Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Heat Wave

Just some musings today.  As I re-start this blog, I've already missed my first self-imposed deadline of having something Monday morning.  So while I sit here with no air conditioning in what is soon to be 100 degrees, note that my irritation level is a bit higher than usual.

  • Our Minnesota Gophers open their 2013 season versus the UNLV Passin' Rebels on a predicted scorcher of a night as 14 point favorites, according to Bovada.  While I've told everyone to bet their house on the Gophers as 11 point favorites, the new line, the steamy weather, and the lingering shoulder injury to CB Derrick Wells make me feel a little bit queasy right now.  Especially the weather. I want my man-crush QB Philip Nelson to be as comfortable as possible.
  • One player who appears to not be missing the game is Ra'Shede Hageman, who right now is the subject of many interviews and articles, including this fine one from Amelia Rayno.  It is pretty clear that Hageman is a good person, a good attitude, and a good athlete, but is he a good player?  That is the subject of tomorrow's Twinstalker blog entry.
  • There are few teams I prefer to talk about less than the Minnesota Vikings, but then they go make that draft pick a few years back of Superman himself, Adrian Peterson, and my awe knows no bounds.  Last week the angst level was high when my old pal Bobby O and I learned Peterson would play against the 49ers with their league-toughest defense.  The cussing got a little out of control before game time, when we found he was only allowed two plays with no contact.  Our first reaction?  Why did we risk putting AD on a plane?  It could have gone down!  No need to really test that Superman theory.
  • Kyle Gibson was mercifully sent down to AAA Rochester this week.  There's been some speculation that the Twins made the move in part to ensure Gibson's shutdown occurred somewhere where he doesn't accumulate major league time after hitting the limitations placed on his innings pitched this year.  But Gibson already had spent enough time in the minors to not only add another year of highly paid indentured servitude to the Twins, but also enough for the Twins to avoid facing arbitration with him after the 2015 season.  I suspect the main reason Gibson wasn't simply shut down with the Twins was because the team wanted him to have a couple of good starts to think about this offseason.  It had become pretty clear that wasn't going to happen in the majors.
  • Gibson's poor MLB showing this year is somewhat disappointing, because you always want to be wowed by a rookie and have that extra hope you've really got that rotation piece for the next 6-10 years.  The more common scenario, though, is that of a young pitcher getting schooled and having six months to figure out how he can be more effective the next year.  A lot of learning occurs when you're not trying to do the job itself.  Gibson turns 26 in October and while that's old for a top prospect, he's missed time and had to recover from a major surgery.  It can be easily argued the Twins are lucky he had Tommy John surgery while still in the minors.  By the time he's fully recovered, which should be the case in 2014, the Twins will have him tied up for six seasons.
  • It doesn't really matter, but it's sort of a shame that Gibson pitched 51 innings instead of 49.  I can't tell whether I feel that way because I wanted him to have a chance at Rookie of the Year in 2014 or because he would have been cheap to protect on my fantasy baseball team.
  • Gophers hoops coach Richard Pitino has one more scholarship available for the upcoming season, and the plan is to fill it with senior PF transfer Rakeem Buckles from Louisville via Florida International.  Today is eight days from the beginning of classes at the U.  How is it that nobody seems to know whether Buckles will be playing for the U or not?  Here's the kicker:  classes at FIU start today.

I am Twinstalker.  Don't let the E.D. in front of the name fool you.  It's Twinstalker, and I don't care where you split the name, after the n or after the s.  I'm trying, once again, to start blogging.  It's hard, it really is.  It's hard to blog, and it's f'ing ridiculous to blog well.  From the little I've attempted, I've learned a few tidbits that make it easier to try this one more time.  I guess I'll list them in no particular order:

  • Feed the beast.  That's what John Bonnes called it one night over his sixth Guinness at Bryant Lake Bowl. A blog really cannot work without entries.  Shocker, huh?  Sounds simple, but the single most difficult aspect of blogging is finding the time and energy to write what even you consider interesting material.
  • Blog on a set schedule.  Writing an entry every day is extremely difficult, but you need consistency both for yourself and your imagined audience.  Every weekday or specific days during the week is best.  This will be really difficult for me, as I am more apt to get my material from my comments on other blogs, which I read haphazardly.
  • Find your voice.  There are many issues with my first attempts at blogging, but the foremost one for me is that I could never find my writing voice.  In other words, what persona will you take on?  I post on Gopher Illustrated quite often, and my persona there ranges from philosopher to cynic to the anti-fan because, as one example, I've never found anything good to say about Rashede Hageman's play.  But at least it's a voice.
  • Somehow make your blog unique.  The last thing you need to waste your time at is doing something that someone else already does.  Many bloggers are unique simply because they possess the tool of information.  Others do very fine analysis.  I hope I can eventually find that which makes this blog unique.
Mostly what I do here in this blog is find fault with decision-making.  I am an advanced-degreed statistician who has studied game theory, and it blows my mind how horrible the decision-making can be from people around here who get paid millions to make decisions.  Terry RyanRon GardenhireTubby SmithFlip Saunders, and many others have made and continue to make some of the worst decisions one can imagine.  How's that for hyperbole?  It's no coincidence that sports in this town have basically been crap.  Teams that should be competitive are not, teams that are somewhat competitive should be winning championships--I'm looking at you, Twins org c. 2002-2010.  It's hard to believe we've stayed fans all this time.  Some things are changing, though, and when I look at the sports leadership now installed at the University of Minnesota, I get genuinely excited.  They get it now.  There are still likely some issues, but the decision-making from President Kaler to A.D. Norwood Teague to coaches Kill and Pitino is light years above the old regime.  That's a start, and I'm looking forward to a sports renaissance in this town. 

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