Sunday, December 30, 2007

Profiles in 2007 lunacy.

I always enjoy Saturday’s Northern Alliance Radio Network broadcasts on AM 1280 The Patriot. This past Saturday’s edition of “The First Team” (John, Brian and Chad) was especially entertaining since they were reviewing the 2007 winners of their “Loon of the Week” award.

The recipient of said award on the second Saturday in January had to be my favorite.

Rep. David Wu (D-OR) is currently in his fifth term in the US House. When you’re one of 435 members of a legislative body you typically aren’t that well known outside your own state.

But in January of 2007, Wu became somewhat famous for his “Klingons in the White House” speech.







Since hearing that bizarre speech, I have to admit I was a little impressed at what appeared to be Wu’s intimate knowledge of the Star Trek phenomenon.

And then it occurred to me. Could Wu possibly be the long lost illegitimate son of actor George “Mr. Sulu” Takei?
















I don’t know. Maybe a faint resemblance.
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Saturday, December 29, 2007

The 2007 Sports Einstein of the year.

Earlier this year, I came up with an idea to point out the absurdities of those associated with sports. More specifically, any actions/commentaries/quotes attributed to sports figures that appeared absurd (maybe even downright stupid or factually wrong) earned that person the title of Sports Einstein of the Week.

Now I have to qualify that I have been too lazy to research for this bit on a weekly basis. That in itself seems odd since finding such sports inanities would seem to be the proverbial shooting fish in a barrel. So for 2008 I am taking submissions from you the readers. If I post them for a given week you will receive the proper credit, even a link to your blog if you have one. However, I have maybe about 3 hits per day on this site (Hi Mom!!). So I guess that a link to your site is not exactly a huge incentive. But it’s the best I can do.

That said it’s time to bring you the Sports Einstein of the Year.

In anticipation of the 2007 NFL draft, many pundits surmised that University of Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson would easily be a Top 10 pick. And were it not for a collar bone injury in his senior season, Peterson, selected 7th overall by the Vikings, likely would have been Top 5 choice. He was seen by almost all NFL scouts as a guy who would make an immediate impact.

But according to a guy named Warren, the scouts are idiots. Yes, a few days after the NFL draft Warren called in to "The Sludge & Lake Show” on Twin Cities sports station AM 1130 KFAN. Warren seems to put a lot of stock in later round picks, even to the point of lauding the Chicago Bears third selection Garrett Wolfe.

So it was the following quote that earned “Warren” the 2007 Sports Einstein of the Year.


“The Chicago Bears draft picks, the first three of them, will have a bigger impact in the NFL this year than the Vikings’ (picks).”



You can listen to the audio from that call here. And the outrage expressed by show hosts Cory Cove and Henry Lake was classic!!

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

History will go on without me.

After the New England Patriots moved to 15-0 on Sunday with a 28-7 win over the Miami Dolphins, I was sitting in my living room all smug. Not because I’m a Patriots fan, mind you. You see, I’m among a minority of NFL fans who has the NFL Network. That is the channel where this Saturdays’ Patriots-Giants contest will be broadcast exclusively. The Pats will, in all likelihood, become the first team to go 16-0 since the regular season expanded to 16 games in 1978.

As I started to call some friends and relatives to taunt them with the fact that I will have a chance to witness NFL history live, I suddenly recalled what I have planned on the 29th. I got tickets to see comedian (and Twin Cities native) Louie Anderson at Northrop Auditorium. This was a Christmas gift I purchased for my brother over a month ago so it wasn’t in the forefront of my mind.

Oh well. I guess the Pats will have to go 16-0 without me.


UPDATE: Well, so much for the exclusivity. The NFL caves in and will broadcast on CBS and NBC.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Country star Vince Gill sings one of the best versions of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas I've ever heard.

To you and yours, Merry Christmas!!!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Vikings need help in more ways than one.

During Sunday evening’s pitiful performance by the Vikings, I get a phone call from my wife’s cousin “Dutch”, who lives in the Pittsburgh area.

My wife hands me the phone and I say something along the lines of “Dutch, what’s going on?” Literally for the next five minutes that would be the longest sentence I would utter. Dutch, who is a sports radio talk show host for a Uniontown, PA station, grilled me on the state of the Vikings and how a solid team like that could go with Tarvaris Jackson at QB.

He then really hit below the belt and said T-Jack reminded him of Kordell Stewart. OUCH!!! Even those NFL fans outside of Minnesota are starting to pile on T-Jack.

The 32-21 loss to the Washington Redskins means the Vikings need to win in Denver next week and have the Skins lose at home to Dallas just to get in the playoffs. Since Dallas has already wrapped up home field throughout the NFC playoffs (HA HA Packers!!), it’s quite possible they’ll rest some key guys in next week’s game.

Part of me hopes the Vikings don’t make the postseason. That way they might actually make an honest assessment of the QB position and realize that Jackson (5 INTs in the past two games) isn’t quite ready for prime time.

Hey Donny!!! Any chance you’d like to be reunited with your old offensive coordinator?

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Separated at birth: John Kerry and Treebeard.






UPDATE: DOH!! The guys at Fraters Libertas covered this one.
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Saturday, December 22, 2007

I love the 80s 90s

Still a little sore and stiff from a minor car wreck Thursday (went to the Doc; all is OK), I decided to relax and do the rare channel surfing that evening. In doing so, I came across a VH1 special entitled 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s.

While I prefer 80s tunes myself, I admit I found myself reminiscing fondly over some of the ditties from the 1990s.

Case in point, the #84 greatest song.

Suppose a bunch of records execs got together in 1993 and mapped the following:

A guy from Canada who looks like Vanilla Ice, sounds like Bob Marley and is a rapper.

GO!!!!!!!!!!!


You’d get this:




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Thursday, December 20, 2007

On this date, fifteen years ago.

December 20, 1992.

It was a cool, crisp and sunny Sunday morning in Indianapolis, IN. I had been living there for all of three months when I decided to move back to Minnesota.

A year earlier (in November 1991 to be exact) I had met a young lady from Indy while she was in Minnesota for a mutual friend’s wedding. We were both standing up in the ceremony and even walked down the aisle together. Long story short, we became close, had a long-distance relationship and got engaged in June of ’92, just seven months after we met. Two months after that I moved to the Hoosier state to begin planning our April 24th wedding. But almost a year to the date of our first meeting, we came full circle. She decided she didn’t want to marry me. I know that’s sounds cold, but I must confess that I had it coming. Despite the fact she was a hypersensitive control freak, I was in the midst of my most Neanderthal stage. Let’s just say I lacked a significant amount of interpersonal skills. My fiancée and I got along great when we were only talking over the phone 2-3 times per week. But when it came to having a dignified relationship on a daily basis, we just weren’t clicking.

After the break-up, my ex-fiancée convinced me to stay in Indianapolis in hopes we could work something out, maybe even reconcile. Within about four weeks, I grew tired.

Tired of working 50-60 hours per week at a crap job making crap money.

Tired of the constant rejections when attempting to find employment within my chosen field of study.

Tired of living in a dreary apartment in a neighborhood where drive-by shootings were not all that uncommon.

And tired of my ex and her constant criticism of my character. I mean, I realize I was about as pleasant as a grizzly bear with a sore derrière. However, I resented the fact that I was told that on a regular basis.

With that in mind, I called my buddy Rolf and asked if he would come to Indy and drive back with me to Minnesota. A few days before I was to leave I packed up many of my belongings and shipped them to my Mom’s house, where I would soon be living again. The only other items I brought home was whatever I could fit in my ’88 Chevy Nova and what Rolf could stuff in his Grand Prix. Everything else I left behind and told my ex’s family to donate the items to charity.

After a long, ten-hour drive I was back home. My mother was shocked to see I had wasted away to about 155 lbs. I didn’t realize until I was home how overwhelmed and stressed out I was by my situation.

But fifteen years (and sixty pounds) later, I stand amazed at the bountiful blessings God has bestowed upon my life.

And I know the best is yet to come!!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Look at me!!!

Being the oldest of four kids, I can’t relate to the plight of younger siblings. I imagine that when the older brother/sister garners a lot of attention, the younger bro/sis has a tendency to act out, even if the behavior is bad. Negative attention is better than none at all, in their minds.

So what on earth could the younger sister of someone like, say, Britney Spears do to possibly draw attention away from the daily shenanigans of the pop star?



Britney Spears' teenage sister Jamie-Lynn Spears is pregnant with her first child. Bosses at children's TV network Nickelodeon, where the 16-year-old fronts hit show Zoey 101, have confirmed the baby news.



Wouldn’t be my attention-grabber of choice but to each their own.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

A look back at NFL Sunday.

Some random thoughts about Week 15 in the NFL.

- I see singer Jessica Simpson was in attendance at the Eagles-Cowboys game to cheer on Dallas QB (and boyfriend) Tony Romo. Unfortunately, Romo stunk out the joint in a 10-6 loss to the Eagles. I’m beginning to think Jess may be some sort of curse on her boyfriends and their livelihood. Is there any truth to the rumor that singer John Mayer flubbed the words to his song Your Body is a Wonderland when Jess attended one of his concerts while they were dating?

- Memo to all NFL talking heads, sports commentators, etc. The name of the team in Jacksonville is pronounced JAG-WAHRS, not “JAG-WIRES”. Got it??!! Say it with me: JAG-WAHRS; JAG-WAHRS; JAG-WAHRS.

- When you see the number “1865”, what do you think? Yep, that’s the year the Civil War ended. It also happens to be the number of kickoffs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers received in their 32-year franchise history without returning one for a touchdown----until Sunday. Michael Spurlock returned a first quarter kickoff 90 yards for a TD in the Bucs 37-3 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

- Speaking of the Bucs, members of 1976 winless squad were cracking open cans of Grain Belt Sunday evening. That’s because their record will remain intact at least another year thanks to the Miami Dolphins finally getting their first win of the season. They defeated the Baltimore Ravens 22-16 in overtime.

- Green Bay QB Brett Favre set another passing record Sunday. Earlier this season he became the all-time leader in TD passes and victories. Now you can add passing yardage to his long list of records he’s merely keeping warm for Peyton Manning accomplishments. Favre surpassed Dan Marino for the top spot having thrown for 61,405 yards in his career, which is the equivalent of 35 miles. To put that in perspective, that’s the distance from the city of Anoka to the Mall of America.

- And finally, the New England Patriots became the first team since 1972 to begin a regular season 14-0. A 20-10 win over the New York Jets in miserable weather conditions (freezing rain, strong wind gusts, etc.) clinched home field throughout the AFC playoffs for the Pats. Next up, the Pats host the 1-13 Dolphins. Assuming they win to go 15-0, New England has a chance to run the table with a victory in their regular season finale at the New York Giants. That game is scheduled for Saturday, December 30, broadcast exclusively on the NFL Network ----a channel I now have!!! And here I thought I’d never be part of a clique!!

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dissent when convenient.

After mailing some Christmas gifts today, the gal and I decided to check out the new Applebee’s near Northtown Mall. Upon arriving at the restaurant at about 2:30 pm, we noticed a few guys started to congregate at an intersection across the way. As it turns out, they were lefty protesters. While one guy was holding an American flag, the other two were holding a flag with a peace symbol and an anti-war sign, respectively.

Since we live near that area we figured we could run home quick after lunch and return with a Protest Warrior sign. You know, kind of stir things up a little bit.

We finished lunch about 3:15 and drove by the aforementioned intersection on our way home when we noticed the three guys were gone. What, suddenly 20 degrees and sunny is too unbearable?

A more appropriate slogan for the protesters on this day:

SAY NO TO WAR…..unless it’s too chilly.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

No mercy.

It looks to be ugly in NFL action this Sunday. The New England Patriots will be hosting the New York Jets in their first meeting since Jets personnel outed the Pats for using video cameras on the sidelines in their Week 1 meeting.

I don’t think the Pats should be too haughty, though. After all, video taping opponents’ play signals is indefensible, not to mention against NFL rules. No, the Patriots are probably more perturbed at the notion that their 3 Super Bowl victories are now somewhat tarnished in the minds of their detractors.

And they want to make the Jets pay.

The largest margin of victory in NFL history was a 73-0 Chicago Bears win over the Washington Redskins in the 1940 championship game. I can see the Pats maybe attempting to reach that type of winning score.

Here's what I envision:

With 25 seconds to go in the game, Tom Brady throws his 10th touchdown pass of the game giving the Pats a 70-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, kicker Stephen Gostkowski shockingly goes with the onside kick and the Pats recover. A couple of plays later, the Patriots move the ball down to the Jets’ 10-yard line with 3 seconds to play. On comes Gostkowski for a 27-yard field goal attempt to give the Pats a tie for the all-time rout.

Snap, good.

Hold, good.

But wait!!! Holder (and backup QB) Matt Cassel catches the Jets off guard. He then tosses the ball to LB Mike Vrabel, who snuck into the end zone behind the Jets wall.

TOUCHDOWN!!!

Patriots 77 Jets 0.

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Everybody's working for the weekend.

Wow!!! I can’t believe it’s already Friday tomorrow!!! I mean, this work week just flew by.


Uh, that’s because today was the first day you worked all week.


Oh. Well, it was a quick 6 ½ hours of work today, let me tell ya!!

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

NBA point guard Ford suffers scary injury.

The following video features NBA point guard T.J. Ford, which includes footage of an injury he suffered in a game on February 24, 2004.





While a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, Ford collided with the Mark Madsen of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ford suffered a spinal injury as a result of that collision and subsequently was out of basketball for 20 months.

Last evening I immediately recalled that horrific collision because Ford, now a member of the Toronto Raptors, was taken off the court on a stretcher due to what appears to be a frighteningly similar incident.


Ford, who missed the 2004-05 season with Milwaukee following neck surgery, stole the ball and was headed toward a breakaway basket when Atlanta rookie Al Horford hit his face with his hand. Ford landed hard on his back, his head bouncing off the floor.


Given the severity of the previous injury, I was relieved to hear Ford didn’t appear to sustain any paralysis.


Raptors spokesman Jim LaBumbard confirmed Ford "had feeling in his upper and lower extremities when he was taken off the floor."


Ford has a web site which I’m sure will give updates on his condition.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Oprah on the campaign trail.

If indeed Oprah helps Presidential hopeful Barack Obama secure the Democrat nomination, what do you suppose Obama will do to her couch?

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I want my MTV NFL Network.

On Thursday the 6th I started a brief sabbatical, given my most recent consulting gig ended Wednesday afternoon. Since my next assignment doesn’t begin until Tuesday, I decided to take care of some logistical things around the house.

Oh sure, there was laundry to be done, carpet to be vacuumed and cat boxes to be cleaned. But first things first: I had to go to our local Comcast service center to pick up a new cable box. Yes, I finally broke down and decided to pay the extra $6 per month to get the Sports Entertainment tier package. Said package includes the coveted NFL Network where NFL games are exclusively broadcast every Thursday and Saturday in December. What great timing since the Bears and Redskins were scheduled to play last Thursday evening. Anyhow, after I picked up the new box I was instructed to call Comcast customer service upon hooking up the new device.

After successfully installing the box, I called Comcast to get things rolling. After several minutes of carefully following the instructions of the customer service guy, all I saw on each channel of our cable TV account was the message “ONE MOMENT PLEASE. This channel will be available shortly.” Not to worry, I was told. On the day of a football broadcast on the NFL Network, traffic is typically pretty heavy. I was advised to give it about twenty minutes and I’d have my sports package.

56 hours later, I’m still waiting.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Sports Einstein of the week: Kenny Williams.

The Detroit Tigers hung tough in the America League Central division race in 2007 until the Cleveland Indians broke away from the pack in September. Just fourteen months removed from a World Series appearance, the Tigers mad a big splash at this year’s winter meetings by obtaining left-handed starting pitcher Dontrelle Willis and highly coveted third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Adding a phenomenal young hitter like Cabrera to a lineup that includes Magglio Ordonez (2nd to Alex Rodriguez for 2007 AL MVP), Gary Sheffield, Edgar Renteria, Curtis Granderson and Carlos Guillen, the Tigers offensive stats may rival that of a slow-pitch softball team.

Then you have the Chicago White Sox, the team that won it all in 2005 but has been .500 ever since.

Fresh off a 90-loss season in ‘07, the Sox traded away pitcher Jon Garland (who averaged nearly 14 wins per season over the past six years) to the Los Angeles Angels for aging shortstop Orlando Cabrera. The only other move they’ve made is acquiring OF Carlos Quentin (who????) from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

So when Sox General Manager Kenny Williams was asked how he expected to contend with the Tigers in 2008, his answer was quite stupefying:


‘‘All this has done is put the Tigers in a better position to contend with us.''



I don't think there's much more I could add.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Vikes-49ers take.

I admit I never saw this coming. After a 34-donut shellacking at the hands of the Green Bay Packers a few weeks ago, the Vikings were a pathetic 3-6. They also appeared to have lost their only viable offensive threat when rookie sensation Adrian Peterson tore the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee. Many speculated that the Vikings would be fortunate to win more than two games the rest of the season.

Fast forward three weeks. The Vikes are 6-6 and they now have a healthy Peterson to go along with legitimate playoff aspirations. And the remaining four games on their schedule look very winnable, starting with this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

If I were coach Brad Childress and I sensed my team getting a little haughty at the prospects of facing a 3-9 team, I would merely mention the date of November 5, 2006. The Vikes went in to San Francisco to take on a pathetic Niners team that had lost the previous two weeks by a combined score of 89-29. The Vikes ended up laying a Gibraltar-sized egg in a 9-3 loss.

That said, I say the Vikings cover the 8-point spread.

Vikes 31 49ers 17.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Lack of accountable pro athletes: Part MCMLXIV

I’ve been a sports fan for nearly thirty years now. As a result, I could probably list 100 pet peeves of mine concerning all things sports, whether it is condescension by coaches and players or stupid, idiotic clichés (“We gave 110%”; “We take it one game at a time”, etc.).

But I have to say, my #1 pet peeve within the context of sports has to be incessant whining about officiating. More specifically, the tired old philosophy of letting the players on the field/court/ice decide the game.

A classic example would be this gem offered up after Monday evening's NFL game won by the New England Patriots, 27-24. Baltimore Ravens CB Samari Rolle lamented a late-game fourth down holding call on teammate Jamaine Winborne:


"In a game of this magnitude, you don't make that kind of call. Let the players decide the outcome of the game.”


To which I say BULL PUCKY!!!!!! If a defensive players grabs the jersey of a receiver beyond five yards of the line of scrimmage, that’s a holding penalty….REGARDLESS OF WHEN OR WHERE IT TAKES PLACE!!!!

In fact, here is the official football definition of defensive holding:


No defensive player is allowed to hold or push an offensive receiver or back on a passing play past the initial five yard chuck-zone. The first five yards past the line of scrimmage, the defense may jam, hold up, the receiver to keep them from getting by, but after that a penalty is awarded to the offense. Special Notes: Automatic first down awarded to offense.


Got that??!! The explanation of defensive holding does not include the phrase “….unless it’s late in the 4th quarter of an important NFL game.” At least, not in any rule book I could find.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

New technology makes for good laugh.

To quell my wife’s anxiety about my talking on the cellular phone while driving, I finally purchased a gadget called the “Bluetooth.” Certainly you’ve seen said gadget before. It’s a wireless device which you can clip to your ear, allowing you to talk on your cell phone hands free.

Yesterday while I was walking around our house with my Bluetooth attached, the wife at one point began to laugh uproariously. While observing me, she thought I resembled Lobot, the guy who was Lando Calrissian’s assistant in The Empire Strikes Back.

I dunno. You be the judge.







Friday, November 30, 2007

Recap of the Packers-Cowboys tilt.

If beer is water, then it was a veritable Niagara Falls at Joe Senser’s Restaurant last evening. It was 80-90% Packers fans viewing the Green Bay-Dallas tilt at said establishment. In fact, my brother and I were hemmed in by several tables full of Packer faithful as we rooted vociferously for the Cowboys.

We got some annoyed glares as we verbally ripped the likes of Brett Favre, Al Harris, etc. But for the most part the focus was on the game. My bro and I left at halftime with Dallas leading 27-17. As we exited, we had a number of Packer fans ribbing us for not staying for what they were sure would be a Pack rally.

Despite backup Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers playing admirably in place of the injured Favre, the Packers ended up losing by the same deficit by which they trailed at halftime. The final score was 37-27, Cowboys. Nice rally, eh?

I’m still digesting all that took place in last night’s game but I feel I have definitively reached one conclusion: Dallas QB Tony Romo has officially arrived!!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thursday Night Showdown.

I can’t recall an NFL season when we’ve had likely previews of both conference championship games.

In week nine, the New England Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts in what many believe will be the matchup in the AFC title game.

Then you have this Thursday’s tilt with the Dallas Cowboys hosting the Green Bay Packers. Not surprisingly, many consider this contest a preview of the game in which the winner earns the right to be thumped by the Patriots in the Super Bowl NFC championship game. And why not? In looking at the other 14 teams in the conference, I see no club in the same elite class as the Cowboys and Packers.

It seems as though Dallas is on a mission to overcome the heart-wrenching loss to the Seattle Seahawks in last years’ wild card playoffs. QB Tony Romo, who was the holder on field goal attempts, dropped the snap on what would have been a chip shot kick to win the game. Instead, Dallas was dispatched early and Romo went in to hiding. Also, you have a focused wide receiver in Terrell Owens. With T.O. on a pace to score 20 touchdowns, all his press clippings have had to do with his work on the field. For the first time in about three years there’s been no off-field trashing of coaches and teammates, no alleged suicide attempts and, best of all, no extemporaneous press conferences from his deplorable agent Drew Rosenhaus.

On the Green Bay side of the ledger you have QB Brett Favre having his best season this millennia. In this his 17th NFL campaign, Favre has continued to eschew the retirement prospects for one reason only: To win another Super Bowl. It has been ten seasons since the Pack’s last appearance in the big game. While he still has fun playing the game, Favre is all about winning. Seeing the fervor with which he played last Thursday (where at one point he set a club record with 20 consecutive completions) tells me he won’t be satisfied unless he leads his team all the way to the championship.

All things being equal, I believe the Packers are the better team. However, they may be hampered defensively due to injuries to CB Charles Woodson (toe) and DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (ankle).

The latest line has Dallas as a 6 ½ point favorite at home. Given that, Dallas will win but not cover.

Cowboys 31 Packers 27

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Two long-standing NFL records in jeopardy.

It’s an annual tradition when members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only undefeated team in NFL history, gather together to drink champagne when the last unbeaten team suffers its first defeat of a given season. Since the New England Patriots moved to 11-0 with a Sunday night win over the Philadelphia Eagles, the ’72 Dolphins annual soiree will be pushed off until at least the month of December.

Speaking of the Miami Dolphins, this year’s version is now 0-11 thanks to a 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night. In modern NFL history, only one team finished winless for an entire season. That would be the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

I’m curious. Do members of the ’76 Bucs gather together whenever the last winless team attains its first victory of the season? Given the ignominious record they hold, I’m thinking they would celebrate with a case of Grain Belt or something along those lines.

Just a thought.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

It's official: Torii Hunter moves on.

At least it wasn’t the White Sox.


Outfielder Torii Hunter and the Los Angeles Angels reached a preliminary agreement Wednesday night on a five-year contract thought to be worth $90 million.


With those kind of numbers, there is NO WAY the Twins had a shot to re-sign Hunter. The best they came up with is 3 years, $45 million.

Besides, the Twins rarely give five year deals. In fact, the only five year contracts I can recollect were for Kent Hrbek (5 years, $14 million prior to the 1990 season) and some guy named Puckett (5 years, $30 million prior to 1992).

Congratulations, Torii! You were a class act in your time as a Twin. You were a great ambassador for this franchise and we’ll miss your acrobatic plays in center field.

But most of all, we’ll miss you as the face of the Twins franchise.

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A timeless Thanksgiving message from President Reagan.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

I present to you the Thanksgiving Day 1985 greeting from President Ronald Reagan.

Every time I listen to President Reagan’s archived speeches, I can’t help but be struck by the timeless components of his profound messages.




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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving memories: 10, 20 and 30 years ago.

Thanksgiving, 1997: Since my Mom and Grandma traveled to Colorado to celebrate the holiday with my Aunt, I didn’t have any other immediate family in the area. As a result, I was invited to celebrate this particular Thanksgiving with my girlfriend and her family. This gal I was dating (we’ll call her Dawn) was living near downtown St Paul with her 4-year old son. I actually first met her when we were both in eighth grade but hadn’t seen her since High School when we reconnected a few months earlier.

Anyhow, her Mom, Dad and 14-year old adopted sister got there about a half hour late. Dawn’s Dad was this crusty, belligerent guy who didn’t like leaving his recliner. So when it was time to leave their house, he snuck out for a walk down the street, hoping his wife and daughter would leave him behind. Needless to say, they waited for him to get back home before leaving for Dawn’s place. Dawn’s 350 lb. brother then showed up in a t-shirt, ratty sweat pants and obvious disdain showing on his face. He would go on to inform the family that he would not be leaving his apartment on Christmas day. “I just want to keep to myself that day”, he declared. To me, the holidays are all about enjoying family and being able to put aside the daily stresses of life. But just a couple of hours with Dawn’s family and I would have preferred to have my bladder removed with the salad fork then spend another millisecond there.

Dawn & I parted ways within a week after what was easily my worst Thanksgiving holiday ever.


Thanksgiving, 1987: Since we now had the bigger house, my Mom decided to host Grandma J. for Thanksgiving. Usually it was the other way around since we had lived in a two-bedroom apartment all those years and Grandma had an actual home. On this Thanksgiving, the Vikings were to play the Dallas Cowboys at 3:00 pm. Having finished dinner by 2:00, my brother and I decided to kill some time by going out front and hitting a few tennis balls with the baseball bat. Yes, despite it being late November and 35 degrees, we still had baseball fever less than a month removed from the Twins winning the World Series. Once it struck 3:00, we headed in to watch what turned out to be an exciting football game. The Vikes led 38-24 in the 4th quarter only to have Dallas comeback and tie it at 38. The game went to OT with running back Darrin Nelson scoring on a TD run to give the Vikes a 44-38 victory! Food, family and football. How can you not love a day like that?



Thanksgiving, 1977: Despite the fact I have a near impeccable memory, I don’t recall where I was on this Turkey Day when I was age 8 ½. I’m going to assume we did as we always did and went to Grandma J’s place. Turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie. You know, the usual.



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Monday, November 19, 2007

Separated at birth: Joel McHale & Chad The Elder.















Joel McHale, host of E! comedy show The Soup.

Chad The Elder (always right), blogger extraordinaire with Fraters Libertas.

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Rocky Mountain high!

My gal & I returned Sunday from a three-day vacation to the Denver, CO area. We stayed with my very hospitable Aunt & Uncle in Fort Collins.

I have to say that the highlight of the trip was the hike we went on Friday afternoon. We started at the bottom of Lumpy Ridge trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, where we were approximately 7,500 feet above sea level. By the time we completed the 1.7 mile trek up to Gem Lake, we were up to about 8,800 feet! Granted the hike wasn’t that long distance-wise but the steep incline resulted in a rather rigorous excursion.

Below are some photos we took along the way.



Soaking in a terrific view!! You probably can't see it but "The Stanley Hotel" is located at the bottom of the hill and to the right. That is the very hotel where author Stephen King penned "The Shining".





Here I got a little adventurous by climbing up some rocks. I mildly sprained my foot jumping down from there.




My gal and I on one of our many rest stops. While I gasp for air she smiles nicely for the camera. Over my right shoulder and in the background is a nice view of Long's Peak.



An unobstructed view of Long's Peak.




Here we are after our hike back down the hill. By the time we were done, the temperature was in the mid-60s, which meant I could unzip my jacket.
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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Greetings from the Rocky Mountain state!!

Wrapping up a quick little excursion in Colorado, I am putting together a short blog post from the Fort Collins, CO Starbucks.

I will post some pictures sometime over the next couple days of a long hike we went on in Rocky Mountain National Park Friday afternoon. At one point we were over 9,000 feet above sea level!

I've basically been cut off from the world until today. In fact, I just now learned A-Rod re-signed with the Yanks and Barry Bonds has been indicted. However, Bonds has yet to turn himself in because he is currently hunting and fishing in --of all places--Colorado! Hmmm. Now that I think of it, I did see some bulky guy fly fishing along the Big Thompson River yesterday.

Developing.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day tributes.

On this Veteran’s Day, I would like to go back to November 11, 1988.

It was the final Veteran’s Day address given by President Ronald Reagan. Living up to his nickname “The Great Communicator”, he conveyed a moving tribute at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The entire 9 ½ minute speech is fantastic. And I couldn’t help but nod my head vigorously in agreement over the following excerpt regarding the Vietnam War:


“Perhaps at this late date we can all agree that we've learned one lesson: that young Americans must never again be sent to fight and die unless we are prepared to let them win.”


Hopefully that message rings loud and clear throughout the halls of Congress even today.

God bless the brave men and women who served, and are currently serving, in our Nation’s military.




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Being force-fed some humble pie.

Yeah, yeah, I saw it. The Vikings got destroyed by the Packers. As many are now pointing out to me, I predicted a 28-24 Vikings victory. Sheesh, you put something in writing on the internet and the Wisconsin friends and relatives come out of the wood work to rib ya.

Obviously I wasn’t acting on any insight or analysis in predicting a Viking upset. It was merely a gut feeling I had.

Now many of you may be wondering if that is the worst prediction I’ve ever made. In sports, it’s up there with some of my bad ones. But when you factor in predictions as a whole, it’s not even close.

I point you to the 1984 presidential election pitting incumbent Ronald Reagan and Minnesota’s own Walter Mondale. The night before the election I predicted a newspaper headline of “Congratulations, President Mondale.”

Reagan was easily re-elected, winning 49 of 50 states.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sports Einstein of the week: Tim Brewster.

To say the University of Minnesota Gophers football team (1-10 after today's loss to Iowa) has been terrible this year is to say The Elephant Man merely had a little puffiness around his eye.

Out of 119 NCAA Division I football teams, the Gophs Swiss cheese defense is statistically ranked…..119.

So it was this observation about highly touted safety Dominic Barber which earned head coach Tim Brewster this week’s Sports Einstein:


“I don't know where we would be without him."


Uh, Division III perhaps?

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Border Battle prediction.

I don’t have any delusions of the Vikings making the playoffs this season.

Heck, I would consider it a major milestone if they finish .500 this year.

But one thing is for certain: I will be OK with them finishing 4-12, provided that fourth win occurs this Sunday in Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers.

Yes, the loyal fans of the spinach and lemon green and gold already have visions of another Lombardi trophy dancing in their heads. The Pack is 7-1, QB Brett Favre is bearing much resemblance to the 3-time MVP Favre and this Green Bay squad can actually play a little defense. The planets seem to be aligning just right in the Packer galaxy.

That’s why they are ripe for a loss this Sunday. Adrian Peterson will run wild, the Vikes defense will get a touchdown or two and hand the Pack their second loss this season.

28-24, Vikings.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The sun is setting.

There was almost an air of inevitability when we got the news. After last week’s lengthy surgery to remove my father-in law’s cancer-riddled prostate and bladder, we learned today the results of his CT scan. The disease had already spread to his lymph nodes and appears to be inoperable.

After almost seven years of battling several types of cancer, our beloved father has chosen to commence treatment which will merely make his final days comfortable. At 77-years old, he realizes he is in the twilight of his life here on Earth.

I guess it goes without saying that we will cherish every moment we have with Howard over the next 12 to 24 months. Truth be told, it won’t be any different than the previous years we’ve been blessed with his presence.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Little League redux.

This past August, I wrote about my hometown Coon Rapids little leaguers’ appearance in baseball’s Little League World Series.

I celebrated the one game they emerged victorious while also taking umbrage with the antics of the opposing starting pitcher. Earlier in that game, Salisbury, MD pitcher Canaan Cropper could be seen shouting towards the Coon Rapids dugout after completing a spectacular double play. I don’t like smack talk. Never did. So I then took great delight in seeing Canaan give up the game-winning home run to my neighbor, Tanner Lowe.

2 ½ months later Bill Cropper, Cannan’s dad, has taken issue with my comments.

I thought I would dedicate an entire post to responding to Mr. Cropper.


Hey Brad. Just googling my sons name and ran across your sight. Little tough on a 12 yr old. As a Christian and pastor myself I think you are a little bit over the top about my son.


Yeah, calling him a pipsqueak was probably a bit much. However, everything else I’ll stand by.


Kid has a lot of passion but just amped up and wanting to win like the other 22 million that started the summer. Oh yeah, hats off to that team and the Lowe kid. Great players. Why don't you tell everyone about the kid on your hometown team whose mom had brain cancer and who we all gathered in center field together before the game and prayed for. That’s good LL stuff.


Duly noted, sir! In all seriousness, thanks for sharing that!!


Obvious you never played on any level and wouldn't know the pressure.


BZZZT!!

Actually, I did play Little League baseball, which is why I said what I said. I played for a coach who would sit any player that didn’t maintain a sense of decorum during a game. Heck, I remember one time he yanked his own kid for throwing a bat after striking out. Enthusiasm and being “amped up” is one thing. Rubbing an opponent’s nose in it is quite another.


Articles like that and posting that you are a born again believer would really make me turn toward Christ.

Canaan’s dad.


Whoa! Do I detect a little sarcasm from you, Pastor? Besides, the one thing I emphasized in my original post was the kind of brashness displayed by your son has a way of coming back to haunt. To put it in Biblical terms: You reap what you sow!

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Bridging the gap.

I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve been up by 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday in the past 10-15 years.

One such occurrence was this morning as my wife and I were to put some time in for our church service project. As I mentioned a couple of months ago, our church had initiated a program entitled “40 Days of Community”. Over the past six weeks, we’ve been involved in “Life Groups” where we’ve had the opportunity to fellowship with other 30-something couples. It allowed all of us to share thoughts and testimonials about dealing with life in what has become a world which strenuously tests one’s faith.

At the end of this six-week period we were to get involved in a project which benefits the community. As any other church body, we are wonderful at meeting the needs of families within the congregation. But we also realize those gifts of service and hospitality can be extended beyond the walls of the church building.

So on this crisp Fall morning, eleven of us gathered in our church parking lot to load donated furniture into trailers owned by an organization called Bridging. This wonderful organization “bridges the gap” between those who donate household goods and families in need. That is they will take the donated goods, make any necessary improvements to them and make them available to families referred to their warehouses.

One thing we know for sure is God can bestow His blessings without any assistance from His people. After all, He’s God. But the fact that we are able to give of ourselves in a venue where other people are blessed is itself a blessing handed down by our precious Lord!

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Father-in law update.

We arose this morning, praising the Lord!

We learned that our beloved father, Howard, was as ornery as a grizzly bear with a sore derriere!! After a very serious surgical procedure yesterday, he seemed like his old self this morning. That is, when my mother-in law walked in to see him he was crabbing at her about everything that was wrong.

His nose hurt.

His legs were twisted up in that uncomfortable hospital bed.

The food was bad.

But it was fine. My mother-in law let him complain mightily, all the while celebrating the fact he’s still with us.

My wife & I will be visiting him tomorrow. If he’s still in the aforementioned ornery state, I have news which is sure to perk him up.

The team he has despised for years, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football club, lost to Navy for the first time in 44 years.

Even better? Howard can say such a rare occurrence happened in his lifetime.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Howard.

I remember the first time I met Howard. It was Labor Day weekend 1998. At the time, I had been dating his daughter for about two months. Since I already had a sneaking suspicion that I would one day marry this gal, I figured I ought to meet her parents.

While I was advised that Jennifer’s Mother was a gregarious sort, her Dad couldn’t have been more opposite. He was a very calm, non-expressive person. But on those rare occasions when he showed any kind of emotion, you knew it was serious business. My favorite story has to be when Jennifer was dating some other guy about six months before she and I met. I guess this guy was pretty fond of himself (translation: ARROGANT), which doesn’t mix well with a family of down-to-earth, humble folks. Anyhow, Howard did not like this guy much and certainly didn’t want him marrying his daughter. Of course he always kept the best peace. But one day after playing this guy in a round of darts Howard uncharacteristically gloated about the fact he won that particular match. He then went on to add “I’ll whip his a** in golf, too!” Needless to say, that kind of direct statement from Howard shocked the family. So whenever Jen & I would talk about her Dad I would always say I must OK in his eyes...... as long as he doesn’t want to kick my butt in a golf match.

While I’m sure Howard had a myriad of stories to tell about his military service in the Korean War, he wasn’t interested in reliving that part of his life. Instead, he’d prefer to talk about the street ball games he and his brother played in the New York neighborhood where they’d grown up. An avid golfer, Howard also loved to reminisce about some of the finer tee shots he had made. Yes, despite growing up in an upper class family, Howard enjoyed the simpler things in life.

If there was ever a time Howard would open up, it would be in a one-on-one conversation. For three weeks leading up to our wedding, Jennifer stayed at her parents home. Being a school teacher, she had the Summer off which meant she could get up in the morning and work on various wedding plans. But every morning started with Howard and Jennifer having breakfast together. Jen cherished this time with her Dad because he was willing to have those heartfelt conversations he wouldn’t otherwise engage in amongst a group setting. And for the first time, Howard opened up about the pending marriage by blurting out “I don’t know if I’m ready to let you go yet.” She reassured him it would be OK and that she was more than ready for marriage. He never said much about it again. Then at the wedding reception the videographer went around the room to ask people to convey a message to the bride and groom. In typical Howard fashion, he would only muster “I hope they make it.”

Since that joyful day when Howard gave away his youngest daughter’s hand in marriage, he has had to endure one ailment after another.

In September 2000, he suffered a heart attack. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with chronic leukemia, skin cancer of the nose and prostate cancer.

The leukemia seems to be under control.

The skin cancer was removed and he even got a new nose out the deal, thanks to some cosmetic repair.

And it appeared the prostate cancer was in remission for a time.

Unfortunately, we received the news this week that not only has his prostate cancer been re-aggravated, now his entire bladder is riddled with the disease.

No matter how stoic a person Howard is, he has let his guard down these past few months.

He has told my mother-in law that if it weren’t for her, he might not be living.

He has expressed overwhelming and sincere gratitude to Jen & I for working in their yard these past several Saturdays.

And he has pleaded for both his daughters and their families to come for a weekend visit at least once per month.

So on the morning of Friday, November 2nd my thoughts and prayers will be drifting towards a St Paul hospital. A five-hour surgery awaits Howard. The procedure entails removing the prostate and bladder and essentially making new ones out of a section of his colon. Given the fact he’s 77-years old with a bad heart, blood that has trouble clotting and a poor immune system, we are all hanging on by the proverbial thread.

We just pray that Howard feels no more excruciating pain, regardless of the outcome.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Sports Einstein of the week: Channing Crowder.

The Miami Dolphins will be taking on the New York Giants in London, England this Sunday.

By his own admittance, Dolphins LB Channing Crowder doesn’t know much about the city…..


Maybe he was joking, but gregarious Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder confessed (Wednesday) he didn’t know until Tuesday that people spoke English in London.


…or where it is, for that matter.


“I couldn’t find London on a map if they didn’t have the names of the countries,” Crowder said. “I swear to God. I don’t know what nothing is. I know Italy looks like a boot. I learned that.”

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

October 25, 1987: Twins win it all!!!!

Being a baseball fan, there’s not a more magical phrase than “Game 7 of the World Series.” And that is where I found my Minnesota Twins on this date twenty years ago.

I was confined to watching the game in the basement at home on this Sunday evening. Twins ace Frank Viola was making his third start in the series against the St Louis Cardinals. He was the winning pitcher in Game 1 but got shelled in Game 4.

In Game 7, Viola was touched for two runs and four hits in the second inning. However, he hunkered down and gave up only two more hits (and 0 runs) over his last six innings.

Unlike their previous three games at home, the Twins offense was scuffling in this one. While they were able to answer with one run in their half of the second inning they were hosed out of another. Replays showed that Don Baylor scored from second base on a Tim Laudner base hit. However, Baylor was called out, denying the Twins a run. I’m sure the neighbors heard me express my dismay.

Later in the game, the Twins received that run back courtesy of a blown call in their half of the fifth inning. With one out, Greg Gagne hit a chopper to first base. With Cards pitcher Joe Magrane covering, the umpire called Gagne safe saying Magrane never touched the base. However, replays showed that Magrane did indeed swipe his foot across the base ahead of Gagne. The next batter, Kirby Puckett, greeted new pitcher Danny Cox with a double to center, scoring Gagne and tying the game. From there, wackiness ensued. After Gary Gaetti walked, Cox threw a pitch in the dirt with Baylor at the plate. Both Puckett and Gaetti attempted to move up a base but Puck was thrown out at third. With Gaetti now at second and two outs, Baylor looped a single to left. Gaetti charged towards home plate in an attempt to give the Twins the lead. But the throw beat him there. Gaetti then rammed full bore into catcher Steve Lake in an effort to jar the ball loose. While Lake got the worst of that hellacious collision, he somehow hung on to the ball. Three outs, game still tied, and I’m practically bouncing off the walls due to the intensity of the game.

The Twins finally took their first lead of the evening in the sixth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Gagne hit a ground ball behind third base off cards pitcher Todd Worrell. Third baseman Tom Lawless made a diving stop, threw a one hopper to first but not in time to get the speedy Gagne. Tom Brunansky scored giving the Twins the 3-2 lead!! They would tack on another run in the eighth and closer extraordinaire Jeff Reardon faced the Cards in the ninth, leading 4-2.

With two outs and nobody on, my brother had a bottle of champagne ready to open upon the third out. We made a promise to our Mom that we would merely have a nice, celebratory drink when the Twins won it all. Nothing too raucous, we assured her. But once Willie McGee bounced out to Gaetti at third and Kent Hrbek squeezed the throw for the final out, bedlam ensued!! My brother immediately popped the cork on the champagne but it wound up on my head instead of in my glass. I hardly noticed as I was jumping up and down in pure delirium at what my Twins just accomplished. Of course, my mother was perturbed that we trashed her basement in celebration. But the laborious clean up we endured afterwards was well worth it. For the first time in over thirty years, a professional sports team in Minnesota won a championship!!

How sweet it was!!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

October 24,1987: Where were you, Twins fans?

With this being World Series time I always look back to 1987 & 1991 with fond memories. Those are the years my beloved Minnesota Twins won the Fall Classic.

In fact, it was twenty years ago today on a Saturday afternoon that the Twins were hosting the St Louis Cardinals in Game 6 at the Metrodome.

After winning the first two games at home, the Twins found themselves down 3 games to 2 after getting swept in the middle three games in St. Louis. This was typical of a club who went a stellar 56-25 at home during the regular year but a pathetic 29-52 on the road.

Things didn’t look good early in Game 6. The Cards knocked around Twins starting pitcher Les Straker and led 5-2 in the fifth inning. For a split second, I tried rationalizing with myself that it was an honor just to get to the Series. Of course, I was kidding myself. After witnessing some wretched baseball over the previous few years I desperately wanted my club to be #1.

Before I knew it, the Twins were mounting a comeback.

Kirby Puckett reached base in the fifth inning. Gary Gaetti doubled to left, scoring Puck to make it 5-3. Then late-season acquisition Don Baylor came to the plate as the tying run. BOOM!!! A two-run homer off Cards starter John Tudor and the Twins had tied it up. I was at my buddy Todd’s place in Vadnais Heights. There were four of us in the basement that day hanging on every pitch. We were going crazy when the Twins tied it. They would eventually take the lead later in the fifth when Steve Lombardozzi knocked in Tom Brunansky with a run-scoring single. It was 6-5 Twins after five innings.

But it was the next inning which many fans remember most. The Twins had loaded the bases with one out. Twins slugger Brunansky had a chance to put the game out of reach facing reliever Bob Forsch. Bruno popped out to shortstop. Now there was two outs, bases still loaded and Kent Hrbek coming up. Cards manager Whitey Herzog came out to summon lefty Ken Dayley to face the left-handed hitting Hrbek. Since there was a commercial break during the pitching change, we decided to watch some excerpts of comedian Louie Anderson on VHS. We figured we’d kill a couple of minutes until the game came back on. All of a sudden we heard the words “GRAND SLAM” come from Todd’s brother upstairs. We quickly flicked off the video and saw Kent Hrbek rounding the bases with his arms raised in elation. The hometown kid made good with a grand slam homer, giving the Twins a 10-5 lead. The four of us were literally huddled together jumping up and down in unison, all the while yelling in elation!!

The Twins would go on to tie the Series with an 11-5 win. I remember that evening driving around my neighborhood. On many a street corner, there were vendors selling Twins merchandise. Whether it was caps, pennant flags, homer hankies, etc., every corner was packed with people getting in on the fun. My brother and I drove home with both of us waving our homer hankies out the window. Not one single car had passed us by without honking in acknowledgement.

Ah, but there was work to be done. Game 7 would take place the next evening. My stomach was all tied up in knots anticipating the winner-take-all contest. Yes, I had definitely come down with a state-wide epidemic.

It was called “Twins fever”.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

World Series prediction.

I can list 10 good reasons why the Boston Red Sox will defeat the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 World Series.

In no particular order:


1. Boston’s Game 1 & 2 starting pitchers, Josh Beckett & Curt Schilling, are a combined 3-1 with a 1.24 ERA in six World Series starts since 2001.

2. The Red Sox have home-field advantage. During the regular season they were 51-30 at Fenway Park.

3. The Rockies were a mediocre 39-42 on the road.

4. Only one Rockies player (Willy Tavares) has World Series experience. The Red Sox have seven.

5. Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield has been left off the World Series roster.

6. The Red Sox explosive offense is averaging 7 runs per game this postseason.

7. Despite falling behind in the ALCS 3 games to 1, the Red Sox methodically dismantled the Cleveland Indians in three straight games. They have some serious momentum right now.

8. 96 regular season wins, the best in baseball.

9. Allowed a major league low 657 runs in the regular season.

10. The Rockies have not played a game in eight days.


Now let’s look at the Colorado Rockies side of the ledger.

1. An inexplicable 21 wins in their last 22 games.


Rockies in six.

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Has anyone seen Big Bird?

After last evening, I’ve now watched Dancing with the Stars exactly one more time than I’ve passed a kidney stone. Although, I can’t imagine the latter being that much more unbearable.

But I digress.

I was wondering something. Has anyone seen Sesame Street’s Big Bird lately?




















I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s missing half his feathers and DWTS contestant Jennie Garth used them to make the dress she wore last evening.











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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Max McGee: 1932-2007

The Green Bay Packers did not play this weekend but their organization suffered a loss nonetheless.


Max McGee, the free-spirited Green Bay Packers receiver who became part of Super Bowl lore after a night on the town, died when he fell while clearing leaves from the roof of his home. He was 75.

Police were called to his home in suburban Deephaven on Saturday afternoon, Sgt. Chris Whiteside said. Efforts to resuscitate failed.

McGee caught the first touchdown pass in Super Bowl history in 1967, a game he expected to watch from the sideline. When it was over, he had caught seven passes for 138 yards and two TDs and Green Bay — coached by the great Vince Lombardi — had beaten the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.


McGee often drew the ire of the legendary Lombardi with his antics off the field. In fact, there was one notable incident which resulted in McGee being reprimanded in front of teammates.


McGee was notorious among the Packers for sneaking out after curfew, in search of bright lights and pretty companions.

One time, Lombardi caught and fined McGee twice within a few days. Then came a third infraction. "MAX!" Lombardi roared at a team meeting, "that will cost you five hundred dollars." That was real money in a time when $25,000 a year would make an All-Pro tackle very happy.

Lombardi was shaking with anger. He seemed to be fighting a losing battle, and he didn't like to lose at anything. "Max, if I catch you again" -- the coach had turned from red to purple -- "the fine will be ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS." The room grew silent and Lombardi stopped shaking. "Max," he said, softly. "If you find anything worth a thousand for sneaking out, call me and I'll go with you."


McGee is survived by wife Denise, four children and several grandchildren.

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What ever happened to front porches?

If the world had a front porch like we did back then
We'd still have our problems but we'd all be friends
Treatin' your neighbor like he's your next of kin
Wouldn't be gone with the wind
If the world had a front porch like we did back then


From the Tracy Lawrence song If the World Had a Front Porch



One of the many things I enjoy while visiting my in-laws in rural Wisconsin is driving through the small town where they live. On many a street in that town you see houses built in the 50s and 60s. Many of these modest-sized homes included one thing you rarely see in new dwellings built today: a front porch.

You remember those, don’t you? Someone could step out their front door onto a wooden floor spanning the length of the front of the house. There may be lawn chairs out there or even a large swing to sit in. Residents of such a home could look to their left or right and likely see neighbors enjoying their own front porches on a warm Summer day or evening. Every so often a friend or acquaintance may drive down the street and honk their horns “hello.” It was all a part of being neighborly. I even remember a time when folks would welcome someone who moved into the neighborhood. Residents would go knock on the door of their new neighbors and welcome them, sometimes with a plate of warm brownies or other freshly baked goods.

Today, the neighborly facets of houses and people seem to be a thing of the past. Do you notice how the vast majority of homes are built with a deck off the back of the house? And those who may not have decks are equipped with a patio, also located in the back yard. Attached garages allow people a significant amount of anonymity. One can pull into his/her garage and shut the automatic garage door before even getting out of the car. Oh, and that thing about welcoming new neighbors? About four years ago my wife and I brought a plate of cupcakes over to a mid-20s couple who moved in next door. When the wife answered the door you would have thought we were presenting a severed head, given her reaction. We literally saw her and the husband one other time over the next few years until they moved out.

Given all of the modern conveniences and technological gadgets which make our lives simpler, I don’t often long for the days of my youth. But I can’t help but wonder how many people miss out on their lives being enhanced by not developing friendships/relationships with those in their neighborhoods.

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Go Tribe!!!

Bad news: The Boston Red Sox tied the ALCS 3-3 by routing Cleveland.

Good news: I have a decent chance of nailing a prediction I made a little over a week ago.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Byrd baffles Boston (try saying that ten times fast).

It is very likely last evening that Bostonians were cursing the son of Larry Byrd.

No, not Boston Celtic great Larry Bird. I’m talking about Larry Byrd, a gentleman in his 60s whose son happens to play for the Cleveland Indians.


Paul Byrd pitched five effective innings to baffle the Red Sox, and the Indians moved within one win of making it back to the World Series.

With his throwback windup and crafty off-speed pitches, Byrd allowed only two runs, struck out four and didn't walk a batter.


I recall Paul Byrd telling the story of traveling to Boston in 1999 when he was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. The major league baseball All-Star game took place at Fenway Park that year and Byrd took his father Larry out to dinner the prior evening. When it was time to be seated at the restaurant, the announcement went something like “Larry Byrd, party of two.” I can imagine the whole restaurant coming to a standstill.

If indeed the Indians finish off the Red Sox this series, you can bet the Byrd family will have a tough time getting a dinner reservation in any Boston restaurant from now on.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Never tug on Superman's cape.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has made some bold declarations this year. This past April he stated that the Iraq war is “lost”. Two months later he shamelessly proclaimed that the troop surge had failed even before the full complement of troops were deployed to Iraq. Yeah, that’s the way to boost the ol’ morale of our soldiers, Senator.

So it was downright laughable when Reid sent a letter to Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays condemning the comments of radio titan Rush Limbaugh, one the military’s strongest supporters. Reid referred to Rush’s use of the phrase “phony soldiers”, implying that Rush used those words to describe the military personnel who disagreed with the Iraq war. We’ll forgive Mr. Reid’s ignorance since I’m sure he’s far too busy attempting to pass vapid resolutions instead of actually researching the proper context of what Limbaugh was saying. Rush was clearly referring to the individuals who falsely claimed to have served in military during this war on terror. Nevertheless, Reid was still able to secure signatures of 40 other Democrat senators (including Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton) in a resolution to censure Rush Limbaugh, a private citizen.

Ah, but the “Maha Rushie” always has the last laugh. He announced last week that he is taking the actual letter written by Reid to the Clear Channel CEO and putting it on E-bay (see video). The proceeds from the letter will go to the Marine Corps – Law Enforcement Foundation. This is a charity which raises money to support children of Marines or Federal law enforcement personnel who were killed on duty or died under extraordinary circumstances while serving our country at home or abroad. These funds enable the MC - LEF to provide these children with scholarships for their higher education.





I guess you can say that Rush Limbaugh is the modern day King Midas. He can take the demoralizing ignorance of someone like a Harry Reid and turn it into gold!!

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Carlson wedding.

My Uncle Gene was married this past Saturday in Crandon, WI. Given the tragic mass shooting which took place there the previous weekend, it was nice for the residents to have something to celebrate. My uncle has lived in Crandon for almost 30 years and his fiancée and her eleven siblings grew up there. Needless to say, both Gene and Sue are very well known in the town of just under 2,000 residents.

The small, brief ceremony (attended by immediate family members only) took place on the south shore of Lake Metonga. The couple was blessed with a beautiful, sunny afternoon.



The happy couple! The portly, bald guy to the groom's right is his older brother (my Dad). Yep, both guys are over six feet tall and bald. I'm glad I can uphold the Carlson family tradition!





The reception took place right at the lake shore tavern with hundreds of people stopping in throughout the evening to congratulate the happy couple.

We all concurred this was a day that was a long time in coming. Shortly after Gene’s bitter (and expensive) divorce from his first wife, he met Sue and they began dating. As the relationship grew more serious, Gene was hesitant to talk marriage given his first go-round. Despite everyone in our family feeling that Sue was a perfect match for Gene, he still dug in his heels.

So when the big day finally arrived, Sue found the perfect cake top:







Congrats, Gene and Sue!!

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Week 6 in the NFL.

The Vikings won today!!!

Hey, there may not be many more opportunities to make such a statement this season so I’ll start with that.

Rookie RB Adrian Peterson was the star of the game with 224 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the 34-31 win over the Chicago Bears. But the best part of Peterson’s long TD runs was the fact he left the trashing-talking putz Charles Tillman in his dust. Phenomenal!!!!

Elsewhere in the NFL today, the big matchup of 5-0 clubs lived up to the hype….for three quarters anyways. As predicted the much superior New England Patriots thumped the Dallas Cowboys 48-27. While Dallas QB Tony Romo is a nice player, he’s got a ways to go to be considered in the same discussion as the likes of Brett Favre, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. In fact, I commented a couple of weeks ago on the blog of Packer apologist fan Ben Worley that Favre’s all-time touchdowns, yardage and victories records are merely being kept warm for Manning.

I received a rather hilarious response from another commenter:


Correction: He's just keeping them warm for Tony Romo.


Looking at it now, maybe the comment isn’t all that hilarious. After all, Favre just set the all-time interceptions record today with number 279 in his career. With six picks in the past two games, Romo may have a legitimate shot at that record. I know I’m pulling for him to inch closer to it next week!

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

LCS predictions.

How pathetic were my predictions for the baseball divisional series? The four teams I picked to win went a combined 1-12. Ouch!!! Admittedly, I was going more with my heart than my knowledge of the game.

So it's time to start anew. For the record, I am making the following picks for the League Championship Series:

NL: Colorado Rockies over Arizona Diamondbacks, 4 games to 2.

AL: Cleveland Indians over Boston Red Sox, 4-3.

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Sports Einstein of the Week: Travis Johnson

In last Sunday’s NFL action, Miami Dolphins QB Trent Green suffered a devastating concussion. It happened on a play where Green was attempting to throw a block for one of his teammates on a running play. He upended Houston Texans DT Travis Johnson with a block at the legs. However, Green got the worst of that play as his head smacked against one of Johnson’s knees. Green left the game on a stretcher.

After the Texans 22-19 win, Johnson was asked about the play. His answer earned him this week’s “Sports Einstein of the Week.”


"(Green)’s like the scarecrow. He wants to get courage while I wasn't looking and hit me in my knee instead of trying to hit me in my head."


Obviously Johnson was alluding to the classic film The Wizard of Oz with his scarecrow reference. But if he’s so familiar with the movie, he should know that it was the character of the Cowardly Lion who was seeking courage. The Scarecrow was attempting to find a brain.

Perhaps Johnson should follow suit.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Baby break.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, our dear friends Greg & Ruth welcomed their second son into this world.

I had the privilege of fellowshipping with Andrew William Reagan Bittner when he was a little more than 24 hours old.


I became a little concerned at the time of our visit because it appeared that Andy was a little hungry. Given the way his little mouth was moving, he must have figured I could feed him.

Sheesh, I know I’m a little out of shape but let’s not get carried away.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

It truly is a small world.

My brother Eric & I were big fans of the late comedian Mitch Hedberg. Initially we were intrigued by the fact that we went to the same high school at the same time with someone who would eventually make it big in the entertainment industry. After a while we began to enjoy Mitch’s humor based solely on his talent. Obviously we were quite shocked to learn of his death in early 2005. Mitch was only 37 years old.

Fast forward to this past Sunday. My wife and I were checking out a home for sale in Woodbury. As we entered this home, we were greeted by an employee of the home developer. We chatted with this gal for a few minutes when she asked a few questions about us. She was surprised that we came all the way from Coon Rapids to check out this home. I told her I grew up in the area, near the 3M complex in Saint Paul to be exact. She then asked where I went to high school. Harding High, I said. “Oh!! Me too!” she replied. Now I have a gift for recognizing people whom I never met but would have seen on a regular basis (i.e. co-workers, fellow high school alumni, etc.). So when she introduced herself as just “Wendy”, I knew!! “Mitch’s sister?” I asked. Indeed she was. And she was absolutely blown away that I knew who she was given

a) We never met before
b) She graduated high school two years before me.

Anyhow, I went on to tell her that my brother and I were big fans of Mitch. I also expressed my sincere condolences for the loss of her brother. Given her expression, I could tell it was still a very painful memory. Nonetheless, she seemed appreciative of the fact that someone still has fond memories of her brother.

I can honestly say that I cherish my innate ability to remember names and faces. Given how small this world seems at times, it’s a gift I will never take for granted!

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Surreal coincidence.

This Saturday, my Uncle Gene is taking another shot at wedded bliss. The wedding will take place in the small Northeast Wisconsin town where he and his fiancée reside. After graduating college in 1979, Gene had an opportunity to work for a telephone company in the town where he still lives today. Even though his vocation recently forced him to take a job 80 miles from his home, he has such an affinity for this scenic area that he never wants to leave. In fact, he’s become a staple in this community of approximately 2,000 people. Gene is a member of the area’s Chamber of Commerce and President of the school board.

The name of the town where he resides? Crandon, WI.

Naturally, I was shocked to hear of the horrific events which unfolded there over the weekend.


The residents of a remote northern Wisconsin community struggled to understand Monday how a sheriff's deputy who killed six young people and critically wounded another could have become a law enforcement officer.

Tyler Peterson, 20, was shot to death after opening fire early Sunday on a group of students and recent graduates who had gathered for pizza and movies during their high school's homecoming weekend. Peterson was off-duty from his full-time job as a Forest County deputy sheriff; he also was a part-time Crandon police officer.

The lone survivor of the shooting, a male, remained in critical condition Monday at St. Joseph's Hospital, according to nursing supervisor Penny Funk.


Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims’ family members.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

An inauspicious beginning.

Early indications are that I am the kiss of death for four teams in the baseball division series.

A couple of days ago, I picked the Phillies, Cubs, Angels and Yankees to advance to the next round.

Through last evening’s play, those four teams are a combined 0-6 this postseason!

If I were a gambling man (which, thankfully, I am not) I may have been making several trips to the plasma center next week.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

And while we're on the subject of predictions...

Can anyone stop this year’s NFL juggernaut, the New England Patriots? Now I’m not suggesting they’re going to be 16-0 this regular season. In fact, I’ll go on record saying that ain’t gonna happen. But they’re certainly a legitimate contender for another Super Bowl championship. That fact alone I’m sure has my Dad in panic mode. If QB Tom Brady leads New England to another title this year, it will be the fourth championship in his first eight seasons. One of Dad’s favorites, 49ers hall of fame QB Joe Montana, needed eleven seasons to claim four titles.

Speaking of Dad, I will be seeing him in a couple of weeks at my Uncle Gene’s wedding in Northeast Wisconsin. As always, we will talk about the sports issues of the day. And as always, Dad will dismiss the Patriots’ success. Since the Pats won their first Super Bowl in January 2002, Dad has been railing on New England head coach Bill Belichick and how he has been “overhyped” in the media. In fact, any coach or professional athlete who has had an exceptional career (i.e. Belichick, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, etc.) seems to draw Dad’s ire. His rationale is usually along the lines of “I get so sick of hearing how (insert name) is supposedly the greatest of all time. BULL----!!” Naturally, this reeks of disingenuousness. Dad never once complained when his Bay Area athletes/coaches were lauded for their superlative performances. I never heard him take issue with the adulation heaped upon the likes of Montana, Jerry Rice, Bill Walsh, Barry Bonds (pre-steroids), etc.

Since Dad can’t stand the fact that anyone would approach the records of the 49ers’ QB Joe Montana and coach Bill Walsh, he will diminish the solid play of the Patriots this season. And my prediction is he’ll do so by pointing out the past controversy of Belichick’s use of sideline cameras to spy on the opponent’s defensive signals. In fact, he’ll probably say word for word “How do we know this hasn’t been going on since New England starting winning Super Bowls?”

But what if the shoe were on the other foot? For example, what if one of Dad’s beloved athletes is on the verge of breaking a coveted record?

When Barry Bonds was in pursuit of Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record, many felt an asterisk should be placed next to Bonds’ home run total due to strong evidence linking him to performance enhancing drugs. Bonds’ alleged steroid use is traced back to the late 90s. Dad’s reaction? To slander previous record holders, of course. He’s said things like “How do we know Babe Ruth wasn’t on amphetamines? Those were available in the 1920s and 30s.” Dad also shamelessly threw out as fact that Aaron did “speed” when he was breaking Ruth’s all-time homer mark.

Uhhhh….OK.

I know I’ve documented how Dad and I have had troubles in our relationship. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be a source of amusement.

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Baseball playoff predictions.

Today is day one of the Major League Baseball playoffs.

As three of the four divisional series kick off today, I would like to go on record with my predictions.

National League:

Philadelphia Phillies over the Colorado Rockies, 3 games to 1.
Chicago Cubs over the Arizona Diamondbacks, 3-2.


American League:

New York Yankees (Sorry, Ben) over the Cleveland Indians, 3-2.
UPSET SPECIAL: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim over the Boston Red Sox, 3-2.


Chances are I won’t be exactly right with all these picks. However, I will be making predictions for the League Championship Series once the matchups are set.

Let the games begin!!!

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