Wednesday

6-15-11: 2011 MLB All-Star Ballot - National League

Hello again everybody...

I promised you I'd have the NL-half of my ballot coming your way, and I'm finally coming through.

But before we get to that, allow me a quick aside.

If you haven't been watching the Stanley Cup Finals - and judging by the ratings, many of you haven't been - do yourself a favor, tune in to NBC tonight at 7pm central time.

Game 7's are one of the rarest of treats in sports. For six games two teams have been beating the holy hell out of each other and have wound up in a situation where one game... three periods... 60 minutes... will determine a champion.

Everything that makes hockey great - the heart, the skill, the determination, the passion - gets dialed up another notch in a Game 7. And probably an extra notch after that, given the fact that it's Game 7 of the Finals.

I know I'm fascinated to see if this series plays to form - Vancouver's won close games late at home, while Boston's blown the doors off of the Canucks when the games have been out east - or if someone can finally win a road game.

Will Roberto Luongo be as brilliant in net as he has been in the other games in Vancouver, or will Boston get an early goal and break him as they've done in all three games in Boston?

Will Daniel Sedin step up his game and score a critical goal after guaranteeing a win a'la Mark Messier in '94? Or will Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg keep he and twin brother Henrik clamped down and off the scoring sheet like they have for most of the series?

Will we get the rare feat of the losing team's goaltender winning the Conn Smythe Award as series MVP? (If Boston wins the series, Tim Thomas is a mortal lock to win the award... if Vancouver wins, he's merely the favorite)

I'm certainly no NBA guy, but even I'll admit that the NBA Finals were pretty damned compelling. But they didn't have a Game 7... and Game 7's change everything.

Trust me. Watch the game. You won't be disappointed.

I'll step off the soap box now.

But only for a moment! Because I'll be happy to step right back up to tell you who I think should be starting for the National League in the 2011 All-Star Game.

That ballot comes your way...

Right after the quote!

“Consistency requires you to be as ignorant as you were a year ago.”
- Bernard Berenson (1865 - 1959), American historian


In other words, while some consider consistency to be a virtue, it can also be viewed as a lack of growth.

Need an example? How about fan voting in the All-Star Game?

No matter how much I rant and rave, no matter how much I strive to provide a process that could lead to a much more sensible outcome, the people insist on ignorantly making the starting line-ups a popularity contest.

If Derek Jeter - hitting .260/.324/.324, having a -1.2 UZR and a 0.5 WAR, oh and by the way he just went on the DL - is a starter at the All-Star Game, the fans should be embarrassed. I know he's “the Captain”, I know he's closing in on 3,000 hits, and I know that playing next to A-Roid makes him look like a prince, but he's not having an All-Star season, and he's certainly not having a “starting the All-Star Game” season!

Jhonny Peralta, Alexi Ramirez, Eric Aybar or Asdrubal Cabrera. You can make a case for any of them before you can legitimately make a case for Derek Jeter.

Come on, fans! Wise up a little!

Okay, okay... I'm going to take a few deep breaths and prepare to offer my assistance once again, as I present my...

2011 MLB All-Star Ballot: National League

Sunday

6-13-11: My Contentious Relationship With College Football: We've Got Issues

Hello again everybody...

Okay, okay, I know... I said I'd have the NL-half of my All-Star ballot out today, and honestly, that was my intention!

But I got rolling with an idea on Friday and couldn't help but crank it out first.

Rest assured, the NL-ballot column is written and will be published on Wednesday. I promise. Honest. Really. I mean it this time.

Okay, I don't blame you for not believing me. But you'll see!

Instead, I've got a college football column for you. What?! How can I be talking college football in June with all this baseball wonder surrounding us?!

Well, it's only nominally about college football. At it's core, it's about being a fan of sports, what that really means, and what responsibilities we have to be honest with ourselves about what it is we really want from sports.

Sound deep?

Maybe it is. I don't know. As I write this preamble, I've only begun fleshing the idea out.

We'll see where I end up!

That ending gets its beginning...

Right after the quote!

“He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.”
- Chinese Proverb


I've got a question... and I'm not sure I've got the answer. But if I go ahead and ask it now, I think I can handle being a fool for five minutes!

[Insert your own punchline here.]


My Contentious Relationship With College Football: We've Got Issues

Thursday

6-9-11: Athletes Behaving Badly

Hello again everybody...

I'd honestly intended today's blog to be the second half of my All-Star ballot, but alas, that is not to be.

A couple of incidents have occurred this week that have my blood boiling. And as much as friends and colleagues have attempted to calm me down and offer perspective, I can't shake my annoyance.

What does that mean?

You got it, “epic rant” time.

Okay, I'm not sure “epic” is the right word - we'll see how things stand when I get done writing.

But I'm not holding anything back. I'm worked up and it's time for the spleen to be vented.

Said ventilation begins...

Right after the quote!

“For to whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
- Luke 12:48


I don't go to the bible well very often... in fact, this is probably the first time in the three years I've been at this writing thing... but I was put in mind of this quote by someone who attempted to mitigate the incidents I'm about to rant on by saying, “your standards are too high”.

Sorry, but I don't think they are. I'll explain why as I tell you about some...

Athletes Behaving Badly

Monday

6-6-11: 2011 MLB All-Star Ballot - American League

Hello again everybody...

I hope you all had a brilliant weekend. We finally had decent weather here in Minnesota (why couldn't the Twins be playing at home?!) and, near as I can tell, a good time was had by all.

Before we get to the sports, one quick note: Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad!

That's right, just a scant *mumble-grumble* years ago, my folks got hitched, God bless 'em. And lo these *insert muffled, inaudible noise here* years later, they're still together and going strong! Kudos to you both and I promise... my card's in the mail!

Onward...

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are in full swing with the Vancouver Canucks up 2-0 in the series over the Boston Bruins. Both games have been closely played, with Vancouver picking up the game winner late or in overtime. 2-0 leads can be overcome, but Boston's going to have a rough time coming back against a team as talented as the Canucks.

The NBA Finals are cruising along as well. Yes, regular readers know that I'm not much of a NBA fan, but with the shop now becoming the Wolves flagship station, I feel compelled to pay a certain amount of attention. The Heat are up 2-1 in the series and seized home court advantage back with their win last night in Dallas.

My analysis? I don't like Miami for two reasons: one, for the same reason everybody else hates them (The Decision, the celebration, etc.) and two, because they've forced me to roots for Mark Cuban's team. Nobody should have to do that.

But neither the Cup, or the Larry O'Brien Trophy carry as much weight around here as the Commissioner's Trophy... that's right, baseball uber alles!

And as we near the half-way mark in the pursuit of said trophy, it's time to prepare for the Summer Classic, the MLB All-Star Game. Each year I assemble a ballot. Each year I try to fill said ballot with deserving - not necessarily “popular” players.

How did this year's ballot turn out? Glad you asked. You'll find out half the answer...

Right after the quote!

“The least of learning is done in the classrooms.”
- Thomas Merton (1915 - 1968), Catholic monk


I don't think the good friar was trying to denigrate schools. Rather he was pointing out that what you learn in school is merely preparatory for the massive amount of learning you do in that little thing called “life”.


2011 MLB All-Star Ballot: American League