorite. I also know that teams with Heisman Trophy winners don't tend to do well in National Championship games. But I think 'Bama's going to buck that trend tomorrow night.
We all saw Texas struggle with a nasty Nebraska defense in the Big 12 Championship Game. Now they face the number one defense in the country. True, the Tide don't have a player as singularly dominant as Ndamukong Suh (I think my spell checker just tapped out). But the stats say they have a better squad 1-11 than any other defense in the NCAA. And who am I to argue.
The key for Alabama is to get pressure on Colt McCoy. If you allow McCoy to get set up, or give him easy lanes to scramble out of trouble, he can kill you. But if you hit him early and often, and force him to throw before he's ready, his effectiveness decreases rapidly.
And realistically, McCoy is Texas' offense. He's their leading rusher. He's responsible for their success in the passing game. Without an effective McCoy, Texas is in all kinds of trouble. And I think Alabama is equipped to accomplish that.
Now for recreational gaming purposes, you should probably bet the college fund on Texas. That's how bad I've been picking.
I can't help but to keep picking games, though. And I truly think the Tide will come out on top tomorrow night. And immediately after, Nick Saban will say he has no interest in the Cleveland Browns job, which will be followed a week later by him accepting the Cleveland Browns job.
I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'...
Randy Johnson is set to retire...
And if you've ever wondered what a lock-cinch first-ballot Hall of Famer looks like, look no further than Randy.
Consider these career numbers: 303 wins (22nd all-time in baseball history); a 3.29 ERA; 4875 strike-outs (second all-time in baseball history); a 1.171 WHIP; 10 All-Star appearances; and 5 Cy Young Awards.
Simply phenomenal numbers from one of the premier pitchers of our generation.
At 46 years old, it's not a shocker that the Big Unit is choosing now to hang up the spikes. But I certainly hadn't heard a lot of speculation about it coming before the story broke yesterday.
Yes, Johnson's last couple of years have been marred with injuries. And yes, hitting 300 wins last season was the last major milestone within his reach. So it certainly makes sense to retire now. But it's still somewhat saddening to see one of the greats call it a career.
My favorite moment from his career is now, and will always be the 1993 All-Star Game when Johnson (with the Mariners) was pitching to the Phillies' John Kruk. The first pitch was over Kruk's head. It was so high, and so hard, that Kruk feigned palpitations and spent the rest of the at-bat as far away from the plate as he could flailing at the next three pitches, taking his strikeout and sitting down. Check out the video here. It's hilarious.
So kudos to RJ on a Hall of Fame career. Thanks Randy! Best of luck.
St. Louis fans rejoice, you've got 7 more years of Matt Holiday...
Holiday hit .353 with 13 home runs and 55 RBI in 63 games with the Cardinals last year, so the fact that they wanted to resign him wasn't a surprise.
The fact that they wanted to sign him to a 7-year deal was certainly surprising, however.
Holiday turns 30 next week, so he's certainly in the prime of his career, but seven years takes him to well past his prime. And at an average of $17 million per year, that's a whole lotta cheese past his prime.
If I'm a Cardinals fan, in the short term I'm happy to have him locked up. Holliday and Pujols back-to-back is a formidable middle of the line-up. But when it comes time to sign Albert to another deal, and you start comparing numbers, Pujols just got a LOT more expensive.
If Matt's worth $17 million per year, then what's a reasonable number for Albert? $22 million per? $25 million per? It's got to be somewhere within that range, right?
And of course, as a Twins fan, I've got to wonder what this means for Joe Mauer's extension. Holliday's a nice player, but he hasn't won any batting titles, or an MVP. So I think this means the Twins have to start negotiating at $20 million per and seven or eight years right?
Ugh. Suddenly I'm liking this signing a lot less!
I am my mother's son...
Okay, you've waited patiently for it, and now here's my story...
First, I have to share a previous story.
I love my mom. She's the best. I want to start off saying that, because she might not be thrilled with me sharing this. But trust me mom, it all comes around in the end.
My parents fly me down to Phoenix for a visit each March during Spring Training. A few years ago, my Mom picked me up from the airport. As we were driving away from the gate, I noticed she looked a little harried. Apparently traffic had been a hassle getting out to the airport, and she was worried she was going to be late.
If she was late, I don't recall, because hell, I was going to Arizona for a week of baseball. What did I care if she was a little late getting there to pick me up?
But apparently it bothered here more than somewhat. As we drove away from the airport, she asked me to dig into her purse and pull out her sunglasses. There was only one problem. She was wearing her sunglasses at the time. Woops.
Now, that can happen to anybody. It's not a big deal, right?
Except, as we drove towards their house, and the sun started to go down, she commented, “Gee, it got dark really quickly didn't it?”
To which, I unfortunately had to respond, “Um, Mom? You're still wearing your sunglasses.”
Naturally, I found this line uproariously funny. My Mom? Not so much.
In fact, I can assure you that as she's reading this column, she's more than a little annoyed that I'm telling you this story.
But it's okay Mom, because, as you well know... I am your son.
Fast-forward to Monday night as I made my way to the bus stop after another successful shift at work (success here having the meaning of “keeping things out of the ditch... for the most part”).
Those of you in the upper-Midwest are well acquainted with the insanely cold weather we've been having. Personally, I've given up any deference to style, and have been bundling up as much as humanly possible. That means tying a scarf around my face to leave only the skin around my eyes exposed.
The draw-back to this strategy is that I can't wear my glasses. My breath is forced up by the scarf and fogs them over. Well, actually, given the temperatures, its freezes them over.
So Monday night I bundled up and tucked my glasses in an inside pocket of my coat and headed to the bus stop. All seemed well as I boarded the 17D and headed for home.
That was until I got to my seat and reached into that pocket looking for my glasses. They weren't there. I've feared in the past that one of these days I was going to tuck them in that pocket without actually making sure they made it into the pocket and I'd lose them. And now, it had happened. Panic, thy name was Dan.
My vision isn't that terrible, but the notion of my driving anywhere without them isn't a good idea. So that meant that I was going to have to get off the bus, retrace my steps, find the glasses (hopefully) and catch the next running of the 17D in 20 more minutes. A daunting list of tasks, but what could I do?
So I started to re-bundle myself up. Buttoned up the coat, put on my hat, retied my scarf... when strangely, my fingers bumped into something.
You've guessed it. My glasses were on my face.
How did this happen when I'd put them in my pocket? Glad you asked. You see, at 7th and Nicollet where I catch the bus on the way home, there's a small shelter with a heater. So when I got to the bus stop, I ducked into the heated shelter, and put on my glasses so I could see the route-displays on the buses to tell when mine was coming.
Sometime between putting them on, and actually getting on the bus, I somehow forgot that I'd put them on. Hence, my panic on the bus when they weren't in my pocket.
So yes Mom, I am your son. And I apologize for ever having mocked you over your sunglasses.
Of course, I've got loads of other ammunition, which I'll eagerly substitute for the sunglasses story!
Just as I'm sure my friends will tuck this particular story away to mock me with later.
It's the circle of life, my friends. The circle of life.
And that's going to wrap things up for today. I'll be back on Friday with the DFTU in its proper place.
Until then, thanks for reading!