Friday, May 30, 2014

The 2014 MN GOP state convention starts.........


Today we we endorse candidates for State Auditor, Attorney General, US Senate and Secretary of State.

Then tomorrow is the endorsement of a gubernatorial candidate.

I figure this will be my final state convention appearance as a delegate, so I better make my votes count. However, I plan on attending every convention in the future as a talk radio host! Speaking of which, be sure to tune in to the Northern Alliance Radio Network on Saturday from 1:00 until 3:00. Mitch Berg and I will conduct a live broadcast from the convention in Rochester.

You can tune in via the usual venues, whether it's AM 1280 on your radio dial, streaming on the Patriot website or tuning in on iheart radio.

Oh, and I plan on incessantly tweeting the festivities both days. Follow me on Twitter at @Brad_Carlson.

Until then..............


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Quick Hits: Volume XCV

- So the ineptitude of the Obama administration apparently knows no bounds.

The CIA’s top officer in Kabul was exposed Saturday by the White House when his name was inadvertently included on a list provided to news organizations of senior U.S. officials participating in President Obama’s surprise visit with U.S. troops.

The White House recognized the mistake and quickly issued a revised list that did not include the individual, who had been identified on the initial release as the “Chief of Station” in Kabul, a designation used by the CIA for its highest-ranking spy in a country.

The disclosure marked a rare instance in which a CIA officer working overseas had his cover — the secrecy meant to protect his actual identity — pierced by his own government. The only other recent case came under significantly different circumstances, when former CIA operative Valerie Plame was exposed as officials of the George W. Bush administration sought to discredit her husband, a former ambassador and fierce critic of the decision to invade Iraq.
Well there seems to be some dispute as to the circumstances under which Ms. Plame's name was leaked, but that's irrelevant to my overall point. What I really wanna know is where are all the indignant leftists and media numbers (PTR) who were demanding that someone (preferably Karl Rove) be frogmarched out of the Bush White House for the travesty of leaking a covert agent's identity?

Joseph Wilson? Jack Cafferty? David Corn? What say you?

- Does anyone recall where they were Thanksgiving night in 2012? Many Americans were just waking up from their tryptophan coma to indulge in the Patriots-Jets NFL game.

While the Patriots won in a rout, that game will live in infamy due to one play in particular: The Butt-fumble.

Would you believe the jersey Jets QB Mark Sanchez wore that game was recently available via online auction? I can imagine that some of the reactions from Jets fans was something along the lines of they wouldn't wipe their a** with that jersey. Well if you recall the actual "butt-fumble" play, Sanchez kinda used the jersey for that very purpose, with his Center being the...uh..."wipe-ee."

- I first met Siri Freeh in December 2012, about six months into her reign as Miss Minnesota. In addition to her being stunningly beautiful, she possessed a very radiant, kind-hearted personality.

A few months later, I was able to book her as a guest on my weekly radio program.

She was such a great interview that I felt as though I had been talking to someone I had known for years.

As the months rolled on, I ran into Siri occasionally at some gatherings thrown together by friends of mine at the lesser Twin Cities right-of-center talk station. She had been appearing on their show semi regularly, eventually becoming a regular contributor once her Miss Minnesota reign ended in June 2013. Despite that weekly gig, she graciously agreed to appear on my program a couple months later while at the MN State Fair.

I guess the lesser radio station was feeling threatened by Siri's quality appearances on the Northern Alliance Radio Network because shortly thereafter she was given her own talk show on Saturday afternoons.

Despite Siri working at a rival station, she was a friend first and foremost, so I wished her nothing but the best. But even though she recently graduated from the University of Minnesota (Summa Cum Laude; High Distinction) with a degree in nursing, it appears a radio career is in her immediate future.

As Siri Freeh announced this past Saturday, she's leaving us for a great opportunity in another market. Don't miss her last show, coming up this Saturday at noon. We're sad to see her go, but happy for her as she embarks on this new chapter in her career!

The location of the "other market" has yet to be revealed. But since Siri's final show is this Saturday, I imagine she may fill us in more. Feel free to listen from Noon until 1:00 pm Central Time until you have to switch over to the NARN promptly at 1:00.

In all seriousness, our market's loss is definitely another market's gain. Godspeed, Siri.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Box Score of the Week

The Boston Red Sox took on the Cleveland Indians on June 19, 1994.


On Monday, the Red Sox snapped a 10-game losing streak with a win in Atlanta. The Sox hadn't lost 11 straight since 1994. The game I've featured this week was the Boston's 11th consecutive loss that season. 


Sunday, May 25, 2014

I was born by God's dear grace in an extraordinary place....

It's the day before Memorial Day, and I am privileged to be a part of a radio station which honors those who have paid the ultimate price in the name of  freedom. As such, I will be broadcasting The Closer in my normal 1:00 until 3:00 pm Central Time slot.

In the first hour, I will highlight the story of Pfc. Nick Madaras of Wilton, CT, who was killed in Iraq back in September 2006. Even though Nick has been gone for nearly eight years, his legacy lives on thanks to his love of the game of soccer. In fact, ESPN shared Nick's story back in 2008.

Nick's father Bill has graciously agreed to join the program right at 1:00 to share additional anecdotes regarding Nick's life and legacy.

Then sometime later in the 1:00 hour, Miss Minneapolis 2014 Julia Schliesing is scheduled to make her weekly appearance. We are down to T-minus 17 days until the Miss Minnesota pageant begins, so Julia will give us an update on her preparation as well as any news regarding her current responsibilities as Miss Minneapolis. As always you can donate to help with her platform goal, which is reducing the suicide rate.

Finally at 2:15, basketball wonk Mike McCollow will check in to discuss the Timberwolves' options regarding All Star Kevin Love, the NBA postseason, etc.

So please give me call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss any of the topics I plan on addressing. You can also text comments/questions to (651) 243-0390.

You can listen live in the Twin Cities at AM 1280 on your radio dial. In and out of the Minneapolis-St Paul area, you can listen to the program on the Internet by clicking this link, or check us out via iheart radio

Even though I have a face for radio, there is a UStream channel where you can watch the broadcast, if you so desire. Check it out here.  

And if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter at #narn or "Like" our Facebook page.

Until then.....


Friday, May 23, 2014

Proper perspective

After hitting rock bottom about 2-1/2 years ago, the Minnesota Republican Party is slowly but surely making strides to being a major factor once again. Since 2002 when Tim Pawlenty and Norm Coleman were elected as Governor and US Senator respectively, MNGOP candidates have won exactly one statewide race (Pawlenty being reelected by the skin of his teeth in 2006) since.

There are certainly multiple reasons for the recent slump in election victories, not the least of which being the state party was not as valuable a resource given its financial woes. While the MNGOP has slowly worked its way out of debt, it is most desirous that the process be expedited. Hence the press release put out by the party on Thursday.

Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Keith Downey announced the appointment of Pete Hegseth as the Party’s new Finance Chair.

“We are excited to have Pete join us and bring his ideas to help grow the Party,” said Downey. “As a decorated veteran and leader of a national veterans organization, Pete is someone all Minnesotans can be proud of. We are very glad he answered our call to serve in this capacity.”

With the party’s State Convention just two weeks away and an election in November, Hegseth will be focused on helping fund the campaign season and building the organization for the future.

“As Finance Chair I look forward to helping the Republican Party of Minnesota reach the next level,” said Hegseth. “I’m heartened by the tremendous progress the Party has made under Keith’s leadership, and am humbled by his invitation to join the team. The people of Minnesota deserve a strong, effective, and viable Republican Party, and I look forward to doing my part to make that happen.”

Hegseth has a history of helping organizations develop their infrastructure and grow their finances. As the executive director of Vets For Freedom, he expanded that non-profit budget from zero to $9 million. And as the leader of the nation’s largest conservative veterans organization, Hegseth is a leading voice for veterans and military families. He is also a regular veterans and military contributor on Fox News Channel.

I purposefully emphasized those initial two sentences in the final paragraph for obvious reasons. If an entity is looking to get out of debt, it's stands to reason that said entity would appoint someone who is a proficient and effective fundraiser.

Unfortunately, certain right-of-center factions chose to focus on Hegseth's ideology (hawkish when it comes to national defense, something which irks the "WIBERTY!" crowd) as opposed to his fundraising prowess. The fact of the matter is that the ideology of state party officials is largely irrelevant. It is the citizens of the state of Minnesota (whether it's GOP activists endorsing candidates at the local/state level or nominating them through primary elections) who determine which Republican candidates will be the nominees to run for elected office. From there, the MNGOP merely acts as a conduit for said candidates' message. I daresay that there have been candidates in the past whose ideologies have slightly differed from that of some state party executives. Regardless, that didn't preclude officials from providing the support needed to get Republicans elected.

With all that in mind, Hegseth's appointment is not only a solid move but seemingly a no-brainer given his experience as well as big-time connections. I, for one, applaud this appointment.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

52 Pickup

One of the pleas by those who supported the building of a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings (aka the Vaseline Dome, per my pal Mark Heuring) is it would strongly enhance the chances of the Twin Cities hosting a Super Bowl, thus being a boon for our economy. Apparently fleecing the taxpayers for close to a half billion dollars makes it all worthwhile for two weeks of fanfare in late January/early February.

Anyhow, the "dream" has become a reality

Shouts of "history, history," rang out from the room where the Minnesota Vikings' delegation huddled together after the news was revealed.

Minneapolis, the supposed underdog city with the frigid temperatures in the winter, came out on top in the race for the Super Bowl in 2018 when the final announcement was made Tuesday afternoon.

Minneapolis beat out Indianapolis and New Orleans in a secret-ballot vote by NFL owners for Super Bowl LII.

"We're very proud to host Super Bowl LII," Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said. "It'll be an exciting time. I know we'll do a great job and we'll be proud. Working very hard right now to build a world-class venue."

Some of my general reactions regarding this news:

- According to some local media folks, we now shouldn't even bother running a Republican against Gov. Mark Dayton in this year's election cycle. Apparently the Twin Cities landing a Super Bowl is a big time feather in Dayton's cap given his unwavering "leadership" in getting a stadium bill passed two years ago. So the fact that his administration relied on overly optimistic projections of tax revenue from e-pull tabs (estimates offered up by an organization who stood to benefit from installation of e-pull tab machines, by the way) to generate the state's $348 million share of the stadium (but has yet to produce one penny) won't be a factor in the governor's race? How about the fact Dayton admitted he didn't understand what was in the legislation he signed, thus throwing a fit when he realized part of the Vikings' $477 million share can be offset via Personal Seat Licenses?

All that blundering and ineptitude has just fallen down the ol' memory hole, eh?

- Super Bowl LII will take place at the end of the second Vikings season in the new stadium. While it is the hope that the Vikes will be a championship contender by then, history is not on their side in terms of playing in the big game in February 2018. In fact, no team has ever played a Super Bowl in its home stadium. The closest was in Super Bowl XIX in January 1985 when the San Francisco 49ers played in Palo Alto, CA, a mere 30 miles from their home stadium. I guess the Vikings will have to win the Super Bowl sometime in the previous three seasons.

- There's the inevitable whining from some media members about having to venture up to the Twin Cities in January/February when the temperatures rarely exceed single digits. Suck it up you softies. It's the best, most popular sports event in history. It isn't about you.


Not The Big Easy!

Yes, this was quite an upset when you consider that the city of New Orleans had never failed to land the big game in the 10 previous occasions they were a finalist. In addition, the city was founded in 1718, thus they would be celebrating their tricentennial the same year they would would host a Super Bowl. Alas, it was not to be.

No word on whether any members of the New Orleans committee tried to deliberately "accidentally" injure the ankle of Marilyn Carlson Nelson in an effort to give themselves an advantage in the proceedings.

- Finally, it's time for me to pull the trigger on finishing our basement. Can you imagine the kind of coin I can potentially bring in for accommodating Super Bowl travelers for a week or two?


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bye Bye, Love?

The Minnesota Timberwolves recently completed their 25th season. If one were to go over the history of this franchise, one can make the argument that it is equally the most snake bitten as well most inept operations in the NBA. Whether it has been their futility having never been rewarded with the highest possible draft pick to head-scratching first round selections (Felton Spencer, Ndudi Ebi, Paul Grant, Jonny Flynn, just to name a few) to losing five first round draft picks in the early 2000s due to the salary cap tampering scandal involving Joe Smith (Joe Smith!!!!!), it's hard to fathom many other outfits more dysfunctional.

With all that said, did Sunday's story really come as shock to anyone who has been paying attention?

Kevin Love has made it clear to the Timberwolves that he intends to become an unrestricted free agent after next season and has no interest in a contract extension to stay in Minnesota, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Although sources say Love has stopped short of demanding a trade, his position could effectively force the Timberwolves to deal the All-Star forward before next season -- or before the trade deadline in February 2015 at the latest -- if they hope to dodge the risk of losing him without compensation.

The Timberwolves, at the behest of owner Glen Taylor, have rebuffed all trade interest in Love for months, resisting all trade offers for his franchise player until, as one source put it, he "has no choice."

Teams around the league are increasingly expected to test that resolve once the lottery order is established, and The Associated Press reports that amid growing concern, that stance has softened somewhat.

Two sources told the AP that the likely asking price would include a high first-round pick in this year's draft and a veteran or two who could bring immediate leadership to a team that lacks it.

Sources told that the Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls are among the potential trade destinations that intrigue Love.

The millisecond Love (the face of the franchise) departs the Wolves via trade or free agency, this club is once again in full rebuilding mode. Certainly the Timberwolves aren't the first pro sports team to have to endure rebuilding. However, such a scenario usually occurs after at least a modicum of success. But the Wolves haven't even come close to making the postseason in Love's six years with the club. At least when they were forced to deal Kevin Garnett after the 2006-07 season, the Wolves had made the playoffs in eight of Garnett's 12 seasons, including a berth in the Western Conference Finals in 2003-04. With that in mind, one can hardly blame Love (who will be 26 at the start of the 2014-15 season) for wanting to be one of many key cogs on a winning team as opposed to a perennial All Star on a losing team.

If indeed the Wolves have conceded that Love will be gone after the 2014-15 season, then it would behoove them to explore the best possible trade scenarios. In the past, the Wolves have had good bargaining chips (e.g. Sam Cassell, Derrick Williams, etc.) when exploring trades but, more often than not, haven't used that leverage to their advantage.

This will be Flip Saunders' first major test as Timberwolves' President of Basketball Operations. If he's not able to procure valuable assets (i.e. established player(s) and draft picks) in any deal for Love, it could easily be another decade of irrelevance for this franchise. As it stands right now, the Timberwolves are about as close as they've ever been to being usurped by the Minnesota United when it comes sports fans' viewing pleasure.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Box Score of the Week

The Detroit Tigers just finished off a three-game series sweep of the Boston Red Sox last evening. Let's go back ten seasons to another Red Sox-Tigers matchup.


In this game, the Detroit Tigers hit seven home runs.....and lost. That tied a Major League Baseball record for most HRs in a game by the losing team. 


Sunday, May 18, 2014

I'm not internationally known but I'm known to rock the microphone.....

It's the end of the Minnesota legislative session, so there will likely be a little extra bounce in my step on today's edition of The Closer. I'll be on the air in my usual 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time slot.

Right at 1:00, MN State Senator and Lt. Governor candidate Michelle Benson will stop by. We'll obviously discuss the end of the latest legislative session as well as receive an update on her campaigning as Dave Thompson's running mate.

Then at 1:30, Miss Minneapolis 2014 (and now college graduate) Julia Schliesing will make her regular weekly appearance to talk about whatever she darn well pleases. Oh, and by the way, it's three weeks until the big Miss Minnesota pageant. As such, Julia is still accepting donations to help fund her quest to reduce the suicide rate.

Finally for the 2:00 hour, it's another installment of the Jeff George Sports/Politics Extravaganza™ with politcos/sports gurus Jeff Kolb (who is to sports what former Twin Cities radio guy Bob Davis was to....uhhh...sports) and George Damian. It's a veritable smorgasbord of information and entertainment, so you'll have to tune in for this incredible on air experience.

So please give me call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss any of the topics I plan on addressing. You can also text comments/questions to (651) 243-0390.

You can listen live in the Twin Cities at AM 1280 on your radio dial. In and out of the Minneapolis-St Paul area, you can listen to the program on the Internet by clicking this link, or check us out via iheart radio

Even though I have a face for radio, there is a UStream channel where you can watch the broadcast, if you so desire. Check it out here.  

And if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter at #narn or "Like" our Facebook page.

Until then.....


Friday, May 16, 2014

Quick Hits: Volume XCIV

-If a player violates the NFL ban on performance-enhancing substances, they are suspended four games without pay. Oftentimes the offending player has, in his mind, a legitimate reason why he ingested banned substances. I don't know that a player's story is so much an attempt to wiggle out of the suspension as much as it is to preserve some integrity.

I surmise it's the latter in the case of Indianapolis Colts LB Robert Mathis.

The Colts' career sacks leader was suspended Friday by the NFL after violating the league's ban on performance-enhancing substances. The linebacker said in a statement he was seeking fertility assistance. He acknowledged that he and his wife are expecting a baby.

Mathis will be eligible to return to the Colts' active roster on Monday, Sept. 29, following the team's Sept. 28 game against the Tennessee Titans.

Mathis released a statement Friday detailing his explanation for the positive test:

"It is difficult for me to address the circumstances surrounding this suspension because they involve very personal medical information, but it is very important to me that my fans, particularly young people, understand what did and did not occur. Like many families, my wife and I faced fertility challenges, and I sought medical assistance. I specifically asked the doctor if the medication he prescribed for me would present a problem for NFL drug testing, and unfortunately, he incorrectly told me that it would not. I made the mistake of not calling the NFL or NFLPA to double-check before I took the medication at the end of last season.

"The union has worked very closely with me to present all of the facts and medical records for consideration of discipline that does not include a suspension because of the unique facts of my case, but the commissioner refused the request. I am deeply saddened that this situation will prevent me from contributing to my team for four games, and I regret that I didn't cross-check what my doctor told me before I took the medication. I hope that my fans will understand the unique circumstances involved here and continue to know that I am a man of integrity who would never intentionally circumvent the performance-enhancing substance policy agreed to by the NFL and my union.

"The incredible blessing of this very upsetting situation is that, after I took the medication very briefly at the end of last season, we learned that my wife is expecting a baby. We are thrilled that we will be welcoming a new member in several months, but I apologize to my teammates, coaches and Colts fans that I will not be able to contribute to my team for the first four weeks of the 2014 season. I will work extremely hard during that time to stay in top football shape and will be prepared to contribute immediately upon my return."

I admit to having some sympathy for Mathis's plight. But where he erred was in not consulting Colts team physicians, NFL officials, etc. While his personal doctor supposedly reassured him that his fertility medication did not include any banned ingredients, Mathis and/or his management team failed in their due diligence. A private physician typically is not intimately familiar with the myriad substances banned by the NFL, so the burden should not be laid at the doctor's feet.

The bottom line is a player is ultimately responsible for what he puts into his body, regardless of the nobility of his reasons. I just feel for Mathis having to convey a deeply personal medical issue to assure everyone he wasn't trying to gain an extra advantage illegally.

-So the current Minnesota legislative session is about to come to a close (and there was much rejoicing). But until it does, you won't hear a peep out of the state's chief executive.

Is that to prevent him from licking the incision from his hip surgery?

Oh, wait. That's the cone of shame. 

My bad. Carry on.

- More news from perhaps the most noteworthy 7th round draft pick in NFL history.

The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and Michael Sam's representation announced Friday night that the documentary series that was set to feature the first openly gay NFL player has been postponed.

"After careful consideration and discussion with the St. Louis Rams, 'The Untitled Michael Sam Project' has been postponed, allowing Michael the best opportunity to achieve his dreams of making the team," OWN president Erik Logan said in a statement. "OWN is about elevating and empowering people to achieve their best. It's clear that we, along with the world, recognize the opportunity that Michael has in this moment. We will continue to support him in his journey to earn a spot playing for the Rams."

From the time he announced to the world three months ago that he is a homosexual, Sam has emphasized he wants to be known as Michael Sam the football player as opposed to Michael Sam the gay football player. Well if that's the case, then why would his camp even consider a television project? After all, football players who are drafted merely eight picks before the final overall choice barely make news within the home city of the team that selected them, much less worldwide notoriety.

Someone said recently that Sam should eschew all media requests, appearances, etc. and focus 100% on making the Rams' roster. That would be pretty much be the M.O. of any other football player drafted in the later rounds.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Burying the shovel

So disgraced L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling agreed to an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper Monday evening. Unless Sterling was going to issue a 100% mea culpa for his racially insensitive comments caught on tape a few weeks ago, there really seemed to be no upside of his agreeing to it.

At the beginning of the interview, Sterling, who almost had a pathetically defeated tone to his voice, did indeed attempt contrition.

"I'm not a racist," Sterling told Cooper. "I made a terrible, terrible mistake. And I'm here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for all the people that I've hurt."

Asked by Cooper why he took so long to say he's sorry, Sterling said he was "emotionally distraught."

"The reason it's hard for me, very hard for me, is that I'm wrong. I caused the problem. I don't know how to correct it," he said. Sterling said he doesn't want his comments to eclipse his lengthy tenure with the NBA.

"I'm a good member who made a mistake and I'm apologizing and I'm asking for forgiveness," he said. "Am I entitled to one mistake, am I after 35 years? I mean, I love my league, I love my partners. Am I entitled to one mistake? It's a terrible mistake, and I'll never do it again."

I honestly do not know if that seemingly desperate plea was enough for any of the other 29 owners to not vote to dissolve Sterling's ownership of the Clippers. Regardless, Sterling seems to be one of these multi-billionaires who has so insulated himself for so long that he's been able to speak unfiltered without any push back or repercussions. The fact he now is suffering consequences is causing him a significant amount of angst.

As the interview went on, Sterling invoked the name of NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. Apparently it was Johnson appearing in an Instagram photo with Sterling's girlfriend that was the catalyst for his racial tirade. If Sterling had built up even a scintilla of public goodwill with his apology, he likely destroyed it within minutes by denigrating the popular Johnson.

"What kind of guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then catches HIV," Sterling told Cooper. “I think he should be ashamed of himself.”

Sterling also questioned whether Johnson has made a positive contribution to the African American community in Los Angeles. He then pointed to his own charitable work.

“Jews, when they get successful, they will help their people,” he said.

At one point Cooper asked if he apologized to Johnson.

"If I said anything wrong, I'm sorry," Sterling responded. "He's a good person. I mean, what am I going to say? Has he done everything he can do to help minorities? I don't think so. But I'll say it, he's great. But I don't think he's a good example for the children of Los Angeles."

To Magic's credit, he didn't engage in a war of words with Sterling. Actually he probably did more damage to Sterling by pitying him. Johnson is perhaps one of the most successful former athletes in history having made multi, mutli millions of dollars in different business holdings over the past 15+ years. As such, he's been very generous with his finances in the black community in addition to his continued worldwide advocacy for HIV awareness. I'm not going to defend Magic and his behavior that led to his disease. However, he himself never once made excuses for his plight. Upon announcing in 1991 he contracted HIV via unprotected sex, Johnson chose to take his potentially life threatening illness and throw himself into educating others in an effort to avoid the disease (I never much cared for the fact Magic didn't even offer up abstinence as a viable solution, but whatever).

All that being said, it's hard to believe Sterling's image could have been any more sullied, yet somehow he managed to accomplish that. The only issue remaining is if the other 29 NBA owners will vote unanimously to force Sterling to sell the Clippers (only 22 need to consent). If indeed that occurs, I don't get a sense Sterling will go gently into that good night. After all, when one is an 81-year old disgraced (not to mention litigious) wealthy guy, what other pressing needs does one have in life?

Getcha popcorn.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Undeniably historic

University of Missouri DE Michael Sam was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft this past week. Normally such a pick draws little more spotlight than the name of said draftee being flashed across the bottom of a TV screen while the "draft experts" pontificate. Obviously this draft pick was different due to the fact that Sam announced earlier this year that he is a homosexual. As such, he would be the first openly gay active NFL player should he make the Rams' roster.

I've said many times over the past several months that in today's environment, the four major professional sports (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL) are more than ready to have an openly gay player participating in their respective leagues for one prevailing reason: any moral objections to the homosexual lifestyle is met with swift repudiation and harsh condemnation. Regardless, that doesn't diminish the fact that this was a watershed moment in NFL history.

Perhaps the most stupefying analysis of Sam being drafted occurred Monday on NBC's Today. Host Matt Lauer was discussing with Bob Costas this undeniably historic moment in the NFL. 

At the top of Monday's exchange, Lauer observed: "Back in February, Michael Sam said, 'I wish people could see me as Michael Sam the football player, not Michael Sam the gay football player.' Based on the attention and coverage we've seen since the third day of the draft, we're a ways away from that.'

It would be fair to say that the NFL has lagged behind society as a whole when it comes to allowing openly gay participants. But since that breakthrough has finally occurred, I find it puzzling that Lauer seemed almost surprised at how Sam's draft status was being covered. Again, Sam is the first openly gay player to be selected in the NFL draft. Like it or not, that is the predominate story line until, as Lauer also pointed out, other gay NFL prospects emerge. And when that happens I'd like to think we'll be past the point where those aspiring NFLers feel they have to make a public declaration of their homosexuality.

Personally I can tell you that my reaction to video footage of a very emotional Sam receiving the call he would be drafted was the same as when #1 overall selection Jadeveon Clowney had his name announced. That reaction was one of me getting choked up as I witnessed both young men shed tears of joy upon the realization of a lifelong dream coming that much closer to fruition. At that point, their respective off-field lives were barely an afterthought, which I'm certain is exactly how both players (particularly Sam) preferred it.


Box Score of the week

The Toronto Blue Jays hosted the Baltimore Orioles on September 14, 1987.


The Blue Jays hit 10 home runs in this game, which is an all-time record for one team in a single game. 


Sunday, May 11, 2014

But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good.....

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there as well as those who have moms. I hope you enjoy your respective celebrations today, which hopefully includes indulging in The Closer this afternoon. I will be on the air from 1:00 until 3:00 Central Time. 

My only guest on this day will be regular NARN contributor (and Miss Minneapolis 2014) Julia Schliesing. With exactly one month until the Miss Minnesota pageant kicks off, Julia will update us on her preparation as well as any other exploits from this past week. She also has been reminding us it's crunch time for fundraising, so please feel free to help her out as she presses forth in her quest to reduce the suicide rate

I'll also opine on the local and national political news from this past week as well as throw in my two cents on the NFL draft. 

So please give me call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss any of the topics I plan on addressing. You can also text comments/questions to (651) 243-0390.

You can listen live in the Twin Cities at AM 1280 on your radio dial. In and out of the Minneapolis-St Paul area, you can listen to the program on the Internet by clicking this link, or check us out via iheart radio

Even though I have a face for radio, there is a UStream channel where you can watch the broadcast, if you so desire. Check it out here.  

And if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter at #narn or "Like" our Facebook page.

Until then.....


Friday, May 09, 2014

Vikings 2014 draft: Round One

Round one of the 2014 NFL Draft is in the books. For the third consecutive year, my Minnesota Vikings maneuvered back into the first round to obtain another pick. As such, they hopefully secured the quarterback position for many years to come.

I'll get back to that.

The sentiment among most of the Vikings faithful going into Thursday evening's festivities was the club should do whatever it takes to draft Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Football Manziel. Despite some of the risks (e.g. diminutive stature, too improvisational), he became a fan favorite largely on the basis of Vikings Hall of Fame QB Fran Tarkenton vouching for him. So when Manziel was still available when the Vikings were ready to select at #8, there was almost breathless anticipation. But the anticipation quickly turned to angst when the Vikings swapped first round picks with the Cleveland Browns (who were selecting 9th overall) in addition to picking up an additional 5th rounder in the deal. There were equal parts rage and dejection at the Vikings' draft party in Minneapolis since the Browns were also in the market for a QB, so it was assumed Manziel would be taken right away. So when Cleveland took cornerback Justin Gilbert at #8, there was once again ecstasy among Vikings fans.

Personally I had a feeling the Vikings were not going to take Manziel at #9 since their new head coach, defensive guru Mike Zimmer, was looking to add depth to statistically one of the worst defensive units in the NFL. Since the Vikes have a pretty solid front four (DEs Brian Robison & Everson Griffen, free agent DT Linval Joseph and 2nd year DT Sharrif Floyd) on paper and, when healthy, an up and coming secondary (Safety Harrison Smith, 2nd year CB Xavier Rhodes and FA CB Captain Munnerlyn), the linebacking core was a major issue, thus in severe need of an upgrade. With Chad Greenway being the only proven LB on the roster, the Vikings this offseason resorted to signing MLB Jasper Brinkley, who had been serviceable at best in his initial tenure (2009-12) with the club. When the top rated linebacker in the draft, Khalil Mack, was snapped up by the Oakland Raiders at pick 5, UCLA's Anthony Barr seemed the logical choice. Once Barr's name was announced as the Vikings' choice at #9, I'm quite certain I saw a mushroom cloud over the Minneapolis Convention Center. While I too was intrigued by Manziel, I felt the selection of Barr was a safe pick in that it fills a desperate need combined with coach Zimmer knowing what kind of player best suits his defensive system. Early indications are that Zimmer sees Barr fulfilling a role similar to that of longtime Pittsburgh Steelers LB James Harrison (sans cheap shots, hopefully), whom Zimmer coached in 2013 when Harrison signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. Barr's strength is more of a pass rusher as opposed to dropping into coverage, so that's another need the Vikings will have to address in the third round or later.

Less than a year ago, multiple scouts ranked Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as the top QB prospect in the 2014 draft (likely before Manziel declared). However, Bridgewater's stock dropped upon his sub par performance in the NFL Combine. Nevertheless, new Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner had seen enough of Bridgewater's game action to bring him in for private workouts. Apparently that assuaged any concerns as the Vikings surrendered their second round (#40 overall) and fourth round picks to the Seattle Seahawks in order to obtain the 32nd (and final) pick in the first round in order to draft Bridgewater.

Even though he may not have the strongest arm, Bridgewater more than makes up for it in poise and accuracy.

Against the blitz, he completed 71 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and one interception, and his 53.5 completion percentage when under pressure was better than all players except UCLA's Brett Hundley. Bridgewater also threw 17 touchdowns without an interception in the red zone and converted 52.3  percent of his third-down passes for first downs, higher than all but (LSU QB Zach) Mettenberger.
While Manziel is said the have the highest "up side", Bridgewater is considered by a lot of scouts to be the most NFL ready QB right now.

Another factor is new Vikings quarterbacks coach Scott Turner (Norv's son) was on the Carolina Panthers' staff in 2011 and 2012, which were QB Cam Newton's first two NFL seasons. That means Scott has some background dealing with a dynamic young quarterback.

All that said does not guarantee success or even a long career in the NFL. Nevertheless, I think Bridgewater is in a good position to become the franchise QB given he has a quality offensive coordinator with whom to work, a solid receiving core and a Hall of Fame running back. That combined with his talent and smarts make this a great fit for the Vikings.


Thursday, May 08, 2014

Draft day night

The 2014 NFL draft begins this evening at 7:00 Central Time! As part of the genius that is the NFL, they've put the draft in prime time on a Thursday, further enhancing their standing as public relations stalwarts.

Since the first day of the draft is in the evening, only round one will commence tonight. With each team having a maximum of 10 minutes to make a selection, my Minnesota Vikings (who will select #8) will make their pick no later than 8:20.

Coming off a porous 2013 season (resulting in securing the #8 pick overall), the Vikings obviously have a number of needs to fill, especially on the defensive side. Early indications are that Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney will be long gone by the time the Vikings' turn comes around. The Vikes also have a glaring need at linebacker, so OLB Khalil Mack is definitely a guy they'd snap up if he were available. Obviously that will dictate how the Vikings will address another glaring need, which is the quarterback position. If their preferred defensive players are gone, they may look seriously at securing that franchise QB in round one.

Since it's a near certainty that Texas A&M's Johnny Football Manziel will be gone by pick eight, the next best QB prospect is said to be Blake Bortles out of the University of Central Florida.

However, if Bortles is no longer available at #8 (or the Vikes go defense with that pick), there's a good possibility Fresno State's Derek Carr could still be around when they pick in the second round (#40 overall).

But, again, since the Vikings have so many other needs on defense, they may look in the second round to build some depth on that side of the ball. With that in mind, they could get a QB in the third round since they have two picks (numbers 72 and 96 overall). It's a good bet AJ McCarron, who led the University of Alabama to two NCAA BCS championships, would still be available.

Yes, all three QBs I've named would be very fine, attractive picks for the Vikings to make. Definitely nice to have options.


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Quick Hits: Volume XCIII

- Let's get rid of any wiggle room: Tom Emmer will be elected to the U.S. House this November, representing Minnesota's 6th Congressional District.

With that said, that doesn't mean Emmer's opponents for the Republican nomination (i.e. Rhonda Sivarajah and Phil Krinkie) will cease trying to peal off support. The one area where many seem to think Emmer is vulnerable was his advocacy for National Popular Vote in 2011. And while I agree with my NARN colleague Mitch Berg that NPV needs to die a painful death, Emmer's past support for it is of little consequence here. Quite simply, it's up to the individual states to decide how their electoral votes are allocated. Emmer will have absolutely no say on what the MN state legislature decides on the issue. The same goes for Sivarajah and Krinkie despite their staunch opposition to NPV. 

The fact that Emmer's opponents for the GOP CD6 nomination have been so aggressive on an issue irrelevant to the job they are seeking indicates desperation. That's not the aura one should give off three months away from a primary election. 

- Speaking of candidates with no chance of being elected to Congress, Democrat Trish Causey is seeking her party's nomination in Mississippi CD4, which happens to be an R +22 district. Since she has about as much chance of winning in the general election there as a Republican in MN CD5, why not save the trouble of running a fruitless campaign?

Yeah, nothing like using self-abuse humor when speaking of a tragedy where four innocent Americans were brutally murdered.

- So Monica Lewinsky broke her long, self-imposed silence recently.

“It’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress.” She also says: “I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened.”

After 10 years of virtual silence (“So silent, in fact,” she writes, “that the buzz in some circles has been that the Clintons must have paid me off; why else would I have refrained from speaking out? I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth”), Lewinsky, 40, says it is time to stop “tiptoeing around my past—and other people’s futures. I am determined to have a different ending to my story. I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past. (What this will cost me, I will soon find out.)”

Some theorize that Lewinsky re-emerging is an attempt to undermine a Hillary Clinton presidential run (how long before Clinton herself re-invokes her invented phrase "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy?"). After all, the Clintons were waging a "war on women" long before they were projecting such nonsense on Republicans.

Lewinsky herself gives some insight as to why she's breaking free of her exile.

When Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers freshman who was secretly streamed via Webcam kissing another man, committed suicide in September 2010, Lewinsky writes, she was brought to tears, but her mother was especially distraught: “She was reliving 1998, when she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. She was replaying those weeks when she stayed by my bed, night after night, because I, too, was suicidal. The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life—a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death.” Lewinsky clarifies that she has never actually attempted suicide, but had strong suicidal temptations several times during the investigations and during one or two periods after.

Lewinsky writes that following Clementi’s tragedy “my own suffering took on a different meaning. Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation. The question became: How do I find and give a purpose to my past?”
I don't know Lewinsky at all, so I'm not about to question if her motives are that pure or not. All I know is she made a horrific error in judgement, one for which she has been made to suffer. But is it even possible that she can live a normal, productive life in light of her last name being turned into a euphemism for....well, y'know...? I have my doubts, given the crush of constant media outlets that have evolved over the past decade. But I do feel she should at least have the opportunity to do so.


Monday, May 05, 2014

Box Score of the Week

The San Diego Padres took on the defending World Series champion New York Mets on April 22, 1970.


Mets pitcher Tom Seaver struck out 19 batters in this game which, at the time, set an MLB record (since usurped by Roger Clemens in 1986 (20 Ks) and Kerry Wood in 1998 (20 Ks)). But the record which still stands is a pitcher striking out 10 consecutive hitters to end the game, also accomplished by Seaver in this contest. 


Sunday, May 04, 2014

Automatic, systematic, full of color self-contained....

I'm back on my normal broadcast day today, as The Closer will be on the air from 1:00 pm until 3:00 Central Time. 

A lot of news to get to this past week, specifically the non-stop coverage of the racist remarks of one Donald Sterling, the owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers. I'll discuss Sterling's lifetime ban from the league as well as what may happen next. If there's time, I may also get to the saga surrounding recently released White House emails concerning the terrorist attack in Benghazi 20 months ago. 

At 1:30, Miss Minneapolis Julia Schliesing will be making her weekly appearance, fresh off some speaking engagements in Las Vegas. She'll undoubtedly share experiences from her first ever trip to Vegas as well as share the latest happenings in her quest to be crowned Miss Minnesota in June. Please "like" Julia's Facebook page as well. 

Then at 2:00, Jason Bradley and Andrew Richter from Community Solutions MN will join the program. The gentlemen will promote their May 17 event that will provide training on how to run local campaigns. For more information, check out the Facebook event page. To order tickets, click here

So please give me call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss any of the topics I plan on addressing. You can also text comments/questions to (651) 243-0390.

You can listen live in the Twin Cities at AM 1280 on your radio dial. In and out of the Minneapolis-St Paul area, you can listen to the program on the Internet by clicking this link, or check us out via iheart radio

Even though I have a face for radio, there is a UStream channel where you can watch the broadcast, if you so desire. Check it out here.  

And if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter at #narn or "Like" our Facebook page.

Until then.....


Thursday, May 01, 2014

Oh baby, baby, it's a Wild world...

For the first time in 11 years, the Minnesota Wild has won a Stanley Cup playoff series.

On Wednesday evening, the Wild went on the road for the decisive Game 7 and defeated the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 in overtime.

I can't help but be struck by the parallels between this year's series win and the 2003 first round triumph.

In only their third season of existence, the Wild faced off against the Avalanche in the opening round. Just two years removed from a Stanley Cup championship season, the Avs were once again a powerhouse coming into this series against the upstart Wild. After falling in Game 1 in Denver, the Avs won three straight to take a commanding 3-1 series lead with a chance to close out the series in Game 5 at home. But the Wild prevailed. Then Minnesota won in overtime in Game 6, setting up a winner-take-all Game 7. And like Wednesday evening's contest, this too went into OT.

Before Wednesday, many Wild faithful would argue that Andrew Brunette's game-winning goal past Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy (in what would be his final NHL game) was the most memorable moment in Wild history. Wednesday's contest had a similar feel to that '03 Wild-Avs finale in that the Wild never held a lead until the final shot. Oh, and speaking of Roy, he happens to be the current head coach of the Colorado Avalanche.

The Wild now move on to play the defending Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks.

I don't know if this Wild team has a similar run in them as the '03 version that reached the Western Conference finals. All I know is as a fair weather hockey fan, I'll be with them every step of the way this postseason.