Monday, October 25, 2004

It Was Worth the Wait

The last time the Cincinnati Bengals played on Monday Night Football was October 19, 1992. Twelve years went by between visits and a lot has changed. George Bush was in office, not George W. Bush.

The Toronto Blue Jays were on their way to wrapping up the World Series. The Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, and San Diego Chargers were all in first place. The New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks were in last place. The Cowboys won the Superbowl over the Buffalo Bills.

David Schula was coaching the Bengals. Tim McGee and Carl Pickens were the Bengals leading receivers and who other then Boomer Esiason was taking the helm. Harold Green rushed for 1,100 yards and the Bengals finished 5-11.

Twelve years ago Bengals lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-0. It was Bill Cowher first season as head coach of the Steelers. Tonight was another story. Cincinnati came into the game 1-4. After an impressive 8-8 last year, this year has gotten off to a rocky start. Tonight's match up looked pretty lopsided on paper. The Bengals were taking on a Broncos team that was 5-1 and had the best defense in the league. But the Bengals came out hungry and shocked the Broncos 23-10.

Chad Johnson caught 7 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown while Rudi Johnson added 119 on the ground with a touchdown.

It was an exciting game and lets hope for the folks of Cincinnati that they do not have to wait another twelve years to play on Monday Night. And hopefully it will be a lot less then fifteen years before they host another Monday Night game.

The Perfect Way to Spend a Beautiful Sunday Afternoon

I could not have found a better way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon then watching the North Dakota State Bison soccer team battle the University of Minnesota at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was the closest the Bison had to home game this year. As playing in their first year of Division 1 soccer called for 17 road games. The turn out for NDSU was tremendous. They drew nearly as many fans as the Gophers.

Before the game Brooke Hartman was honored for her spectacular play and accomplishments over the past 4 years on and off the field. I had no idea that they would be honoring her and although I am a strong supporter of Bison athletics, I would not have been in attendance Sunday if Brooke were not playing. For this reason it was a delightful surprise. Now anyone who knows Brooke knows that she sets out to be the best at whatever she does. For this reason the list of her accomplishments is seemingly endless and took the announcer about 5 minutes to rattle off.

After a wonderful pre game both teams took the field. In the first half the Bison looked strong. They had a couple of scoring opportunities early but just couldn’t put it in. Then the Gophers struck first on a one timer scored by Haley Lentsch. It didn’t take long for the Bison to answer back. In the final minutes of the first half Michelle Martinez scored from about 30 yards out. The ball hit the cross bar, bounced off the ground, hit the cross bar again and went in. It was a great shot and the Bison fans were juiced.

Towards the end of the first half Carly Christensen showed the Gophers that she wasn’t going to take their physical play without a fight. After getting knocked down from behind she stood up and gave a U of M player an elbow to the shoulder. Later in the half she took one of the Gophers down and although she was called for a penalty the crowd rallied behind her.

The second half was looking good until Kelli Reed mishandled an easy shot from Becky Delleria to give the Gophers a 2-1 lead. The Bison continued to work hard, but about midway through the second half they lost Carly Christensen as she broke her nose on a collision with a U of M player going for a header. The Gophers had a chance to put the game away later in the half as Haley Lentsch had a breakaway. However, Brooke Hartman and another Bison player chased her down and made the stop.

Things were just too tough to overcome once Jami Rozell was issued her second yellow card of the game which resulted in an ejection and a one game suspension. The Bison were forced to play a player short the rest of the game and the Gophers added another goal to make the score 3-1.

I was very proud of the North Dakota State women as they fought hard and could have pulled this one off had a couple of things gone their way. My college soccer experience was more then I had hoped for and I have to thank the girls for giving me a great game to watch. The North Dakota State Bison will be playing out the rest of their season in California in two weeks.

Congratulations to Brooke Hartman on a great career at NDSU and good luck with the rest of the Season.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Making Things Interesting

Even when the Red Sox win one somebody has to make the game interesting. When Manny Ramirez stepped up in the 7th inning with runners on first and second, he had a perfect opportunity to finally come through for the Sox in the playoffs. Ramirez laced a single to center. The first big hit he had in eight games. However, instead of hustling down the line, he raised his hand in celebration as he jogged to first. When Edmonds came up throwing to the plate Ramirez was unable to take second while Cabrera easily took third.

David Ortiz then singled in Cabrera. If Ramirez had taken second he probably would have scored. Instead he was stranded at second base to end the inning.

After costing his team a run in the bottom of the seventh, Ramirez was out to blow the game in the top of the eighth. With runners on first and second Renteria hit a single to left. Marquis was held at third. Ramirez then bobbled the ball and Marquis scored.

Larry Walker followed again with runners on first and second. He hit a short fly into left field. Ramirez came on to make the catch. A catch he could have made in stride but instead decided to make a sliding catch. The only problem is he forgot the ball. Ramirez knee caught on his slide and he popped up. The ball landed on the back side of his glove and sprung free.

One runner scored and the Cards had runners on second and third with one out. Luckily for Manny, Kevin Foulke brought his game and retired the final two hitters of the inning.

After botching back to back plays the camera was nearly fixed on Ramirez. He had a look on his face that every ball players has had at one time or another. That look of knowing you let down eight other guys. As the camera stayed focused on Manny, the expression on his face allowed you to feel what he was going through. That torture of knowing that you may have cost your team the ballgame.

Luckily for Manny his teamed rallied back to win the game. I had predicted Ramirez to be the Series MVP and I still think that he will come through in a big way. If he wants a shot at MVP he has a lot of catching up to do.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Mixing It Up With Music

I decided to add a new dimension to my blog. Once a week I will sit down and do a feature on a couple bands that I listen to. I will give a small intro and then look at some of my favorite songs/albums by them.

Less Than Jake
One band that I have always admired is Less Than Jake. These guys bring a sound to the table that no other band can match.

Less Than Jake formed in a the early 1990's with three members (pretty common for a punk band), but added a trombone player and baritone saxophone player to give them a great ska sound. This song is off of their third full length album Borders and Boundaries and is titled Look What Happened. This is my favorite Less Than Jake record, but highly recommend checking them all out.

this is an audio post - Less Than Jake

You can check out more of their songs or their website by clicking on the links below.

Less Than Jake

Less Than Jake Songs

Mad Caddies
Since I have arleady started with a ska band I will stay on the same wave length this week. The Mad Caddies are another of one my personal favorites.

These kats recorded their first record just out of high school, Quality Soft Core. They're a band that brings tons of energy to the floor with a whopping 10 members in their group. The first song featured here is from Duck and Cover and is titled Macho Nachos. The second is titled Drinking for 11 and is off their Live From Toronto record but was originally put out on Just One More.

this is an audio post - Mad Caddies

this is an audio post - Mad Caddies

You can check more Mad Caddies stuff out at the link below.

Mad Caddies

Hope you all enjoy this little taste of ska/punk music. These bands are both rad to see live, eventhough they're getting a little older. I would recommend buying every record they've put out. I have purchased them at all some point and have not been disappointed. Stay tuned for next weeks feature.

NDSU Women's Soccer takes on the U of M

Tomorrow I will be attending the NDSU women's soccer game in Minneapolis. Don't worry, this will be the first and only time that I will sacrifice a perfect Sunday afternoon of watching football for soccer.

However, I do feel it is more important to support friends when they are in town then to watch football on tv. For that reason I am going to watch Brooke Hartmen and the Bison tear through the Gophers.

Coming into the game the Bison are 5-8-1, losing three of those games in overtime. The Gophers are 6-10 with 8 of their losses coming in conference games. Hopefully the Bison will come out strong and pull off the shocker. Good luck Bison. We'll see you at the game.

Friday, October 22, 2004

On the Brink of a Great World Series

Wednesday night the Red Sox put the finishing touches on the greatest comeback in playoff history.

Last night Scott Rolen knocked Roger Clemens and the Houston Astros out with one pitch.

After two League Championships filled with this much excitement we can only hope that the World Series doesn't let us down.

Since I have not made any playoff predictions to this point, I'll finally throw my hat in the ring and make a couple of World Series predictions. I am trying to be completely objective, which should be pretty easy because I do not care about either of these teams in the Series. However, any fan of baseball should be juiced about this Series as this should be a great match up of two of this years powerhouse teams.

Let us start with the World Series winner. I have a feeling that this Series will come down to the winner of game 7. So here are my game by game predictions.

Game One: Williams vs. Wakefield
The first game will go to Woody Williams. After an unbelievable stretch against the Yankees, the Bo Sox will come out a little flat in game one and the Cards will sneak one early. Wakefield may be affective early, but the Cards will figure him out in the middle innings and get to the bullpen by the sixth.

Game Two: Marquis vs. Schilling
After a rough start in Houston, Marquis will come back and battle well in game two. However, it won't be enough to get his boys the win against Schilling. The Sox will tie things up going into St. Louis.

Game Three: Martinez vs. Morris
After losing home field advantage in game one, Boston will regain it in game three as Pedro will put together a strong start. Morris will dual for a while but Boston will get to the bullpen before the seventh and put the Cards away.

Game Four: Lowe vs. Suppan
Needing game four the Cards will battle back behind Suppan to even up the Series. Lowe will not put together another performance like he did in game seven of the ALCS and the Red Sox bullpen won't be able to keep the game close.

Game Five: Wakefield vs. Williams
Wakefield will drop his second game of the Series as the Cards will put the pressure back on the Big Two of Bo Sox heading back into Boston.

Game Six: Morris/Marquis vs. Schilling
The Cards may opt to use Morris and Suppan in games six and seven to get a little more experience on the mound then Marquis can provide. At any rate whoever takes the bump will be facing a playoff stud and Schilling will once again get it done with the season on the line.

Game Seven: Morris/Suppan vs. Martinez
In seven game sets I always believe that the winner of game six has the advantage in game seven. This is bad news for the Cardinals. However, if the Cards save Morris for game seven and have Suppan coming out of the pen, things could get really interesting. However, I believe that Martinez will come up big and Boston's bullpen will hold off the Cardinals in game seven to finally break the curse of the Great Bambino.

After losing to the Cardinals in ’46 and ’67, the Red Sox will finally get a little revenge against another team that has kept the curse alive for so many years. Ramirez will redeem himself from an ALCS in which he didn’t even drive in a run by winning the World Series MVP honors. Pedro will also make a case for himself with his game seven performance, but it won’t be enough. Dave Ortiz will continue rolling in the Series but it will be the role players for the Sox that make the big difference.

On the other side, Pujols will put up more great numbers and Edmonds will continue to make great plays in the field. Womack will keep battling injuries to make an impact for the Cards as well. Jason Isringhausen will have a good Series outside of one pitch, but that pitch will prove to be costly.

Happy viewing and check back for game by game analyses as the World Series continues. Congratulations to both teams for getting this far and Good Luck to Al “Monst” Hipps on his preseason and preseries bets on the Red Birds. For your sake Al I hope I am wrong.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Where are they Now?

This is a new feature in my blog that will take a look at former Twin players and where they are now. For the first few months I will look at players from the 1987 and 1991 Championship teams. The first player we will be looking at is Tom Nieto.

For those of you who have not seen the 1987 Twins Win video, Tom Nieto’s interviews may have been my favorite part. Nieto was a class act who was a great fielder, a fun guy in the clubhouse, but was a sub par hitter (and that's being nice).

Nieto came up with the Cardinals and they believed he would be the successor to Darrell Porter. After batting .279 his rookie season they had high hopes. Nieto’s day in the sun came in 1985 in game four of the World Series. In a two strike count, Nieto laid down a suicide squeeze that scored the third and final run of a 3-0 victory for the Cards. Although the Cardinals went on to lose the series, Nieto would get another shot at a ring a couple years later with the Twins.

After signing with Montreal in 1986, Nieto was thrown in a trade with Jeff Reardon the Twins in 1987. Perfect timing for Nieto as the Twins went on to win the AL West and eventually the World Series. Nieto finally had his ring, although he did not have a single at bat in post season.

In 1988 Nieto went on to have what could be the worst season in major league history. He batted .067, going 4-60 with no extra base hits, one walk and no RBI’s. He did score one run that year. Another interesting fact about Nieto’s career is that he never stole a base. He finished his career with zero steals in three attempts. After trying to think of a reason why you would steal Tom Nieto, I tried to think of other major leaguers who could have finished their careers without a stolen base. Cecil Fielder? Nope, he had two steals in eight attempts. Ernie Lombardi? Nope, he had 8 career steals. Johnny Bassler? He also had 8 steals. Boog Powell? Even he finished his career with 20 stolen bases. As I looked through the slowest players by decade, I could not find a player who finished his career without ever stealing a base.

Nieto wrapped up his career with two more sub .200 seasons batting. His numbers just kept getting worse. After batting .279 his rookie year, he hit .225 in his only full season behind the plate. Then he hit an even .200 the next two season and never reached the .200 mark again.

So where is Tom Nieto now? He is coaching baseball in for the Palm Beach Cardinals in the Florida State league. The Cardinals finished the season 73-61 in Nieto’s second season as their manager and had a season full of excitement. They played 50 one run games and had 11 comebacks in their final at bat. The previous seven years Nieto had spent coaching in the Yankees organization. Nieto has spent a lot of this time developing young catching prospects as he was a great defensive catcher himself. He is now 43 and still enjoys baseball as much as he did when he came up in 1984. Who knows, maybe we will see him in Fort Myers leading the Twins to another championship someday.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

How clutch is Derek Jeter during the postseason?

With the postseason upon us, we have finally reached the peak of the 2004 baseball season. My favorite part of the postseason is watching my hometown Minnesota Twins try to get over the hump and reach the World Series for the first time since ’91. However, the last two years the Twins season has come to an abrupt end as they lost to the New York Yankees in four. Over the last 9 season watching the Yankees in the postseason comes without fail. Listening to announcers ramble on about Derek Jeter being clutch this time of year also comes without fail. Time and again we here announcers call Jeter a “winner” and discuss how clutch he is in the postseason. But just how clutch is Derek Jeter in the playoffs? In order to better understand this question I took a look at a few different aspects of Jeter’s postseason career.

Does Derek Jeter put up better numbers in the playoffs then he does in the regular season? Jeter’s career batting average coming into this season was .317. His postseason average coming into this season was .314, a push. His slugging and on base percentages were .389 and .462 in the regular season; while his postseason numbers were .389 and .469. Another push. In the regular season he scores about .76 runs per game to only .70 runs per game in the postseason, and he drives in .51 runs per game in regular season compare to only .33 runs per game in the postseason. He does have a slightly better stolen base percentage, although only by 2%. As far as statistics go it would appear that Jeter’s postseason numbers are comparable to, although slightly worse then his regular season numbers.

But everybody knows that Jeter actually turns it up another level once his team is in the World Series, right? Not exactly. His numbers in the Series are actually slightly worse then his overall numbers in the postseason. Although he has had some great series, he has also had a couple sub par ones. In 1996 Jeter hit .250 and drove in 1 run. In 2001 he drove in 1 run again, but this time hit only .148. Furthermore, Jeter has never driven in more then 2 runs in any World Series. This leads to two points. One, that Jeter has not been consistent in his World Series performances. And two, that his postseason performances have not escalated in the bigger games.

Then it must be from his clutch performances with the game on the line. The one play that stands out above any other is Jeter throwing Giambi out at home in game 4 of the ALDS. This truly was a great play. However, one play cannot define a player as clutch. Searching for others, I did find that Jeter hit the game-winning homer in game 4 of the 2001 World Series. However, this led me to another question. How many chances has Jeter had to hit a game winning hit in the World Series?

Although I could not come up with an exact number, I estimate it to be around 10-12 chances. He has hit one game winning homerun and also hit a game tying singled on occasion. (Jeter has had game tying hits in other series, but both of them came early in games and for our purposes would not be considered clutch situations.) On these opportunities we know that Jeter was successful twice, but I could not successfully conclude how many times Jeter reached base without scoring a run. However, looking at his number in these games it would appear to be around 3-4 times. Looking at this statistically, that is about the success rate you would expect out of a .317 hitter. This leads me to believe that the big reason that Jeter is dubbed clutch in the playoffs is because he has been given more opportunities then most players and has a success rate similar to the rest of his career.

After taking everything into account, what Jeter has done in the postseason is really what one would expect out of a player of his caliber. It would be a stretch to say that Jeter has not been a contributing factor in four Yankee Championships. However, its also a stretch to give Jeter a nickname like “Mr. November”. His contributions have merely been along the lines of what we would expect out of Jeter. So as you sit back and enjoy the rest of the 2004 postseason, listening to idiots like Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan ramble on about Jeter being a “winner” ask yourself, “Who would you rather have at the plate with the game on the line, Derek Jeter or Kirk Gibson?”

Sunday, October 10, 2004

What happened to Allan Anderson?

The funny thing about researching baseball is how easily one can get sidetracked. Today as I was looking to conclude my study on Derek Jeter, I began to wonder what happened to Allan Anderson. For those of you who are not familiar with the Allan Anderson, he was a promising young left-handed pitcher for Minnesota Twins 16 years ago. However, if you blinked you would have missed his entire career.

Allan Anderson was a 2nd round pick for the Twins out of high school in Ohio. Anderson went 16-9 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 1988. This appeared to be the start of a brilliant career as he followed it up with another impressive season in ’89 going 17-10 with a 3.80 ERA. However, his next two seasons were another story as he combined for a 12-29 record with a 4.70 ERA. After six short seasons his career was over.

This led me to wonder what happened to Allan Anderson. I searched the web and tried using baseball library for an explanation. None was given. I know he kicked around a few other farm systems, but never reemerged in big leagues. How could a guy with so much promise have never been given another shot?

If anyone has any information on the whereabouts of Allan Anderson please contact me using my blog or via email at

We Got a First Timer Here...

For those of you who have come across my blog, I am a first time blogger. The main focus of my blogs will usually attain to sports theory. Some will focus on politics. Others may look at personal experience. If something is bothering me about society, it may sneak in as well. Basically, this is my blog and I will write about whatever the hell I feel like.

I would like to congratulate Ichiro on collecting 262 hits this season. It’s always good for baseball to see its old records fall, especially the ones that fall to non-steroid users. My apologies to Bonds. I would also like to congratulate Johan Santana on what could be the most dominating stretch of pitching in baseball history. The Astros made an unbelievable comeback down the stretch as the Cubbies choked away another season. Ninety-six years and counting. It was a great year in baseball and I can only hope that the playoffs finish with a bang. Go any team other than the Yankees.

Speaking of the Yankees, the first item that I will discuss in my blog is Derek Jeter's playoff career. Or more importantly, is Derek Jeter really clutch in the playoffs or does he simply perform well in the playoffs because he is a solid baseball player. My initial thought is that Jeter has simply been to the post season so many times and had so many opportunities that he is perceived to be more clutch then he actually is. Does Jeter succeed more in the playoffs then he does in the regular season? Does he have a higher batting average, more stolen bases, less errors, a higher on base percentage and slugging percentage in the playoffs then in the regular season? Does he really turn it up another level during the playoffs? Or could it be that Jeter is just a great ballplayer and that is what great ballplayers do?

I will attempt to have these questions answered in a few days. So if you care to take a look, stay tuned. Otherwise thanks for stopping.