August 2005 Archives
August 31, 2005
Climbing for the Vikes

Note: Mr. Cheer or Die is on vacation through September 7. (Having mastered seafood culinary skills, he is moving onto Spanish paella.) Writing today is guest author Daren Bloomquist.

Showing the Colors:
:: Planting a Flag on a Mountain Top! ::
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Click photo or HERE to view larger image

Hello again, fellow Viking fans. This is “NewMexicoGuy” writing to you again from Las Cruces, New Mexico. You might have read my first story COD put up on May 17 this year about growing up listening to the Vikings at our cabin on Whitefish Lake. COD asked me to put something together while he takes a brief and well-deserved hiatus from his work on The Vikings Underground. Instead of another story, I’m going to describe something that I am going to do to show my enthusiasm for the Vikings this season.

If you remember back to my original story, COD included a link to a photo of myself in the mountains just East of Las Cruces. That experience hiking to the 8990’ peak was the inspiration for my idea. I’m going climb to the summit for the fourth time this fall…once the rattlesnakes are all safely hibernating…and hoist a Vikings flag.

I’m convinced that the Vikings are going to reach greater heights this year. Raising the flag at the nearest, but highest peak in Southern NM would be my perfect way cheering on our team as they work towards a World Championship. I’m psyched about this season!

This will make for one great photo album. Maybe I can continue climbing various mountains across the country and world and plant a Vikings flag, snap a photo, and carry the flag back down and to my next target.

I'll probably write a brief story of my experience to document any funny occurrences, injuries, bone-chilling scares, and other memories. I'll come back here to ppost those stories. I will get a world map in my office and place a pin at the place of each flag raising.

I’m planning to make the 12-hour hike to the Organ Needles later this fall and you can count on me to send a photo from the Organ Mountains in Southern New Mexico. Go Vikes!

Posted by maasx003 at 7:42 AM
August 30, 2005
Voice of Philly-Vike

Note: Mr. Cheer or Die is on vacation through September 7. Writing today is guest author Robert W. Blake aka "Philly-Vike".

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Yes, we are hearing it one more time- the Vikings year is going to be better than ever, they are contenders for the Super bowl if Philadelphia self-destructs or sustain key injuries. Is this the year or is it just more hype to get us pumped up for the season?

Let us examine together the critical factors that will affect this upcoming season. There are of course both positive factors and negative ones we need to consider.

The positive, lets start with the good then focus on the bad.

1) Moss is gone. Yes, I said it he is gone and we will see a different team as a result. The offense in my opinion is going to be less predictable for opponents. No longer will the Vikings look to get the ball to keep the superstar happy and involved in the game. It means everyone will have to be a part of the offense to move the ball. Will we still pass down field, don't let Tice's words fool you about more of a running game, he has been saying it as long as he has been coach and we keep returning to the passing game. We will again this year.

2) Culpepper is a Viking. Man we all have to be happy now that he has progressed as he has as a QB that Green took the risk on him. Only Manning is a better pure passing QB in the league. I think this year Culpepper outshines Manning, why? See the above comment. Culpepper has progressed in his passing ability and reading the field. He is going to be able to pass to whoever is open and not laser in on Moss anymore. Opponents will not know who to cover with Burleson, Taylor, Robinson, Wiggins and the RB on the field at the time.

3) Defensive changes will make a difference. I think there will be some struggles the first few games but this team will hit stride as the season progresses. We have a defensive line and defensive backfield that will make an excellent combination. No time for the QB to pass and when they do, no one will be open. Do not buy into the vanilla schemes they have used in preseason, this team will be feared and by the 5th game is my prediction.

4) Zygi Wilf ownership carries over onto the field. his personal style with players and coaches will create a more cohesive team. You will see it on the field, more committed players because the owner is more committed to them. All you have to look at is installing air conditioning in the Winter Park locker rooms as one of the first orders of business to see that the owner is not about the bottom line anymore.

5) Running back depth will rule supreme. We are 3 or 4 starters deep at running back. truth be told whoever you want as the starter it does not matter because they will all produce on the field if given the chance.

The negative, where the season could unravel:

1) Special Teams is critical. The Vikings are still not investing in quality players at key positions and like last year, several games will be lost as a result. Add to it the lack of upgrading the coaching one more year you have a deadly formula. We have two kickers who when the pressure is on will shank their FG attempts. Add in the unsettled battle at punter and the formula becomes even deadlier. Games will be lost until the management takes this unit seriously.

2) The linebackers are going to be a weakness of the defense. I am not sold in Cowart or Harris being the solution to the problems at LB on defense. I think this will be where we get killed yet once again. The pass defense will be inadequate and the run defense will be a sieve if they get past the defensive line.

3) Change in offensive coaches will set the team back. I do not think Loney was a good choice as a replacement for Linehan. Although I was not a real fan of Linehan, you want consistency with coaching when other big changes have occurred such as the loss of Moss. He does not have the experience or skill to be a genius. That he says he wants to run more with Culpepper at QB is disheartening. Culpepper is deadly if given the time to pass.

4) Tice is still head coach. He has not made a good transition as coach. Yes, his hands were tied with a coaching salary cap, but he still is extremely bone headed when it comes to the critical game time decisions that need to be made. Just look back to last years Eagles game where he did not throw the red flag when Owens was out of bounds on the catch. He states he did not see it- that is why you have a guy in the booth and players to assist in making that decision. He will again make some crucial errors in judgment that lead to a loss or two.

5) The State government. I have to get my slam in here somewhere about the pathetic nature of Minnesota politics that still refuses to do squat about a new stadium. Even when excellent plans are dropped in front of them they still bury their head in the sand and say, "NO WAY WE WON'T PAY!" Trouble is if they do that long enough, the fans will end up paying with no team. The atmosphere does affect how the team plays on the field.

6) The offensive line is going to be a mess. I think it is the most unsettled part of the team just below special teams. You do not want the offensive line to be unsettled. The reason is the Vikings banked on unproven talent to be able to contribute significant roles instead of having solid veteran talent. Specifically, the RG or LG position depending on where Liewinski will play. It started with moving Liewinski, I knew it when I heard it that it was a bad idea. Sure enough Liewinski moved back to LG, where he should have remained all along to keep the line cohesive. Add in the dash of Birk's injury and again this could be a season killer. The Vikings gambled with young talent and it is looking as if it will not pay off, especially with the running game and lack thereof.

So how will the season unfold, you be the judge but mark my words these are the critical positive and negative factors you will hear about week in and out all season.

Posted by maasx003 at 8:46 AM
August 26, 2005
Tice Approval Rating for Week 3?

Note: Mr. Cheer or Die is on vacation through September 7.

Last week after the loss to the Jets, Tice's approval rating sank from 81% to 60%. A new poll is now posted to the left. So vote and let's see how Tice's approval stands after Chargers game.

You'll also see a new poll for the current Matt Birk issue.

Vikes Fan Injured in Iraq

Nothing like the following story to pull me out of vacation for a quick post. Thanks to Tim of Allen, TX for alerting me to this story. So many of our service men and women have been fighting bravely in Iraq. And they all deserve our prays and love.

Vikings fan LTC Erik Kurilla was injured in Iraq recently. And it's serious. You can follow the incredible and courageous exploits of Kurilla at this site....quite a story it is with some amazing photos.

Kurilla kept photos of his wife and children, and his Minnesota Vikings flag, with him in Iraq. After getting injured, his men were boxing up everything to ship stateside when they decided to keep the flag so everyone could autograph it. It wasn't long before there was no room left to sign.

The Commander of Deuce Four, Kurilla, was shot three times in combat. Despite being seriously wounded, LTC Kurilla immediately rejoined the intense and close-quarter fight that ended in hand-to-hand combat. LTC Kurilla continued to direct his men until a medic gave him morphine and the men took him away. The good news is that LTC Kurilla is now stateside and in stable condition.

Please take a few moments and send a card of encouragement to this very brave man and Vikes fan!!! PLEASE!

LTC Erik Kurilla
1st BN, 24th Infantry Regiment
Fort Lewis
Tacoma, WA 98433

Father, heal and save this warrior Lord. Be present even as we pray with those in charge of his care. Be present with his loved ones. Do this Lord as we pray in Christ's name, amen.


Posted by maasx003 at 9:30 PM
Moblog Tonight!

Follow along tonight as I go to the game and provide you instant photo messages on my newest addition to the Viking Underground...moblogging!

Moblog is a blend of the words mobile and weblog. A mobile weblog, or moblog, consists of content posted to the Internet from a mobile or portable device, such as a cellular phone or PDA. Moblogs generally involve technology which allows publishing from a mobile device.

I'll be posting tonight at the preseason game against the San Diego Chargers by taking photos with me mobile phone and instantly uploading them as new moblog entries at the Viking Underground Moblog site. If everything works as it should, that is!

Note: Sprint is currently having issues with its PCS Mail server and so this may be not working tonight.

Let me know what you think! And then you can read further on below and tell Cheesehead Craig why the Packers won't win the division...let alone finish ahead of the Bears and Lions!

Posted by maasx003 at 2:52 PM
Cheesehead Craig Speaks

Note: Mr. Cheer or Die is on vacation through September 7. Writing today is guest author Cheesehead Craig of the Oracle of Cheese and one of the Four Hoarsemen on the podcasts.

Cheesehead Craig's Top 10 Reasons the Vikes Won’t Win the Division (Let alone the Super Bowl!)

From the home office in Green Bay, WI here’s our Top 10 list of the day:

10. The Vikings have a history of choking more than Latrell Spreewell

9. Over half of the starters on defense are learning a new system and that equates to problems on defense no matter how many stars you supposedly have.

8. Darren Sharper is secretly a Packer spy and will sabotage the defense.

7. The OL is too injury prone and is going to be a weak spot for this team. Daunte cannot throw those pretty, deep balls if he has to run for his life.

6. The stupid inflatable Viking ship will deflate at the start of a game and trap the team under it, causing a embarrassment of Whizzinator proportions from which the team will never recover.

5. God hates the Vikings.

4. There is a conspiracy in the NFL against the Vikes right? I mean the Giants intercepting the Viking headset communications in the playoffs, the refs that are ALWAYS biased against the Vikes during the games, the NFL already has a contingency plan to keep the Vikings from winning a SB.

3. Vikings trusting their running game to a guy named Ciatrik? Isn’t that the drug that helps Bob Dole and his Erectile Dysfunction?

2. Mike Tice makes Jerry Glanville look like Bill Belichick.

And the number one reason the Vikes won’t win the division:
The Packers are just a better team.

Posted by maasx003 at 6:40 AM
August 24, 2005
Podcast with Bolt Talk

A fun pregame Podcast with Ray from Bolt Talk. Ray is a fellow blogger and podcaster and we discussed the upcoming preseason tilt, position battles worth watching, goals for each team going into the game, and stadium issues.

So why not join the hundreds of people who have listened to my previous podcasts and give a listen!

And yes, the Four Hoarsemen will be coming back in the very near future for another round-up of the local sports scene. We'll see if Cheesehead Craig has changed his high-and-mighty tune that the Packers will contend for the NFC North title.

For Podcasting Newbies

If you use iTunes (you don't need to have a iPod!) all you have to do is click the Subscribe button next to my podcast in the iTunes Music Store under the Sports category, and iTunes downloads the latest episode of my podcast. You can also subscribe to my podcast in iTunes with this The Viking Underground Podcast XML link. Choose Advanced "Subscribe to Podcast" and enter the URL. Here is how my podcast appears on iTunes:

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If you don't use iTunes, my podcasts are now listed via Podcast Alley. Be sure and vote for my site on Podcast Alley and also leave a comment! Every vote helps the podcast garner more recognition and helps get the word out. So take thirty seconds and vote!

And for the truly lazy, here is an embedded player. Just click on the Play button and choose your podcast!







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Group ID#: 15651
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More Beta Testing

Video blogging is coming. You'll see test videos now and then as part of testing out the html code. Let me know if you have any problems seeing the video below.



Posted by maasx003 at 11:35 PM
August 23, 2005
Fickle Confidence

Rome wasn't built in a day, so why am I worrying about the state of the Vikings after two early preseason games?

Lack of confidence is a funny thing, and manifests itself in different ways. Some folk become shrinking violets and others appear robust and opinionated, but both traits can be no more than a means of self-defense, masking an insecurity that leaves them feeling vulnerable and inadequate.

Now don't imagine this entry is about to turn into an agony column. No. It's just that I've seen a few things from the two preseason games and find myself suddenly made aware of the fact that I'm a bit defensive about this team right now.

It's been a few years now since Mike Tice was named head coach of the Vikings. In that time he has had time to completely renovate the team. One can safely say it is finally a team that has the Tice stamp upon it.

He's not rushed at it like a bull at a gate. It would have seemed foolish to completely retool a team that had been to two NFC Championship games under previous head coach Dennis Green. But then, Tice has not been idle either.

But the overall plan is not yet complete, and with players hurt the structure is not totally in place.

You'll understand my reluctance, then, to show my team around. Each time I watch them, whether in practice or in a game, I feel like an real estate agent, pointing out the many possibilities of a plot that is, as yet, relatively underdeveloped. And it spite of my boyish enthusiasm, at the end of the last several seasons when I look in the mirror there is a look of disappointment I find hard to mask. Or, maybe I'm being oversensitive.

You see, being a fan of the Vikings now for 40-odd years one would think that during this time someone would have gotten it right. Well, yes, the team looked great during the Green Era, but by the team he left the team had begun to crumble at the edges. And it never got to the Big Dance.

Tice's team wasn't likely to mirror its predecessor's maturity and winning percentage in a couple of seasons. That is, until this season. Big name free agents, revamped defense, All Pro quarterback all gave me wanting no less than a trip to Detroit in January.

Maybe I am the only fan who, as yet, can not quite see the potential of Tice's plan.

So, if at any point this coming season you are embarrassed by the state of the team, rest assured you are not on your own. Hang on to that fragile vestige of confidence and don't forget the Vikings are still the team to beat in the NFC North.

In the meantime, do as I am doing and decline any response to your co-workers and friends who ask "how is the team coming along so far this year". Don't give them any information until we've see the starters play that opening game against Tampa Bay.

Of course I won't be able to stick to it. But I am looking forward to the first person saying, "Wow! What a great team Tice has built. This is the year!"

It can't be too far off.

Cuts

The first team cuts were made and linebacker David Bamiro, receiver Avion Black, quarterback John Bowenkamp, center Shawn Lynch and tackle William Obeng were all let go. I had been following the progress of Bamiro closely and am sad to see him go. I hope he can catch on somewhere else.

Wish Granted

Let me first stress that I am not anti-Bennett. But based on his play during the first couple of preseason games I was asking to see MeMo and Ciatrick Fason get shots with the first team offense. Due to a sprained neck to Bennett, I will now be able to see whether or not it was Bennett or the offensive line as MeMo will get the start this coming Friday against San Diego.

Here We Go

One day after asking Tice to simply "kill" the high number of penalties the Vikes have been incurring and not assigning some type of committee or over-analyzing, guess what? Tice plans to hire two to three officials a day to observe team work in practice.

Um, I have a better idea. Go to the player’s wallets and start extracting cash for penalties. I've never met a person who does not react, and react for the better, when ol' George Washington is used as the incentive.

Fourteen penalties in the first preseason game. Seventeen in the second. What do you guess for the third?


Posted by maasx003 at 7:16 AM
August 22, 2005
No Red Flags, but Plenty of Yellow

"If you see a snake, just kill it - don't appoint a committee on snakes."

Ross Perot

Two preseason games have now been played. Thirty-one yellow hankies have been thrown against a team that has been working on skills, attitude, and mental errors during training camp.

Coach Mike Tice, who had a 81% approval rating going into the game against the New York J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets had better get a handle on the rash of penalties quick. Many of those penalties have been drive killers as well.

As Ross Perot said, I hope Tice doesn't create some sort of committee to deal with this issue. Just kill it, and kill it now.

"When building a team, I always search first for people who love to win. If I can't find any of those, I look for people who hate to lose."

Ross Perot

As I called for after the preseason tilt against the Kansas City Chiefs and will again call for this week...enough Michael Bennett. Enough tippy-toe tentatively towards the line ala Herschel Walker over a decade ago.

Coach Tice, with the two preseason games left to go please give MeMo a start and Ciatrick Fason a start in those games. If nothing else, I want to see each get considerable time playing with the first team offense. I want to know if MeMo and Fason really ARE that good or if they have just had the luxury of running against the second and third team opposing defenses.

I want a winner at running back. And right now, that does not appear to be Bennett. Disagree? Place your vote for opening day running back on the poll to the left.

"Eagles don't flock, you have to find them one at a time. "

Ross Perot

With Fred Smoot out and his return unknown, I'd like to see Ralph Brown moved from backing up Antoine Winfield to starting on the other side over Brian Williams. "Downtown" Ralph Brown has shown me he earns a starting nod in at least one of the remaining preseason games. He's been soaring and delivering some great hits.

"Failures are like skinned knees, painful but superficial."

Ross Perot

Last week after the win over the Chiefs, Tice ended up am amazing 81% approval rating with the Tice Job Approval poll. A new poll is now posted to the left. So vote and let's see how Tice's approval stands after the loss to the Jets.

Oh, and I gave ol' Pencil Ear a Somewhat Approve.

Play the Viking Underground Pick 'Em Contest

In order to join the group, just go to Pro Football Pick'em, click the "Sign Up" button (or "Join Group" if you are a returning user). From there, follow the path to join my private group and when prompted, enter the following information...

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Posted by maasx003 at 6:45 AM
August 19, 2005
Game Day Podcast

No SHOUT OUT! Friday today for all my loyal readers coming to see the usual Friday fare. It's game day!

Viking Underground Podcast Nine brings a very special guest into your audio world. Joining the VU for a recent podcast interview was Rod Simons, Sports reporter/anchor, for local 5 Eyewitness News (KSTP).

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Rod and I talk about the Vikings and the pre-season game against the Jets as well as some other fun topics.

Rod is a four-time Emmy and international Gabriel Award winner. He most recently won a 2004 Emmy for outstanding sports anchor and a 2004 Page One Award.

Vikings coach Mike Tice joins Rod every Sunday night starting in September for the "Sports Wrap" program. Tice and Simons will break down the Vikings game from earlier in the day and talk shop.

KSTP also has a very nice Vikings web page this season with commentary by Rod as well as Rich Gannon. Check it out.

If you use iTunes (you don't need to have a iPod!) all you have to do is click the Subscribe button next to my podcast in the iTunes Music Store under the Sports category, and iTunes downloads the latest episode of my podcast. You can also subscribe to my podcast in iTunes with this The Viking Underground Podcast XML link. Choose Advanced "Subscribe to Podcast" and enter the URL. Here is how my podcast appears on iTunes:

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If you don't use iTunes, my podcasts are now listed via Podcast Alley. Be sure and vote for my site on Podcast Alley and also leave a comment! Every vote helps the podcast garner more recognition and helps get the word out. So take thirty seconds and vote!

Posted by maasx003 at 6:10 AM
August 17, 2005
Tice Approval Rating

Not much time to write today. But, I have installed the Mike Tice Job Performance Rating poll. You can see the poll for August off to the left. I would think Tice will come in as "favorable" for August. But then, is Tice starting to go off the deep end a little bit and we'll have to worry about photos like this appearing on the front of magazines in the future?

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Tice has been going “Ditka” on the offensive line as of late. Maybe this coaching technique of wacky exercise drills and mocking will work. But will the national media consider it ”innovative” or just “plain wacky”? Where is Howie and Bradshaw when you need them?

Episode One took place earlier this week. Tice required his linemen to carry out their blocking regimen with their hands constrained by elastic straps to impose them to use appropriate blocking techniques. The players didn’t, and don’t, like it. Guard Chris Liwienski was quoted as saying, “I certainly hope it was a one-day thing."

Jump ahead a few days brings us to even stranger Episode Two. About halfway in the course of the Vikings' morning session, Tice stopped an offensive line drill, kicked out guard Adam Goldberg and called to a fan, a regular Joe, who was standing nearby.

Tice instructed this fan to take part as a stand-in during a no-contact drill. Goldberg responded by feigning to take his jersey off. Tice later referred to the episode as a "gag."

But one has to wonder how long the offensive line will put up with this type of behavior and go along with “the gag.”

So, it is time to start the Tice Job Approval rating. Each month I will post a new poll and provide a grid showing the previous history below so we can track his approval rating through the season. Take a moment to vote!

Oh, and I gave ol' Pencil Ear a Somewhat Approve.

Other News

Brad Johnson talks about his former team and coach.

Ty Law will not play Friday against the Vikings. Probably doesn't want to be caught on the Culpepper-Burleson highlight reel.

Posted by maasx003 at 6:30 AM
August 16, 2005
Greet Machine Recap

For a recap of the Chiefs-Vikes preseason game, I encourage you to check out the Greet Machine who usedmy tickets to watch the game this past Friday. A very nice recap and some nice photos.

Injury Updates

Anyone else getting worried that Fred Smoot might not see action this year? First it was the strained neck and now a injured right knee described as having a soft tissue contusion. Sure, an MRI done yesterday showed just that and no further damage. But MRI's have been wrong before. It would be a major blow to the team if something prevents Smoot from playing significant time this season...or not at all.

And adding insult to injury on an already undermanned unit placed under the microscopic eye of Tice, the offensive line took another hit when starting right guard Chris Liwienski sprained a shoulder in the late Monday practice.

And Kelly Campbell won't be helping on kick or punt returns anytime soon as an MRI showed a strained right quadriceps and The Mouth will be out another couple of weeks.

L.A. Update

Now then, which team deserves to be moved to L.A.? The Vikings, whose QB was a machine this past Friday? Or this team, whose QB..well, um, what does one say?

rumorm11.jpg

Thanks to Pro Football Talk for posting that photo.

Gas Prices

I paid $2.49 a gallon this past weekend. Ugh! Bad, or is it? Take at look at these prices:

Top 10 Gas Prices per gallon

1) Netherlands, Amsterdam $6.48
2) Norway, Oslo $6.27
3) Italy, Milan $5.96
4) Denmark, Copenhagen $5.93
5) Belgium, Brussels $5.91
6) Sweden, Stockholm $5.80
7) United Kingdom, London $5.79
8) Germany, Frankfurt $5.57
9) France, Paris $5.54
10) Portugal, Lisbon $5.35

Top 10 Best Gas Prices

10) South Africa Johannesburg $2.62
9) Nicaragua, Managua $2.61
8) Panama, Panama City $2.19
7) Russia, Moscow $2.10
6) Puerto Rico, San Juan $1.74
5) Saudi Arabia, Riyadh $0.91
4) Kuwait, Kuwait City $0.78
3) Egypt, Cairo $0.65
2) Nigeria, Lagos $0.38
1) Venezuela, Caracas $0.12

Anyone heading to Caracas? Bring me back a few hundred gallons!

I'm taking the glass half full outlook on the rising gas prices issue. This is the motivation needed to invent the next Big Thing. It wasn't all that long ago that personal computers were a pipe dream and now they are on every desk in every office and in most homes. Bill Gates had the next Big Thing.

Whether it be Zero-point energy extraction from the quantum vacuum or some other fantastic find, American know-how will turn rising gas prices into a win-win for the world with something that will change the face of energy across the world.

But in the glass half-empty mode, there comes a story out of Minneapolis is that Minneapolis school districts this year will have free breakfast for all students, championed by Superintendent Thandiwe Peebles as a tool for better learning. Yes, I understand that the chain is only as strong as the weakest link and everyone needs a fair shake. But, if a parent can't get his or her butt out of bed, put some Cheerios in a bowl and add some milk for a kid then the game is already lost. This country might as well just shut it down.

Oh, and that breakfast ain't free. It's costing someone. It's costing you .the good parent that is already feeding a healthy breakfast to your kid. Now, if you will excuse me I have some Cheerios to lay out for The Boy®.

Posted by maasx003 at 6:07 AM
August 15, 2005
Beta Testing

I know, I know. It is Monday which should mean another podcast. But I did two, count 'em, two extra ones last week so I'll let y'all catch up first. Besides, I was very busy this weekend at the Irish Fair watching my wee one participate with his dance school at three performances.

More podcasts are coming. Don't you worry your Vikings horns off. The extra two from last week, in case you are behind are:

Viking Underground Podcast Seven: Direct from Mankato and Vikes training camp you'll hear some sounds from practice, Mike Tice and Daunte Culpepper address the media, and you'll hear an exclusive Viking Underground interview with Chuck Foreman.

Viking Underground Podcast Eight: I spoke with two great Kansas City Chefs, er, I mean Chiefs fans about the opening preseason game Friday (8/12) night. They are Weirdwolf and First Down Elvis. Great guys, give a listen!

And my podcast now ranks #10 out of 222 sports podcasts on Podcast Alley. Wow! I'm in the Top Ten. Thank-you everyone who has taken the time to cast a vote there. If you haven't voted yet, please take a moment and do so! Every vote helps my podcasts become more visible and reach a greater audience.

Today's topic is beta testing. You know, beta.

beta ( bā ' te) - preliminary or testing stage of a software or hardware product; "a beta version"; "beta software".

Mike Tice rolled out the beta version of his team this past Friday night. Tice calls it tough guy football. We saw this crack at tough-guy football in the first quarter after the Vikes scored on their first series. The offense sent running back Michael Bennett and three tight ends to pound into the Chiefs' defense. The results? A pair of no-gain runs for Bennett and eventually a punt.

I jusy hope that Coach Tice, stubborn as he can be, doesn't try to stick with something during the regular season just to prove the point. I mean, if the team is down by 16 with 3 minutes left in the game is he still going to be pushing the tough-guy football set-up and run, run, run?

I don't think we have to worry. Tice is seasoned enough to go with Plan B if need be.

But that doesn't mean that I don't think there are things that shouldn't be changed in time for the game against the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets this week.

Please, remove Keenan Howry from kick returns and punt returns. I'm sorry, he's a nice guy and great team player but he does not have that spark. You know what I'm saying? Take the poll to the left and tell me who you think should be returning kicks this week.

Another thing that left me insatiated was the run defense. Yes, it was Priest Holmes and the high powered Chiefs offense. But geez Louise, I mean haven't you had enough already seeing RB's go virtually untouched for 15-yards!?!?

The defense did have a very nice goal line stance near the end of the first quarter that I thought showed a lot of promise. But I do not want to hear "the Vikes defense bends but does not break" being uttered by the media this season. Do you? Just break the opposing teams offense balls at the line. Three and out.

The offense was clicking, though, wasn't it? Daunte had it running like a friggin' Swiss watch out there. And I felt very comfortable when Big Bad Brad came in to relieve him. I liked the play calling and seeing all the WR's getting the ball. The running game needs some work. But remember, Mr. Birk is still out. The O-line WILL gel and the running game will improve. I thought Michael Bennett looked in fab shape.

The kicking game will be the most intense fight in camp. Kickers Paul Edinger and Aaron Elling both made long kicks....though I have to say Ellings was butt ugly. Give Edinger the edge right now. Punter Darren Bennett looked horrible. Just horrible. Travis Dorsch is ahead at this stage. Why? Let me flush this out for you.

Back at mini-camp, I saw Dorsch booming some kick-offs. The Vikes will keep Edinger and cut Elling. They'll then cut Bennett and keep Dorsch to punt and kick-off. Edinger will be strictly field goals and back-up for kick-offs. Brad Johnson is the holder so no need to keep Bennett around as his age is very much evident at this point. What do you think?

And didn't rookie Ciatrick Fason look great? Yea, like Mewelde Moore, he was running against the second and third string Chiefs defense...but the rook has some moves. Let's move him up the depth chart for one of the upcoming preseason games and see what he can do. Another great late round draft pick for the front office.

Speaking of beta testing, here are some blog beta tests of my own. Let me know how you like (or not like) these by leaving a Comment at the end of this entry. Based off of feedback from my training camp report, I wanted to try some new things out:

Video:
:: Daunte Tosses the Ball at Camp ::
A quick clip shows Culpepper drop back and rifle the ball
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Click photo or HERE to view file


Training Camp Photo:

:: Ferrari::
Daunte’s Ferrari

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Click photo or HERE to view image suitable for 8x10 print

Training Camp Photo:
:: Ferrari::
Daunte’s Ferrari
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Click photo or HERE to view image suitable for 4x6 print


Training Camp Photo:

:: WRs::
Nate Burleson & Travis Taylor

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Click photo or HERE to view image suitable for 8x10 print

Training Camp Photo:
:: WRs::
Nate Burleson & Travis Taylor
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Click photo or HERE to view image suitable for 4x6 print

Calling All Writers

I plan to be on vacation August 26 - September 7. During this time, I will be taking leave of this blog as well. I mean, I am on vacation and all! So, if you are an aspiring sports writer and want to see your thoughts posts here, e-mail by August 25 and I will make sure your entry gets posted. Send a mug shot too, so your adoring fans can see your cute face. You can talk about the preseason, training camp, players...what ever suits your fancy as long as it is Vikings (or a Packer put-down). My e-mail address can be found at the top right of this blog.

Get writing!

Posted by maasx003 at 11:37 AM
August 12, 2005
SHOUT OUT! Friday

Special Game Day Podcast

I recently spoke with two great Kansas City Chefs, er, I mean Chiefs fans about the game Friday night. They are Weirdwolf and First Down Elvis.

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They are part of the KC Superfans group and they make a greater impact on the community by helping to raise funds for charities, supporting Chiefs player charities, visiting hospitals, retirement homes and youth centers and also creating our own events for underprivileged kids. Like myself, Weirdwolf is in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame Visa Hall of Fans as the Chiefs Fan of the Year for the 2002 season. And we talked about his recent trip to Canton as part of that group's reunion.

If you don't have iTunes or an iPod, you can still listen to this podcast at Podcast Alley. Once there, simply click on the Podcast Player link. It's that easy. If you do use Podcast Alley, please take a very brief moment and place a Vote for my podcasts. Every vote helps to increase my podcast visibility and traffic!

I'll apologize ahead of time for some of the audio for this podcast as it was done via the speaker on my cell. I wanted to experiement using my cell. It's still great sound! So give the Viking Underground Podcast Eight a listen and get ready for the game!

Go Vikes!

SHOUT OUT! Friday

And here we go with the fourteenth edition of SHOUT OUT! Friday. Let me know if you liked SHOUT OUT! Friday by leaving a Commment at the end of this entry. And if you didn't, you can still leave one! Or if you'd like to give someone a personal SHOUT OUT! just e-mail me and I'll consider it for the following week.

This week's first SHOUT OUT! goes to Vikings fan Scott Calvin who lives in St. Louis and torments the local Rams fans with his RC Vikings plane! Yeah!

A SHOUT OUT!, literally, to 2-year old Shayla, giving her own "Shout Out " to Ragnar last week at training camp.

A very earned SHOUT OUT! to our local 5 Eyewitness News who have launched KSTP.com's new Vikings page. They have an exclusive column written by ex-Viking and NFL MVP Rich Gannon, plus tons of video. Plus, there'll be contests, and email alerts, and other news.

And finally, a huge SHOUT OUT! to the staff at Winter Park who worked quickly to fix some graffiti that had been spray-painted on the newly refurbished replica of a Viking ship this past Wednesday. I visited the ship on Thursday and saw no evidence of any graffiti. Workers were still finishing up a little work on the ship itself. Even the interior of the ship was getting a make-over. For complete history of the renovation please review my blog entries from July 3rd and July 27th.

If Any One Cares

My iPod favorite tunes for this second August weekend. In this case, the following ten songs played on my iPod in this very order as I wrote this entry. That is what I love about iPod...you just never know what will come on next!

1) Stranger Than Fiction by Joe Jackson
2) Live by Lenny Kravitz
3) Love Struck Baby by Stevie Ray Vaughan
4) Lucky Town by Bruce Springsteen
5) This Boy by the Beatles
6) Got My Own Thing Now by the Squirrel Nut Zippers
7) Towne's Blues by the Cowboy Junkies
8) Heartbreak Beat by the Psychedelic Furs
9) Lose Again by Alison Krauss & The Union Station
10) Out of This World by Jools Holland and Chrissie Hynde

As Bertie often uttered to Hubie, "Hee hee hee! Riot!!"

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Have a great weekend everyone! Come back Monday for another podcast. I'm not sure at the moment who the guest(s) will be as I have several irons in the fire. But I'm sure it will be a worthwhile listen.

See you then!

Posted by maasx003 at 6:29 AM
August 11, 2005
It's TiVO Time!

I just have enough time today to give y'all a heads-up on a couple of programs to watch or TiVo in the coming days and weeks.

Saturday (8/13) at 2:30 AM CST on the NFL Network (Channel 212 on DIRECTV): The 2004 Minnesota Vikings season recap

Sunday (8/21) at 12:30 PM CST on local Channel 5 (KSTP): The Minnesota Vikings: Purple Playback which is an hour long review of the 2004 season. Sorry you non-locals! Find a buddy to tape it for you!

If anyone else has other Vikings-related shows that we should be viewing, just leave a Comment at the end of this entry and let us know!

Coming SHOUT OUT! Friday

For Vikings game day I'll have another podcast up. This time, I'll be speaking with two very famous Kansas City Chiefs fans about the game and what to look for. See you then!

Posted by maasx003 at 6:24 AM
August 10, 2005
Training Camp Photos Part II

As I said in my earlier training camp report, my usual game-day buddy The Commish also joined me in Mankato. Here are some of the photos that he took while we attended the special teams practice.

Defensive Chief Ted Cottrell.

Fred Smoot arrives for practice.

Brad Johnson arrives for practice.

Pat Williams and his close, personal friend Mr. Belly arrive.

Mike Tice wears long sleeves despite the heat.

WR Marcus Robinson watches special teams practice.

Jim Kleinsasser joins the offensive line.

Daunte, joins his teammates on the field.

Special teams practices kick-offs.

I had forgot to leave this comment on my report from yesterday, but The Commish and I both agree that Tice will absolutely go postal if special teams screws up during the regular season. This team has been spending a tremendous amount of time on special teams since Mini-Camp waaayyyy back in May. So, if something bad happens on special teams in pre-season or regular season, turn your eyes immediately to Tice and watch.

OT William Obeng and Bryant McKinnie.

The D-Line chills out.

Rookie Troy Williamson on the sidelines.

Moe Williams and Mewelde Moore on the sidelines.

Some of the larger people on the Vikings roster.

Pulitzer Press winning, Nobel laureate, and Mensa International president, Mr. Cheer Or Die scans the sidelines for a photo op.

Mr. Cheer Or Die gets some sound bites from Mike Tice. Yes, that is a custom t-shirt.

Mr. Cheer Or Die uses his trusty iPod to get some audio from Daunte Culpepper.

You can hear Tice & Culpepper's as well as my interview with Chuck Foreman on my most recent podcast. If you haven't listened to a podcast yet, what are you waiting for? This is a perfect one to try. And you don't need an iPod to do it. Either download iTunes for free or simply use the Pod Alley player for free!

In Case You Missed It

From Pro Football Talk, this little nugget will put an extra hop in your step today:

"Even with Pro Bowl receiver Javon Walker in camp, a scout who has scrutinized the Packers' performance in a recent scrimmage with the Bills tells us that the Pack looked "awful."

Actually, "f--king awful" was the precise quote, with a twist of "very disorganized."

Although there's still a long way to go before the season opens, it's not a good sign for a squad that lost a lot in the offseason -- and did little in the way of upgrading the talent. Coupled with the uncertain status of head coach Mike Sherman and the lack of horses to make Jim Bates' defense as effective as it was in Miami, and it could be a long season for the Cheeseheads.

Then again, folks have been predicting doom and gloom for the Pack prior to each of the past couple of seasons. Meanwhile, they keep finding a way to win the NFC North. Still, it could be different this year. Even with a motivated and committed Brett Favre at quarterback, he simply might not have the surrounding pieces to be successful. And at could mean that former G.M. Mike Sherman soon will also add the word "former" in front of his remaining title with the team."

We'll have to get Cheesehead Craig back on for a podcast soon to discuss this.

Kudos to STrib

Best sports photo of the year showing Vikings rookie Erasmus James running sprints through a tunnel of teammates.

Posted by maasx003 at 7:09 AM
August 9, 2005
Rolling Thunder

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Note: All the photos viewable for this blog entry have been uploaded at 1536 x 1024 pixels which is suitable for an 8 x 10 print. This means the photo will be very large when you open it and you may have to save it to actually view the full size. But I know how many of you like to use my prints for gifts and autographs. This is my gift to you for being such great fans of the Vikings and avid readers of this blog. You are more than welcome!

While eating breakfast Monday morning inside the stately Maas mansion, a white oscillating fan blew gusts of hot air across my sports page. It was a perfect artifact of place and time. I folded the damp sheets, and set off for Mankato.

Along the way I picked up my usual game-day buddy, The Commish, in Shakopee. Where it started to rain. Heavily. Rolling thunderstorms were hitting the area all the way to Mankato. Drat my luck.

Once in Mankato, we stopped to pick up our media credentials discovered that the entire practice schedule had been changed. Instead of viewing a 10:30 AM to 1 PM practice, the players would be lifting all morning. This would be followed by a 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM special teams practice. The afternoon practice would be from 4:30 PM until 7 PM. The Commish and I would have to leave after the Special Teams practice....being the good married husbands we are. Drat my luck!

So, being red-blooded American males, we scouted for a Chipotle and had an early lunch followed by dessert at Cold Stone. Now we were ready for practice and the skies were actually clearing.

We headed back and parked in the media parking lot behind Gage Hall, the residence of the players while in Mankato. I parked the ol' BWM by another import. This one a bit more expensive. Can you guess who owns it? First clue, Florida plates. Second clue, he just inked a new contract. I just hope he never decides to test out the speedometer that ran to 220 MPH! What a beautiful car this is.

Around noon, I stepped out onto the practice field, shouldered my various camera bags, and headed toward the goal posts. The sun beat down on the crown of my head, and my shirt collar was damp with sweat. The rain from the morning coupled with the soaring temps was going to make it miserable. I pulled a bandana from my pocket and wiped my brow. For a Monday, the practice field was getting pretty crowded, a number of media types down for the day. It was going to be the hottest practice of Vikings training camp thus far. And it was the day I chose to attend. Drat my luck!

Here is a 360-degree panoramic shot of the practice fields. As I said, this was a special teams practice so here is a 180-degree panoramic shot of the players in action.

There was a good sized crowd watching the special teams practice. And the V.I.P. special section seemed to be enjoying it as well. Maybe not so much for the common fan.

One of the very first players to arrive for this special teams practice was Fred Smoot. All the players, and I mean all the players, were present for special teams practice unless otherwise excused. The Commish commented that this was a great idea on Coach Tice's part to make sure that all the players recognized the importance of the special teams unit.

Since I only attended the hour long special teams practice, the number of my photos was limited. And I seemed to draw towards a few players that just seemed to capture my eye.

Earlier this season I had told you to keep an eye on rookie wide-receiver Chris Jones. Here's another rookie name to watch and I think stands a real chance of landing a spot on the team, linebacker David Bamiro.

Bamiro is a 6'-2", 220 lb. linebacker out of a college called Stony Brook. Heard of it? Neither have I. But you have heard of his high school which is Central Islip, New Jersey. Still not ringing a bell? Central Islip is the high school that the current Vikings head coach, Mike Tice attended. So, Bamiro has a leg up in that regard.

I observed Bamiro play special teams on the kick-off squad. He showed great poise and speed and best of all, did not get chewed out by Tice once....which was saying something because despite Tice being all smiles at the start of practice there was a lot of F-Bombs flying during special teams drills.

Another player that I think is destined to make the team due to his special teams play is TE T.J. Cottrell. It does not hurt Cottrell that Tice, a former TE himself, seems partial to keeping TE's around. Especially given the injury bug that hit the team in this area last season.

Right now, Napoleon Harris is assigned the first team strong-side linebacker spot. I say right now because Tice made a point to talk about Keith Newman giving Harris a run which you can hear on the podcast.

Darren Sharper, the Packer Killer, was also early onto the practice field. He was quickly followed by Mark Wilf, the new President of the Vikings. Mark Wilf is brother to new owner and Vikings Chairman and Zygmunt Wilf. Zygi was all over the field today observing his team and tossing the ball. Zygi even spent some time speaking with Troy Williamson on the sidelines. I rarely observed Red McCombs speaking to players on the field during practice. After games, yes but not during practice. I like this new aspect that Zygi is bringing to the players and I could tell that the players are responding positively to their new owner.

Also present and looking very relaxed were P-Will and K-Will. I just love that photo...so here's another. I can't wait to see these two studs lined up on a real game. Can you!?!?

P-Will, whom I've nicknamed The Planet also showed some amazing dexterity for a man his size.

Kicker Paul Edinger seems to be coming on and I think we have a real race developing for the kicker position. I thought Aaron Elling, due to his kick-off distance might be running away with the spot but Edinger seems to be getting more umpf on the ball.

We saw a lot of players take reps today at kick-off receiving. Troy Williamson was once again taking kick-offs and looking comfortable at it. He was perhaps being a bit too cautious about making sure the ball was caught, but I'd rather have that than a fumble. And Williamson came up with the ball every time.

Also receiving kicks was RB Mewelde Moore. On one return, rookie RB Ciatrick Fason was the 'up man' and fielded the kick and looked good carrying the ball downfield, trailed by Moore.

Also present was Moe Williams who I did not see return a kick but I could have been elsewhere and missed it. Same for Kelly Campbell who was actually a little banged up today.

One thing The Commish and I commented on was the lack of bodies on offensive line. OG Shannon Snell was out due to a family emergency and Matt Birk is still on the PUP list. So, who else but Mr. James Kleinsasser to provide an extra offensive line body for practice. And it seems like OG Chris Liwienski has stepped into the roll of offensive line leader for the time being.

Of course, mammoth OT Bryant McKinnie was also in practice and looking very focused, working out here with OT William Obeng.

A drill I had not seen the OL perform before was a hand-slapping drill with one player trying to place his hands on the other players jersey before it was slapped away.

The wide-receivers were out playing catch and, from what I could tell, making Daunte Culpepper laugh. And one receiver in particular is making Culpepper very happy as Daunte made a point of it which can be heard on my podcast.

Travis Taylor and Nate Burleson seemed to be very chummy today, perhaps a sign of these two becoming your game-day WRs. But then, all the WR's were all smiles so I could be just spitting into the wind. For now, just call it a feeling.

They certainly were having a relaxed time during special teams drills, not having to participate until the hands-team was called. Burleson passed the time making up some bizarre pass-tip game much to the delight of Taylor.

Misc. Photos

David Bamiro has that LB look.

Napoleon Harris warms up.

TE T.J. Cottrell warms-up.

LB E.J. Henderson lines up for a drill.

TE T.J. Cottrell does a stretching drill.

LB E.J. Henderson in stretching drills.

David Bamiro in warm-ups.

TE T.J. Cottrell in warm-ups.

LB E.J. Henderson during warm-ups.

Paul Edinger during warm ups.

Strength & Conditioning Coach Kurt Shultz.

Tice was very much a part of special teams practice.

David Bamiro before he heads down the field for kick-off coverage.

David Bamiro on the line for kick-off coverage.

TE T.J. Cottrell against the Vikings tent background.

TE T.J. Cottrell on kick-return team practice.

Tice works with TE T.J. Cottrell on kick-return team practice

David Bamiro takes a breather.

David Bamiro and others race down the field on kick-coverage drills.

T.J. Cottrell defends against LB Quincy Stewart and LB E.J. Henderson during kick-off drills.

T.J. Cottrell and Raonall Smith during kick-off drills.

Nice shot of T.J. Cottrell during drills.

With the crowd in the background, T.J. Cottrell awaits the kick-off.

T.J. Cottrell races back for kick-off coverage.

T.J. Cottrell and WR Ryan Hoag. Hoag took some heat from Tice during drills on Monday.

Napoleon Harris looks on with Ken Irvin and Fred Smoot.

Brandon Newton works out on the offensive line.

Could Marcus Robinson be looking at the #3 WR position?

Nate Burleson and Travis Taylor goofing around.

Daunte Culpepper tossed a few balls.

More Nate Burleson and Travis Taylor.

Jermaine Wiggins and Brad Johnson talk hair styles.

Adam Goldberg and the boys.

OG Brandon Newton out of Hofstra.

T.J. Cottrell looks for someone to hit.

T.J. Cottrell races downfield.

Kevin Williams looks on during special teams practice.

Kenechi Udeze during practice.

Kelly Campbell dressed but did not practice.

Nate Burleson recovers a on-sides kick.

Special Teams Coordinator makes a point during practice.

Michael Bennett reaches for a pass.

Troy Williamson and Keenan Howry watch practice.

Spencer Johnson and Darrion Scott near the end of special teams practice.

RB Butchie Wallace, TE T.J. Cottrell, LB David Bamiro, and LB Sam Cowart on the sidelines.

Daunte gets some fluids.

Michael Bennett, Mike Tice, and Willie Offord during drills.

LB Napoleon Harris looks on during drills.

The proud new owners, Mark and Zygi, leave the field with the team.

Podcast Update

A new podcast is now up and running. You'll hear some sounds from practice. You'll hear Mike Tice and Daunte Culpepper address the media after practice. Tice talks about an interesting battle between Keith Newman and Napoleon Harris at SAM. Hear Culpepper speak about Travis Taylor and others. And you'll hear an exclusive Viking Underground interview with Chuck Foreman. See if you can recognize the voice asking Daunte about rookie receivers.

Give it a listen!

Posted by maasx003 at 10:30 AM
August 8, 2005
Podcast, It Must Be Monday

And we're back with another podcast. On the podcast this week are Cheesehead Craig Craig of the Oracle of Cheese and Shane Nackerud of the Greet Machine. You'll remember these two from the previous Four Hoarsemen podcast. Stick and Ball Guy could not join in today so it was just a trio shooting the bull about a friendly backyard competition, Packer smack, stadium talk, and more.

The boys were pitch hitting today as I was to have a voice from Winter Park but that person and I could not connect last week.

Important Links: The Viking Underground Podcast XML

If you don't use iTunes, my podcasts are now listed via Podcast Alley. Be sure and vote for my site on Podcast Alley and also leave a comment! Every vote helps the podcast garner more recognition and helps get the word out. So take thirty seconds and vote!

Training Camp Update

If all is right with the world Monday morning, I will be driving south on Highway 169 with The Commish on our way to Mankato. I hope to start posting my 2005 training camp report on Tuesday. To tide you over once you've listened to the podcast are some photos from co-worker Joe Conely who was down in Mankato recently. Thanks Joe!

Zygi Wilf arrives on the scene

Zygi portrait

Zygi is thinking, "Life is good!"

Zygi & Joe

Tice, Sharper, Culpepper

Culpepper addresses the faithful

Sharper addresses the faithful

Zygi tosses some purple Nerf balls into the crowd

Zygi, Tice, and Culpepper toss some purple Nerf balls into the crowd

Maas Family Rules The Fair!

Yes, between myself, The Wife®, and The Boy® we pretty much dominated the Hennepin County State Fair in the open exhibition categories that we chose to enter. You can read about it over at my wife's blog!

Posted by maasx003 at 2:57 PM
August 5, 2005
SHOUT OUT! Friday

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And here we go with the thirteenth edition of SHOUT OUT! Friday. Let me know if you liked SHOUT OUT! Friday by leaving a Commment at the end of this entry. And if you didn't, you can still leave one! Or if you'd like to give someone a personal SHOUT OUT! just e-mail me and I'll consider it for the following week.

This week's first SHOUT OUT! goes to Patrick Leopold who heads up the Vikings Childrens Fund. Leopold implemented the Vikings Victory Wristband to help raise additional funds. It only costs you a buck at your local Taco Bell. I got mine Thursday. Got yours yet!?!?

Update: I spoke to Patrick this morning (8/5) as I was getting a ton of e-mail requests from the non-TC residents asking how to get their own wristband. Patrick told me that the deal is exclusive through Taco Bell. He has looked into selling them on The Plaza on gamedays but because of the exclusivity deal, the Vikings cannot. The only way to get your wristband is through local Taco Bells. And I'm sorry, I just don't have the time and manpower to meet individual requests. So, contact a local friend or plan to get your butt to the Twin Cities for a game and make sure you stop by a Taco Bell!

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A very smelly SHOUT OUT! to the Air quality officials in the San Joaquin Valley who made a 'discovery' recently. (I can't make this stuff up!)

A million-dollar-idea SHOUT OUT! to GadgetBargains.com for this great game-day idea. As I understand it, the Green Bay area has already depleted the companies stock.

A SHOUT OUT! to Chris Lancaster who recently had a bad experience with his bank. Ever have this happen to you?

A SHOUT OUT! to Pro Football Talk for a nice, and well deserved rip, of the Vikings defense. The quote was, "Vikings CB Ken Irvin says that the presence of Randy Moss in past training camps made the defense better (we wonder just how bad the team's defense would have been over the past five years if Randy hadn't been there to help pull them up to, you know, No. 31)." Zing!

If Any One Cares

My iPod favorite tunes for this first August weekend. These songs are in celebration of my fourteenth wedding anniversary to The Wife®:

1) Something 'Bout You Baby I Like by Tom Jones
2) If I Were a Carpenter by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash
3) Let's Stay Together by Al Green
4) Real Love by The Beatles
5) Lithium Sunset by Sting
6) Peace Is Just a Word by the Eurythmics
7) Here Comes My Girl by Tom Petty
8) Baby, I Love Your Way by Peter Frampton
9) Buona Sera by Louis Prima
10) Dreaming of You by Selena

Have a great weekend everyone! Come back Monday for another podcast. I'm not sure at the moment who the guest(s) will be as I have several irons in the fire. But I'm sure it will be a worthwhile listen.

And I'll be in Mankato, Monday. So, if all goes well, you can start looking for updates starting Monday evening complete with pictures and additional podcasts.

See you then!

Posted by maasx003 at 8:08 AM
August 3, 2005
Emotion S'motion

Once again I have caused great angst amongst the faithful followers of the Minnesota Twins. Being a self-admitted bandwagon Twins fan, I have pointed out twice within the last 30-days that it is time for Twins fans to hang up their baseball jersey's and take out the purple ones and get ready for a dynamic season of Vikings NFC dominance.

This all started in early July with Twins fans professing a dislike of us Vikes fans with the most famous quote from one Twins fan being:

"God, I can't stand Vikings fans sometimes. It isn't enough that I have to listen to the Superstar [Mike Morris of KFAN] dribble about every possible development even though we are months away from the regular season. "The Vikes are interviewing for a new assistant to the equipment manager, the organization prefers someone with more starching experience than the last assistant." "Tice decided to wear his pencil in the right ear today in support of gay pride month, he also is considering making it the ear of choice for in-game use since he thinks going across his body to reach it is quicker and because it doesn't bump into his mic and earpiece as much. 12 months of Vikings Hype a year when there are other games going on in town makes me care less and less about mounting losses to the Packers and Bears each season. Unlike the other teams in town the Vikes are proven under achievers and have brought more bad apples to the Twin Cities than the Twins, T-Wolves, Wild, North Stars, and the Federal Court house combined."

The latest came Monday, via the wonderful Stick and Ball Guy site (bookmark it if you haven't already). Under the blog entry No Trade, Little Hope, SBG was lamenting the Twins season to which I left this comment:

At 8/01/2005 8:42 AM, Mr. Cheer Or Die said…

Reusse said it best this morning, "The Vikings' first exhibition game arrives in 12 days against Kansas City. You probably didn't need permission, but go ahead, citizens ... point 100 percent of your attention for the local pros in that direction."

Which was followed by a comment from Frightwig, another blog writer who I also enjoy reading.

At 8/01/2005 2:11 PM, frightwig said…

What, people are expecting bigger things from the Vikings this year?! That disappointment will be there waiting for you when the leaves have fallen off the trees. There's no need to make a rush for it.

So, FW expects the Vikes to fall flat on their keisters this year. FW implied that it would be better to watch the Twins continue to lose games at 1929 Wall Street Market collapse pace than turn attention south to Mankato. I then replied back.

At 8/01/2005 3:39 PM, Mr. Cheer Or Die said…

FW: Thanks for the cannon fodder that I can use later this year :0

At 8/01/2005 8:35 PM, frightwig said…

COD, Tice is still the coach, they traded Moss for picks, their top rusher is suspended for drug use, their #2 rusher is the QB, the team had no Pro Bowlers last season, and the defense last season was 26th in points allowed and 28th in YPG. Why should you expect the Vikings to become a serious contender this year?

See what I mean? Where's the love? This has also stumped Shane at the Greet Machine (and of Four Hoarsemen fame...recall Podcast Three!?!?) where he also is writing about this topic today. Shane gave me a quote for this entry:

"I think there is an unhealthy jealousy from Twins fans when it comes to the Vikings. I know a lot of Vikings fans who are more fans of the Vikings than Twins fans, but you never hear the kind of negativity from these Vikings fans regarding the Twins that you hear from Twins fans regarding the Vikings. For some reason hardcore Vikings fans have no problem cheering for the Twins when appropriate, but I've noticed hardcore Twins fans do not reciprocate when it comes to the Vikings. I have never understood it."

Neither have I Shane, neither have I.

Maybe it is my caustic style of pointing out the obvious in my comments left at these Twins blogs, but I don't think so. I think the animosity towards Vikes fans from Twins fans runs deeper.

Big Brother Complex: Without a doubt, the Vikes have a much larger following of fans than the Twins due. This creates a Big Brother Complex that forces Twins fans to continually take second place at the dinner table despite the Twins having two World Championships to the Vikes goose egg.

According to FSN North, Twins baseball averaged a 6.8 rating during 17 telecasts in the month of July. On WFTC UPN 29, five July telecasts averaged a 6.1 share.

Know what the Vikes pull? Remember that Packer playoff game last season? In Minneapolis, the Packers-Vikings game had an astounding share number: 77% of the TVs on at the time were tuned to the game.

The Dome: It is no secret that the Twins were strong armed into playing at the Metrodome which is nothing more than an indoor football field. The Dome is a horrible place to watch a baseball game and Twins fans won't let us forget it.

Our Emotions: In playing this blog entry out with Stick and Ball Guy, also of the Four Hoarsemen, he succinctly summed up this great debate. SBG wrote in an e-mail to me:

"I'm both a Vikes and Twins fan, but I am a logical Vikings fan and an emotional Twins fan."

I would say SBG got it right. Twins fans are heavily invested into the Twins via blood, sweat, and tears. They have battled most of the way through a very long season and seen hopes of another division title erode before their eyes. They hoped for a Wild Card spot and while not mathematically elimimanted, recent play has taken that hope away as well.

Along comes Mr. Thorn In Their Side expounding the virtues of packing it in and turning attention to the other game in town. Ouch!

We, as Vikings fans are emotionally attached to our beloved Purple. We will bitch and moan; holler and cheer; stomp our feet in jubilation and disgust. But we don't give up on them until the last whistle has blown.

I'm not emotionally attached to the Twins. So, I could logically see weeks ago that this season was a bust. So maybe try this next time you see a buddy sporting a Twins jersey, put your arm around their shoulder and let them know you understand and that next year can't come fast enough.

And then, let them know the Vikes are going to be pretty damn good this year and they should look forward to the coming season. Whether they want to get emotionally involved in the Purple is up to them.

Have a thought of your own in this debate? Leave a Comment at the end of this blog entry.

He Hate Me

Not only have I been pissing off Twins fans this week, I've even torked off a few Vikes fans. I'm a Equal Opportunity Pisser Offer!

Take this lovely thought out gem from someone calling himself Waterboy. He takes umbrage with my tongue-in-check asserstion posted in Tuesday entry that I 'discovered' Chris Jones before the STrib did:

"has a Doozy on this one. He says almost exactly the opposite of what the STRIB article says about Mr. Jones, and yet claims that he saw it before everyone else.

My question, is it really difficult to predict that a 6'3" receiver with good speed has some upside? I bet if you check out a few COD quotes from previous camps, he said the same thing about Kenny Clark. lol

Everybody is on the f...ing field because they have some unique talents. Wow, this receiver is tall and he's kinda fast. He has upside. Amazing evaluation talents there, COD."

Waterboy's world must be very humorless indeed. Or else he doesn't understand that bloggers actually rule the world with our special super human powers of, um, writing. We actually control Wall Street, the orbit of the sun, and the winners of the Belmont Stakes for the next 25-years. And we are also quite full of ourselves in mock jest.

Take Stick and Ball Guy for instance. Go to SBG's site and you see "SBG, an Online Magazine (with Billions of Readers)".

I often write about my close, personal friend Sid Hartman. I sincerely hope none of you think I actually know the man. Met him once. Don't need to again.

You see, the point is, those who read this blog daily and actually take the time to exchange a few e-mails with me actually know what's fluff and what's not. Of course, the little ;0 symbol that I inserted into the Chris Jones entry from Tuesday might have also been a clue....which 98% of you caught.

That's what separates the men from the, er, waterboys! (Gotta pat myself on the back for that one!)

Seriously people. If you have an issue, e-mail me. Both my work and home e-mail are posted in the upper right. I respond to most inquiries the same day. And it usually leads to comments like this left on Podcast Alley recently:

[The Viking Underground is] quickly becoming some of the most influential Vikings information and commentary in the Twin Cities.
Submitted By: dtweete

Now, that fan has his facts, Jack! Pretty soon I'll be surpassing SBG with Trillions of Readers!

But if you choose to just rip me on message boards, that's fine too. It brings in more hits to the blog! Win-win baby!

Bluetooth™ Technology

We upgraded our cell phones over the weekend. The main reason is I wanted to get The Wife® a cell phone that was Bluetooth™ capable. Last year, we had purchased a Chrysler Town and Country minivan with something called UConnect™ .

UConnect™ is Chrysler Group's hands-free in-vehicle communication system . Simply put, I connected the new Bluetooth™ compatible phone into the minivan interior and the UConnect™ system automatically lowers the volume on the minivan's audio system and broadcasts the incoming call. A microphone in the rearview mirror takes all my wife's voice commands while she keeps her hands on the wheel and her eyes on the road. And it works great!

Since the call is actually broadcast throughout the speakers, I now make a habit of placing a call each morning to The Wife® when I get to work. This is so that I can share jokes with The Boy® sitting in the back seat while The Wife® delivers him to preschool. This gives me and The Boy® even more time to chat as I'm out of the door some mornings before he has even arisen.

The Wife® loves it. UConnect™ uses advanced voice recognition that empowers her to dial using simple voice commands (example: 'Dial 123-456-7890' or 'Dial Brian at work'). In addition, the UConnect™ address book enables her to store up to 32 names and four numbers per name. She spent part of Sunday in the minivan loading her address book into her UConnect™ voice commands in the minivan.

We live in great times, I tell you what!

Me? I upgraded to a Treo 650 smartphone. It took me 2 days to figure out how to turn it on. I hope to use it to do some phone blogging like my hero SBG. If anyone out there ows a Treo 650....drop me a line with all your hints and sage advice. I need it!

Fourteen Years

Today is the fourteenth wedding anniversary of Mr. & Mrs. Cheer Or Die. I know my life has been for the better. I don't know about The Wife®, though. Having to put up with me all these years.

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In honor of our wedding aniversary, I go back to 1996 and give you some memories from my personal photo files from training camp then. Memories can be a very good thing. How many of these players do you recognize....and wish were still playing for the team? Leave a Comment below.

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Shameless Plug

If you haven't already, please go out to Podcast Alley and vote for me. Every vote helps to increase my podcast exposure and increase visibility. Thanks!

Posted by maasx003 at 8:07 AM
August 2, 2005
Ahead of the Curve, Again

Back on June 14, 2005 when I brought you my report from Development Camp I had pointed out a young, promising receiver named Christopher Jones. Looks like the Star Tribune is once again reading and stealing my stuff ;0 because here is what the paper had to say about Jones today:

"He isn't likely to remind anyone of Randy Moss any time soon -- probably ever -- but free agent receiver Chris Jones has made a bit of an impression already in camp. The rookie from Jackson State has nice size (6-3, 203 pounds) and catches most everything thrown at him. He had one of the more impressive catches in camp thus far on Monday morning, stretching his entire body parallel to the ground to catch a Sean Hill pass near the sideline. While the Vikings almost certainly don't have room for him in their five-man group of active receivers, Jones could be a prime candidate for the practice squad."

Looks as if Jones trook my advice from that June blog entry. Here is what I wrote then (complete with my photos):

After mini-camp, I received an e-mail from one of our servicemen stationed in Iraq, PFC Tremond Miller, who wondered how a childhood friend, Christopher Jones, was faring in practice. So, I took a lot of photos of Jones in action.

Jones reminds me a lot of Matthew Hatchette and I think shows great upside should he make the team. He, like a lot of receivers Tuesday, had the dropsy’s and just needs to hold onto the ball a bit better. His height, 6’3” plays into his hands. He was also on the kick-off team so perhaps his initial future lies with the special teams unit.

I hope Jones makes the team. I think he has a good head and great upside. I'll keep an eye out for him when I'm down on the practice field August 8.

Shameless Plug

The Wife® made it through her garden tour event last Saturday. Over 160 people attended and had the opportunity to visit her gardens. She writes about the event this week in her blog. And for those who liked my panoramic development camp photos, I posted right panoramic photos of her gardens so be sure and check those out.

The Wife® has also started posting what she call's Grahamism's...which are summaries of thoughts that come of our 5-year old's head. Very funny...and often true. Kid's just know how to 'nail it', don't they?

What Ever Happened to Robert Griffith?

It appears that hard-hitting Robert Griffith is now acting. I received this e-mail from a publicist on Monday:

All Pro Robert Griffith (who played with The Vikings, Browns and now the re-vamped Cardinals) is in talks to join the cast of next year’s much anticipated film SIN-JIN SMYTH.

SIN-JIN SMYTH (Written/Directed by Ethan Dettenmaier) is set against a Halloween legend that warns of the midnight appearance of the Devil in a quiet Kansas cemetery, as two Federal Marshals (Played by Richard Tyson and Jason Hildebrandt, both of BLACK HAWK DOWN) report to the small town of Shin Bone, Kansas for the midnight prisoner transfer of a man with no past and no identity. He is known only as…SIN-JIN SMYTH! Other than that storyline, not much has been revealed about the film except the fact that the director wants to ‘keep it dark and kick your teeth in!’

On the subject of adding Griffith to an already high-profile cast Dettenmaier hit us with a statement in which he said “Griff can knock people out better than anybody! He’s built for this kind of thing and---from an industry stand point---it’s high-time we kicked in a demonstration of what the man can do!”

Griffith (Who had logged substantial TV time along with several music videos) will be playing a rogue Federal Agent known only as…CABLE SIXX (a character also rumored to appear in the upcoming comic book) who gets locked and loaded for a series of violent fire-fights throughout the picture.

Good luck to Griffith in his new career path! He was a hell of a player for the Vikes!

Run, Ricky, Run!

For all those Fantasy Football owners out there, take note. Early word out of Miami is that running back Ricky Williams looks better than the team expected in his return to football after a one-year layoff.

He's in better shape than the team anticipated, and not as light as many feared -- especially since he was down to 190 pounds not long ago. How have they done it?

Incentive. Take a look at this photo from the Dolphin's training camp recently.

ricky2zq.jpg

Yep, that should do it.

Posted by maasx003 at 7:04 AM