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September 29, 2007

Timberwolves should honor Howard's request

In one of my blog entries from last week, I ripped a few random professional athletes for some of their comments recently in the media. I ripped Donovan McNabb for saying he didn't get enough respect, despite signing the largest NFL contract a few years ago (over $100 million). I then ripped Utah Jazz small forward Andre Kirilenko for demanding a trade by ripping his coach, Jerry Sloan, instead of quietly going about his business while making 63 million dollars over the next few seasons.

But then, out of nowhere, comes some fresh air. Thankfully.
New Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Juan Howard is doing things the right way. It is now known that Howard would like the Wolves to trade him to a contending team, because after all, he is 37-years-old and playing on a team that is clearly a few years away from even making the playoffs. But Howard didn't go straight to the media to convey this message. Instead, he quietly went to Wolves Vice President of Basketball Operations, Kevin McHale, and said he would like to be dealt to a team that has a chance to win an NBA Championship, since he only has, at most, a few years left in his career.

The Wolves didn't fulfill Howard's wish this offseason, but that didn't stop Howard from continuing to act in a professional manner at Minnesota's media day on Friday. Howard, who was initially thrilled at being traded to the Wolves because he would get the chance to play with Kevin Garnett (KG was traded to Boston just six weeks later), made his intentions known, but said he will do what he has to do if the Wolves decide to keep him on their roster this season.

"Now I know at times that sounds selfish when you hear it from athletes, Howard said. I'm not trying to e selfish at all. I'm not trying to create a distraction to this team. I repsected this franchise and respected my teammates. That's why I tried to do things behind the scenes."

Howard continued:
"I've alywas told the organization that it's a compliment they're paying me, saying they want me to be here to teach the young guys how to be a pro."

McHale, do the right thing and find a way to grant Howard's wish and show that if you go about things the right way, things may work out. Please, don't prove the theory correct that if you whine enough you'll get what you want. That's childish, and these athletes are all supposed to be professional, although they may not all act it.

Good for Gundy

Thank you, Mike Gundy. Gundy, head coach of the Oklahoma State football team, gave me the perfect blog topic for News Writing and Reporting class after his now-famous blowup last weekend. After the Cowboys' win last Saturday, Gundy took issue with a column written about backup quarterback Bobby Reid, who recently lost his spot as starting quarterback for OK. State.

The article Gundy took issue with, didn't just rip Reid as a player, but also attacked his character by questioning the young man's toughness. Gundy, quickly came to the defense of his player - like a father protecting his son.
With the columnist, Jenny Carlson, in attendance at his post game press conference, Gundy went right at her. Saying "three-fourths of this is inaccurate." That was just the beginning.

"That article had to have been written by a person that doesn't have a child," Gundy continued. "And has never had a child that had his heart broken and come home upset and had to deal with a child when he is upset. ... He's not a professional athlete and he doesn't deserve to be kicked when he's down."

Very good points coach. Now to the juicy quote, though:

"If you have a child someday, you'll understand how it feels but you obviously don't have a child. I do. If your child goes down the street and somebody makes fun of him because he drops a pass in pickup game or says he's fat and he comes home crying to his mom, you'll understand."

"I hope someday you have a child and somebody downgrades them and belittles them," Gundy said.

Gundy was a quote machine on this day, drawing more media attention to himself than his team. For our purposes, my favorite quote of his (besides the ones ripping the columnist's potential child) was when he said about newspapers ""That's why I don't read the newspaper! Because it's garbage!" "The editor who let it come out is garbage!"

You'd think that as a sports journalist, I would be supporting Carlson for sticking to her guns, not backing down, and writing an interesting, yet controrversial article. However, I am a college student too. I believe college athletes should be criticized if they aren't performing on the court or the field, but attacking a young-mans character? That isn't right, and there is really no need to do so. Good for Mike Gundy for not just letting this issue go under the radar.


September 22, 2007

Castro conducts interview

Making a rare appearance, Cuban leader Fidel Castro spoke about a variety of issues in a taped interview on Cuban state television.

The interview,which aired on Friday, was the first footage of Castro, 81, in three months. The main topics of the one hour interview were global warming, Cuba's role in the Cold War, and the economy. Castro also discussed how oil has increased to $80 a barrel.

Castro reportedly turned over power of the country to his brother Raul last July, however, some are still skeptic.
"We're at the point now to where Cubans themselves are not sure who is running the country," Morgan Neill of CNN said.

Castro, who looked a bit healthier than usually during the interview
- he's had well-documented health problems in the past - paused throughout the interview and appeared to have problems with his voice.

Who will start at quarterback, does it matter?

First, let me start by saying that I don't like the Minnesota Vikings. I can't like them, it is one of the rules of being a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan. If it is any consolation to Vikings fans reading this, I, along with most Packer Backers, hate the Chicago Bears even more so.

So when I see that Vikings' head coach Brad Childress is holding out from naming his starting quarterback for this Sunday's game with the Kansas City Chiefs, I have to at least comment on it.
First off, does it really mater who you throw out there Brad? It likely won't be Tarvaris Jackson, who is doubtful after injuring himself last week. So, do you go with Brooks Bollinger or Kelly Holcomb? How about signing Jeff George instead.

In all seriousness, I would start Holcomb. He has been a starter before in both Cleveland and Buffalo, and every once and while is capable of producing a big game. As for Bollinger, I have seen him enough to know that he is nothing more than a suitable backup. I was a Wisconsin Badgers fan growing up and know everything that needs to be known about Bollinger's game - very mobile, yet never could make plays consistently with his arm.

To be honest, the Vikings may have a legitimate shot to beat the Chiefs, who have struggled mightily thus far this season, if the can get consistent play out of their quarterback position. However, going into Kansas City and pulling out a win is tough for anything, let alone a team with quarterback issues.

Iverson orally commits to Gophers

The hire of Tubby Smith is already paying dividends for the Minnesota men's basketball team. It was confirmed on Thursday that Colton Iverson, a 6-foot-10 power forward/center from Yankton, S.D., had verbally committed to play for the Gophers next season.

Iverson (no relation to NBA guard Allen Iverson) had over 25 scholarship offers and is considered to be one of the premier post players in the class of 2008-09. Of the 25 teams offering Iverson a scholarship, Florida - home to the back-to-back national champions - was the most intriguing. However, the Gators couldn't offer Iverson immediate playing time, something Smith could and did.

With power forward Dan Coleman and center Spencer Tollackson leaving the program after this season, the Gophers will be young and thin in their front court and Iverson may even start as a freshman. And don't be surprised if that is the case. Iverson was a relatively unknown player a year ago at this time, but after a standout summer league performance, made his presence known nationally . Many believe his game will continue to expand and he could eventually be one of the best big-men in the Big Ten when he joins Minnesota.

Smith and his staff are also trying to lock down center Ralph Sampson III , out of Duluth, Georgia. Sampson is the son of collegiate and NBA star Ralph Sampson. The 6-foot-11, 220 pound big man visited Minnesota along with Iverson early this month.

Nabbing Sampson - who also is being recruited by Kentucky, Maryland, Georgie Tech and Virginia Tech - along with Iverson, would show just how big of an impact Smith already is having on the Minnesota basketball program.

Don't worry, be happy

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb thinks black quarterbacks in the NFL are under much higher scrutiny than white QB's at the same level. NBA guard Charlie Bell, said this week that if the Milwaukee Bucks decide to match the five-year, $18 million offer the Miami heat extended to him this week, his heart wouldn't be into the game, as he can't work for an organization that doesn't respect him. Oh, and how can we forget Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, who is ready to walk away from $63 million in guaranteed U.S. cash, because he doesn't get along with head coach, Jerry Sloan.

Now, I can understand why so many working-class citizens shake their heads when listening to some athletes, and eve refuse to watch because they can't stand to support these people. Don't get me wrong, all athletes aren't this self-centered, but with all three of these stories making headlines in a three day span this week, something is differnly wrong with how some professional athletes view the world.

First McNabb. He has the right to freedom of speech, can say whatever he wants. But Donovan, don't forget you signed a 12-year, 115 million contract and are the richest, I repeat, the richest, QB in the national football league. With that as proof, I'm guessing most people, regardless of race, want to hear you say you have things too rough.

Bell is another story. He has been consummate pro during his short tenure in the NBA. In fact, he was the only player of the Bucks to play in all 82 games last season, averaging over 13 points a game on a team, that for the most part, looked it quit near the end of the season - the same can not be said about Bell. But by posting one blog, in which he ripped the organization, his image has drastically changed. It is still to be determined how Bell will feel about returning to Milwaukee - the Bucks matched Miami's offer and now own his rights - but I know for 18 million, I would definitely give the same amount of effort I did when I was getting an NBA minimum salary, as Bell did last year.

Last but not least, Kirilenko. This guy wants to walk away from all that money. Hey, do whatever you want Andrei. But life shouldn't be so bad for you, after all, your wife does let you sleep with other women.

You are a lucky man.

September 17, 2007

New group of boxers in Thailand

In the United States, when most think of boxing, the names Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier usually come to my mind. In Thailand, those three names might be considered outcasts. That is because young girls all around the country are now taking up the sport of boxing, trying to make a name for themselves by fighting off stereotypes.

In Thailand, even more so than America, girls in the country are taught from a young age to express their feminine side.

But with over a 100 boxing camps now teaching Thai girls the sport on a daily basis, those stereotypes are quickly being broken down. Twenty years ago there was the occasional women's boxing match in the country, now, according to Chanin Preechakul, founder of the Women’s Thai Boxing Club of Thailand, there are matches every weekend in the ring.

While the sport is starting to pick up considerable interest in the country, there is still plenty of concern. Many women who do participate in fights, usually stop by the age of 20 because there boyfriends or husbands don't want them coming home with bruises.

There are always going to be pros and cons in anything. Congrats to these young women for being brave enough to break the norm and compete in the squared circle, despite being pressured by some to act like "regular Thai ladies."

Tough start for Brewster

Where is Glen Mason when you need him? Through all the criticism Mason endured during his tenure at the helm of the Gophers, at least he was able to win his nonconference games.
The Minnesota football team lost for the second time in the first three games of the Tim Brewster Era on Saturday when the Gophers fell 42-39 to Florida Atlantic at Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Fl. If Brewster’s doubters weren’t out after Minnesota’s season opening loss to Bowling Green at the Metrodome, they are now.
The Gophers committed seven turnovers on offense and that wasn’t even the worst of it. Brewster and his staff should be more concerned with a defensive unit that looked even more atrocious than it had the first two games of the season. The Gophers gave up 463 yards in the air and allowed FA quarterback Rusty Smith to throw for five touchdowns. The Minnesota defense, or lack-there-of, has now given up 1,293 passing yards in three games.

Its hard to imagine things getting worse, but they likely will. Next Saturday the Gophers open up their Big Ten Schedule by facing the best pass attack in the conference, the Purdue Boilermakers. And get this – Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter has 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions to his name thus far this season. Painter, who is playing like a Heisman Trophy candidate, should decimate an already declining Minnesota defensive unit.

When the Gophers lost the services of Alex Daniels and Dominic Jones after rape allegations against them last spring, everyone knew the losses would hurt. Now, Minnesota fans are realizing just how much.


September 14, 2007

Ryan resigns from GM post

After 13 years on the job, Twins' General Manager Terry Ryan announced his resignation from the position on Thursday afternoon. Ryan's tenure with the Twins will officially end on September 30, at that time he will be replaced by Bill Smith, his long-time assistant.

Ryan will remain with the team as a senior adviser. But his work as GM should not and can not be forgotten by Twins' fans. After all, it was Ryan who acquired two-time Cy Young award winner Johan Santna. And it was Ryan who traded away brash catcher A.J. Pierzynski for three top pitching prospects: Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser - all of whom helped Minnesota win 96 games last season.

Of course, where there is a "good" there is usually a "bad" as well. Ryan will be remembered for trading away David Ortiz after the 2002 season. After signing with the Boston Red Sox in 2003, Ortiz turned into one of the most feared hitters in the game.

But the good outweighs the bad, without question.
After all, when the league was threatening to contract the Twins (eliminate them from the league) he turned down an offer to become the Tornoto Blue Jay's GM, and then went on to turn Minnesota into a small market winner.

Ryan may not be loved by all Twins' fans, but he has to at least be respected.

Oden to miss season

Portland Trailblazers' rookie center Greg Oden will have to wait until the 2008-09 season to prove he was worth the No. 1 selection in this year's NBA Draft. Oden, who left Ohio State after his freshman year, underwent surgery Thursday on his right knee and will miss all of the 2007-08 season.

This is deflating news to the Trailblazers, who had finally regained fan interest after years of bad press. Things got so bad in recent years, that a group of Portland players were coined the "Jailblazers." Forward Qyntel Woods was charged with setting up a pit bull ring (much less publicized than Michael Vick's current situation) point guard Damon Stoudamire and All-Star forward Rasheed Wallace were caught with Marijauna in their possession. Star forward Zach Randolph received a DUI and defensive specialist Ruben Patterson was convicted of rape.

With all those players gone and Oden, a humble, yet dominant presence, in the fold, this season was expected to be a start of a new era in Portland. Instead of excitement, doubt will likely be the new feeling in Portland. There were many who believed Texas sophomore forward Kevin Durant should have been the No. 1 pick in June's draft. With Druant on the court and Oden on the sideline, there could be plenty of second-guessing this season in Portland.

Remember, it was the Blazers after all, who passed on Michael Jordan and selected Sam Bowie with the No. 1 pick in 1984. Not the smartest of decisions, to say the least.

September 10, 2007

Bridge support flowing in

It is good to see that support has been strong for victims and family members of those involved in the Interstate 35W bridge collapse. It's even better to see that money being split into categories such as counseling, medical cost reimbursement and other aids, which is exactly where the over $564,000 raised will be going (Star Tribune).

The fund, titled The Minnesota Helps - Bridge Disaster Fund, which involves churches, chartities and other groups scrapping together resources, has increased rapidly since August 1st, the day of the collapse.

"I think the message is that Minnesotans...had a tremendous emotional and generous outpouring in response to the disaster," Chris Lander, vice president of communications for the Minneapolis Foundation, said (Star Tribune).

While support has been overwhelming, it is now imparative that the money is calculated correctly and spent the correct way. The Red Cross and the Salvation Army both need to make sure they don't cut off donations, thinking they have enough, when they really don't - something that happened to the Red Cross when they raised $138,000 but now have expenses ranging naer $203,000.

http://www.minnesotahelps.org/

The NFL is back

Another season of the NFL, America's highest rated sport, officially kicked off over the weekend. 24 teams got their seaons underway on Sunday, with twelve of them finding the win column and another twelve still searching for answers.

There were many highlights in week one:

Former Minnesota wideout Randy Moss made a splashing debut with the New England Patriots, catching nine passes for 183 yards and recording one touchdown (New York Daily News).....In Green Bay, Brett Favre tied John Elways for quarterback with the most career victories (148), without the Packers scoring an offensive touchdown.

The Dallas Cowboys looked like the Cowboys of old, scoring 45 points in Sunday night's win over rival New York....2006 NFL MVP LaDanian Tomlinson scored a key touchdown in the Chargers win over Superbowl runner-up Chicago...The Pittsburg Steelers dominated conference opponent Cleveland 34-7 in new coach Mike Tomlin's debut (ESPN).

And thats just Sunday...there is a doubleheader tonight which is sure to bring in high ratings for the most watched American sport.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/notebook?page=lastcall07/week1

Vikings solid in debut

The questions were in great quantity entering the Minnesota Viking's season opener against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. While plenty questions still remain, a new feeling has opened up to Vikings fans - optimism.
The Vikings, who were picked to finish last in the NFC North by many so-called "experts" beat the Atlanta Falcons 24-3 on Sunday at the Metrodome.

While young starting quarterback Tavaris Jackson looked suspect at times, rookie running back Adrien Peterson looked so spectacular that Minnesota may have found its next big mega-star since Randy Moss bolted for Oakland. Peterson rushed for 103 yards and on his only catch of the game, bolted for a 60-yard touchdown.

Peterson has drawn so much interest, despite playing just one game for the Vikings, that he leads the team in sold jerseys. According to Jameson Jones, a co-owener at Nick's Sports World, Peterson is outselling his teammates 4-to-1 in the merchandise department (Patrick Reusse, Star Tribune).

http://www.startribune.com/vikings/story/1411260.html

International Champion

Rodger Federer has done it again. The Swiss native won his fourth U.S. Open in a row after beating Serbian Novak Djokovic 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 in straight-sets on Sunday. Federer, without question the most dominant player in men's tennis, now has twelve Grand Slam Titles to his name.

Federer, who is ironically close friends with superstar golfer Tiger Woods, continues to earn cash flow similiar to the iconic golfer. Federer earned $2.4 million in prize money and bonuses for being crowned champion before 25,230 at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City (Washington Post).

Federer is now two Grand Slams shy of Pete Sampras on the career list (Star Tribune).

http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/articles/2007-09-09/200709091189399621359.html

September 6, 2007

Intro

Hello all and welcome to my new blog! I don't have much to report on at this time, but hope you stick around and check out my blog in the coming weeks as I'm sure I'll have something that may interest you. Thanks for your support.
Take care,
Zach