September 30, 2004
The deal in Washington
Before I get into the stadium deal that was crafted in Washington, I would just like to say how disgusted I am with Major League Baseball. MLB has taken a once proud franchise, a once proud baseball city, and through mismanagment, broken promises and neglect it has shattered the hearts of the fans left in Montreal. After going through the contraction scare with the Twins I know what it feels like to think you have lost your favorite team. I know I am probably in the minority, but I think there was a lot MLB could have done to salvage the Montreal situation, but instead they choose to stick it to the fans and try to make even more money. I am disgusted and I'm in complete agreement with Jim Caple when he said:
If tonight's game is to be the final one at Stadium Olympique, I suggest the fans enjoy some final smoked meat sandwiches, sing "O, Canada'' at the top of their lungs, cheer their Expos and then give baseball the raised middle finger it deserves.
Having said that, this is unfortunately how the game is played. Rather than look in the mirror, MLB has decided to blame the fans and punish them for the league's own neglect. Seeing what has happened in Montreal, I can't help but think about the future of the Twins. If you think this couldn't happen in Minnesota, you have a very short memory. The team will not play in the Metrodome forever, that is a fact. We can either make something work, or we can accept the fate of Montreal as our own fate. It is as simple as that. And speaking of making something work, as a result of this Montreal debacle we have yet another example of a metropolitan area that has been able to figure out a plan to build a new stadium. Washington DC, my hat is off to thee.
According to articles discussing the new plan, the new stadium in DC will cost $440 million:
Under the financing plan described by District officials, the city would sell about $440 million in bonds; the proceeds of the bond sale would pay for stadium construction, land acquisition and other improvements.
To pay back the bonds, the District would rely mainly on a tax on the District's big businesses and new and existing sales taxes within the stadium. Less than 18 percent of the money to pay for the District's stadium would come from the team -- through rent payments -- over the first 20 years of the deal, according to projections.
Wow. That is a sweet deal for MLB and the new owner of the Expos/Senators. Less than 18% of the stadium will be paid for by the team. Typcially a team will pay at least 33% of a stadium's cost. Another article describes the plan this way:
Their financing package relies on annual lease payments from the team owners of about $5.5 million; taxes from in-stadium goods and services, including tickets, concessions and parking; and a gross-receipts tax on the nearly 2,000 city businesses that take in more than $3 million a year.
Let's put it another way. To pay off the bonds the city is probably going to have to come up with around $25 million a year. Lop off $5.5 million in rent payments by the team, and you've got around $20 million that the city will have to come up with. An interesting thing to think about, though, is that taxes on in-stadium goods and services really don't add up to much. According to the Minnesota Stadium Tax Force Appendix A: Summary of Revenue Sources, if the Twins were to divert sales taxes on food and alcohol and a 10% ticket tax to a new stadium, that would only total about $2.6 million. So, let's give Washington the benefit of the doubt and say they are expecting around $5 million from these sources. That means the taxes on parking and the tax on businesses making more than $3 million are going to have to come up with the extra $15 million a year. That business tax is very creative and unique in the stadium game, and it is actually supported by the businesses themselves! I would love to see the actual breakdown of the plan so if anyone has a link or documentation of how all the money shakes out, please send it my way. This plan has also apparently impressed those infamous "sports economists":
But by targeting baseball and its fans, according to sports economists, the Washington deal has not spread the burden the way other stadium deals have by imposing taxes that fall on the general population: general sales taxes, cigarette taxes, hotel taxes and others.
"The way they're financing it [in Washington], with the in-stadium taxes, is more appealing," Zimbalist said.
In fact, according to some officials there will be more than enough money to not only pay off the bonds, but do so in as little as 20 years! As I said above, yet another city has figured out how to make something work. Yes, there is also controversy with this plan, but from what I can gather from the Washington Post people are for the most part very excited about this deal. But more importantly they are excited that baseball is coming back to Washington DC.
I see a lot of similarites between the Twins' situtation and the situations in both Montreal and DC. For one thing, Montreal and Minnesota will always be linked through contraction, and truly the battle for the Minnesota Twins isn't over yet, not by a long shot. Again, the fate of the Expos could be our own. And if the Twins ever did leave or fold, how long would it take before we rolled out the red carpet for MLB again? 10 years? 20 years? 30 years like Washington DC? It is inevitable that if we lost the Twins we will have MLB again in our state at some point in the future, but it will cost us 3, 4, 5 times as much as it would right now. Don't believe me? The North Stars left, and now we've got the Wild (and it cost us dearly). Heck, the Lakers left and now we've got the Timberwolves. At some point MLB would come back, and the people brokering that deal will wonder why didn't we just keep the Twins? People, let's save ourselves some money in the long run and find a way to do this!
September 29, 2004
Impact part II
It is hard to dispute the fact that new stadiums, or sports arenas, have some sort of economic impact on a community. Just how much impact they have in terms of actual money is always in dispute. Take the Milwaukee Brewers and Miller Park, for example. According to an article from the Milwaukee Journal- Sentinel dated December 15, 2001, the Greater Milwaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that the economic impact of Miller Park on that area was an astounding $415 million in its first year of operation. Again, one year, $415 million dollars... Yikes! From the article:
In the study conducted for the Brewers, Chamberlain [Research Associates] said that 17%, or 476,000, of the approximately 2.8 million fans who attended games at Miller Park stayed overnight in Milwaukee for an average of two nights.
Using that figure and state figures for spending per visitor, the convention bureau estimated a direct impact on the Milwaukee area of $101,442,568.
The Chamberlain study also found that 57% of those who came to Miller Park came from outside the five-county metro area. Again, relying on state tourism spending estimates, the bureau calculated an additional direct impact of $71,478,400 on the area economy, for a total of $172.92 million.
Finally, the bureau, using what they said was a commonly accepted economic multiplier in the tourism industry, calculated the total economic impact of the fans at $415 million.
That is incredible. Even naysayers who disagreed with the report ran their own numbers and found that the economic impact should be halved to around $207 million. Again, that is $207 million for one year of operation. Quite a return on investement considering the yearly charge to pay off the bonds for the stadium is probably around $15-20 million. Now granted, a new stadium is going to generate substantially more money than a stadium that has been around for a while, but these early numbers do a lot to off set the lean years when teams don't draw well due to poor on-field performance or what-have-you. Even then stadiums should easily generate the money required to pay off the bonds and have quite a bit left over for city and community services.
As I said in my last thoughts on the impact of stadiums, is it any wonder why Mayor Kelly and Mayor Rybak are so gung ho about building a stadium in their respective communities? And yet we still wonder. The Pioneer Press ran an interesting story last May that highlighted a study by two Pennsylvania economists who asked the same question:
Carlino and Coulson say they grew curious about why, in the face of much opposition, elected officials persist in pushing large stadium subsidies to keep or attract teams.
They tracked changes in apartment rents in 50 cities from 1993 to 1999. Then they used a technique called regression analysis to estimate the effects of an NFL team on the rents, by screening out other factors.
They found that rents in NFL cities rose 8 percent more over this period than in non-NFL cities, then concluded that the team was the reason for the rent premium in the football cities.
On average, they found that the higher rents in NFL cities — when projected to include overall residential property taxes — produced an annual property tax gain of $139 million for each of those cities.
This "quality-of-life benefit" greatly exceeded the cities' subsidies to stadiums, they wrote, "suggesting that these subsidies were good investments for the typical city."
They published their study in the Journal of Urban Economics and concluded that "the large public expenditure on new stadiums appears to be a good investment for cities and their residents." For cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, both of which who are trying to build more housing, studies like this one go a long way towards justifying building new stadiums.
Anoka County is also effectively using this argument to try to convince its residents that building a new Vikings stadium is the right thing to do. According to their stadium FAQ:
The Preserve at Rice Creek will create nearly a three-fold increase in the market value of the development site, strengthening the property tax base by approximately $10.8 million for the city, $10.8 million for the county, and $5.4 million for each the Spring Lake Park and Centennial school districts. This represents a 20% increase in the property tax base for the two school districts alone, and will allow the schools, county and city to hold down property taxes on homeowners.
Let me put this in words even the anti-stadium crowd can understand: not only would a new stadium in Anoka County be great for the Vikings and all the team's fans, but it would also generate a substantial amount of money for the local school disctricts. In other words, it is a win-win for everyone.
In conclusion, there is little doubt that stadiums have some sort of positive economic impact on the host community. Even the naysayers cannot argue with this and instead choose to focus on the amount of money which even they would have to agree is substantial. However, the debate rages on. I think Bob Swoch of Milwaukee sums up my feelings nicely in a letter to the editor of the Journal-Sentinel in April 2001:
Please -- enough of the interminable jaw-flapping over whether a baseball stadium justifies itself by its "economic impact." Not only do the limitless variables and intangibles make the argument impossible to settle, but the argument itself is superfluous. Miller Park is an amenity. Hundreds of thousands of citizens have snapped up tickets to enjoy it. What more justification is necessary?
My heart bleeds for those non-fans whose hard-earned tenth-pennies are flowing into a facility they will never visit. But, you know, I hand over my paycheck for golf courses and bike trails and libraries and a jillion other facilities I don't necessarily use, many of which will never approach the popularity of Miller Park. I pay for these amenities so others who do use them may benefit. This concept is called "community."
Just as an avid golfer would never live in a place without golf courses, I and millions of people like me would never live in a place without big-time sports. Quantify that, OK?
Well said, Bob. Let's figure out a way to get this done people!
September 28, 2004
Links of the day
- Hand shadows, from a book published in 1859
- It seems Bush is taking a commanding lead in the Electoral Vote predictor.
- Taco Bell hot sauce can clean pennies. Who knew?
- The new Star Wars Battlefront game let's you kill Jar Jar Binks.
- MIT is creating a spinach powered computer. This is too cool.
- I've posted this before, but there are a bunch of cool new diagrams to ponder over.
- If all stories were written like science fiction stories. How true.
- Cool tool to find colors that match, cleverly named the ColorMatch Remix.
- If you haven't seen this Virgin Galactic is "planning to make it possible for almost anyone to visit the final frontier at an affordable price." Sign me up.
No sports today
Today is a non-sports related entry. I can't write about sports all the time because 1) I really don't have that much to say and 2) what I do have to say probably isn't that original anyway. So, if you are hear to read about the Twins, or the Vikings, or the stadium issue, sorry to disappoint.
Yesterday I posted a picture of my younger son playing video games. As you can probably see, he really gets into it. He jumps around and screams and generally works himself into a sweat playing any type of video game. It is very humorous to watch. Another thing that is very humorous is that if I'm playing with him or against him, he will also start to talk trash to me. Yes, my six year old son will talk trash, but not just any type of trash talk, six year old trash talk. Let me explain. Our favorite game to play Super Smash Brothers, a game in which you try to whomp the other player off the playing field, so he is constantly saying to me, "Hey Dad, I got a present for you! BOOOOM!" as he tries to smack me. And whenever he does he'll usually follow that with a "Uh huh, its my birthday! Its my birthday!" However, the coup de gras of all trash talk, the one I hear most often happens either when he really lays down the smack on my character or when he beats me. He will quote Finding Nemo when Marlin and Dory fend off the Glow fish. He will sing to me, "No eating here tonight, eating here tonight. You on a diet!" That is when I know things have really gone his way and I have been truly humbled. Trash talk from a six year old. You gotta love it.
Yesterday I had an adventure. But it really probably won't strike you as that exciting. Much like six year old trash talk, this is an adventure only a 31 year old father of 3 can have. So, I was riding the bus home when I remembered, "Uh oh, my bus pass is screwed up. The meter probably won't take it." Sure enough, when I went to pay, the meter read "MISREAD" and it spit my card back out. Usually this wouldn't be a problem since the bus drivers are pretty nice about that. But this is the second time this has happened and I knew that the bus driver on my transfer would be on to me, or think I am trying to rip him off. So, in other words, I had to walk home from the Louisiana Transit Center, at least a 3 mile walk.
I know, boo hoo. Exercise would probably do me good at this point, anyway, so I started walking. And walking. And walking. Quite frankly I was getting sick of it. Then I saw the Minneapolis Golf Club golf course. Now, one thing you probably don't know about me is that I practically live on the Minneapolis Golf Club golf course. This isn't because I am rich, or because I have a membership, though. I have heard that a membership costs upwards of $40,000 a year, so I was of the opinion that I would never set foot on the course, which is kind of sad since I live so close to it. Heh heh, you probably know where I am going with this.
I live on the west side of the course, and I was walking on the northeast side. I looked through the yards of the houses on the course and I noticed that unlike the poor saps like me, these folks do not have a fence between them and the course. I had a choice. Either I could choose to walk another mile, at least, around the course on the street to get to my house, or I could cut through the course and save myself a considerable amount of walking. I said to myself, "How can they keep me off the course? I practically live on the course! I am their neighbor! They should welcome me on the course!" And so on. The justifications of a desperate man.
So, needless to say, I sprinted up through one of the yards on the course, and I quickly found myself stepping on my first fairway of the Minneapolis Golf Club. It was beautiful. Then the panic struck. I am an idiot! I am trespassing! And not only that, I am trespassing on some really, really rich guys' property! So, I start to run. And much like my cat when she gets outside I start to run without really knowing where I am going. I mean, I had never been on the course before. I would run across a fairway and then duck into some bushes to catch my breath and make sure no one saw me. And then I would race across another fairway like I was an East Berliner trying to escape into the west. Around fountains and tress, past water hazards and sand traps, it was exhilirating and very tiring.
I thought to myself, "How is this better than just walking around the course?" as I grew more and more tired from the constant running, but I was determined to make it across without anyone seeing me. Finally I reached my goal. The Golf Club swimming pool. It is on the street I live so I knew where I was, and I knew where I had to go. However, to get there I had to cross the driving range. If ever there spot someone would see me, it was on the driving range. I take a peek to make sure no one is there, and I sprint across. Out of the corner of my eye I catch a big flash, a reflection of light, and in a panic I whirl around a look at what I was sure was my eventual captor. I thought, "You won't take me without a fight!!!" as I prepared to launch myself into the freedom of the street, but lo and behold it was just a huge mirror reflecting the sun light. Strange, I thought. I guess these rich golfers want to make sure they look really good on the course.
With my final bit of strength, I climbed the hill to the street. I had made it. Looking back on it now I probably could have just leisurely strolled across the course. Would they have really cared? In fact, they probably did see me from the club house over-looking the course. I can just imagine a grounds keeper looking down at me and saying, "Hey Joe! Come over here and get a load of this guy. He thinks he is a fugitive or MacGyver or something." Ah, but it was the thrill of the run. The thought that maybe I was doing something wrong and that if I was caught I would be in big trouble. I have never felt so alive!!!
And I saved myself a ton of walking. Thus ends my story. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
September 27, 2004
Native Americans and Stadiums
Over the weekend, both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press reported that Pawlenty is putting more pressure on the Native American casinos than ever after releasing a report that says casinos in Minnesota rake in over $10 billion a year. According to the Strib:
The report was prepared by Mike Vekich, outgoing acting director of the Minnesota Lottery, who noted that Minnesota's is the nation's third-largest tribal casino industry -- only California's and Connecticut's are larger -- and is the only one of the three not to directly share its profits with the state.
Connecticut tribes make the largest payments, according to the report -- 25 percent of revenue from machine games. In return, Connecticut guarantees the tribes exclusivity over such video gambling.
25% of $10 billion is a lot of potential money for the state of Minnesota, that is for sure. However, one potential target for all this money, and a target some casinos have already expressed a willingness to help out with as part of any negotiations, was not mentioned in either of these articles. That's right, stadiums in Minnesota. I've written about the tribe's offer to help fund stadiums before, and it still looks like Pawlenty is turning a blind eye to using casino revenue to finally help solve this problem.
Here is the way I see it though. The tribes know that helping to fund stadiums in Minnesota would help to increase their business given the connections between sports and gambling. Heck, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'll patronize these casinos every day of the week and twice on Sunday if the tribes can help fund a new Twins stadium. And I've never even set foot in a casino in Minnesota. I know I'm not alone, and the tribes know it too. From a public relations standpoint, helping to fund stadiums in Minnesota is in the tribes' best business interests and I sincerely hope they demand that it is part of the upcoming negotiations with the state.
I have a feeling something is already in the works on this front. Sid Hartman reported in yesterday's column:
Behind the scenes there is some talk going on with Indian community, owners of casinos in the state, about making a big contribution so a new baseball park can be built.
Oh boy, that puts a little pep in my step this morning. It might be wise to write some tribes, like the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and tell them that this would make a lot of Twins fans very, very happy.
September 26, 2004
Hello Vikings fans. It is nice to be 2-1. Let's look at the good stuff first:
Daunte Culpepper: 19/30 for 360 yds and 3 TDs (1 rushing)
Randy Moss: 7 receptions for 119 yds and 2 TDs
Onterrio Smith: 94 yds rushing and 104 yds receiving
The Vikings also held the Bears to only 239 yds passing which is pretty good considering the Vikings were ranked last in the league in passing defense (that spot should be taken by the Packers after what Peyton Manning did to them). As Mike Tice has said repeatedly, a win is a win and it is nice to be heading into the bye week sitting at 2-1. Now the Vikes can take a week to heal and correct some mistakes.
Now for the bad stuff. Who else is completely underwhelmed by the Vikings this year? First of all, the defense looks just like it did last year. Wasn't Antoine Winfield supposed to make our secondary respectable? It almost looked like Rex Grossman was picking on him rather than Brian Williams, and to make matters worse Grossman was actually succeeding in getting balls over Winfield to his receivers. And our defensive line is not getting to the QB. Sure, we had two sacks, but not until late and it seemed Grossman had plenty of time to throw. Now really, this shouldn't surprise me. The Vikings are built around offense, but I'm sick of this "bend-but-don't-break" defensive style. I mean, we weren't playing against Brett Favre or Peyton Manning! Let's get after the QB! What do I know...
Now before I go on my next tirade, let me just say that I realize both Mike Rosenthal and Matt Birk are injured, and that they have been replaced by O-linemen that are now being forced to learn on the job. Because of this, Daunte may not have as much time as he needs to let a play develop. However, I gotta say I am sick of this conservative style of offense. I know that Tice and Linehan want to control the ball to keep the defense off the field as much as possible (or to just give them a rest), but for the love of Pete take the shackles off Daunte and let him pull the trigger!!! The only way we are going to be successful this season is if our offense torches the opponents and we just aren't doing that right now. Consider this, the Bears secondary has been decimated by injury and yet we only scored two touchdowns against them!?!?!? I guess Lovie Smith deserves some credit, but Culpepper and Moss should have shredded the Bears ala Brett Favre and Javon Walker today (Walker had 198 yds and 3 TDs in the loss!).
Nothing exemplifies this pathetic conservative style more than the Vikings last drive in the fourth. With two minutes left to play, and the Vikings on the Bear's 48 yard line after a failed on-side kick, the Vikings go three and out after two runs and a failed Culpepper scramble. That horrible set of play calls left the Bears with 1:31 left with which to score and take the lead. I don't blame Culpepper for this, I blame Tice and Linehan for not going for the juggular when it mattered most. Sheesh Tice! Take the ball and tell Daunte to ram it down their throats! Slant to Moss, screen to Smith, bomb to Campbell, anything but this conservative mamby-pamby crap! All we needed was one measly first down! I gotta calm down.
And I know most of you can't stand it when Daunte "gets his roll on" after a score, but I wouldn't mind if we saw a whole lot more of this from Daunte against the Houston Texans after the bye. Heck, I wouldn't mind if Daunte started to do the Chicken Dance after we scored just so we start to score some dag-blasted touchdowns. Tice! Please unleash our offense! Where is Brian Billick when we need him? Screw clock management and start scoring!
Church of the Holy Sprinkler
I heard this joke in church today. I think it does a pretty good job of illustrating how petty differences in beliefs between denominations gets in the way of Jesus's message sometimes:
I was working as a suicide prevention policeman one day when we got a call about a man on a building ledge threatening to jump. When I got there I said, "Why do you want to jump? You've got so much to live for! Are you a religious person, or an atheist?"
He said, "A religious person."
I said, "Great! I am too! Are you Christian, or do you have other beliefs?"
He said, "Christian."
I said, "Wonderful! Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?"
He said, "Protestant."
I said, "Amazing! Me too! Are you from the Church of the Holy Sprinklers or the Church of the Holy Dunkers?"
He said, "Church of the Holy Sprinklers."
I said, "Great! I am too! Are you from the Church of the Holy Sprinklers Reformed, or Church of the Holy Sprinklers Orthodox?"
He said, "Church of the Holy Sprinklers Reformed."
I said, "Wonderful, that is my church too! Are you Church of the Holy Sprinklers Reformation of 1879 or Church of the Holy Sprinklers Reformation of 1915?"
He said, "1915."
I said, "Die heretic scum." And I pushed him off the ledge.
Let's focus on what matters, heh? Even my 9 year old son found this joke hysterical.
September 24, 2004
Hello everyone! Welcome to a rare Friday night post. My family and I went to the YMCA tonight and had a great time swimming. It is so much fun growing up again with my kids. They are so full of energy ... and questions. On the car ride home, which takes about 10 minutes, my oldest son asked a number of questions that demonstrate, at least to me, all the different directions a young mind can take.
How does an eclipse happen?
Who invented the car?
Do you have to be right handed to drive a stick shift?
What is a square root?
I answered three of them, but I didn't know who invented the car. I'll have to get back to him on that one.
What a difference a few months make. At the start of the season who didn't look at this part of the Twins' schedule and just cringe:
Sept 14-16 -- White Sox
Sept 20-22 -- White Sox
Sept 23-26 -- Indians
Sept 28-30 -- Yankees
At the start of the season, deep down I thought to myself we are going to be battling for the division title at the end of Sept. and we've got to travel to Chicago, Cleveland, and New York. Now these games aren't nearly as meaningful, except concerning home field advantage for the playoffs. Luckily the West is slugging it out right now giving the Twins a chance to take a little breather.
Time to jump on the bandwagon folks. The Gophers play Northwestern this week for their Big Ten opener, and it looks like the Rose Bowl is truly within their sites. Michigan isn't nearly as strong this year as is evidenced by their losing to a weakend Notre Dame team and barely beating San Diego State at home. Wisconsin looks beatable after losing their star running back and narrowly defeating Arizona on the road. Given that the Gophers don't play Ohio State and Purdue this year, and the fact that in the case of a tie the Rose Bowl berth is always given to the team that hasn't been there in a while, the Gophers are looking pretty good. Is "pretty good" good enough? We shall see. Sid Hartman makes a good point today concerning the Gophers schedule:
The Gophers football team plays four of its first five games at home, then four of its last six on the road. That not only is bad balance for the team, but from a ticket-selling standpoint, there isn't an opportunity to draw crowds by winning early in the season and having a number of home games late in the season.Yes, the Gophers are going to have to prove it on the road. Keep your calendars clear for Oct. 9 when they play Michigan at the Big House, and Oct. 16 when they travel to Michigan State. Man, I want that stupid Brown Jug.
More news about the Last Starfighter musical that I linked to yesterday. Can you believe that The Last Starfighter was released in 1984? What a great movie. Although, my memory of it is probably much better than the movie actually was. But who hasn't dreamed about stumbling upon a video game that says, "Greetings Starfighter!" or saving the universe by pushing the big "Death Blossom" button? Speaking of the Death Blossom, as a child I remember that scene being absolutely spectacular. I'd like to see it again to judge it by today's SFX standards. If I saw it again today it would probably look like a spaceship built with legos and a 4th of July sparkler behind it. Maybe I should just keep my memories untarnished.
Did anyone see this article about Gopher fans in the Minnesota Daily? It is really sad and upsetting, not because the author missed the boat but because he is right on the mark. In it he tries to teach students how to cheer at Gopher football games: (1) Most important: YELL! (2) Know when to leave early! (3) Know when to criticize a bad call by the referee, and (4) Energize the geriatrics. Truly, the fact that this article had to be written is really, really pathetic. Is the U of M becoming Northwestern? The Gophers have won five national championships and people used to pack into Memorial Stadium! So many traditions were lost because of the Metrodome. It is really a tragedy.
Looks like Jayson Stark of ESPN is picking Johan Santana to win the Cy Young award. (click on Expert's Pick) Check out this quote:
This has to be Johan Santana's award. He has had the most dominating second half of a lot of people's lifetime: 12-0, 1.16. That's Bob Gibson stuff -- except it isn't 1968 anymore. You can't get any more dominating than leading the league in ERA, strikeouts and opponent average.
High praise for the best pitcher in the AL.
That's all I've got time for right now.
The new U2 single Vertigo is out. If you haven't heard it yet, here is a link and you might also want to try: cml00.engr.ucdavis.edu/~malvick/vertigo.mp3
Oh yes, it rocks.
September 23, 2004
Links of the day
- Have the recent hurricanes in Florida really been an anti-Bush message from God?
- If this is true, these Democrats have really taken sneaky politics to a whole new level.
- The Electoral-Vote predictor still has Bush winning in November. If you like that then sit back. If you don't like that you better get cranked up.
- Then again, this electoral vote predictor picks Kerry. Who to believe?
- Interesting project, The Zip Code Decoder. Type a zip code and it will find the location on the map. Watch out! This link loads a Java applet.
- Interested in purchasing anything from Johnny Cash's estate?
- Fly the Copter game. Highly addictive.
- Holy Cow. Someone is putting out the Last Starfighter as a musical! Yes!
- Everything I've ever taught my son I learned from Super Mario. Example: Appreciate nature. Flowers are beautiful, they smell nice, and they often give you the power to shoot fireballs out of your hands.
For those of you that don't know, or think I think about stadiums all day long, in "real life" I am the Web Services Coordinator at the University of Minnesota Libraries. I manage the site in the previous link, and I also manage the UThink project through which the libraries supplies blogs to the U of M community. Anyone with an active U of M Internet ID and password can create a blog (or blogs) through the system and begin sharing his or her thoughts with the world. UThink is without a doubt my baby. If I'm not thinking about stadiums, I am probably thinking about how I can expand the functionality of the UThink system. More on that later.
Today was a special day in the history of UThink. We've been running UThink since April 12, and since that time 581 blogs have been created with over 1,000 users. The inspiration for UThink was undoubtedly Blogs at Harvard Law, a system created by blogging guru Dave Winer that has been running for about two years. Blogs at Harvard Law also has 581 blogs. That means the next blog created will make us the largest academic blogging site in America, if not the world. I've thought about cheating and just creating another one myself, but that wouldn't be right. When I was selling this idea to my superiors I made the bold claim that one day we would host over 500 blogs and probably be the largest academic blogging site in America. This really wasn't that bold of a claim given that the U of M has about 65,000 potential bloggers. However, I had no idea that it would happen so fast.
So, some words of thanks are in order. Obviously there have been a lot of blogs created, but I have some special thanks for the early adopters, those people who created blogs without really knowing what UThink was all about. Without these people UThink wouldn't have taken off like it did:
- Philosophy by Peter Shea. Peter's writing is chock full of little nuggets of wisdom. I enjoy reading it everyday.
- Selling Sno-Cones on the Beach. One of the first blogs on the system and still going strong. We worried about the infamous B and his surgery and we laughed when the crackheads stole your car. Keep it up!
- A Heart with a Twist of Lemon. David, your quirky sense of humor is infectious. And I, too, loved it when you took on the bees.
- Deception of the Thrush. Still my favorite post of all time on UThink: Nibbled to Death by Small Geese. If you haven't read it, you are missing out.
- The Daily Spirit Human. Another one of the early adopters and also one of the few people that can say he posts every single day. Absolutely amazing and always something to ponder.
- Random Thoughts - By Joe. Joe has given us a unique look into the life of a student and now a CA. Keep on fighting the good fight Joe!
- Coffee Grounds. One of the best political commentary blogs in America (IMHO) and written by someone from New Zealand. Yes, a very unique perspective.
- Broken Wing. Absolutely impossible to categorize and usually offensive to someone. In other words, the perfect blog! Also, an odd hatred of birds permeates the site.
- Bio-Med Library - Public Health. The king blog with over 400 posts full of juicy medical goodness. Will anyone ever catch up?
- Rhetoric 3562W. Although the blog looks a little plain now (look at the archives) it has the distinction of being the first class based blog on the system. I think it is safe to say it started a trend given how class blogs now dominate UThink. Thanks for everything Clancy!
- Ramona Ramona's Blog. I'll admit Ramona scared me half to death with one of her posts (I won't link to it, it is too frightening). However, it is really nice to have another Twins fan on the system!
- QWERTY. Another true early adopter and one of the first group blogs. It is a shame they don't have time to post more as usually the posts are thoughtful and well written. The best post on QWERTY? The Best of UThink of course!
- Steve Mueske. Last but not least, what blog site would be complete without its own poetry blog?
There are so many more, and if I've forgotten anyone I apologize. I truly could go on and on. When they look at the history of UThink, though, scholars of the future will look at these blogs. Again, they have made UThink what it is today.
What about the future then? What do we have in store for users of UThink? First of all we are right now in the midst of planning for an upgrade to Movable Type 3.1. MT 3 has more blogging features, a better comment management feature, a better, faster interface, and a ton of other goodies. We are hoping to have this completed by March if not sooner. We are also going to look into how UThink can better help build community on campus. Tying the system to x.500 was a good start, but hopefully we can take community building to another level. If anyone has any ideas regarding this I am all ears. And given the dominance of class blogs we also hope to make it easier to create blogs specifically for classes. This includes easier ways to tie students to a single blog, as well as templates that make better sense in a classroom setting. And yes, this will probably include a way to make password protected posts. We also hope to make better use of all the MT Plugins available to users of Movable Type. MT is extremely powerful and you would be surprised at what it allows authors to do, especially through all the plugins developed by the MT community. For example, the plug-in MultiBlog "provides the user with the ability to include templated content from other blogs in their MovableType installation." In other words, an author could include blog content from all sorts of blogs in his or her own site. Obviously, this could be very handy for classes that want to use blogging as an assignment alternative.
Anyway, I've rambled on enough. Onward and upward with UThink.
September 22, 2004
Stadium opponents love to make the claim that the economic impact of a stadium on a city or region is negligible, or that stadiums don't really make for a good return on a city's investment. Of course, there are those that disagree. Personally, I think that the economic impact of a new stadium could be huge, but I will agree that the biggest impact a stadium has on a community is in quality of life for its residents (Mike Opat also feels the same way). However, to say that a stadium won't have any economic impact on a city or region is simply false. Our city leaders can talk about "quality of life" all they want, but there is little doubt that when Mayor Kelly or Mayor Rybak start fighting again for the opportunity to host a new Twins stadium they are really fighting for the chance for their respective cities to make a whole lot of money.
Take the Xcel Energy Center, for example. According to an editorial last Sunday in the Pioneer Press about the NHL lockout the Excel Energy Center accounts for "650 full-time jobs and $3.87 million a year in state income taxes — money a state facing a $1 billion deficit in the coming biennium can ill afford to lose." Hey, every penny counts. Some stadium naysayers will point out that $3.87 million is really a drop in the bucket when compared to the overall state budget, so let's look at the economic impact on St. Paul specifically. Again according to the editorial, "Fans who come from outside St. Paul spend an estimated $23 million a year at local businesses." There is no getting around that number, $23 million is a substantial amount for a city's economy.
However, note that the editorial intentionally writes only about "fans who come from outside St. Paul." This assumes that the economic impact can only be measured by people who live outside the city since people who live in St. Paul will probably spend their entertainment dollars there anyway. That is a big assumption considering all the choices people have in the metro area. I have little doubt that the Xcel Energy Center also helps St. Paul retain money from its residents since instead of going to ... say ... Minneapolis to spend it they stay closer to home. How much does that increase the original number of $23 million? $30 million? $40 million? The editorial doesn't say. Deputy Mayor Dennis Flaherty, however, sums it up nicely by saying, "Losing a season of that will have a dramatic impact."
An NHL season has 82 games, 41 of which are played on the home ice. So, with only 41 games the city of St. Paul brings in at least $23 million extra dollars to the city coffers. At least. This doesn't even include special events like the NHL All-Star Game which conservative estimates say brought in an extra $15-20 million dollars for that weekend alone.
When you think about it that way, is there any wonder why Mayor Kelly and Mayor Rybak are so interested in building a Twins stadium? The Twins play 81 home games and they have the potential to draw at least twice as many fans as the Wild. Would it be safe to say that a city would bring in twice as much as $23 million or possibly more with a new Twins stadium? I would think the answer would be yes. In fact, I would think a new Twins stadium would bring in substantially more than $23 million. Somebody please tell me if I am off my rocker.
September 21, 2004
Euphoria and Disgust
If you were anything like me last night, this is how you watched the Twins celebration:
FSN: Yay! The Twins won! Look at all the champagne. It doesn't get any better than this. Let me flip on over to the Vikings game...
Channel 5: Daunte! You moron! Hold on to the freaking ball! Sheesh! My whole night is ruined. I wonder what is happening with the Twins...
FSN: Oh look! Torii has goggles on! Hilarious! Man I love this team. I am so happy! Hmmm ... maybe Daunte crossed the goal line before he fumbled...
Channel 5: Daunte! You were about 5 millimeters away from the goal line! I swear my daughter has stronger hands than you! HOLD ON TO THE BALL!!!!
I have a funny feeling that was how most of us watched TV last night.
So, looking at the picture, on the right we have a team that knows how to win, and on the left we have a team that has yet to figure that out.
The Twins clinching in Chicago was a thing of beauty. A great pitching performance by Carlos Silva (who has all but wrapped up that third playoff spot) and a dominating performance by the Twins hitters. The White Sox players just talk, while the Twins let their bats do the talking. Mark Buehrle was absolutely put in his place early with two two-run home runs in the first inning. None was better than Torii Hunter's, since Torii took Buehrle's comments last week the most personal. I tell you what, Torii has really stepped up this year into a leadership role on the team, and he obviously has it in him to take it to another team when he feels a message needs to be sent.
And unlike years past the Twins cannot take it easy now. They have a real shot at home field advantage in the ALDS, most likely against the Red Sox. I don't know about you, but the Red Sox make me nervous with Pedro and Schilling on the mound for the first two games, not to mention the one-time dominant Derek Lowe. Actually, the Twins might face Tim Wakefield. His knuckleball has always given the Twins trouble. However, the Metrodome has got to give the Twins an edge. The last time the Twins faced Pedro at the Dome they won, but only after Pedro was taken out. With Radke and Santana pitching the way they've been ptiching recently, though, I really like our chances and I don't care who we are playing.
The Vikings ... ugh. It is amazing how you can be so pumped up for the game only to be so crushed at the end of it. The game was dominated by Viking mistakes and mistakes by the officials. Let's take a look back:
- The Vikings stopped the Eagles on their first drive. The phantom holding call on Winfield should have never been called.
- Rosenthal leaving the game with an injury began a painful night for the Vikings O-line. Haayer got abused by Kearse, and Daunte had no time in the pocket the whole game.
- Daunte getting stuffed on the goal line in the first quarter was only the beginning of red zone difficulties the Vikes would have the whole game.
- Speaking of which, every time the Vikings crossed the 50, they would implode under holding and false start penalties. And who is this Dugan kid? It may be time for the practice squad for him.
- Matt Birk's holding penalty wiped out yet another Viking touchdown in the third.
- But Daunte's fumble at the goal line was the biggest killer. If not for that fumble, the Vikings would have been up 13-10 going into half time. That fumble just punched me in the gut.
- T.O.'s TD was obviously not a touchdown. Although the officials should have never called it a touchdown, Tice should have thrown the red flag. I mean, wasn't anyone watching replays of the play up in the Vikings' booth?
I'm sure there other examples of ineptitude, but these should cover it for now. Matt Birk said after the game that it isn't a talent issue, and it isn't an effort issue. It is an execution issue. The Vikings choked, and that is all there is to it. They have not figured out how to win the big game on the road and until they do they won't get very far. Thankfully the season is young, and the mistakes they made can definitely be corrected, but just this once I wanted Daunte and Randy to step up and lead the Vikings and prove that this is a different team. Unfortunately I'm still waiting for proof. The only silver lining is that Green Bay lost at home to the Bears. There, now doesn't that make you feel better?
To wrap it up, at the same time the Twins were celebrating we had Daunte Culpepper coughing up the ball yet again (and right at the goal line! Ahhh!!!). So, a night of euphoria and disgust. The life of a Minnesota sports fan in a nutshell.
And for those of you that are wondering, I love Daunte Culpepper. I wouldn't trade him for anyone. I just wish he would hold onto the ball, or at the very least limit his fumbles at the goal line.
September 20, 2004
Tonight is the night!
Oh boy, who isn't excited about tonight? First we have the Twins game with the possibility of them clinching on the hated White Sox's own turf ... Sheesh! It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. Then we have the Vikings making their return to Monday Night Football ... Man! Owens vs. Moss and Culpepper vs. McNabb. My family had better know that the big TV is mine tonight! I may have to get home early and camp out in front of it with a clicker in each hand. Of course the dilemma is if the Twins clinch tonight, when will it exactly happen? I'm hoping for half time, but that probably isn't likely. So, I may have to make use of my picture in picture capabilities, or tape the Twins celebration with my DVR. Is there anything better than watching the celebration of your favorite team after they have won something? I swear it just doesn't get any better.
Did anyone see the FSN-Sporting News breakdown of the Vikings-Eagles game tonight? According to Viking Update:
The Sporting News on-line preview for the Vikings-Eagles game gives check marks for everything from positions to coaching and, of the 11 categories listed, gave the Eagles the edge in nine of the 11 -- only giving the Vikes the edge at QB and wide receiver. Eight of their "experts" all picked the Eagles to win the game. Why they give the Eagles the edge at offensive line remains a mystery, but that's irrelevant. With such domination one would expect a blowout. Their official score prediction? Eagles win 38-35. With such a disparity, one would think 38-7 would be more accurate.
Interesting. I'm under the impression that the Vikings offense line is much bigger than the Eagles. Perhaps they give the edge to the Eagles O-line because of how pathetic our D-line played last week? Who knows. Nonetheless, I can only hope that the score will be this close. The Vikings are already ranked last in pass defense in the NFL which must have McNabb and Owens licking their chops. However, if Onterrio Smith can rush for 100-150 yards, and the O-line can protect Culpepper, it should open things wide open for Moss/Burleson/Campbell/Robinson. This is just a great early test of the Vikings as a Super Bowl contender. A close loss wouldn't worry me too much, but a blow out would have me rethinking the Vikings place amongst the NFL elite.
Time for my bold prediction for tonight. Everyone is talking about how the Vikings should be able to run against the Eagles. With the focus on Onterrio Smith and our running game I expect the Eagles secondary will be very active in trying to help shut Smith down. So, I'm predicting it will be the right time for a little flea-flicker action. That would be sweet.
Make sure you fill out ESPN's Sports Nation poll on the game tonight. Interesting results so far. It seems people think the Eagles and Vikings are neck and neck right now in terms of who they think will win.
September 19, 2004
Links of the day
- Avast me hearties! It is talk like a pirate day!
- The home computer of 2004. Obviously they were a little off.
- The 50 Weirdest Guiness Records.
- Senior High photos found on the web. Hilarious.
- Amazing, amazing, amazing rendition of Sunday Bloody Sunday "sung" by President Bush. Whoever did this is a digital audio master.
- It's official. Star Wars weapons would squash Star Trek weapons like a bug.
- I Found Some of Your Life. Someone is posting a picture a day from a memory card he found in a taxi. And narrating the pictures as if he took them. Good stuff!
- Football Fans for Truth. Talks about Kerry's recent trip to Lambert Field. Priceless. I'm sure Wisconsin is now decidedly in favor of Bush.
A couple more
I love Sid Hartman, but sometimes he writes some really stupid stuff. Take today for example, Sid has some things to say about Red's announcement yesterday that he won't spend another dime lobbying the legislature. Sid writes, "Red wants to sell the team, and the only legitimate possible buyer at the present is Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor." OK. I can buy that. We really don't know if Reggie Fowler is legitimate or just another Donald Watkins (or worse Socco Babbacas). Then Sid writes:
"Look for McCombs to keep the club, try to get the city of San Antonio to build a new, luxurious football stadium and consider moving the team to his home town once the Metrodome lease runs out in 2011."
That is insanity. First of all, San Antonio already has the Alamodome, which opened as recently as 1993. There is no way they will be ready to build another stadium in 2011. They can barely keep the Alamodome up to par. Also, the NFL does not want the Vikings to move to San Antonio. The NFL will do everything in its power to retain the NFC North. Finally, there is no way Red owns the team until 2011. No way. He is itching to sell, and he wants to get out bad. What is Sid thinking?
Secondly, we have this article from Viking Update. Boy did John Holler, the author, get up on the wrong side of the bed. He is ticked and I can certainly understand his frustration. The thought of being without the Vikings on Fall Sundays is almost unbearable. However, he makes some bold claims and takes some shots at Dean Johnson, Senate majority leader, which I feel are unwarranted.
Holler writes towards the end of the article:
"The truth is that the tax money generated by players salaries would more than pay for the state's share of a new stadium, much less the property taxes a stadium would generate and the revenue that would come from everything from ticket sales to parking revenue."
According to the 2002 Stadium Task Force Final Report (PDF) possible revenue from taxes on visiting NFL player's salaries would total no more than $250,000-$350,000. That is a far cry from the millions upon millions necessary yearly to pay off the bonds for a $650 million stadium, of which the state will have to pony up at least $10 million a year. What about the income taxes for the Vikings players? Truthfully, the legislature woud be loath to divert visiting players' income taxes let alone the home team's income taxes since both of these monies go into the state general fund. As many of you know, that money is off limits, even though without the team itself that money would be gone anyway. That money is simply untouchable no matter how much sense it makes. However, even with the home team's players' income taxes it probably still wouldn't be enough to pay for the state's share. But again, I can understand Holler's frustration.
But I don't understand this:
"As expected, when asked for a comment, Senate Majority Dean Johnson -- who loves to see his name quoted in Twin Cities newspaper whether what he says is idiotic or not -- was at it again. He reaffirmed his opposition, reminding everyone who still listens to his moronic bile that McCombs is a billionaire and the players are millionaires. Apparently he doesn't have that same moral objection when the Legislature passes a pork barrel project for his district or those of his political allies."
Dean Johnson has always been a friend of stadiums. In fact, Johnson was a primary author of the 2002 Twins stadium bill that passed but ultimately failed to produce any stadium. I remember watching him on the Senate floor literally beating away all the amendments stadium opponents were throwing at him to derail his efforts. I will agree that his rhetoric has changed somewhat since he became majority leader of the Senate, but he is still a stadium proponent, not an opponent. Just as recently as last year Johnson said Pawlenty's stadium plan would have no trouble passing through the Senate. Of course, it never got there, but Johnson's support was made very apparent. Really, I don't know why Johnson said what he said. It was cliched and painful to hear. Maybe he likes the Twins more than the Vikings? Who knows. However, when push comes to shove, Johnson will be there like he has always been. I have no doubt of that. If anyone deserves Holler's derision it is Rep. Phil Krinkie or Sen. Jon Marty.
September 18, 2004
Red giving up?
Before we get to the festivities of a Gopher football game tonight, I must point out a couple of articles that popped up in the Twin Cities dailies today regarding Red's attempts at getting a new Vikings stadium. Truthfully, these articles were kind of hard to miss, but just in case you didn't see them:
Now, there are obviously some interesting things to say about these articles. First of all, what is Red's real motivation? Why announce that the Vikings will not lobby for a stadium this upcoming legislative session? On the one hand, Red could be playing a little reverse psychology with the legislature by trying to goad them into action by ignoring them. Not a good strategy, in my opinion, especially considering the time and effort Anoka County has put into this.
"There could be some reverse psychology taking place here,'' said Johnson, of Willmar. "You know, 'We didn't get our way, so we'll take our marbles and go home, and let 201 legislators explain to the people of Minnesota why there's not a new stadium for the Vikings.' ''
Dan Erhart has already said they aren't giving up, which is good:
Anoka County Board Chairman Dan Erhart said he doesn't know whether the team's decision is permanent or whether the Vikings are posturing. He said the county and city spent about $400,000 to conduct studies and promotion related to bringing a stadium on about 700 acres of land.
"I think the possibility is still out there," he said. "We've put together a comprehensive plan that we think will still work. We're not giving up."
Or Red could really believe that he has no shot with the legislature, so why waste the money? There is probably a little bit of truth to that one, although in the grand scheme of things Red has really shown a lack of patience when compared to Pohald and the Twins.
Finally, and this is the one that should get any Vikings fan excited, Red could feel that a sale of the team is imminent so why should he spend another dime of his money? Personally, that's what I hope is the reason he is making this announcement. However, why would Red announce this if he felt a sale was imminent? The legislative session doesn't start until February 2005. If he feels the team is going to be sold soon, why even bother with this announcement? He cold just save his money quietly. I don't know, but maybe Red feels that the Fowler-Hecker team is not legitimate and that he will, in fact, own the team when the legislative session starts in February. That is depressing.
Here is the way I see it. I really, really, really hope that the upcoming Fowler-Hecker bid is serious and taken seriously. Having a Minnesota owner would do wonders for the Vikings stadium drive at the capitol:
But Johnson said the Vikings might have an easier sell "if there's some Minnesota ownership involved. It's difficult to deal with Texas,'' Johnson said.
Indeed. However, I also feel strongly that not only would the momentum shift for the Vikings if they had a new Minnesota based owner, but momentum would also shift in the Twins favor.
Though the owner is frustrated, the team has made strides at the Capitol. Pawlenty says he wants the state to help the Twins and Vikings get new stadiums; not the Twins now and the Vikings in the future, which was the pecking order for years. A bill to build those stadiums was fairly well-received in the last legislative session but got caught in a log-jam behind a political fight over balancing the state budget.
With a new owner like Reggie Fowler, the first NFL minority owner and someone who has already said he would move to Minnesota, the legislature would inevitably want to hear what his plan is. Also, having Hecker involved, already a well known businessman in our community, the legislature would sit up and take notice. Now given Pawlenty's view that both the Twins and Vikings stadium problems should be solved at once, new Viking ownership would shift the momentum for both teams.
How much would momentum shift? Would it be enough? It would probably be enough to pass a super-bill for both teams, but whatever shape that bill would take it would have referendums attached. No way the legislature passes a bill without them. No way. Anoka County would have a referendum and St. Paul or Minneapolis would have a referendum. I don't see the legislature passing the bill any other way. Sadly, that would probably be an even tougher fight for the Twins and Vikings than the legislature.
So, how about that deal with the Native American tribes?
September 17, 2004
Stadiums in Minnesota
Since the Twins Geek has linked to me touting my blathering on stadium issues, I've decided to shelve what I was going to write today and highlight some of the things I've written on stadiums before. For those of you that don't know, I am a stadium nut-job. I can't stop thinking about them. I soak up stadium news like a sponge and seek it out like a bounty hunter. So, if you want to keep up on what is happening regarding stadiums in Minnesota, then you have come to the right place.
Here are a few posts I've made in the past year regarding stadiums. Some you may agree with, and some you may not. One thing you will discover quickly though is I think about stadiums way too much. When they finally build at the very least a Twins stadium in Minnesota my free time will probably increase ten fold.
- Twins Stadium in St. Paul in Jeopardy
The tribes may be our only hope...
- Moving on Up.
My most recent diatribe on stadiums in Minnesota.
More on the Native American tribes recent offer to fund stadiums in Minnesota.
- I need my fix
One of my favorites.
My trip to Miller Park.
- Restaurants to Avoid
One of the most hit pages on this site. It seems that whenever someone searches on Google for one of these restaurants this page comes up. Leave a comment if you agree (or disagree) with my stance.
Of course, there is more. If you haven't yet made a decision on where you stand on the stadium issue in Minnesota, hopefully I can help you decide. One thing I will never figure out is the apathy of Twins fans regarding this issue. If every Twins fan wrote their legislator a letter concerning a new Twins stadium it would make a huge difference. The threat of losing the Twins is real. They cannot survive in the Metrodome forever. And quite frankly we, as fans, should be demanding better. Until then we will look at Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, Seattle, Denver, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta, Cleveland, Arlington, Foxboro, Green Bay, Phoenix, Milwaukee, San Diego, Cincinatti, Nashville, and all the others that have figured out how to make something work ... we will look at all of them and wonder how they did it. Are we not smart enough to figure something out? Or are we too smart? Whatever the case, we are rapidly approaching, as Larry Spooner calls it, 3rd Dakota status.
September 16, 2004
|Good try McKenzie
"I'm excited to have Mr. McKenzie back," Packers safety Darren Sharper said. "Now we have all the pieces in place with this team to make our run to the Super Bowl. And I dare any offensive team to throw the ball at our secondary now. I double-dare them. I quadruple-dare them to test us as a secondary."
|Hey McKenzie, Moss is over there...|
Umm ... yeah. Maybe Sharper has forgotten last year when the Vikings scored 30 points in a win at Lambeau (Moss had 150 yards receiving and a touchdown) and 27 points in a loss to Green Bay at the Dome (Moss had 87 yards and a touchdown). Isn't this the same secondary they Vikings will be seeing this year? The Vikings will have no trouble scoring points. That is not the concern. The concern is can we stop the Packers offense? That, of course, remains to be seen.
|So close, but yet another Moss TD...|
The Vikings made their own moves yesterday signing two washed up defensive backs to shore up their shaky secondary: Terrance Shaw and Ralph Brown. Now I hope these two can step up and really contribute. In fact, I expect it. But there is a reason they were released and no one picked them up until the Vikings came calling. Maybe they've lost a step. I don't think I need to remind any Vikings fan of Antonio Freeman's Monday Night Miracle in 2000. Do you remember who was covering Freeman? That's right, Cris Dishman, a guy the Chiefs cut during training camp that year and the Vikings signed to shore up their shaky secondary. Hopefully history will not repeat itself.
So, in conclusion, it matters little that McKenzie is back with the Packers. This is the same secondary they had last year when they lucked themselves into the playoffs. What matters is the Vikings own defense and our ability to stop what appears to be an improved Packer offense.
September 15, 2004
Links of the day
- The unwritten rules of strangers. Milgrim's subway experiment.
- Oldie but goodie. The map of "Springfield."
- Despicable ad from Spanish newspaper. Did they think this was clever?
- Is Kerry in big trouble? Will Bush win in a landslide? This oped seems to think so.
- The 25 best Futurama moments. I don't watch Futurama but some of these moments were humorous.
- The Electoral Vote predictor has shifted in Bush's favor since the last time I linked to it.
- The Infinite Cat Project. I love this kind of stuff. The WWW has so much crap on it! Awesome!
- Which famous cartoon character is a librarian?
- This humongous truck dwarfs a Hummer. Your's for only approx. $100,000.
- Health care costs could make it difficult for America to compete on a global level.
An evening with the Twins
Well, there it is, the Santana button. Obviously they handed these out at the game last night. Already it is being sold on E-Bay for approx. $4.00. In fact, I have two due to the fact that I found one sitting under a seat on my way out of the Dome. What luck! And you would think all the stars would be aligned for Santana to have a let down during the game, but you would be wrong. He, of course, pitched magnificently and managed to lower his ERA to 2.76. Wow. He also had seven strikeouts, and he took care of a little business by beaning Carlos Lee in the fourth after Hunter was beaned in the first. Gotta respect that. Santana said after the game, "You have to protect your players." Indeed.
I was a little worried for the first five innings due to Garcia's no-hitter up to that point. I think every inning through the fifth ended with a variation of me saying, "This is pathetic," or "This is despicable," or "This is atrocious." To think that Santana could lose with a 2 hit shut-out was unbearable. But Cheesehead Craig and I agreed that the no-hitter would be hard to keep given that Garcia was pitching more balls than strikes. He ended up pitching 51 balls and only 45 strikes. Well, in the bottom of the sixth the Twins finally seemed to figure this out and got a couple of walks to start their half of the inning. Stewart then laid down a great bunt and Jones got the 9 run inning started with an RBI single. That was a relief and the rest of the inning was great fun to watch.
One thing that I did not like about the game, though, was the way Santana was taken out of the game. Santana was just rolling through seven with his two hit shut-out and the crowd all expected him to pitch the 8th. Well, Gardy sat him for the 8th and didn't give the crowd a chance to cheer Santana as he left the mound. All of the sudden Joe Biemel was on the mound. Very upsetting. Biemel proceeded to give up two runs for a 54.01 ERA in his debut. Yikes!
And let me send out a public "thank you" to Cheesehead Craig for supplying me with $25 in Dome dollars so that I could engorge myself on junk food during the game. Cheesehead won $50 Dome dollars at work and shared half with me. I ate a Dome dog, nachos, ice cream, pizza, and of course I washed it all down with a Coke. I was stuffed, and I was happy. Thanks Craig!
Finally, let me give all of you a little advice. When you have to get up and go to the restroom or get a little more food at the Dome, please use the row that you are in to exit into the aisle. Cheesehead Craig and I sat in a row that didn't have too many people, so the row ahead of us (which had a lot of people) constantly climed over their seats to exit through our row. It got to be so much that Craig and I started to chuckle about it after a while. Even the people above us gave us their sympathy. I mean, I realize our row had less people, but does that mean we should be inconvenienced 50 times? I started to use the tactic of getting up really slowly when someone needed to pass. Just because they wanted to use my row to get to the aisle doesn't mean I have to be quick about getting out of the way. Anyway, if someone from my own row needed to pass I certainly got up in a timely fashion. There is nothing wrong with that. So, to sum up, when at the Dome use your own row to exit into the aisle, unless the row above or below is empty. If the row above or below has people in the way, why is it better to inconvenience them?
Twins 10, White Sox 2. Santana for the Cy Young award. Twins magic number is 8. All in all it was a good night.
September 14, 2004
If you haven't heard yet, the new U2 album will be called How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Just by the title alone, I can tell the album will rock. The album will be released on Nov. 23 in the US, and we will begin hearing the first single, "Vertigo," on Sept. 24. That's right! This month! The rest of the tracks on the album have been speculated to be thus (from Interference.com) :
Crumbs From Your Table
City of Blinding Lights
Man & Woman
Sometimes You Cant Make It On Your Own
All Because of You
Full Metal Jacket/Native Son
Love, Peace or Else
Honestly, who isn't pumped about this? Probably a few of you. That is too bad. Anway, in honor of this news I will now list out my favorite U2 albums in order of how much I like them, and how much I listen to them:
- Achtung Baby -- This is the best. There is no argument. Favorite songs: "Until the End of the World," "Mysterious Ways," "One"
- Zooropa -- This is a close second to Achtung Baby. Truthfully I don't know why I like this album so much. It just has a fresh sound I guess. Favorite songs: "Zooropa," "Numb," "Lemon," "Stay!" "The First Time"
- Joshua Tree -- Timeless beauty. I was in the ninth grade when this one came out and you just knew there was something special about this band. And their rendition of "Streets" during Super Bowl XXXVI is the best and most inspiring Super Bowl half time show ever. I know, it isn't hard to top the Super Bowl's usual crap. Favorite songs: "Streets," "I Still Haven't Found," "One Tree Hill," "Red Hill Mining Town," "In God's Country"
- The Unforgettable Fire -- The true start of U2's sound, probably due to the influence of Eno and Lanois. This was my college study album. If I put this one on, my papers flew out of my mind. Favorite songs: "A Sort of Homecoming, "Bad," "Pride," "Elvis Presley and America"
- All That You Can't Leave Behind -- Some might say this is a little low on my list, but it is funny how it can be so low and still be a great album. It just isn't one I pop in as much. Favorite songs: "Beautiful Day," "Stuck in a Moment," "Elevation"
- October -- I really like this album. You can tell the band is really searching at this point, for their sound and their souls. Very passionate and raw. Favorite songs: "Gloria," "Scarlet, "I Fall Down"
- War -- Good stuff here. Just not as good as October for some reason. Favorite songs: "Sunday," "New Year's Day," "Refugee, "40"
- Boy -- Again, a great album, just not one I pop in much. Favorite songs: "I Will Follow," "An Cat Dubh," "The Electric Co."
- Pop -- I don't know about this one. Probably their biggest album for religious imagery, but for me it was too dark, too ugly. That doesn't mean it doesn't have some good songs though. Favorite songs: "Gone," "Staring at the Sun"
- Rattle and Hum -- I don't listen to this one at all. Favorite songs: "Desire," "Angels of Harlem"
There you have it. The way I see it (as far as U2 is concerned). By the way, I'd stick "Under a Blood Red Sky" right in between October and Boy. It is a great live album, but not studio material.
Why do I even try to think of a title...
Kids ... I swear I am keeping track of all the extra money my kids are costing me. When they hit 18 I am going to present them all with bills for damages to my house and car through the years that will shock them. It is already shocking me, and my oldest is only 9. Take last week for example. My daughter, who just turned four, decided to "color" my mini-van. Only she decided to use a rock as her crayon. When I saw the damage, which wraps around the entire vehicle, I was too stunned to speak. Sputtering, I turned to my daughter to ask her what on earth prompted her to wreak this kind of devastation on something I am years away from paying off. She just looked at me and said, "Dad, you're crazy." I don't know what to say to this. No matter how much I want to, I cannot reason with a four year old. It is impossible. You say, "Honey, you can't scrape a rock against a car. It ruins the car." And she says, "OK Daddy, do you want to play with my dolls?" How frustrating. Maybe I am crazy. Regardless of my mental state right now, though, she is going to get a bill for this when she least expects it. Oh yes, there will be restitution!
Interesting article about the Vikings defensive line today in the Star Trib. As I sat in my seat at the Dome this weekend I was thinking the same thing. Vinny had all the time in the world to throw. I don't care how good your corners are, if the QB never feels any pressure he will eventually find an open man. According to the article, Dallas was only hurried on 12 of 50 throws. 12 of 50!!! That is unacceptable, especially considering how strong the Packers O-line is. And it appears that Hovan received most of the criticism. Are we a couple of weeks away from a benching? I wonder. I also wonder about this quote:
"They were going up against [Pro Bowl left guard] Larry Allen. I didn't expect them to go out and beat Larry Allen on every snap. He's a future Hall of Fame-type guy. But I didn't expect us to hand him a yellow coat, either. That's what we did out there. We handed him a yellow coat."
Maybe I'm just dense, but what in the heck does it mean to hand someone a yellow coat? I have no idea what this means. Oh wait, I just figured it out. They hand you a yellow coat when you enter the Hall of Fame. Sheesh, I guess I'm a little slow on the draw today.
Bob Sansavere wrote an interesting column today for a change that suggests the relationship between Reggie Fowler and Denny Hecker isn't as set in stone as we have been led to believe. Apparently the deal, as far as Hecker is concerned, hinges on whether or not they can get a stadium deal shortly after purchasing the team.
"The biggest hurdle is not the purchase price,'' he said, "it's setting up without a stadium. That's what we're really looking at — where would we be without a stadium.''
Hecker also added:
"This goes back to, 'Be careful what you wish for.' If you get it, you may not get rid of it. If you do get (the Vikings) and don't get a stadium right away, it's more painful than it is with a stadium. You don't want to risk enormous capital for fun.''
I also heard on the radio this morning some comments from Tim Pawlenty who was audibly happy about a local owner possibly buying the Vikings. Could part of Hecker's involvement be some assurances from the governor that he would look more favorably on a new Vikings stadium with a local owner? I would say that the answer is a definitive yes. No way Hecker, or Fowler for that matter, would do this deal without talking with the governor. Pawlenty also said he expects an offer to made within the next few weeks. While the article above hinted that things are still up in the air, I would be shocked if Red didn't have an offer on the table by the second week of October.
September 13, 2004
Links of the day
Links around the blogosphere are being dominated by Rathergate and quite frankly I am just sick of it. I realize the issue is important but hopefully not as important as the actual issues.
As far as links go this is what I could find that is even remotely interesting.
- Firefox nightly builds are 1.0 PR. Long live Firefox!
- Jesus - Wrong for America. My mom won't like this one.
- Social future as seen by six top science-fiction authors. Fascinating.
- The Whole World is Watching. Three years of terrorism after 9/11. Impassioned article, but ultimately unrealistic?
- 100 photographs that changed the world. Amazing. Terrible. Inspiring.
- If you haven't seen this yet, take a look. What the heck is it?
- Check out #8 on the 10 Spot today. I had no idea the "fumblerooski" is illegal. Fascinating reason why.
September 12, 2004
What a weekend
What a weekend for Twin Cities sports enthusiasts. We had the Twins, we had the Gophers, and we had the Vikings and they all won their respective contests. Let's get to my "thoughtful" observations (yeah right):
The Gophers took a step back, in my opinion, this weekend. They say a win is a win, but I say a win is a win unless you are playing a Division I-AA opponent. Then you had better Win with a captial "W" and win convincingly. The Gophers struggled against a team picked to finish in the middle of the pack of the D I-AA Gateway conference. On the bright side the mistakes they made can be corrected. For example, Justin Valentine being stuffed at the goal line and then stripped was rather embarrassing. That touchdown would have blown the game wide open. I tell you, it looked like the Gophers were trying to pump themselves up the entire game but just couldn't do it due to the caliber of opponent they were playing. Note to Mason: never schedule a D I-AA opponent again. It just ain't worth it. A win against a D I-AA opponent doesn't count towards bowl standings, but a loss sure would.
Three things I've noticed watching Gopher football: 1) the Gophers' offensinve line will wear down opponents. A close game doesn't matter in the first couple of quarters. Sooner or later the O-line is going to wear down the defense and Barber-Maroney is going to go wild. It is inevitable. 2) the Gophers' defense needs to defend the short pass better. Teams are starting to figure out that if you want to beat the Gophers just nickel and dime them down the field. That has got to stop. And 3) Cupito is a much more accurate passer that Abdul-Kaliq, especially on the run. That pass to Ernie Wheelwright was a thing of beauty.
Do you know how cool it is to work for the University of Minnesota? Let me explain it to you. My place of work, my employer, has a football team. Not only that, but the place I work also has a basketball team, a baseball team, and a hockey team that all play on a national level. Does your place of work have any teams to that you can cheer for? Does, say, General Mills have a nationally ranked football team? I bet they wish they did so they could take on those jerks at Kelloggs. I tell you, working at the U really has its perks. You just have to know where to look.
Illinois State is located in the cities of Bloomington-Normal. These two cities are known as the "Twin Cities" in Illinois. So, in a way, last Saturday's game was a battle between the two "Twin Cities"!! So, needless to say, Minneapolis-St. Paul crushed that pansy town of Bloomington-Normal to claim the title of the real Twin Cities. I'm sorry, these are the things I think about. It cannot be helped.
Let's talk about the Twins. What is really on my mind right now is who finishes out the three man rotation in the playoffs? Mulholland, Silva, or Lohse? I think we can knock out Lohse right now. He has just been way too erratic this year to be considered. So that leaves Mulholland and Silva. If you would have asked me on Friday I would have said Mulholland for sure. He's got the experience and has been somewhat consistent this year. However, Silva's performance on Saturday was very good. I think the coaching staff is taking a liking to his approach his last couple of outings. Plus, he can probably last a little longer out there than Mulholland at this point in the season. He might just be the third starter in the playoffs.
I'll be going to the game this Tuesday to see Santana pitch. I swear every time he takes the mound I think he is going to get a no-hitter. And now that I have just jinxed him it probably won't happen, but I'm not really the superstitious type. I think the bats of the White Sox may have more to do with the difficulty Santana will have pitching a no-hitter on Tuesday. Anyway, this Tuesday the Twins will be handing out a Santana/Cy Young button at the game and that has me pumped! I already have the "Get to Know 'Em" and "Gotta See 'Em" buttons, not to mention the complete set of Twins fishing lures, so a new button will be nice to add to my collection of atypical Twins memorabilia.
Finally, we have the Vikings game. Much like the Gopher's game. I was not impressed with the defense. First of all, the Vikings could not get to the quarterback. We had one sack in the fourth, but up until that point Testaverde had all the time he needed. Was Hovan even out there? They showed a replay on the JumboTron that featured Hovan just getting stuffed. Anyway, also much like the Gophers, Dallas picked our secondary apart with short passes. Vinny passed for 355 yards for goodness sake, and they converted 8/15 3rd downs. To make it worse, Dallas is an average offense at best! Am I being too critical? They did only score 17 points.
No wait, I have even worse news: our starting cornerback, Ken Irvin, injured his Achilles tendon before the game in warmups and is probably lost for the season. He's not really our starting CB, but Brian Williams has been hurt most of the preseason. Brian Williams, you had better get to 100% really quick. And everyone, please say a little prayer for the health of Winfield this season. Our secondary is looking very, very thin right now.
Now for the bright side. Our offense is humming. Daunte looked spectacular out there today. I mean, five touchdown passes! Five! He is on pace for 80 TD passes this year! OK, deep breath. Daunte's audible to Onterrio Smith in the 2nd quarter demonstrates, at least to me, what a mature QB Daunte is turning into. And Moss, although he officially had only 27 yards, really marched the Vikings down the field. I saw in his press conference that he too was shocked with the 2 interference penalties called against the Dallas defense. I think we'll see a lot more of that throughout the season. And did you see Randy Moss lay down the guantlet when a reporter asked him to compare himself to Terrell Owens? Moss said, "There is no comparison." Ohhh ... I love that kind of stuff. Let the trash talking begin.
The Vikings win was great, don't get me wrong, and I think the defense will improve as the season progresses. I mean, they are already better than last year. However, the best news to come out of the day was Reggie Fowler's interview with the press. In his interview he said he anticipates making a formal offer "in the next few weeks." And concerning his relationship with Denny Hecker he said:
"I think it's very important, as an outsider, to give a level of comfort to the people here," Fowler said. "And with people like Denny Hecker involved, I think that goes a long ways towards establishing credibility that we would keep the team here. It takes enough work just getting involved in buying the team. Can you imagine the work it would take to buy a team and then move it?"
This is very , very, very good news. I am so pumped about this. To have a local owner again (Fowler would move to the TC and Denny already lives here, duh!) will be huge. Fowler also hinted if he bought the team his company's real estate arm could get involved in the development of a new stadium. I don't know what that means exactly, but I would suggest Fowler tries to go it without the aid of the state legislature. It just isn't going to happen with the state's assistance, I'm afraid. Maybe (hopefully!) he has already considered that.
Good weekend. See you soon.
September 11, 2004
The year of the Vikings begins
Last year was a particularly painful year for Vikings fans. I was just thinking about the Cardinals game and what I wrote about it on my old blog. I thought it was interesting since I still have some of the same feelings, the Vikings did in fact sign a shut down corner, and I still have my one wish for Mike Tice. Here is the post in its entirety, from January 5, 2004:
Well, I think it's about time to comment on my beloved Vikings. About a week ago, when they played what is being referred to as the "Disaster in the Desert," I was so shocked I actually accepted what was happening. Onside kick? Of course the Cardinals are going to recover it! Was there any question? A pass interference penalty on Denard "Someone please cut me!" Walker? Saw that one coming a mile away. A last second touchdown that simultaneously knocks the Vikings out of the playoffs and puts the hated Packers in, while Lambeau Field watches on the JumboTron? A last second touchdown that for some reason the Vikings couldn't cover even through they knew the Cardinals would have to throw for a touchdown? Was there any doubt? After the initial shock of it, didn't you just kind of chuckle? The Vikings have done it again, I said to myself. At least they won't break my heart on my birthday this year (Jan. 17).
What to do? How does Tice fix this mess? Perhaps it isn't really as bad as it seems. The Vikings will have about $20 million to play with in salary cap and if they don't throw it at a decent cornerback I will either have to write Tice a nasty letter, or I will just do what I normally do and gripe about it. I have griped about the need for a decent cornerback for years now, ever since Wasswa Serwanga put on his jock strap for the hapless Vikings. I realize the "big dogs have to eat" as Willie Shaw used to say, but the Cardinals (the Cardinals!) picked the Vikings apart during the last quarter of the game. And as I alluded to above, Denard Walker isn't the answer.
Why do I torture myself like this, my wife asked after the game. It's a good question, and particularly pertinent for a Vikings fan (and probably a Bills fan, too). All I have to say is when the Vikings win the Super Bowl I will be able to say, I was always there. Through thick and thin I was there cheering the team on. It will be sweet. I'll probably shed a tear. I will walk out of my house, or whatever establishment I'm in, and I will shout the most joyous cheer. Then I'll race around my house like a lunatic screaming the whole way. My best buddy Curt will probably be with me, and we will act as giddy as little school girls. We will get in my car and find anyone to celebrate with, and we will dance in the street as if there was no one looking, crazy and unabashed. Over and over again we will be pinching ourselves, asking each other, "Is this real? Have the Vikings really won it all?" And the answer will be YES! YES! Before I die, this is my dream. All I ask is that the Vikings win one Super Bowl. Mike Tice, can you grant me this wish?
September 10, 2004
St. Paul Twins stadium in jeopardy
The Pioneer Press is reporting today that Mayor Kelly wants the Twins to make a choice between Minneapolis and St. Paul for their mythical new stadium. According to the article, the Mayor would like to use the site across from the Xcel Energy Center as "an entertainment and retail magnet instead" if the Twins decide to go with Minneapolis.
I can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, allowing our state legislators to focus on the financing rather than the site selection might make for a more meaningful debate. Right now it is a battle royale between St. Paul and Minneapolis legislators that is doing little more than splitting the vote and seemingly making it harder to pass a workable stadium bill. On the other hand, competition between the two cities puts pressure on the legislature and could result in a better deal for the Twins. I guess I'd have to say that I am leaning towards siding with the Mayor. I want the Twins to make a choice so we can focus on the financing.
The article also quotes Jerry Bell who said:
"He can't let that land sit there forever. It's probably a wise thing for him to do ... But there really isn't anything that the city can do, or the Twins can do, unless the Legislature gets involved,'' Bell said. "We're extremely frustrated with the inaction of the last legislative session. It means that costs will go up for a stadium and everything else the Legislature didn't approve, like state buildings and bridges."
Rybak also chimed in with his "cities should work together" mantra, but really Bell is right. Unless the state gets involved and passes something workable and meaningful, it doesn't matter what the Twins decide. There is a $1 billion deficit looming on the horizon, so once again the prospects for a Twins stadium bill passing in the next legislative session do not look good. Bring on the quote of the day from Mayor Kelly:
But, Kelly said, he has hope. The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe said two weeks ago it wants to discuss ventures to finance a Twins or Vikings stadium.
"I want to see how discussions with the tribes and the governor are going,'' Kelly said.
That, Twins fans, may be our only hope. The more I think about it, the more a plan to work with the Native American casinos makes sense. I've written about this before so I don't want to get too deep into this discussion, but using casino money from the tribes, money that the tribes have now offered to build stadiums, is such a win-win situation. For one, it solves the stadium problem. That would be huge. Secondly, it doesn't expand gambling in Minnesota and allows the tribes to keep their monopoly. In the past, anti-gambling people have sided with the anti-stadium people because they didn't want to see slots at Canterbury Downs, or a "racino", expand gambling in Minnesota. With the tribes offering this money, gambling stays with the Native Americans. Thirdly, the state doesn't build any unhealthy reliance on gambling money to fund the state budget. I personally don't mind using gambling money to build stadiums, but I am a little nervous about using that money to fund necessary state services. However, using Wisconsin's deal with their tribes as a model, there would be plenty of money left over for stuff like this even after we built stadiums. Finally, the tribes would be state heroes. Solving the stadium problem in Minnesota would be huge and as a Vikings and Twins fan I would probably reward the Native American casinos accordingly and give them my business. That may be part of their strategy.
So, if you haven't done so already, email Gov. Pawlenty today at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him that whatever deal he strikes with the tribes has to include a solution for this stadium mess. It is time to put all this behind us and finally solve this problem.
This weekend is really the official start of fall. Not because of the leaves changing colors or the temperature getting colder, but because of NFL football. Like many Vikings fans I am really looking forward to this season. Most prognosticators are picking the Vikings to win the NFC North, and I can't say I disagree. With an improved defense to go along side their stunning offense, I think the Vikings will surprise a lot of people. One prognosticator that I really admire is the Tuesday Morning Quarterback now with NFL.com. His writing is humorous, thought provoking, and not always just about football. Lots of good stuff to ponder. Concerning the Vikings, he hammered Randy Moss in his NFC preview, saying:
TMQ thinks what's wrong with the Vikings is the obvious -- Randy Moss. Sure he's scary good, but for six years now, the Minnesota program has been structured around getting Moss his stats and stroking his puerile ego. This hasn't added up to a championship, has it? ... In six years, no one at Minnesota has stood up to the runaway selfishness of Moss. Until someone does, this franchise is goin' nowhere.
Ouch. I wouldn't say this team has gone absolutely nowhere in six years with Randy Moss. Two NFC championship games is more than anyone else in the NFC North have been to in six years. Yet, a Super Bowl victory is the name of the game, there is no disputing that. And although he dislikes Randy Moss, he still picks the Vikings to win the NFC North with a 12-4 record in his All-haiku NFL predictions edition of TMQ. Apparently not satisfied with the verbal abuse he gives Moss in the previous article, he offers this haiku about the Vikings:
Moss volunteers toYes, very upsetting. There is so much more to the team than Randy. I've written about Daunte before, and how lucky we are to have him so I offer this haiku as a replacement:
block and run decoy routes. Not!
This season's league MVP
No, I don't smoke weed
Or, perhaps it would be better to take a little jab at our rivals?
Brett Favre, why do you
lay on the ground? Oh, you've met
Udeze and friends
Please feel free to add your own Vikings related haiku in the comments below. I am actually looking forward to what Cheesehead Craig can come up with.
In conclusion, I am pumped for this Sunday. It should be a great game, and as many of you know, I will be there. Truly, this is the year of the Vikings. Winning the NFC North will only be the beginning.
September 9, 2004
Moving on Up
Well, isn't that a surprise. The mighty (and I say that with the utmost respect) Aaron Gleeman has bumped me up to "Minnesota Twins Stuff" status. I started on his blog ranking as "Down on the Farm" and now I have moved to "above the fold" on his site. I am very flattered. Aaron Gleeman's writing on the Twins puts my meager ramblings to shame. However, one thing I know I've got everyone on is blathering about stadiums. Twins stadium, Vikings stadium, Gopher Stadium, South High Stadium, I say build them all! I am unapologetically pro-stadium and come November I will not vote Republican, nor Democrat, but totally on what I call the "Stadium Ticket." You show the Twins a little love, and you've got my vote. As Jack Black said in Anchorman, "That's the way I roll."
Here is the way I see it. There are two anti-stadium arguments that drive me nuts. Actually there are more, but these drive me the most crazy. Argument #1: We shouldn't build stadiums for millionaire players and billionaire owners. The fact of the matter is the owners really don't care if you build them a stadium or not. Some way, somehow, they will get their money, either by moving the team, selling the team, offering the team up for contraction ... you get the picture. So, I've got an idea, how about we build the stadium for the fans? Let's build a stadium for US! Like it or not, the owners will always be rich, but there is a distinct possibility that poor schlobs like me will not only be poor, but we could also be without the Twins or Vikings. How is that a good deal?
That brings me to argument #2: We shouldn't build any stadiums because that money should be spent on education, or health care, or the police, etc., etc. The Twins have been trying to build a stadium since 1995. That is almost 10 years. So, for almost 10 years we haven't built any stadiums. In that time, how much extra money has gone to education since we haven't built any stadiums? Has our public education system seen any kind of financial windfall as a result of us not building stadiums? No, of course not. Education hasn't seen one extra dime. So here is the deal, either we can have inadequate funding for education and a couple new stadiums, or we can just have inadequate funding for education. I'll take the former.
Can you imagine sitting in an outdoor stadium on a beautiful summer day? Can you imagine actually putting on sun tan lotion before the game? Can you imagine seeing baseball played on real grass? I don't care about Carl Pohlad or Torii Hunter, I care about ME. I want to bring my kids to the ballpark and see some outdoor baseball. I don't think that is too much to ask, especially considering how many other cities have figured out a way to get it done. Are we as Minnesotans too pragmatic, or are we just too stupid? Let's figure it out and move on!
If you agree with me, great. You'll read a lot more posts like this in the weeks ahead. We are entering the time of year Phil Krienke calls the "Stadium Bataan Death March" and there will be plenty to write about and comment on. If you don't agree with me then save your breath. I am like a rabid dog when it comes to building stadiums. I cannot be convinced otherwise.
September 8, 2004
Barring an incredible and unlikely meltdown, Johan Santana will win the Cy Young award. I would say that he is now the "in" pick with the national media. The ESPN anchors tonight were just gushing about him to the point of embarrassment. However, he really does have the nubmers to back it up. For one, he leads the AL with a 2.85 ERA, and since the All-Star break his ERA is 1.38. That is incredible. He also leads the AL in strikeouts with 233, and among the other Cy Young candidates he has given up the fewest hits and the fewest runs. The only thing Mulder or Schilling have on Santana are more wins, but with tonight's win Santana moves to 17-6 to Schilling's 18-6. If wins are so important then Kenny Rogers should be in the running for the Cy Young. Like I said, it would be shocking if Santana doesn't win the award. Terry Ryan must be saying a few prayers tonight concerning Santana's likely salary when he becomes a free agent. I can't imagine how much he will cost in 3 years.
While I was watching the game I was surprised with the sparse attendance at Camden Yards. I mean, it looked like an Expos game. However, I said to myself, "I bet they report 30,000 people attended." Well, it wasn't that bad, but they did report 19,358. That is a joke. There is no way there were almost 20,000 at the game. Then I read this in the AP article covering the game:
The Orioles sold 19,358 tickets for the game, but because rain swept through the area during the day and continued into the early evening, only a few thousand fans were on hand...
Is this the way MLB normally reports attendance? I was under the impression that they count actual attendance, meaning how many people passed through the turnstiles. There is no doubt some teams pad their attendance numbers and I think we saw a little bit of that tonight.
I also think we saw a little of the Twins lineup next year:
Shannon Stewart -- LF
Joe Mauer -- C/DH
Torii Hunter -- CF
Justin Morneau -- 1B
Lew Ford -- RF
Michael Cuddyer -- 2B
Terry Tiffee -- 3B
Jason Kubel -- DH/RF
Cristian Guzman -- SS
That's right: Jones? Gone. Koskie? Gone. Rivas? Gone. Well, definitely Jacque Jones. At most I could see a sign and trade deal with him, but I would be very surprised if he stayed in a Twins uniform next year. And I don't see Ryan keeping both Guzman and Rivas. Of the two Guzman is the lesser of two evils, and I think Gardy is really ticked off with Rivas and this big toe business. If we've learned one thing, you don't want to tick off Gardy. And I think the Twins really like what they are seeing out of Cuddyer at 2nd base. I mean, he was drafted as a shortstop.
Finally, ESPN played one of my favorite commercials tonight, the Starbucks commerical that parodies Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger." You know the one: Glen! ... Glen! Glen! Glen! ... Glen! Glen! Glen! ... Glen! Glen! Glen! Man, that one is hilarious. Here are the rest of the lyrics:
Glen's the man, going to work
Got his tie, got ambition
Middle management is right in his grasp
It's a dream he will never let die
Glen's the man of the hour, he's the king of his cube
Status call reports have final met their rival
Burning the candle at both ends on his way to the top
He knows one day he just could become ... supervisor!
Roy! ... Roy! Roy! Roy! Man, that just kills me. Simple pleasures people, simple pleasures. If you are interested, you can watch it for yourself. Apparently, that really is Survivor in the commercial too. How the mighty have fallen...
Too many meetings and not enough time today. Morten Andersen ... just thinking about him makes my blood boil. And now I will be expected to cheer for him. I tell you, if his leg can finally get the Vikings in the Super Bowl all will be forgiven. He is definitely an upgrade over Elling or Conway so we should all be happy about that.
Johan is on the mound tonight so I think it is obvious what I'll be doing around 6 PM. And we are lucky that ESPN picked up the game or we would be out of luck. FSN is showing a Lynx game rather than Twins baseball. Talk about an unfortunate scheduling snafu. I know they probably scheduled the Lynx game when the Twins were still on Victory, but they must be kicking themselves that this game comes on the day Santana is pitching. ESPN should see some good ratings in the Minnesota area tonight.
And I don't know if any of you read the Pohald article in the Star Tribune yesterday, but I thought it was pretty humorous. I mean, Pohald sure is a cantankerous old fellow. Of course, there was a question regarding the stadium issue, and whether or not the Twins would go back to the legislature next year. Jerry Bell answered the question:
"We're evaluating that now. We've had some preliminary discussion with two communities that are interested [St. Paul and Hennepin County]. The question now, is it realistic to think the legislature will play a role. We don't know the answer to that, so we're evaluating it."
Very, very interesting. I wonder what happens if they decide that it isn't realistic to expect the legislature to play a role. Do they just go it alone? Do they more vigorously look for private money, or partner with a development group to get it done? Do they just pack it in and stay in the Metrodome forever? They have got to know that if they went it alone and built the stadium with their own money back in 1995 they would already be close to paying it off. It would have cost them half of what it costs now. Obviously it could be a very interesting winter.
September 7, 2004
The big question of the summer didn't concern the war in Iraq, or Kerry vs. Bush, Santana for the Cy Young, or a place kicker for the Vikings. No, this was the big question: what is the better movie, Anchorman or Dodgeball? Both are shockingly stupid. Both feature Vince Vaughn. Both are sometimes offensive, sometimes even painful to watch. However, I have the definitive answer: Anchorman is by far the funnier movie. Dodgeball has its moments (the wrench scene comes to mind), but Anchorman is simply hilarious, highlighted by Jack Black's cameo and the rumble in the alley with all the other news teams. Anchorman didn't try to be anything but a really stupid movie and it succeeded on every level. I dare say it has now entered my hall of fame of great comedies. We have Tommy Boy, we have Happy Gilmore, and now we have Anchorman.
I went to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts this weekend. If you haven't been there, you are really missing out. I've been there before for an exhibit, but I had never taken the time to walk around and check out the regular collection. What an absolute treasure. I was stunned by the amount and diversity of the art they have, from Egyptian to Chinese to Impressionism to Native American, and much, much more. We actually got lost trying to weave our way through all the collections. Amazing. I will definitely be going back and soon.
Finally, my wife and I took our two boys to Valley Fair this weekend. I hadn't been to Valley Fair in probably 20 years so it was neat to see how the place has changed and how it has stayed the same. I didn't ride the Wild Thing, but I did ride Excalibur and that is really saying something for me. Usually you couldn't get me within a two block radius of a ride like that, but this time I decided to buck up and take my kids on it. It was actually a lot of fun. The day ended a little short because of the torrential downpour we got caught in, but we had fun with that too. It is not everyday that you just stand in the rain and let it pelt you. Very liberating in some ways. We even went on some rides in the rain. So, all in all, I'm sure it will be a day that the kids remember for a long time. And I'm all about creating memories.
I'll probably write more later.
September 5, 2004
Links of the day
People are angry.
- Powerful words regarding Islam and the terrorism in Beslan, " An attack on children is an attack on all of humanity."
- Mid-east press "appalled" by siege.
- " What happened in one Russian schoolhouse is an abomination that has to be defeated, not merely regretted. But the only guys with any kind of plan are the Bush administration... If you've got a better idea, let's hear it. Right now, his is the only plan on the table."
- Wow. "Cleric supports targeting children."
- "Innocent religion is now a message of hate," by Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, general manager of Al-Arabiya news channel.
- "An independent Chechnya is, notwithstanding the accounts in our media, not the object of this exercise. It is instead to detach Chechnya from the Russian, 'Christian', Dar al-Harb, and attach it instead to the Dar al-Islam -- to recover it for Islamdom." Interesting.
- Chechnya: What drives the separatists to commit such terrible outrages? "Russia's terrorism problem is not international Islam. It's a war that Russia started and has continued. Because of terrorism, this war has spread to engulf the entire enormous country." Opposing viewpoint to the article above.
- Bush now holds an 11 point lead over Kerry in the polls. I think it is a given that international terrorism will only increase his lead.
- Wow. Garrison Keillor has some strong words for Republicans. "Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the poor." And what an interesting closing paragraph.
September 3, 2004
Links of the day
Not much to say today. The Vikings game was a little boring yesterday, although I think the Seattle offense took it to the Viking defense a little bit. I don't think Tice or any of the Vikings really cared though. Bring on the regular season.
The Twins are looking good. Especially Brad Radke. Shutting out the Texas Rangers is no small feat. And Craig, correct me if I'm wrong, but if one extrapolated Morneau's numbers to a full season he would have 50 home runs and 130 RBIs. That is something special.
Gopher game tomorrow and I am excited about it. Should be a good year for the Golden Gophers. Actually, it should be a couple of good years. Mason is already saying, "If you think we'll be good this year, wait until next year!" Hopefully they can make some waves this year. It would really help their stadium drive.
Lots of talk about potential Viking owners in the Star Trib today. I'm a little nervous about Waitt. He is rumored to be a Vikings fan, but if the Chargers left San Diego would Waitt consider moving them? Perish the thought.
And lastly, the Packers first team offense is touted to be pretty good this year, yet they have only scored one (1) touchdown in three pre-season games. Their defense is also getting thrown at a lot without Mike McKenzie. Oh yes, the fury of the Norsemen will be upon them. They will be like Irish monks defending themselves with pitchforks whilst the Vikings pillage their home land. Yes, Nov. 14 will be a good day.
- Andrew Sullivan did not like Zell Miller's speech at all. I must say I thought it was a little harsh myself.
- Ruff, ruff, ruff! From Cheesehead Craig.
- Mysterious signals from 1,000 lightyears away. Could we be listening to aliens?
- This is hilarious. Florida State is touting this "huge" deal with Apple iTunes to give students free downloads of the software, and they will only charge 99 cents per song download. Ummm ... that is what Apple charges everyone. Good negotiation skills down there. One comment summed it up nicely, "FSU signs contract: Free air for all!"
- This picture is making the rounds.
- A student wrote a piece on what he feels are the best posts on UThink. One of my posts about Miller Park made the cut. Yippeee!
- Reactions to Zell Miller's speech: "Zell's speech reads better in the original German." Ouch.
September 2, 2004
What a day
Sorry for the lack of posts this morning. Tim and I ran into a little unexpected traffic this morning in the HOV lane. In fact the traffic in that lane was at an absolute stand-still. This, of course, is very odd. Usually we are flying down 394 waving to all the saps in the regular lanes as we zoom by, but today it was the exact opposite. It was like I was trapped in Bizarro world! It seems the police set up the mother of all HOV single driver traps and it brought all the traffic in that lane to a screecing halt. I say "it seems" because I never actually saw the police pulling single drivers over. We heard about it on the radio. When we got to the end of the lane the police were gone and traffic started to move at a normal pace. Tim and I were kind of upset since we wanted to see some police brutality inflicted on those lawless single drivers.
When I got to work I got a call from a librarian in another library on campus who told me the dean of a certain school was deeply troubled by UThink. Apparently he is upset that students could use UThink to negatively comment on classes or professors at the U, particularly in his school. I love this kind of stuff, especially considering where the complaint is coming from. I'm sorry I can't be more specific. Free speech! You gotta love it. What I'm most excited about is that the University Libraries can use this opportunity to invoke our campus role as defenders of intellectual freedom and free speech. I don't think the complaint will really go anywhere, but if it does I think the Libraries are well positioned to defend our stance.
I would be remiss if I didn't write about stadiums every chance I got so I offer this little tidbit today. According to a Pioneer Press article yesterday, the upcoming hockey strike or lockout could have a dramatic effect on business in downtown St. Paul. That is really obvious. However, what I found interesting in the article was this little factoid about the Xcel Energy Center:
" Last year alone, hockey and other events at the arena added $104 million to St. Paul's economy, according to a study by St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce."
Again, is anyone upset they built the Xcel Energy Center? The same naysayers that we have now fighting against a new Twins stadium also fought against the construction of the X. The X has done wonders for the economy of St. Paul, not to mention the intangibles of civic pride and the new and improved impression most Minnesotans have concerning the capitol city. Goodness, let's not make that mistake again and actually give people a reason to come to St. Paul all year round.
Could Denny Hecker and Glen Taylor be working on a partnership to buy the Vikings? According to Sid Hartman, Denny and Glen were seen talking with each other on a boat cruise last week. And Charley Walters is reporting that:
"When all the talk of selling and buying the Vikings is complete, people in the know expect that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor also will own the Vikings. That could be sooner rather than later."
It should be an interesting next couple of weeks. I expect if something doesn't happen by the end of next week, nothing will happen until the end of the season. We'll see, though, we shall see.
That's all I got today. See you tomorrow.
September 1, 2004
Stuff on my mind
My mom tells me that I am a distant relative of Knute Rockne. According to her, he is like me "800th cousin" or something like that. I know Cheesehead Craig won't be impressed, but it appears my awesome knowledge of football isn't just a fluke, it is in my blood.
Good Twins game last night. I must admit that I'm never too excited when the game goes to extra innings, but Torii Hunter's walk-off home run made it all worth while. I also read that Lohse's position in the rotation is in jeopardy based on last night's performance. I don't know what to think about that. Who else do the Twins have? Joe Roa? J.D. Durbin? Matt Guerrier? You know, I didn't think Seth Greisinger did too bad of a job when he pitched early this season. It looks like we've got options, I'm just not too sure they are much better than Lohse.
This is probably obvious or well-known to most of you already, but SI.com has a great daily wrap up of the world of sports called "The 10 Spot" which I have started to read everyday. Yesterday's edition has a very good discussion on the Paul Hamm gold medal controversy and presents it from an angle that I didn't consider. It is actually pretty convincing. Anyway, some may consider The 10 Spot a rip-off of the Daily Quickie from ESPN, but I actually think The 10 Spot is a little better.
If you haven't had a chance to look at Anoka County's bid to build a new Vikings stadium in Blaine, now is your chance. They have a great FAQ about the stadium proposal that really does a nice job of arguing for the merits of stadium development in general. Among the highlights:
- Preliminary estimates indicate that the total economic and fiscal impact of the development will be nearly $100 million per year in the form of growth in the property tax base from the increased value of the new development, sales taxes generated within the development, and the benefit to the state from enhanced economic activity. This doesn't even include the money they will get for hosting one time events like the Super Bowl or the Final Four.
- It is more than just a stadium proposal, it is a proposal for an entire entertainment complex. Many stadium detractors claim that development around stadiums never happens. Well, it seems Anoka already has that figured out by having a plan for everything at once.
- Anoka County would need to generate approximately $13 – $18 million per year over the life of the bonds for its 1/3 share of the cost. They also make a convincing argument that they are only asking for county taxes that many counties in Minnesota already impose on their residents.
- Property taxes won't go up. In fact it seems the entire complex will do a lot to strengthen the property tax base in the county:
The Preserve at Rice Creek will create nearly a three-fold increase in the market value of the development site, strengthening the property tax base by approximately $10.8 million for the city, $10.8 million for the county, and $5.4 million for each the Spring Lake Park and Centennial school districts. This represents a 20% increase in the property tax base for the two school districts alone, and will allow the schools, county and city to hold down property taxes on homeowners.Wow! A stadium proposal that will actually raise money for schools! Sounds good so far.
- Aren’t stadiums a waste of public money? Good discussion here again highlighted by the conservative estimates of $100 million per year rasied for the community per year. Also this little tidbit, "The 2001 NCAA Final Four basketball tournament held at the Metrodome brought as much money into the state in one weekend as the $60 million the Metrodome cost to build. Since 1982, the Metrodome has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the state’s economy." Again, one weekend paid for the Metrodome. Is anyone upset we built the Metrodome? The Xcel Energy Center?
- Unfortunately their plan calls for a domed stadium, again. I'm not too keen on this, but I'll do anything to keep the team in Minnesota.
Anyway, it was a great FAQ. Check it out if you are interested.