Wednesday March 24, 2004
GOPHERS WIN, ADVANCE
VICTORY VS CABLE
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
SMORGASBORD OF STUFF
Yesterday, I posted the results of a fantasy draft I participated in with a number of baseball bloggers. It was long, and it got late, so today, I am just going to jot down some random sports thoughts from various sources. And, since it is Wednesday, Iíve got my thoughts on last nightís American Idol! Tonight, we will find out how good of a guesser I am! If you have any thoughts on anything you read today, send me an e-mail.
It was a huge game for the Timberwolves last night. With just a two game lead over their biggest rival and the team closest behind them in the Midwest Division, the Wolves faced a San Antonio Spurs ready to make their move.
The Wolves got off to a great start, taking a 35-22 lead after one quarter. But, there were still 36 minutes left in the game, so anyone who thought the game was over was fooling themselves. By halftime, the Spurs had tied the game at 47. The second half was just back and forth, but the Wolves took a six point lead into the 4th quarts (68-62), and then big plays were aplenty in the fourth quarter as the Wolves finished off an 86-81 victory.
The win gives the Wolves a three game lead in the division (meaning, at worst, a #2 seed in the playoffs) with just 11 games to play. Had they lost, the lead would have been just one!
Big plays were made by everyone, but you have to mention three players specifically. First, despite shooting 2-11 from the field, Sam Cassell had his third career triple-double (14 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds). Ervin Johnson was the Man! Ervin "Tragic" Johnson showed a little "Magic" as the game ended. First, he was a factor defending Tim Duncan as well as creating problems on the boards. With the Wolves clinging to a one point lead, he was assigned to guard Duncan and he came up with a great near-steal causing a jump ball. And somehow, then non-athletic Johnson won the tap and got possession for the Wolves, leading to free throws icing the game.
And of course, everyone wants to talk about the matchup between Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, the two best, most well-rounded players in basketball (although Garnett can do more ball-handling and on the perimeter). So how did they each perform last night? Here are the numbers:
Min FG FT PTS REB AST ST BLK
Kevin Garnett 40 10-20 7-9 27 10 4 1 3
Tim Duncan 37 12-23 2-6 26 8 5 1 3
So, essentially the neutralized each other. That means that really how everyone else does is what makes the difference. Thatís why Minnesotaís depth is so important. Latrell Sprewell hasnít even been mentioned and he scored 20 points on the game.
This was a great win for the Wolves and their fans! Hopefully they donít rest now. Tonight, they will be in Denver to play the Nuggets. They crushed them on Sunday, so they really will need to focus on staying on top of their game after the big win.
What are your thoughts on the Wolves? E-mail me.
GOPHERS WOMEN WIN AGAIN
What a difference one player makes! Lindsay Whalen was hurt and the Gophers started losing. However, she came back on Sunday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against UCLA and scored 31 points. Last night, the #7 seeded Minnesota hosted the #2 seed Kansas State in the second round of the tournament. Is there something wrong with that sentence? Kansas State fans would have to agree with me in saying that it is completely wrong for a higher seed to play an NCAA tournament game on the road. Yes, Minnesota has the best fans in basketball, and they come out in droves to support this womenís team. But, there should be an advantage in having the higher seed.
However, I donít think it really mattered where this game was played as the Gophers jumped all over the Wildcats early and just added to before maintaining their lead. With 4 minutes to go in the first half, Minnesota held a 35-15 lead. Two minutes later, it was 40-15, and at halftime, the Gophers were up 43-17. Just four minutes into the second half, the Gophers held their biggest lead of the game when they went ahead 50-21. After that, Kansas State tried, but were unable to get the lead lower than 21 points, which was with 4 minutes left and the Gophers were substituting frequently.
Letís be honest though, the Gophers were not a 7 seed team. Sure, there record and ranking would say that is pretty accurate, and theyíre right. However, when Lindsay Whalen was hurt, the Gophers were ranked in the Top 10, meaning they probably would have held a 2 or 3 seed had Whalen not been hurt. She was impressive last night scoring 17 points and dishing out 7 assists, many of the no-look variety. Janel McCarville was incredible with a 15 point, 16 rebound performance. The rest of the team all contributed mightily on both ends of the court.
So, whatís next? Well, the Gophers head to Norfolk, VA, to start the Sweet Sixteen on Sunday. They will lock up against #3 seed Boston College. Should they win that, they will probably get to take on the #1 seed, Alana Beard and Duke.
I canít watch womenís basketball, not college and not the WNBA, but even I enjoy watching the Gophers womenís team. U Connís Diana Taurasi is the best player in the game. Alana Beard is right there. However, Lindsay Whalen does not have to take a back seat to even them. Donít count the Gophers out yet!
Any thoughts? E-mail me.
The Twins had an off day on Tuesday, their only day off of the Spring. So, I wonít write about them today. However, because I didnít do it yesterday, I will be updating you on the performances of former Twins from Monday and Tuesday.
∑ Brian Buchanan, 1B, San Diego Padres (0-2)
∑ Javier Valentin, 1B, Cincinnati Reds (1-3, solo HR)
∑ Matt Lawton, LF, Cleveland Indians (1-4, RBI)
∑ Todd Walker, 2B, Chicago Cubs (0-2)
∑ Mark Guthrie, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates (1 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 5 R, 0 ER, 1 K)
∑ Quinton McCracken, CF, Seattle Mariners (1-4)
∑ Greg Colbrunn, PH, Arizona Diamondbacks (0-0, BB)
∑ Eddie Guardado, RP, Seattle Mariners (1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER)
∑ Orlando Merced, PH, Pittsburgh Pirates (0-1)
∑ Dustan Mohr, RF, San Francisco Giants (0-1)
∑ AJ Pierzynski, C, San Francisco Giants (0-2)
∑ David McCarty, 1B, Boston Red Sox (1-2)
∑ David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox (1-4, 2B, RBI)
∑ Todd Jones, RP, Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB)
∑ Matt Lawton, LF, Cleveland Indians (1-3)
∑ Casey Blake, 3B, Cleveland Indians (0-2)
∑ Bobby Kielty, LF, Oakland Aís (1-4, RBI)
∑ Chad Moeller, C, Milwaukee Brewers (1-2)
∑ Matt Kinney, SP, Milwaukee Brewers (5 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 0 BB, 4 K)
∑ Greg Colbrunn, PH, Arizona Diamondbacks (0-2)
∑ Javier Valentin, 1B, Cincinnati Reds (1-1)
There are not a lot of basketball blogs out there. However, one great one is written by none other than Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban. Now, I know he may sometimes go over the edge, but I know one thing. If I were an NBA player and had the chance, I would want to play for the Mavs and for Mark Cuban. I think that he paid a lot of money to buy the team. He pays the players a lot of money. I think he has every right to sit behind the bench or anywhere he wants in the arena. I think he even has the right to voice his opinions, even if it is negative at times. There are things that happen in the NBA that are absolutely wrong, and one that annoys me to no end is addressed in Mark Cubanís blog entry yesterday. When a shooter shoots, he is either fouled, or he isnít, right? The ref should not wait to see if the ball goes in before calling the foul. Just makes sense to me.
One of the reasons that Iím such a stickler for calling the game by the book is because not doing so makes poor officials out of good officials. We all know the discussion about how fast the game is, and how difficult it is to officiate as a result. What happens to the difficulty factor when before blowing the whistle for a split second decision, the official has to add context. Whatís the score. How many fouls or team fouls. How much time is left. Who is the player ó is he a rookie or not.
Then of course there is the confusion among players, coaches and fans it creates when we all try to figure out the context. Since we have no idea, we and the media invent explanations.
"He is letting them play." "Let the players decide the game." "Star treatment." "Rookie call." "Makeup call." "They never call that." "How can they miss that or not make that call, they must hate/love myteam/their team."
It is hard to disagree. The previous posting showed the most called offenses by NBA referees, followed by which officials call which penalties the most and least. It is all very interesting.
Over at Baseball Musings, David Pinto dives into the question, "Why are there so few black players in baseball?". He mentions that it is possible that the Minnesota Twins may be the only major league team that starts three African American outfielders (Shannon Stewart, Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones). I find this to be a very interesting question. I donít know what the answers are, but plenty of opinions are heard, so be sure to check it out. Also, check out the Comments that is created.
The article also links to an article by the St. Paul Pioneer Pressís Gordon Wittenmeyer called "Lost Soul" where he quotes Torii Hunter, getting his opinion on this question:
I'm looking in the stands, and there's no black kids in the stands at all. So I'm trying to figure out what's going on. I'm trying to figure out, "How did I get in this game?
It is a fair question, and a good questions. What do you think? E-mail me.
VICTORY SPORTS VS CABLE COMPANIES
The cable companies supposedly are refusing to talk with Victory Sports. They say that "negotiation" to Victory Sports (aka The Twins) means $2.30 for all customers, no exceptions or compromise. Maybe the recent ESPN article on this fiasco will bring it enough national attention and mockery to get it worked out! Maybe the bad light that the Twins/Victory are being put in will make them come to their senses.
So who is going to win this battle? I really think that the cable companies are going to, and should, wait for Victory to come up with a more competitive price. I want to see the proof that they need to charge $2.30! Why canít they make money at the $1.70 number that Fox Sports Net charges the cable companies? Why couldnít the real compromise be reached at $2.00. If Iím Victory Sports and the Twins organization, I want to continue to build my fan base. Television broadcasts are very important in that! Maybe for this first year, they "settle" at $1.90 or $2.00? If it proves a good buy for the cable companies, maybe they increase the rate by a dime next year. But work it out!
Who loses? Well, that question is easy to answer! If this is not worked out, the fans are the losers! Casual fans who just want to watch the team. Fans who have started watching the team the last couple of seasons because they have won. Fans who have been watching the team for decades. Kids who should be watching the Twins will be doing other things.
Can you tell that I am officially fed up by this whole situation? I can understand and appreciate that the Twins wanting more revenue than Fox Sports Net was providing them. But are they making more money this year when no one will see them? I have shifted on the issue. I used to think that the cable companies should just eat the cost and sign up. Not any more. I want to watch the Twins, and if I canít, my blame will go in the direction of the Twins and Victory Sports.
What do you think about this mess? E-mail me.
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
I really enjoyed American Idol last night. I donít think that the signing was as consistently good as it was in week 1, but there were some good performances.
I thought is was great to see Josh Gracin and hear that he has a single out called "I Want to Live". This week, it was the Most Added song for country radio stations. He is quietly doing quite well for himself after finishing fourth last year behind 3rd place Kimberly Locke, 2nd place Clay Aiken and American Idol Ruben Studdard.
Anyway, on to last nightís performances. I should mention that the theme or genre last night was Country music, which I donít really like, but some of the songs were ok. I am first going to discuss my thoughts as I listened to them sing, good or bad. Second, I am going to rank them worst (11th) to first. And then I will make my predictions of who I think will be in the bottom three and who will be sent home. So here we go:
Diana Degarmo sang A Broken Wing - Slow start, picked up well. She just seems so nice.
George Huff sang I Can Love You Like That - He sang "rich charming" when it should have been "prince charming." I thought he was very inconsistent. At times he was great, and at other times he was average at best.
Fantasia Barrino sang Always on My Mind - Absolutely incredible vocally, but really boring to listen to. Also, I am sick of her arrogance. Simon was going to give her a compliment but Paula and Randy (who are both annoying me more this year than previously) started whining and wouldnít let him explain. But, Fantasia had to mouth off. I canít see her making it that far with America voting. Iím glad they showed the dancing segment too because she just had the appearance that she was too good for it.
John Stevens sang King of the Road - I wrote Ďexcellent song choice and he was great. He actually looked very comfortable.í I have to admit, I didnít even realize that he had missed words until it was brought up. I thought that the noises he was making flowed well with the song.
Camille Velasco sang Desperado - She was far better than last week. She was raspy at times still, however, I thought she was good, especially at the end.
Jennifer Hudson sang No One Else On Earth - First, I really liked the straight hair, but her eyes are still scary to me. I wrote that she showed excellent energy and a strong voice. Apparently the judges donít want her to continue or succeed in this competition because they saw something different than I did. What they say is heard by the voters and does affect the results.
Jon Peter Lewis sang She Believes in Me - I thought he was off-key a lot, but he made up for it with a few very strong sections.
Jasmine Trias sang Breathe - Too low to startÖ ok, she was off the whole song. It is surprising because she was so amazing last week, and this is a known song that she really messed up.
Matt Rogers sang Amazed - it was a good performance, maybe a little higher vocally than he normally would go, but I thought that he was on the whole time, until right before the end. I didnít like his rendition of the song. But, he has great charisma and is funny. Voters should like that.
LaToya London sang Ainít Goiní Down Til the Sun Comes Up - it was strange hearing that song with a female voice. However her voice was incredible! She is one of my absolute favorites, quiet and respectful, yet quick and witty. If only Fantasia could have half the decency and humility as LaToya London and I might like her!
Amy Adams sang Sin Wagon - Great song for her and she knocked it out. She also has a great charisma. She isnít as good a signer as the other women in this competition, but this song and the country genre worked for her!
So, there are my thoughts. If I were to rank the performances, here is how I would rank them:
11 - Jasmine Trias
10 - Jon Peter Lewis
9 - Matt Rogers
8 - George Huff
7 - Camille Velasco
6 - Diana Degarmo
5 - Jennifer Hudson
4 - John Stevens
3 - Amy Adams
2 - Fantasia Barrino
1 - LaToya London
And, here is who I think will be in the Final 3 tonight:
Jennifer Hudson, Jasmine Trias and Camille Velasco
Here is who I think will be eliminated:
I think she was very good, but I think that the judges influence this too much. They were far harder on her than they were on Jasmine who was awful! I guess weíll find out tonight!
What do you think? E-mail me.
Thatís it for today. As always, please feel free to let me know what youíre thinking on baseball, basketball, sports, American Idol or any topic. Let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns about this site. Or, let me know if you have any ideas for future entries. Iíd love to hear your thought. Please e-mail me.
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