Random observations while being sick

Excuse me for the lack of posts of late. I’ve been in bed for much of the past 48 hours — minus a trip to the ahhh-some HealthPartners West Clinic urgent care in SLP.

While being sick is awful. And I can’t remember the last time I felt this bad for this long (I don’t feel out of the woods yet), it has allowed me to watch a lot of television and sports on television.

Some random observations:

– I didn’t think this would happen, but after watching the Gophers on TV on Saturday afternoon and Long Beach State on Saturday evening, the former Gophers coach had his team a whole lot better prepared and a whole lot more organized than the current Gophers coach.

– What was that thing Martin Kaymer was wearing around his neck today at the Match Play? It was a bad look. But as someone who picked Kaymer in my one-and-done fantasy golf league, I don’t care what he wears as long as he keeps winning. If he wins tomorrow, I think I move back into first place. If not, I’m very close. It has been a good week.

– Watched the ESPN 30 for 30 on Paul Westhead and Loyola Marymount. It is worth a watch. It isn’t as good as the Vlade Divac Once Brothers film, but it is good.

– Yes, The Jimmer is very good. And Pete Thamel\’s read on the BYU guard is a worth your time.

– You are going to hear much in the next couple of weeks that Virginia Tech is in the NCAA tournament after beating Duke on Saturday night. I’m not quite so convinced. That win gives them exactly one top 50 RPI victory. I think they have a chance, but when you have two fewer top 50 RPI wins than the Gopher, you better win a couple of more games.

– I officially care zero about the NFL Combine. I would rather watch girls high school hockey.

That’s it for tonight. I’m out.


Happy best-non-major-day in golf

I know I like golf to an almost unhealthy level.

So I realize that today, to most of you, is just an average February Wednesday. But not to me.

It’s the first day of the match play. We’re talking 64 players, 32 matches, unbelievable golf. To put it into context, it is like having the Thursday and Friday of the NCAA tournament all on one day.

Plus the whole head-to-head part of match play is a nice change from stroke play. Like watching guys try to match their opponents.

I can’t watch as I’m at work. But I’m following along on the live scoring. And look forward to highlights tonight.

I picked Martin Kaymer to win the whole thing. A bit of a chalk pick, I know. But the German has been awesome. He might not have personality. But he has game.

Hockey fans like to drink

Maybe this is fairly obvious. But beer is big business.

Interesting New York Times story about MillerCoors dropping $400 million for a NHL sponsorship.

The deal is reportedly more than double what Anheuser-Busch in the U.S. and Labatts in Canada are spending this season.

The best quote:

“Hockey and beer go together,” said Andy England, the executive vice president and chief marketing officer for MillerCoors. “Hockey fans are big beer drinkers. In fact, we have data that shows hockey fans are the biggest beer drinkers of any major sports league.”

So there you go, a random item on a Tuesday morning.

About that dunk contest

Please read this post from my guy Wegobomber on Saturday\’s dunk contest.

I don’t have a whole lot to add to it other than I agree with a lot of it. If you roll though my past ramblings here on this tiny little spot of the internet, you’ll see that I like Blake Griffin. Quite a bit actually.

But I’m not certain he deserved to win the dunk contest. I’m not sure he deserved to get out of the first round. Not with a pretty pedestrian (by dunk contest standards) second dunk. Not when compared with what DeRozen did.

Here are the nut grafs of my guy’s arguement

“Two years ago, the dunk contest hit a low-point for me with the whole staged “Superman vs. KryptoNate” garbage. Along with the whole storyline of Shaq and Kobe kissing-and-making up (capped by their Co-MVP awards, amazing how the text-in your vote from hundreds of thousands of people could come out dead even), the All-Star weekend felt more like a WWE pay-per-view than a basketball competition. This year was even worse. I don’t need Daryl Dawkins struggling to read off a piece of paper, or Cheryl Miller asking an obviously rehearsed question. I definitely don’t need a child actor running onto the court to fetch a stuffed animal hanging on the rim (by the way, wouldn’t the kid be even more upset after Serge got the animal down on the first try, but cruelly put it back on the rim to complete his attempt?)

Back in the day, the dunk contest was nothing but a ball, a rim and the creativity of the most athletic players in the league. Watch some of the old classic Jordan vs. ‘Nique footage and you’ll see those guys stalking the court, trying to decide what dunk to do next. That spontaneity can’t happen today, when seemingly every dunk demands logistics planning weeks in advance.”

I’m not going to like, I agree with it. The NBA needed Blake in the finals and needed him to win. The car was there, the event was in Los Angeles. It smells just a little too fishy for me.

An afternoon at the golf show

It was the last afternoon before winter again slapped us across the face and I made my way to the Minneapolis Convention Center, paid my $10 and spent a few hours at the golf show.

I think this is the second year since it moved to the convention center — good timing considering the state of the Metrodome these days — and really not a lot has changed. The biggest difference is that 2nd Swing is the primary sponsor instead of Nevada Bob’s. To me that isn’t that big of a difference.

As always the golf show is part flea market, part travel show, part driving range and part randomness. I don’t usually get a whole lot out of my time there, I don’t usually buy anything, but I do leave again excited about golf.

A few observations:

– The biggest thing I learned came from my guy at 2nd Swing who went to the recent PGA show in Orlando. He knows that I have a weakness for drivers so I asked him some questions. The biggest thing he said was that the TaylorMade R11 is pretty good and is at least worth trying.

– Travel is always a big thing at the golf show. Lots of courses and resorts looking to encourage golfers to visit their facilities and spend some cash money. Often times it is the usual suspects, but sometimes I’m surprised. A year ago, it was cool to talk for a couple of minutes with the folks from The Prairie Club in Nebraska. This year, the biggest surprise was seeing people from Erin Hills, the Wisconsin course that is hosting the 2011 US Amateur and the 2017 US Open. The course received some mixed reviews from people I know and a bunch of work was done recently to correct/improve (choose your term) parts of the initial design. It is a place I’m interested in seeing, but the $200 green fee freaks me out a little bit. I could certainly do it, but I am generally skeptical of triple-digit green fees.

– Where to go? I do have a significant/milestone birthday coming up early in the golf season. I have traditionally played golf on my birthday and sometimes I’ve made a day of it and gone somewhere new or different. So if I do that again this year, where should I go. There are a couple of places that interest me: Giants Ridge has some good early season rates, but going north in May is always risky. Along the same lines, I’m super interested in checking out a couple of the places in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The Greywall\’s course at Marquette Golf Club is supposed to be fantastic. There’s also the fairly new Sweetgrass Golf Club that has gotten pretty good reviews. If I go south, there are some Iowa options that could be good. The Preserve at Rathbun Lake looks pretty good and the weather south of Des Moines might be better.

– The biggest surprise from my standpoint was the complete lack of private club presence at the show. I did not see one. And I know that virtually every club in town is looking for members. Now I don’t expect that Interlachen, Hazeltine or Spring Hill is going to be looking for members at the golf show, but it does seem like there could be some value. According to my inbox and a quick look on the interview, there are at least six clubs in town where you can get in with essentially zero initiation fee. I think there is one more in that group. I know there are two clubs that once had initiation fees around $15,000 where entrance can be secured for $1,500 or less. There are others that I would expect are also running deals. I guess that’s why I’m surprised that there wasn’t a single club there. Maybe it is expensive to have a booth, but the opportunity to talk to golfers doesn’t seem like a horrible idea.

That’s about all I have at this point. Maybe I lost some great ideas while blowing snow earlier today.







Random: More Nook, spring, baseball and even a bit of Gopher

Yesterday, I blogged about reading newspapers on my Nook Color. Since then, I received a couple of questions: Why Nook instead of Kindle? And why not get an iPad because it can do more?

I’ll tackle the Kindle question first. I went with the Barnes & Noble Nook Color for one primary reason: Library books for free. I purchased my initial Nook (the original with the black and white screen) back in the fall. Shortly after the Nook Color was announced and came out. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have the Nook for long and B&N allowed me to return it for full credit and pay the difference for the Nook Color.

While I use it for newspaper reading, I’m also doing more reading overall. Unlike the Kindle, you can checkout e-books from the library for free. The Hennepin County Library has a good selection and in the four months I’ve had the e-reader, I’ve probably read about 10 books for free. Many have been books I may or may not have purchased otherwise. With a library book, if you don’t like it, you just check it back in. It’s not a big deal. With my library, e-books can be checked out for 21 days at a time.

Why not an iPad? The biggest reason, honestly, was that I didn’t want to spend twice as much cash. A Nook Color is $249. IPads start in the $500 range. Plus I have a laptop. A MacBook to be specific. While the iPad is super cool and it can do more than the Nook Color, the NC does have some good stuff. It has a web browser that isn’t awful. It’s reasonably quick and it works in a pinch.

It would be cool to stream Netflix on an iPad and use some of the cool apps. But I wanted something that was more of a reader than a computer. I like that the Nook Color has a browser, some games and (allegedly) will be getting more things. I think it would be different if I didn’t already have a laptop.

Now onto other topics:

The Twins on TV: There was a front page story in the Star Tribune. There were TV stories. There was much angst on Twitter, Facebook and other parts unknown about the fact that the Twins would no longer have games on over-the-air television on a regular basis. Instead, everything will be on Fox Sports North.

My opinion: Deal with it. And welcome to reality. If you didn’t realize sports was a business previously, you should have.

Currently, only 18 percent of homes in the Twin Cities don’t have cable or satellite television. Maybe I’m a jerk, but if the Twins are truly that important to you, you probably had cable before. I think we’re hearing from the people who like to complain

And let’s say this forces you to sign up for television of some sort. David Brauer worked to find out how much it would cost. The cheapest option is Dish Network at about $600/year once promotions expired. Let’s say you only watched the Twins and got no other benefit from having expanded television — that means not one Jersey Shore episode or Top Chef episode and not a single highlight on SportsCenter — it averages out to be less than $4 per broadcast Twins games.

And for the “we paid for your stadium crowd,” your tax dollars go to many businesses. If a major retailer gets any tax breaks in building a store, does that mean you get to go in and take stuff for free? Maybe I’m a jerk, but if it is important to you, you can pay for it. Or you can listen to the radio. Or you can hit up your friends with cable.

Something I like: Melting snow. This week has been glorious. I realize we’re going to get snow on Sunday/Monday. I can’t imagine that we’re going to have another snow-free March. But this is a good start. I saw actual grass today for the first time in months. This week of melt is going to help once things really start to warm up. And with the golf show starting tomorrow at the convention center (I’ll likely make an appearance on Saturday), the timing is perfect.

Something I don’t like: All of this Albert Pujols drama. We finally got LeBron settled and unpacked in South Florida, do we really need this? For the next, say, eight months, we’re going to get force fed a diet of: Will he? Won’t he? Does he want to stay in St. Louis? Will the Yankees be interested? What about the Red Sox? As someone on Twitter posted, maybe they can just trade him to Denver for Carmelo Anthony. And talk about another story I’m tired of.

The Gophers: When I started blogging on a regular basis, someone said, ‘Why don’t you blog about the Gophers?’ I said, ‘Why don’t I poke out my eyes with a fork?’ But I will add simply this: The loss at Penn State wasn’t good, but it doesn’t mean the Rodents are destined for the NIT. If you hear people saying that, they don’t know enough and you shouldn’t listen to them.

This Gophers team might not deserve to be a NCAA tournament team, but they still very much have a chance. They don’t really have to do that much to make it to be honest.

If they get to 9-9 in the league, I think they will be fine. The tournament bubble is awful — have you seen the middle of the ACC and the SEC? Yuck — and there are four more at-large bids.

Can the Gophers get to 9-9? That’s another question. This team isn’t all that good right now. They have point guard issues, they’ve gotten some bad breaks, but I also don’t think Tubby can get a pass either.

This Penn State loss is a perfect example of why. The Gophers had two offensive possessions out of timeouts in the last minutes and both were disasters. The first one (with about 50 seconds left) looked like a fire drill. A team with a massive front line didn’t have a player in the paint and eventually the Gophers traveled. Later, it looked like the Gophers had a little better direction coming out of the timeout, but the ball was thrown out of bounds. And that doesn’t mention the inability to close defensively on three-point shots.

Despite the breaks, the setbacks, the Gophers had a chance to win this game. It was the kind of game that an above average team should win. It doesn’t doom the Gophers, but it doesn’t help them either.

Newspapers on my Nook Color


Here is how I've been reading the newspaper of late -- on my Nook Color


I have pretty much always loved newspapers. When I was very young, I would lie on our living room floor and read the sports page in front of me. I read about the Twins more than anything. And I’m talking about the mid-70s Bombo Rivera, Lyman Bostock, Craig Cubbage Twins.

My first “job” was delivering the West Central Tribune. I started on the first day of school in fourth grade. Obviously it became what I did for a living for a long time. I don’t really remember a time when I didn’t get a newspaper delivered to where I was living. When I was traveling, I was the guy who would buy multiple newspapers at every stop just to see how different papers were doing things.

But now a couple of months into an experiment of not reading an actual hard-copy version of the newspaper. This past fall, I purchased a Nook Color, the nifty e-reader from Barnes & Noble. It’s really an e-reader plus, but I will get to that in a later post.

I initially started getting just the New York Times delivered daily to my Nook Color. It was, and is, great. One of the best things about my previous job in higher education was that I could pick up the NYT on campus for free. I find it to be a joy to read as there are always interesting stories. I would bring it to lunch, find a table by myself and read while eating lunch.

With the Nook Color, I get the benefit of getting a much later edition of the newspaper than the national edition — yes, there are actual sports scores in there — while also not being overwhelmed with unread sections of the paper piling up each day.

Starting around Christmas, I added the Star Tribune to my Nook subscription list. I wasn’t sure if I would be comfortable getting my primary newspaper electronically. But I figured that since it is available for reading at work as well that I would give it a chance.

The bottom line is that I really like it. I usually get through the main things I want to see in the Star Tribune before I leave the house or right when I get to the office. I mix in some of the NYT in the morning and look at more of it at lunch. There are some days when I don’t get to as much of that as I would like.

Here’s a quick look at pros and cons (and some photos) of my move toward a paper-free life.

Continue reading

In case you didn’t get enough Mumford and Sons

…. during the Grammy Awards, I provide you with four awesome videos that were shot in a bookstore. So hopefully you can crank up the speakers on your computer and enjoy. If it is Monday and you’re at work, put on some headphones and get ready to tap your feet and get through the day.

The performances are awesome.

I say this as someone who gets a little obsessive about bands. I tend to listen to a band over and over for quite a while. I’ve been big on Mumford and Sons for a while.

So here you go:

The Cave:

Winter Winds:

White Blank Page:

Little Lion Man:



A random college basketball rant

Welcome to February, the time of the season in which college basketball fans across the country complain and complain about the quality of officiating.

Earlier this week, there was much complaining about a call Tim Higgins made in the Alabama-Vandy game. I’m not going to lie, I pretty much only saw the chatter and didn’t see the call. Maybe Higgins blew it, maybe he didn’t. That’s not what I’m writing about, however.

He was frequently referred to as a SEC ref. Gophers fans talk all the time about Big Ten refs. And it is all hogwash.

There is no such thing as a SEC ref or a Big Ten ref. They are all free agents, independent contractors and work all over the place.

According to bbstate.com, a site that logs where officials work, Higgins has called conference games in the Big East, Big Ten and SEC this season. A guy I know reasonably well who is an official has worked in the Mountain West, Missouri Valley, WAC, MAC, Summit and Big Ten of late.

So that’s it, that’s the rant. There are no conference refs. And I also don’t believe they are out to get certain teams. I truly believe they try to do the best job they can. They are professionals who care about the job they do. That’s why the put up with the nonsense they put up with — the screaming coaches, the crazy fans, the bad travel.

They make mistakes at times. That’s what happens when guys have to make split-second calls and only get one chance to look at it. There’s no HD or slow motion or replays on most plays.

So that’s it. A random rant on a Saturday night.